With Atlantis on the final space shuttle mission, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden testified in front of a House committee on the future of the U.S. space flight program.
NASA is now six months past a January deadline imposed by Congress to develop a plan for a new launch vehicle to send astronauts into space.
Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) said NASA's failure to meet the deadline reflected poorly on President Obama, but Bolden accepted responsibility, telling the Chairman "...you have the correct person here to cast blame. I am the leader of America’s space program. It’s not the President; it’s me.”
Mr. Bolden also discussed NASA's plan to explore an asteroid by 2025, then send humans to Mars. Responding to the concerns of some committee members that the agency's budgets are oversized, he said that any new launch system must be "affordable, stable, and consistent."
Questions from the committee also centered around safety concerns, the role of private industry and the Russian space program, and NASA's mission. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) complained that the space agency made launches "look too ho-hum" and no longer inspired students to go into math and science.