WASHINGTON, April 1, 2020 (House Science Committee PR) – Today, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) along with Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) and Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX) sent a letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller Gene Dodaro requesting a broad examination of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space’s (CASIS) performance, management, and governance structure. CASIS is a non-profit organization that currently manages the International Space Station National Laboratory (ISSNL).
In the letter, the Committee leaders express longstanding concerns regarding CASIS’s use of the its ISSNL resource allocation, its internal governance structures, and its transparency and accountability to NASA and Congress, including those identified in a recently released Independent Review Team report.
“The unique environment offered by the ISSNL is an invaluable resource to facilitate research and development,” said the Committee Chairs and Ranking Members in the letter. “Congress has sought to encourage commercial and cross-agency partnerships as one path to the full utilization of this resource, but CASIS’s organizational struggles appear to have undermined progress. As Congress addresses broader questions surrounding the ISS, its ongoing mission, and the future of NASA-supported research and development in low Earth orbit, it is imperative to ensure that an effective and accountable entity is in place to manage the full range of activities conducted through the ISSNL.”
Senate and House committees held hearings on consecutive days last week about space situational awareness (SSA) and space traffic management (STM), i.e., the ability to accurately track objects in Earth orbit and to avoid dangerous collisions that could knock out satellites and even render entire orbits unusable.
The overall conclusion was that, although progress is being made, we’re not nearly as aware as we need to be as orbital debris poses an ever bigger problem and companies prepare to launch tens of thousands of new satellites.
“Near Earth space is geo-politically contested, it’s commercially contested and it’s in dire need of environmental protection because it is a finite resource,” said Moriba Jah, an associate professor of astronautics at the University of Texas.
DEER PARK, Texas – Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36) issued the following statement in response to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s announcement today awarding the lunar lander program management to Marshall Space Flight Center.
“I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC),” said Babin. “Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation’s space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed. Yesterday, I joined Senators Cruz and Cornyn in sending a letter to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine requesting that this decision be reconsidered.”
To view the letter sent to Administrator Bridenstine, pleaseclick here.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is set to speak at Marshall Space Flight Center on Friday where he is expected to announce that the Alabama field center will manage the lander being designed to land American astronauts on the moon by 2024.
Members of Texas’ Congressional delegation are urging Bridenstine to hold off on the decision.
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held.
In a letter to Administrator Bridenstine, the lawmakers wrote:
“The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century. […] ‘Houston’ was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is developed. Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we can receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rationale for this decision.”
No word yet on whether the event will go on as scheduled at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
A press release and the letter sent to Bridenstine follow.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas – which has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held.
In a letter to Administrator Bridenstine, the lawmakers wrote:
“The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human
spaceflight for more than half a century. […] ‘Houston’ was one of the
first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last
sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again
send Americans to the lunar surface is developed. Accordingly, we
request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal
announcements until we can receive a briefing on this matter that
includes the timeline, projected cost, and rationale for this decision.”
In 2018, Sens. Cruz and Cornyn sent a letter with Rep. Babin, and former Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas), and Lamar
Smith (R-Texas) requesting the Johnson Space Center be the location of
the new lunar lander program.
The follow-up letter to Administrator Bridenstine can be read here and below.
August 15, 2019
The Honorable James F. Bridenstine Administrator National Aeronautics and Space Administration 300 E. St. SW Washington, D.C. 20546
Dear Administrator Bridenstine,
We are writing to you today in light of a recent report that this
Friday, August 16, 2019, you plan to announce that the Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will manage the development of the
lunar lander for the Artemis program and oversee the commercial
development of two of the three elements, the Transfer Element and
Descent Element, of that lander. According to that same report the
Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, will oversee the commercial
development of only one of three elements, the Ascent Element. This is
very troubling if accurate.
While the Marshall Space Flight Center specializes in rocketry and
spacecraft propulsion, and is undoubtedly the leader in these areas, it
is the Johnson Space Center, which has been, and continues to be, ground
zero for human space exploration. We are deeply concerned that NASA is
not only disregarding this history but that splitting up the work on the
lander between two different geographic locations is an unnecessary and
a counterproductive departure from the unquestionable success of the
previous lunar lander program. The integration of development
responsibilities into one center-ideally the center with the longest
history and deepest institutional knowledge of human space
exploration-would be the most cost-efficient, streamlined, and effective
approach, and is the approach that NASA should pursue.
As you may recall, on August 28, 2018, we sent you a letter
articulating the reasons why the Johnson Space Center would be the most
appropriate home for the lunar lander program. In that letter, we
highlighted the Johnson Space Center’s storied history as the lead
center for human spaceflight and deep experience with human space
exploration, and expressed our strong desire that it be selected as the
NASA Center responsible for establishing and leading the lunar lander
program. While much has changed in the intervening year, our feelings on
this matter have not.
The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human
spaceflight for more than half a century. It is home to our nation’s
astronaut corps, the International Space Station mission operations, and
the Orion crew, and the men and women working there possess both the
institutional knowledge and technical expertise needed to manage all
facets of the successful development of a lunar lander for the Artemis program. “Houston” was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon,
and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where
the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is
Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold
off on any formal announcements until we receive a briefing on this
matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rational for this
Please contact Duncan Rankin at 202-224-5922, Andrew Cooper at
202-224-2934, and Steve Janushkowsky at 202-225-1555 with any questions
regarding this request. Thank you for your prompt attention to this
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, joined by U.S. Representatives Mo
Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Scott DesJarlais and Brian Babin, will discuss
updates on the agency’s plans for landing humans on the Moon by 2024
through the Artemis program at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
From the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Bridenstine will discuss the center’s role in
launching astronauts to the Moon and landing them safely on the lunar
surface. Brooks, Aderholt, DesJarlais and Babin also will deliver
remarks, then join the administrator to take questions from the media.
