Category: Military

Sen. McCain Diagnosed with Brain Tumor

Sen. McCain Diagnosed with Brain Tumor

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), he has a profound influence on national security space programs.  He had already delayed his return to Washington to recover from a medical procedure over the weekend to remove a blood clot. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is substituting for him at SASC hearings this week.

As chairman of SASC, McCain is in charge of drafting the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that sets policy and recommends funding for the Department of Defense (DOD). SASC also recommends to the Senate whether to approve or disapprove presidential nominees for civilian and military DOD positions including those who oversee DOD space programs and operations such as the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command and Commander of Air Force Space Command. It is difficult to overstate his influence on the national security space sector.

Senator John McCain.  Photo credit:  McCain website.

McCain is a harsh critic of Russia and in recent years has become particularly well known in the space community for his opposition to the use of Russia’s RD-180 engines for the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket.  Initially he tried to limit their use for national security launches by prohibiting additional engine purchases and insisting on development of a U.S. launch vehicle using U.S. engines by 2019.  He finally relented on the timeline last year, agreeing to push it out to 2022 as requested by the Air Force.  Just last month during debate over a Russia sanctions bill, however, he broadened his efforts to limit the use of any Russian rocket engines for civil or commercial launches, too.  His amendment failed.

SASC already has completed markup of the FY2018 NDAA.  It is awaiting floor action in the Senate.  The House version passed last week.  Once the Senate passes its bill, a compromise will have to be negotiated, a process in which the chairmen of the two Armed Services committees play a crucial role.  Both bills direct DOD to reorganize how it deals with space programs, but the two approaches are dramatically different.  The issue will be one of the many difficult topics they will have to thrash out. SASC wants a new DOD Chief Information Warfare Officer with broad authority over space programs. The House wants a Space Corps within the Air Force and a U.S. Space Command as a subunit of U.S. Strategic Command.

At McCain’s request, the Mayo Clinic, which is treating him, released a statement explaining that “tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot” that was removed.  The statement is posted on McCain’s website.  McCain himself conveyed optimism and confidence that “any future treatment will be effective” and a decision on when he will return to the Senate will be made after further consultations with his medical team.

Advice for the National Space Council from Policy Insiders

Advice for the National Space Council from Policy Insiders

Now that President Trump has announced his intent to appoint Scott Pace as Executive Director of the newly reconstituted National Space Council, advice is pouring in on what issues it should tackle and the challenges ahead.

At a seminar Friday sponsored by the Aerospace Corporation and George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute — which Pace currently heads — Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) and two panels of experts offered their views on the Space Council and other topics.  The White House announcement came the evening before the seminar began.  While Pace was widely rumored to be the top choice, the timing caught many by surprise. The seminar’s topic, however, Ensuring U.S. Space Leadership, lent itself to the breaking development.

The National Space Council has existed in law since the FY1989 NASA Authorization Act. (A predecessor National Aeronautics and Space Council was created in the 1958 law that established NASA, but was disbanded by President Nixon in 1973).  President George H.W. Bush issued an Executive Order standing up the organization in April 1989 with Vice President Dan Quayle as its chair.  After his term ended in 1993, however, no President has chosen to fund or staff the office until now.  President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 30 reestablishing the Council within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) with Vice President Mike Pence as its chairman.

In the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama Administrations, space policy was developed in the EOP through interagency processes led by the National Security Council (NSC) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which formulates the President’s budget request to Congress and oversees how agencies spend money appropriated by Congress, is also part of the EOP.

The two panels at Friday’s seminar encompassed six EOP space policy veterans.  From the NSC: Gil Kilnger (George W. Bush), Peter Marquez (George W. Bush and Obama), and Chirag Parikh (Obama).  From OSTP:  Richard DalBello (Clinton, Obama), Damon Wells (George W. Bush, Obama), and Ben Roberts (Obama). All but Roberts continue to work on space in industry or government — Harris, Planetary Resources, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Virgin Galactic, and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), respectively — though all were speaking in their private capacities. The group is very collegial and offered good-natured advice and ribbing about the challenges Pace will confront, while seriously addressing both structural and policy issues that need to be solved.

