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The last two months of 2009 provided several opportunities for testimony, rounding out a banner year for AIA’s discussions of space issues on Capitol Hill.
In November, AIA Vice President for Space JP Stevens presented testimony to the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics on the growth of global space capabilities. He addressed concerns about the U.S. industrial base in the face of global competition, noting that interruptions or cancellations of programs that impact large companies can be catastrophic to smaller firms – often the only entities with the unique abilities to produce small but critical components on which huge portions of our economy, infrastructure and security depend. Stevens also raised concerns about U.S. export control policies that are counterproductive for the space industry, negatively impacting America’s security interests.
In December, Stevens testified on commercial space issues before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. Stevens stressed that our nation’s share of commercial space launches is decreasing. In 2008, only six of the 28 worldwide commercial launches were conducted by U.S. companies. Stevens also noted the importance of extending the U.S. commercial space launch indemnification regime, which was set to expire at the end of December. Even more commercial launch business could be driven overseas in the absence of government indemnification against third-party loss, he said.
Finally, in December, AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey spoke before the full House Committee on Science and Technology regarding NASA’s industrial base and workforce. Blakey stressed that while the Administration and Congress consider the future of NASA, we must ensure our continuing leadership in space exploration by investing in education and funding cutting-edge programs to attract young people to careers in NASA and industry. She went on to say that maintaining the aerospace workforce depends on continuing stable and robust funding for the nation’s space program, stressing that fluctuating budgets and delayed programs adversely affect a skilled workforce.
Last year was remarkable for AIA’s space efforts on Capitol Hill. Blakey and Stevens provided testimony on space issues six times and submitted additional testimony twice. AIA also hosted three congressional briefings on space protection, utilizing the International Space Station and missile defense.
AIA Source: andrew.barber[at]aia-aerospace.org