What's Happening in Space Policy February 22-26, 2016

What's Happening in Space Policy February 22-26, 2016

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of February 22-26, 2016 and any insight we can offer about them.   The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Now that the President has submitted his FY2017 budget request and Congress is back from its week-long break, congressional hearings on the budget and related topics begin in earnest.  

This week, subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC-D) will hold hearings on the status of U.S. strategic forces (HASC), the FY2017 DOD budget for science and technology (HASC), and the entire DOD budget request (HAC-D). 

Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee will hold hearings on the budgets for the Department of Commerce (which includes NOAA) and Department of Transportation (which includes the FAA and its Office of Commercial Space Transportation).  It is unlikely that space activities will come up at those hearings, but we list them here for completeness.  Specific hearings on NOAA and the FAA are likely to be scheduled in the coming weeks.

As for NASA, although it is not about the FY2017 budget request per se, the House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) committee will hold a hearing on the Space Leadership Preservation Act (H.R. 2093).  That bill is sponsored by Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), who chairs the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee that funds NASA.   Similar legislation in the previous two Congresses was sponsored by Frank Wolf, who chaired the CJS subcommittee until he retired.  House SS&T held a hearing on one of those bills (H.R. 823 from the 113th Congress) on February 27, 2013, almost exactly three years ago.   Culberson reintroduced the legislation last April. House SS&T Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and four others (two Republicans, two Democrats) are co-sponsors.  There are some differences among the three versions of the bill, but essentially the goal is for NASA to be run by a Board of Directors similar to the National Science Board that oversees the National Science Foundation and to make the position of NASA Administrator a 10-year appointment, similar to the Director of the FBI.  The sponsors of the legislation assert these steps would make NASA less political.

House SS&T will hold a hearing on the discovery of gravitational waves on Wednesday.   The discovery was made using terrestrial instruments — LIGO — but spacecraft have been launched (Europe’s LISA Pathfinder) or are planned to investigate that phenomenon, so space-based astrophysics may come up.

Off the Hill, on Thursday, two groups are holding events looking at the FY2017 budget request — both at the same time, unfortunately.  The Air Force Association and FiscalTrak will hold a symposium focused on the request for national security space at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, VA.   In another part of Arlington, called Pentagon City because of its proximity to the Pentagon, Women in Aerospace will hold a broader “senior leaders” discussion with representatives of NOAA, DOD, the Senate Appropriations Committee, and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.  Both of those, again unfortunately, are at the same time as the House SS&T hearing on the Space Leadership Preservation Act and the HAC-D hearing with Secretary of Defense Carter on the DOD budget.  So #needclones is the hashtag of the week, especially for your SpacePolicyOnline.com editor since I will be moderating a panel at the WIA event.  The good news is that congressional committees usually webcast their hearings so those should be available for later viewing.

It’s a busy week.  Those and other events we know about as of Sunday morning are shown below.  Check back throughout the week for any others that are announced later and added to our Events of Interest list. 

Monday-Thursday, February 22-25

Tuesday, February 23

Wednesday, February 24

Thursday, February 25

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