What’s Happening in Space Policy July 30-August 5, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 30-August 5, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of July 30-August 5, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are on summer break except for pro forma sessions. The Senate returns on September 5, the House on September 12.

During the Week

The lazy, hazy days of summer have arrived, but there’s still lots of interesting space events happening this week.

It all starts today (Sunday) with a pre-launch media teleconference at 5:00 pm ET for the Northrop Grumman NG-19 cargo mission to ISS. The launch itself on an Antares rocket is scheduled for Tuesday evening from Wallops Island, VA with a Cygnus capsule full of more than 8,200 pounds of supplies, equipment and scientific experiments. Northrop Grumman names its Cygnus capsules after individuals who made significant contributions to human spaceflight. This one honors NASA astronaut Laurel Clark who perished in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the first Antares launch from the Virginia Spaceport Authority’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Back then it was Orbital Sciences Corporation’s rocket. Orbital Sciences merged with ATK to become Orbital ATK and that later was acquired by Northrop Grumman so the missions have had various designations (Orb, OA or NG), but this is the 19th in the series. The weather is looking good for launch — 80 percent favorable.

This will be the last Antares launch from Wallops for a while. The first stage is produced in Ukraine and the RD-181 engine comes from Russia, neither of which is available anymore. When Russia invaded Ukraine last year Northrop Grumman had all the hardware it needed for two more launches and this is the second. It’s building a new version of Antares with the U.S. company Firefly and in the interim will launch Cygnus on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral.

Another company, Rocket Lab, also launches to orbit from Wallops now so hopefully there still will be a few launches for those in the mid-Atlantic to enjoy, but Antares fans should definitely keep an eye out for this one. Northrop Grumman has a map showing when the rocket should be visible if the weather cooperates.

If the launch gets off on Tuesday, it will arrive at the ISS on Friday. NASA TV will cover it all.

Lisa Carnell, new Director of NASA/SMD’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division, will speak at the ISS R&D conference on Tuesday.

The ISS National Lab’s annual ISS Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC), organized by the American Astronautical Society, is serendipitously taking place at the same time. A lot of scientific experiments are aboard NG-19.  ISSRDC starts tomorrow (Monday) with a “pre-event” and the conference itself is Tuesday-Thursday in Seattle.

The conference features a top-notch group of speakers including Kate Calvin, NASA’s Chief Scientist and Senior Climate Advisor and astronauts from NASA (Megan McArthur), ESA (Frank DeWinne) and the UAE (Hazzaa AlMansoori). The opening keynote panel on Tuesday includes Lisa Carnell, the newly named Director of the Biological and Physical Sciences Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Joining her are Ezinne Uzo-Okoro from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Michael Roberts from the ISS National Lab. Science communicator Ainissa Ramirez and Christie Canaria from the National Institute of Standards and Technology are keynote luncheon speakers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel will hold a telecon on Thursday summarizing its latest quarterly discussions with NASA. The rapid-fire recitation of prepared remarks over a telephone line can be tough to follow at times, but well worth it. ASAP always has keen insights into safety issues at the agency and is often the first to reveal them publicly. The first inkling that something new was amiss with Boeing’s Starliner came at the last ASAP meeting. Days later, Boeing indefinitely delayed Starliner’s Crew Flight Test.

One more event we’ll highlight is the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group meeting on Friday. It’s just the second UAG meeting in the Biden-Harris Administration. The only information we have about the agenda is the broad statement in the Federal Register notice, but the first meeting in February was quite interesting, though it ended mysteriously early. Turned out the UAG members were headed over to the White House for a private meeting with Vice President Harris and weren’t free to disclose it. Harris chairs the Space Council. This meeting is virtual so that won’t happen this time. The 30-member group is chaired by Gen. Les Lyles (Ret.), who also chairs the NASA Advisory Council.

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 or changes to these.

Sunday, July 30

Monday-Thursday, July 31-August 3

Tuesday, August 1

Tuesday-Thursday, August 1-3

Tuesday, August 1-Tuesday, August 8

Thursday, August 3

Friday, August 4

Saturday, August 5- Thursday, August 10


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