What’s Happening in Space Policy December 11-15, 2017 – UPDATE 2

What’s Happening in Space Policy December 11-15, 2017 – UPDATE 2

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of December 11-15, 2017 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate will be in session.  [UPDATED to confirm White House event Monday, December 11, at 3:00 pm ET, and add YouTube link]

During the Week

[UPDATED]  At 3:00 pm ET tomorrow (Monday) President Trump will sign Space Policy Directive 1 regarding a human return to the lunar surface.  It apparently will be covered live on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fuer5ws6ZY

The event is in conjunction with the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission — the last time astronauts walked on the Moon.  Apollo 17 was launched on December 7, 1972 and returned to Earth on December 19, 1972.  The crew was composed of Commander Gene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ron Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison “Jack” Schmitt.

Cernan and Schmitt landed on the Moon on December 11 — exactly 45 years ago tomorrow — while Evans orbited overhead.  Cernan died earlier this year.  Evans died in 1990.  Schmitt, 82, is still quite active in space policy and testified to the House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee this past February.  His testimony was entitled “The Moon is on the Path to get to Mars and Beyond.” Schmitt is expected to be in attendance at the event tomorrow along with representatives of several space organizations and Congress.

Vice President Pence, as chair of the National Space Council, has made it clear that the Trump Administration wants to return to the Moon.

Whether by design or happenstance, a return to the Moon is the topic of the next National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Space Policy and History Forum, which is tomorrow at 4:00 pm ET.  The panel includes Mark Albrecht, who was Executive Director of the National Space Council in the George H.W. Bush Administration; Howard McCurdy from American University; and Michael Neufeld from the NASM.  They will discuss a return to the Moon from a historical context.  Seating is limited and RSVP in advance is required.

On Tuesday, Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot will provide a year-end wrap-up and a look ahead at a Space Transportation Association (STA) lunch on Capitol Hill, which could be especially interesting considering the White House announcement tomorrow.   STA luncheons are by invitation only — contact STA President Rich Coleman for more information.

The speeches usually begin at 12:00 at the STA luncheons, which will give everyone time to watch the launch of Space X’s 13th operational ISS cargo mission (SpX-13) at 11:46 am ET on their smartphones.  The launch is from SpaceX’s repaired and upgraded Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), FL.  It is the first launch from SLC-40 since the September 1, 2016 explosion during a test two days before the scheduled launch of the Amos-6 communications satellite.  The satellite and the Falcon 9 rocket were destroyed and the pad heavily damaged.  SpaceX’s John Muratore briefed the media on Friday about all the changes that were made to fix and upgrade the pad.  This is the first time a NASA payload will be launched on a previously flown (used) Falcon 9 first stage.  The Dragon capsule also is reused.  Launch is at 11:46 am ET with a weather forecast that is 90 percent favorable.  Two pre-launch press conferences will take place on Monday (11:00 am and 3:30 pm ET) and a post-launch press conference on Tuesday at 1:15 pm ET.

On Wednesday, the 12th Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law will take place in Washington, DC.  House SS&T Committee chairman Lamar Smith is the keynote speaker in the morning, and National Space Council Executive Director Scott Pace is the luncheon speaker.  The theme of the conference this year is “Implementation of the Outer Space Treaty — Issues for the New National Space Council.”

On Thursday, three ISS crew members will return to Earth on their Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft.  It’s a busy time up there.  Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft just left.  Soyuz MS-05 with NASA’s Randy Bresnik, ESA’s Paolo Nespoli, and Roscosmos’s Sergei Ryazansky departs Thursday.  SpX-13 will arrive on Friday assuming launch goes as planned.  A new three-person crew (NASA’s Scott Tingle, JAXA’s Norishige Kanai, and Roscosmos’s Anton Shkaplerov) launches on Sunday and arrives next Tuesday.

This is also the week of the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference where scientists discuss new discoveries about the Earth and other planets.  NASA will broadcast a number of press briefings it is holding, and one can sign up to watch AGU livestreams of some of the sessions.  The conference is in New Orleans, which is on Central Standard Time (CST), so bear that in mind when you look at the times on the agenda.

Those and other events we know about as Sunday morning are listed below.  Check back throughout the week for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar.

Monday, December 11

Monday-Friday, December 11-15

Tuesday, December 12

Tuesday-Thursday, December 12-14

Wednesday, December 13

Thursday, December 14

Friday, December 15

Sunday, December 17





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