Author Topic: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)  (Read 19669 times)

Offline OpsAnalyst

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #40 on: 02/25/2015 07:48 PM »
No :-[ But I'm not going to let something like that get in the way of my faux outrage.

Joking aside, even if they were invited, they were only mentioned by name once, in passing, during the whole thing. That tells you something, like for example that lawmakers seem dead set on SLS being the one and only part of the launch vehicle puzzle for NASA going into deep space.

Of course the Members support SLS, it is the law.

Beyond that the hearing tells you the following:
It tells you that Cruz is on record as a strong supporter of NASA human space exploration.
It tells you he supports commercial crew/cargo.
It tells you he supports commercial space companies, particularly those doing business in Texas (includes SpaceX)
It tells you he buys into the idea that a strong HSE program is important for national/international competitiveness.
It tells you that right now there is strong bipartisan agreement supporting NASA HSE in this committee (very important), though it is future hearings that will tell us more about the nature of bipartisan support for all other aspects of NASA's mission
It tells you (most of all) that it was Cruz's first hearing as Chair and he used it as a _first_ hearing to start fleshing out the general policy outlines he intends to color between.

The rest of this is a tempest in a teapot.  But people see what they want to see.
« Last Edit: 02/25/2015 07:49 PM by OpsAnalyst »

Offline Prober

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #41 on: 02/26/2015 03:04 PM »
No :-[ But I'm not going to let something like that get in the way of my faux outrage.

Joking aside, even if they were invited, they were only mentioned by name once, in passing, during the whole thing. That tells you something, like for example that lawmakers seem dead set on SLS being the one and only part of the launch vehicle puzzle for NASA going into deep space.

Of course the Members support SLS, it is the law.

Beyond that the hearing tells you the following:
It tells you that Cruz is on record as a strong supporter of NASA human space exploration.
It tells you he supports commercial crew/cargo.
It tells you he supports commercial space companies, particularly those doing business in Texas (includes SpaceX)
It tells you he buys into the idea that a strong HSE program is important for national/international competitiveness.
It tells you that right now there is strong bipartisan agreement supporting NASA HSE in this committee (very important), though it is future hearings that will tell us more about the nature of bipartisan support for all other aspects of NASA's mission
It tells you (most of all) that it was Cruz's first hearing as Chair and he used it as a _first_ hearing to start fleshing out the general policy outlines he intends to color between.

The rest of this is a tempest in a teapot.  But people see what they want to see.

good sum up...
would also add those who wanted more SpaceX; should note that the 2nd panel had a rep of "commercial"
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Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #42 on: 02/26/2015 09:38 PM »
No :-[ But I'm not going to let something like that get in the way of my faux outrage.

Joking aside, even if they were invited, they were only mentioned by name once, in passing, during the whole thing. That tells you something, like for example that lawmakers seem dead set on SLS being the one and only part of the launch vehicle puzzle for NASA going into deep space.

Of course the Members support SLS, it is the law.

Beyond that the hearing tells you the following:
It tells you that Cruz is on record as a strong supporter of NASA human space exploration.
It tells you he supports commercial crew/cargo.
It tells you he supports commercial space companies, particularly those doing business in Texas (includes SpaceX)
It tells you he buys into the idea that a strong HSE program is important for national/international competitiveness.
It tells you that right now there is strong bipartisan agreement supporting NASA HSE in this committee (very important), though it is future hearings that will tell us more about the nature of bipartisan support for all other aspects of NASA's mission
It tells you (most of all) that it was Cruz's first hearing as Chair and he used it as a _first_ hearing to start fleshing out the general policy outlines he intends to color between.

The rest of this is a tempest in a teapot.  But people see what they want to see.

Well said, and a good summary. The "good news" is the fact that the field of so-called "commercial space" (remembering of course, that throughout its history, NASA has used commercial companies as contractors for 80-90% of its program expenditures, but using the term in its recent conventional usage) has grown to the point where in a hearing context, with limited time and thus limited opportunities for witnesses (usually they like one panel with no more than 5, or two panels with 3 or 4 apiece) the Committee was able to turn to the "Trade Association" for input from that "sector." In this case, it was Eric Stallmer, representing the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, of which SpaceX is a key member. SpaceX's senior Washington rep was sitting right behind Mike Massimino, and looked quite satisfied throughout the hearing whenever caught on camera (I was watching the webcast from the comfort of my favorite easy chair). Same with Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eric's predecessor in that job. Eric's written statement (as opposed to the five-minute oral summary all witnesses are asked to actually present), submitted for the record, likely detailed SpaceX progress, among other CSF members, though that's a guess until I can get a copy.)
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Online Blackstar

