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Military / National Security News

What's Happening in Space Policy January 3-8, 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 03-Jan-2016 (Updated: 03-Jan-2016 12:53 PM)

Here is our list of space policy related events for the week of January 3-8, 2016 and any insight we can offer about them.  The 114th Congress 2nd session convenes this week and the House meets for legislative business (the Senate returns to work next week).

During the Week

Washington gets back to work this week with the President returning from his Christmas vacation in Hawaii and the House and Senate officially convening for the 2nd session of the 114th Congress tomorrow (Monday).  The "official" convening is only in pro forma session, though.  The real work begins for the House on Tuesday and for the Senate on January 11.  No space-related hearings are on the committee schedules posted as of now.

Outside of Washington, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) annual meeting in Kissimmee, FL and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech 2016 conference in San Diego promise to be full of interesting sessions on space science, engineering and policy.   The AAS offers real-time webcasts only of press conferences and those are only for registered journalists, so the Town Hall meetings with NASA and NSF, for example, will not be available remotely from AAS at least.  If we hear of any other organization providing livestreaming, we'll post it on our Events of Interest list.

AIAA, on the other hand, generously offers livestreaming for many of its key sessions, including one tomorrow (Monday) that features former NASA Administrator Dan Goldin along with a stellar panel of other government, former government, and non-government experts.  The topic is "Aerospace Science and Technology Policy in the 2016 Political Arena" and two of the other panelists -- Courtney Stadd and Mark Albrecht -- are veterans of the White House National Space Council during the Bush/Quayle years (among their many other government and non-government positions).   It wouldn't be surprising if someone asks the perennial question of whether whoever becomes the next president should reinstate the Space Council, which still exists in law, but has not been staffed or funded since the end of the Bush/Quayle term.

Remember that all the times posted on the AIAA livestream list are in Pacific Standard Time (PST).  Add three for Eastern Standard Time (EST).  That panel is at 8:00 am PST/11:00 am EST. 

Two other especially interesting sessions tomorrow are the Durand Lecture for Public Service by Ron Sega at 12:30 pm PST/3:30 pm EST and a panel moderated by Michael Moloney of the Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. (What a mouthful!  It sure was easier when we could say National Research Council.)  That panel is on "Research Enabling and Enabled by a Cis-Lunar One-Year Mission" and begins at 2:00 pm PST/5:00 pm EST.  Several other interesting lectures and sessions also will be webcast throughout the week.

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

Sunday-Monday, January 3-4

  • ExoPAG, Kissimmee, FL (in conjunction with the AAS meeting)

Monday-Friday, January 4-8

  • American Astronomical Society annual meeting, Kissimmee, FL, includes meetings of NASA's three astrophysics Program Analysis Groups (PAGs) - ExoPAG, COPAG, PhysPAG
  • AIAA SciTech 2016, San Diego, CA (key sessions will be livestreamed)

Tuesday, January 5

  • First legislative business day for the House of Representatives, 114th Congress, 2nd session

Thursday, January 7

What's Happening in Space Policy December 28, 2015 - January 8, 2016

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 27-Dec-2015 (Updated: 27-Dec-2015 07:41 PM)

Here is our list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks as we transition from one year to the next:  December 28, 2015 - January 8, 2016.   The 114th Congress officially begins its second session next week and the House will meet for legislative business, but the Senate is not scheduled to be back until January 11.

During the Weeks

We all have one more week to relax and get to the bottom of the piles of stuff on our desks before 2016 starts off with fervor.  As usual, two big annual meetings are on tap for the first week of January that promise to be full of news about space science and engineering -- the American Astronomical Society's meeting in Kissimmee, FL and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech 2016 conference in San Diego.  Most of these big conferences offer key sessions via webcast either in real time or for later viewing.  Check their websites for details.

The 2nd session of the 114th Congress officially begins on January 4, though the House and Senate meet only in pro forma sessions that day.  The first legislative business day for the House is January 5.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has not yet posted the House schedule for January 5-8. The Senate goes back to work on January 11 (and the State of the Union address is on January 12). 

