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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  July 27, 2021 1:13pm-2:00pm EDT

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in its entirety tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span 2 or watch it online at c-span.org. c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we're funded by these television companies and more, including buckeye broadband. >> buckeye broadband supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> sunday c-span's series january 6th, views from the house, continues. three more members of congress share stories of what they saw,
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heard and experienced that day, including representative rodney davis of illinois who served as a teller for the electoral vote count on that day. >> there were a lot of freshmen there that i had gotten to know during orientation that this was their first real experience as a member of congress and we were kind of watching them and talking to my fellow colleagues about what we could do to try to stop this. >> what were those conversations like? tell us about them. >> well, i remember a conversation i had with marjorie taylor greene, marjory was a freshman, she was very active during the orientation and she was very upset about what was going on and her and i chatted, she said, what can i do? i said how about you go back in the cloak room, film a video, post it on social media and if you have any influence over anybody out there tell them to stop. she did that. >> this week you will also hear from democrats madeleine dean of
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pennsylvania and zo laugh rent of california. sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org or listen on the c-span radio app. we're back with john who is here to talk with us today about recent flights into space by private individuals and its potential impact on space travel. john, good morning. >> good morning. now, you are the founder and was a long time director of gw's space policy institute, george washington university's space policy institute so i'm going to ask you this question, what is the significance of jeff bezos and richard branson conducting private flights into space? >> well, the reality is the significance is not that great. these were not journeys into orbit, just up and down, quick suborbital flights, but
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symbolically i think they were significant. look at all the attention that's being paid to them. because these are private citizens going to space in systems developed by private citizens as a business affair. it's announcing the arrival of -- opening the access to space to fair paying private citizens. >> now, what is the impact of the -- those private flights, not only on tourism, but on the commercial spaceflight industry? does this mean that we are now going to see several companies starting touting themselves as intergalactic companies where they can take people who can afford it away from the planet earth? is that a new industry we're going to see now? >> well, perhaps. we have to put into the mix the
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company called spacex led by elon musk which has a system that can carry people into the orbit. again, let's stress neither blue origin's "new shepard" nor virgin galactic's spaceship 2 can go into orbit. their flights are necessarily very short. spacex intends in september to have a totally private flight with four people aboard into orbit for several days and musk's ambition and eventually bezos, not so much branson, is to move large numbers of people into space, into deep space. elon's stated goal is to establish a million person city on mars and bezos' stated goal is to move heavy industry into outer space, into deep space and
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have thousands of people working in space. >> now, there have been quite a bit of criticism of both jeff bezos and richard branson with the whole rich guys who can afford to go to space or through their largest can bring anyone they want into space with them owning their own companies and being billionaires, there's no limit to what they can do, but of course not all of us are billionaires. what do you think about the criticism that they're using their money to go into this next frontier, places that other people who can't afford to can't go? >> well, i think the criticism while understandable is a little unfounded. i mean, nobody criticizes a billionaire for flying -- i'm sorry -- for buying a big yacht. they are allowed to use their money as they see flip as long
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as they're not injuring anybody else. they're not philanthropists particularly, they are people who put their own money into creating this capability and it's kind of understandable they want to use it. >> now, have these companies brought anything new to the spaceflight industry? are they coming up with innovations that can be used by nasa in the future, or are they only doing what they can do because of innovations that have been brought about by nasa? >> well, i mean, nasa, now 60 years plus old, has provided in the united states the various technologies involved in spaceflight, propulsion engines, control, environmental control and so certainly virgin galactic and blue origin are benefitting
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from what nasa has done over the years, but these are their innovations of putting all of that together into systems for their use. they're not intending to contribute to the broader capabilities for spaceflight. these are systems that do what they do. >> well, i want to remind our callers that they can take part in this conversation about the use of private industry going into space. we're going to open up regional lines. regional lines. that means that if you are in the eastern or central time zones we want to hear from you at 202-748-8000. if you are in the mountain or pacific time zones your number is going to be 202-748-8001. keep in mind you can always text us at 202-748-8003 and we're always reading on social media on facebook and
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facebook.com/c-span, on twitter @c-spanwj and on facebook and on instagram at c-span wj. now, john, is there anything our governmental agency that's in charge of spaceflight, nasa, can learn from what's being done by bezos, branson and elon musk. what can the government learn from what's being done right now by private industry? >> well, let's take one step back. nasa has nothing to do with these flights. they are regulated by the federal aviation administration of the department of transportation which has to issue a license for these flights to take place. so, again, they're not making contributions to nasa's programs, they're starting new businesses, they hope to make money with these businesses that have regulations associated with them coming out of the
