What’s Happening in Space Policy December 9-15, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy December 9-15, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of December 9-15, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate will be in session.

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Culberson Optimistic Restrictions on US-China Space Cooperation Will Remain

Culberson Optimistic Restrictions on US-China Space Cooperation Will Remain

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) said today that he is optimistic Congress will continue to prohibit NASA from engaging in bilateral cooperation with China unless certain conditions are met after he leaves Congress.  Culberson chairs a key subcommittee and has included that restriction in each of NASA’s appropriations bills since he became chairman four years ago, continuing a practice begun by his predecessor Frank Wolf.  Culberson lost his reelection race, however, so will not be returning in the 116th Congress.

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China’s Chang’e-4 Lander/Rover On Its Way to the Lunar Farside

China’s Chang’e-4 Lander/Rover On Its Way to the Lunar Farside

China launched its Chang’e-4 mission to the Moon today.  The lander and rover will be the first spacecraft to land on the Moon’s far side, which always faces away from Earth.  The landing is expected between January 1 and January 3, 2019.

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Congress Clears Bill to Fund Government Through December 21

Congress Clears Bill to Fund Government Through December 21

The House and Senate quickly passed legislation today extending the Continuing Resolution (CR) funding NASA, NOAA and many other government agencies for two more weeks, until December 21.  President Trump has indicated that he will sign it into law.

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SpaceX Successfully Launches Dragon to ISS, But First Stage Landing Goes Awry

SpaceX Successfully Launches Dragon to ISS, But First Stage Landing Goes Awry

SpaceX successfully launched its 16th cargo resupply mission, CRS-16, to the International Space Station (ISS) today.  The Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the ISS early Saturday morning Eastern Standard Time.  However, SpaceX did not achieve its secondary objective of landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as it has done in the past. Instead, it made an almost perfect landing on the ocean about two miles offshore.

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China Gets Ready to Launch World’s First Lunar Farside Lander

China Gets Ready to Launch World’s First Lunar Farside Lander

China officially announced today that it will launch Chang’e-4 on Saturday, Beijing time (Friday afternoon, Eastern Standard Time).  It will be the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the Moon, which always points away from Earth, meaning that mission controllers will not be able to communicate with it directly.  China launched a communications relay satellite, Queqiao, earlier this year.

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Congress to Extend Appropriations CR For Two More Weeks

Congress to Extend Appropriations CR For Two More Weeks

The death of President George H.W. Bush and activities in Washington to honor him have derailed congressional plans for the week.  The Continuing Resolution (CR) that is funding agencies like NASA and NOAA expires on Friday at midnight, so Congress quickly decided that they will pass an extension to keep the entire government operating until December 21.

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George H. W. Bush Remembered as Space Visionary

George H. W. Bush Remembered as Space Visionary

Many tributes are being paid to President George H.W. Bush, who passed away on November 30.   His influence on the space program is remembered mostly for the unsuccessful Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) to return astronauts to the Moon and go on to Mars, but he had a profound impact on NASA’s program in a different way — opening up cooperation with Russia as the Cold War ended. Today’s launch of a Russian-American-Canadian trio to the International Space Station on a Russian rocket is a tribute to his leadership.

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New Crew Arrives Safely on ISS, Hague and Ovchinin Get A Second Chance

New Crew Arrives Safely on ISS, Hague and Ovchinin Get A Second Chance

The launch of Soyuz MS-11 took place without incident today, delivering three new crew members to the International Space Station (ISS). This was the first crew launch since the October 11, 2018 Soyuz MS-10 failure. The two-man Soyuz MS-10 crew, NASA’s Nick Hague and Roscosmos’s Aleksey Ovchinin, did not make it to ISS that day, but they will get a second chance in February on Soyuz MS-12.

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New Crew Launching to ISS Just Two Months After Failure – UPDATE

New Crew Launching to ISS Just Two Months After Failure – UPDATE

A new three-person crew for the International Space Station (ISS) is set to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:31 am Eastern Standard Time tomorrow (Monday). Crew launches have been routine for the 18 years that ISS has been permanently occupied by astronauts rotating on 4-6 month schedules, but that all changed on October 11 when a Soyuz rocket malfunctioned about two minutes after launch. The two-person crew landed safely, but it was a stark reminder about the perils of spaceflight.  A return-to-flight so quickly is unusual by U.S. standards, but no one was hurt and NASA and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, are confident the problem was identified and fixed. [UPDATE, December 3, 6:50 am ET:  The launch was uneventful at 6:31 am ET.  Crew is in orbit and on track for docking at ISS at 12:36 pm ET today.]

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