What’s Happening in Space Policy January 31-February 6, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy January 31-February 6, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of January 31-February 6, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

The House schedule changed and it now will be in legislative session most of this week and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s “Weekly Leader” cautions members that votes “are possible through the weekend.” The only specific bill listed for consideration is the National Apprenticeship Act, but the House will also consider “legislation related to a Budget Resolution.”  That may be connected to efforts to pass President Biden’s COVID relief measure. Senate Democrats are saying they will use a process called “reconciliation” to pass it if they cannot reach agreement with Republicans.  Reconciliation requires passage of a Budget Resolution first.  It’s all very interesting, but unrelated to the space program so we will leave it there.

The Senate also will take up more of Biden’s nominations to the Cabinet and other top positions.  A floor vote on Pete Buttigieg to be Secretary of Transportation is scheduled for Tuesday. The next day, the Senate Commerce committee will vote on Gina Raimondo’s nomination to be Secretary of Commerce.  If approved, the nomination conceivably could reach the Senate floor this week.  The committee’s meeting is also to organize for the 117th Congress. Presumably Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will become chair at that point and Roger Wicker (R-MS) the Ranking Member. Wicker chaired Raimondo’s confirmation hearing last week where the Department’s significant role in space programs was barely mentioned.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) will hold a hearing on the nomination of Kathleen Hicks to be Deputy Secretary of Defense (DepSecDef) on Tuesday.  She was Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Forces, and then Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the Obama Administration and would be the first woman to be DepSecDef if she is confirmed.  At the moment she’s a Senior Vice President at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Aerospace Corporation.

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will meet on Wednesday to organize for the 117th Congress.

Elsewhere, the COSPAR Scientific Assembly continues through Thursday. We admit we’ve had a bit of trouble figuring out how to use the event’s platform and missed some interesting sessions already, including the space agency panel yesterday, but hopefully we’ll get it straightened out today. Lots of good topics there.

Among the many webinars this week is one on Thursday sponsored by the Space Court Foundation on “The Fate of the Outer Space Treaty: Finding Its Place in a New Era of Space Security.”  Daniel Porras of the Secure World Foundation will moderate what looks like a very interesting panel discussion among officials and other experts from Canada, Russia, the European Union, and the United Kingdom.

The National Space Society is holding a Space Settlement 2021 webinar the same day.  It will showcase “the technologies, people, and organizations that will lead us to the settlement of the final frontier!” The event has a powerful list of speakers, but we could not find an agenda on its website, so don’t know any more about it than that.

In addition to its advisory committees, NASA ‘s Science Mission Directorate has a number of “AGs” — assessment or analysis groups — that focus more narrowly on specific planetary bodies or fields of study.  The newest is the Mercury Exploration Assessment Group (MExAG), which holds its first meeting Wednesday-Friday.  Lori Glaze, Curt Niebur and Nicky Fox from NASA HQ are all on the agenda along with Phil Christensen, one of the co-chairs of the ongoing Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey at the National Academies.

We will also note that SpaceX *may* launch its next Starship test this week. There was a bit of dustup about it last week when SpaceX proceeded with launch preparations as though it had FAA permission, but the license had not been approved yet. The SpaceX website says now it could take place “as early as Monday, February 1.”  We don’t include this (or most other launches) on our calendar because the dates change so often for a variety of reasons, but we realize this one may be of special interest so mention it here. SpaceX will provide a webcast starting “a few minutes” before the test.  NASASpaceflight.com usually provides its own live coverage of what’s going on at Boca Chica for a much longer period of time.  (FYI, SpaceX has an unrelated Falcon 9 launch coming up this week, too.)

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, or changes to these, and post to our Calendar.

Sunday-Thursday, January 31-February 4 (continued from last week)

Monday, February 1

Monday-Thursday, February 1-4

Tuesday, February 2

Wednesday, February 3

Wednesday-Thursday, February 3-4

Thursday, February 4

Friday, February 5

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.