Today, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science engaged in a colloquy regarding NASA's Commercial Crew Program and the report language his Committee issued to accompany the FY2013 CJS appropriation. (Attached below)
Rep. Rohrabacher issued the following statement:
"For the past few years there has been a lot of controversy around the idea of launching cargo and astronauts to space on commercially-developed, owned, and operated systems. The Bush Administration decided we should turn over this job to the private sector once we retired the space shuttles, rather than pursuing a traditional NASA-led approach. To their credit, the Obama Administration, guided by an advisory panel led by Norm Augustine, saw the wisdom in this and proposed to fund multiple competing private concepts for crew launch, eventually achieving a fly-off of two or more different systems to ensure that America would have safer, more robust, and much more affordable space access that doesn't require paying Russia's Space Agency half a billion dollars every year.
"NASA and this Administration have not been able to sell this basic idea. Congress has embraced a measured approach to this idea; too slowly and timidly from my point of view. It seems NASA is itself confused, or maybe suffers from internal conflicts over the specific goals and approaches. The agency has not told a clear and convincing story to win this initiative the funding and freedom of action it requires.
"This discord and lack of communication culminated in Chairman Wolf issuing report language just a few weeks ago. While I disagree with the recommended approach and many of the specifics in that report, I do understand and even share many of the underlying concerns which led the Chairman to this point.
"As a champion of Commercial Crew, I am no longer willing to give NASA the benefit of every doubt on this program. NASA must do better. NASA must get behind a more effective and transparent commercial crew strategy and program plan. We've made a lot of progress in recent years, but we cannot move forward simply on momentum.
"To be clear, I do not support the approach laid out in Chairman Wolf's report language. I believe ongoing and sustained competition to be essential to the success of the commercial crew program. That said, I will be working with NASA to figure out how best to address Chairman Wolf's concerns and achieve the goals we all share."
Rep. Rohrabacher is a senior member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.