What’s Happening in Space Policy November 12-18, 2017

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 12-18, 2017

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of November 12-18, 2017.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

This week got off to an early start this morning with the successful launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket sending a Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch was scrubbed yesterday when an aircraft entered the launch hazard area just one minute before launch.  Today, the countdown went more smoothly and liftoff was at 7:19 am ET.   Cygnus will arrive at the ISS early Tuesday morning.

The House will take up the conference report on the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 2810, this week.  House and Senate conference committee members wrapped up their negotiations last week.  The final bill and explanatory statement are posted the House Rules Committee’s website.  It will formulate the rule for House consideration of the bill tomorrow (Monday) at 5:00 pm ET.

From a space policy perspective, the most contentious issue was management of DOD space programs.  The House-passed version of the bill would have required the Air Force to create a Space Corps analogous to the Marine Corps in the Department of the Navy.  The Senate-passed version of the bill would have prohibited that as the solution to what both chambers see as a significant problem in how DOD manages space activities.  The compromise is to not form a Space Corps now, but require a study by a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) not closely associated with the Air Force to provide a roadmap on how to create a Space Department.

In the meantime, Air Force Space Command has been given primary authority over space programs and three existing entities created in the past to improve space program management are eliminated:  the Principal Defense Space Adviser (PDSA, a position held by the Secretary of the Air Force), the Defense Space Council, and the Air Force A11 Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations slot that was just created a few months ago. The House is scheduled to take up the conference report on Tuesday.

Very early Tuesday, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) will launch the first of NOAA’s new polar-orbiting weather satellites, Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1).  The launch was delayed from November 10 to November 14 so ULA could replace a battery on the Delta II rocket.  The weather is currently forecast to be 70% favorable for liftoff at 4:47 am ET (1:47 am Pacific).  Two pre-launch briefings will take place this afternoon (Sunday) at 4:00 and 5:30 pm ET.  They will be broadcast, as will the launch, on NASA TV.

The Space Transportation Association (STA) has an interesting panel discussion on tap for Tuesday, too, on Capitol Hill.  The topic is commercial obligations under the Outer Space Treaty and features George Nield from the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Jennifer Warren from Lockheed Martin, Jim Armor from Orbital ATK, MaryLee Pollitt from Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Dan Hendrickson from Astrobotics.  Mike Gold will be the moderator.  Gold used to work for Bigelow Aerospace, but then moved over to Space Systems Loral (SSL), which now has a new name.  SSL was purchased by Canada’s MacDonald Dettwiler Associates (MDA) several years ago.  MDA recently also bought DigitalGlobe.   The suite of companies, which also includes Radiant Solutions, is now MAXAR Technologies.  STA luncheons are by invitation only.  Contact Rich Coleman (rich@spacetransportation.us) for more information.

On Wednesday at breakfast time, DARPA’s Fred Kennedy, Director of Tactical Technology, will address the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s  (CSF’s) Executive Leadership Forum at the Army Navy Club on Farragut Square.  Contact CSF for more information.

Later on Wednesday, SpaceX will launch the mysterious Zuma satellite for the U.S. Government. Its existence only recently came to light and all that is known about it publicly is that it was built by Northrop Grumman.  SpaceX successfully conducted the static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket yesterday, so all seems set for launch at about 8:00 pm ET from Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A.  The Falcon 9 first stage will return to land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Learn  more from NASASpaceFlight.com and SpaceflightNow.com.  This will be SpaceX’s 17th launch this year.

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.

Sunday, November 12

Sunday-Monday, November 12-13

Monday, November 13

Monday-Wednesday, November 13-15

Tuesday, November 14

Tuesday-Thursday, November 14-16

Wednesday, November 15

Wednesday-Thursday, November 15-16

Thursday-Friday, November 16-17

Thursday-Saturday, November 16-18



Update:  This article was updated Sunday afternoon with the weather forecast as reported at the JPSS-1 mission status briefing.




User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.