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O'Keefe: key ISS decisions coming this year
Posted: Thu, Feb 28, 2002, 9:02 AM ET (1402 GMT)
Sean O'Keefe (White House) NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe told members of Congress Wednesday that the agency will be ready this summer to grapple with the costs of the International Space Station and the prospects of future expansion. O'Keefe, the sole witness at a House Science Committee hearing on NASA's proposed 2003 budget, said that the agency hopes to complete this summer a study into the cost of finishing the "core complete" ISS and the prospects of "excursions" from core complete, such as a hab module or crew return vehicle, and factor those into the agency's 2004 budget planning process. The limited capabilities of the core complete station have been sharply criticized by the international partners, a fact that several members of Congress brought up during the hearing. O'Keefe said that the agency is working on a business plan for space shuttle privatization, something NASA hopes to complete by September, when its contract with United Space Alliance, the company that currently handles shuttle operations, expires. NASA is also working on a strategic resources review, but O'Keefe denied claims made in the hearing that the review had targeted one or more NASA centers for closure. Committee members were largely supportive of O'Keefe during the hearing, but said that the new administrator was in a "honeymoon" period and would have to start providing more answers and results in the next several months.
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