What’s Happening in Space Policy April 3-9, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy April 3-9, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of April 3-9, 2022 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

The week has started already. Today (Sunday) was supposed to be the culmination of the Wet Dress Rehearsal for the Artemis I launch where NASA teams fuel the Space Launch System rocket (hence “wet”) and conduct practice countdowns. Around noon ET, however, they scrubbed the test “due to the loss of ability to pressurize the mobile launcher.”

NASA is not providing live coverage of the test. All that is known publicly is what they post on the Artemis blog and tweet. The main NASA Twitter feed for this test is @NASAGroundSys, the NASA Exploration Ground Systems account. According to tweets, they are evaluating the situation and MAY proceed tomorrow, but that will be determined later. NASA will hold a media briefing today at 5:30 pm ET to explain what happened and what’s next.

The test is taking place at KSC’s Launch Complex-39B. Next door at LC-39A, SpaceX is getting ready to launch the first U.S.-sponsored private astronaut mission to the ISS, Axiom-1. NASA says the test and the launch cannot take place the same day. The Ax-1 launch already had to slip from April 3 to April 6 because the test had priority. Before rockets are launched, a “static fire” test is conducted to make sure everything is working. SpaceX planned to do the static fire test for Ax-1 tomorrow. It seems unlikely the static fire could take place at the same time as the NASA test either, since it is just like a launch except that it doesn’t leave the pad. Bottom line: the Ax-1 launch could slip again. Axiom Space officials said on Friday they can launch on April 7, 8 or 9 if necessary. It’s a problem after that because they need to get up and back (a 10-day mission) in time for NASA’s next crew to launch to the ISS. NASA just slipped THAT launch, Crew-4, from April 19 to April 20 to provide a bit of breathing room after Ax-1’s return.

The ISS and NASA’s launch pads are very busy places.

What we’re listing here is based on what we know as of Sunday afternoon, but it could and probably will change. Please keep checking our Calendar for updates.  [UPDATE: NASA will proceed the WDR tomorrow, with tanking scheduled to begin about 7:00 am ET.  The impact on the Axiom-1 launch is still TBA.]

In addition to the Wet Dress Rehearsal and the Axiom-1 launch, there’s a lot going on this week including the Space Foundation’s Space Symposium, important congressional hearings, and a news conference with Mark Vande Hei, who just got back from 355 days in space.

The Space Symposium is far too full of fascinating sessions to summarize here, not to mention all the side events. We will let you peruse the schedules yourselves. It’s a hybrid meeting, with most of the in-person sessions at the Broadmoor Hotel as usual plus a virtual option. NASA TV will broadcast three of the events NASA is involved in: on Tuesday a talk by Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy followed by a panel on Artemis, and on Wednesday a news conference with Associate Administrator Bob Cabana and others on cubesats for the Moon and beyond.

Congress is getting busy looking at the FY2023 budget request. The House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces subcommittee holds its annual hearing on national security space on Wednesday with witnesses including John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy; Lt. Gen. Mike Guetlein, Commander of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command; Tonya Wilkerson, Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Chris Scolese, Director of the National Reconnaissance Office; and Jon Ludwigson from the Government Accountability Office.

The next day the Senate Armed Services Committee will hear from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and DOD Comptroller Michael McCord on the overall request for DOD and future years.

No NASA hearings are on tap yet, but the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will mark up a bill (H.R. 6845, Lucas) on Tuesday that would restore reporting requirements by the Department of Commerce on commercial remote sensing that expired last year, and shorten from 120 days to 60 days how long the Secretary of Commerce has to approve or disapprove an application for a commercial remote sensing satellite license.

Also on Tuesday, NASA will hold a news conference with Mark Vande Hei who just returned after almost a year on the ISS. He and two Russian colleagues landed in Kazakhstan on Wednesday and a NASA plane flew him back home, arriving Thursday morning.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday afternoon are shown below. Check back throughout the week for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar or changes to these (which seem likely).

Sunday, April 3

Sunday-Monday, April 3-4 (continued from April 1)

Monday, April 4

Monday-Wednesday, April 4-6

Monday-Thursday, April 4-7

Monday-Friday, April 4-8

Tuesday, April 5

Wednesday, April 6

Thursday, April 7

Friday, April 8

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