WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) today issued the following statement on the White House Budget spending cuts to the NASA Constellation program. Rep. Aderholt serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, as a member of the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, which is responsible for funding NASA.

“While I am glad to see a commitment by the President to ask for increased funding for human spaceflight, I have to express extreme concern and disapproval of the plan he has laid forth in this request.”

“Abandoning a bipartisan Congressionally-approved plan, which has made remarkable progress despite being underfunded for years, is reckless. With the Shuttle almost retired, this new plan would rely on companies that in some cases have little experience with building manned space systems, which could cripple U.S. human spaceflight for an unknown number of years.”

“Americans believe human spaceflight and exploration beyond earth is the very reason for NASA’s existence. October’s successful Ares test and this year’s work shows that the Constellation programs are still the best option for our nation to lead the world in space exploration.”

“Regarding costs, the necessary multi-year contracts are in place, for Ares I, to secure the high-tech parts necessary as they are needed. Rocket science is still complicated, and this is the business model that works. Even the United Launch Alliance has learned that it is difficult and unwise to try to build every system in-house.”

“Under the President’s plan, there is no telling how many years taxpayers could be on the hook while these programs come up to speed. Government oversight exists because of safety concerns. If these criteria are not followed, then the lives of our astronauts are at risk.”

“Ares I and the Orion capsule are the only launch systems which have met NASA’s safety criteria. The budget plan revealed today is not supported by conclusions in the recently released 2009 report of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel.”

“And there are other questions. Who will pay the insurance costs for these projects? And if these companies receive greater control over commercial use of technology developed for NASA, will they reimburse the taxpayers out of their profits?”

“Congress will hear from NASA officials during hearings, but major unanswered questions like these are why language in the FY2010 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Bill bars NASA from making any changes to the Constellation work with FY2010 funding.”