Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending December 3, 2021

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This week in Washington, D.C., the Biden/Harris Administration convened its first National Space Council meeting, signed an Executive Order on the National Space Council, called for new international norms of behavior in the wake of the Russian ASAT test, and NASA announced new partnerships to develop a commercial space station. The government avoids shutdown with the House and Senate agreeing to a funding bill that goes to February 18, 2022.

Space Foundation Virtual Events

Cause and Effect of Climate Change; Part 1 of 3

Space Foundation is proud to present a 3-part series on Climate Change. This series focuses on the causes of climate change, explores ways space technology is used to correct it, and examines how climate change is redefining national security. This episode features:

Ms. Nancy Colleton –  President, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

Mr. David Herring – Chief of the Communication, Education, and Engagement Division, NOAA OAR’s Climate Program Office

Dr. Karen St. Germain – Director, Earth Science Division, NASA

Ms. Ezinne Uzo Okoro – Assistant Director for Space Policy, Office of Science and Technology Policy

Moderated by: Geoff Hempelmann Manager – Government Relations, Maxar Technologies

US Space Policy Updates

  • NASA and SpaceX launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Threat (DART) from Vandenberg Space Force Base on November 24, 2022 (NASA, November 24)
  • The James Webb Space Telescope launch slipped due to a payload processing incident (Space News, November 25)
  • The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation leadership sent a letter to Vice President Harris, urging the administration to address the threat of space debris (Senate CST Letter, November 29)
  • The Biden Administration put forth its strong opposition to the creation of a Space National Guard (Air Force Times, November 30)
  • NASA’s Office of the Inspector General published a report warning against a gap between the International Space Station’s retirement and the establishment of a commercial space station (NASA OIG Report, November 30)
  • The White House announced its intent to nominate Dr. William LaPlante as Under Secretary for Acquisition and Sustainment at the Department of Defense (White House, November 30)
  • A NASA Spacewalk was postponed three days due to concerns over space debris (The Guardian, November 30)
  • President Biden signed an Executive Order on the National Space Council, significantly expanding the council’s membership (Executive Order, December 1)
  • Vice President Harris convened the first meeting of the National Space Council under the Biden Administration (White House, December 1)
  • At the National Space Council meeting, Harris called for new international norms of behavior in space, citing the Russian ASAT missile test and the consequential dangerous debris field (Politico, December 1)
  • A UN Panel approved the creation of an open-ended working group for the prevention of an arms race in space (Arms Control, December 2)
  • The White House released a seven-page Space Priorities Framework document (White House (PDF), December 2)

International Space Policy Updates

  • The Roscosmos Sphere program will put Russia on track to get internet from space by 2024 (Russian News Agency, November 23)
  • China launched a second Gaofen 3 C-band satellite to be used for remote sensing and Earth observation (NASA Space Flight, November 24)
  • Russia docked a new multi-port node on the International Space Station (CBS News, November 24)
  • Air Force Secretary Kendall signed off on the creation of four new Space Force components in Europe, the Pacific, the Middle East, and South Korea (Breaking Defense, November 30)

Space Industry Updates

  • Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo ship departed from the ISS for an experiment in orbit (, November 22)
  • Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman are competing to develop a new defensive hypersonic missile for the Missile Defense Agency (Breaking Defense,November 22)
  • Two Vice Presidents of SpaceX departed from the company within a week of each other (CNBC, November 23)
  • Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket will be the first to carry six astronauts to space on its December 19th mission (Leonard David, November 24)
  • Astroscale has raised $109 million for its on-orbit services technology (Tech Crunch, November 25)
  • A leaked internal SpaceX email from Elon Musk described its Raptor Engine production as a crisis that could lead to bankruptcy (The Verge, November 30)
  • Rocket Lab announced its new design for the Neutron launch vehicle (Rocket Lab, December 2)
  • NASA announced its plan to for the development of a commercial space station by 2030, partnering with Northrop Grumman, Blue Origin, and Nanoracks (NASA, December 2)

Space Leader Profile

Marcia Smith is the Founder and Editor of, a digital hub for U.S. space news, information, and policy analysis as well as President of the Space and Technology Policy Group. A few years after graduating from Syracuse University, Smith began work as a public servant as a Senior Level Specialist at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) where Smith said she “…fell in love with the policy side of science and technology.” During her tenure at the CRS, she took a leave of absence to join the U.S. National Commission on Space as its Executive Director. Created by Congress and with its members appointed by Former President Reagan, the Commission was tasked with developing a 50-year plan for the U.S. civilian space program. Smith would go on to spend three years at the Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board.

Smith has received numerous awards during her extensive career, including the Women in Aerospace Lifetime Achievement Award and the International Institute of Space Law Lifetime Achievement Award. Smith remains an active part of the aerospace community through her website, consulting company, active memberships, and various fellowships. Smith encourages those entering the aerospace industry to “get a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Reading Corner 

Florida Today | Here’s What It Takes to Transport a NOAA Satellite from Colorado to Florida

Curious as to what it takes to get a satellite developed, shipped across the country, and launched? In this article, Florida Today breaks down the steps that one NOAA satellite took from Buckley Space Force Base to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Fun Fact

The Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-53 launched from Kennedy Space Center on December 2nd, 1992. Today, nearly thirty years later, STS-53 pilot Bob Cabana currently serves as Associate Administrator of NASA.