More than 700 Machinists gathered in Houston this week for a rally to urge supporters of the U.S. manned space program to send a message that could be heard all the way back in Washington, D.C.
Click here to view ‘Houston, We Have a Message,’ an IAM video about the rally.
“It’s time to let Congress know that American astronauts deserve better than a heavily outsourced space program that relies on Russian, Japanese and even Chinese contractors to provide transportation to the International Space Station (ISS),” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “If NASA and the Obama administration have their way, American astronauts will be reduced to hitchhiking to the ISS.”
Among the speakers at the rally were Texas Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Bill White, Texas Democratic Lt. Governor nominee Linda Chavez-Thompson, Texas Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Republican Representative Pete Olson, Harris County AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Shaw and Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller.
Speaker after speaker called on President Obama to reconsider his plans to terminate the Constellation program and commercialize the shuttle program. More than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in Texas, Florida and other states are associated with the two programs.
While the president’s space budget allocates an extra $6 billion for NASA over the next six years, thousands of highly-skilled jobs would be eliminated as the agency turned to private contractors to develop launch rockets and crew capsules.
“Do we really want to risk our astronauts’ safety on equipment and technology developed by for-profit companies with unproven track records in safety and reliability?” asked Buffenbarger. “The manned space program in the United States has been the pride of the nation and the envy of the world for more than 50 years. It has more than earned our continued support.”