What’s Happening in Space Policy February 17-23, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 17-23, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of February 17-23, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess this week except for pro forma sessions.

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NASA Wants to Buy Two More Soyuz Seats

NASA Wants to Buy Two More Soyuz Seats

NASA released a presolicitation announcement on February 13 that reveals it is considering purchasing two more seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) and serve as “lifeboats” while they are aboard.  The action comes as NASA’s existing contract with Russia for such services expires and new U.S. systems are getting close to conducting test launches, but their operational dates are uncertain.

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It’s Over. Trump Signs FY2019 Appropriations Bill

It’s Over. Trump Signs FY2019 Appropriations Bill

President Trump signed the FY2019 Consolidated Appropriations bill today, ending the impasse over border security funding that caused a record 35-day partial government shutdown.  The bill funds NASA, NOAA, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) and many other government departments and agencies through the end of FY2019.

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NASA Wants to Move Fast, Sustainably, on Lunar Exploration

NASA Wants to Move Fast, Sustainably, on Lunar Exploration

Top NASA officials stressed today that the agency wants to move fast in implementing the Trump Administration’s Space Policy Directive-1 (SPD-1) to return astronauts to the lunar surface, but also sustainably with commercial and international partners.  A first step is the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative to put instruments on commercial robotic lunar landers, announced last year.  NASA says it will have payloads ready to go as soon as the commercial sector is ready, ideally by the end of this year.  NASA is now reaching out to the commercial sector for ideas on landers that can take astronauts to and from the surface.

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Congress Approves FY2019 Appropriations to Avoid Another Shutdown, Now Up to Trump

Congress Approves FY2019 Appropriations to Avoid Another Shutdown, Now Up to Trump

The Senate and House passed the FY2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act today, clearing it for President Trump’s signature.  The bill includes funding for NASA, NOAA and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation through the end of FY2019.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump assured him today that he will sign the legislation, but then …

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Congress Poised to Pass Final FY2019 Appropriations

Congress Poised to Pass Final FY2019 Appropriations

House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on an appropriations package to keep the entire government functioning after Friday.  President Trump has not agreed to sign it, but said on Tuesday that he does not want another government shutdown, implying that he will.  Still, as events in December starkly illustrated, it’s not over till it’s over.

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NASA Says Farewell to Oppy

NASA Says Farewell to Oppy

Today NASA closed the chapter on the Mars rover Opportunity — fondly referred to as Oppy — after eight months of silence. Designed to operate for 90 days on the surface of Mars, Oppy lasted for more than 14 years before succumbing to an historic dust storm that prevented the Sun from recharging its batteries. Oppy’s twin, Spirit, ceased functioning in 2011.  Now only two spacecraft are operating on the Martian surface: NASA’s Curiosity rover and InSight lander.

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Mark Kelly Enters Arizona’s 2020 Senate Race

Mark Kelly Enters Arizona’s 2020 Senate Race

Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly announced today that he is running for the Arizona Senate seat once held by John McCain.  Martha McSally, a Republican like McCain, now holds the seat on a temporary basis after being appointed by Arizona’s governor after she lost her own race for the other Arizona Senate seat to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.  Kelly is running as a Democrat, too, and the race is seen as one of the keys to Democrats regaining control of the Senate.

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Droegemeier Officially Sworn In As OSTP Director

Droegemeier Officially Sworn In As OSTP Director

Kelvin Droegemeier was officially sworn in as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today.  Vice President Mike Pence officiated.  Droegemeier is the Trump Administration’s first OSTP Director, more than two years after Trump’s inauguration.

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DOD IG To Evaluate Air Force’s Certification of SpaceX’s Falcon Rockets

DOD IG To Evaluate Air Force’s Certification of SpaceX’s Falcon Rockets

The office of the DOD Inspector General (IG) sent a memo to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson today informing her that it is beginning an evaluation of the Air Force’s certification of SpaceX’s Falcon rockets.  The memo was signed by the Deputy IG for Intelligence and Special Program Assessments, Michael J. Roark.

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