What’s Happening in Space Policy December 3-9, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy December 3-9, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of December 3-9, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Not much is happening on Capitol Hill space-wise this week in public, but the House-Senate conference committee on the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is meeting behind closed doors.

Sen. Jack Reed (left) and Rep. Mike Rogers (right) at the “pass the gavel ceremony” to open the conference committee on the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act,  November 29, 2023.  The House and Senate alternate chairing the conference committee each year. This year it is the House’s turn so the chairman of the Senate committee is passing the gavel to the chairman of the House Committee. Photo credit: Dan Rios (official U.S. Senate photo)

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees (HASC and SASC) are proud of their record of getting an NDAA enacted every year since the first in 1961 despite rancorous political times. They’re determined to continue their streak this year. Other members are trying to add unrelated measures — turning it into a proverbial “Christmas Tree” — since the NDAA likely will be the last major piece of legislation to clear Congress this year.

The gulf between the House- and Senate-passed bills is wide and deep not so much because of funding or national security policy issues, but because of social policy provisions added to the House bill.

House Republicans object to what they call DOD’s “woke policies” in support of women’s reproductive choice, LGBTQ rights, and diversity. HASC chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) said at the opening of the conference committee on Wednesday that ending “the woke policies being forced on our servicemembers by left-wing bureaucrats” is a priority for his members, while also acknowledging the need for compromise in a divided government. SASC chair Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) focused on the need to pass an NDAA in a world that is “growing more dangerous by the day.”

Finding consensus will be a Herculean feat. But anything is possible if a sufficient number of members want it to happen. Although the conference committee officially began its work just five days ago, informal meetings have been taking place since the bills passed the House and Senate before the summer break.  Rogers asserted: “… what everyone here needs to understand is – We will enact an NDAA this year. We will rise above our differences.” Reed expressed optimism the final version could be voted on by the House and Senate this week.

Stay tuned. Time *is* growing short. The House is scheduled to be in session only eight more days this year (four this week and four next week) and the Senate plans to adjourn one day later than the House on December 15.

Off the Hill, the tireless National Academies’ Committee on NASA Mission Critical Workforce, Infrastructure and Technology, which seems to meet almost every week in-person (often at NASA Centers to see the situation first hand) or virtually, has what looks like a really interesting virtual session tomorrow (Monday). The 3-hour meeting has a long list of speakers on a variety of topics, but each speaker only gets 5 minutes to present followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. Everything from crew health, to updates on the various components of the Artemis program, to Mars entry-descent-and-landing, to in-space propulsion and power are on the agenda plus much more.

Col. Richard Kniseley, head of Space Systems Command’s Commercial Space Office, is the keynote speaker at the Space News 2023 Icons Award ceremony on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Space News will hold a luncheon in D.C. to announce their 2023 “Icon Award” winners. They have put out lists of finalists for the awards: Deal of the Year, Commercial Space Achievement of the Year, Civil Space Achievement, Startup of the Year, Space Stewardship, and Unsung Heroes. The winners will be announced at the luncheon followed by a keynote by U.S. Space Force Col. Richard Kniseley, head of Space Systems Command’s Commercial Space Office, and a panel discussion with Space News editorial staff and Icon awardees.

(Editor’s Note: I am deeply honored to be on the list of finalists for “Unsung Heroes.” Whoever wins, I cannot thank Space News enough for including me. I am genuinely and truly touched by the recognition.)

Lots and lots more on tap as usual.  We’ll just mention one more set of events — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other NASA officials are at the COP-28 U.N. Climate Conference in Dubai. NASA TV will be airing portions of it tomorrow, Wednesday, and Saturday. The time zone difference makes it rather early East Coast time, but perhaps there will be replays. Nelson’s speech to the conference is tomorrow at 4:30 am ET.

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

Monday, December 4

Monday-Thursday, December 4-7

Monday, December 4 – Tuesday, December 12 (continued from last week)

Monday, December 4- Friday, December 15 (continued from last week)

Tuesday, December 5

Tuesday-Thursday, December 5-7

Wednesday, December 6

Wednesday-Thursday, December 6-7

Wednesday-Sunday, December 6-10

Thursday, December 7

Saturday, December 9

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