tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 15, 2014 8:00am-10:01am EST
to show them the best web site, how to show them the best information from their friends is constantly trying to assess what makes the best information service for you. at the same time, universities for the last 20 years as we've moved more and more social exchange online have been moving to think about this as a social environment. this is the public square. so there are plenty of universities, plenty of researchers like myself who have come up with, you know, over the years come up with research projects that have to do with studying people's experiences online. and in both those cases there's as much interest in figuring out what it is that people do as there is in people figuring out how to navigate those spaces. so there's both wanting to know what people do and people wanting to figure out the best way to find information. there's two different threads of research that go on.
>> host: how sophisticated is it getting? >> guest: um, what part? >> host: the research part. >> guest: you know, we have, we have some basic tools for studying social interaction, and there are fields -- sociology, anthropology to public health -- that have ways of studying how do people find each other, how do they find information, how do they share information. all of those fields have had to grapple with what do we do when a lot of that social activity is now no longer happening in a neighborhood, in a park n a nonprofit -- in a nonprofit lobby or some social space. so the tools we have are still, they're still in development. we don't have easy ways to figure out how to study that social interaction and do it in ways that make it clear that we're there, make it clear that the information we're gathering is for research. so we're still learning how to do that, and i think on the company side, companies have different investments for what
kind of research, what kind of learning they're trying to do in looking at people's social sewer actions -- interactions, and they have a whole other set of challenges in doing that and doing it well and doing it respectfully. >> host: what are some of those challenges? >> guest: i think the biggest challenge is that we are always moving between thinking of the information that's generated online as strictly a log, you know, a flat file of information like a search query or like a post, and we treat that like it's just text. and at the same time, what we are all grappling with is that it's not just a set of words, it's actually a conversation. so it's how to figure out how to study the information that's online as both information and communication. that's the biggest challenge. people have very different expectations about what we do with, say, a letter than what we do with a phone call than what we do with an in-person
conversation. all three of those things are actively happening online in terms of people's point of view of what they're trying to achieve, whether they're sending an e-mail, texting, iming with someone or having a skype conversation. all three of those are ways we're generating information, but they're also these moments of social interaction. >> host: is there a creepiness factor to all of this? >> guest: so the courtroom by question, it's a -- the creepy question, it's a great question because as somebody who uses a computer every day, we have certain expectations when we fire up our computers about who sees what we're doing, who we're sharing information with, and at any moment if the expectations i have, excuse me, at any moment if the expectations i have are shifted because i realize that there might be another party who sees what i'm doing, say, for example, if a message pops up
and asks if i would like some help making a purchase, there are certain lines that we don't know we've crossed them until it's too late. that's true for researchers, that's true for companies. there isn't a clear sense of what's creepy because that's so culturally specific. one person talking loudly on their cell phone in a park has no problem with somebody standing next to them on a bench and listening to that conversation. and at the same time, you can have someone who's trying to have a private conversation, and they will go to great lengths to go somewhere that's completely secluded. we're dealing with individuals' different preferences and experiences around privacy and their needs for that privacy. >> host: let's bring joe marks of "politico" into our conversation. >> thank you. professor, who is writing the rules of the road for what's appropriate in studying people online, and is there a difference for researchers and for private companies? facebook, for example, most
prominently got into some trouble recently by changing news feed results for certain people. >> guest: right. so the rules of the road for researchers are relatively clear, and i want to emphasize it's relative. right now we have u.s. federal guidelines, often called the common rule, that set up the expectations for dealing with what's called human subjects research. in all cases if a researcher like myself is doing anything that involves people whether it's dealing with data that they've already produced like an archive, a database of a response to surveys, for example, the expectation is that at some point if i was participating in that study, i was given some opportunity to say, yes, i would like my information used for this purpose. so we have really relatively clear guidelines for how to deal with the offline world, the challenge is that we've always been playing catch-up with what to do with the online world. these rules were written and put in place in the early '70s, so no one was thinking about how do
we deal with a skype call. that said, researchers at every university who do this kind of research are constantly working on what are the best practices, and that includes the ethical practices of how do you inform someone about the data that we might be looking at. i'll give you a really good example which is it's really common to think about discussion forums, say something that's like a google group, think of that as a public space because it's publicly visible, i don't have to sign up for an account. and at the same time, if somebody's participating in a google group -- let's say just an open group -- they may feel fine with that being open with the assumption that maybe i'm a fellow user of a particular group, say a a tennis group. i'm not necessarily in that moment when i'm posting to that group thinking, oh, somebody who's studying tennis is also collecting information. so in that moment am i actually interacting with somebody as a
researcher when i realize that discussion group and i collect all the discussion posts that are there? the it's a genuine question. we don't really know. and so we constantly have to be thinking, well, what might be the right questions to ask to figure out what's necessary in that space. one easy guideline as somebody who runs that online group posted something that say ises don't come here unless you're a member of this group. that's a really clear signal to a researcher that they should seek permission. but those kinds of clear messages are not always present. so as researchers have been working on how do i work with these different online environments, these social environments, we've had to continually boot strap ways of seeking consent, of doing follow-up if we need to debrief someone who might be part of a study. and especially when we're talking about a globally-distributed set of interlocutors who are coming
together in a group, it makes it even more complicated because it's not just the u.s.' rule. for companies, there -- i would argue -- already are a set of rules in place, and that's the federal trade commission's guidelines on good business practices. like, we have a very clear set of standards for what are the expectations a consumer has when they use a product. so i think what we could be talking about is let the rules right now that govern human subjects research for researchers like me at universities really drive how we have this conversation about what to do online and look at companies' involvement in doing testing, doing experimentation that has to do with product development, follow the guidelines that are in place for consumer rights. >> it seems as if the guidelines that are in place for consumer rights though aren't necessarily jibing with social media user expectations based on the facebook study.
how do you square that circle? >> guest: yeah. i think the biggest challenge is for both those companies to be exmissit and transparent about what it is they're doing as they try and develop their products. in most cases in -- any of the experimentation i know of, it's happening to improve a product. there are very few cases where someone is doing basic research in industry settings. my position at microsoft research is one of those exceptions. we have access to resources that are internal to a company, and that means i have to hold a higher bar for my research. in those cases if i'm researching a topic that's both really integral to general knowledge, to science, i think i have a clear mandate, and for me that clear mandate is the common rule or the rules that regulate human subjects research. in the cases of companies that are doing, doing any sort of experimentation -- and the word "experiment" is a bit charged -- doing anything that's studying
user activity, i think they have to be both clear about their intention of who benefits from that activity. if the individual consumer benefits from the activity by the improvement of their services, then i think there's room to be able to make sure that those experiments are done with the greatest awareness and courtesy and respect to the consumer. i think there are cases where we also have the challenge, to your point, that most consumers do not realize how much information is gathered about them. that, to me, is the gap we have to bridge. >> can you give some advice to a social media company that wanted to do an experiment like that to inform users appropriately, act appropriately in order to avoid the creepy factor? because so often product development when you're the product in a lot of these cases is how you interact with your friends, much more personal than buying a candy bar. >> guest: exactly. no, that's a really great point.
i think in many cases, in most of the cases there would be an opportunity beyond terms of service -- i don't think that's enough -- opportunities for companies to be able to say to a consumer before they've ever run an experiment, we'd really like to look at what you're doing for this reason and be clear about the reason and give somebody the opportunity to say i don't want to be part of that is study. i think there are other cases where the question would not be answerable if someone is asked would they like to participate, and usually in human subjects research we call that cases where there's a compromise that you need to have some amount of deception to be able to ask the research question. and deception in the sense of i need to be vague about why i'm asking you questions about whether or not you like to play tennis, for example. so in those cases, in all those cases it's not as though the company doesn't know how to reach you. so if a company wants to do the kind of study that involves not seeking consent at the front end, there's no good reason that they couldn't at the back end
after an experiment's been run send the note out and say, hey, just so you know, we were looking at your data to get a better sense of your experience of this particular part of our service or our goals of improving our service. and if you'd like your data removed from this experiment, let us know. it'd be very easy for them to remove that information. there are a lot of reasons given for why what's called a debriefing process wouldn't be possible. i don't buy it. i think there's plenty of opportunity here to do this in a way that respects consumers' autonomy and their right to be able to say i don't want to participate in something and to be able to say i don't want to participate even if it's for my own improvement of a service. >> you talk a little bit about what the value is in this large digital data set that we have? what can sociologists and anthropologists and psychologists learn about the world that they couldn't 30 years ago because of this? >> guest: yeah. this is so important because i think the hardest, the hard conversation we need to have is that we absolutely need to be
able to keep access to the interaction that's happening online precisely because so much of what we do as humans every day happens online. so the loss to the fields that try to understand human behavior, try to improve policies around support for marginalized communities -- that's a lot of my research -- we need to be able to study people's experiences of the world as many and more people's experiences of the world move to a digital environment, that's the impetus for us following people there. i think there'd be such a tremendous loss if we don't work out this question. >> you tell us some stories about that, about particular things that were learned? >> guest: yeah. a lot of my early research was as young people who are identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and particularly for young people in rural communities mostly the southeast, kentucky, tennessee,
west virginia. so being able to study and what i learned from studying their experiences of going online, i learned what were the limits of what they could get online that really meant they needed to advocate for resources in their home communities. early '90s to late '90s the story was the internet will solve everything, will be able to just get a broadband connection, then it was a dial-up connection, we'll have all the information we possibly need. that's not true. that has yet to be shown as the solution to social problems. so in my research -- and i think there are other examples of this, seeing the limits to what people can do with technologies and seeing what are the public resources that they need and private resources that they need to make up the difference, we can only learn if we're studying both parts of that puzzle, both the offline and online. >> now, what were your tools?
