Hall tapped to lead House Science Committee

POLITICO reports late Tuesday that a House GOP steering committee has recommended Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) chair the House Science and Technology Committee in the next Congress. That pick will be voted upon by the full House Republican caucus tomorrow, but as the article notes, the vote is seen as a formality. Hall beat out Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to chair the committee.

The POLITICO article focuses primarily on Hall’s and other committee Republicans’ views on climate change, but on space issues a committee chaired by Hall may be a little different than one run by Rohrabacher. While both voted for the NASA authorization bill in September, Hall was skeptical of many elements of the administration’s proposal, including its commercial crew development plan; Rohrabacher was a major supporter of that program. In an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle last week, Mojave Air and Space Port general manager Stu Witt and UC Irvine’s Greg Autry contrasted the two on that issue. Hall, they argued, “shares the idiosyncratic view that only government can safely manage manned space flight,” while Rohrabacher’s support for commercial spaceflight “fits the bill.” However, despite the wishes of Witt and Autry, it will be Hall, not Rohrabacher, running the committee in the next Congress.

18 comments to Hall tapped to lead House Science Committee

  • To be fair to Hall, he was at ours and Armadillo’s awards ceremony for the NGLLC last year. Unlike Giffords there may be a chance that he can be reasoned with. After all, Texas does have its fair share of commercial space companies based or operating there…

    It would’ve been cool to have Dana there, but I’m at least willing to take a “wait and see” approach.


  • Robert G. Oler

    It wont matter…commercial space is to quote the phrase…an idea whose time has come.

    While spaceX is on the march the shuttle is stuck on the pad. Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    To a certain degree, the actions of the House Science and Technology Committee may not have a long-term negative effect on the commercial side of things. After the Shuttle ends, the only hope for government-run space travel is the SLS and MPCV.

    I can see the MPCV making it to space, but only on a commercial launcher, but right now there is no mission for it (or budget). However the proposed funding for the SLS is woefully short, and will be even shorter if the appropriations bill forces NASA to pursue the 130-ton version immediately. For the SLS, it truly will be like trying to stuff 10 pounds of manure into a 5-pound bag.

    Meanwhile ULA, Orbital Sciences and SpaceX will keep launching rockets and payloads under various DOD and NASA programs. Sooner or later a more enlightened (and budget conscious) Congress will finally figure out that the commercial sector does know how to put payloads into space, and that they are a real bargain compared to the over-budget and behind-schedule Congressional Franken-launcher. It’s just a shame that people like Rep. Ralph Hall are going to delay that realization…

  • Mark R. Whittington

    The idea of Rohrabacher heading Science was never really a realistic one. Rohrabacher ruined his chances by supporting Obamaspace, which is very unpopular in the House GOP caucus and is actually, with its heavy reliance on government subsies, anti commercial and very political.


    “Hall, they argued, “shares the idiosyncratic view that only government can safely manage manned space flight””

    He’s right. Commercial space has yet to safely launch, orbit and return a crewed spacecraft safely to earth.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 8th, 2010 at 12:33 am

    “While spaceX is on the march the shuttle is stuck on the pad.” You need to buy a history book. Shuttle has flown crews for nearly three decades and government funded space programs lofted humans beings into space for half a century. Meanwhile, as 2010 comes to a close, SpaceX has flown absolutely nobody. Tick-tock, tick-tock…

  • amightywind

    I agree with Whittington. You won’t see gadfly Republicans chairing any committee in the House. John McCain Republicans will be marginalized. Hall will play solid defense.

  • Das Boese

    “Mark R. Whittington wrote @ December 8th, 2010 at 3:41 am”

    “Rohrabacher ruined his chances by supporting Obamaspace, which is very unpopular in the House GOP caucus(…)”

    In other words, opposition to anything Obama does, says, or proposes has become so rigidly institutionalized that the mere suggestion of consensus on certain policies is shunned and proponents of such are sidelined? That’s kind of the impression I get from this end of the tubes, anyway.

    If so, it is a terribly self-destructive attitude for a political party in a democracy to have.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “It wont matter…commercial space is to quote the phrase…an idea whose time has come.”

    Actually, to paraphrase Gandhi, “Commercial space would be a great idea.” Government subsidized crony capitalism is not “commercial” in any sense of the word.

  • Justin Kugler

    Whittington keeps repeating the word “subsidies,” as if it means something. How is NASA paying for the development of a service it requires – and doing so in a manner designed to lower total life cycle cost and financial risk to the agency – considered a “subsidy”?

  • Justin Kugler

    What “crony capitalism?” There is absolutely no evidence that SpaceX or any other New Space company has unfairly benefited from NASA since Obama was elected.

    The CRS contracts, which are the largest by far to-date, were awarded during the Bush administration. There are no allegations of impropriety that I am aware of in the CCDev contracts, nor is there any evidence that future crew launch services contracts would be any less above-board.

  • amightywind

    Justin Kugler wrote @ December 8th, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Whittington keeps repeating the word “subsidies,” as if it means something.

    It does. If commercial spaceflight were a great business vehicle development would be funded by private capital, not Obama favors. It is not. SpaceX receives huge subsidies. Those subsidies support only a rediscovery of the technology NASA mastered 40 years ago.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    Thought you’d finished with the tick tock crap DCSCA. Guess you ran out of inspiration.