Joining them were former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command Gen. C. Robert Kehler (Ret) who also offered their views on the proposal to form a Space Corps within the Air Force, an idea they oppose.  Babin chairs the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and gave a comprehensive keynote address that included the key issues he thinks the Space Council should address.

Many of the comments from the White House policy veterans focused on the inner workings of the EOP and the challenges of dealing with complex policy issues with just one person at the NSC assigned to work on space issues and perhaps one or two at OSTP.  The prevailing view was that reestablishing the Space Council would help because it presumably will have a few more staff than that and, with the Vice President as chairman, raising these issues to higher levels in the White House will be easier.

Roberts, who left OSTP in March after nine years in the EOP (the first seven at OMB) conceded that he was skeptical when he first heard that the Space Council would be reestablished because the OSTP/NSC model was working quite well.   He has changed his mind because it is not clear how President Trump will staff or utilize OSTP.  No science advisor has been nominated and most of the staff has departed with no replacements in sight.  Obama’s OSTP Director and Science Adviser John Holdren had “a lot of clout” with the President on civil and commercial space issues, Roberts said. With that model now in doubt, he views the Space Council, reporting directly to the Vice President, as a positive development.

Parikh pointed out that one missing element of the Executive Order reestabllshing the Council, however, is that no line is drawn among OSTP, NSC and OMB.  The NSC and OSTP staff can write policies, “but it you’re not linked with the budget officials” the policies may not be executable.  For example, when Obama’s National Space Policy was issued in 2010 the policy community recognized the need for more investment in space security, but funding was not made available until 6 years later.  He lamented that too much time is spent worrying about where to place a comma while forgetting about the budgetary spreadsheets.

Wells and DalBello agreed the challenge is implementation.  “Policy is aspirational goals,” said Wells. but it is only after the policy is released “that the fun begins” in obtaining budgetary resources and harmonizng policy and regulatory frameworks.  Calling the space policy process “self congratulatory,” DalBello said it falls short in getting the necessary interagency commitments to translate policy into workable budgets as well as in reaching out to Congress.  Congress needs to appropriate the money and in some cases set policy in law.

More broadly, Klinger stressed that the single most critical issue is whether the rate at which the United States is adapting and changing its space policy and capabilities matches the rate of change in threats and opportunities.  “If yes, we’re in the game.  If not, we are at risk of looking like the dinosaurs in the Gary Larson cartoon.”

Klinger, Parikh and DalBello all mentioned the soft power value of the space program on the global stage.  DalBello urged that whatever human spaceflight goals are chosen be “articulated in an international context.”  Whether in human spaceflight or space traffic management or other areas, the United States needs to “align our interests with other nations.”

One benefit that many see to a Space Council is that it can deal with issues on a cross-cutting basis rather than stovepiped into the civil, commercial, and national security sectors.  Babin discussed five issues he believes would benefit from a “holistic” review by the Space Council:  space transportation, satellite servicing, weather, space weather, and space situational awareness. He offered his own views and solutions, some of which are reflected in the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act that was approved by the committee last month, but also believes an “appropriately constituted” Space Council “can provide a leadership role in synergizing” many of these issues.  He cautioned, however, that if the Space Council does not get “buy-in” from the NSC, OMB and OSTP, “it could simply become another layer of bureaucracy.”

For his own part, Pace noted that he was the Department of Commerce’s representative to the George H.W. Bush Administration’s National Space Council and remarked on how much has changed in aerospace in the intervening decades.  The Council is being “reincarnated” in an era of “democratization and globalization” where the private sector “is changing the rules of the game.”

Although it dealt with a wide variety of issues, the earlier Space Council is probably best remembered for the tense relationship it had with NASA, which eventually led to the firing of NASA Administrator Richard Truly and his replacement by Dan Goldin.

Pace stressed in an op-ed published in the March 14, 2017 issue of The Hill that the Space Council’s purpose is not to supervise NASA.  Pace was NASA’s Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation when Mike Griffin was Administrator in the second George W. Bush term, so has seen the process from that side.   The “White House does not, and never has, needed a space council to supervise NASA, but it does need a way to combine the separate strands of national security space programs, diplomatic engagement, commercial competition and civil space cooperation with a unity of national purpose and effort.”

