What’s Happening in Space Policy May 12-18, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy May 12-18, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of May 12-18, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

The title may be “Humans to Mars Summit,” but this year’s H2M conference is as much about the Moon as the Red Planet.  In keeping with the new direction from the White House to focus on returning astronauts to the lunar surface, a number of sessions will discuss how the Moon fits into the longer-term goal of Mars.

The three-day conference (Tuesday-Thursday) is being held at the National Academy of Sciences building on Constitution Ave in D.C. this year.  It will be webcast.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is scheduled to be the opening keynote speaker on Tuesday morning (will there be news about the Moon 2024 budget?). It will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by John Logsdon, founder of and Professor Emeritus at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, on “Beyond Apollo: Can a 2024 Moon Landing Enable a Mars Landing in the 2030s?”  (Bridenstine told Congress that one reason for accelerating the human return to the Moon is to also accelerate human landings on Mars.)  Note that the panel will be talking about a human Mars landing in the “2030s” not 2033, Rep. Perlmutter’s passion.  The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) recently published a report concluding it is “infeasible” even for humans to orbit, never mind land on Mars in 2033, but humans orbiting Mars might possible later that decade.  Bhayva Lal, one of the authors of the STPI report, is on the panel. Also on the panel:  Ryan Whitley from the National Space Council; Ken Bowersox, a former astronaut who is now Deputy Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate; and Rob Chambers from Lockheed Martin.

A special feature is a luncheon address on Wednesday by renowned space journalist Leonard David who just published his latest book:  Moon Rush: The New Space Race (National Geographic).  The book is perfect not only for experts, but for policymakers who don’t spend full time thinking about human spaceflight.  It provides just the right amount of context about the formation of the Moon and its exploration to date before delving into questions about why anyone would want to return and the challenges that will be faced in trying to live and work there.  We don’t want to steal his thunder since you can hear from the author himself on Wednesday, but the book was released on May 7 and is available from Amazon and elsewhere. David has been reporting on space for more than 50 years and is also the author of the National Geographic’s book on human exploration of Mars (Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet) and co-author of Buzz Aldrin’s Mission to Mars: My Vision for Mars Exploration.

Meanwhile, up on Capitol Hill, the Senate Commerce space subcommittee will hold a hearing Tuesday afternoon where Bridenstine will testify on a somewhat different topic — The Emerging Space Environment.  Joining him at the witness table are Kevin O’Connell, Director of the Office of Space Commerce at the Department of Commerce; Robert Cardillo, who just retired as Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Lt. Gen. David Thompson, Vice Commander, Air Force Space Command; and USAF Col. Pam Melroy (Ret.), a former astronaut who is now a consultant. The hearing “will examine civil-military coordination, cooperation, and related issues within the space domain.”   Separately, the full committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Stephen Dickson to be FAA Administrator on Wednesday.  If confirmed, one of the offices he will oversee is the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which regulates, facilitates and promotes the commercial space launch and reentry business.  The committee webcasts its hearings.

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has three hearings this week that could be of interest to the space policy community even though they are not specifically related to space.  On Thursday morning, the committee will hear about the Event Horizon Telescope that produced that amazing image of a black hole that was released last month.  NSF Director France Córdova is among the witnesses.  That afternoon, the environment subcommittee will hold a hearing on the future of weather forecasting that might get into NOAA’s new approach to obtaining space-based observations (the NOAA Satellite Observing System Architecture) after JPSS and GOES.  On Friday, the committee will hold a “Members’ Day” hearing where members of Congress can appear before the committee to discuss matters of special interest to them.  All the hearings will be webcast.

Also, the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee will markup the FY2020 DOD appropriations bill on Wednesday, along with two others (Energy & Water, and Interior).  The committee is moving apace with its markups. NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier told the House SS&T space subcommittee on Wednesday that the Administration was still 1-2 weeks away from being ready to submit an amended NASA budget request to pay for Moon 2024.  It really has no time to waste if it wants that to be part of the regular FY2020 budget cycle.

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.

Tuesday, May 14

Tuesday-Thursday, May 14-16

Wednesday, May 15

Wednesday-Thursday, May 15-16

Thursday, May 16

Friday, May 17


Note: This article has been updated.

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