It’s a pleasure to be with you again this year.Ê
You may recall that last year, when I had just become chairman, this was the first group I addressed on issues related to space.Ê I recall that my inexperience made the session a little frustrating, but it did put us on an equal footing – you weren’t sure of what to ask me, and I wasn’t sure of how to answer.Ê

But, despite that, our engagement was helpful – to me, at least – because it brought to my attention the wide range of people and companies interested in space issues and the breadth of the issues facing the Science Committee.Ê Dealing with space issues, I learned here, does not just mean figuring out what to do about the Space Station – although that would be enough – or about planetary missions, or about earth observation – dealing with space issues means figuring out how to foster and maintain a healthy, robust commercial space transportation industry.Ê And that’s a lesson that has stayed with me.

Of course, the sad events of the past year would have helped bring that message home, in any event.Ê Our military challenges and successes in Afghanistan and the public’s ability to witness and understand them have demonstrated our reliance on satellites – both military and civilian – and therefore, our depedStce on the industries that are needed to launch them.Ê In fact, the worldwide response to September 11th, was also facilitated by satellites, as the whole world was able to experience the attacks with us as the terrifying pictures were beamed around the world.

So, what is it we need to do to ensure the viability of the commercial space business?Ê Well, of course, even after a year in this job, you are still going to be better able to answer that than I can; in fact, that will always be the case.Ê So I’m going to keep my remarks brief to allow plenty of time for your comments and questions.Ê But a few items do come to mind.

First, you need a sensible, understandable regulatory regime.Ê Launch regulations need to promote safety and a level playing field without needlessly raising costs or complicating business transactions.Ê Last year at this conference, you expressed concern that you were about to be saddled unnecessarily with two sets of rules governing launches – one set from the Air Force and one from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).Ê That caught my attention because it didn’t seem to make sense.

My staff and I immediately went to work, talking to the agencies to try to remedy the situation.Ê We got the FAA, Air Force and industry to sit down and try to work out these issues rationally.Ê The end of that story hasn’t been written yet, but my understanding is that progress has been made, and the FAA is issuing a supplemental rule.Ê I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts on where the process now stands.

Industry also needs a degree of economic certainty and stability to launch satellites.Ê That was what was on the Science Committee’s mind when we provided government indemnification.Ê The current coverage expires in 2004.Ê Between now and 2004, we will continue to review the impact that indemnification has had, and analyze whether indemnification remains necessary and whether alternatives exist, and to track the health of the commercial launch industry.Ê I think it’s too early to reach any conclusions on any of that.
Thirdly, industry needs technology so it can continue to develop new and improved launch vehicles.Ê NASA’s Space Launch Initiative is designed to help create new technology, and the program is on track in the proposed fiscal year 2003 budget, which, as you know, was released yesterday.Ê

The Science Committee is going to be taking a close look at NASA this year as we write a NASA reauthorization bill that will provide guidance for all the agency’sprograms.Ê Again, we’ve just begun our review of NASA’s programs, and I’m not yet prepared to provide any definitive direction.Ê But that will change soon enough.Ê Our goal is to have the Science Committee report out a NASA bill by the end of April.Ê Realistically, that schedule could slip, but I do want to have a bill out of Committee no later than the Memorial Day recess.Ê That should leave enough time for both House and Senate action this year.

We will kick off our authorization process with a full Committee hearing on February 27 at which will hear from Administrator O’Keefe.Ê I know that the Administrator has made just about everyone in the space community a little jittery – and that’s probably to his credit.Ê I have great faith in Sean – he has a critical eye in the best sense – he asks tough questions but is open to good answers.Ê You really can’t ask for more than that.Ê

ÊAfter hearing from Sean, the authorization process will move to our Space Subcommittee, chaired by Dana Rohrabacher, from whom, I understand, you heard earlier today.

Another issue we’ll have to address in the reauthorization is a fourth item needed for a healthy commercial launch industry – up-to-date and high quality launch sites.Ê Without question, we have to do something to rehabilitate Cape Canaveral.Ê The details need to be worked out, but we can’t let a place that once symbolized all that was shiny and futuristic decay into a scrap yard.Ê We also need to take a look at our long-term need for launch sites to see whether we ought to do more to encourage the development of new launch sites.

So we have a lot of difficult questions to answer in short order.Ê I can’t give you the answers today, but what I can do is pledge to continue to listen to all of you and to take your advice seriously.Ê

We will need your guidance.Ê The Committee will be far more active this year on both NASA and FAA issues concerning both aerospace and aeronautics.Ê And I should note that we intend to report out authorization bills for the FAA in April or May also.

So I look forward to working with all of you, and to returning next year with a list of accomplishments that we will all agree have helped move the commercial space industry forward.Ê Thank you.Ê