What’s Happening in Space Policy April 21-27, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy April 21-27, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of April 21-27, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess this week, except for pro forma sessions.  They return for legislative business next week.

During the Week

Though Congress has another week off for Spring Break, the space policy world is getting busy again, with a number of interesting events in D.C. and elsewhere.

To begin with, tomorrow (Monday) is Earth Day.  Its organizers don’t mention the Apollo 8 Earthrise photo as helping to galvanize the environmental movement, but it is difficult to dispute its impact in awakening the awareness of the fragility of our little planet.  On Tuesday, Bruce Clarke, the NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, will moderate a discussion about the Earthrise photo’s “rich cultural impact” at the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building.

NASA is an active participant in Earth Day activities every year.  This year it will host an array of activities in person and through social media all week that are spelled out in this press release.  Among them are lectures at JPL on Thursday and at Caltech on Friday — The Future is Cloudy — on the “critical role that clouds play in our interconnected natural systems and in better understanding Earth’s future climate.”  The Thursday talk will be livestreamed.

Earth Day celebrates its 50th anniversary next year.  One of its founders, Denis Hayes, will announce “major global mobilizations” to mark the occasion during a speech at the National Press Club tomorrow morning.

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is celebrating its 50 anniversary right now.  On Tuesday, it will hold a symposium at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) building on Constitution Avenue in D.C. to celebrate.  Speakers include NAS President Marcia McNutt, National Space Council Executive Secretary Scott Pace, European Space Agency Director General Jan Woerner, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, former NASA mathematician and aeronautical engineer Christine Darden, who was featured in Hidden Figures, and USRA Senior Advisor and Historian David Cummings.  The announcement does not indicate if it will be webcast.

NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) meets at Marshall Space Fight Center this week.  Its public session is Thursday morning.  One can surmise that the Space Launch System (SLS) will be one focus of their discussions since the program is managed there.  Boeing told NASA a few weeks ago that the first SLS launch would slip again, from 2020 into 2021, which led to a series of events that made it clear the Trump Administration was not happy with that news. Instead the Administration wants to accelerate returning humans to the surface of the Moon, getting there in 2024 instead of 2028 as NASA planned.  Vice President Pence said on March 26, at Marshall: “If our current contractor can’t meet this objective, then we’ll find ones that will.”  Now Boeing and NASA are looking at skipping tests, like the Green Run test where all four SLS engines would be fired together, to speed things up and make sure that first flight, EM-1, takes place in 2020.  The 2024 objective appears to be driven by the fact that it would be the last year of a second Trump term if he is reelected, which spurs debate over whether safety might be compromised in order to achieve a political goal.  Many will be looking to ASAP to raise any necessary red flags if that is the case.  Not sure if there will be any discussion about the SpaceX Crew Dragon Super Draco static fire test anomaly since it just happened, but ASAP does usually include an update on their assessment of the commercial crew program.

On the national security space front, on Tuesday the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Secure World Foundation (SWF) will hold a joint seminar to discuss their new respective reports on global counterspace activities.  Both organizations produced counterspace reports last year and have updated them this year.  The reports’ authors will discuss what they found, after which CSIS will show its new documentary Commanding Space: The Story Behind the Space Force.  The documentary is already posted on the CSIS website and really is an excellent recap of how this concept has evolved, including interviews with key participants.  Spoiler alert: Space Force is not a new idea.

China is, of course, one of the countries developing counterspace technologies.  That and other aspects of China’s space program will be discussed on Thursday at a hearing before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Capitol Hill.  Among the speakers are Todd Harrison of CSIS and Brian Weeden of SWF who will present the results of their two studies.  To name just some of the others: Gen. James Cartwright (Ret.) who is now at CSIS, Air Force acquisition guru Will Roper, MAXAR Vice President and COMSTAC chair Mike Gold who is on a panel entitled “Military-Civil Fusion in China’s Space Ambitions,” and experts from CNA, the Project 2049 Institute and and SOS International LLC on a panel about China’s Military Space Activities.” It will be webcast.

China is holding its own China Space Conference this week in Changsha.   A space law symposium organized by the International Institute of Space Law, the China Institute of Space Law and the Chinese Society of Astronautics will be held in conjunction with the conference, as will a U.N. forum on “Space Solutions: Realizing Sustainable Development Goals.”

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.

Monday, April 22

Tuesday, April 23

Tuesday-Wednesday, April 23-24

Tuesday, April 23 – Monday, April 29

Wednesday, April 24

Wednesday-Friday, April 24-26

Thursday, April 25

Friday, April 26



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