What’s Happening in Space Policy July 7-13, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy July 7-13, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of July 7-13, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Congress is back to work after a week-long recess for the 4th of July holiday, except for pro forma sessions, of course.  During pro forma sessions no legislative business takes place, but members can introduce legislation.  So before we talk about the coming week, in case you missed it last week, Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) reintroduced the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act that passed the House last year.  He said it is identical to that bill, which was quite different from the Senate’s Space Frontier Act, which also has been reintroduced on the Senate side.  We published an article outlining the state of play on those bills that would, among other things, modernize commercial space regulations, take steps toward a Bureau of Space Commerce in the Department of Commerce, and direct NASA to operate the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030.

Now to this week.

Congress will be busy again on space policy issues.  The House will take up its version of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) mid-week.  It has provisions to create a Space Corps, rather than a Space Force as in the Senate version that passed before recess.  Once the House passes its bill, negotiations can begin in earnest on a compromise and we can all find out whether it’s a Corps or a Force and other details.  As a reminder, Kaitlyn Johnson at CSIS has an excellent, brief comparison of the Administration, House and Senate versions of Space Force/Corps.

The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday to write the rule for the bill’s consideration and decide which of the 658 proposed amendments may be offered.  Babin has one that seems a little odd for the NDAA since it affects the Department of Commerce (DOC), not DOD, but is related to the bill he reintroduced last week.  It would transfer the Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs office and the Office of Space Commerce from NOAA to the Secretary of Commerce’s office. That’s one of the steps towards the Administration’s goal of a Bureau of Space Commerce within DOC.  Other amendments on the list would require a report on space debris (Jackson-Lee); add NASA to an existing reporting requirement on solid rocket motors (Lucas); and require the Space Corps to monitor, assess, report on, and plan for the impacts of climate change on U.S. national security priorities (Blumenauer).

Also on the House side, the House Science, Space, and Technology space subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on the ISS and Future Activities in Low Earth Orbit.  The witness list is not posted on the committee’s website as of Sunday morning, but the hearing is bound to be interesting.  We’ll add the witnesses to our Calendar item when we know who they are.

Across the Hill, the Senate Commerce Committee will be holding both a hearing and a markup session.  The space subcomittee hearing is on Tuesday afternoon and entitled “NASA’s Exploration Plans:  Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going.”  Witnesses are Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (CDSE); Homer Hickam, former NASA engineer and famed author of Rocket Boys; Gene Kranz, legendary Apollo flight director; and Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF).  So it will be two icons from the Apollo era and two of today’s industry advocacy groups representing traditional (CDSE) and entrepreneurial (CSF) human spaceflight companies (though those lines are somewhat blurry these days).

The next day, the Commerce committee will mark up a number of bills including the “One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act.”  Introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), it directs any federal agency that issues a license to conduct an activity in outer space to require the applicant to abide by NASA’s Recommendations to Space-Faring Entities: How to Protect and Preserve the Historic and Scientific Value of U.S. Government Lunar Artifacts and any updates to it.  Those recommendations are intended to protect locations on the Moon like the Apollo landing sites for posterity.  If enacted, the bill would apply to U.S.-licensed entities at least, though we are hardly the only country sending landers and rovers to the Moon.  In recent years China and Israel already have (though Israel’s Beresheet crashed) and India is about to launch its Chandrayaan-2 orbiter/lander/rover a week from today (EDT).  The Moon is going to be a busy place and it would be a shame for artifacts to be ruined unintentionally or otherwise.

The Commerce committee will also vote on the nomination of Stephen Dickson to the FAA Administrator.  If confirmed, he will oversee the FAA’s commercial space transportation activities.

There are many other really interesting events here in D.C. We can only briefly mention a few:  a U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting on Small Satellite Integration on Tuesday that features a conversation with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (the FCC has to approve all those satellite megaconstellations like Starlink and OneWeb); the annual Future Space Leaders Foundation conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday with several members of Congress and the National Space Council’s Scott Pace (invited); a New America discussion on How Will We Govern Ourselves in Space, also Wednesday; a space policy webinar led by the Aerospace Corporation’s Jim Vedda on opportunities and challenges in cislunar space (that one’s a webinar, on Thursday); and a meeting of NOAA’s ACCRES advisory committee on Thursday that will be held at CSIS’s offices on Rhode Island Ave.  So many meetings, so little time….

We would like to highlight just one more, however, that is outside of D.C.  The American Astronautical Society (AAS) will hold its inaugural John Glenn Memorial Symposium in Cleveland, Ohio, home to NASA’s Glenn Research Center, on Thursday and Friday (with an opening reception Wednesday evening).  It will focus on advancements in aerospace technologies and, of course, getting back to the Moon.  NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard and the head of NASA’s human spaceflight program, Bill Gerstenmaier, both are scheduled to speak on Thursday. Among the speakers on Friday are Michael Garrett, program manager for the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for the Gateway; a panel on humans returning to the Moon led by NASA/Glenn director and former astronaut Janet Kavandi; and former NASA Administrator (and former astronaut) Charlie Bolden.  Other sessions focus on technologies like atmospheric propulsion, low boom supersonics, space propulsion, space power systems, communications and autonomy, and hypersonics.  Looks like a really excellent program.  There is no indication that it will be webcast, but AAS often does that.  If we get a link we’ll add it to our Calendar item.

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-Friday, July 8-12

Tuesday, July 9

Wednesday, July 10

Wednesday-Friday, July 10-12

Thursday, July 11

Saturday, July 13


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