Human Space Flight Safety Hot Topic Today

Human Space Flight Safety Hot Topic Today

Two congressional hearings at 10:00 this morning will look into the safety of human space flight and related issues.

The Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology (House S&T) Committee will look at NASA’s Constellation program and commercial space flight. Yesterday, Keith Cowing of NASAWatch asserted that NASA withheld a chart from a presentation to the Augustine committee that showed that Ares 1/Orion is not as safe as NASA claims. The allegation is that Joseph Fragola, who works for Valador, which provides consulting services to NASA, showed a chart in his presentation to the Augustine committee that was significantly different from an internal version of the chart. One can view both charts on NASAWatch by clicking on the link at the bottom of the NASAWatch story. Fragola is one of this morning’s witnesses before the House S&T subcommittee.

At literally the same time, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will hold a hearing on commercial space flight. According to the committee, topics will include passenger and crew safety on commercial space flights, how commercial spaceports will handle air traffic control and the safe and effective use of the national airspace system. Witnesses are George Nield, FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation; Gerald Dillingham, Government Accountability Office; J.P. Stevens, Aerospace Industries Association; Jeff Greason, XCOR Aerospace, vice chairman of the Commercial Space Flight Federation, and a member of the Augustine committee; and James Testwuide, Wisconsin Aerospace Authority.

Both hearings will be webcast for those who want to multitask and watch them simultaneously. Anyone who wants to attend in person will find the House S&T hearing in 2318 Rayburn, and the House T&I hearing two floors down in 2167 Rayburn.

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