SASC Air Force Posture Hearing, June 2017

SASC Air Force Posture Hearing, June 2017

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held its annual Air Force posture hearing on June 6, 2017.  Witnesses were Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.  Most of the hearing focused on aircraft and personnel, but there was some discussion of Air Force space programs.   Wilson said the service is requesting a 20 percent increase in space program funding for FY2018, which Sen. Ted Cruz said would raise the total to $7.7 billion.  She also revealed that the next launch of one of the Air Force’s two reusable X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles (OTVs) will be conducted by SpaceX in August, the first time that information appears to have been made public. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on June 6, 2017.

Senate Hearings on Commercial Space, April and May 2017

Senate Hearings on Commercial Space, April and May 2017

The Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held two hearings on further actions Congress could take to assist companies seeking to engage in commercial space activities, especially non-traditional ventures such as placing habitats in Earth orbit or on the Moon, satellite servicing, or asteroid mining.  Witnesses at the April 26, 2017 hearing represented four commercial space companies:  Bigelow Aerospace, Blue Origin, Made in Space, and Galactic Ventures (Virgin Orbit, Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company).   Three more companies were represented at the May 23, 2017 hearing:  Space Systems Loral, Moon Express and Planetary Resources.  Also testifying on May 23 were three space law experts (James Dunstan, Mobius Legal Group; Laura Montgomery, Ground Based Space Matters; and Matthew Schaefer, University of Nebraska College of Law).  SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the two hearings on May 30, 2017.

SASC Subcommittee Hearing on Military Space Organization, Policy, and Programs, May 2017

SASC Subcommittee Hearing on Military Space Organization, Policy, and Programs, May 2017

The Strategic Forces subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on Military Space Organization, Policy, and Programs on May 17, 2017.  Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, who had been sworn into office just the prior day, testified along with three top Air Force space officials — Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff; Gen. John Raymond, Commander, Air Force Space Command; and Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander, Air Force Space and Missile Center.   Cristina Chaplain of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) also testified.

The Air Force officials’ main theme was that space no longer is a benign environment, but a “warfighting domain.”  Another theme was that the organization for developing and executing space programs within DOD and the Air Force remains ineffective and changes are needed.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on May 17, 2017.

House Hearing on Commercial Space Regulation, March 2017

House Hearing on Commercial Space Regulation, March 2017

The Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on March 8, 2017 on “Regulating Space: Innovation, Liberty, and International Obligations.”   The hearing centered on U.S. obligations under Article VI of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty to authorize and continually supervise the activities of non-governmental entities, like companies.   The only agreement that emerged from the hearing is that if there is to be any government regulation, it should have a light touch so that creativity and innovation are not stifled.   SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on March 13.   Witnesses were:

  • Laura Montgomery, Attorney and Sole Proprietor, Ground Based Space Matters, LLC (and former Manager, Space Law Branch, FAA)
  • Eli Dourado, Senior Research Fellow and Director, Technology Policy Program, Mercatus Center, George Mason University
  • Doug Loverro, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, DOD
  • Dennis Burnett, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Law
  • Henry Hogue, Specialist in American National Government, Congressional Research Service

 

House Hearing on NASA's Past, Present and Future, February 2017

House Hearing on NASA's Past, Present and Future, February 2017

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on February 16, 2017 to discuss NASA’s Past, Present, and Future.  The focus of the hearing was NASA’s human spaceflight program, although other parts of its portfolio — space technology, aeronautics, and space and earth science — were also discussed.  SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on February 20, 2017.  Witnesses were:

  • Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, former Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. Senator
  • Lt. Gen. Tom Stafford (Ret.), former Gemini and Apollo astronaut
  • Ellen Stofan, former NASA Chief Scientist
  • Tom Young , former director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and former President and COO of Martin Marietta Corp and Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin (after Martin Marietta and Lockheed merged)
Senate Commerce Hearing–NASA At a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration, July 2016

Senate Commerce Hearing–NASA At a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration, July 2016

The subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on July 13, 2016 entitled “NASA At a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration.”   Chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the main theme was how to avoid a disruption in the human spaceflight program when a new President takes office in 2017 as occurred when President Obama cancelled the Constellation program.   SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on July 24, 2016.  Witnesses were:

  • Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations
  • Mary Lynne Dittmar, Executive Director, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
  • Mike Gold, Vice President of Washington Operations, SSL (formerly Space Systems Loral)
  • Mark Sirangelo, Vice President, Space Systems Group, Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Dan Dumbacher, Professor of Engineering Practice, Purdue University (formerly NASA deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development)
House SS&T Hearing on Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrobiology, July 2016

House SS&T Hearing on Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrobiology, July 2016

Two subcommittees of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on July 12, 2016 on “Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Astrobiology.”   Much of the hearing focused on the 2010 Decadal Survey for astronomy and astrophysics conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the next one that is now being planned.  SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on July 12.   Witnesses were:

  • Paul Hertz, Director, Astrophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Jim Ulvestad, Director, Division on Astronomical Sciences, NSF
  • Angela Olinto, Chair, Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) and Homer J. Livingston Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago
  • Shelley Wright, Breakthrough Listen Advisory Committee member; Assistant Professor, UC San Diego; Member, Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, UC San Diego
  • Caroline Jones, President, American Astronomical Society and Senior Astrophysicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

 

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing on Commercial Space Launch, June 2016

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing on Commercial Space Launch, June 2016

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:

  • George Nield, Associate Administrator. FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST)
  • Gerald Dillingham,
    Government Accountability Office (GAO);
  • Mike Gold, chairman of the FAA’s
    Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC);
  • Michael
    Lopez-Alegria, COMSTAC Vice Chair; and
  • Taber MacCallum, World View
    Enterprises
House Hearing on Lifetime Medical Care for Astronauts, June 2016

House Hearing on Lifetime Medical Care for Astronauts, June 2016

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:

  • Richard Williams, NASA Chief Medical Officer
  • Chris Cassidy, NASA astronaut and Chief, Astronaut Office, Johnson Space Center
  • Scott Kelly, former NASA astronaut
  • Michael Lopez-Alegria, former NASA astronaut, President of the U.S. chapter of the Association of Space Explorers
  • Jeffrey Kahn, Professor of Bioethics and Public Policy, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and Chairman, Committee on the Ethics Principles and Guidelines for Health Standards for Long Duration and Exploration Spaceflights, Board on Health Sciences Policy, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
House Hearing on Private Sector Weather Forecasting, June 2016

House Hearing on Private Sector Weather Forecasting, June 2016

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.

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