What’s Happening in Space Policy May 6-12, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy May 6-12, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of May 6-12, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in the session this week.

During the Week

Two House committees will mark up funding bills for defense and civil space programs this week.  The full House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will mark up the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday beginning at 10:00 am ET.  These marathon  sessions have been known to run past midnight, so get the coffee ready.  Subcommittee markups were on April 26 and HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry released a summary of what will be in the bill on Friday.  There’s an entire section in the summary on what HASC wants for “space warfighting.”  Last year, there was a lot of debate about creating a Space Force, but despite President Trump’s embrace of the idea, this year the committee is proposing a lesser, but still significant step of creating a U.S. Space Command as a sub-unit of U.S. Strategic Command.

On the civil space side, the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will mark up its FY2019 bill, which includes funding for NASA and NOAA, also on Wednesday at 5:00 pm ET.  The subcommittee, and its Senate counterpart, have been very generous to NASA in recent years.  For FY2018, they approved $20.7 billion for NASA, $1.6 billion more than the Trump Administration requested.  For FY2019,  the Administration is requesting $19.9 billion.  NOAA’s satellite programs do not seem to be very controversial this year although the budget proposal would cut funds for the second set of NOAA’s new polar orbiting weather satellites, JPSS-3 and JPSS-4.  As defined until now, the JPSS program is only for the first two satellites (JPSS-1 and -2).   JPSS-3 and JPSS-4 have been in a separate budget line item– Polar Follow On (PFO).  That disappears in the FY2019 request as PFO is merged with JPSS into a new “Polar Weather Satellites” line item.  It reduces funding for JPSS-3 and JPSS -4 as compared with what was projected in the past, but the Trump Administration insists the launch readiness dates for those two satellites will not be affected.   Read more about the NASA and NOAA FY2019 budget requests in SpacePolicyOnline.com’s fact sheets.

Also on the Hill this week, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) will hold the nomination hearing for Lisa Porter to be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (DUSD/R&E).  She would be Mike Griffin’s Deputy.  The two worked together a decade ago when Griffin was NASA Administrator and Porter was NASA’s Associate Administrator for Aeronautics.  The hearing is Thursday morning.

NASA’s lunar and Mars exploration plans also will get a lot of attention this week in Washington.  On Tuesday, NASA will hold a pre-proposal conference — or “industry day” — for NASA’s recently released draft Request for Proposals for Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS).  The morning sessions, where NASA will describe its plans, will be available by WebEx/telecon, but according to the current agenda the afternoon sessions will not.  They primarily are one-on-one discussions between companies and NASA, so that makes sense, but as it turns out, new NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will address the group at 2:30 pm ET.  We are checking with NASA to find out if his talk also will be available remotely by WebEx or other means. When we find out, we’ll post the information in our Calendar item for this event.

The 2018 Humans to Mars (H2M) summit is Tuesday-Thursday at George Washington University as usual.  Bridenstine will speak there on Wednesday morning, though the agenda has him down for just 20 minutes (8:35-8:55 am ET).  That entire conference, which has many interesting sessions including a congressional panel with Rep. Ed Permutter and Rep. Bill Posey (via recorded video message) on Tuesday morning, will be livestreamed.

Wednesday (May 9) is a really busy day, with the HASC and House CJS markups, the second day of H2M, and Boeing’s Dennis Muilenberg speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, but if you can squeeze in one more event, the first meeting of the Congressional Planetary Science Caucus will take place that afternoon (3:00-5:00 pm ET) in the Member’s Room of the Library of Congress.  It has a star-studded line-up including Bill Nye, the Science Guy, who is CEO of The Planetary Society (TPS), and actor Robert Picardo, the hologram doctor from Star Trek Voyager.  TPS led the formation of the caucus, which is co-chaired by Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and Rep. Derek Kilmer  (D-WA).  Culberson chairs the House CJS subcommittee and Kilmer is a member, so if they make an appearance they will have to hustle over to Rayburn for the 5:00 pm ET markup.  Bridenstine and NASA Science AA Thomas Zurbuchen also will be there.

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-Tuesday, May 7-8

Tuesday, May 8

Tuesday-Thursday, May 8-10

Wednesday, May 9

Thursday, May 10

Friday, May 11


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