Status Report

Opening Statement by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert – House Science Committee Hearing: “Perspectives on the President’s Vision for Space Exploration”

By SpaceRef Editor
March 10, 2004
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I want to welcome everyone here for our second hearing on the President’s proposed space exploration initiative. I’m going to keep my comments brief because we’re going to have to break for votes soon, and because my concerns with the President’s proposal should be well understood by now.

I think all I need to say about my views this morning is to reiterate that I remain undecided about whether and how to undertake the exploration program. I would add that, as the outlines of the likely fiscal 2005 budget become clearer, my questions about the initiative only become more pressing.

We could not ask for a better panel to help answer those questions than the one we have before us this morning. I truly am honored to have such a distinguished group of experts here – people with long and deep experience with the space program who have nonetheless remained probing and independent thinkers about space policy.

The panelists have also done us the great and all too rare service, in their testimony, of responding very directly to the specific questions that were posed to them, and that will help us have a focused and truly interactive session this morning with, I hope, plenty of discussion among the witnesses themselves.
The questions we posed are some of the fundamental ones that Congress must consider as it evaluates the initiative: Exactly what role should humans play in exploration? To what extent can the International Space Station and the moon play a useful role in a program whose ultimate goal is Mars?

Are the cost and schedule estimates realistic? Can the program be funded without doing undue harm to other NASA programs? What challenges must we meet to enable humans to remain healthy during long stays in space and how can we meet those challenges?

We’ve also asked for guidance on what other questions Congress should be asking.

Our witnesses this morning – all of whom support the initiative in principle – have a variety of thoughtful answers to our questions. I very much look forward to hearing from them.

Mr. Gordon.

SpaceRef staff editor.