Our Meeting Summaries
The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) held its annual Commercial Space Transportation conference on February 2-3, 2016 in Washington, DC. SpacePolicyOnline.com published two articles summarizing discussions at the conference:
The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) met at NASA's Johnson Space Center on December 1-3, 2015. It heard presentations from NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier and ISS Program Director Sam Scimemi about NASA's plans for human spaceflight especially in the 2020s. NASA revealed that it is planning a one year "shakedown cruise" in lunar orbit around 2029 to test hardware and crews before sending them on an even longer mission to Mars. Such missions will require development of a habitation module in addition to the Orion spacecraft. NASA is considering whether a single monolithic module should be developed or something that could be launched in smaller pieces and assembled in orbit. They also discussed NASA's plans for low Earth orbit (LEO) after the International Space Station (ISS) ceases operations.
SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the meeting on December 7 under the title "NAC Hears About Lunar Orbit Shakedown Cruise, Worries About Readiness for New Administration."
The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a panel discussion on the future of space on November 19, 2015. The three panelists were:
SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the discussion on November 22, 2015.
The FAA's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) met on October 21, 2015. COMSTAC is a federally-chartered advisory committee that provides advice to the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of comments made by George Nield, FAA's Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, regarding his position on a proposal by European Space Agency Director General Johannes-Dietrich Woerner for building a village on the Moon. Another article summarized comments by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) regarding the status of legislation on Capitol Hill. The two articles are as follows:
NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot Speaks to Space Transportation Association, October 2015
NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot spoke to the Space Transportation Association (STA) on Capitol Hill on October 7, 2015. His comments focused primarily on NASA's "Journey to Mars" to send people to Mars in the 2030s. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of his remarks that day.
The Secure World Foundation and the Alliance for Space Development organized a panel discussion on September 22, 2015 on Commercial LEO Space Stations: Preparing for the Future. Panelists were:
SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the panel on September 22, 2015. The overall theme is that a "seamless transition" is needed between the end of operations of the International Space Station and commercial space stations to take its place.
The American Astronautical Society organized the 4th International Space Station Research and Development (ISS R&D) conference that was held on July 7-9, 2015 in Boston, MA. In an on-stage interview by NASA ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini on the first day, SpaceX founder Elon Musk discussed the status of the investigation of the Falcon 9 launch failure that occurred on June 28, 2015, destroying a Dragon spacecraft loaded with supplies for the ISS. Suffredini reassured conference attendees, who are users of the ISS, that the space station remains healthy despite the loss of that and two other cargo missions in the past eight months. Separately, NASA's Bill Gerstenmaier stressed that the ISS does have a finite lifetime and it is time to plan for whatever will come after it. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of that first day of the conference on July 7, 2015.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden spoke to the Space Transportation Association (STA) on May 18, 2015. The talk focused primarily on the goal of sending humans to Mars and the need for Congress and the White House to work together or the goal will never be achieved. He also discussed the disagreement between the Obama Administration and some in Congress over funding for NASA's earth science program, and many other topics. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of his remarks on May 18, 2015.
The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) considered a number of findings and recommendations during its April 9-10, 2015 meeting. Several were adopted, including a finding that the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) should be modified so that the spacecraft makes a round-trip journey to Mars instead of an asteroid. One on which consensus could not be reached concerned whether the technology development effort for sending people to Mars is adequately funded. SpacePolicyOnline.com published two articles on April 10, 2015 summarizing the actions at NAC:
In his first speech in a major public forum since the October 31, 2014 test flight accident that killed SpaceShipTwo (SS2) co-pilot Michael Alsbury, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides made clear that the company will "persevere" in its goal to open space to all. He summarized the company's progress on building a second SS2 vehicle and plans to resume test flights in 2015 and begin commercial operations in 2016. He also discussed the company's plans for the LauncherOne air-launched rocket. Whitesides spoke on January 9, 2015 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech2015 conference in Kissimmee, FL. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of his remarks on January 9, 2015.