What’s Happening in Space Policy August 11-24, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy August 11-24, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks, August 11-24, 2019, and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess (except for pro forma sessions) until September 9.

During the Weeks

The space policy scene in Washington remains quiet this week as Congress and many others take a break.

That changes next week when the National Space Council holds its sixth public meeting at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport.  That’s on August 20 from 9:30-11:30 am ET.   The White House’s livestream and/or NASA TV likely will broadcast it although the NASA TV schedule doesn’t list it yet.

Elsewhere, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will visit the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) near New Orleans this Thursday, August 15, as the Space Launch System (SLS) team prepares to add the final section to the SLS core stage that will be used for the first SLS launch, Artemis 1.  He will take questions from the media at 11:30 am local time (12:30 pm ET). Perhaps he’ll give a clearer indication of when the launch is expected.  The date has slipped many times and last we heard it was going to be late 2020 or early 2021, but nothing more definitive than that.  The NASA press release does not indicate if any of his visit to MAF will be webcast, but Bridenstine sometimes livestreams events himself using his smartphone so there’s a chance.  Best way to know is to check his Twitter feed that day: @JimBridenstine.

NASA’s not the only one making progress on a vehicle to take people and cargo to the Moon and Mars.  SpaceX may conduct its second Starhopper test in the next week or so in Boca Chica, TX.   Starhopper is part of the development of SpaceX’s Starship, which will be launched on SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket, also under development.  Elon Musk tweeted two days ago that the test would take place “no sooner than a week” as the company works “approvals with the FAA.”  The goal this time is for the test vehicle to move (“hop”) 200 meters, compared to the 20 meters demonstrated with the first test on July 25.  Musk also tweeted that he will give an update on Starship on August 24 from Boca Chica.  If we find out what time it will take place, we’ll add it to our Calendar entry for this event.

Up in orbit, NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Drew Morgan will make a spacewalk on August 21 to install that International Docking Adapter 3 (IDA-3) recently delivered by SpaceX’s CRS-18 cargo mission.  NASA will hold a preview briefing on August 16 that will air on NASA TV, as will the spacewalk itself.

Later on August 21 EDT (August 22 local time at the launch site), Russia will launch an uncrewed Soyuz spacecraft, Soyuz MS-14, to the ISS.  Russia is switching these Soyuz launches to a different version of the Soyuz rocket, Soyuz 2.1a instead of Soyuz FG, which requires modifications to the abort system.  Soyuz MS-14 will test that new system and a new navigation and propulsion system for docking with the ISS.  Russia typically conducts uncrewed test flights of new systems before certifying them for use by crews.

Also worth mentioning: India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar orbiter/lander/rover should arrive in lunar orbit on August 20.  Everything seems to be going well so far.  The lander/rover is scheduled to descend to the lunar surface on September 6 EDT.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday morning, August 11, are shown below.  Check back throughout the weeks for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar.

Thursday, August 15

Friday, August 16

Tuesday, August 20

Tuesday-Wednesday, August 20-21

Wednesday, August 21

Saturday, August 24

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