Committee on Science

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman

Ralph M. Hall, Texas, Ranking Democrat

April 11, 2000

Press Contacts:

Jeff Lungren (

Meredith Wisor (

(202) 225-4275


Hearing on Young Report That Looked Into NASA’s Recent Mars Mission Failures

WHAT: Full Science Committee hearing entitled, “NASA’s Mars Program after
the Young Report, Part I”

WITNESSES: Mr. Tom Young, Executive Vice President (Ret.), Lockheed
Martin, Inc.

Mr. John Casani, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(Ret.), California Institute of Technology

WHEN: 10:00 AM

WHERE: 2318 Rayburn Building,


Last September, NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter mission failed due to one
project group using English units and one using metric units. Three months
later, NASA’s Mars Polar Lander was lost as well. A blue-ribbon panel
established by NASA Administrator Dan Goldin intensively reviewed these
losses, estimated at $328 million, and issued a report released two weeks
ago. The panel, led by Mr. Tom Young who will testify at tomorrow’s
hearing, found numerous management lapses and poor decisionmaking throughout
the Mars program, including a failure to test as the missions would fly.
Notably, the panel endorsed NASA’s “faster, better, cheaper” concept, but
found significant problems in the philosophy’s execution. The panel said
despite the setbacks, “all identified flaws are correctable.” Mr. John
Casani was a consultant to the Young panel and also led a separate team that
took a more technical look into the Mars Polar Lander failure. Tomorrow’s
hearing will cover the Young report’s findings and recommendations and
provide the first opportunity for Members of Congress to question the panel.

Please contact the Science Committee’s press office at 202-225-4275 for more