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department of transportation. >> but is there anything that's being done by these private companies that nasa may want to emulate in the future? >> no. i don't think so. i mean, nasa has had the capability of putting humans in orbit since john glenn's flight in 1962 and, in fact, the first two flights in project mercury, alan shepherd in may of '61 and gus gris some in august of '61 were like these flights, just quick up and down. >> so what's your comfort level right now in letting private industry seemingly take the lead in the space industry that's going on right now? >> well, this is one niche segment of the space industry. i mean, there is a $300 billion
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space industry mainly private but also government in things like communication satellites and things like earth observation satellites. so there is a thriving public -- i'm sorry, driving business in space already. this is just, you know -- i don't want to trivialize it, but it's a bit of a sideshow. >> let's let some of our viewers take part of in this conversation so let's start with steve who is calling from montgomery, illinois. steve, good morning. >> caller: good morning. good morning, john. i'd just like to do a shout out on your book "after apollo" for all the viewers out there, it was a great book about how the space industry changed after apollo. i have a two-part question. my first part for john is how much more of the commercial market can spacex acquire like
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towards aryan space, and my second question is the nasa administrator has said that china is our main competitor to get to mars or deep space and how much more -- how much more can the government stay out of the way for a company like spacex to lead a path for america to get to mars or to the moon before china? and i will hang up and i will listen to your response. thank you. >> well, thanks for the comment on the "after apollo" book, it's part of a series of books i've written on the space decisions of john kennedy, richard nixon and ronald reagan. and i've enjoyed doing that work. china is the country together with the united states that's
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developing capabilities for journeys into deep space and there's clearly a rivalry, a competition, i don't think it's a race, because there's no finish line, to develop the capabilities to return to the moon and eventually journey to mars. the united states is ahead in that competition with the ardemus program, but it depends on whether we maintain that current lead, competitive lead over the time. it takes many years and sustained support from the u.s. public through the government to do these sort of undertakings. now, that being said elon musk and spacex are developing a new spaceship called star liner which is supposedly going to fly
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soon in the next few months and eventually be able to carry a large number of people like tens or maybe 100 people to the moon and eventually to mars and the united states is -- you know, it's not competing with -- the government is not competing with spacex, it's elon using his profits from the business you mentioned. you mentioned spacex competing with aryan space which is the european company and they seek contracts to launch communication satellites plus launch them on their own and spacex has been extremely disruptive in this space launch market by having a good product, a reusable booster and a price point that under cuts its competitors. again, but virgin galactic and blue origin at this point have
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nothing to do with that competition. >> so, john, you just brought up the elon musk star liner which brings up this question, you say the government is not competing with these private companies. do you think that however the push for private companies to get up into space in any way dim she is nasa's plans for manned spaceflight? >> well, that's a good question. you know, let's divide it into two parts, one is human access to lower earth orbit, the orbit 250 miles up or so where the international space station is currently operating. nasa has said it would like to get out of the business of working in low earth orbit for humans in particular and turn that over to the private sector because it's in a sense almost a commodity, it's a risky
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commodity but we've had lots of flights to low earth orbit with astronauts aboard and nasa says we would like to stop doing that and couldn't trait our efforts in going places not just in circles around the earth. going back to the moon and beyond eventually. it depends on how much you believe the spacex claim that it's going to develop that capability if all of a sudden starship proved that it worked better than the nasa-developed systems, i think the government would go into partnership with spacex in exploration. the exploration is not to turn a profit, it's to go and experience new places and see what's there and i think it's going to be government led for a long time, but if the private
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sector can contribute, why not? >> speaking of nasa, in a recent presentation nasa administrator bill nelson laid out his agency's spaceflight's efforts, including like you said, john, going back to the moon. i want you all to listen to what bill nelson had to say and, john, i want you to react to it after he gets done. here is nasa administrator bill nelson. >> we're assembling the rocket at this very minute down at the kennedy space center. it will pave the way to return american astronauts to the surface of the moon. that rocket is the space launch system. it will launch our orion spacecraft and kharg dwoe on missions to lunar and beyond and soon, i mean days, we're starting to stack that massive core stage between its two boosters in the vehicle assembly
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building at ksc. the sls will be the most powerful rocket in the world, 8.8 million pounds of thrust at launch. all this means we're on our way to land the next americans on the moon and this time we're going to learn how to live and work on another world. america's long-term presence at the moon, both robotic and human, will help develop the experience and capabilities we need to eventually send the first astronauts to mars. >> so first, john, i want you to react to bill nelson's comments there. >> well, i mean, he described accurately what nasa is currently doing. the sls is now stacked in the vehicle assembly building at kennedy space center, its first
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flight is scheduled for later this year or early in 2022, this will be a flight without humans aboard to send the orion capsule around the moon but it's a test flight, the second flight scheduled for 2023 will carry a crew but not the landing and then the hope is that the third flight will carry a crew with a landing system which has yet to be begun to return to the moon by 2024. i think that's a very optimistic schedule but, yes, this is -- this is the program that nasa is carrying out at the cost of multiple billions of dollars a year of public money. >> let's let some of our viewers take part in this conversation. let's start with sharon who is calling from hanover, pennsylvania. sharon, good morning. >> caller: yes, thank you.
