NASA Conference Travel Prompts Lawmaker Query

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WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA is asking the agency to detail how much it is spending to send employees to the 63rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Naples, Italy, in October.

“While this conference merits participation by NASA, it is difficult to accept that taxpayers should fund travel, lodging and conference fees for ‘50 or more NASA employees’ to visit Italy,” U.S. Rep Frank Wolf (R-Va.) wrote in an Aug. 27 letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden that cites a recent post on NASAWatch.com.

“If accurate, the cost of this travel and this level of participation would certainly conflict with my May 22 letter warning that excessive conference spending is not appropriate,” Wolf wrote.

NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage declined to say how many people the agency is sending to the IAC, an annual conference routinely attended by the world’s space agency heads.

“We have received Congressman Wolf’s letter and are in the process of reviewing it and responding,” Cabbage wrote in an Aug. 30 response to a Space News query.