What’s Happening in Space Policy October 3-10, 2021

What’s Happening in Space Policy October 3-10, 2021

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week plus a day of October 3-10, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate is in session this week. The House is in a “committee work week” mode where committees meet but the House has only pro forma sessions through October 19.

During the Week

Tomorrow (Monday) is the 64th anniversary of the beginning of the Space Age when, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artifical satellite, Sputnik. Ten years and a week later, on October 10, 1967, the United Nations Treaty on Principles Governing Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Outer Space Treaty”) entered into force. The United Nations used those bookends in 1999 to establish World Space Week which runs October 4-10 every year. This year’s theme is “Women in Space.” Events are global, so keep an eye out for those near you. Three that we know about are the Space Foundation’s webinar on Thursday entitled “Tomorrow’s Space Jobs are Here Today;” the Canadian Space Agency’s Women in Space 2021 virtual conference all week; and the University of Colorado Boulder’s in-person event on Friday “Celebrating Women in Space.”

This year Russia also is celebrating the 60th anniversary of another Soviet space achievement — the launch of the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961. On Tuesday, it will mark another human spaceflight first by launching the first actress, Yulia Peresild, and film director, Klim Shipenko, to the International Space Station (ISS). They will shoot scenes for a Russian movie, The Challenge, where Peresild portrays a doctor who must treat an ill cosmonaut.

Soyuz MS-19 crew following the tradition of each new cosmonaut planting a tree before flight, in this case Yulia Peresild (L) and Klim Shipenko (R), with mission commander Anton Shkaplerov in the center. Photo credit: Tweet by Shkaplerov (@Anton_Astrey), Sept 27, 2021.

The Soviet Union launched the first woman into space (Valentina Tereshkova) in 1963 and the first woman to make a spacewalk (Svetlana Savitskaya) in 1984, but they are two of only four Russian women to have ever flown in space. Peresild will be the fifth. Her flight fits well with the World Space Week theme of Women in Space, although she is a space tourist, not a professional cosmonaut. Only one woman (Anna Kikina) is in the Russian professional cosmonaut corps. She is assigned to a flight next year.

There’s nothing new about Russia launching space tourists to the ISS, and IMAX films with footage taken on the space shuttle and ISS have shown in theaters, but this is the first fictional commercial film where an actress and director are making the trip to space to shoot part of the movie. Their Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft will have a professional cosmonaut at the controls, Anton Shkaplerov, when they launch early Tuesday morning EDT (4:55 am). They are taking the quick route to the ISS and will dock just over 3 hours later. NASA TV will cover it all. Peresild and Shipenko will remain for 12 days, returning with professional cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky in the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft’s commander’s seat. Shkaplerov is staying for a routine 6-month mission, replacing Novitsky who’s been there since April.

Meanwhile, NASA is getting ready to launch its next crew to the ISS. Crew-3 will take four professional astronauts (three NASA, one ESA) to ISS on a SpaceX Crew Dragon on October 30. NASA is holding two pre-launch briefings this week. On Wednesday, NASA and ESA officials will give an overview of the mission. On Thursday, the crew — NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and ESA’s Matthias Maurer — will hold a press conference. Both briefings will air on NASA TV.

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

China also is getting ready to launch a new crew to its core space station module, Tianhe. As usual, China is saying very little about it officially, but rumors were it would launch right about now. The South China Morning Post reported yesterday, however, that it was delayed until “later this month.” A woman astronaut (or “taikonaut”) is expected to be part of the 3-person Shenzhou-13 crew, which will stay on Tianhe for 6 months. Two Chinese women astronauts have flown already and Andrew Jones reports that one of them (Wang Yaping) may be on this next flight. She was a member of the Shenzhou-10 crew to an earlier space station, Tiangong-1, in 2013.  Tianhe is the first of three modules that eventually will form the China Space Station (CSS), also called Tiangong-3.

Shenhzou-10 crew (2013). Wang Yaping is on the left. Photo Credit:  Xinhua

Up on Capitol Hill, things are relatively quiet what with the Democrat versus Democrat impasse over the infrastructure bills, the CR keeping the government funded through December 3, and the House in recess except for committee meetings. The Senate is in session, but nothing space-related seems to be on the agenda this week. We haven’t heard any news about when the Senate Appropriations Committee might proceed with marking up its FY2022 bills. It did three in August, but not the ones that fund space activities: Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS), Defense, and Transportation-HUD (THUD). The House passed its THUD bill back in July. CJS made it to the floor, but final action is pending. Defense did not even get that far.

Two subcommittees of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee are having an interesting hearing this week on “Balancing Open Science and Security in the U.S. Research Enterprise.” We doubt space will be a major topic of the discussion, but it might come up since planetary scientist Maria Zuber is one of the witnesses. She co-chairs the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), but is appearing in her capacity as co-chair of the National Science, Technology, and Security Roundtable of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Several very interesting, and very different, conferences are on tap this week. To keep this short we’ll just mention four.

On the science front, the Division on Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society meets virtually beginning today. As always, it has a fascinating array of lectures and press conferences about recent planetary science discoveries. Some sessions are live, others pre-recorded.

Geospatial intelligence experts will hold their annual meeting, GEOINT 2021, in-person in St. Louis. Speakers include the heads of the National Reconnaissance Office (Chris Scolese) and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (VADM Robert Sharp), as well as industry VIPs including Robbie Schingler (Planet) and Dan Jablonsky (Maxar).

The space business sector is having two conferences, both in California. Satellite Innovation 2021 is taking the hybrid approach, with an in-person meeting in Mountain View (Tuesday-Thursday), but a virtual option is available. Space Tech Expo USA is in-person in Long Beach (Thursday-Friday) and free to all attendees. It is not clear from the website if those sessions also will be available virtually. Both conferences have very impressive lists of speakers.

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.

Sunday-Friday, October 3-8

Monday-Friday, October 4-8

Monday-Sunday, October 4 -10

Tuesday, October 5

Tuesday-Wednesday, October 5-6

Tuesday-Thursday, October 5-7

Tuesday-Friday, October 5-8

Wednesday, October 6

Wednesday-Thursday, October 6-7

  • CyberSatGov 2021, Reston, VA (a classified telecon is on October 5; these two days are unclassified and in-person)

Thursday, October 7

Thursday-Friday, October 7-8

Friday, October 8

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