What’s Happening in Space Policy September 16-22, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy September 16-22, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of September 16-22, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them. The House is in recess this week (except for pro forma sessions).  The Senate is scheduled to be in session most of the week (but not Wednesday).

During the Week

In their rush to leave town before Hurricane Florence arrived, the House and Senate agreed on a game plan for FY2019 appropriations.  (As it turns out, we are very fortunate here in the D.C. area that we will get only a little rain from Florence in coming days).  Congress cleared the first appropriations “Minibus” — Energy & Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs — and it is awaiting President Trump’s signature. House and Senate conferees agreed on Minibus 2 — Defense, Labor-HHS, and a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the rest of the government through December 7. The Senate may take up the conference report this week, with House passage expected when it returns the week of September 24.

That means funding for all the other agencies, including NASA, NOAA and the FAA’s space office, will be at FY2018 levels under the CR from October 1 through December 7, after the mid-term elections. What will happen in that lame duck session is anyone’s guess. The FAA’s space office is funded in the Transportation-HUD bill, which at least has passed the Senate. The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill that includes NASA and NOAA has not passed either chamber.

Overall, it’s another busy week in space policy, including two major conferences and a big announcement from SpaceX.

AIAA’s annual Space and Astronautics Forum, Space 2018, kicks off tomorrow (Monday) in Orlando, FL and runs through Wednesday.  Tomorrow morning at 8:00 am ET, there is a salute to NASA’s 60th birthday with a keynote address by current NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine followed by a panel of his predecessors:  Dick Truly (1989-1992), Dan Goldin (1992-2001), Sean O’Keefe (2001-2005), Mike Griffin (2005-2009), and Charlie Bolden (2009-2017).  Those and several other sessions of the conference will be livestreamed, while others will be taped and posted later.  A list showing what will be available is on the AIAA livestream website (see our Calendar entry for the link).  Also of special note for those that will be livestreamed are the morning plenaries on Tuesday on international collaboration (with representatives from DLR, ISRO, CNES, and JAXA) and Wednesday on “New Directions in Space Exploration” (with top NASA officials Steve Jurczyk, Bill Gerstenmaier, Thomas Zurbuchen, and Jim Reuter).

At exactly the same time, the Air Force Association (AFA) is holding its annual Air, Space, Cyber conference in National Harbor, MD, just outside D.C.  AFA put out a press release announcing that Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will give a keynote address. That’s on Wednesday afternoon.  SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell will make “remarks” tomorrow afternoon. Among the other luminaries: Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, on the agenda tomorrow morning to talk about “The Air Force We Need”; a panel later in the day on “Fighting Under Fire-Projecting Power in the 21st Century that includes Gen. Jay Raymond, Commander of Air Force Space Command and Commander of Joint Force Space Component Command; Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on Tuesday with an Air Force Update; an Air Force “town hall” on Tuesday afternoon with Wilson, Goldfein and others; Goldfein and Raymond on a “Today’s Air Force” panel on Wednesday; and Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan on Wednesday afternoon (author of the recently released Space Force report).  There is no indication if any of the conference will be livestreamed or taped and posted later.  If we find out, we will add the information to our Calendar.

Tomorrow will already be a very busy day with sessions at the AIAA and AFA conferences, but it keeps on going.  At 9:00 pm ET (6:00 pm Pacific Time), SpaceX will make an announcement about who will be the first private passenger to go around the Moon on the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is currently under development.  It will be webcast.  Musk announced last year that he would fly two people around the Moon this year on Falcon Heavy (FH), but then decided not to human-rate FH at all and wait for BFR instead. Among the many questions then is not only who the lucky person is, but whether he or she was originally booked on the FH,  and when SpaceX expects the flight to take place.  Musk said earlier this year that the first Earth orbital launch of BFR would be in 3-4 years.

Lots of other interesting meetings during the week (too many to mention here) and on Friday, the University of Nebraska College of Law’s Space, Cyber and Telecom Law Program will hold its annual seminar in D.C.   The first panel, on Commercial Space Law Reform, features Caryn Schenewerk from SpaceX; Peter Marquez, formerly of Planetary Resources and now with his own consulting practice, Andart Global; Mike Gold of Maxar Technologies (and chairman of COMSTAC); and Gabriel Swiney from the State Department, moderated by the University of Nebraska’s Matt Schaefer and … your humble SpacePolicyOnline.com editor.  Courtney Bailey from NASA’s General Counsel’s office will then offer “5 Big Ideas in 10 Minutes,” followed by a “Great Mining Debate” on whether there really is a problem with space mining and property rights featuring Brian Israel from Planetary Resources and Oonagh Sands from Fietta International Law (Ireland). Then a panel on cyber threats to satellites and another on security challenges in space and the Woomera Manual.

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 (perhaps a new launch date for JAXA’s HTV-7 cargo mission to the ISS) and add to our Calendar.

Sunday-Friday, September 16-21

Monday, September 17

Monday-Wednesday, September 17-19

Tuesday, September 18

Tuesday-Thursday, September 18-20

Wednesday-Thursday, September 19-20

Thursday-Friday, September 20-21

Thursday-Sunday, September 20-23

Friday, September 21

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