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tv   NASA Officials Testify on Space Exploration  CSPAN  January 7, 2022 10:51pm-12:44am EST

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>> distinguished witnesses, we are very pleased to have you
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with us today as we discussed nasa's future of lower orbit considerations for the international space station. the international space station has been an important component of america's space flight program for decades. beginning in 1984, developing a crude orbiting station that includes our allies and partners, followed by president clinton's decision to include the russian station. in many ways the iss incentivizes -- the iss has cemented international partnerships, supported [indiscernible] maintained spaceflight operations and the development of public-private partnership,
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opened space to users, included academia and other federal government agencies, and allowed me to recite the longest sentence i've ever said. it continues to inspire our youth, who are born into an era that has never been without an america living and working in space. [indiscernible] we continue to exercise our responsibilities. the nice part about this being remote for many of you is you don't have to listen to this. what objectives need to be achieved during the iss lifetime? how much time is needed, and does the iss support
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achievements? whether due to routine use, aging, or otherwise, the structure is not problem free. the incident with the detached russian module misfiring thrusters caused the iss to lose attitude control is a recent example. the 2020 report of the advisory panel recommended that nasa document the iss life limiting systems components through and beyond 2028 which are considered to be of highest risk. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses on this matter, whatever decisions are made. we need a strong plan in place to ensure research activities
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can be transition seamlessly. as we look to transition [indiscernible] nasa develops a plan to transition an approach from the current regime relies heavily on nasa sponsorship to a regime where nasa can be one of many customers. nasa's current plans use commercial platforms. [indiscernible] commercial demand is not yet sufficient to support commercial platforms.
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to that end, we will need to understand the cost related commitments once iss operations cease, and would nasa support a private platform, and for how long? both understand the demand for a national laboratory following the end of iss. because of all these decisions, they also come with resource implications. we need to go in with our eyes wide open. the $3 billion operation cost -- [indiscernible] and the future cost associated with services. who is to pay for this, including repairs, supplies, and ground-based operations? what level of savings is anticipated? we have a lot to discuss today
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and i look forward to our witness testimonies. i will continue to engage with the international partners in a post-iss era, and implications of other activities including china. the iss partnership is a beacon of and vehicle for peaceful international cooperation in outer space and has built the foundation for a collaborative next step in human exploration, going to mars.0 maintaining the fabric of this coalition is this committee continues to shape our nation's policies. now let me recognize my good friend, the ranking member of the space community. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i really appreciate it. we are at an inflection point for our nation's space program.
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last year, nasa once again launched american astronauts or american rockets from american soil. earlier this summer, we witnessed two commercial human launches. just last week, the first spaceflight participant mission achieved orbit. the space launch system will launch within a few months, and the artemis program will return to the moon, and that is underway. we also celebrated the 20th anniversary of continuous occupation of the international space station, the iss, last november, recognizing expedition one when bill sheppard ushered in the current era of space exploration. we are privileged to have bill testify today as one of our expert witnesses. a lot has happened since then. we suffered the tragic loss of columbia in 2003, grounded the shuttle fleet for over two years as part of the return to flight effort, and completed space shuttle assembly on the iss in
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2011, canceled the shuttle program as we developed new spacecraft, and relied on the russian so use launches for to long. the iss and the international partnerships that enabled it remain resilient. after 20 years of continuous operations. however, the iss is beginning to show its age, cracks and leaks are popping up, solar rays recently upgraded, and the spacesuits necessary for spacewalks need to be replaced. the first segments of the iss have a design life of roughly 15 years, with a safety factor of two, meaning the segments can reasonably be expected to last until 2028. while no law prevents nasa from operating the iss as long as it deems necessary, it is time to have a conversation about the future of the iss and our
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presence in low-earth orbit. section 30 three of the 2017 nasa authorization act called for nasa to develop an iss transition plan and to update it biannually. while this is historic, no significant decisions have been made about the future of the iss and our presence in low-earth orbit. while administrator nelson expressed support for continuing operations past 2024 at one of our hearings this summer and many of the international partners have expressed similar support, a formal agreement has not been solidified. other issues include how to prioritize upgrades to the existing iss spacesuits used for spacewalks and the development of future spacesuits for the service. engineering analysis of the lifetime of the iss, whether we will reciprocate swaps with the russians, and, the development
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of future flyers and efforts to offset the operational cost of the iss. we also need to understand the impact of the recent incident involving the docking of the russian module. i proudly represent johnson space center, home of historic mission control and the iss program. many of my constituents have a vested and a personal interest in the success of the iss. i want to see nasa not only maintain the expectations of the iss, but to carry on its legacy and other programs so that we do not retreat from space. abandoning the iss without a clear transition plan in place would only serve the interest of the communist chinese. like in other domains, the ccp seeks to exploit vacuums left by the great nations. if they are the only game in town, other nations will seek to
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partner with them to gain access to space. this would erode america's strategic leadership, and unfortunately for those other nations result in the exploitation of their own scientific, technical, and strategic standing. the iss is not only a bridge to space, but also a bridge to the other nations that binds us under the common cause of discovery. i am sure all of us share the same goal of ensuring that the iss and following endeavors continue this special condition. and i yelled back, mr. chairman. -- and i yield back, mr. chairman. >> i recognize the distinguished chair of the science, technology, and a space community. >> well, thank you, and good morning.
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and chairman byer, i am pleased you set this important hearing on the space station and nasa's future in low orbit. i want to welcome artist and wished witnesses and thank you for participating. i also want to thank you for your service. we would not be discussing the international space station, its accomplishments, and the plan for the future without your important contributions. and those of so many others. important work remains to be done, including human health and performance in space, microgravity, life-support system for deep space exploration, and next-generation space development testing.
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these activities, as well as all the research, are nasa's priorities because part of our congressional role is to consider how long though space station should operate. and while private tourist missions may grab media attention, they do not establish the case for expanding this unique opportunity. we need nasa to provide a clear accounting of what the specific requirements will be. i am very proud of what nasa and
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our partners have accomplished. with the space station. it has supported humans in orbit for two decades, which is a considerable achievement. it continues to enable an array of research and technology development that advances basic science and our preparation for sending humans to the moon and mars. i also want to say that i echo chairman beyer's comments on the importance of the space station to leadership and bringing nations together in pursuit of the peaceful inspiration. the enduring cooperation is more important now than ever. by planning for a future beyond space is important. the reality is, the
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international space station is still operating. in addition, we look forward and look ahead to nation's future in low-earth orbit. we will also continue to maintain our focus on stem engagement and inspiring youth. america's future depends on a 21st century workforce that can continue our science capabilities, including in space. mr. chairman, there is so much to discuss at today's hearing, including the structural health of the space station, nasa's plan and cost estimates, and the need for a clear understanding of what nasa's requirement is for the low-earth orbit
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activities once the international space station has retired. and finally, given the important geopolitical role that the international space station has played, we need to examine and ensure that the u.s. can continue to maintain the international partnerships that the space station has fostered. with that, i look forward to the witnesses' testimony, and i yelled back. >> thank you very much. let me recognize the jenna men from oklahoma, mr. lucas. >> i want to reflect on the wisdom of my colleagues and i look forward to the discussion today. with that, i yield back, and let's proceed. >> let me make a couple highs co housekeeping things i should've done.
