What’s Happening in Space Policy October 23-29, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy October 23-29, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of October 23-29, 2022 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess except for pro forma sessions.

During the Week

Two great conferences on a broad array of space topics are on this week’s schedule, plus a third on land remote sensing satellites. They are each in different time zones so if you’re watching any of them virtually be sure to check which one is used on the agenda.

AIAA’s second Accelerating Space Commerce, Exploration, and New Discovery conference, 2022 ASCEND, begins tomorrow in Las Vegas and online. Like last year, the conference has a dizzying array of “macro,” “meta,” “micro,” and “technical” sessions, plus “special programming & networking sessions.” Though the program has a strong focus on civil and commercial space, there’s plenty about national security space, too.

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy is the keynote speaker at the opening of AIAA’s ASCEND 2022 conference on Monday.

The three days are jam-packed with speakers and panels far too numerous to summarize here. NASA kindly issued a press release pointing to the sessions with NASA speakers starting with Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy tomorrow at 8:00 am Pacific Daylight Time (11:00 am Eastern). She’ll be followed by a panel on “Partnering for Innovation in Cislunar Space” with a great group of participants: NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Jim Free, U.S. Space Force Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Nina Armagno, NASA Science Mission Directorate Deputy Associate Administrator Sandra Connelly, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, and the Aerospace Corporation’s Todd Nygren. The panel is moderated by former Johnson Space Center Director (and former astronaut) Ellen Ochoa.

That’s a “macro” session followed by three parallel “meta” sessions including one on “Accelerating Sustainable Deep Space Exploration.” On that one, Free will be joined by Lt. Gen. John Shaw. Shaw is Deputy Commander of U.S. Space Command, the Unified Combatant Command whose geographic area of responsibilty (AOR) is everything above 100 kilometers of the Earth’s surface — basically the universe. (Not to be confused with Armagno’s U.S. Space Force, which is a military service that organizes, trains, and equips personnel for assignment to U.S. Space Command and the other 10 combatant commands.)  They’ll talk about opportunities and challenges in deep space, including the cislunar area between the Earth and the Moon.

Cislunar is a major theme of the conference. One other session we’ll highlight is the prestigious Von Karman lecture tomorrow evening where Kathleen Howell, Hsu Lo Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue, will talk about “An Orbital Transportation Network to Support the Cislunar Enterprise.”

The entire event looks fabulous.

NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen will speak at the AAS Von Braun Symposium on Wednesday.

It runs through Wednesday and gets some competition that day when the American Astronautical Society’s Von Braun Symposium begins in Huntsville, AL. Von Braun is organized as three half-day sessions starting at 9:00 am Central Daylight Time (10:00 am Eastern). Some of the speakers will have just been at ASCEND, including LTG Shaw and Melroy. There’s a strong focus on Artemis and commercial LEO destinations, but NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen will be there to talk about science programs on Wednesday. His talk is followed by a space policy panel with two House Science, Space, and Technology committee staffers, Pam Whitney and Tom Hammond, and Joel Graham who quite recently left the Senate Commerce Committee staff. It’ll be moderated by the venerable Jeff Bingham, a long-time Senate staffer who worked for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) when the 2010 NASA authorization act was written. He’s now Chairman of the Virgina Commercial Spaceflight Authority.

It’s another terrific conference with too many great sessions to summarize adequately here. And there’s still more.

William T. Pecora (1913-1972) helped create the Landsat program, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Photo credit: USGS

For anyone in the land remote sensing satellite field, this week is the 22nd William T. Pecora Remote Sensing Symposium in Denver. It begins tomorrow and runs through Thursday.

Pecora was Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from 1965-1971 and one of the driving forces behind creating a civil satellite remote sensing program, what is now known as Landsat. This year is the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first Landsat, then called the Earth Remote Sensing Technology Satellite (ERTS). A plenary session on Wednesday at 8:30 am Mountain Daylight Time (10:30 am Eastern) will review “A Half Century of Discovery” featuring recent winners of the Pecora Award.

USGS is part of the Department of the Interior and Pecora was promoted to Under Secretary in 1971, but sadly passed away just days before the launch on July 23, 1972. The symposium is co-sponsored by NASA and USGS. NASA builds and launches Landsats, USGS operates them.

All of that is just the tip of the iceberg this week. NASA has five media briefings  plus coverage of the Progress MS-21 cargo launch to ISS.

Two of the media briefings and the Progress launch are Tuesday. First is a briefing about the science experiments that will be delivered on NASA’s next cargo launch, NG-18 (scheduled for November 6). Then an update on findings from the earth sensing EMIT instrument delivered to ISS earlier this year. Finally the Progress MS-21 launch at 8:20 pm ET.

A third NASA briefing on Thursday will “share new scientific findings based on observations” from two NASA Mars spacecraft — the InSight lander and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The press release is tantalizingly vague about what they’ve discovered.

Two more NASA briefings are on Friday and Saturday teeing up the launch of NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) weather satellite and NASA’s Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) technology demonstration. The launch is scheduled for November 1. LOFTID is a joint NASA/United Launch Alliance test of an inflatable aeroshell that NASA might use to land large payloads on Mars and ULA might use to recover the BE-4 engines on its new Vulcan rocket.  LOFTID will detach from the Atlas V upper stage and descend through Earth’s atmosphere, landing in the ocean near Hawaii where it will be recovered by a ULA ship. ULA is participating in LOFTID through an unfunded Space Act Agreement (i.e. it is not getting any funding from NASA for this experiment).

NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) is scheduled to hold a public briefing on Thursday following completion of its third quarter 2022 reviews. The briefing was originally scheduled for September 29, but delayed because some of the discussions had to be postponed due to the Artemis I launch delays and Hurricane Ian. The ASAP website has not been updated to show this meeting, but it was published in the Federal Register on October 6. If we hear of any more changes, we’ll post them to our Calendar entry.  [UPDATE, October 25: the ASAP website now has been updated and confirms this meeting as posted in the Federal Register.]

We’ll highlight just one more meeting. The Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is out with an update of its “Crisis Stability in Space: China and Other Challenges” report. On Wednesday, it’ll have an in-person seminar to release it with Bruce MacDonald from SAIS, Audrey Schaffer from the White House National Security Council, Brian Weeden from the Secure World Foundation (SWF), and Kari Bingen, the new Director of CSIS’s Aerospace Security Project. MacDonald and Weeden contributed to the report along with Victoria Samson from SWF, Dean Cheng from the Heritage Foundation, and Karl Mueller from the RAND Corporation.

Those 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, October 24

Monday-Wednesday, October 24-26

  • ASCEND 2022 (AIAA), Caesars Forum, Las Vegas, NV and online

Monday-Thursday, October 24-27

Tuesday, October 25 

Wednesday, October 26

Wednesday-Thursday, October 26-27

Wednesday-Friday, October 26-28

Thursday, October 27

Friday, October 28

Friday-Saturday, October 28-29

  • New Worlds 2022 (Space Frontier Foundation), AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, Austin, TX

Saturday, October 29


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