Smith to Lead House Science Commitee

Rep. Lamar Smith

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, will take over as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology when the new Congress convenes in January. He will replace Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who was term limited under House rules.

Smith, who had seniority on the committee, beat out Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, and Dana Rohrabacher, R-California.

Smith has been a vocal critic of the Obama Administration’s space policy, which has focused heavily on commercializing access to low Earth orbit. He also is a skeptic about global warming, positions he share with Sensenbrenner and Rohrabacher.

Rohrabacher is arguably the leading proponent of commercializing space activities in Congress.

Sensenbrenner, Rohrabacher Vie With Smith to Lead House Science Committee

Jim Sensenbrenner

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

With the elections over, the race to succeed Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. On Thursday, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) both formally threw their hats into the ring in a race that also includes Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

Hall, who has been a major critic of the Obama Administration’s commercial space push, is leaving his chairmanship because he is term limited under Republican House rules to serving six years in the position.

Rohrabacher has been a major proponent of commercializing spaceflight and has backed the Obama Administration’s efforts in this area. He also has been a major proponent of more oil and gas drilling and a skeptic of global warming, positions that he shares with Smith and Sensenbrenner.


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.


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….


Rep. Hall: Use HLV to Send Crews into LEO

Here’s more evidence, if we needed any, that Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-TX) has space dust clogging up his brain. Here is an excerpt from a blog post he published in The Hill, with my annotated notes in italics:

“NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at a recent hearing that NASA would not need exploration capabilities until after 2020, although Congress clearly directed NASA to develop the heavy lift system with an initial capability to return to the International Space Station by 2016.  Failure to do so will result in continued reliance on the Russians’ Soyuz to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. This is unacceptable. NASA should give highest priority to developing the SLS and MPCV programs that build on the tremendous investments that have already been made in the Constellation systems. We cannot, as the NASA Administrator suggests, wait until 2020.”

Editor’s Note: The 130-ton heavy-lift SLS is not a very good way to launch a half-dozen astronauts to low-Earth orbit. It would be like using a Winnebago rather than a minivan for that carpool to work. Or taking a yacht across San Francisco Bay instead of the passenger ferry to go to your day job.