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many of us view this entire thing as extreme human hubris, ego. these projects certainly require resources, fuel, they pollute. the so-called missions may involve things like mining the moon an idea brought out by the -- by newt gingrich of all people long ago and it also serves to distract the population from urgent problems. certainly top among them is climate crisis. so all of this too many of us is immature ego centric wasteful
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polluting and outrageous. i am not a religious fanatic, but all of this is godless. thank you. >> what's your response there, john? >> well, i mean, clearly this is an act of hubris, of human ambition, of human pride to go and explore other worlds. whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, well-meaning people can disagree. sharon thinks it's the wrong thing to be doing and she's certainly entitled to her opinion on that. others see it as part of creating a future that has optimism associated with it. mining the moon, yes, the resources the moon will help support this undertaking in the long term. you know, is the moon a pristine
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wilderness or a resource for humans to use? there clearly is human ego involved in that. nasa doesn't cost much money, it's less than one half of 1% of the federal budget so there's lots of money left over for addressing issues like climate change, which nasa is very much involved in with its earth observation satellites. so to me human exploration of the solar system is the kind of activity that we should be doing as kind of a window to the future while we address the problems here on earth. >> now, john, can we judge yet what the biden administration's commitment to space travel in nasa is? we are still in the first year of the biden administration, can we judge how they feel about space travel. >> well, every indication is that they're very positive about it.
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i mean, the first indication is mr. biden having a piece of the moon placed in the oval office as part of his redecoration as he assumed the presidency. he's requested a budget for nasa that represents a significant increase but basically he's said we're going to continue the plans that were set out during the trump administration of a sustained program of space exploration. so every indication is that the biden administration is very supportive of the current direction. >> let's go to michelle who is calling from arcade, new york. michelle, good morning. >> caller: hello. i just have one question. what about that van allen radiation belt? thank you very much.
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>> okay. for listeners that might not know what the van allen belt s it's a belt of captured radiation that surrounds the earth, discovered by this space scientist tim van allen back in the late 1950s. you would not want to put an orbiting station in the van allen belt because that would be unhealthy for anybody that was aboard, and we don't do that, but transiting the van allen belt on the way outward from the earth you are not exposed to the radiation for long enough for it to have any negative effects. the negative effects from space radiation are much more from cosmic rays that can act like kind of radiation bullets on astronauts, which is a very
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serious worry for long journeys, months' long journeys out to mars, not so much for three-day journeys to the moon. >> john, we have a question from one of our social media followers for you. and they want to know what is the extent of the carbon footprint from these additional space launches? are they significant contributors to global warming? >> that's a good question. at this point we're only talking about a few launches a year, i think blue origin said that they're planning two more launches this year, the virgin galactic schedule i don't think has been made public. at that level the carbon emissions are insignificant. if it got to be the point of a launch a day or a very high
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frequency of launches then there, i believe, is an issue, no at major issue, but an issue in terms of carbon emissions, but compared to air traffic and compared to automobiles and other carbon emitters, i still think it's not going to be a very significant impact. >> let's go to frazier who is calling from houston, texas. frazier, good morning. >> caller: hello. i'm asking about spacex's starship. it has no launch abort system. is this safe and responsible? >> well, you know more than i do about the technical design of starship. i would expect that there is some form of abort system or some form of safety for people
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aboard. it is a system that can land -- i mean, there are two parts, there's a super heavy booster to get the spacecraft off the earth, that has yet to be tested, i think it's been static fired once, and then there's the actual spacecraft which is a winged vehicle which hopefully will be able to land. i think it would be irresponsible and i suspect it would not get a government license to launch without some sort of safety system for the people aboard. >> since you brought it up, i will ask you this question, what type of regulatory parts does nasa play -- or the government play when it comes to these private space ventures? are they regulated by the government? do they have to follow government safety protocol? or are these companies just
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making it up as they go along? >> well, first of all, nasa is not a regulatory agency and has nothing to do with these flights. the regulatory authority is with the office of commercial space transportation in the federal aviation administration of the department of transportation. that's kind of a mouthful. and these launches are licensed by the faa and they have to meet a whole set of criteria to gain that license, including not pose ago danger to third parties to anybody on earth. so there are some really specific regulations. the hope is that the regulations are not so strict that they discourage the private sector from trying this sort of thing. but there is protection for us on earth in terms of government
