1998 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile

U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Science


Hearing on "China: Dual Use Space Technology"

Thursday, June 25th, 1998, in 2318 Rayburn Building


Opening Statement of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Chairman, Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics



Mr. Chairman, some people have tried to confuse the issue of illegal rocket technology transfers to China by saying that U.S. companies have to launch their satellites on Chinese rockets because the U.S. rocket industry either doesnít have the capacity or is too expensive.

Well, itís one thing to allow China to compete in the marketplace. And while I strongly oppose MFN and other favors for the butchers of Beijing, I have Ė until now Ė supported allowing U.S. satellites to fly on Chinese rockets.

But itís entirely another thing to help improve Chinaís rockets so they donít blow up on the launch pad. Thatís what apparently happened here. Loral and the insurance companies decided they needed Chinaís low-cost rocket, the Long March, to be more reliable. So they helped the Chinese improve it. Thatís not trade, itís treacheryÖ and in time of war itís called treason.

What about the U.S. launch industry? Have we done everything we can to make it more competitive? Letís look at the record, starting with President Reagan.

Faced with result of Challenger and the failed Carter Administration decision to put all our eggs in the Space Shuttle basket, Ronald Reagan took two important steps. First, he privatized the expendable launch vehicle industry and encouraged commercial investment in new vehicles. Second, he began the National Aerospace Plane program, which ended up developing technologies which led to Single Stage to Orbit efforts like todayís X-33.

The Bush Administration advanced several efforts to upgrade domestic launch capability, including the National Launch System, Spacelifter, Shuttle C, and the Defense Departmentís Single Stage Rocket Technology program. Some of those ideas were rejected by opponents of President Bushís Space Exploration Initiative, including the Democratic-controlled Congress. But one of these initiatives succeeded, and in so doing changed the world.

The Single Stage Rocket Technology effort created the DC-X, which we all know changed this cityís opinion of fully-reusable launch vehicles. For the price of two Space Shuttle toilets, this little rocket reminded us of how useful X vehicles are AND demonstrated the airplane-style operations that will be essential to cheap access to space.

So what has President Clinton done to build on his predecessorsí work? For three years his DoD Comptroller illegally delayed releasing money that had been appropriated on a bipartisan basis for the DC-X. His National Space Transportation Policy took responsibility for RLVs away from the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, which had created both the DC-X and the Clementine program, and gave it to NASA. That, of course, delayed development of the next RLV demon-strator by at least two years. And while Congress has continued to insist that the DOD keep an equity role in RLV technology so that we can use these break-throughs to defend America and keep the peace, the President chose last fall to line item veto the Military Space Plane program.

At the same time, right up until last October the President was fully prepared to give one contractor $1.5 billion to develop a new expendable rocket, even as several companies were investing their own money in developing new expendables or reusables. Fortunately the EELV program was restructured, and I now support it. But not thanks to this White House.

I do give the President credit for initiating the X-33 program, albeit late, and unfortunately with only enough money to pursue one vehicle of one concept. But his FY99 budget submission woefully underfunds the Future-X program to develop follow-ons to the X-33.

This President has simply not thought space was important enough to invest in, and he cuts NASAís budget even as he increases funding for every other civilian R&D agency. That is a recipe for continued U.S. dependence on foreign rockets to achieve affordable launch services. Which means continued opportunities for unprincipled American corporations to help those countries improve their rockets.