Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending November 19, 2021

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This week in Washington, D.C., President Biden signed the infrastructure bill into law, the Artemis Program faced major schedule updates and discrepancies between NASA’s A-Suite and Office of the Inspector General, Vice President Harris and French President Macron announced a joint space and cybersecurity partnership, and the Russian anti-satellite missile test raised concerns about space debris and national security.

November Stakeholder Call

Space Foundation’s monthly Stakeholder Call will take place on November 30th at 1 PM. This month’s call will feature Wayne Monteith, Associate Administrator at the Office of Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Elizabeth Anderson at [email protected].

 US Space Policy Updates
  • Space Force detected a mystery object in orbit alongside Chinese satellite Shijian-21 (Asia Times, November 8)
  • NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission splashed down successfully (NASA, November 8)
  • The Air Force is now teaching space weather in support of Space Force (Air Force, November 9)
  • NASA’s Artemis program sees major updates, including the first manned Artemis mission pushed to 2025. NASA cited financial constraints and a schedule delay from litigation. (NASA Media Briefing, November 9)
  • NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission launched and successfully docked at the International Space Station (New York Times, November 11)
  • President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law (The Hill, November 15)
  • SPACECOM announced Joint Force Space Component Command as its primary warfighting command (Breaking Defense, November 15)
  • Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory won a $1 billion contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory (Space News, November 15)
  • NASA’s Office of the Inspector General released a report on the future of Artemis program, disagreeing with the estimated 2025 date for the first lunar landing (NASA, November 15)
  • Vice President Kamala Harris announced a collaborative partnership between the US and French governments in space and cybersecurity (White House, November 15)
  • Space Force, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Defense Innovation Unit released a 92-page report on the US’s space economy and technology base entitled “The State of the Space Industrial Base 2021” (Report, November 17)
  • Director of the Department of Defense’s Joint Hypersonics Transition Office Gillian Bussey provided a comprehensive overview of the Pentagon’s investment in hypersonic technologies (Breaking Defense, November 17)
  • NOAA’s GOES-T satellite launch slipped to March 1, 2022 (NOAA, November 18)
  • The Court of Federal Claims released a public version of the Blue Origin HLS lawsuit decision (Space Policy Online, November 18)
International Space Policy Updates
  • China’s first female spacewalk was performed by Taikonaut Wang Yaping (Insider, November 8)
  • Astroscale and New Zealand’s Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announce partnership on space sustainability projects (Astroscale, November 11)
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense tested an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, destroying a Russian satellite and creating a cloud of dangerous space debris (,November 15)
  • The International Space Station was forced to make an emergency maneuver as a result of space debris caused by the Russian ASAT test (Time, November 15)
  • Nelson and Rogozin spoke regarding the ASAT test (Space News, November 16)
  • Arianespace will launch the Australian Optus-11 on an Ariane 6 rocket (Arianespace, November 17)
Space Industry Updates
  • Virgin Galactic has sold 100 additional tickets for its commercial space tourism program (Business Insider, November 9)
  • Space Force announced its intent to buy 3 GPS satellites from Lockheed Martin (Space News, November 11)
  • Nanoracks has selected Amela Wilson as its new CEO (Nanoracks, November 11)
  • Blue Origin astronaut Glen de Vries died in a plane crash (CNN, November 12)
  • SpaceX launched 53 new Starlink satellites (SpaceX, November 13)
  • Fleet Space Technologies, an Australian satellite company, raised $26.4 million in an investment round (Space News, November 16)
  • Rocket Lab will acquire Planetary Systems Corporation (Tech Crunch, November 16)
  • Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems won a $8.4 million AFRL contract to launch a physics experiment in VLEO (Very-Low Earth Orbit) (SatNews, November 17)
  • Elon Musk estimated the first orbital flight of SpaceX’s Starship will take place in January 2022 (National Academies Joint Meeting, November 17)
  • Astra’s fourth orbital launch attempt of its Rocket 3.3 vehicle slipped to November 19 (NASA Space Flight, November 18)
  • Sierra Space announced it has raised $1.4 billion in investments, valuing the Sierra Nevada Corporation at $4.5 billion (Bloomberg, November 19)
Space Leader Spotlight

Kamala Harris is the 49th and current Vice President of the United States, making her the highest-ranking female official in American history. Harris is the first female, African American, and Asian American Vice President. During her term as Senator of California, Harris introduced the STEM for Girls and Minorities Act legislation to provide funding to support more STEM education opportunities for female, colored, queer, and disabled students in school districts across the country. Today, Harris continues to encourage younger generations to reach for the stars even if they seem unattainable.

This past spring, Harris became chairperson of the National Space Council. The Administration’s goals for the National Space Council include the sustainable development of spaceflight, increasing diversity in the workforce, achieving peaceful exploration objectives with our allies, and promoting responsible behavior in space. In a recent meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Harris announced joint initiatives to establish greater space and cyber security cooperation between the U.S. and France.The Vice President will lead her first NSpC meeting next month, where she plans to prioritize climate change, STEM education, and the emerging space economy.

Reading Corner

Breaking Defense | Russia’s Failed Anti-Satellite Weapons Test Creates Dangerous Cloud of Space Debris

On November 15th, the U.S. government confirmed that the Russian test of a direct ascent anti-satellite weapon has produced a cloud of about 1,500 pieces of space debris. The suspected ground-launched missile has put the International Space Station and other global systems in orbit at risk. This event has prompted new conversations regarding the need for international space rules and norms among U.S. government and military officials.

Space Trivia

The Leonid meteor shower peaked this week from Tuesday, November 16 to Wednesday, November 17, producing nearly 15 visible meteors per hour. The shower will remain active all month long. (