What’s Happening in Space Policy November 20-26, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 20-26, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of November 20-26, 2022 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess this week.

During the Week

It’s a relatively quiet week here in the U.S. as people celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Congress is in recess, government agencies will be closed on Thursday — Thanksgiving Day — and most organizations are forgoing the usual abundance of webinars and conferences.

That’s not to say nothing’s happening, of course, especially in space. Tomorrow (Monday) NASA’s Orion spacecraft will take the first step into Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO) around the Moon following its successful launch last Wednesday as part of the Artemis I uncrewed test flight.

Orion has 16 cameras, some on the ends of its solar panels, that are sending back great shots of Earth and of itself.

The Orion spacecraft takes a selfie with the Earth in the background hours after launch on November 16, 2022. Credit: NASA
Another Orion selfie taken November 18, 2022 while enroute to the Moon. Credit: NASA

Tomorrow morning Orion’s European Service Module, provided by ESA, will fire its main engine on the first of two trajectory corrections to put it into DRO. NASA will provide live coverage beginning at 7:15 am ET. The burn is scheduled at 7:44 am ET and Orion will fly by the Moon at a distance of about 80 statute miles (128 kilometers) at 7:57 am ET. It’ll be behind the Moon and out of communications with Earth from 7:25-7:59 am ET when all of that happens, though. We’ll have to wait a bit to know if all is well. Assuming it is, the second burn is scheduled for Friday. It was our understanding NASA TV would cover that, too, beginning at 4:30 pm ET, but it’s not on the NASA TV or NASA Live schedules right now so we’re not listing it here. Stay tuned. [UPDATE: NASA confirms it will have live coverage on Friday at 4:30 pm ET. A complete list of NASA TV coverage of Orion’s flight is posted on NASA’s website.]

Propulsion system for the Orion spacecraft, including ESA’s European Service Module. Credit: NASA

The International Space Station also continues to be a busy place with the launch of another cargo mission coming up on Tuesday. SpaceX’s 26th cargo mission was delayed one day because SpaceX is working an issue with a coolant leak in the cabin, but they said on Friday they expect to be ready to go on November 22 at 3:54 pm ET. If the weather cooperates, that is. As of Friday the forecast was only 30 percent favorable. Backup launch days are November 26 and November 27. If it does launch on Tuesday, it’ll dock on Wednesday at 5:57 am ET, just in time to deliver Thanksgiving treats. NASA and SpaceX will provide live coverage whenever it happens.

On Friday, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin will conduct the second of four spacewalks as they continue to outfit the Nauka science module that docked with ISS last summer. On this one, they’ll relocate a radiator from another module (Rassvet) to Nauka. NASA TV coverage begins at 6:00 am ET for the approximately 7-hour spacewalk.

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher at an October 20, 2022 press conference. Screengrab.

It’s plenty busy in Europe this week, too.  ESA’s governing Ministerial Council, composed of the relevant ministers of its 22 member states, will meet Tuesday-Wednesday in Paris to approve ESA’s programs and budget for the next three years. ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher is asking for a 25 percent budget increase to put ESA on course for more autonomy in space, an issue that gained urgency with the collapse of most of its cooperation with Russia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Europe and Russia were especially tightly bound on robotic Mars exploration (ExoMars) and launch vehicles, so ESA is developing a new path forward.

Though ESA wants more automony overall, it remains an integral partner in high-profile NASA programs including ISS, Orion, the Gateway space station that will orbit the Moon, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the robotic Mars Sample Return mission to bring samples collected by the Perseverance rover back to Earth. Among other things, NASA is hoping to get a formal commitment from ESA to extend cooperation on the ISS to 2030. Japan was the first of the ISS partners to officially make that committment last week.

ESA TV will cover portions of the conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as a media briefing on Wednesday followed by the announcement of ESA’s new astronaut class. The meeting is in Paris, which is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so take that into account if you want to tune in.

There are a couple of other things happening this week here in the D.C. area. Tomorrow the White House National Space Council will hold the second of its “listening sessions” to get input from stakeholders on policy approaches to providing mission authorization and continuing supervision for space activities not already regulated by the U.S. government. NASA’s Bhavya Lal, Associate Administrator for Technology, Policy and Strategy and Acting Chief Technologist, will speak to the Maryland Space Business Roundtable on Tuesday.

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 or changes to these.

And Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21

Tuesday, November 22

Tuesday-Wednesday, November 22-23

Thursday, November 24

Friday, November 25


Note: This article has been updated.

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