From: Sen. Hutchison
Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Chairs first Science and Space Subcommittee hearing on International Space Station
WASHINGTON – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), new Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Science and Space, today promised a "reinvigorated" subcommittee as she presided over her first hearing as subcommittee chairman. "You will see a reinvigorated subcommittee that oversees and works with NASA leaders to fully utilize the capabilities of the International Space Station and ensures our investment is not wasted," Sen. Hutchison said. "In my view, this important, impressive facility can not be allowed to be used simply as a tool for Moon and Mars exploration-related research, as important as I believe those uses are."
Sen. Hutchison initiated the idea to pursue a national laboratory designation for the ISS. NASA officials noted that they had begun to look at long-term plans for ISS utilization in 2003. At Sen. Hutchison's urging, the officials stated they will revisit those earlier planning efforts.
"This facility is capable of doing much more for our nation — and for the world — and we must ensure that we make the maximum use of its capabilities across a wide range of scientific, industrial and engineering disciplines."
With a panel of NASA's space operations leadership, practicing scientists and academicians, today's hearing focused on the current status of the International Space Station (ISS), its scientific potential and maximizing its capabilities.
In addition, Sen. Hutchison expressed her concerns regarding the possibility of an extended hiatus between the time when the shuttle is currently planned to be retired from service and the availability of a certified replacement crew launch vehicle. She stated the subcommittee will continue to carefully examine the issue with the focus on a solution that protects our nation's leadership position in human space flight.
"We can't allow that kind of hiatus — right now estimated to be five years. It is a national security threat to our country and I intend to pursue everything I can to shorten that timeframe," said Sen. Hutchison.
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