U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness will convene a hearing entitled “Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Stakeholder Perspectives,” at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The second in a series of hearings to examine the role of the International Space Station (ISS), this hearing will provide ISS stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the value of the ISS to our national space program and the future of human space exploration.
- Ms. Cynthia Bouthot, Director of Commercial Innovation & Sponsored Programs, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space
- Mr. Jim Chilton, Senior Vice President, Space and Launch, The Boeing Company
- Mr. Bob Mitchell, President, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
- Mr. Michael Suffredini, Chief Executive Officer and President, Axiom Space
*Witness list subject to change.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
This November will mark twenty years since the Russians launched the Zarya module into space. NASA launched the Unity module two weeks later, and so began assembly of the International Space Station.
Now, we are on the verge of a golden era for the ISS. Boeing and SpaceX are set to begin launching crew from Cape Canaveral to the ISS next year. That will allow us to increase the number of astronauts aboard the station and dramatically increase the amount of research we can do there.
It’s taken the dedication of countless workers at Kennedy Space Center, at Johnson Space Center and in countries all over the world to get to this point.
Thanks to their efforts, the ISS is performing well and should keep functioning through 2030 or even longer.
Now is the time to reap the benefits of all of that effort and to maximize the return from our investment in ISS.
There is a strong, bipartisan consensus that we need a steady and deliberate commercialization of activities in low Earth orbit. That transition depends on the development of demand for services in low Earth orbit by non-NASA entities.
Setting an arbitrary end date for the ISS in 2025 isn’t going to help build demand for these types of activities. To the contrary, it could crush the demand.
Who would want to make large, multi-year investments in space research and development activities if they have no assurance there will be a platform in orbit on which to carry out their activities?
What about the commercial crew and cargo capabilities that we are investing so heavily in right now? What would happen to them if there is no certainty that they will have a destination just a few years after they first get started?
The Chinese certainly realize this. I suspect it is no accident that, within a few months of the administration’s proposal to end federal funding for ISS in 2025, the Chinese announced that their space station will soon be open for business. Just last week they invited countries around the world to conduct research aboard their station beginning in the 2020s.
And the research capabilities they advertise – medical sample analysis, combustion science, freezers, a science glovebox – sound remarkably similar to the ISS.
One day, low Earth orbit may be filled with commercial space stations serving NASA and other government and private sector customers. And NASA will be leading a human mission to Mars.
The ISS isn’t an obstacle to those developments – the ISS is the key to enabling them
I am looking forward to today’s discussion on how the ISS can help cultivate the demand for new space activities and accelerate the development of commercial space habitats.
We are very fortunate to have such an expert panel today and I want to thank each of you for coming.
And, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing and I want to thank you for your partnership on this very important topic.
Witness Panel 1
Ms. Cynthia BouthotDirector of Commercial Innovation & Sponsored Programs, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space
Mr. Jim ChiltonSenior Vice PresidentSpace and Launch, The Boeing Company
Mr. Bob MitchellPresidentBay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Mr. Michael SuffrediniChief Executive Officer and PresidentAxiom Space