What’s Happening in Space Policy August 19-31, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy August 19-31, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks, August 19-31, 2018, and any insight we can offer about them.  The House is in recess (except for pro forma sessions) until September 4.  The Senate is scheduled to be in session at least some of the time during this period, although its schedule is fluid.

During the Weeks

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to keep the Senate in session for most of August instead of taking the usual summer break because there is so much work to do. It was in session last week, but for only two days, Wednesday and Thursday, and McConnell chastised Senators from his own party for not attending on Wednesday.  Consideration of the FY2019 defense appropriations bill was on the schedule and it did begin, but didn’t get very far.  The Senate will resume consideration of the bill, which is paired with the Labor-HHS bill, tomorrow (Monday).  Among the pending amendments is a Shelby amendment in the nature of a substitute with the Senate text of the bill, H.R. 6157 (which passed the House in June).

The White House Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the Senate version identifies one space issue with which it strongly disagrees.  The Senate Appropriations Committee cut $209 million from the Administration’s request to buy launch vehicles.  The committee considers the request for money to launch Space Test Program-4 (STP-4), the RSGS satellite servicing demonstration, “early to need.”  The White House said RSGS will be ready for launch in 2021 and thus the launch vehicle must be purchased now. The Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) mission is a public-private partnership between DARPA and Space Systems Loral (a unit of Maxar Technologies).  The White House said failure to purchase the launch vehicle now would increase program costs and put “at risk substantial private investment and future public-private partnerships.”

On Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee will take up the nominations of James Morhard to be Deputy Administrator of NASA and Kelvin Droegemeier to be Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  The hearing begins at 10:15 am ET and will be webcast on the committee’s website.

Also on Thursday, Vice President Pence will visit Johnson Space Center.  He will be in the Houston area for a fundraiser for Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), who is in a tight reelection race. Among other things, Culberson chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA.  The White House has not released details on Pence’s visit to JSC other than saying he will receive a briefing from NASA leadership and address JSC employees.  Whether there will be a major policy pronouncement or if this is a more casual visit is not clear yet.  Stay tuned.

Still on Thursday, the next Space Policy and History Forum will take place in D.C. with a panel on Space Force in Historical Context.  These forums are sponsored by the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) and IDA’s Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI).  This one will be held at STPI’s offices near the White House.  Panelists are NASM’s Laurence Burke, DOD’s Richard Hallion, and former DOD Assistant Secretary for Space Policy Doug Loverro, with STPI’s Mark Lewis as moderator.  Pre-registration is required.

And STILL on Thursday, the Secure World Foundation and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy are holding an early-evening reception in D.C. for people interested in space policy careers to meet and talk with individuals who already do that for a living.  “It’s Not Just Rocket Science: Careers in Space Policy” features individuals with military, policy, development, and legal backgrounds who will discuss their careers.

And, you guessed it, still on Thursday, the 21st annual Mars Society Convention begins in Pasadena, CA.  It runs through Sunday and has many, many interesting sessions.  One that piqued our interest is Thursday evening (note that all times on the agenda are in Pacific Time): a debate on “Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway: Breakthrough or Boondoggle.”  It’s at 8:30 pm Pacific, so that’s 11:30 pm Eastern if it’s webcast.  Unfortunately the agenda posted on the event’s website still does not show who will be debating the issue, but it could be quite interesting.

Next week, the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and its committees meet Monday-Thursday at NASA’s Ames Research Center. The meetings are available remotely by WebEx/telecon.  Listening to them is a really good way to get up to date on NASA’s plans and how they are viewed by outside experts.  Remember that times on the agendas are in Pacific Time (add 3 hours for Eastern).

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

Monday, August 20 – Friday, August 31

Tuesday, August 21

Wednesday, August 22

Thursday, August 23

Thursday, August 23 – Sunday, August 26

Monday, August 27

Tuesday, August 28

Wednesday-Thursday, August 29-30



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