It’s a pleasure to welcome everyone here this morning for our first full Committee hearing on the space program. Unfortunately, this first hearing will focus on some of the problems plaguing the space program. That’s not because there aren’t many positive developments in the program, but rather because the space station cost overrun is probably the most pressing issue facing NASA today, and the one demanding the most Congressional attention.

Let me start by say that I have always voted for the International Space Station, and I continue to support it. But this is not a case of “unconditional love.” The
Space Station will continue to merit support only to the extent that is well managed,
affordable and useful. Inertia will not be enough to keep it in orbit.

I am deeply concerned about the projected cost overruns. But I want this hearing
to focus not on apportioning blame for the escalating costs, but on figuring out how to
deal with them and prevent them from recurring.

I must say that what I have seen from NASA so far leaves me skeptical. This Committee must be sure that NASA is taking the cost overruns seriously, and that it has a methodical, verifiable, and adaptable way of ensuring that they will not continue. NASA also must convince us that the redesign necessary to bring down the Space Station’s costs will not eliminate the ability to conduct useful science or make us overly dependent on foreign partners.

These issues are critical not just to the future of the space station, but to that of the entire space program. The Administration is exactly right to say that no other NASA programs will be cannibalized to pay for the space station. We will work to ensure that Space Station problems are remedied solely within the Space Station program.

I should add that the Space Station cost overruns are not the result of any malice
or malfeasance. As with many large projects, the same traits that are needed to get the project completed can also tend to propel it off-track So the kind of confidence, energy, optimism and “can-do spirit” that has been responsible for the Space Station’s achievements can also lead to under-appreciating and soft-pedaling its problems. That’s why projects can be destroyed both by excessive oversight and by lack of oversight.

In this case, excessive oversight has hardly been the problem. The Space Station program needs to be reviewed with a supportive, yet critical – perhaps even jaundiced – eye, if it is to be completed within budget – which is the only way it is ever going to be completed.

I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses, and to working with NASA to get the Space Station back on track.