It being a presidential election year, the House and Senate will meet for fewer days than usual in 2016 and the schedule is front-end loaded.  They will be busy through early July, but then have an extended summer break -- from July 18 to September 6 -- because the party conventions to select their presidential tickets are the last two weeks of July (Republicans in Cleveland the week of July 18; Democrats in Philadelphia the following week).   Both return for most of September -- when they will have to do something about FY2017 appropriations before the end of the fiscal year on September 30 -- and the House will recess for the entire month of October to allow members to focus on reelection campaigns.  The Senate currently plans to meet the first week of October only.  They both return briefly in mid-November after the elections and for part of December.   What all that means is the lion's share of congressional action will be in the first six months of the year.  In total, the House is scheduled to be in session for just 111 days in 2016, the fewest since 2006 according to the AP. The Senate plans to be in session for 149 days.

Following are the events for the next two weeks that we know about as of Sunday morning, December 27.  Check back throughout the weeks for anything we learn about later and add to our Events of Interest list on our main page.

In the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

January 4-8, 2016

January 5

ULA Orders More RD-180 Rocket Engines

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 23-Dec-2015 (Updated: 24-Dec-2015 05:38 AM)

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that it has ordered more RD-180 rocket engines to power its Atlas V rockets.  The number of RD-180s ULA is allowed to procure has been the subject of intense controversy in Congress.

ULA said the new engines would be used for "potential civil and commercial launch customers."   The restrictions that were placed on the number of RD-180s the company could obtain in the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) applied only to national security space launches, but in any case they were superseded by language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted last week.   Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and primary architect of the NDAA's restrictive language, lambasted two members of the Senate Appropriations Committee who championed ULA interests -- Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).  ULA builds its rockets in Shelby's state of Alabama.   ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin and Boeing is headquartered in Durbin's state of Illinois.

McCain wants to end U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines to launch national security satellites and payments to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his "cronies" as McCain often says.  He also supports SpaceX and its determination to compete against ULA for national security launch contracts.  ULA has held a virtual monopoly on Air Force launch contracts since it was created in 2006.  it launches the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets, referred to as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV).  The Delta IV does not use Russian engines, but is very expensive and ULA concedes it is not cost competitive with SpaceX's Falcon rockets.

ULA, the Air Force and McCain all agree on the need to develop an American engine to replace the RD-180.  The question is over timing.  McCain wants ULA to begin using an American alternative by 2019 while ULA and the Air Force insist that it will take until 2021 or 2022 until a new engine is developed, tested and certified.  ULA and Blue Origin announced a partnership last year to use Blue Origin's BE-4 engine for a new version of the Atlas V, called Vulcan.  ULA later announced that it also is working with Aerojet Rocketdyne on that company's AR1 engine in case the BE-4 does not perform as planned.

ULA said today that it is "moving smartly" with Blue Origin and Aerojet Rocketdyne "but this type of development program is difficult and takes years to complete" and a smooth transition to a new engine is essential.

The announcement did not state the contract value or when the engines will be delivered.  The engines are made by Russia's Energomash and sold to ULA via

ULA primarily launches military and intelligence satellites, but also launches spacecraft for NASA and NOAA and occasionally for commercial customers.  The national security launch market is expected to decline in the next several years and ULA is seeking more civil and commercial customers.  Boeing, for example, plans to launch its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle on Atlas V.  Starliner is being developed as a NASA-Boeing public private partnership with the goal of taking crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS).  Sierra Nevada planned to Atlas V for its Dream Chaser spacecraft.  Although it lost out to Boeing and SpaceX on NASA's commercial crew program, it is competing in the second round of NASA's commercial cargo contracts to service the ISS and would need Atlas V for those launches if it is successful.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article stated that ULA is buying the engines from Energomash.  Strictly speaking, ULA's contract is with the U.S. company RD AMROSS, which contracts with Energomash on ULA's behalf.  ULA's announcement does not specify who it contracted with, but Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, tweeted that Energomash and RD AMROSS have entered into an agreement for more RD-180s.

FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Clears Congress, Signed by President

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 18-Dec-2015 (Updated: 18-Dec-2015 11:35 PM)

The House and Senate passed the final version of the FY2016 appropriations bill today and it was quickly signed into law by President Obama.  Government agencies are now funded through the end of FY2016 -- September 30, 2016.

