What’s Happening in Space Policy July 3-9, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 3-9, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of July 3-9, 2022 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess except for pro forma sessions.

During the Week

The lazy, hazy days of summer are here (lazy at least for one week) in the U.S. as Americans celebrate Independence Day. The actual holiday is July 4 (tomorrow) and most government offices and many businesses will be closed.

Washington D.C.’s “A Capitol Fourth” concert and fireworks returns LIVE after a two-year COVID break kept it virtual. The Boeing-sponsored event will be broadcast on PBS and for troops overseas on American Forces Network. For those eager to return to the in-person gathering down at the Mall, be sure to check the latest news about Metro, which is warning of hour-long waits and possible temporary station closings. PBS has a fun “Name That Firework” webpage.  Do you know what this one is called? (Answer at bottom of page.)

Credit: PBS

The holiday is just Monday, but a lot of people take the entire week off so it’s a quiet time for space policy here in the U.S. Europe has two interesting events that will be webcast, though.

Tomorrow (Monday), ESA will hold an inaugural “launch event” for its new European Centre for Space Economy and Commerce from 8:00-10:00 am EDT (14:00-16:00 CEST). ECSECO will be located in Vienna, Austria and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) is the secretariat. ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher, Austria’s Director General of Innovation and Technology Henriette Spyra, and ESPI Director Jean-Jacques Tortora will give keynotes, followed by a panel discussion. ECSECO will “provide a European platform for interdisciplinary discussions and research on space economy and commerce.”

Illustration of Vega-C rocket. Credit: ESA

On Thursday, a different type of inaugural launch event is scheduled — the inaugural launch of Europe’s newest rocket, Vega-C, from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Launch is targeted for 7:13 am EDT (8:13 am local time in French Guiana). It’s launching the Italian Space Agency’s LAser RElativity Satellite-2 (LARES-2) and six research cubesats.

Vega-C is a more capable version of the Vega rocket. It’s been under development for quite some time, but is taking on new importance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the suspension of European-Russian cooperation on the Soyuz rocket that had been launching medium-class payloads from Kourou and Russia.

Vega-C is not the same class of rocket as Soyuz, but can put 2.2 tonnes into a 700-kilometer polar orbit compared to the 1.5 tonnes Vega could lift. ESA and other customers who had been planning to use Soyuz are looking for alternatives and Vega-C can handle some of them. Europe’s Sentinel-1C now will launch on Vega-C, for example. Its predecessors, Sentinel-1A and -1B, both launched on Soyuzes.

As it turns out, Vega-C’s AVUM 4th stage, built by Italy’s Avio, is powered by Ukrainian RD-843 engines. Avio put out a press release in March asserting it remains confident of engine supplies despite the war in part because deliveries already have been made as part of an effort to build a strategic stockpile. Looks like that was a great idea. ESA will webcast the launch on ESA TV.

Apart from that, the only event we know about this week is the Aerospace Corporation’s Space Policy Show webinar on Thursday featuring the head of U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command, Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting.  The Space Foundation’s “Space Matters” webinar with Jim Bridenstine, Carissa Christensen, and Bob Walker that had been scheduled for Thursday has been postponed to July 14.

It’s not quite an “event” in the sense that we use it for listing in What’s Happening because it’s just an upper stage burn, but we will mention that Rocket Lab will fire its Lunar Photon’s HyperCurie engine for a final time tomorrow morning and release NASA’s CAPSTONE cubesat on its way to the Moon (we wrote about CAPSTONE last week). Rocket Lab will livestream the burn and the separation on its website. Last we knew it was scheduled for 6:56 UTC (2:56 am EDT)

Check back throughout the week for other events we learn about later and add to our Calendar or changes to these.

Monday, July 4

Thursday, July 7


And the answer is — that’s a Palm firework according to PBS: “This shell contains a few large comet stars, which in bursting create large tendrils that give it the appearance of a palm tree.”  Comets. Stars. It’s sort of space-related (smile). Happy 4th of July!

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