Status Report

Letter From Rep. Babin To NASA Administrator Jurczyk Regarding Europa Clipper and SLS Launch Issues

By SpaceRef Editor
March 15, 2021
Filed under , ,

Mr. Steve Jurczyk 

Acting Administrator 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration 

300 E. Street, SW 

Washington, D.C., 20546 

Dear Mr. Jurczyk:

Thank you for facilitating a staff briefing on NASA’s decision to not launch the Europa Clipper mission on the Space Launch System (SLS) as required by Appropriation law. The requirement to use the SLS for the Europa Clipper mission was directed by Appropriations Acts, not Authorization legislation. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has not weighed in on the question of which launch vehicle should be used for the mission; however, the committee is tasked under House Rules to evaluate how laws are applied, administered, and executed; to analyze whether conditions and circumstances may necessitate enacting new or additional legislation; and to determine whether laws are being implemented and carried out in accordance with the intent of Congress.1

During NASA’s briefing on the decision change, committee staff requested additional information. In order to assist in the committee’s oversight responsibilities, please provide the following information related to the Europa Clipper mission and the SLS.

1) NASA’s torsional loading analysis, including any and all drafts and all documents and communications (as defined by attachment A) referring or related to its development.

2) The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s finite element analysis, including any and all drafts and all documents and communications (as defined by attachment A) referring or relating to its development.

3) NASA’s assessment of the cost and schedule impact of implementing mitigation measures to continue using the Space Launch System, including any and all drafts and all documents and communications (as defined by attachment A) referring or relating to its development.

1 “General oversight responsibilities” pursuant to House Rule X(2)(a) and (b), and “Special oversight functions” pursuant to House Rule(X)(3).

4) NASA’s assessment of the performance impacts or requirement limitations placed on the Europa Clipper mission by not launching on an SLS, including any and all drafts and all documents and communications (as defined by attachment A) referring or relating to its development.

5) All documents and communications presented to Decision Authorities at Key Decision Points as required by NASA Procedural Directive (NPD) 7120.4E, NASA Procedural Requirement (NPR) 7120.5E, NPD 7120.6A, NPR 7120.8A, or any other NASA policies or requirements that determine program and project management decision points.

6) Any torsional loading analysis conducted for potential commercial launch vehicles, including any and all drafts and all documents and communications (as defined by attachment A) referring or relating to their development.

7) Any studies, analysis, or reports referring or relating to alternate trajectories for the Europa Clipper mission, including trade studies for a Venus Earth Gravity Assist, a Mars Earth Gravity Assist, an Earth Gravity Assist, and the commercial launch vehicles capable of offering vehicles to meet those trajectories, including any and all drafts and all documents and communications (as defined by attachment A) referring or relating to their development.

8) A complete accounting of all NASA funding spent to conduct analyses of launch vehicles other than the SLS for the Europa Clipper mission, including the funding source and the year in which funding was obligated and spent.

Please provide all records by March 5, 2021. Please contact Mr. Tom Hammond of the committee minority staff with any questions related to this inquiry.


Rep. Brian Babin Ranking Member Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee

Responding to Committee Document Requests

Attachment A

1. In complying with this request, you are required to produce all responsive documents, in unredacted form, that are in your possession, custody, or control, whether held by you or your past or present agents, employees, and representatives acting on your behalf. You should also produce documents that you have a legal right to obtain, that you have a right to copy or to which you have access, as well as documents that you have placed in the temporary possession, custody, or control of any third party. Requested records, documents, data or information should not be destroyed, modified, removed, transferred or otherwise made inaccessible to the Committees.

2. In the event that any entity, organization or individual denoted in this request has been, or is also known by any other name than that herein denoted, the request shall be read also to include that alternative identification.

3. The Committee’s preference is to receive documents in electronic form (i.e., CD, memory stick, or thumb drive) in lieu of paper productions.

4. Documents produced in electronic format should also be organized, identified, and indexed electronically.

5. Electronic document productions should be prepared according to the following standards:

(a) The production should consist of single page Tagged Image File (“TIF”), or PDF files.

(b) Document numbers in the load file should match document Bates numbers and TIF or PDF file names.

(c) If the production is completed through a series of multiple partial productions, field names and file order in all load files should match.

6. Documents produced to the Committee should include an index describing the contents of the production. To the extent more than one CD, hard drive, memory stick, thumb drive, box or folder is produced, each CD, hard drive, memory stick, thumb drive, box or folder should contain an index describing its contents.

7. Documents produced in response to this request shall be produced together with copies of file labels, dividers or identifying markers with which they were associated when the request was served.

8. When you produce documents, you should identify the paragraph in the Committee’s schedule to which the documents respond.

9. It shall not be a basis for refusal to produce documents that any other person or entity also possesses non-identical or identical copies of the same documents. Page 3 of 6

10. If any of the requested information is only reasonably available in machine-readable form (such as on a computer server, hard drive, or computer backup tape), you should consult with the Committee staff to determine the appropriate format in which to produce the information.

11. If compliance with the request cannot be made in full by the specified return date, compliance shall be made to the extent possible by that date. An explanation of why full compliance is not possible shall be provided along with any partial production. Failure to provide an explanation constitutes a waiver of any objections to the subpoena (if one was issued).

