Press Release

Subcommittee Chairwoman Cites Need for “Robust” NASA Budget

By SpaceRef Editor
October 9, 2009
Filed under ,
Subcommittee Chairwoman Cites Need for “Robust” NASA Budget

(Washington, DC) – The House Committee on Science and Technology’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) today cited the need for a “robust” NASA budget, saying space exploration can inspire and benefit the nation during difficult economic times.

Giffords told participants at the Sea Space Symposium that she was not surprised by concerns over NASA’s budget in the recently released summary report of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee. Next year’s proposed budget for the agency represents 0.52 percent of the entire federal budget, the lowest percentage in decades.

“Committee Chairman Norm Augustine and his colleagues performed a valuable national service by making it clear that ‘you can’t get there from here’ under the budget plan included in NASA’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget request,” Giffords said. “That conclusion was certainly not a surprise to those of us who watch over NASA, but I think it may have been unexpected for some in the White House and Congress who haven’t spent a lot of time focusing on space issues.”

“As a result,” Giffords said, “I believe that it provides an opportunity for President Obama to step up and embrace a robust budget for NASA and use our civil space program to both inspire and benefit all of our citizens.”

Giffords called human and robotic space exploration “critical to our future,” but said she is amazed how little many citizens actually know about the role that space exploration and utilization actually play in our society.

“We need to get the message out if we are to continue to reap the scientific, economic, national security and societal benefits offered by our nation’s space programs,” Giffords said. “In space exploration as in other endeavors, you get what you pay for. We forget that truism at our peril.”

The Sea Space Symposium is an organization of eminent figures in government, industry and academia who are dedicated to the advancement of scientific research and development in sea and space. Known as S3, the symposium provides a vehicle by which leaders from involved research and development organizations can come together to share ideas about the exploration and utilization of sea and space.

The 39-year-old symposium has approximately 60 members. Their fall meeting is taking place this weekend at the Mayflower Hotel.

Giffords also told symposium participants about her Solar Technology Roadmap Act, which she introduced on September 16 and was sent to the full House by the Science and Technology Committee on October 7. The bill would require the Department of Energy to appoint a group of experts to create a long-term plan to guide solar energy research and its transition into commercial uses.

“The United States has some of the best solar resources of any industrialized country in the world,” Giffords said. “Our solar resource is a tremendous opportunity that is just waiting to be tapped. Solar energy can help us meet our increasing energy demands with a clean, renewable resource.”

Giffords noted that, in addition to the environmental benefits, “solar power strengthens our national security by reducing our demand for foreign energy, and distributed solar increases the security of our electricity grid and decreases the cost of transmission.”

But because other countries are devoting more attention to the development of solar technology, the Chairwoman said American competitiveness in this burgeoning industry is in jeopardy.

“We invented this technology, but we must continue to work hard to retain our leadership,” Giffords said. “That is the essence of my bill.”

SpaceRef staff editor.