What’s Happening in Space Policy March 5-11, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy March 5-11, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of March 5-11, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

President Biden is expected to submit his FY2024 budget request to Congress on Thursday, though word has it that it’ll be a “skinny” budget with top-line numbers, but not all the details.

At least it’s something, though, and will allow Congress to begin the annual budget process. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees are eager to get underway. Both will hold Strategic Forces Posture hearings this week.

Gen. James Dickinson, Commander, U.S. Space Command, will testify to both HASC and SASC this week (Wednesday and Thursday, respectively).

The HASC Strategic Forces Subcommittee isn’t even waiting for Thursday. On Wednesday afternoon they’ll hear from John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy (whose responsibilities include much more than space as we wrote last month); Gen. Anthony Cotton, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command; Gen. James Dickinson, Commander, U.S. Space Command; and Gen. Glen VanHerck, Commander, U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Control of the House shifted from Democrats to Republicans this year, of course. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) is the new Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) is Ranking Member. Lamborn’s district includes Colorado Springs, home to Northern Command/NORAD and, at least for now, Space Command. Lamborn and other members of the Colorado delegation continue to work assiduously to prevent Space Command from being relocated to Huntsville, AL as directed by President Trump in the final days of his administration. Reviews concluded the decision complied with law and policy, but advocates for keeping it in Colorado argue it will reach Full Operational Capability much sooner if it stays where it is. The topic almost certainly will come up at the hearing.

On Thursday morning, Dickinson and Cotton will be back on the Hill, this time before SASC at a full committee hearing. It’s the first with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) as the top Republican on the committee following Sen. Jim Inhofe’s retirement. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) continues as chairman. Wicker is a long-standing member of SASC. In the last Congress he was the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee and very interested in space issues, especially space debris. This year he already has reintroduced his ORBITS Act (it passed the Senate last year, but not the House) along with a number of co-sponsors to begin addressing the threat to space operations posed by space debris. It wouldn’t be surprising if it’s one of the topics on Thursday.

Also on the national security space docket this week is the Air Force Association’s Warfare Symposium in Aurora, CO. It  begins tomorrow (Monday) and runs through Wednesday and does have a virtual option. The theme is “Dominant Air & Space Forces to Deter, Fight and Win.” Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, U.S. Space Force’s Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown headline the event.

Nicky Fox, the new AA for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, speaks at the American Astronautical Society’s Goddard Symposium in Laurel, MD on Friday.

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) holds its annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium Wednesday-Friday, and Friday night is the National Space Club’s annual “space prom” — the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner. The two otherwise separate events often are timed to coincide.

The AAS conference is at a new venue this year, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD, while the Goddard Dinner is at the Hilton Washington on Connecticut Avenue in D.C. as usual.

The AAS has a terrific program with panels on everything from space weather to lunar science to planetary defense, human exploration, workforce and much more. Jim Free, NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development is the luncheon speaker on Thursday and Nicky Fox, the brand new AA for the Science Mission Directorate speaks on Friday morning. Bhavya Lal, AA for Technology, Policy and Strategy, also speaks on Friday. This conference also has a virtual option.

Several other really great conferences or symposia are on tap this week, too, including IEEE’s Aerospace Conference in Big Sky, MT; the Japan Cabinet Office’s 8th National Space Policy Secretariat Symposium on Ensuring Safe and Sustainable Use of Outer Space taking place online; the 17th International Conference on Space Operations in Dubai; and Paris Space Week in Paris, FR.

Notable launches and reentries include Japan’s second attempt to launch the new H3 rocket from Tanegashima. Right now it’s scheduled for Tuesday morning Japan Standard Time, which is tomorrow evening EST. Weather has delayed it for one day already, however, so stay tuned. There are backup opportunties through March 10.

Relativity Space will attempt the first launch of its 3-D printed rocket, Terran-1, on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral. Relativity has adopted the practice (begun by Rocket Lab, we believe) of giving whimsical names to launches. This one is called “Good Luck, Have Fun” or GLHF. They’ll livestream it.

As far as we know, SpaceX’s next cargo mission to the ISS, SpX-27, is still on track for launch on Friday, though it’s not on the NASA TV schedule yet.

Nor is the return of Crew-5, which is expected around Thursday. The NASA TV schedule shows “farewell remarks” by the crew on Wednesday at 11:35 am ET, but no further details about undocking and splashdown. They may be waiting for more information on what the weather will be in the splashdown area near Florida. We’ll post whatever information they provide on our Calendar.

Crew-5 is expected to return to Earth this week, though the date hasn’t been set yet. Anna Kikina (Roscosmos), Josh Cassada (NASA), Nicole Mann (NASA) and Koichi Wakata (JAXA) will make farewell remarks on Wednesday, though.

The week-and-a-half annual South by Southwest or SXSW extravaganza in Austin, TX begins on Friday. There are quite a few space-related sessions including a NASA keynote on JWST. “Unfold the Universe: NASA’s Webb Space Telescope” will feature an “exclusive, never-before-seen image” from JWST and an all-woman panel: Laura Betz (NASA), Knicole Colón (NASA), Macarena Garcia Marin (ESA), Stefanie Milam (NASA), and Amber Straughn (NASA). That’s not until next week, though, on March 14 from 1:00-2:00 pm Central Time (2:00-3:00 pm Eastern).

Speaking of next week, remember that Daylight Saving Time begins a week from today in the United States. Two U.S. states (Arizona and Hawaii) don’t observe Daylight Saving Time, and countries around the world vary as to whether or when they change their clocks. If you have a virtual meeting with someone in another time zone over the next couple of weeks, best to double-check whether the time zones are aligned.

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 or changes to these.

Sunday-Saturday, March 5-11

Monday, March 6

Monday-Wednesday, March 6-8

Monday-Friday, March 6-10

Tuesday, March 7

Wednesday, March 8

Wednesday-Friday, March 8-10

Thursday, March 9

Friday, March 10

Friday, March 10-Sunday March 19

Sunday, March 12


This article has been updated.

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