Public Policy and Government Affairs

September Washington, D.C., Space Activity Wrap-up

Written by: Hanh Le

Washington DC in the fall

Space Industry Updates

The week of Sept. 19, the Artemis program was criticized in several House oversight hearings. On Sept. 23, NASA signed a contract with Lockheed Martin for six to 12 Orion spacecraft to be built at Johnson Space Center in Texas. Previously, NASA’s decision to award Alabama’s Marshall Spaceflight Center the leading role in the human lunar lander solicitation drew scrutiny from members of the Texas congressional delegation.

This week, FCC Commissioner Michael O’ Rielly voiced his support for the C-Band Alliance, praising the Alliance’s “speedy solution” since a “public auction is a tedious process.” The Commissioner further called for an additional “300 megahertz for cellular 5G services.”

Capitol Hill Updates

Congress is gearing up for the start of the next Fiscal Year (FY2020) on Oct. 1, but will take a two-week recess in the beginning of October. First votes will take place on October 15 at 6:30 p.m. (House) and 5:30 p.m. (Senate).

This week, the Senate confirmed Ryan McCarthy as the new Army Secretary on Thursday, Sept. 26. On the same day, the Senate also confirmed Gen. John Hyten, USAF, as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs.

Although the Senate Armed Services Committee advanced Barbara Barrett’s nomination to the floor as Air Force Secretary, her confirmation was temporarily blocked by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) due to concerns about government spending at Trump-owned properties. However, Barrett’s confirmation vote is expected swiftly after the Senate returns in October. Barrett’s confirmation will start the Air Force’s official decision-making process about where the the new Space Command will be headquartered. The contestants are Buckley AFB, Vandenberg AFB, Peterson AFB, Cheyenne Mountain AFB, Redstone Arsenal, and Schriever AFB.

Also on Sept. 26, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced to the Senate a $22.75 billion request of NASA funding by a vote of 31-0.

Washington D.C. & Capitol Hill Updates
(Sept. 18 – 27)

Sept. 18

House Science Committee Hearing: “Developing Core Capabilities for Deep Space Exploration: SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems”

House Science Committee met to discuss the progress of SLS, Orion and EGS as well as the drivers of cost growth and schedule challenges. The witnesses for the hearing were Kenneth Bowersox, Cristina Chaplain, and Doug Cooke. Bowersox is the acting associate administrator after Administrator Bridenstine dismissed Bill Gersteinmaier.

Both Rep. Horn (D-OK) and Rep. Johnson (D-TX) questioned NASA’s dismissal of Gersteinmaier without having a replacement ready.

Several, such as Rep. Brooks, expressed concerns regarding Artemis’ reliance on commercial launches to launch Gateway as part of NASA’s mixed fleet approach. Previously, Doug Cooke wrote an op-ed urging NASA to accelerate Exploration Upper Stage development and bypass Gateway, which Bowersox pushed back on, arguing “flexibility” as the main reason.

According to the charter, over 3,800 suppliers and 60,000 workers across all 50 states support SLS, Orion, and EGS programs.

Minority Serving Institution STEM Achievement ACT (H.R. 4372) introduced

Chairwoman of the House Science Committee Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) introduced the bill to support research on how Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) contribute to the STEM workforce.

The bill was introduced as an effort to increase the number of STEM graduates entering the workforce to reflect the “diversity of the nation.”

Rep. Waltz mentioned that “minorities make up 27% of the U.S. population but “only [account] for 11% of the STEM workforce” and urged to build on STEM workforce in “places with high-tech jobs like Florida’s Space Triangle.”


Sept. 24

Hearing – mark up of FY2020 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

The Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies held a hearing on the CJS bill which discusses funding for space exploration, scientific research, and many other government activities.

According to Chairman Moran’s statement, the bill funds NOAA at $5.3 billion and NASA at $22.75 billion

In his statement, Chairman Moran also discussed Artemis’ role in securing America’s leadership in human space exploration, and that the funding will help NASA achieve its Moon goal in 2024.

House Science Committee Briefing – “A Day without Space: Enabling American Commerce”

The Space Foundation partnered with GPS Innovation Alliance and CompTIA’s Space Enterprise Council to host a panel discussion on how space technologies have helped various industries in the United States with attendance from key industry leaders and congressional staffers from both the House and Senate.

Congresswoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) provided a keynote for the briefing and Thomas Dorame shared opening remarks.

The panelists were Deborah Lawrence (FAA), David Sambrano (United Airlines), Curtis Hay (General Motors), and Ajay Mehta (NOAA).

Lawrence emphasized GPS technology has allowed shorter flight time, which improved efficiency of air traffic navigation, while also reducing noise pollution and the workload for air traffic control (ATC) officers.

Sambrano outlined how satellite communications drastically changed the aviation industry in terms of comfort and safety for pilots and passengers. Hay discussed GPS’s role in road safety, and Mr. Mehta emphasized NOAA’s use of satellites for national security and weather forecasting.

The panelists further commented on existing vulnerabilities satellites face, such as disruption from software glitches, solar storms, and exposure to GPS jamming devices. Sambrano further commented that 5G introduction may interfere with existing spectrums.


Sept. 26

Hearing: Senate Appropriations Committee mark up

The Appropriations Committee voted in support of the commerce, justice and science (CJS) spending bill to move forward to the Senate. The Committee approved $22.75 billion for NASA.

