Good morning. I first would like to welcome Administrator Goldin and the other witnesses to today’s hearing. We look forward to your testimony. I also want to thank Chairman Boehlert for his initiative in holding this nearing. The international Space Station is arguably NASA’s single most significant development project, and its successful completion has been a bipartisan priority of this Committee for as long as there has been a Station program.

As we begin today’s hearing, let me be clear about my own position. I do not want to spend today’s hearing trying to point fingers and assign blame. Of course I’m not happy about the reported cost growth in the Space Station program. And I’m sure that other Members share my unhappiness However, I want to use our time here productively, While we need to know what kind of a problem we are confronting, my highest priority is determining what we should do about it.

In that regard, I am concerned that the NASA “budget blueprint” for Fiscal Year 2002 – while seeking to exert budgetary control over the Space Station program – could wind up further disrupting the Station development plan. Just when we finally have significant amounts of hardware on orbit or waiting to be launched. I’m afraid that the unintended result of the budget blueprint could be more cost and schedule risk – not less – as NASA undertakes yet another restructuring of the Station program. And, I’m also afraid that we could wind up with a Space Station that is just riot worth the money that the taxpayers will have spent or it.

Let me summarize some of the likely results of the budget blueprint as I understand them.

  • NASA would have to eliminate the Space Station’s Habitation Module, its Crew Return Vehicle, and the planned Propulsion Module.
    The planned crew size would be cut from seven to just three.

  • The budget blueprint could also lead to the loss of one of the four planned solar arrays that provide power to the Space Station.
  • While we have not been able to get a clear answer from NASA yet, it looks as though ‘the research centrifuge may be cut or at least delayed indefinitely.
  • And we understand that NASA intends to cut the Space Station research budget by 40 percent, with the result that whole areas of planned scientific and commercial research may be indefinitely deferred.

Of course a cynic might say that the research funding cut wouldn’t be that important, since it looks as though there won’t be enough crew on the Station to do any meaningful research anyway under the proposed restructuring.

Now, I know that NASA is scrambling to try to find International Partners that might be willing to provide some of the hardware that NASA was supposed to deliver. And I know that NASA is looking for more “efficiencies” and “new ways of doing business” that might save some more money. And I am sure that Administrator Goldin will do his best to convince us that we can still have a world-class research program on the Space Station – that’s his job.

However, I’ve got my doubts. The history of this program is that when capabilities are cut from the Space Station program, it’s tough getting them back. And vague assurances that – eventually – fundamental research disciplines will make their way back onto the Station when additional funding becomes available aren’t terribly convincing.

Right now, in order to meet an arbitrary budgetary target, NASA seems to be on a track that will let Tim Roemer finally be able to say “I told you so”,

I’m not convinced that’s the right, way to go. Let’s put the current situation into context . The Congressional Research Service indicates that, for the fiscal years 1985 through 2001, Congress appropriated a total of about $27.6 billion for the Space Station program. Both, the Clinton Administration and the current Administration have proposed to spend an additional $8.2 billion on Station for the fiscal years 2002 through 2006. And NASA has recently indicated that it has identified potential -cost growth of $4 billion over that same five-year period.

For the moment, I ‘m going to leave aside the question of how that cost
growth went undetected until well into last year. We need to hear from our witnesses about that, and about what needs to be done so that we don’t have any more such surprises. What I instead want to point out is that the potential cost growth really represents about an 11 percent increase over what NASA was going to wind up spending on the Station through FY 2006 under the best of circumstances.

Would I want to spend that additional 11 percent if I could avoid it? Of
course not. However I also don’t want to be “penny-wise and pound-foolish”. The Space Station program is no longer just paper and viewgraphs. Pieces of the Space Station are in orbit – including the U.S. Laboratory Module. Our ability to make significant changes in the program without jeopardizing the objectives of the program is much more limited than it was a few years ago. To back away at this point from completing the Station that successive Congresses have supported seem to me to be a very bad idea. And cutting the Space
Station research program that will deliver the hoped-for benefits to our citizens is an even worse idea.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we raid other important NASA programs to
ensure the successful completion of the Space Station. I support the
Administration in that regard. However, we do have a surplus. And I’ve made no secret of my belief that we should use some of that surplus to invest in NASA.

So let’s -see what credible and sensible ways of saving money NASA can come up within the existing Space Station program And then let’s see what it realistically will cost to complete the existing Station design and to outfit it so that it can support the range of research disciplines we were promised – and let’s do our best to validate that cost estimate so we minimize the chances of any future “surprises”.

But after we done all that, let’s be willing to appropriate the money that is
required to do the job right. We shouldn’t pretend that we can fit one of the most challenging programs NASA has ever undertaken under an arbitrary budget ceiling if the facts are telling us otherwise.

I think that one of our witnesses, Mr. Polutchko summed up our options
as well as anyone could in his written testimony

‘ … We need to maintain the Committee’s steadfast support of the
[Space Station] program and encourage NASA to take a fresh look
at conservative planning and rebaselining of the ISS program,
including reconsideration of the major deletions that NASA
believes must be made in order to comply with existing fiscal
funding and cap requirements. Yes, the rebaselined ISS program
will require substantial additional funding but on the other hand,
providing a Space Station that has severe operational constraints
and much reduced science return tray not be in the best interests
of our nation and our partners.”

I think we would do well to heed that advice.