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Griffin: NASA Faces $3-5 Billion Gap in Shuttle Budget

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2005

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WASHINGTON, DC - Testifying before the House Science Committee today, Michael Griffin, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said NASA needs $3-5 billion more than is currently budgeted to fund the Space Shuttle through 2010, but he added that NASA is looking for ways to close that gap.

Griffin made the statement at a hearing that Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) opened by expressing concern that NASA may be trying to do more at once than its budget can support.

Boehlert said, "We are, I think, seeing the dawning renaissance of NASA, inspired by the leadership of Dr. Griffin and his team.  But a renaissance costs money, and I don't see any Medicis waiting in the wings to underwrite NASA.  So while NASA may have relatively smooth sailing right now, we ignore the clouds on the horizon at our peril.

"Here's what I mean, and I will be as blunt as possible:  There is simply not enough money in NASA's budget to carry out all the tasks it is undertaking on the current schedule.  That's a fact....NASA has gotten in trouble repeatedly in the past by making promises that are beyond its financial means to fulfill.  The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), among others, has described that folly in excruciating detail.  I don't want to see us go down that path again.  Before NASA promises that it can accelerate development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle, and complete construction of the Space Station and have worthwhile aeronautics and science programs, it ought to be able to demonstrate where the money will come from.  And right now, it can't."

In response to questions, Griffin said, NASA was looking to save money in the Shuttle program by finding "synergies" between the Shuttle and Exploration programs.  He said he would be able to report back in six months on what savings NASA has found.  Griffin also said the financial shortfall would not be a problem until fiscal year 2008.

Boehlert opened the hearing by praising Griffin's work as NASA administrator, drawing particular attention to the team he has put in place and the programs he has announced.  Boehlert said he supported Griffin's proposal to cut funding for Space Station research, technology development and Project Prometheus.

Boehlert also asked why the Administration has only asked for $325 million for NASA's hurricane-related expenses in its recent supplemental request when NASA has said its hurricane costs are $760 million.  Griffin said the Administration may ask for additional money in the future.

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