Our Hearing Summaries
The Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee held a rare hearing on commercial space launch issues on June 22, 2016. Most of the issues are under the jurisdiction of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, but T&I oversees the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a whole, so has some oversight interest. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on June 24. Witnesses were:
The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on June 15, 2016 on "Human Spaceflight Ethics and Obligations: Options for Monitoring, Diagnosing and Treating Former Astronauts." Three current and former astronauts, including Scott Kelly who just set a new U.S. record for a long duration (340 days) spaceflight, NASA's Chief Medical Officer, and a medical ethicist, testified. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on June 15. Witnesses were:
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on June 8, 2016 on "Private Sector Weather Forecasting: Assessing Products and Technologies." Congress is requiring NOAA to conduct a pilot project to obtain private sector satellite data to determine whether it can be incorporated into its numerical weather models. Among the witnesses was Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald of Spire Global, one of the companies that plans to provide the type of data NOAA will use for the pilot project (GPS-Radio Occultation data). Antonio (Tony) Busalacchi, the incoming President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), was another witness. He argued that Congress should request a Decadal Survey to provide strategic planning for the U.S. weather enterprise --a three-legged stool involving the government, the private sector, and academic/research. The other three witnesses were: Barry Myers, CEO of AccuWeather; Jim Black, Chief Meteorological Officer of Schneider Electric; and Neil Jacobs, Chief Scientist of Panasonic Weather Solutions. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on June 9.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on February 4.