What’s Happening in Space Policy April 15-21, 2018 – UPDATED

What’s Happening in Space Policy April 15-21, 2018 – UPDATED

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of April 15-21, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week. [Updated with weblink for VP Pence’s talk on Monday]

During the Week

It’s another busy week, starting today (Sunday) with pre-launch briefings for NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).  There are two, at 1:00 pm ET and 3:00 pm ET, from Kennedy Space Center.  They will be livestreamed.  TESS will hunt for planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets) that are close to Earth.  TESS is scheduled for launch tomorrow (Monday) at 6:32 pm ET.

Also tomorrow, the Space Foundation’s annual Space Symposium gets underway at its usual venue in Colorado Springs, CO.  Vice President Mike Pence will speak at 2:00 pm ET (12:00 pm local time at the conference).  Pence chairs the White House National Space Council.  The Council’s Executive Secretary, Scott Pace, hinted last week that there will be some type of policy announcement during the talk.  The White House told us that Pence’s speech will be livestreamed, but we don’t have the link yet.   We’ll post it on our calendar as soon as we know.  One POSSIBILITY is that it will be on the White House’s own livestream website.  [UPDATED: Yes, it will be livestreamed on the White House website, beginning at 1:55 pm ET instead of 2:00 pm ET.]

Also out in Colorado this week, NOAA will hold its annual Space Weather Workshop all week in Westminster, which engages government, industry and academia in discussions about the “remarkably diverse impacts of space weather on today’s technology.”

Back here in Washington, on Tuesday the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will mark up a FY2018-2019 NASA Authorization Bill.  The draft bill is posted on the committee’s website.  The markup is at 10:00 am ET and will be webcast.  Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act last year.  This new one addresses some of the changes since then, including NASA’s transition plan for the International Space Station and the proposed cancellation of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

Authorization bills are significant for their policy provisions, not funding, since the funding numbers are just recommendations.  They don’t actually provide any money.  Only appropriations bills do that.  But further to our discussion last week, the debate over whether to rescind or “claw back” some of the $1.3 trillion that was appropriated for FY2018 is still alive, though there is Republican as well as Democratic opposition to the idea on the Hill.  Nonetheless, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney is said to be writing a proposal to do just that — request Congress to take back money it appropriated in excess of what the Trump Administration said it needed.  No details have emerged on what programs in which agencies would be affected, but it seems highly likely that the cuts will be directed at the non-defense portion of the federal budget, which includes NASA and NOAA.  Mulvaney’s proposal is expected to be ready at the beginning of May.

No specific national security space hearings are on tap this week, but three might touch on space issues. Mike Griffin, now the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, will testify to both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees (HASC and SASC).  The HASC hearing on Tuesday is on promoting DOD’s “culture of innovation.”  Griffin will be joined by Eric Schmidt, chairman of DOD’s Defense Innovation Board.  The SASC hearing on Wednesday is about “Accelerating New Technologies to Meet Emerging Threats.”  Griffin is the only witness at that one, which is before SASC’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.  HASC also has a hearing on Tuesday about missile defense and defeat programs.

Congress is working on another export control reform bill.  This one, which will be marked up by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesdsay, is quite sweeping.  It would “modernize U.S. export control regulations of dual-use items,” beginning with repeal of the 1979 Export Administration Act (EAA), which lapsed in 2001.

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 Calendar.

Sunday, April 15

Sunday-Monday, April 15-16

Sunday-Friday, April 15-20

Monday, April 16

Monday-Thursday, April 16-19

  • Space Symposium (Space Foundation), Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO

Monday-Friday, April 16-20

Tuesday, April 17

Wednesday, April 18

Thursday, April 19

Thursday-Friday, April 19-20


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