What’s Happening in Space Policy November 8-14, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy November 8-14, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of November 8-14, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate is in session this week. The House chamber will meet only in pro forma sessions, but at least one hearing is scheduled.

During the Week

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been declared the winners of the 2020 presidential/vice presidential election by media outlets that track voting results, but President Trump has not conceded and instead is asking for recounts or threatening litigation in several states.  Nevertheless, the Biden-Harris team is proceeding with its transition activities.  Other issues, like the COVID-19 pandemic, obviously are at the top of their list, but the moment we hear anything about “landing teams” at NASA or other space agencies and offices, we will certainly let you know. A big question is how much access they will be able to get when Trump is contesting the results, which are not final until the Electoral College meets in December.

As tempting as it is to get into the details of election results, we will do so in a different article and keep this focused on the topic at hand, what’s coming up this week.

After winning his reelection battle, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that one of his near-term priorities is to pass all 12 FY2021 appropriations bills. None has even been marked up at the subcommittee level yet, but the process *can* move swiftly at least through subcommittee and full committee markups if Senators on both sides of the aisle agree. Whether Democrats will try to hold up action in retaliation for Republicans confirming Amy Comy Barrett to the Supreme Court just before the election is a possible complication.

Typically what gets done in a lame duck session reflects which party will be in control when the next Congress begins, but in this case, that answer will not be known for the Senate until January after two run-off elections in Georgia.

No appropriations markups have been announced for the coming week, but that could change. Stay tuned. FYI, the House has passed 10 of the 12 bills including those that fund NASA and NOAA (Commerce-Justice-Science) and DOD (Defense).

One Senate hearing that has been announced for this week is by the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday to consider three pending Trump nominations, including that of Greg Autry to be NASA’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). It is still on as of now.

The House is set to return for legislative business next week. The one House hearing on the calendar for this week is not space-related.

Off the Hill, the big event this week is getting ready for and hopefully launching the first operational mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, Crew-1.

NASA and SpaceX have a lot of press conferences scheduled starting today (Sunday) at 1:45 pm ET when the four-person crew arrives at Kennedy Space Center. The successful Falcon 9 launch of  GPS III-4 last week seems to have cleared the last remaining technical concern about an engine anomaly that occurred in October, but the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) and Launch Readiness Review (LRR) on Monday and Thursday will be the final determinants. Weather may turn out to be a sticking point. Hurricane Eta, which pummeled Central America before turning towards Cuba and Florida, is regaining strength as this is being written. It is projected to hit the Florida Keys and move northeast towards the Cape Canaveral area. Whether it passes through Florida in time for Saturday’s Crew-1 launch remains to be seen. Sunday is a backup day.

The crew members are NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi.

Crew-1 crew (L-R): Shannon Walker (NASA), Victor Glover (NASA), Michael Hopkins (NASA), Soichi Noguchi (JAXA). Credit: NASA

For quick reference, here are the Crew-1 media events this week and early next (assuming launch is on Saturday) that will be broadcast on NASA TV and/or NASA Live:

  • Sunday (today): crew arrival at Kennedy Space Center, 1:45 pm ET
  • Monday: crew virtual media engagement, 1:15 pm ET
  • Monday: post-FRR media teleconference, approximately one hour after FRR concludes, which could slip to Tuesday
  • Thursday: pre-launch press conference, time TBD
  • Friday: “Countdown Clock” briefing by NASA Administrator Bridenstine and others, 10:00 am ET
  • Saturday-Sunday: Continuous coverage of Crew-1 Launch and Docking begins 3:30 pm ET Saturday.
    • Launch, Saturday, 7:49 pm ET
    • Docking, Sunday, 4:20 pm ET
    • Hatch Opening/Welcome Ceremony, approximately 7:00 am ET
    • Post-Docking News Conference at JSC with NASA, JAXA and Space X officials, approx 7:20 am ET
  • Monday: ISS Crew News Conference, time TBD

There is the usual wide array of virtual conferences, webinars and meetings this week, too. The World Satellite Business Week conference is Monday-Wednesday encompassing four mini-conferences — Summit for Satellite Financing, SmartPlane, Summit on Earth Observation Business, and Finspace. The Secure World Foundation and the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) have a webinar on Tuesday on the role of Space Situational Awareness for verification of future space arms control agreements. That same day, Defense One has a webinar on “Digital Transformation in the Defense and Space Domain.”  And space policy expert John Logsdon, who has written four books on how Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan dealt with space activities, will speak at a Planetary Society event that evening on “Presidential Leadership in Human Space Exploration Yesterday and Today.”

There’s a federal holiday this week, too. Veterans Day is on Wednesday where we honor those who gave their lives for our country. It is the anniversary of the end of World War I, originally called Armistice Day. DOD has a really good website explaining the holiday and its meaning.

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 8

Monday, November 9

Monday-Wednesday, November 9-11

Tuesday, November 10

Tuesday-Thursday, November 10-12

Wednesday, November 11

Thursday, November 12

Friday, November 13

Saturday-Sunday, November 14-15

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