What's Happening In Space Policy August 3-10, 2014

What's Happening In Space Policy August 3-10, 2014

Here is our list of space policy-related events for the week of August 3-10, 2014 and any insight we can offer about them.   Congress is in recess until September 8.

During the Week

It may be a little quiet in Washington this week with Congress gone and many people on vacation, but there’s a lot going in space policy elsewhere in the country, world, and the depths of outer space.

Three annual conferences are taking place — Utah State University’s Smallsat Conference in Logan, Utah;  AIAA’s Space 2014 in San Diego; and the Mars Society’s international convention in League City, Texas — and the biennial COSPAR meeting is in Moscow.  Two of them — Smallsat and COSPAR — actually began yesterday.

NASA participation in the COSPAR conference, where the world’s space scientists get together to share results and plans for the future, was one of the activities exempted from the White House’s directive to government agencies to limit their cooperative activities with Russia because of the geopolitical situation.  According to an April memo from NASA’s Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations to NASA Center Directors, NASA employees are allowed to participate in multilateral meetings that may involve Russians as long as the meeting takes place outside Russia.   COSPAR and the upcoming International Council of Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS) both are in Russia this year, however:  COSPAR in Moscow and ICAS in St. Petersburg in September.

COSPAR was almost immediately exempted from that restriction, though, apparently thanks to the efforts of the National Academy of Sciences’ Space Studies Board (SSB) and especially its former chair Len Fisk, who is now the official U.S. representative to COSPAR.  COSPAR is part of the International Council of Science and the SSB is the U.S. National Committee to COSPAR.  NASA reports that 35 NASA employees are attending COSPAR, but that a decision on whether any may attend ICAS next month has not yet been made.  ICAS is where aeronautical engineers get together to “facilitate collaboration in aeronautics.”

Meanwhile, in the depths of space, this week will see at long last the end of Rosetta’s 10-year journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  The European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft will orbit the 4-kilometer diameter comet and, in November, send a lander (named Philae) to the surface, a first-time feat.  ESA’s Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany is expected to confirm Rosetta’s arrival at about 11:45 Central European Summer Time (CEST), or 09:45 GMT (5.45 am ET) on August 6.  It began its journey on March 2, 2004 and has travelled more than 6.4 billion kilometers to reach the comet, which is currently about 404 million kilometers from Earth (Rosetta made three passes by Earth and one by Mars to get gravity-assist boosts).  The one-way signal travel time is 22 minutes 27 seconds.  A day-long series of press briefings is planned on August 6 that will be livestreamed.

Those events and everything else we know about as of Sunday afternoon are listed below.

Saturday – Thursday, August 2-7

Saturday, August 2 – Sunday, August 10

  •  COSPAR (Committee on Space Research of the International Council of Science), Moscow, Russia

Monday-Thursday, August 4-7

Tuesday, August 5

Wednesday, August 6

Thursday-Sunday, August 7-10

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