The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has given NASA until the close of business June 27 to produce internal documents about the agency’s heavy-lift rocket plans or face a subpoena.

The documents the senators want to see relate to the policy changes prescribed for the agency in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. In particular, NASA was ordered to build a heavy-lift rocket, called the Space Launch Systems (SLS), and a Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) to carry astronauts into space.

“We are writing to inform you that if you do not provide these documents to us by 6:00 p.m. on Monday, June 27, 2011, Chairman [John D.] Rockefeller will issue a subpoena regarding the production of these documents,” Sens. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) wrote in a June 22 letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. 

In response to an earlier letter from the committee, NASA on June 6 turned over some, but not all, of the documents that lawmakers were seeking.

The latest letter from the committee said that “while NASA has provided a partial response to our May 18 letter, you have thwarted our oversight activities by withholding key documents that describe NASA’s compliance with the 2010 Act.”

“The agency is working to respond to the Senate Commerce Committee request and compiling the records requested,” NASA spokesman David Weaver said June 24. “NASA has been working aggressively to implement the Authorization Act approved late last year and funded just this spring.”