Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending December 4, 2020

Written by: Hanh Le

Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill this week for the last meetings and committee hearings of the year. Senator-elect Mark Kelly (D-AZ) became the fourth astronaut elected to Congress when he was sworn in on Wednesday. There are several items on the Congressional agenda, including the finalizing of FY2021 appropriations and negotiating a stimulus bill. Next week, House members will vote to pass the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act: Advancing America’s Security. The next meeting of the National Space Council will be on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Sign Up for Space Symposium 365

  • Sign up for Space Symposium 365, a year-round digital platform for learning, collaborating, and conducting business within the global space community.
  • More speakers to come:
    • Tuesday, Dec. 9 – Workforce Perspectives panel: “A View from Industry Leaders and New Generation Professionals”
    • Friday, Dec. 11 – John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr. Award presentation featuring JPL Director Dr. Michael Watkins
    • Tuesday, Dec. 15 – Featured speaker: Update with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, Brig. Gen. Wayne R. Monteith, USAF (Ret.)
  • Register here to learn more, and to follow all the key events and discussions with industry professionals, 365 days a year.

Space Industry Updates

  • NASA selected four companies: Lunar Outpost, Masten Space Systems, ispace Europe, and ispace Japan to collect space resources. (NASA, Dec. 3)
  • Telesat and Loral Space & Communications will merge to form a Canadian public company rebranded as Telesat Corp. (SpaceNews, Nov. 24)
  • The Chinese Chang’e 5 lander gathered the first moon samples collected in more than 40 years. (, Dec. 1)
  • The aging Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico unexpectedly collapsed shortly after it was announced that it would be decommissioned. (The Verge, Dec. 1)
  • Former CEO of Mojave Air & Space, Karina Drees, will be the new president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. (, Nov. 30)
  • Blue Origin announced its new advisory board members. (SpaceNews, Dec. 1)

Space Policy Updates

  • During a Thanksgiving call with representatives from the military, President Trump talked about his personal efforts in establishing the Space Force. (SpaceNews, Nov. 28)
  • Astroscale’s ELSA-d mission to clean up space junk will launch atop a Soyuz rocket in March 2021. (, Nov. 24)
  • STARCOM, the Space Force’s training and readiness unit, is determining the doctrine, skills, and space tech professionals it will need for orbital warfare. (Breaking Defense, Nov. 30)
  • The Space Force and the Air Force Research Laboratory will partner to develop the Defense Deep Space Sentinel (D2S2). (Breaking Defense, Nov. 30)
  • A failed power unit inside the Orion capsule could take months to fix. (The Verge, Nov. 30)
  • A test launch of China’s Long March 9 super heavy launch vehicle for crewed lunar, robotic deep space exploration, and space infrastructure missions is planned for “around 2030.” (SpaceNews, Nov. 30)
  • A potential collision between India’s Cartosat-2F satellite and Russia’s Kanopus-V satellite was avoided. (India Today, Nov. 29)
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai will leave his post on Jan. 20, 2021. (SpaceNews, Nov. 30)
  • Mike Rogers (R-AL) was endorsed by the House Steering Committee for a top position on the House Armed Services Committee. (Politico, Dec. 1)
  • House Democrats elected Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) as the Appropriations Chair. (Politico, Dec. 3)

Additional Space Foundation Resources

  • The latest Space4U Podcast episode features John Olver, founder of Emisshield, Inc., a company that adapted a NASA heat-shield technology to create a protective ceramic coating that makes commercial materials more thermally efficient.
  • The Space Report Quarter 3 is available here.
  • Online learning, lesson plans, and video lessons for students grades K–12 are available at the Discovery Center website.

Further Reading

The Space Review | An iconic observatory faces its demise
By Jeff Foust

  • The article discusses the Arecibo Observatory’s history and the recent damage caused by a broken main cable, which led the National Science Foundation to begin decommissioning of the telescope.

Space Trivia

Sixty-six years ago, on Nov. 30, 1954, Elizabeth Hodges became the only human known to have been injured by the direct impact of a meteorite when one crashed into her house in Sylacauga, Alabama. (Source: