International Affairs

Biweekly Washington D.C. Updates for the Week Ending May 19, 2023

Written by: Amanda Nguyen

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, NASA announced the selection of Blue Origin to develop a crewed landing system for Artemis V, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson testified for the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on NASA’s FY24 budget request, and the Department of Defense released its 2023 National Defense Science and Technology Strategy.

United States Space Policy Updates

  • The U.S. and the Philippines agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on space situational awareness and space-based technology during Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s state visit to the White House (White House, May 1)
  • The Department of Defense (DoD) invited members of the Five Eyes intelligence coalition, plus France, Germany, and Japan, to participate in joint GPS satellite operations alongside U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) 2nd Space Operations Squadron (Breaking Defense, May 5)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced early-stage development of the Near Earth Orbit Network (NEON) satellite program, a planned atmospheric observation constellation that will supplement and eventually phase out the current Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) (NOAA, May 9)
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) updated its request for information from industry regarding a deorbiting spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS) at the end of life (, May 8)
  • The DoD released its 2023 National Defense Science & Technology Strategy (DOD, May 9)
  • James L. Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), announced his retirement from the agency after 40 years of service (NASA, May 9)
  • USSF’s Commercial Services Office (COMSO) is opening a new facility in Chantilly, Virginia to serve as a “commercial collaboration center” for the private sector (Space News, May 11)
  • USSF General David Thompson stated that the FY24 budget request of $30 billion for the Space Force has been well received by both Capitol Hill and the Pentagon (Space News, May 15)
  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson openly stated that the U.S. is in a space race with China to the moon (Senate Commerce Committee, May 16)
  • Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) made known her desire to pass a five-authorization bill for NASA this Congress (Senate Commerce Committee, May 16)
  • Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Eric Schmitt (R-MO) argued that certain NASA priorities, such as the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity and proposed disclosures on greenhouse gas emissions, detract from NASA’s core mission (Senate Commerce Committee, May 16)
  • NASA selected the Blue Origin-led team that includes Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic, and Honeybee Robotics to develop a sustainable human landing system for the Artemis V mission (NASA, May 19)

International Space Policy Updates

  • Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency (NSSA) plans to approve its 2024-2028 space strategy by the end of 2023 (News of Bahrain, May 1)
  • China amended its military conscription laws to focus recruitment efforts on cyber and space professionals (The Hill, May 2)
  • Iran and Syria signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) to bolster cooperation in the field of communications and information technology (ICT) and space services (Tasnim News Agency, May 4)
  • Armenian Minister of High-Tech Industry Robert Khachatryan is hopeful the nation will complete its first satellite by the end of June (, May 4)
  • An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft returned to Earth following 276 days in orbit, demonstrating China’s reusable space technologies (Reuters, May 8)
  • The China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) announced a solicitation for commercial space models to reduce cost and improve efficiency for resupply of the Tiangong Space Station (Space News, May 16)
  • The USSF delivered the second of two space domain awareness sensors to Japan as part of the joint Quasi-Zenith Satellite System Hosted Payload (QZSS-HP) effort (Pacific Air Forces, May 17)

Space Industry Updates

  • UK-based orbital launch servicer, Orbex, began construction at Sutherland Spaceport in Scotland, the first vertical launch site on the UK mainland (Orbex, May 5)
  • SAIC signed an agreement with GomSpace North America to become the sole U.S. integrator of GomSpace satellites as well as exclusive product distributor, services reseller, and space vehicle and mission integrator for Gomspace’s U.S. government customers (SAIC, May 5)
  • RocketLab successfully launched the first pair of NASA TROPICS Cubsats into orbit (NASA, May 8)
  • Swiss startup ClearSpace and Arianespace signed a launch contract for ClearSpace-1 to conduct the first active debris removal mission on the upper part of a Vega Secondary Payload Adapter (Vespa) left in orbit in 2013. The launch is scheduled from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, beginning in the second half of 2026 (ClearSpace, May 9)
  • Former U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry has joined the Cesium Astro advisory board to provide counsel on issues related to U.S. national security (Cesium Astro, May 9)
  • The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared Viasat’s deal to acquire Inmarsat, finding that the transaction does not raise competition concerns (Viasat, May 9)
  • Virgin Galactic announced that they were on track to perform the first commercial spaceflight of their spaceplane VSS Unity, aiming for a date in late June (Euronews, May 9)
  • Astroscale and Momentus submitted a joint proposal for NASA’s request for information on  re-boosting the orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope and removing nearby threatening debris (Momentus, May 9)
  • Commercial space station developer Vast announced plans to launch the first commercial space station, Haven-1, and its first crewed mission, Vast-1 (Vast, May 10)
  • NOAA awarded L3Harris a 5-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to extend the ground system that supports its Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites – R Series (GOES-R) (NOAA, May 11)
  • The Space Development Agency (SDA) issued a draft solicitation for one of several types of Tranche 2 Transport Layer (T2TL) space vehicles (T2TL Alpha) (SDA, May 12)
  • Stratolaunch offered a $17 million “stalking horse” bid to purchase the remaining assets of Virgin Orbit (The Telegraph, May 17)
  • The Italian Space Agency (ASI) awarded a $256 million contract to consortium of companies led by Thales Alenia Space for an in-orbit servicing demonstration mission (Satellite Today, May 15)

Space Leader Spotlight

Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt

This week’s space leader is Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt, Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear for the United States Space Force (USSF). In her role, Lt. Gen Burt is responsible for all sustainment, cyber, and nuclear operations within the USSF.

She previously held positions as the Commander of the Combined Space Force Component for U.S. Space Command, Vice Commander of Space Operations Command at Vandenberg Space Force Base, and Special Assistant to the Vice Chief of Space Operations of the USSF at their Pentagon Headquarters. Prior to her service in the USSF, Lt. Gen. Burt supported numerous U.S. space operations during her tenure in the United States Air Force. She commanded the 2nd Space Operations Squadron, the 460th Operations Group, and the 50th Space Wing, receiving numerous awards and decorations for her service.

Lt. Gen. Burt also holds a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a Master of Science in Human Resources Management from Troy State University, and is a graduate of the USAF Weapons School and the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair. During her career, Lt. Gen. Burt has received a number of awards, including the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Air and Space Campaign Medal, and the Air Force Longevity Service Award.

Reading Corner

The Space Review | Stonehouse: Deep space listening in the high desert

During the Cold War, the National Security Agency (NSA) established listening posts around the world to intercept Soviet communications. This article dives into an NSA post in Ethiopia specifically built for the interception of space signals.