What’s Happening in Space Policy November 4-10, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 4-10, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of November 4-10, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess (except for pro forma sessions) until after the elections.

During the Week

First and foremost, the United States changed back to Standard Time early this morning (Sunday).  Be sure to reset your clocks where appropriate (Arizona and Hawaii do not observe Daylight Saving Time so no changes needed there).

This week the mid-term congressional elections finally take place. Tuesday is the big day.  Don’t forget to vote.

From a space policy standpoint, three key races to watch are Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Congressman John Culberson (R-TX). All of them are in close races and are strong NASA supporters who have seniority to chair or, in Nelson’s case, serve as Ranking Member on, committees and subcommittees that authorize and fund NASA activities. Overall, if control of the House shifts to the Democrats as many polls project (remember, they are just polls, what matters is actual voter turnout), the change in committee leadership across the board could make for lively space policy debates even though space activities largely enjoy bipartisan support.  We’ll have more on that in a separate post.

As usual, there is a plethora of fascinating space policy events on tap this week.  Picking just three to highlight here:  the Space Studies Board meeting in Irvine, CA (Wednesday-Friday); the Global Satellite Servicing Forum in D.C (Thursday); and pre-launch interviews with Soyuz MS-11 astronaut Anne McClain at Star City, Russia (Friday).

The Space Studies Board (SSB) meeting is open most of November 7 and 8 and available via Zoom (instructions are on the agenda). Thursday, November 8, may be of special interest because it will focus on science opportunities at the Gateway, the small space station NASA wants to build in lunar orbit. The agenda says the discussion is in preparation for a spring workshop on that topic: “Scientific experimentation, from heliophysics to astrophysics, from Earth sciences to microgravity to planetary exploration, [at] the Gateway may prove instrumental for the next decade of space and Earth science. How will we leverage this new capacity to augment new discoveries and expand science into new frontiers?”  That discussion is from 10:00 am – 3:15 pm Pacific Time (1:00 pm – 6:15 pm Eastern), starting with an update on the Gateway from NASA’s Jason Crusan followed by a range of other officials from NASA HQ and Centers, as well as from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and academia. Betsy Cantwell, vice-chair of the Academies’ Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, will address “science enabled by commercial partnerships.”  Looks interesting.

That same day, back in D.C., the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS) will hold the Global Satellite Servicing Forum (GSSF).  The opening keynote is by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.  Kevin O’Connell, the Director of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce, is the luncheon speaker.  Industry speakers round out most of the rest of the forum although there is a primarily government panel (U.S. and international) at 3:15 pm ET.  The event is already sold out.  Hopefully they will webcast it for everyone who couldn’t get in.  If we get a link, we will add it to our calendar item.  [UPDATE: Conference organizers tell us it will be webcast.  We’ll add the link when we get it.]. Satellite servicing can be defined as narrowly as refueling or as broadly as on-orbit assembly of large spacecraft.  Some of the latter could be telescopes, which is one of the topics the SSB meeting will discuss that day during a panel chaired by STScI Director Ken Sembach beginning at 2:15 pm Pacific (5:15 pm Eastern).

On Friday, NASA astronaut Anne McClain will be available for media interviews in advance of her newly rescheduled December 3 launch to the International Space Station (ISS).  She, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will launch on Soyuz MS-11, the first crew launch since the Soyuz MS-10 failure on October 11.  She’s over in Star City (near Moscow) getting ready.  The media interviews will be broadcast on NASA TV and the agency’s NASA Live website.  It’s pretty much a sure bet that she’ll get questions about how she feels about being on the return-to-flight mission of the Soyuz-FG rocket, not even two months after the failure.  The MS-10 crew was unharmed thanks to the automated abort system built into the rocket and the training of the crew, but this certainly is a quick turnaround.  Roscosmos and NASA actually moved up the launch date for Soyuz MS-11.  It had been scheduled for December 20.  They seem confident they understand what happened (a bent pin that prevented one of the strap-on rockets from detaching properly) and that other Soyuz rockets are not affected by the same error, which occurred when the strap-on was mated to the core rocket.

Sunday, November 4

Sunday-Monday, November 4-5

Monday, November 5

Monday-Friday, November 5-9

Tuesday, November 6

Tuesday-Thursday, November 6-8

Wednesday, November 7

Wednesday-Thursday, November 7-8

Wednesday-Friday, November 7-9

  • Space Studies Board (National Academies), Irvine, CA (open sessions on November 7 & 8 available by Zoom)

Thursday, November 8

Thursday-Friday, November 8-9

Friday, November 9

Friday-Saturday, November 9-10


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