What a difference a little invasion makes, huh?
According to The Verge, NASA Chief Administrator Charles Bolden issued a statement on Wednesday night confirming that NASA is severing virtually all ties with Russian space efforts in protest over their violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and invasion of Crimea. He further used the statement to claim that the U.S. space agency was now “laser focused” on launching astronauts from U.S. soil and is committed to doing so by 2017. Finally, he enthusiastically blamed Congress and “chronic underfunding” for the failure of NASA to maintain a constant manned launch capability:
This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration’s for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches – and the jobs they support – back to the United States next year. With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we’re now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It’s that simple. The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America – and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same.
While this absurd level of blamestorming is not surprising, given that Mr. Bolden serves at the pleasure of the President and is therefore incapable of blaming him for anything, this plea is particularly odorous. In fact, the Congress resisted the President’s illegal direction in 2010 that the Space Shuttle program, as well as much of the Constellation Project for future manned space started under the Bush Administration, be cancelled. It was the Executive Branch that forced our reliance on Russian space transportation to the International Space Station, despite many voices shouting disagreement and expressing many dire warnings. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, repeatedly called the actions “embarrassing.” It will be interesting to see if any member of Congress complains about this misappropriation of blame, or whether any members of the media think to question the White House about it.