were you looking at google searches and things or sitting down with the kids? >> guest: i was sitting down with the kids. this was certainly before i had moved to microsoft research, and most of what i had access to -- and i think this is another issue in terms of the data that's available -- if it's a private company, i don't have access to those search logs, i don't have access to the back end. as a researcher at a university, what i did have access to were finding young people who were using digital media, and i did it two ways. i'm an anthropologist by training. i went to these communities, i found those kids. they're not actually that hard to find. and i talked with them and i said, you know, who are your friends who are afraid to come to these meetings that are using data connection. and i spent over a year doing that research which i think is what it takes which is probably why i'm so afraid of situations where if we just stay at the
surface level, at the god's eye view of what people are doing online, we both risk giving people the sense that it's creepy and i want to stay away from these worlds, but we also risk not being able to access those young people or those other communities through other means. >> host: well, professor gray, microsoft research is not a nonprofit. >> guest: no. >> host: i how does your research benefit a company such as microsoft? >> guest: i'm in a really exceptional and, i think, special environment because the expectation is that the research that i do -- and right now i'm studying digital labor, so, for example, the project i'm doing on crowd sourcing right now, the goal is that i will be able to do basic research, answer basic questions and that the contributions that i make to the scientific field will eventually
be able to show better technologies, better routes to what companies like microsoft might have the offer. so there isn't an expectation that i'm developing something specific, it's really a very old-fashioned, basic belief that basic science advances all of us including technology companies. >> host: well, so many people that are watching this are thinking, oh, my goodness, i clicked on this web site, and ads starts popping up. how pervasive is the big data. howhow much do companies, microsoft, etc., know about us? >> guest: i think being really precise here, they don't necessarily know about you as the individual. what they have is a picture in the aggregate of what are a population of people, a specific age, a specific time, a specific location doing. i think the challenge here is, yes, i don't think anybody can
deny this, there would always be a way to trace it back, trice that individual search query to them individually. i don't know any company that actually collects information in ways that make it easy to identify, a single individual in that aggregate picture. so when they're collecting data, they're really collecting it in bulk, you might say. it's anonymized, it's very difficult to get to that information because as somebody internal to the company, i have to appropriately go through a lot of gatekeepers who protect the privacy of individual users. none of these companies would exist if they were, if they were making it easy to access your private information. the challenge -- and i think this is part of the conversation -- is that most tech companies have only thought about the user's concern around privacy. so they've only taken up and are very good at safeguarding your social security number, your exact location.
they won't divulge that information. they work very hard to keep others from getting that information, and that's never bulletproof any more than somebody calling you at home and getting your social security number is not, that's not impossible either. but in all cases tech companies have put a lot of time into thinking about protecting your privacy, and that means that they don't know a lot about you as an individual that can be easily dished up. what they haven't had to think about is that you actually might care about your information being respected. you might not want to see an advertisement that's related to a recent instant message exchange that you just had. that's what they're trying to figure out now, what's a respectful way of dealing with information not just, not just a way of protecting your information. and i think that there's a lot of conversation about what that could look like, but yes, they know a lot about what all folks
using their systems are doing because they need to know that to improve their systems. that, i think, in terms of educating the general public, making it very clear to the general public that any effort to give them advertising that's tailored to them, any effort to make it easier for them to see tweets from one set of people instead of another set of people, all of that energy means i have to collect a lot of information about what you're doing. >> what's your sense of what's driving that online privacy and online respect for information conversation? because a lot of studies tend to show that people are very concerned about privacy if you want them to pay for gmail, they'll give up the privacy. good aggregate. >> guest: no, it's fascinating. so the pew research on internet and life just came out with a study not too long ago precisely about this, what are people willing to give up in terms of information online. most people's sense of what it
is they're protecting when they go online very much works from that privacy framework. we all tend to think about what do i worry about sharing as an individual. what we haven't thought that much about is what am i uncomfortable sharing about our exchange as two people or three people. so when i'm going online and i'm having a text exchange with, say, three other people, i'm not necessarily thinking about privacy in that moment. i'm with a group of people. in my mind, you know, i don't know if this is your experience, when i go online and i'm talking with a group of people, i'm not thinking about my individual privacy. i'm really thinking about our shared relationship in relation to the privacy or confidentiality of what we might be talking about. i might care deeply about keeping a conversation confidential like for the young people that i worked with. so i think the problem and the challenge is that right now we're thinking about privacy in kind of old-fashioned ways that have to do with, say, a social security number, a home address,
a location. and those are not necessarily the kinds of information that i might feel protective about when i'm thinking about the recent facebook study, when i'm thinking about what might feel intrusive about what a company's doing. i don't -- it's a moving target for both the people who are using these services in terms of the privacy that matters most, and it's a moving target for companies. >> host: and very quickly here, some of the pew top numbers. 80% in the study agree they're concerned with government tracking, 64% thinks that more should be done to regulate advertisers. 61% disagree that online is more efficient because of personal data sharing. but 55% are willing to share for free online services. 81% don't feel secure using social media. >> guest: oh, wow. i didn't remember that it was as
high as 81%. and i think that -- i want to circle back to something you'd asked about before. the education around what it is that's shared online is key here, because i think in most cases when people are thinking about their safety or their security online, they're becoming increasingly aware that the information that's being collected is not in all cases being collected to improve their experience of service. it's to sell them a product. i would argue we need to get to that place where we're not talking about a free service. it is not free. in exchange for a service, we are paying with the information that we put online. so with any of these services, it really comes down to being able to say is it worth it to me to be able to have this account if i know that advertising in the same way that, you know, a telemarketer could call me at home, that i'm giving up information that will be made available to those advertisers. that's the exchange. it's not free. >> that's an interesting point.
i wanted to -- i was curious when you talked about the monitoring the amount of information that's being gathered is focused largely on product improvement. there are cases where in industries, most prominently apple and google both offering end-to-end encryption for smartphones, where privacy has become the product improvement. it's what people are selling on. that hasn't happened in most things on the internet. why is that? >> guest: ing because i think a lot of the money that's made for internet-based services comes from advertising. for most of these companies, and i think microsoft is lucky. it's in the advantage position of not needing to rely on selling your information to be able to keep its business going. other companies that are primarily selling your information to be able to keep themselves alive, any company that's based on an advertising revenue model, they need you to keep giving information, to keep feeding it because the only
thing they can really profit on is selling your, not just your personal information, but your activity, your social information, selling that to an advertiser. so i think there are companies that if they have other products and they can in many ways sell privacy as a he cannily item which -- as a luxury item which i find something that we really need to discuss as a society, then they're going to have the advantage because they don't have ore lie on advertising -- they don't have to rely on advertising dollars. in cases where a company that ho rely on those advertising dollars, it doesn't have the luxury of saying i won't sell your information because that's what they have to sell. >> how is this going to change in the next 10 or 15 years as the internet of things develops? >> guest: yeah. >> perhaps ten more can be selling information about all of the junk food we take out of our fridge at night. >> guest: yes, absolutely. and i think that's why we have two roads. so the future will look like an
accelerated version of the selling of our personal and our social information, or it will be a path where we make decisions as consumers about what we want sold and what we don't. the internet of things presents a new set of opportunities to have that conversation, because you're right. as soon as you have, as soon as you have the capacity to collect information on any activity that you're doing, there's going to be a desire to get that information. so it's going to be up to, i think, the public to be able to say these are the expectations around transparency that i hold for companies that are trafficking, are selling my information. and unfortunately, until there's enough of a public expectation of both companies and researchers respecting their information, it's going to be a land grab. >> host: and finally, professor gray, joe asked about advice for companies, but what about advice for consumers? what would you advise to
consumers who feel a little creep factor here? >> guest: it's really tough right now, because i don't think consumers have very many options. they absolutely should and always will have options with researchers because they can always come back to us and say that's not okay with me. in all cases researchers need to be held accountable for their collecting of any information that involves human interaction. that's, that's made very clear. we have a mandate to do that. but in the cases of dealing with a company that might be collecting information and a consumer is trying to figure out exactly what kind of information, they're not given very many tools to figure that out. so the most i can imagine a consumer being able to do is really educating themselves on how much of their interactions are tracked to benefit a product and they need to decide are they willing to have that tracking. part of their experience online and to really get out of the
framework that it's free, because they are the product in that moment. it's not free. >> host: iu professor/microsoft researcher, mary gray, has been our quest. joe marks from "politico." >> c-span, created by america's cable companies 35 year ago and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. >> on wednesday a house science, space and technology subcommittee held a hearing to review the nation's deep space exploration programs and capabilities. witnesses included nasa associate administrator for human exploration and operations, bill gerstenmaier. he provided an update on the space launch system and orion programs. gao acquisition director, christina chaplain, provided an assessment of nasa funding needs regarding human space flight.
representative palazzo of mississippi chairs this hearing. this is just over an hour and a half. >> the subcommittee on space will come to order. good morning, welcome toed's hear -- to today's hearing. monitoring the development of the nation's deep space exploration capabilities. in front of you are packets containing the truth and testimony disclosure for today's witnesses. i recognize myself for five minutes for an opening statement. i would like to welcome everyone to our hearing and particularly our witnesses. thank you for your appearance here today. anyone who pays attention to the media at all is no doubt aware of the spectacular launch of the orion vehicle last week. i want to congratulate the entire team at nasa as well as lockheed martin for an outstanding test flight.
