International Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C. Updates for the Week Ending January 27, 2023

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, Congressional committee leadership decisions were released, House SST Committee leadership introduced the bipartisan Commercial Remote Sensing Amendment Act, the Hawaiian government stood up an agency to determine the fate of two observatories, and Rocket Lab successfully launched its first mission from U.S. soil.

United States Space Policy Updates

  • House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced H.R.290, the bipartisan Commercial Remote Sensing Amendment Act (HSST, January 13)
  • Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Ken Calvert (R-CA) were selected to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Science and Defense, respectively (SpacePolicyOnline, January 16)
  • NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report urging NASA to improve coordination between international members of the Artemis mission (NASA OIG, January 18)
  • SpaceX launched a sixth GPS III satellite for the U.S. Space Force (Satellite Today, January 18)
  • House Appropriations Ranking Member Rosa DeLaura (D-CT) authored letters to cabinet members, calling for reports on the potential impacts of proposed budget cuts (House Appropriations Minority, January 19)
  • The Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) released its annual report that reviewed and raised concerns regarding two Space Force programs: the Space Command and Control System and the Next-Generation Operational Control System (DOT&E, January 19)
  • The State of Hawaii developed a new agency, the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority (MKSOA), that will determine the fate of the Keck and Gemini observatories after years of debate (, January 20)
  • NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced they are partnering to develop and demonstrate an advanced nuclear propulsion system (NASA, January 24)
  • Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) was named Chairman of the House Armed Forces Subcommittee on Strategic Forces (HASC, January 25)

International Space Policy Updates

  • The UAE and the Republic of Korea have signed several agreements as part of their “Special Strategic Partnership,” including a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) that strengthens the nations’ ties in the realm of space exploration and industry (Gulf Business, January 16)
  • The construction of the first Middle Eastern spaceport, the Etlaq Space Launch Complex, was announced in Oman (The National, January 18)
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) approved over 30 million euros in funding for satellite payload manufacturer Swissto12 in a bid to develop a line of HummingSat small geostationary orbit satellites (GEOs) (Satellite Today, January 18)
  • The U.S. and Israel are finalizing an agreement that will allow NASA to launch the forthcoming Israeli Ultrasat (Ultraviolet Transient Astronomy Satellite) mission (Science Times, January 22)
  • ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher stated that he would like to see global adoption of the agency’s proposed policy for “zero debris,” an initiative that would require all spacecraft to be returned to Earth after their operational lifespan (SpaceNews, January 20)
  • The Canadian government announced an effort to develop a regulatory structure for commercial launches from Canada in a bid to stimulate the nation’s space industry (SpaceNews, January 20)

Space Industry Updates

  • Virgin Orbit reported that it anticipates a return to the U.K. Spaceport Cornwall for another launch attempt as soon as later this year (Virgin Orbit, January 12)
  • The Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate published a request for industry input on improving the density and performance of Strategic Radiation Hardened (SRH) non-volatile memory (NVM) technologies for future space and strategic systems, Proposal are due February 13 (System for Award Management, January 12)
  • Anuvu, mobile satellite connectivity specialist, signed an agreement with SpaceX to resell broadband from Starlink’s satellite constellation to maritime customers (Anuvu, January 17)
  • Carnival cruise company announced plans to expand internet connectivity on its global fleet in a new agreement with SpaceX’s Starlink (Cision, January 18)
  • ABL Space Systems reported that a power failure, possibly linked to a fire in the first stage of its RS1 rocket, caused the inaugural launch of the vehicle to fail last week (ABL, Janaury 18)
  • Space Epoch, a Chinese launch startup, conducted a series of hot fire tests as part of its development of a reusable stainless-steel rocket apparently inspired by SpaceX’s Starship (Space News, January 19)
  • Rocket Lab successfully launched its first electron mission from U.S. soil, marking the possibility for additional launch opportunity from the East Coast in the future (Rocket Lab, January 24)
  • SpaceX conducted a wet dress rehearsal of its full Starship launch vehicle, bringing the vehicle one step closer to its first orbital launch attempt (SpaceX, January 24)
  • Astrobotic Technologies completed testing on its Peregrine lunar lander, which now awaits approval for shipment to Cape Canaveral, Florida (Astrobotic, January 25)

    Space Leader Spotlight

    Representative Frank Lucas

    This week’s space leader feature goes to Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Congressman Lucas is currently serving his 15th consecutive term as an Oklahoma representative, having first been elected to the House of Representatives in 1994. He is a fifth generation Oklahoman, obtained his BA in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University, and previously served in the Oklahoma State House of Representatives.

    In addition to his chairmanship, Congressman Lucas is the longest-serving Republican on the House Financial Services Committee. He recently identified cutting government spending while continuing to fund resources needed to keep the United States ahead of foreign competitors in space as his priority for the House SST Committee. Congressman Lucas has also highlighted a comprehensive NASA authorization bill, providing NOAA with formal statutory authority, and reauthorizing the FAA as additional committee priorities for the 118th Congress.

    Oklahoma is home to 5 military installations, the largest Department of Defense air depot, more than 1,100 aerospace entities, and one of only 12 licensed US spaceports. Congressman Lucas’s highest priority legislative issues have been agriculture, energy, and economics, which should provide the Chairman with unique perspectives as he leads the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

    Reading Corner

    The Space Review | From the Sand to the Stars

    Dwayne Day examines the failed Iraqi space program of the 1980s and its incomplete written history.

    Written by Elizabeth Anderson, Amanda Nguyen, Jake Sell, and Catherine Rodriguez

    Image credits to the Office of the Clerk and The Space Review.