Briefly: members speak, and Hiaasen speaks out

With Congress in recess this past week, members have been in their home districts talking about policy issues-which, in the case of certain districts in Alabama and Florida, means talking about space. Florida Today reports that Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) told an audience of local retired military officers that the US is making "a horrible mistake" by not having a clear path forward for human spaceflight, saying that space is the "ultimate military high ground" (but not further explaining the link between human spaceflight and military space applications, which rely on unmanned spacecraft.) By contrast, Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), whose district includes KSC, did not mention space in a luncheon speech Friday, telling Florida Today afterwards that her constituents "all know that I am working hard for NASA." One constituent interviewed after the speech, in fact, said she would have liked to hear more from Adams about space issues. With all the concerns about funding levels, heavy-lift launch vehicle programs, commercial crew development, and the like, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) decided to focus instead Saturday on another NASA issue: outreach to Muslim countries. "Quite frankly, I don't think that's the mission of NASA," he told a town hall audience in Athens, Alabama, the Huntsville Times reports, referring to comments made by NASA administrator Charles Bolden last year. (The administration would agree with Rep. Brooks: they later said Bolden misspoke.) Brooks said he hopes that Congress will stop those outreach plans, the Times reported, and "focus on strengthening NASA and the space program" in the name of "American exceptional ism". Novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen doesn't say much about space, but NASA's current situation, where it's forced to continue to spend money on Constellation programs, even those elements cancelled in last year's authorization bill, was too much for him to ignore. Hiaasen directed his invective at Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who authored the provision in the FY2010 appropriations act, still in effect thought the series of continuing resolutions, that keeps NASA from cancelling elements of Constellation. "Yet instead of doing what's best for all American taxpayers (and for NASA, which is scraping for funds), the senator is content to sit back and watch nearly $280 million go down a black hole – and into the hands of major campaign contributors," Hiaasen wrote, referring to campaign donations Shelby received from ATK and its employees. (It does seem at times as though we're in the middle of a plot of a Hiaasen novel: all we need is an epic showdown in The Everglades.)

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