What’s Happening in Space Policy August 9 – 15, 2020

 In COVID-19, Uncategorized, Space

Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of August 9 – 15, 2020 and any insight we can offer about them.  The con­gres­sion­al sched­ule is uncer­tain.

During the Week

The House and Senate planned to be in recess the rest of this month and through Labor Day, but their sched­ules are in flux as debate con­tin­ues over anoth­er coro­n­avirus relief pack­age. Congressional-White House nego­ti­a­tions broke down Friday night and yes­ter­day President Trump issued four exec­u­tive orders to cir­cum­vent Congress. His actions are stir­ring a lot of con­tro­ver­sy. One fellow Republican, Senator Ben Sasse, called them “uncon­sti­tu­tion­al slop.” Sasse was react­ing broad­ly to the use of exec­u­tive orders and specif­i­cal­ly to the one yes­ter­day defer­ring pay­roll tax with­hold­ing, but it wouldn’t be sur­pris­ing for the charge to made about others that involve spend­ing money Congress hasn’t appro­pri­at­ed, like extend­ing aug­ment­ed unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits. Under the Constitution, only Congress has the power of purse and agen­cies that spend money that hasn’t been appro­pri­at­ed may be in vio­la­tion of the Anti-Deficiency Act.

Whether Trump’s actions moti­vate Congress to reach a dif­fer­ent deal and/or lead to court chal­lenges remains to be seen.

In any case, the House is sched­uled only to have pro forma ses­sions (i.e., no record­ed votes), but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D‑MD) said on July 31 that the House is expect­ed to meet during August to pass a coro­n­avirus relief bill. He promised ade­quate notice if Members must return to D.C.  The Senate is still in ses­sion and meets tomor­row (Monday), but there are no com­mit­tee meet­ings and no roll call votes. Senators also were told they’d get ade­quate notice to return if needed. Nominations and leg­is­la­tion can pass by unan­i­mous con­sent in the Senate, though, so things can happen with only a few Senators present. Greg Autry’s nom­i­na­tion to be NASA’s CFO con­ceiv­ably could come up. It’s been placed on the “priv­i­leged cal­en­dar” of non-con­tro­ver­sial nominations.They are con­sid­ered under expe­dit­ed pro­ce­dures that bypass the com­mit­tee approval process. The same pro­ce­dure was used for NASA’s pre­vi­ous two CFOs.

Some Senators had been trying to get the NASA autho­riza­tion bill (S. 2800) passed by unan­i­mous con­sent, but, as Politico report­ed on Friday, it hit a snag because of objec­tions to lan­guage Sen. Cory Gardner (R‑CO) added during com­mit­tee markup and now prob­a­bly won’t be con­sid­ered until September.  One Gardner amendment requires GAO reviews of NASA con­tracts with “any NASA con­trac­tor that ben­e­fits from sig­nif­i­cant finan­cial assis­tance from China” to deter­mine if they are being “lever­aged” by the Chinese gov­ern­ment with regard to trans­fers of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty or tech­nol­o­gy. The other requires NASA, when award­ing con­tracts or other agree­ments, to “take into account” the “impli­ca­tions” of any ben­e­fit received by the “com­mer­cial or non-com­mer­cial entity (or any other com­mer­cial or non-com­mer­cial entity relat­ed through own­er­ship, con­trol, or other affil­i­a­tion to such entity)” through a sig­nif­i­cant loan or other finan­cial assis­tance from China. Politico cites an unnamed House staffer who said the House is con­sid­er­ing sim­i­lar lan­guage and used Elon Musk’s SpaceX as an exam­ple of a com­pa­ny that could be impact­ed because Musk also owns Tesla which has a man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty in China. But other aero­space com­pa­nies do busi­ness with China.  FYI, the bill also includes lan­guage sim­i­lar to the “Wolf amend­ment” that is incor­po­rat­ed into NASA’s annual appro­pri­a­tions bills restrict­ing bilat­er­al space coop­er­a­tion with China, but that does not appear to be con­tro­ver­sial.

Apart from what­ev­er does or does not happen in Congress, this coming week is thank­ful­ly qui­eter than the last few.

Space Tech Expo|USA is taking place vir­tu­al­ly Monday-Thursday. Each day has a spe­cif­ic theme (note times on the agenda are Pacific Time; add 3 for Eastern). Monday is open­ing day with a keynote by Virgin Orbit and two fire­side chats on topics with titles far too long to restate here, but look inter­est­ing. Tuesday is devot­ed to Smart and Additive Manufacturing, Wednesday is Software & Security, and Thursday is Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing in LEO and Beyond.

On Wednesday after­noon, Astroscale and the Secure World Foundation (SWF) offer a vir­tu­al class about on-orbit ser­vic­ing. Astroscale describes it as a series of 15-minute lec­tures fol­lowed by a Q&A ses­sion with the lec­tur­ers mod­er­at­ed by Loren Grush of The Verge. Those lec­tur­ers are Bhavya Lal from STPI, Ben Reed from NASA, Jeremy Schiel from CONFERS and Orbit Fab, Carissa Christensen from Bryce Space and Technology, Charity Weeden from Astroscale, and Pamela Meredith from KMA Zuckert. They will be joined by Peter Martinez, Executive Director of SWF, and Brian Weeden, who also works for SWF but is par­tic­i­pat­ing in his capac­i­ty as Executive Director of CONFERS.

The Aerospace Corporation has its next Space Policy Show on Thursday. This week’s event is about posi­tion­ing, nav­i­ga­tion and timing (PNT) sys­tems like GPS. “Responsible Use of PNT for National Resilience” fea­tures two Aerospace Corp. experts, Tom Powell and Lori Gordon, talk­ing with Jim Platt of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about President Trump’s February 2020 Executive Order on that topic. Platt is the Department Lead for PNT, Electromagnetic Pulse and Space Weather at DHS.

The Mitchell Institute has a webi­nar on Thursday about the need for spe­cial­ized acqui­si­tion offices fea­tur­ing the heads of the Space Rapid Capabilities Office and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The live event is by invi­ta­tion only, but they promise to post a record­ing the same day.

And that’s all we have for this week at the moment. Check back through­out the week for others we learn about later and add to our Calendar.

Monday-Thursday, August 10 – 13

Wednesday, August 12

Thursday, August 13

Source: Space Policy Online

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