Funding our Future: Washington, We have a Problem

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Statement by Coalition for Space Exploration Board Member, former astronaut and pilot on STS-1, Bob Crippen, regarding the need for a emphasis by both Presidential candidates to ensure NASA remains on course with its program and funding objectives and is provided the financial means to succeed.

Today, our space program is transitioning. Our Space Shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired in 2010 and to be replaced by the Constellation program with its Ares booster and Orion crew spacecraft. The planned retirement of the Shuttle needs to be reassessed considering the current international situation, but any extension must not delay the planned exploration program. That is a budget issue.

The Coalition for Space Exploration, the leading collaboration of space industry businesses and advocacy groups, announced today a statement regarding the importance of a robust space exploration program. Coalition board member, former astronaut and pilot of the first Space Shuttle mission, Bob Crippen, emphasizes the need for both Presidential candidates to ensure NASA remains on course with its program objectives and is afforded the financial means to succeed.

In recent editorials to newspapers, Crippen calls upon lawmakers, "Washington, we have a problem...For years, we have been underfunding NASA - while expanding its mission and responsibilities."

He goes on to discuss how each Presidential candidate's theme - "country first" and "change" - can be directly applied to the needs of America's space program.

"By adequately funding space exploration, we put 'country first,' ensuring our ability to achieve grand technological advancements and enhance our national security and prosperity. A funded commitment to our country's space program certainly qualifies as 'change,' as over the past decade, NASA's budget has been cut seven times, declining to approximately 0.6% of the federal budget.

"Today, our space program is transitioning. Our Space Shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired in 2010 and to be replaced by the Constellation program with its Ares booster and Orion crew spacecraft. The planned retirement of the Shuttle needs to be reassessed considering the current international situation, but any extension must not delay the planned exploration program. That is a budget issue."

Crippen concluded, "In business, science, education and national security, the United States has the people to not only continue to deliver the goods, but to keep us preeminent in the all-important arena of space. All we ask in return is the continued and highly valued bi-partisan support of Congress to put our 'country first' by making a 'change' to adequately fund a robust space exploration program."

To view Crippen's complete comments, visit http://www.spacecoalition.com/Published_Op-Eds.cfm.

About the Coalition for Space Exploration
The Coalition for Space Exploration is a collaboration of space industry businesses and advocacy groups whose mission is to educate and inform the public on the value and benefits of space exploration and to help ensure the United States will remain a leader in space, science and technology - key factors that will benefit every American, strengthen our nation's economy and maintain our national security. For more information, please visit http://www.spacecoalition.com.

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