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regulation. >> let's go back to our phone lines and talk to julius who is calling from chicago heights, illinois. julius, good morning. >> yes, i'd like to say hello. i'd like to ask this to the professor. isn't the speed of light unattainable? and the speed of light is too slow for space travel? and this whole thing about space travel is a bunch of nonsense because going to the moon there's nothing there worth going for. going to mars there's nothing there going for, it's all cost prohibitive, so what's this all about? >> let me break that down into a couple things. speed of light, 186,000 miles a second, so a light year is 7 trillion miles of distance,
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unless einstein was wrong, of course, this is derived from einstein's general feelings of relativity. so it's extremely much faster than anything sent into space so far has done. there is an effort by a group called the breakthrough foundation to take a very small spacecraft, propel it by laser propulsion up to close to the speed of light to journey to the nearest star, alpha centauri. still four light years away. and that effort is quietly ongoing. but, again, it has nothing to do with human journeys to the moon or mars. why did we do that? because we could. kennedy in his 1962 speech at
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rice university said why do we do these things? why does rice play texas? why do we climb mt. everest? there are demonstrations of human capability that are intended to inspire us to think about what humans working together can do and eventually some think we need a planet b to get off this earth so that the human species will survive if we succeed in destroying ourselves with either climate change or nuclear weapons. i don't particularly subscribe to that as the major reason for sending people to other places in the solar system, but some very serious people including stephen hawking and elon musk subscribe to that theory. >> john, i want you to react to this social media post that has a pretty down view on private companies going into space.
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the privatization of space is one of the most horrifying things to ever happen in the history of our species. instead of being motivated by scientific discovery and the joy of exploration and the possibilities, we're going to commercialize space. we'll ruin it. do you agree or disagree there, john? >> well, first of all, space has been commercialized since the 1960s. most of the money spent on space and made from space is from private companies launching satellites particularly various forms of communication satellites but also earth observation satellites to deliver services to people on earth. so i don't think that the privaization of space so far has ruined space. there is a very successful
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co-ist ens between government sponsored and private sponsored space activities. i see no reason why that can't extend to human -- private human activities in space. there is a legitimate concern of private people going to other celestial bodies and disrupting them, kind of messing up the sites where the apollo missions landed, spoiling the pristine character of mars and we need to make sure that that doesn't happen. there is an outer space treaty of 1967 that says no country or citizen of a country can claim sovereignty over the moon or other celestial bodies. so you can't go -- the united
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states when it went six times to land on the moon during apollo didn't plant the flag and say this is now ours. that would be a violation of international law. but, you know, as the exploitation of deep space proceeds certainly there's need for new norms of behavior, new rules and regulations to say what is permissible and what is not. >> which brings up the question, john, if someone like a jeff bezos or elon musk wants to build a city on the moon, who gives them permission or do they have to even get permission from anybody? >> i'm not a lawyer and this is the sort of thing that space lawyers love to debate. my impression is that there is no permission needed to build an outpost on the moon.
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you can go, you can land and establish an outpost. it's going to be a long time before we have cities or settlements on the moon, but not so long before there would be scientific bases and maybe mining operations to extract oxygen from the water, ice and lunar craters. i think there is a need for rules for that and they don't yet exist, but i don't think there's any particular permission except the suggestion of so-called keep out zones so that what one private entity or government can operate in a particular area and not be subject to interference from somebody else. >> are there already those type of keep out zones on the moon
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like, for example, where neil armstrong set foot? >> i think the u.s. has passed legislation declaring the lunar landing sites to be the equivalent of national parks or national monuments, but that's only u.s. law, that's not international law. so on an international basis the answer to your question is no. >> okay. let's go back to our phone lines and let's start with freddie who is calling from dover, florida. freddie, good morning. >> caller: good morning. hey, thank you for having me on. great conversation with the professor. my statement was regarding an earlier comment about how the building flares can build yachts and go to space but my point is they're also providing great jobs for stem folks and scientists and also for support personnel who operate these launch sites and also the fact
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that there has been some innovation on my part in terms of reusable boosters by spacex and that's my comment. i will take my answer offline. >> yeah, the comment as will said, these are new businesses and new businesses contribute to the economy, create jobs, have enough innovation to do the jobs they want to do. in economic terms things like blue origin, like new shepherd, virgin galactic, are economic pluses. it's not government money that's being used to fund these things. as bezos said, the profits are for the people that buy things on amazon that funds blue origin. so -- and indeed reusability of
