Participants in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program — private companies working on spacecraft to take U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station — testified today during a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
But one participant was conspicuously absent: Blue Origin, the company founded by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, which is slated to receive up to $22 million under the program for its work on an orbital crew space vehicle.
Blue Origin was most recently in the news when a mishap caused caused one of its unmanned spacecraft to blow up on a test flight.
As noted today in a tweet from the hearing room by Popular Mechanics, the “politicians don’t seem pleased” about the company’s decision not to appear.
Committee chairman Rep. Ralph Hall, a Republican from Texas, addressed the issue briefly in his opening statement: ”I would like to note for the Members of the Committee that one company, Blue Origin, has received $14.9 million in Federal funds under this program but declined to testify today — and, I have declined to subpoena them.”
Bezos vowed in September to continue pressing ahead with the Blue Origin work, including development of a crew capsule, following a “flight instability” that resulted in the destruction of a Blue Origin test spacecraft in the skies over West Texas.
(Thanks to Isaac Alexander for his help. Follow his Jet City Star Twitter feed for aerospace news.)