while we will hear about the preliminary results from this test, the scientists and engineers from nasa will continue to analyze the data for quite some time. i look forward to hearing more in the future. the successful test launch of orion demonstrates we are on the right track for sending humans back to the moon and mars within our lifetimes. across the nation people were watching with the same hope and pride that all americans had in the early days of our space program. and my congressional district children were bussed to the stennis space center to watch a live feed of the launch. events like this are what we need to inspire the next generation, and sos is a giant leap forward in making america the leader in space once again. it's beginning to produce tangible results. the nation can be proud of what was accomplished last week. it was certainly a job well done. the purpose of our hearing today is to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the space
launch system and orion programs. it is no secret that this committee is concerned that the support within nasa for the sls and orion is not matched by the administration. but its lack of commitment is somewhat puzzling, it is not at all surprising. the president has made clear he does not believe space exploration is a priority for the nation and has allowed political appointees to manipulate the course of our human space flight program. these decisions should be made by the scientists, engineers and program managers that have decades of experience in human space flight. as everyone here knows, this is not an easy field. we cannot ramp up capability or prepare for these missions overnight. space exploration requires a dedication to advanced preparation and research, and this committee and this congress are dedicated to supporting that requirement. the administration has consistently requested large reductions for these programs despite the the insistence of congress that they be
priorities. most recently the president's budget for fiscal 2015 included a request to reduce these programs by over $330 million. additionally, in the 2013, 2014, 2015 budget requests, the administration asked for reductions of $175 million, $87 million and $144 million respectively for the orion program relative to the enacted appropriations. had congress agreed to the request, orion and the sls would have incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in reductions and would likely face significant delays and mass layoffs. thankfully, congress listened to the program managers and industry partners to insure these programs were appropriately funded. congress has once again demonstrated support for the sls and orion by providing funding well above the president's budget request and omnibus for fiscal year 2015. while these priority programs may not enjoy support within the administration, they certainly do from congress.
let me be very clear. on my watch congress will not agree to gutting the sls program, not now, not anytime in the foreseeable future. the human exploration program at nasa has been plagued with instability from constantly-changing requirements, budgets and missions. we cannot change our program of record every time there's a new president. this committee is consistent and unwavering in its commitment to human exploration, a tradition that i appreciate and am confident will continue into the future. while this hearing is certainly an opportunity for us to celebrate the great progress of the sls and orion programs, particularly last week's test flight, the committee has ongoing concerns about the challenges facing these vital programs. in a letter to the nasa administrator, chairman smith and i expressed our concerns for delays on mission i that has been slatted for 2017, now potentially delayed until fiscal year 2018. the administration's letter back to the committee was strangely
unresponsive and did not inspire a lot of confidence in that is saw's -- nasa's ability to reach the timeline originally laid out. at the very least we need to know what are the true funding needs and schedule expectations for the development of the sls and orion program, and is nasa on track to meet these expectations? in addition to consistently submitting insufficient funding requests, the administration also appears to be limiting the usefulness of funding it does receive. for example, the administration's treatment of liability prevents hundreds of millions of dollars from being used for meaningful development workment also the committee has learned the administration has given direction to planned spending rates consistent with the president's budget requests instead of the higher continuing resolution level. combined, these efforts are undermining the successful development of these national prior deprograms. in a recent report titled space launch system, resources needed to be matched and requirements to support long-term
affordability, the government accountability office highlighted technical and schedule risks that nasa had not previously brought to the attention of the committee. specifically, gao states that, quote, according to the program's risk analysis, the agency's current funding plan may be 400 million short of what the program needs by 2017. it was surprising for the committee to hear about this shortfall since the administrator had previously testified that, quote: if we added 300 million to the sls program, you wouldn't know it. it is not unreasonable for congress to expect the administration to be straightforward about the risks and costs associated with national priority programs. as we look to continue pushing towards mars, we must talk honestly and realistically about these programs and what we can accomplish with them. we want to be partners moving forward, not competitors. unfortunately, the administration has simply not allowed for that cooperation. the test last week of orion was an important milestone in the future of america's space
program. it was a fully commercial mission, licensed by the federal aviation administration and conducted by private sector. in the future, orion and sls will serve as the tip of the spear for our nation's space exploration program. recently, some have argued that the government shouldn't be involved in space exploration at all and suggests that the private sector alone is capable of leading us into the cosmos. i certainly hope this will someday be possible, but right now space exploration requires government support. this is a worthwhile investment for the taxpayer and inspires the next generation of explorers to pursue science, technology, engineering and math, advances u.s. soft power and international relations, reinforces our air space industrial base, increases economic competitiveness and advances our national security interests. orion and sls, the vanguard of our nation's space program, are key to advancing these interests. i look forward to hearing from mr. gerstenmaier and
ms. chaplain today about the challenges and opportunities facing these important programs. i know recognize the ranking member from maryland, ms. edwards. finish. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and good morning and welcome to our witnesses. i want to join chairman palazzo in congratulating nasa, lockheed, united launch alliance and the entire government and contractor team on successfully conducting the exploration flight test, eft-1, of the orion capsule last week. i think it was truly exciting, and i know around the country and around the world there were many of us looking on television for the first time in a long time at a u.s. space program that really is very forward-looking. the flight subjected orion and its systems to the rigors of outer space beyond low earth orbit to test key systems, verify the design, reduce technical risks and test recover about operations. mr. chairman, i believe the test flight shows americans that
tangible progress is, in fact, being made on returning humans to exploration beyond our earth's neighborhood and a goal that this committee and the congress as a whole have embraced through multiple nasa authorization acts despite some of the challenges that the chairman laid out. i would also note that i think we were in this hearing room just three years ago wondering whether orion was really going to be possible or not, and i think that we have addressed that question in what is a remarkably short period of time. and so while i look forward to looking at the challenges and talking on some of those challenges, i don't want us to lose sight of the fact that we have great capacity and that the american people can get greatly excited by that and i think then lead those of us who are the policymakers to do the right thing when it comes to robustly funding our exploration program. the development of the space
launch system, sls and the orion crew vehicle are necessary next steps in reaching our goals for human space exploration including the long-term goal of sending humans to the surface of mars as stated in our bipartisan, house-passed nasa authorization act of 2014. and so i also thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing so we can obtain an update on the status of the sls and orion programs. and it was, indeed, just those three years ago that we sat in this room, and we were pressing nasa for a decision on a final design of the sls rocket. there was great debate between the administration and this committee and the congress. and i think today we're going to hear of the program's approval to enter into the full-scale development as some of us had envisioned. this is, indeed, a significant accomplishment even in the midst of major challenges, especially those related to constrained budgets.
