International Affairs

Biweekly Washington D.C. Updates for the Week Ending on August 25, 2023

Written by: Amanda Nguyen

This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington, India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission successfully landed on the Moon, the FAA put forth a new rule proposal to revise definitions and requirements related to human spaceflight operations, and the House Armed Services Committee intends to convene a hearing to examine the decision on U.S. Space Command headquarters.

Space Foundation’s August D.C. Stakeholder Call

Join us for a conversation with Minh A. Nguyen, Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Management and Co-chair of the Human Space Flight Occupant Safety Rulemaking Committee at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).

Date: Tuesday, April 29

Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time

Duration: 30 minutes

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

United States Space Policy Updates

  • The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) released two Advisory Circulars (ACs) that provide guidance for operators on (1) launch and reentry collision avoidance analysis and (2) compliance with policy and payload reviews. (FAA, August 10)
  • The Department of State (DOS) held introductory discussions with government agencies and scientific institutions on coordinating an International Lunar Year later this decade. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) first proposed the concept in the National Cislunar Science and Technology Strategy. (DOS, August 11)
  • The National Science Board (NSB) held a meeting that discussed federal STEM workforce shortages and collaborative efforts by the NSB and National Science Foundation (NSF) to address domestic STEM talent. (NSB, August 15)
  • NASA confirmed that the Artemis 4 mission will be the first to utilize the lunar Gateway in 2028. (, August 16)
  • Polly Trottenberg, acting FAA Administrator, is set to step down on October 25th due to legal provisions that limit the term length of presidential nominees. At that time, if there is no confirmed administrator, Katie Thomson will be appointed as the new Acting Administrator. (Politico, August 16)
  • Texas A&M University approved the creation of a Texas A&M Space Institute and the construction of a facility next to NASA’s Johnson Space Center to ensure the state remains a leader in space exploration. (Texas A&M, August 17)
  • FAA proposed a new rule that would amend certain definitions and requirements related to human spaceflight operations, including new definitions for commercial space launch and reentry vehicles and occupants. The FAA is accepting comments until October 17. (FAA, August 18)
  • At the first trilateral summit between the United States, Japan, and South Korea, the three nations reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing trilateral dialogue on space security, particularly regarding threats in the space domain, national space strategies, and the responsible use of space. (The White House, August 18)
  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a “Safeguarding Our Future” bulletin that overviews foreign intelligence threats to U.S. space companies and steps on how to mitigate said threats. (ODNI, August 18)
  • ODNI released a request for information (RFI) to inform a study that will examine strategies for addressing barriers to the use of space-based commercial data and analytic services by intelligence and defense agencies. ODNI is accepting responses until September 22. (ODNI, August 21)
  • The National Security Space Association’s (NSSA) Moorman Center for Space Studies published a report on the “Strategic Implications of China’s Cislunar Space Activities.” (NSSA, August 21)
  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), invited Frank Kendall, Secretary of the Air Force, General James Dickinson, U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) Commander, and General Chance Saltzman, U.S. Space Force (USSF) Chief of Space Operations, to testify before the Committee on the decision to locate USSPACECOM headquarters in Colorado. (Rep. Mike Rogers, August 22)
  • NASA selected the geology team that will be responsible for leading the surface science plan for the Artemis III mission. (NASA, August 22)
  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) has requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the basing process for selecting the permanent headquarters of USSPACECOM. (HASC, August 24)
  • USSF is accepting bids from industry for the “Tactically Responsive Space Challenge.” Selected proposals will receive “direct to Phase 2” Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contracts worth up to $1.7 million. USSF is accepting submissions until September 28. (Space News, August 24)

International Space Policy Updates

  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced four new “Cabinet Decisions” to regulate various space-related activities within the UAE, including the exploitation of space resources. (WFW, August 10)
  • The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) awarded six grants totaling $1.03 million to support industry-academia collaborative space research projects at Canadian universities. (CSA, August 10)
  • The Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA) held bilateral dialogues with delegations from Kazakhstan and Mali to discuss future cooperation in space science and technology. (Space in Africa, August 11)
  • Russia has yet to receive a response from the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries, as well as African nations, invited to join the Russian Orbital Station (ROS) project. (TASS, August 14)
  • Members of the European Union (EU) committed to the U.S.-led pledge to not conduct destructive direct-ascent antisatellite (ASAT) tests in a statement to the United Nations (UN) Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Reducing Space Threats. The statement also recommended that the OEWG examine possible norms of behavior relating to threats by state actors to space systems. (EU, August 17)
  • The Peruvian Air Force (FAP) confirmed the possibility of future construction of a spaceport in Peru, following the April 2023 agreement between the FAP, the National Commission for Aerospace Research and Development (Conida), and USSSPACECOM. (Euro ES Euro, August 18)
  • Dr. Sherif Sedky was reappointed to serve as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the EgSA for another tenure beginning August 19, 2023. (Space in Africa, August 18)
  • The fourth and final session of the UN OEWG on Reducing Space Threats will be held from August 28 to September 1 in Geneva, Switzerland. (UN, August 19)
  • China reported that it is developing a large-scale space survey telescope to orbit alongside the Tiangong Space Station. (CGTN, August 19)
  • Roscosmos announced that the Luna-25 mission failed and crashed into the Moon due to an “abnormal situation” during an orbital adjustment. (Reuters, August 20)
  • The Indian Space Research Organization (IRSO) announced the Chandrayaan-3 mission safely touched down near the lunar South Role, marking India as the fourth country to successfully land on the moon. (ISRO, August 23)
  • China and South Africa have agreed to partner on space-related activities, including human spaceflight missions and China’s and Russia’s planned international lunar research station. (Space in Africa, August 24)

