What’s Happening in Space Policy October 27-November 2, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy October 27-November 2, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of October 27-November 2, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Another busy week coming up, though not in comparison to last week with the IAC2019.  Congrats to all involved in that.  It was terrific, if exhausting.

This week the Senate will continue consideration of FY2020 appropriations bills, the NASA Advisory Council and most of its committees meet as well as other NASA advisory groups, the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU’s) month-long World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) gets underway, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) team up to discuss integrating space launches and reentries into the National Airspace System, the next cargo mission to the International Space Station is scheduled to launch, and on and on.  There’s no time to rest.

In fact, this week already started with the surprise announcement by the Air Force this morning that the X-37B on its OTV-5 mission landed at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at 3:51 am.  The uncrewed spaceplane set another duration record — 780 days.  What it does while it’s up there is known only in classified circles, but just being able to remain in space that long and autonomously land on a runway at KSC is a feat unto itself.  The Air Force released this photo.  Its press release called it the “world’s only reusable space vehicle,” but SpaceX might take issue with that since the Dragon cargo space capsule is reusable.  SpaceX already has flown the same Dragon to ISS three times.

Tomorrow (Monday), the Senate will resume debate on a package of four appropriations bills that includes Commerce-Justice-Science, which funds NASA and NOAA, and Transportation-HUD, which funds FAA’s space office.  It also has the Agriculture and Interior-Environment bills.  (Milcon-VA is no longer part of this Senate package.)  That’s good news, of course, but Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) warned last week that it’s looking like at least some of the bills will not clear Congress before the Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on November 21.  He anticipates another CR will be needed and expects it to last until February or March. That would be bad news for everyone, but especially for NASA, which is trying to move fast to meet the 2024 Artemis deadline.  It is not clear if the agency would be able to let contracts for the indispensable human lunar landers under a CR since it would not know how much money it will have. Lots of different numbers out there. NASA’s amended request was $1.4 billion: $363 million in the March 11 request plus another $1,044.8 million in the May 13 supplemental. The House did not approve any of the supplemental.  The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $744 million. Tough to guess what the compromise will be.  Meanwhile, proposals are due Friday (November 1) and NASA wants to sign contracts with more than one company by January.

Also tomorrow, but far from Washington, the ITU will begin its four-week WRC-19. The ITU is a specialized agency of the United Nations. These critically important global conferences take place every 3 or 4 years and determine what parts of the electromagnetic spectrum will be allocated to different purposes — like satellite communications versus terrestrial communications as just one example. With our insatiable demand for mobile communications services, it’s a bigger fight every WRC.  (The ITU “allocates” spectrum for various purposes and then individual countries “assign” frequencies within the approved ITU bands for their own uses. In the United States, the FCC assigns frequencies for non-government users, while the NTIA in the Department of Commerce assigns them to government users.)  The conference is in Egypt this time. The ITU’s Twitter handle is @ITU.

A bunch of NASA advisory committees are meeting this week, too.  They are always useful ways to find out the latest goings on.  Some are part of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC), others not, but here is a combined list to make it easier to keep track if you want to listen in.

  • Monday-Tuesday:  Astrophysics Advisory Committee (APAC), virtual
  • Monday-Wednesday: Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG),  Washington, DC
  • Tuesday: NAC Technology, Innovation and Engineering (TI&E) Committee, Kennedy Space Center
  • Tuesday: NAC STEM Engagement Committee, virtual
  • Tuesday-Wednesday: NAC Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Committee, Kennedy Space Center
  • Thursday-Friday: NASA Advisory Council (NAC), Kennedy Space Center

Separately, the National Academies will provide a virtual update on the Astro2020 Decadal Survey on Monday afternoon, and its Committee on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space meets in open session Tuesday-Wednesday at the Beckman Center in Irvine, CA.

On Thursday, ALPA and CSF will have a day-long meeting on how to make it easier for the air traffic system to coordinate with space launches and reentries so airplanes do not have to be diverted from their normal routes for as long as is currently required.  This so-called integration into the National Airspace System (NAS) was one of reasons the Space Frontier Act was defeated by the House last December.  The now-chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), felt the issue was not sufficiently addressed in that bill. He is not on the agenda for this meeting, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who is still trying to get the bill passed, is the luncheon speaker. Scott Pace from the National Space Council will be there along with the head of the FAA’s space office, Wayne Monteith, the president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Paul Rinaldi, and the Presidents of ALPA and CSF, Joe DePete and Eric Stallmer.

NASA has another cargo mission to the ISS coming up on Saturday: Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, which will launch on an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, VA.  This is the 12th in this series of flights (which began with Orbital Sciences Corporation, then transitioned to Orbital ATK after that corporate merger, and now is Northrop Grumman following another merger).  A “what’s on board” briefing and a pre-launch briefing for the NG-12 mission are scheduled for Friday.

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 28

Monday-Tuesday, October 28-29

Monday-Wednesday, October 28-30

Monday, October 28 – Friday, November 22

Tuesday, October 29

Tuesday-Wednesday, October 29-30

Tuesday-Thursday, October 29-31

Wednesday, October 30

Thursday, October 31

Thursday-Friday, October 31-November 1

Friday, November 1

Saturday, November 2



User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.