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Politics

Bill Posey Ready to Launch a Joint NASA Administration Overhaul Bill

September 18, 2012 - 6:00pm

As another member of the retired space shuttle fleet has been ferried forever out of Cape Canaveral, a group of congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, wants to make changes to how the space agency is run.

The effort is aimed at reducing turnover in leadership and removing politics as projects are moved from start to finish.

They will announce their plans -- which may take as long to get through the current make-up of Congress as some missions -- on Thursday and so far have tried to remain tight-lipped about their proposed bill that continues to be tweaked in the drafting stage.

It is known that the congressmen -- Posey, John Culberson, R-Texas, Frank Wolf, R-Va., Pete Olson, R-Texas, and Lamar Smith, R-Texas -- will seek through their Space Leadership Act to restructure NASA by making it more independent by having the top administrator appointed for a 10-year run.

The move is aimed at reducing influence from the presidents Office of Management and Budget and allowing for more long-term planning.

They are to make their presentation Thursday afternoon on the House Triangle on the east front lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

They are expected to point to missions scrubbed in the planning and development stage that have costs millions and millions of dollars when new administrations take over and bring in their own directives and leaders.

In the past decade, plans for the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Cacher, Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey and Mars Telecommunications Orbiter have been pushed aside for either more ambitious or cost-cutting measures.

The most notable departure at the Cape, besides the impact of retiring the aging shuttle fleet and requiring our astronauts to taxi to the International Space Station on Russian craft, was the end of the Constellation program, which was to be Americas next step in human spaceflight.

The program was handled by NASA Administrator Sean OKeefe until his retirement. Michael Griffin, the next administrator, reshaped NASAs vision for space exploration. Griffin turned the program from one of conducting fundamental science to the step necessary to land man on Mars.

But under President Obamas NASA Authorization Act of 2010, Constellation was killed, replaced on the drawing board nearly a year later by the Space Launch System program to replace the shuttle fleet.The SLS continues to be in the design phase.

Wolf, the chairman of the Commerce Committee, sits with Culberson on the Justice Science Subcommittee. Poseys district includes Cape Canaveral. Olson represents Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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