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Sen. Hutchison: Failure of Russian Resupply Mission Underscores Need to Sustain America's Leadership in Space

Press Release From: Sen. Hutchison
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011

image WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) today issued the following statement regarding the failure of the Russian Progress resupply mission and NASA's implementation of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010:

"Today we received word from NASA that the Russian Progress resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS) failed to reach orbit and deliver supplies to the ISS. In light of the failure of the Russian Progress vehicle, it is fortunate the Congress authorized the final flight of the space shuttle to provide supplies to ensure long term viability of the ISS. Without the cargo provided by the shuttle, the ISS, and our astronauts, would be in a more precarious logistical situation. This failure underscores the importance of successful development of our own National capabilities and at the same time demonstrates the risks with having limited options for ISS supply and crew rotation. As we have already seen with the multi-year delay with commercial providers of cargo to the space station, the country would greatly benefit from the timely implementation of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and development of the Space Launch System (SLS) as a back-up system."

"Last Friday NASA received the independent cost assessment for the SLS that was requested by OMB. OMB is expected to be briefed on the results of this assessment tomorrow. This additional independent cost assessment confirms what NASA officials have known for months: The NASA approach to human space flight is sound, achievable, and can be initiated within our currently constrained fiscal limitations. Regrettably, the Administration has used a series of redundant studies to stall the progress of our nation's human space exploration program. It is now time to make a decision."

"The Assessment conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton makes clear that the cost projections provided by NASA for review are reasonable point estimates for budget planning in the near-term 3-5 year budget horizon. In other words, there is no cost-estimate-related basis for continuing to delay the commitment to proceed with the SLS development plans that were required by the Congress to have been delivered in the Section 309 Report that was due on January 10th. While some have highlighted that the assessment characterizes some of the cost estimates provided by NASA as "optimistic", the report findings underscore that the lack of such a vehicle "architecture" decision, and commitment to proceed with program development, is the primary reason that some of the materials provided to Booz Allen Hamilton for review were incomplete."

"We strongly encourage NASA to immediately announce this week - not next month - the design for their next launch vehicle, which will halt the further loss of skilled aerospace workers now poised to be laid off from the NASA manned spaceflight program."

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