very often congress has been supportive of sls/orion and has appropriated funding above the president's request, as the chairman has indicated. i don't know that i necessarily share the chairman's view about where all the faults lie. however, the programs have been challenged by the flat funding levels provided for sls and orion over the past year, a situation that departs significantly from the typical funding growth profiles of major development programs. and that's why we recognize the critical need to authorize a robust, top line funding level for nasa in the 2013 democratic nasa authorization bill that included healthy increases for the exploration program. the national academies committee, in fact, recently released its report on human space exploration and also recognized that sending humans to the surface of mars would include and require sustained increases. they said, and i quote: increasing nasa's budget to allow increasing the human space
flight budget by 5% per year would enable pathways with potentially viable mission rates, greatly reducing technical, cost and scheduled risk, end quote. so, mr. chairman, we can work together to overcome these challenges, and as we work over this next congress to reauthorize nasa, i look forward to working with you to insure that this committee authorizes the appropriations that the sls and orion programs require to achieve the expeditious development and testing of these vehicles for use at the earliest possible date and that we obtain a human exploration road map to focus the sls and orion systems on long-term mission goals. because when i see the excitement of the fti test flight as demonstrated by the flight's coverage as a leading media story -- i think, in fact, it did lead the broadcast news -- i'm reminded that the sls and orion programs really do belong to the american public and that they will, in fact,
embrace them. we need to honor this first of exploration. and finally, though the 113th congress is rapidly drawing to a close, i encourage our colleagues in the senate to seek quick passage of the house-passed nasa authorization act of 2014 so that nasa and its industry contractors, all of them, have the direction and stability needed to plan for continued progress. and then finally, i will just reiterate what i have said many times before, and that is we cannot have one set of goals for nasa and for our human exploration programs and then not match those goals with the resources that are required to commit to the work on a timely basis. it's unfair to the agency, it's unfair to contractors, and it is a false expectation for the public. and with that i yield back, and i look forward to hearing the testimony today. >> thank you, ms. edwards. i now recognize the chairman of
the full committee, chairman smith. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and first, i want to congratulate bill gerstenmaier and those at nasa and also at lockheed martin and united launch alliance who i see are represented in the room today on a spectacular flight test last week of the orion crew vehicle. i know a lot of hard work went into making that test flight successful. at a fundamental level, space exploration -- the mission of nasa -- is about inspiration. this inspiration fuels our desire to push boundaries of what is possible and to reach beyond our own pale blue dot. the successful orion launch last week is one step in a long journey. the purpose of today's hearing is simple, we wish to send a loud and clear message that space exploration is nasa's number one priority. and last week's test flight demonstrated many firsts. we're also here to insure the next steps in this long journey are on track and will be just as
successful. there is bipartisan support within congress that nasa stay on track with the orion crew vehicle and space launch system including the omnibus appropriations bill that we plan to vote on tomorrow. the orion and sls are essential elements to eventually travel beyond low earth orbit. the omnibus appropriations bill, made public last night, is the latest example of congressional support for these programs. funded well above the president's budget request, the sls and orion are receiving the resources they need to insure their success. fortune favors the bold. last week's test flight was necessary to answer the naysayers and critics who claim that america's best days on the frontier of space are behind us. last week's mission answered those critics. the apollo program demonstrated that we could reach the moon, and orion and sls will insure
america continues a sustained series of missions as a space-faring nation for years to come. the technologies exemplify our greatest breakthroughs and demonstrate american ingenuity. we must continue to push forward. great nations do great things. everyone in today's hearing wants to insure that the first flag flying on the surface of mars is planted by an american astronaut. and they will have arrived there onboard an orion crew vehicle propelled by the space launch system. let's work together to make that happen. thank you, mr. chairman, and i'll yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. if there are members who wish to submit additional opening statements, your statements will be added to the record at this point. before i introduce our witnesses, i would be remisif i did not -- remiss if i did not point out we are missing one this morning. the cfo or his december knee was -- designee was invited to
answer questions. unfortunately, despite numerous invitations and attempts to secure his attendance, the administration refused to make him available. mr. razz now sky holds a senate-confirmed position at nasa and is obliged to testify before the agency's oversight committees. we are aware of the many demands on his schedule, and for that reason the committee was willing to allow any other employee from the cfo's office to appear. unfortunately, nasa prohibited any other cfo representative from appearing today. this is unfortunate because mr. gerstenmaier may not be the appropriate person at nasa to explain many of the policies and prangses being -- practices being advanced by the cfo's office. i look forward to the witness' appearance in the near future to answer our questions. at this time i'd like to introduce our witnesses. our first witness is mr. bill gerstenmaier who started with nasa in 1977 as a researcher on
aeronautics. today he is associate administrator for the mission directorate at nasa headquarters here in washington d.c. mr. gerstenmaier has received many awards for his work on space exploration, including the distinguished executive presidential rank award, the national space brawn award, the space transportation leadership award and several nasa awards. he received a bachelor of science from purdue university and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering for the university of toledo. our second witness, ms. christina chaplain, has been a u.s. government accountability office employee for 23 years and currently serves as director of acquisition and sourcing management at gao. in this capacity she is responsible for gao assessments of military space acquisitions and nasa. she has led reviews of the space launch system, the international space station and the james webb space telescope, among others. ms. chaplain worked with gao's
information technology teams. she received her bachelor's in international relations from boston university and a master's degree in journalism from columbia university. thank you again to our witnesses for being here to do. as our witnesses should know, spoken testimony is limited to fife minutes each after which members of the committee will have five minutes each to ask ask questions. i now recognize mr. gerstenmaier for five minutes to present his testimony. >> thank you very much for having me here. i'd like to, again, thank you on behalf of the entire team that works in the exploration program, and i'd like to start off my testimony with some videos and pictures that we provided earlier. these videos and images capture the work that's been accomplished in the exploration program, and i'll narrate some of the video as it's shown. so if we could start the video, please. again, the program is made up of three major components; ground systems operations down in florida which is preparing the launch site. these are the images that you're
seeing here on the screen. again, the purpose of this video is to show you how much work is actually being accomplished kind of behind the scenes. you can see the launch, but you don't often get a chance to see all the work occurring at the various field centers and various areas that are making these things happen. this is the delta 4, there are some delta 4 images showing up at the kennedy space center. this is the fabrication and manufacturing of the orion launch on the eft test flight. again, you get to see technicians, the folks at the various centers working to make all this activity happen. it's not only in florida, but it's also in houston where the control center team got to monitor the capsule, actually send some commands to the capsule. there was a team in florida that also monitored the launch, so they got to participate in that activity and participate in the orion capsule activity. again, you can see the capsule coming together. some of the hardware came from the marshall space flight center. it was manufactured between the
delta 4 rocket and the orion capsule came from the marshall space flight center. is, again, i would say this is an entire nasa team coming together to make this happen. this is some work at the, again, in florida preparing for the capsule and also down at the assembly facility where the sls will be put together. i think you were there for the vertical assembly weld center that got put together that will manufacture large external tanks. that activity is occurring. there's several sections already to be test welded next january, in about a month. that's moved forward. also the test was substantial amount of tests occurred before the test to make sure the parachute systems would work, we're preparing for the future exploration activities to look at the asteroid redirect mission and how you can see some of the work of actually transporting the capsule out to the launch pad to be integrated eventually with the delta 4 rocket. again, i think the important
takeaway there all these messages is there's a tremendous amount of work going on. it's being accomplished pretty much on schedule. there's challenges through this work. it is not easy work. the teams are very dedicated, they're working very hard to make things occur, and i think the results of the test flight show evidence that we're making significant and substantial progress as we've move forward. the next video that's getting queued up now is the actual video from the test flight. many of you got to either see it in person or on television. again, i'll describe some of the activities that occurred there. and, again, the point here is that this test flight didn't come about just as a happenstance. there was lots of preparation before. we did many drop tests of the parachute systems, many recovery activities. we've done the board system testing down at white sands earlier. again, to verify and make sure that when we took this test, we were ready to go down this test. so we didn't have all the questions answered. there were still significant
risks with this test. there were still things we could not test in any other environment other than the test flight, but test flight confirmed that those other pieces -- at least first look -- fit well, and we understand the data and things look very good from an overall standpoint. again, a lot of folks got to witness this. it was exciting to see people show up in florida to be there. as you talked about in some of your opening remarks, the encouragement to the science, technology, engineering and math students is really strong. to interact with many of the students down in florida was really exciting for me, to see their enthusiasm to move forward. this is the actual launch activity that up at the top was unique to rye on. that was added by united launch alliance just specifically for this light. that umbilical did not exist on the delta 4 lawn. again, the launch went extremely well. the vehicle gave us a great ride to space, injected the capsule exactly where it needed to be, did all the activities to
accelerate the vehicle to the right entry conditions. all of that worked extremely well, and it edge really, really flawlessly. in terms of kind of first or results from the test, nothing major was really learned. one of the video processing units had to be recycled, most likely caused by a radiation event, so we got to understand the radiation environment that the capsule will fly through. the heat shield looks in very good shape. as we returned, we removed some plugs from the heat shield out in california yesterday. the cap suggest is about ready to get on a truck to head towards florida for more detailed evaluation, and all the data has come off the capsule. the imimagines at ape are pretty impressive. more important was where you see it through a window where someday a crew will be, it makes that tie between the human and robotic space flight even stronger.
this was the capsule floating in the water. we expected to see five airbags deployed, and in this situation we see two. there's something that didn't work in that system. we know the pressure came out of the system, and we'll understand what occurred. but again, overall, just a tremendous testimony to the work that the program has put together, and i look forward to your questions as we move forward in this activity, so thank you. >> thank you. i now recognize ms. chaplain for five minutes to present her testimony. >> chairman palazzo, ranking member edwards, chairman smith and members of the subcommittee, before i begin i would like to congratulate nasa on the successful test. it, indeed, does help demonstrate the design and technologies and is an important event. as you know, we have recently reviewed preliminary cost estimates for the systems being discussed today. we performed an in-depth review of the space launch system, and we've been covering the orion program for our annual assessment of nasa's major
programs. in conducting this work, at the time we reviewed sls the program was approaching a critical milestone known as kdpc where it makes formal commitments to the congress in the form of cost and schedule baselines. this gate represents the point at which a program begins full scale efforts to fabricate the space system and the point at which technical and/or funding programs can have widespread effects. we found sls was generally doing a good job at keeping requirements stable and putting a high priority on quality. the program was also acting to manage costs, however, it did take longer than recommended to defintize contracts which can create conditions for cost growth. the programs still face inherent engineering risks, but it was actively managing them in a transparent fashion. however, the program still faced a resource gap in that the agency's funding plan for sls
was insufficient to match requirements to resources for the december 2017 flight test at a high confidence level. the agency's options were largely limited to increasing program funding, delaying the schedule or accepting the reduced confidence level for the initial flight test. the sls program calculated the risks associated with insufficient funding through 2017 as 90% likely to occur. further, it indicated the insufficient budget could push the december 2017 launch date out six months and add some $400 million to the overall cost of development. after our report was issued when nasa established formal baselines for sls, nasa committed to a launch readiness date of 2018 so that it could have more confidence in meeting this date. in our opinion this was a good step as nasa still has low confidence, 30%, that it can meet the earlier date. going forward, we have short and
long-term concerns about nasa's human space exploration programs. in the short term, the programs are entering the most risky phases of development. there's still technical hurdles particularly with the orion spacecraft which is addressing challenges with the parachute system and heat shield among others. there's also still considerable development and testing ahead for orion in terms of the human support systems. meanwhile, sls is continuing to pursue the earlier launch date of december 2017. while nasa's urgency is understandable, the schedule for achieving the earlier date -- mostly with respect to the core stage -- is very aggressive. there's little room to address problems. moreover, it does not appear that orion on a ground system can achieve the earlier date. in the long term, we have concerns about the cost estimating for human space exploration programs. nasa's only produced estimates for sls and the ground system through the first flight test and for orion through the second
flight test. there will still be significant development ahead for sls after the first flight and significant operations and sustainment costs for all three programs. moreover, there's still uncertainty about missions that will be undertaken after the second test. without knowing the missions formally, nasa's limited in its ability to plan for the future and is at risk for making choices today that will not make sense later. affordability for the long haul is a real issue and one this subcommittee has already had hearings on, but to garner the long-term commitment from the congress and taxpayers that is needed to make this program a success, we need transparent and realistic efforts about the resources that will be needed to achieve humans' goals for space exploration. thank you, this concludes my statement. i'm happy to answer any questions you have. >> i thank the witnesses for their testimony and remind the members that committee rules limit questioning to five minutes. the chair will at this point open the round of questioning.
