Press Release

Presidential Campaign Representatives Voice Support for Space

By SpaceRef Editor
October 3, 2004
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23 September 2004: Representatives of the campaigns for both President George Bush and Senator John Kerry voiced their support for civil space program this week at an invitation-only event held in Washington, D.C. CSA’s Director of Federal Relations, Janice Dunn, attended the event, which was organized by the Aviation and Space Stakeholders Coalition.

Each campaign was represented by one individual, who had about an hour to make a presentation and to answer questions asked by the 40 participants. Former Congressman Bob Walker represented Bush in the first presentation; former NASA Associate Administrator Lori Garver represented Kerry in the second presentation.

Walker emphasized the President’s vision for space exploration, which was released in January 2004. He urged those present to vote for Bush because he “stepped up to the plate” by issuing the vision. Walker added that he believes the vision “closely follows” recommendations made by the Commission on the Future of the Aerospace Industry, led by Walker. He then criticized Capitol Hill for its apparent lack of support for the vision. Walker also criticized Congress for its reluctance to modify existing export control procedures, which have harmed the aerospace industry.

In response to a question, Walker acknowledged that there is a budget deficit which he said was caused by both defense and homeland security. The former Congressman said that Bush would reduce the deficit by 50 percent in the next five years by cutting funding for entitlement programs. A deficit reduction could result in additional funding for discretionary programs such as civil space.

In response to another question, Walker stated that he expects the President to issue a National Space Transportation Policy in the “very near future”. The policy has been under consideration for about two years. Development of the policy was interrupted by the Columbia accident.

Garver began her presentation by praising the space exploration vision. She said, however, that the vision lacks important details and sufficient funding. Garver suggested that Kerry would provide greater funding than has been currently proposed for space exploration at NASA.

The Kerry representative criticized the vision for failing to provide a plan for transportation to and from the International Space Station after retirement of the space shuttle. She also said that she is concerned that the vision places too much schedule pressure on the space shuttle with its requirement to fly 30 times in five years.

Garver stated that although space exploration is important, NASA needs balance in its funding and activities. She suggested that additional funding for aeronautics research and development is needed because funding for that program has recently been cut to about one-half ($500 million) of its former level in 1998 ($1 billion).

The Kerry representative also stated that NASA should increase international cooperation in its activities. She added that the U.S. has not always shown respect or communicated well with its existing international partners.

SpaceRef staff editor.