What’s Happening in Space Policy October 11-17, 2020

What’s Happening in Space Policy October 11-17, 2020

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of October 11-17, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate chambers will meet only in pro forma sessions, but some committees will hold hearings.

During the Week

Sure was nice to get a bit of a breather last week, but we are back in the thick of things now. Once again, remember that the list on our home page is only the next 20 events.  There are many more than that this week, so click on “View All Events” or look at the list below.

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC), the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium (LSIC) meeting, the National Academies’ Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) and steering committee and two panels of the Decadal Survey on Planetary Science and Astrobiology, the FAA’s release of the final rule streamlining commercial space launch and reentry regulations, and the launch of a new crew to the International Space Station are all highlights this week, though just the tip of the iceberg.

However busy any one of us may feel, Jim Bridenstine surely has us all beat. He will be speaking at several IAC events Monday through Wednesday, LSIC on Wednesday, ASEB on Thursday, the Planetary Science Decadal Survey Steering Committee on Friday, and the International Mars Society Conference on Saturday. Officially Monday is a federal holiday — Columbus Day — and government offices are closed, but he and others on tap to speak at IAC will miss out on getting a day off and he has to work on Saturday, too.  Yikes!  But then again, the notion of days off and weekends has pretty much faded into the mist since COVID anyway.

IAC is an always eagerly-awaited annual conference combining meetings of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and International Institute of Space Law (IISL). This year it is entirely virtual and — great news — FREE!  Kudos to IAF President Pascale Ehrenfreund and the rest of her IAF/IAC team for taking the lemons of 2020 and turning them into lemonade. (Also congratulations to Pascale for completing her 5-year tour as head of Germany’s space agency, DLR. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla became the new Chair of the DLR Executive Board on October 1.)

As someone who has attended countless IACs around the world over the past decades, your SpacePolicyOnline.com editor will sorely miss seeing friends and colleagues, but it will be nice not to have to race from one end of a multi-block long conference center to the other to catch sessions on the vast array of fascinating topics on the agenda. In fact, papers for the technical sessions were pre-recorded as 10-minute videos and can be viewed on demand on the conference website for the duration of the conference. The website says there are more than 1,300 of them!

Plenary sessions are live and will be webcast. Note that times on the agenda are in Central European Summer Time (subtract 6 for Eastern Daylight Time). NASA TV will carry those involving NASA officials. Here’s the relevant portion of the NASA TV schedule — these times are EDT:


  • 8:40 a.m. EDT – Heads of Agency Plenary Session, including NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (All Channels)
  • 9:30 a.m. EDT –  Heads of Agency Press Conference, including NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (All Channels)
  • 12:10 p.m. EDT – Exploring as One, featuring NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Kathy Lueders and Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen, as well as other participants (All Channels)


  • 9:40 a.m. EDT –  The Artemis Mission, with Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Kathy Lueders, as well as other panelists (Media Channel)
  • 12:30 p.m. EDT – International Participation in Artemis, featuring NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (All Channels)


  • 8:50 a.m. EDT – Worldwide Missions to Mars with Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and Planetary Science Director Lori Glaze, as well as other participants (Public Channel)
  • 9:40 a.m. EDT –  Astronaut panel, featuring NASA Astronaut Ricky Arnold (Public Channel)
  • 10:30 a.m. EDT – Europe on and Around the Moon and Mars: A Discussion Between ESA and NASA Leaders with European Young Professionals, with participation from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (All Channels)

Moving on to the two-day (Wednesday-Thursday) virtual LSIC fall meeting, on Wednesday Bridenstine will announce new space technology partnerships during a keynote address at 11:45 am ET (just after speaking at the IAC panel). Looks like that also will be broadcast on NASA TV. Lots of other interesting speakers/panels as well, including NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate head Jim Reuter and a panel on NASA Space Technology Gaps.

ASEB has open sessions on Wednesday and Thursday and they will be livestreamed. Wednesday is mostly aeronautics, though it includes a briefing by JPL’s Mimi Aung on the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter, a great example of aeronautics and astronautics coming together. Thursday’s focus is space technology and starts off with briefings by Bridenstine and Reuter followed by one panel on Current and Future Operations and Challenges with ISS and another on Space-Based Quantum Sensors and Engineering.

The steering committee of the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey meets again on Friday and will get a more in-depth briefing from NASA’s Planetary Science Division Director Lori Glaze, who spoke at the October 2 meeting, too.  Bridenstine will speak after her on “NASA’s Expectations for the Decadal Survey.” They will be followed by three congressional staffers (Dick Obermann and Pam Whitney from the Democratic staff of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and Joel Graham from the Republican staff of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee).  Several other interesting speakers will talk later in the day, including Grace Hu from the White House Office of Management and Budget. Several of the panels that provide input to the Steering Committee are getting underway, too. Quite a few of those sessions are closed, but the Venus panel and the Ocean Worlds and Dwarf Planets panel have open sessions this week.

As always, there are some terrific webinars on tap this week and a NASA briefing on the upcoming Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launch. It’s too much to summarize here, unfortunately.

But we would be remiss not to mention the launch of the Soyuz MS-17 crew on Wednesday — NASA’s Kate Rubins and Roscosmos’s Anatoly Ryzhikov and Anatoly Kud-Sverchkov. It’s pretty early in the morning EDT (1:45 am) and they are taking the super-fast two-orbit route to ISS so will dock at 4:52 am EDT, but who needs sleep?  NASA TV will, of course, cover it all.

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, October 12

Monday-Wednesday, October 12-14

Tuesday, October 13

Tuesday-Thursday, October 13-15

Wednesday, October 14

Wednesday-Thursday, October 14-15

Wednesday-Friday, October 14-16

Thursday, October 15

Thursday-Friday, October 15-16

Thursday-Sunday, October 15-18

Friday, October 16

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