The final bill, H.R. 2029, brought mostly good news to government civilian space programs at NASA, NOAA and the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).

NASA gets a $756 million boost above the President's request, which itself was a $519 million increase over the agency's FY2015 funding.  Its top-line funding for FY2016 is $19.285 billion compared to $18.010 billion in FY2015.  Details are in our NASA budget fact sheet.  In a big win for the Obama Administration, Congress provided the full $1.244 billion requested for the commercial crew program.   At the same time, it added significant funds for the Space Launch System and a robotic mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, two congressional priorities.

NOAA's satellite programs were fully funded with two small exceptions ($10 million requested for an Earth Observing Nanosatellite-Microwave program was denied, and $1.2 million was provided instead of $2.5 million for beginning to plan for a space weather satellite follow-on to DSCOVR).  But the GOES-R and JPSS weather satellite programs are fully funded, along with the Polar Follow On (PFO) program for two more JPSS spacecraft (JPSS-3 and -4).  Getting full funding for PFO is a big win for the Obama Administration; Congress was lukewarm, at best, about it.  Congress also created a Commercial Weather Data Pilot program, one of its priorities, and funded it at $3 million for FY2016. Details are in our NOAA budget fact sheet.

FAA/AST did not get the full $1.5 million increase it requested, but it got more than the House-passed or Senate Appropriations Committee-recommended levels.  It will get $17.8 million for FY2016, compared to $16.605 million in FY2015, an increase of $1.2 million. 

Perhaps the most controversial issue in the DOD space program was not funding, but the policy issue of how many Russian RD-180 engines may by obtained by the United Launch Alliance for its Atlas V rocket.  The Atlas V is used to launch national security satellites and the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act  (NDAA) sharply limits the number of Russian engines that ULA may use because its focus is building an American-made alternative.  The appropriations bill, however, essentially lifts those limits.  Senator John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the architect of the RD-180 limits, lambasted his appropriations colleagues for undermining the provisions of the NDAA.

Congress Passes Another CR as Votes Await on Full Year Omnibus Bill - UPDATE

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-Dec-2015 (Updated: 17-Dec-2015 10:14 PM)

The House and Senate quickly passed another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) today to keep the government operating until Tuesday, December 22.   The goal is to pass the full-year omnibus appropriations that negotiators agreed upon overnight before the new deadline passes.  [UPDATE: The President signed the CR on December 16, P.L. 114-100.]

As reported in four articles today, negotiators agreed on a bill that combines all 12 regular FY2016 appropriations bills into a single "omnibus" bill to fund the government through September 30, 2016. 

The omnibus bill, H.R. 2029, still must pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the President.  The $1.149 trillion funding bill meets the requirements of the budget/debt limit deal reached by Congress and the White House at the end of October, but remains controversial.  As House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, "in divided government, no one gets exactly what they want."  Republican and Democratic leaders apparently believe they have enough votes to get the measure passed, however.

The CR currently keeping the government operating expires today, necessitating another short-term CR until the omnibus becomes law.

McCain Lambasts Senate Appropriators for RD-180 Provision

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-Dec-2015 (Updated: 16-Dec-2015 11:13 PM)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took to the floor of the Senate today to lambaste two colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee for eviscerating language McCain included in the DOD authorization bill restricting the number of Russian RD-180 rocket engines that could be used for national security launches.  The issue pits McCain's Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) against the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC).

McCain has been a leader on the issue of restricting the number of Russian RD-180 rocket engines the United Launch Alliance (ULA) may obtain for its Atlas V rockets.  ULA launches the Atlas V and Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs) and has been virtually a monopoly provider of national security launch services since it was created in 2006.  ULA is a 50-50 joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

McCain wants to end reliance on Russian engines to launch national security satellites and to open competition for such launches to "new entrants" like SpaceX.   He wants to build a new American rocket engine to replace the RD-180 and begin using it by 2019.   The Air Force and ULA say they agree with the goal, but not with the timetable.  They insist that it will be several years more -- until 2021 or 2022 -- before a new engine is developed, tested and certified to launch expensive national security satellites.

McCain included language in the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) limiting to nine the number of engines ULA may obtain as part of a total of 14 that the company planned to use for competitive launch procurements.  ULA wants all 14.

