Thanks to redistricting, Florida’s Space Coast region will be within a single House district in the next Congress, currently represented by Republican Rep. Bill Posey (for the last decade it had been split into two districts, with Posey representing the southern half and, most recently, Sandy Adams (R-FL) representing the northern part.) So it’s not surprising that Florida Today asked Posey and his Democratic challenger, Shannon Roberts, as well as independent candidate Richard Gillmor, what specifically they would do to “help the stability and strength of the U.S. Space program.”
However, none of the three offer much in the way of detail about achieving “stability and strength” for NASA, and for KSC in particular. Posey notes he would continue the work he has already done at NASA, citing legislation he has co-sponsored with Democratic members. However, one example, a bill he and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) introduced to allow for a “seamless” transition from the Space Shuttle to Orion, (the “American Space Access Act”), did not advance out of the House Science Committee after its April 2009 introduction. Similarly, another bill he mentions he co-sponsored with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to direct NASA to return humans to the Moon by 2022 (the “REAL Space Act”), went nowhere after its introduction in May 2011. The “RACE for Space” act he mentions, though, was incorporated into the defense authorization bill earlier this year.
Roberts, beyond correcting a claim by Posey that the administration cancelled the Orion spacecraft (the administration’s original plans in February 2010 did call for ending Orion, a decision reversed two months later), doesn’t offer much of a contrast. “We’ve got a major role here: the lead for deep-space exploration, commercialization of space and also research, development and testing,” she said of KSC. “I would be a strong advocate on behalf of that.” Gillmor indicates he would see KSC taking a leading role in something very different: alternative energy. “With implementation of my national energy policy, part of Kennedy Space Center would become home to the National Energy Resources Development Center,” he said, something that would reemploy “thousands” of engineers in the area.
On his campaign website, Posey does include a few paragraphs about space among other issues, saying he’s working to “restore American leadership” in space and that he supports commercial cargo and crew programs. Roberts says much less about space on her site, with a single bullet point (“Keep our Space Program #1 in the World”) on her issues page. Gillmor, the independent, devotes a paragraph to space, specifically calling for Cape Canaveral to be “overhauled into a bustling Spaceport that serves both commercial as well as national defense needs.”