What’s Happening in Space Policy March 26-30, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy March 26-30, 2018

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of March 26-30, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess and will return the week of April 9 for legislative business (as usual there are pro forma sessions scheduled throughout the recess).

During the Week

Before we talk about the upcoming week, a quick note about something that happened on Friday, but didn’t become widely known until yesterday when many of you hopefully were enjoying a well earned weekend rest and not checking the space policy news front.  President Trump has released a new National Space Strategy. The public version is very concise.  The strategy covers civil, commercial, and national security space. The national security space provisions replace the 2011 National Security Space Strategy issued by DOD and the Director of National Intelligence according to a White House official we corresponded with yesterday.  The strategy is a big deal, but with all that was happening on Friday, the White House apparently didn’t have a chance to give it the roll-out it deserved.

Now, on to the coming week’s events.   Congress is on spring break for two weeks, which is a good thing because there is so much else going on in the space policy world.

The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and two of its committees meet this week.  The NAC Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) committee meets tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday, with Bill Gerstenmaier kicking things off at 11:00 am ET.  The meeting is at NASA Headquarters and available by WebEx and telecon.  These NAC meetings are a very useful opportunity to catch up on NASA’s plans. With the FY2018 budget FINALLY settled, it should be quite interesting to learn, for example, how NASA will respond to the congressional direction in the budget to build a second mobile launch platform for SLS.  Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot told a House committee on March 7 that NASA had looked at that option and decided not to proceed.  Congress was quite generous with NASA and provided $350 million for it in FY2018, though, as part of a substantial budget boost for the agency (a total of $20.7 billion, which is about $1.1 billion more than FY2017 and $1.6 billion more than the Trump Administration requested).

NAC’s Technology, Innovation and Engineering Committee (TI&E) will meet at Goddard Space Flight Center tomorrow.  It will be interesting to see what the reaction is to the proposal in the FY2019 budget to eliminate the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and merge what remains of its programs with technology development efforts for the Moon/Mars effort.  Steve Jurczyk, who was head of STMD until recently and now is NASA’s Acting Associate Administrator, and James Reuter, the new acting head of STMD, will be there to give an update at 9:30 am ET.  The meeting was announced in the Federal Register as 9:00 am – 5:00 pm ET, but the agenda indicates the “FACA Open Meeting” will end at 1:30 pm ET.  The meeting is available by WebEx/Telecon. (FACA is the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which has rules that advisory committees like this must follow with regard to being open to the public.)

NAC itself meets Wednesday-Thursday at NASA HQ.  It will be available by WebEx/telecon. The agenda has not been posted yet.

Unfortunately at the same time as the NAC meetings, the Space Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is holding its annual “Space Science Week” in D.C.  From Tuesday to Thursday, there are plenary, joint and individual meetings of the Board’s five standing committees (Astronomy and Astrophysics, Astrobiology and Planetary Science, Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, Earth Science and Applications from Space, and Solar and Space Physics).  The plenary session on Tuesday afternoon looks especially good, with a talk by NASA’s science chief Thomas Zurbuchen followed by an international panel with speakers from Europe, China, and Japan and then a discussion with Len Fisk, President of COSPAR (and a past chair of the SSB).

As part of Space Science Week, on Wednesday evening (7:00 pm ET), David Reitze, Executive Director of the LIGO Institute at Caltech, will give a public lecture on “The Gravitational Wave Astronomical Revolution” at the National Academy of Sciences building on Constitution Ave.  There is no indication on the SSB’s website for these Space Science Week events if any will be webcast.  The public lecture, at least, usually is.  If we get more information, we will add it to our calendar entry.

Added to all of that, on Wednesday afternoon the annual USRA/SPI symposium will take place in D.C.  The timely topic this year is “Return to the Moon: A Partnership of Government, Academia and Industry.”  The speaker line-up is a who’s who of all three sectors.  It’s a long list and we don’t want to offend anyone by leaving them out, so please check our calendar entry to see who’ll be there. (It is exactly at the same time as the beginning of the NAC meeting, unfortunately for those of us who can be only in one place at one time.)

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.

Monday, March 26

Monday-Tuesday, March 26-27

Tuesday-Thursday, March 27-29

Wednesday, March 28

Wednesday-Thursday, March 28-29




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