What’s Happening in Space Policy October 20-26, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy October 20-26, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of October 20-26, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House is in session Monday-Wednesday, after which it will recess so Members can participate in memorial services for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.  The Senate is in session all week.

During the Week

It’s one of those weeks where space policy folks will be totally worn out by the end.   Not only is Congress quite busy, but the annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is taking place here in D.C.  Not to mention also the usual types of events that go on all the time.

Let’s start with Congress.

The Senate will hold procedural votes on two packages of appropriations bills.  There are four bills in what the Senate calls the “defense” package and five in the “domestic” package, matching how the House bundled them earlier this year. That will make it easier to negotiate final versions.  They are colloquially called “minibuses” to differentiate them from an “omnibus” bill that collects all 12 regular appropriations bills into one.  Minibus 1 (“Defense”), H.R. 2740, contains these four:  Labor-HHS-Education; Defense; State-Foreign Ops; and Energy-Water.  Minibus 2 (“Domestic”), H.R. 3055,  has these five: Commerce-Justice-Science (which includes NASA and NOAA); Agriculture; Interior-Environment; Milcon-VA; and Transportation-HUD.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture last week, setting them up for votes early this week to limit debate. How far they will get is anyone’s guess, but it could be a busy appropriations week.  The government is operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on November 21. Congress has until then to finalize action on these bills and the three not in one of the packages (Financial Services, Homeland Security, Legislative Branch), or pass another CR.

There are two hearings of interest this week.  On Wednesday, two House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittees will hold a hearing on Space Weather: Advancing Research, Monitoring, and Forecasting Capabilities.  On the other side of the Hill, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the nomination of Navy Vice Admiral Charles A. Richard to be Commander of U.S. Strategic Command.  If confirmed, he will succeed Gen. John Hyten, who was recently confirmed to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The IAC conference Monday-Friday is too massive to summarize here in any useful manner. It is a joint meeting of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) that for the past 70 years has been held in various locations around the world.  The last time it was in the United States was 2002 (Houston).  The last time it was in D.C. was 1992.  It is always fascinating, fun … and exhausting.

The 2019 theme is “SPACE: The Power of the Past, the Promise of the Future.” The IAC2019 website lists layers upon layers of ceremonies, plenaries, technical sessions, special sessions, keynote sessions, Global Networking Forum sessions, highlight lectures, late breaking news sessions, and associated events, which you, dear reader, need to peruse on your own.  Your SpacePolicyOnline.com editor will be there, but obviously can report on only a tiny fraction of what’s available. Livestreaming is available for some of the sessions, but one must pay to use those provided by the IAC.

However, according to the NASA TV schedule, it will cover several key sessions: the opening ceremony Monday morning (Vice President Pence will speak there); the “Heads of Agencies” panel Monday afternoon with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and his counterparts; the Long Term Sustainability of Space panel on Tuesday morning (Scott Pace is on the agenda); the “Heads of Emerging Agencies” panel on Wednesday morning; the Europa Clipper session Wednesday afternoon; and the “late breaking news” panel on Friday morning.  According to the IAC schedule, that latter session is about the United Arab Emirates astronaut program, but it will be followed by Bridenstine talking about Artemis, and then a panel of astronauts from many countries, so perhaps NASA TV will cover the entire morning.

The Heads of Agencies panel Monday afternoon will have Bridenstine; the Russian space agency’s Sergei Kirkalev, a renowned former cosmonaut who is in charge of Russia’s human spaceflight program (Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin is not allowed in the United States); Wu Yanhua, Vice Administrator of the China National Space Administration; Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA; Jan Woerner, Director General of ESA; S. Somanath, Director of ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre; and Sylvain Laporte, President of the Canadian Space Agency.   The Heads of Emerging Agencies panel on Wednesday has representatives from the UAE, Nigeria, South Africa, Thailand, and Brazil.

Oddly, the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group decided to meet Monday afternoon at a hotel near the conference center at the same time as the Heads of Agencies panel.  It will be available by WebEx/telecon, but not on NASA TV.

There are a slew of other non-IAC events this week, too, as shown in the list below.  It’s a shame there is so much as once. They all sound fascinating.

As always, check back throughout the week for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar.

Sunday, October 20

Monday, October 21

Monday-Friday, October 21-25

Tuesday, October 22

Tuesday-Thursday, October 22-24

Wednesday, October 23

Thursday, October 24

Friday, October 25

  • Interplanetary Transportation, Logistics and In-Situ Utilization (GWU Space Policy Institute/SDA Bocconi SEE Lab), Embassy of Italy, 3000 Whitehaven St. NW, Washington, DC, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm ET
  • According to the NASA TV schedule, it will broadcast the IAC’s Late Breaking News panel at 9:00 am ET (hopefully it will also broadcast the subsequent two sessions where NASA Administrator Bridenstine will speak about Moon to Mars followed by an international panel of astronauts)

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