NASA Downsizing a Big Hit to Houston

The retooling of NASA is a concern for area leaders worried about what that could mean to the local economy. Houston Mayor Annise Parker said the projected job loss would be a huge blow to Houston and surrounding communities. Pat Hernandez has more.

It is estimated that as many as 7-thousand jobs could be eliminated after the space shuttle program is retired this year. Initial plans called for shifting shuttle workers to the Constellation project. But the proposed 2011 budget for  NASA calls the cancellation of the ambitious program that was to focus on this country’s return to the moon. Houston Mayor Annise Parker in her mayor’s report to council, talked about keeping the Johnson Space Center alive.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker“House budget hearings on NASA are being monitored by the city of Houston intergovernmental relations team. 29 members of the U.S. House have signed and submitted a joint letter to NASA administrator Bolden, asking him to stop any activities that would directly or indirectly close out the Constellation program. Going forward, Representative Pete Olson will lead efforts on securing a letter of support from the U.S. conference of mayors. I will be traveling to Washington in March to meet personally with General Bolden, to discuss the funding of the Constellation program.”

Parker will be joined by other officials including Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia and Bob Mitchell. He’s the president of the newly formed Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

“We are giving up our leadership in space. I’ve always been told since I was young,  that giving up the high ground is not the right thing to do. And that’s what this administration is attempting to do. The rhetoric that’s coming out of the administration that says that there is a human space flight program in the cards, well the problem is they haven’t been able to explain what that is, we don’t know when, we don’t know where. We can’t afford to give up our leadership in space.”

Bob MitchellMitchell says there is another matter concerning national security.

“The other countries that go into space, their military and their civil space programs are one in the same. America is the only one that is split. So, don’t think for one second that these other countries don’t see this as a military issue. The Russians are committed to fly our astronauts in space and get them back and forth the international space station in order to do experiments for the next three years. But what tell us that when they finally really figure out that we don’t have the ability to get into space, are they really gonna take our astronauts, are they really gonna our experiments? Its not acceptable.”

NASA says it intends to find new ways to send Americans to space within five years.