What’s Happening in Space Policy August 25-September 7, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy August 25-September 7, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks August 25-September 7, 2019.  The House and Senate are in recess (except for pro forma sessions) until September 9.

During the Weeks

This coming week won’t be quite as restful as we expected.  Two events were postponed from last week to this and a third has popped up.

The action starts tonight (Sunday) with the first step in getting ready for a second attempt to dock the uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).

Soyuz dockings usually take place without fanfare.  A problem cropped up early yesterday morning (EDT) with Soyuz MS-14, however.  Soyuz MS-14 is a test flight and no humans are aboard, just an automated robot, FEDOR (or Skybot F850).  Among other things, it is testing new navigation and propulsion systems for docking, but yesterday’s problem was not with the Soyuz MS-14 systems. Russian engineers determined it is a bad power amplifier on the ISS for the KURS automated rendezvous and docking system.  Soyuz MS-14 was commanded to abort the docking and moved to a safe orbit above and behind ISS waiting for another opportunity.  That will come on Monday evening at 11:12 pm EDT (6:12 am Tuesday, Moscow Time).

Roscosmos decided to bring it into a different docking port, however, where the KURS system is working correctly.  Soyuz MS-14 was intended to dock at the Poisk port, but now will be directed to the Zvezda port.  Soyuz MS-13 is currently docked there so tonight the Soyuz MS-13 crew (Skvortsov, Morgan, Parmitano) will have to move it from Zvezda to Poisk.  With a crew aboard, they can execute a manual docking that does not require KURS.  All three crew must be in the spacecraft in the very unlikely event something goes wrong with THAT docking and they have to return to Earth.  The undocking/redocking of Soyuz MS-13 will take place from 11:34-11:59 pm EDT tonight (6:34-6:59 am Monday, Moscow Time).  The second attempt to dock Soyuz MS-14 will happen just about 24 hours later.  NASA TV will cover both.

Also postponed from last week is the second hover test of SpaceX’s Starhopper test vehicle, part of the development of Starship.  SpaceX has been waiting on FAA approval for the test, which will take place at its Boca Chica, TX site.  Elon Musk tweeted yesterday that the test could happen “as soon as Monday.”  SpaceX provides little information about these test “hops.”  You can follow the action on Twitter thanks to dedicated space enthusiasts and reporters including: Mary @BocaChicaGal (a resident of the area); Chris Bergin @NASASpaceflight and Chris Gephardt @ChrisG_NSF  of NASASpaceflight.com (not a NASA website), and Tim Dodd, Everyday Astronaut @ErdayAstronaut.  The goal is for Starhopper to “hop” 200 meters.  The first test was just 20 meters.  Musk has said this is the last test for Starhopper.  Next comes the Starship Mk1 prototype with three Raptor engines (instead of one on Starhopper).

The new event for this week is the official ceremony to stand up U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM).  It will be on Thursday and Vice President Mike Pence will preside, but other details have not been divulged.  We’ll let you know whatever we find out.

Next week begins with Labor Day, a federal holiday that marks the unofficial end of summer.  Congress will not be back for another week, so it will still be relatively quiet on the D.C. space policy scene.  One notable event is a workshop on “Exploring the Hidden Economic Value of Space Applications” sponsored by the SDA Boconni School of Management-SEE Lab,  the Secure World Foundation, and George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute.  That’s on Thursday, September 5.  More about that in next week’s What’s Happening.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday morning, August 25, are shown below.  Check back throughout the weeks for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar.

Sunday, August 25

Monday, August 26

Thursday, August 29

Monday, September 2

Tuesday-Friday, September 3-6

Wednesday, September 4

Thursday, September 5

Friday, September 6

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.