What’s Happening in Space Policy November 7-13, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 7-13, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of November 7-13, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess this week except for pro forma sessions, although it is a “committee work week” in the House and a few committees are meeting virtually.

During the Week

The House and Senate are taking the week off partially in observance of Veterans Day on Thursday, one of the few federal holidays that is held on the same day every year, November 11, instead of the nearest Monday to the holiday. It honors military veterans on the anniversary of the end of World War I, November 11, 1918.

Before leaving, the House passed one of the two infrastructure bills, the one that funds physical infrastructure projects likes roads and bridges. The Senate had already passed it so it is now ready for signature by the President.  The “human infrastructure” bill did not make it, though. That’s the one with $1.115 billion for NASA. The House will try again next week after the Congressional Budget Office weighs in on how much it will cost and whether that cost is covered by the revenue measures in the bill.

Federal holiday or not, it’s a busy, busy week in the space community. We have 22 events at the moment, too many to fit on the list on our home page so be sure to click “View All Events” to see them all or look below.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei. Credit: NASA

The return of Crew-2 from the International Space Station was scheduled for today (Sunday), but must wait until tomorrow because of high winds in the Gulf of Mexico, while the launch of Crew-3 — delayed from October 31 due to weather and a crew member’s “minor medical issue” — is now scheduled for Wednesday. Weather could delay that again, though. Thursday and Friday are backups. If it gets off Wednesday, it will dock Thursday evening.

For however many days there are in between Crew-2’s departure and Crew-3’s arrival, NASA’s Mark Vande Hei will be holding the fort by himself on the U.S. segment of the ISS. He is using Russia’s Soyuz for transportation so is not part of the SpaceX Crew Dragon rotation. His two Russian crewmates, Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, are taking care of things on the Russian segment.

Back here on Earth, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) begins its two-week ASCEND extravaganza. AIAA describes ASCEND as “the only community on the planet focused on building humanity’s off-world future — faster.” Last year’s ASCEND (Accelerating Space Commerce, Exploration, and New Discovery) was relegated to the virtual world due to COVID, but this year it is a combination of virtual and in-person sessions Monday-Wednesday this week and next. All of the sessions are accessible online and this week’s are entirely virtual, but next week they also will be live in Las Vegas and one day (November 15) will be live in Washington, D.C.  It’s a massive enterprise with “meta,” “macro,” and “micro” collaborative and technical sessions far too numerous to summarize here.

NASA is holding a virtual symposium Monday-Wednesday, too. “Spaceflight for Everybody” will “communicate the current state of NASA spaceflight health knowledge.” Participants include NASA Deputy Administrator and former astronaut Pam Melroy; NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations Kathy Lueders and her deputy, Ken Bowersox, another former astronaut; former NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charlie Bolden; current NASA astronaut and M.D. Serena Auñón-Chancellor; NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer J.D. Polk; and NASA Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche.

Over in Europe, on Monday and Tuesday a who’s who of European space companies and organizations will address the question “Time to Rethink Europe’s Space Ambitions?” at the European Space Forum 2021.  This “new annual conference” is virtual and features speakers not only from industry, but the European Space Agency (including Director General Josef Aschbacher), the European Union and European governments.

Speaking of Europe, the European Space Policy Institute has an intriguing meeting on “Quantum Technologies and Space” on Tuesday, and Estonia is holding its first Cyber and Space Security Conference from Wednesday to Thursday. Both are virtual or hybrid.

As if all of that isn’t exciting enough, on Tuesday afternoon NASA will provide an update on its Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon. Now that the Court of Federal Claims rejected Blue Origin’s lawsuit over the Human Landing System (HLS) contract, the agency can resume planning for when a landing system might be ready. The contract with SpaceX has been on hold all this time although the company has been proceeding with Starship development using its own funding. Hopefully on Tuesday we will find out what date the Biden Administration now is targeting for the first human lunar landing since Apollo 17. It initially embraced the Trump Administration’s 2024 goal, but few thought that was realistic in the first place and with the HLS and SLS/Orion delays (the uncrewed SLS/Orion test flight now won’t happen until next year), it surely is unachieveable now.

NASA actually wants to turn SLS over the private sector for the long term and issued a Request for Information (RFI) on October 26. It will hold an industry forum to discuss the RFI on Wednesday.

On top of all that, there are several advisory committee meetings including NASA’s Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG), the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Science Committee, and the National Academies’ Committee on Astronomy and Astrophyiscs (CAA) and Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (CAPS).

On the national security space front, in addition to Estonia’s event mentioned above, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is holding its 2021 Stockholm Security Conference virtually this week. On Monday it has a panel on “Space Warfare: Applying International Humanitarian Law to the Final Frontier,” and on Tuesday, “Offence-Defence Race in Space: Missile Defence, Anti-satellite Weapons and Nuclear Arms Control.”

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, or changes to these.

Monday, November 8

Monday-Tuesday, November 8-9

Monday-Wednesday, November 8-10

Tuesday, November 9

Tuesday-Wednesday, November 9-10

Wednesday, November 10

Wednesday-Thursday, November 10-11

Wednesday-Friday, November 10-12

Thursday, November 11

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.