What’s Happening in Space Policy July 28-August 3, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 28-August 3, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of July 28-August 3, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House has begun its 6-week “August recess” and will return for legislative business on September 9 (pro forma sessions are scheduled throughout that period).  The Senate will be in session for at least part of this week before taking its own recess until September 4.

During the Week

Before it left, the House passed the 2-year budget/debt limit deal that pushes the issues of budget caps and defaulting on the debt until after the 2020 elections.  The Senate is expected to take it up this week.  The President and top party leaders endorse it, but the Senate is always full of surprises, so don’t count any chickens before they hatch.

The Senate is expected to confirm David Norquist as the new Deputy Secretary of Defense early this week, replacing Patrick Shanahan who took over as acting Secretary of Defense when Jim Mattis left on January 1 and then resigned unexpectedly in June.  The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved Norquist’s nomination last week. He is currently DOD Comptroller.  If confirmed as expected, that would finally get permanent occupants for the top two DOD slots after 7 months of “actings.” New Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was sworn in last week, replacing Mattis. There still are lots of actings at the Pentagon, though, including Acting Secretary of the Air Force (since Heather Wilson left at the end of May) and Acting Secretary of the Army (Esper’s old job).

Meanwhile, Gen. Mark Milley (U.S. Army) was confirmed by the Senate last week to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He will succeed Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. (USMC).

SASC will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the nomination of Gen. John Hyten (USAF) to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He currently is Commander of U.S. Strategic Command and formerly was Commander of Air Force Space Command.  His nomination was expected to sail through the Senate until a former subordinate accused him of sexual assault. DOD investigated the matter and cleared Hyten.  His accuser contacted her Senator, Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), an Army Lt. Col. (Ret.) combat veteran and member of SASC.  SASC members privately met separately with Hyten and his accuser last week and then decided to proceed with the hearing.  She then gave an interview to the New York Times explicitly describing her allegations and allowing her name, Army Col. Kathryn A. Spletstoser, to be published.  Although Hyten was cleared by the DOD investigation, some Senators question whether the investigation was conducted properly.  The hearing will be webcast on the committee’s website.

There is plenty going on in civil space this week, too, starting with the 2019 International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) Monday-Thursday in Atlanta.  This annual conference, organized by the American Astronautical Society (AAS), is a great way to find out about the research taking place on ISS and related topics from both U.S. and international perspectives.  CNN’s Sanjay Gupta will moderate a panel on research into regenerative medicine on Tuesday. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will be there on Wednesday. And there are sessions throughout the four days on topics such as catalyzing economic growth through public-private partnerships, using ISS to advance exploration, accelerating start-ups in space, and many more.  This conference just gets better and better every year!  The website does not say whether it will be webcast, but AAS often does.  We will post the link in our Calendar item if we get one.

On Friday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC will hold a seminar on Capitol Hill on “50 Years Since Apollo: The Indispensable U.S.-Japan Space Partnership.”  Not only has it been 50 years since Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, but the first U.S.-Japan space cooperation agreement was signed that same year.  This event includes a dialogue between former NASA astronaut Dan Tani and JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, who is currently JAXA’s Vice President for Human Spaceflight. JAXA and NASA recently announced that a JAXA astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, will be the first international astronaut to fly on one of the new U.S. commercial crew vehicles.  Which one (Crew Dragon or Starliner) will be announced later.  The National Space Council’s Scott Pace is tentatively scheduled to speak about insights from the U.S.-Japan Comprehensive Dialogue on Space that just took place.  He will be followed by a panel with Masao Akiyama (IHI), Ron Lopez (Astroscale), Masami Onoda (Director of JAXA’s Washington Office), and possibly John Hill (DOD’s principal director for space policy).  Sounds terrific.  Be sure to RSVP by August 1.

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-Thursday, July 29-August 1

Tuesday, July 30

Wednesday, July 31

Friday, August 2

Saturday, August 3 (continues through August 8)


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