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a couple reminders, please keep your video feed on as long as you're present in the hearing. members are responsible for their own microphones so please keep the microphones muted unless you are speaking. if members have document they wish to submit for the record, please email them to the committee clerk, whose email address was given prior to our hearing. and now, let me introduce our witnesses. let's see. our first witness is miss robin gates. she is the director of the international space station at nasa headquarters. as iss director, she leads strategy, policy integration, and a stakeholder engagement for the station. in her 35 years at nasa, she has
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led the development management, life and habitat systems for the space missions. she holds a bachelor of chemical engineering degree. our second witness was selected by nasa as an astronaut in 2005 and she computed at her first spaceflight, where she became the first person to sequence dna in space. prior to be coming nasa -- prior to nasa, she worked as an investigator in medical research, studying viral diseases. she has recently served at one -- [indiscernible] she has spent a total of 300
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days in space and conducted four spacewalks. she hold a bachelor of science in molecular biology and a phd in cancer biology for stanford from stanford university. our third witness is the ceo of nano racks. they have customers in 30 countries, ranging from governmental agencies universities, and most recently the bishop airlock. previously, he oversaw the first marshal he funded crew mission of the muir space station. our fourth witness is mr. todd harrison. he is the director of aerospace security at the center for strategic and international studies. as a senior fellow, he leads the
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center's efforts for nonpartisan research and analysis in defense funding, space security. he previously worked across the aerospace industry and served as a captain in the u.s. air force reserves. he is a graduate of the massachusetts institute of technology, with a bs and ms in aeronautics and astronomic's. our fifth and final witness is captain william sheppard. he served as a navy seal, nasa astronaut, and a senior government official with the department of defense. he started his military career in 19 some the one as an demotion expert. he was selected as a nasa astronaut. he flew as a mission specialist on three flights. in 1993, he was selected as program manager for the new mission. in 2000, he served as commander of expedition one.
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he returned to the navy in 2001 . captain sheppard consulted government organizations. he received a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering at the u.s. naval academy. you each have five minutes for your spoken testimony. your written testimony, which can be much longer, will be included in the record for the hearing. we will begin asking you questions. each will have five minutes to question the panel. miss -- thaw floor is yours. >> i am honored to appear before
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you to discuss the international space station, the world's preeminent orbital microgravity platform for research and development. for more than 20 years, the iss has supported cutting-edge research that benefits humanity, including in space manufacturing of materials and lifesaving medical products. it has helped us to understand the earth's climate and provided an unparalleled platform for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics engagement. the iss continues to be a positive example of international partnerships, and the research conducted on the iss has improved life on earth. today, with commercial crew and cargo transportation systems online, the iss is busier than ever and provides u.s. and our partners with unmatched capabilities in base. the iss national laboratory has hundreds of experiments from other agencies, academia, and commercial users.
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meanwhile, nasa's research and development on board is advancing the technologies and procedures that will be necessary to sand the first woman and the first person of color to the moon, and the first humans to mars. the iss is now entering its third and most productive decade of utilization, including research advancement, commercial value, and global partnership. the first decade of iss is dedicated to assembly and the second was dedicated to research and technology development and learning how to most effectively conduct these activities in space. the third decade is one of results, where research capacity will be maximized. deep space exploration technologies will be verified to support human exploration of the solar system and medical and environmental benefits will continue to be returned to humanity. this decade is also when the groundwork is laid for commercial future in space. nasa is already laying the foundation of this future, which includes careful planning to
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ensure there is in u.s. human spaceflight capability in low-earth orbit, or leo. the u.s. is certified technically to continue to operate until at least 2028, and there are no engineering issues that nasa is aware of that would preclude safely and productively operating the iss through 2030. extending the operation of the iss could give u.s. private industry time to develop the capabilities and experience to operate in leo and to deploy the platforms that will meet the needs of nasa and other users. with the introduction of commercial destinations, nasa expects to use a more commercial approach to meeting the agency's need in leo. this will allow nasa to shift significant financial resources to other objectives. as destinations become available, nasa intends to implement an orderly transition
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from current iss operations to these destinations. nasa envisions a transition period of roughly two years during which both iss and commercial leo destinations are attainable. nasa intends to purchase services on these commercial platforms for accommodating u.s. astronauts, technology testing, human research, and science. the leo platform is the place to test technologies and practice protocols to prepare us for a mars mission. nasa also prepares to continue support for research in leo, based on the successes and lessons learned in the iss national laboratory. we hope that our other u.s. government partner agencies will join us in doing so. this will provide continuity for research institutions, u.s. government agencies, and developing industries to continue their work in the unique environment of
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low-earth orbit. it is imperative the u.s. maintain and expand its international partnerships during and after the transition took commercial leo destinations. the u.s. operates the iss in cooperation with five other agencies, offering high-profile opportunities for u.s. leadership in civil and robotics spaceflight. at a time when other nations are seeking to expand their abilities to operate in space, the iss remains the premier example of how an international team can productively and successfully-- further details's plans for iss transition are contained in our update to the transition report which we will deliver to congress in the coming weeks. thank you again and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. now, dr. rubens. the floor is yours. >> thank you and good morning.
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i'm a nasa astronaut, veteran of two long-duration missions aboard the international space station, and a molecular biologist. thank you for the opportunity. highlighting the tremendous value of having a spaceborne laboratory were we can do research that is not possible on earth. i spent 300 days on two long-duration missions, living and working aboard the iss. as a researcher and test subject, providing biological samples for further study, i can share the importance and unique opportunity for scientific advancements and research made possible by having a research laboratory outside the bonds and limitations of gravity. the iss is the only place we can currently conduct long-duration research on how living in microgravity affects the human body and it's the only place we can test technologies that will take us further into deep space.
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the iss has offered over two decades of human research opportunities in a way that no other platform has been able to accomplish. the things we've learned so far provide a great foundation for us as we reach even further away from our home planet. for future expiration of the moon and mars, we need the capability to a thomas lane monitors a microbial health of space craft and planetary habitats and identify dna and rna signatures as well. the iss gives researchers and environment in which they can test sequencing in microgravity and refined the processes. during my first mission to the space station in 2016, i had the honor of being the first person to sequence dna in microgravity. we sequence more than 2 billion base pairs of dna in collaboration with a world-class team of researchers on the ground. during my recent expedition to space, i was able to build on the past work, conducting new
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seek quints -- sequencing. astronauts could diagnose an illness or identify microbes growing in the iss and determine if they represent a health concern. i spent many hours during my mission with my arms and a glovebox. we conducted the cardinal heart experiment there. my breath was taken away by the site of beating heart cells in microgravity for the first time. changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue level. this research will contribute to our success in future space exploration. it could also impact how we develop treatments for heart disease on earth. results could provide new understanding of heart problems on earth, help identify treatment, and support development of screening measures to predict cardiovascular risk prior to spaceflight. i took hundreds of microbial samples for a monitoring study.
