International Affairs

Biweekly Washington, D.C. Updates for the Week Ending June 2, 2023

Written by: Elizabeth Anderson

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, the U.S. Department of State released a “Strategic Framework for Space Diplomacy,” Spain became the 25th country to sign the Artemis Accords, and the House Armed Services Committee Chairman launched an investigation into continued delays on a decision for U.S. Space Command headquarters.

Space Foundation Stakeholder Call with

Representative Jason Crow (D-CO)

Space Foundation’s next monthly D.C. Stakeholder Call will feature Congressman Jason Crow (D-CO). These 30-minute conversations are an opportunity for our community to gather and engage with policymakers in the space community. This call will take place on Thursday, June 8 at 1:30 PM ET.

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

United States Space Policy Updates

  • NASA awarded an $166+ million contract extension to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Space Telescope Science Institute to expand development and operational resources for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Science Operations Center (NASA, May 19)
  • Senators Eric Schmitt (R-MO) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) introduced legislation to facilitate access to the electromagnetic spectrum for commercial space launches and commercial space reentries (U.S. Senate, May 17)
  • The Artemis 2 crew visited Washington D.C. to garner congressional support for NASA and the Artemis missions (Space News, May 21)
  • The U.S. Space Force updated its request for information (RFI) to industry regarding a proposed polar-orbiting low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation (SAM, May 23)
  • NASA and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on programs that would improve student access to STEM and space education (NASA, May 24)
  • Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), opened an investigation into continued delays in the selection of a permanent base for the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) Headquarters (Representative Hal Rogers, May 25)
  • The Space Development Agency (SDA) plan to launch 13 satellites in June as part of SDA’ s second launch of Tranche 0 satellites (Space News, May 26)
  • The U.S. Department of State (DoS) released its “Strategic Framework for Space Diplomacy” to build international relationships, protect the U.S. and allies from space-based threats, and develop an international rules-based space order (DoS, May 30)
  • President Biden approved the transfer of missile defense responsibilities from U.S. Strategic Command to U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM, May 30)
  • The Department of the Air Force (DAF) selected Patrick Space Force Base as its preferred location for the Space Training Readiness Command (DAF, May 31)
  • The first public meeting of NASA’s independent study on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) emphasized the need for more unclassified data to create a roadmap to evaluate UAPs (NASA, May 31)
  • House Science, Space, and Technology Committee (HSST) Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a review of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) next-generation geostationary satellite program (HSST, June 1)

International Space Policy Updates

  • Russia and Uganda signed a joint declaration to keep space weapons-free. Of note, neither country has signed onto the U.S.-led destructive KE-ASAT moratorium (Space in Africa, May 20)
  • Saudi Arabia launched two astronauts, including the first Arab female astronaut, to the International Space Station (ISS) on a private Axiom flight (Al Arabiya, May 21)
  • The third launch of South Korea’s KSLV-2 rocket successfully delivered seven satellites into orbit, though one cubesat is believed to have not deployed properly (Space News, May 25)
  • Chinese and Nigerian officials met in Beijing to discuss opportunities for collaboration in satellite communication technology (Space in Africa, May 27)
  • China announced plans to land taikonauts on the Moon by 2030 (New York Times, May 29)
  • Three Chinese taikonauts launched to the Tiangong Space Station as part of the Shenzhou 16 mission (, May 29)
  • Spain became the 25th country to sign the Artemis Accords (DOS, May 30)
  • North Korean spy satellite Chollima-1 failed during launch after a second stage malfunction. This marks North Korea’s sixth launch attempt since 2016 (Space News, May 31)
  • Starlink was granted an operations license in Costa Rica, expanding the service’s coverage in Latin America (Developing Telecoms, May 31)

 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)
  • The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded a contract to Ursa Major to build and test rocket engines for hypersonic flight and heavy launch capabilities (Ursa Major, May 23)
  • The Spaceport Company successfully launched a number of commercial rockets from a water-bound spaceport prototype in the Gulf of Mexico. The launches are the first of their kind in the U.S. (The Spaceport Company, May 23)
  • Three companies – Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch, and Vast-owned Launcher LLC – placed winning bids to purchase the remaining assets of Virgin Orbit (Tech Crunch, May 24)
  • Astranis successfully made connection with its first Arcturus MicroGEO satellite and user terminals in Alaska (Satellite Today, May 24)
  • Virgin Galactic completed its first successful spaceflight in over two years (Virgin Galactic, May 25)
  • NASA is seeking industry proposals to develop and contract next-gen Lunar Terrain Vehicles (LTV) for upcoming Artemis missions (NASA, May 26)
  • NASA completed its TROPICS constellation with a final launch of two smallsats aboard RocketLab’s Electron rocket (NASA, May 26)
  • Japanese lunar lander company ispace identified the issue that led to the hard landing of the HAKUTO-R 1 mission on April 26 (ispace, May 26)
  • Viasat closed its acquisition of satellite operator Inmarsat (Satellite Today, May 31)

Space Leader Spotlight

James L. Reuter

This week’s space leader is James L. Reuter, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. In his role as Associate Administrator, Reuter has led NASA’s technological prowess to new heights, interacting with private and commercial players to foster fruitful relationships, better science, and clearer pathways to the Moon and beyond.

A veteran NASA employee, Reuter has worked to expand the U.S.’ space-based capabilities since joining the agency as an aerospace engineer in 1983. Over his more than 40 year career, he has held numerous high-level executive positions in the Administration, including time as the Deputy Associate Administrator of the STMD, the Deputy Associate Director of Space Transportation at the Office of Aerospace Technology, and the ISS Environmental Control and Life Support System ((ECLSS), among others. His work at NASA has earned Reuter a number of awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the Exceptional Achievement Medal.

In May, Reuter announced his retirement from NASA after decades of exceptional service to the advancement of science and the wellbeing of the U.S.. He will officially retire on June 30th. As NASA eyes the Moon as the next major bastion of exploration for humanity, and Mars soon after, it will surely rely on the mountain of work completed by Reuter and those under his leadership.

Reading Corner

Atlas Obscura | Make the Official Mocktail of the European Space Agency

Europa Geology was selected as the winner of an ESA competition to create a mocktail inspired by the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission. The mission successfully launched in April 2023 and will spend 12 years looking for signs of life on Jupiter’s moons.

Written by Elizabeth Anderson, Amanda Nguyen, Jake Sell, and Ryan Lenney

Image credits to NASA and Atlas Obscura