Back in the late 1990s, when he was chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) was a staunch critic of Russian involvement in the International Space Station, saying that their inclusion had failed to yield the promised cost savings and had delayed the overall effort. Sensenbrenner, who left the committee after the 2000 elections to chair the House Judiciary Committee, returned to the House Science and Technology Committee this year, and talks about some space policy issues in an interview in this week’s issue of The Space Review. Sensenbrenner still calls the Russian involvement in the ISS a “disaster”, but believes that there has to be some kind of international cooperation in NASA’s lunar exploration plans “because we can’t afford to do it alone”. Some other items:
- China’s recent ASAT test is “a deal breaker” for any kind of future US-China cooperation on space or other science projects.
- He was noncommittal on whether now was the right time for some kind of export control reform.
- He said he didn’t know enough about NASA administrator Michael Griffin and overall agency leadership to determine if they’re making the best decisions for the future of the space agency.
- Sensenbrenner is skeptical of NASA’s role as an inspiration for youth to study math and science, saying instead the real problem is “a disconnection in math and science in education” at an early age.