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it provides sequencing and analysis on samples collected from over 1000 locations within the space station. by advancing our under station -- understanding of the biome, our work helps identify potential risks. the iss is a world-class research laboratory where we are able to perform research developed by scientists across the world. it's also the most powerful example of collaboration that i've ever witnessed and i believe one of the most powerful examples >> >> of this world-class collaboration. the world needs this example of nations coming together for the greater good and to see how many amazing things can be accomplished from we work together doing science and exploration and harmony. for more than 20 years, nasa has maintained a continuous human practice in earth orbit, developing technology, skills, and knowledge needed for exploration of the moon, mars, and the solar system.
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the iss is an active laboratory where we are making the next steps of space expiration possible as we set our sights on the moon and beyond. it's the knowledge and practical experience we gained for more than 20 years of continuous human presence and research on the space station that will pave a successful path forward. what we learn has great impacts on earth and human health. technology development and even commercial growth. i hope this information has helped shed light on the value and importance of having a space research program for scientists and astronauts like me to push the boundaries of the known world, to inspire children, and to learn how we as a species adapt as we would further into the universe. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee and i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you very much. fascinating stuff.
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>> thank you. thank you for this opportunity. my insights are informed by my three decades pursuing a stronger commercial space marketplace as well as being the ceo of nana racks. my first testified before the panel and bill nelson in 1991 as i reviewed that testimony. it's heartening to realize the extraordinary progress that has been made. our utilization challenge in the 90's. it's remarkable to see how far we have progressed from a single point dependence with the space shuttle to a robust commercial launch industry with names like
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spacex and rocket lab that are the envy of the world. that's one of the key considerations as we seek the next steps for the international space station. we've had here before. that was how and when to transition from the aging shuttle program. so many strong arguments were made to keep the program operational. finally, congress made the correct decision to open a new era of the launch vehicle industry that is indeed the envy of the world and now we must do the same and have that dialogue with another beloved program, the iss. the common thread in the recent extraordinary renaissance of space services is not advancing in technology alone. but also the repeated direction by congress to support commercial participation in nasa activities. this has been successfully demonstrated for iss with the commercial cargo program, the use of multiple vehicles, and with commercial crew.
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the challenge to assure a seamless transition is more urgent today then with the shuttle time as our reliance on space assets is far greater today. there's no room for error. the chinese space station is a challenge. as part of my written testimony, i submitted a list of our allies participating on it. there is no dispute that in space, when america participates , america leads. i don't fear cooperation or court -- competition with china. we can't allow the perception that we will cede our 20 years of humans working to others. like the debate over transitioning from the shuttle program, these are difficult issues. i witnessed the decline of the near space station from a productive habitat to a fixer-upper. the change was slow and soon it was less productive as a research platform.
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today, there are technical issues with the iss. some make the headlines and some do not. no matter the congressional funding, no one can predict how long it will remain efficient. our national choice is clear. either push the iss hardware beyond the anticipated lifespan or open the door to a new chapter of american leadership that will realize smaller, truly commercial space stations dedicated to research and in space manufacturing. i choose the latter because recent history has shown that multiplicity and space assets is the safest and most cost-efficient pathway. recent history has shown that the private sector, working with nasa, produces cost-efficient and reliable results. i'm less worried about losing a generation of space station personnel as we are seeing companies like sierra, acxiom hiring and hiring big from the iss community.
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members of the subcommittee, i ask you to support the nasa commercial cld program to ensure that there isstation gap. and that tomorrow's stations will have today's launch vehicles, being the envy of the world. our parent company is investing significant capital in the private station, dedicated to innovative space research. we are not alone. industry is ready to lead. i consider the program the pathway to assuring continuation of american leadership and indeed of the iss program itself with a new generation of cost-efficient platforms which will continue the iss tradition of stem outreach as well. we lack the luxury of our previous challenges. the space domain is interwoven into the fabric of our society and its continued health is every american's continued well-being. the lessons learned are clear.
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we must do all to prevent yet another gap in our basic space capabilities. this is what i fear the most, that gap. thank you to all members for beginning today with this necessary but difficult dialogue. thank you. >> thank you. let's hear from mr. todd harrison. >> mr. chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify today on this important topic. the fundamental question we are addressing today is what the role of nasa should be in this transition from a focus on lower orbit to farther reaching exploration goals on the moon and beyond. when the former nasa administrator spoke last year, he used the dime framework of national power. diplomatic information military and economic to describe how he
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thinks about the role of nasa. i want to focus my testimony today on nasa's diplomatic and economic roles and how that should improve -- impact our thinking about nasa's future. nasa has a rich history of building international partnerships around the globe and has agreements with more than 120 nations. these partnerships help advance u.s. interests in areas such as the environment, human rights, and stem education. cooperation in space increases transparency, builds confidence, and promotes responsible behavior in space. the coalition of nations that operate the iss have tightly coupled interests in leo. we all want to protect the investments we made in the astronauts that serve aboard the iss. our mutual interest will create a strong incentive for us to work together to follow basic norms of behavior such as avoiding destructive anti-satellite testing and the deliberate creation of space debris.
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nasa's continued leadership of the iss coalition is critical to advancing this shared goal. nasa's role in advancing our economic interests is another factor policymakers should consider. many new commercial space missions are currently being planned, explored, experiment it with by u.s. companies such as mining and manufacturing. this technology could allow large structures to be built in space using materials that are sourced in space. effectively breaking free from having to launch everything from earth. nasa's role is to explore and take technological risks to improve our understanding of the space environment and provide the enabling infrastructure that private companies can build upon. as we think about the diplomatic and economic roles of nasa, we must be mindful that other nations are competing with us in space and perhaps our most formidable competitor is china.
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the competition with china in space is multifaceted and includes an important security element that the space force intelligence community encounters daily. this competition also has a strong commercial and civil space element that some have called a new space race. unlike the space race of the 1960's, the goal of the space race isn't a near destination. it's not a race to see who can build the biggest space station, plan another flag on the moon, or be the first length humans on mars. the real objective of the races to see who can build the broadest and strongest international coalition. whatever group of nations emergence as a leading coalition in space will be the ones that set the defective norms for space commerce and exploration that follows. a competition with china does not preclude cooperation as the members of this subcommittee are well aware.