the chair recognizes himself for five minutes. mr. gerstenmaier, in the written testimony provided by gao, ms. chaplain states that gao found that nasa's proposed funding levels had affected the sls program. the sls program ability to match requirements to resources since its inception. gao also reported that the sls program is tracking a $400 million shortfall in funding as its most significant risk. nasa officials have testified multiple times before this committee that the president's budget request was sufficient to keep the sls and orion on budget and on schedule. i realize this is a tough question for you to answer because you have to defend the president's budget request, but congress is ultimately responsible for funding this program and insuring taxpayer dollars are efficiently spent. ..
we've kind of kept both plans in place. so if we take the funds had been given by congress and use those and an effective and and hold the earliest launch date we can potentially hold, moving forward. we need to be aware of the concerns gao brought up to make sure we don't overly pressure that schedule and try to work 2002 things that end up in wasting the funds are wasting of resources. our current plan, we were
holding december 2017, we have now moved off of that date and be somewhere in 2018 timeframe now with her current planning. that's just based on the reality of problems that come along in the program and some uncertainty in funding. we will move a little bit into problem with our planning dates into i would say maybe june timeframe of 2018 and that's still is our commitment consistent with the budget level of november 2018. it's consistent with the president's budget request. i would say we're managing in this kind of interesting environment where we get different funding levels. the teams are making tremendous technical progress. sls is intruding into one of the more critical places where they go into manufacture of hardware. we will see how that goes over the next couple of months in january, february and march. we have been able to balance the budget needs with over all too tried to deliver a program as effectively as we can for the nation and for the congress.
>> this chaplain, gao has never in the past that the sls and orion programs did not have integrated schedules for developers and launch. how is nasa currently managing the schedules for these two programs so they will launch not just on time but at the same time? >> at present there are still different dates in the final launches. and orion is tbd, ma you could say right now because they're about to go into the process where you look at the resources, their schedules and they set a launch date. at the time it does not look like they could make 2017, and 2018 is even a challenge in and of itself. we look forward to seeing what that date really is, and then out to the dates of the of the programs aligned. it's important to plan for a single date as early as you can so you can align tasks appropriate to meet that date. you don't unnecessarily spend resources trying to meet dates
that other people or other systems can't meet. so we'll have to see what happens after that -- after this next cycle for orion and see how all the dates shakeout. >> i now recognize ms. edwards. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and again, thank you for the testimony. mr. gerstenmaier, we've all recognize the resources for orion as well as programs have been constrained, and i think we can acknowledge as well that the budget are not optimal for carry out major development programs like orion and sls. i am impressed with how much progress has been made on these programs given these constraints. and as you know the committee has had the goal of having sls and write operational at the earliest possible date. you indicated that but you've also indicated slippage based on the budget constraint. we are going to be authorizing
nasa again, well, we authorizing next year, so i want to understand what the edition progress could be made on the sls and orion program if we were to authorize additional resources. and whether or not the impact on the exploration programs, whether there would be any impact if there were information increases as recommended by the national academies report of 5% increase, say. and what a sustained increase of this kind of magnitude be sufficient to accelerate the progress that you described for projecting launch dates for en one and two, or would only be enough to reduce the risk of those dates being pushed even further to the right? i guess i'm trying to figure out what would get us back to a 2017 target? you indicate it's not just resources but, you know, even
this chaplain acknowledges that the 2018 dates are at risk as well because of the uncertainty around budget constraints. >> one thing that could be very helpful is to get some stability and understanding what the budget is. it's difficult for the programs to plan for potentially want to be a congressional budget of versus the administration budget, to get some agreement between the administered in congress so we know what the plan for in terms of budget would be helpful to us over all. as well as the absolute level. in terms of the technical work, again i think we really probably moved off of december 2017 when i look at the work. so i don't think funding will pull us back to that date. i also respectfully have a difference of opinion with the gao. i think it's fine to complete one of these programs ahead of the others. they don't need to all synced up at exactly the same time. if you think about when you take
a vehicle to launch down at the kennedy space center, typically the rocket is ready to go while before the payload is, and the payload comes later. it's too artificial of some difference in schedules between those. i think as a less coming first having the ground systems ready in florida and then orion showing up in third place is perfectly fine. it's not going to waste resources on the em one is complete its sls ready to go flight we are beginning to work on the next core for the second flight of sls. so that workforce will transition immunity from the em one activity to em to make. there's not any doubt all these programs sink up. i think we need to be careful and think about that. up for the extra constraint and where have to sink all the programs of have to sink all these programs other much i'll be scheduled. i think the put another burden in the can make and inefficiency. so again i think again from a technical standpoint we are probably in 2018 somewhere with sls in the first part with the funding levels we have seen, made a commitment and the kgb see activity in ground ops is in
june of 20 team with our commitment and we're in the process of doing the all right evaluation now, pick a date for orion. >> some have criticized the sls and orion program as a rocket and spacecraft without the nation. we have set a long-term goal of the house passed nasa authorization act for 20 working of sending humans to mars, and we need a roadmap from nasa the best way to get there and he seems to me that now is the time for that. what role do you see sls and orion have been reaching that goal and when will we have a strategy for getting there? >> i think both sls and orion played a key role in the strategy described. sls is the heavy lift launch vehicle is can we get that kind of ability to launch that much mass to go to a mars class mission to orion will have to return similar to what you saw at a flight test can hire from a
lunar return velocities which most capsules have not. so those two components are really critical to our margin strategy. there's others that need to be added, habitation module and we're using space station today to buy down risk on the human performance and how well systems were. i think it was talked about the life-support system over ryan. it's being tested on space station today. we are getting a chance to see how the operations were onboard space station. we can use all the space to continue to advance us toward smart but i don't think there's any question that these two pieces fit squarely in any plan for mars activity. >> so we should just set aside the criticism, right? >> yes. >> thank you. >> i now recognize mr. burr einstein from oklahoma. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for your leadership on this very important committee. thank you to our witness of providing testimony today. it's an honor to be with you and certainly hear your testimony.
jean stern was the last man to walk on the moon. he took off the moon december 17, 1972, 3 years before i was born. he was a naval aviator, a naval officer. he was an aeronautical engineer, an electrical engineer, a fight about, a test pilot and an astronaut. he and so many others that accomplished that feat never went back to the moon. i think that is a tragedy and certainly something that this committee needs to be aware. it hasn't happened in my lifetime to my parents remember exactly where they were the first time it happened with neil armstrong and buzz aldrin. this committee before i got here, and certainly congress as a whole commission report that
cost $3.2 million. they spent 18 months. it was a group of individuals led by governor mitch daniels, and they came up with the report which is called pathways to exploration, and one thing that i thought was telling in this report is the talk about a horizon goal. what is the horizon coal for nasa? their verizon goal, according to them, nasa's horizon goal ought to be mars. and, of course, there are steppingstones, pathways to get to land a human on mars and bring humans home from mars. and indirectly it says the current program to develop launch vehicles for space craft for flight beyond leo cannot provide the flight frequency required to maintain competence and safety. let me read that again. cannot provide the flight frequency required to maintain competence and safety.
i took a trip down to houston. i visited the johnson space center. i talk to them about sls. of course, everybody was looking forward to the first launch. it was going to be december of 2017. now we are doing 20 team. what was interesting is what the poll on launch after that was going to be. it was going to be a human launch in 2021. my initial reaction as a navy pilot, remember, gene cernan and these guys inspired a guy like me. even though i hadn't been born yet i read about these folks. they became heroes of mine. and inspired a guy like me to join the training navy to become a pilot. it was aspiration. this is the kind of benefit this has to the united states of america. they said 2017 would be the first launch, 20 team could be what it slips to. and ultimately we are going to launch a manned orion mission in 2021. it would appear that would have to flip as well. my initial reaction is we're going to go for years without a
launch. then we'll put men in a vehicle, and women and send them into space. my question for you, mr. gerstenmaier, sorry. i lived with the same problem. my question for you is the agree with this assessment that current programs to the launch vehicles and spacecraft for flight beyond leo cannot provide the flight frequency required to maintain competence in space, the you agree with that? >> we are looking very closely at those concerns. first of all, i would say that the fact that the m1 has moved into 18 doesn't mean that the m2 has moved also. we'll continue to look at ways of holding the. we can look at ways of building a system that we can fly repeatedly and fly a reasonable cost. we still owe answers to gao on
those activities. our goal is once we flight crew in 21 we would like to fly roughly flight rate of about once per year. we are off analyzing that once per year flight rate to see if you can achieve that within our budgets and we think does that provide in a frequency of light that answers those safety concerns, and we are off analyzing both of those activities right now. our intent would be to take this period between the first unproved flight of orion two deep space on the sls and in the second flight with crew and follow that with flight roughly one flight per year after that. >> you agree the horizon goal of the united states to be landing humans on mars? >> yes here in the way w we seet as messy as we see three phases. there's what we call the earth reliant region which is space station which we use today to test out systems like i describe. we understand how the human body performs in microgravity.
