Stuff from the Senate

On Wednesday, I sat through three hours of what I would call only “the same thing”. Like what I imagine all Congressional hearings to be, last week’s hearing at the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee didn’t tell me–or anyone familiar with the current political goings-on–much of anything new.

Attending the hearing were NASA Administrator Major General Charles Bolden and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. John Holdren, as well as Norm Augustine, Eugene Cernan, and Neil Armstrong. If you know anything about the new policy proposals, it’s Bolden and Holdren vs. Cernan and Armstrong, with Augustine technically in the middle.

There are a huge variety of opinions on the subject, of course, as well as responses to those opinions. I won’t bother to repeat my opinions yet again, but I encourage everyone to watch the video on C-SPAN (see below). I was hoping for a lot of new information to summarize for you, dear reader, but as I’ve said, everything abounds on the Internet.

The interesting thing was to see where the Senators’ opinions lie, but that’s been covered a lot before. Suffice it to say that they all (except at least one, and I’m sorry I can’t remember who exactly) had reservations about the new plan. The government people defended their positions, despite accusations of not having been consulted before the plan was revealed, as well as accusations against Maj. Gen. Bolden of being willing to do everything he can in order to make the commercial sector work, including a bailout bigger than GM and Chrysler.

Those accusations were, of course, defended–at least in part–but it doesn’t change the fact that the entire cock-up that is the budget release made it feel like the NASA Administrator, if nobody else, was caught unawares, despite protestations to the contrary.

Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan raised extremely interesting questions as to the real viability and safety of the Constellation program, wondering that, if it was so flawed, why previous Congresses had repeatedly voted to keep it (I will remind you, dear reader, of the current amendment to protect Constellation as well as the old one [also mentioned in that link]. The previous law was signed by President Obama himself, so he’s certainly written himself into a corner).

(Full video can be found here.)

If you want my opinion, I fall somewhere between General Lyles and Michael Griffin–the proposal has many good points, but not everything, and it stands on shaky foundations.

Of course, Keith Cowling (who I don’t always agree with, truth be told) has it right. Debate is fine and encouraged, just so long as we all know where we’re going when we’re done.

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