4 thoughts on “Nelson’s Confirmation Hearing”

  1. I watched the whole thing.

    When his name was first floated, I didn’t think it was a very good idea. Then he actually got nominated. I took a closer look and decided to be hopeful and reserve judgement.

    Mike Griffin was a relevant example of someone who had terrible things along his backtrail, but who subsequently redeemed himself in a different job. There seemed a better chance than I initially thought that Nelson could turn out to be another such.

    Nelson said nothing during his hearing to make me think he’s going to be his old self running NASA. He had nothing bad to say about the recent SpaceX HLS award and was forthrightly pro-commmercialization and competition.

    Once he takes office – which is pretty much a matter of when, not if – I think he’ll hit the ground running anent inveigling Congress into providing enough supplementary appropriations to bring on National Team as a second source for HLS. That would tamp down most of the Congressional grumbling over NASA’s SpaceX-only call on HLS. It won’t mollify the hardest of the hardcore traditionalists like Eddie Bernice Johnson, but it will isolate them by depriving them of most allies.

    Something else I found very encouraging is that Nelson seems intent not only on pursuing Artemis, but doing so on the Trump-Pence-Bridenstine schedule. He pretty obviously isn’t going to pre-emptively yield the 2024 target date. I’m sure his age, his desire for a legacy and a desire to still be The Man at NASA when the first crewed Artemis mission sets down on Luna are all factors here, but those reasons are fine with me if they contribute to getting the job done ASAP.

    Nelson is a politician. One of the core skill sets of any successful politician is a keen awareness of the direction in which the wind is blowing. It seems Nelson now senses – correctly – that the wind is coming straight out of Boca Chica.

    1. Perhaps the most important question that could be asked of Nelson is what should be done when Starship achieves orbit (i.e. bests SLS by becoming a demonstrated, partly reusable, very cost-effective SHLV).

      1. I would have liked to have seen that question asked by someone too. But given the cast of characters on-hand, and the generally softball nature of the questions that did get asked, it’s not exactly surprising that all 2 hours and 40 minutes of hearing passed without that coming up.

        I think Nelson will continue not being asked any really hard questions about SLS. The state media and wannabe state media aren’t at all into anything smacking of lese majeste while Dems are ruling the roost.

        That might, somewhat paradoxically, actually provide Nelson with some political cover when the time actually comes to take the poor old spavined SLS out behind the barn and put ‘er down. Not having previously said much about SLS would definitely work in his favor at such a moment.

        Nelson won’t be looking for reasons to do that, but I think accumulating events will eventually make the demise of SLS – and Orion – inevitable. It will happen sooner rather than later should anything go seriously pear-shaped with the Artemis 1 mission. Especially if Starship – as I fully expect – has managed at least one successful jaunt to orbit followed by a successful return and landing before Artemis 1 even lifts off.

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