Congressman Lamar Smith

Representing the 21st District of Texas
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Smith Condemns Administration’s Space Exploration Delays

Sep 16, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement in response to an announcement that NASA will be forced to delay the development of the Orion crew vehicle. Last year the administration also delayed the development of the Space Launch System. Both of these systems are being developed for deep space human exploration.  

Chairman Lamar Smith: “Once again, the Obama administration is choosing to delay deep space exploration priorities such as Orion and the Space Launch System that will take U.S. astronauts to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.  While this administration has consistently cut funding for these programs and delayed their development, Congress has consistently restored funding as part of our commitment to maintaining American leadership in space. We must chart a compelling course for our nation’s space program so that we can continue to inspire future generations of scientists, engineers and explorers.  I urge this administration to follow the lead of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s NASA Authorization Act to fully fund NASA’s exploration programs.” 

In April, Smith hosted Apollo astronaut and Kerrville resident Gene Cernan at the U.S. Capitol to address fellow lawmakers about the importance of American leadership in space exploration and show a screening of a documentary on Cernan’s life. Cernan was the last person to walk on the Moon more than forty years ago.

NASA announced today that its schedule for the first crewed mission of SLS and Orion will slip to 2023; this represents a two year slip from previous plans for the first mission by 2021. The agency announced similar delays last fall. Smith has repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for failure to request adequate funding for Orion and the Space Launch System; the administration’s FY16 budget request proposed cuts of more than $440 million for the programs while earth science accounts have increased by 63 percent during the past eight years. Thirteen agencies do climate research, but only one conducts space exploration.

The House Science Committee’s NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017 provided NASA with a balanced, budget-neutral plan that prioritized crucial programs being developed to return U.S. astronauts to deep space destinations such as the Moon and Mars.