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.

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Rohrabacher, Hutchison and Hall Praise NASA Commercial Crew Deal

Key Congressional leaders are praising the deal reached between NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) that will allow the space agency to select multiple commercial crew providers using Space Act Agreements later this year.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

Washington, Jun 5 – Today, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) issued the following statement on the agreement reached between Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittee and NASA on the future of the commercial crew program:

“I am pleased that CJS Appropriations Chairman Frank Wolf and NASA Administrator Bolden were able to come to an agreement ensuring that the Commercial Crew Program will move forward quickly while preserving competition in the program. This leadership will help bring about safe, reliable, domestic access to space for our astronauts on commercial vehicles, saving money, creating jobs in America, and leveraging our greatest strengths to maintain our international leadership in space.”

Rep. Rohrabacher is a senior member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

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Congress Praises SpaceX Dragon Launch

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off with a Dragon spacecraft bound for the International Space Station. (Credit: SpaceX)

Following Alan Shepard’s flight aboard Freedom 7, there was a triumphant parade through Washington, D.C., to honor the first American in space. In one of the limousines sat NASA Administrator Jim Webb with Bob Gilruth, the man in charge of the Space Task Group that launched Shepard into space.

Gazing out at the adoring, cheering crowds that lined the parade route, Webb turned to Gilruth and said, “If it hadn’t worked, they’d be asking for your head.”

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the reaction to the SpaceX Dragon launch from Capitol Hill….

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Rohrabacher Statement in Support of Commercial Crew

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Washington, May 10  — Today, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science engaged in a colloquy regarding NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the report language his Committee issued to accompany the FY2013 CJS appropriation. (Attached below)

Rep. Rohrabacher issued the following statement:

“For the past few years there has been a lot of controversy around the idea of launching cargo and astronauts to space on commercially-developed, owned, and operated systems. The Bush Administration decided we should turn over this job to the private sector once we retired the space shuttles, rather than pursuing a traditional NASA-led approach. To their credit, the Obama Administration, guided by an advisory panel led by Norm Augustine, saw the wisdom in this and proposed to fund multiple competing private concepts for crew launch, eventually achieving a fly-off of two or more different systems to ensure that America would have safer, more robust, and much more affordable space access that doesn’t require paying Russia’s Space Agency half a billion dollars every year.

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Rohrabacher Blasts “SLS Titanic”

Washington, Feb 14 – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) issued the following statement criticizing The White House’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request for NASA:

“The administration’s FY’13 budget includes almost $1.9 billion for continued pursuit of the SLS Titanic, a ‘monster rocket’ based on 40-year-old Space Shuttle technology in an attempt to recapture the glory days of the Apollo Saturn V,” said Rohrabacher. “By NASA’s internal estimates, the SLS and other components won’t be ready to launch astronauts to an asteroid until 2028, after we have spent over $130 billion towards the mission. By those same estimates, NASA has shown how they can accomplish the exact same mission with our existing fleet of launch vehicles four years earlier and at less than half that cost.
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Rohrabacher Demands Release of NASA Fuel Depot Analysis

Washington, Sep 26 – Today, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) continued his criticism of NASA’s new design for deep space exploration by sending a letter to former NASA’s Administrator Dr. Michael D. Griffin asking him to join Rohrabacher’s call for NASA to release their recent analysis and conclusions regarding on-orbit fuel depots. Dr. Griffin spoke about on-orbit technology during his testimony before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on September 22rd, 2011.

“I’m certain you are aware that on-orbit fuel depots were included in NASA’s initial Human Exploration Framework…as presented on May 25, 2010,” writes Rohrabacher. “Somewhere in the intervening time, depots were dropped from the plan. It is important for Congress and the American people to understand how and why that decision was made.”

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Congressional Praise for SpaceX’s Successful Dragon Flight

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL

The leading congressional authority on the U.S. space program said Wednesday that America is on track to remain a global leader in space, science and technology, after a privately owned rocket carrying a capsule powered off a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and into outer space before returning safely to Earth.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson made his comments today following the successful launch into low-earth orbit and return to Earth of the 157-foot tall Falcon 9 rocket and the Apollo-like unmanned Dragon capsule built by Space X. With the splash down of its capsule in the Pacific, Space X became the first private company to successfully recover a spacecraft sent into outer space.

“We’ve arrived at the dawn of new era of U.S. space exploration that should ensure America remains a leader in space exploration,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who was a crew member aboard a 1986 space shuttle mission, and now heads a Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA.

In September, Congress approved a Nelson-engineered NASA budget blueprint that would help boost the commercial rocket industry – such as the development of the Falcon 9 – and have NASA become the chief player for building a new deep-space rocket and carry out missions to Mars.

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Rep. Rohrabacher Condemns Eutelsat for Launching on Chinese Rockets

During the House Committee on Science and Technology’s hearings on export reforms on Wednesday, California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) issued an attack on Eutelsat for its decision to launch its communications satellites on Chinese Long March rockets. This is something that is forbidden to American satellite owners under export laws.

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Rohrabacher to NASA: Save the Cheerleader – and the World

Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has decided that NASA – America’s beleaguered, cash-strapped space agency – needs another mission: protecting the world from catastrophic asteroid impacts.

Leonard David of LiveScience.com reports that the California representative plans to introduce the NEO Preparedness Act, which would require that NASA establish an Office of Potentially Hazardous Near-Earth Object Preparedness.

The office would “prepare the United States for readiness to avoid and to mitigate collisions with potentially hazardous near-Earth objects in collaboration with other Agencies through the identification of situation- and decision-analysis factors and selection of procedures and systems.”

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