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we've cooperated with the soviet union in space throughout the cold war while we competed fiercely with them both in space and on earth. since 2011, congress has placed restrictions on nasa's ability to collaborate with china on civil space programs. this provision was originally intended to pressure china to make human rights reforms and stifle develop and of its space capabilities. after 10 years, it's clear that china has not improved his behavior when it comes to human rights and china's space program has only accelerated. what's more concerning is that china is now reaching out to other nations including some of our closest allies and partners and asking them to become partners in its space programs. china is actively building a coalition in space to rival our own. i would urge the members of this body to think more holistically about the role of nasa and the
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transition plan for the iss. a precipitous withdrawal of u.s. support for the iss could create an opening for china to expand its partnerships and ultimately its diplomatic and economic influence. our goal should be to strengthen and expand the iss coalition of nations while also building a new coalition to go to the moon and beyond. it's my view that we should not let go of the iss coalition before the artemis coalition is fully assembled and operational. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. lastly, we hear from the captain. the floor is yours. >> you are muted for the moment. >> hello there. that never happens. members of the committee and
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subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to present thoughts on the space station and related space activities. even before the u.s. had a national space program, engineers and scientists envisioned an orbiting station that would be a stepping stone for the exploration of the moon and the other planets. nasa space shuttles and crews built the large iss vehicle and the weightless vacuum of space, traveling 17,000 miles an hour. we cannot match that capability today. they live, explore, and do research in a place that is not part of the earth anymore. iss is our foothold in the cosmos. in 21 years of continuous operations, iss has hosted 65 expeditions, hundreds of astronauts and researchers, who have performed thousands of hours of scientific research in complexity and scale.
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it is my generation's apollo program. there are many difficulties in the construction of the station. forming a workable international partnership was not easy. many aerospace critics in the u.s. oppose putting russian elements in iss's critical path. others said it could not be done. history has shown all of them wrong. iss would not be flying today without our partners unique capabilities and especially those that are russian. iss has performed yonder its design capabilities, many systems and components were operating acceptably at twice their divine length. iss has had no major failures or accidents. what are the benefits that the russians brought to this partnership? unique spacecraft and system designs. excellent crew equipment on spaceships.
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well-developed life-support systems. excellent metalworking and fabrication. thermal control systems. solar arrays and controls. good crew to computer integration. and russian engineers taught us the most valuable technique, mixing the complex along with the simple in their system architectures, creating robust capabilities. nasa calls this dissimilar redundancy. this will be a critical characteristic of our future space missions. the numerous iss changes of command have always been highlights. 30 years ago, an american commander in charge of billions of rubles of russian state property -- [inaudible] it would have been unthinkable. this is the reality today. iss has experienced modern internal air leakage. leaks have been traced to the
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interior of the russian service module. league sources are small surface cracks in the tunnels aluminum hall. editors -- engineers and debt to -- technicians are working together to resolve the issue. but the root cause of the cracking, their failure modes, and the impacts on iss safety and future operations have not been adequately determined. top level nasa draws management attention, needed now to focus the technical teams, provide the necessary resources, and drive this issue to closer. technical operation integration was a major effort in the iss program. this remains a significant challenge for future programs.
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small groups of astronauts on the moon might have to make two as the crew -- this was a graphic illustration of what bad integration looks like. nasa's historical role of integrating software has been diluted as we rely more heavily on work done by commercial space companies. considering what we have learned building iss, this was a big step backwards. a mars expedition will draw on the best skills and resources from many nations. space station is the blueprint to how to do this. if you ask what a mars program will look like, these questions are behind us. >> thank you. you finished on a very strong note.
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i appreciate all the testimony. now we will begin our first round of questions. i get to go first. i'm fascinated by your work on dna sequencing. what kind of dna were you doing? human dna or mouse dna or e. coli? >> yes. we did a mix of e. coli, mouse. we were interested in if we could mix this dna together, sequence it, and reconstruct the genome. these are the kind of technologies that we will be using when we go to mars to look for signs of life. also the kinds of technologies that we would used to study complex microbial environments. you look at things like microbes in a hospital or microbes in addition and you won't understand what is dangerous to us. this is the exact kind of technology that you would use to look at this complex microbial environment. we were very lucky to be
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successful. we had the opportunity using the research platform to analyze these complex environments and make the sequencing technology work in low-earth orbit. >> was it easier or harder to do it in low gravity? is it an advantage or were you trying to overcome the challenges of that? >> there were challenges. there's always logistical challenges. these are not things we can simulate on earth. your pipette tips floating away in microgravity. we have to figure out how to do laboratory research when everything is floating. that's one of the challenges. the technology works incredibly well. it works better in space than it does on earth. sometimes, microgravity environment gives us a technological advantage, for example when we manufacture optical fibers. it can give you an advantage that is not possible to simulate a nurse laboratories for a lot
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of these physical properties. >> it was mentioned that perhaps one day we should be establishing a formal national laboratory in space. does that make sense to you? >> absolutely. the iss natural lab -- national laboratory allows many commercial companies as well as academic to send their experiments to low-earth orbit. this is greatly expanding our access and the number of participants in the international space station research community. we've seen a lot of really exciting projects. i think the national laboratory is really important for allowing participation from academic and commercial companies and making sure that researchers across the united states of america have access to space as this really unique research environment. >> i want to ask about your bone
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density after 300 days of no gravity. can you figure out what we are going to do about radiation? >> we've done a lot of radiation studies. this is one of the really important reasons for continuing our research on the international space station. we've got a radiation environment in low-earth orbit that we can't simulate on earth. we can have beams of particular particles but it's very difficult to get that mix of radiation unless you actually go into space. our radiation research on how it affects fundamental mechanisms and cells, how radiation can cause cancer, there's a lot of parallels for these kinds of processes on earth. it's only possible in the space environment. >> thank you very much. captain shepard, thank you for the idea of the similar redundancy. that's my new word for the day. i'm fascinated that after
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testimony about transitioning from government to government to commercial crew, commercial cargo, commercial successor, you set these questions are behind us. do you strongly believe that we need to maintain the same kind of nasa led government investment program that we've had? >> i think it's a big question. i'm not sure i can give you a short answer. let me just say that one of the biggest issues that we worked with on iss was integrating the procedures, controls, displays, equipment, hardware between the partners and especially with russia. it was a tremendous challenge. the crews on board iss in the early days, in one of what was three different computer environments, there were 2500 separate display pages on laptops that you would used to
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control the station and its systems. you had to know what everyone of them did. they were all built by different people. when we talk about large programs, artemis in particular but certainly going to mars, who is going to integrate all this stuff? at the end of the day, the astronauts that are going to be on the mission are the final integrators. it's very unfair for programs to assume that this is all going to be worked out magically by a bunch of very smart people. we have to have a more direct role in the government to induce the contractors to not give us very disparate ways to interface and control all of these pieces of hardware, systems. how nasa assumes that role in the future, i don't know. somebody has to do it. >> thank you very much. i now yield to dr. babbitt for his questions.
