What’s Happening in Space Policy November 22-28, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 22-28, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of November 22-28, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess this week except for pro forma sessions.

During the Week

This is Thanksgiving week in the United States, a bit of a break in the action. This year a lot of people are staying home instead of travelling to be with family because of COVID-19. For those of you wondering how to fill the hours you would have spent stuck in traffic or airport security lines, but are not ready to binge watch Home Alone and other holiday classics — good news!  With most space conferences taking place virtually these days, we can easily participate in those elsewhere in the world and there are several of interest this week.

We will mention that China may launch its Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission this week, but there has been no announcement from China.  China space watchers expect it to launch on November 24 local time at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island on a Long March 5.  That could be November 23 (tomorrow) or November 24 Eastern Standard Time depending on the time of day.  If successful, it will be quite a feather in China’s cap. Only the United States (with the six Apollo crews) and Soviet Union (with robotic lunar probes) have brought lunar samples back to Earth so one might think China would be heralding the upcoming launch, but there has not been much officially.  Meanwhile, NASA has a short article that refers to the November 24 launch date and China space expert Andrew Jones writing in Space News also uses that date while noting China officially says only late November. UPDATE NOVEMBER 23, 8:05 AM EST:  THE EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY, WHICH IS PROVIDING TRACKING SUPPORT FOR THE MISSION, SAYS THAT IT WILL LAUNCH AT 21:35 CET TODAY, NOVEMBER 23, WHICH IS 3:35 PM EST.

The one U.S.-based event we know about is sponsored by the Office of Space Commerce at the Department of Commerce. It is having two “industry days” for companies interested in participating in its Open Architecture Data Repository for Space Situational Awareness/Space Traffic Management.  Tomorrow (Monday) is “West Coast” day and Tuesday is “East Coast” day, though it’s all virtual of course.  Each day starts with the same two-hour general session that may be of interest to everyone, followed by three hours of one-on-one discussions with companies (the latter are not open to the public).  Be sure to pre-register to indicate which day you plan to attend.

Elsewhere, there are conferences in Europe, Canada and Australia that may be of interest.  The 2020 European Navigation Conference is Monday and Tuesday.  Among the speakers are ESA Director General Jan Woerner and Stanford’s Brad Parkinson, the “father” of GPS, who will speak on “Ten Critical Hingefactors for GPS.” Note that times on the agenda are in Central European Time (subtract 6 hours for EST).

The Canadian Space Summit 2020 is Tuesday-Friday. We can’t find an agenda on the event’s website, but the theme is “To Lunar and Beyond” which sounds promising.  Also originating in Canada is McGill University’s Institute of Air and Space Law annual four-day course on Strategic Space Law. Sessions range from national security space to international regulation of space activities to radio frequency spectrum and the ITU to cybersecurity and space operations.

Half way round the world, the South Australian Space Industry Centre hosts the 10th Australian Space Forum on Tuesday EST (Wednesday in Australia). It was planning to use a hybrid in-person/online format, but now is entirely virtual. The agenda does not indicate what time zone it is in, but the in-person part was going to be in Adelaide, so we assume that’s it. Adelaide is in Australia’s Central Daylight Time (ACDT) zone — it’s summer in Australia! — which is GMT+10.5 hours. The conference is 08:45-17:00 November 25 ACDT, which is 5:15 pm November 24-1:30 am November 25 EST.  The conference has sessions on Australia-Japan space cooperation (remember that Japan’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return capsule will land in Woomera on December 6), the impact of space on Earth, “Evolving the Venture Capital Investment Model for Deep Tech,” and national security space issues.

Apart from that, for all of our U.S. readers, please have a SAFE and hopefully relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.

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, November 23-24

Monday-Thursday, November 23-26

Tuesday, November 24

Tuesday-Wednesday, November 24-25 EST (November 25 local time)

Tuesday-Friday, November 24-27

Wednesday, November 25

Wednesday-Thursday, November 25-26

Thursday, November 26


Note: this article was updated November 22 and November 23 with the information about the Chang’e-5 launch.

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