What’s Happening in Space Policy June 6-12, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy June 6-12, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of June 6-12, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate is in session this week. In the House, it is a “committee work week” where committees meet virtually and the House meets only in pro forma sessions.

During the Week

The Senate is scheduled to vote on S. 1260 on Tuesday. That’s the bill that contains, among many other things, the 2021 NASA Authorization Act and the SPACE Act (re space situational awareness). Although amendments to the NASA section have been introduced, none has been adopted. At this point the NASA and SPACE text remain the same as when the bill was brought up for consideration by the Senate. Remember that changes were made between the time it was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee and when it reached the floor, notably to the Human Landing System (HLS) section, but that’s where it stands at the moment — more than one HLS contractor required, but no changes to the existing contract with SpaceX.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee (SAC-D) will have a hearing on the FY2022 budget request for the Air Force and the Space Force on Tuesday. Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown and Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond will be at the witness table. The Space Force FY2022 request calls for a $2 billion increase, to $17.5 billion, although half of the increase is due to transfers from other services including the Navy’s MUOS communications satellite program and the Army’s Wide-Band Enterprise Satcom system. It’s important to remember there is other money in the DOD budget for space not reflected in the Space Force budget, such as the $809 million request for the Space Development Agency (SDA). SDA is still part of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) will take a look at the entire DOD FY2022 budget request on Thursday with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and DOD Comptroller Michael McCord.

SASC has a hearing on Tuesday as well that could touch on space — U.S. Strategic Competition with China. We don’t recognize any of witnesses as being among the regular set of commentators on China’s space activities, but with all the talk about Chinese ASATs, Chinese space stations, errant Chinese rocket stages, and China’s lunar aspirations, it wouldn’t be surprising if someone brings it up. The witnesses are Matt Pottinger (Stanford, and former deputy National Security Advisor to President Trump), Evan Medeiros (Georgetown, formerly on the staff of President Obama’s National Security Council), Sheena Chestnut Greitens (UT-Austin), and Bonnie Glaser (German Marshall Fund of the United States).

NASA’s Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) meets tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday. Lindley Johnson, head of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) will give an update at 12:00 pm ET.  PDCO’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is getting ready for launch this November and the FY2022 budget request has a nice plus-up for the next PDCO flight project, the Near Earth Object Surveyor Mission. NEO Surveyor will search for asteroids from a vantage point in space where it can see the entire universe instead of a narrow corridor when looking from the surface of Earth. That will accelerate the ability to identify 90 percent of asteroids 140 kilometers or more in diameter as directed by Congress. The project, formerly called NEOCam, has been in pre-Phase A and Phase A for quite a number of years and just had its Key Decision Point-B (KDP-B) review that would allow it to proceed into Phase B. A NASA spokesperson tells us the project will be “notified of the outcome in the coming weeks.” Perhaps Johnson will have news tomorrow. If KDP-B went well and future reviews do too, and it gets the requested funding, launch would be in FY 2026.

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-Tuesday, June 7-8

Monday-Friday, June 7-11 (continued from last week)

Tuesday, June 8

Tuesday-Wednesday, June 8-9

Wednesday, June 9

Thursday, June 10

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.