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>> thank you. this will be an exceedingly interesting hearing. i really appreciate this. my first question is for kathy sheppard. i want to say thank you for your service. as a navy seal, i really appreciate that. also your years as an astronaut. this question is regarding the russian module and aging of the iss. a russian space official recently reached concerns about the deteriorating russia station of the iss due to out of date hardware, warning that it could read -- lead to irreparable failures. the official was quoted as saying around 80% of the inclined systems have reached
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the end of their service time. he concluded, this means that a day after the systems are fully exhausted, irreparable failures may begin. first, you worked on the iss program at the very beginning. you were the first astronaut on expedition one. it also served as a member of the iss committee. how should policymakers view safety and mitigate risks as the iss ages? should nasa be worried about the stress placed on the iss by the firing of the russian module? >> i think the answer to this is to reestablish much more intimate working relationship with our russian counterparts. i know the russian official you were talking about. at the time of, he was the manager of the mission control center.
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i did not get along with him all that well. i respected his judgment and his ability. the business of making the space station work was to get close together and sit around a table and work out the problems. part of the issue with the science module docking is that we don't have that correlation with our russian counterparts right now. i would think that the primary job would be for us to go into exactly how the russians noticed problems with the module, what they did to counteract them, what the results were, and how this resulted in stresses on the space station. we have not had that discussion in intimate detail. that would have been common 20 years ago. whatever the reason, we have to reignite the very strong
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integration that we had with our russian partners. i'm not sure how to do it but i believe congress could be helpful in making that happen. >> ok. q very much. nasa requested information from contractors on a new proposal to procure spacesuits as a service. the rationale for procuring services rather than developing a system is that contractors can sell their systems to other customers which could potentially lead to lower prices for the government. a nasa report stated that no known nongovernmental agency is willing to finance and develop their own complete system independent of a government contract. as is the case with environmental control and life support systems, designed for spacecraft, there's not currently enough demand that it can be treated as a regular commodity or service. the report continued, emergency microgravity capability is
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required by nasa and there's insufficient market to support effective codevelop me. i asked the administrator if nasa had identified other customers for spacesuits as required by -- he indicated that he would look into it. who are the other customers nasa has identified that would procure these suits? has nasa determined that the long-term viability of the venture is not dependent upon a continued government market or other nonreimbursable government support? how much private capital is at risk in this venture? >> thank you for the question. nasa put out a draft request for proposal to get industry proposals on our change in strategy that will provide spacesuits services commercially. we recognize that as we expand
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the commercial economy in low-earth orbit, there could be other customers. we just had the private inspiration mission. we anticipate as the economy expands, there will be private demand for spacesuits services in addition to the nasa demand. we believe that commercializing the procurement the way we commercialize crew and cargo will be the most cost-effective way to go forward as we explore. >> ok. thank you. i was wondering whether russia is relevant to a potential engagement with china. >> can i back step a bit and talk about the suits for a second? >> certainly. one of my frustrations after i finished my time is nasa is that we did very little at nasa in
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understanding and leveraging the things we have learned from our experience with the russians and their space agency. the russian spacesuit is fundamentally a different architecture for mars. it is quite durable and very simple. i think it has a lot of design attributes that our system does not. but nasa made almost no effort that i could detect to evaluate that and incorporate any of those design changes in our thinking. this is the lost opportunity that we see over and over again, particularly in our relationship with russians and this partnership. if you would ask about the chinese, besides the political aspect of that, there's tremendous value in programs where scientists and astronauts from different countries approach the same problem in different ways. we would gain a lot from the chinese if we could have that relationship. i'm not sure what it would take
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to make that happen. >> ok. thank you very much. appreciate it. let me recognize the former governor of florida. >> thank you. i want to thank our witnesses for being here today. there's no doubt that the international space station is crucial to our space program, to our research enterprise, and our international relationships. as we've discussed today, there will come a time when the space station reaches the end of its operational life. we must have a plan in place for the next generation of low-earth orbit activities. when nasa was winding down the shuttle program, i can't help but draw a comparison between the retirement of the space shuttle which resulted in the rise of a vibrant commercial launch industry with nasa's current plan to transition the space station to a fully commercialized low-earth orbit.
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i'm curious, what lessons did nasa learn from the retirement of the shuttle about how transitioning large programs? >> thank you for that question. yes indeed, we did experience a gap in our transportation system when we the shuttle. we do not wish to repeat that with our u.s. human presence in low-earth orbit. this is a key tenant of our iss transition plan that nasa has put together. we can't have a gap in american human spaceflight in low-earth orbit. this is why nasa is committed to an orderly transition from iss operations to u.s. commercially provided destination in low-earth orbit. we are working with our partners in u.s. industry and just put out a request for proposals and received strong industry feedback on the request for proposals for commercial
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destinations. we anticipate having those destinations in place by 2028. if we extend the iss so that we can have an orderly transition and overlap between the time when we have these destinations in leo and when we retire the iss, that will allow us to mitigate the risk of a gap. >> how can nasa apply those lessons when developing a transition plan for the space station? >> we can apply those lessons by planning for the orderly transition and planning to have an overlap in services that we can ensure that we don't have a gap. we will follow along as our industry partners mature their concepts and follow their milestones and make sure we are enabling them to make progress so that we can have these capabilities in place when we need them. >> thank you very much. as we transition to a fully commercialized low-earth orbit,
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can you speak to the importance of having multiple providers and companies operating in this arena? >> yes and thank you. it gets to the heart of your previous question as well, the lessons learned from the space shuttle and america's dependency on one hardware program. one of the lessons that we all see from the last several decades of growing public-private partnership between private industry and nasa is the fundamental importance of having different opportunities, different vendors, different choices. if one goes down, if there's a problem, the united states remains fully engaged in space. as i said in my testimony, space is far more critical today than it was several decades ago. it's absolutely imperative that we have multiple platforms giving us multiple choices but also provide stability that is required in low-earth orbit.
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thank you for the question. >> thank you sir. what is nasa doing to drive interest from the commercial space industry and assure the operation of multiple providers in low-earth orbit? >> thank you for the question. in addition to our request for proposals for free flyers, we've also been able to use of space station reports for acxiom to provide an attached commercial element to the space station. as was just expressed, we have multiple options and multiple pathways to getting the services that we will need. in addition, we are also enabling demand. these platforms, private platforms are going to need other customers besides nasa. we are using the space station today to allow companies to bring innovative research and
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try new markets such as optical fibers, regenerative medicine, novel materials that seem promising to create new markets and stimulate the demand that legal -- will be required. >> thank you so much. i yield back. >> think you very much. next, we recognize the ranking member of the full committee. >> thank you. nasa's human research program tracks a number of risks that need to be addressed in order to enable future space exploration. the iss is a key asset in conducting research and mitigating risk. understanding the iss will not operate forever, how is nasa doing at addressing those risks, given the length of iss operations? maybe for a moment, can
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commercial solutions help address those risks? >> yes. thank you very much for the question. the human research program has looked at all of our deep space exploration risks, what we need for lunar missions and eventual mesh worms -- missions to mars. assessing what kind of research needs to address those risks to develop countermeasures. i would rank those risks in terms of order of importance and look at how many years we think we will need to address each of these risks. they are things like radiation encountered on the voyage to mars, environmental systems, how we scrub co2 from the atmosphere, how we recycle water and provide clean water to astronauts, the human health risks, things like cardiovascular. some of those risks are things that we have now closed out. we've used the iss to discover a countermeasure to those risks.
