Notes on March Budget Hearings
The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces held a hearing on Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for National Security Space Activities. Members of the subcommittee congratulated the national security community for its recent string of successful launches. Members expressed concerns that defense budget cuts focused too heavily on space-related research and development programs, which are critical to future space capabilities. Members also continued to press the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide Congress with its full 1248 report, which will assess the national security implications of satellite export control reform.
At the House Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics hearing on the Office of Commercial Space Transportation Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget Request, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation asked for a $429,000 increase in its budget over its FY 2012 enacted budget. The additional monies would fund a significant increase in launch and reentry operations in 2013. Members of Congress were informed of the need to extend commercial launch indemnification, which is currently set to expire at the end of calendar year 2012. Other major spacefaring nations provide some sort of liability shield for their launch providers.
The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces held a hearing on military space programs in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2013 and the Future Years Defense Program. Senators on the subcommittee expressed their pleasure at seeing the Department of Defense overcoming several major acquisition challenges in space programs. However, they voiced several concerns in the areas of launch cost, science and technology development and satellite ground system acquisitions. In addition, while senators on the subcommittee expressed their support for protecting outer space from further debris proliferation, they remained skeptical about the United States signing a voluntary International Code of Conduct. Representatives from the DoD assured senators on the subcommittee that the DoD would continue to keep the Congress closely informed on any progress made in negotiations on the Code of Conduct.