What’s Happening in Space Policy August 28-September 8, 2017

What’s Happening in Space Policy August 28-September 8, 2017

Here is our list of space policy events for the next two weeks, August 28-September 8 2017, and any insight we can offer about them.   The House and Senate are in recess until September 5 (except for pro forma sessions).

During the Weeks

Harvey, the terrible storm in Texas, is on everyone’s mind today (Sunday).   Our thoughts are with everyone affected, but, of course, we have a special concern for our friends and colleagues at Johnson Space Center (JSC).  JSC is geographically located between Houston and Galveston (near League City if you are watching the Weather Channel, which shows that location on its maps quite often). While every person’s safety is foremost in our hearts, there is some very special hardware there, too, including the James Webb Space Telescope, which is being tested in a thermal vac chamber.

We’ve emailed folks at JSC and NASA HQ to find out what special precautions are underway for everyone and everything to protect as much as possible against this historic flooding event. We’ll let you know when we get a reply. NASA’s main website at the moment says only that mission control remains operational and fully capable of supporting the International Space Station (ISS).  Harvey is expected to continue drenching Texas for most of the coming week, however, so that could change.  NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Russia have mission control centers that can be used as alternatives.

Editor’s note:  JSC (@NASA_Johnson) tweeted that updates on the center’s status are available on a different Twitter feed: @jscsos.

A NASA news conference is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon with Peggy Whitson, who is aboard the ISS.  This is her final press conference from the ISS for her current mission.  Reporters will be able to ask questions from JSC (if it’s open), Kennedy Space Center (KSC) or via the phone.  It will be broadcast on NASA TV.  Whitson has set several new records during this trip to ISS:  longest continuous duration in space for a woman (will be 288 days by the time she lands this coming weekend), longest cumulative time in space for a U.S. astronaut (of either gender) over her three spaceflights (665 days), most spacewalks by a woman (10), most time on spacewalks for a woman (60 hours 21 minutes), first woman to command ISS twice (on this mission and in 2007-2008), and oldest woman in space (58).  Should be an interesting discussion.   She will return on Soyuz MS-04 with NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and Roscosmos cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, landing in Kazakhstan at 9:22 pm ET on Saturday (September 2).  NASA TV will cover it as usual.

On another note, the National Academies committee conducting the mid-term review of the planetary science Decadal Survey is meeting at the Academies’ Woods Hole conference facility tomorrow-Wednesday.  Most of the meeting is closed, but several open sessions are on the agenda as well.  Anyone may listen to them via telecon/WebEx. Two of the open sessions will provide an update on NASA’s plans for robotic Mars exploration. The head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, briefs the committee tomorrow at 8:30 am ET. On Tuesday, SMD’s Mars Exploration Program director Jim Watzin is on deck.  Several other interesting topics are on tap for open sessions, too, including commercial space and planetary exploration (Scott Hubbard), SSERVI (Yvonne Pendleton), education (Kristen Erickson), and SLS and planetary science (Steve Creech).

Congress returns to work on September 5.  Most committees have not yet announced their schedules, but, generally, Congress has a LOT on its plate to accomplish by the end of the month.  The fiscal year ends on September 30, so Congress must pass and the President must sign some piece of funding legislation (most likely a Continuing Resolution) to keep the government operating thereafter.  President Trump has threatened to let the government shut down if Congress does not provide the funding he wants for the border wall with Mexico he promised during his campaign.  Some Senate Democrats say they will filibuster any bill that includes such funding.  It’s a mess, as has become all too common in recent years.

Oh, and they must raise the debt limit, too.

For those of you more interested in policy than politics, as we noted last week, CSIS has a really interesting all-day seminar on September 6 on how to organize military space. It will be webcast.

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-Wednesday, August 28-30

Tuesday, August 29

Wednesday, August 30

Wednesday-Thursday, August 30-31

Thursday, August 31

Saturday, September 2

Sunday-Thursday, September 3-7

Wednesday, September 6

Wednesday-Thursday, September 6-7

Friday, September 8

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