Space Industry Updates

  • Vast Space appointed Max Haot as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Alex Hudson will join as the first Chief Technology Officer (CTO). (Vast Space, August 11)
  • Planet Labs completed its acquisition of Sinergise, a Slovenian developer platform for Earth observation (EO) data. (Planet Labs, August 13)
  • Rocket Lab was selected to launch two 6U CubeSats for NASA’s PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) mission to monitor naturally occurring radiation in the Arctic. (Rocket Lab, August 14)
  • Intuitive Machines secured a six-day window to launch its IM-1 lunar lander mission beginning on November 15th. (Intuitive Machines, August 14)
  • BAE Systems announced its intention to acquire Ball Aerospace for $5.55 billion. (BAE Systems, August 17)
  • Spire Global appointed Leo Basola as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). (Spire Global, August 16)
  • Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin were awarded prototype agreements by the Space Development Agency (SDA) to build and operate a 72-satellite constellation that will serve as the foundation for Tranche 2 of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. (SDA, August 21)
  • Sierra Space and Redwire have partnered on a commercial pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing platform for low Earth orbit (LEO). Redwire will deliver biopharma and manufacturing facilities for Sierra Space’s Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) pathfinder module. (Sierra Space, August 21)
  • Mynaric was selected by the SDA to design an optical ground station to support enhanced data connectivity with various optical communications terminals (OCTs) for the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (Mynaric, August 22)
  • Sidus Space, a satellite manufacturing and space services company, announced its acquisition of Exo-Space, a startup specializing in edge artificial intelligence (AI) software and hardware for space applications. (Sidus Space, August 22)
  • Umbra was awarded a $1.25 million contract by the U.S. Air Force to demonstrate space-based moving target indication (MTI) capabilities with the use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging satellites. (Umbra, August 22)
  • BAE Systems named Reggie Robinson to be Senior Vice President for Government Relations. (BAE Systems, August 23)
  • SDA contracted SpaceX, Kuiper Government Solutions, and Aalyria Technologies a $1.6 million award to conduct a 90-day study on potential Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) backhaul capability. (SDA, August 24)
  • Rocket Lab launched its 40th Electron launch for Capella Space, marking the successful flight of a previously flown Rutherford engine. (Rocket Lab, August 24)

Space Leader Spotlight

Lieutenant General John Shaw

This week’s space leader is Lieutenant General John Shaw, Deputy Commander of U.S. Space Command. U.S. Space Command is the Unified Combatant Command responsible for conducting operations in, from, and to space to deter conflict, and if necessary, defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the Joint/Combined force, and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners.

During his distinguished three-decade career, he has served in a variety of air and space operations and staff positions. Most recently, Lt. Gen. Shaw was dual-hatted as the Commander of the Combined Forces Space Component Command for U.S. Space Command, and Deputy Commander of Space Operations Command for the U.S. Space Force. Notably, he also served as the Deputy Commander of Air Force Space Command for the United States Air Force and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy.

He entered the Air Force in 1990 as a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a degree in astronautical engineering coupled with a minor in Russian language. He also holds a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington, and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from George Washington University.

Lt. Gen. John Shaw will mark the culmination of his distinguished service with a retirement ceremony scheduled for Friday, September 8, at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado. Recent acknowledgments highlight the profound impact Lt. Gen. Shaw has had in the field, particularly through his instrumental role in the development of the U.S. Space Force and paving the way for its success.

Reading Corner

UNIDR & SWFLexicon for Outer Space Security

To facilitate a shared understanding of key topics and terms, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and the Secure World Foundation (SWF) have collaboratively crafted a Lexicon for Outer Space Security. This resource aims to serve as a global reference point for terminological issues related to space security. The Lexicon was intentionally designed to be a living document and will be continually updated over time to incorporate new terminology that emerges and to reflect evolving definitions.