Public Policy and Government Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C. Update for the Week Ending June 24, 2022

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

capitol building dusk

This week in Washington: The House Armed Services Committee passed its FY23 National Defense Authorization Act markup, which will now advance to the House floor, the Federal Aviation Administration ruled to allow SpaceX launches to proceed despite environmental concerns, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Space Launch System rocket passed its final wet dress rehearsal.

United States Space Policy Updates

  • A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) has not made full use of its User Advisory Group (UAG) and has not provided details about the International Space Station (GAO, June 7)
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will allow SpaceX launches to proceed but will require SpaceX to take over 75 actions to mitigate environmental impacts of the planned Starship / Super Heavy launches (FAA, June 13)
  • The Space Rapid Capabilities Office selected Kelly Hammitt as its new Director (Space News, June 14)
  • House Appropriations Committee markups of the 2023 FY budget, proposed increasing Space Development Agency’s (SDA) National Security Space Launches (NSSL) launches from 6 to 8 (Breaking Defense, June 14)
  • GAO denied a protest over the $11 billion contract awarded to Leidos (Breaking Defense, June 16)
  • Space Force launched its National Space Intelligence Center on June 24, 2022 (LinkedIn, June 18)
  • House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Adam Smith released his Chairman’s markup of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), proposing an additional $75 million for rapid space capabilities (Space News, June 20)
  • HASC 2023 NDAA markup included calling for a Pentagon unclassified report on strategy for satellite protection (Breaking Defense, June 22)
  • HASC approved its final version of the 2023 NDAA, advancing to the House floor (Space News, June 23)
  • NASA’s Space Launch System rocket wet dress rehearsal was deemed a success (, June 23)

International Space Policy Updates

  • The Saudi Arabian government has established a training program for the space industry, named “Madar” (Middle East Monitor, June 15)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will conduct its first ever launch from a fully commercial spaceport overseas next month at the Arnhem Space Center in Australia (The Diplomat, June 16)
  • The Indian Space Agency (ISRO) has organized Space Track, a collaborative effort between its national defense and commercial space industries (Devdiscourse/TDPELmedia, June 17)
  • The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) announced it will launch a South Korean satellite launch in December (Reuters, June 17)
  • Israel announced the establishment of a Middle East Air Defense Alliance, a US-led joint air defense network (Breaking Defense, June 20)
  • Zimbabwe and Uganda will launch their first satellites in July 2022 and September 2022, respectively (Space in Africa, Space in Africa, June 20)
  • The French Space Agency (CNES) and the Agency for the Safety of Air Navigation in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) signed an agreement to establish Africa’s first operational Satellite-Based Augmentation System (Space in Africa, June 21)

Space Industry Updates

  • Atlas won the Defense Innovation Unit Award (Yahoo, June 8)
  • BlueHalo was awarded a potentially 10-year $80 million Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contract to develop a directed energy virtual range (GovCon Wire, June 10)
  • Astra’s launch of two NASA cubesats meant to monitor tropical storms failed to reach orbit after the upper stage shut down prematurely (Florida Today, June 12)
  • Sierra Space announced the establishment of its Human Spaceflight Center and Astronaut Training Academy at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (Sierra Space, June 14)
  • South Korean Contec raised a Series C round of $47.3 million for its new global ground operator network (Space News, June 14)
  • SpaceX performed three launches within 36 hours (Space News, June 21)
  • BlackSky Technologies was awarded a $241 million AI contract from the Department of Defense (Via Satellite, June 21)
  • The SmallSat Alliance announced its Collegiate Space Competition to encourage students to propose solutions to 21st century challenges by leveraging small sat abilities (SmallSat Alliance, June 21)

Space Leader Spotlight

Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen

Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for Science Mission Directorate at NASA, is this week’s choice for our Space Leader Profile. Dr. Zurbuchen began his career in his home country of Switzerland at the University of Bern. He graduated in 1996 with a Master’s degree in Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy, and PhD in Physics. From there, he began working at the University of Michigan as a researcher, then Professor in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering. At the University of Michigan, Dr. Zurbuchen also founded the Center for Entrepreneurship.

During his illustrious career, he has authored or coauthored 200+ journal publications, with his research focusing on solar and heliophysics, experimental space research, and space systems. Dr. Zurbuchen has also chaired two National Academy of Science Committees and served as team leader for the development of the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer aboard NASA’s Messenger spacecraft to Mercury.

In his current role as Associate Administrator, Dr. Zurbuchen works to ensure that NASA’s science missions build partnerships across disciplines and with industry and other nations to advance the frontiers of knowledge and exploration. He sets the NASA science strategy in support of the decadal surveys released and has helmed key missions during his time as Associate Administrator, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover, and the Parker Solar Probe.

Reading Corner

Breaking Defense | What Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell can teach the US Air Force

Air and Space Force Association’s President Bruce Wright shares his take on the state of US air supremacy and Air Force capabilities, arguing that Top Gun: Maverick contains elements of truth about air-to-air combat in the 21st century