Dana Rohrabacher, Lamar Smith Jockeying for House Science Committee Chairmanship

Rep. Dan Rohrabacher

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have begun to quietly campaign to replace Rep. Ralph Hall as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology next year, according to Stu Witt, General Manager and CEO of the Mojave Air and Space Port.

Witt and his staff hosted a visit by Smith last week to familiarize the Republican Congressman with commercial space activities being undertaken at the California spaceport. Rohrabacher will be visiting the desert facility next Wednesday, Witt added during a meeting of the East Kern Airport District board.

Witt said the visits are part of an effort by both Congressman to build up support for their bids to replace Hall, will step down after six years as head of the powerful committee. Under House rules imposed by the Republican leadership, chairmen are limited to three, two-year terms.

The Mojave spaceport chief noted that both Smith and Rohrabacher have a deep interest in commercial space and unmanned aerial systems. Rohrabacher has been touring sites connected with both activities.

Rohrabacher has been arguably the most vocal supporter of commercial space activities in Congress. Most NewSpace supporters would be extremely pleased if he were to win the chairmanship of the committee. He represents California’s 46th congressional district and has served in Congress since 1989.

Smith represents Texas’ 21st district, which includes the wealthier sections of San Antonio and Austin and the Texas Hill Country. He has served in Congress since 1987.

Witt also hosted a visit on Tuesday by staffers from the House and Senate science committees.