in Houston, Texas
While congressmen propose new oversight for NASA, private company sets launch date to resupply International Space Station
Friday, Sep 21, 2012, 02:56PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

It has taken a generation, but four congressmen, two of them from Texas, have figured out what has been wrong all this time with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Too much politics.

Reps. John Culberson of Houston, Pete Olson of Sugar Land, Bill Posey of Florida and Frank Wolf of Virginia, all Republicans, want NASA to be run by a non-partisan administrator and an 11-member board selected by -- don’t take too long guessing -- politicians, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Culberson told a news conference in Washington, a safe non-partisan haven, the Space Leadership Preservation Act of 2012 will free NASA’s scientists, engineers and astronauts to do what they do best.

We’re assuming he didn’t mean beating the Russians to the moon.

By eerie coincidence, the congressmen announced their bill on the very day SpaceX announced plans in partnership with NASA to send a loaded unmanned Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station on Oct. 7.

The scheduled flight comes less than five months after SpaceX became the first private company to complete a mission into space. And six months after proposing to build a rocket launch complex just south of South Padre Island.

While the company currently awaits the results of an environmental impact statement, Environment Texas, a wholly apolitical Austin non-profit, made a statement of its own: Launch your rockets someplace else.

The private space industry is plenty used to that kind of politicking, having fended off Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the ranking but outgoing member of the Commerce Science and Transportation Committee.

In the past Hutchison expressed, reliably, forcefully and without favor, a preference for space travel planned by and commencing from the taxpayer-funded Johnson Space Center in Houston.

It is this sort of space travel Americans need, without all the back room dealing, to stave off the Chinese, a space competitor that doesn’t share our democratic values, Wolf said.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of Ed White during the first American spacewalk via NASA.

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