What's Happening in Space Policy June 21-28, 2015 – UPDATE

What's Happening in Space Policy June 21-28, 2015 – UPDATE

UPDATE:  Friday’s House SS&T hearing on astrobiology has been postponed.  Friday’s HASC subcommittee hearing on RD-180 is now at 9:00 am rather than 10:30 am ET.

Here is our list of space policy events for the week (and a bit) of June 21-28, 2015.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

It’s a busy week, starting today (Sunday) with the GEOINT 2015 conference, ending next Sunday with the 7th operational SpaceX cargo launch (SpX-7) to the International Space Station, and lots of stuff in between including one congressional hearing on astrobiology and (yet) another on the RD-180 issue.

Astrobiology — the search for life elsewhere in the solar system and beyond — is much in the news lately with ongoing research at Mars with orbiters and rovers, an upcoming  mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa in the 2020s, and the exoplanet discoveries from the Kepler space telescope.  NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan will talk to the Space Policy and History Forum about this topic tomorrow (Monday) at 4:00 pm ET at the National Air and Space Museum.  Seating is limited and in a part of the museum not open to the public, so pre-registration is required.  If you can’t make it tomorrow, Stofan was part of a really excellent NASA panel discussion in April on “Water in the Universe” and the search for habitable worlds.   That’s a good primer for Friday’s House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on astrobiology, where she will testify along with three other experts including Cornell’s Jonathan Lunine.

The astrobiology hearing hopefully will be over in time to switch at 10:30 am ET to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing on the RD-180 issue.   One almost would think there is nothing left to say considering all the hearings already held, but the witness list is quite impressive, with three government and six industry witnesses. The hearing also has its focus on “investing in industry” to end reliance on the Russian engine that powers the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) Atlas V rocket.   In addition to the “usual suspects” like Air Force Space Command’s Gen. John Hyten and ULA’sTory Bruno, former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin will be there in his role as deputy chair of the RD-180 Availability Risk Mitigation Study (the Mitchell report).  Griffin now is President of Shafer Corporation that is part of a consortium including Dynetics and Aerojet Rocketdyne that wants to obtain the production rights to ULA’s Atlas V rocket and apparently replace the Atlas V’s RD-180 engine with Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1.  That is a new twist.   Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Julie Van Kleeck will be there too, along with Orbital ATK’s Frank Culbertson and SpaceX’s Jeff Thornburg (one imagines Elon Musk and Gwynne Shotwell are a little busy preparing for Sunday’s SpX-7 launch).   Blue Origin will also be at the table with its President Rob Meyerson.  Its deal with ULA on the BE-4 engine has put it on the front page of the debate over how quickly America can move beyond the RD-180.  The other two government witnesses are DOD’s assistant secretary for acquisition, Katrina McFarland, and Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.  Should be good.

Many other interesting events are on tap.  The list below shows everything we know about as of Sunday (June 21) afternoon.

Sunday-Wednesday, June 21-24

Monday, June 22

Monday-Tuesday, June 22-23

Monday-Wednesday, June 22-24

Tuesday, June 23

Tuesday-Thursday, June 23-25

Thursday, June 25

Friday, June 26

Saturday, June 27

Sunday, June 28

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