we will do when your expedition make sure with crew members to see that the human can tolerate that kind of duration in microgravity to go to mars. then receive the next region of space, the proving ground and region of space. that's around them and. that's where we are now days away from return. we can test the systems can look at orbital mechanics, see deep space radiation. we can do rendezvous without communications to the ground. we can verify and validate the concept that will be need to take us eventually to mars. the last phase is are the independence or the mars ready phase, and that's this goal you describe. we think we can have a macro level an orderly process beginning and low or the orbit and eventually moving on to the mars class mission. >> mr. chairman, if you entertained for a few seconds you, i would like to ask one last question which is, the report here that we commission, $3.2 million scum 18 months, a lot of experts, they indicate that given our flat funding for the human space flight director,
that we are not going to publish the mission of getting to mars. given where we are with flat funding do you agree with that assessment? >> we are going to need some funding level above the flat funding. >> would you be willing to come back and provide us what kind of funding level is necessary in order to publish the object of? >> we can provide that and we can take that for the record and describe it to you. it's going to be a function of the timeframe and the timeframe is driven not only by the funding requirement but it's also by have we gained enough experience come have a bought down in a technical risk, are we ready to take that next step. so there's several components. there's more than just a budget discussion. there's also the technical speed and the assurance of what we can learn during this period moving forward. >> and that would require more flight frequency and what we are currently getting? >> tentatively, yes. >> the gentleman's time has expired.
we may have a second round. >> thank you, sir. >> at this time a recognize this bone in a cheap for five minutes, or six or seven. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and thank you so much to the witnesses for being here today. it's pretty exciting time for the u.s. space program. i know my colleagues and i all watched the orion test launch with great interest an that i wt to also join my colleagues to congratulate nasa and united launch alliance, and it prohibits a state in this test flight. i heard from so my constituents are really applauded applauded this, saw this as a big step in our leadership in space. and that comes as welcome news as we're trying to inspire and spark interest in the next generation of young scientists. in our previous space subcommittee hearings we talked about the challenges communicating the importance of nasa's work and mission to our
constituencies who support the mission with her hard earned tax dollars. as mr. bridenstine was saying, we have a lot of people who were inspired from looking back to the apollo missions in the moon landing. but that public outrage is really important, and i noticed that you gave us a publication here that coming takes the country, a talk to all the places across the country with the parts and pieces were supplied and purchased. and that shows a broad range of states and businesses i'm sure that participate in that. that kind of thing is important to convince our constituents of the importance, economically as well. i want to make sure mr. bridenstine saw that congressman onboard picture in this publication, too. you have some of our congressmen pictured in there. also, i know that the budget challenges, the lack of certainty is there very important. and, ma mr. gerstenmaier, you talked about the need for
stability. and its surface of the we talk about here on a regular basis, that that certainty in decision-making is, and long-term thinking, is so important, especially more so for nasa than perhaps many of the other decisions that we make you. and also we know about the importance of safety. acknowledging as we all know that space exploration and balls risk. there are safety concerns, and i know that nasa does a lot to address those. so mr. gerstenmaier, some have said that updating the orion with the necessary life-support equipment on the first crews mission will cause the spacecraft to be overweight. so should we be concerned about that? what options does nasa have to mitigate this possibility? >> if the flight test that we just flew, the next light of
orion will be significantly lighter. we have done a major redesign of some of the structures to actually lower the weight of orion. that wasn't easy to make those changes, but they attend a. we also are starting as i described earlier testing some of the systems on board so we'll know how much they will way and some of the systems are in place. site think we have a sound approach to address the concerns that you raised. we know what it would take to at the life-support system and we will make sure it can be added and still not exceed the mission weight. >> and also mr. gerstenmaier, i want to follow up on your response to ms. edwards question. we can focus on the sls and orion limited to exploration program, i want to talk more about the ground infrastructure at the space center which is also undergoing some significant development to support the sol's and orion logic i noticed an work on the bubble logic, qatar, the vehicle assembly building, the launch pad 39 b. under way. what does that ground
infrastructure work stand russia to the road with -- progress being made on sls and orion? are the insync so they will be read at the same time? >> again i can do so in the a lot of activity that's going on down in florida. that work is in progress. we completed the review for ground systems and it shows 70% confidence love for the equipment to be read in florida to thwart a launched and i think june 2018. it's on schedule to move forward. dennis johnson finish the work as well. i would stress ioc all these activities have to light a. even if sls is ready, although the earlier underground system isn't fully there. it's still right thing to do to move the rocket down to florida and began checking out the interfaces to see how it's going to fit with the launch charges that we will fit with the launch. that still fishermen overall schedule standpoints was not a disconnect in the schedule. even though they don't come everything does arrive precisely the same time.
demonstrated by the house passed nasa authorization of 2014, there's a strong sentiment for nasa to have a policy on termination liability that maximizes the use of appropriated funds to make progress in meeting those technical goals and schedule milestones. how is nasa currently handling potential termination liability for sls and orion? >> it's actually not a nasa policy. we believe it's part of the anti-defamation act where the termination liability is required by all agencies to be handled in a similar manner to which the agency does. that's where we are, so it's not unique to nasa and geneva ii what we've done in the past. >> thank you very much, and i yield back. thank you, mr. chairman. >> not recognize mr. rohrabacher from california. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and thank you folding
this hearing. it's vitally important we have a responsible oversight of the very does nasa projects that are the responsibility of this subcommittee. many of us were very skeptical about this sls commitment when it was made. said there would be funding problems. i had no idea the funding problems would come on so quickly. sir, you noted you said the funding levels now are interesting. interesting? they are not interesting. they are insufficient. insufficient to reach your goals. why? because we didn't have enough money for this project to begin with. am i correct in assuming that there are large commitments of the finances that will be necessary to develop other technologies that are yet to be developed for this spacecraft,
for the sls to move forward on its mission to mars? we don't even know if those expensive technology development projects will succeed. to say we have the cart before the horse is an understatement. there is an expense to this, and i hope my colleagues on this subcommittee understand that with a $10 billion, that's a minimal expenditure we're talking about, in developing this monstrous rocket project that won't have a real mission until we're ready to go to mars, which could be two decades, or three decades from now, depending on if we can ever get over the technological hurdles that we haven't gotten over yet, that by doing that we have committed ourselves not to do a bunch of other things. not to identify all the near-earth objects it could be hitting the earth and murdering millions of people from some object hitting the earth, much
less setting up a system for how we can deflect a near-earth object. we are not going to have that because we will have a big, huge rocket we can be so proud of it won't even have a mission for two decades. we will not be building ways to deflect those rocks. we will not be building away and technology developing ways, mr. chairman, to clear space of debris. space debris will end up strangling a humankind involvement in space in order to improve the condition of human beings, which is a good investment to make. not investment and huge rocket that doesn't have a mission for 20 years. we basically have canceled just even recently we have canceled the solar cell project. we are not going to have a refueling system in space that could incredibly increase our abilities to do things in space. basically we could also be perfecting our ways of repairing satellites. all of these things are going to
be defunded because we're spending billions of dollars on a rocket that may not fly to mars two decades from now. as i say, this is putting the cart before the horse, isn't understood that i've ever heard to we are already having budget crisis talks about it right now. what you were telling us today is that things are going to work out with the budget we've got. it's not just interesting. it's insufficient to achieve the goal. even if we do them, pump more money into the sls project, we have a pumped it into a project that is providing a rocket that is useless to us for two decades. as compared to all those other things that could be done in space. mr. chairman, we need to be serious, responsible. we should not be blaming the people at nasa and our professionals in the executive branch. we made a wrong decision when we
went down this road, and i think that unfortunately the american people and the people of the world are going to pay for it, not just out of the pockets with money but out of things we could've been doing in space a could've been so beneficial to the human race. with that, and i guess you have 30 seconds to answer that. but go right ahead. is there anything you have for that observation? please feel free. my feelings won't be hurt. >> my only comment would be, we don't have very, i ca can't thik of any real major technical challenges in terms of sls development. >> how about radiation challenge going to mars? have we met that? >> we have not met that. >> we have a whole bunch of those type -- i'm not talking of the challenges of developing the sls. i'm talking about the challenges of once we have it and we spend those billions of dollars, whether it's going to be able to go to a mission which is it is
supposed before. we don't how we will land on one of those moons of mars yet, do we? we don't have the exact system setup how much that is going to cost us to develop and had everybody put on a rocket. we have a list of these technological achievements that are necessary for this rocket to have been useful in any way. we are not even halfway there. >> please feel free. >> the only other thing i would add is we're doing some activity in as you described, onboard space station. we have a refueling demonstration package on the board outside the space station where we have robotically serviced outside of a satellite and transferred some propeller back and forth. we are looking at cryogenic servicing of station. is a package board the station. >> those are the good things. >> we have a laughter propulsion as part of the redirect mission and also looking at techniques for we can use a tractor to deflect some asteroids. >> wonderful but let me note all of those projects were financed
in budgets before the sls became part of our budget. all of those things you said we are not testing, they were done in research and you don't mistake long before we started taking all of her money out to put it in one big rocket. we don't even know, do we, whether we'll have the money to finish all those projects that you just talked about in development. this is now at $10 billion, and by al all of the experience we'e had, it's likely to go up to double that by the time we finish with this rocket. isaac finish. that's just when the rocket is ready to take off for the first time. this was a rotten decision on the part of this committee. it's not your fault. you are good soldiers and you're doing your very best with what the members of congress are giving you. we have given you an undoable task. and thank you very much for your hard work. >> i now recognize mr. pozen.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm glad that didn't stop apollo. we are all excited about the orion lodge, transported think we're seeing more public awareness. as well as now and that's something we all look forward to. can you take a moment following up on congressman, and to discuss the importance of another special aspect, the sla program and that's the exploration ground system, on time. i'm sure many folks are not up to speed on the importance of the ground systems aspects of the sls. >> the ground systems team play a critical role in the space launch system. they're working on the mobile launch platform to interface with the rocket to provide propellant to kill the rocket and they will launch off of the. they're working on a launch pad and a significant amount of work has gone into the bed. we have looked forward to trying to lower our operations costs. there's many activities on the launch pad. it's a clean path which should
help lower cost. we have the fire center at kennedy space center. a lot of activities there. we've also made the launch pad a multipurpose launch pads they cannot our support sls but it can support of the rocket so that fiber cables that run up to the launch pad can support multiple distant multiple rockets launching up that pen. there's a gym is amount of work going on at the kennedy space center. the recovery activities that occurred for the eft-1 flight, those are all managed out of the candy flights and by the ground system folks that work with the navy and the anchorage to pick up the council. so again, the ground support activities and as you find a good you are absolutely critical to what we're doing with heavy lift launch vehicle and the orion processing and manufacturing. >> thank you. following up a little bit, can you explain the thinking by the president's budget request, calling for funding come increases for exploration ground system in the years, 2016-2019?
