What’s Happening in Space Policy March 10-16, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy March 10-16, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of March 10-16, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

First and foremost — the United States went onto Daylight Saving Time overnight.  Be sure your clocks are set correctly and any time zone conversions take account of it.

This week’s big event is release of President Trump’s FY2020 budget request.  It is just a request. Congress will decide how much money to allocate to the government’s various discretionary functions over the course of the next many months.  Rumors are that the proposal is to increase funding for defense and cut non-defense spending commensurately, which as everyone knows is a non-starter.  It was dead-on-arrival when Trump proposed essentially the same thing two years ago when Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress, never mind now when Democrats control the House.  It seems that this year’s budget debate will follow a familiar trajectory especially since they once again must decide whether to abide by the budget caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act (they only did once, in FY2013) and raise the debt limit, which was breached last week.  Another déjà vu moment.

The budget will be officially released by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Government Publishing Office (GPO) at 11:30 am ET tomorrow (Monday).  GPO says tomorrow is Phase 1 of the release, with Phase 2 next Monday.  Phase 1 is the budget proposal itself.  Phase 2 is the budget appendix, analytical perspectives, and major savings and reforms.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will speak to employees at Kennedy Space Center tomorrow at 1:00 pm ET about the agency’s plans for Moon/Mars exploration.  NASA Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jeff DeWit will hold a media telecon to go over the budget details at 5:00 pm ET.  Both will be available on NASA TV and/or NASA Live.  DOD will hold budget briefings on Tuesday.

Release of the budget request is the usual kick off for congressional hearings on the budget and related matters.  Quite a few are scheduled this week.  The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee will hear from outgoing Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein about the Air Force budget on Wednesday at 10:00 am ET.  Most unfortunately for those of us who cover all aspects of space activities, it is at exactly the same time as already-dueling hearings on the future of the space program at the House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.  The House SS&T hearing features three non-government witnesses, although all once worked for the government (Ellen Stofan, Director, NASM, and former NASA chief scientist; Peggy Whitson, former NASA astronaut; and Frank Rose, Brookings Institution and former State Department Assistant Secretary).  The Senate Commerce committee will receive testimony from two government witnesses: NASA’s Bridenstine and Kevin O’Connell from the Department of Commerce.  Fortunately all the committees webcast their hearings and most are archived and can be viewed later.

Fresh off the successful Demo-1 Crew Dragon test flight, the International Space Station (ISS) crew will welcome three new members on Thursday.  NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin will launch at 3:14 pm ET from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Soyuz MS-12 and dock at ISS about 6 hours later at 9:07 pm ET.  Hague and Ovchinin are hoping for a better outcome this time.  They were the two who launched on Soyuz MS-10 last October, but didn’t make it to orbit because the Soyuz rocket failed.  The emergency abort system activated instantly, separating their capsule from the disintegrating rocket. They landed safely downrange and later were promised a second chance. This is it.  Koch was added to the crew as NASA and Roscosmos replanned the sequence of crew rotations.  Once they are aboard, the ISS will be restored to its usual six-person complement.  NASA’s Anne McClain, Canada’s David Saint-Jacques, and Russia’s Oleg Kononenko are already there.  Later this month (March 29), McClain and Koch will perform the first all-female spacewalk as part of a series of three spacewalks.  Hague and Saint-Jacques will participate in the others.

It’s quite a busy week, with far too many events to highlight here (see the list below).   One other that we will mention, however, is MIT’s three-day “Space Week” in Cambridge, Mass.  Wednesday is a celebration of the Apollo 11 50th anniversary; Thursday is “Beyond the Cradle: Envisioning a new Space Age”; and Friday is the “New Space Age Conference.”  It all looks really interesting.

All the 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.

Sunday, March 10

Monday, March 11

Tuesday, March 12

Wednesday, March 13

Wednesday-Friday, March 13-15

  • MIT Space Week, Cambridge,MA
    • March 13: Celebration of Apollo Moon Landing 50th Anniversary — Apollo 50+50
    • March 14: Beyond the Cradle: Envisioning a New Space Age
    • March 15: New Space Age Conference

Thursday, March 14

Friday, March 15

Saturday-Sunday, March 16-17



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