News / Science & Technology

New Director of Johnson Space Center Faces Cutbacks, Uncertainty

New Director of Johnson Space Center Faces Cutbacks, Uncertaintyi
X
February 08, 2013 1:54 AM
Two recent U.S. reports by the National Research Council in December, and the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel in January, have criticized U.S. space policy for lacking focus and also the funds necessary to carry out the goals set by the president and Congress. The reports echoed the complaints of many critics, including a number of former astronauts, who say the space shuttle program should not have been ended before there was another vehicle to replace it. VOA's Greg Flakus has more on the story from Houston, Texas.
New Director of Johnson Space Center Faces Cutbacks, Uncertainty
Greg Flakus
Two recent U.S. reports by the National Research Council in December, and the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel in January, have criticized U.S. space policy for lacking focus and also the funds necessary to carry out the goals set by the president and Congress. The reports echoed the complaints of many critics, including a number of former astronauts, who say the space shuttle program should not have been ended before there was another vehicle to replace it.

When the U.S. space shuttle was still flying, the Johnson Space Center in Houston was a busy place.

But now, all the shuttles are in museums and the Johnson Space Center has laid off hundreds of highly skilled technicians.

That's a shame, according to former Johnson Space Center director George Abbey, who is now at Rice University.

“Those programs and those people are gone to us, and trying to rebuild that now is going to be a real challenge,” Abbey said.

The new director of the Johnson Space Center is former astronaut Ellen Ochoa, who is working with what is left of the U.S. human spaceflight program.

“Programs do come and go. That is not always within our control here, but we want to work as hard at what is within our control, which is making our current operational programs in human space flight successful,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa says the Johnson Space Center continues its role as mission control for the International Space Station, while NASA develops new rockets and seeks cost-effective ways of using older technology.

“We understand that we are under budget constraints.  We want to make as much use of many things that we already have in development,” Ochoa said.

But experts at a recent conference at Rice University said the U.S. space program is being undermined by politics.

Professor Joan Johnson-Freese of the U.S. Naval War College says the 2010 proposal to visit an asteroid is an example of a goal with no plan.

“It's been three years now and I would suggest if that is, in fact, a goal they are serious about, there ought to be first steps taken,” Johnson-Freese said.

The conference panel also called for more coordination between U.S. government laboratories, the Defense Department and NASA - and for more international cooperation.

Former U.S. astronaut and International Space Station commander Leroy Chiao cites successful cooperation with Russia as a guide.

“I think we should expand that leadership to include countries like China.  China is the only other country - only other entity right now - capable of launching astronauts into space,” Chiao said.

But cooperation with China on space endeavors has been blocked by Congress, and funding of the U.S. program is threatened by Congressional budget battles.

Still, Ochoa remains upbeat about NASA's future.

“We are doing everything we can, day by day, to move exploration forward," Ochoa said.

But NASA's ambitious plans for space exploration will ultimately depend on cost-conscious lawmakers in the U.S. Congress, now struggling to reduce the nation's massive budget deficit.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid