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IFPTE Expresses Cautious Optimism with NASA Initiative On the Eve of Today’s Announcement, Union Moves to Support NASA Growth

SILVER SPRING, MD – In anticipation of today’s announcement by President Bush regarding a bold new vision for the future of NASA, International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE) President Gregory Junemann urged the president to stay the course in calling for new investment into the important work of NASA. As detailed in a letter sent yesterday to the White House, President Junemann not only outlined the union’s backing for renewed investment into NASA, but also cautioned the president against any plan to scale back some of the important work currently taking place within the agency.

“I am extremely pleased that you have decided to make the revitalization of NASA a major priority of your Administration, ” Junemann wrote to President Bush. “IFPTE wholeheartedly supports this goal and looks forward to working with Administrator O’Keefe to assist him in shaping and implementing NASA’s reinvigorated mission.”

The letter went on to warn the president to remain clear of NASA’s past failings.

“The Columbia Accident Investigation Board made it clear that, for some time, NASA’s misguided management culture has led the Agency astray, preventing it from excelling in its core missions of aerospace research and technology development, and space exploration. The time has come to set a new, bold, clear vision to guide the Agency out of its stagnation and back to the forefront of human achievement. We applaud your decision to provide this vision and will lend our full support to your effort to re-empower the dedicated men and women of NASA to dream and to work hard toward noble and ambitious goals, worthy of the American people they serve. But our mission is not only to push the limits of current technologies and to explore our Universe, it is also to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, who today are watching and waiting to decide what to do with their talents, their education, and their lives. Let us hope that a renewed and sustained long-term vision for NASA will serve to encourage those young minds to devote themselves to science and engineering, and to set noble and ambitious goals for themselves, for their country, and for humankind.”

Junemann concluded his letter by urging the president to adequately invest in NASA’s renewed and current missions alike.

“As you set your vision for NASA, I would urge that you not settle for half-measures and half-hearted efforts. NASA cannot soar unless realistic resources are committed to its mission. Do not be discouraged by those pessimists who would seek to undermine your vision by arguing that NASA’s efforts should be more modest and its goals less ambitious. Be bold, decisive, and candid with the American people. NASA will provide a wealth of return on investment as long as America makes a proper and honest investment now. Furthermore, do not allow those to succeed who would seek to cannibalize other parts of the agency to support new manned exploration efforts. The partnership between the NASA and the FAA in cutting-edge aeronautics research is crucial for America’s competitiveness and has made the flying public safer than the driving public. NASA’s accomplishments in earth and atmospheric science are second to none and represent the first line of defense for the nation and the world against the potentially disastrous consequences of climate change. NASA’s Hubble telescope has enabled unparalleled scientific advances in deep-space astronomy. And as we have recently been reminded, NASA’s triumphant spirit can also be embodied in a small robotic rover, tele-exploring Mars so that humans may someday follow. None of these currently successful and equally noble efforts should be pilfered to fund manned exploration. The American people deserve to lead the world in space exploration into the next century without sacrificing NASA’s pursuit of greater aeronautics safety and security, of greater knowledge about how our Universe was formed and evolved, or of a greater understanding of how human activity impacts our home planet.”

IFPTE is NASA’s largest union, representing nearly 8,000 workers at five NASA facilities nationwide.