International Affairs

Biweekly Washington D.C. Updates for the Week Ending on January 12, 2024

Written by: Amanda Nguyen

This Week in Washington

  • NASA announced that the Artemis II and Artemis III missions have been delayed to September 2025 and September 2026, respectively.
  • The House Science, Space and Technology (HSST) Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics has scheduled a hearing to discuss the Artemis Program next week.
  • NASA and the UAE jointly announced that the UAE will develop the Lunar Gateway airlock for the Artemis Program.
  • Gen. Stephen Whiting assumed leadership of U.S. Space Command, taking over the command from Gen. James Dickinson.

United States Space Policy Updates

  • Vice President Kamala Harris convened the third meeting of the National Space Council (NSpC) during the Biden-Harris Administration, announcing that, alongside American astronauts, the U.S. will land an international astronaut on the surface of the Moon by 2030. (The White House, December 20)
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released an implementation plan for the Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan, outlining three policy objectives and corresponding activities to advance space weather observations, research, and forecasting. (OSTP, December 20)
  • The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced that CEO Dan Dumbacher will step down from his role in September. (AIAA, January 3)
  • Doug Lamborn (R-CO), representing the Colorado Springs area, announced that he will not seek reelection in November. (The Denver Times, January 5)
  • NASA announced that the Artemis II and Artemis III missions had been delayed to September 2025 and September 2026, respectively. The Artemis IV mission remains on track for launch in September 2028. (NASA, January 9)
  • Democratic members of the Maryland and Virginia congressional delegations urged leadership on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to prioritize funding for NASA Goddard, emphasizing its importance in managing the Wallops Flight Facility. They requested consideration in any appropriations package for the remainder of FY 2024. (Senator Van Hollen, January 9)
  • The House Science, Space and Technology (HSST) Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will convene a hearing on NASA’s Artemis Program on Wednesday, January 17. (HSST, January 9)
  • Gen. Stephen Whiting has assumed command of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM), succeeding Gen. James Dickinson. In addition, Lt. Gen. David N. Miller Jr. has taken over the command of Space Operations Command (SpOC) from Gen. Whiting. (SpaceNew, January 10)
  • The United States Space Force (USSF) has selected Texas A&M University to lead the Space Strategic Technology Institute for In-Space Operations (SSTI-ISO), an initiative dedicated to advancing technologies for in-space operations. (Texas A&M, January 10)
  • NASA’s Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy (OTPS) recently released two reports: Space-based Solar Power and a Policy Question Framework. The first report focuses on Space Solar Power to equip NASA with information to support the development of the research field. The second report identifies 12 policy questions based on the Moon to Mars objectives to form a framework for future science and exploration missions. (NASA 1 and NASA 2, January 11)
  • NASA and the Department of Commerce (DOC) Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) to help connect minority and other underserved businesses to NASA acquisition and development opportunities. (NASA, January 11)

International Space Policy Updates

  • NASA and Roscosmos have extended their agreement to continue launching astronauts and cosmonauts on each other’s spacecraft until at least 2025 (, January 2)
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has postponed the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, which plans to conduct a sample return from the Martian moon, Phobos. Originally scheduled for launch in September 2024, the mission is expected in late 2026, with an anticipated sample return in 2031. (JAXA, January 4)
  • India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology are set to sign the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Convention, signaling increased collaboration in global radio astronomy and new-generation technologies. (Spacewatch Global, January 5)
  • China has completed the construction of a new commercial launch pad on Hainan Island, the first of two pads designed to host liquid propellant launch vehicles. This initiative is part of China’s broader strategy to modernize its space launch infrastructure. (Space News, January 5)
  • NASA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) will develop an airlock for the Lunar Gateway as part of the Artemis program. (NASA, January 7)
  • Companies engaged in Scotland’s spaceports have urged Members of Parliament (MPs) to establish a cabinet-level minister dedicated to the space launch industry, emphasizing the need for dedicated support to businesses in the sector. (The Independent, January 8)
  • Omani officials have announced plans to develop the Etlaq Space Launch Complex, the Middle East’s first spaceport, with construction expected to begin in 2025. (The National, January 9)
  • The French Space Agency (CNES) is set to receive a budget increase of 16.6% for 2024. Supplemented by special government economic stimulus initiatives, the additional funding will be allocated for startup investment and investment in small launch vehicles. (Space Intel Report, January 10)
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) announced a 10 percent increase in its budget for 2024, reaching €7.8 billion. The largest budget allocations are dedicated to earth observation (30.5%), navigation (13.5%), and space transportation (13.3%). (ESA, January 11)

