What’s Happening in Space Policy June 20-27, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy June 20-27, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week (plus a day) of June 20-27, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

It’s another busy week.

Up on Capitol Hill, Wednesday’s hearing on NASA’s FY2022 budget request by the House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee could be quite interesting. Committee chairwoman Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), while a strong supporter of the Artemis program overall, is among the most vocal critics of the 2024 deadline to put astronauts back on the Moon. Johnson calls the deadline “unrealistic” and a recent GAO report a “wake-up call” as to how much trouble the program is in. The Biden Administration and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson continue to push 2024, just 3.5 years from now. Nelson acknowledges the date may slip because “space is hard,” but remains the goal in part because we need to get back there before China beats us. With the Chinese-Russian lunar roadmap now out in public showing they have no plans to put people there before the mid-2030s, we’ll see how the conversation goes at the hearing

Not to mention that in addition to the $24.7 billion NASA is requesting for FY2022, Nelson wants Congress to give NASA another $11.585 billion this year in the jobs/infrastructure bill. Of that, $5.4 billion would be for a second Artemis Human Landing System (HLS) that is not funded in the FY2022 request. The Senate recently passed a NASA authorization bill (as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act) that authorizes $10 billion over 5 years (FY2021-2025) for a second HLS. House SS&T has not acted on a NASA authorization bill yet this Congress and the last one it had under consideration required that HLS be government-owned, not procured through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as NASA is doing right now. Johnson and space subcommittee chairman Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) continue to question the PPP acquisition approach.

And then there’s everything else in the NASA budget to discuss, including climate change research, sustainable aviation, and the robotic Mars program, which were subjects of earlier hearings this year, and the committee’s broad concerns about cybersecurity and the health of the U.S. science/technology/innovation enterprise.

The House Armed Services Committee will have a hearing at the exact same time on DOD’s FY2022 budget request with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.  Space is almost certain to come up, but probably will not be the center of attention.

Off the Hill, three virtual conferences offer fascinating fare.

The Secure World Foundation’s (SWF’s) 3rd Summit for Space Sustainability is Tuesday-Thursday and is quite timely. Space sustainability is getting a lot of global attention these days, with mentions in the communiques from both the G7 summit and the NATO summit.

The SWF summit sessions are in the morning (EDT) Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday is devoted to mentorship seminars. The summit covers a broad range of issues using the format of a “spotlight talk” followed by a four-person panel on each topic. On Tuesday: can space technologies do more to deal with climate change (spotlight talk by Waleed Abdalati, University of Colorado Boulder, and former NASA Chief Scientist); megaconstellations (spotlight talk by Timiebi Aganaba, Arizona State University), and active debris removal (spotlight talk by Darren McKnight, LeoLabs). Wednesday starts and ends in the same format. First a discussion of whether we’re really in another space race (spotlight talk by Aaron Bateman, Johns Hopkins University) and finally “What is the Space Force’s Prime Directive?” (spotlight talk by Sarah Mineiro (Center for a New American Security). In between, however, is bit of a change — Marina Koren of The Atlantic will interview United Launch Alliance (ULA) President and CEO Tory Bruno. Unfortunately, that and the final panel are at the exact same time as the two House hearings. Hopefully a recording will be available.

The Defense One Tech Summit takes place all week in the afternoons (EDT), but the space-related sessions are grouped together on Tuesday: Security Opportunities with Commercial Space Data; The U.S.’s Next Steps in Space; Space Force and Modernizing the Mission; and the Future of Space Satellites and Sensors.

The National Space Society’s annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC) starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday (which is why we have an extra day on the list). All the sessions are in the afternoon EDT. Thursday, Friday and Saturday are free and do not require registration. Those sessions will be livestreamed on YouTube and a number of other outlets. One must pay to listen to the four sessions on Sunday. One takes another stab at the decades-old argument: “Is Space Settlement a Good Idea?”  Another is on a new topic: “Perspectives on the Artemis Accords.” They are followed by two panels on the military and civilian aspects of “DARK SKIES,” presumably a reference to Dan Deudney’s book Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics and the Ends of Humanity (Deudney will be debating the space settlement question on the prior panel).

Lots of other interesting webinars and committee meetings, too, including MEPAG on Monday, a discussion of U.S.-Japanese space collaboration opportunities by the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) on Tuesday, the Australasia Satellite Forum 2021 (in-person in Australia and available virtually) on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Academies’ Space Technology Industry-Government-University Roundtable (STIGUR) on Thursday, and many more.

All the 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, June 21

Monday-Friday, June 21-25

Tuesday, June 22

Tuesday-Wednesday, June 22-23

Tuesday-Thursday, June 22-24

Wednesday, June 23

June 23-24

June 24

June 24-27

June 26-30

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