Sunday, February 2, 2003

DeWine: NASA funding will be rexamined

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Two members of the Tristate's congressional delegation that sit as watchdogs on NASA said Saturday that it was too early to point any fingers or to either cut or expand funding. But both said an examination of the agency will certainly ensue from the Columbia accident.

"This is a very mature program at this point," said U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, a member of the Senate subcommittee that oversees funding for NASA.

"The budget has shrunk for NASA, and I'm sure that this tragedy will cause some re-examination of where money is being spent, but it is very premature to speculate on what could happen beyond that."

DeWine, who resides in Cedarville, added that he had pushed for more than the current level of funding for NASA, but that the country is "looking at tough times and tough choices, especially when we're fighting a war on terrorism and potentially a war against Iraq."

U.S. Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, a member of the House subcommittee that oversees NASA's funding, said one thing that could get lost in a post-accident investigation is how risky space travel is in the first place.

"We kind of take it for granted, and while I'm no scientist, I can see that these guys have done an excellent job in making it incredibly safe," said Hobson of Springfield. "But when something like this happens, we need to go back and look and if necessary refocus on what we did wrong and how we can make it better."

Hobson said that he had not seen pressure to downsize the agency prior to the accident as had been the case following the Challenger disaster, but that he expected such calls to come.

"There may be criticisms that the agency is not what it once was and is all this worth it, but we have to try and lot let ourselves overreact, even though it is hard given this loss of human life."

(Complete Columbia coverage at

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