A “reinvigorated” subcommittee

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), the new chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, issued a press release on the occasion of the subcommittee’s first hearing this year, on ISS research. In the release Hutchison promised “a reinvigorated subcommittee that oversees and works with NASA leaders” on ISS research and (presumably) related issues. Reading that, I couldn’t help but see that as a subtle dig at the former subcommittee chairman, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), who chaired hearings in the previous Congress on a diverse range of issues, from Saturn to NEOs to international space exploration efforts. Frequently, those hearings were poorly attended by members of the subcommittee; sometimes only Brownback and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), or even just Brownback, were in attendance. The press release doesn’t make clear exactly how she plans to “reinvigorate” the subcommittee. Of course, if Hutchison does decide to mount a campaign for Texas governor in 2006, it will doubtless sap a lot of her time that might otherwise be spent on subcommittee issues.

1 comment to A “reinvigorated” subcommittee

  • Especially given that it is supposed to be a sign of things to come, the ISS research hearing was just awful. It was two hours of deep denial and excruciating nonsense. They didn’t acknowledge the view of most scientists that “microgravity is of microimportance”, as Nicolas Bloembergen put it to Congress. They didn’t acknowledge that research on the health effects of weightlessness are “voodoo science”, as an internal NASA report put it. They didn’t even develop the theory that the space station isn’t really about research, but actually has some other goal such as “exploration”.

    What they mainly did was let a few NASA officials put on a dog and pony show about the great research on the space station. Or rather, tried to, because even in this staged hearing they couldn’t say much for it. They brought out the one about doing ultrasounds on the space station with telemedicine; and did you know that a player on the Detroit Red Wings had a telemedical ultrasound done on him too? So there you have it: If not for the space station, athletic doctors would never have figured out that you can combine ultrasound machines with streaming video.

    Later Hutchison floated the idea of making the space station a national laboratory like Los Alamos and Brookhaven. Which makes about as much sense as making the People’s Park in Berkeley a national park.