What's Happening in Space Policy March 21-25, 2016

What's Happening in Space Policy March 21-25, 2016

Here is our list of space policy related events for the week of March 21-25, 2016.  The House will be in session Monday-Wednesday before leaving for an extended spring recess (until April 12).  The Senate has already begun its spring recess and will not return until April 4.

During the Week

After a hectic couple of weeks, events on Capitol Hill will ease off for a while as the House and Senate take their spring breaks, which occur around the Easter holidays. The House will be in session for the first three days of this coming week and then take off for two-and-a-half weeks.  It returns on Tuesday, April 12.

Before it leaves, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will hold a hearing on DOD’s FY2017 budget request with Secretary of Defense Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dunford on Tuesday.   That same day the House has a space-related bill on the list for consideration under suspension of the rules — the INSPIRE Women Act (H.R. 4755), sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA).  It directs NASA to support initiatives to encourage women and girls to study the STEM fields, pursue careers in aerospace, and advance space science and exploration.  The bill was just introduced on Wednesday (March 16) and, as so often happens these days, is skipping over the usual legislative steps and going directly to the floor for a vote.  The suspension calendar is used for bills that are expected to be non-controversial and easily win a two-thirds vote, so the House leadership clearly expects it to pass. By happenstance or not, the NASA Advisory Council’s Ad Hoc Task Force on STEM education is meeting by telecon on Thursday.

The Senate has already recessed and will return for legislative business on April 4.  Pro forma sessions for both chambers are scheduled throughout this period where the House or Senate is called to order and then immediately adjourned with no legislative business transpiring.  The procedure ensures that Congress is not officially in recess for more than 3 days, thereby preventing the President from making “recess appointments.”

Meanwhile, there are still plenty of interesting events, perhaps most notably the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) at The Woodlands near Houston, Texas.   Only a few of those sessions will be webcast, unfortunately.  

Late Tuesday night (11:05 pm Eastern), Orbital ATK will launch its next Cygnus cargo mission, OA-6, to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL.  This is the second Cygnus launch on Atlas V, necessitated by the failure of Orbital ATK’s own Antares rocket in October 2014. (The next Orbital ATK cargo mission, OA-5, is scheduled to be on the new version of Antares from the Wallops Island, VA this summer.)   NASA will hold two pre-launch OA-6 press briefings on Monday.  The first, at 12:30 om ET, is about the science payload.  The second, at 2:30 pm ET, is a mission status briefing.  Both will be broadcast on NASA TV.

Those and other events we know about as of Saturday afternoon (March 19) are shown below.  Check back throughout the week for events we learn about later and add to our Events of Interest list.

Monday, March 21

Monday-Friday, March 21-25

Tuesday, March 22

Wednesday, March 23

Thursday, March 24

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