In addition to making this announcement, Bridenstine will view
progress on SLS and other efforts key to landing the first woman and the
next man on the Moon in five years.
For more on NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, visit:
WASHINGTON (Brian Babin PR) – U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36), Chairman of the House Space Subcommittee, has introduced H.R. 6910, the Leading Human Spaceflight Act. Babin unveiled the bill during a subcommittee hearing Wednesday titled 60 Years of NASA Leadership in Human Space Exploration: Past, Present, and Future.
A group of 61 House members has sent a letter to the Senate urging the body to approve the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to serve as the next administrator of NASA.
“As the Congressman from the 1st District of Oklahoma, Jim has been an active member of the House Space Subcommittee, distinguishing himself as one of the most engaged, passionate, and knowledgeable members of the Subcommittee,” the letter states. “In 2015, SpaceNews named him one of “five space leaders in the world making a difference in space.” He authored several provisions in the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act and co-authored the bipartisan American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act.”
WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden regarding the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). NASA recently issued a press release that implies the ARM has gained acceptance by advisory bodies.
“As the incoming Administration evaluates ARM, it would benefit from clear guidance from both NASA and its advisory bodies. Similarly, it should be unencumbered by decisions made in the twilight of this Administration’s term. Contrary to the assertions made in the press release, numerous advisory bodies have questioned the merits of the President’s ARM mission. The NASA Advisory Council, the Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), and the National Research Council have all raised concerns with the mission since its proposal by the Administration,” the letter states.
Today’s letter requests documents associated with the consideration, development, formulation, drafting, production, and dissemination of the press release and a recent SBAG Special Action Team report.
Editor’s Note: The House Science Committee is investigating a press release? Are you serious? Of course you’re serious. You guys went all cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs a long time ago.
Trump needs to be “unencumbered by decisions made in the twilight of this Administration’s term.” What decisions? To put out a press release? And when has Trump ever felt encumbered by anything? Decency. Precedent. Truth.
And a 10-page letter? You needed 10 pages for that?
Don’t you have anything better to do with their time? Like passing a budget so agencies like NASA can do their work properly? The fiscal year ended on Sept. 30. Now I hear you guys are going with a continuing resolution until March.
WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) yesterday sent letters to four senior officials following up on requests for information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles.
On July 6 Chairmen Smith and Babin wrote Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, seeking this information.
Yesterday’s letters reiterate requests for a briefing and documentation on the current U.S. policy. The letters can be found here.
“We remain confident in our commercial partners and firmly stand behind the successful 21st century launch complex that NASA, other federal agencies, and U.S. commercial companies are building on Florida’s Space Coast. Today’s incident — while it was not a NASA launch — is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but our partners learn from each success and setback.
WASHINGTON (House Space Subcommittee PRs) — On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Space on held a hearing titled Human Spaceflight Ethics and Obligations: Options for Monitoring, Diagnosing, and Treating Former Astronauts. The hearing examined NASA’s existing health care program for current and former astronauts.
WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) — Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Pritzker on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) lack of decision on granting DigitalGlobe a license to operate a space-based remote sensing system.
The Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 requires Secretary Pritzker to review and make a determination on any space-based remote sensing system license applications or inform the applicant of any pending issues.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (House Science Committee PR) – On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Space held a hearing titled, “Charting a Course: Expert Perspectives on NASA’s Human Exploration Proposals.” Witnesses shared their viewpoints on NASA’s human space exploration plans – including a human mission to Mars – and the challenge of keeping programs on track through changing presidential administrations.
NASA announced three cargo contract awards to ensure robust and affordable transportation of critical supplies, scientific experiments and commercial payloads to and from the International Space Station (ISS) through at least 2024. NASA selected Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX to continue and expand upon its successful public-private partnerships with American companies to obtain reliable cargo resupply services for the ISS.
Washington, D.C. (House Science PR) – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today praised a private space company’s successful test of a reusable rocket at a test facility in West Texas. The company, Blue Origin, was the first ever to successfully launch and vertically land a rocket, which enables reuse.
Chairman Lamar Smith: “We are living in historic and exciting times. Congratulations to Blue Origin on the successful launch and landing of the New Shepard rocket yesterday in West Texas. Reusable rockets could revolutionize the space industry and promise to make future space exploration more affordable. This is one of many firsts for American space innovators and it is the reason why the SPACE Act that Congress recently passed is so important. Texas continues to play a leading role in America’s space story, just as we have for the last 50 years.”
Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin: “Blue Origin’s successful flight is a significant step in making space tourism a reality in Texas and the United States. Congratulations to the entire team for their vision, ingenuity and tireless efforts in ensuring the United States is the home of commercial space.”
The test comes on the heels of passage of the SPACE Act, landmark bipartisan legislation that encourages private American space companies to continue investing in crucial research, development, and testing without the threat of new and overbearing government regulations. Chairman Smith partnered with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), lead sponsor of the bill, to see it through to final passage in the House and Senate. It now awaits the president’s signature.