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #43 on: 02/26/2015 10:20 PM »
Well said, and a good summary. The "good news" is the fact that the field of so-called "commercial space" (remembering of course, that throughout its history, NASA has used commercial companies as contractors for 80-90% of its program expenditures, but using the term in its recent conventional usage) has grown to the point where in a hearing context, with limited time and thus limited opportunities for witnesses (usually they like one panel with no more than 5, or two panels with 3 or 4 apiece) the Committee was able to turn to the "Trade Association" for input from that "sector." In this case, it was Eric Stallmer, representing the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, of which SpaceX is a key member. SpaceX's senior Washington rep was sitting right behind Mike Massimino, and looked quite satisfied throughout the hearing whenever caught on camera (I was watching the webcast from the comfort of my favorite easy chair). Same with Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eric's predecessor in that job. Eric's written statement (as opposed to the five-minute oral summary all witnesses are asked to actually present), submitted for the record, likely detailed SpaceX progress, among other CSF members, though that's a guess until I can get a copy.)

And as I know that you know, there's a reason why people ask trade or industry association reps to do these things, because if you ask one company, you will get complaints from all the companies that you did not ask. So if they had SpaceX, they would also have to invite ULA and Orbital (and then Boeing would complain because although they are part of ULA, they also make capsules, like Orbital and SpaceX, and so on). And they would probably then get complaints from others lower down the supply chain as well--"Why didn't you invite Aerojet? Or Amalgamated Rocket and Machine Tools Company?"

As this board demonstrates, you can't make everybody happy. Somebody will always complain.

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #44 on: 02/26/2015 10:32 PM »
[...] In this case, it was Eric Stallmer, representing the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, of which SpaceX is a key member. SpaceX's senior Washington rep was sitting right behind Mike Massimino, and looked quite satisfied throughout the hearing whenever caught on camera (I was watching the webcast from the comfort of my favorite easy chair). Same with Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eric's predecessor in that job. Eric's written statement (as opposed to the five-minute oral summary all witnesses are asked to actually present), submitted for the record, likely detailed SpaceX progress, among other CSF members, though that's a guess until I can get a copy.)

Written statement attached.

Online Tea Party Space Czar

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #45 on: 02/27/2015 12:21 AM »
This was such an amazing hearing.  I need to chop some of the statements and post them.  I have downloaded the hearing.

I do not understand, by some, why SpaceX needs to have front row billing at everything.  Quite frankly, I am quite happy to NOT have them testifying but instead launching rockets.

Moreover, as we move closer to F9R I can promise you that landing a core will "lobby" quite nicely.  You have officials on record saying that this wasn't possible and yet, it is being done.

Commercial is adequately funded.  No reason to worry.

Finally, Senator Cruz did a lot to dismiss the fear mongering by some.  I think fans of commercial and SLS will be happy.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser

PS Senator Nelson is right - show me the money.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #46 on: 02/27/2015 01:49 AM »
This was such an amazing hearing.  I need to chop some of the statements and post them.  I have downloaded the hearing.

I haven't had time to watch the hearing, so I appreciate whatever you can provide.  Thanks in advance.

Quote
I do not understand, by some, why SpaceX needs to have front row billing at everything.  Quite frankly, I am quite happy to NOT have them testifying but instead launching rockets.

I am a SpaceX fan too, so I understand the comments.  That said, for this hearing at least it was not material.

Quote
Moreover, as we move closer to F9R I can promise you that landing a core will "lobby" quite nicely.  You have officials on record saying that this wasn't possible and yet, it is being done.

Quite right.

Quote
Commercial is adequately funded.  No reason to worry.

While Commercial Cargo is fully funded through the ISS budget, Commercial Crew is not fully funded.  And from what I can tell nothing in this hearing looked liked that was going to change.  Apparently Senator Cruz is not concerned about sending money to Mr. Putin either - I was hoping he would show more support for the home team...

Quote
Finally, Senator Cruz did a lot to dismiss the fear mongering by some.  I think fans of commercial and SLS will be happy.
...
PS Senator Nelson is right - show me the money.

The fear, for some of us at least, is that he would not recognize that NASA is currently too underfunded to use the SLS.  If the FY2016 House budget for NASA is passed as is then that means there is only 6 short years to fund, design & develop, build & test an SLS-sized payload for the first operational SLS mission, which should be in 2022.

Just go look at any of the complex payloads NASA has been building to see how unlikely it is that NASA can build someone SLS-sized in 6 years.

And it's not just a payload or mission for 2022, but 2023, 2024, 2025 and on.  There is no funding for the stream of payloads and missions that supposedly were crying out for a government-owned HLV.  So if anything Senator Cruz confirmed my worst fears of not recognizing the massive disconnect between the ambitions the SLS represents, and the fiscal realities that Congress imposes on NASA.

Senator Nelson is as guilty as anyone for pushing the SLS, but his "show me the money" quote is accurate.  When will Senator Cruz decide to either massively increase NASA's budget or cut a program that has lots of Texas jobs?
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online RonM

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #47 on: 02/27/2015 02:03 AM »
I watched the hearing and it was a good one. Encouraging, except that unless Congress gives NASA more money, nothing will happen.

