What’s Happening in Space Policy July 5-11, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 5-11, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of July 5-11, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess except for pro forma sessions until July 20, although House committees will be meeting throughout this period.

During the Week

On Wednesday, we’ll get the first inkling of what House appropriators have in mind for NASA this year.   All 12 House appropriations subcommittees are marking up their bills this week and the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee is on Wednesday.

The Trump Administration is requesting $25.2 billion for NASA for FY2021, a 12 percent increase over FY2020 to pay for the Artemis Moon-by-2024 program, while proposing termination or less than full funding for other programs it knows are congressional priorities (PACE, WFIRST/Roman Space Telescope, STEM Engagement, SOFIA, SLS Exploration Upper Stage to name a few).  While NASA’s overseers in Congress are widely supportive of human space exploration, a consensus does not seem to have emerged that it is necessary or feasible to move the date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface up to 2024 instead of 2028, especially at the expense of science and education programs. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has made it clear from day one that he grasps the political futility of pitting one part of NASA against another, but that did not prevent the Trump Administration from doing just that in the FY2021 budget request.

This is the first appropriations action of the year and everyone will be watching to see how Congress copes with annual appropriations amidst the breathtaking and still growing deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  Will appropriators come up with the money to pay for Artemis and restore the cuts to their priorities?  We all will be watching this first step in the long appropriations process that lies ahead.

The CJS bill also includes NOAA and its Office of Space Commerce.  The subcommittees that fund the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (Transportation-HUD) and DOD (Defense) also will mark up on Wednesday.  Lots of interesting issues for those agencies as well.

As usual, there is an ample supply of fascinating webinars this week and NASA’s Acting Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations, Mike Gold, stars in three of them. Two are explicitly about the Artemis Accords and the third is on a closely related subject — planetary protection and lunar activities.  Gold is widely considered the father of the Artemis Accords.

  • On Wednesday, Beyond Earth Institute, a new “think tank for policymakers” will discuss its report “Policy Recommendations to Accelerate the Establishment of Communities in Space” and if the Artemis Accords could be a “Model for Space Settlement International Protocols.”  Other than Gold, speakers are Pete Worden from Breakthrough Prize Foundation (former director of NASA/Ames), Laura Montgomery (Adjunct Professor at the Catholic University’s School of Law, specialist in regulatory law at Ground Based Space Matters and former FAA space lawyer), and Beyond Earth co-founders Steve Wolfe, Tom Marotta, and Tony DeTora.
  • On Thursday, the Secure World Foundation’s webinar will discuss the planetary protection angle.  Joining Gold are NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Tanja Masson-Zwaan from the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University in The Netherlands, Lindy Elkins-Tanton from Arizona State University, and Alan Stern from the Southwest Research Institute.  Stern chaired NASA’s recent Planetary Protection Independent Review Board.
  • On Friday, Gold will be back on the virtual stage yet again at a webinar hosted by the Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS).  They will discuss “Artemis Accords: Challenges and Opportunities.”  Joining Gold are Ram Jakhu from IASL, Gabriel Swiney from the U.S. Department of State, André Farand from the European Space Agency, Tommaso Sgobba from IAASS, and Stephen Freeland from Western Sydney University.

Congressional appropriations and the Artemis Accords are not the only topics this week.  This year’s “Future Space” conference is on Wednesday. Due to the pandemic, this time it is virtual and somewhat abbreviated, but still has a great line-up of speakers including NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Maj. Gen. Pamela Lincoln from U.S. Space Command, and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM).  They are joined by Clay Mowry from Blue Origin (and founder and chairman of Future Space Leaders Foundation), Sirisha Bandla from Virgin Orbit, Carissa Christensen of Bryce Space & Technology, and Eric Stallmer from the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

Also virtual this year is NASA’s Exploration Science Forum Wednesday-Friday.  The agenda is chock-full of interesting speakers including Bridenstine (note that times on the agenda are in PDT, so he speaks Wednesday at 9:00 am which is noon EDT), a session on In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) and NASA’s VIPER rover Wednesday afternoon, a Q&A with Lori Glaze (SMD) and Mark Kirasich (HEOMD) Friday morning, and so many more.

That is just a sample.  One thing not impacted by COVID-19 is the number of space policy meetings!  In fact it seems there are even more.  So many great speakers on so many great topics.  At least many are recorded so it may be possible to go back and watch later.  Not much is happening tomorrow or Tuesday, so maybe now’s your chance to catch up on last week!

Those events and others 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.

Wednesday, July 8

Wednesday-Friday, July 8-10

Thursday, July 9

Friday, July 10

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