Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), currently on leave from the House Science Committee, but who served as its Chairman from 1997-2001, released this statement he delivered on the House floor today:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today disappointed by the news that NASA has again acquiesced to inappropriate Russian demands to the Space Station program. Russia will be sending Dennis Tito, a 60-year-old American millionaire, as one of its contribution to this week’s mission to the Space Station. What unique characteristics does Mr. Tito possess that earned his place on this mission? Cold, hard cash. Twenty million dollars of it from Mr. Tito to the Russians is all it took for a rocket-powered trip to the Space Station. Unfortunately, this partnership based on a core scientific mission apparently is now the next Club Med for those able to pony up millions to the Russian government.

“So how is it that the Russians, whose Station nonperformance cost the U.S. at least two years delay and over five billion dollars in cost overruns, can brazenly increase the safety risk of the entire mission? They can because NASA’s management did not provide the necessary safeguards earlier in the so-called “partnership.” NASA’s forced acquiescence to Russia regarding Mr. Tito is just the latest example of the Russians taking NASA management to the cleaners.”

Contact: Raj Bharwani (202) 225-5101