Congressional Reaction to Falcon 9 Flight Ranges From Enthusiasm to “Meh”

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

A roundup of what key members of Congress are saying about SpaceX’s successful Falcon 9 launch on Friday:

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D)

The Democratic Senator make a congratulatory call to SpaceX Founder Elon Musk. Politico.com quotes him as saying that the successful flight gives him hope that Falcon 9 will be in “full operation delivering cargo to the International Space Station a year from now” with Dragon capsules.

Editor’s Note: Alan Boyle over at Cosmic Log seems rather surprised by the senator’s reaction, noting, “It’s unusual for Nelson, who has seemed a bit doubtful about NASA’s moves toward commercialization, to be so positive about SpaceX’s prospects.”

I think not…

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Bipartisan Bill Aims to Keep Shuttle Flying, Close Spaceflight Gap

Space Shuttle

SUZANNE KOSMAS PRESS RELEASE

Today, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) and Congressman Bill Posey (FL-15) introduced legislation to maintain a robust human spaceflight program, minimize the spaceflight gap, and protect Space Coast jobs.

The Human Spaceflight Capability Assurance and Protection Act would extend use of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2020, allow NASA to continue flying the Space Shuttle, and push to accelerate a next-generation NASA-developed space vehicle. A companion bill has been introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in the U.S. Senate.

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Meanwhile, Down in the Sunshine State….

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

A few developments from Florida:

  • Gov. Charlie Crist is holding a “space summit” in Orlando on Thursday with more than 200 industry, political and community leaders to develop a joint approach to NASA’s proposed change of course. Florida Today has more….
  • Sen. Bill Nelson – who at first was critical of the change – seems to be warming to it a bit. He will chair a meeting of the Senate space and science subcommittee next week in which he will explore what can be saved from the Constellation program if it is indeed canceled. Nelson seems particularly interested in having a firm plan for a heavy-lift vehicle for flights to the moon and Mars. Read more here
  • Representatives Bill Posey and Suzanne Kosmas are among 27 House members who signed a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden calling on him not to cancel any part of the Constellation program without Congressional approval. The bipartisan group also included representatives from Alabama, California, Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Virginia.

Space Politics: Obama, Clinton, Feeny, Soyuz and Congress

Some interesting on-going discussions over at SpacePolitics.com….

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has picked up the endorsement of a major aerospace union, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE).

With a crucial Puerto Rico primary looming on June 1, Hillary Clinton is trying to save the Arecibo Observatory so it can continue to be used for radio astronomy and blown up in James Bond movies. (Probably more the former than the latter; what are the chances that a future Bond villain will launch another death star into orbit? Actually….pretty damn good, come to think of it.)

Down on Florida’s Space Coast, Republican Representative Tom Feeny and his Democratic challenger, Suzanne Kosmas, are fighting over who can best represent the region in Congress. What will the denizens of KSC decide?

Meanwhile, current members of Congress are fretting over the decision to retire the space shuttle in 2010 now that the Russian Soyuz has suffered its second Tower of Terror landing in a row. They don’t seem convinced by the Russian space chief Anatoly Perminov’s belief that we should simply limit the number of women aboard the space station. That’s definitely a sign of progress in at least one country….