12. In the event that a document is withheld on the basis of privilege, provide a privilege log containing the following information concerning any such document: (a) the privilege asserted; (b) the type of document; (c) the general subject matter; (d) the date, author and addressee; and (e) the relationship of the author and addressee to each other.

13. In complying with this request, be apprised that the U.S. House of Representatives and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology do not recognize: any of the purported non- disclosure privileges associated with the common law including, but not limited to, the deliberative process privilege, the attorney-client privilege, and attorney work product protections; any purported privileges such as privileges over law-enforcement sensitive disclosures; or protections from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act; or any purported contractual privileges, such as non-disclosure agreements.

14. If any document responsive to this request was, but no longer is, in your possession, custody, or control, identify the document (stating its date, author, subject and recipients) and explain the circumstances under which the document ceased to be in your possession, custody, or control.

15. If a date or other descriptive detail set forth in this request referring to a document is inaccurate, but the actual date or other descriptive detail is known to you or is otherwise apparent from the context of the request, you are required to produce all documents which would be responsive as if the date or other descriptive detail were correct.

16. This request is continuing in nature and applies to any newly-discovered information. Any record, document, compilation of data or information, not produced because it has not been located or discovered by the return date, shall be produced immediately upon subsequent location or discovery.

17. All documents shall be Bates-stamped sequentially and produced sequentially.

18. Two sets of documents shall be delivered, one set to the Majority Staff and one set to the Minority Staff. When documents are produced to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, production sets shall be delivered to the Majority Staff in Room 2321 of the Rayburn House Office Building and the Minority Staff in Room 324 of the Ford House Office Building. Upon completion of the document production, you should submit a written certification, signed by you or your counsel, stating that: (1) a diligent search has been completed of all documents in your possession, custody, or control which reasonably could contain responsive documents; and (2) all documents located during the search that are responsive have been produced to the Committees.

19. When representing a witness or entity before the Committee in response to a document request, request for transcribed interview, or subpoena from the Committee, or in connection with testimony before the Committee at a hearing, counsel for the witness or entity must promptly submit to the Committee a notice of appearance specifying the following: (a) counsel’s name, firm or organization, and contact information; and (b) each client represented by the counsel in connection with the proceeding. Submission of a notice of appearance constitutes acknowledgement that counsel is authorized to accept service of process by the Committee on behalf of such client(s), and that counsel is bound by and agrees to comply with all applicable House and Committee rules and regulations.

Schedule Definitions

1. The term “document” means any written, recorded, or graphic matter of any nature whatsoever, regardless of how recorded, and whether original or copy, including, but not limited to, the following: memoranda, reports, expense reports, books, manuals, instructions, financial reports, working papers, records, notes, letters, notices, confirmations, telegrams, receipts, appraisals, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, prospectuses, inter-office and intra- office communications, electronic mail (e-mail), contracts, cables, notations of any type of conversation, telephone call, meeting or other communication, bulletins, printed matter, computer printouts, teletypes, invoices, transcripts, diaries, analyses, returns, summaries, minutes, bills, accounts, estimates, projections, comparisons, messages, correspondence, press releases, circulars, financial statements, reviews, opinions, offers, studies and investigations, questionnaires and surveys, and work sheets (and all drafts, preliminary versions, alterations, modifications, revisions, changes, and amendments of any of the foregoing, as well as any attachments or appendices thereto), and graphic or oral records or representations of any kind (including without limitation, photographs, charts, graphs, microfiche, microfilm, videotape, recordings and motion pictures), and electronic, mechanical, and electric records or representations of any kind (including, without limitation, tapes, cassettes, disks, and recordings) and other written, printed, typed, or other graphic or recorded matter of any kind or nature, however produced or reproduced, and whether preserved in writing, film, tape, disk, videotape or otherwise. A document bearing any notation not a part of the original text is to be considered a separate document. A draft or non-identical copy is a separate document within the meaning of this term.

2. The term “communication” means each manner or means of disclosure or exchange of information, regardless of means utilized, whether oral, electronic, by document or otherwise, and whether in a meeting, by telephone, facsimile, email (desktop or mobile device), text message, instant message, MMS or SMS message, regular mail, telexes, releases, or otherwise.

3. The terms “and” and “or” shall be construed broadly and either conjunctively or disjunctively to bring within the scope of this request any information which might otherwise be construed to be outside its scope. The singular includes plural number, and vice versa. The masculine includes the feminine and neuter genders.

4. The terms “person” or “persons” mean natural persons, firms, partnerships, associations, corporations, subsidiaries, divisions, departments, joint ventures, proprietorships, syndicates, or other legal, business or government entities, and all subsidiaries, affiliates, divisions, departments, branches, or other units thereof.

5. The term “identify,” when used in a question about individuals, means to provide the following information: (a) the individual’s complete name and title; and (b) the individual’s business address and phone number.

6. The term “referring or relating,” with respect to any given subject, means anything that constitutes, contains, embodies, reflects, identifies, states, refers to, deals with or is pertinent to that subject in any manner whatsoever.

SpaceRef staff editor.