Report from Washington, D.C.

Space Foundation Rolls Out The Space Report 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Written by: developer

by Brendan Curry, Vice President - Washington Operations

It was an active month on Capitol Hill with a number of space policy hearings. Things got started on July 7 when the House Science, Space and Technology's Subcommittee on the Environment held a hearing entitled, "Examining the Nation's Current and Next Generation Weather Satellite Programs." The purpose of holding the hearing was to assess currently operational weather satellites, but also the progress being made on planned future systems. There was also an examination of new, unique and entrepreneurial partnerships that can ensure more timely and affordable weather forecasts.

The following week there were two space hearings on the same day. On July 12, the House Science, Space and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Subcommittee on Research and Technology held an unusual joint hearing entitled, "Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrobiology." The purpose of the hearing was to examine space and ground-based astronomy, astrophysics and astrobiology programs, projects and activities. The assessment included efforts at NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and academia.

On the same day, the House Committee on Small Business' Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade held a hearing entitled, "Ready for Liftoff: The Importance of Small Businesses in the NASA Supply Chain." The purpose was to assess how NASA is handling small businesses, especially in the wake of the Space Shuttle retirement. Small businesses face challenges in working with NASA in the gap years until NASA's next generation manned space systems become operational. Also examined was how NASA and small businesses are working to minimize impacts to small business suppliers and contractors.

On July 13, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness held a hearing entitled, "NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration." The hearing focused on the importance of ensuring consistency in policy to best leverage investments made in human space exploration. Also addressed were questions facing the agency relating to the upcoming presidential transition. It should be noted that both houses of Congress and both political parties in Congress are working to ensure NASA and its mission are not disrupted unnecessarily by transition to a new presidency.

On July 14, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced a resolution honoring the 40th anniversary of the landing of NASA's Viking probe on Mars on July 20, 1976. Viking was the first probe to land successfully and carry out its mission on the surface of Mars.

Also in July, the Space Foundation rolled out the 2016 update of its annual report on global space activity The Space Report. Space Foundation Director of Research and Analysis, Micah Walter-Range, oversees the research, writing and production of The Space Report, and on July 19 he held a briefing for officials from the White House, and later gave a larger briefing on Capitol Hill. Learn more about The Space Report here.

This article is part of Space Watch: August 2016 (Volume: 15, Issue: 8).