By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Mo Brook (R) from Huntsville recently agreed to a lengthy interview with ‘The Alabama Political Reporter.’ Among other topics, the first term Alabama Congressman discussed his views on NASA and the direction of the American space program.
Rep. Brooks said, “Let’s face it, over the last fifty years our ability to put men into space and go to the moon and build the International Space Station and to field the Space Shuttle for three decades was the best example to the world of American exceptionalism. No one has been able to manage what we have done in space and that has separated us from the rest of the world and created immense national pride in America.”
Congressman Brooks said however that, “Obama has eroded that he has tried to kill our ability to access space with his effort—successful—to kill the Constellation program.” “President Obama is the most hostile president against NASA we have ever had during my lifetime.” Rep. Brooks said, “The White House is doing everything it can to keep NASA from being exceptional.”
Rep. Brooks said that NASA has been most successful when we have had strong presidential leadership. Rep. Brooks said, “It started that way with President Kennedy and the Saturn 5 and the mission to the moon and it continued that with the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Now we have a president who is not providing the necessary leadership that NASA requires but in fact seems quite hostile to NASA continuing in its exceptional capacity.”
U.S. Representative Brooks said, “Fortunately, the congress was able to force his hand and reinstate Constellation albeit by a different name.—The Space Launch System.”
The Space Launch System (SLS) is NASA’s new monster rocket. The target date for the new system is December 17, 2017. The plan is that the first launch will be unmanned and it will send an un-crewed Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle around the moon. NASA has not sent an astronaut beyond earth orbit since the Apollo program in the 1970s.
The SLS borrows freely from America’s past space exploration efforts including the space shuttle program, the Ares I rocks, and its forerunner the Saturn V rocket which sent America to the phone. The first version of the SLS will have two solid rocket boosters like the space shuttle had. The planned second generation of the SLS will have redesigned engines and will do away with the rocket boosters. The SLS is expected to be 403 feet in height (40 foot taller than the massive Saturn V rocket that took man to the moon for the first time in 1969). The first version of the SLS is expected to be able to lift 70 metric tons into space, but NASA hopes that the next generation version of SLS will be able to lift up to 130 metric tons.
The first manned mission of the SLS is tentatively scheduled for 2019 and will follow the same trek around the moon. Eventually SLS version 1 could be used for either landing man back on the moon or on an asteroid (as President Obama has suggested). The target date for the man on an asteroid mission is 2025. The more powerful version 2 of the SLS is expected to be on line in the 2030s and could be used to launch a manned mission to Mars. There is a tentative schedule of one SLS launch per year.
Development of the SLS program is expected to cost $3 billion a year through 2017. The cost could rise substantially when the program begins launching the rockets.
Congressman Mo Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District. Rep. Brooks is seeking his second term in the U.S. Congress. His opponent in the November 6th General Election is minister Charlie Holley.