and what happens if these funding targets are not met? >> again, we need the funding levels that we've requested to be the schedules that we have put forward, or there will be slippages inactivity. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> i now recognize mr. brooks. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as you can discern from the comments, representative edwards and mr. rohrabacher, the nation for sls and orion is certainly a concern for this committee and for congress as a whole. mr. gerstenmaier, it seems you are uniquely situated as associate administrator for human exploration operations to answer some of these questions about sls's mission. it is one thing for us to test whether sls and orion components work.
it is another thing to actually get sls and orion a substantive, a real mission. such as going to the moon or mars, capturing an asteroid, space station resupply if that's what's necessary, or whatever. in your opinion of what should sls's first real mission be? >> i think the sls and orion's first mission will be to this proving ground of space that i described around the moon. we call it the destiny of the moon. that's a very necessary step for us to move forward. as we push human presence into the solar system. so it's a place for us to hone skills, to understand techniques, to prepare much of the early flight did in merger and gemini jupiter for the apollo activities. these lights around them and will help us prepare to get ready to go to these mars missions decades later. but the first flights will be the descendent of the moon. the rocket is capable of doing that.
orion is capable of doing that without any additions, and we can learn the skills, bring our level of expertise up to where the risk is appropriate to take bolder steps beyond the inner space. space. >> for clarity, you're saying around the moon. does that include landing on the moon or simply going around the moon? >> in our budget we don't have funding for landing on the moon. we just have in the destiny of the moon. we use potential to the gravity of the moon to help with the doing trajectory designed as we look for mars. we have an international committee that is very interesting potentially doing other activities, and maybe we can partner with international community if they develop to choose the lender. and our concept we don't have funding in our plans for a lander to the moon. >> as we go around the moon, what should be the second mission of sls? >> again, i think it is going to take more than one mission around them and to build these skills that we need -- >> after all the around the moon
missions, what should be the second mission for sls? >> then we are ready to start heading towards mars. when we go to an asteroid as an enemy to destination or legal all the way to mars and go to potentially a moon of mars, those are things that are yet to be decided. >> can you please give me a timetable sequencing of what you believe is appropriate for nasa and sls with respect to the missions you have just enumerated? >> again, we kind of think of them in broad terms. so that the decade of the '20s to '30s, that's this proving ground region that are described to you what we learned these capabilities between 2020 and 2030, and beyond 2030 we're ready to go to these other activities to an asteroid potentially in its native orbital potential all the way to the moon of mars or to mars. >> for clarity, for the next decade or two you're talking about circling the moon? and then roughly two decades, thereabouts, in the 2030s,
you're talking about then we can think about going to mars. is that your testimony? >> we need, it's not just circling the moon. we are actually doing activities around the moon with the intent that we're building the skills, understand the hardware, understanding the techniques, understanding the environment that we are operating in that prepares us to go to distances as far as wars with a reasonable risk assessment. >> is additional funding needed to speed up the mission platform that you just expressed? >> additional funding can help with the activity. >> how much additional funding would be required by way of example to speed up the mars parts of the missions go to summer in the 2020s, around 2030? >> again, i think i would like to take that question for the record. it's more than just funding but it's not only funding but it's also how long it takes us to
actually get proficient at these skills to go take that next step. and to give you a real answer i need to spend some time with our teams looking at how long we think those activities take and then back into the funding discussion. >> i hope you can understand this subcommittee's concerns when it took us less than a decade, not only to go around the moon but to land on the moon under apollo, and with what i'm hearing you testify to the come it's going to be 10 to 22 just go around the moon, not actual land on the moon. those timing issues are of concern. mrmr. chairman, if i get asked this job at the question, is that okay? >> that's okay. proceed. >> thank you. at this pastor's hearing on the president fy '2015 budget request for nasa, administrator bolden indicated that providing more funding for sls would not be helpful for completing the first version of sls by 2017. however, your testimony states
that quote the top risk in court for meeting its deadline for ef one in december 2017 is insufficient funding. would you please explain this discrepancy and what additional funding make meeting the 2017 test flight possible or at least more likely? >> so, the cost was greater to put in our report comes from nasa's own documents and was also raised by their standing review board. so there was indeed a very high risk of if there's not enough money to help meet the 2017 date. that said, as mr. gerstenmaier already testified, just putting money in now won't help you get there any quicker. there's a lot of sequential activity that is needed to get some of the critical path items done for sls, like the core stage. the money at this point would be helping out with reserve and possibly doing testing and some other activities that couldn't
be done earlier, and bringing them forward. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, mr. gerstenmaier, and ms. chaplain. >> i now recognize mr. schweikert. >> thank you, mr. chairman. part of this will be a little bit of a follow-up on both what dana and congressman brooks were -- help me get my head a bit from your report, and i'm assuming much of in your part was taken from the documents from nasa and others, and then when they start to look at timelines. i will let you do it as a personal opinion, because you've been doing this for a while. how short are we, financially? go to mr. gerstenmaier, and asked how short are we technologically? if i can be and said hey, here's
the robustness of what we're going to do, i'm looking at a number of tables that have all these movie pieces and projects in kenya and said, here's what we are over the next 20 years. here's what we are seeing congress as appetite for funding. what's an honest number, shortfall? >> i think there's very some numbers to pay attention to here. first are the short-term numbers. laid out in the documents for sls and orion. for sls they ranged anywhere from 400 to 900 million, but we're pushing out the date and doing some other things. those numbers have been reduced. they're still a funding risk for orion that's considerably high. >> i'm after something for the robustness of the system. just orion itself? is that ground control, personnel costs? every step you need to make this
work instead of just this individual silo. has that been actually looked at through the totality of the system that's required? >> right. so the problem we identified and have a different report on cost estimates, cost estimating is can we don't really know the total number now of how much it's going to cost to do everything we are looking for them to do. and second, we don't know really what the pathway is, and that pathway has a big effect on numbers, like mr. gerstenmaier mentioned a landing system but it's very costly. there's not money to do it now but if you want to move things up you have to pay for a landing system. how much is that? so it's a very great importance to kindly of the road map now and see all the different pieces that you need. we don't know that and we don't have cost estimates the on the first test for some of those system. >> ms. chaplain come to understand sort of commune and when we're looking at cbo type
numbers, if we have, here's a best guess, here's our optimistic and tears where we are in trouble. sort of those. we understand for every step of technology, every additional incremental piece of timeout, the variants grows because it's a known. but we are trying in a discussion to get some idea of what the exposure is, and are we about to cannibalize everything else? mr. gerstenmaier, technologically if i came to you and said, the goals that are on the time in over the next 10 years, 20 years, where do we have things that we don't actually have the technology yet but we are working on the? >> i would say that the biggest technology areas we need to work on our we need to work on radiation for the human being, and look at radiation shielding but we can only shield so much, but i think again that's a manageable risk.
but also though be some associated risk with cosmic radiation that we'll have to do with on humans. the other big thing is they're going to mars, the entry and descent landing to the surface of mars is a big technologically. today we have landed rovers on the order of one metric ton to the surface of mars. for human class mission we will have to land about 20 times that, at least 20 metric tons. we don't exactly have to do that. we did some tests in hawaii to go look at some re- inflatable reentry heat sheet. we are working on the technology. been going back to the other questions about mr. brooks and why we are not sprinting to the moon like we did before. i'm really building systems that are modern manufacturing, so the equipment we are putting in down at stennis will allow us to have a system that can be reproduced and flowed multiple times for minimal cost. we are spending extra time i would say to prepare a system that is affordable and the long-term.
jailed wants more details on the. we need to provide that information to them, but we're looking forward, not just building a single system that spreads to a single destination. we want sustained presence beyond low-earth orbit. >> thank you. mr. chairman, as you've had another conversation with the staff and the rest of us, we still think there's so much variability, exposure and costs, and we all know it's about to hit us in the entitlement crisis over the next decade, cost wise. what's going to happen in the future federal government spending. somewhere we're going to have a much more robust and a much more brutally honest, what we have cash for and what we don't the without i yield back. >> at this time we will go into our second round of questions. mr. gerstenmaier, when did nasa first began tracking the $400 million risk identified by
gao? >> probably that got identified back in 2013, 2014 timeframe. i would say if you asked my teams now they would say that that $409 risk, because of the appropriations we have received in 2014 and the pending bill that we saw last night, that $409 risk will be retired. >> well, if you said 2013, we had a miniature bowling city where you work telling us that if we took another 300 million at as well as underwrite we wouldn't even notice it. it wasn't needed at that time. so you recognize this risk. it you would have come to us, say a year ago, or when you first started tracking it, because it feels like we're just going out about this risk, 400 million since the gao report has come out.
