Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending July 30, 2021

Written by: Hanh Le

This week, the Senate confirmed Frank Kendall III to be the 26th Air Force secretary in a voice vote. The Senate moved forward through procedural votes on the major infrastructure bill. President Biden nominated John Plumb, chief of government relations at the Aerospace Corporation, to be assistant secretary of defense for space policy.

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.

‘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.
  • The next episode will be on On-Orbit Satellite Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing, presented by Rachel McNeal, Maxar.

House Committee on Commerce, Science, Technology
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Summary

Witnesses: Mr. Robert Gibbs, Associate Administrator for the Mission Support Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration


  • NASA infrastructure is falling behind. 2013 marked the last time the subcommittee examined infrastructure. This will have huge implications on NASA’s progress and scientific innovation.
  • Subcommittee Chairman Don Beyer (D-VA), Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX) emphasized the severity of infrastructure challenges and the need for updated facilities and maintenance.
  • Democratic members highlighted impacts of climate change on centers, especially those located on coastal facilities.
  • Gibbs said NASA’s current infrastructure is the “single greatest threat to mission success”
  • Gibbs confirmed that the backlog in maintenance is not impacting SLS / Orion.

Space Policy Updates

  • Jeff Bezos in an open letter addressed to NASA, offered to bridge the HLS budgetary funding shortfall by waiving up to $2 billion in all payments for the next three years. (Blue Origin, July 26)
  • Germany establishes new command dedicated to space (DefenseNews, July 14)
  • The Isle of Man government expresses support for the Artemis Accords. (Isle of Man, July 27)
  • U.S. Space Force plans to fund development of tech for new types of launch (Breaking Defense, July 14)
  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson remains confident Congress will provide additional funding for second HLS award. (SpaceNews, July 30)
  • The House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee raised concerns about U.S. space launch infrastructure and asked questions on Department of Defense’s procurement of commercial space data. (SpaceNews, July 27)
  • FAA warns SpaceX that Starship launch tower in Texas remains unapproved and will be included in the agency’s ongoing environmental review of the facility in Boca Chica. (CNBC, July 15)
  • Biden tapped Maj. Gen. Michael Guetlein, deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office, to lead new Space Systems Command (C4ISRnet, July 15)
  • House appropriators passed a NASA spending bill with revised lunar landing and nuclear propulsion language. (SpaceNews, July 17)
  • The FCC is challenging a bid by SpaceX for $886 million in rural broadband subsidies. (Bloomberg, July 26)
  • The House Appropriations Committee held several markups and approved the FY2022 defense appropriations bill and the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill. (House Approps, July 15)

Space Industry Updates

  • Blue Origin’s Jarvis project entails developing a reusable second stage. (Ars Technica, July 27)
  • Nauka docking briefly knocking the station out of its normal altitude and forcing NASA to delay the Starliner test flight. (SpaceNews, July 29)
  • NASA selected SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy to launch Europa Clipper mission at $178 million. (SpaceNews, July 24)
  • Australian start-up Spiral Blue launched two computers on a small satellites to test in-orbit processing of Earth-observation images. (com, July 13)
  • Ofcom, British telecoms regulator, is proposing rule changes that could affect Starlink and OneWeb. (SpaceNews, July 26)
  • The Space Development Agency will be seeking bids for launch services under the National Security Space Launch program. (SpaceNews, July 26)
  • India is likely to launch Chandrayaan-3 during the third quarter of 2022. (New Indian Express, July 28)
  • Astroscale will be working with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Government of Japan on technologies to clean up space junk. (Astroscale, July 27)

Brian Babin Profile

Representative Brian Babin, D.D.S. is the United States Representative for Texas’s 36th Congressional District since his swearing in 2015.

He is the Ranking Member of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Within his congressional district, he represents NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) which is home to the astronaut corps, International Space Station mission operation, as well as the Orion program.

During his time in Congress, Representative Babin has been a vocal advocate for American involvement and leadership in space.

He is a strong supporter of NASA  and has put forth legislation to support the commercial space sector.

After receiving his degree from Lamar University, Representative Babin served in the United States Air Force from 1975-1979. After leaving the Air Force, he opened a dentist practice in Woodville, Texas, and concurrently began his involvement in local Republican politics. Over the course of the following four decades, Representative Babin served in various positions, including Mayor of Woodville.

Further Reading

The Space Review | China is using mythology and sci-fi to sell its space program to the world
By Molly Silk

  • The author discusses the naming of Chinese space programs after Chinese mythology and current blockbuster projects such as The Wandering Earth and novels such as the Three Body Problem.

Additional Space Foundation Resources

Space Trivia

On July 22, 1995, Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-70 landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The mission was to deploy a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-G) (NASA)