GW NASA expert pens letter to Obama

Joining more than a dozen Nobel laureates, the founder of the Elliott School of International Affairs’ Space Policy Institute penned a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern over proposed budget cuts to NASA currently circling in the House of Representatives.

The bill, if passed, would cut funding for many areas of commercial space flight, research and robotic missions in space.

“This letter is a political act trying to influence Congressional decisions on the future of human space flight,” founder of the institute John Logsdon said in an interview with The Hatchet.

Upon initially seeing the House’s NASA authorization bill, Logsdon said that he felt “disappointment that it cut the funding for investments in new technology.”

“It [does not] seem to be the sort of forward, future looking program that [is] in the country’s interest,” Logsdon said.

The primary initiator of the letter was Scott Hubbard, a professor at Stanford, a former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center and a longtime colleague of Logsdon.

When Hubbard was asked by a member of the California Congressional Delegation to enlist people to write a letter opposing the House bill and supporting the President’s budget policy, Hubbard asked Logsdon to join him in his efforts.

While the letter decries the House bill, it voices support for Obama’s proposed NASA budget. Obama proposes canceling the Constellation Program for returning astronauts to the moon, and also proposes financing commercial companies for taking astronauts to the International Space Station and developing new technologies for space.

Logsdon said Obama’s budget request “reflects a more fundamental shift in strategy” that he is “quite supportive of.”

Logsdon noted that one of the primary authors of Obama’s NASA policy is GW alumna Lori Garver, who earned her master’s at the University in 1989 and is now the deputy administrator for NASA.

Despite the House bill’s proposal, Logsdon said he is hopeful for the future of NASA.

“[We need] a good and sustainable exploration program . . . I think the past year and a half or so has shown that the program we were carrying out, Constellation, was not sustainable,” Logsdon said.

Logsdon said his greatest wish is that space exploration continues.

“Since the last man left the moon in December of 1972 all we’ve been doing is going . . . in circles . . . around the earth,” he said. “I think it’s time to go explore places.”

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