Bennet, Perlmutter Call on President to Maintain Orion Program

Denver, CO –U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter are calling on President Obama to maintain the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) Program to ensure that the program remains on track while Congress completes the budget for Fiscal Year 2011.

“This program is the cornerstone of our nation’s human space exploration program and a source of national pride that will ensure our nation continues to be the leader in space even after the Space Shuttle retires,” Bennet and Perlmutter wrote in the letter to the President.

“Maintaining the FY 2010 level of funding at this crucial time—during which the federal government is operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR)—would continue to allow for an Orion test flight as early as 2013. . . . A mission such as this would not only stabilize the aerospace workforce and protect jobs around the country, but it would also provide a back-up capability to the commercial crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station (ISS), if necessary.”

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.

Earlier this year, Congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 but has yet to determine resource allocation for FY2011. The Orion program was initially left out of the President’s proposed NASA budget, but was reinserted following a joint effort from Bennet, Perlmutter and the Colorado delegation to block the cut. In April, Bennet and Senator Mark Udall met with NASA Administrator General Charlie Bolden to urge him to reconsider the cut. Both Senators voiced concern about terminating the Constellation program, which would provide a replacement for the retiring space shuttle fleet, and accounts for thousands of good jobs in Colorado.

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