Adams on human spaceflight, delayed budgets, and sea versus space

More end-of-the-year odds and ends: Among the new members of Congress taking office next week is Rep.-elect Sandy Adams (R-FL), who defeated Suzanne Kosmas in November in Florida's 24th district, which includes the Kennedy Space Center. In an op-ed in the Daytona Beach News-Journal today, Adams says she'll seek to make human spaceflight the "core mission" of NASA. "I will work to educate my colleagues about the importance of restoring human space flight as the mission of NASA – not as an afterthought or something that would be 'nice' to do, but as the core mission of the agency," she writes. Her concerns are based on what she perceives to be "a national security issue" ("We cannot and should not be forced to rely on the Russians and Chinese to get our astronauts into space") but also a local jobs issue. She does not get into specifics, though, about what she will do to achieve that goal. Adams and others, though, may have to fight on another front: against scientists and others who would like to see funding for space research spent instead on studying the oceans. In a commentary, Kevin Ulmer of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution argues that the planet "needs a Hubble for its oceans", specifically, a global monitoring network that would provide real-time information on ocean conditions. He has an idea of where the money could come from for such a system: space programs like the James Webb Space Telescope. "I, for one, would gladly wait a bit longer to learn of oceans on distant planets in return for the ability to see our own precious seas with the clarity and detail that will be required to insure the continued existence of life on this planet." How the administration will propose to allocate funding for NASA and other federal agencies in 2012 will be delayed a bit, POLITICO reports. Typically budget proposals are released on the first Monday of February, which would be February 7, but administration officials now say the FY12 proposal will come out a week later, around February 14. The delay is due to the belated Senate confirmation of new OMB director Jack Lew and continuing delays in finalizing appropriations for FY11. Space advocates will have to wait a bit longer, then, to see how much love the administration has for NASA.

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