International Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C. Updates for the Week Ending January 13, 2023

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, the 118th Congress was sworn in and the first session began. The House Republican Steering Committee met to fill committee rosters, naming Representatives Lucas, Rogers, and Granger as Chair of key space committees. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to establish a Space Bureau and Office of International Affairs.

United States Space Policy Updates

  • The final decision on Space Command Headquarters location could come early this year (Colorado Springs Gazette, January 1)
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) named A.C. Charania as its new Chief Technologist (NASA, January 9)
  • The FCC unanimously voted to establish a Space Bureau & Office of International Affairs (FCC, January 9)
  • Representative Mike Rogers from Alabama was named Chairman of House Armed Services Committee (House Majority Leader, January 10)
  • Representative Frank Lucas from Oklahoma was named Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee (House Majority Leader, January 10)
  • Representative Kay Granger from Texas was named Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee (House Majority Leader, January 10)
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) and SpaceX reached an agreement to mitigate the effect of Starlink satellites on astronomy (Space News, January 12)
  • The Department of Defense released its 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (DNI, January 12)

International Space Policy Updates

  • The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to bring on more staff with its recent budget increase (SpaceNews, Dec 29)
  • The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has begun its final phase of astronaut recruitment screening (NHK World Japan, January 2)
  • China’s first Mars rover Zhurong has not called home after winter hibernation, and the Mars Tianwen-1 orbiter appears to have lost communication with Earth (, January 9)
  • Expansion plans for China’s Wenchang Spaceport include commercial launches (SpaceNews, January 4)
  • Russia’s Space Corporation signs Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) on launch services with SAHAB and SpaceOmid, two Iranian Space Companies (Middle East Monitor, January 5)
  • Three European Companies announce test of a collision avoidance system through a collaboration effort to demonstrate a variance of Space Traffic Management in 2023 (Satellite Today, January 9)
  • The United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) announced they will investigate the loss of the Launcher One rocket during Virgin Orbits’s January 9 launch attempt from the United Kingdom (, January 10)
  • Hong Kong Aerospace Technology Group Limited and Touchroad International Holdings Group (HKATG) signed an MOU to develop a spaceport in the country of Djibouti (AfricanNews, January 10)
  • Roscosmos to launch an uncrewed Soyuz spacecraft to return Cosmonauts and a NASA Astronaut from the International Space Station (ISS) due to damage sustained on original spacecraft (NYTimes, January 11)
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has planned three major rocket launches in the next three months (Business Standard, January 11)
  • Leaders from the US and Japan are expected to sign a cooperation agreement on the nations’ commitment to the peaceful, transparent exploration of space during a state visit at NASA (NASA, January 11)

Space Industry Updates

  • Viasat was awarded a $325 million contract award from the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to continue tactical satellite communications and network management services (Viasat, December 29)
  • L3Harris has closed its $2 billion acquisition of Viasat’s Tactical Data Links (TDL) product line (L3Harris, January 3)
  • Maxar was awarded land cover and enhanced API contracts worth up to $35.8 million from the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) (Maxar, January 4)
  • Voyager Space and Airbus Defence and Space announced a partnership to develop and operate the Starlab space station (Technology Magazine, January 5)
  • Space Regulatory Bootcamp, a three-day event aimed at helping startups navigate the space regulatory landscape, will take place Albuquerque, New Mexico in February (ASCP, January 4)
  • NorthStar Earth & Space Inc. closed a $35M funding round, which will support the product launch and commercialization of its space situational awareness services (NorthStar Earth & Space, January 5)
  • Raytheon Intelligence & Space was awarded a contract to develop a prototype Missile Track Custody system for the U.S. Space Force, the first to operate from Medium Earth Orbit (Raytheon, January 6)
  • Galactic Energy, a Beijing-based rocket startup, launched five commercial satellites into orbit (CNN Business, January 10)
  • Capella Space raised $60 million in growth equity from the U.S. Innovative Technology (USIT) Fund to expand its satellite imaging capacity and develop new data products (Capella Space, January 10)

Space Leader Spotlight

Dr. Maria Zuber

This week’s spotlight leader was named one of the 50 most important women in science by Discover Magazine and one of America’s Best Leaders by US News and the Harvard Kennedy School. Dr. Maria Zuber was appointed by President Biden in 2021 to assume the role of co-chair on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). She also serves as the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and Vice President for Research at MIT, where she is responsible for policy and research administration.

Since 1990, Dr. Zuber has held roles associated with more than half a dozen NASA planetary missions. She is both the first woman to lead a NASA planetary mission and the first to lead a science department at MIT. Her research bridges planetary geophysics and the technology of space-based laser and radio systems.

Dr. Zuber’s long-term relationship with the White House dates back to when she served on the Presidential Commission on the Implementation of United States Exploration Policy under President George W. Bush in 2004. In 2013, President Obama appointed her to the National Science Board and in 2018 she was reappointed by President Trump. In addition to her responsibilities on PCAST, Dr. Zuber continues to map planets using laser ranging and radio tracking techniques, contributing to her ongoing role as an accomplished and influential member of the STEM community.

Reading Corner

Sky and Telescope | Space Missions to Watch in 2023

2022 surpassed the record number of orbital launches in a year and the astronomy and planetary missions for 2023 are looking even greater. Sky and Telescope’s David Dickinson provides an overview of missions to come.

Written by Elizabeth Anderson, Megan Wenrich, Amanda Nguyen, and Dana Kenow

A special thank you to Megan and Dana, who are both leaving Space Foundation.

Image credits to MIT