The Honorable John H. Gibbons, Director
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Subcommittee on Veterans, Administration, HUD, and IndependentAgencies
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
June 17, 1993
Mr. Chair, Members of the Committee, Good afternoon. I am pleased to beable to be here today to discuss the Administration's plans for NASA's spacestation program.
Mr. Chair, today the Pres ident announced his plans to support thedevelopment of a redesigned space station. This is obviously an importantdecision for the future direction of our nation's civil space program. Beforediscussing that decision, however, I would like to briefly re view the path thatbrought the Administration and the President to this decision.
Shortly after taking office, President Clinton asked for a review of theSpace Station Freedom program. This was done out of concern over the prog ram'scontinually escalating costs, unrealistic projections of increased funding, andapparent management problems. In March, the White House asked NASA to redesignthe Space Station program to reduce costs while achieving many of program'sscience and t echnology goals and maintaining internationalparticipation.
To accomplish this, a 90-day space station redesign process was developedwhich included a NASA redesign team, as well as an independent Review Panel ofwidely recogn ized experts chaired by Dr. Charles Vest, President of MIT. Theredesign team was charged with developing options for the White House toconsider, while the Review Panel was given the responsibility of assessing andevaluating those options in terms of t he quality of the analyses and the designand cost integrity.
At the same time, NASA initiated a major review of the true cost of theSpace Station Freedom program, because in prior years, the hard facts andimplications of the program were obscured by omissions and other distortions.For example, while it will be imperative to have an assured capability for safereturn to earth of the crew in case of emergency, provisions of such acapability was never included in prior statio n budgets.
NASA's redesign team produced three options with variants forconsideration by the Review Panel. Two of these options -- A & B -- wereessentially derivations of the current Space Station Freedom, and the thirdop tion -- C -- represented a completely new concept. While these options allexceeded the initial budget goals provided as guidance by the White House, theyall offer substantial savings over what the Space Station Freedom would havecost.
On June 11, Dr. Vest formally presented his panel's report to the VicePresident and myself. If I could summarize my impressions, the importantconclusions made by that report were:
1) All three NASA options are techni cally viable. Costs were estimatedwith care and conservatism, and would result in significant savings over thecurrent Freedom program when its costs are calculated on the same, consistentbasis. The report did find that the options most worthy of furt herconsideration were the so-called "A" and "C" options. Option A was judged tobe a desirable technical simplification and derivative of both Freedom andoption B.
2) It is important that the space station program remain an int ernationalventure; in fact, it could benefit significantly from increased internationalparticipation. Considerable value was placed upon the future opportunities forcost savings , utility, and international value of pursuing this end, includingthe op tion of placing the station in an orbit that can reach higherlatitudes.
3) In order to build a space station...any space station...NASA will needto implement major management and operations restructuring both internally andwith the contractors.
After carefully considering the Vest Panel's report, the President todayhas called for the U.S. to work with our international partners to develop areduced cost, safer, scaled-down version of the original Space Station Freedom. At the same time, the Administration will seek to enhance and expand theopportunities for international participation in the space station project, sothat the space station can serve as a model of nations coming together inpeaceful cooperation. Finally, NASA will be directed to implement personnelreductions and major management changes to cut costs, reduce bureaucracy, andimprove efficiency.
The specific design the President has chosen to pu rsue will be thesimplified version of Space Station Freedom recommended by the Review Panel.We will work with Congress, NASA and our international partners during the nextninety days to optimize this design.
We estimate t hat this approach will save American taxpayers in between $4billion and $7 billion during the next 5 years, when compared to the real costof funding the current Space Station Freedom program. These savings increaseto more than $18 billion over the two -decade life of the program.
This approach also offers a clear path for participation by ourinternational partners, an important consideration. It should be noted thatour international partners participated in every step of the redesign process,and made invaluable contributions to the effort.
At the same time, the Administration agrees with the Advisory Panel'sconclusion that we must redesign NASA at the same time that we redesign thespace station. It is our intention to implement major changes in the structureand management of the space station program, as well as elsewhere withinNASA.
In closing, I would like to quote the words of President Bill Cli nton inannouncing his support for the redesigned space station today:
"There is no doubt that we are facing difficult budget decisions.However, we can not retreat from our obligation to invest in our future.Budget cuts alon e will not restore our vitality. I believe strongly that NASAand the space station program represent important investments in that future,and that these investments will yield benefits in medical research, aerospaceand other critical technology areas . As well, the space station is a model ofpeaceful international cooperation, offering a vision of the new world inwhich confrontation has been replaced with cooperation."
I would like to take a moment to recognize and thank two extraordinaryindividuals for their exceptional contributions over the past several months:Dan Goldin, the Administrator of NASA, who took on the unprecedented challengeof redesigning the space station program, and Dr. Charles Vest, who Chaired the Panel of outstanding experts from around the country in assessing that redesignwork, and providing us with the confidence we needed to move ahead. To themand all who worked with them, I offer my admiration and gratitude for thisimportant service to ou