    SpaceX is on the pad with an operational Dragon after fixing cracks in it’s second stage engine nozzle. It also identified the root cause of those cracks and fixed that as well.
    They’re trying to fly. Missed the first window, now going for the second. Good luck SpaceX. NASA surely needs you.

    BTW. Tell me how NASA’s doing on the ET cracks – found them all, fixed them, found the root cause, fixed it. No! Gee I’m surprised – NOT!

  • Major Tom

    “Rohrabacher ruined his chances by supporting Obamaspace, which is very unpopular in the House GOP caucus”

    Based on what evidence? NASA’s 2010 Authorization Act, which enshrines all the major human space flight elements of the Administration’s FY 2011 budget request for NASA — terminating Ares I, retaining Orion, funding commercial crew, extending ISS to 2020, investing in exploration technology — passed the House on a bipartisan basis by a large margin. They’re now proposing the same for a year-long FY 2011 appropriations continuing resolution.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “and is actually, with its heavy reliance on government subsies, anti commercial”

    A subsidy is financial assistance to a business or industry sector to stem the decline of that industry, increase the prices of its products, or encourage more labor hiring.

    COTS, CRS, and CCDev do none of those things. Commercial space flight is not an industry in decline, its prices do not need support, and the additional labor hiring is a side benefit.

    The purpose of these programs is to fill the void left by Shuttle retirement and Constellation’s failure. The government (NASA) desperately needs a domestic source of human ETO transport and is paying companies like Boeing, OSC, and SpaceX to build and supply it. Unlike, say, subsidies to pay farmers to keep their land fallow to increase produce prices, NASA is paying for a product and a service that it needs in COTS, CRS, and CCDev.

    Using your erroneous definition and lack of logic, any spending at NASA to buy anything the agency needs — to build a satellite, operate the Space Shuttle, create an experiment for the ISS, or just purchase copier paper — is a subsidy. That’s patently idiotic.

    “and very political.”

    There’s nothing political about it. The COTS and CRS competitions that SpaceX is launching under today were started and conducted under the Bush II Administration. These were open competitions that Kistler and SpaceX, and then OSC, won fairly. Less than $500 million has been spent on them. Since Bush II, the only other commercial space flight spending that’s been undertaken at NASA is the CCDev effort and that’s only $50 million. The Bush II Administration spent almost ten times more on commercial space than the Obama Administration has spent to date.

    How is that “political” to a conservative? Don’t you think at all before you post?

    “Government subsidized crony capitalism”

    COTS, CRS, and CCDev were open competitions with a couple dozen competitors. If you have to beat out 20-odd other competitors to win a competition, by definition, you’re not a “crony” of the government. You don’t have any special relationship with government officials — you having to compete on an even playing field just like everyone else.

    If you want an example of crony capitalism, then look at Constellation, where billions of dollars were awarded on a sole-source basis to ATK in the absence of any competition to support the development of an Ares I design that was chosen by the NASA Administrator based on an internal study, the appendices for which were never officially released, and was overseen by an ATK executive who was appointed Associate Administrator at NASA.

    Look in the mirror before you throw these baseless accusations through your glass house.


  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ December 8th, 2010 at 8:32 am

    oddly enough what has changed over the years is YOUR definition of commercial space, not the notions behind it.

    In a piece I wrote for The Weekly Standard but you asked to have your name attached to, and took a check from TWS for, we defined commercial space and dealt with the thunderheads of that era who defined commercial space as narrowly as you now do.

    With the payments for commercial space product being less in total then the shuttle takes in a monthly period…your transition to your current belief system seems more politics driven then space politics driven.

    Obama hatred run wild?

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ Das Boese wrote @ December 8th, 2010 at 8:30 am

    See what I find really really odd is that people like Oler and some others (Major Tom maybe?) who claim to be Republicans can see themselves associated with the likes of amightywind and Whittington. Not that it seems reasonable to be a Democrat if DCSCA is one of them mind you. Maybe it’s time for 2 additional parties?

    The obsession of the current Republican crop with defeating all that this WH does is pathetic. They claim they put the country first when all they do is put themselves first so much so they don’t care to have the country in shambles to try and prove a point they cannot make any longer.

    Now I will keep hoping that this WH has a 2nd go and that they finally say something like “oh well I changed my mind and I am going to do all I thought I would do before the elections, see I got some political capital and I plan to use it”.

    Hope springs eternal…


    @BeancounterFromDownunder wrote @ December 8th, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Cheerleaders wear skirts and stay on the sidelines. How much revenue from Australian sources invested in SpaceX…. numbers, please.

    Congrats to SpaceX for duplicating a feat in 2010 accomplished by NASA 46 years ago and taking America back to the future. Looking forward to the true test– a crewed flight, which is the only test that really matters. Tick-tock, tick-tock.


    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 8th, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Shuttle has flown crews into space for decades. SpaceX has flown nobody.

  • Kurt Brader

    With all of the great US space achievements in the past, we must look with positive unity toward future programs. Whatever missions are accepted, it will be US jobs, US research, US manufacturing and US leadership.

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