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some of them are risks that we will assess in the next few years and we have studies that are hopefully going to come close the risk within the next few years. some of these are longer risks that are going to require some sustained research in low-earth orbit. we've identified any other places that we could do the research to address these risks and a lot of times, there is no way to do that research on earth. so these longer-term risks are going to be things that we need to develop countermeasures for before we have a successful mission to mars. we need a platform in low-earth orbit to address these health risks and the really long duration risks. >> minus question goes to director caton's and mr. harrison. we've noted in several comments in this hearing that the international interest of low-earth orbit is not limited to the united states or partners. could you tell me about the
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capacities of the chinese space station, just as a reference point. what do we know about the chinese space station and what do we know about their capacities? whoever cares to touch that first. >> i could touch it and then todd can jump in. the chinese space station has gotten off to a strong start. they launched their first module and they just launched a new cargo mission carrying supplies. they are rapidly assembling the station. have started to accommodate the first crew on the space station. i know that they are planning for a wide range of activities including research and some of the key areas that we are doing research on on the international space station. >> i would add that we actually
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don't know as much as we would like to about the specific capabilities and technologies on the chinese space station. we are not a partner with them. we only get to see what they choose to share with us. of course, one of the downsides of that is it naturally leads to more suspicion and mistrust on both sides. that's why i would urge congress to look at ways that we can forge more relationships with the chinese civil space program. so that we have better understanding on both sides of what they are developing, what kind of capabilities they have, how that could be helpful to some of our science and exploration goals, and where possible where we want to partner with them to achieve our mutual science and exploration goals. of course, i would caution, whenever you are talking about bringing in a partner like china, we have to be careful to
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make sure that we keep all of our existing partnerships in place on the iss and make sure all of those nations are fully informed and onboard with what were doing. >> thank you sir. a couple of comments if i may. looking at the program itself, it's a simpler platform. it doesn't have the volume of the international space station, the cargo delivery is not as robust as ours. it will make certain research more difficult. and the crew is not as robust. they don't have the capacity yet. in that sense, it's not a one-on-one comparison. the iss is still far more robust. having said that, it is a formidable commercial competitor. i submitted into my written testimonial list of our allies that are working with the
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chinese. organizations in japan and france and peru. they have some extraordinarily cutting-edge hardware on their platform, representing technology from 2015. when we talk about the aging of the international for -- space station. it's not only the platform itself but the capability for research and when you make that balance of investing first or -- further as you look at the natural decay. to stay focused on your question directly, they are a commercial presence. they are marketing internationally. i echo that we should engage in some safeway to make sure american presence is in the room and commercial offers that opportunity. >> are there countries who have sent future astronauts to china to be trained to be able to
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utilize the facility? >> yes. from what i just read, i do understand that it has training going on and russia as well. yes. again, i believe we should be in the room. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. i now recognize the gentleman from colorado who has some scientific interest in this. >> so i want to start with dr. rubins. obviously, part of your testimony today has been about our mission to mars. the iss has played a big role, as you described, in us learning about the effects of long-term
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existence and space, what it does to people, what it does to plants. given the fact that our space station is aging, we have holes in thruster problems, are we in a position to continue to do the experiments for the time it is going to take to help mitigate the risks when we do go to mars? is the space station going to last long enough for us to do the experiments that are needed? >> yeah. this is an excellent question. i flew in 2016 and then this last year. i landed in april. i've seen the space station across the most recent five years. it's in incredible shape. the structures that we've built are very robust. we've done studies at nasa that
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have proven that we can extend the life of the space station out to 2028 and we really don't see any concern, structurally, for a longer extension of the space station. the equipment, there's additional and improvement of the equipment on board. we've seen things like the dna sequencer, a lot of commercial companies putting things like microscopes up there, tools that will allow us to assess human health for long-duration. we are adding things to the life-support system. this is one of the most important questions for mars. how do we keep humans alive for a 2.5 year mission in deep space? life-support will be critical. the microgravity environment of the iss is incredible. it allows us to integrate new pieces of the life-support system. while i was up there, we installed several pieces of equipment to further refine our water processing.
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we are about 90% closed loop and we are increasing that amount of closed-loop water processing. even today, we are adding new equipment to the space station that will allow us to solve these gaps and get to mars safely and successfully. >> thank you. for this, i will start with captain sheppard. you mentioned the ability, the need for somebody to take leadership in integrating all the systems, all that. not expect that astronauts can do everything on the fly. i guess my desire is similar to what we've done with the space station, that it be public, private in certain respects. international in scope to the degree we could work with the chinese, continue to work with the russians. i would like to see the mission to be -- mars be that extensive.
