Commercial space in spotlight today and tomorrow

Commercial spaceflight has gotten a lot of public attention with the successful spaceflight of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station last month. A pair of events today and tomorrow will offer an opportunity for politicians and the public to hear about, and perhaps express their opinions on, the current state of commercial spaceflight.

At 10 am EDT Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing titled “Risks, Opportunities, and Oversight of Commercial Space”. Five people are scheduled to appear before the committee, including NASA associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier and two former astronauts, Pam Melroy (now working for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation) and Michael Lopez-Alegria (now president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation). Rounding out the hearing are Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace and Gerald Dillingham of the GAO. The hearing will be webcast on the committee’s website.

At 8 pm EDT Thursday, SpaceUp Houston is hosting the 2012 edition of its “Commercial Spaceflight Panel” at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. The two-hour panel will feature speakers from four companies with funded or unfunded Commercial Crew Development awards from NASA (ATK, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX), as well as two suborbital companies (Armadillo Aerospace and XCOR), and Southwest Research Institute, which plans to perform suborbital research on commercial vehicles. That event will also be webcast.

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