What’s Happening in Space Policy October 29-November 5, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy October 29-November 5, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week plus a day of October 29-November 5, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate and House are in session this week, though the House doesn’t begin work until Wednesday.

During the Week

Countries are switching back to standard time right now, but not necessarily the same week. Most of Europe and the U.K. changed today, e.g., but the U.S. doesn’t until next Sunday.

We’re including an extra day, Sunday, November 5, in this week’s What’s Happening because the associated event will have taken place before next week’s edition is published. At 2:00 am a week from today, the United States will change from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time. Another reason to mention it now is that some countries have switched already. Important to bear in mind if you’re participating virtually in events elsewhere. The United Kingdom and most of Europe returned to standard time today, for example. Not to mention that some countries keep the same time zone year-round as do two U.S. states (Arizona and Hawaii).

Now, onto the week ahead. The House is in session this week. That’s a positive development right there. House Republicans finally found someone they could all get behind to serve as Speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA). He was elected on Wednesday and by Friday they’d passed a fifth appropriations bill, Energy-Water, though like the others (MilCon-VA, Defense, State-Foreign Ops, and Homeland) it was almost entirely on party lines 210-199: 210 Republicans voted yes, one voted no, and 198 Democrats voted no. So the House is making progress with five of the 12 bills passed (although another, Agriculture, failed), but that’s just one step. Negotiating final versions with the Senate will be a challenge. The Senate is taking a bipartisan approach and using the funding levels negotiated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The House is using lower levels and adding social policy provisions that are anathema to Democrats.

House leadership plans to bring up three more appropriations bills this week: Transportation-HUD (which includes the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation), Legislative Branch, and Interior-Environment.

The Commerce-Justice-Science bill that includes NASA and NOAA still has not been reported from the House Appropriations Committee. When Johnson was trying to win support to become Speaker he sent around a Dear Colleague letter with a schedule that included floor consideration of CJS next week. The committee doesn’t have any markups on its schedule for this week at the moment, but that could change. They haven’t reported out the Labor-HHS bill yet, either.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

The Senate Appropriations Committee has reported all their bills and the Senate is in the midst of debate on a trio that were packaged together: MilCon-VA, Agriculture, and Transportation-HUD. The Adminstration now is asking for a $105 billion “national security” supplemental. Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) will hold a hearing on the request on Tuesday. It includes funding for U.S. Space Force operation and maintenance (O&M) and military personnel.

It’s all but impossible for both sides of the Hill to pass all the bills AND negotiate final versions before the Continuing Resolution expires on November 17, however. Time will tell if Johnson can get his Republican colleagues to agree to another CR. He indicated he intends to pass one even though he voted against the one in effect now.

Lady Sohair Salam Saber, President of the Hague Institute for Global Justice, will speak at the Beyond Earth Symposium on Wednesday. The Institute released a Compact on Norms of Behavior for Commercial Space Operations earlier this year.

Off the Hill, the big event this week is the Beyond Earth Symposium being held by the Beyond Earth Institute (BEI) at American University Washington School of Law in D.C. on Wednesday and Thursday. The theme is “LEO to Lunar to Living Beyond Earth: Policy Pathways to Space Migration.” It has a stellar line-up of U.S. and international speakers representing the government, commercial companies, and non-profits/NGOs. To name just a few: Ken Bowersox, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations; Amit Kshatriya, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for the Moon to Mars Program; Lt. Gen. John Shaw (Ret.), former Deputy Commander of U.S. Space Command; Richard DalBello, Department of Commerce Office of Space Commerce; Ezinne Uzo-Okoro and Matt Daniels from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Masami Onoda, Director of JAXA’s Washington Office; Aniello Violetti, Space Attaché at the Embassy of Italy; Krunal Joshi, ISRO’s representative at the Embassy of India; Nicolas Maubert, CNES representative at the Embassy of France; Mike Gold, Redwire; Jeff Manber, Voyager Space; Chris Kunstadter, AXA XL; Tanya Ladwig, Lockheed Martin; Lady Sohair Salam Saber, President of the Hague Institute for Global Justice; Pete Worden, Breakthrough Prize Foundation; and many, many more. Steve Wolfe and Courtney Stadd from BEI are the organizers.

China’s Shenzhou-16 crew returns home tomorrow (Monday) EDT, which will be Tuesday, October 31, local time at the landing site. China has confirmed they’ll land on Tuesday, but not the time. Bob Christy @OrbitalFocus calculates it at 00:11 UTC on October 31. That’s 8:11 pm October 30 EDT or 8:11 am October 31 local time in Inner Mongolia where they’ll land. The three men have been on the Tiangong-3 space station since May and are being relieved by the Shenzhou-17 crew. China began handing operations over from one crew to the next, initiating permanent occupancy, almost exactly one year ago.

Meanwhile, the International Space Station will celebrate 23 years of permanent occupancy on Thursday. NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko launched on Soyuz TM-31 on October 31, 2000 and docked two days later on November 2.

International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd (center) is flanked by Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko (right) and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev (left).  On November 2, 2000, they became the first ISS crew. The ISS has been permanently occupied by international crews rotating on roughly 4-6 month schedules ever since. Credit: NASA

We haven’t heard of any commemorative events, but the day before (November 1) two NASA astronauts will conduct a routine spacewalk. Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli, both on their first extravehicular activities (EVAs), will perform a number of maintenance tasks. This is not the first time two women have performed a spacewalk together (that was Christina Koch and Jessica Meir in October 2019). O’Hara was supposed to have done a spacewalk with ESA astronaut Andreas Mogenson two weeks ago, but that got postponed to later this year.

The International Space Station celebrates 23 years of permanent occupancy on Thursday, November 2.

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 30 ET (October 31 UTC and Beijing Time)

Monday-Tuesday, October 30-31

Wednesday, November 1

Wednesday-Thursday, November 1-2

Wednesday-Friday, November 1-3

Thursday, November 2

  • 23rd Anniversary of Permanent Occupancy of the International Space Station (no commemorative events planned that we know of as of October 29, but a notable date nonetheless)

Thursday-Friday, November 2-3

Sunday, November 5

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