That opinion was shared by participants in the seminar.  As Marquez said, it is “not a NASA council” but is “about national priorities, needs, and strategic imperatives.”

Donley, Kehler Join Anti-Space Corps Chorus While House Moves Ahead

Donley, Kehler Join Anti-Space Corps Chorus While House Moves Ahead

On Friday, the House passed legislation that would create a Space Corps within the Air Force while a former Secretary of the Air Force and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) argued against it at a seminar across town.

Michael Donley served as Secretary of the Air Force from 2008-2013 as part of his 39 years of government service. Gen. C. Robert Kehler (Ret.) served of Commander of STRATCOM from 2011-2013 and Commander of Air Force Space Command from 2007-2011.  At a meeting sponsored by George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute and the Aerospace Corporation, they echoed comments by current Air Force officials that now is not the right time to separate space from the rest of the warfighting force.  Instead, integrating space into the other warfighting domains — land, sea, air and cyber — is what’s needed.

The bipartisan leadership of the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC’s) Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), included the provision to create a U.S. Space Corps within the Air Force analogous to the Marine Corps within the Department of the Navy in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 2810),   It would also create a U.S. Space Command as a subunit of STRATCOM.  They are ardent advocates for this reorganization as is HASC chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX).

The White House, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein oppose it, as did other members of HASC during markup of the bill on June 28.  Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), a former chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, introduced an amendment to remove the provision, but it was defeated by voice vote.  He attempted to bring the issue to the floor of the House for debate, but the House Rules Committee did not approve his amendment.  The bill passed the House on Friday with the provision intact.

Kehler said the proposed solution does not fit the problem, which is acquisition.  “That’s why people are frustrated,” not because of how DOD is organized.  “Most organizational change doesn’t fix the problem and is a distraction,” costs more than expected and soon changes again.  “The space enterprise is filled with examples of the wreckage of some of the other things we’ve tried.”

The problem that needs to be solved is how to “posture ourselves to be prepared for conflict that extends into space” the same way we think about conflict extending into air or sea. “We know how to do this,” Kehler insisted.  It is a matter of “the grunt work of joint warfighting” and the military services providing combatant commanders with “forces that can operate and accomplish their missions in the face of a contested domain.”  Reorganization is not the answer.  “We have a warfighting organization in place today with all the authority and responsibility necessary.  It’s called STRATCOM.”

Donley agreed. “I don’t favor this proposal.  It is the opposite of the trends we’re trying to achieve” of integrating space into airspace and cyberspace.  The result will be more bureaucracy, “exactly what Congress has been telling the Department not to do.”

Kehler summed it up by repeating that the problem is acquisition. “That’s what we need to fix” and it’s not magic. Many studies have been done.  “We know what’s broken. Fix it.”

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 17-21, 2017

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 17-21, 2017

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of July 17-21, 2017 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate will be in session this week.

During the Week

The big event this week is the annual International Space Station Research and Development (ISS R&D) conference organized by the American Astronautical Society.  This year it’s in Washington, DC at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.  Pre-conference events take place tomorrow (Monday).  Among the events is a session on the role of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in the evolution of ISS research and a joint NASA-JAXA workshop on maximizing the outcome of the ISS and the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), which is named Kibo. The workshop includes NASA’s Marybeth Edeen and Bill Gerstenmaier (head of NASA”s human spaceflight program), and JAXA Vice President and Director General of Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate Takashi Hamazaki and JAXA’s manager and director of the JEM utilization center, Kunihiro Matsumoto and Kazuyuki Tasaki, respectively.

Tuesday-Thursday are the main sessions of the conference, which will be livestreamed.  Among the keynote speakers are Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Bigelow Aerospace’s Robert Bigelow, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoferretti.  NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is a featured speaker on a panel Tuesday morning.  A space policy panel will take place on Wednesday morning.

