What’s Happening in Space Policy July 26-August 2, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 26-August 2, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of July 26-August 2, 2020 (extending a day into next week) and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session for most of this week, but the House (and the Senate?) will recess on Tuesday to participate in events honoring the late Rep. John Lewis.

During the Week

If all goes according to plan, this will be a very eventful week for the U.S. space program — the launch of Mars Perseverance on Thursday and the return of the SpaceX Demo-2 crewed test flight Saturday-Sunday (we’re including next Sunday in this week’s list since events will be underway before we post our next “What’s Happening”).

NASA has a slew of media briefings throughout the week for both events. Links and other details are in our calendar entries, but here’s a quick summary.

  • Mars Perseverance
    • Monday, Pre-Launch News Conference, 1:00 pm ET
    • Monday, Mission Engineering and Science Briefing, 3:00 pm ET
    • Tuesday, Mars Sample Return Briefing, 2:00 pm ET
    • Tuesday, Mission Tech and Humans to Mars, 4:00 pm ET
    • Wednesday, NASA Administrator and Center Director Briefing, 12:00 pm ET
    • Thursday, Launch, 7:50 am ET (NASA TV begins 7:00 am ET)
    • Thursday, Post-Launch Briefing, 11:30 am ET
  • Demo-2
    • Wednesday, Return to Earth Flight Readiness Review Briefing, approximately 6:00 pm ET
    • Friday, Crew News Conference from ISS, 10:45 am ET
    • Saturday-Sunday, undocking and splashdown
      • Farewell ceremony on ISS, Saturday, 9:10 am ET
      • Undocking, Saturday, 7:34 pm ET (NASA TV begins 5:15 pm ET and continues through splashdown)
      • Splashdown, Sunday, 2:42 pm ET
    • Tuesday, August 4, post-landing Crew News Conference, 4:30 pm ET (thought we’d put this one in here, too, even though it’s next week)

Also this week, the House plans to take up a package of FY2021 appropriations bills that includes Commerce-Justice-Science (NASA and NOAA), Defense, and Transportation-HUD (FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, FAA/AST).  They are part of a seven-bill “minibus,” H.R. 7617 (the bill number of the Defense Appropriations bill).  Defense is Division A, CJS is Division B, and THUD is Division G.  The other bills in the package are Energy-Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, and Labor-HHS.

The Rules Committee meets Tuesday to decide which amendments will be considered on the floor.  Lots have been introduced for each division of the bill. The first FY2021 minibus, consisting of four bills, passed last week.  If this second minibus passes as planned, only the Legislative Branch appropriations bill — which funds Congress itself — will be left for consideration.

The Rules Committee and other House committees are scheduled to meet on Tuesday, but the House itself will be in recess to honor the late Rep. John Lewis, who passed away last week. He will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Monday and Tuesday. We haven’t heard if the Senate chamber also will be in recess on Tuesday.

Adding to the busy week, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday afternoon on the nomination of Army Lt. Gen. James Dickinson to be Commander of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM), succeeding Gen. Jay Raymond who is currently dual-hatted in that position as well as Chief of Space Operations (head of the U.S. Space Force).  Dickinson is currently Deputy Commander of USSPACECOM.  Previously he was Commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.  The hearing will also consider the nomination of Air Force Lt. Gen. Glen VanHerck to be Commander of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). He currently is Director of the Joint Staff for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Both would also get promoted to General.

And just one more highlight — the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group (UAG) is scheduled to meet on Thursday from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm ET.  One can only imagine they scheduled that before anyone knew it’s the same morning as the Perseverance launch and the post-launch briefing will be taking place at 11:30 am ET.  Perhaps they’ll push the UAG meeting later in the day — or even to a different day — now that July 30 is looking pretty certain for the launch (that is to say, as certain as any launch can be).

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.

Monday, July 27

Tuesday, July 28

Tuesday-Wednesday, July 28-29

Tuesday-Thursday, July 28-30

Wednesday, July 29

Wednesday-Friday, July 29-30

Thursday, July 30

Friday, July 31

Saturday-Sunday, August 1-2

  • Return of SpaceX Demo-2 Crew (Continuous NASA TV coverage 5:15 pm Saturday through splashdown on Sunday)
    • Saturday, Farewell Ceremony on ISS, 9:10 am ET (NASA TV)
    • Saturday, undocking, 7:34 pm ET
    • Sunday, splashdown, 2:42 pm ET

Saturday-Thursday, August 1-6

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