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Our Hearing Summaries

Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on RD-180 Engine Replacement, February 2015

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 25-Feb-2015 (Updated: 25-Feb-2015 10:46 PM)
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.

Senate Hearing on Human Spaceflight and Commercial Space, February 2015

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 25-Feb-2015 (Updated: 25-Feb-2015 01:19 PM)

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:

Panel 1

  • Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham
  • Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin (second man to walk on the Moon)
  • Space Shuttle astronaut Mike Massimino

Panel 2

  • John Elbon, Boeing Space Exploration
  • Scott Pace, George Washington University Space Policy Institute
  • Eric Stallmer, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

House Hearing on Potential Weather Satellite Gaps and Commercial Data Buys, February 2015

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 15-Feb-2015 (Updated: 15-Feb-2015 05:07 PM)

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:

  • David Powner, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
  • Stephen Volz, NOAA, National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS)
  • Steven Clarke, NASA, Joint Agency Satellite Division

Two additional witnesses were available to answer questions, but did not testify:

  • Alexander MacDonald, President, American Meteorological Society, and Director, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory and Chief Science Advisor, NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
  • John Murphy, NOAA, National Weather Service, Office of Science and Technology

Impact of Sequestration on DOD Space Activities, January 2015

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 28-Jan-2015 (Updated: 28-Jan-2015 05:30 PM)
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.

House SS&T Hearing on SLS and Orion, December 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Dec-2014 (Updated: 11-Dec-2014 10:34 PM)
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.

Joint Senate Commerce and SASC Hearing on RD-180 Engines and SpaceX Certification, July 16, 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 17-Jul-2014 (Updated: 17-Jul-2014 08:41 AM)
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.

Senate Appropriations CJS Sbcmte Hearing on NASA's FY2015 Budget Request, May 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 01-May-2014 (Updated: 17-Aug-2014 06:53 PM)
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.

Appropriations Hearings on Department of Commerce FY2015 Budget Request, April 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 14-Apr-2014 (Updated: 15-Apr-2014 02:56 PM)
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.

House Appropriations Hearing on Security at NASA and NASA's FY2015 Budget Request, April 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 08-Apr-2014 (Updated: 17-Aug-2014 06:46 PM)

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.

Witnesses were:

  • Richard Thornburgh, chairman of the NAPA committee (and former Attorney General, and former Governor of Pennsylvania)
  • Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator

House Hearing on NASA's FY2015 Budget Request, March 2014

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 28-Mar-2014 (Updated: 17-Aug-2014 06:49 PM)
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."