Speeches today from the House in passing H.R. 6063, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act

Thursday, June 19, 2008

imageThe full text of all the speeches today made in the House in the United States is available here, but it's quite long and so I'm going to just include the parts that I feel to be especially interesting. It passed 409 to 15. NASA will be getting $20.21 billion in funding over the year (unless the bill is vetoed).

Rep. Alcee Hastings [D-FL]:

Mr. Speaker, the underlying bill's bipartisan support is a testament to the fact that my colleagues on both sides understand the tremendous importance of supporting NASA. However, in this time of soaring drug and food prices, a plummeting economy and war, some are asking why Congress should invest in our Nation's space program. To put it another way, why are we going in space when I don't have gas to get to the grocery store? While I wholeheartedly disagree, I would be remiss if I did not at least acknowledge their concerns.

It provides us with the opportunity to recount the many lifesaving and life-altering methods and products that were made possible through space technology.

Mr. Speaker, people of all ages know that putting men on the moon in 1969 was one of NASA's pioneering achievements. Missions to space have given us all a sense of national pride and allow us to better understand the universe in which we live. Few know, however, that for 50 years space technology has laid the foundation for consumer products that help businesses run more efficiently and allow everyday people to live safer, longer and better lives.

Think about it. The United States has some of the most cutting-edge medical technology in the world because of NASA. The pacemaker, voice-controlled wheelchairs and the MRI all rely on technology that was first developed for space exploration.

More than 560,000 Americans will die from cancer this year, including over 40,000 in my home State of Florida. Space technology has led to life-saving advanced screening and treatment methods for breast cancer that are more accurate, cost-effective and less invasive.

Do you want more? We have all come to realize the consequences of not protecting our environment and conserving our resources. NASA has made significant contributions to the way that we adopt environmentally-friendly practices in our homes, businesses and everyday lives. It has been at the forefront of documenting climate change.

Further, solar energy, environmental control sensors that monitor emission levels and water purification systems that could save millions in poorer countries from developing deadly and debilitating water-borne diseases were all made possible because of space technology.

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart [R-FL]:

The underlying legislation authorizes $20.21 billion in funding for fiscal year 2009. That is a 2.8 percent increase in investment from fiscal year 2008.

As we all know, NASA intends to retire the shuttle fleet in 2010. The shuttle will be replaced with a 21st century exploration system, the Constellation Program, that will be cost-effective, reliable, versatile, and, most importantly, safe for our brave and brilliant astronauts.

Until the Constellation Program is ready for lift off in 2015, we will be reliant upon Russia to ferry our crews and equipment to the International Space Station. NASA has agreements to pay Russia $760 million, and those costs could rise as high as $2.8 billion during the gap. To reduce our reliance on Russia, the bill authorizes an additional $1 billion to accelerate the development of the replacement Orion and Ares rockets and reduce the 5-year gap. Doing that will help retain thousands of well-paying aerospace, engineering and technician jobs and maintain American expertise in those areas.

Hmm, actually the rest of it isn't all that interesting, just a lot of partisan debate. I think I'll supplement this post then with a piece of news about a related poll by Gallup about Americans' attitudes towards the space program:
"These latest results -- as well as poll data from the last several years -- reveal that even in the midst of varying world and national circumstances, Americans still strongly support space exploration, and are willing to support its funding at current levels or even slightly increased levels," said Mary Engola, chairwoman of the Coalition for Space Exploration's Public Affairs Team. The 2008 Gallup Poll shows more than 52 percent of those surveyed would support an increase in space exploration funding. Currently, NASA's budget is less than 1 percent of the federal budget, or approximately 15 cents per day for the average, tax-paying citizen. In addition, 68 percent of all respondents surveyed agree that the benefits of space exploration outweigh the risks of human space flight.

When asked about the educational and inspirational qualities of the space exploration program, almost 70 percent of respondents believe America's space program inspires young people to consider an education in science, technology, math or engineering fields.

"The benefits of space extend far beyond millions of homes, hospitals, schools, offices and airports," said Tracy Lamm, deputy chair of the Coalition's Public Affairs Team. "Space plays a tremendous role in encouraging and motivating students to study these exciting fields ... and today's young people are the very ones who will be making their mark on the universe as they carry out the next phase of space exploration."

Are Americans fearful that the U.S. will lose its leadership role in space to other countries that have outlined robust plans for lunar exploration? According to the poll, 68 percent of respondents are not concerned about China's intent to send probes to the Moon by 2017, nor are they concerned that America may surrender its leadership role in the space arena. These numbers mirror the findings of the previous three polls.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP