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Space Watch

Report from Washington

May is a traditionally busy month in Washington, D.C., and this was no exception. The Space Foundation's Washington, D.C., office was busy with a variety of events and activities, including briefings for decision-makers on The Space Report 2008: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity. Other highlights include the second Congressional Space Power Caucus breakfast of 2008 on May 21st, which the Space Foundation hosted, with the National Defense Industrial Association. A panel of experts, comprised of Ms. Davi D'Agostino, director, defense capabilities and management, Government Accountability Office, Mr. Joseph Rouge, director, National Security Space Office, and Mr. David Svetz, associate deputy director of national intelligence, technical collection, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and moderated by Dr. Michael O'Hanlon, The Brookings Institution, engaged in a lively discussion on national security space strategy.

On May 6th, the Space Foundation hosted a briefing on satellite communications for the government missions, especially the Department of Defense. Dr. Troy Meink, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks & Information Integration, addressed the broader issue of the department's military satellite communication needs, while Mr. Richard DalBello, vice president, external relations, Intelsat General, and Mr. Robert Demers, senior vice president, Government Relations, discussed the role of commercial satellite communications in both the public and private sector. The briefing was the latest in a continuing series of introductory briefings for congressional staffers and industry representatives.

The Space Foundation also hosted a Space Foundation Correspondents Group luncheon on May 14th with Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). Musk outlined the mission and future plans of SPaceX and fielded questions from reporters about the company, its contracts and future business plans, as well as his personal experiences as an entrepreneur in the space industry.

Meanwhile, Congress continues to write and pass legislation for government policy and spending in the upcoming fiscal year (FY09). Both the House and Senate have made important progress on the annual Intelligence Authorization bill. Additionally, the annual Department of Defense authorization legislation passed the floor of the House of Representatives, but has already drawn a veto threat from the White House. Both chambers are also coordinating on this year's NASA authorization bill, the first since 2005, with the House's version endorsing the agency's ongoing exploration initiative, while calling for balanced mission portfolios and additional funds to accelerate development and operation of the next generation human spaceflight system. Finally, legislation aimed at modernizing US export control laws passed the House in mid-May and has now been sent to the Senate for consideration.

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