WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announces the following Science and Space Subcommittee hearing on Options from the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee.
Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service should contact Naomi Eskin at (202) 224-5115 to make any necessary arrangements.
John D. Rockefeller, IVSenatorI want to thank Mr. Augustine for testifying before the Subcommittee today and I want to express my gratitude to him and the other 9 members of the Human Space Flight Plans Committee for their service.The task of examining NASA's human space flight plans in a mere 90 days is not an easy one. As the committee states in its Summary Report, it is in fact rocket science. Thank you for your commitment to the process and its smooth progress.I am concerned, however, that the committee seems to have largely accepted the value of human space exploration as an underlying assumption without ever fully discussing it.In this difficult budget environment where the federal deficit sets new records with each passing month, our country does not necessarily have the resources to do everything that we want to do. The economy has not yet recovered, we are fighting two major wars, and we can't even manage to find a solution to provide healthcare for all Americans.The review committee recommends increasing NASA's budget by an additional $3 billion by FY2014, then increasing it at an inflationary rate of 2.4%. We must ask, quite simply, what are the specific benefits to the nation of making NASA a $22 billion agency?Let me be clear, I am not advocating that we abandon space exploration. The case, however, has not yet been made. And I think now would be an appropriate time to ask those tough questions and carefully evaluate the responses.This is no longer the era of Apollo and the Cold War where the payoffs for advancing the space and Moon agenda are entirely clear.The president, I am sure, will continue to struggle with these same questions as he reviews the committee’s findings and options. I am committed to making sure that together we can get the answers right.Again, I want to thank Mr. Augustine for his service and testimony today. I look forward to the committee’s final report.###
Kay Bailey HutchisonSenator
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Augustine, you have come through for our country one more time. The Rising above the Gathering Storm report has been important for those of us who want to promote science education, math, engineers to graduate from our colleges and we thank you for that.
And now, you have done a great study about the future of NASA and space exploration, and I just want to commend you. Know that it was our committee, Sen. Nelson and myself, who had the American space station designated as a national laboratory.
And we did that because we saw so many funding shortages and we knew that if we had it designated in that way, others could come in and do research; universities, federal agencies, and corporations in the future. In fact, that’s beginning to happen now.
We are just on the cusp of realizing the capabilities of this enormous investment that we have been making in the International Space Station.
Yet, now we’re talking about shutting down the shuttles and not being able to fully equip and utilize and use the space station and I commend you for the report that says we must utilize it in order to have the investment pay off that was made in this International Space Station.
But your report also pointed out that without $3 billion, we will be facing some shortages, not only in being able to use the space station correctly and allowing it to reach its full potential, but also the gap in our ability to put humans in space for the space station.
This will also affect our national security unless we are able to put the money in and do one of the options you suggest. I hope we will be able to send a shuttle to narrow that gap, but I thank you for the great effort that you have put in.
I thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing and also Mr. Chairman, for your complete commitment to NASA and space exploration. Without your commitment and the vigor you have shown, Congress would have lagged behind in making sure that we are taking the right steps to stay in the forefront of utilizing space.
So, I thank you for calling the hearing and I thank you Mr. Augustine for leading the panel and I will look forward to questions.
Mr. Norman AugustineChairman of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans CommitteeNational Aeronautics and Space Administration