What’s Happening in Space Policy September 8-14, 2019

What’s Happening in Space Policy September 8-14, 2019

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of September 8-14, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in session this week.

During the Week

Congress returns to work this week after a five (Senate) or six (House) week summer recess.  As usual, they face the grueling task of passing appropriations bills to avoid a government shutdown on October 1.  The House already passed 10 of the 12 regular appropriations bills.  The Senate has not even marked up any of its bills, although it will start that process this week.  Four of the bills are scheduled for markup first by subcommittee and then by full committee: Defense, Energy & Water, State-Foreign Ops, and Labor-HHS-Education.  No word yet on the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill that funds NASA and NOAA or the Transportation-HUD bill that funds FAA’s space office.

While the Senate is working on individual bills, House leadership plans to introduce a Continuing Resolution (CR) next week for all the departments and agencies. It does not think there is enough time to complete action on all 12 and is reluctant to pass some, but not all, of them as happened last year.  In case anyone has forgotten (it seems so long ago!), five of the bills passed before October 1 last year, but the others became part of a CR that then was allowed to lapse just before Christmas, resulting in a 35-day government shutdown.  Congress does not want another shutdown, but they didn’t want one last year either.  It was the President and his views are difficult to predict.  House leadership has not indicated how long its CR would last, but The Hill newspaper reports it probably will be November 22, just before the Thanksgiving recess.

Also on Capitol Hill this week, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) will hold a hearing on the nomination of Barbara Barrett to be the new Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF).  Matt Donovan has been Acting SecAF since Heather Wilson left at the end of May. A former SASC staffer, he was Under Secretary of the Air Force and presumably will return to that post when Barrett is confirmed. Thursday’s hearing will also consider the nomination of Ryan McCarthy to be Secretary of the Army, replacing Mark Esper who is now Secretary of Defense. McCarthy was Under Secretary before taking on the Acting Secretary job.  Neither of the nominations has been formally sent to the Senate yet, or at least they are not in the Senate’s nomination database yet.

Elsewhere, the American Astronautical Society’s (AAS’s) annual Wernher Von Braun symposium takes place in Huntsville, AL from Tuesday-Thursday in conjunction with Marshall Space Flight Center. Usually it’s in October, but with the International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2019) taking place here this year (October 21-25 in DC), they decided to do it earlier.  No surprise, the symposium is focused on the Artemis program.  Marshall manages the Space Launch System (SLS) and was just assigned to lead the human lunar lander program. The latter’s Acting Deputy Program Manager, Greg Chavers, is on a panel with NASA and industry officials working on the robotic lander side of things (Commercial Lunar Payload Services or CLPS). They include Camille Alleyne from Johnson Space Center, Sharad Bhaskaran from Astrobotic, and Seamus Tuohy from Draper.  The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA HQ manages CLPS. The panel’s moderator is  SMD’s Jay Jenkins and Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of SMD, will speak right after the panel.  There are a few non-Artemis speakers, such as Derek Tournear, Acting Director of DOD’s Space Development Agency.  The entire program looks excellent as always.  AAS often webcasts its conferences, but the link usually is not available until right before it begins.  We’ll add it to our calendar entry if we get one.

Speaking of IAC 2019, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and eight sister societies are sponsoring a series of events on Capitol Hill leading up to it.  The next one is this Wednesday and will focus on “Commercialization of LEO: What Does This Mean?”.  Speakers are Mike French, Vice President of Space Systems, Aerospace Industries Association (AIA, one of the sponsors of the series); Cindy Martin-Brennan, Director, Stakeholder Management, ISS National Lab (also known as CASIS); Jared Stout, Policy Advisor, Venable LLP (formerly with the National Space Council); and Sandy Magnus, co-chair of the IAC 2019 local organizing committee (former AIAA Executive Director, former astronaut).  [UPDATE: We just learned that Vince Boles will substitute for Sandy Magnus as moderator.  He is the other co-chair of the local organizing committee.]

Overseas, this is World Satellite Business Week, Euroconsult’s annual event in Paris, and ESA’s Earth Observation Φ-week (PhiWeek) in Frascati, Italy.  The latter will be livestreamed tomorrow (Monday).  And JAXA will launch its next cargo mission, HTV-8, to the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday (Eastern Daylight Time, Wednesday in Japan), the 10th anniversary of the launch of the first HTV.  If the launch takes place as scheduled, HTV-8 will arrive at ISS on Saturday EDT.  NASA TV will cover launch and arrival.

Lots of other interesting events, too.  “Summer” definitely is over and we’re back to the usual fast pace of the space policy world.

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 9

  • NOAA Science Advisory Board, virtual, 11:00-12:00 pm ET (register for remote access in advance–see instructions on NOAA’s website)

Monday-Friday, September 9-13

Tuesday, September 10

Tuesday-Thursday, September 10-12

Wednesday, September 11

Wednesday-Thursday, September 11-13

Thursday, September 12

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