Lawmakers need to stop bickering over who gets political credit for the successful cargo mission to the space station and concentrate on finding the funds to continue the U.S. commercial space program.
WASHINGTON -- As if another example were needed, here’s the latest illustration of why Washington is dysfunctional.
There was great rejoicing last week over the highly successful commercial space mission to the International Space Station. The successful docking of a cargo ship designed and launched by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, was a great advance in terms of maintaining U.S. access to low-Earth orbit. It was a bit of good news amid the steady stream of bad economic news and man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man and women.
Now, a pissing match has erupted over who should get the political credit for the success of the SpaceX mission.
The commercial cargo and crew program under which SpaceX and other competitors operate was created, according to the chairman of the House Science Committee’s space panel, by the Bush administration in 2005. Congress authorized funding for the program, and SpaceX received its contract the following year.
Good for the Bush administration, which did not fund a successor to the space shuttle, and the Congress. Point for them.
At a hearing on Wednesday (June 6), space panel chairman Steven Palazzo, attacked the Obama administration for taking credit last week for the success of the SpaceX mission. Palazzo charged that John Holden, the White House science advisor, made “misleading” statements in claiming credit for the successful test flight.
We’ve got some news for the petty politicians: The credit for the success of the SpaceX first test flight goes to the engineers, designers, technicians, code jockeys, metal benders and managers at SpaceX along with NASA program administrators. If not for the months of testing and retesting, weeks of painstaking validation of the software code needed for spacecraft navigation and communications with the space station, this test flight would not have achieved all of its goals.
SpaceX and its visionary founder Elon Musk did what they set out to do. The politicians who control NASA’s budget and profess support for commercial space should drop the partisan crap and provide the funding necessary to build on the success of the first commercial flight to the space station.