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[i]Later today, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson will liftoff towards the International Space Station, not from the Space Coast of Florida or some other American spaceport, but from Kazakhstan on a Russian spacecraft. And unfortunately, the plan put forward by the Obama Administration to address this situation has been stymied by some in Congress.
Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle — a decision made in 2004 – the United States has been dependent on the Russians to get our astronauts to the International Space Station. Recognizing that this was unacceptable, President Obama has requested in NASA's budget more than $800 million each of the past 5 years to incentivize the American aerospace industry to build the spacecraft needed to launch our astronauts from American soil. Had this 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.
Budgets are about choices. The choice moving forward is between fully funding the President's request to bring space launches back to American soil or continuing to send millions 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...[/i]
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