What’s Happening in Space Policy June 4-10, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy June 4-10, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of June 4-10, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

President Biden signed the Fiscal Responsibility Act into law yesterday, so the Appropriations Committees can now move forward with marking up the FY2024 appropriations bills. Allocations to the 12 subcommittees will have to be made and the subcommittees need to decide how to divvy it up. Nothing’s been announced as of today (Sunday), but they and the Armed Services Committees, which were forced to postpone their markups of the National Defense Authorization Act, could get going any time. We’ll post anything we hear about on our Calendar.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) speaks on the Senate floor during consideration of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, June 1, 2023. Screengrab.

That law exempts defense spending from cuts, but also says FY2024 funding cannot exceed Biden’s $886 billion request, a 3.2 percent increase over FY2023. That provision was vehemently opposed by some Senators including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who insisted Majority Leader Chuck  Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sign a statement that they will not oppose a supplemental for defense, which they did.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the top Republican on the full Senate Appropriations Committee, added her support in a floor speech on Thursday calling the defense request “completely inadequate” because it doesn’t keep pace with inflation. She also opposed the provision that if all 12 appropriations bills are not passed by January 1, 2024, a one percent across-the-board cut for all discretionary spending will go into effect. Committee chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said in her floor speech that she’s willing to consider a supplemental, but not just for defense, but other national priorities. At the beginning of the year, Collins and Murray pledged to work together and restore “regular order” to the appropriations process. That will be a special challenge this year.

The takeaway is that although the Fiscal Responsibility Act is law, how much the government spends in FY2024 is far from settled. Stay tuned for announcements of subcommittee and full committee markups by the House and Senate Appropriations and Armed Services committees. Could come at any time.

Elsewhere, SpaceX is still trying to launch its 28th cargo mission to the ISS. Postponed from yesterday to today because of weather, it was delayed again today. It’s now scheduled for tomorrow (Monday) at 11:47 am ET, but even then the forecast is just 60 percent favorable. Among the cargo are more ISS Roll Out Solar Arrays or iROSAs that NASA astronauts Steve Bowen and Woody Hoburg will begin installing during a spacewalk on Friday.

Also tomorrow, NASA will hold a media telecon on the final results of the Independent Review Board’s findings on the Psyche mission. Psyche missed its launch window last year because they ran out of time to test the spacecraft’s software. Psyche is managed at JPL and the IRB’s investigation found broader problems there that were detailed in a November 2022 report. NASA and JPL responded to the IRB’s findings and this telecon is an update on how things are going.  IRB chair Tom Young, JPL Director Laurie Leshin, NASA Science Mission Directorate head Nicky Fox, and SMD Planetary Division Director Lori Glaze will be there.

Fox will speak at Thursday’s meeting of the Space Studies Board (SSB), too. SSB and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are holding their spring 2023 meetings this week. ASEB meets on Tuesday, SSB on Thursday and Friday, with a joint meeting on Wednesday. The meeting is in-person in D.C., but space is limited so pre-registration is required for those who want to attend the open sessions. They’ll be livestreamed, too. Jim Free, head of Exploration Systems Development at NASA, will address the joint session, as will Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and a panel of House and Senate congressional staffers. The whole four days look terrific.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute has an intriguing in-person event on Thursday evening in Houston. LPI’s principal scientist, David Kring, will talk about “What Might Artemis Astronauts Encounter at the Lunar South Pole?” It’ll be livestreamed on LPI’s YouTube channel. He’ll discuss the “fascinatingly cold and rugged terrain” that is “far different than terrains traversed by Apollo astronauts” and “presents new and exciting scientific opportunities to learn more about the Moon.”

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 or changes to these.

Monday, June 5

Monday-Tuesday, June 5-6

Monday-Friday, June 5-9

Tuesday, June 6

Tuesday-Wednesday, June 6-7

Tuesday-Thursday, June 6-8

Tuesday-Friday, June 6-9

Wednesday, June 7

Wednesday-Thursday, June 7-8

Wednesday-Friday, June 7-9

Thursday, June 8

Friday, June 9

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