Washington, DCRep. Ralph M. Hall (R-TX), Chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today released the following statement regarding two recent reports, both concerning NASA’s human space flight program.  On Tuesday evening NASA provided Congress with an interim report on development of a heavy lift vehicle (HLV).  In summation, the report indicates that NASA does not have adequate time nor funding to develop HLV capabilities by 2016.  Separately, this afternoon, the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report revealing projects that were canceled by the most recent authorizing bill, which continue to be funded.  Chairman Hall stated:

"The report recently provided to Congress by NASA on its heavy lift development is only the beginning of a long conversation Congress will have with the agency regarding the future of the human space flight program.  It was this Administration that killed the Constellation program, which Congress had repeatedly endorsed.  Instead of providing the resources that the Augustine Committee said were necessary to have a program worthy of a great nation, this Administration simply said it was unaffordable, choosing instead to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on other priorities. 

“We must work to restore U.S. capability to get American astronauts to and from the International Space Station, once the Shuttle is retired later this year, and I’m not convinced that the commercial market is ready to fill that role.  If they should fail, we will have no option but to continue buying seats from the Russians, an option I find unacceptable. 

“Further, this afternoon the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report revealing that NASA continues to fund projects under the Constellation Program through the Federal Government’s Continuing Resolution.  Some of these projects have been cancelled by the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2010, passed by Congress and signed into law in October, 2010.  NASA should be taking steps to prioritize spending on projects that are likely to have applicability in a future heavy lift vehicle, in an effort to maintain production lines and reduce inefficient use of taxpayer funds.  However, I agree with the NASA OIG that this is an issue that the Appropriators will need to deal with in an expedient manner, in order to avoid wasteful spending.

“The Science, Space, and Technology Committee will be paying very close attention to NASA’s human spaceflight program and holding several hearings to provide strong Congressional oversight.”