What’s Happening in Space Policy June 2-8, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy June 2-8, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of June 2-8, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate will be in legislative session for part of the week.

During the Week

It’s a crazy busy week inside and outside the Beltway.  Remember that the list of events on our home page shows just the next 20 items.  This week there are more than 20, so be sure to click on “View All Events” at the bottom or look at the list at the end of this article so you don’t miss anything.  There are two of special interest on Friday, for example, that don’t make it onto our home page at the moment.

On Tuesday, we’ll find out what the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Strategic Forces subcommittee wants to do with regard to the Space Force.  The HASC subcommittees are marking up their versions of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Full committee markup is next week.  The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved creation of a U.S. Space Force, though the details are somewhat different from the Pentagon’s proposal.  Since it was HASC who started the ball rolling with its bipartisan Space Corps proposal two years ago, it is widely expected they will approve something, though it also may not be exactly what was proposed.  The final details will be decided in conference.

Across the Hill on Tuesday, SASC will be taking up the nomination of Chris Scolese to be the next Director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and of Gen. John “Jay” Raymond to be Commander of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) in addition to keeping his hat as Commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSC).  Scolese, who is currently Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight, had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 1 and it went very well, but SASC also gets to weigh in.  Members of the Intelligence Committee made clear they do NOT want NRO to be part of the Space Force.  Scolese agreed.  We expect the topic will come up with SASC, too. There were quite a few questions about that when SASC had its Space Force hearing in April.

Raymond’s nomination to lead USSPACECOM and continue commanding AFSC appears non-controversial, but SASC wants to redesignate the Commander of AFSC as Commander of the new U.S. Space Force.  That is just SASC’s opinion in its version of the NDAA, not a done deal, but it might very well come up in Tuesday’s hearing even though his pending nomination does not include that assignment.

Congress has a bunch of other hearings and markups this week as well including full committee mark up of the House Transportation-HUD appropriations bill (with funding for the FAA and its Office of Commercial Space Transportation), a House Financial Services committee hearing on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank (yes, they FINALLY have a quorum of members, but the Bank will cease to exist on September 30 unless Congress reauthorizes it), and a Senate Banking Committee nomination hearing for another member of the Export-Import Bank board (still one last seat to fill).

Among the several interesting conferences taking place this week is the National Space Society’s annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Arlington, VA.  The conference itself is Thursday-Sunday, but NSS is kicking it off with a special “Policy Forum on Space Settlement” on Wednesday.  Kevin O’Connell, Director of the Office of Space Commerce at the Department of Commerce, is the keynote speaker that morning.  The other speakers are a who’s who of the space settlement policy and law community. We can’t list everyone on the agenda (apologies to those we are omitting), but it includes Jim Muncy, Bob Walker, Greg Autry, Rick Tumlinson, Chris Hearsey, Jim Dunstan and Frank White.

ISDC itself has its own distinguished list of speakers throughout all the days including morning, luncheon and dinner keynotes.  The conference theme is “Back to the Moon to Stay.”  Once again we can’t list everyone.  It’s a broad list of government and private sector folks along with former astronauts and legendary names from the Apollo program.  To pick just a few:  Jim Bridenstine (NASA); Scott Pace (National Space Council); Thomas Zurbuchen (NASA science); Jeff Manber (Nanoracks); Tory Bruno (ULA); Miles O’Brien (journalist); Lars Hoffman (Rocket Lab); George Nield (former head of FAA/AST); Al Worden (Apollo astronaut); Eileen Collins (space shuttle commander) ; and Gerry Griffin, Apollo flight director and former head of Johnson Space Center.  Looks terrific.

There are far too many other events to summarize here, but we will mention just one more.  On Friday, NASA will roll out its new ISS commercial use policy.  NASA officials talked about it last week at meetings of the NASA Advisory Council and its HEO Committee in the context of transitioning from the ISS to commercial facilities in LEO and the results of the 12 studies the agency commissioned to find out what the private sector has in mind.  The upshot of the studies is that companies want NASA to be the anchor tenant for their facilities, but NASA doesn’t want to be an anchor tenant, just one of many tenants.  So NASA is developing a new policy on commercial use of ISS to push its vision of the future along a step at a time.  What is unique is that this is not just another press conference at NASA HQ.  Instead, three NASA officials — CFO Jeff DeWit, HEO head Bill Gerstenmaier, and ISS Deputy Program Director Robyn Gatens — will journey to  the financial capital of the world, New York City,  to make the announcement.  They will be at NASDAQ on Friday morning.  The event will be broadcast on NASA TV, but perhaps they’ll get the attention of others, too.  We count it as an illustration of NASA endeavoring to reach out to the private sector in new and different ways.

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.

Sunday-Monday, June 2-3 (continued from May 31)

Sunday-Wednesday, June 2-5

Monday, June 3

Monday-Wednesday, June 3-5

Tuesday, June 4

Tuesday-Thursday, June 4-6

Tuesday-Friday, June 4-7

  • Space Congress, Radisson Resort at the Port, Cape Canaveral, FL
  • re: Mars (Amazon), ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV

Wednesday, June 5

Wednesday-Thursday, June 5-6

Thursday, June 6

Thursday-Friday, June 6-7

Thursday-Sunday, June 6-9

Friday, June 7


This article has been updated.

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.