Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending January 29, 2021

Written by: Hanh Le

This week, the space community honored the memory of the astronauts who perished in the Apollo 1, Space Shuttle Challenger, and Space Shuttle Columbia tragedies, as well as others who lost their lives in the pursuit of space exploration. The House announced key members for the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and the House Armed Services Committee.

Sign Up for “State of Space 2021,” Feb. 9, 10 a.m. EST

  • The State of Space 2021 program will showcase five unique perspectives from a select group of leaders in the space ecosystem:
    • Civil space with Dr. Kathy Sullivan, former NOAA Administrator/former NASA astronaut
    • Industry with Dr. Dave Kaufman, Senior Vice President, Ball Corporation; President, Ball Aerospace
    • National security with Gen. David Thompson, Vice Chief, U.S. Space Force
    • Finance/markets with Chris Quilty, Founder/Partner, Quilty Analytics
    • International space with Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, space expert and GMES & Africa Program Coordinator, African Union Commission

The Space Report Quarter 4, 2020 now available

  • The latest edition of The Space Report highlights that 2020 launch activity hit a 20-year high, and that total 2020 spacecraft deployment tripled the number deployed in 2019.
  • Commercial satellite deployments increased 477% from 2019 to 2020.
  • Orbital launches approached the high pace of the Space Shuttle era, with the highest five-year total since 1986–1990.
  • Download The Space Report Quarter 4 for more findings.

Sign Up for Space Symposium 365

  • Register here to follow key events and discussions with industry professionals, 365 days a year.
  • Upcoming panels and speakers:
    • Feb. 1 — “Construction on the Moon” panel
    • Feb. 3 — Lt. Gen. John E. Shaw, U.S. Space Force
    • Feb. 10 — “Women in Space Series” panel

Space Industry Updates

  • Glavkosmos, the commercial arm of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, plans to sell seats on Soyuz missions. (SpaceNews, Jan. 28)
  • NASA is seeking input on Europa Clipper launch options. (SpaceNews, Jan. 29)
  • Axiom announced its first private crew launch, for which passengers will be paying $55 million each to travel to the International Space Station. (The Verge, Jan. 26)
  • SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission presents a challenge for space traffic control. (SpaceNews, Jan. 22)
  • A proposal to replace the telescope at Arecibo Observatory could support space situational awareness. (SpaceNews, Jan. 22)
  • Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is joining Acorn, a private equity firm investing exclusively in aerospace, defense, and intelligence, as Senior Advisor. (Business Wire, Jan. 25)
  • Elon Musk is donating $100 million to carbon capture technology innovations. (, Jan. 21)
  • South African astronomy has a long, rich history of discovery — and a promising future. (, Jan. 23)

Space Policy Updates

  • Industry groups signed a letter to the White House asking that the National Space Council be retained. (Politico Space, Jan. 29)
  • Elon Musk lashed out at a “broken” FAA regulatory structure after SpaceX’s postponed Starship test. (Bloomberg, Jan. 29)
  • The U.S. Justice Department is probing SpaceX after receiving a complaint of hiring discrimination. (Reuters, Jan. 28)
  • James Dickinson, Commander of U.S. Space Command, released a “Commander’s Strategic Vision” document laying out broad goals for Space Command. (SpaceNews, Jan. 28)
  • Secretary of Commerce nominee Gina Raimondo testified in her Senate Confirmation hearing. (PBS, Jan. 26)
  • Matt Cartwright (D-PA) is the new subcommittee chair of the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee. (SpacePolicyOnline, Jan. 25)
  • The Colorado delegation to the U.S. Congress sent a letter to President Biden asking him to reconsider former President Trump’s decision to headquarter Space Command in Alabama. (SpacePolicyOnline, Jan. 26)
  • James Dickinson, Commander of U.S. Space Command, made a case for civilian space traffic control. (SpaceNews, Jan.26)
  • The U.S. Space Force ended its launch partnerships with Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman. (SpaceNews, Jan. 26)
  • In pressing for a new procurement process, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) said lawmakers are concerned with Space Force programs not keeping up with commercial space technology. (SpaceNews, Jan. 27)
  • Members serving on the House Armed Services Committee were announced. (Air Force Magazine, Jan. 27)
  • The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee GOP members were announced. (House Science GOP, Jan. 27)
  • The Senate Commerce Committee approved Pete Buttigieg’s nomination for Transportation Secretary, an appointment in which he will oversee commercial space transportation. (Washington Post, Jan. 27)

Additional Space Foundation Resources

  • The latest Space4U Podcast episode features Emily Carney, founder of the Space Hipsters Facebook group, and a writer highly knowledgeable on a number of human spaceflight topics.
  • The Space Report Quarter 4 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 | Green Run, yellow light
By Jeff Foust

  • The core stage of the SLS spent last year at Stennis Space Center going through Green Run tests. The final test just took place on January 17, but more than a minute into the test the engines shut down leaving the planned 2021 launch schedule in jeopardy. The article discusses options for the SLS after the test difficulties.

Space Trivia

Sixty-three years ago, on January 31, 1958, the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency launched Explorer-1 — the first U.S. satellite to be launched aboard a Jupiter-C rocket. The satellite later discovered the Van Allen radiation belts. (NASA)