International Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C. Update for the Week Ending March 24, 2023

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, the National Space Council continues its deliberations on agency regulatory and supervisory authority for on-orbit activities, the Federal Communications Commission proposed a regulatory framework to enhance broadband services to remote and underserved areas, and private space firms exposed to the Silicon Valley Bank collapse regained access to their accounts.

Space Foundation Virtual Programming

March Stakeholder Call

This month’s D.C. Stakeholder Call will feature Dr. Thomas Colvin, Senior Policy Advisor for NASA’s Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy. These 30-minute conversations are an opportunity for our community to gather and engage with leading minds in the space community. This month’s call will take place on Tuesday, March 28 at 11:00 AM ET.

This call is open to Space Foundation Corporate Members. If you are interested in participating, please contact Amanda Nguyen, Civil Space Specialist, at [email protected].

United States Space Policy Updates

  • NASA’s Crew-5 mission arrived back on Earth after a 5-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS) (CNN, March 12)
  • The U.S. Space Force has paused new orders of GPS satellites due to excess inventory (Space News, March 13)
  • General Chance Saltzman announced that the U.S. Space Force would dedicate $340 million from proposed FY24 appropriations to stand up an operational test and training infrastructure (OTTI) to prepare for space-based conflict (Breaking Defense, March 15)
  • The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced plans to implement an updated missile defense architecture on Guam to protect from Chinese missile threats (Breaking Defense, March 16)
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a regulatory framework to leverage satellite operators and wireless companies to provide service to remote and underserved areas (FCC, March 16)
  • The National Space Council (NSpC) continues to deliberate on agency regulatory and supervisory authority for new types of on-orbit activities (Breaking Defense, March 17)
  • NASA announced that it was considering suspending the VERITAS mission in favor of a future Discovery mission (Space News, March 17)
  • The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) awarded of six study contracts for commercial hyperspectral imagery (HSI) to BlackSky Technology, HyperSat, Orbital Sidekick, Pixxel, Planet, and Xplore (NRO, March 22)

International Space Policy Updates

  • The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced an effort to develop a quantum communication network through medium-to-high orbit satellites (Space News, March 10)
  • The Egyptian Space Agency (EGSA) and the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in space exploration, space science and satellite development (Egypt Today, March 10)
  • China launched a experiment Shiyan-19 test satellite from the Gobi Desert into near-polar orbit (Space News, March 15)
  • The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) debuted a new logo to represent the growth of the country’s space program (collectSPACE, March 16)
  • China launched a remote sensing satellite, Gaofen-13, into orbit as part of the China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS) (Geospatial World, March 20)
  • Rolls-Royce secured £2.9 million funding from the U.K. Space Agency to continue research on a prospective lunar modular nuclear reactor (Rolls-Royce, March 17)
  • The ispace Japanese lunar lander HAKUTO -R has entered a lunar orbit ahead of proposed landing in April (ispace, March 21)

Space Industry Updates

  • NASA awarded $765.5 million to L3Harris to develop the imager for NOAA’s Geostationary Extended Observations (geoXO) satellite program (NASA, March 13)
  • The dozens of space startups and companies exposed to the Silicon Valley Bank collapse regain access to their accounts following the federal government stepping in to compensate for depositors’ losses (Space News, March 13)
  • NASA awarded $112 million to Firefly Aerospace to deliver several lunar payloads in 2026 (Firefly Aerospace, March 14)
  • SpaceX Dragon CRS-27 successfully delivered a cargo payload to the ISS (, March 16)
  • NASA selected Axiom Space to carry out the third private astronaut mission to the ISS no earlier than November 2023 (Axiom Space, March 14)
  • Axiom Space revealed next-generation spacesuits that will be used on the Artemis III mission (Axiom Space, March 15)
  • Astra shared measures it is implementing to retain its Nasdaq listing, including seeking an additional 180-day extension to regain compliance (Astra, March 16)
  • Private equity firm ATL Partners announced a new holding company, LightRidge Solutions, to manage a series of space and aerospace businesses (ATL Partners, March 20)
  • Virgin Orbit is nearing a deal with Texas-based investor Matthew Brown to secure $200 million of funding to support operations (Reuters, March 22)
  • The U.S. Space Force contracted Arkisys Inc. to build satellites that can be constructed in orbit (, March 22)
  • Virgin Orbit initiated an incremental resumption of its operations following implementing a “operational pause” on March 16 that furloughed nearly all 750 employees (SEC, March 23)
  • Terran Orbital will expand their factory operations in Southern California to account for an anticipated increase in demand (Space News, March 21)
  • Relativity Space’s 3-D printed Terran 1 rocket achieved liftoff but failed to reach orbit (Spaceflight Now, March 23)

Space Leader Spotlight

Dr. Ravi Chaudhary

This week’s space leader spotlight recognizes Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and the Environment. Confirmed by the Senate on March 15, 2023, he is the first Asian-American in the branch’s history to serve as an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force. In this role, Dr. Chaudhary is responsible for the branch’s sustainability and operational readiness and will oversee large swaths of the Air Force and Space Force’s military housing and installation operations. He most recently served as Director of Advanced Programs and Innovation at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).

Dr. Chaudhary served in the Air Force for over 20 years, leading initiatives in aerospace engineering, space systems, and strategy, and piloted a number of aircraft as a Flight Test Engineer. He was also a NASA Graduate Researcher at Marshall Space Flight Center, where he achieved the NASA Stellar Award. Along with his extensive Air Force career, Dr. Chaudhary spent 5 years serving as Commissioner for the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy, he went on to receive a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from St. Mary’s University – as part of a NASA Graduate Student Research Program Fellowship – and later a Doctorate of Liberal Studies in Executive Leadership & Innovation from Georgetown University. During his career, Dr. Chaudhary has obtained a number of accolades including the Congressional Award for Science and Technology, the USAF Ira C. Eaker Award, and a number of medals for meritorious service.

Reading Corner

NASA | Cost and Benefit Analysis of Orbital Debris Remediation

NASA’s Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy (OTPS) provides a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of different methods of remediating orbital debris.

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

Image credits to Thomas Colvin, Kare 11, and ESA