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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

LaTourette to oppose Senate NASA bill

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, said he will vote against a Senate-passed version of the NASA reauthorization bill because NASA Glenn and Plum Brook Station fare poorly in the bill, it puts a nail in the coffin of manned space travel, and it outsources our national security.

LaTourette issued a news release on this issue Wednesday afternoon.

He indicated he asked U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Cleveland, to help circulate a letter to members of the Ohio delegation to oppose the Senate version of the bill, arguing the House version is more protective of NASA Glenn and Plum Brook Station research and jobs. The letter is circulating now.

The Senate version of the bill is opposed by the Greater Cleveland Partnership and former NASA administrator Mike Griffin, LaTourette said.

The former NASA head yesterday urged House members to oppose the bill, calling it a “poor authorization bill.”

Griffin added:  “….it is time once again to ask ourselves whether we want to have a real space program, or not. If we do, then the Senate Bill won’t get us there.”

LaTourette said he cannot in good conscience support the Senate bill because it will lead to job losses at NASA Glenn and will reduce its funding for research. It will also force NASA to be completely dependent on the commercial sector for crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station.

“This Administration seems to believe our astronauts will soon be able to catch a ride on a private sector rocket to the space station, but no such vehicle exists. Under this bill, we’ll be dependent on Russia or China to get our astronauts to the space station, threatening our national security,” LaTourette said.

Hitching a ride will not be cheap, LaTourette added, noting that NASA in April signed a contract to pay nearly $56 million per astronaut for six Americans to fly to the space station on a Russian rocket in 2013-2014. Each astronaut will be able to bring just 110 pounds of cargo, and can return with just 37 pounds of cargo, plus trash.

LaTourette said it will be a sad day for NASA if S. 3729 passes.
“This is a bad bill, and I will not hold my nose and vote for it. You can’t be a supporter of NASA, manned space travel and NASA Glenn and support this Senate-authored bill,” LaTourette said.

S. 3729 will be voted on in the House later today.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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