What’s Happening in Space Policy February 26-March 3, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 26-March 3, 2018

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of February 26-March 3, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The Senate is in session this week.  The House will meet for legislative business on Monday and Tuesday.

During the Week

NASA’s planetary science and astrophysics communities will get a chance this week to hear from NASA about the proposed changes to those programs in the FY2019 budget request.  Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green will speak to the National Academies’ committee that is performing the mid-term review of the planetary science Decadal Survey “Vision and Voyages.”  The committee meets tomorrow (Monday) through Wednesday.  Green is on the agenda twice — tomorrow morning and Tuesday afternoon — because there is uncertainty about which day he is available.  The meeting will not be webcast tomorrow, but it will on Tuesday afternoon (when Penny Boston from NASA/Ames will give a briefing on the NASA Astrobiology Institute).  The rest of the meeting is in closed session.

On Tuesday, NASA Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz is scheduled to brief the NSF-NASA-DOE Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC).  His division has the most dramatic proposed changes of all the science programs — termination of the next large space telescope, WFIRST; a roughly 10% cut to the rest of the astrophysics budget; and merging the James Webb Space Telescope back in with the rest of astrophysics.  The meeting is via telecon and Hertz will be sharing the allotted 45 minutes (12:05-12:50 pm ET) for agency updates with his counterparts from NSF and DOE, but it should be interesting nonetheless.  Instructions for how to listen to the meeting are posted on the agenda.

NOAA and NASA will hold two pre-launch briefings on Tuesday at Kennedy Space Center in advance of Thursday’s launch of NOAA’s newest geostationary weather satellite, GOES-S.  The Tuesday briefings are on mission status at 1:00 pm ET and science at 2:30 pm ET.   Both briefings and the launch will be webcast.  GOES-S is the second of four satellites in the “GOES-R” series of advanced environmental satellites.  The series retains its GOES-R designation although the GOES-R satellite itself is already in orbit.  It is now in the “GOES-East” orbital position, observing the eastern part of the United States and adjacent waters.  Once GOES-S is operational, it will be placed in the “GOES-West” slot.  This new generation of satellites provides a “quantum leap” of capabilities over the previous version. The final two, GOES-T and GOES-U, will be launched in 2020 and 2024.  All of them get number designations once they’re in orbit.  GOES-R is GOES-16 now.  GOES-S will become GOES-17.

Also on Tuesday, three ISS crew members will return to Earth.  NASA’s Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei along with Roscosmos’s Alexander Misurkin will undock at 6:08 pm ET and land in Kazakhstan at 9:32 pm ET.  NASA TV will cover both events.

The 45th Space Congress will take place at the Radisson Resort at the Port Tuesday-Thursday.  Anyone who’ll be at the Cape for the GOES-S launch might want to pop in.  It’s a got an impressive set of speakers to talk about “The Next Great Steps.” There is no indication as to whether any of it will be livestreamed or available for viewing after the fact.  If we find out, we’ll add it to our calendar entry.  We hope so.

On Wednesday, CSIS will hold a half-day seminar: “Strategic National Security Space: FY19 Budget Forum.” The chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee — Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Jim Cooper (D-TN) — are among the speakers.  Others are Maj. Gen. David Thompson from Air Force Space Command, William LaPlante from MITRE, Jamie Morin from the Aerospace Corporation, Thomas Karako from CSIS, and Mike Tierney from Jacques & Associates.   The event will be webcast.

On Saturday, March 3 Japan Standard Time, the second ministerial-level International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF-2) will take place in Tokyo.  It is a follow-on to the first ISEF sponsored by the U.S. State Department in January 2014 to bring together high level government officials from countries interested in space activities to discuss plans and potential cooperation.  Two side-events are planned for Young Professionals (Y-ISEF) and Industry (I-ISEF) before and after the main meeting on Saturday.  Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said last week that the meeting will provide him an opportunity to talk with other countries about the Trump Administration’s plans for human space exploration.  NASA participates with 13 other space agencies in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG), which periodically produces Global Exploration Roadmaps.  The most recent version was issued last month and lays some of the groundwork for those discussions, although the Trump Administration’s proposal to end U.S. direct support for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2025 was announced after the report was issued.  NASA’s plans for the future of ISS and transitioning to commercial low Earth orbit infrastructure is likely to be a key topic.

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

Monday-Wednesday, February 26-February 28

Tuesday, February 27

Tuesday-Thursday, February 27-March 1

Wednesday, February 28

Thursday, March 1

Friday, March 2

Saturday, March 3 Japan Standard Time

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