Our Hearing Summaries
The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on March 18, 2015 on NOAA's FY2016 budget request. NOAA Administrator Kathy Sullivan was the witness. Most of the hearing dealt with non-satellite issues, but subcommittee chairman John Culberson (R-TX) did ask especially about NOAA's $380 million request for a Polar Follow On (PFO) program. Sullivan explained that program is in response to criticism from an Independent Review Team headed by Tom Young that NOAA is not procuring satellites in an effective manner. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the satellite-related aspects of the hearing on March 19, 2015.
ON March 17, 2015, the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) held a hearing on "Assuring Assured Access to Space" that debates issues about how to end U.S. reliance on Russia's RD-180 engines, used for the United Launch Alliance's (ULA's) Atlas V rocket and how to create competition in the marketplace for launches of U.S. national security satellites. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on March 18, 2015. Witnesses were:
The Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on NASA's FY2016 budget request on March 12, 2015. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was the only witness, although Deputy Administrator nominee Dava Newman was in the audience and Bolden used the opportunity to urge that she be confirmed. Most of the hearing centered on a partisan debate over whether NASA is spending too much on earth science and not enough on space exploration. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on March 13, 2015.
The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on March 4, 2015 to take testimony from NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden on the President's FY2016 budget request for NASA. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of key points of the hearing on March 5, 2015.
The Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on the FY2016 budget request for the Air Force on February 25, 2015. During the hearing, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) had two exchanges where they discussed the timeline and cost of developing a new U.S. rocket engine to replace Russia's RD-180 now used for the U.S. Atlas V rocket. James said "it may not be doable" to develop a new engine by 2019 as Congress directed last year. The two also discussed certifying "new entrants" like SpaceX to compete against the United Launch Alliance for national security satellite launches. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of those portions of the hearing on February 25.
The Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on February 24, 2015 on "U.S. Human Exploration Goals and Commercial Space Competitiveness." It was the first subcommittee hearing chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on February 25, 2015. Witnesses were:
Two subcommittees of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on February 12, 2015 on "Bridging the Gap: America's Weather Satellites and Weather Forecasting." Two main themes were how to mitigate against potential gaps in weather satellite coverage if older satellites cease functioning before new ones are launched, and whether NOAA should buy weather data from commercial companies to augment the data acquired by NOAA's own satellites. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on February 15, 2015. Witnesses at the hearing were:
Two additional witnesses were available to answer questions, but did not testify:
The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a hearing on January 28, 2015 on the impact on the Department of Defense if across-the-board cuts known as sequestration return in FY2016, as required under current law. The military service chiefs, including Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III, testified about the impact on their services. Welsh, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, each mentioned space activities, including space launch infrastructure, as areas that would be adversely affected. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the space-related portions of the hearing on January 28.
The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology (SS&T) Committee held a hearing on December 10, 2014 to discuss the status of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion programs. NASA's Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, and the Government Accountability Office's (GAO's) Cristina Chaplain testified, but what was perhaps more interesting was the absence of NASA Chief Financial Officer (CFO) David Radzanowski who had been invited to appear. NASA and subcommittee chairman Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-MS) have different takes on how that came to pass. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on December 11, 2014 including NASA's explanation for why Radzanowski was not there.
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.