What’s Happening in Space Policy November 22-28, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 22-28, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of November 22-28, 2020 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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NSF Decides Arecibo Telescope Beyond Repair

NSF Decides Arecibo Telescope Beyond Repair

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today that it has decided the Arecibo radio telescope is beyond repair and will be decommissioned. Two of the cables that support the scientific equipment hovering above the giant dish nestled in the mountains of Puerto Rico have failed and NSF worries the entire structure is in danger of collapse. NASA scientists use the telescope and the agency said it respected NSF’s decision.

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Senate Committee Approves SPACE Act, But Without a Bureau of Space Commerce

Senate Committee Approves SPACE Act, But Without a Bureau of Space Commerce

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency (SPACE) Act today, but with significant changes from the version introduced last month. Chief among them is the omission of language elevating NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce to a new Bureau of Space Commerce reporting directly to the Secretary of Commerce.

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Contact and Capture — Crew-1 Arrives at ISS

Contact and Capture — Crew-1 Arrives at ISS

The first operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, Crew-1, successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at 11:01 pm ET. The hatch between Crew Dragon and ISS is scheduled to open in about two hours at 1:10 am ET after conducting a series of leak checks. The four arriving astronauts will be greeted by the three ISS crew members already aboard. [UPDATE: The hatch was opened at 1:02 am ET.]

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Crew-1 On Its Way to ISS

Crew-1 On Its Way to ISS

SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on time at 7:27 pm ET Sunday carrying four astronauts for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS).  If all goes as planned, they will arrive this evening, November 16, about 11:00 pm ET to begin a 6-month stay. A problem with propellant heaters on the spacecraft shortly after launch was resolved in a few hours and all is well currently.

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What’s Happening in Space Policy November 15-21, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 15-21, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of November 15-21, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

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Crew-1 Launch Must Wait Until Sunday

Crew-1 Launch Must Wait Until Sunday

NASA and SpaceX have decided to wait until Sunday to launch Crew-1, the first operational mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon space transportation system. Bad weather delayed the departure of SpaceX’s drone ship needed to recover the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage. The launch now is scheduled for Sunday, November 15, at 7:27 pm ET.

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Outside Experts Want NASA To Delay Schedule, Increase Cost Estimate for Mars Sample Return

Outside Experts Want NASA To Delay Schedule, Increase Cost Estimate for Mars Sample Return

A panel of experts established by NASA to assess its plans to return samples of Mars to Earth is recommending that NASA delay the launch of the next two spacecraft and build the budget around a higher cost estimate.  The panel strongly supports the three-spacecraft mission, a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency, but concluded the current plan is too ambitious.

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NASA IG: Gateway Not Likely to Be Ready by 2024

NASA IG: Gateway Not Likely to Be Ready by 2024

NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has concluded that the Gateway space station NASA plans to put in lunar orbit as part of the Artemis program likely will not be ready in time to support the Trump Administration’s plan to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024.  NASA said earlier this year that Gateway is not needed for the landing, but expected to have an initial version in place by 2023 nonetheless.

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NASA Certifies Crew Dragon for Operational Flights

NASA Certifies Crew Dragon for Operational Flights

Weather permitting, the first operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will lift off from Kennedy Space Center on Saturday after clearing its Flight Readiness Review (FRR) yesterday. In conjunction with that process, NASA formally certified Crew Dragon as meeting NASA’s technical and safety human spaceflight requirements, the last milestone in the years-long effort to develop and test this “commercial crew” space transportation system.

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