[FPSPACE] Congressional Republican Rpt. on Russia and Space

Dwayne Allen Day wayneday@gwis2.circ.gwu.edu
Wed, 20 Sep 2000 17:36:55 -0400 (EDT)


Okay, the report I mentioned is out.  It is NOT called the Cox Report on
Russia.  Instead, it is a Republican report on Russia and the problems
there.  It is clearly a highly partisan report--obviously intended to
attack the Clinton administration (and Gore) on its Russia policy.  The
central question is apparently "how come everything is so mucked up?"

(Note:  I'm only providing this for information purposes--I don't know if
I agree with it, primarily because I have not yet read it.  However, I
think it is useful because it specfically illustrates a strong Republican
position on the issue of Russian participation in ISS.)

Most of the report is on economics and proliferation and problems with the
Russian economy.  There is a section on the space station cooperation,
however.  That is reprinted below.  The basic argument here is that
including Russia in the space station program was a failure.


DDAY

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The full report can be found at:

http://policy.house.gov/russia

This excerpt is taken from:

http://policy.house.gov/russia/ch5.html

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The Gore-Chernomyrdin Space Station Debacle
>From the outset in 1993, Russian-American space cooperation was a key item
on the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission's agenda. Starting with the 1993
Vancouver Summit, the Clinton administration--under the direction of the
Gore delegation to the Commission--undertook an ill-fated effort to
integrate Russia fully into the International Space Station.
In 1993, Russia was economically and politically ill prepared to devote
the necessary resources to completing the space station on the ambitious
schedule then contemplated. Nevertheless, the U.S. staff of the
Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and others in the Clinton administration
repeatedly asserted in 1993 that Russian involvement in the space station
would actually accelerate its deployment. Even more improbably, they
claimed it would save money for United States taxpayers.
The vice president estimated that Russian participation in the space
station program would save U.S. taxpayers $4 billion and reduce the time
needed to deploy the space station by two years.16 But the error in that
optimistic estimate became apparent almost immediately. By April 1994, the
savings promised by the Clinton administration had been reduced to $1.5
billion, and the estimated time savings had been cut to just over one
year.17 By the end of 1994, the promised savings had vanished entirely.
The actual result of the Gore-Chernomyrdin space station initiative has
been not savings but added costs, and not early deployment but seemingly
endless delay.
The space station was originally scheduled to begin operation in 2002. The
most recent revised schedule calls for beginning full operations no sooner
than 2006. Similarly, the original estimate of $4 billion in savings has
been changed to added costs: whereas the 1993 price tag for the space
station was $17.4 billion, it has since ballooned to at least $24.1
billion.18 In 1998 testimony before the House Science Committee, Joe
Rothenberg, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Spaceflight, conceded
that Russian participation in the program is responsible for $1 billion of
these added costs.19 The Johnson Space Center has estimated that Russian
participation in the space station has added $5 billion in costs.20
Under the original Gore-Chernomyrdin proposal, the United States was to
have paid Russia $400 million for its role in the space station
project. This money would take the form of direct payments from NASA to
its Russian counterpart, Rosaviakosmos. But the United States has already
paid nearly twice this amount to the Russian government, and further
additional funds have been requested.21
In the final analysis, these cost overruns and delays are neither
unprecedented nor wholly unexpected. What is troubling about the
Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission's role, however, is that it served chiefly to
deny and cover up the delays and cost overruns when they occurred. Three
years into the Russian participation in the space station program--and
long after the rising costs and attendant delays had become
self-evident--Vice President Gore announced "an ambitious future schedule
of cooperation in space," as if the earlier schedule had never existed.22
Disregarding both the escalating costs for the United States and the
Russian government's failure to meet its commitments, the Commission has
produced similarly glowing statements about the health and vitality of
U.S.-Russian space cooperation throughout each of the past seven years.
When confronted with information that Russian participation in the space
station was detrimental to the station's success, the Clinton
administration argued that the costs and delays in the space station
program might be justified as an effort to prevent a "brain drain" of
Russian scientists to other countries seeking their expertise in rocketry
and missile development.23 But in fact the Russian government had proved
willing to provide these other countries with its scientists' missile and
rocket expertise without the scientists ever having to leave their Russian
research institutes. U.S. assistance on the space station, it was learned,
actually subsidized the "brain drain" by supporting companies in the
Russian military-industrial complex that were simultaneously engaged in
both the space station program with the United States and missile
proliferation to Iran.24
The Commission's failure in this, its first assignment--and, in
particular, its demonstration of a willful blindness to uncomfortable
facts--would become symptomatic of its approach to the broad range of
issues in U.S.-Russia policy, and a microcosm of the Clinton
administration's approach to unpleasant realities in Russia.