Sen. Nelson: Speed up manned space flight

Sen. Nelson: Speed up manned space flight

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson met with NASA and intelligence officials and now does not believe the problems between Russia and the Ukraine will keep the United States from being able to use Russian rockets to get to the International Space Station.

Nelson tells FOX 35 the two countries are too interdependent with their space programs and the ISS to let these tensions interfere with allowing U.S. astronauts on the ISS flights.

"Almost all of the Russian power that they need on the Space Station comes from the US system.  Secondly, most of the commands that are given with regard to the Russian modules all are integrated and come through NASA."

Nelson says this crisis is a good reminder that by giving NASA more money, private companies vying to launch the next generation of manned flights could happen more quickly.
 
"The timeline that NASA is using right now is 2017.  However, you pour more juice into the development of commercial crew, some of the companies will tell you they can do it by 2016."

Nelson believes that if the Obama Administration's request of 850 million for NASA is approved, perhaps more than one company could be selected for the manned flights.
 
"We need to give NASA the money, the appropriations so that as it starts to do the down select on companies, that it doesn't have to limit it just to one company."

Nelson also issued a warning to Vladimir Putin.
 
"The economic screws are going are going to be tightened, and he's going to have to think long and hard whether or not he wants that economic pain."

The U.S. does not have much choice for the next 3 years.  If they want to send astronauts to the ISS, it will have to be on a Soyuz rocket.

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