What’s Happening in Space Policy February 19-26, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 19-26, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week plus a day of February 19-26, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess this week except for pro forma sessions.

During the Week

The week begins with a federal holiday tomorrow (Monday) called either Presidents’ Day in honor of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22) or just Washington’s Birthday. Government offices will be closed.

The House and Senate are both out this week, but it’s still a busy week with lots going on at the International Space Station and several really good meetings/webinars on tap.

Starting with the ISS, a busy period of comings and goings is underway including the next crew exchange. That launch, Crew-6, is very early next Sunday morning so we’re including it in this week’s edition.

The damaged Progress MS-21 as it departed the ISS on February 17 EST (February 18 Moscow Time). Credit: Roscosmos

The damaged Progress MS-21 cargo spacecraft departed ISS on Friday Eastern Standard Time (Saturday, Moscow Time) and deorbited last night EST. Progress is not designed to survive reentry and burned up in the atmosphere, so while it was still in view of the ISS cameras, engineers got close-up video of the radiator that leaked all its coolant a week ago.

Roscosmos and NASA are trying to make sure there’s no commonality between that leak and the one on Soyuz MS-22 in December before launching Soyuz MS-23. Roscosmos inspected the Soyuz MS-23 radiator and is confident it’s OK.

They want to launch Soyuz MS-23 on Thursday evening (7:34 pm February 23 EST; it’ll be Friday morning February 24 Moscow Time). NASA hasn’t replied to a request to confirm that date or posted anything about the Soyuz MS-23 launch on its ISS blog so it’s not 100% clear they’ve settled on that date. No one will be aboard Soyuz MS-23. It will be launched empty to replace Soyuz MS-22 and bring that crew — Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio — home later this year since Soyuz MS-22’s thermal control system is compromised.

Two days ago NASA held a media teleconference to provide an update on the Starliner Crew Flight Test planned for April and said they’d talk more about the situation with Progress and Soyuz at a media telecon coming up on Tuesday following the Flight Readiness Review for the Crew-6 mission.

Crew-6 (L-R): Andrey Fedyaev (Roscosmos), Warren “Woody” Hoburg (NASA), Stephen Bowen (NASA), and Sultan Alneyadi (UAE). Credit: SpaceX

NASA has several events this week in the lead-up to the Crew-6 launch, which is scheduled for very early next Sunday morning (2:07 am ET). The crew arrives Tuesday at Kennedy Space Center at about 12:30 pm ET. That will be broadcast on NASA TV. The Flight Readiness Review (FRR) takes place that day and a media telecon is scheduled for 6:00 pm ET, but could be delayed if the FRR runs longer than expected. On Friday, a pre-launch media telecon following the Launch Readiness Review (LRR) is at 10:30 pm ET — note that’s pm —  which similarly could be delayed. Launch coverage on NASA TV begins Saturday night at 10:30 pm ET for the 2:07 am launch on Sunday followed by a post-launch news conference at 4:00 am. If the launch is on time, they will dock very early Monday morning (we’ll have that in next week’s edition).  To summarize:

  • Tuesday, February 21
    • Approx 12:30 pm ET: Crew-6 arrival at KSC (NASA TV):
      • NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen
      • NASA astronaut Warren (Woody) Hoburg
      • UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi
      • Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev
    • Approx 6:00 pm ET: Post Flight Readiness Review media telecon (NASA Live)
  • Friday, February 24
    • Approx 10:30 pm ET: Post Launch Readiness Review media telecon (NASA Live)
  • Saturday, February 25
    • 10:30 pm ET: Launch coverage begins (NASA TV)
  • Sunday, February 26
    • 2:07 am ET: Launch of Crew-6 on SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour to ISS (NASA TV)
    • Approx 4:00 am ET: Post Launch News Conference (NASA TV)

And it could be that Russia’s Soyuz MS-23 launch takes place amidst all that on February 23 at 7:34 pm ET.

As a heads up, Crew-5 will be coming back next week after a few-day handover with Crew-6 (a pre-departure news conference is next Wednesday, March 1); the next SpaceX cargo mission, SpX-27, is expected to launch on March 10; and Boeing’s Starliner Crew Flight Test is planned for mid-late April.

Elsewhere, Commercial Space Week is taking place in Orlando, FL all week.  It combines the Space Mobility conference sponsored by U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command on Tuesday and the 49th Space Congress (“SpaceCom”) sponsored by the Canaveral Council of Technical Societies and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday and Thursday. (The invitation-only Global Spaceport Summit is on Monday.)

Space Systems Command is actively promoting the Space Mobility Conference, which will “mobilize commercial industry executives and high-ranking officials from state and government agencies to assure access and superiority in the highly contested space domain.”

SpaceCom has its own great array of speakers including NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center Director Janet Petro, and billionaire Jared Isaacman who sponsored and flew the first fully private astronaut mission to Earth orbit (Inspiration4) and is now getting ready for the Polaris Dawn series of flights to Earth orbit, two on Crew Dragons and one on Starship.

Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, will speak at CSIS on Wednesday.

Here in D.C., Kari Bingen at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will interview Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, the new (as of November 2) Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force on Wednesday.

They’ll discuss Saltzman’s “thoughts on a ‘Theory of Success’ for the U.S. Space Force and his vision and priorities for the service.”  Saltzman recently laid out the three Lines of Effort he thinks are essential to Space Force’s success. The event is in-person at CSIS and will be livestreamed.

The Aerospace Corporation has one of its Space Policy Show webinars that day on “Reinventing Assured Access to Space” with Maj. Gen. Steven Purdy, Space Force’s Commander of Space Launch Delta 45 and Director of the Eastern Range. The event’s website says it’s at 7:00 am ET, but those webinars usually are at 1:00 pm ET. We’re checking to be sure of the time and will post any updates to our Calendar item.

The White House National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group will meet for the first time under the Biden-Harris Administration on Thursday. The meeting is at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Washington, DC and will be webcast. The 30-member UAG is chaired by Gen. Les Lyles (USAF, Ret.), who also chairs the NASA Advisory Council. Under the Trump Administration it was chaired by retired Adm. Jim Ellis, so the military tradition continues. The Space Council itself is composed entirely of government officials. The UAG is intended to bring other perspectives to the table.  Thursday’s meeting will include “space enterprise presentations,” workplans from the subcommittee chairs, a roundtable discussion, and “next steps, action plan, and schedule.”  The UAG has six subcommittees as listed in its Charter.

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, February 20

Monday-Friday, February 20-24

  • Commercial Space Week, Orlando, FL
    • Feb. 20, Global Spaceport Alliance Spaceport Summit (invitation only)
    • Feb. 21, Space Mobility (U.S. Space Force Space Systems Command)
    • Feb. 22-23, SpaceCom 49th Space Congress
    • Feb. 24, KSC tours available

Tuesday, February 21

Tuesday-Thursday, February 21-23

Wednesday, February 22

Thursday, February 23

Friday, February 24

Saturday-Sunday, February 25-26

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