What's Happening in Space Policy January 1-9, 2015

What's Happening in Space Policy January 1-9, 2015

Here is our list of space policy related events coming up for the first week-and-a-half of the New Year and any insight we can offer about them.   The 114th Congress convenes at noon on Tuesday, January 6.

During the Weeks

The New Year gets off with a bang in 2015 with three major conferences, a SpaceX launch that could demonstrate the Falcon 9 first stage returning to land on a barge, the beginning of a new Congress, and meetings of three NASA advisory groups.

The three conferences are:

Special sessions (e.g. Town Halls, lectures, plenaries) will be held at each. The conference organizers have varying policies on webcasting, so check at the links provided to determine if these events can be viewed remotely.

SpaceX’s fifth operational cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX CRS-5 or SpX-5, was postponed from December 19 to January 6 because a Falcon 9 static fire test did not go as planned.  Launch on January 6 is at 6:18 am EST.  While SpaceX cargo resupply missions to the ISS have become somewhat routine, SpaceX founder and chief designer Elon Musk has been using them — with NASA’s concurrence — to test the reusability of the Falcon 9 first stage.  On two missions already, the first stage has returned vertically to “land” on the ocean — tipping over into the water, of course, at the end.   On this flight, SpaceX will attempt to land it on a specially designed barge as the next step towards reusability.

Later that day,  back in Washington, the 114th Congress will convene with the House and Senate both in Republican hands.   Will that mean less gridlock?   Post-election vibes suggest that in the Senate, at least, liberal Democrats may take pages from the playbook used by Tea Party Republicans to demonstrate that the minority party wields power, too, so there are no sure bets.

NASA’s advisory bodies — or “analysis groups” (AGs) in some cases — also get off to a fast start.  Two of the AGs are first up:  the ExoPlanet Exploration Analysis Group (ExoPAG) this weekend (January 3-4) and Small Bodies Analysis Group (SBAG) on January 6-7.  AGs are not officially allowed to give advice to NASA because they are not chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).  Only FACA-chartered bodies are supposed to give “advice,” but non-FACA groups can provide input that seems a lot like advice.  ExoPAG provides input to the NASA Advisory Council’s (NAC’s) Astrophysics Subcommittee and SBAG provides input to NAC’s Planetary Science Subcommittee.  Both of those subcommittees report to NAC’s Science Committee.  Another NAC Science subcommittee, Heliophysics, meets on Friday, January 9. 

These and other meetings scheduled for January 1-9, 2015 are listed below.

Saturday-Sunday, January 3-4

Sunday-Thursday, January 4-8

Monday-Friday, January 5-9

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech 2015, Kissimmee, FL

Monday, January 5

  • SpaceX CRS-5 (SpX-5) pre-launch briefings, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL (watch on NASA TV)
    • 12:00 noon EST, Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) Earth science instrument
    • 1:30 pm EST, science briefing
    • 4:00 pm EST, mission status briefing

Tuesday, January 6

  • SpaceX CRS-5 launch, Cape Canaveral, FL, 6:18 am EST (watch on NASA TV beginning at 5:00 am EST); post-launch briefing approximately 90 minutes after launch
  • 114th Congress convenes, noon EST, The Capitol, Washington, DC

Tuesday-Wednesday, January 6-7

Thursday, January 8

  • SpaceX CRS-5 arrives at ISS.  NASA TV coverage of grapple begins at 4:30 am EST (grapple is approx. 6:00 am EST) and of berthing at 8:15 am EST.

Thursday-Friday, January 8-9

Friday, January 9

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