Press Release

Correction to Congressional Hearing Remarks – Claim that USA Recommended Removal of Shuttle Payload Inaccurate

By SpaceRef Editor
May 12, 2004
Filed under ,

HOUSTON, Texas (May 6, 2004) — Yesterday, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) chaired a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space concerning space transportation. Central to the hearing was the question of whether there are launch vehicles other than the Space Shuttle that can provide a practical means of transportation to complete assembly and provide logistics support of the International Space Station (ISS).

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Members of Congress and staff to address issues in a fair and open manner, some information cited in these proceedings was inaccurate. Specifically, Senator Brownback stated that United Space Alliance had “recommended that roughly a third of the Shuttle flights be off-loaded to other vehicles.” In fact, USA made no such recommendation. We believe that the Senator’s statement stems from a misinterpretation of an internal study performed for NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. The study outlined basic requirements to be met should NASA decide to fund the development of new vehicles to augment the logistics support of the combined cargo-carrying capacity of the Shuttle, the European Automated Transfer Vehicle, the
Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle and the Russian Progress vehicles. The study did not address
alternate methods of station assembly, or off-loading of Shuttle flights to other vehicles. In fact, the report did not contain any recommendations and only provided requirements definition.

Yesterday, in testimony before the Senate, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight, William F. Readdy, made it clear that the Shuttle is the only available means for completing assembly of the ISS, stating, “The unique capabilities of the Space Shuttle are essential to the successful completion of the ISS. The ISS elements, most of which are already built, have been designed to take advantage of the more benign flight environment in the Shuttle cargo bay, removed and repositioned by the Shuttle robotic arm, and connected together by the Shuttle’s astronaut crews during space walk activities.” USA completely agrees with this position.

President Bush in his announcement of the National Space Exploration Vision, reaffirmed his commitment to complete assembly of the International Space Station. The only way this commitment can be honored is by the return to flight of the Shuttle as soon as safely possible, and the use of that system to provide transportation of the remaining components of the ISS for its final assembly.

USA remains committed to working with NASA, Members of Congress and staff to ensure that the first essential steps in the Vision for Space Exploration – the return to flight of the Space Shuttle and the completion of the International Space Station – are met in as safe and reliable a fashion as possible.

Established in 1995, United Space Alliance is a space operations business offering products and services in space flight training, space hardware processing, launch and return operations and on-orbit operations. A limited liability company owned equally by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, USA serves as NASA’s prime contractor for the Space Shuttle and provides operations services for the International Space Station. USA employs more than 10,000 people in Texas, Florida, Alabama, Washington, D.C., and Russia.

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SpaceRef staff editor.