(Orlando, FL) –  U.S. Representative Tom Feeney (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding the Columbia Accident Investigation Board’s report:

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board should be commended for its thoroughness and willingness to ask tough but needed questions.  The talented and accomplished Board members and staff have demonstrated much needed independence and candor. 

This report jumpstarts a necessary discussion about America’s space program.  Space proponents must accept this change, acknowledge the Columbia Accident Investigation Board’s tough but wise guidance, and define and pursue a rigorous but sustainable space program.  As a member of the House Science Committee, I will participate in this process through this fall’s extensive hearings on the Columbia Accident and next year’s reauthorization of NASA.

Everyone should resist the temptation to digest this report in soundbites.  Instead, let’s carefully examine the Board’s language, reflect on the insight, and then begin the difficult journey of improvement.  Quick fixes don’t exist.  Carrying out the recommended changes will require exceptional leadership and judicious targeting of resources.  Only a sustained and dedicated effort will yield the needed changes.

During this process, I urge Americans to remember the Board’s concluding remarks:

The United States should continue with a Human Space Flight Program consistent with the resolve voiced by President George W. Bush on February 1, 2003: “Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.”

We will honor Columbia’s crew by doing so.