Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on NASA’s Moon to Mars Plans, July 2017

Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on NASA’s Moon to Mars Plans, July 2017

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on July 17, 2019 — during celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon — on “Moon to Mars:  NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Plans.”  Despite the title, the hearing was focused almost entirely on the Trump Administration’s plan to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, the Artemis program.

The only witness was NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on July 17, 2019: Senators Press NASA on Green Run Test, Artemis Cost Estimate.

Senate Commerce Subcommittee Hearing re Apollo 11 Anniversary and NASA’s Future Exploration Plans, July 2019

Senate Commerce Subcommittee Hearing re Apollo 11 Anniversary and NASA’s Future Exploration Plans, July 2019

The Aviation and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on July 9, 2019 on “NASA’s Exploration Plans:  Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going.”  The hearing was held a week before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon.  Three icons from the Apollo era were among the witnesses:  Gene Kranz, Apollo 11 and 13 flight director; Homer Hickam, former NASA engineer and author of the Rocket Boys; and Christine Darden, former NASA mathematician and aerospace engineer who was highlighted in the book and movie Hidden Figures.  The hearing also looked out to the next 50 years.  Joining them at the witness table were the presidents of two industry associations:  Mary Lynne Dittmar of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration and Eric Stallmer of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on July 9, 2019: “Senate Committee Working on New, Bold NASA Authorization Bill.”

House SS&T Subcommittee Hearing on NASA’s Science Portfolio, June 2019

House SS&T Subcommittee Hearing on NASA’s Science Portfolio, June 2019

The Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on June 11, 2019 on “Discovery on the Frontiers of Space: Exploring NASA’s Science Mission.”  Witnesses were:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for Science Mission Directorate
  • Chelle Gentemann, Senior Scientist, Earth & Space Research, and co-chair of the National Academies’ Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space
  • David Spergel, Charles Young Professor of Astronomy, Princeton University; Director, Center for Computational Astrophysics, Flatiron Institute; and past chair of the National Academies’ Space Studies Board
  • Mark Sykes, CEO and Director, Planetary Science Institute

SpacePolicyOnline.com published two articles summarizing different aspects of the hearing on June 11, 2019:

SASC Confirmation Hearing for Scolese (NRO) and Raymond (USSPACECOM)

SASC Confirmation Hearing for Scolese (NRO) and Raymond (USSPACECOM)

On June 4, 2019, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a nomination hearing for Chris Scolese to be Director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and Gen. John “Jay” Raymond to be Commander of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) and continue as Commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSC).

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on June 4:  Scolese, Raymond Breeze Through SASC Confirmation Hearing.

Senate Commerce Hearing on New Entrants in the National Airspace, May 2019

Senate Commerce Hearing on New Entrants in the National Airspace, May 2019

On May 8, 2019, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on “New Entrants in the National Airspace: Policy, Technology and Security Issues for Congress.”

The National Airspace System (NAS) is overseen by the FAA to ensure that all users can operate safely. That is becoming more challenging as drones and space launches and reentries join traditional aircraft in that domain.  This hearing looked at the impact both the burgeoning use of drones and the rise in commercial space launches and reentries is having on management of the NAS.   Representing the commercial space launch business were Wayne Monteith, the new Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the FAA, and Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a synopsis of the hearing on May 8 as part of its “Today’s Tidbits” feature for that day.

House SS&T Hearing on “Keeping Our Sights on Mars,” May 2019

House SS&T Hearing on “Keeping Our Sights on Mars,” May 2019

On May 8, 2019, the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee held a hearing on “Keeping Our Sights on Mars: NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Program and Lunar Proposal.”

The hearing was held in the wake of Vice President Pence’s directive that NASA accelerate its plans to return humans to the Moon so they arrive in 2024 (Moon 2024) instead of 2028 as earlier planned.  NASA emphasizes that the Moon is a steppingstone to humans on Mars — the Moon to Mars program — but some Mars enthusiasts, including members of this subcommittee, worry that Mars is fading as a goal.  Subcommittee members, including Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma), its chair, also want to know how much it will cost to accelerate the human lunar landing to 2024, but the witnesses did not have an answer.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on May 8:  Horn: “We’re Flying Blind” on Moon 2024 Proposal.  Witnesses were:

  • Mr. William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Mr. Mark Sirangelo, Special Assistant to the Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Dr. Jonathan Lunine, Director, Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, Co-Chair of the Former Committee on Human Spaceflight, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
  • Dr. Patricia Sanders, Chair, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel
  • Mr. Walt Faulconer, President, Faulconer Consulting Group, LLC
Senate Appropriations CJS Subcommittee Hearing on NASA’s FY2020 Budget, May 2019

Senate Appropriations CJS Subcommittee Hearing on NASA’s FY2020 Budget, May 2019

The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on NASA’s FY2020 budget request on May 1, 2019.  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the subcommittee that the Trump Administration is not ready to submit a revised request to reflect new direction given to NASA by the White House after the original request was submitted.  The new directive, announced on March 26, is to accelerate plans to land astronauts on the Moon to 2024 from 2028.  That will require a “surge” in funding, he said, but the amount is still being determined.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on May 1:  Bridenstine: No Cost Estimate for Moon 2024 Yet, But Won’t be $8 Billion Per Year.

Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Space Force, April 2019

Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Space Force, April 2019

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a hearing on April 11, 2019 on President Trump’s proposal to create a Space Force as part of the Air Force.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing the same day: Senators Unsure About Need for Space Force.

Witnesses were:

  • Patrick Shanahan, Acting Secretary of Defense
  • Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force
  • Gen. Jospeh Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Gen. John Hyten, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command
House SS&T Hearing on FY2020 NASA Budget Request, April 2019

House SS&T Hearing on FY2020 NASA Budget Request, April 2019

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on NASA’s FY2020 budget request on April 2, 2019 where a major focus of discussion was the announcement by Vice President Mike Pence a week earlier that he was directing NASA to accelerate its plans to return humans to the surface of the Moon.  Pence told NASA to do that by 2024 although the FY2020 budget request that had just been submitted on March 11 did not include the funding to achieve such a goal.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was the only witness at the hearing.

SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the hearing on April 2:  Moon 2024 Gets Cool Reception by House Committee Democrats.

Senate Commerce Hearing on U.S. Leadership in Space, March 2019

Senate Commerce Hearing on U.S. Leadership in Space, March 2019

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on U.S. leadership in space on March 13, 2019.  At the hearing, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine revealed that the agency is studying whether it is possible to launch the first flight of the uncrewed Orion spacecraft, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), on two commercial rockets instead of the Space Launch System (SLS).  SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of that aspect of the hearing on March 13, 2019:  NASA Studying Launching EM-1 on Commerce Rockets, Not SLS.

Witnesses at the hearing were:

  • Jim Bridenstine, Administrator, NASA
  • Kevin O’Connell, Director, Office of Space Commerce, Department of Commerce