ULA builds its rockets in Decatur, AL and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is a strong advocate for the company.  He is also a powerful member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  During markup of the FY2016 DOD appropriations bill earlier this year, Shelby, SAC Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS), and SAC ranking member Dick Durbin (D-IL) made clear that they wanted to give the Air Force and ULA what they wanted.  Strictly speaking, this is a policy question that would be dealt with by an authorizing committee (SASC), not appropriators who are supposed to deal with funding.

The final FY2016 DOD appropriations bill, which is Division C of the omnibus appropriations bill that congressional negotiators agreed to overnight, includes a provision the undermines McCain's provision in the NDAA, however.

Section 8048 of Division C states that:  "None of the funds made available by this Act for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle service competitive procurements may be used unless the competitive procurements are open for award to all certified providers of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class systems: Provided, That the award shall be made to the provider that offers the best value to the government: Provided further, that notwithstanding any other provision of law, award may be made to a launch service provider competing with any certified launch vehicle in its inventory regardless of the country of origin of the rocket engine that will be used on its launch vehicle, in order to ensure  robust competition and continued assured access to space.

The "notwithstanding any other provision of law" language makes the NDAA irrelevant in this context.

McCain delivered a blistering speech on the Senate floor today calling out Shelby and Durbin for overturning the NDAA provision:  "This is outrageous.  And this is shameful.  And it is the height of hypocrisy, especially for my colleagues who claim to care about the plight of Ukraine and the need to punish Russia for its aggression."  Neither Shelby nor Durbin raised objections when the NDAA was approved by the Senate, McCain said, and instead "crafted a provision in secret with no debate to overturn the will of the Senate" as expressed in both the FY2015 and FY2016 NDAAs.  He vowed that the issue "will not go unaddressed" in next year's NDAA and "perhaps we need to look at a complete and indefinite restriction on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's rocket engines. ... I simply cannot allow Senator Shelby, Senator Durbin, the Senate Appropriations Committee, or any other member of this body to craft a ... bill that allows a monopolistic corporation to do business with Russian oligarchs to buy overpriced rocket engines that fund Russia's belligerence in Crimea and Ukraine, its support for Assad in Syria, and its neo-imperial ambitions."

Shelby said in an op-ed published in Space News that while he agrees on the need to end reliance on Russian engines, he believes "some in Congress have overreacted with ill-conceived legislation that would restrict the near-term use of these engines."  Quoting Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on the need to avoid a gap in assured access to space or the ability to have price-based competition, Shelby argued that SpaceX would become a monopoly provider of launches to the national security community if ULA does not have sufficient RD-180 engines for the Atlas V to be a viable competitor.

The House and Senate still need to vote on the omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2029).  The two chambers quickly approved another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through Tuesday, December 22.  The current CR expires today.   

What's Happening in Space Policy December 14-December 31, 2015 - UPDATE

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 13-Dec-2015 (Updated: 14-Dec-2015 08:45 PM)

Here's our list of upcoming space policy events (updated December 14 to add a link to the list of AGU sessions that will be livestreamed).  This version covers the three weeks between now and the end of the year as the number of events dwindles and thoughts turn to holidays and fresh beginnings.  The House and Senate will meet this week at least.  If they fail to reach agreement on an FY2016 appropriations bill, they might be back next week.

