What’s Happening in Space Policy February 13-19, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 13-19, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of February 13-19, 2022 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate is in session this week. The House is having a “committee work week” where committees hold virtual hearings, but the House meets only in pro forma sessions.

During the Week

The FY2022 appropriations outlook is little brighter this week. The existing Continuing Resolution (CR) runs out on Friday, February 18, but last week the House passed an extension to March 11 and the Senate is expected to follow suit this week. The Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and Senate appropriations committees signaled they are now in agreement on the framework — basically the top level amounts for defense and non-defense spending — and expect to have all 12 bills passed in a single “omnibus” package and on the President’s desk by then. The devil is always in the details, but it’s a hopeful sign.

The big event this week is the 24th FAA Commercial Space Transportation conference being held in-person at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, D.C. as it was pre-COVID. In fact, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which organizes the meeting, isn’t even offering a virtual option for attendees.

Chirag Parikh, Executive Secretary, White House National Space Council. Credit: LinkedIn

They have an all-star line-up of speakers from industry, the Executive Branch and Congress including FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Office of Commercial Space Transportation Associate Administrator Wayne Monteith; NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and four NASA Associate Administrators (Thomas Zurbuchen, Jim Reuter, Kathy Lueders and Bhavya Lal); Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and head of NOAA/NESDIS Steve Volz; Chirag Parikh from the White House National Space Council and Ezinne Uzo-Okoro from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and a panel of top Democratic and Republican committee staffers; Capt. Joe DePete, President of the Air Line Pilots Association; and representatives from more than a dozen companies including Astroscale, Axiom Space, Blue Origin, Boeing, Maxar, Planet, Redwire, Relativity Space, SpaceX, Sierra Space, Virgin Galactic and too many others to list here.

Only one speaker is shown as giving a video presentation — Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg — so apparently everyone else is braving the COVID Omicron scene in D.C. to be there. Proof of two vaccinations and compliance with D.C. mask mandates is required. Judging by all the people, including reporters, crowded together for Elon Musk’s Starship update in Boca Chica last week, it seems a lot of people aren’t worried about Omicron any more (though that was outside). We keep hoping, though not expecting, CSF will change its mind and have a livestream after all.

Bhavya Lal, NASA Associate Administrator for Technology, Policy and Strategy.. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

There are plenty of virtual events this week, too. NASA’s Bhavya Lal not only will be at the CSF conference, but will give a virtual talk to AIAA on Tuesday. AIAA actually had scheduled that as an in-person event in late January but switched it to virtual as Omicron took hold. Lal is very well known in the space policy community, but her job at NASA is new. She is Associate Administrator for Technology, Policy and Strategy and Acting Chief Technologist. A nuclear engineer by training, she spent a good part of her career at IDA’s Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) before joining the Biden Administration. She led the White House’s NASA transition team and has remained at the agency ever since.

Also on Tuesday, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall will participate in a Mitchell Institute webinar to talk about his “seven operational imperatives” for the Air Force, the first of which is “a resilient space order of battle.” As a reminder, the U.S. Space Force is part of the Department of the Air Force. It’s a separate military service from the U.S. Air Force, but together they comprise the Department of the Air Force, just as the Department of the Navy includes the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Frank Calvelli, from an NRO tweet October 2, 2020 congratulating him on his retirement after 34 years of government service.

And in that vein, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a nomination hearing on Thursday for Frank Calvelli to be Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration. Long-time readers of this website may recall that a key motivation in 2017 when Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Jim Cooper (D-TN) started the effort that led to creation of the Space Force was concern that space acquisition takes too long to keep up with the threat. The FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which created the Space Force, also estasblished this new position to fix acquisition. Calvelli spent more than 30 years at the National Reconnaissance Office. He was NRO’s Principal Deputy Director overseeing satellite and ground system acquisitions from 2012 until 2020 when he retired and moved over to Booz Allen Hamilton as Senior Vice President. If confirmed, it’ll be a short stint in the private sector. The SASC hearing will also take up three other nominations that are not space related.

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

Monday, February 14

  • Launch of Progress MS-19 to the ISS, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, 11:25 pm ET (February 15, 9:25 am local time at the launch site)  NASA TV coverage begins 11:00 pm ET

Monday-Friday, February 14-18

Tuesday, February 15

Wednesday, February 16

Wednesday-Thursday, February 16-17

Thursday, February 17

Friday, February 18

Saturday, February 19


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