In a letter to NASA administrator Charles Bolden today, three key members of the House Science Committee asked for information on how threats by Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin regarding the future of the ISS would affect the agency’s plans.
In their letter, House Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), space subcommittee chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS), and space subcommittee vice-chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL) referred to Rogozin’s comments on Tuesday about Russia not agreeing to continued operation of the ISS beyond 2020. “If Mr. Rogozin’s statement proves to be accurate, we will have to take a step back and evaluate the costs and benefits of maintaining the ISS beyond 2020 without our Russian partners,” they wrote.
The three members asked Bolden several questions, including the status of efforts to get ISS partners to commit to operating ISS beyond 2020, the critical roles Russia plays in supporting the ISS today, and what would happen if Russia withdrew as Rogozin suggests. The members also ask Bolden about another topic Rogozin mentioned Tuesday: banning the use of RD-180 and NK-33 engines for launching military payloads. They note that while the restriction would still allow NASA to use the engines for its missions, “this may impact the price NASA pays for launch vehicles that utilize these engines, as decreases in supply may impact availability.” The members asked Bolden to provide responses by May 28.