I think it is funny Senator Nelson said  "show me the money." No Senator, you show us the money. The lack of payloads for SLS and any future NASA Mars program is the fault of Congress.

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #48 on: 02/27/2015 03:32 AM »
A few other comments about hearings and how they figure in the deliberations of the Congressional committees and in the conveying of information to Members and staff. As Mary Lynne mentioned in a post, a key function is to make a record that eventually serves to document some portion of the fact-finding functions of the Congress. Eventually, the hearings are published and copies can be obtained from the Committee, and often are distributed to selected libraries around the country. That's mostly for historical/archival reference. In more "real time," there is typically the following kind of dissemination of information:

First, there is a document called a "Hearing Memo" (the term generally used in the Senate, and generally an internal document, not generally published; in the House, they typically use a "Hearing Charter", published in advance of the hearing by the Majority, which provides an overview of the purpose and content of the upcoming hearing.) In the Senate, each side does its own hearing memo, and they are generally fairly extensive and detailed papers, which not only outline the purpose for the hearing, and describe the witnesses and what they each can be expected (or have been asked) to discuss, but also provide some historical context for the issues within the subject of the hearing, previous legislative history, and current matters of expected interest to committee members. They are generally pretty informative and, frankly, often used by professional Committee staff to help bring Committee Members' personal staff, who may not specialize in the subject matter of the Committee, "up to speed" on the issues. They are distributed a few days in advance to each of the Committee or Subcommittee Members, via their designated staff contact for the Committee.

Secondly, the witnesses are asked to provide their written testimony at least 24 hours (sometimes 48) in advance of the hearing, and these are distributed to all Committee members' staff. They use them to expand their understanding of the issues and the various points the witnesses intend to make, and to prepare questions for their Members to ask during the hearing, to press for more information, or to underscore a particular point they think is important.

Thirdly, after the hearing, there is generally a two-week period during which Members can submit "Questions for the Record," (QFR's) to each of the witnesses. These are generally questions deriving from comments made by witnesses during the hearing, where more clarification is wanted, or are drawn from the list of questions prepared in advance of the hearing but not actually asked during the hearing. (Most Members have a large number of questions prepared by staff in advance, but the dynamics of the hearing often mean they only select a very few that seem most pertinent to them to ask; so the rest are often sent as "QFRs). The responses to these questions often provide a lot of good information that was not able o be brought out or discussed in the hearing itself. These are circulated to Committee Members' staff and included in the formal printed hearing record. These include items where a witness may have indicated during the hearing that they would submit documentation for the record which they may not have been prepared to address during the hearing.

Finally, there is the official transcript of the hearing, which arrives within a week or so of the hearing and is used to go through and correct misspellings of names, explanation of technical terms, etc., that the official stenographers mis-hear or misunderstand, etc. But they do serve to help the staff "re-experience" the hearing and reinforce their recollection and comprehension of what took place and what was said and by whom. These are not generally circulated, but witnesses (and Committee Members) are provided sections where their comments are included, and given the chance to suggest corrections for accuracy. All these are then incorporated into the final official hearing document submitted for publication.

Point is, there is a lot more to these hearings than just what meets the eye and they do perform a valuable role in the legislative process.
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #49 on: 02/27/2015 05:52 AM »
[...] In this case, it was Eric Stallmer, representing the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, of which SpaceX is a key member. SpaceX's senior Washington rep was sitting right behind Mike Massimino, and looked quite satisfied throughout the hearing whenever caught on camera (I was watching the webcast from the comfort of my favorite easy chair). Same with Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eric's predecessor in that job. Eric's written statement (as opposed to the five-minute oral summary all witnesses are asked to actually present), submitted for the record, likely detailed SpaceX progress, among other CSF members, though that's a guess until I can get a copy.)

Written statement attached.

A good read!
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline Prober

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #50 on: 02/27/2015 03:41 PM »
[...] In this case, it was Eric Stallmer, representing the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, of which SpaceX is a key member. SpaceX's senior Washington rep was sitting right behind Mike Massimino, and looked quite satisfied throughout the hearing whenever caught on camera (I was watching the webcast from the comfort of my favorite easy chair). Same with Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eric's predecessor in that job. Eric's written statement (as opposed to the five-minute oral summary all witnesses are asked to actually present), submitted for the record, likely detailed SpaceX progress, among other CSF members, though that's a guess until I can get a copy.)

Written statement attached.

A good read!

