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Rohrabacher: Moscow’s Recent Moves Show Need for Urgency in Commercial Space Exploration

May 16, 2014
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WASHINGTON – In response to threats this week from Russia’s defense ministry to end cooperation with the U.S. space program, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,  R-CA, vice chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, issued the following statement:

“Three years ago, in the wake of a technical failure of a Russian Soyuz launch vehicle, I called on NASA to propose an emergency transfer of funding from unobligated balances in other programs to speed up the efforts of NASA’s commercial crew initiative.

“Had we taken the course of action I outlined, reliable, domestic launch systems would be months away from full certification from NASA to launch crew into orbit, rather than the years that we're expecting now.

“The events in Ukraine, and the subsequent one-upsmanship, have put the near-term future of America's human space flight programs at risk.  Now Russian officials are saying that International Space Station won't be extended and that we can't rely on their technology the way we have for the last decade.

“This situation should serve as a stark reminder that we must not further delay the certification of our commercial crew capabilities. Yet, we continue to play games.

“The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-76) holds hostage one quarter of the commercial crew funding until the NASA Administrator certifies a report, based on unknowable numbers, that is irrelevant to the technical and safety aspects of the program.

“Right now we are falling further and further behind Russia and China. When we ended the Space Shuttle program we knew there would be a gap in our leadership in space, but it is growing into a chasm.  We must take immediate action to certify multiple, independent, domestic commercial crew vehicles.

“Anything less means surrender in space.”