It's All About Politics

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Source:  NASA/Scott Andrews, Cannon

Ares I-X Launch. Source: NASA/Scott Andrews, Cannon

More on NASA’s future. It appears President Obama is close to making a decision on which course to chart in space.   Whenever he shares HIS vision with the rest of us – the debate will  move to a broader realm – and of course to Congress – where nothing is guaranteed.

The other day , Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi showed her colors in a gabfest with reporters:

“I, myself, if you are asking me personally, I have not been a big fan of manned expeditions to outer space, in terms of safety and cost,” Pelosi told reporters a round table on legislative accomplishments this year. “But people could make the case; technology is always changing.”

Oh, boy.  Fortunately for space fans, there are some people in Congress who do their homework – and are strong supporters of manned spaceflight.

And as it turns out, many of them are big fans of the Bush “Vision for Space Exploration.”

Among the big supporters is the chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Gabrielle Giffords – a democrat of Arizona – who is married to NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.

On December 2 she held a hearing on the pros and cons of constellation versus commercial alternatives. And it seems clear where she stands:

“We hope to hear from our witnesses as to whether they believe that the burden of proof should be put on those who would propose alternatives to the Constellation program to demonstrate that their systems will be at least as safe as Ares/Orion. Alternatively, do they think it would it be acceptable to reduce the required level of crew safety on commercially provided crew transport services used to transport U.S. astronauts much below what looks to be achievable in the Constellation program?”

I guess you could call that a loaded question…In any case, if he had been in the room that day – former NASA  Administrator Mike Griffin might have stood up raised his hands and said “Amen!”  OK, well maybe the man who once likened himself to Spock would have been a bit more reserved – but he does firmly believes NASA should press on with Ares and Constellation as it is currently envisioned.

One of the big things he is worried about the the time between vehicles – the infamous “Gap.”  Watch below, or read the transcript of our interview.

[vimeovid id=”8266023″]

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