Houston leaders stress importance of NASA

February 24, 2010 1:12:27 PM PST
There's a lot of uncertainty about what's next for NASA, and that has Houston city leaders concerned. Mayor Annise Parker and other leaders are trying to stress the importance of continuing funding for NASA. The agency is a key part of Houston's economy because of the Johnson Space Center. Houston Mayor Annise Parker talked this morning about the importance of keeping the Johnson Space Center alive. And in the words of one council member, "Washington, you have a problem."

The space shuttle program is winding down, and the proposed 2011 budget for NASA calls for the cancellation of the Constellation program. That's the program which focuses on the United States' return to human space flight. Mayor Parker's Regional Response and Action Plan includes a trip for her to meet with the head of NASA, General Charles Bolden, in March in Washington, DC.

A wide array of groups which will be affected by this decision have gathered, from the Clear Creek ISD to area politicians representing their constituencies. Many have pointed to the jobs which will be lost.

"Human space exploration is fundamental to the future leadership, national security and economic vitality of the United States," said Mayor Parker. "JSC is the centerpiece of NASA's human space exploration mission and needs to continue in that role."

Bob Mitchell, President of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, explained, "There are 18,000 direct jobs that work at the Johnson Space Center, that equates to about a total of about 31,000 people that actually work, that contribute to the JSC economy. I want to mention that those total jobs are valued at $2 billion in personal income and expenditures in that region."

We'll have more on this important meeting on abc13.com and Eyewitness News this afternoon.