Senator Al Gore (D.-Tenn.) spotlighted the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget with three hearings of the Senate subcommittee on science, technology, and space, held between April 17 and 24. Gore, who chairs the Senate panel, particularly grilled NASA administrator Richard Truly and other witnesses over where space science stacks up as a budget priority. The agenda and costs for Mission to Planet Earth also provoked detailed discussion.
Using the report by the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program as a blueprint, Gore closely questioned Truly and the committee's chair, Norman Augustine, as to whether particular NASA program matched the committee's recommendations. In one such exchange about the new launch system, Gore charged that the Augustine panel had envisioned a $2–$4 billion cost, while NASA was now proposing an $11 billion system.