Thursday, November 8, 2001

Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend Dan Goldin, who is leaving his position as administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Dan, who was appointed on April 1, 1992, is the longest-serving administrator in the history of NASA. On March 5, 2001, his time in office surpassed that of James Fletcher, who held the previous record of nearly nine years during two separate terms.

As ranking member of the Committee on Science’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, I have worked with Dan for many years. I have learned that his passion is not limited to the exploration of space. He also cares deeply about the possibilities of science and space to inspire life on Earth. I certainly know that many students in Middle Tennessee have been encouraged and inspired by Dan’s vision for space exploration.

Dan initiated his tenure at NASA by leading an agency-wide process to define a NASA Strategic Plan as the consensus definition of the agency’s mission and goals. The core guidance in this document states: “NASA’s mission success starts with safety. A commitment to safety permeates everything we do.” Dan has not wavered in enforcing this priority in every aspect of the agency on the ground and in space.

During Dan’s tenure, the International Space Station went from the drawing boards to a fully functional, permanently staffed orbital research laboratory. He directed the Space Station redesign, holding together the coalition of international participants while incorporating the former Soviet Union hardware elements into the design. By developing the cooperative Mir research program with Russia, he enabled Space Station partners to conduct long-term space flight research even before the International Space Station was operational.

Dan’s comprehensive strategy for space exploration is exemplified by the “Origins Program.” He initiated this program with objectives to understand how the universe has evolved, to learn how life began on Earth, and to see if life exists elsewhere. He formulated a rescue plan for the installation of a “contact lens” on the Hubble Space Telescope, leading to startling discoveries of the cosmos. Dan has challenged the Origins scientists to search for Earth-like planets within 100 light years of Earth. He also has laid the foundation to complete the first scientific census of the solar system and to send the first probe into Interstellar space.

Dan has been a vigorous proponent for increased exploration of Mars. He has established a series of robotic missions that will visit the planet every two years for the next decade and has assured that the public will share in the excitement of Mars exploration. His direction to provide Internet access for the Mars Pathfinder mission resulted in more than three-quarters of a billion “hits” from people tuning in to the site.

In 1998, Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine honored Dan with the Laurel Award for outstanding achievement in aviation and aerospace. The award was presented along with the commentary that Dan has “delivered on his promise to reshape NASA into a model government agency.

This year Dan was awarded one of one of France’s highest and most distinguished honors: the “Officer of the Legion of Honor.” This award recognized his contribution to the development and broadening of American-French civil space cooperation through cooperative ventures including the International Space Station, Mars exploration, Earth observations, and the flight of French astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle.

Under Dan’s leadership NASA has reached out to honor the victims of last month’s terrorist attacks in New York. The next mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour will carry “Flags for Heroes and Families.” Thousands of American flags will be carried into space by Endeavor and its seven member crew and, upon return to Earth, will be distributed to the victims’ families and survivors of the September 11 attacks.

Dan always recognized NASA’s potential to inspire students to elect careers in science mathematics and engineering. His personal leadership and the NASA programs that he supported have involved hundreds of students in hands-on research experiences. NASA’s Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program not only allows the students to actually participate in research, but it also pays them a salary as well. This intensive science and engineering apprenticeship program is specifically designed to attract and increase under-represented students’ participation and success rates in mathematics, science, technology and engineering courses.

Mr. Speaker, the nation is fortunate to have such outstanding public servants as Administrator Goldin. He has led NASA and its international partners in exploring the frontiers of space and inspiring benefits to life on Earth. Accordingly, it is appropriate today that we recognize and highly commend Daniel Goldin as the longest serving administrator of NASA and that we express our appreciation for his leadership of the nation’s space program.