What's Happening in Space Policy April 12-17, 2015

What's Happening in Space Policy April 12-17, 2015

This busy week begins today (Sunday), so lace up your running shoes.   Here is our list of upcoming space policy related events for April 12-17, 2015.  The House and Senate return to work from their Easter break tomorrow.

During the Week

Today, April 12, is the 54th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight into space aboard Vostok 1, marking the beginning of the human spaceflight era.  It is also the
34th anniversary of the first space shuttle flight (though that is a coincidence, the flight was scheduled for April 10, but postponed by two days at the last minute).  Yuri’s Night celebrations will be held in many locations around the globe.  There is a website where you can check to find if there’s one in your area and, if not, ideas on how to start one.

Before that, though, are three pre-launch briefings associated with SpaceX’s sixth operational cargo launch to the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow, SpX-6.  The weather forecast is iffy (60 percent chance “go”), but if the launch does take place, SpaceX plans to try again to land the Falcon 9 first stage on its autonomous drone ship whimsically named “Just Read the Instructions.”   Today’s briefings are at 1:30, 3:30 and 5:00 pm ET.  Tomorrow’s launch is at 4:33 pm ET, with a post-launch press conference about 90 minutes later.  All will be broadcast on NASA TV.   All times are subject to change, of course.

Curiously, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) chose the same time as SpaceX’s launch to announce “America’s Next Rocket” at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs that begins tomorrow and runs through Thursday.  Their event is at 4:00 pm Eastern (2:00 pm local time in Colorado) and will be webcast.   ULA President Tory Bruno will tell the world what name was selected via its recent naming contest and other details of the new “all American” rocket.  ULA currently launches Atlas V and Delta IV.   The debate over the Atlas V’s reliance on Russia’s RD-180 rocket engines has been discussed on this website for the past year (type “RD-180” in the search box above to find those articles).  This rocket is intended to end U.S. reliance on Russia and be more competitive with, among others, SpaceX.  Perhaps by choosing the same time to make this announcement as the SpaceX launch, ULA is starting the competition — for attention, at least — right now.

There likely will be breaking news throughout the week from the Space Symposium, but a lot will be happening elsewhere, too.   On Thursday, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden will testify to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in the morning (note that it is at 9:00 am ET, not 10:00 as usual) and to the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee in the afternoon (2:30 pm ET) about NASA’s FY2016 budget request.  The Senate hearing was postponed from March 5 when a snowstorm shut down DC.

Those and the many other events we know about as of this morning are listed below.

Sunday, April 12

Monday, April 13

Monday-Thursday, April 13-16

Monday-Friday, April 13-17

Monday, April 13 – Friday, April 24

Tuesday, April 14

Thursday, April 16

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