Space Industry Updates

  • RTX announced the appointment of Phil Jasper as President of Raytheon, succeeding Wesley D. Kremer, who is set to retire at the end of Q1. (RTX, January 2).
  • New Space India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has contracted SpaceX for the launch of its GSAT-20 communications satellite in mid-2024. This marks the first time in over three decades that an Indian communications satellite will be launched on an American rocket. (SpaceNews, January 2).
  • Maxar Technologies was awarded a contract by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to provide advanced 3D satellite imagery and data for over 160,000 square kilometers within the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area. (Maxar, January 4)
  • Thomas Zurbuchen, former Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), has been appointed to the advisory board of Voyager Space. (PR Newswire, January 4)
  • NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory laid off 100 contractors in response to expected budget cuts to the Mars Sample Return (MSR) program, with the possibility of further layoffs in the future. (Los Angeles Times, January 7)
  • The United Launch Alliance (ULA) achieved a successful inaugural launch of its Vulcan Centaur rocket. (The New York Times, January 8)
  • Voyager Space and Airbus have finalized their agreement to form Starlab Space LLC, a joint venture partnership to design, construct, and operate the Starlab commercial space station. (PR Newswire, January 9)
  • Following its launch aboard the Vulcan Centaur rocket, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander experienced a post-launch anomaly, resulting in a propellant leak and ruling out the possibility of a soft landing on the Moon. The Peregrine mission team is actively working to extend the spacecraft’s operational life to collect spacecraft and payload data in preparation for their next lunar mission, Griffin. (Astrobotic, January 11)

Space Leader Spotlight

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

This week’s space leader is Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who made history as the first African American and female Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (HSST). Congresswoman Johnson passed away on December 31, 2023, at the age of 89, and was laid to rest at the Texas State Cemetery on January 10, 2024.

Born in the segregated South, Congresswoman Johnson emerged as a prominent civil rights activist in the 1960s. She was the first black woman elected to public office from Dallas after winning a seat in the Texas House of Representatives in 1972. In 1993, Congresswoman Johnson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Texas’s 30th congressional district from the 103rd to the 117th Congress. She announced her retirement in 2021, which took effect in January 2023.

Throughout her distinguished career, Congressman Johnson held various influential leadership roles that impacted the space and science community. Notably, from 2019 until her retirement in 2022, she made history as the first African American and female Chair of the HSST Committee. Before that, she served as Ranking Member of the Committee from 2010 to 2019. In addition, Congresswoman Johnson founded and served as co-chair of both the Diversity and Innovation Caucus and the House Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus. She also led the Congressional Black Caucus as chair during the 107th Congress.

We remember Congresswoman Johnson for her dedicated service to her home district and the nation, along with her steadfast advocacy and commitment to STEM education and diversity.

Reading Corner

NASA NASA Invites Public to Send Names Aboard Artemis Robotic Moon Rover

NASA invites you to send your name to the Moon aboard the VIPER rover (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover), the agency’s first robotic lunar explorer. The VIPER mission to the lunar South Pole seeks to uncover the mysteries of the Moon’s water and enhance our understanding of the location for NASA’s historic Artemis landing with the first woman and person of color. To participate in the “Send Your Name with VIPER” campaign, submit your names by March 15, 2024, and the collected names will be attached to the rover ahead of this pioneering lunar exploration mission.