Week ahead: Lawmakers turn their sights toward Mars

A week after focusing on General Motors handling of recalls on over a million of its cars, lawmakers will turn their attention to space this week.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday about NASA’s “exploration strategy, international cooperation in space, and commercial space efforts.”

The hearing, which will be chaired by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), will be titled “From Here to Mars.”

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NASA’s Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier and former astronaut Leroy Chiao are scheduled to be among the witness that testifies before the Senate panel.

Lawmakers in the House will be keeping their focus earth-bound this week. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is planning to hold a hearing Tuesday about “international experience with public-private partnerships.”

The hearing comes as lawmakers are attempting to craft a new road and transit funding bill before a bankruptcy date for the Department of Transportation’s Highway Trust Fund that has been projected to come as early as August.

Additionally in the lower chamber, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will meet Tuesday to review the U.S. Post Office 2015 budget request.

Internationally, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will continue for its fifth week.

Officials involved with the search that has been going on in the south Indian Ocean for the better part of a month said last week that the plane may likely never be found.

A series of items that were captured in satellite images that investigators believed to be remnants of the vanished plane turned out to be false leads.

Malaysian officials have promised to “never give up” looking for the plane, even as they acknowledge the odds of finding it grow less likely with each passing week.