On exactly the same days (Monday-Thursday), NOAA will hold a conference at the City College of New York in New York City on “A New Era for NOAA Environmental Satellites” with its own who’s who of experts from the U.S., other countries (including China, Japan, South Korea and Brazil) and international organizations (e.g. EUMETSAT and the World Meteorological Organization).  NBC’s Al Roker is the luncheon keynote speaker on Monday.  Sessions focus on GOES-R, JPSS, Big Data, and spectrum issues.  The conference website does not indicate if any of it will be webcast.  If we find out, we will add the information to our calendar item.

And on three of those four days (Tuesday-Thursday), NASA will hold its annual Exploration Forum at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.  Sponsored by the Solar System Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) it, too, has a jam-packed agenda with fascinating panels and speakers.

This week definitely has an embarrassment of riches for anyone interested in space science, technology and policy and we haven’t even gotten to Congress yet.

The House Appropriations Committee will mark up the bill (T-HUD) that funds FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation on Monday evening; the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Space Subcommittee will hold a hearing on planetary flagship missions, including Mars 2020 and Europa Clipper, on Tuesday morning; and the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has a nomination hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon that includes the nominations of Ellen Lord to be USD/ATL and Matthew Donovan to be Under Secretary of the Air Force (SASC Chairman Sen. McCain’s decision to remain in Arizona this week recovering from eye surgery could change that schedule, though).

Those events and others we know about as of Sunday morning are shown below.  Check back throughout the week for others we learn about later and add to our Events of Interest list.

Monday (July 17)

Monday-Thursday (July 17-20)

Tuesday (July 18)

Tuesday-Thursday (July 18-20)

Wednesday, July 19

Wednesday-Thursday, July 19-20

Thursday, July 20


House Adopts Johnson Amendment to Create Memorial to Apollo 1 Crew

House Adopts Johnson Amendment to Create Memorial to Apollo 1 Crew

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX) effort to create a memorial to the Apollo 1 crew at Arlington National Cemetery took a step forward yesterday.  The crews of the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia are honored there, but not Apollo 1.  Her amendment to the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) directing the Secretary of the Army to establish an Apollo 1 memorial there was adopted by the House.  The bill itself passed later in the day.

Fifty years ago, Virgil “Gus” Grisson, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died when fire erupted in their Apollo command module during a pre-launch test.  The test on January 27, 1967 was in advance of a planned February 21 launch of the first Apollo mission.  The cause of the fire is thought to have been a spark from an electrical wire in the 100 percent oxygen atmosphere inside the capsule, although the investigation could not conclusively identify the ignition source.  The capsule was pressurized at 16.7 pounds per square inch (psi), greater than that outside the capsule.  The hatch swung inward and the crew could not open it quickly enough to escape.

Apollo 1 crew members Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.  Photo credit:  NASA

During a tribute to the crew in January on the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, Chaffee’s daughter, Sheryl, movingly recounted what it was like as an 8-year-old to learn of her father’s death and how it led to her own 33-year career at NASA.  She said, however, that it seems as though few remember it.

Johnson introduced a bill last year to honor the Apollo 1 crew at Arlington Cemetery in the same manner as the Challenger and Columbia crews, but it did not pass.  She reintroduced it this year.  This week, however, she proposed a slightly different version as an amendment to the NDAA (H.R. 2810).  The House approved it as part of en bloc amendment 4.

In a press statement, Johnson expressed her gratitude to the House for supporting the amendment and hope that the Senate will follow suit.  “Each of these individuals made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of a noble and inspiring goal — the peaceful exploration of outer space.  I am grateful to all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this amendment, and I hope the Senate will join us in making the Apollo 1 memorial a reality.”

Memorial to the space shuttle Challenger crew at Arlington National Cemetery.  Photo credit:  Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorial to the space shuttle Columbia crew at Arlington National Cemetery.  Photo credit: Arlington National Cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery is overseen by the Department of the Army.  Johnson’s amendment requires the Secretary of the Army, in consultation with the NASA Administrator, to construct the memorial at “an appropriate place” in the cemetery and authorizes $50,000 for that purpose.

