WASHINGTON--()--The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) today called on Congress to resist the temptation to resurrect the failed Ares 1 rocket element of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s (NASA) unaffordable and unsustainable Constellation program. The House is slated to consider NASA authorization legislation this week.
“Congress would be wise to reject the House bill and favor the Senate’s legislation, which would allow the private sector to invest in a competitive commercial system and result in more efficient space travel.”
In October 2009, a blue ribbon White House panel of space scientists, engineers, and astronauts determined that NASA’s Constellation program could not deliver on its promise of sending astronauts back to the Moon. Constellation’s weaknesses have been extensively documented by the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office, and in CAGW’s May 2010 Issue Brief.
The White House panel also concluded that the Ares 1 rocket was a particularly wasteful element of the Constellation program because it was not able to meet its intended goal. The Ares 1 rocket also has a controversial history. The rocket duplicates the capability of the existing, proven Delta IV launch vehicle, and the development contract was a sole source award in 2005.
In April, the Obama administration rolled out a new plan to replace Constellation with strong investment in new space exploration technologies and commercial crew transportation capabilities that would make exploration more affordable and sustainable. This initiative met strong resistance from aerospace contractors working on Constellation projects and several members of Congress in whose districts the work is being performed.
House and Senate committees tasked with oversight and funding of NASA took very different approaches to future space exploration in their NASA authorization bills. On August 5, 2010, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee reported out S. 3729, which offers a compromise that includes elements of Constellation and the White House’s proposal, but abandons the Ares 1 program. On July 28, 2010, the House Science and Technology Committee reported out H.R. 5781, which attempts to restore Ares 1 as the centerpiece of NASA’s human spaceflight program.
“At a time when the economy is struggling and there is a rapidly growing $13.5 trillion national debt, politicians in Washington, D.C. should invest limited taxpayer resources in projects that have merit instead of wasting money on an attempt to resurrect the redundant, overpriced, unproven, and ethically challenged Ares 1 project,” said CCAGW President Tom Schatz. “Congress would be wise to reject the House bill and favor the Senate’s legislation, which would allow the private sector to invest in a competitive commercial system and result in more efficient space travel.”
CCAGW is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.