What’s Happening in Space Policy August 26-31, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy August 26-31, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of August 26-31, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them. The House is in recess (except for pro forma sessions) until September 4. The Senate will be in session for at least part of this week.

During the Week

Some Senators had hoped to finish work last week so those running for office could get in some campaigning time, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it known that he wants 17 nominations — mostly judges, none related to space — confirmed before he gives Senators a few days off.  The Senate will be back in session at 4:00 pm ET tomorrow (Monday).

Tributes to Senator John McCain, who died yesterday from brain cancer, are certain to consume a lot of floor time.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is proposing to rename one of the three Senate office buildings after McCain.  Originally called simply the Senate Office Building, in 1972 it was named in honor of Sen. Richard B. Russell (D-GA), another renowned leader of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) who served in the Senate from 1933-1971. McCain’s office is in that building.  McCain was elected to his sixth 6-year Senate term in 2016, so it runs through 2022. Under the laws of Arizona, the Governor of Arizona will appoint someone to serve in McCain’s place until 2020 when a special election will take place for the renaming two years of his term.

NASA tweeted a link to a McCain op-ed published at the time of Neil Armstrong’s passing in 2012 about how the Moon landing helped him keep fighting while he was a POW in Vietnam.

The Senate Commerce Committee will hold an executive session on Wednesday to approve legislation and nominations including James Morhard for Deputy NASA Administrator and Kelvin Droegemeier for Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  At their nomination hearing last week, one Democratic Senator questioned Morhard’s qualifications for the NASA job and another asked about his views on climate change, but overall the hearing was uneventful and committee approval is expected.  Droegemeier’s nomination was praised by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Apart from that, most of the space policy action will take place in California at NASA’s Ames Research Center where the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and its committees will be meeting.  All are available by WebEx/telecon.  Remember that all times on the agendas are Pacific Daylight Time (add 3 for Eastern).

These are really good opportunities to get up to date on NASA’s plans and the reaction of the non-NASA experts who comprise the committees and NAC itself.   The Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) committee and the Science committee meet tomorrow  and Tuesday.  The meeting on Tuesday is a joint meeting of both committees, with a focus on cis-lunar activities including the Gateway and “landed” science.  Tomorrow, HEO will get an update on ISS, Exploration Systems (SLS/Orion/EGS), commercial crew, and the power and propulsion element for the Gateway.  A lot has been happening with SLS/Orion/EGS now that NASA appears to be planning to launch several SLS Block 1 missions using the Interim Cyrogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), with the Block 1 B using the Exploration Upper State (EUS) coming later.  Hopefully NASA will share the new schedule and mission plans.  The agenda for tomorrow’s Science Committee meeting does not appear to be posted yet.

The other committees meet on Tuesday, and NAC meets on Wednesday and Thursday. The NAC agenda also is not posted yet.

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.

Monday, August 27

Monday-Friday, August 27-31 (continued from last week)

Tuesday, August 28

Wednesday-Thursday, August 29-30

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