Today the US Space Shuttle lifted off successfully for the last time. Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, and Justice threw quite a going away party by releasing its proposed budget for NASA for Fiscal Year 2012 (which begins this October 1st), and the news is not good. Because of strong pressure to reduce federal spending, the Subcommittee had several billion dollars less to divide up among various departments and agencies. So they had to cut NASA and some key programs that we space activists support:
- NASA’s ”top line” was reduced by almost $2 billion dollars (from $18.7B requested to $16.8B in the bill)
- Space Technology funding would be slashed from $1024 million requested to $375 million (almost 2/3 cut)
- Commercial Crew would be cut at least 60% from the request of $850m.
Of course, these two programs are critical to America’s future in Space. We’ve spent $100B building the ISS but are outsourcing the launch of astronauts to Russia instead of developing safer, cheaper, and more plentiful U.S. commercial capabilities. And every single Augustine Report “option” included spending at least $1B a year on technology to transform how we explore and develop space.
We need to let the House of Representatives know that cutting Commercial Crew and Space Technology are the quintessential penny-wise, pound foolish mistake. We need to let them know this NOW.
What we‘re asking you to do… as soon as possible, but no later than noon EDT on Tuesday, July 12th:
- Look up who your U.S. Representative is and find out their DC phone number and their party affiliation. (Don’t know who your Congressperson is? Go to http://www.whoismyrepresentative.com/ and enter your zip code)
- Call your Representative’s D.C. office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EDT. Remember to be respectful as well as passionate when you talk to them (no cursing or insults).
- Tell the person who answers the phone that you are a constituent. Then ask to speak with the staff member who handles “NASA Appropriations.” (If they say that’s two different people, ask for the “Appropriations” staffer.). Have your talking points ready (see the end of this alert for some suggestions)
- When you have the appropriate staff person on the phone…
- tell them that you are a constituent
- and you support restoring funding in NASA for both Commercial Crew and Space Technology in the FY2012 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriation bill.
- If your Representative is Hal Rogers of Kentucky or Norm Dicks of Washington State, you hit the super jackpot (Rogers is the Chairman and Dicks is the top Democrat) and should say: why you believe commercial crew and space technology are urgent and vital priorities, and need to be fully funded, instead of slashed by nearly 2/3 (skip to step 8 )
- (If your Representative is a Republican) Ask the staffer to have your Representative speak to Chairman Hal Rogers about restoring funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew and Space Technology programs in the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriation bill as it is marked up and goes to the House floor. (skip to step 8 )
- (If your Representative is a Democrat) Ask the staffer to have your Representative speak to Ranking Member Norm Dicks to fight to restore full funding of NASA’s Commercial Crew and Space Technology programs in the Commerce-Justice–Science Appropriation bill as it is marked up and goes to the House floor.
- Listen to what they say in response. Thank them for listening, and (hopefully) for agreeing to do something (talk to their boss, whatever). Hang up.
- Then WRITE DOWN WHAT THEY SAID and email the name of the Congressman, what the staffer said, and any other comments you have to ACT4SPACE@GMAIL.COM so we can keep track of your accomplishments!
Suggested Talking Points about Commercial Crew
- The CJS bill spends more money in Russia to launch U.S. astronauts than on U.S. companies to develop safer, cheaper, American crew systems. And Russia keeps raising their prices… up 175% in just six years.
- Commercial Crew will create high-tech, high-paying jobs for Americans, right now, at a time we need them.
- Commercial Crew is the quickest, cheapest way to reduce the Gap in U.S. human spaceflight and fully utilize our $100 Billion dollar Space Station
- Fully funding Commercial Crew will enable multiple systems to fly…
- demonstrating US leadership in space,
- creating competition which drives innovation and lowers costs, and
- provides better safety and less risk with independent backups
- Without fully funding Commercial Crew, billions of dollars and thousands of jobs will go to Russia, instead of staying home in America
Suggested Talking Points about Space Technology
- NASA is laboring with space technology developed in the 1970s.
- To lower the cost and extend the duration and distance of human spaceflight, NASA needs technologies that will revolutionize how we explore space.
- New technologies like propellant depots and high-efficiency propulsion will dramatically lower the cost of sending astronauts further into the solar system.
- Developing new space technologies will also enable new space-based industries, creating even more jobs and economic return from our space program.
- America needs newer, smarter ways to “do space”, instead of just spending more money to stay ahead of other countries.
Space Frontier Foundation