What’s Happening in Space Policy April 7-13, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy April 7-13, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of April 7-13, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session for part of the week.

During the Week

The House and Senate each will be in session for part of this week and then will be off for the next two weeks for their spring break.  The House meets Monday-Wednesday; the Senate Tuesday-Friday.

The big event on the Hill this week is the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC’s) hearing on the Trump Administration’s proposal to create a Space Force as part of the Air Force.   Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan spearheaded the effort within DOD to figure out how to reorganize the Department to more effectively manage and execute space activities when he was Deputy Secretary of Defense. On Thursday, he will be at the witness table along with Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force; Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen. John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command.  The two-year long battle (so far) has been well documented on SpacePolicyOnline.com and elsewhere so there’s no need to repeat it, but this hearing should be a bellwether of how successfully DOD is selling its concept of how this should unfold since SASC was not a fan of earlier ideas. The hearing will be webcast.

The big event outside of Washington is the Space Foundation’s 35th annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO.  It is a huge conference jam-packed with VIP speakers from the U.S. and international governments (military and civil) and the private sector.  And it seems that everybody and their brother tacks on side-events, some of which have already started.  The conference opens Monday evening, but really gets underway Tuesday morning when the top brass of DOD, DOC, AF and NASA each get 15-30 minutes to speak. They are followed by the AF Chief of Staff, the Commander of AF Space Command, the CEO of Northrop Grumman and (after lunch) the brand new Director of DOD’s brand new Space Development Agency.  Some speeches get webcast by their home organizations.  For example, NASA Administrator Bridenstine’s talk (9:45 am MT/11:45 am ET) will be broadcast on NASA TV.  Acting SecDef Shanahan is speaking at 8:45 am MT/10:45 am Eastern.  That might be carried on DOD’s video service, DVIDS.   SecAF Heather Wilson is on at 9:20 am MT/11:20 am ET.  The Air Force sometimes broadcasts high profile speeches on its Facebook page.

The National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group (UAG) is one of the groups that will be meeting out there. That’s tomorrow (Monday) afternoon.  It will be available remotely by WebEx/telecon.  Even though Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the Space Council, announced a crash program to put astronauts on the Moon in 5 years, that is not on the UAG agenda.  Instead they will discuss the Space Force and spectrum issues, both of which also are important and timely, but it does seem a bit surprising that Moon 2024 wasn’t added.  Also, Pence spoke at Rice University and at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library on Friday and said not a word about it despite the historic relevance of those venues.  It was at Rice in 1962, a year after he challenged the nation to land a man on the Moon, that John F. Kennedy defended the effort with his “we do these things … because they are hard” speech.  And it was President Bush who, in 1989, announced the first post-Apollo attempt to get astronauts back to the Moon.  Among the topics Pence addressed at the Bush Library was which of his 47 predecessors he most identified with and the first one he mentioned was his “dear friend and fellow Hoosier” Dan Quayle, who was Bush’s VP and chaired the National Space Council of that era.  Yet Pence did not mention the space program at all.  Odd.

The big event off Earth will be the landing of SpaceIL’s Beresheet lunar lander on Thursday, if all goes according to plan.  It successfully entered lunar orbit on April 4 and will become the first non-government spacecraft to land on the Moon.  SpaceIL is an Israeli non-profit that began its efforts as part of the Google Lunar X-Prize.  Though no one won the $20 million Grand Prize and Google ended the competition, the X-Prize Foundation has created a new $1 million prize that can be awarded separate from one of its competitions and hopes that SpaceIL will be the first to win it.

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-Monday, April 7-8 (continued from April 5)

Monday, April 8

Monday-Thursday, April 8-11

Monday-Friday, April 8-12 (continued from April 1)

Tuesday, April 9

  • Space Symposium Events
    • Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan Speaks at the Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, 8:45-9:05 am Mountain Time (10:45-11:05 am Eastern)
    • Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Speaks at the Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, 9:05-9:20 am Mountain Time (11:05-11:20 am Eastern)
    • Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson Speaks at the Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, 9:20-9:45 am Mountain Time (11:20-11:45 am Eastern)
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Speaks at the Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, 9:45-10:15 am Mountain Time (11:45 am-12:15 pm  Eastern), NASA TV
    • Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff Speaks at the Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, 10:30-11:00 am Mountain Time (12:30-1:00 pm Eastern)
    • Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, Commander, Air Force Space Command (and nominee for U.S. Space Command) Speaks at the Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, 11:00-11:30 am Mountain Time (1:00-1:30 pm Eastern)
    • Kathy Warden, CEO and President, Northrop Grumman Speaks at the Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, 11:30 am-12:00 pm Mountain Time (1:30-2:00 pm Eastern)
    • Fred Kennedy, Director, DOD Space Development Agency Speaks at the Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, 2:00-2:30 pm Mountain Time (4:00-4:30 pm Eastern)
  • SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch of Arabsat 6A, Kennedy Space Center, FL, 6:36 pm ET (though the weather forecast is poor)

Thursday, April 11

Friday, April 12


This article has been updated.


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