Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending July 16, 2021

Written by: Hanh Le

This week, Richard Branson and the Unity 22 crew, comprised of Sirisha Bandla, Beth Moses, Coplin Bennet, and pilots Michael Masucci and Dave Mackay, successfully completed the first fully crewed flight for Virgin Galactic and made a giant leap towards commercial suborbital spaceflight. Next week, Blue Origin will fly the oldest and youngest people ever to go into space.

The House Appropriations Committee held several markups and approved the FY2022 defense appropriations bill and the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill.

The Space Report Q2 2021 now available

  • The 2021 Q2 edition reports that the global space economy in 2020 grew by 4.4% to nearly $447 billion from a revised 2019 total. While government spending was down slightly more than 1%, commercial revenue in 2020 grew 6.6%, reaching $356.68 billion.
  • S. military space spending increased by more than 6% in 2020 but over the past decade, represents a 2.3% reduction.
  • Space employment in European nations climbed to more than 50,000 in 2020, posting a 42% increase since 2010.
  • Visit our page to purchase The Space Report. Contact us to receive a free Key Takeaways document.

Tom Zelibor discusses global space economy on BBC

Space Foundation CEO, Adm. Tom Zelibor, joined BBC World News and discussed with Christian Fraser about The Space Report’s findings on the global space economy and workforce development in the space industry.  Zelibor also provided commentary on the growth of commercial space revenue and explained the history of government and civil space spending.

[Download here]

Start Here for Space series

Space Foundation’s Start Here for Space is a free series on our virtual platform. The series will consist of 20 minutes videos that aim to provide a foundation on emerging space issues and current space events. Our first season will feature episodes ranging from space debris to the Artemis Accords.

  • Register here to access the series, free 365 days a year, on Symposium 365 website.
  • Tune in every Tuesday at 1pm EDT for new episodes.
  • Watch our latest episode on Space Weather and the Space Weather Advisory Group by Dr. Jinni Meehan (NOAA).

Space Policy Updates

  • Russia will launch its Nauka laboratory module to the ISS this month (com, July 13)
  • The Federal Aviation Administration approves a Blue Origin license for human space travel (Reuters, 7/13)
  • The House Appropriations Committee made progress this week in approving the appropriations bill that fund NASA, NOAA and the FAA space office. (com, July 12)
  • Next Thursday, July 22, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on space situational awareness and orbital debris. (Twitter, July 15)
  • House Appropriations Committee released the Report for FY2022 NASA Appropriations, including a $150M additional to the PBR for HLS and creation of Suborbital Crew program. (gov, July 15)

Space Industry Updates

  • NASA released the announcement seeking proposals for building commercial low Earth orbit space facilities to replace the International Space Station. (gov, July 14)
  • SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launch of 88 satellites was delayed by a wayward plane (com, July 1)
  • NASA awards the $531 million engineering services contract to Aerodyne and KBR Joint Venture (KBR, July 8)
  • China launched five Earth observation satellites on Long March 2D rocket (Spaceflight Now, July 6)
  • Space for Humanity opens new applications for citizen astronauts to go to space (PR Newswire, July 9)
  • NASA selects Moog Inc. to power and control the VIPER lunar rover (Moon Daily, July 9)
  • 600 people from 58 different countries have reserved $250,000 tickets to fly to space with Virgin Galactic (Business Insider, July 10)
  • Planet will go public in a $2.8 billion deal with a SPAC. (SpaceNews, July 7)
  • Virgin Orbit launches seven satellites on its third-ever space mission (com, July 1)
  • See photos of the VSS Unity 22 mission. (com, July 14)
  • Blue Origin reveals Oliver Daemen will fly on the July 20th launch along with Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk. (CNBC, July 15)

Wally Funk profile

Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, an aviator, was selected to launch along Jeff Bezos in a suborbital flight on July 20th.  Spaceflight has been her lifelong dream and she will be the oldest person to launch into space.

She became a professional aviator and was the first woman to complete the FAA’s General Aviation Operations Inspector Academy course. She logged more than 19,600 flight hours. In the 1974, she became the first female Air Safety Investigator in the National Transportation Safety Board.

In the 1960s, she participated in the Women in Space program and was part of the Mercury 13 group. Despite the female candidates completing rigorous physical and mental training, NASA cut the program. Since then, Funk has been rejected three more times by NASA but continued to pursue her dream of going to space, including buying a ticket with Virgin Galactic.

In addition to her pilot license, she also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education at Oklahoma State University.

Further Reading

Ars Technica | Here’s why Richard Branson’s flight matters- and, yes, it really matters.
By Eric Berger

  • The author discusses the history of commercial spaceflight and outlines the future envisioned by billionaires.

Additional Space Foundation Resources

Space Trivia

On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. (NASA)