Washington D.C.– Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS) made the following statement on the final launch of the Space Shuttle Program:

“This weekend NASA will launch Americans into space on the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program.  Godspeed to the crew of STS-135, and may their mission be a fitting bookend to this wonderful program.  Their task is great to live up to the standards set by the crews before, but so too is the responsibility we have to build upon the 50 year legacy of NASA and our nation’s human spaceflight program. 

“With the retired Shuttle Program, America’s legacy as the unrivaled world leader in space exploration enters a new and uncertain era.  NASA faces many new challenges to sustain America’s leadership in space, especially during this difficult budgetary time.  As chairman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, I will work with Congress, NASA, and the Administration to clarify our goals and strategies, monitor the agency’s progress, and help address the needs and challenges ahead.  I believe Congress should prioritize human spaceflight and continue developing the Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle in order to achieve assured access for American crews to the International Space Station, in the event commercial ventures are not successful.  Congress has given NASA a clear direction to follow in last year’s authorization bill.  I will do my part to assist Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) in ensuring NASA follows the law and maintains America’s space exploration legacy.

“I’d like to applaud the thousands of men and women in the shuttle program who have remained committed to successfully launching this final mission. In the face of much uncertainty for them personally, they have stayed diligent and committed to a successful mission.”