International Affairs

Biweekly Washington D.C. Updates for the Week Ending on June 28, 2024

Written by: Amanda Nguyen

This Week in Washington

  • The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies approved the FY25 CJS Appropriations Act during a markup, allocating nearly $25.18 billion to NASA.
  • Astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the ISS took shelter on Wednesday in response to a threat posed by debris from the breakup of a decommissioned Russian Earth observation satellite.
  • NASA awarded SpaceX the contract to develop the deorbit vehicle for the ISS.

United States Space Policy Updates

  • NASA announced three upcoming meetings of the Planetary Science Advisory Committee in July to provide updates on the Planetary Science Division, the Moon to Mars Program, Mars Sample Return (MSR), and other topics. (Federal Register, June 13)
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) advanced the NDAA for FY2025 with a 22-3 vote to the Senate floor. (SASC, June 14)
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its annual Weapon Systems Assessment and found that the DOD is not delivering new technologies at sufficient speed. The report also noted an increasing number of threats in space, including adversarial efforts to target U.S. space assets and communications. (GAO, June 17)
  • Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), requested the Biden Administration to declassify all information regarding Russian anti-satellite weapons programs. (HPSCI, June 20)
  • The GAO released its annual assessment of NASA’s major projects and found improvements in cost and schedule performance since 2023, with cost overruns decreasing from $7.6 billion to $4.4 billion and schedule overruns decreasing from 20.9 years to 14.5 years. (GAO, June 20)
  • NASA, in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of State Office of Space Affairs, released a summary of the fifth biennial Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise to evaluate national readiness in responding to threats from potentially hazardous asteroids or comets. (NASA, June 20)
  • The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) expressing the President’s strong opposition to the DOD Appropriations Act for FY25, stating that he would veto the bill if presented. (White House, June 24)
  • The Office of Space Commerce (OSC) published a Space Industry Technical Standards Compendium, offering a consolidated resource for space-related standards, best practices, reports, and other relevant documents. (OSC, June 25)
  • The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that from 2017 to 2022, the U.S. space economy experienced a 2.3 percent growth in Real GDP, outpacing the overall U.S. economy’s growth rate of 1.9 percent over the same period. (BEA, June 25)
  • NASA successfully launched the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-U) aboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. (NASA, June 25)
  • The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (HAC-CJS) approved the FY25 CJS Appropriations Act during a markup, allocating nearly $25.18 billion to NASA. This represents a 1.2% increase over the FY24 budget but is $205 million less than the President’s budget request for the agency. The measure now advances to the Full Committee for further consideration. (HAC, June 26)
  • Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA) introduced H.R. 8837, the Celestial Time Standardization Act, directing NASA to establish a time standard for the Moon and other celestial bodies. (H.R. 8837, June 26)
  • Nine astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) were instructed to take shelter due to debris from the breakup of a decommissioned Russian Earth observation satellite, Resurs P1, on June 26. (Reuters, June 27)

International Space Policy Updates

  • Innospace, a South Korean startup specializing in developing hybrid rockets, is scheduled to go public on the Kosdaq exchange next month. (Korean Herald, June 17)
  • Dr. Nicola Fox, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), and Catherine Koerner, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate (ESDMD), visited Tokyo to present at the International Space Exploration Symposium and met with officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to discuss the Artemis campaign, as well as lunar architecture and science. (NASA, June 18)
  • The NATO Innovation Fund made its initial investments in deep tech to address defense, security, and resilience challenges, focusing on AI, space, and robotics advancements, with selected companies including Isar Aerospace, Space Forge, and Alpine Space Ventures. (NIF, June 18)
  • The first United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Conference on Sustainable Lunar Activities took place on June 18, featuring panels on future lunar activities and approaches with signatories from the Artemis Accords and International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) programs. (UNOOSA, June 18).
  • Namibia has approved the development of the Namibia Spaceport Project. (Space in Africa, June 19)
  • Slovenia signed the Accession Agreement to the European Space Agency (ESA) Convention, finalizing its membership as the 23rd ESA Member State upon ratification. (ESA, June 19)
  • The 67th session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPOUS) was held in Vienna from June 19 to 28. (UNCOPUOS, June 19)
  • During the 67th session of UNCOPUOS, Dr. Sherif Sedky, CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency, was elected as the new Chair, succeeding the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which held the position from 2022 to 2024. (UNOOSA, June 20)
  • JAXA has launched an investigation into a series of cyberattacks that occurred since mid-last year, implementing measures to assess the damage and secure affected networks. (The Japan Times, June 21)
  • The Iranian Space Agency (ISA) announced plans to conduct two satellite launches by July 21, 2024. (Mehr News Agency, June 23)
  • Chang’e-6 returned to Earth on June 25, carrying approximately two kilograms of lunar samples collected from the far side of the Moon. (SpaceNews, June 25)

