What’s Happening in Space Policy October 9-15, 2022

What’s Happening in Space Policy October 9-15, 2022

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of October 9-15, 2022 and any insight we can offer about them. The Senate will be in session briefly on Tuesday and two committee meetings are scheduled, but otherwise the House and Senate are in recess until November 14 except for pro forma sessions.

During the Week

Tomorrow (Monday) is a Federal holiday and government offices will be closed. Officially recognized as Columbus Day, some organizations now refer to this as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Many corporations do not observe this holiday, choosing instead to give employees the day after Thanksgiving off, but it is a Federal holiday at least.

The House and Senate are more-or-less in recess until after the November 8 elections, but the Senate will be in session on Tuesday to bring up the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for debate. Senator Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, or his designee will make remarks. Other Senators may be there, too. It’s a way to get the bill under consideration even though further Senate action will have to wait until the Senate returns for legislative business on November 14. Two committees will hold hearings this week, one in the House and one in the Senate, but neither is space-related.

The big event this week is Tuesday’s NASA briefing with an update on the DART mission. DART gave its all to impact Dimorphos, the moon of asteroid Didymos, on September 26. The goal is to see if the imparted energy changes the moon’s orbit. It’s a planetary protection test of a method to divert a future asteriod that might threaten Earth. Didymos and Dimorphos do not. Hopefully the briefing is to tell us how much the moon’s orbit changed and release more images of the result.

DART was accompanied by a cubesat, the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI’s) LICIACube, that separated before the impact so it could show what happened since DART itself was destroyed. The ones released so far are stunning.  Several ground-based telescopes captured amazing images, too, including the SOAR telescope that shows a 10,000 kilometer trail of debris. Two space-based telescopes, Hubble and James Webb, as well as NASA’s Lucy spacecraft on its way to the Trojan asteroids, got some too. The briefing will air on NASA TV, the NASA app, and NASA Live.

Image taken by LICIACube of Dimorphos after DART’s impact, September 26, 2022. Credits: ASI/NASA
On September 28, 2022, the SOAR Telescope in Chile, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory), imaged the more than 10,000 kilometer-long trail of debris blasted from the surface of Dimorphos two days after it was impacted by NASA’s DART spacecraft.

An hour before the DART briefing, NASA will hold a separate event via WebEx (unfortunately not on NASA TV or NASA Live) to discuss a really interesting experiment that will launch on November 1 together with NOAA’s JPSS-2 weather satellite. The Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) is an inflatable heatshield that will separate from the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket and descend to Earth to test atmospheric braking. It’s part of an effort to develop Mars entry, descent and landing (EDL) systems for spacecraft much larger than the rovers and landers NASA has sent already. The briefing will be recorded and posted on NASA’s website later according to the NASA press release.

The inflated LOFTID engineering development unit aeroshell is lifted to a test stand.  Credits: NASA

Also on Tuesday, the NASA TV schedule lists a pre-departure on-orbit briefing by Crew-4, which is wrapping up its mission and getting ready to return home. We haven’t seen an announcement of when that’ll be, but it should be soon. NASA expected a 5-day handover with Crew-5. They arrived on October 6, so Crew-4 should come home early this week whenever the weather cooperates. We’ll post whatever information we get on our Calendar.

Of all the many other great events this week, we’ll highlight just three more.

On Thursday, the Beyond Earth Institute will hold its inaugural policy forum in Washington, DC. Organized together with the Univerisity of Arizona’s Space Safety, Security and Sustainability Center, it promises “this is not the usual talking heads space event.” It’s an “action-oriented forum intended to flush out the concrete policy, regulatory, and financing challenges to moving to the next level of human space development.” Sounds intriguing. It has a speaker lineup with far too many notable notables for us to summarize here without risking offending someone by leaving them off the list.

Heather Wilson will receive Women in Aerospace’s Lifetime Achievement Award Thursday night.

Thursday evening is the annual Women in Aerospace Awards Dinner at its usual location, the Ritz-Carlton in Arlington, VA. It’s always a grand celebration of the seven winners of WIA’s awards.

This year the Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Heather Wilson, currently President of the University of Texas at El Paso, but probably better known to readers of this website as a former Congresswoman from New Mexico (1998-2009) or as Secretary of the Air Force for the first two years of the Trump Administration during the debate over whether to create a U.S. Space Force. She left in May 2019 before the decision was finalized, but certainly played a key role in its formation, keeping it within the Department of the Air Force. She’s also a member of the National Science Board that oversees the National Science Foundation. She has quite an impressive résumé that includes graduating from the Air Force Academy in the third class to admit women. Congratulations to her and all the other award winners.

We were going to mention the University of Nebraska’s annual Washington, DC space law conference taking place on Friday, but we see registration is already full. It’s on current issues in military and commercial space and looks really interesting. Unfortunately there’s no virtual option.

Kari Bingen, Director of CSIS’s Aerospace Security Project, will moderate a webinar with Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting on Friday.

But CSIS is having a virtual-only event at the same time on national security space. Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, Commander of U.S. Space Force’s Space Operations Command (SpOC), will discuss “Posturing U.S. Space Operations for a Warfighting Advantage” with Kari Bingen, who recently became the new director of CSIS’s Aerospace Security Project after Todd Harrison’s departure. As far as we know this is the first CSIS space event under her leadership. She was at HawkEye360 before joining CSIS, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security before that, and has held many other national security positions on Capitol Hill and elsewhere during her career.

SpOC is celebrating its second anniversary this month. Whiting and Bingen will discuss “the changing space operating environment and how SpOC is postured to maintain a warfighting advantage in space and for the joint force.”

Maybe we’ll mention just one more event even though it’s not space policy, just something nifty for anyone interested in the space program. On Friday, the Washington, D.C.-location of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum — the one on the National Mall — will reopen for the first time in four years. It is undergoing a 7-year renovation, but half is complete now. Free, timed-entry passes are REQUIRED and can be obtained on the museum’s website.

Those events and others 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 (especially the return of Crew-4).

Sunday-Monday, October 9-10 (continued from October 4)

Monday, October 10

Tuesday, October 11

Tuesday-Wednesday, October 11-12

Tuesday-Friday, October 11-14

Wednesday, October 12

Wednesday-Thursday, October 12-13

Thursday, October 13

Thursday-Saturday, October 13-15

Friday, October 14

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