What’s Happening in Space Policy November 11-17, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 11-17, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of November 11-17, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate return to work on Tuesday.

During the Week

Tomorrow (Monday) is a federal holiday in observance of Veterans Day (which officially is today).  A good day to rest up for a really busy week. There are so many meetings and briefings they don’t even fit on the list on our home page that shows the next 20 upcoming events.  Click on “View All Events” to see them all or just look below.

On Tuesday, Congress returns to work to finish the remaining roughly 8 weeks of the 115th Congress. Top of the list of the many items still to be resolved are FY2019 appropriations for NASA, NOAA and a host of other federal agencies whose appropriations bills were not among the five enacted into law earlier.  They are funded by a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on December 7.

How these 8 weeks will play out is anyone’s guess.  Democrats will be in control of the House when the 116th Congress begins.  The Senate will remain in Republican hands, though three Senate races remain undecided (Arizona, Florida, and Mississippi) so the exact split is not known yet. As of press time, the tally is 51 Republicans and 46 Democrats (including two Independents who caucus with the Democrats).  The same is true in the House where eight races are still up in the air according to Politico.  As of press time, the tally is 228 Democrats and 199 Republicans.

Whether the two parties will decide to work together to complete FY2019 appropriations so the 116th Congress starts with a clean slate or pass another CR to delay final action into next year so newly elected Representatives and Senators, and a Democratic-led House, can have a voice in the outcome is the multi-billion question.

Many other pieces of legislation also await action, including several that are space-related.  We’ll be posting an article on what’s still on the table soon. One that has not received much publicity, but will be voted on in the House this week, is a House Resolution (H. Res. 1052) to affirm U.S.-Australia space cooperation.  Simple resolutions like this are not bills in the traditional sense.  They are passed by only one chamber and do not become law. This will be essentially an expression of the House’s opinion.  The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who represents the San Antonio area.  It commends Australia for establishing an Australian Space Agency and encourages more cooperation between the two countries.

The National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group (UAG) meets on Thursday at NASA HQ.  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will speak at 9:15 am ET, followed by reports from the Group’s six subcommittees.  In the afternoon, it will hear from NASA’s Tom Cremins to get an update on the exploration campaign; Jim Crocker, in his capacity as vice-chair of the National Academies’ Space Studies Board, on prioritizing space science; and DOD’s Mike Griffin and John Rood on “National Security Space: Organization, Technology, and Policy.”  The meeting is available remotely via WebEx/telecon.

Any early birds out there can start their Thursday a few hours earlier watching the launch of the next cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) out of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops Flight Facility, VA.  If the sky is clear, it should be visible from the DC area.  The 5-minute launch window opens at 4:47 am ET.  This is the first launch of Antares and the Cygnus spacecraft since Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK and is designated Northrop Grumman-10 (NG-10).  The mission before this was launched as Orbital ATK-9 (OA-9), but was relabeled NG-9 after the acquisition was finalized.  Northrop Grumman is continuing the tradition of naming each Cygnus spacecraft after individuals associated with the human spaceflight program who have passed away.  This one is the S.S. John Young after the quintessential NASA astronaut who died in January.  Young flew in space six times:  twice in the Gemini program (Gemini 3, the first with a crew, and 10); twice on Apollo (Apollo 10 and 16, when he became one of the 12 astronauts to walk on the Moon); and twice on the space shuttle (commanding the first shuttle flight, STS-1, as well as STS-9, the first flight with Spacelab).

Just a day later (Friday), Russia will launch its next cargo mission to ISS, Progress MS-10 (or Progress 71 in NASA-speak). It is an important test of the Soyuz rocket in preparation for the next crew launch following the Soyuz MS-10 launch failure. On October 11, the rocket failed when one of four strap-ons did not correctly detach from the core stage and hit it.  Automated systems instantly separated the crew capsule from the rest of the rocket and the two crew members (Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague) landed safely.  Russia’s space agency Roscosmos and NASA are confident the problem has been identified and rectified.  The  date for the next crew launch, Soyuz MS-11, in fact, was moved up, not back. It is scheduled for December 3.  Three Soyuz rockets have been launched successfully since October 11 from other launch sites.  A successful Progress MS-10 launch from Baikonur on Friday will add to the level of confidence.

Also on Friday, the new NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Regulatory and Policy Committee will hold its first meeting.  Maxar Technologies’ Mike Gold chairs the committee. He and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gave a preview of the committee’s portfolio at the last NAC meeting.  The committee’s membership and the detailed agenda for this meeting are not yet posted, but the Federal Register notice lists topics including export control issues, intellectual property waivers, stimulating commercial activities on ISS, leveraging excess commercial crew seats to support private sector activities, use of the NASA logo, and branding and endorsements review.  It will be available by WebEx and telecon.

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, November 12

Monday-Tuesday, November 12-13

Monday-Friday, November 12-16

Tuesday, November 13

Tuesday-Wednesday, November 13-14

Tuesday-Thursday, November 13-15

Tuesday-Friday, November 13-16

Wednesday, November 14

Wednesday-Friday, November 14-16

Thursday, November 15

Friday, November 16

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