Bennet Statement on NASA Space Launch System Announcement

New, Heavy-Lift Rocket Will Carry Orion Crew Capsule Into Space Once Completed

Washington, DC – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet issued the following statement regarding an announcement made today by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden that the Agency has selected the design of a new Space Launch System (SLS). Once completed, the SLS will carry human crews beyond low Earth orbit in the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which is being developed by Lockheed Martin in Colorado.

“This announcement marks the first, American-led step back into space since the end of the Space Shuttle program earlier this year,” said Bennet. “It clears the way for a new era of human space exploration that will reaffirm our country’s rightful position as a global leader in space, and the people who make up Colorado’s aerospace industry will play a critical role in advancing that effort. The new SLS combined with the Orion Crew Capsule already under development right here in Colorado will help launch human space exploration and scientific discovery to new and exciting heights.”

Roughly 4,000 highly-skilled employees work on the Orion program across the country, including support from about 500 small businesses. In Colorado, 1,000 Coloradans and 22 companies support the program, which is a critical engine of technological innovation, job creation and economic growth.

The Orion program was initially left out of the President’s proposed NASA budget for FY2011, but was reinserted following a joint effort from Bennet and the rest of the Colorado Congressional delegation to argue forcefully that ending Orion would have been a mistake for our country.