Last week’s Orlando Sentinel report that NASA will have to spend nearly $500 million on Ares 1 because of a provision in the FY10 appropriations act that has persisted through the series of continuing resolutions isn’t news for people in the industry, but it has attracted the attention of editorial writers at papers that ordinarily wouldn’t pay much attention to space issues. Some examples:

“A failure by Congress has locked NASA – long the symbol of American innovation and technological ingenuity – into funding a program President Obama has killed,” argued the Toledo Blade in an editorial Sunday. (While the administration sought to kill Ares 1, it was the authorization act passed by Congress that effectively did the program in.) “Thanks to congressional inaction on the 2011 budget, the future has taken a back seat to cosmic pork.”

In a brief editorial Monday, the Raleigh News and Observer also speaks out against the continued funding of the program. “‘If we can put a man on the moon …’ is a phrase invoked whenever America faces a daunting challenge. This budget foul-up is a reminder that we reached the moon because of NASA, and not because of Congress.”

“Is it too much to ask? Can our elected representatives in Washington make even a game attempt to avoid obscene wastes of taxpayer money?” asks the Buffalo News Tuesday, complaining about the continued spending on Ares 1 and taking aim in particular at Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). The senator, the editorial argues, “called [the administration’s proposal] ‘the death march for the future of U. S. human space flight.’ In reality, the senator was probably upset about the death of a future U. S. human employment program in his home state.”

It remains to be seen, though, if any of this editorial-page outrage will translate into action by Congress to remove the offending provision or take other action on a final FY11 spending bill before the current CR expires in early March.


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