Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending June 18, 2021

Written by: Hanh Le

This week the House and Senate held hearings for FY2022 budget requests. Juneteenth becomes first new U.S. National Holiday in nearly 40 years. Pam Melroy was confirmed as NASA Deputy Administrator and Rick Spinrad also passed on voice vote to become NOAA Administrator.

Sign Up for Space Symposium 365

  • Register here to access key events and discussion with industry professionals, 365 days a year.
  • Upcoming panels and speakers:
    • June 30: New Generation Space Leaders – Space and Systems Change

Space Policy Updates

  • Brazil is the latest country to join the Artemis Accords. (NASA, June 15)
  • The Philippines and Japan sign a Memorandum of Cooperation to explore training and development of satellites together. (Rappler, June 15)
  • G7 Members joined together to commit to the safe and sustainable use of space. (, June 13)
  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson asked Senate appropriators to provide additional funding to support a second lunar lander developer. (SpaceNews, June 15)
  • Russia and China outlined plans for the international scientific lunar research station project. (TASS, June 16)
  • China’s Shenzhou-12 crewed spacecraft docked with Tianhe space station core module. (SpaceNews, June 17)
  • Senate passes NASA Authorization and Space Situational Awareness legislation as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. (Spacepolicyonline, June 8)
  • SpaceX ignored at least two warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration that launching its first high-altitude Starship prototype last December would violate the company’s launch license. (The Verge, June 15)
  • Vladimir Putin told NBC news that he wants continued space cooperation. (Spacepolicyonline, June 14)
  • At the House Armed Services Committee hearing, lawmakers questioned the Space Force over funding for cutting-edge technologies. (SpaceNews, June 16)

Space Industry Updates

  • An auction winner paid over $28 million for a ride with Jeff Bezos. (NY Times, June 13)
  • Dawn Aerospace and Colorado Air and Space Port have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding. (Dawn Aerospace, June 15)
  • Small launch vehicle company Launcher announced it is working on an orbital transfer vehicle for small satellites. (SpaceNews, June 15)
  • ESA selected a Venus orbiter, EnVision, to be the agency’s next medium-class science mission. (SpaceNews, June 10)
  • Pentagon: Diversify your orbital regimes. (Breaking Defense, June 14)
  • The beautify industry has a burgeoning love affair with outer space (Glossy, June 10)

Hearing spotlight

Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science Hearing
FY2022 NASA Budget Request
June 15th, 2021


  • NASA Administrator Senator Bill Nelson


  • Administrator Nelson emphasized the competition in space with China and the need for a larger budget to ensure United States leadership. He also discussed events at GLEX 2021 and to expect a statement from China and Russia regarding the moon base project.
  • Many Senators asked about the Human Landing Systems awards and whether achieving the Artemis 2024 goals would be feasible. Administrator Nelson requested additional funding for a second HLS provider to ensure competition and redundancy.
  • For additional notes on the hearing, read our summary here.

Dr. Eric Lander profile

In late May, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Dr. Eric Lander to become the 11th Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the first Director to serve in the President’s Cabinet, and as the President’s Science Advisor.

Lander’s nomination to be OSTP Director drew mixed reactions from the science community given his previous action around downplaying the work of CRISPR pioneers Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier. Lander stated his strong support of women in science and would “work to increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM careers by 50%.”

Dr. Lander formerly served as co-chair of the Obama Administration’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. A mathematician and geneticist, Dr. Lander worked on the Human Genome Project from 1990-2004. He also founded and led Harvard and MIT’s Broad Institute.  Dr. Lander is a professor of biology at MIT and a professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School. He is a Rhodes Scholar and a 1987 MacArthur Fellow.

Further Reading

FY2022 President’s Budget Request (PBR) for NASA Summary

  • The PBR proposed $24.8 billion for NASA, which is a 6.6% increase from FY2021 levels. This amount is slightly higher than the April 9th $24.7 billion request.
  • An important change was the increase in Science programs from $7.3 to $7.9 billion, which includes a $250 million increase for Earth Sciences.
  • The budget for Planetary Sciences also increased to $3.2 billion, of which $653.2 million would go to the Mars Sample Return program.
  • The budget would also continue the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope program but would cancel the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission, due to SOFIA’s high operation costs.

CNBC | SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell’s speech to 2021 graduates, urging educational reforms
By Michael Sheetz

  • Shotwell provided Northwestern’s students an overview of her career, declaring that she is “worried about our nation’s children.”
  • Shotwell further said: “We are not giving all of our children an education that will shape them into resourceful and productive people that our country needs to remain relevant. Every child is a resource to better our future and our future will be driven by technology.”

Additional Space Foundation Resources

Space Trivia

On June 16, 1963, Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, aboard the Vostok 6. (ESA)