Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grayson Pushes Obama to Extend Shuttle (Source: Orlando Sentinel)

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, has urged President Obama to extend the space shuttle era, "preferably" until NASA is ready to fly a replacement vehicle that the agency hopes can one day return Americans to the moon. The freshman lawmaker also said he personally lobbied Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, for the extension. "Mr. President, the current schedule to end the Space Shuttle Program is too compressed, and therefore potentially dangerous to the crews. Moreover, terminating the Program so quickly, not only do we face losing a talented and dedicated workforce, we leave ourselves vulnerable to various threats that may arise that may require orbital launch capability and NASA-related expertise," wrote Grayson.His efforts build on efforts by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who recently added language to a Senate budget resolution that would allow the shuttle to fly beyond 2010, a retirement date that was set by the Bush administration and was confirmed in Obama's 2010 budget. Retiring the shuttle in 2010 would create at least a five-year gap in which the United States would not have the capability to send astronauts into orbit aboard NASA spacecraft. The shuttle's replacement, dubbed Constellation, would not be ready until 2015 at the earliest. Its aim is to return American astronauts to the moon by 2020. (4/1)


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