Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending September 24, 2021

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This week in Washington, the House passed the 61st consecutive National Defense Authorization Act, General Jay Raymond revealed the new Space Force Uniforms as well as the “Guardian Ideal,” and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced Jim Free as the first lead of a new Mission Directorate overseeing the Artemis Mission.

Symposium 365 Upcoming Event

World Space Week 2021 – Women in Space panel – Tomorrow’s Space Jobs Are Here Today

  • Tune in to our panel of Women Space Leaders discussing their unique space jobs, and how space is better when it represents a diverse background of thought
  • If you would like to revisit any of our content; panels and speaker sessions are available year-round on Symposium 365.

Hearing Summary

House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee Hearing: NASA’s Future in Low-Earth Orbit and Considerations for ISS Extension and Transition
September 21, 2021

  • Witnesses include Robyn Gatens, Director of International Space Station, NASA, Dr. Kate Rubins, Astronaut, NASA, Mr. Jeffrey Manber, CEO, Nanoracks, Mr. Todd Harrison, Senior Fellow and Director of the Aerospace Security Project, CSIS, Captain William Shepherd (USN, Retired), former Navy Seal and Astronaut, NASA
  • Members highlighted with the witnesses that the 2017 NASA Authorization Bill requires a transition plan for the International Space Station, and further requirements should be brought to Congress
  • NASA stated there was no engineering issues that would impede access to ISS through 2030
  • All witnesses agreed and highlighted the importance of the work done on the ISS, both with scientific advances, as well as international partnerships.

Hearing Summary

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Subcommittee on Environment Hearing: Advancing Earth System Science and Stewardship at NOAA
September 23, 2021

  • The witness was Richard W. Spinrad, PhD., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Members highlighted that NOAA is a unique agency that provides essential services and products and that NOAA’s observations, predictions, and warnings are becoming increasingly important to the safety of the American people
  • The Administrator mentioned NOAA is looking at the expanded capabilities for satellite-based backup for weather radio
  • Dr. Spinrad was asked about commitment to space situational awareness to which he confirmed the agency was preparing for a demonstration in the near term.

Space Policy Updates

  • The UK has drafted a UN resolution that calls for new international military norms and principles for space activity (Breaking Defense, September 14)
  • The HASC and SASC have added funds for commercial space capabilities to their draft 2022 defense bills (Breaking Defense, September 15)
  • South Korea is seeking a 4% increase in its annual space budget for 2022 (SpaceNews, September 15)
  • Russia is no longer planning to depart the ISS early (WTSP, September 15)
  • The new space strategy submitted to the Hungarian government sets out complex objectives (Spacewatch Europe, September 16)
  • Space community is trying to reach a consensus on guidelines right-of-way space traffic rules (SpaceNews, September 20)
  • Diplomats see signs of progress for space sustainability at the UN (SpaceNews, September 21)
  • Space traffic management duties are being transferred from Space Command to the Commerce Department (SpaceNews, September 21)
  • House of Representatives passes amended National Defense Authorization Act for the sixty-first year in a row (CNN, September 23)

Space Industry Updates

  • China successfully launched a new direct broadcast satellite, Zhongxing-9B, into orbit (SpaceDaily, September 13)
  • The DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit is seeking small, nuclear-powered engines for space missions beyond Earth’s orbit (SpaceNews, September 13)
  • Space Force is finalizing a news cybersecurity certification process for commercial communications megaconstellations in LEO (Breaking Defense, September 13)
  • SpaceX deems Amazon’s protest against Starlink an irrelevant “diatribe” (Ars Technica, September 14)
  • Former NRO, Frank Calvelli, was hired as senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton’s intelligence and space business (SpaceNews, September 14)
  • NASA selects SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy to launch the GOES-U weather satellite in April 2024 (, September 14)
  • Sierra Space partners with Space Tango, a microgravity and automated systems firm (Denver Gazette, September 16)
  • Vice commander of Space Force Space Operations Command, Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, speaks on urgency to manage space debris (Breaking Defense, September 17)
  • Three astronauts departed for Earth after 90 days of living on China’s space station (ArkLaTex, September 17)
  • Elon Musk announced that Starlink will complete its beta-testing phase in October (Business Insider,September 18)
  • China is preparing the Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft for launch in the near future (Space Daily,September 20)
  • SpaceX’s first private astronauts have safely returned to Earth from the Inspiration4 mission (The Atlantic,September 20)
  • NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei sets the new U.S. record for longest single spaceflight (NASA,September 20)
  • NASA expects to save over $1 billion annually by retiring the ISS and relying on private companies for new space stations (CNBC, September 21)
  • NASA is splitting its human spaceflight office, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, into two new entities (, September 22)

Space Leader Spotlight

Heidi Robinson serves as the Director of Engagement in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Space Policy at the US Department of Defense. In this position, she leads worldwide DOD engagement efforts to build common understanding of the space environment and identifies opportunities to create partnerships.

Before joining the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, she served as Deputy Director of the Secretary of Defense Policy Resource Management Office. In this role, she was responsible for managing a $2.1 billion annual budget as well as fifteen support contracts.

Prior to entering the world of space policy, Ms. Robinson taught English for two years in rural Japan and served in the Peace Corps in West Africa. She has an MBA from St. Ambrose University, certificate in international management, and a BA from the University of Iowa in Global Studies and Political Science.

Reading Corner

SpaceNews | Space Force looking for ‘unity’ in acquisitions despite a medley of agencies. 

  • Innovation in space is pushing the Space Force and the National Reconnaissance Office into collaborative efforts to bridge efforts by multiple acquisition agencies.

Additional Space Foundation Resources

  • The Space Report Quarter 2, 2021 is available here.
  • Get a free White Paper from The Space Report on President Biden’s FY22 Space Budget.
  • Online learning, lesson plans, and video lessons for students grades K–12 are available at the Discovery Center website.

Space History Trivia

Each Apollo mission required fifteen space suits. Each of the three prime crew members had one for flight, one for training, and one as a flight backup. The three backup crew members had one for flight and one for training for fifteen total space suits.