What’s Happening in Space Policy February 20-26, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 20-26, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of February 20-26, 2022 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 that is widely known as Presidents’ Day. It is held on the Monday between the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22). By law, the Office of Personnel Management is required to refer to it as Washington’s Birthday regardless of whether that Monday is February 22 or not. In this case it is not, but it’s close.

The House and Senate are taking the week off from legislative business to work in their districts or states. Before they left, they passed and President Biden signed a new Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating until March 11. The top Democratic and Republican appropriators have expressed optimisim Congress will pass all 12 regular appropriations bills by then.

Holiday or not, NASA and the ISS crew will be hard at work tomorrow (Monday). Northrop Grumman’s NG-17 Cygnus cargo mission successfully lifted off from Wallops Island, VA yesterday and arrives at the ISS early tomorrow morning. As we noted yesterday, the Antares rocket’s first stage is Ukrainian and uses Russian RS-181 engines and Cygnus is built by U.S. and European companies. It is a testament to the international space cooperation that defines the ISS program at the very same time Russia is threatening to invade Ukraine and the U.S. and Europe are vowing to impose punishing sanctions if that happens. Quite the dichotomy.

A Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft near the ISS’s Canadarm2. Credit: NASA

George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute has a virtual symposium on Wednesday that seems especially timely: “U.S. Space Diplomacy in Civil, Commercial, and National Security Space Activities.” A panel of three U.S. State Department representatives will discuss International Challenges and Opportunities, followed by a panel of representatives of the Canadian, Japanese, and French governments and the European Space Agency. Should be really interesting.

The National Academies’ Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics is starting a new project looking at how to allocate observing time on the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. The recent “Pathways to Discovery” Decadal Survey pointed out that a lot has changed since plans were originally drawn and now may not be optimally balanced between the three core community surveys and the guest investigator program. It called for a non-advocate review and the CAA is taking on the task at NASA’s request. It will hold its kick-off meeting on Thursday via telecon. The Roman telescope is still in development with launch expected in May 2027.

By the way, anyone who planned on listening to the NSF-NASA-DOE Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) meeting on Tuesday should note that it’s been postponed to March 4.

NOAA’s GOES-T geostationary weather satellite is scheduled for launch on March 1. NASA acts as the procurement agent for NOAA’s satellites and arranges for the launches. The two agencies will hold a GOES-T science briefing this Friday and a pre-launch briefing on Saturday.

Illustration of the GOES-T spacecraft with Earth’s reflection. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Once in its assigned orbital position, GOES-T will be renamed GOES-18 and take over the “GOES-West” position from GOES-17, which has a partially malfunctioning Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI). This is the third of four satellites in the “GOES-R” series of U.S. Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites. The ABI is the premier instrument on these advanced weather satellites. The ABI on the first, GOES-R (now GOES-16) works fine and similar instruments on two Japanese satellites also are fine. It’s just the one on GOES-17, which cannot maintain the proper temperature under certain seasonal and orbital conditions for three percent of the year because of blockage in the coolant line. While the malfunction is not catastrophic — it works 97 percent of the time — NOAA is looking forward to getting GOES-T up there to replace it. GOES-T will launch exactly four years after GOES-17 (then called GOES-S). The Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft will be launched by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V.

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 21

Tuesday, February 22

Tuesday-Thursday, February 22-24

Wednesday, February 23

Thursday, February 24

Friday, February 25

Saturday, February 26

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.