Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending July 10, 2020

Written by: Hanh Le

It was another busy markup week for House appropriators following last week’s House Armed Services Committee’s full markup of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act. For the space industry, the focus was on the FY2021 Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee appropriations bill for NASA and other agencies. For many appropriators, such as Reps. Jose Serrano (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Martha Roby (R-AL), and Tom Graves (R-GA), this was their last subcommittee
markup before retiring.

Space Foundation Event Highlights

Space Policy Pod: Episode 5 – Dr. Bhavya Lal

  • Our new episode of the Space Policy Pod features Dr. Bhavya Lal.
  • Lal leads strategy, technology assessment, and policy studies and analyses at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) Science and Technology Policy Institute for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Space Council, and other federal space-oriented organizations including NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Intelligence Community.

 Space Industry Updates

  • Blue Origin delivered its BE-4 rocket engine to United Launch Alliance for the main stage of the Vulcan rocket. (Twitter, July 1)
  • OneWeb announced that it has been acquired by the British government and the Indian company Bharti Global for a combined $1 billion. The deal is awaiting regulatory approval and is expected to close by the end of this year. (Via Satellite, July 3)
  • Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket failed to reach orbit due to problems during its second stage burn. (SpaceNews, July 4)
  • L3Harris launched a new demonstrator satellite for the U.S. Air Force. (C4ISRNET, July 6)
  • Collins Aerospace, Raytheon, and Technology Advancement Group (TAG) were awarded contracts to develop GPS handheld devices for the U.S. military. (SpaceNews, July 8)

 Space Policy Updates

  • Twenty-six states submitted bids to host U.S. Space Command. The Air Force will announce the winner in January 2021. (SpaceNews, July 5)
  • According to a draft proposal, the U.S. Space Force Pentagon headquarters will have a leaner structure, led by a four-star general and a four-star vice chief. (SpaceNews, July 7)
  • Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Pentagon to first consider buying commercial remote sensing imagery. (Breaking Defense, July 7)
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee ordered the Pentagon to provide Combatant Commander’s alternate position, navigation and timing (PNT) systems to GPS by 2023. (Breaking Defense, July 7)
  • House Republicans were critical of the FY2021 commerce, justice and science subcommittee appropriations bill, asserting that it inadequately funds NASA. (SpaceNews, July 8)
  • Will Pomerantz, Vice President for Special Projects at Virgin Orbit, is leading a campaign urging NASA to rename the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi due to the namesake former senator’s support for racial segregation. (The New York Times, July 9)

Additional Space Foundation Resources

  • The latest Space4U Podcast episode features Paul Lockhart – former NASA Astronaut who piloted the STS-111 and STS-113 missions aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
  • Online learning, lesson plans, and video lessons for students grades K–12 are available at the Discovery Center website.

Space Legislation Updates

FY2021 House Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee Appropriations

  • The House Appropriations Committee’s press release and text of the bill were released on
    July 7.
  • The committee rejected NASA’s budget increase request. Instead, the bill would fund NASA at FY2020 levels, with $22.6 billion ($3 billion less than requested).
  • The bill would provide $628.2 million for a Human Landing System (HLS), direct $403.5 million to the Europa Clipper mission, and increase Space Launch System (SLS) funding to $2.6 billion.

Space Trivia

Sixty-one years ago, Project Mercury astronauts completed disorientation tests on the Multiple Axis Space Test Inertia Facility (MASTIF), also known as the “gimbal rig.” The simulator was composed of three tubular aluminum cages that travelled at speeds of up to 30 revolutions per minute to simulate “tumble-type” maneuvers during spaceflight. (Source: NASA)