Press Release

Panel Presents Space Station “At A Crossroads”

By SpaceRef Editor
November 7, 2001
Filed under , ,

Mr. Thomas Young today presented the findings of the International Space Station Management and Cost Evaluation Task Force, which
he chaired, to the House Science Committee. Additionally, Sean O’Keefe, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget, presented the Administration’s
perspective. Following is Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert’s (R-NY) opening statement:

“This is one of the most significant hearings this Committee will have held this year. NASA is the largest agency under this Committee’s purview, and its marquee
program, the International Space Station, is deeply troubled – as even a casual observer could discern.

“The Space Station’s current cost trajectory is, in a word, unsustainable. That is truer today than ever in this time of vanishing surpluses and pressing national
security and redevelopment needs. The era of the blank check for NASA is over.
“The question, of course, is how we proceed from here. The nation has already pumped almost $30 billion into the Space Station – enough money to fund the
National Science Foundation for almost a decade – and we need to salvage that investment.

“I think the Young Task Force and the Administration have outlined the proper way to make the best of a bad situation. We need to complete the core elements
of the Space Station within the existing budget. We need to ensure that the costs of the Space Station do not eat into other NASA programs, limiting the Agency’s
excellent scientific efforts. We need to figure out how to maximize the science that can be conducted with the core elements of the Space Station. And we need to
put off any consideration of further enhancements to the Space Station until we see whether NASA can get the core part of the program under control.

“What the Young Task Force is basically saying is, “We’re not going to buy you a Cadillac until we see if you can handle a Chevy.” That seems like common
sense – sense that has been sorely lacking in NASA program management. It’s an especially sensible approach given that the Space Station program history gives one
every reason to doubt that NASA can handle a Chevy. Previous outside reviews have failed to get the program back on track.

“But skepticism is not the same thing as pessimism. This Administration is committed to rigorously overseeing the program and having it move forward
responsibly. The appointment of the Young Task Force is itself one indication of that. NASA is clearly chastened by the current state of the Space Station and
new Leadership there will have the chance to give the program a new sense of control.

“Still, many questions remain. We must all examine the specific recommendations of the Young Task Force to determine if they are the best way to impose
management control and change the NASA culture. And the Task Force itself has acknowledged that the “radical reforms” it recommends may not be enough to
enable the Station to meet is budget targets.

“So today’s hearing is really just the beginning of a multi-year process to reform the Space Station program and determine if it be expanded beyond its core
elements. I look forward to working closely with the Administration and NASA as we do that.
“But NASA must demonstrate that the stratosphere is not the place for its spending levels.”
Witness testimony and an archived web cast of the hearing is available at www.house.gov/science.

SpaceRef staff editor.