Public Policy Action

LAEDC Urges the Protection of SOFIA

By April 29, 2014 No Comments

April 28, 2014

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Re: Protect the SOFIA Program

Dear Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer:

On behalf of the LA Jobs Defense Council, a network of Southern California-based organizations and leaders from the business, labor, education, nonprofit, and public sectors dedicated to protecting the hundreds of thousands of workers, countless families, and entire communities throughout the region and state, we urge your leadership to protect the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Program and ensure its full funding for the foreseeable future. Timing could not be more critical on this as the program has an order to shut down existing operations by May 31, 2014.

SOFIA is located at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (formerly Dryden) Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, California and at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, providing 250+ direct jobs throughout California. The program is a joint venture with the German Aerospace Center and is a one-of-a-kind international airborne telescope that has only recently entered full-scale operation after nearly two decades of development and a $1.1 billion investment from the U.S. coupled with a $140 million investment from Germany. Unfortunately, however, NASA’s 2015 budget request, which cuts almost 24 percent from its education programs (even though NASA’s overall budget request is down only one percent from $17.64 billion to $17.46 billion from the previous year), calls for the defunding of this important education-related program before it has even had a chance to perform at full capacity—with an order to shut down existing operations by May 31st and to close down completely by September 30, 2014.

This program was developed to advance STEM education for years to come, providing cutting-edge astronomic science, research and education through unobstructed views of the solar system without atmospheric interference that traditionally plagues other telescopes.

After already investing over $1 billion in this program, U.S. taxpayers deserve to benefit from the full educational value this telescope can provide. We urge you to not let an annual $87.3 million operational price tag (a mere fraction of what has already been invested) derail this significant scientific research and education project. We are asking for you to do the following:
• Issue a temporary stay on the shutdown request order of May 31st for the SOFIA program ; and
• Fully fund the $87.3 million in operating costs for fiscal year 2015, as well as the 19 remaining years it was slated to run.

We thank you for your consideration of this request, and should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 213-236-4837.


Norm Hickling
Co-Chair, L.A. Jobs Defense Council

Bill Buratto
Ventura County Economic Development Association

David Flaks, Chief Operating Officer
Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation

Tracy Rafter
BizFed Founding CEO

David J. Blanco
Performance Ascent, Inc.

Vicki Medina
Executive Director
Antelope Valley Board of Trade

Mayor Cathy Warner
City of Whittier

Gary Johnson
Vice President, ACE Clearwater Enterprises

Kellie Johnson
President, ACE Clearwater Enterprises

Gary Toebben
President & CEO
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Brent D. Page
Government Liaison
Adecco Government

Cynthia Kurtz
President & CEO
San Gabriel valley Economic Partnership

Marilyn McPoland
Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation

Mayor Suzanne Fuentes
City of El Segundo

Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal

Councilmember Marie Fellhauer
City of El Segundo

Kimberly Maevers, President
Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance

President Barack Obama
Speaker of the House John Boehner
Senator Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader
Congressmember Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader
Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader
Honorable Members of the US Senate and House of Representatives Budget and Appropriations Committees
Honorable Members of the California Congressional Delegation