Rohrabacher Reacts to Russian Soyuz Launch Failure; Calls for Emergency Funding of Commercial Crew Systems

Press Release From: Rep. Rohrabacher
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011

image Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) issued the following statement in reaction to today's failure of the Russian Progress Soyuz cargo rocket:

"Today, Russia's Soyuz launch vehicle failed to boost the Progress M-12M cargo ship into orbit to deliver needed supplies to the International Space Station. This failure should be a cause of grave concern, and a moment of reexamination of America's space strategy," said Rohrabacher.

"Today's Russian rocket failure will interrupt ISS cargo deliveries, and could threaten crew transportation as well. NASA needs to conduct an investigation before another Soyuz spacecraft with new ISS crew members can be launched, and it is unknown how long such an investigation will take."

"I hope this is a minor problem with a quick and simple fix," said Rohrabacher. "But this episode underscores America's need for reliable launch systems of its own to carry cargo and crew into space. The only way to achieve this goal is to place more emphasis on commercial cargo and crew systems currently being developed by American companies.

"We need to get on with the task of building affordable launch systems to meet our nation's needs for access to low Earth orbit, instead of promoting grandiose concepts which keep us vulnerable in the short and medium terms. The most responsible course of action for the United States is to dramatically accelerate the commercial crew systems already under development.

"I am calling on General Bolden, the NASA Administrator, to propose an emergency transfer of funding from unobligated balances in other programs, including the Space Launch System, to NASA's commercial crew initiative. Funding should be used to speed up the efforts of the four current industry partners to develop their systems and potentially expand the recent awards to include the best applicants for launch vehicle development.

"NASA could potentially transfer several hundred million dollars from this long term development concept, since the SLS project has not even started, to the more urgently needed systems that can launch astronauts to ISS, reliably and affordably. This transfer will boost the development of American controlled technology and greatly reduce our dependence on the Russians."

Rep. Rohrabacher is a senior member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

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