What’s Happening in Space Policy December 26, 2021-January 8, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy December 26, 2021-January 8, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks, December 26, 2021-January 8, 2022, and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess except for pro forma sessions this week. The Senate returns next week, the House the week after.

During the Weeks

There may not be any big space policy events during this holiday week, but many of us will have our eyes glued to NASA’s “Where is Webb?” site to follow along as the James Webb Space Telescope unfolds itself. Congratulations to NASA, ESA, CSA, Arianespace and everyone else involved in the program and yesterday’s successful launch!

Launch of the James Webb Space Telescope on an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, December 25, 2021. Screengrab.

Everything is going according to plan per NASA’s JWST blog. This morning NASA posted that the gimbaled antenna assembly that includes the high data rate antenna is now released and tested. Many, many more steps will take place over these next two weeks. We hope there will be a media briefing or two with updates, though we haven’t heard of any yet.

Some important space events are on tap this week — e.g. two of the Chinese taikonauts on the Tianhe space station are performing a spacewalk right now, and Russia rescheduled its third demonstration launch of the Angara A5 rocket for December 27 after a scrub on December 24 — but the policy scene gets a break. We are still waiting for President Biden to sign the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act, though. There was a last minute glitch because the Senate made a technical change to the bill that required the House to agree, which it did during its pro forma session last Monday. The bill now has been sent to the President so the signing could happen anytime.

It’s back to work on Monday, January 3, when the Senate returns. The Build Back Better Act with its $1.115 billion for NASA is in precarious shape, but not dead yet. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) waited until the Senate recessed to announce he is a “no,” but negotiations are continuing to try to find some version that will win him over. If so, the NASA money could survive since West Virgina is home to NASA’s Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) facility and other organizations in the State have ties to the agency, so there’s a vested interest there. Not a guarantee, of course. We all know better than to try and guess what Congress will do.

As last week’s What’s Happening summarized, there is a lot more on Congress’ plate, especially finalizing FY2022 appropriations, but we will wait to wade back into that discussion.

Bill Gerstenmaier. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Elsewhere, AIAA’s annual SciTech Forum takes place right after the New Year (January 3-7) in a hybrid format with the in-person sessions in San Diego. Especially noteworthy is Monday afternoon’s Durand Lecture where Bill Gerstenmaier will talk about “Human Spaceflight–The Ultimate Team Sport.” After his decades leading NASA’s human spaceflight program and now Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX, he certainly knows whereof he speaks. Should be great!

Also next week is the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and online. We took a quick look at the program and saw three sessions on Thursday about space, including one with the owners of Sierra Nevada, Fatih and Eren Ozmen, talking about the future of spaceflight. The others are “The Future of Healthcare Driven by Spaceflight” and “The Promise of Satellite Communications.” There may be others we didn’t spot.

We expect more organizations to post their events for January in coming days, but at the moment there are two interesting webinars next week. The University of Washington’s Space Policy and Research Center (SPARC) will host renowned space debris expert Darren McKnight, now with LeoLabs, on January 6.

Gen. Kevin Chilton (Ret.), a former NASA astronaut and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (when space was still part of that portfolio), is now at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and has co-authored a policy paper on satellite communications as the “backbone” of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2). He and co-author Lukas Autenried will roll out the paper on January 7 along with DARPA’s Stephen Forbes, program manager for Blackjack, and David Voss of the Space Warfighting Analysis Center.

Check back throughout the weeks for other events we learn about later and add to our Calendar, or changes to these.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Monday-Friday, January 3-7, 2022

Wednesday-Saturday, January 5-8, 2022

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Friday, January 7, 2022


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