International Affairs

Biweekly Washington D.C. Updates for the Week Ending on July 28, 2023

Written by: Amanda Nguyen

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, the Senate passed its version of the NDAA, Argentina became the 28th country to sign the Artemis Accords, and the Senate Commerce Committee advanced the ORBITS Act to the Senate floor.

The Global Space Economy Grew to $546B

Space Foundation announced that the global space economy grew 8% to $546 billion in 2022 and is projected to climb another 41% over the next five years. Dive into Space Foundation’s comprehensive analysis of the dynamic global space economy in The Space Report 2023 Q2. Access The Space Report.

United States Space Policy Updates

  • Jody Singer, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Director, announced her retirement after 38 years of service. Joseph Pelfrey, MSFC’s Deputy Director, will serve as the interim acting director until Singer’s successor is identified. (NASA, July 17)
  • Bipartisan leaders from the Congressional Women in STEM Caucus introduced H.B. 4682, the Mercury 13 Gold Medal Act, to recognize the contribution of the first group of women, known as the Mercury 13, to successfully complete the first phases of astronaut testing with the Congressional Gold Medal. (Rep. Houlahan, July 17)
  • The U.S. Space Force (USSF) accelerator, Hyperspace Challenge, announced its 2023 program, “Protecting Space Assets Through Innovation,” in partnership with the USSF’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO). (Hyperspace Challenge, July 19)
  • The House passed H.R. 3935, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through FY 2028. The current FAA bill is set to expire on September 30. (H.R. 3935, July 20)
  • Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Chair of the Senate Commerce Space and Science Subcommittee, met with members of the Future Space Leaders to discuss the future of the space and satellite industry. (Sen. Sinema, July 20)
  • USSF Brig. Gen. Timothy Sejba assumed leadership of Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) from U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Shawn Bratton. (STARCOM, July 20)
  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson traveled to Brazil, Argentina, and Columbia to meet with key government officials on possible bilateral cooperation in space. (NASA, July 21)
  • USSF’s Space Systems Command (SSC) is soliciting industry feedback on its Commercial Augmentation Space Reserve (CASR) framework, which provides guidance on commandeering commercial satellite services in times of crisis. (DOD, July 24)
  • The House failed to pass H.R. 1338, the Satellite and Telecommunications Streamlining Act in a 250-163 vote. Leadership on the House Science Committee drove the opposition, circulating a Dear Colleague Letter arguing that the bill would provide the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with unprecedented authority over space safety and debris. (Space Policy Online, July 25)
  • The House passed H.R. 682, the Launch Communications Act, which directs the FCC to facilitate access to specified broadband spectrum for commercial space launches and reentries, by voice vote. (H.R. 682, July 25)
  • President Joe Biden intends to nominate Derek Chollet to serve as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Department of Defense (DOD). (The White House, July 25)
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a hearing on the nomination of Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, USSF, to be promoted to Commander of U.S. SPACECOM. (SASC, July 26)
  • The FAA launched the Human Space Flight Occupant Safety Aerospace Rulemaking Committee that will provide recommendations on a possible framework for commercial human spaceflight safety. (FAA, July 27)
  • The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee (SCC) advanced S. 447, the Orbital Sustainability Act (ORBITS) and S. 1648, the Launch Communications Act to the Senate floor, during a full Committee markup. (SCC, July 27)
  • Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ken Calvert (R-CA) led the reintroduction of the bipartisan Space Infrastructure Act. If passed, the bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to designate space systems, services and technology as critical infrastructure. (Rep. Lieu, July 27)
  • The Senate passed its version of the NDAA for FY 2024 in a 86-11 vote. (S. 2226, July 27)

International Space Policy Updates

  • Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Col. Tan Kefei accused the U.S. of accelerating the militarization of space, stating that U.S. actions, including the establishment of USSF in 2019, have “had a great negative impact on space security and global strategic stability.” (C4ISRNET, July 14)
  • Gen. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations, stated that the destruction of a satellite, whether U.S. or allied, by an aggressor should be considered “an act of war,” during the Royal International Air Tattoo in the United Kingdom (UK). (Breaking Defense, July 14)
  • Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) released an issue brief, entitled “Defending the Ultimate High Ground,” that examines China’s approach to space resilience and responsive launch. (CSET, July 17)
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to partner on the development of a joint commercial launch vehicle and launch site. (Emirates News Agency, July 17)
  • Venezuela formally joined China’s International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) project. (Space News, July 18)
  • USSF and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) held their first ever Space Engagement Talks (SET) to discuss combined space operations and enhance our alliance in the space domain. (USSF, July 18)
  • The UK released a policy paper entitled “National Space Strategy in Action,” that outlines how the government plans to bolster the country’s space economy and deliver on the 2021 National Space Strategy (NSS). (UK, July 19)
  • Tanzania announced plans to launch the nation’s first satellite later this year. (Space in Africa, July 20)
  • Russia officially opened the Russian Optical and Electronic Complex for Detection and Measurement of the Movement Parameters of Space Debris (OEC DSD) in South Africa. (Space in Africa, July 24)
  • Roscosmos Director-General Yuri Borisov invited Russia’s BRICS (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) partners to build a module for the planned Russian Orbital Station (ROS). (Reuters, July 24)
  • NASA Administrator Nelson proposed extending U.S. satellite capabilities to Brazil to help monitor the destruction of the Amazon rainforest during his visit to the Brazilian space research center, INPE. (Reuters, July 25)
  • Argentina became the 28th country to sign the Artemis Accords. (NASA, July 27)

