What’s Happening in Space Policy December 23, 2018-January 5, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy December 23, 2018-January 5, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks December 23, 2018 – January 5, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate schedules are in flux.  During this two week period, the 115th Congress will end and the 116th Congress will begin.

During the Weeks

It’s the holidays so we’re going to make this short and sweet.  First, government offices will be closed tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday for Christmas, and on January 1 for New Year’s Day.

Whether all of them are open the other days during this period is up in the air.

As everyone undoubtedly knows, NASA, NOAA and other departments and agencies funded in the seven appropriations bill that have not yet become law were shutdown yesterday when a new appropriations bill was not enacted because of a dispute over President Trump’s demand for $5 billion in FY2019 for the border wall. Departments and agencies funded by the other five appropriations bills, which were enacted into law earlier this year, are not affected by the shutdown.  That includes DOD.

The partial government shutdown will continue at least until Thursday, December 27. That is the next time the Senate is scheduled to meet for legislative business, but that is no guarantee a compromise will be reached by then. This is high stakes politics and as of today neither side is budging — publicly at least.

The only certainty is that the 115th Congress will end at noon on January 3, 2019 and the 116th Congress will begin. At that moment, the House will be under control of the Democrats and Capitol Hill political dynamics will change. Hopefully this will be resolved before then, however.

In the meantime, NASA can continue to operate the International Space Station (ISS) and other spacecraft, like OSIRIS-REx (O-Rex), which goes into orbit around Bennu for the first time on December 31, and New Horizons, which will flyby Ultima Thule at 12:33 am ET on January 1.  NASA’s public affairs activities associated with those events could be affected if NASA is still in shutdown mode.

However, New Horizons is run by the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), operated by Johns Hopkins University.  It has access to other sources of funding so its public affairs activities might not be affected. APL’s website for New Horizons is http://pluto.jhuapl.edu.   O-Rex is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, but its principal investigator, Dante Lauretta, is from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (UALPL), and the operations center is located there. The project has a non-government website:  https://www.asteroidmission.org.  A univesiry press offices tells us that the Twitter account for O-Rex belongs to NASA so will not be updated during the shutdown, but one can follow the events on December 31 on the UALPL Twitter feed (@UALPL).

The NROL-71 launch currently scheduled for December 30 will not be affected by the shutdown (though there are myriad other reasons the launch may not go on time, of course).  DOD received its full-year FY2019 funding in September.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday, December 23, are shown below.  Check back throughout the weeks for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Monday, December 31, 2018

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Thursday, January 3, 2019

To Be Announced

Note: this article has been updated to clarify that APL will webcast the Ultima Thule events regardless of whether NASA is open, to add another media event for it on Dec 28), to add the Twitter feed for UALPL for the O-REx event.


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