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) has been supporting Johnson’s effort.  In an emailed statement, AIA thanked Johnson, House Armed Services Committee (HASC) chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA).   “AIA has supported Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s … effort along with our partners at the Challenger Center. … AIA applauds these three representatives for their leadership in moving forward the noble idea of authorizing a memorial marker honoring these American heroes.”

As Johnson said, the next step is getting the Senate to agree.  The Senate’s version of the FY2018 NDAA is awaiting floor action.  As reported from the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), it does not address this issue.

Scott Pace to Be National Space Council’s Executive Secretary

Scott Pace to Be National Space Council’s Executive Secretary

The White House announced today that President Trump intends to appoint Scott Pace to be Executive Secretary of the National Space Council.  Pace is currently Director of the Space Policy Institute and Professor of Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University (GWU).

Pace has a long career in space policy and is very well known and highly respected in the community.  Ever since the Trump Administration indicated that it would reestablish the Space Council, his is virtually the only name rumored to be in the running to serve as the head of its staff.  The Council was officially reestablished on June 30 and is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.  Pace was spotted at Kennedy Space Center last week where Pence addressed the KSC workforce, further fueling speculation that he would be appointed as head of the Space Council.

In its announcement, the White House said Pace has “honed his expertise in the areas of science, space, and technology” citing his career at GWU, NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the RAND Corporation’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Scott Pace.  Photo credit:  GWU website.

Pace received a B.S. in physics from Harvey Mudd College, a master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics and Technology and Policy from MIT, and a Ph.D. in policy analysis from the RAND Graduate School.

During the George W. Bush Administration’s second term, Pace was NASA’s Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation under then-NASA Administrator Mike Griffin.  He was closely involved in formulating the Constellation program to return humans to the surface of the Moon and then going on to Mars.

His expertise is much broader, however.  He was Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Office of Space Commerce at the Department of Commerce from 1990-1993 when that office reported to the Deputy Secretary of Commerce (instead of being part of NOAA as it is today).   He has been very active on GPS issues for many years, including protecting GPS spectrum at World Radiocommunications Conferences (WRCs) organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  He was a member of the U.S. delegation to the WRCs in 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2007.  He also has served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (2009 and 2011-2015). Today he is vice-chair of NOAA’s Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing, of which he has been a member for several years.

John Logsdon, who founded GWU’s Space Policy Institute and is Professor Emeritus there, said via email that he could think of “no one more qualified” to take on the “essential task of crafting a strategic approach to using U.S. space capabilities to advance this country’s geopolitical interests and to forge productive collaboration among all government space actors and the private sector.”

Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (CDSE), also praised the announcement.  “Dr. Pace’s unique combination of experience in government, the private sector, and academia, and his internationally-recognized expertise in space policy, make him an exemplary selection” for the position.  She added that CDSE looks forward to working with “the Council, its staff, and the Vice President’s office to support U.S. leadership and strategic interests in space.”  CDSE is an alliance of space industry businesses and advocacy groups that support deep space human exploration and science.


Update:  this article has been updated with reaction to the announcement.

White House Opposes Space Corps

White House Opposes Space Corps

The Trump Administration informed the House that it does not agree on the need for the Space Corps proposed in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The White House Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) called the proposal premature because DOD is still in the process of studying potential organizational changes.  The White House used stronger language to object to two other space provisions in the bill.  The House began debate on the bill (H.R. 2810) this afternoon. [UPDATE: The House passed the bill with the Space Corps provision intact on July 14, 2017.]

Section 1601 of the bill proposes creating a Space Corps within the Air Force analogous to the Marine Corps within the Department of the Navy, and a U.S. Space Command within U.S. Strategic Command.  Proposed by House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Strategic Forces subcommittee chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) and ranking member Jim Cooper (D-TN), it was strongly backed by HASC chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) during full committee markup of the bill.  It was opposed by others, however.  Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), a former chairman of the subcommittee, offered an amendment to delete the provision, but it was rejected by voice vote.  Turner proposed his amendment again for consideration by the full House.   Such amendments must be approved by the House Rules Committee. As of press time, it is not on that committee’s list of amendments that have been made in order for floor debate.

