Alliant Techsystems and NASA technicians ready a prototype Ares 1 first-stage solid-rocket motor for a test firing. Credit: ATK photo

With Congress set to return from summer recess and resume work on NASA legislation, 14 Nobel laureates along with several former NASA officials and astronauts have signed a letter endorsing U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to kill the Moon-bound Constellation program and rely on commercial crew taxis to ferry astronauts to and from the international space station, the New York Times reported. The group criticized a House NASA authorization bill that would retain significant elements of Constellation and require NASA to begin work on a heavy-lift rocket incorporating shuttle- and Constellation-derived technologies and infrastructure.


“The House bill, the writers said, would leave ‘substantially underfunded’ the areas of technology development, commercial spaceflight, robotic missions, and university and student research.”

According to the story, G.Scott Hubbard, former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center and John Logsdon, professor emeritus at the George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, came up with the idea for the letter, which was coordinated by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.