During the Weeks

In Washington, everyone is awaiting congressional agreement on a full-year omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the government through the end of FY2016 (September 30, 2016).   Congress extended the existing Continuing Resolution (CR) now funding the government from December 11 to December 16 in the hope that the extra 5 days is enough for negotiators to reach a compromise on what policy provisions (riders) are included.   The goal is for the bill to be introduced tomorrow (Monday) and voted on three days later (Wednesday), giving House members three days to read the bill.  The House has a rule that three days notice is required, but it is often bypassed.  New House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants the House to return to "regular order" -- following the rules -- so if the bill is not introduced tomorrow, the date for a vote could slip.   Congress may, in fact, keep extending the CR for short or long periods of time.   As members of the appropriations committees point out, it is a wasteful and inefficient way to run a government (not only can new programs not begin, but existing programs cannot be terminated under a CR), so many are motivated to reach an agreement.  We'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference is taking place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco this week.   It is always a great venue for breaking news in the earth and planetary science fields and features top level industry, academic and government leaders.  For example,  Elon Musk is scheduled to be there on Tuesday morning (10:10-11:00 am Pacific Time).   Al Gore was just added to the program for a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday at 12:30 pm Pacific Time on "The Earth from a Million Miles: Advancing Earth Observations from L1."  Gore was the initiator of what is now known as the DSCOVR program (originally called Triana), which was finally launched in February after years in political purgatory.  It is now at Sun-Earth L1 sending back scientific data and the daily views of Earth that Gore sought.  UPDATE:  Many of the AGU general sessions, Town Halls, and press conferences will be livestreamed and/or archived on the AGU YouTube channel.  A list is posted on the conference website with links.  Note that all times are Pacific Standard Time (add three for Eastern).

Musk has quite a schedule this week.  He'll be at AGU on Tuesday and on Wednesday SpaceX will hold a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket that will be used to launch 11 ORBCOMM OG-2 satellites "about three days later" if all goes well.   This will be the first Falcon 9 launch since the June 28, 2015 failure and the beginning of a series of four missions the company plans to launch in the next two months.

The last of those four will be the next SpaceX cargo launch to the ISS, SpaceX-8 (SpX-8).  NASA will say only that its internal plans call for a launch in "February."   There will be six ISS crew members awaiting those supplies.  Three just returned on Friday and three more will launch on Tuesday, restoring the facility to its typical crew complement of six.

So this will be a very busy week, but if Congress gets the appropriations bill done, a two-week respite should follow. 

Here are all the events we know about as of Sunday morning.  Check back during the week for anything added to our Events of Interest list as the days progress.

Monday, December 14

Monday-Friday, December 14-18

Tuesday, December 15

Tuesday-Wednesday, December 15-16

Wednesday-Friday, December 16-18

Saturday, December 19

Congress Extends Government Funding to December 16

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Dec-2015 (Updated: 11-Dec-2015 05:02 PM)

Congress passed a 5-day extension to the deadline for funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year today.  The bill, H.R. 2250, passed the House by voice vote.  The Senate passed it yesterday.

The bill in its current from is short and to the point, simply replacing the date of December 11 with December 16 in the previously-enacted FY2016 Continuing Resolution (CR). H.R. 2250 is being used as the legislative vehicle for the CR-extension.  As introduced, it was on an unrelated topic, but was in a useful stage of the legislative process to move  forward quickly.  The Senate struck all the language in the original bill and replaced it with the extension to December 16.

House and Senate Republicans and Democrats continue to negotiate over a wide range of controversial policy provisions -- riders -- that have held up final agreement on the funding bill.   It is anticipated that they will reach agreement on a single bill that consolidates all 12 regular appropriations bills -- an "omnibus" appropriations -- to fund the government through September 30, 2016, but that is not a foregone conclusion.  They could simply pass another short term extension.

But the good news is that today, at least, there will not be a government shutdown for lack of funds.  The President still needs to sign the legislation; that should take place in the next several hours.

Short Term CR Introduced to Keep Government Open 5 More Days

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Dec-2015 (Updated: 09-Dec-2015 11:00 PM)

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) today introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating for 5 more days past the Friday deadline when the current CR expires.  The hope is that work can be completed on a bill that will fund it for the rest of FY2016 by early next week.

FY2016 began on October 1 and Congress should have passed 12 regular appropriations bills by then to pay for defense and non-defense discretionary federal government activities including DOD, NASA and NOAA.  None of those bills cleared Congress and a CR was enacted instead to keep agencies operating at FY2015 levels until agreement could be reached.  That CR expires on Friday, December 11.

A budget deal reached at the end of October between the White House and Congress cleared the way for agreement on spending levels, but policy provisions -- "riders" -- continue to hold up final action.   It is expected that all 12 bills will be combined into a single consolidated or "omnibus" appropriations bill that provides funding through the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2016.

The decision to introduce another short-term CR can be viewed as good news in the sense that it indicates all sides may be close to an agreement if given just a few more days, though critics would argue that sufficient time has passed that they should have been able to get the job done by Friday.

