Report from Washington, D.C.

Capitol Hill Events Explore ISS Research and Deep Space Exploration

Written by: developer

During July, the Space Foundation hosted two briefings to update congressional staff on NASA programs for human deep space exploration. The briefings included a panel of NASA’s industry partners working on the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion crew spacecraft. Panelists provided an overview of the programs, including progress that has been made and plans for future missions.

On July 24, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee hosted a special live downlink with astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Members of Congress were able to ask questions of U.S. astronauts Steven R. Swanson and Reid Wiseman.

Following the live discussion, Space Foundation Vice President of Washington Operations Brendan Curry moderated a panel which showcased the value and benefits of ISS research and utilization. Panelists included:

  • Col. Gregory H. JohnsonUSAF (Ret.), former NASA Astronaut and Executive Director of CASIS
  • Jeff SuttonM.D., Ph.D., President, CEO and Institute Director of NSBRI
  • Marshall Porterfield, Ph.D., Director, Space Life and Physical Sciences, Research and Applications Division, NASA

Subcommittee Chairman Steve Palazzo (R-MI) and Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-MD) gave remarks about the value of ISS and the need for continued support for ISS to be a crucial stepping stone beyond LEO. Various pieces of hardware and experiments currently aboard ISS or about to sent to ISS were on display to show how concrete, real science is being done on ISS.

A variety of issues/challenges/opportunities facing the ISS were discussed including:

  • How has ISS being designated a National Laboratory helped/assisted each organization’s mission.
  • How international collaboration with ISS partners helps research and utilization of ISS.
  • How does the advent of commercial cargo and eventually commercial crew helps with important ISS research/utilization.
  • ISS’ ability to be a deep space mission analog and risk reduction tool.
  • Ability to explain to Congress and the American taxpayer how ISS research is meeting successful criteria.
  • What is being developed on ISS can have a fruitful path, where appropriate, towards innovative technology with larger economic benefits.
  • How each partner organization is endeavoring to attract and retain bright, young men and women into human space flight.

Pictured above (from l-r): Panelists Dr. Marshall Porterfield, Dr. Jeff Sutton and Col. Greogry Johnson with Moderator Brendan Curry.

The following day, on July 25, the Space Foudation and the Coalition for Space Exploration co-hosted a congressional briefing that provided programmatic updates to the SLS and ORION programs. Space Foundation corporate members Aerojet-Rocketdyne, ATK, Boeing and Lockheed Martin were represented and the briefing included both House and Senate staff.

Space Foundation Vice President of Washington Operations Brendan Curry provided welcoming remarks and introduction of the panel moderator, Charles J. Precourt, Vice President & General Manager for ATK’s Space Launch Division, and four-time Space Shuttle astronaut. Panelists included:

  • Tom Martin, Project Manager for Advanced Space & Launch Strategy, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Heather McKay, Propulsion Engineer, Sr. – Orion Crew Module, Lockheed Martin Space Systems 
  • Pierce Lehr, Director, Supplier Management Space Exploration Division, The Boeing Company
  • Mark E. Tobias, Advanced Booster Chief Engineer, ATK

Pictured above: Brendan Curry (far right) introduces Moderator Charles Precourt (far left) with panelists (seated from l-r) Heather McKay, Pierce Lehr, Mark Tobias and Tom Martin.

This article is part of Space Watch: August 2014 (Volume: 13, Issue: 8).