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what did you mean about the leadership needed to do the integration? let me start with that. >> let me give you a graphic example. we all use the internet. the internet runs because somebody established a protocol and everybody signed up. now, it's an immensely valuable thing for the civilized world. all of our communications protocols are the same way. what i'm saying is there needs to be a framework, you need to see these expeditions and missions to the moon and mars from the standpoint of crews who will be at the point of need. how complex is their job? the integration has to start from that level and come out. without some congregation of contractors all agreeing on common standards for nasa or
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some other agency imposing a standard that all will salute, you won't have that. this is what i'm talking about. >> why do you think nasa is going to impose those standards? what is the problem? >> i don't see it. >> you think everybody is going their own direction? >> i certainly do. we tried to establish standards for controls and displays in iss 20 years ago. as far as i can tell now, it is being used nowhere else. >> ok. my time has expired. i yelled back to the chair. >> thank you. i recognize the congressman from cape canaveral. >> thank you. thank you for this great hearing . we really needed to have it. thank you again. following up on comments and
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questions. when i hear the space station gap, i think about the shuttle gap. it left a gaping hole in the space economy for sure. a loss of many veteran space workers and lead them to rely on russians assets. can you give us an idea of the platforms and destinations that you expect the private sector to propose? >> thank you for that question. yes. we are seeing a very strong response to our request for proposals for commercial destinations. we expect to see a wide variety of concepts. i'm looking forward to seeing what our industry partners are proposing there. in addition, we believe -- >> can you give us some idea of
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the concepts one might expect to hear? >> i haven't seen this of -- the proposals. i have seen early industry studies that show different free flying concepts made of repurposed elements in some cases, upper stages. other, more traditional and inflatable kinds of structures. i think we have that to look forward to but i have not seen the proposals yet. if i might just follow up on the previous question regarding standards, nasa did work with our international partners to develop an initial set of international standards for our artemis program. i do agree with both sheppard -- it's very important. we are working towards those standards. >> thank you. i'm glad to hear that. we know that china is trying to change standards and its
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influence over the globe to favor them. i think we need to take a lead on standard-setting for sure. do you maintain communications with our space fourth -- force and other military sectors? >> yes. i know our administrator routinely communicates with the space force. we work with them at cape canaveral for our launches and they do are range activities. we have a close communication with space force for our activities and human spaceflight. >> thank you. what parts of the iss are becoming outdated? i'm wondering if there are elements being used for other purposes besides just deep orbiting. >> yes. good question. parts of the iss are older than others. there are newer modules that
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have a lot of useful life left. they could potentially be detached and become part of the future leo program. we are not opposed to entertaining those concepts. we have not studied those in detail. that is certainly quite possible. >> is it feasible to move and usable portions iia lunar orbit? >> i'm not an orbital mechanics expert. i don't believe that anyone has really proposed doing that. >> ok. thank you. mr. harrison, you mentioned the wolf amendment and how it originally intended to pressure china to make human rights reforms. you say after 10 years, it's clear that china has not improved his behavior when it comes to human rights and the space program has only
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accelerated. the wolf amendment doesn't preclude nasa from working with china. it has to notify kyra's -- congress. are you suggesting that congress and the fbi not be notified? is that problematic? >> i think the effect of the wolf amendment has been to limit that cooperation. so there have been some examples. there was some recent low-level cooperation on a mission with a lunar rover. nasa was able to share some information with china. they did jump through all the hoops, they went through the fbi and the vetting progress. they were allowed to do it. it is certainly possible. the problem is that it has stifled that ability to cooperate. there were examples where nasa
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was being a little overly aggressive in enforcing those restrictions early on, not allowing chinese scientists to come to conferences. those things have been worked out since then. that's just an example of how it has really stymied our ability to engage in a meaningful way with china when it comes to civil space. as you say, we can't really tell the difference between many of their military and civilian base activities. i think that's a shame. we can tell those distinctions with the russians because we cooperate with them on the civilian side. we don't have that kind of relationship with china. importantly, from a military space perspective, we don't have those direct military to military space contacts that we would like. if we had civilian to civilian contacts through our civil space
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activities, that could actually be a good channel of communication to develop so that we don't end up with this perception and actions and potential escalation in space in a future military crisis environment. >> thank you for your intelligence. my time is expired and i yelled back. >> thank you very much. let me recognize representative kim from california for her questions. >> thank you. thank you so much for all of our witnesses for being with us. i want to pose this question to the director. nasa's 2018 iss transition report states that nothing begins shifting responsibility for meeting needs and requirements in leo by
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leveraging private indigent -- industry capacity and competitiveness that would offer the prospect of lower cost to the government. can you provide more detail for the committee on how nasa is actually working on the operational cost of the iss? as well as more details regarding the side effects of reducing operational costs. >> yes. they can for that question. we have done some preliminary cost assessments of the efficiencies that we could gain from transitioning from the pretty complex iss to a more simple commercially owned and operated platform in low-earth
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orbit. we believe we can save over a billion dollars a year by purchasing services for what we need from these privately owned platforms. as the company's mature their concepts and we learn more about their capabilities and potential prices for these services, we can refine those estimates going forward. but that is kind of our cost estimate right now. those savings are important because we can apply those to expand our exploration efforts beyond low-earth orbit to include the moon and mars and onto the solar system. >> how will nasa make the final determination about end-of-life and preparation to deorbit the iss? what factors would drive that decision? >> thank you for that. dir. gatens: thank you for that.
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we have started a list of transition indicators, to tell us when we will be ready to make this transition. the first indicator is that we have destinations to transition to. that may sound obvious, but that is a prerequisite so we do not have a gap in low-earth orbit. the second indicator is the health of the space station. we believe it is structurally sound until 2028 and can go beyond that, but we will be watching that as we go forward. other indicators we are going to be looking at are the development of commercial markets and the readiness of the private sector besides nasa to do activities in low-earth orbit. we also want to work with our international partners on this plan so that we can have a plan
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to continue our international partnership. not only do we want the international partnership to continue for artemis, but we want it to continue for low-earth orbit as well. that is extremely important. these are some of the indicators we will be looking for. >> thank you. mr. shepherd, you have written testimony that says engineers and technicians can work together to understand and resolve these issues. at the root cause -- operations have not been adequately determined. could you tell us how frequently these crack's are appearing, and are they easy to resolve? have they worsened in the past year? >> congresswoman kim, thank
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you for the question. i think we should defer to experts for the details, but i know that based on two meetings with the advisory committee, the crack's have appeared recently. they are quite small. they look like scratches on the surface of the aluminum plate. the plate itself is very thin, but the material is quite ductile. that allows it to resist, basically, flaws like cracks. i have been in the factory where the smog was made, and i may have seen -- where the smog you will was made, -- where this module was made, and i may have seen the cracks. they do not understand why these cracks are appearing now. there are half a dozen of them.
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they are quite small. we have assessed that the link they would need to grow to to be a serious problem, they are well short of that, but we know there are probably other cracks we have not found yet. i am just saying that getting to the bottom of this is a fairly serious issue. i do not think this station is in any immediate danger, but before we clear the station for another so many years of operational use, we should better understand this. rep. kim: definitely. you do not want to jeopardize the operation of the iss. thank you so much. my time is up. >> i now recognize mr. webster from florida. i will give you another couple
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of seconds to resurface. if not, we would love to move to congressman brooks from alabama. again, if congressman brooks is there. that would give congressman webster an opportunity to come back. >> i am here, mr. chairman. >> thank you. let me begin. i have been fascinated by the tension, the debate tension, not the personal attention, between the captain shepherd perspective , which i would characterize as some skepticism. the commercial sector might be able to come in for some
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diplomacy, redundancy that the partnership the iss has had. is there a larger process in the government that takes all the captain shepherd questions and skepticism and positives against some of the enthusiasm about our ability to stand up to the commercial sector, to take over the governmental role we have had in the last couple of decades? dir. gatens: yes, thank you for that question. this is something we consider at nasa when we go forward in our procurement strategies. we have learned that our industry can be quite strong in developing those capabilities and their ability to take over.
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the government's role is to do the hard things, and we have paved the way and brought our industry partners along with us. there are over 20 commercial facilities that are owned and operated by a gentleman like mr. member and other companies, and they are bringing customers to those facilities. we know that the response from industry is strong, and we believe that will be ready for the next step in low-earth orbit, moving the assets of the next thing, exploring the moon, mars, and the rest of the solar system. >> thank you. captain shepherd, i defer to you for your thoughts. >> i would like to ask out nasa has incentivized to contractors who are clearly performing commercial space activities to
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best integrate the systems with the astronauts at each other. i am not sure i see that. >> i welcome you to respond. dir. gatens: i was going to invite my colleague to respond to that since he has those facilities as well. >> thank you. i am surprised at this late stage and the growing public-private partnership we have enjoyed with nasa, and we see the ability of spacex to take contractor funding and grow and self invest. we have the european space agency as a customer, the german space agency as a customer, the uae space agency.