The bill, H.J. Res. 75, would fund government operations at their current level though Wednesday, December 16.  Rogers said in a statement that it is his "hope and expectation that a final, full-year bill will be enacted before this new deadline."

What's Happening in Space Policy December 7-13, 2015 - UPDATE

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 06-Dec-2015 (Updated: 07-Dec-2015 09:34 AM)

Here is our list of space policy related events for the coming week -- and weekend, since there's an interesting symposium on Saturday -- of December 7-13, 2015 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in session this week. (Updated to remove reference to OA-4 launch, which went off successfully today, and to add agenda for Wednesday's Galloway symposium, which is now available.)

During the Week

It's Groundhog Week!!  Once again Congress must past a budget by the end of the week or the government will face a shut down.  The Continuing Resolution (CR) currently funding the government expires on December 11.  Once again pundits are split as to whether Congress will be able to pull it off or not.  Once again it is less a matter of budget issues than policy riders that various groups want to attach to the funding bill -- from preventing Syrian refugees from resettling in the United States to repealing portions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act to blocking EPA regulations for clean power and clean water.   Congressional Republicans focused their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and defund Planned Parenthood in a separate bill that cleared the Senate last week.  Although they know the President will veto it, they succeeded in forcing Senators to go on record with their votes, so perhaps they will not raise these issues again so soon during this week's appropriations debate. knows too well the folly of trying to anticipate what Congress will do, but will take a risk and lay odds that something will pass by Friday and the government will not shut down.  Whether it's a full-year omnibus appropriations bill or another short-term CR -- well, we're not going to venture a guess on THAT.

Apart from that, there's a bumper crop of really interesting events on tap this week. Only three will be highlighted here in order to keep this relatively brief.

First is the 10th Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law on Wednesday at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.  As one can see from the agenda, it looks terrific (OK, your faithful editor is on the program, but it's terrific because of all the OTHER people who will be speaking).  The theme is looking back over what's happened in the past 10 years in space law and space policy -- because it's the 10th Galloway symposium -- and looking forward to what comes next.

Second is a seminar sponsored by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation on "Asia's Space Race and the US-Japan Alliance" on Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill at the Capitol Visitors Center.  Mike Mansfield (1903-2001) was a highly respected Senator (1953-1977) who later was U.S. Ambassador to Japan. The seminar has a great line-up of speakers from the U.S. and Japan, including The Honorable Takeo Kawamura, Member of Japan's Diet.  The U.S. speakers include Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), chairman of the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee; Chirag Parikh, Director of Space Policy at the White House National Security Council; and Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

Third (and really, it was tough to pick just three, so see the complete list) is a symposium on progress made in astrophysics since the last astrophysics Decadal Survey (DS) was published.  It will be held at the National Academy of Sciences Beckman Center in Irvine, CA, but will be webcast for those elsewhere in the country.  The symposium is all-day Saturday (Pacific Time, so roughly noon-9 pm Eastern), followed by a two-day meeting of the NAS committee created to review how the astrophysics field has progressed since the New Worlds, New Horizons report came out.  The committee meeting is open to the public on Sunday, but closed on Monday.  No indication if the Sunday meeting will be available by WebEx or other electronic means, but the Academy is doing that more often these days.  If we learn about a way to listen in remotely, we'll add the information to our Events of Interest list.  NAS Decadal Surveys are conducted about every 10 years (hence "decadal") to lay out scientific priorities in various scientific disciplines and recommend programs to answer key scientific questions within budget envelopes provided by the relevant agenc(ies) -- in this case, NASA, NSF and the Department of Energy's Office of Science.  In 2005, Congress mandated that "performance assessments" be conducted by the NAS half-way through each decadal period to see how things are working out.  This is part of that process.  For a list of all the current space and earth science Decadal Surveys and the last round of performance assessments, see our webpage.

Those and other events we know about as of Sunday morning are listed below.  Check back throughout the week for additions to our Events of Interest list that we learn about as time goes by.

Monday, December 7

Tuesday, December 8

Tuesday-Wednesday, December 8-9

Wednesday, December 9

Thursday, December 10

Friday, December 11

 Saturday-Sunday, December 12-13