Events of Interest: Week of June 4-8, 2012

Events of Interest: Week of June 4-8, 2012

The following events may be of interest in the coming week. The House and Senate both are in session.

During the Week

The space policy world returns to its routine this week after an exciting SpaceX mission that kept everyone’s rapt attention from launch on May 22 to splashdown on May 31.  Dragon successfully returned to port in Los Angeles and flown to SpaceX’s facilities near Waco, TX over the weekend.  The final objective to be met is turning the cargo it returned from the International Space Station (ISS) over to NASA.  A NASA official said on May 31 that he did not expect it to take long to agree on a launch date for the first of 12 Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) missions to ISS SpaceX is expected to provide to NASA between now and 2015.

In the more humdrum world of Washington space policy, however, there still are events of interest upcoming.   Among them are the first meeting of the rejuvenated National Research Council (NRC)’s Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics that will take place Monday-Wednesday.  A standing committee overseen jointly by the Space Studies Board and Board on Physics and Astronomy, CAA looks after ground- and space-based astronomy issues for the NRC in-between decadal surveys. 

Also of special interest, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee will hold a hearing on government indemnification of launch service providers.   The 1988 Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments created the original authority for the government to indemnify launch service providers from third party claims between $500 million and $2 billion.  The companies must get their own insurance for up to $500 million and over $2 billion.   The authority was granted for 5 years and has been repeatedly extended over the decades.  It is currently set to expire on December 31, 2012.   Each time the authority is up for renewal, Congress asks whether the launch service industry still requires indemnification.  To date, Congress has always agreed to extend the authority, usually on the basis that other countries indemnify their providers so U.S. companies must have the same protection in order to be competitive.  There has yet to be a third-party claim since there have been no commercial launch accidents that injured the general public.

Though it is not policy-related, don’t miss the Venus Transit on June 5.  Be sure to get your special glasses out, or watch it on NASA TV.  This is the last time Venus will pass between Earth and the Sun until 2117, so for most us, this will be our last chance.  And for everyone interested is what’s going on with the Sun and how it affects Earth, check out the Space Weather Enterprise Forum also on Tuesday.

Monday, June 4

Monday-Wednesday, June 4-6

Tuesday, June 5

  • Space Weather Enterprise Forum, National Press Club, Washington, DC, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Venus Transit (Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun), different times around the globe, NASA TV will host a special at 5:30 pm ET

Wednesday, June 6


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