What’s Happening in Space Policy December 2-8, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy December 2-8, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of December 2-8, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate will be in session for at least part of the week.

During the Week

It’s another one of those weeks where there are so many events they don’t all appear on the list on our home page, which shows the next 20 upcoming events.  Be sure to click on “View All Events” or look at the list below.

What was already an intensely busy week now includes a national day of mourning for President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday, December 5.  President Trump has ordered all Executive Branch departments and agencies to close (except for essential operations) as a sign of respect.  President Bush will lie in state at the Capitol Monday evening through Wednesday morning, followed by a memorial service at the National Cathedral and then his body will be flown back to Texas.

The House and Senate have not announced whether they will also recess that day, but one can expect a large number of members to take part in the Bush remembrances.  That is quite appropriate, of course, but the Continuing Resolution (CR) that is funding NASA, NOAA and many other government agencies expires Friday at midnight, so all of these activities could slow progress on reaching a deal.  It would not be surprising if they pass a short-term CR for one or two weeks to give themselves more time.  Both chambers are planning to adjourn for the year next week, but they do have a couple more weeks than that before the 115th Congress ends at 11:59 am on January 3, 2019 if need be.  But they must do something before Friday midnight to keep the agencies funded in the CR operating. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow (Monday) morning at 6:31 am ET, the next crew will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Russian Soyuz rocket aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  This is the first launch since the October 11 Soyuz MS-10 failure that prevented Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague from getting to orbit.  Roscosmos and NASA are confident the problem that destroyed the rocket about 2 minutes after launch (the crew capsule was separated by automated systems and the crew landed safely) has been identified and fixed, but there is bound to be an increased level of anxiety at least among those who watch launches if not the people aboard the rockets.  In this case it is American astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko.  They are taking the four-orbit route to the ISS and will dock about 6 hours later at 12:36 pm ET.

NASA TV will cover the launch, docking and hatch opening, but interspersed with that will be two briefings about the next cargo mission to the ISS, SpaceX-16 (SpX-16).  Those briefings precede the launch, which is scheduled for Tuesday, though the weather is iffy so that may slip a day.  Check our Calendar closer to the date for any changes to the schedule.

Also tomorrow, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission will arrive at its destination, asteroid Bennu.  In amongst the NASA TV coverage of the Soyuz MS-11 launch and the SpX-16 pre-launch briefings, it will provide coverage of the arrival.  Japan’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission is already at its asteroid, Ryugu, and deposited three landers there earlier this fall.  The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will hold a conference about Hayabusa2 in Japan Tuesday-Friday.  Ryugu is currently in “conjunction” where it is on the other side of the Sun from Earth so JAXA cannot communicate with it. Operations are paused until communications can be restored.

On Wednesday, the 13th Galloway Space Law Symposium will take place at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.  Symposium organizers say the event will go on as scheduled even though government agencies will be closed that day. It is not clear if all of the government speakers will be there, though.  Unfortunately the agenda still is not publicly available (we will post it when it is), but we are assured there are many non-government speakers.

Three NASA Advisory Council (NAC) committees meet this week in D.C.:  Human Exploration and Operations (Thursday-Friday); Technology, Innovation, and Engineering (Friday) and the new committee on STEM Engagement (Tuesday).  NAC recommended that its Ad Hoc Task Force on STEM Education be elevated to a committee and NASA Administrator Bridenstine agreed so this is the first meeting of the group as a committee.  The full NAC meets next week in D.C.

China has not made an official announcement, but it may launch the Chang’e-4 far-side lunar lander on Friday (Eastern Standard Time).  Andrew Jones at gbtimes.com is an excellent source of up-to-the-minute public source information about the mission.  He reports that tracking ships that would be deployed to support the launch have left port.  This will be the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the Moon.  China launched a communications relay satellite, Queqiao, earlier this year to enable communications between the spacecraft and mission controllers here on Earth.

That is just a sample of all the very interesting events coming up this week.  The full list of everything we know about as of Sunday morning is below.  Check back throughout the week for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar.  Be sure to click on “View All Events” to see those that exceed the 20-event limit that automatically appears there.

Monday, December 3

Tuesday, December 4

Tuesday-Wednesday, December 4-5

Tuesday, Friday, December 4-7

Wednesday, December 5

Wednesday-Thursday, December 5-6

Thursday, December 6

Thursday-Friday, December 6-7

Friday, December 7


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