What’s Happening in Space Policy April 14-27, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy April 14-27, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks, April 14-27, 2019, and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess until April 29, except for pro forma sessions.

During the Weeks

Congress is on Spring Break, along with many schools nationwide.  The congressional break is for two weeks and they will return to a full agenda of legislative activities.   Until then, the space policy schedule is relatively light so we are combining the next two weeks in this report.

Tomorrow (Monday) evening, journalist Marvin Kalb will interview Apollo 11 astronaut Mike Collins at the National Press Club about the impact that mission had on “the nation, the world, and humankind.”  Collins was Command Module Pilot for Apollo 11, remaining in orbit on the Command Module while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface.  Hopefully Kalb will ask him about NASA’s new plan to return humans to the surface in the next 5 years and the concept of the Gateway as a “reusable Command Module” as it is often described.  The interview will be webcast.

The next ISS cargo mission, Northrop Grumman’s eleventh Cygnus (NG-11), is scheduled for launch on Wednesday, with pre-launch briefings the day before.  Russia just launched a Progress cargo mission last week (Progress MS-11), and a SpaceX Dragon cargo mission (SpX-17) is scheduled for a week and two days after Cygnus.  When contemplating human exploration beyond low Earth orbit, always good to keep in mind how many supplies are needed to support humans and their homes in space.

Next Monday (April 22) is Earth Day.  The theme this year is Protect our Species.  One of the original Earth Day organizers, Denis Hayes, will speak at the National Press Club that day to talk about “major global mobilizations” planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day next year.  Many credit Apollo 8’s acclaimed Earthrise photo as the genesis of the environmental movement and that may well be true although unfortunately the Earth Day website does not mention it or the space program at all.  (They say it was an oil-spill in Santa Barbara, CA that galvanized the Earth Day movement.)  Nonetheless, NASA is all in and is encouraging everyone to post their favorite close-up photo of some feature on Earth to social media using the hashtag #PictureEarth.

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  To commemorate the milestone, it will hold a symposium on April 23 at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) building on Constitution Avenue in D.C.   NAS President Marcia McNutt, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, ESA Director General Jan Woerner, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, and former NASA aeronautical engineer Christine Darden, who was featured in Hidden Figures, are among the speakers.  Darden was the first African-American woman at NASA/Langley to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service for her work on supersonic flight and sonic booms.  The event’s website does not indicate if it will be livestreamed.

NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) meets at Marshall Space Flight Center.  Its public session is on April 25 where ASAP members give brief recaps of what they learned in their fact finding meetings, which are not open to the public.  Anyone can listen to the audio.  It’s a good way to find out what they are or are not concerned about from a safety standpoint.  Since they are meeting at Marshall, one focus surely will be the Space Launch System (SLS), which is central to achieving the Moon 2024 goal.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday morning, April 14, are shown below.  Check back throughout the weeks for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar.

Monday, April 15

Tuesday, April 16

Wednesday, April 17

  • NG-11 Cygnus Launch to ISS, Wallops Island, VA, 4:46 pm ET
    • NASA TV coverage begins 4:15 pm ET
    • Post-launch briefing, 8:15 pm ET (NASA TV)

Wednesday-Thursday, April 17-18

Thursday-Sunday, April 18-21

Friday, April 19

Monday, April 22

  • Earth Day (Global)
    • Denis Hayes Speaks at National Press Club, Washington, DC, 10:00 am ET

Tuesday, April 23

Tuesday-Wednesday, April 23-24

Tuesday-Monday, April 23-29

Wednesday, April 24

Wednesday-Friday, April 24-26

Thursday, April 25

Friday, April 26


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