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Space Policy Events for the Week of December 9-13, 2013 - UPDATE

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 08-Dec-2013
Updated: 09-Dec-2013 03:21 PM

The following events may be of interest in the week ahead.  The House and Senate both are in session. 

During the Week

The House is scheduled to adjourn for the year on Friday; the Senate plans to be here one more week after that.  If those schedules hold, this is the last week in 2013 that they both will be in session and thus able to get legislation passed and to the White House.   Many Senators say that of all the pending legislation, they really want to get the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed, but they didn't make much progress before the Thanksgiving break because of partisan disputes over amendments.  The House passed its version in June.  This is the one authorization bill that always gets through no matter how tough the political times -- a 51-year record.  Will this year be the exception? 

Friday, December 13, is not only the last scheduled day for the House to meet this year, but is also the deadline for the budget conference committee to reach agreement on federal funding for FY2014, at least.   The conference committee was created as part of the deal to reopen the government in October and even at the time few were optimistic it would meet that deadline.   Nothing has changed.  

Lots of interesting events this week, including a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on "weather readiness" that includes Tom Young reporting on his Independent Review Team that is watching over NOAA's weather satellite programs.  That's on Thursday at 10:30 am.  Note that It's not in the committee's regular hearing room in the Russell Building, but in G-50 Dirksen.  The previous day, a House subcommittee will hold a hearing on "A Factual Look at the Relationship Between Climate and Weather."   The witnesses have not been announced yet, so it's not clear how much if any of that deals with satellite issues.

Separately, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee may resume its markup of the bill that affects how NASA handles termination liability for its major human spaceflight programs (SLS, Orion and ISS).  The committee approved three bills on Thursday, but when it came to this one, chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said more time was needed for Republicans and Democrats to work out their differences so the bill has bipartisan support.  He tentatively set Tuesday at 2:00 pm EST to resume the markup, but it is not definite.  At stake is how $507 million in the hands of contractors will be spent -- to execute the programs or held in reserve in case the government terminates the contracts.

Across the country in San Francisco all week, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual meeting is certain to be chock full of fascinating scientific findings.   Many press conferences are scheduled and will be livestreamed.   We created a list of those that are probably most interesting to the space community, but the full list is on the AGU website, so you can pick your own.  That website has a tab labeled "Webstreaming."  Click on that to listen in.

Meanwhile, the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and several of its committees are meeting down in Florida, at Kennedy Space Center.  NASA is restructuring NAC, getting rid of three committees and merging a fourth (Commercial Space) into one of the remaining committees.   The way NASA and NAC chairman Steve Squyres describe the situation it's a done deal, but there might be some discussion of why the decision was made and its implications.   NAC itself meets on Wednesday and Thursday.   The NAC meeting and most NAC committee meetings are available via WebEx and telecom.  See our calendar entries for instructions on how to tune in.  NASA has not posted an agenda for the NAC meeting yet.  Hopefully it will before the meeting takes place.  If so, it should be posted on the NAC website.

Those and many more meetings of interest are in the list below.  These are the ones we know of as of Sunday morning.  We're posting this a bit early today because there's a nasty ice storm coming this afternoon and there's a chance of losing power, so we wanted to get this up on the website before anything bad happens.

Monday, December 9

Monday-Tuesday, December 9-10

Monday-Friday, December 9-13

  • American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual meeting, San Francisco, CA.  Note there are press conferences each day that will be webcast.  Here are three examples that may be of interest:    
    • Monday -- Update from Gale Crater:  Results from the Mars Curiosity Rover, 9:00-10:00 am PST (12:00-1:00 pm EST)
    • Tuesday -- Science from Juno's Earth Flyby, 10:30 - 11:30 am PST (1:30-2:30 pm EST)
    • Thursday -- Titan as You've Never Seen it Before:  New Results from the Cassini Mission to Saturn, 11:30-12:30 pm PST (2:30-3:30 pm EST)

Tuesday, December 10

Tuesday-Wednesday, December 10-11

Wednesday, December 11

Wednesday-Thursday, December 11-12

Thursday, December 12

Friday, December 13


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