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But the agency should invest in new technology, Mr. Barton said.

“I think we ought to spend the money on building the best technology orbiter or space plane that we have,” he said.

NASA last year began developing the Orbital Space Plane, which could cost $13 billion.

It would take over some of the shuttle’s duties. By 2010, the vehicle is supposed to return astronauts from the space station. By 2012, it is supposed to transport them there.

The agency has scrapped two designs for similar vehicles after spending $1.4 billion.

Congress heaped criticism on NASA during the subcommittee hearing, accusing it of wasting money and not being further along with plans for the Orbital Space Plane.

“For the last five years, I’ve been supporting allocation of resources to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, and we still don’t have anything to show for it,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican and chairman of the subcommittee.

NASA officials dispute that they have nothing to show for their efforts.

“I feel very, very good about the amount of progress we’ve made with respect to the Orbital Space Plane,” said John Rogacki, NASA’s director of space transportation technology.