Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week plus a day from October 10-17, 2021 and any insight we can offer about them. The House will sit for at least one day on Tuesday and the committees will meet virtually. The Senate is on vacation except for pro forma sessions.
During the week
Tomorrow (Monday) is a federal holiday, Columbus Day, and government offices will be closed, although many businesses are not respecting this one. We know that efforts are underway to rename this Indigenous Peoples Day, but the official name of the Office of Personnel Management has not changed.
On Tuesday, the House will be back in session for what is scheduled for a single day to vote on the revised debt ceiling bill that authorized the Senate last week. The House was supposed to be in a “committee work week” where committees primarily hold virtual hearings, but the House itself only meets in pro forma sessions. But the Senate amended the Debt Limitation Bill which was passed by the House earlier, so a new vote is needed and before October 19, when the House was due to return for legislative business. Bills can be passed unanimously in a pro forma session, but recorded votes are not allowed. It’s clear that such a controversial bill won’t go through UC, so everyone has to come back to town. Reminder: the bill adopted by the Senate simply raises the debt ceiling by a fixed amount which should be reached in early December. At that point, we’ll have to start over.
The space program is full of cool stuff this week so you don’t have to think about all this dysfunction. From William Shatner, 90, the original Star Trek Captain Kirk, launching into space on New Shepard on Wednesday (a one-day slip due to the weather) to the launch of the Lucy mission to the asteroids of Troy on Saturday, and the return of the Soyuz MS-18 from the International Space Station from Saturday night to Sunday, a lot is happening.
If you haven’t seen Anderson Cooper’s interview with Shatner, it’s hilarious. And at almost 20 minutes, that’s longer than the flight (it takes 10-11 minutes from takeoff to landing).
And of course, we’re all interested in how director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild will feel when they roll out of the Soyuz MS-18 capsule at 12:36 a.m. EDT Sunday morning after 12 days in space. They certainly looked happy when they arrived on the ISS last Tuesday. They return with Oleg Novitsky, a professional cosmonaut who has been on board the ISS since April. Peresild portrays a surgeon who must travel to the space station to treat a sick cosmonaut. Novitsky plays the patient. It should be a fun movie.
The Lucy Mission launches a 12-year mission from Cape Canaveral early Saturday morning (5:34 a.m. EDT), preceded by a series of briefings Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It’s a pretty fascinating mission, not only scientifically, but also on the path it will follow to study seven of the Trojan asteroids located at widely separated L4 and L5 Sun-Jupiter Lagrange points. Unlike many NASA missions, “Lucy” is not an acronym. The spacecraft is named after the fossilized human ancestor found in Ethiopia in 1974 and bearing this name.
The week also offers excellent conferences.
Among them is the American Astronautical Society’s annual Von Braun Symposium, which takes place in person at its usual location in Huntsville, AL and virtually. This will be Jim Free’s first public lecture in his new role as NASA’s Associate Administrator (AA) for Exploration Systems Development. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson split the Directorate of Exploration and Human Operations Missions (HEOMD) in two on September 21. It is now the Directorate of Exploration Systems Development Missions (ESDMD) and the Directorate of Space Operations Missions (SOMD). Kathy Lueders, who was AA for HEOMD, is now AA for SOMD. She is speaking on Tuesday, as is AA space technology mission leader Jim Reuter. Associate Administrator Bob Cabana (the agency’s top official) is the Wednesday lunch speaker and Free is the Thursday lunch speaker. Just before Cabana’s speech, a panel of five NASA center directors illustrate the agency’s diversity efforts. Four are women: Janet Petro (Kennedy), Marla Pérez-Davis (Glenn), Jody Singer (Marshall) and Vanessa Wyche (Johnson). Two are African-American: Wyche and Clayton Turner of Langley, the panel moderator. Pérez-Davis is Hispanic.
The annual Mars Society Symposium takes place Thursday through Sunday. Each morning, Pacific Daylight Saving Time (add 3 for EDT) is packed with plenary sessions, including a talk by NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green on Friday and Deputy Administrator of the NASA, Pam Melroy, Saturday. The afternoons are technical sessions. The whole event looks great.
There are a bunch of committee meetings and other big events, too many to summarize here.
The Chinese launch of Shenzhou-13, which we mentioned last week, could take place on Friday or Saturday EDT. China is still not officially saying anything. But rumors say the three-person crew will be launched on October 16 Beijing time, which could be October 15 EDT depending on the time of day (EDT is 12 hours behind Beijing time). We will post whatever we learn when we learn it on our calendar entry for this event.
These and other events we know about Sunday morning are listed below. Check back throughout the week for others we learn later and add to our timeline, or changes to these.
Monday, October 11
Monday to Thursday, October 11 to 14
Monday to Friday, October 11 to 15
Tuesday 12 October
Tuesday-Wednesday 12-13 October
Tuesday to Thursday, October 12 to 14
Wednesday October 13
Wednesday-Thursday October 13-14
Thursday October 14
Thursday-Friday October 14-15
Thursday-Sunday October 14-17
Friday, October 15
saturday 16 october
Saturday-Sunday October 16-17
- Return of the Soyuz MS-18
- Hatch closures: approximately 4:35 p.m. ET on October 16 (NASA TV starts at 4:15 p.m. ET)
- Undocking: 9:13 p.m. ET, October 16 (NASA TV starts at 9:00 p.m. ET)
- Landing: 12:36 a.m. ET, October 17 (NASA TV begins at 11:15 p.m. ET on October 16)