Next week, just before the House is scheduled to recess until after the nominating conventions, the House Science Committee is planning to take up a couple of space-related issues. On Wednesday, August 1, the committee’s space subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The Emerging Commercial Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle Market”. Representatives of three suborbital vehicles developers—Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR Aerospace—and others will testify about the industry. It’s not clear if this is tied to any planned legislation or is instead more of a fact-funding hearing.
The following day, the full committee will markup up legislation regarding ownership of astronaut artifacts. The bill, HR 4158, would confer onto astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs ownership of any “expendable item” used on those missions that are now in the possession of the astronauts, as well as “other expendable, disposable, or personal-use items” they used. (Lunar material is specifically excluded from the bill.) The chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), introduced the legislation in March after a couple of incidents where former astronauts tried to sell such items but were stopped by NASA, which argued that those items were still federal property.