What’s Happening in Space Policy April 26-May 2, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy April 26-May 2, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of April 26-May 2, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess except for pro forma sessions until at least May 4.

During the Week

Congress passed the fourth coronavirus relief package last week — with the House convening for a recorded vote on Thursday (all but about 40 members made the trip) — and now is planning a fifth.  Both chambers will meet only in pro forma sessions this week and the schedule is uncertain thereafter although House and Senate leaders have said they are targeting May 4 for a return. House Democrats planned to introduce and vote on a rules change when they met on Thursday to allow for remote hearings and alternative voting procedures, but were blocked by Republicans. Instead they created a bipartisan committee to look into it.  So there won’t be any hearings this week.

There are more than enough virtual meetings to keep us all busy, however, and on Friday NASA will hold a series of briefings about the upcoming Demo-2 test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

Starting there, NASA and SpaceX remain optimistic about launching Demo-2 on May 27, although NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wants us all to stay away from Kennedy Space Center because of COVID-19.  The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel also thinks that date appears feasible. In preparation for the first launch of astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil since the last space shuttle flight in 2011, NASA will hold a series of press events at Johnson Space Center (JSC) on Friday. Which is to say, the speakers will be at JSC, but the press will be asking questions remotely.  No press will be allowed on site at any NASA center.

The media briefings at 11:00 am, 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time will air on NASA TV.

  • At 11:00, Bridenstine, Kathy Lueders, the head of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), Kirk Shireman, NASA’s ISS program manager, and SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell will give an overview of the commercial crew and ISS programs.
  • At 12:30, an overview of this specific mission, with CCP deputy Steve Stitch, NASA Demo-2 flight director Zeb Scoville, and SpaceX’s Benji Reed, director of crew mission management.
  • And at 2:00, the crew itself — NASA’s Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.  They will also be available for one-on-one media interviews at 3:30, but that is not listed on the NASA TV schedule, so apparently will not be broadcast. UPDATE: the revised NASA TV schedule says the interviews with Hurley will air from 3:40-4:50 pm ET and with Behnken from 5:25-6:05 pm ET.

That should be a lot of fun.

Preceding that this week, we know of 10 virtual events as of today.  Two are corporate earnings telecons, both on Wednesday, to discuss 1Q 2020 financial results at Northrop Grumman and Boeing.

The Aerospace Corporation has two more of its “Space Policy Show” webinars on Tuesday (Space Resource Utilization) and Thursday (Possibilities of the Future Space Enterprise). Aerospace sometimes changes the topics at the last minute, though, so check the event’s website for up to date information.

Space News has its next webinar on Wednesday, looking at the role of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in space policy following its recent actions approving Ligado’s use of spectrum for a 5G system that may interfere with GPS and approving in part and deferring in part new rules for space debris mitigation.

Aviation Week & Space Technology is holding its own webinar this week, too.  On Thursday a panel of experts will discuss how COVID-19 is affecting space startups.  Some of those startups are important to national security space and could come up in CSIS’s look at the impact of COVID-19 on the defense supply chain tomorrow (Monday).

The Space Foundation and ComptTIA’s Space Enterprise Council will take a look at COVID-19 and the space program from a different perspective on Wednesday — how the space industry is “providing a lifeline to millions of Americans in this time of crisis.”  Many will recognize a very familiar name on the list of panelists, but in a new position — Chirag Parikh.

Chirag took over the role of director of space policy at the White House National Security Council from Peter Marquez in 2010 and left five years later to join the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).  Two weeks ago he announced that he has left NGA and joined Microsoft Azure, which wants to use AI-enabled capabilities to “fundamentally change the game for space.”  Not to worry — he promises to continue organizing the annual Washington Nationals Spaceball game outing (whenever baseball resumes).

Speaking of NGA, Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI) and Cesium will hold a virtual “Geospatial Analysis Showcase” with a keynote by former NGA Director Robert Cardillo on Tuesday.

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, or changes to these events.

Monday, April 27

Tuesday, April 28

Wednesday, April 29

Thursday, April 30

Friday, May 1

  • NASA/SpaceX Demo-2 Pre-Launch Media Briefings (NASA TV)
    • 11:00 am ET: Commercial Crew and International Space Station Program Overview
    • 12:30 pm ET: Mission Overview
    • 2:00 pm ET:  Crew News Conference
    • 3:40-6:05 pm ET: Live interviews with Hurley (3:40-4:50 pm ET) and Behnken (5:25-6:05 pm ET)

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