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Andrew L. Gasser launched Tea Party In Space in June as a way to "bring fiscal responsibility" into the space program, he told TPM Tuesday. He called the group, which was formed in conjunction with the South Florida Tea Party, the first "issue-specific" tea party in the country.
Gasser explained that the group aims to bring the free markets into the space program, because right now, he say, there is only the government -- which amounts to socialism. "It is socialism when you have the government coming down and saying, 'this is what we want to build, and this is how we want you to build it,'" he said.
But Gasser stopped short of saying the government should be out of the space entirely. "There has to be limited government," he said. "There has to be a partnership."
"Some people inside NASA get it and some people don't," he later added.
The TPIS, which describes itself as non-partisan, boasts the motto "Get Your Tea In Zero G" on its site, and encourages supporters to attend their Congressional representatives' town halls. In a press release announcing the launch of the group's platform, Gasser said:
The TEA Party's core values are just what America's space endeavors need right now in this volatile economy. NASA is being forced to fund programs that are behind schedule and ridiculously over budget. It's time to ask: 'how much is enough?' Both NASA, and the American taxpayer deserve a better plan and that's what our platform provides.
Gasser told TPM that members of the Tea Party Caucus were the most interested in what he had to say about NASA, though he has heard from both Democrats and Republicans. Some, he said, would even be appearing in a press conference with him next month to promote parts of the group's platform, including Commercial Crew Development, a program administered by NASA that helps private sector companies develop the technology to send private crew-operated spacecraft into low-Earth orbit. Gasser would not specify which Congressmen could appear.