Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C. Update for the Week Ending April 1, 2022

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This week in Washington, DC, the long-anticipated FY2023 Budget was released and included $24.5 billion for Space Force and $26 billion for NASA, both increases from the past fiscal year, the FAA delayed its environmental review of SpaceX’s Starship, and Singapore became the fifteenth signatory of the Artemis Accords.

Virtual Space Symposium 37 Experience

Space Symposium

Space Foundation’s Space Symposium 37 will take place next week, April 4 – 7, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Over 14,000 people from every sector of the global space ecosystem connect at Space Symposium each year. This year’s speakers include 15 Heads of Agency; Air Force Secretary Kendall and Chief of Space Operations Jay Raymond; Executive Secretary of the National Space Council Chirag Parikh; NASA’s Pam Melroy, Bob Cabana, Thomas Zurbuchen; and dozens of other space leaders.

With the Virtual Experience, you can connect with the global space community wherever you are, no travel required. The Virtual Experience is a full Space Symposium conference ticket at an incredible price! Find more information and register here.

United States Space Policy Updates

  • The Space Development Agency opened submissions for tracking satellites meant for conventional and advanced missile threats (Space Development Agency, March 15)
  • The James Webb Telescope successfully completed its most recent alignment phase (NASA, March 16)
  • NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is “as good as new” a year later (Space News, March 12)
  • Two Missile Defense Agency (MDA) missile tracking satellites are being decommissioned (Northrop Grumman, March 14)
  • NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket was rolled-out of the Vehicle Assembly Building onto Launch Complex 39B (Washington Post, March 17)
  • General Dynamics received a $4.5 billion, 10-year contract from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) (General Dynamics, March 18)
  • The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is looking to create the Cislunar Highway Patrol System to provide situational awareness beyond Geosynchronous orbit (Air Force Research Lab, March 21)
  • NASA Administrator Nelson announced that NASA is looking for a second, sustainable Lunar Lander (CNN, March 23)
  • The Federal Aviation Administration delayed its environmental review of SpaceX’s Starship (Orlando Sentinel, March 25)
  • The FY2023 NASA budget request was released (Space Policy Online, March 28)
  • The FY2023 Space Force budget request was released (Space Policy Online, March 28)
  • NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned to Earth in a Soyuz MS-19 after spending an American record breaking 355 days in space (NASA, March 30)

International Space Policy Updates

  • China launched a second Yaogan-34 reconnaissance satellite (NASA Space Flight, March 17)
  • The Polish Space Agency and Virgin Orbit signed a Letter of Intent to cooperate on launch capabilities (Yahoo, March 17)
  • The EuropeanESA has stopped working with Roscosmos for the ExoMars rover mission (ESA, March 17)
  • Chinese entities are working to keep up with demands by developing solid rockets (Space News, March 18)
  • Australia officially began its Defense Space Command and released its strategy (Janes, March 24)
  • Egypt announced plans to launch a satellite and space debris tracking station in 2022 (Space in Africa, March 24)
  • Singapore signed the Artemis Accords (Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore, March 28)
  • Chinese spacecraft Tianzhou-2 was deorbited ahead of new space station missions (Space News, March 31)
  • The United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA) has plans to terraform Mars by the end of the next decade (The Independent, April 1)

Space Industry Updates

  • Saber Astronautics won a DOD contract for Sentinel, a space threat detection system (Saber Astronautics, March 14)
  • Astra Rocket 3.3 successfully launched from the Kodiak Spaceport in Alaska (Tech Crunch, March 15)
  • Kymeta, a satellite antenna company, secured $84 million in equity financing with Bill Gates leading funding (Via Satellite, March 15)
  • Sierra Space and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration on the Orbital Reef (Sierra Space, March 17)
  • Orbit Fab, a startup venture offering refueling services in space, raised $12 million through private investors; and Air Force and Space Force investments (Space News, March 17)
  • Boeing’s Protected Tactical Satellite Communications Program (PTS) passed a critical design review phase (Army Times, March 17)
  • SpaceX severed ties with longtime partner Spaceflight, Inc (Space News, March 21)
  • Telstra announced it will be building and maintaining three teleports in Australia to provide satellite gateway services for OneWeb (OneWeb, March 22)
  • Firefly Aerospace completed a $75 million Series A funding round (Firefly, March 22)
  • SES acquired defense technology provider Leonardo DRS for $450 million (Space Watch, March 23)
  • The SATELLITE 2022 Conference took place in Washington, DC, and featured satellite industry leaders and their visions for the future (Via Satellite, March 23)
  • Terran Orbital began trading publicly under the ticker symbol LLAP (Terran Orbital, March 28)
  • Synspective, a Japanese startup, raised $100 million in Series B funding round (Satellite Today, March 29)
  • Slingshot Aerospace won a $25.2 million Space Force contract to develop a virtual replica of the space environment (Tech Crunch, March 31)
  • Blue Origin’s New Shepard launched six passengers to space in the company’s fourth commercial tourist launch (CNN, March 31)

Space Leader Profile

This month’s Space Leader Profile feature goes to Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, Italian Astrophysicist and current Director of the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. Di Pippo received her Masters in Astrophysics and Space Physics from University La Sapienza in Rome. Di Pippo joined the Italian Space Agency in 1986 and rose to Director of the ASI’s Observation of the Universe by 2002. She then served as Director of Human Spaceflight at the European Space Agency, Director of the European Space Policy Observatory at ASI, and was appointed Director of UNOOSA in 2014.

Having acquired such expertise, Di Pippo has become a Member of the European Commission’s Space Advisory Group, Chair of the International Space Safety Foundation, Special Advisor to ESA’s Director General, and in her current position directly advises the U.N. Secretary General. Based in Austria, UNOOSA’s mission is to strategically manage and help implement the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.

Di Pippo is also the author of several publications, the recipient of two Honoris Causa Degrees (in Environmental Studies and International Relations), co-founded Women in Aerospace Europe, received the AIAA’s International Cooperation Award in 2016, is a Knight of the Italian Republic, and has an asteroid named after her.

Reading Corner

Via Satellite | SPACs Cherry-Pick the Jewels of the Earth Observation Economy

William Ricard presents an opinion piece examining what the current SPAC race in the space industry might mean for climate observation.

Fun Fact

On March 30th, 2022, the Hubble Space Telescope detected the farthest individual star ever seen to date (NASA)