What’s Happening in Space Policy January 27-February 2, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy January 27-February 2, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of January 27-February 2, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate will be in session at least part of the week.

During the Week

Good news — the partial government shutdown is over!!  Less good news — it may only last three weeks.  On Friday, President Trump accepted the same deal he rejected 35 days earlier: a temporary Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep all of the government functioning while discussions continue on a compromise on a border wall/border security.  The Senate and House passed the CR through February 15 and Trump signed it into law all within about 8 hours on Friday.

The Senate had passed a CR on December 19 that would have done just that, expiring on February 8, with Trump’s approval. But Trump then changed his mind after criticism from ultra conservative members of the House and the media and said he would not sign it without funding for the border wall, which was a non-starter in the Senate. The CR in effect at the time expired on December 21, plunging departments and agencies funded by seven of the 12 FY2019 appropriations bills that have not been signed into law yet into chaos.  That includes NASA and NOAA (part of the Department of Commerce).

This new CR is through February 15.  Trump warned that if Democrats did not agreed to a border deal he wants, the government may shut down again after that or he may invoke emergency powers he believes he has to use the military to build the wall.

The 800,000 federal employees who missed two paychecks may be happy to be back to work, but must still deal with the uncertainty that it may happen again.  While many pundits are saying Trump would not do it a second time, he is nothing if not unpredictable.

The 116th Congress committees are just getting started.  The only hearing that might touch on space issues this week is on China and Russia before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).  Space is not the key topic, but with all the focus on creating a Department of the Space Force and the just-released 2019 Missile Defense Review (MDR), it would be surprising if it didn’t come up.  The hearing is on Tuesday and will be webcast.

Speaking of the MDR, Brookings and CSIS each will hold discussions about it this week: Brookings on Tuesday with James Anderson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities (in-person only); CSIS on Friday with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood (webcast).

On Thursday, CSIS will hold another event with four CSIS senior fellows who will give their assessments of what may be in the FY2020 DOD budget request.  The group includes Todd Harrison, CSIS’s space expert.  That also will be webcast.

The NSF-NASA-DOE Astronomy and Astrophysics Committee (AAAC) and NASA’s Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) both have meetings scheduled for this week.  Their websites do not indicate any postponement because of the month-long shutdown, though many other meetings were postponed because people were not in place to organize them.  If you plan to attend, check first.  [UPDATE: The AAAC meeting has been cancelled.]

A National Academies group that doesn’t usually venture into space issues is holding a webinar on Wednesday about the International Space Station (ISS) as a research laboratory. The Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) will have two experts discuss “the past, present, and future of research and development taking place aboard the space station that could have impacts into the way we live here on Earth.”  They are Michael Roberts, Deputy Chief Scientist, and Ken Savin, Director of Scientific Partnership, for the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory.

John Logsdon, Professor Emeritus at George Washington University and founder of its Space Policy Institute, is out with a new book. He is author of seminal books on the influence of two American Presidents — JFK and Richard Nixon — on the space program.  His new book is about Ronald Reagan.  We haven’t received our copy yet, but have no doubt it will be as excellent as the others.  Logsdon will discuss the book and have a book signing on Thursday at GWU.

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.  Hopefully there won’t be any more shutdown-related cancellations or postponements.  Note that this week was to include the State of the Union address by President Trump, and NASA’s Day of Remembrance for fallen astronauts including the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia.  Those events have not been rescheduled yet.

Monday, January 28

Tuesday, January 29

Tuesday-Thursday, January 29-31

Wednesday, January 30

Thursday, January 31

Friday, February 1



This article has been updated to reflect additional schedule changes due to the shutdown.




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