What’s Happening in Space Policy February 9-15, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy February 9-15, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of February 9-15, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Today (Sunday) is a busy start to a very busy week with TWO launches, both on the East Coast.  Northrop Grumman will send its next Cygnus cargo ship, NG-13, to the International Space Station at 5:39 pm ET aboard its Antares rocket.  If the skies are clear, many in the Mid-Atlantic area should have a nice view.  Northrop Grumman has named this Cygnus spacecraft after the first African American selected to be an astronaut (in DOD’s 1960s Manned Orbital Laboratory program) who sadly died before he could fly into space — Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.  If launch goes as planned, it will arrive at ISS early Tuesday morning ET. [UPDATE, Feb 9, 5:55 PM ET: The launch was scrubbed just over 2 minutes before liftoff because of “off-nominal data from the ground support equipment.” They will try again on Thursday.]

Then, just a few hours later, at 11:03 pm ET, United Launch Alliance (ULA) will send ESA’s Solar Orbiter on its way from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), FL aboard an Atlas V.  Lots of people could get a good view of that one, too. [UPDATE:  The launch was perfect.]

By the way, a NASA public affairs official said at a pre-launch briefing on Friday that CCAFS had been renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, but that was premature.  Jim Williams, Chief of Media Relations at CCAFS and Patrick Air Force Base tweeted yesterday that there will be a renaming, but it hasn’t happened yet.

So that’s today.

Tomorrow, the President will submit his FY2021 budget request to Congress.  It’s a big day for all federal agencies funded by the 12 appropriations bills, but especially so for NASA this year.  The request should include not just the FY2021 funding needed for Artemis, but the projected run-out through FY2025.  That’s how long it has to achieve the White House’s goal of getting astronauts back on the Moon by 2024, the last year of a second Trump presidency if he wins reelection.  Congress has been anxiously awaiting those numbers since Vice President Pence announced the Moon-by-2024 goal last March.

Someone gave the Wall Street Journal an advance peek.  It reports that the request is for NASA to get a 12 percent boost in FY2021 over FY2020 — $25.2 billion compared to $22.6 billion — with almost $3 billion for the human lunar landers. Remember that this is a REQUEST.  Congress will decide how much NASA gets.  For FY2020, it wanted over $1 billion for lunar landers and Congress allocated $600 million.  Tomorrow is just the beginning of a long process.

NASA will post its request on its budget website (nasa.gov/budget) at noon.  At 1:00 pm ET, Administrator Bridenstine will give a “State of NASA” speech at Stennis Space Center, where the Space Launch System core is getting ready for its Green Run test later this year.  Watch on NASA TV. At 5:00 pm ET, NASA’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeff DeWit, will hold a media telecon to discuss the request.  Listen on NASA Live.  Some of the NASA field centers will hold their own “State of NASA” events.

The requests for space activities at DOD, especially for standing up the Space Force (DOD and Air Force press briefings at 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm ET), the FAA, and NOAA (including the Office of Space Commerce) will be very interesting too.  BIG day.

The House and Senate committees that authorize NASA activities are holding hearings this week, but not on the budget request.  The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Tuesday hearing is on space situational awareness (SSA).  The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s Wednesday hearing is on SSA, planetary defense, and space weather.  Both will be webcast.

Also on Tuesday, the Space Foundation will hold a “State of Space” event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  Washington Post space reporter Chris Davenport will moderate a discussion with Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), who chairs the House SS&T Space Subcommittee, and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO).  The two of them co-chair the House Space Power Caucus.  Then Space News Editor Brian Berger will moderate an industry panel (Northrop Grumman, Astroscale, Virgin Orbit, and Procure Space ETF), followed by Q&A.   It will be webcast.

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.

Sunday, February 9

Monday, February 10

Monday-Friday, February 10-14 (continued from February 3)

Tuesday, February 11

Tuesday-Thursday, February 11-13

Wednesday, February 12

Thursday-Sunday, February 13-16



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