The White House SAP was gently worded, saying it appreciates HASC’s concerns and “we understand the increasing threats posed to our continued use of space capabilities.”  DOD is already considering “a wide range of organizational options, including a Space Corps,” and the White House wants to wait until that assessment is completed before making decisions.

The SAP uses stronger language to object to two other provisions.  Section 1615 restricts the use of funding for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs) to developing new rocket propulsion systems to replace “non-allied space launch engines” (a reference to Russia’s RD-180 engines used for Atlas V) and modifications to launch vehicles to accommodate them.  The money may not be used for entirely new space launch systems (propulsion plus the rest of the rocket and associated infrastructure).  The Trump Administration “strongly objects” to that section because it “limits domestic competition, which will increase taxpayer costs by several billions of dollars through FY2027 and stifle innovation.”   DOD already has a strategy for developing new launch systems that has “saved $300 million” and the provision in the bill would make that strategy “impossible to execute.”

The Trump Administration also strongly objects to Section 1612 that limits DOD’s ability to procure satellite services from certain foreign entities.  The bill prohibits buying satellite services if the satellite or its launch vehicle is designed or manufactured in a “covered foreign country,” which for the purposes of this section includes Russia.  The SAP points out that three-quarters of DOD’s satellite communications services are from “foreign-incorporated companies that make widespread use of international launch vehicles.”

In total, the White House SAP listed 27 provisions in the bill it finds particularly troubling, but the tone of the statement is more friendly that many of those issued by the Obama Administration. This SAP repeatedly says the White House looks forward to working with Congress to resolve the issues, whereas SAPs from the last Administration often said if a bill was not changed, the President’s advisors would recommend that he veto it.   That likely is because Republicans now control the House, Senate, and White House and this is the Trump Administration’s first year in office.

SASC Wants New Chief Information Warfare Officer With Authority Over Space

SASC Wants New Chief Information Warfare Officer With Authority Over Space

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) today released the text of the bill and report for its version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Unlike its House counterpart, SASC completed all its subcommittee and full committee markups in closed session, so this is the first time details have emerged.  Although the bill does not create a Space Corps like the House bill proposes, it has its own plan for dramatic change in how space programs are handled within DOD.

Section 902 would create the position of Chief Information Warfare Officer (CIWO) reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense (SecDef).   The CIWO would serve as the Principal Cyber Advisor to the SecDef and the Principal DOD Space Advisor (PDSA).

Both positions already exist. The Principal Cyber Advisor (PCA) was created by Congress in the FY2014 NDAA.  The position is filled by a deputy assistant secretary for cyber policy, though it is vacant at the moment.

The PDSA position was created by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work in October 2015 and is filled by the Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF).  The office almost immediately came under criticism from Congress.  In the FY2016 NDAA, SASC required the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the effectiveness of the office.  GAO concluded in a July 27, 2016 report that it was too early to tell, but skepticism remained.  SecAF Deborah Lee James was the first PDSA and there was speculation she might be the last as well.  However, current SecAF Heather Wilson now has the job.

Today’s bill (S. 1519) and report (S. Rept. 115-125) make clear that SASC still is not convinced that PCA and PDSA are solving the problems.  SASC’s concern is that in three areas — information, space, and cyber — no individual has the authority to set priorities. As the report explains:

“The committee has concerns that the existing organizational construct and resourcing authorities within [DOD] for space, cyber, and information are not commensurate with the organizational structure and resourcing required to meet the demands of 21st century warfare. … Until there is an official in the [DOD] who can prioritize these missions, the committee is concerned that the priorities for space, cyber, and information will never receive the resourcing and senior level attention necessary to compete against the parochial interests of each individual Service.”

The CIWO would have a very broad portfolio.

“The CIWO would have the authority to establish policy for and direct the secretaries of the military departments and the heads of all other elements of the Department on matters concerning: (1) Space and space launch systems; (2) Communications networks and information technology (other than business systems); (3) National Security Systems; (4) Information assurance and cybersecurity; (5) Electronic warfare and cyber warfare; (6) Nuclear command and control and senior leadership communications systems; (7) Command and Control systems and networks; (8) The electromagnetic spectrum; (9) Positioning, navigation, and timing; and (10) Any other matters assigned to the Chief Information Officer of the [DOD] not related to business systems or management, …”

Separately, the bill would require the Commander of Air Force Space Command to serve a term of at least 6 years in order to provide continuity of leadership similar to that for the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program and strategic systems program.

