Our Civil Hearing Summaries
A joint hearing was held on July 16, 2014 between the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). The hearing, Options for Assuring Domestic Space Access, was co-chaired by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) from Commerce and Sen, Mark Udall (D-CO) from SASC. Two main themes were how to cope with the possibility that Russian RD-180 engines might no longer be available because of strained U.S.-Russian relationships over Ukraine and SpaceX's effort to be certified by the Air Force to be awarded launch contracts. Space PolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on July 16.
The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on NASA's FY2015 budget request on May 1, 2014. The only witness was NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on May 1, 2014.
The House and Senate Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations subcommittees held hearings on the FY2015 budget request for the Department of Commerce on April 9 and April 10, 2014, respectively. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker testified about the full range of Commerce responsibilities, including satellite programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Satellites were not a major topic at the House hearing, but in the Senate, questions were raised about whether two of those programs -- COSMIC-2 and SIDAR -- were needed. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of both hearings on April 14, 2014.
The Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on NASA's FY2015 budget request on April 8, 2014. Breaking with tradition, the three-and-a-half hour hearing first discussed a different issue -- a National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) report on security at NASA, especially access by foreign nationals to NASA centers. The hearing then moved on to the NASA budget request and the hearing became quite combative between NASA Administrator Bolden and subcommittee members, especially subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA). SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of a hearing the same day and updated it on April 14 with comments made by Wolf at an unrelated hearing on April 9 where he said that "maybe everything was not as accurate as was said" the previous day.
The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on NASA's FY2015 budget request on March 27, 2014. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was the only witness. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on March 28, 2014 entitled "Bolden Reassures on ISS, Defends ARM, Insists on Commercial Crew."
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on February 27, 2014 on "Mars Flyby 2021: First Deep Space Mission for Orion and the Space Launch System?" The hearing discussed the concept of send two people on a flyby mission to Mars -- via Venus -- in 2021. Witnesses were: Scott Pace, George Washington University; Gen. Lester Lyles (Ret.), consultant; Doug Cooke, consultant; and Sandy Magnus, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Pace and Cooke are former NASA officials; Magnus is a former astronaut. Lyles chairs the National Research Council's Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and has served on or chaired several studies on the future of human spaceflight. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on February 28, 2014.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing on October 11, 2013 on "The Impacts of the Government Shutdown on Our Economic Security." The hearing took place while the U.S. Government was partially shutdown at the beginning of FY2014 because Congress had not passed any of the FY2014 appropriations bills. Among the witnesses was Marion Blakey, President of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), and Alan Leshner, Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on October 12, 2013, under the title "Nelson Tells Blakey: Put a Fire Under Your Executives."
Two subcommittees of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a joint hearing on September 19, 2013 entitled "Dysfunction in Management of Weather and Climate Satellites." Witnesses from NOAA and NASA disagreed with a witness from the Government Accountabiity Office (GAO) and committee members over whether there is likely to be a gap in data from NOAA's polar orbiting and geostationary weather satellites in the coming years. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on September 21, 2013.
The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on September 20, 2013 on challenges facing decisions about NASA infrastructure -- what facilities to keep, demolish, abandon or turn over to other users. The real focus of the hearing, however, was the difficulty in making infrastructure decisions when NASA's future goals for human exploration are unclear. A specific topic that permeated the hearing was the fate of launch pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), which had been used for the space shuttle program, but NASA now wants to lease to a commercial user because it is no longer needed. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on September 20.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing on September 19, 2013 on President Obama's nomination of Dr. Kathryn Sullivan to be Under Secretary of Commerce and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA operates the nation's weather satellites. Sullivan, an oceanographer by training, is a former NASA astronaut who was the first American woman to make a spacewalk. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the nomination hearing on September 19.