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we have self invested using the hardware. it is accepted, using commerce as an american tool of power and influence is an important part of the diplomatic -- almost a soft diplomatic tool. for me, the maturing of the public-private partnerships with nasa is a sign that america's presence in space is both robust and adhering to our american values. >> mr. manber, let me jump in. two questions. number one, as we have seen with spacex -- blue origin essentially freezing the move to mars, as we work through the protest and that the lawsuit -- and i am a huge fan of
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commercial, but we are seeing that commercial thing is really disrupting the congressman's 2033 schedule. number two, as a business on myself -- businessman myself, what happens when there is no capital or not a profitable business model? what keeps this from being the chip industry, so to say, in space, where you just cannot build the factory? mr. manber: i share with you the concerns of having too much influence in the hands of a commercial sector, but we have also seen at the pathway of government contracting has produced problems in and of itself. but in the history of this country, i think commercial markets have shown the most resilience.
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the second part of your question, that is the whole point of multiplicity of platforms, of vendors, and it is part of the maturing process, so commercial gives us the most robustness. >> thank you very much. interesting debate. dr. babbitt. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am glad to be going back through for a second round. i wanted to ask director gatens another spacesuit question. with the revolving requirements of the xmu's stakeholder programs, nasa is at risk of awarding a contract without clearly defining key technical requirements. additionally, nasa has yet to formalize its acquisition
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strategy for the next generation spacesuits. according to federal guidance, agencies are required to perform acquisition planning, including identifying the milestones in which decisions are made, and addressing all the technical, business management, and other considerations that control and acquisition. awarding a contract before technical requirements and an acquisition strategy could result in numerous modifications of contract, increasing cost and schedule. as our prior work has shown, entering a contract before completing development of work can exacerbate costs, particularly if issues are discovered late in development and require a costly rework. does nasa plan to issue a final rfp, or will it issue a new draft rfp that addresses the significant concerns, and they
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have contractors expressed concerns with the draft rfp? dir. gatens: thank you for your question. although i am not directly involved in the rfp process, i believe our initial plan was to issue an rfp this fall, but i am happy to take your question. i have not seen the industry comments, so i cannot comment on those concerns, but i would be happy to take that question. rep. babin: we would love to have answers. also to you, director g atensm, nasa announced he would remain on the iss for another six months. in the next few weeks, russia will launch an actress and director to film a movie on the iss, and they will return after their stay. when did you know the u.s.
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astronaut would not be returning to earth on the fall so i use return, and can you provide congress with the flight planning integration? dir. gatens: thank you for that question. we knew this would be a potential possibility for mark to stay. he was informed that before he launched and was perfectly willing to travel to the space station with that flexibility in mind, he and his family. we knew of that possibility. we did not know for sure until recently, when the russians did ask nasa to formally extend his stay to allow the spaceflight participant mission. regarding the flight planning, i believe we have worked an alternative product that we have
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been transmitting to congress, to show you our near-term flight planning and our longer-term flight planning. the internal document has a lot of preplanning dates on it, so we prefer to keep that internal. however, the product we have sent over is not sufficient. we are happy to discuss that further and see how we can give you what you need. rep. babin: i would certainly like to have that, because i do not believe that was sufficient. dir. gatens: we are happy to discuss that. rep. babin: if you have that forthcoming, i would appreciate that. mr. chairman, i am going to yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you, congressman. congressman perlmutter, you are recognized if you have additional questions. rep. perlmutter: i don't.
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i have been enjoying listening to the panel. i appreciate everybody's testimony. thank you for your service to our country and the development of the space program as a national program as well as commercial. i am proud of all of you, so i believe it at that. thanks. waxed wonderful. thank you. is mr. webster or congressman brooks available for questions? mr. weber from texas, i believe, is trying to sign on right now, so let's get congressman weber -- give congressman weber a minute to do this. are you ready, congressman weber? reppo weber i am, mr. chairman,
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i appreciate that. this question is for director gatens. the transition authorization act of 2017 requires nasa to provide congress with a transition plan for the iss to address several specific topics. frankly, nasa delivered a plan that was less than adequate. it was supposed to provide an update this year, so i guess my question for her is aware is that plan, and will it require all the elements under the previous act? dir. gatens: thank you for that question. yes, we are working on the update that transition report right now. it is going through agency review, and we will be sending it to congress in the coming weeks. i believe you will find that it
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is a much more thorough, strategic, and tactical plan for transition to commercial leo destinations. it has evolved since the initial report to include many more details, cost projections, transition indicators, our requirements in low-earth orbit going forward. i think it is a more comprehensive requirement than we previously had, due to the maturation of our planning. we look forward to sending that over soon. rep. weber: that's good news. iss has flown over 100 projects from 100 different nations. now the chinese are using their space station to attract partnerships and engagement with other countries while iss's final years and post-iss
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planning remains uncertain. the question, is nasa risking leaving low-earth orbit to the chinese by setting up development programs to begin in a year or two, when it is already -- it has already had one? why not double down on that station? dir. gatens: we believe we need multiple paths so that we have the greatest chance of success for one or more commercial leo platforms in low-earth orbit. the axiom commercial space station is one of those paths. we always intended to follow that with a commercial fleet flyer solicitation, which we have done. we have seen strong industry feedback. that tells us that was a good strategy on our part.
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there is strong interest in multiple platforms in low-earth orbit. rep. weber: how much time do i have, mr. chairman? >> just about two minutes, a little less. rep. weber: i'm going to follow up if i can. do you believe nasa should be able to ensure the scientific research community as well as our international partners that there is a plan moving forward together which provides for the continuity of scientific and research collaboration in space that leaves the world relying on china for activities in microgravity? what do you say to that? dir. gatens: thank you for that. our plan absolutely emphasizes that plan. so that this microgravity research can continue. when we define what nasa is
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interested in purchasing services for from private space stations, it not only includes research, but the same kinds of things we are enabling through the iss international laboratories today, so other agency research, private industry, incubation kinds of -- commercial research, education, academia research. all these things we think are important to continue as well as our international partnerships, and we are doing that planning right now to define and refine those forecasts so we can provide industry with an updated plan for the kinds of services that the government will purchase. rep. weber: thank you for let me piggyback on your community. -- committee. i yield back. >> you are always welcome. if our committee members have no more questions, i want to thank my five witnesses very much.
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it is an interesting question. we will have to come back and talk about how ms. gatens plans to deorbit the space station after everything has been sorted out will be open for two weeks for additional statements from the members. with that, my hearty row's
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inmate -- row inmate's religious rights. this is an hour and a half. >> we will hear case 21-5592, ramirez v. collier. >> across texas' exec -- executions, stay policy was to audibly pray. in 2019, that

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