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Our Hearing Summaries

House Hearing on Deep Space Habitats with Andy Weir, May 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 19-May-2016 (Updated: 19-May-2016 12:13 AM)

On May 18, 2016, the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on "Next Steps to Mars: Deep Space Habitats."  Among the witnesses was Andy Weir, author of the best-selling book and movie The Martian.  While stressing that he is not a space expert, just an enthusiast, he offered his viewpoint that NASA should focus on developing artificial gravity instead of trying to ameliorate the effects of weightlessness on the human body.  Representatives of NASA, Boeing and Orbital ATK explained their efforts at developing habitats for cis-lunar space, which they consider the next step on the journey to Mars.  Lockheed Martin's representative described the company's new Mars Base Camp concept to place six astronauts in Mars orbit by 2028.   SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on May 18. Witnesses were: 

  • Jason Crusan, Director, Advanced Exploration Systems, NASA HQ
  • John Elbon, VP and General Manager, Space Exploration, Boeing
  • Wanda Sigur, VP and General Manager, Civil Space, Lockheed Martin
  • Frank Culbertson, President, Space Systems Group, Orbital ATK
  • Andy Weir, Author, The Martian
 

House SS&T Space Subcommittee Hearing on NASA's FY2017 Budget Request, March 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 17-Mar-2016 (Updated: 17-Mar-2016 08:58 PM)

The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on NASA's FY2017 budget request on March 17, 2016.  The hearing was largely friendly and supportive of NASA's aeronautics and space programs, although Republicans criticized spending on earth science research, which they believe should be done by other federal agencies while NASA focuses on human and robotic exploration of space.  Republicans and Democrats criticized the President's request for the Space Launch System and Orion as being too low.   

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was the only witness at the hearing.  Committee members praised his service to the nation as a Marine and as NASA Administrator.  Bolden has said these are likely his last budget hearings before Congress since a new President will take office before the next budget is submitted and he does not expect to continue as Administrator.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on March 17, 2016.

House Appropriations Hearing on NASA's FY2017 Budget, March 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 15-Mar-2016 (Updated: 15-Mar-2016 10:16 PM)

The Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on March 15, 2016 on NASA's FY2017 budget request.   Key topics discussed included the Space Launch System (SLS), a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, NASA's interaction with China, and the potential of turning NASA's Ames Research Center into a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that is managed by CalTech.   SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on March 15.

The witness at the hearing was NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.

Senate Appropriations NASA Budget Hearing, March 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Mar-2016 (Updated: 11-Mar-2016 07:30 AM)
The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on NASA's FY2017 budget request on March 10, 2016.  NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was the witness.   This was the last NASA budget hearing for Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who is retiring this year.  She is one of NASA's strongest supporters in the Senate and recounted how she came to know and admire NASA.  SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on March 11, 2016.

SASC Air Force Posture Hearing and RD-180s, March 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 04-Mar-2016 (Updated: 04-Mar-2016 08:30 AM)

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a posture hearing on the Air Force on March 3, 2016 at which SASC chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James had a feisty exchange over the use of Russian RD-180 rocket engines for the United Launch Alliance's (ULA's) Atlas V rocket.   The focus was on whether ULA should be prohibited from buying RD-180s because it violates sanctions imposed against two Russians (Dmitry Rogozin and Sergei Chemezov) who now may benefit financially from those sales.  SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of that portion of the hearing on March 3.

James had testified to the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee the day before (March 2) where the topic of RD-180s also arose and those comments also are summarized in the SpacePolicyOnline.com article. 

House SS&T Hearing on Space Leadership Preservation Act, February 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 03-Mar-2016 (Updated: 03-Mar-2016 05:03 PM)

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on February 25, 2016 on H.R. 2093, the Space Leadership Preservation Act.  The hearing addressed the specifics of the bill, which would create a Board of Directors to govern NASA and appoint NASA Administrators for fixed terms of 10 years, and broad issues such as NASA's plans for human exploration of space.  SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on February 29.   Witnesses at the hearing were:

  • Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), sponsor of the legislation
  • Michael Griffin, former NASA Administrator and President, Schafer Corp.
  • Eileen Collins, former NASA astronaut
  • Cristina Chaplain, Government Accountability Office (GAO)

House SS&T Hrg on Expert Perspectives on NASA's Human Spaceflight Program, February 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 04-Feb-2016 (Updated: 04-Feb-2016 07:34 PM)

The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on February 3, 2016 on "Charting a Course: Expert Perspectives on NASA's Human Exploration Proposals."  NASA itself was not represented at the hearing.  Instead, the subcommittee took testimony from three "outside" (non-NASA) witnesses with expertise on the subject.  They were:

  • Tom Young, retired industry executive (Martin Marietta/Lockheed Martin), former NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director, and member of the NASA Advisory Council, testifying on his own behalf
  • Paul Spudis, senior scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute, testifying on his own behalf
  • John Sommerer, retired from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, testifying as former chair of the Technical Panel of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine committee that produced the 2014 Pathways to Exploration report

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on February 4.

SASC Hearing on Russian RD-180 Rocket Engines, January 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 28-Jan-2016 (Updated: 28-Jan-2016 12:21 AM)

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a hearing on January 27, 2016 to further debate the issue of how many Russian RD-180 rocket engines may be obtained by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) for its Atlas V rockets that are used to launch national security satellites.   SASC Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) announced that he and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are introducing legislation to repeal a provision "airdropped" into the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act allowing ULA to obtain an unlimited umber of those engines, after McCain's FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) limited the number to nine.

The two witnesses at the hearing were Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall.  SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on January 27, 2016.

House Hearing on ISS Operations, July 2015

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Jul-2015 (Updated: 11-Jul-2015 10:31 PM)

The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on July 10, 2015 on "International Space Station: Addressing Operational Challenges."  The hearing came after three ISS cargo resupply spacecraft failed over an 8-month period (October 2014-June 2015).  The hearing did not focus specifically on those failures, but broadly on operational challenges facing the ISS today and what will come next after the ISS lifetime comes to an end.  

SpacePolicyOnline.com published an article summarizing the hearing on July 11, 2015.   Witnesses were:

  • Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations
  • John Elbon, Vice President and General Manger, Space Exploration, The Boeing Company
  • Paul Martin, NASA Inspector General
  • Shelby Oakley, Acting Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
  • James Pawelczyk, Associate Professor of Physiology and Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University, who was a payload specialist on the space shuttle STS-90 (Neurolab) mission in 1998.
 

SASC Subcommittee Hearing on Military Space Issues, April 2015

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 04-May-2015 (Updated: 15-May-2015 04:44 PM)

The Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a hearing on military space issues on April 29, 2015.  SpacePolicyOnline.com pubished two articles summarizing the hearing.

  • The first was published on May 4, 2015, summarizing the portions of the hearing that discussed issues about the pace with which the Air Force is executing congressional direction to build a new American rocket engine to replace Russia's RD-180 engines used for the Atlas V launch vehicle.