What’s Happening in Space Policy September 23-29, 2018

What’s Happening in Space Policy September 23-29, 2018

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of September 23-29, 2018 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

The House is expected to pass the second “minibus” appropriations bill for FY2019 this week.  It funds DOD and agencies in the Labor-HHS bill, and includes a Continuing Resolution (CR) for all the other agencies, like NASA and NOAA, whose appropriations bills will not be signed into law by October 1. The CR provides funding through December 7, after the mid-term elections. It passed the Senate last week.  President Trump is expected to sign it after the House completes action.  He ultimately signed the first minibus (Energy & Water, Leg Branch, MilCon-VA) on Friday after again complaining about insufficient funding for his border wall, although neither of these minibus bills covers the Department of Homeland Security where that money would be provided.  It is one of the agencies that will be funded through the CR until December 7.

The House is also scheduled to take up a new version of the FAA reauthorization bill, H.R. 302 as amended.  The House and Senate transportation committees released the compromise text on Saturday after reaching agreement late Friday evening.  Among its many provisions, it authorizes funding for the FAA’s space office through 2023 (growing to $76 million that year), requires that office to establish an Office of Spaceports and develop spaceport policy, and requires more coordination between the space office and the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) on use of the National Airspace System.  Note that the original H.R. 302 had nothing to do with the FAA.  They are using that bill number and replacing the text with the FAA reauthorization plus unrelated portions including sports medicine licensure (the original intent of the bill) and supplemental appropriations to deal with recovery from Hurricane Florence.  It’s on the suspension calendar, meaning that House leadership expects it to be non-controversial and able to easily get a 2/3 vote.

On Wednesday afternoon, the House and Senate committees that oversee NASA will have dueling hearings.  The House Science, Space, and Technology’s space subcommittee will hear from the head of NASA’s human spaceflight program, Bill Gerstenmaier, and three Center Directors (JSC’s Geyer, KSC’s Cabana, and Marshall’s Singer) on 60 years of NASA leadership in human space exploration beginning at 2:00 pm ET.  The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s space subcommittee will hear from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on ensuring the United States remains the leader in the “global space race” at 2:15 pm ET.  Both will be webcast.

Before that, though, Bridenstine will speak at a Washington Space Business Roundtable luncheon in D.C. tomorrow (Monday).  He seems to enjoy talking about Space Force as much as NASA.  We’ll see if anyone asks him a Space Force question, including ace reporter Jeff Foust from Space News who will be interviewing him on stage.

There’s no hotter space topic these days than the Space Force.  Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson is on tap to speak at the National Press Club on Wednesday.  She lit up the Space Force conversation last week with her leaked memo outlining the Air Force’s view of the situation and a $12.9 billion pricetag.  Her Press Club topic is “The Future of American Air Power in the 21st Century,” but it would be surprising if no one asks about the Space Force anyway.  Her talk will be webcast beginning at 1:00 pm ET.

The Aspen Institute will put its toe in the water on Thursday with a “Making Space Force a Reality” event featuring Reps. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Jim Cooper (D-TN), the bipartisan HASC Strategic Forces Subcommittee duo who were fighting for a Space Corps within the Air Force until Trump raised the ante with his proposal to create a separate military department instead.  In February, before Trump began publicly talking up a Space Force, they said they would continue their fight for a Space Corps and understood why the Senate was taking a while to come around to their way of thinking,  but were confident it would once it had time to study the reasons why.   A lot has changed since February, with Trump’s advocacy, the passing of SASC Chairman John McCain (who opposed the idea), and Wilson’s memo estimating the cost at $12.9 billion.  Will be interesting to hear what Rogers and Cooper have to say now.  They issued a joint statement after the Shanahan report was issued on August 9, at which time Vice President Pence said he and Trump want the Department of the Space Force in place by 2020.  Rogers and Cooper were enthusiastic, but called the report a first step in a “multi-year” process and made no promises about accomplishing it in a year (the formal proposal will be sent to Congress in February as part of the FY2020 budget request).  The event will be webcast.

That’s just a taste of all the interesting events going on this week and the coming weekend with events leading into the annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Bremen, Germany.  The IAC itself begins next Monday. It is offering webcasts of selected sessions, but one must pay a fee that seems to be €20 per session, with other prices for packages of 5, 10 or 15 sessions.

All the 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 24

Monday-Friday, September 24-28

Tuesday-Thursday, September 25-27

Wednesday, September 26

Wednesday-Friday, September 26-28

Thursday, September 27

Thursday-Friday, September 27-28

Thursday-Saturday, September 27-29

Friday, September 28

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