WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) released the following statement this evening in response to a story that appeared in The Washington Post today concerning objections that were raised to the most recent Space Station mission:

“I am very concerned that NASA did not tell Congress about the degradation of the environmental monitors and exercise system on the International Space Station (ISS) or about the objections that had been raised about sending a new crew to the ISS.  The Science Committee has asked repeatedly whether the grounding of the Space Shuttle presented any threats to the ISS crew, and we were told that it did not.  Clearly, that was not the case.  NASA needs to be much more forthcoming and accurate with the information it provides to the Congress and the public.

“That said, it appears that NASA internally handled the objections raised by its staff in a proper manner.  While we are still reviewing the process and the decisions, NASA clearly took seriously the dissents that were raised on the Certificate of Flight Readiness.  That is encouraging.  At the same time, some of the steps NASA decided to undertake to mitigate the dangers to the crew – for example, bringing certain air samples back to Earth – may still not be possible to carry out.  NASA must continue to evaluate the safety of the crew as it tries to implement its mitigation activities.

“The Science Committee will continue to scrutinize NASA’s decision-making processes and the condition of the ISS, especially given the possibility of further delays in the launches of both the Shuttle and the Progress vehicles.  In the meantime, I want to extend my thanks to Nitza Cintron and William Landoc, the two dissenters, whose vigilance led NASA to give increased attention to problems aboard the ISS.”