Hutchison Offers Strong Support for NASA Nominees During Confirmation Hearing

July 8, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today offered her strong support for the nominees to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Charles Bolden and Lori Garver for confirmation as NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator. She submitted the following statement for the record. 

“We have waited anxiously for the Obama Administration to begin the formulation of its leadership team for space exploration, as NASA faces the challenge of defining its future path, not only in human spaceflight, but also in contributing, through all its missions and activities, to the long-term scientific excellence and economic well-being of the nation and to our national security.

“I believe the Administration has chosen well with these nominees.  They both have the depth and breadth of experience that I believe will be needed to keep NASA and our nation moving forward and securing our leadership in space exploration.

“The challenges are many, and finding the solutions will not be easy.  We are now awaiting the findings and recommendations of the Human Space Flight Review panel, chaired by my good friend Norm Augustine, which will hopefully enable both the Administration to focus on what is truly needed for the nation to sustain its ability to fully explore and utilize the environment of space.

“I have a great deal of concern and questions about the gap we face in the country's ability to send astronauts--and scientists--to the International Space Station.  We have been pressing to reduce or eliminate this gap for the past four years in this Committee, and it only seems to get longer.  It is my hope that the Augustine review committee will provide us with viable options to address this critical issue.

“For too long now, NASA has worked to accomplish its demanding mission and responsibilities with insufficient resources.  While we have consistently authorized the necessary funds, in the end, they have not been made available to NASA.  And I believe we are now paying the price for that neglect.

“Today, we face extraordinarily difficult economic times, and many seem to think that space exploration is a luxury we might be able to do without, for a while, until we are financially "whole" again.  What they forget is that we don't spend money on NASA as much as we invest it in our nation's future economic viability.  In my view, this nation cannot afford not to invest in space exploration, and across the entire scope of NASA's activities.  It is the kind of long term investment that helps to ensure that we never have to face another economic crisis.

“In the past, space exploration has been a source of inspiration that has led young people and students into the very fields of scientific and technological inquiry that are so greatly challenged today.  We have an excellent reminder of that this month, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Lunar landing.

“One of the greatest challenges facing our two NASA nominees today will be to find a way to remind Americans of that heritage of excellence, and to renew NASA's ability to excite and attract a new generation of scientists, technicians and engineers.”

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