Key Senators Comment on NASA Announcement of Space Launch System Design

September 14, 2011

nasaWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Bill Nelson, John Boozman, and Barbara Mikulski today made the following remarks in reaction to NASA’s announcement on their Space Launch System design:

“NASA’s design for a new launch system into space will lead to safer and more distant exploration than we’ve ever had before.  I will follow closely NASA’s progress on this new launch system as well as future missions—missions to advance scientific discovery and pursue human exploration in a new and sustainable way,” said Rockefeller, Chairman of the Commerce Committee.  “Our space leadership has led to major scientific successes and discoveries, and I anticipate NASA’s future to be a celebrated one—leading the way in research, creating new jobs and inspiring and educating our future generations of explorers."

“The vehicle concept and design being formally announced today is consistent with the design and development approach that was directed by the NASA Authorization Act,” said Senator Hutchison, Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee.  “Because of the delays in announcing this design, it is imperative that we work with NASA to assure that the new Space Launch System is pursued without further losses of time and efficiency, while relying on NASA’s world-class engineers and designers to continue U.S. leadership in space exploration.”

“This is the biggest thing for space exploration in decades,” said Senator Bill Nelson, Chairman of the Science and Space Subcommittee.  “The goal is to fly humans safely beyond low-Earth orbit and deep into outer space where we can not only survive, but one day also live.”

“I am happy to have a path forward in the future of U.S. space exploration with the new launch system.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee as we continue to advance U.S. led efforts in this frontier.  This decision provides some certainty for NASA employees as we work to retain the best and brightest workers who have the experience to take us further into space,” said Senator Boozman, Ranking Member of the Science and Space Subcommittee.

“I am pleased to see NASA making progress on our next generation of space transportation that will send astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit,” said Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NASA.  “I support the Space Launch System as part of NASA's balanced space program of human spaceflight, scientific exploration and discovery and technology development.”

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the final design for the Space Launch System at a press conference today with Senators Hutchison, Nelson and Boozman and other Members of Congress.  The announcement marks the formal decision to start active work to refine the design of the new vehicle, the broad outlines of which have now been determined, validated and endorsed at the policy level.  The importance of a unified agreement at the policy level, as represented by this announcement, is critical to ensuring the resources can and will be made available to enable this vehicle to provide the nation with the launch capability it needs to continue U.S. leadership in space exploration.