By LEONARD SPARKS
WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 2009)—Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, was named vice chairwoman of the House subcommittee that oversees space policy and research and development, her office announced this week.
Edwards' position on the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee gives her broad influence over commercial space programs at the Transportation and Commerce departments and manned and unmanned space programs at NASA.
"It's a nice, wide-reaching committee," said Edwards, whose 4th District encompasses parts of Prince George's and Montgomery counties. "It's a tremendous opportunity for me to offer my experience in a different capacity."
Edwards' resume includes working as a Lockheed contractor from 1982 to 1986, when she translated technical documents for the Spacelab project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.
Goddard sits just outside Edwards' district and employs about 10,000, including 3,000 federal government workers.
She called it "unusual" for a relative newcomer to be named committee vice chairwoman but said her Goddard experience brings a unique perspective to the committee.
"I loved it," Edwards said. "I was around a whole lot of incredibly talented and trained engineers and researchers."
Edwards' vision for NASA includes a greater emphasis on in-house research and development that could yield technologies with wide applications.
A better balance between manned space flight and unmanned exploration should also be examined, she said.
"We've obviously had a lot of attention on the manned space flight program," she said. "It's really important to have some really resonating science and research in the agency."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said in a statement that Edwards' passion for space exploration and science should be "indispensible."
"I congratulate Representative Edwards," Hoyer said. "I look forward to working with her on behalf of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and in advancing U.S. competitiveness through the fields of space, aeronautics and technology."
Capital News Service contributed to this report.