What’s Happening in Space Policy August 14-20, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy August 14-20, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of August 14-20, 2022 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess except for pro forma sessions.

During the Week

With House passage of the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, Congress has finished its work for the first part of 2022. Except for pro forma sessions, the Senate is in recess through September 6. The House will not return for legislative business until September 12, but committees may meet virtually September 6-8.

The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft at Launch Complex 39B for tests in June 2022, with its destination, the Moon, looking on. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston.

The space program remains really busy though, especially with preparations for the Artemis I launch, still targeted for August 29 with September 2 and September 5 as backup days.

NASA has three briefings this week on the science and technology payloads that will be on this uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. Those are on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Thursday, the “stack” will begin its trip back out to Launch Complex 39B. It takes 8-12 hours to make the 4 mile trip. The stack has made this journey twice already for the Wet Dress Rehearsal tests in April and June. This time it’s for the actual launch. We’ll have much more on that in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, the International Space Station remains as busy as ever. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev will do a spacewalk on Wednesday to continue activating the European Robotic Arm on the Nauka science module. On Thursday, SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon, the 25th in the series, will undock and return to Earth with over 4,000 pounds of material NASA wants back including the results of scientific experiments and equipment. The latter includes a spacesuit worn by ESA/German astronaut Matthias Maurer in March that experienced another water incursion into the helmet.

NASA is trying to diagnose why that’s happening and suspended all U.S. spacewalks until they figure it out. What happened with Maurer wasn’t nearly as serious as the original episode with Luca Parmitano in 2013, but it’s worrisome. NASA will only allow contingency spacewalks needed to fix something urgently until they sort it out. The Russians have their own spacesuits and are not affected by any of this. In fact, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti just did a spacewalk in a Russian suit to help activate that European Robotic Arm.

Down here on Earth, there are a number of interesting webinars and conferences.

Jill Smyth, Counselor for Space Affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Washington will be the guest on the Space Foundation’s “Start Here for Space” on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Space Foundation will continue its series of “Start Here for Space” episodes highlighting international cooperation.

Each Tuesday this month and into September, the Space Foundation is holding half-hour webinars with Washington representatives of non-U.S. space agencies to talk about what their agencies are doing and cooperation with the United States.  This week’s guest is Jill Smyth, Counselor for Space Affairs at the Canadian Embassy. Previous episodes were with Sylvie Espinasse from ESA and Masami Onoda from JAXA. Coming up are Nicolas Maubert from CNES, Krunal Joshi from ISRO, and Marc Johemich from DLR.

On Thursday evening, JPL will celebrate the 45th anniversary of Voyager. These two amazing spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, are still transmitting data from the far reaches of space after all this time. Many people may associate the spacecraft with the menancing “V’GER” from the original Star Trek movie, but that’s two-and-a-half centuries from now (smile). In reality they are fonts of scientific knowledge about the outer solar system and beyond. Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 flew past Jupiter and Saturn and Voyager 2 flew by Uranus and Neptune as well. We’ve learned a lot more about those planets from later spacecraft and telescopes like Hubble, but at the time the data and images were nothing less than astounding.

Saturn’s rings as imaged by Voyager 2 on August 22, 1981. Credit: NASA/JPL.

Their trajectories took them in different directions out of the solar system where they continue to delight scientists with in-situ readings about the interstellar environment. Current program manager Suzanne Dodd will talk about where the spacecraft have been and what’s next. The event will air on JPL’s YouTube channel.

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.

Monday, August 15

Tuesday, August 16

Wednesday, August 17

Thursday, August 18

Thursday-Friday, August 18-19

Friday-Saturday, August 19-20


Correction: an earlier version of this article said Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to fly past Jupiter and Saturn, but that distinction belongs to Pioneer 11.

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