What's Happening in Space Policy December 21-31, 2015

What's Happening in Space Policy December 21-31, 2015

Here is our list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks, December 21-31, 2015.  Congress has finished its work for the year and is in recess.

During the Weeks

Congress passed and the President signed into law the FY2016 appropriations on Friday, completing congressional action for this year.

That doesn’t mean a break for space program aficionados, though.  Two big events are on tap tomorrow (Monday) — an unexpected spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) and the return-to-flight of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and a historical attempt to land the first stage back at Cape Canaveral.

The spacewalk is needed because the ISS Mobile Transporter, used to position the robotic Canadarm2 for various tasks, got stuck on December 16 when ground controllers were moving it from one location to another.  It has to be in the correct location and locked into place before Russia’s Progress cargo craft docks on Wednesday.  

This is a new version of Progress, too — Progress MS.  NASA refers to it as Progress 62 because it is the 62nd Progress to resupply the ISS, but Progress cargo ships have been launched since 1977 and has been through several upgrades; this is the latest.  Launch is scheduled for 3:44 am Eastern Standard Time (2:44 pm local time at the launch site in Kazakhstan) Monday, with docking on Wednesday at 5:31 am EST.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has postponed from today until tomorrow the return-to-flight launch of Falcon 9.   Elon Musk and the customer, ORBCOMM, offered differing explanations for the delay, but in any case it is now scheduled for 8:33 pm EST.  SpaceX said it will webcast the launch, but perhaps of even more interest will be the company’s attempt to land the first stage back at Cape Canaveral.  It is not clear if that also will be webcast.

Those are the only events we know about for the rest of 2015 as of today (Sunday), but if we learn about any others (or delays in these), we will add them to our Events of interest, so check back during the week.

Monday, December 21

UPDATE, December 21, 5:30 am EST  An earlier version of this article referred to the new Russian Progress as MS-01, but the Russians refer to it only as Progress-MS.  It was successfully launched this morning (Monday) at 3:44 am EST (the earlier version of this post mistakenly said launch would be at 3:34,; the correct time is 3:44. )

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