The Alabama’s 5th Congressional District just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. In fact, one could say it has descended into a farce.
If you recall, Rep. Parker Griffith switched from the Democratic to the Republican party last year, citing a lack of seriousness on the part of the Administration on defense and space issues. This was somewhat ironic because by going into the minority party, Griffith largely forfeited his ability to influence these policies. That includes the Administration’s plan to dismantle the Constellation program, an idea that Griffith strenuously opposes.
Griffith seems to have been betting that he could hold onto his seat in the conservative state by becoming a Republican, and that the party will be back in the majority after the November elections.
The latter may well come true, but Griffith won’t be part of it. On Tuesday, he was defeated in the Republican primary by challenger Mo Brooks, who will now be the party’s candidate in the November elections. Two of Brooks’ main arguments: you can trust Griffith because he changed parties and he’s been ineffective in defending Constellation.
Brooks also opposes Obama’s Constellation plan, even though NASA’s switch to commercial rockets could well benefit United Launch Alliance, whose large Decatur facility is in the 5th District. Now, the strange part is why Brooks opposes the plan:
â€œI donâ€™t want the private sector being in charge of what is national security information,â€ he said.
This is quite odd because ULA’s rockets – Atlas V and Delta IV – are largely used to launch top-secret defense payloads. The Air Force paid for their development. The company is a 50-50 partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, two large defense contractors.
So, it’s not really clear how national security would be endangered by NASA using ones of these rockets to launch civilian spacecraft to the International Space Station.