Thursday, March 8, 2012

Song and Dance


Click the arrow to watch the Senate committee hearing.


Click the arrow to watch the House committee hearing.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden appeared before two congressional hearings March 7. At both events, he was grilled about funding for the Space Launch System and commercial crew development.

Watching these events only reinforced my impression that these elected officials couldn't care less about what's best for the future of American human spaceflight. They just want to assure that pork continues to flow to their districts.

Several remain apathetic to the reality that NASA will continue to pay Russia $450 million a year until commercial crew companies are ready to deliver U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. Some even suggest it's preferable to continue paying Russia than invest in American industry.

Most of them see the issue as a funding battle between commercial crew and Space Launch System, even though one has nothing to do with the other. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who all but called Bolden a liar in the morning hearing, has claimed that the SLS Orion capsule is a "backup" for ISS crew transportations, but NASA executive Bill Gerstenmaier said last month that Orion has no ISS docking capability. Commercial crew has a destination, while Congress has given SLS no mission or destination.

It should also be noted that the morning Senate committee hearing was attended in full by only two senators, Hutchison (R-TX) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Rubio (R-FL) made brief remarks but did not attend the entire event. The committee has 25 members.

I'll leave it to you to watch the videos and decide for yourself. Below are links to various articles about the hearings.

NASASpaceFlight.com "NASA Boss Bolden Goes Head to Head with Lawmakers over FY13 Budget"

Space.com "NASA Chief Defends Space Budget Needs to Congress"

SpacePolicyOnline.com "Congress Still Concerned about SLS Versus Commercial Crew"

Space News "Bolden Locks Horns with Hutchison Over Commercial Crew, Orion Funding"

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