What’s Happening in Space Policy March 29-April 11, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy March 29-April 11, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks, March 29-April 11, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them.  The Senate is in recess, except for pro forma sessions, until April 20.  The House is in recess, except for pro forma sessions, also until at least April 20.

During the Weeks

After passing the $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package, the Senate recessed until April 20 and the House apparently did as well although we can’t find its return date for legislative business definitively stated anywhere (like the Senate it will continue to meet in pro forma sessions throughout this time). [UPDATE, March 30: The House Majority Leader’s floor update today does say the House is not expected to meet sooner than April 20.]  Both chambers were already scheduled to be in recess for two of those weeks (April 6-17) for the Easter/Passover period, but it may well be that they do not return until after April 20 depending on whether it is safe for everyone to travel and meet in groups.  We all hope this terrible situation will have improved by then, but there is much uncertainty.

Ordinarily this is peak season for congressional hearings on the President’s budget request and other topics.  The Senate Armed Services Committee came up with an innovative “paper hearing” approach where the Chairman and Ranking Member will post their statements and the witness statements on the committee’s website on the day the hearing is scheduled.  Committee members will send written questions to the witnesses and the witnesses must reply in writing a week later and all of that also is posted.  They did that for a hearing on the Department of the Army on Thursday for the first time.  No further hearings are scheduled at the moment, but that could be one way committees obtain information they need to proceed.   Or they may just wait until COVID-19 is under control.

Meanwhile, some organizations are taking advantage of virtual meetings. Several are planned in this two-week period.

NASA’s International Space Station Advisory Committee meets virtually tomorrow (Monday).

The National Academies’ Space Studies Board has modified its Space Science Week.  The plenary session and public lecture are cancelled, but the five discipline committees will meet virtually instead of in-person.  The committees meet in both closed and open sessions.  The open sessions, available via Zoom, are on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 31-April 1, as detailed in the list below.

The Aerospace Corporation has four of its Tuesday/Thursday “Space Policy Show” sessions:  5G and Critical Weather Services (March 31), New START and U.S. Space Forces (April 2), Large Constellation Disposal Hazards (April 7) and Space Safety and Sustainability (April 9).

The highlight for next week is the April 9 launch of the next ISS crew.  NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are headed to ISS for a 6-month stay.  The number of support personnel allowed at the launch site is severely limited because of COVID-19, but NASA TV has arranged for coverage nonetheless.  The Soyuz-16 crew will replace NASA’s Drew Morgan and Jessica Meir and Roscosmos’s Oleg Skripochka. They return to Earth on April 17.  Morgan has been there since July 20; Meir and Skripochka since September 25.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday morning, March 29, are shown below.  Check back throughout the weeks for others we learn about later, or changes to these, and post to our Calendar.

Monday, March 30

Tuesday, March 31

Tuesday-Wednesday, March 31-April 1

Thursday, April 2

Tuesday, April 7

Thursday, April 9

Saturday, April 11

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