RELEASE: 00-165

Art Stephenson, director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, Ala., has reacted to Tuesday’s markup of the NASA FY 2001
by the VA, HUD and Independent Agencies subcommittee of the House
Appropriations Committee.

“It came as a great disappointment to learn yesterday that a
congressional subcommittee, in marking up the NASA budget for fiscal
has zeroed all but a small part of next year’s funding for the Agency’s
Space Launch Initiative,” Stephenson remarked. “That initiative is
absolutely essential to achieving one of NASA’s most critical
which is to cut the cost of access to space by orders of magnitude —
10 years to one-tenth of today’s cost, then to one-hundredth within 25
years. We at the Marshall Space Flight Center have been given the lead
accomplish those ambitious goals, and we take it extremely seriously.
It is
the right thing to do.

“To understand why, just consider this: Currently, when we launch
something into space, roughly half the total cost is tied up with just
getting it there. People would never put up with that in their
lives. For instance, if a car cost $50,000 because it took $25,000 to
it from the factory to the buyer, it would be a major issue on the

“Likewise, sharply reducing the cost of getting payloads into orbit
is the key to our future in space, and the Space Launch Initiative is
foundation for achieving that objective,” Stephenson continued. “I
that the budget process is a long road with many steps along the way
and I
remain hopeful that yesterday’s cut to the Initiative will be restored
before the budget becomes final.”

Contact: Jerry Berg
Media Relations Department
(256) 544-0034