What’s Happening in Space Policy October 24-31, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy October 24-31, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week plus a day of October 24-31, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

NASA is getting ready for a crew change-over on the International Space Station (ISS). Crew-3 is scheduled for launch next Sunday, October 31, on a SpaceX Crew Dragon and there are briefings every day this week leading up to that.

It begins with the post-Flight Readiness Review briefing tomorrow (Monday) evening. The crew — NASA’s Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron and ESA’s Matthias Maurer — arrives at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday and there is an arrival ceremony that afternoon and a “media engagement” from their crew quarters on Wednesday morning. A teleconference to discuss the science experiments they’ll conduct is on Thursday. On Friday, there’s a briefing with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other top NASA and ESA officials at noon and then the pre-launch news conference at 10:00 pm ET or no earlier than one hour after the Launch Readiness Review is completed. NASA TV launch coverage begins 24 hours later at 10:00 pm ET Saturday night for a 2:21 am ET launch Sunday morning, October 31. NASA TV will provide continuous coverage through docking on Monday, November 1, at 12:10 am ET and the welcoming ceremony about two hours later assuming launch takes place as scheduled.

SpaceX Crew-3: NASA astronauts (L-R): Raja Chari (NASA),Thomas Marshburn (NASA), Matthias Maurer (ESA), and Kayla Barron (NASA).  Photo Credit: Robert Markowitz

The Crew-2 crew that has been on the ISS since April — NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA’s Aki Hoshide, and ESA’s Thomas Pesquet — will return home soon after Crew-3 arrives. ISS has three other crew members at the moment: NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov who arrived on Soyuz MS-18 in April and Roscosmos’ Anton Shkaplerov who just got there on Soyuz MS-19. The three of them are staying until March.

Russia will launch another cargo mission to the ISS this week (Wednesday) to keep the supplies coming. ISS is a busy, busy place. Another Russian “tourist” mission will be there next month and a U.S. tourist mission is coming up in February. As last week’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing illustrated, decisions really do need to be made pretty soon about the future of ISS and whatever will replace it.

Down here on Earth, the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is taking place in Dubai, UAE and the 17th European Space Weather Week in Glasgow, Scotland all week.  Some of the IAC sessions will be available virtually for registered attendees. Remember that Dubai is 8 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. NASA’s Heliophysics Advisory Committee meets virtually on Wednesday and the National Academies’ Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space (CESAS) will meet for the first day of a two-day meeting that spans this week and next (October 28, November 1).

Boeing will hold its third quarter 2021 financal results telecon on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see if they have anything to say about any additional costs the company will have to absorb because of the Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) troubleshooting and launch delay. Boeing has a fixed-price contract with NASA for Starliner development so it must pay all the costs for OFT-2. It already took a pre-tax charge of $410 million in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Space-wise, things are pretty quiet on Capitol Hill. The only potential news there this week is that Democrats reportedly are getting close to a deal on those infrastructure bills. The version of the Build Back Better bill the House is working on had $4.4 billion for NASA in it at one point, but they are scaling the entire package down from $3.5 trillion to about $2 trillion to win enough Democratic support to get it passed (no Republicans support this bill). What that bodes for NASA is unclear. Stay tuned.

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, October 25

Monday-Friday, October 25-29

Tuesday, October 26

Wednesday, October 27

Thursday, October 28

Friday, October 29

Saturday, October 30

Sunday, October 31

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