Congress: March 2015 Archives

Executive Session - Markup of five bills and three nominations, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

"7. Nomination of Dr. Dava J. Newman, of Massachusetts, to be Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration"

Keith's update: The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has reported favorably on the nomination of Dava Newman to be NASA Deputy Administrator.

Statement by John Grunsfeld, NASA

"The project has done an excellent job of managing its budget reserves, and this ability to efficiently address problems as they come up has enabled Webb to remain on schedule for its 2018 launch."

Statement by Cristina Chaplain, GAO

"The proximity of all the elements and major subsystem schedules to the critical path means that a delay on any of the elements or major subsystems may reduce the overall project schedule reserve further, which could put the overall project schedule at risk. As a result, the project has less flexibility to choose which issues to mitigate. While the project has been able to reorganize work when necessary to mitigate schedule slips thus far, with further progression into subsequent integration and testing periods, flexibility will be diminished because work during integration and testing tends to be more serial, as the initiation of work is often dependent on the successful and timely completion of the prior work. This is particularly the case with JWST given its complexity."

- Hearing Charter

- Statements: Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Steven Palazzo, John Mather, Jeffrey Grant, John Grunsfeld, and Cristina Chaplain

SpaceX mocks rival in tetchy congressional hearing

"The two made a number of pointed comments about each other before Ms Shotwell responded sarcastically when asked why SpaceX thought it could provide launches to the US government for an average $100m. SpaceX claims ULA's launches cost US taxpayers an average of $400m each. Ms Shotwell was asked why the company claimed to be able to offer its services for 25 per cent of the ULA price. "It's hard for me to say," Ms Shotwell replied. "I don't know how to build a $400m rocket. The more difficult question would be to say that I don't understand how ULA are as expensive as they are."

How SpaceX and Elon Musk could conquer the market for military satellite launches, Washington Post

"If [ULA] stops the Delta IV rocket launches," said Rogers, "is there anybody else that can compete with you for those missions?" Shotwell struggled to answer, referring vaguely to there being international launch providers. She then went back and conceded that the Pentagon probably wouldn't trust those international services with sensitive military payloads. That was precisely the point, said Rogers. "You would have a monopoly, is where I'm going on this," he said."

- Watch the hearing (archive)
- Witness statements: Tory Bruno, Gwynne Shotwell, John Hyten, William LaPlante, Katrina McFarland, and Mitch Mitchell

Cruz presses NASA to ignore climate crisis, MSNBC

"During a subcommittee hearing on NASA's budget, Cruz asked Bolden to explain the agency's core mission. Our core mission from the very beginning has been to investigate, explore space and the Earth environment, and to help us make this place a better place," Bolden replied. Cruz, true to form, balked at the "Earth environment" part."

NASA chief has perfect comeback to Ted Cruz's attack on Earth science, Mashable

"Bolden defended spending more money on Earth science activities, saying he is "proud" of it since it's led to a greater understanding of the planet. "We can't go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don't know it "We can't go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don't know it -- and that's understanding our environment," Bolden said, in a clear reference to global warming-related sea level rise. "It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth's environment because this is the only place that we have to live."

Keith's note: Perhaps if Sen. Cruz were to take the time to read the public law that originated in Congress - the one that established NASA and provides its charter - he'd understand why NASA does what it does.

The National Aeronautics and Space Act Pub. L. No. 111-314 124 Stat. 3328 (Dec. 18, 2010)

Chapter 201: National Aeronautics and Space Program: Congressional Declaration of Policy and Purpose: "(d) Objectives of Aeronautical and Space Activities.--The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives: (1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space. ..."

Keith's update: And for all of you who seem to feel the need to comment using the word "socialist agenda" or "Obama leftists" with regard to the 2010 Amended version, have a look at the original 1958 text

"(c) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives: (1) The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;"

As for adding "Earth" to the NASA authorization act, contrary to what all the Obama haters have been trying to post, it was not added in 2010 but rather was added by the "National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act, 1985," Public Law 98-361, July 16, 1984, section 110(b) (98 Stat. 426). when Ronald Reagan was president with a Republican-controlled Senate.

"(d) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives: (1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;"

Culberson Statement on NASA Budget Hearing

"Administrator Bolden made it clear in his answers that the Obama Administration has no contingency plan in place to send U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station if Russia chooses to end the current agreement that allows our astronauts to travel to the space station on board its Soyuz capsules."

NASA's chief confirms it: Without Russia, space station lost, Houston Chronicle

'If Russia stops flying U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station, the U.S., lacking a backup plan, would have no choice but to abandon the multibillion dollar outpost to its own fate, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said Wednesday. "We would make an orderly evacuation," Bolden said during a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee hearing."

Keith's note: Culberson is not exaggerating. When asked, Bolden could not give a 'yes' or 'no' answer to rather specific and repeated questions as to whether or not NASA has a post-Russia ISS contingency plan in place. Bolden stumbled for a bit before he started to talk about an orderly evacuation of the ISS. Culberson interrupted at one point and said "please tell me that you do". Bolden also seemed to suggest that the U.S. can operate the ISS without Russian permission/cooperation.

Statement by NASA Administrator at House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing (with video)

"Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss NASA's FY 2016 budget request. The President is proposing an FY 2016 budget of $18.5 billion for NASA, building on the significant investments the Administration has made in America's space program over the past six years, enabled through the strong and consistent support by this Committee and the Congress."

Keith's note: I was watching this hearing on NASA TV. About halfway through the video froze while the audio continued. As such it was often hard to tell who was speaking. After correcting my earlier tweet, I posted some additional comments on Twitter that ended up with a member of Congress responding. See below for that conversation.

NASA Administrator Lauds Senator Mikulski for Championing America's Space Program

"Senator Mikulski has been a tireless champion for NASA, and has helped pave the way for future exploration and our journey to Mars."

Mikulski Announces 5th Term Will Be Her Last, Will Focus on Working for Her Constituents

"Today at Henderson's Wharf Inn in Fells Point, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) announced she has decided not to run for re-election. Senator Mikulski, who will complete her 5th term in office in January, 2017, says she wants to focus for the next two years on working for her constituents and for the nation."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Congress category from March 2015.

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