WASHINGTON – Scientist-turned-congressman Roscoe Bartlett is worried that scientific research is not a priority on board the Russian space station Mir.
“Science is at the bottom of the totem pole,” Bartlett, R- Frederick, said Thursday at a congressional hearing on the safety of Mir.
While other House Science Committee members focused on the recent mishaps aboard the space station and the risks posed to American astronauts, Bartlett wanted to turn the spotlight on the scientific experiments.
Bartlett drew on his background as a human physiologist and his knowledge of space experimentation from his work at Johns Hopkins’ Space Life Sciences research group.
“Foreign policy, gaining additional space station experience and the science experiments” are the justifications for American involvement with the space station, Bartlett said. But he questioned the “quantity and quality of science on Mir.”
Bartlett’s primary concern for the scientific success of Mir is that there is a continued “robust” science program where the astronauts are adequately utilized for experiments.
In recent months, Mir has been plagued with problems, including a fire on the space station, carbon dioxide removal problems, computer failures and docking problems.