There are some 18,000 aerospace jobs in Houston, with more than 90 percent located in the Bay Area. The Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce expects the end of Constellation will impact the local economy and trickle down to small businesses. Congressional Democrats are railing against budget cuts, as well as some Republicans. Senator John Cornyn of Texas says taking a hatchet to the human spaceflight program is a bad idea.
“We have had many technological and scientific innovations as a result of our spaceflight. We don’t want to become increasingly dependent on China and India and Russia for our human spaceflight. And I think it just makes common sense for us to continue this program, including the Constellation program, which the president’s budget purports to eliminate in its entirety.”
Obama’s space policy calls for $6 billion to be spent to help privatize spaceflight. Houston-based Boeing Space Exploration has been given $18 million to develop a transportation system and seven-person crew capsule that NASA may choose to carry astronauts to the ISS as early as 2016. Senator Cornyn is critical of the president’s proposed change of mission that favors research over exploration.
“I don’t believe you can have scientific research and innovation without spaceflight, particularly human spaceflight. I know that there are some that believe we can all do it with robots and unmanned vehicles, but I think the sorts of discoveries that have made our life better and made our country more competitive as a result of the human spaceflight experience have demonstrated the benefit.”
Meanwhile, the space shuttle Endeavour and a crew of six are set for an early Sunday morning launch to deliver a new room to the International Space Station. This will be the last major construction mission at the ISS, which is almost complete.