Senate Threatens Subpeonas Against NASA Over HLV Documents

Subpoena Threatened Over Heavy-Lift Rocket
Aviation Week

Sen. John D. Rockefeller, 4th, plans to subpoena documents related to NASA’s plans for a heavy-lift space launch system (SLS) and other activities if the agency does not produce them by the close of business on June 27.


Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, the ranking Republican on the authorization panel that oversees NASA, alerted Administrator Charles Bolden in a letter dated June 22 and released June 23.

NASA, they wrote, “has repeatedly refused to provide documents the Senate Commerce Committee needs to conduct appropriate oversight of your agency.” Among those documents are “at least 19 separate drafts of a report” required under the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 that “may contain important information about the data and analyses NASA has relied on to comply with the 2010 act’s space launch system and crew vehicle requirements.

“As the Senate committee responsible for developing NASA’s policies and authorizing its expenditures, we also have the duty to make sure that NASA is spending taxpayers’ dollars in accordance with the law,” Rockefeller and Hutchison say. “In the process of conducting this legislative oversight, the committee has the right to any information that will aid us in understanding how and whether NASA is implementing the 2010 act.”

Read the full story.

Editor’s Note: I’m not sure what to make of this. We’re reportedly two weeks away from an announcement of NASA’s decision on an HLV architecture, one that will give Congressional supporters nearly everything they want (whether it makes any programmatic sense or not), and we’ve got this going on. I don’t know if Congress is overreaching, NASA is dragging its feet, or it’s some combination of the two, but everybody’s got much better things to do than this.

What is Congress expecting to actually learn from such a massive data dump? What happens if NASA misses the deadline and Congress issues subpoenas? Is NASA going to refuse? Will Congress then toss Charlie Bolden in space prison?

Get this thing settled so everyone can move forward.