Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending December 18, 2020

Written by: Hanh Le

Last week, the National Space Council met for the last time of the year at the Kennedy Space Center. President Trump signed a continuing resolution to keep the government funded until December 18. The Senate passed the final version of the NDAA (H.R. 6395) despite the President’s veto threat. This week, Congressional leaders have continued to negotiate a COVID-19 stimulus package, and the White House released Space Policy Directive-6 entitled the “National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion.”

Sign Up for Space Symposium 365

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  • More speakers and panels to come:
    • Dec. 21, 2020 – 20 Years of Partnership: The International Space Station Partners
    • Jan. 2021 – New Generation Space Leaders Panel: Unmute Yourself
    • Feb. 2021 – Dr. Derek Tournear
    • Feb. 2021 ­– Panel: The Navy’s Role in Space
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Space Industry Updates

  • San Francisco-area startup Astra’s rocket came shy of reaching orbit. Nonetheless, the company declared the launch a success. (CNBC, Dec. 15)
  • NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced an agreement to collaborate on the Artemis Gateway. (NASA, Dec. 16)
  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) formally inaugurated its space situational awareness control center in Bengaluru. (Times of India, Dec. 16)
  • Japanese scientists got their first peek inside the Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample-return capsule. (, Dec. 15)
  • Winners of the SpaceNews Awards were announced — some of this year’s recipients are the Mars Perseverance mission, the SpaceX Demo-2 mission, head of NASA’s Human Spaceflight Division Kathy Leuders, and Northrop Grumman. (SpaceNews, Dec. 14)
  • At the National Space Council meeting, NASA announced the “Artemis Team,” a group of 18 astronauts that will return to the Moon by 2024. (, Dec. 11)
  • Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (, Dec. 12)
  • The SpaceX Starship prototype SN8 achieved a major milestone with a historic launch test. (TechCrunch, Dec. 9)
  • Russia conducted a second test flight of its Angara-5 rocket after a six-year hiatus. (SpacePolicyOnline, Dec. 14)
  • Canada has secured two astronaut flights to the Moon, including one on Artemis II. (CSA, Dec. 16)
  • Comspoc, formerly part of Analytical Graphics Inc., now operates as a startup focused on space situational awareness. (SpaceNews, Dec. 16)

Space Policy Updates

  • The White House released Space Policy Directive-6, a “National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion.” (SpaceNews, Dec. 16)
  • Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond met with the Biden transition team. (SpaceNews, Dec. 15)
  • The Space Force celebrated its first birthday. (SpaceNews, Dec. 14)
  • U.S. Space Command announced that Russia conducted an anti-satellite missile test. (Twitter, Dec. 16)
  • Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation at the European Space Agency (ESA), was appointed as the next ESA Director General. (ESA, Dec. 17)
  • The House passed the Neil Armstrong Test Facility Act (S. 2472), and a bill to protect heritage sites on the Moon (S. 1694). (SpacePolicyOnline, Dec. 16)

Wednesday, Dec. 9: Eighth National Space Council (NSC) Meeting Summary

  • At the NSC meeting, a new national space policy was announced.
  • The policy outlines direction to agencies to advance U.S. interests in space, with emphasis on four areas: commercial, exploration and science, national security, and international cooperation. The policy directs for coordination at the highest level; a strategy for sustainable exploration and development to encourage U.S. commercial partnerships.
  • The creation of a new National Space Intelligence Center was announced, as was the Space Force’s designation as the newest member of the Intelligence Community.
  • The Department of Energy announced that it will soon publish a new space strategy on space technology.
  • The Department of Commerce also announced a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Defense on space situational awareness and sharing data to minimize collision risks.

Additional Space Foundation Resources

  • The latest Space4U Podcast episode features Sarah Noble – NASA program scientist for the 2022 Psyche mission to gather data and photos from a giant asteroid that was likely once a protoplanetary core.
  • 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 | Big bird, little bird: chasing Soviet anti-ballistic missile radars in the 1960s
By Dwayne A. Day

  • The article discusses the MABELI and TIVOLI satellites, as well as America’s reaction to the Soviet anti-ballistic missile radar (ABR) program and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) deterrence.

Space Trivia

Sixty-two years ago, on December 19, 1958, the Atlas Project Score satellite transmitted President Eisenhower’s voice with a Christmas message. This was the first transmission and reception of a human voice from space. (Source: NASA)

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