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) also is proposing a major reorganization, although it is focused on space, not a combination of space, cyber and information.

Its approach is entirely different, proposing creation of a Space Corps within the Air Force, and a U.S. Space Command within U.S. Strategic Command.  The House provision is very controversial.  It is strongly supported by the chairman and ranking member of HASC’s Strategic Forces subcommittee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Jim Cooper (D-TN), as well as full committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX).  During markup of the bill at full committee on June 28, however, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), a former chairman of that subcommittee, offered an amendment to delete the provision on the basis that it is premature and more deliberation is needed.  The amendment failed on a voice vote.  Turner has proposed it again for debate by the full House.  The House Rules Committee meets tomorrow to decide which amendments will be permitted.

What is clear is that both committees want dramatic changes in how space programs and policy are handled at DOD, but they have very different solutions.  Finding a compromise between the two chambers will be challenging enough, but the bill also will have to be signed by the President, so DOD will have its own say in the matter.

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 10-14, 2017

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 10-14, 2017

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of July 10-14, 2017 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Congress and the space policy community overall are back to work in full force this week after a bit (but only a bit) of a break for July 4.

The House plans to take up the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) towards the end of the week. The House Rules Committee meets on Wednesday to consider which amendments will be allowed to be considered during floor debate.  As shown on the committee’s website, 394 have been filed as of today.  Five are related to space activities.

One is proposed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH).  It would strike a provision in the bill that requires DOD to establish a Space Corps within the Air Force, analogous to the Marine Corps, which is part of the Department of the Navy, and a U.S. Space Command as a subunit of U.S. Strategic Command.  The provision is very controversial.   It was written by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the House Armed
Services Committee’s (HASC’s) Strategic Forces subcommittee, and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), the subcommittee’s top Democrat.  However, it is opposed by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff and is not included in the Senate version of the bill.

Turner first tried to remove the provision during full committee markup by HASC on June 28.  His amendment instead would require DOD to study the need for such a reorganization and report to Congress next year. Turner is a former chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee and remains a member.  He argued that Congress has insufficient information to make such a major move.  Rogers, Cooper and HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) insisted the idea has been discussed for years and it is time to do it.  The amendment was rejected and the provision remains in the bill.  Turner wants the full House to have a chance to weigh in.  Will be interesting to see if the Rules Committee permits it.  Floor debate on the bill could begin late Wednesday or Thursday.

The House Appropriations Transportation-HUD subcommittee (T-HUD) will mark up its FY2018 funding bill on Tuesday, which includes the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).  FAA/AST got $19.8 million in FY2017, a $2 million increase over the $17.8 million it received for FY2016.  Unfortunately, the Trump Administration formulated much of its FY2018 budget request before Congress finalized the FY2017 budget.  At that time, FAA/AST was funded at the $17.8 million level through a Continuing Resolution that held agencies to their FY2016 limits.  The Trump Administration may have thought it was proposing level funding for the office by requesting $17.8 million for FY2018, but Congress ultimately did give FAA/AST the $2 million boost it requested.  Now, if Congress funds the requested level for FY2018, it will mean a $2 million cut.  Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), a member of the full Appropriations Committee (though not the T-HUD subcommittee) and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) fought hard on FAA/AST’s behalf last year to get the $19.8 million.  We’ll see if they can convince appropriators to keep at least the $19.8 million this time.  (Bridenstine testified before the subcommittee in March in favor of another boost — to $23 million — for FY2018.)

The Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), has rescheduled its hearing on commercial space partnerships for Thursday morning.  The hearing was scheduled for June 21, but on June 20 it was postponed without explanation.  The witness list is the same as before except that SpaceX SVP for Global Business and Government Affairs Tim Hughes will substitute for President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.  The other witnesses are NASA KSC Director Bob Cabana, fresh from hosting Vice President Pence last week; Tim Ellis from Relativity; Moriba Jah from the University of Texas at Austin; and Jeff Manber from Nanoracks.

