Space Policy Events for February 2-7, 2014

Space Policy Events for February 2-7, 2014

The following space policy events may be of interest in the week ahead.  The House and Senate are in session.

During the Week

Among the highlights this week is the FAA’s annual Commercial Space Transportation conference on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, DC.   Speakers this year include Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations; Congressman Steve Palazzo (R-MS), chair of the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee; staff from House and Senate committees with oversight of commercial space transportation issues; and an impressive set of representatives of other government agencies, traditional and entrepreneurial space companies, and academia.

The day before that conference, George Nield, FAA’s Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, will testify to Palazzo’s subcommittee on “Necessary Updates to the Commercial Space Launch Act.”  That’s the law, which, among other things, created the authority for the FAA to indemnify commercial space launch companies against certain amounts of third party claims for damages from launch accidents.  Congress extended the FAA’s indemnification authority for three more years (to December 31, 2016) as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, but Democrats on the House committee had wanted just a one-year extension to provide time for more hearings on the topic.   It wouldn’t be surprising for questions to arise on indemnification despite the extension. 

It’s always difficult to guess what Members will be interested in at any hearing, but another issue that might come up is the extent to which the FAA should regulate commercial human spaceflight.  It currently is limited by law as to how strictly it can regulate that industry until 2015.  The idea of a light handed regulatory regime is to ensure that heavy regulation doesn’t deter the emergence of a new industry.  At last year’s Commercial Space Transportation conference, Wayne Hale argued in favor of voluntary industry standards rather than government regulation.   Hale is not on the list of witnesses at the hearing, but he is scheduled to speak at the conference the next day.   In addition to Nield, the other hearing witnesses are Alicia Cackley from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Henry Hertzfeld from George Washington University.

Lots of other interesting events this week, too, as shown in the list below — everything we know about as of Sunday afternoon. 

Sunday-Thursday, February 2-6

  • American Meteorological Society 94th annual meeting, Atlanta, GA.  Town Hall meetings of particular note:
    • NASA Earth Sciences Division Town Hall meeting, Tuesday, Feb 4, 12:15-1:15 pm ET
    • Advances in Direct Broadcast Capabilities and Applications for JPSS and other Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite Systems Town Hall meeting, Tuesday, Feb 4, 12:15-1:15 pm ET
    • SMAP Mission Town Hall meeting, Tuesday, Feb 4, 6:00-7:00 pm ET
    • NASA’s Earth Science — Flight Program Investments in and Planning for the Next-Generation Earth Observatories Town Hall meeting, Wednesday, Feb 5, 12:15-1:15 pm ET

Monday, February 3

Monday-Tuesday, February 3-4

Tuesday, February 4

Tuesday-Thursday, February 4-6

Wednesday-Thursday, February 5-6

Wednesday-Friday, February 5-7

Thursday, February 6

Friday, February 7


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