An intriguing hearing has popped up on the schedule of the aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: “Commercial Space Transportation”. No other details about the hearing are listed, other than the date (December 2, 10 am).
The overall T&I committee is chaired by James Oberstar (D-MN), best known in space circles for his opposition five years ago to the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act. When Oberstar’s name entered circulation a year ago as a potential Secretary of Transportation, I noted at the time that space had not been a priority for him for several years, since an abortive effort in early 2005 to roll back some of the provisions of the CSLAA. What’s triggered this hearing, and how involved Oberstar is with it, isn’t certain. I’ve heard from one source that the hearing will focus on a 2006 GAO report on commercial space transportation commissioned by Oberstar, although that report largely supported the FAA’s existing work on regulating commercial space transportation.