WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), ranking member of the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, released the following statement today regarding a NASA report outlining the steps toward implementing the congressionally-mandated designation of the U.S. portion of the International Space Station (ISS) as a National Laboratory:
"I am very pleased with the work NASA has completed in preparing this report and implementation plan for operating the International Space Station as a National Laboratory," Sen. Hutchison said. "We now have a firm foundation on which to plan for the full and complete use of the space station as it was always intended.
"I am especially delighted the report notes the high level of interest in future ISS research already expressed by such agencies as the Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. This is exactly the sort of diversified scientific interest we envisioned in designating the National Laboratory.
"As the nation comes to grips with the need to expand our capabilities for technological innovation and maintain our competitive advantages in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the ISS National Laboratory can play a key role in inspiring future generations of young people to enter those fields of study. Already, even though only sixty percent completed, millions of students have had the opportunity to view -- and participate in -- scientific experiments being conducted aboard the station. The National Laboratory mechanism will allow us to take even greater advantage of this unique national asset as a platform for scientific and technical education."
In 2005, as then-Chairman of the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Hutchison was the primary author and sponsor of the NASA Authorization Act. That legislation, which provides the current policy and program authority to NASA, included the National Laboratory designation and required NASA to develop a plan for designing and managing the Laboratory's operations.