What’s Happening in Space Policy September 30-October 5, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy September 30-October 5, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of September 30-October 5, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess (except for pro forma sessions) until October 15, the day after the Columbus Day holiday.

During the Week

With the 7-week FY2020 Continuing Resolution (CR) passed and signed into law, the House and Senate recessed for the first two weeks of October through the Columbus Day federal holiday.

The government now is funded from the beginning of FY2020 on October 1 through November 21.  That is good news, but a lot of work remains to get the 12 regular appropriations bill into law for the rest of FY2020.  The Senate Appropriations Committee completed action on 10 of the 12 bills over the past three weeks, but none have reached the Senate floor. The House passed 10 of the 12 bills in June and the other two were reported from committee, but not yet voted on by the House. How to get all of them passed — separately, in small “mini-bus” packages, or one giant “omnibus” — remains unclear.  Although the two parties agreed to a budget deal in July where promises were made to avoid “poison pill” partisan policy language, disputes over border wall funding, in particular, could derail the process at any point.  Never mind the even more fractious political environment now that the House has begun an impeachment inquiry.

But for the next 7 weeks, at least, departments and agencies can operate at their FY2019 levels.

Even though Congress is away, space policy remains busy, albeit at a less frenetic pace.

The Atlantic Council will have an interesting event tomorrow (Monday) on “Reenergizing Transatlantic Space Cooperation in Security and Beyond.”   White House National Space Council Executive Secretary Scott Pace is the keynote speaker, followed by a panel composed of DOD’s Stephen Kitay, the European Union’s Jean-Luc Bald, Airbus’s Laurent Jaffart, Avascent’s Stephen Ganote, and Raytheon’s Robert Canty.  Moderator Jacqueline Feldscher (Politico) will lead them in a discussion of Ganote’s new paper on the topic.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the second annual Global Satellite Servicing Forum (GSSF) will take place in D.C. Organized by the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous & Servicing Operations (CONFERS), it will host discussions of industry-led standards as well as technology, market and policy developments affecting satellite servicing. The first commercial satellite servicing mission is getting ready to launch any day now.  Northrop Grumman’s wholly owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics, LLC, is launching its Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) on a Russian Proton-M rocket.  The launch has been delayed many times.  Most recently it was supposed to go tomorrow, but a new delay was just encountered.  Whenever it does get into orbit, MEV-1 will dock with the 18-year old Intelsat 901 satellite, which has run out of fuel but otherwise is healthy.  Once docked, MEV-1 will provide propulsion and attitude control so the satellite can be returned to service.  That is just one example of what is meant by the term satellite servicing, which enthusiasts see as a gold mine of opportunity in Earth orbit and beyond, the topic of the conference.

The Space Technology Industry, Government, University Roundtable (STIGUR) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will meet on Thursday at the National Academy of Sciences building on Constitution Avenue.  The agenda isn’t posted yet, but these meetings typically involve presentations by experts on one or more space technology areas followed by Q&A with the roundtable members (full disclosure, I am one of them) and then real-time feedback to NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, James Reuter.  Always interesting discussions.

Friday is the 62nd anniversary of the beginning of the Space Age — the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union.  Thus it is also the beginning of World Space Week (WSW) as declared by the United Nations 20 years ago. The week, observed October 4-10 every year, commemorates the launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957 and the entry into force of the U.N. Outer Space Treaty on October 10, 1967.

WSW dovetails this year with the 10th International Observe the Moon night. That’s on Saturday and commemorates the launch of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in 2009.  It is still orbiting the Moon and the LRO Camera, LROC, is sending back high resolution images of the surface and objects on it like China’s Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu 2 rover.  Unfortunately it has not yet been able to find India’s Vikram lander with which contact was lost on September 6 EDT just before it should have reached the surface, though it tried.  It did find the crash site for the Israeli Beresheet lander that failed earlier this year. International Observe the Moon Night is an opportunity “for everyone on Earth … to observe and learn about the Moon together.”  Check the event’s website for organized happenings near you or just go outside and .. look up!

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 30

Tuesday-Wednesday, October 1-2

Tuesday-Thursday, October 1-3

Wednesday, October 2

Thursday, October 3

Friday, October 4- Thursday, October 10

Saturday, October 5

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