What's Happening in Space Policy June 6-10, 2016

What's Happening in Space Policy June 6-10, 2016

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of June 6-10, 2016 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

The House and Senate return to work this week.  Time is getting short.  The House will meet this week and the next two weeks, then take a week off for the July 4 holiday, and meet for the first two weeks of July.  Then it recesses for 7 weeks for the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions (Republican, July 18-21 in Cleveland; Democratic July 25-28 in Philadelphia) and its usual August summer break.  The Senate has a similar schedule, though it is taking a shorter July 4 recess.   When they return in September, they will have only three weeks to finish work on appropriations bills to keep the government open past September 30.

The Appropriations Committees in each chamber are making solid progress in reporting out the 12 regular appropriations bills, but getting them passed on the floor is a challenge.  The House thought it had agreement on the Energy and Water Bill before the Memorial Day break, for example, but politics intervened and the bill was defeated.  The Senate passed the Transportation-HUD bill, which funds the FAA’s space office, but there is no word on when the defense bill or the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill will be taken up.

The defense authorization bill, however, is moving along.  (Not sure of the difference between an appropriation and an authorization?  See our What’s a Markup? fact sheet.)   The House already passed the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Senate will take up its version tomorrow (Monday). 

Only one space-related hearing is on tap this week, and it’s not really a “space” hearing in the traditional sense.  The Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on private sector weather forecasting on Wednesday.  Subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) has an intense interest in commercial weather satellite data and Sandy MacDonald from SPIRE Global is on the witness list.  That is one of the companies hoping to sell GPS Radio Occultation data to NOAA.  NOAA chose radio occultation data for its commercial weather data pilot program. Bridenstine inserted language in NOAA’s FY2016 appropriations bill requiring NOAA to establish the pilot program and now has included similar language in the House version of the NDAA to direct DOD to set up a parallel project.  His goal is to have more small weather satellites instead of a few “Battlestar Galaticas” that are vulnerable to failures and enemy attack (he supports NOAA’s JPSS and GOES programs, too, but doesn’t want to be totally reliant on them).

Many briefings, meetings and conferences are taking place off the Hill this week.  It’s difficult to choose just one or two to highlight so be sure to look through the entire list below.  The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Tuesday briefing on initial results from its LISA Pathfinder gravitational wave mission should be interesting.  It’s taking place in Spain and will be webcast, though the time is rather early (5:30 am) on the U.S. East Coast, never mind for those of you further West.

The American Bar Association’s Space Law conference all day Wednesday also looks really good, including a keynote from Bridenstine before he has to rush off to chair that hearing.  The conference has five panels on the American Space Renaissance Act, legal and policy issues of “active debris removal” (e.g. who decides which space objects are “debris” or not and who has the right to move or destroy them), intentional jamming of satellite transmissions, hosted payloads, and one with the intriguing title “Who is On Your Space Vehicle?”   Michael Dodge (University of North Dakota), Laura Montgomery (FAA), Margaret Roberts (NASA), and Caryn Schenewerk (SpaceX) will discuss that last topic.  NASA General Counsel Samara Thomson-King is the luncheon speaker.

Those are just samples of the interesting events this week.  The list below contains all the ones we know about as of Sunday morning.  Check back throughout the week for others that we learn about later and post to our Events of Interest list.

Monday, June 6

Monday-Tuesday, June 6-7

Tuesday, June 7

Tuesday-Wednesday, June 7-8

Tuesday-Thursday, June 7-9

Wednesday, June 8

Wednesday, June 8 – Friday, June 17

Thursday, June 9

Friday, June 10

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