What’s Happening in Space Policy August 29-September 4, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy August 29-September 4, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of August 29-September 4, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate is in recess until September 13. House committees will meet on certain days, but the House will meet only in pro forma sessions until September 20.

During the Week

Before we get started on what’s coming up this week, we want to make sure everyone knows about two events that will NOT be taking place in September as planned: the Washington Space Business Roundtable (WSBR) flagship luncheon at Satellite 2021 (September 8) and the National Space Club’s Goddard Memorial Dinner (September 17), fondly known as the “space prom.”  Both were cancelled because of the COVID-19 resurgence. Satellite 2021 is going on as planned as far as we know (September 7-10 at the Gaylord in National Harbor, MD). The Space Club invites everyone to mark their calendars for the 2022 Goddard Dinner on March 18, 2022 at the Washington Hilton as usual.

This week is off and running already. SpaceX launched its 23rd cargo mission to the International Space Station at 3:14 am ET this morning (Sunday), a one-day delay due to bad weather. It will dock tomorrow about 11:00 am ET to deliver 4,800 pounds of science experiments, equipment, and supplies. NASA TV coverage begins at 9:30 am ET. Also happening at the ISS this week is a Russian spacewalk on Friday to begin outfitting the new Nauka science module. The NASA/JAXA spacewalk that was to have taken place last week had to be postponed because NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei has a pinched nerve in his neck (ouch!). It will be rescheduled after the Russian spacewalks on Friday and September 9.

Back here on Earth, things are pretty quiet on Capitol Hill with one major exception. On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will mark up the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Subcommittee markups were completed in July. Now it’s up to the full committee. Historically these HASC NDAA markups are marathon sessions that begin at 10:00 am ET and often last till midnight. Sometimes way past midnight. With the situation in Afghanistan likely sparking many amendments and discussion, it wouldn’t be surprising for this one to break the record. Space activities probably won’t get that much attention comparatively speaking, but we’ll keep an eye on things as best we can.

It’s quite busy off the Hill with three-day virtual meetings of NASA’s Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) and Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) just for starters.

As we noted last week, Tuesday, August 31, is an especially busy day. OPAG and LEAG both meet that day and there is a CSIS webinar with Sarah Al Amiri, the head of the UAE’s space agency, a media briefing on the upcoming Landsat 9 launch, the first day of a 3-day virtual USGS symposium on Landsat, and a Secure World Foundation/British Embassy virtual symposium on “Space, Climate Change, and International Cooperation.”

We promised we’d say more this week about the USGS symposium — “National Imagery Summit: Landsat and Society” — from Tuesday to Thursday, noon to 5:45 pm ET each day.

NASA builds and launches the Landsat satellites, but they are operated by the USGS, which also distributes and archives all the data. The one scheduled for launch on September 23 is the ninth in the series that dates back to 1972, although one (Landsat 6) didn’t make it into orbit. The Landsat series provides a decades-long set of comparable data about Earth’s land surface and how it is changing.

The symposium has a terrific line-up, starting with former NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati, currently Director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. Joining him are NASA’s Landsat 9 Program Executive Mike Egan, USGS’s National Land Imaging Program Manager Tim Newman, Mariel Borowitz from Georgia Tech and academics from other universities in the U.S. and Canada, tech company reps from Microsoft, Amazon and Google Earth, and speakers from the Chicago Department of Health and the Tulalip Tribes of Washington. That’s not a complete list, but you get the idea. Should be excellent.

At 10:00 am ET on the morning of  the symposium, NASA and USGS will hold a media briefing about the Landsat 9 launch. They announced on Friday that the launch from Vandenberg has been delayed for at least a week, from September 16 to 23. The press release didn’t state the reason, but a local newspaper in Santa Barbara (near Vandenberg) quotes NASA as saying in a written statement: “Current pandemic demands for medical liquid oxygen have impacted the delivery of the needed liquid nitrogen supply to Vandenberg by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and its supplier Airgas.”  Very interesting, especially on top of Gwynne Shotwell’s comments at the Space Symposium last week that SpaceX launches this year will be impacted by shortages of liquid oxygen because it is needed for COVID patients.

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 30

Monday-Wednesday, August 30-September 1

Monday-Friday, August 30-September 2 (continued from August 25)

Tuesday, August 31

Tuesday-Thursday, August 31-September 2

Wednesday, September 1

Wednesday-Thursday, September 1-2

Thursday, September 2

Friday, September 3

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