First panel reading material    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36843.msg1336662#msg1336662

2nd panel
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Online Blackstar

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #51 on: 02/27/2015 06:36 PM »
And it's not just a payload or mission for 2022, but 2023, 2024, 2025 and on.  There is no funding for the stream of payloads and missions that supposedly were crying out for a government-owned HLV.  So if anything Senator Cruz confirmed my worst fears of not recognizing the massive disconnect between the ambitions the SLS represents, and the fiscal realities that Congress imposes on NASA.

Senator Nelson is as guilty as anyone for pushing the SLS, but his "show me the money" quote is accurate.  When will Senator Cruz decide to either massively increase NASA's budget or cut a program that has lots of Texas jobs?

It is nonsensical to expect the first public hearing of this committee under a new chairman to deal with issues 8-10 years out. That's not how the Senate works, it's not how the U.S. government works.


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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #52 on: 02/27/2015 06:45 PM »
Every so often I'll watch a movie and some character goes and testifies in front of a committee or meets with a senator and I cringe at how Congress is portrayed. I've seen movies where senators are telling military personnel or covert operatives what missions to undertake--as if a senator commands anything other than his own staff. They don't have executive control over anything. Any employee of the federal government, unless they explicitly work for the Congress, works for the executive branch.* Thus, anything that Congress tells them to do they don't follow unless: a) their bosses in the executive branch tell them to follow it, and/or b) that command gets turned into a law.

What lots of people don't seem to get is that congressional hearings serve several purposes. These are:

-theater: perform for the TV cameras, media, and constituents
-information gathering
-discussion/debate (in many ways a combination of the first two)

They are not really legislating. They're not writing bills or voting in hearings (well, they can vote depending upon what they're doing, but that's not really the purpose of hearings). Hearings are the public face of congressional action. Most of the real work, the hard work, takes place behind closed doors, in offices and meeting rooms. And often most of it is being done by staff that you have never heard of, some of the people who can occasionally be seen sitting behind the politicians at the hearings.


















*I once worked for the Congressional Budget Office. Whenever I fill out a form that asks if I have ever worked for the "federal government" I end up scratching my head. Well, I worked for Congress...
« Last Edit: 02/27/2015 06:47 PM by Blackstar »

Offline muomega0

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« Last Edit: 04/01/2015 01:50 PM by muomega0 »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #54 on: 02/27/2015 07:59 PM »
And it's not just a payload or mission for 2022, but 2023, 2024, 2025 and on.  There is no funding for the stream of payloads and missions that supposedly were crying out for a government-owned HLV.  So if anything Senator Cruz confirmed my worst fears of not recognizing the massive disconnect between the ambitions the SLS represents, and the fiscal realities that Congress imposes on NASA.

Senator Nelson is as guilty as anyone for pushing the SLS, but his "show me the money" quote is accurate.  When will Senator Cruz decide to either massively increase NASA's budget or cut a program that has lots of Texas jobs?

It is nonsensical to expect the first public hearing of this committee under a new chairman to deal with issues 8-10 years out. That's not how the Senate works, it's not how the U.S. government works.

Would agree that taking action in the first meeting would be too much to expect.  However Senator Cruz has been a member of this committee previously, so it's not like he wouldn't be familiar with the various issues NASA faces.

My point was that this hearing did nothing to show that this committee recognizes that there is a massive disconnect between what NASA is tasked to do and what NASA is funded to do.  So solving that problem was not my expectation, but acknowledging that a train wreck is coming would have assuaged my fears.  Needless to say, my fears were not assuaged by that bipartisan committee hearing.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #55 on: 02/27/2015 11:03 PM »
But committee meetings are mostly theater. The only question is how much theater compared to actual information-gathering and position forming? Fifty percent? Ninety? I've attended a lot of hearings and watched a lot more. (And in fact, I've written congressional testimony for about half a dozen people appearing before these kinds of committees, but that's a separate post.) It's rare that I learn anything factual from them that I could not get from other sources (reading, talking to people, attending conferences). They're usually information light. The biggest value out of them is that at best you'll get statements of positions, less actual information or clear indications of what will happen in the future. I didn't find this hearing terribly impressive or informative beyond the fact that it provided us with Cruz's general positions on the subject--something that, as Ops has pointed out above, is quite valuable.

And my general impression is that a lot of politicians don't think about these issues much until they actually hold the hearing. They might not have a heck of a lot of knowledge about the subject. Hopefully their staff does. You'd be shocked at how smart some of the staffers are.

You're not going to get specifics out of these kinds of things. You are much more likely to get specifics out of interviews. What I'm hoping happens is that Space News does a sit-down interview with Cruz and asks more specific questions.

Offline vulture4

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Re: Senate subcommittee hearing (Feb. 24, 2015)
« Reply #56 on: 03/02/2015 01:00 AM »
Everyone likes to be on the winning team. If Commercial Crew in general and SpaceX in particular continue to make progress at a rate that hasn't been seen since the Sixties, I would guess the members of Congress who have attacked them so persistently will soon act like they were supporters all alone.

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