What’s Happening in Space Policy June 7-13, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy June 7-13, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of June 7-13, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate is in session this week. The House is in a “Committee Work Day” period all week.

During the Week

Legislative action on FY2021 space-related bills begins this week with mark up of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).  Very few hearings have been held because of the coronavirus pandemic so there is even less transparency than usual on where the areas of controversy are and who’s on which side.  With the exception of the Personnel Subcommittee, all markups are closed, so the public will only know the end result and that will be when the committee releases the bill and explanatory statement, hopefully soon after the markup is over.  It will take place Monday-Wednesday, with Thursday as an additional day if needed.

FYI, the House Armed Services Committee will mark up its version June 22-23 at subcommittee level, and July 1 for the full committee.

The House is conducting committee business using a “hybrid” approach where some members are in a hearing room and others participate virtually. The Capitol complex remains closed to the public, so the public must watch the webcasts. Each committee is required to hold two hearings this way as a trial run before attempting legislative action like markups.  HASC will hold a hearing this week on COVID-19 and the defense industrial base on Wednesday with Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, as the only witness.

We are not aware of any other space-related hearings this week.  Looking ahead, the House Appropriations Committee plans to begin marking up the FY2021 appropriations bills later this month with the goal of having them completed and ready for floor action in July, with passage before the August recess. (House leadership also hopes to pass the NDAA by then.) The House is scheduled to meet for legislative business June 30-July 2, and July 20-31. The rest of that time the House will meet in pro forma sessions and committees will hold their hybrid meetings. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not announced its markup schedule.

Back to what’s coming up this week, the National Academies’ Space Studies Board (SSB) and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) will hold their annual joint meeting on Tuesday, with ASEB meeting by itself tomorrow (Monday) and SSB by itself on Wednesday and Thursday. The meetings are all virtual and anyone may listen in, but must register in advance to get the sign-in info.  ASEB’s meeting tomorrow is focused on aviation. The joint meeting on Tuesday includes a session with Scott Pace, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, a celebration of Hubble’s 30th anniversary, and an update on NASA’s human spaceflight program by Ken Bowersox (acting head of HEOMD). The two-day SSB-only meeting has a great lineup including updates from Thomas Zurbuchen, head of the Science Mission Directorate, and from the leaders of the Mars Perseverance mission (scheduled to launch next month), as well as a session on “Consideration of Satellite Constellations.”

Separately, ASEB’s Committee on Space Nuclear Propulsion Technologies meets virtually tomorrow afternoon. In this pandemic era, the committee is conducting its business through a series of weekly virtual meetings. This is the second.  Again, one must register in advance to get the sign-in info.  They will get more briefings from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

The use of nuclear power in space is of interest to the American Nuclear Society (ANS), too, and it will have a session on Thursday at the ANS annual meeting to discuss an update to the society’s position paper on the topic.  The debate is over using Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) versus Low Enriched Uranium (LEU), which is a serious non-proliferation issue (Jeff Foust wrote a summary in The Space Review of a seminar held last fall about the issue), but one might hope they will also use the opportunity to update their anachronistic use of “manned” and “unmanned” in the existing statement.

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) will hold its next “Future in Space” webinar on Thursday afternoon with representatives of the three companies that just won Human Landing System (HLS) contracts from NASA:  John Couluris from Blue Origin, Robert Wright from Dynetics, and Nick Cummings from SpaceX. Should be VERY interesting!

On the national security space front, in addition to the SASC markup and the HASC defense industrial base hearing, the Secure World Foundation and UNIDIR will hold the fourth in their “Launch Pad Seminars” (that replace the in-person Space Security Conference they’d planned) on Wednesday. The topic is “Rethinking PAROS and Looking Ahead At MultiLateral Approaches.”  And the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute will have a webinar with Will Roper, the AF acquisition chief, and the GPS Innovation Alliance will have one on GPS III.

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 post to our Calendar.

Monday, June 8

Monday-Thursday, June 8-11

Tuesday, June 9

Wednesday, June 10

Thursday, June 11

Friday, June 12

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