What’s Happening in Space Policy September 2-8, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy September 2-8, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of September 2-8, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

The week begins with a Federal holiday, Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer and time for everyone to get back to work in earnest on Tuesday.

That especially applies to Congress, where the clock is ticking down to the beginning of FY2019 on October 1.  None of the 12 appropriations bills needed to keep the government operating has cleared Congress yet, though the House and Senate have made more progress than usual at this point on the calendar.  All the bills have been approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Here’s the scorecard in terms of their passage by the House and Senate.

Some were passed individually, others bundled into “mini-buses,” but the only bundle that is the same in both chambers combines Energy & Water, Leg Branch and MilCon/VA.  Conferees were appointed before the August recess, but a scheduled meeting was postponed.  Apparently staff, at least, have been working on it over the past month because the conference report is on the House schedule for possible consideration this week.

The House is only scheduled to be in session 11 days in September. How much progress will be made on the others remains to be seen. The bill that funds NASA and NOAA (Commerce-Justice-Science) has not been voted on by either the House or Senate yet so it’s pretty clear they will be operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) as of October 1. President Trump threatened to shut down the government if he did not get the money he wanted for the border wall (in the Homeland Security bill), but most members of Congress strongly oppose a shutdown in an election year. Trump seemed to back away from his threat a couple of weeks ago, but what will happen is anyone’s guess.

The Senate Commerce Committee will mark up the nominations of James Morhard to be Deputy Administrator of NASA and Kelvin Droegemeier to be Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on Wednesday.  It was scheduled for last Wednesday, but the Senate went home on Tuesday so it was postponed to this week.  Between Senators who wanted to participate in services for Sen. John McCain, who died on August 25, and those who needed to be on the campaign trail, attendance was problematical.

As usual, there are a host of other terrific space policy events this week. We’ll  pick just three to highlight.

The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) is having a “lunch and learn” event on Wednesday on Capitol Hill about the importance of spectrum to the commercial space industry.  The need to use various frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum to conduct space research and operations is often underappreciated, but there is no point in putting satellites in space if you can’t send commands to or receive data from them. That requires spectrum.  And there are satellites whose entire purpose is providing communications or other services (like GPS for positioning, navigation and timing) for people and businesses on Earth.  Spectrum is a finite natural resource, though. To avoid interference, decisions must be made on who gets to use which parts. It’s very complex domestically and internationally. Here in the United States, terrestrial users are trying to wrest more spectrum from space users, and commercial users are trying to get it from government users.  The SIA event will focus on commercial space users with speakers from the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the Aerospace Industries Association, the GPS Innovation Alliance, and the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration.  (National Space Council Executive Secretary Scott Pace is one of those who keenly understands spectrum issues, in which he has been immersed for a good part of his career especially in terms of protecting the spectrum for GPS.  SPD-2 directs the Department of Commerce and OSTP to work with the FCC and submit a report to the Council on how to improve the global competitiveness of the U.S. space sector through spectrum policies and regulations.)

DARPA is celebrating its 60th anniversary Wednesday-Friday in National Harbor, MD outside Washington, D.C. with a conference and exhibit on “Breakthrough Technology:  Past, Present and Future.”  Space is only one of many topics, but there are a couple of interesting breakout sessions on Thursday, including the “Future of Space” (4:25-5:30 pm ET) with USD(R&E) Mike Griffin, Planet’s Robbie Schingler and SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell, moderated by former DARPA Director Tony Tether.  Griffin will be back with a keynote on Friday (11:15 – 11:50 am ET) on the USD(R&E) Technical Roadmap.  The conference is sold out, but the website says everything will be recorded.  Plenary sessions will be posted to DARPA’s YouTube channel after the event; breakout sessions will be archived internally.

The Wilson Center doesn’t often deal with space issues, but its Canada Institute has a terrific day-long event on Friday:  “Over the Horizon: A New Era for U.S.-Canada Space Cooperation?”  The speakers are a who’s who of Canadian and U.S. government and industry space leaders, including Pace, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and his Canadian counterpart Sylvain LaPorte, representatives of the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force, and of companies including Iridium, Virgin Orbit, Maxar Technologies, and many more.  The two countries have been cooperating in national security, civil and commercial space almost since the Space Age began.  For example, NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is a joint U.S.-Canada organization; Canada is a partner in the International Space Station; and Canada’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) recently recast itself as Maxar Technologies following the acquisition of Space Systems Loral and DigitalGlobe, with MDA now one of four Maxar business units.  The event will be webcast.

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.

Monday, September 3

Tuesday, September 4

Wednesday, September 5

Wednesday-Friday, September 5-7

Thursday, September 6

Friday, September 7

Saturday-Sunday, September 8-9


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