What’s Happening in Space Policy February 7-13, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 7-13, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of February 7-13, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate is in session this week.  The House has a committee work week.

During the Week

Mars Madness begins this week with the arrival of two of the three Mars probes launched last year. The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) Hope spacecraft — the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) — will enter orbit on Tuesday and China’s Tianwen-1 does the same the next day.  Hope is an orbiter. Tianwen-1 is an orbiter/lander/rover, but the lander/rover will not descend to the surface until May.

The UAE is tweeting quite a bit about Hope (@HopeMarsMission) and will provide live coverage on Tuesday beginning at 10:00 am ET (7:00 pm local time in the UAE). We haven’t seen anything from China about what coverage it might provide for Tianwen-1 (which means Questions to Heaven). Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) and Cosmic Penguin (@Cosmic_Penguin) keep a close eye on Chinese space activities and are great sources of up-to-the-minute information. Andrew tweeted the other day that Tianwen-1 will arrive at 12:01 UTC, which will be 7:01 am Eastern Standard Time.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance (or Mars 2020) is a rover. It gets there next week (February 18) and immediately lands.  NASA and AIAA will hold a webinar this Wednesday to talk about the rover’s technological advancements over its cousin, Curiosity, which landed in 2012 and is still on duty.  Many Perseverance briefings and webinars are coming up next week.

Lots going on up on Capitol Hill, but nothing space-related except for the possibility that Kathleen Hick’s nomination to be Deputy Secretary of Defense could be confirmed. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved it last week. It is not on the Senate schedule for tomorrow (Monday), but could be added.  The Senate’s attention will be focused on the second Trump impeachment trial beginning Tuesday. The House will meet only in pro forma sessions, but some committees are holding hearings.  None about space as of today, however.

The 6th Annual Smallsat Symposium will take place virtually from tomorrow through Thursday.  Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit) will give a keynote address on Wednesday along with Dan Hart (Virgin Orbit).  The LONG list of speakers also includes Peter Beck (Rocket Lab), Tim Ellis (Relativity Space), Debra Facktor (Airbus U.S.),  Stella Guillen (Arianespace), Fred Kennedy (Momentus), Stephen Kitay (Microsoft Azure Space), Rich Leshner (Planet Federal), Jarrod McLachlan (SpaceX), Melanie Preisser (York Space Systems), and Derek Tournear (Space Development Agency).

The Space Foundation has two webinars this week. On Tuesday, a panel will discuss the State of Space 2021.  Among the speakers are Gen. David Thompson, Vice Chief of the U.S. Space Force; Chris Quilty of Quilty Analytics; and Kathy Sullivan, former astronaut and former NOAA Administrator.  On Wednesday, it holds the first in a series about women in space. This one spotlights five women in leadership positions at the U.S. Space Force: Lt. Gen. Nina Armagno, Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, Capt. Kayla Marti, CMSgt. Amber Mitchell, and CMSgt. Tina Timmerman.

NASA’s Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) meets Tuesday-Thursday, with a division-wide update from NASA Planetary Science Division Director Lori Glaze on Tuesday, updates on specific missions (New Horizons, Europa Clipper, Dragonfly and Juno) on Wednesday, and updates on outer planet candidate missions (IVO and Trident) as well as technology and other topics on Thursday.

The National Academies’ Space Studies Board (SSB) and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) are super busy.  SSB and the Academies’ Board on Science Education are starting a joint study on how to increase diversity and inclusion in the leadership of competed space missions. Co-chaired by Fran Bagenal (LASP) and Wanda Ward (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, previously NSF), it has an impressive list of members and will hold its first meeting Monday-Tuesday.  The SSB’s Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey has its usual plethora of panel meetings this week and the Steering Committee meets on Thursday.  And the SSB/ASEB/Board on Life Sciences Committee on Planetary Protection (COPP) meets Friday.

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 8

Monday-Tuesday, February 8-9

Monday-Thursday, February 8-11

Tuesday, February 9

Tuesday-Thursday, February 9-11

Wednesday, February 10

Thursday, February 11

Friday, February 12

Saturday-Sunday, February 13-14





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