What’s Happening in Space Policy March 15-27, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy March 15-27, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks, March 15-27, 2020, and any insight we can offer about them.  At the moment, the Senate is scheduled to be in session for at least part of this coming week, while the House is in recess other than pro forma sessions. Both are scheduled to be in session the last full week of March.

During the Weeks

These are uncertain times with COVID-19 spreading around the world and countries, including the United States, deciding day-by-day if not hour-by-hour how to deal with it.

In terms of space policy-related meetings, our events calendar tells the tale.  Just about every in-person meeting/conference we know about has been cancelled or postponed not just for the rest of this month, but April, too. Even some in May and June have been cancelled already.

For this two week period, there are a few virtual meetings, but only one in-person that we know about for sure — Vice President Pence has decided to hold a meeting of the National Space Council at the White House on March 24.  It was supposed to take place at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, but he moved it to D.C.  Further details are pending, but they have announced it will be livestreamed.

Two of NASA’s field centers, Ames and Marshall, have employees who tested positive for the cornonavirus so the Centers have been placed into “Stage 3” of NASA’s Response Framework, which means mandatory telework.  Only essential personnel are allowed on site.  NASA Administrator Bridenstine proactively decided yesterday to put all other NASA facilities at “Stage 2” where telework is strongly encouraged.  NASA has four stages of increasing limitations in its Response Framework. A handy chart on the “NASA People” website explains them.

The White House has asked agencies to limit travel to only that which is mission critical.  The House and Senate were both supposed to be in recess this week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled the Senate’s break.  It will be in session on Monday, at least.  Among other things they were waiting for the House to pass legislation to deal with COVID-19, which it did in the early hours of Saturday morning.  The Senate had gone home on Thursday, so must come back to consider that bill, which passed the House by a wide bipartisan margin (363-40) and has been endorsed by President Trump.

There’s plenty of other work to be done, but how long it will stay in session this coming week remains to be seen.  As noted, the schedule calls for both chambers to be in session for the last week of March, but the situation is dynamic, so let’s wait and see what happens. There is an argument to be made that Senators, Representatives and their staffs shouldn’t be out traveling either. Some Senate offices already are closed because of COVID-19 concerns.  A few Senators and House members have self-quarantined at home after learning they were in contact with individuals who later tested positive for the virus.

We are trying to keep our calendar up to date, but things are changing so quickly we can’t guarantee that it is.  Whatever meeting you are thinking of attending, virtually or in-person, check with the organizers.

All that being said, here is our list of the remaining meetings we know about as of Sunday morning, March 15, that are still scheduled for the next two weeks.

Note that the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) has arranged three virtual “Town Hall” meetings on March 16, 17 and 19 that were to be held at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC 51), which was cancelled.

Monday, March 16

Tuesday, March 17

Thursday, March 19

Friday, March 20

Tuesday, March 24

Tuesday-Thursday, March 24-26

Thursday, March 26

  • NASA Advisory Council STEM Engagement Committee.  We are advised that all NAC meetings are being converted to virtual meetings. We do not have any other details about this one, but will add them to our Calendar entry if we get them.

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