International Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C. Updates for the Week Ending May 5, 2023

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, President Yoon Suk Yoel reaffirmed South Korea’s intentions to strengthen bilateral cooperation in commercial, civil, and national security space with the United States, the Czech Republic became the 24th country to sign the Artemis Accords, and a coalition of 51 National Guard leaders signed onto a letter to the Administration urging the establishment of a Space National Guard.

38th Space Symposium

The 38th Space Symposium took place from April 17-20, 2023 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Thank you to all of you who joined us! We are pleased to share that this year’s Symposium had over 12,000 registrants and 250 speakers – these are both record numbers for Space Symposium. We hope to have you join us again next year on April 8-11, 2024, at the 39th Space Symposium!

United States Space Policy Updates

  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report recommending that the USSF establish a process to regularly evaluate commercial space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities to meet their needs. The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with the recommendation (GAO, April 24).
  • U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yoel reaffirmed intentions to strengthen bilateral cooperation in commercial, civil, and national security space during a state visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Center (The White House, April 25).
  • The House narrowly passed a deficit reduction bill, the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which proposed cutting federal spending back to FY2022 levels and allowing only a 1% spending increase per year for the next 10 years (H.R. 2811, April 26).
  • The U.S. Air Force instituted various new oversight tools to ensure industry contractors meet cost and schedule performance goal, including a Contractor Responsibility Watch List (Breaking Defense, April 27).
  • The U.S. Space Force (USSF) released plans to create an “outernet” that will connect all military and commercial in-space networks (Breaking Defense, April 26).
  • Secretary Frank Kendall and General B. Chance Saltzman raised concerns regarding cuts included in the House-passed Limit, Save, Grow Act, stating it would be “devastating” to national security, agency maneuverability, and superiority in space (House Armed Services Committee, April 27).
  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson remains confident that Artemis III is on track to launch in 2025 (House Committee on Space, Science and Technology, April 27).
  • Leaked intelligence documents raised concerns for future conflicts with China in space as the Chinese develop space capabilities that place U.S. and Allied space assets at risk and  Russia’s space presence diminishes due to sanctions and a lack of international launch contracts (Washington Post, April 27).

International Space Policy Updates

  • The Netherlands, Austria and Italy signed onto the  U.S.-led KE-ASAT Moratorium pledging not to perform destructive anti-satellite tests (ASAT), bringing the total to 13 countries  (, April 11).
  • Russia agreed to extend its operation of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2028 (TASS, April 25).
  • China revealed plans to make their Long March 9 rocket completely reusable (Space News, April 27).
  • China plans to set up a committee to oversee their International Lunar Research Station (Space News, April 28).
  • Spaceport Cornwall officially opened its Space Systems Operations Facility, a new research and development center dedicated to companies building and launching from the site (Space Cornwall, April 28).
  • The first launch of the Gravity-1 rocket from the Chinese startup Orienspace is planned for the second half of 2023 (Space News, April 28).
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) continued to troubleshoot issues deploying the Radar for Icy Moons Exploration (RIME) antenna on the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (Juice) mission (ESA, April 28).
  • China’s Zhurong Rover found evidence of possible water activity, as recent as 400,000 years ago, from cracks and dunes on Mars’ Utopia Planitia (, April 30)
  • Eutelsat, SES, Hispasat, Airbus and Thales Alenia Space formed a consortium to bid for the European Union’s Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite (IRIS²) (Financial Post, May 2).
  • The Czech Republic became the 24th country to sign the Artemis Accords (NASA, May 3).
  • Russian cosmonauts relocated an airlock between modules aboard the ISS during a seven-hour spacewalk (NASA, May 3)
  • Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël stated that it is unlikely that Europe will have a reusable rocket until the 2030s (, April 4).
  • ESA’s Euclid spacecraft arrived at Port Canaveral, Florida, and is set to launch in July aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (SciTech Daily, May 4)

Space Industry Updates

  • SES was awarded a $27.5 million military contract to provide satellite communications for U.S. Army Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WINT-T) training activities (SES, April 24)
  • SpaceX received approval from USSF to launch from Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at Vandenberg Space Force Base, a site previously used by United Launch Alliance (ULA) (Space News, April 25).
  • Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceplane, VSS Unity, completed a glide flight, one of the final steps before launching commercial services (Virgin Galactic, April 26).
  • Japanese spacecraft developer ispace reported that the final mission milestones of the HAKUTO-R M1 lunar lander are not achievable following communication loss, due to a hard landing on the lunar surface (ispace, April 26).
  • Astra Space will provide 5 propulsion kits for startup Apex’s satellite platform (Satellite Today, April 27).
  • SES successfully launched two O3b mPOWER satellites aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral (SES, April 28).
  • SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk estimated that it will take two months to rebuild the launch pad destroyed during the Starship launch, echoing the timeline made by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson before the House Science Committee last week (Space News, April 29).
  • Viasat successfully launched the first ViaSat-3 Americas aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy from Kennedy Space Center (Viasat, May 1).
  • Several environmental groups filed a suit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for inadequate environmental protection of the area surrounding the launch site of SpaceX’s Starship in Boca Chica, Texas (Center for Biological Diversity v. FAA, May 1).
  • NASA awarded contracts to five organizations to participate in a NOAA Coronagraph Instrument Phase A study (NASA, May 1).
  • A federal court approved plans for the sale of Virgin Orbit’s assets that could either result in new ownership or its dissolution (Space News, May 2).
  • Lockheed Martin and Raytheon were each awarded $30 million contracts by the USSF to develop nuclear-resistant ground systems for the Evolved Strategic Satcom (ESS) program (Space News, May 3).
  • Maxar Technologies was acquired for $6.4 billion by private equity firm Advent International (Maxar, May 3).

Space Leader Spotlight

Julie Kearney

This week’s Space Leader is Julie Kearney, the first Chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) newly-established Space Bureau. Launched as part of a reorganization effort by the FCC, the new Space Bureau plays a key role in advancing the Commission’s Space Innovation Agenda and leads policy and licensing matters related to satellite and space-based communications and activities. Ms. Kearney joined the FCC in February 2023 as Senior Counsel to help lead the transition and was appointed Bureau Chief in April 2023.

A law and policy veteran, Ms. Kearney has over 25 years of experience working with government, industry, and the public sector to promote legal and regulatory frameworks and policies that enable life-changing technologies. Prior to joining the FCC, Ms. Kearney was Vice President of Communications Regulatory Affairs and Policy at Twilio Inc, where she led global regulatory and policy efforts pertaining to telecommunications and law enforcement response. Ms. Kearney previously held positions at Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet; National Public Radio; MCI; the Consumer Technology Association; and in private legal practice.

Notably, Ms. Kearney is a past president of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) and she also served as chair of the FCBA Foundation. She was a long-serving member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee and recently served on its Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. Ms. Kearney earned her law degree from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College.

During the official launch of the Space Bureau, Ms. Kearney stated her first priority will be “modernizing regulations to match our new realities,” including faster processing times in response to unprecedented demand for new satellites. We look forward to see how Ms. Kearney will lead the Space Bureau to meet the needs of the next Space generation.

Reading Corner

CSIS | Space Threat Assessment 2023

The Center for Strategic and International Studies released its annual Space Threat Assessment for 2023, covering space and counterspace capabilities for adversaries.

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

Image credits to Space Foundation, Julie Kerney, and CSIS