Today, the full House Science and Space Committee that oversees NASA will hold a hearing. The hearing charter makes clear that while the hearing was initially to…well, we’ll let the full Committee’s Hearing Charter speak for itself.
The original intent of the hearing was to examine NASA’s selection of a heavy-lift launch system (“Space Launch System”) that will be used to launch future crew and cargo flights beyond low Earth orbit. Members would have had an opportunity to ask questions regarding cost, schedule, capabilities, and justification for the selected design. However, on July 7, a senior NASA official publicly stated that a final decision on SLS won’t be announced until “late this summer.” In light of NASA’s continuing delays (the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 required a decision and report by mid-January 2011), the hearing will instead provide an opportunity for NASA to explain why it has failed to reach a decision, what analyses still need to be completed, and when the Space Launch System decisions will be forthcoming.
It is doubtful that this will be a pleasant experience for the NASA Administrator as he explains why NASA can’t seem to follow the law as directed by the 2010 NASA Authorization Act and continually tries to re-interpret both the 2010 Act and the 2011 Appropriations law.