U.S. President Barack Obama’s moves to drop a NASA program that would return astronauts to the moon will spark a political fight, space program experts predict.
With Obama expected to phase out funding for the 5-year-old Constellation program in favor of other NASA priorities — such as increased earth science missions and extending the life of the International Space Station — lawmakers from Texas, Florida and Alabama are girding for a fight to save jobs at the Johnson Space Center, the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday.
“This represents a fundamental shift in U.S. plans for space,” space program historian John Logsdon told the newspaper. “It’s going to spark a vigorous, spirited and heated fight with Congress.”
Bob Mitchell, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, said the loss of the Constellation program, which envisions going back to the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 mission in 1972, will cost as many as 2,500 jobs.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who is running for Texas governor, says she will strongly oppose cuts in manned spaceflight on the grounds that U.S. space operations are needed to “secure our economic well-being and security,” the Chronicle reported