Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) is the new chairman of the House Science Committee's
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. Calvert was first elected to
the House in 1993 and represents constituents in the Riverside and San
Clemente, CA area (see http://calvert.house.gov/.)
Calvert has served on the House Science Committee for twelve years.
The chairman plays an important role in NASA matters, as his subcommittee
has jurisdiction in the House over space and aeronautics legislation
Yesterday, Chairman Calvert addressed the Space Symposium in Colorado
Springs, CO. The full text of Calvert's remarks is available at http://www.house.gov/science/press/speeches/CalvetSpeech.pdf
Below are selections from his address regarding the Hubble Space Telescope,
NASA's space vision, a reauthorization bill, space science, the nomination
of Mike Griffin to serve as NASA administrator, NASA's budget prospects,
and Calvert's call to the space community:
"We are at the cusp of a new era in space exploration. From where
I sit, we are at a crossroads in furthering the human race's journey
beyond the confines of our planet. As we look back on nearly half a
century of unmanned and manned space flight we can be proud of our accomplishments.
But as we look ahead to the future, the choices we make today will impact
our space journey for decades to come. I believe that now is the time
to take a hard look at our U.S. Space Program and to begin making the
decisions about what kind of program we need for the future.
"As we undertake this process we can learn from the past but we
should not be constrained by it. The first steps on this road have already
been taken. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board painstakingly
documented the shortcomings of our national civilian space program in
its 2003 report. In January of 2004, the President declared his Vision
for Space Exploration. In June of 2004 the Aldridge report provided
a roadmap for realizing the Vision. It is now up to us to lay the groundwork
for achieving that Vision, to put in place the policies, structures
and funding that will allow us to succeed.
"This isn't going to be easy. Building a new space program along
the lines of the Vision requires that every aspect of our current program
be analyzed and validated. Much of what we have today may not match
up with what we need for the future. But at the same time there will
be opportunities for fantastic new programs which we haven't been able
to afford under the existing structure.
"The President's Vision aims to fulfill and capitalize on mankind's
nature to explore. Our space exploration program will provide exciting
new scientific discoveries, but equally important is that it will provide
a clear and focused set of challenges to the U.S. Space Program. Challenges
that will drive launch technology, communications, sensors, robotics,
new materials, propulsion systems and more. These advances will spin
off into new capabilities for national security and commercial space.
Why should everyone in the American space business care about exploration?
Because it will be a huge technological engine that will spend over
$100 billion in pushing the state of the art over the next fifteen years.
Everyone will benefit from this investment."
Calvert then offered his views on commercial space, national security
space, and the current space program.
CIVIL SPACE PROGRAM:
"Our Civil Space program is represented by NASA, an agency undergoing
a radical transformation to align itself with the goals of the exploration
vision. The President's Vision has given us a national direction and
a destination for civil space. We will fly the shuttle until 2010. We
will complete the International Space Station. Then we will go on to
the Moon and to Mars."
HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE:
"The Hubble Space Telescope program has been a fantastic program
that has delivered images beyond our wildest dreams! It is performing
beyond its original design life. NASA already has plans for a next generation
telescope - the James Webb Telescope. Although we will have a gap of
coverage, Hubble has delivered volumes of data that will keep scientists
busy for years to come. NASA is planning the development of a de-orbit
module, which I think is a wise way to proceed."
SPACE SHUTTLE, MOON, MARS, SPACE SCIENCE:
"The challenges facing NASA right now are unprecedented. Here
is an organization that is being tasked with revamping the operations
of its biggest program, the space shuttle, so it can return to flight
and complete its second biggest program, the International Space Station.
At the same time it is developing a plan to transition from these programs
to the Crew Exploration Vehicle and returning to the Moon and then going
to Mars. NASA also runs a wide ranging aeronautics program, a robust
earth sciences program, a diverse education program, space telescopes
and many other research and development programs too numerous to list.
NASA works with and relies on our international partners to service
and construct the International Space Station and to send probes throughout
the solar system. NASA even operates its own TV channel. It does all
this on a relatively fixed budget.
"The Space Operations directorate, in particular, is facing an
extraordinary challenge. It is being tasked with returning the shuttle
to flight in a zero defect' environment with a mandate to keep
the risk to the absolute minimum. At the same time NASA is being asked
to transform itself to conform to the President's vision on space exploration,
something that will require innovation and taking risks. The two mandates
could not be more diametrically opposed.
"I am confident that the people of NASA can meet these challenges.
The work they have done in the wake of the Columbia tragedy has been
outstanding. They have taken the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's
recommendations for return to flight and developed amazing solutions
to problems. They are attempting to forge a new culture and organizational
structure to ensure safety and quality assurance in all of their operations."
"It's up to us in Congress and the administration to provide that
support. The President has given us the broad vision, a clear space
transportation policy and nominated a new administrator for NASA.
"Congress must now provide a rational and stable budget to accomplish
the goals laid out by the President. Most importantly, we must exercise
our oversight authority to ensure the U.S. Space Program stays on course.
"Getting a NASA Authorization bill to the President is one of
my highest priorities this year. We have a lot of new players on the
Space committees in both the House and the Senate. Not only am I new
as the Chairman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, but I have
a new Ranking Democrat - Cong. Mark Udall of Colorado. Mark and I serve
on other committees together and I look forward to working with him
in this 109th Congress, under the leadership of Science Committee Chairman
Sherwood Boehlert, as we shape the future of NASA.
"On the Senate side, we have a new Chairwoman of the Science and
Space Subcommittee -- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas as Chair and
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida as her Ranking Democrat. Both have NASA
interests in their states.
"From the beginning, I have supported the President's Vision.
We in Congress asked him to offer a direction for our civilian space
program -- and he did. I know how difficult that it is to get a NASA
Authorization through the Congress. I plan to work with members of my
Subcommittee and the Science Committee to get a bill out of the Committee
and through the House. I also look forward to working with my colleagues
in the Senate to get a good bill on to the President's desk for signature.
We owe it to NASA and our Nation to take leadership in the direction
that NASA is moving."
MIKE GRIFFIN AS NASA ADMINISTRATOR:
"I am looking forward to working with the newly appointed Administrator
for NASA - Mike Griffin - once he is confirmed - probably around the
second or third week of April. He appears to be the right person for
NASA at this time. He is a free thinker, a rocket scientist, and a business
man who understands the government. What a great combination to lead
NASA at this critical time!"
FY 2006 NASA BUDGET:
"Although NASA is one of the few agencies to receive an increase
in the FY06 President's budget request -- it received a 2.4% increase,
it still fell short of the planned increase of about 5% that was projected
when the FY05 budget was sent to the Congress last year. I would assume
that NASA's current request of about $16.5 B is probably the best top
line that we will see. We in the Congress may have to realign spending
within NASA to be sure that this Nation is getting the most bang for
its buck in its civilian space investment."
CALVERT'S REQUEST TO THE SPACE COMMUNITY:
"I am in the learning mode. I need your inputs. Bring me innovative
solutions to problems. I expect every program to be able to justify
its use and cost in the context of a mission statement. I have met with
folks all over the space spectrum. The only common theme is that no
one is happy with the National Space Program that we have today. We
can and we must do better - we will do better. Our economy, security
and our quest for knowledge
depend on it."