What’s Happening in Space Policy January 29-February 4, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy January 29-February 4, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of January 29-February 4, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

NASA held its 2023 Day of Remembrance honoring astronauts who perished in the pursuit of exploration three days ago (it’s held on the last Thursday of January), but the 20th anniversary of the Columbia disaster isn’t until this Wednesday, February 1.

Israeli Air Force pilot Ilan Ramon was among those who died on Columbia and Israel holds the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference every year at this time as part of Israel Space Week. The Tuesday-Wednesday conference is in Tel Aviv with the theme of “Earth and Space Becoming One.” Registration for virtual participation is still open. It has a very impressive list of speakers, including NASA’s Bob Cabana and Jim Free and the entire Axiom-1 private astronaut crew that included Israel’s Eytan Stibbe, a friend of Ramon’s. Tel Aviv is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time so adjust the times on the agenda accordingly.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as part of NASA’s Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

As we’ve noted before, Wayne Hale is reposting a series of essays he wrote on the 10th anniversary of Columbia about the lessons that hopefully were learned and will not be forgotten as a new generation enters NASA’s workforce. As he says: “These fresh faces, building the future, must understand not only what happened but why it happened and how to prevent such ruinous tragedy from happening again.”

Up on Capitol Hill, Congress is at work, but committees are still getting organized.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), will continue to chair the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. She is holding an organizational meeting on Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) released Democratic committee membership rosters last week. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) will continue as chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and is holding an organizational meeting on Thursday.

Her committee oversees all of civil and commercial space: NASA, NOAA (including the Office of Space Commerce), the FAA (including the Office of Commercial Space Transportation), and the FCC, which is expanding its role in regulating space.

Cantwell’s Washington State colleague Sen. Patty Murray is the new chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, so Washington’s space interests will have influential champions in this Congress. Cantwell often cites how much aerospace business is done in Washington — more than 1,300 companies including 42 that support the Artemis program.

We haven’t seen the full roster of Republican committee members, but Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), who was Ranking Member on Senate Commerce is moving over to be Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) will continue as SASC chair. SASC hasn’t announced when it will hold its organizational meeting.

In the House, the leadership of the House Armed Services Committee is the same as before except reversed: Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) now is chair and Adam Smith (D, another Washingtonian) Ranking Member. Rogers announced the Republican committee members and subcommittee chairs last week. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado), who represents Colorado Springs, will chair the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which has jursidiction over most national security space issues.

Committee jurisdiction over civil and commercial space activities in the House isn’t quite as straightforward as in the Senate. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee oversees NASA and some aspects of the Department of Commerce (parts of NOAA) and some of the FAA. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has other parts of the FAA and sometimes there are jurisdictional disputes between the two over FAA’s space activities. The Energy and Commerce committee oversees the FCC and most of the Department of Commerce, but hasn’t shown much interest in space over the years. That may change as the FCC expands its role in space regulation and if the Office of Space Commerce moves out of NOAA and up to the Secretary’s office as some advocate.

We’ll write more about the T&I and E&C committees if they get more involved in space. For now, we’ll focus on House SS&T. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) is chair and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) is Ranking Member. They haven’t announced when they will hold an organizational meeting, but both have released partial membership rosters with a few positions on each side unfilled. Republican members are listed here and Democrats here.

The Lucas/Zofgren commercial remote sensing bill we wrote about last week, H.R. 290, never did come up for consideration by the way. It’s back on the suspension calendar for tomorrow (Monday).

Like HASC, House Appropriations has the same leaders but in opposite positions: Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) is now chair and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) is Ranking Member.

For the first time ever, the four top congressional appropriators are all women: Granger and DeLauro in the House, Murray and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Senate. On top of that, the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a woman, Shalanda Young, and she’s a former House Appropriations Committee staffer. These five women will determine who gets what in the federal budget. They all know each other quite well and the Associated Press got them together for a great interview last week.

Granger has announced Republican subcommittee chairs and members.  As we reported earlier, Rep. Ken Calvert (D-California) will chair the Defense Subcommittee and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) is chairing Commerce-Justice-Science. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama) had been expected to chair CJS, but is leading Labor-HHS instead. He’s still a member of CJS, however.

Cantwell’s organizational meeting on Thursday is the only space-related committee action this week, at least so far.

The Maryland Space Business Roundtable (MSBR) and the Washington Space Business Roundtable (WSBR) are holding their first joint meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Alicia Brown, the head of legislative affairs for NASA (she was a staffer for then-Senator now NASA Adminstrator Bill Nelson), will make remarks along with “key committee staff from Capitol Hill regarding what’s to come for civil and commercial space policy in 2023.” Pre-registration is required.

The third session of the U.N. Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Reducing Space Threats takes place all week in Geneva. The aide-memoire indicates it will be livestreamed on U.N. Web TV. Plenary meetings are 10:00-13:00 and 15:00-18:00 Central European Time each day (subtract 6 hours for Eastern Standard Time). Jessica West (@JessicaWestPhD) from Canada’s Project Ploughshares did a great job live-tweeting the previous sessions and hopefully will do so again. Victoria Samson (@VSamson_DC) and Brian Weeden (@brianweeden) from the Secure World Foundation also will be there so they may provide some tweets, too.

Lots of other interesting events as usual, including another spacewalk at the International Space Station on Thursday. NASA’s Nicole Mann and JAXA’s Koichi Wakata will finish up some tasks they started on January 20 to get ready for the installation of the next ISS Roll Out Solar Array (iROSA).

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 30

Monday-Friday, January 30-February 3

Tuesday-Wednesday, January 31-February 1

Tuesday-Saturday, January 31-February 4

Wednesday, February 1

Wednesday-Thursday, February 1-2

Thursday, February 2

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