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What's Happening in Space Policy May 29-June 3, 2017

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 28-May-2017
Updated: 28-May-2017 05:02 PM

Here is our list of space policy events for the week of May 29-June 3, 2017 and any insight we can offer about them.  The House and Senate are in recess this week.

During the Week

The United States observes Memorial Day tomorrow (Monday, May 29), where we honor the men and women who have died in the service of our country.  Federal offices and many businesses will be closed.  The House and Senate are taking the week off from legislative duties to reconnect with voters back home.

There's still plenty going on this week, though.

Two space conferences are scheduled in the U.K.-- the Interplanetary CubeSat Workshop (iCubeSat) in Cambridge May 30-31 and the U.K. Space Conference in Manchester May 30 - June 1.  The biennial U.K. Space Conference is still on as far as we know despite the horrific tragedy in that city last week (at a different venue).  It has an impressive set of speakers primarily from the U.K. and Europe, including ESA Director General Jan Woerner and ESA/UK astronaut Tim Peake.

Back here in the States, on Wednesday, NASA will hold a media event to make "an announcement" about a spacecraft it plans to launch next year that will be the first to "touch" the Sun.  Solar Probe Plus (SPP) will go into orbit around the Sun at a distance of 4 million kilometers from its surface, within its outer atmosphere.  Wednesday's briefing is from the University of Chicago, home to the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and to renowned space physicist, Dr. Eugene Parker.  NASA's press release didn't say what the announcement is about, but Kavli's website refers to it as a ceremony honoring Parker, one of the participants in the event.  It will be broadcast on NASA TV. The new head of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, is a solar physicist himself so it would not be surprising to see NASA  give more visibility to this part of its science portfolio, which is often overshadowed by earth science, astrophysics and planetary science.

Things will be busy on the highway between space and low Earth orbit, too.  On Thursday, Space X will launch its next cargo mission, CRS-11, to the International Space Station (ISS) from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A (with pre-launch briefings the day before).  If launch takes place on time, it will arrive at the ISS on Sunday, June 4.  In between, on June 2, two ISS crew members will return home -- ESA's Thomas Pesquet and Roscosmos's Oleg Novitsky -- on their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft.  Landing in Kazakhstan is at 10:09 am ET.  Originally Peggy Whitson was supposed to return on this flight, too, but she got an extra three months added to her mission because Russia has decided to keep only two, instead of three, cosmonauts aboard ISS until its science module is launched (a date that keeps slipping).  For this crew rotation, there was an empty seat as crew assignments got reallocated and she can return on Soyuz MS-04 instead in September. 

NASA's ISS Advisory Committee will meet in public session at NASA HQ in Washington from 2:00-3:00 pm ET on June 1.  Anyone can listen in, but you must contact Patrick Finley (patrick.t.finley@nasa.gov) by 4:00 pm ET May 30 to get the dial-in info.

On the national security space front, Women in Aerospace (WIA) will hold an afternoon symposium on June 1 on "Entrepreneurship:  Revolutionizing National Security Operations" in Arlington, VA.  It features a keynote by Will Roper, Director of the Strategic Capabilities Office in the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) and a panel with representatives from OSD, In-Q-Tel, CIA, NGA, and the Institute for Defense Analyses.

If that's not enough, a very interesting symposium will take place next weekend, June 3-4, at Columbia University in New York City.  The "Dawn of Private Space Science" conference bills itself as "a new platform to facilitate communication between the private space industry and scientists."  Its mission is to open a conversation "to create new opportunities for scientific experimentation in partnership with the private sector."  The event will be livestreamed.  Some of the sessions sound quite intriguing.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday morning are shown below.  Check back throughout the week for others we learn about later and add to our Events of Interest list.

Sunday-Monday, May 28-29

Monday, May 29

  • Memorial Day, U.S. government and many businesses will be closed

Tuesday-Wednesday, May 30-31

Tuesday-Thursday, May 30 - June 1

Wednesday, May 31

Wednesday-Friday, May 31-June 2

Thursday, June 1

Friday, June 2

Saturday-Sunday, June 3-4


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