and you were telling me nuts has known about this for a much longer period than that? >> it was in an earlier reports that gao picked up. it's one of many risks. we carry technical risk, programmatic risk and budget this. and it was again to meet a specific launch date. and again, we moved the launch date which gives us some margin as well, and we have also, we actually know what the budgets are now in 2014. we will know what the budget is when it gets approved here in 15. those were removed at answered in the lowered level of risk. as we identify those we carry those and bring the sport as soon as we can. >> are you going to be matching your expenditure of funds based on congress' budget, or the president's request, which has been quite lower than what congress has been appropriating for the past several years? >> this is the dilemma we have to. so the reality is, the program
plans some variance between those two limits you just described. >> and if you had come to us for additional funding a year or two years ago, would you been able to mitigate the risk or by down the technical risk, or would they still be having the same conversation that the test is going to slip to the right, regardless of the amount of funding that we may be able to appropriate for the program? >> that's a very difficult question to answer. the other thing that's hard for me is that i look at human spaceflight as the total, which is sls, orion, also commercial crew, commercial cargo and international space station. i.c.e. agents they slavishly the combination of all those activities. we are using space station today to buy got a lot of risk for mars. have to look at it balancing across all of those programs. i can't optimally find anyone of those programs.
i tried where the budget and the technical risk associate with those programs to give what we think is the best approach to deliver hardware or the lowest cost for the congress and the taxpayers. >> i now recognize ms. edwards. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you again for a second round of question. i want to go something that i raised earlier, and it is regarding the recommendation by the national academies that a 5% inflationary increase in the budget. and although i understand that for the specific purpose of looking at 2017 slippage to 2010, that that's what we're talking the. i want to know about the program. and would be useful for both the administration to recommend and congress to incorporate this
margin that the national academy has recommended? so that we, over a period of time, that we are not looking at the questions that are being raised today. give us some guidance. >> okay. flip a coin. yes, ms. chaplain? >> i would just add that that's not the first time a recommendation like that has been made. it was made at the tail end of the constellation program by the augustine commission. i think they recommended about 3 billion additional a year, which was pretty significant, and that was their view of what was needed over a number of different paths that he would take, not just the constellation path. they mention a path similar to what is being done here. >> and that would provide a lot more stability and what we are seeing now, wouldn't it?
>> yes, and the other thing to remember, programs like this have spikes in terms of their funding needs. so constellation program itself when that recommendation was made is asking for about 3 billion a year, but in the budget they went up to as much as 7 billion a year in terms of their needs. so there's spikes depend on what you're developing and when activities come up. >> i want to just ask really briefly. you know, and the department of defense large-scale programs, they don't go through this. they set out kind of a cool that crosses congresses. they know there's a difference in these kind of large-scale development programs. why is it that we are funding a scientific program that has a lot of uncertainties year by year? in some cases a few months by a few months. don't we end up wasting way more money over the long term by
doing that than just sending out a goal of making sure that we fund this program in the most robust way possible across congresses so that the goal is achieved? why isn't there modeling for these large-scale science programs the same way that that kind of modeling for defense programs? and has gao ever analyze that and what the impact would be to the success of the program? >> we've never analyzed nasa funding compared to dod funding. but we do know when funding stretched out the publisher describing do occur. it's not like all the dod systems don't experienced some kind of instability. it's rare when congress is trying to get more money and what they're asking for. sometimes it's a reverse case where congress gets a little less. but with programs with a lot of
schedule pressure everybody recognizes -- >> and experimentation. >> yes. programs are everybody recognizes that it is important to deliver. there tends to be more support funding wise and tends to be more stable. >> mr. gerstenmaier, do you have a comment about that? >> i think again that discussion is good. some understanding instability and budget would be helpful. at least matching inflation would be helpful. but again i think the problem is we deal as you described there is a singly, that essentially with a year budget, sometimes months, we throw in furloughs and other things just to make -- and those are real impacts to us but when we sit down effective for two weeks or we can do any work on orion during that time, and how do you plan for that in a programmatic sense is actually difficult. it fixated to my teams to take this in mind that is very dynamic and figure out a way to make a significant progress as we can. not waste funds, not just once
in an inappropriate manner, but it's difficult for the teams to do that. but have done a fairly good job as we've seen through this activity. it could be easy if we got more certainty. >> mr. chairman, i really, i am on a mission that we have to think differently about the way we do these large-scale programs. we faced it with the james webb. we are looking at here with sls/orion. this is really not smart. at the end of the day that technologies expire. that technologies changed over a period of 10 or 20 years is worth stretching things a bit and then it's like starting all over again. i just think it is about the dumbest way to do science. with that i yield. >> ms. edwards i think there's several people who agree with you. i now recognize mr. bridenstine. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and ms. edwards, i disagree with you. your comments are sort of well recognized on both sides of the out, so thanks for that and we would like to work with you on
how we can remedy this. just had a quick question about the international implications of our direction for human spaceflight. of reports that ms. edwards referenced from the national academies indicated that if we were to do this astroid redirector mission, we would be not in the line with the international community, most of which is focused on getting to the moon. namely, the lunar surface and then on to mars. and that this alignment, according to report, again headed by governor mitch daniels, indicated the misalignment could actually result in a spend a whole lot of money on dead-end technologies rather than actually a college and the objective of getting to the moon. mr. gerstenmaier, could you address that? >> i would say the global exploration roadmap is the plan that the international partner
community has agreed to come along with nasa as a basic primer of how we wanted forward. i think in the roadmap, mars is the horizon destination as we describe. as the report describes, have a stronger interest in the moon. the astroid redirector mission places this astroid into the city of the moon, which is consistent with what the international partners would want to do. the sls rocket, the orion capsule, they fit very well in this limit activity, interest provininterestproving ground i . if the partners have it is articulate activities we could support that activity. the astroid retransmission is in the long-term goal of what we want to do. we believe for a mars class mission we need solar electric propulsion to move large masses to the sending of mars. we will move essentially a 50 metric ton asteroid through space. that could be the same cargo we are delivering to mars. so that space tug we're building for the astroid read/write commission is a piece of the tug
it would be used for the human class mission to mars so if it's in the other architecture moving forward. it's not a diversion. it's not from our overall goal. we look at each piece we are developing within human spaceflight. we look at how it fits in terms of international partner needs. we look outfits in a horizon goal of mars needs, and we only moved projects we can continue to keep moving forward in that direction but we don't want to spend resources on items that are one-of-a-kind use. >> do you know offhand specifically which technology they are talking about that would be dead-end technologies as we pursue this path? >> i think, we did have a chance to discuss with the committee and difficult how we are going to use this cargo capability for mars. i think if we would've a chance to describe that with them they would not have seen that as dead-end capability. and so i think we need to do more dialogue with the committee to we ran out of time towards the into they didn't get a chance to see some of our latest
think about all these pieces fit together towards the ultimate mars horizon goal. but i can't judge what the answer would have been. >> last question. we are down to about a minute and have. we noticed the notices went out for the act associated with eso's program. and it's plain why given the fact we're spending more money than expected and everybody seemed be telling us things were ahead of schedule and were spending more than what was anticipated, why did these notices go out? >> one reason is, again there issued by the contractors based on the activity and direction we give them. there's a natural change in the department lifecycle of the sls. we are essentially wrapping down on the heavy design phase where there's a lot of engineering, a lot of drawing development analysis kind of activity. that now is terminating naturally. now we're getting ready to go manufacture so they will be buying long lead items, large balloon, the work occurs down in
the facility down by new orleans. they do manufacturing. so we are shifting from design to manufacturing, and during the shift there is a natural ramp down of skills but the overall workforce will, but it will come up in other areas and show up in betrayal. it will not show up in personal. this is a piece of that activity is supporting this natural progression from design to manufacturing. >> with that, mr. chairman, i field back. thank you, mr. bridenstine. two stories below us is the house armed service committee room. and mr. gerstenmaier, also serves on the same to me. we have had testified presented to us that the number one threat to america's national security is our national debt. i'm going to have to say that the number one threat to america maintaining its leadership in space is also going to be our national debt. and many members on both sides of the aisle recognize that we have to address the pending this
go problem that will be facing our nation, and hopefully we can overcome that. once again, mr. gerstenmaier, congratulations to you and your entire team at nasa and lockheed martin and ula for every successful outstanding test flickr i want to thank the witnesses for the valuable testimony and the members for the question. the members of the committee may have additional questions for you and will ask you to respond to those in writing. the record will remain open for two weeks for additional comments and written questions on members to a witness are excused and this hearing is adjourned. and she. -- thank you. >> [inaudible conversations] >> over the weekend of the senate approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill keeping most of the government open through september, and other senate has moved on to several presidential
nominations. this afternoon senators will take procedural vote on nominations for surgeon general assistance sector a state, and a member of the defense nuclear facilities safety board. 18 more nominations are pending in the senate including 12 for district court judges but before the senate wraps up work for the you, they are expecting legislation to extend more than 50 tax breaks. now to live coverage of the senate. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, the center of our joy, on this special day when i am honored to participate in senator mark kirk's retirement ceremony from the united states