International Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C. Update for the Week Ending April 7, 2023

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) announced the Artemis II mission crew, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released its national strategy for maintaining U.S. preeminence in low earth orbit (LEO), and Canada committed to extending their participation on the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030.

38th Space Symposium

Space Symposium is almost here! There’s still time to get your in-person registration. Can’t make it in-person? We’ve got you covered with our virtual experience. More information on this year’s programs and speakers, including the the annual Government Affair Social and Government Affairs Breakfast, is available here.

Register Here!

United States Space Policy Updates

  • Kathryn Lueders, NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Space Operations Mission Directorate, announced that she would retire at the end of April and be replaced by her current deputy, Ken Bowersox. (SpaceRef, March 27)
  • NASA unveiled a draft strategy detailing long-term robotic exploration of Mars, entitled “Exploring Mars Together.” (NASA, March 30)
  • NASA established a Moon to Mars Program Office at NASA Headquarters to direct the agency’s human exploration activities for the Moon and Mars. (NASA, March 30)
  • The White House OSTP released a national strategy for enhancing U.S. leadership in research and development in Low Earth Orbit. (LEO) (The White House, March 31)
  • The Space Development Agency (SDA) successfully launched the first 10 Tranche 0 satellites. (SDA, April 2)
  • NASA announced the four-astronaut crew selected for the Artemis II mission in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency .(NASA, April 3)
  • The United States Space Force (USSF) requested input from the private sector for the second phase of its Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) Missile Warning/Missile Tracking architecture. (Breaking Defense, April 3)
  • Doug Beck, a vice president at Apple, has been named director of the Defense Innovation Unit. (DIU, April 4)
  • Representatives Frank Lucas (R-OK), Brian Babin (R-TX), and Jay Obernolte (R-CA), sent a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson requesting information on the organization’s transition back to in-person status. (House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, April 5)
  • Dr. Makenzie Lystrup was named director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the first woman to hold the position. (Business Insider, April 6)

International Space Policy Updates

  • Canada committed to an extension of participation on the ISS through 2030. (Space Policy Online, March 24)
  • The United Arab Emirates’ rover will not fly on China’s Chang’e-7 lunar mission due to U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions. (Space News, March 24)
  • The uncrewed Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft that suffered a coolant leak on the ISS successfully deorbited and landed back on Earth. (NASA, March 28)
  • China announced that it would begin work on a new broadband megaconstellation later this year to rival SpaceX’s Starlink. (Space News, March 28)
  • Israel successfully launched Ofek-13, a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) reconnaissance satellite, from central Israel using a Shavit launcher. (Israel Hayom, March 29)
  • The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) announced plans to launch a constellation in very-low earth orbit (VLEO) in early September. (Space News, March 30)
  • Spain announced the creation of a national space agency, Agencia Espacial Española (AEE). (Space, March 31)
  • South Korea is expanding its investment in the space industry, budgeting 874.2 billion won ($647 million) for 2023, a 19.5% increase. (Space News, March 31)
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) delayed the launch of an H2A rocket given that it shares technology with the H3 rocket that self destructed in March. (Japan Today, April 2)
  • Australia awarded a $2.86 billion contract to Lockheed Martin to build a satellite and ground station architecture, the largest defense space contract in history. (Breaking Defense, April 3)
  • China invited Venezuela to collaborate on the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), which is scheduled to be built in the early 2030’s. (SpaceNews, April 6)

Space Industry Updates

  • Space Systems Command awarded $900 million in indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts to 18 data software service contractors. (Space Systems Command, March 24)
  • ABL Space Systems was selected by AFWERX, an innovation arm of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Department Air Force, for the $60 million Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) program to expand its existing operations. (ABL Space Systems, March 24)
  • 36 OneWeb satellites were successfully deployed, increasing OneWeb’s constellation to 618 satellites. (OneWeb, March 27)
  • Ovzon has secured an extension of their spectrum rights until the end of 2023 from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to support the delayed launch of their first broadband satellite. (Ovzon, March 28)
  • Crescent Space Services, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, plan to provide continuous Moon to Earth communications services, called Parsec. (Lockheed Martin, March 28)
  • The first crewed flight test of Boeing’s Starliner has been delayed to July 2023 at the earliest. (Space Policy Online, March 29)
  • Astrolab announced that SpaceX will transport its Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover onboard Starship on a future mission to the Moon. (Astrolab, March 31)
  • Virgin Orbit filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (CNBC, April 4)
  • Apex Space plans to launch its first satellite in January 2024 on board SpaceX Transporter-10. (Tech Crunch, April 4)
  • Deloitte announced it is formalizing its space consulting services to advise organizations on the full possibilities of space. (Cision, April 4)
  • The Space Safety Coalition released a report on “Best Practices for the Sustainability of Space Operations,” signed by 27 space industry organizations. (Space Safety Coalition, April 4)
  • Axiom Space plan to launch Ax-2, the second private mission to the ISS, on May 8. (Axiom Space, April 6)
  • Intelsat successfully launched IS-40e onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. (Intelsat, April 7)

Space Leader Spotlight

Amit Kshatriya

This week’s space leader spotlight recognizes Amit Kshatriya, the first Deputy Associate Administrator of the newly established Moon to Mars Program Office at NASA. Mandated in the 2022 NASA Authorization Act, the office will lead NASA’s activities associated with returning humans to the Moon and future manned missions to Mars. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Kshastriya served as the acting Deputy Associate Administrator for the Common Exploration Systems Development Division at NASA, where he worked closely with the Space Launch System, Orion, Exploration Ground Systems programs, and Artemis campaign.

Mr. Kshastriya holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the California Institute of Technology, and a M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career working as an engineer on the robotic assembly of the International Space Station (ISS), then transitioned to the position of flight director for missions to the ISS.

He has been honored with NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal, as well as, the Silver Snoopy, which recognizes outstanding performances that contribute to flight safety. His expertise in flight safety and previous experience in international collaboration will surely guide the new Moon to Mars Program Office and ensure focused leadership for future manned missions to the moon and beyond.

Reading Corner

Via Satellite | How SpaceX Alums Are Branching Out and Shaping the Startup Economy

Rebecca Heilweil examines how former SpaceX employees-turned-founders are benefitting from the startup ecosystem that SpaceX helped forge.