 Space Industry Updates

  • Above Space Development Corporation signed an Umbrella Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA for access to NASA facilities and resources in exchange for insight on Above’s hybrid, and microgravity technology and innovations. (Above, July 14)
  • LightRidge Solutions, a portfolio company that specializes in space and defense mission support for the national security community, announced the acquisition of Trident Systems, space electronics and C4ISR solutions company. (LightRidge, July 17)
  • Seraphin Space released its annual index on private investment in the space industry, finding that approximately $4.5 billion of investments were made in SpaceTech within the last year. (Seraphin, July 17)
  • Rocket Lab successfully completed an ocean splashdown and recovery of its Electron rocket’s first stage, marking a significant step towards Electron becoming the world’s first reusable small rocket. (Rocket Lab, July 18)
  • Virgin Galactic announced the crew of Galactic 2, its first private astronaut mission, scheduled to launch in August. The crew will include the first astronaut from the Caribbean, the first mother-daughter duo, and the first Olympian to go to space. (Virgin Galactic, July 18)
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that NASA exceeded its small-business partnership goals by 18 percent, earning the agency an A-rating from the SBA for the sixth consecutive year. (NASA, July 18)
  • NASA awarded KBR Wyle Services a five-year Integrated Mission Operations Contract III (IMOC III) with a potential value of over $1.9 billion, to provide mission and flight crew operations support for the International Space Station (ISS) and future human space exploration. (NASA, July 20)
  • Amazon’s Project Kuiper has invested $120 million into the construction of a satellite processing facility at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility (LLF) at Kennedy Space Center. (Space Florida, July 21)
  • The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded 16 companies contracts on behalf of USSF to provide proliferated low Earth orbit (PLEO) satellite services, a first in government satellite communication (SATCOM) procurement. (USSF, July 24)
  • NASA selected 11 companies to develop a range of technologies to support long-term space exploration under its sixth Tipping Point opportunity. The project will be jointly funded by NASA and industry partners, with NASA contributing up to $150 million and each company contributing a minimum percentage of the project cost. (NASA, July 25)
  • NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to develop a nuclear-powered spacecraft under the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) project. Lockheed will partner with BWX Technologies to develop the nuclear reactor and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel. (Lockheed Martin, July 26)
  • Boeing reported that continued delays with the Starliner commercial crew program have cost the company an additional $257 million, bringing the total overrun cost to $1.5 billion. (CNBC, July 26)
  • Northrup Gruman disclosed that it took a $36 million charge for its work on its contract for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module of NASA’s lunar Gateway, in it Q2 2023 financial results. (Northrup Gruman, July 27)
  • L3Harris completed its acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne, following a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decision not to block the $4.7 billion deal. (L3Harris, July 28)

Space Leader Spotlight

Kelvin B. Coleman

This week’s space leader is Kelvin B. Coleman, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST). In his role at FAA/AST, Mr. Coleman is responsible for promoting and ensuring a safe space transportation environment.

Joining FAA/AST as an aerospace engineer in 1996, Mr. Coleman has played a significant role in the development of the organization and advancement of the commercial space industry. During his almost three-decade career, Mr. Coleman served as Deputy Associate Administrator, Chief of Staff, and Program Lead for Space and Air Traffic Integration for FAA/AST. In March 2022, Mr. Coleman was named the Acting Associate Administrator, until assuming his current role as Associate Administrator in September. In his position, Mr. Coleman leads the FAA/AST’s work to facilitate, oversee, and advance the launch and re-entry standards and operations for the commercial space sector.

Before joining AST, Mr. Coleman served in the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command for seven years as a systems engineer and as a guidance, navigation and control engineer. Mr. Coleman earned a B.S. in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University and an MBA from Marymount University. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Executive Training Program and a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). It is clear that Mr. Coleman’s wealth of experience is critical for FAA/AST to meet the global commercial space community’s increasing demands while continuing to ensure the U.S. has the safest commercial space transportation in the world.

Reading Corner

The Pew Research Center | Americans’ View of Space

The Pew Research Center released a survey on “Americans’ Views of Space: U.S. Role, NASA Priorities and Impact of Private Companies.” The report examines the American public’s attitudes toward space, including current civil and commercial activities, as well as their expectation for the future of space exploration.