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rockets pioneered by spacex is a disruptive innovation that makes space access much easier and less expensive than it has been historically. so i think the net positive that there's a net positive on economic terms from these undertakings. >> we have another question from a social media follow per wants to know, are there any rules, rather, any regulations, rules, responsibilities for the billionaire space club add go to the already existing issues of space debris? >> well, they're subject to the same guidelines. they're not binding laws. about creating orbital debris, which is a real problem, by the way. these two veterans, blue origin
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and virgin galactic don't go into orbit so can't create orbital debris, almost by definition. but every launch into orbit has the potential for failure, the potential for creating debris. and there are guidelines on how to avoid that. that they are subject to. so i think they don't add to the problem in any significant way. >> let's talk to chris who is calling from pittsburgh, pennsylvania. gorgeous. >> good morning. >> i guess on the surface you could say these programs appear to be frivolous and wasteful, you know, by nasa and spacex and blue origin and virgin galaxy. but when you watch people working together, drawing in
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young people who are attracted to working in science and technology, working the older people who have been there and laid the ground, are mentoring them, and all focused on a goal. it is just such a relief to see this type of energy working and solving problems, and doing something together. i think it is just wonderful to watchful. >> that was very well stated. clearly, one of the side effects of these undertakings is to create a sense of motivation toward technical excellence. one of the people on the virgin galactic flight was one of our former students at george washington university. so i mean, it's not very long ago that she was in a classroom studying space policy. now she's gone into space. maybe not into orbit.
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there is that motivating impact of the undertaking. and i think there is an inspirational impact. we still use the image of the american flag on the moon of buzz aldrin standing next to that flag. it is a symbol of american capability. it is part of our heritage to have done these grand things. so i think there is an intangible but real element of space exploration in particular, and creating a sense that hey, i can do that. that has a very positive impact on society. >> now, we know that these new companies like spacex and virgin galactic and blue origin are leading right now. what roles do long time firms like boeing and lockheed martin have in future space flight
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efforts? >> well, they do their space activities 90 plus percent on government contract. so there are partners in the government's space exploration but they're not investing their own money creating, i'm thinking as i say this, i have to amend it a little bit. they're not investing much of their own money creating these new came bilts to do new things. lockheed martin is developing a new launch vehicle. it is mainly for launching commercial satellites and for government contracts. neither of those companies, i mean, boeing isn't talking about a commercial space liner.
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as part of its future ambitions. so it is the entrepreneurial companies that i think are leading the way in private activity and space. >> and we have another question from a social media follower. i think you've addressed it but i want you to talk about this specifically. nasa has contributed to our daily life in countless ways. velcro, flame retardant clothes and enriched baby food formulas to name a few. what are these space flights taken by bezos and branson contributing? >> a sense that someday i can go to space also. if i have a lot of money. that's not what these flights are for. i've said it a couple times. i'll say it again. they are business ventures to create something that people will pay for and eventually to turn a profit.
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they are entrepreneurial space venturers that are businesses, not social welfare programs. >> well, we would like to thank john logsdon who is professor emeritus and founder of the space policy institute for being with us this morning and talking us through these private ventures into space. john, thank you so much for your time. >> happy to be with you.
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sunday, c-span series january 6th, views from the house, continues. three more members of congress share stories of what they saw, heard and experienced that day. including california democrat zoe loftgren who served as a teller for the electoral vote count. >> a capitol officer came and said it was necessary to evacuate. that we should take the hoods, there are hoods under the seat of each seat in the chamber. take them out and be prepared to put them on. so everybody did. and i think when you pull the little red tag, it activates it. so people weren't wearing them. there had been tear gas released
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in the chamber, in the rotunda which was why we were advised we might need to wear them. there was this tremendous worrying hissing noise that was the background of the moment. and of course, the pounding and the noise from the mob had become much louder. at some point, someone up in the chambers, in the gallery, a member, was yelling at the republicans to call trump and have trump call off his mob. and there was some little yelling back and forth among members in the gallery. >> call trump! call trump! >> this week you'll also hear from republican rodney davis of
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illinois and pennsylvania democrat madeleine dean. january 6th, views from the house. sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. c-span.org or listen on the c-span radio app. house lawmakers recently agreed to provide additional special immigrant visas for afghan interpreters, contractors and other valuable allies as the u.s. military prepares to leave the country. the measure, sponsored by congressman jason crow of colorado, would open up extra slots in a visa program for afghan allies at risk of persecution or death if they remain in afghanistan. >> the gentleman is recognized. >> mr. speaker, hr 35, by expedi

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