Space Industry Updates

  • The U.S. Space Force (USSF) has terminated its contract with RTX for the Epoch 1 program due to cost overruns, schedule delays, and technical challenges. (Breaking Defense, June 14)
  • Lockheed Martin was awarded a $2.27 billion cost-plus contract from NASA, on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to build the spacecraft for NOAA’s next-generation Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) satellites. (NASA, June 18)
  • Dr. Lisa Costa, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer for the USSF, announced her formal retirement from government service. (LinkedIn June 18)
  • Honeywell has announced its plan to acquire CAES for approximately $1.9 billion, expanding its defense and space portfolio. (Honeywell, June 20)NASA announced that Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner’s return to Earth has been postponed, with no new return date provided following cancellations targeting June 22 and June 26. (NASA, June 21)
  • Blue Origin submitted a public comment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), urging the regulator to restrict the number of launches of SpaceX’s Starship from Launch Complex-39A at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. (FAA, June 21)
  • NASA has confirmed that pieces of debris discovered in the mountains of North Carolina are remnants of SpaceX Crew Dragon hardware that reentered the atmosphere in May 2024. (Space, June 25)
  • According to reports, Collins Aerospace is expected to cancel its contract for designing new NASA spacesuits due to ongoing delays. (Ars Technica, June 25)
  • Planet has filed plans with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to reduce its workforce by approximately 17%, affecting around 180 employees. (SEC, June 26)
  • Firefly Aerospace announced that it will launch its Alpha rocket from Wallops Island, VA, starting in 2025, and has also partnered to jointly launch satellites from Sweden’s Esrange Space Center beginning in 2026. (Firefly 1 & Firefly 2, June 27)
  • The second Vulcan launch by United Launch Alliance (ULA) will feature an inert payload instead of Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser, citing concerns over the spacecraft’s readiness for the scheduled September launch. (SpaceNews, June 26)
  • SpaceX has been awarded a $843 million contract by NASA to develop the deorbit vehicle for the ISS. (NASA, June 26)
  • Starfish Space has entered into an agreement with Intelsat to deliver on-orbit life extension services to a geostationary satellite starting in 2026. (TechCrunch, June 26)

Space Leader Spotlight

Lieutenant General David N. Miller, Jr.

This week’s space leader  This week’s space leader is Lieutenant General David N. Miller, Jr, Commander of the Space Operations Command for the U.S. Space Force (USSF). As Commander, he is responsible for the generation, presentation and sustainment of USSF combat-ready space, cyberspace, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and combat support forces.

Commissioned into the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in 1993 after graduating from Lafayette College with a double major in Anthropology and Sociology, Lt. Gen. Miller has served in range of operational leadership and staff positions. During his career, he has served as Chief of the Space Control Division for the U.S. Air Force, Director of Operations, Training, and Force Development for U.S. Space Command, and Commander of the 460th Space Wing. Before assuming his current role in January 2024, Lt. Gen. Miller served as Special Assistant to the Vice Chief of Space Operations at the USSF.

During his career, Lt. Gen. Miller earned multiple master’s degrees, including Operations Management from Regis University, National Security Policy Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, Air Science/Airpower Studies from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, and National Security Strategy from the National War College. He has been recognized with numerous awards for his service, including the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal with a Bronze Silver Star.

Throughout his military service, Lt. Gen. Miller has shown unwavering dedication to enhancing the combat readiness of the U.S. on multiple fronts and preparing the next generation of USSF Guardians.

Reading Corner

The RAND Corporation China’s Growing Risk Tolerance in Space

The RAND Corporation’s report “China’s Growing Risk Tolerance in Space” examines Chinese military perspectives on space activities, highlighting increased tolerance for risk in space operations compared to a decade ago. It emphasizes Chinese leaders’ perception of global power shifts, with China seeking to challenge U.S. dominance. The report suggests potential challenges in U.S.-China crisis management in space due to differing risk tolerances and strategic objectives.