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Chairman Gordon and Subcommittee Chairwoman Giffords Comment on Augustine Committee Report

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009

image (Washington, DC) - Today, the Review of the U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, chaired by Mr. Norman Augustine, retired Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, publicly released its final report to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The final report was released six weeks after the committee had released its summary report.

Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) offered the following comment upon the release of the report:

"While I plan to review the Augustine panel's final report, the Science and Technology Committee's September 15th hearing to review the panel's summary report has already provided me with important information on the state of the nation's human space flight programs. At that hearing, Mr. Augustine reported his panel's assessment that a meaningful exploration program can't be carried out under the budgetary projections that accompanied the Fiscal Year 2010 NASA budget request--that more money will be needed if we are to do anything worth doing as a nation. He also reported that his panel had assessed NASA's Constellation program and found it to be 'well managed' and a program that is 'executable and would carry out its objectives' if adequate resources are provided."

"We Americans fundamentally have to decide whether we want to have a human space exploration program or not--if we do, the Augustine panel makes clear that we will need to invest additional resources. Why should we pursue exploration? As the Augustine panel notes in its final report, human exploration can offer many tangible benefits to our society including 'driving technological innovation; developing commercial industries and important national capabilities; and contributing to our expertise in further exploration...and can contribute appropriately to the expansion of scientific knowledge.' In addition, the Augustine panel notes that 'these more tangible benefits exist within a larger context. Exploration provides and opportunity to demonstrate space leadership while deeply engaging international partners; to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers; and to shape human perceptions of our place in the universe.' Thus, the president has a clear and important decision to make, and I want to work with him to craft a productive path forward for the nation."

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) added:

"When Congress wrote and enacted last year's NASA Authorization Act, it anticipated essentially all of the issues mulled by the Augustine panel this summer. In endorsing the Constellation architecture, Congress made clear that it saw a return to the Moon as just the first step in a flexible program of human and robotic exploration of the solar system. Congress also embraced the potential of international cooperation to make the nation's exploration program more productive and cost-efficient. Congress saw the utility of the International Space Station and directed that it be capable of extension at least through 2020. Congress also stressed the importance of a robust technology development program as well as engagement of the commercial sector as appropriate--recognizing the potential of the commercial sector to support NASA's low Earth orbit activities in the future, but also making clear that we are not prepared to have our astronauts' access to space held hostage to purchases of seats from non-existent commercial providers. We also advocated for additional resources to ensure that these important initiatives can be carried out successfully. While I look forward to reading the Augustine panel's final report, Congress has already made its decisions on the issues considered by the panel. Now that both internal and external independent reviews have confirmed that the Constellation program is being well executed, we know what needs to be done. Let's get on with it and cease contemplating our collective navels. I have no doubt that the president will see the inspirational, geopolitical, scientific, technological, and myriad other benefits of a revitalized commitment to our nation's space program, and I look forward to working with him to usher in a grand new era of exploration and science."

The Committee held a hearing on the summary report on September 15, 2009.

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