What’s Happening in Space Policy September 17-24, 2023

What’s Happening in Space Policy September 17-24, 2023

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week plus a day of September 17-24, 2023 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

The countdown to the end of FY2024 on September 30 continues along with the need for Congress to pass some sort of legislation to keep the government operating. Last week’s plans for the House to pass the DOD appropriations bill and the Senate to make progress on if not pass a three-bill “minibus” combining the MilCon-VA, Agriculture, and Transportation-HUD bills didn’t work out as planned.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is trying to find a way forward on appropriations against opposition from within his own party.

House leadership had to pull the DOD bill when ultra-conservative Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus refused to agree to the rule passed by the House Rules Committee to provide for its consideration. The bill is not on the House calendar for this week, though that could change if Freedom Caucus members and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy can reach an agreement. The relationship is extremely strained at the moment, though.

The situation seemed better in the Senate until objection was raised to a Unanimous Consent request to combine the 3 bills. Some Senators now want them taken up individually, which would take a lot more time. Senate leadership is still planning to bring them up in combination.

In short, it’s a mess. Stay tuned.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved all its FY2024 bills before summer recess, but the Financial Services-General Government subcommittee is holding a hearing to review the FCC’s FY2024 budget on Tuesday. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel will testify. The Senate has confirmed Anna Gomez as the fifth commissioner, bringing the panel up to full strength.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has a hearing with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday.  The topic is “Oversight of the Department of Transportation’s Policies and Programs.” How much if any of it touches on commercial space transportation is tough to forecast.  It’s a tiny part of what DOT does, but with Starship waiting for a launch license and commercial human spaceflight ramping up right when restrictions on FAA’s ability to issue new regulations is about to expire, it’s a possibility.

Diane Howard, Director of Commercial Space Policy at the White House National Space Council, will speak (virtually) to the AMOS conference on Thursday.

Off the Hill, and we mean WAY off the Hill, the big event this week is the annual AMOS conference in Maui, Hawaii. Event organizers have been assuring attendees that the devastating fires elsewhere on the island have not impacted the conference, though it doubtless will be more somber than in the past. AMOS’s full name is a mouthful — the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference. It used to be a rather niche topic, but increasing concern about space debris and space sustainability raised its visibility considerably. A virtual option is available for those who can’t make the trip. Remember that the agenda is in Hawaii Standard Time (add 6 for EDT).  A pre-conference for young professionals, EMER-GEN, starts today (Sunday).

Among the other great events this week: NASA astronaut Frank Rubio who’s on the International Space Station finishing up a one-year mission will talk with reporters on Tuesday; NASA’s Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) meets Wednesday-Friday; NASA’s Heliophysics Division holds a virtual Town Hall meeting on Wednesday; and NASA holds a media telecon about the Deep Space Optical Communications technology demo on the Psyche mission the same day.

Notice of a meeting of the NSF-NASA-DOE Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee was published in the Federal Register for this week (Monday-Tuesday) but it’s not mentioned on the AAAC website, so we’re not sure if it’s happening or not. Check that website for updates.

We’re including next Sunday in this week’s What’s Happening because that’s when the sample return canister from the OSIRIS-REx mission will land at the Utah Test and Training Range after a 2.5 year trip back from the asteroid Bennu.  We’ll have more about that later, but wanted to be sure it’s on your radar for next Sunday morning at 10:00 am ET since we won’t publish next week’s edition before that. That’s a REALLY BIG EVENT!!

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-Tuesday, September 17-19

  • EMER-GEN, Maui, Hawaii (in conjunction with the AMOS conference)

Monday-Wednesday, September 18-20

Tuesday, September 19

Tuesday-Thursday, September 19-21

Tuesday-Friday, September 19-22

  • AMOS 2023, Maui, Hawaii

Wednesday, September 20

Wednesday-Friday, September 20-22

Sunday, September 24

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