What’s Happening in Space Policy January 22-28, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy January 22-28, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of January 22-28, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman, House SS&T Committee. A commercial space bill co-sponsored by Lucas and Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is on the schedule for consideration by the House this week.

The first space bill of the 118th Congress could pass the House this week. H.R.290, the bipartisan Commercial Remote Sensing Amendment Act is on the suspension calendar for Wednesday. Introduced by House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), it’s the same bill that passed the House last year as H.R. 6845 (Lucas/Perlmutter). It didn’t pass the Senate, however, so has to start the process all over again.

Lucas said two weeks ago that passing commercial space legislation and NASA and NOAA authorization bills are his priorities as chairman.

The bill codifies a regulatory change made in 2020 to shorten from 120 days to 60 days the length of time the Department of Commerce has to make a decision on an application for a commercial remote sensing license. It also restores and expands a requirement for DOC to report to Congress annually on the status of commercial remote sensing applications, regulations and adjudications that expired in 2020. This will renew it through 2030. Bills on the suspension calendar are considered relatively non-controversial and allowed to use this expedited process that avoids getting a rule for debate from the Rules Committee — to “suspend the rules” — but require a two-thirds vote to pass instead of just a majority. H.R. 6845 passed last year by voice vote.

This week NASA will honor the lives of astronauts who perished in the pursuit of space exploration. The annual Day of Remembrance is on Thursday with events at several NASA centers, especially Kennedy Space Center. KSC will air its commemoration on the KSC YouTube and Facebook channels. Two days before that, on Tuesday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, and Associate Administrator Bob Cabana — all astronauts — will hold an agency-wide NASA Day of Remembrance Employee Safety Town Hall meeting that will air on NASA TV.

This year’s NASA Day of Remembrance will particularly honor the crew of STS-107, Space Shuttle Columbia, who perished 20 years ago on February 1, 2003.  L-R: David Brown (NASA), Rick Husband (NASA), Laurel Clark (NASA), Kalpana Chawla (NASA), Michael Anderson (NASA), William McCool (NASA), Ilan Ramon (Israeli Air Force). Photo: NASA.

The Day of Remembrance is held close to the dates of the three fatal NASA missions — Apollo 1 (January 27, 1967), Space Shuttle Challenger (January 28, 1986) and Space Shuttle Columbia (February 1, 2003). This year is the 20th anniversary of the Columbia tragedy. We’ll have more on that later in the week. Former NASA space shuttle program manager Wayne Hale is reposting and retweeting (@WayneHale) essays he wrote at the time of the 10th anniversary about the need to remain vigilant especially as human spaceflight operations pass to the next generation.

DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins will join NASA’s Bill Nelson and Pam Melroy on Tuesday at SciTech to talk about advanced space propulsion.

Elsewhere, AIAA’s week-long Science and Technology Forum, or SciTech, starts tomorrow (Monday) at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, MD just outside Washington, DC. As usual it is chock full of interesting sessions. One of particular note is Tuesday morning when NASA’s Nelson and Melroy join DARPA Director Stefanie Tompkins to talk about a new collaboration between the agencies on advanced space propulsion technologies. (Melroy was Deputy Director of the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA from 2013-2017.) NASA TV will broadcast this one SciTech session. The forum itself has a virtual option, but registration is required to listen to any others.

Getting back to Monday, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher and his division directors will hold the traditional ESA DG annual press conference at 9:00 am Central European Time (3:00 am EST). ESA has been having a number of media briefings lately, but these annual press conferences are always a good way to find out what ESA is prioritizing for the year ahead. It will be livestreamed on ESA’s media channel. A recording is usually available later for those in time zones where people are sound asleep at that hour. [UPDATE, January 23: The recording is posted.]

At the opposite end of the day, Rocket Lab will try again to launch Electron for the first time from the United States instead of New Zealand. The company has built a launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia. (It’s building another pad there for its larger rocket, Neutron, too.) The launch window is open between 6:00-8:00 pm EST. Electron will deliver three Hawkeye 360 satellites to orbit. Upper level winds didn’t cooperate when they tried last month, but the weather is looking pretty good for tomorrow. NASA said yesterday it’s 85 percent favorable, although today Rocket Lab called weather “the biggest watch item.” Whenever it does launch, viewing should be good along most of the East Coast. [UPDATE, January 23: The launch has been postponed to January 24 due to weather.]



The next NASA-sponsored Crew Dragon mission, Crew-6, is scheduled for launch on February 26 and NASA will hold two press conferences on Wednesday to preview the mission. The crew includes the first United Arab Emirates astronaut to stay for a long-duration mission, part of a deal NASA made with Axiom Space (the details of which have never been disclosed) to get Mark Vande Hei a ride on Soyuz MS-18. The UAE’s Sultan AlNeyadi will join NASA’s Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg and Roscosmos’s Andrey Fedyaev. The first briefing on Wednesday at noon EST is with officials from the three space agencies (NASA, Roscosmos, and the UAE Space Agency) and SpaceX. The second, at 2:00 pm EST, is with the crew. Both briefings will air on NASA TV.

Crew 6 (L-R): Andrey Fedyaev (Roscosmos), Warren “Woody” Hoburg (NASA), Stephen Bowen (NASA), and Sultan AlNeyadi (UAE Space Agency). Credit: SpaceX

On the national security front, the National Security Space Association will hold its second Defense and Intelligence Space Conference (DISC) in Chantilly, VA from Monday to Wednesday. They’ve got an impressive line-up. Monday is an unclassified dinner event featuring Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. Tuesday is a day of unclassified sessions with high profile speakers including Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Ronald Moultrie, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security; Lt. Gen. John Shaw, Deputy Commander, U.S. Space Command; Stacey Dixon, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence; and Frank Calvelli, Air Force Assistant Secretary for Space Acquisitions and Integration. The sessions on Wednesday are classified.

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, January 23

Monday-Wednesday, January 23-25

Monday-Friday, January 23-27

Tuesday, January 24

Tuesday-Wednesday, January 24-25

Wednesday, January 25

Thursday, January 26

Thursday-Friday, January 26-27

Friday, January 27


This article has been updated

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