What’s Happening in Space Policy May 30-June 5, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy May 30-June 5, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of May 30-June 5, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess (except for pro forma sessions).

During the Week

Before we get started on what’s coming up this week, we can’t resist showing you a photo of last week’s total lunar eclipse. Of the many spectacular shots that made their way into the Twitterverse, this one from the European Southern Observatory is just so stunning that even if you’ve seen it before it’s worth another look.

The Moon near total eclipse as seen at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert of Chile. @ESO tweet, May 27, 2021. Credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)

Now, on to this week.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!  Tomorrow (Monday) is a federal holiday and a lot of people are taking the entire week off to — at last — gather with family and friends they haven’t seen since COVID-19 began.

But quite a few are still working, at least in space policy. That includes NASA Administrator Bill Nelson who will give his first State of NASA briefing on Wednesday. In person. At the NASA Headquarters auditorium. With a limited number of reporters right there in the building.

Just being able to meet at NASA HQ says something as COVID-19 restrictions ease in D.C. and everyone dearly hopes the worst is behind us. Nelson will be joined by the four Mission Directorate Associate Administrators (Bob Pearce, Kathy Lueders, Jim Reuter, and Thomas Zurbuchen) and Bob Gibbs, Associate Administrator for Mission Support.

Most meetings still are virtual, though, and Wednesday’s meeting of the NSF-NASA-DOE Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) is no exception. NASA astrophysics division director Paul Hertz is on the agenda at 12:10 pm ET. We look forward to hearing more about what’s in the just-released NASA FY2022 budget request for astrophysics, and what’s not since it again proposes terminating SOFIA. But at least the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope looks to be well funded. The Trump Administration tried to kill it year after year, but Congress rejected his proposal every time and kept it going. Congress also rejected last year’s proposal to terminate SOFIA, so we’ll see what happens this time. Acting NASA CFO Steve Shinn said it’s the second most expensive operating NASA astrophysics mission, has completed its primary mission, and NASA wants to move on to other science.

The Aerospace Corporation’s weekly Space Policy Show on Thursday, also virtual, features Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), the new chair of the space subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.  Perhaps he’ll have something to say about the budget request, too, and the Biden Administration’s decision to stick with the 2024 date for getting astronauts back on the Moon. Full committee chairwoman Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has made clear from the beginning she considers that deadline arbitrary and unrealistic. Just last week she and Beyer issued a joint statement where she called GAO’s newest report a “wake-up call” that the Artemis program is in “serious trouble.”  This webinar is at the same time as the SpX-22 launch, but fortunately Aerospace archives its webinars for on-demand viewing later.

The International Space Station (ISS) remains a busy place. The two Russian cosmonauts, Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov, will conduct a spacewalk very early (1:20 am EDT) Wednesday morning. One of their tasks is connecting antennas for the Kurs automated docking system to enable the new Nauka (Science) module to dock. After years and years of delays, the 20-ton module is finally scheduled for launch on July 15. Anatoly Zak of RussianSpaceWeb.com has an excellent recap of Nauka’s long history.

Later Wednesday, NASA and SpaceX will hold a “What’s On Board” briefing and a pre-launch press conference in advance of Thursday’s scheduled launch of SpaceX-22, the company’s 22nd cargo mission to ISS.  If launch is on time, SpX-22 will dock on Saturday morning at 5:00 am ET.

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.

Monday, May 31

Monday, May 31 – Friday, June 11

Tuesday, June 1

Tuesday-Thursday, June 1-3

Wednesday, June 2

Thursday, June 3

Saturday, June 5


This article has been updated.

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