Gore calls for shift in NASA spending


GREENBELT -- Democratic vice presidential candidate Albert Gore lashed out at the Bush ad- ministration yesterday for misdirecting the national space program with costly and "half-baked" ideas.

"During the last four years, the Bush/Quayle administration has failed to establish strategic priorities for the space program," Senator Gore told 200 employees at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center. "Instead, this administration has taken to throwing out half-baked ideas, regardless of their cost to taxpayers, hoping that the money to pay for them will materialize out of thin air," the Tennessee senator said. As an example of such misdirection, Senator Gore cited the President's "absurd" announcement in 1989 that he wanted to send astronauts to Mars by the year 2019 at a cost of $100 billion to $400 billion.

Under the Bush administration, he claimed, NASA has found itself working on too many programs with too little money.

"The end result of this approach is programs that are delayed, stretched out or even canceled. Scientific opportunities have been put on hold and high wage jobs in the aerospace and scientific communities have been eliminated," said Mr. Gore, who chairs the Senate subcommittee that writes NASA's authorization bill.

Senator Gore said he and Democratic presidential nominee BillClinton would focus on strengthening the aerospace industry and setting priorities for NASA if elected.

"We need to make the space program more cost-effective and flexible," he told the audience, which earlier greeted him with a standing ovation. He praised Goddard's "Mission to Planet Earth," a program to use satellites and other technology for atmospheric and environmental research.

The senator also pledged to continue improving the safety of the space shuttle and to complete development of the space station Freedom, a planned orbiting laboratory. As defense spending declines, he said, programs such as the space station Freedom will help stabilize the nation's industrial base.

Mr. Clinton, the governor of Arkansas, wants to shift federal research money from Cold War defense programs such as the "star wars" space-based missile defense system to the space station and other big-ticket civilian projects.


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