- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s good that Russia will soon be back in the crew launch business (“NASA expresses hope Russia’s rocket problems can be corrected,” Nation, Thursday), but no American who cares about space should like the current situation.

We now spend more than $60 million per astronaut to reach the International Space Station that America invested billions in to create. This money that now goes to Russia could have funded our own launches and kept working the Americans who lost their jobs when the space shuttle program ended. Unfortunately, by under-investing in crew vehicles during the past decade, NASA has been put in a position where it really has no alternative.

International cooperation in space is important, and more will be needed as we take on bigger missions, such as sending humans to a distant asteroid, the moon or Mars. But there is a lesson here for U.S. policymakers: Cooperation is good but dependence is not. If America is to work with other nations from a position of leadership and strength, we must come to the table as fully capable partners, not supplicants.

That means fully funding NASA’s relatively modest budget ($18 billion last year - less than a third of what Americans spend on snacks) and a sustained, long-term commitment to an ambitious program of new exploration missions - one that doesn’t wax and wane as administrations come and go.

FRANK SLAZER

Vice president, Space Systems,

Aerospace Industries Association

Arlington

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