What’s Happening in Space Policy July 10-14, 2017

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 10-14, 2017

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of July 10-14, 2017 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Congress and the space policy community overall are back to work in full force this week after a bit (but only a bit) of a break for July 4.

The House plans to take up the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) towards the end of the week. The House Rules Committee meets on Wednesday to consider which amendments will be allowed to be considered during floor debate.  As shown on the committee’s website, 394 have been filed as of today.  Five are related to space activities.

One is proposed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH).  It would strike a provision in the bill that requires DOD to establish a Space Corps within the Air Force, analogous to the Marine Corps, which is part of the Department of the Navy, and a U.S. Space Command as a subunit of U.S. Strategic Command.  The provision is very controversial.   It was written by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the House Armed
Services Committee’s (HASC’s) Strategic Forces subcommittee, and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), the subcommittee’s top Democrat.  However, it is opposed by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff and is not included in the Senate version of the bill.

Turner first tried to remove the provision during full committee markup by HASC on June 28.  His amendment instead would require DOD to study the need for such a reorganization and report to Congress next year. Turner is a former chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee and remains a member.  He argued that Congress has insufficient information to make such a major move.  Rogers, Cooper and HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) insisted the idea has been discussed for years and it is time to do it.  The amendment was rejected and the provision remains in the bill.  Turner wants the full House to have a chance to weigh in.  Will be interesting to see if the Rules Committee permits it.  Floor debate on the bill could begin late Wednesday or Thursday.

The House Appropriations Transportation-HUD subcommittee (T-HUD) will mark up its FY2018 funding bill on Tuesday, which includes the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).  FAA/AST got $19.8 million in FY2017, a $2 million increase over the $17.8 million it received for FY2016.  Unfortunately, the Trump Administration formulated much of its FY2018 budget request before Congress finalized the FY2017 budget.  At that time, FAA/AST was funded at the $17.8 million level through a Continuing Resolution that held agencies to their FY2016 limits.  The Trump Administration may have thought it was proposing level funding for the office by requesting $17.8 million for FY2018, but Congress ultimately did give FAA/AST the $2 million boost it requested.  Now, if Congress funds the requested level for FY2018, it will mean a $2 million cut.  Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), a member of the full Appropriations Committee (though not the T-HUD subcommittee) and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) fought hard on FAA/AST’s behalf last year to get the $19.8 million.  We’ll see if they can convince appropriators to keep at least the $19.8 million this time.  (Bridenstine testified before the subcommittee in March in favor of another boost — to $23 million — for FY2018.)

The Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), has rescheduled its hearing on commercial space partnerships for Thursday morning.  The hearing was scheduled for June 21, but on June 20 it was postponed without explanation.  The witness list is the same as before except that SpaceX SVP for Global Business and Government Affairs Tim Hughes will substitute for President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.  The other witnesses are NASA KSC Director Bob Cabana, fresh from hosting Vice President Pence last week; Tim Ellis from Relativity; Moriba Jah from the University of Texas at Austin; and Jeff Manber from Nanoracks.

Off the Hill, but still in D.C., there are a slew of really interesting events, including the Secure World Foundation’s panel discussion tomorrow (Monday) with industry perspectives on the space debris problem; the Satellite Industry Association’s release of its annual State of the Satellite Industry report on Tuesday morning; an ISU-DC space cafe Tuesday evening with experts from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center talking about how we benefit every single day from data acquired by earth science satellites; the Future Space Leaders Foundation annual Future Space conference on Thursday; and a seminar sponsored by GWU’s Space Policy Institute and the Aerospace Corporation on Friday morning on “Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space.”

In other parts of the country, AIAA will holds its annual propulsion and energy forum in Atlanta and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA will hold a three-day symposium celebrating the center’s 100th birthday.  The National Academies committee that is performing the mid-term review of the 2011 planetary science Decadal Survey “Vision and Voyages” will meet at CalTech in Pasadena, CA from Tuesday to Thursday.  Open sessions of the meeting are available remotely via WebEx/telecon.   NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) will meet via teleconference on Monday to review with the Mars science community the input it plans to provide to the Academies committee later in the week.

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 Events of Interest list.

Monday, July 10

Monday-Wednesday, July 10-12

Tuesday, July 11

Tuesday-Thursday, July 11-13

Wednesday, July 12

Wednesday-Friday, July 12-14

Thursday, July 13

Friday, July 14


Note:  This was updated to add the Defense One Tech Summit on Thursday.

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