Off the Hill, but still in D.C., there are a slew of really interesting events, including the Secure World Foundation’s panel discussion tomorrow (Monday) with industry perspectives on the space debris problem; the Satellite Industry Association’s release of its annual State of the Satellite Industry report on Tuesday morning; an ISU-DC space cafe Tuesday evening with experts from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center talking about how we benefit every single day from data acquired by earth science satellites; the Future Space Leaders Foundation annual Future Space conference on Thursday; and a seminar sponsored by GWU’s Space Policy Institute and the Aerospace Corporation on Friday morning on “Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space.”

In other parts of the country, AIAA will holds its annual propulsion and energy forum in Atlanta and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA will hold a three-day symposium celebrating the center’s 100th birthday.  The National Academies committee that is performing the mid-term review of the 2011 planetary science Decadal Survey “Vision and Voyages” will meet at CalTech in Pasadena, CA from Tuesday to Thursday.  Open sessions of the meeting are available remotely via WebEx/telecon.   NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) will meet via teleconference on Monday to review with the Mars science community the input it plans to provide to the Academies committee later in the week.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday morning are shown below.  Check back throughout the week for others we learn about later and add to our Events of Interest list.

Monday, July 10

Monday-Wednesday, July 10-12

Tuesday, July 11

Tuesday-Thursday, July 11-13

Wednesday, July 12

Wednesday-Friday, July 12-14

Thursday, July 13

Friday, July 14


Note:  This was updated to add the Defense One Tech Summit on Thursday.

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 2-7, 2017

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 2-7, 2017

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of July 2-7, 2017 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess this week.

During the Week

The week got off to a disappointing start for the Chinese space program today with the failure of its Long March 5 rocket.  This was the second launch for the rocket, China’s largest.  Not only was it intended to place a new type of communications satellite into orbit, it was also a final test before China launches a lunar sample return mission, Chang’e-5, in November. That launch now seems likely to be delayed.  An investigation is underway. We will keep you updated this week as more information becomes available.

Tomorrow (Monday), SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to return to Earth, ending the SpX-11 cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS).  It was delayed one day because of inclement weather in the Pacific landing zone.   NASA TV will provide coverage of Dragon’s release from ISS at 2:28 am ET, but not of the splashdown.

Tuesday, July 4, is Independence Day in the United States.  The Federal government is closed for the holiday, along with many state and local governments and businesses.

Congress is taking this entire week off after a hectic pace last week.  The July 4 recess is one of those milestones on the congressional calendar by which they hope to get certain things done.  That may not be working out in some areas (like health care), but House appropriators made good progress on FY2018 appropriations bills, including defense (which cleared full committee) and Commerce-Justice-Science (approved at the subcommittee level).  The annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is also considered must-pass legislation and both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees approved their versions of the bill.  All that legislation still has a long way to go — especially the appropriations bills since there is no agreement yet on the total amount of money Congress will make available for defense and non-defense activities — but it’s a start.  We’ll see what happens when they return next week.  FY2018 begins on October 1.  There is little, if any, expectation that the appropriations process will be done by then.

The big space policy event this week will be Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Thursday.  President Trump signed the Executive Order reestablishing the White House National Space Council, with Pence as its chairman, on Friday.  Expectations are high that Pence will have something significant to say about the direction of the U.S. space program while he’s at KSC and perhaps announce who will be the Council’s Executive Director.  NASA TV will provide live coverage of the visit.

Rumors about who will be NASA Administrator and when the announcement will be made have gone quiet.  Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is an oft-mentioned contender, so it was a bit of a surprise that he was not at the White House signing ceremony on Friday, but neither was Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot.  Speculation is rampant about who was on the invitation list but couldn’t make it on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend when many people and their families were already beginning their July 4 vacations, versus those who weren’t on the list at all, and how to read those tea leaves.

Overall, it’s a light week for space policy aficionados. A much needed break.

All the events we know about as of Sunday morning are shown below.  Check back throughout the week for others we learn about later and add to our Events of Interest list.

Monday, July 3

Wednesday, July 5

Thursday, July 6