The Committee’s report called the amended budget “an ambitious plan for NASA” regarding Artemis 2024 objectives.

After the full Senate discusses the bill, both the House and Senate will attempt to settle differences in defense spending. Sen. Shelby expressed his concern that a year-long CR is “not the outcome lots of us are hoping for.”

The Senate also passed a continuing resolution (CR) that was passed in the House last week, dodging a government shutdown. NASA Administrator Bridenstine has previously suggested without any anomaly or budget amendment in the CR would prevent the start of lunar lander program.

President Trump needs to sign the CR by Sept. 30.

STEM Opportunities Act of 2019 (H.R. 2528) listed for consideration under suspension in House

The House listed the bill for possible consideration under suspension of the rules this week.

The bill needs two-thirds majority to pass.

The bill would authorize $164 million to increase STEM participation for underrepresented groups in a five-year period, and authorize $15 million in grants to study methods to increase participation of underrepresented minorities in undergraduate STEM education to the National Science Foundation from FY2020 – 2024.

House Science Committee Hearing – “Understanding, Forecasting and Communicating Extreme Weather in a Changing Climate”

The House Science Committee met to discuss the causes and state of forecasting extreme weather events. In her statement, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) reiterated the need to “better integrate the social and behavioral sciences in our weather enterprise” since “our biases can impact the forecasting process… and how the public interprets forecasts.”

In his statement, Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) highlights Oklahoma’s National Weather Center activities, asking the Committee to look “to the Oklahoma Mesonet as a model” in improving forecast and communication.

The panelists were: Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd (University of Georgia – Atmospheric Sciences Program & American Meteorological Society), Dr. James Done (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Dr. Adam Sobel (Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate, Columbia University), Dr. Berrien Moore (National Weather Center, University of Oklahoma), and Dr. Ann Bostrom (University of Washington).

Dr. Bostrom discussed how people have “failed to forestall catastrophic damages” as “people tend to be more prepared for an event when they have prior experience of it” and requested for scientific leadership and capacity building. Dr. Sobel urged for federal science agencies to invest in “open-sourced tools to assess changing extreme weather risk … available for the insurance industry and the private sector … to inform cost-benefit calculations … to increase resilience.” Dr. Done emphasized “a deeper integration of science and practice is urgently needed … [for] military readiness and sustain economic competitiveness.”

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Briefing – “Space Weather as a Global Challenge” 2019

In the evening, the Space Foundation attended a panel by Secure World Foundation and the State Department that discussed the impacts of space weather and potential collaboration efforts in modeling and prediction.

The panelists were Jean-Luc Bald (First Secretary, Space Global Issues, European Union Delegation), Mark Harvey (National Security Council), Jeff O’ Neil (Office of Congressman Ed Perlmutter [CO-07]), Geoffrey Reeves (Benchmark Working Group), moderated by Josh Wolny (Secure World Foundation).

The panelists outlined benchmarks, their interests in increasing awareness of threats for infrastructure owners, commitment to address challenges in space weather communication with commercial sectors, risk specific plans, implications for space situational awareness (SSA) and reiterated international collaboration such as the European Space Agency’s “Horizon 2020” plan.


Sept. 27

Space Breakfast – Stand up of USSPC with Gen. John Raymond (U.S. Space Command and Air Force Space Command)

Gen. John Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command, spoke at an AFA breakfast in Washington, D.C.  Gen. Raymond reviewed work completed throughout the past 16 months since the creation of Space Command was announced.

Gen. Raymond spoke about the importance of “pivoting to space,” noting that the National Defense Strategy (NDS) requires such a pivot because of U.S. reliance on space assets. He emphasized that “we are not doing space for space’s sake.”

A major change in space posture over the past few years has been the integration of the Five-Eyes and other international partners into space warfighting plans and preparations. The “Joint Space Operations Center” was renamed the “Combined Space Operations Center” to reflect the international nature of its composition. International Five-Eyes partners now support Operation Olympic Defender, a U.S.-led space deterrence coalition. The U.S. is increasing use of hosted payloads, including a hosted payload arrangement with Norway, and an SSA sensor on a Japanese Satellite.

Gen. Raymond mentioned the success of the Air Chiefs Conference at the Space Foundation’s Space Symposium and noted they are planning a follow-up next year. Additionally, international partners, including Japan, have been invited to the Schriever Wargame.

While U.S. Space Command builds upon the heritage of its previous incarnation (1985–2001), this is “a different command built for a different time.” The modern U.S. Space Command is a geographic combatant command, not a functional COCOM, and has an area of responsibility beginning at 100km above mean sea level. Gen Raymond noted that Space Command will have a closer integration with the IC, including having operational control of NRO assets during times of conflict.

Gen. Raymond emphasized the “four Ds.” Space Command will: Deter hostile actors, Deliver capabilities to the warfighter, Defend space assets, and Develop space operators.


Upcoming Events

• Oct. 8: Space Foundation International Student Art Contest Reception at the Canadian Embassy.

• The Canadian Embassy will be hosting a reception in support of the Space Foundation’s annual International Student Art Contest.

• Oct. 21–25: Space Foundation at IAC 2019 in Washington, D.C.

• The Space Foundation will be participating at IAC 2019.

• There will be a reception with SGAC from 4:00–5:45 p.m. at the SGAC Booth.

# # #