Brownback Participates in Space Shuttle Columbia Investigation Hearing

Status Report From: Sen. Sam Brownback
Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2003

WASHINGTON - As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback today participated in a hearing on the Space Shuttle Columbia investigation.

"While we all recognize the tremendous sacrifice the Columbia shuttle astronauts and their families suffered, we are continuously committed to the return to flight and getting Americans in space again aboard an American vehicle," Brownback said. "I am pleased that Administrator O'Keefe and Admiral Gehman are here today to testify before the committee.

"America has consistently proven her leadership in space science technology. The predominance of America in space came from the charge set forth by President Kennedy to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. The technological advances made during the Apollo era were a result of the U.S. space program pushing forward in human space exploration.

"We must continue that same drive today. We are at a moment now that we can dream big enough to change completely the path that NASA is on. Rather than thinking within the restrictions that have for many years been the focus of NASA, we are forced to take a step back and look at the big picture.

"As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space I am particularly vested in this investigation and the debates currently surrounding NASA and human space exploration, Brownback said. In questions to NASA Administrator O'Keefe and Admiral Gehman, Brownback stressed the issue of responsibility at NASA.

"NASA engineers need the independent muscle, giving them the autonomy to ensure that safe decisions are made," Brownback said.

Brownback is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Space and Technology.

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