|For Immediate Release||May 7, 1998|
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
First, let me say that I am pleased to appear before the Committee in my capacity as Associate Director for Technology in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
One of the things I have noticed in my first four months in the job is the strong degree of bipartisan support that exists for our national science and technology programs. Mr. Chairman, the Administration very much appreciates the leadership role that you and other members of this Committee have played in this context. I look forward to working with you and the Committee not just on this issue but on the range of important technology policy issues that face our nation.
Mr. Chairman, 1998 promises to be an exciting and challenging year for the International Space Station (ISS) program. The U.S. node was delivered to the Kennedy Space Center over nine months ago and is undergoing final testing for launch. Other key elements, including the truss and mating adapters, have also been delivered to the Cape. The Integrated Electronics Assembly is now being outfitted at Kennedy and we expect the U.S. lab and remaining flight hardware for the first six flights to be delivered by the end of 1998. At present, over 250,000 pounds of U.S. flight hardware has been built; that figure will nearly double by the end of the year.Under Mr. Goldin's leadership and through the efforts of thousands of dedicated civil servants and contractors, the International Space Station is finally becoming a reality. While these indicators are clearly encouraging, we are also keenly aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
To a large extent, the greatest challenge has been and will continue to be bounding risk within acceptable levels of funding and finding the right balance between the two. This is never an easy calculation to make when it comes to building space hardware. As much as we think we know about conquering the space frontier, there have been and will continue to be unknown design challenges that we must confront and overcome. In this respect, we have to occasionally remind ourselves that this is a development program.We are trying to do something that has never been done: combine the scientific and technical expertise of 15 nations into a unified, orbiting space station for world class research in space. As an engineer, I believe future generations will come to appreciate not only the unique research it will enable, but also the sheer amount of technical knowledge and experience we gained as a nation in building the facility.
As you know Mr. Chairman, the President's FY99 request provides multiyear funding through advanced appropriation for the ISS with assembly beginning in FY98 and ending in 2003. The budget request included additional funding in FY99 and the outyears totaling $1.2B. The decision to request additional funding in the President's FY99 budget was based on the belief that we should fix problems up front in the program and not wait until later, when they may cost more. We believe this is the right move and acknowledges the challenges we face in maintaining prime contractor performance, the need to accommodate unforeseen changes, the importance of restoring reserves to an acceptable level, and the need to initiate work on a crew return vehicle.
Another challenge we face is managing the ISS partnership in the most efficient and economical way. For the most part, NASA's international partners in the ISS are meeting their obligations on time and on schedule. Again, by the end of 1997, our partners had completed over 100,000 pounds of flight hardware with another 50,000 pounds expected to be complete by the end of 1998. To date, this represents an approximate investment of over $4.5B in international contributions to the program in addition to the value of Russian contributions. This picture has not always been perfect. We have experienced schedule and cost impacts due to delays in the Russian Service Module. While Mr. Goldin's testimony can go into the details onthis issue, I want to emphasize a couple of points.
First, from the beginning, our interest in bringing Russia into the International Space Station was based on the belief that their years of experience in operating the Mir space station and extensive background in human space flight could bring scientific and technical benefits to the program. That view has not changed. The first phase of our ISS cooperation with Russia--the Shuttle/Mir program--has taught us about operating and maintaining a space station. We've gained important insights into long-duration flight and have effectively trained our ground controllers for the type of coordination between the U.S. and Russia that will be needed for the ISS. These are benefits that are already flowing into the ISS program and with continued Russian participation will benefit the partnership.
As you know Mr. Chairman, that participation has at times been at risk, largely due to problems that the Russian government has had in adequately funding their own space agency. The Administration has been very engaged in reinforcing NASA's communications to their Russian counterparts on this point. The Administration has taken every appropriate opportunity to underscore with the Russian leadership the critical importance of Russian funding for the Service Module. Last month, this message was again conveyed by U.S. Ambassador James Collins to President Yeltsin's government. We have seen some progress in the right direction. Recent statements by PresidentYeltsin committing the government to fully fund the space program are encouraging but, as I think we all agree, "the proof is in the pudding."
Last week, NASA completed a General Design Review in Moscow with the Russians which focused on relevant design and schedule issues related to the Service Module. We will continue to insist that the Russian government meet their obligations. NASA is assessing the design review data in detail and, consistent with the timeline outlined in Mr. Goldin's statement, they will make a judgement on whether and how to best use the Interim Control Module. This is a decision that NASA will make based purely on cost, schedule and technical requirements.
Mr. Chairman, NASA continues to be a symbol of the nation's future in science, technology and space exploration. Beginning this year, in partnership with 15 other nations, we will begin to assemble a new research center in space, the International Space Station. When complete, I am confident it will open new avenues of scientific and technical discovery that we can't fully imagine today. I look forward to that time and to working with you and the Committee as we move forward.
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