What’s Happening in Space Policy July 14-20, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 14-20, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of July 14-20, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

It’s finally here!  The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.  Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins launched from Kennedy Space Center, FL on July 16, 1969 and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24. In between, on July 20, Aldrin and Armstrong became the first human beings to set foot on another world.  Ten more Apollo crewmembers followed (Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17), the last in 1972.  NASA is now embarked on the Artemis program (Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology) to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.

For the next week and a half, communities far and wide will celebrate the past and look to the future. There are far too many in too many places to list on this website, but we have a selected set.  We’ve separated them from the rest of this week’s events in the list below to make them easier to find, and to make the other events also easier to find.  It’s going to be quite a week!  Remember that our home page shows only the next 20 upcoming events.  There are lots more than that this week. Click “View all Events” to see them all.

And it starts today (Sunday).  India will launch Chandrayaan-2, a lunar orbiter/lander/rover at 5:21 pm EDT (Monday, 2:51 am in India, which 9 1/2 hours ahead of EDT).  If the GSLV Mk III launch goes according to plan, it will reach the Moon on September 6.  The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will webcast the launch on its Facebook page. [UPDATE: THE LAUNCH WAS SCRUBBED DUE TO A “TECHNICAL SNAG.”] Elsewhere in the world, China will deorbit its Tiangong-2 space station into the Pacific Ocean on Friday.  Its first space station, Tiangong-1, made an uncontrolled reentry last year creating some concern since no one knew exactly where it would come down.  This time China made sure there was enough propellant left to keep it under control.  With Tiangong-2’s reentry, the International Space Station (ISS) will resume its status as the only space station in Earth orbit.  China’s plans for the three-module China Space Station (CSS) are on hold while they continue to fix the Long March 5 rocket needed to boost the 20-ton modules into orbit.  It failed on its second launch in 2017 and the date for return to flight keeps slipping.

Back here in the States, apart from the Apollo 50 festivities, Congress will be busy.   The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the “Legacy of Apollo,” while the Senate Commerce, Science, and Technology Committee looks ahead to “Moon to Mars: NASA’s Plans for Deep Space Exploration.”  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is the sole witness at the Senate hearing, and he will also participate in a media teleconference tomorrow (Monday) to talk about what’s going on.  He made quite a bit of news last week by reassigning the head of NASA’s human spaceflight program, Bill Gerstenmaier, and his deputy in charge of the SLS/Orion program, Bill Hill.  He told SpacePolicyOnline.com in an interview on Friday that he lost confidence in their ability to provide realistic cost and schedule estimates. A nationwide search for their successors is underway.

Keith Cowing at @NASAWatch is tweeting that President Trump will have something to say about the Moon/Mars effort on Friday. We haven’t been able to confirm that, but Keith has pretty good sources, so stay tuned.

Amidst this crazy busy week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will hold the first meeting of the steering committee for the next astronomy and astrophysics Decadal Survey — Astro2020.  Open sessions are tomorrow and Tuesday and are available remotely.  The Survey covers astrophysics at NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy’s High Energy Physics program.  Officials from each of those will brief the committee on Monday.  On Tuesday, congressional and White House staff are on the docket along with the leaders of the last Decadal Survey, Roger Blandford, and its mid-term review (Jackie Hewitt).

Those are a mere sample of what’s going on this week.  Other disparate events include House consideration of the FY2018/FY2019/FY2020 Intelligence Authorization Act (not much in the unclassified text about space); Senate Armed Services Committee’s nomination hearing for Mark Esper to be the new Secretary of Defense; the first hover test of SpaceX’s Starhopper test vehicle at the Boca Chica, TX test site; the second AIAA et al briefing on Capitol Hill (this one focuses on space traffic management) in advance of October’s International Astronautical Congress ; the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace conference in Seattle; and, rounding out the week on Saturday, launch of Soyuz MS-13 to and docking with the ISS with its American-Russian-European crew.

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.

Selected Apollo 50 Anniversary Events

Other Events

Sunday, July 14

Sunday-Thursday, July 14-18

Monday, July 15

Monday-Wednesday, July 15-17

Tuesday, July 16

Tuesday-Thursday, July 16-18 [UPDATED DATES]

  • NewSpace 2019 (Space Frontier Foundation), Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport, WA

Wednesday, July 17

Friday, July 19

Saturday, July 20

  • Soyuz MS-13 Launch and Docking at ISS, Launch: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, 12:28 pm ET (NASA TV coverage begins 11:30 am ET), Docking: 6:50 pm ET (NASA TV coverage begins 6:00 pm ET), Hatch Opening: about 8:50 pm ET (NASA TV coverage begins 8:00 pm ET)

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