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Biweekly Washington, D.C., Update for the Week Ending March 6, 2020

Written by: Hanh Le

This week in Washington, D.C., U.S. Space Force officials testified in both the House and Senate, answering lawmakers’ questions about the future of the sixth military branch. While Secretary Barbara Barrett (Secretary of the Air Force), General John “Jay” Raymond (Commander–U.S. Space Force), and other key Air Force officials answered members’ questions on the FY2021 budget requests and selection process for U.S. Space Command, the House passed a bipartisan
$8.3 billion coronavirus package that was signed by President Trump on Friday morning.

Space Foundation Upcoming Events:

March 30 – April 2: 36th Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO

  • Space Symposium is the “must attend” space industry event of the year, with attendees representing all sectors of the space industry.
  • This year, the Symposium is expanding, with over 90,000 square feet of additional exhibit hall and meeting room space. Get your tickets and learn more here.

May 21: 5th Annual Faga Forum on Space Intelligence, Chantilly, VA

  • With overwhelming interest in classified programming at the annual Space Symposium, the Space Foundation is again convening this one-day event for the Intelligence Community in the metro Washington, D.C., area.
  • S. Citizenship and TS/SCI security clearance are required for all attendees. Register here.

Space Industry Updates:

  • Federal Communications Commissioners approved a $9.7 billion proposal in incentives to clear spectrum for 5G uses, on the condition that both Intelsat and SES agree to accept. (SpaceNews, Feb. 28)
  • L3Harris was awarded a 10-year, $1.2 billion contract by the U.S. Space Force under the MOSSAIC (Maintenance of Space Situational Awareness Integrated Capabilities) program. (SpaceNews, Feb. 29)
  • The DARPA responsive launch competition ended without a winner, as Astra’s Rocket 3.0 launch was scrubbed. (SpaceNews, March 2)
  • “Perseverance” was chosen as the Mars 2020 rover’s new name. (NASA, March 5)

Space Policy Updates:

  • Charles Q. Brown, Jr. was nominated to be the next Air Force Chief of Staff (Air Force, March 2)
  • Artemis 1’s launch will take place in mid- to late 2021. (SpaceNews, March 2)
  • The U.S. Space Force’s budget is projected to grow $2.6 billion over the next five years, coming close to the Pentagon’s estimated added cost of standing up the Space Force. (SpaceNews, March 2)
  • The process to select a permanent U.S. Space Command base will be reopened later this year for state leaders to pitch. (SpaceNews, March 5)

Thursday, Feb. 27:

Space Foundation & American Astronomical Society hosted STEAM – Career and Technical Education Caucus (CTE) Workforce Congressional Briefing Lunch

  • The Space Foundation hosted a briefing cosponsored by the Congressional CTE & STEAM Caucuses to highlight the challenges and solutions relative to the STEAM workforce of the future.
  • Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) attended and spoke about the importance of STEAM education and its importance in the workforce of the future.
  • The panel included Dr. Lorelle Espinosa (American Council on Education), Dr. Michael Feder (American Association for the Advancement of Sciences), Maria Dahlberg (National Academies), Bryan Debates (Space Foundation), and was moderated by Lauren Allen (D.C. Office of the State Superintendent on Education).
  • The briefing discussed various topics such as: technical education, federal initiatives, research outcomes from the Minority Service Institutions (MSI) report, STEAM inclusion, and access for underrepresented groups in rural areas.

House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Hearing: “Strategic Forces Posture Review”

  • The witnesses were Adm. Charles Richard (Commander, U.S. Strategic Command), Gen. John “Jay” Raymond (Commander, U.S. Space Command and Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Air Force – Head of the U.S. Space Force), and Dr. James Anderson (Performing the Duties of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy) substituted for John Rood (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy).
  • Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) asked about the future location of the Space Force and Space Command. Gen. Raymond said that the current Space Force headquarters is the Pentagon, and Space Command is in Colorado Springs, but that the Air Force is doing analysis based on a long list of criteria and plan to make a decision on a permanent base later this year.
  • Rep. Kendra S. Horn (D-OK) asked about space situational awareness, in which Gen. Raymond reframed it as “space domain awareness.” Space Force now is performing space traffic control functions but will transfer that responsibility to the Department of Commerce.
  • Rep. Brooks asked if the Air Force was still on track to name two space launch providers for the Air Force’s National Security Space Launch program this summer, and Gen. Raymond indicated that providers will be identified by that time.

Tuesday, March 3:

Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing: Posture of the Department of the Air Force

  • The witnesses were the Honorable Barbara Barrett (Secretary of the Air Force) and Gen. David Goldfein (Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force).
  • Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked about concerns with Huawei products integrated in the U.S. allies’ 5G infrastructure. Sec. Barrett said it’s “disappointing,” but the U.S. has failed to offer alternatives to Huawei.
  • There were questions on the roles of KC-46 and RC-135 by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). Gen. Goldfein said the U.S. Air Force won’t use KC-46 unless they have to.
  • Secretary Barrett’s testimony mentioned “developing detailed plans to transfer more than 6,000 personnel into the U.S. Space Force in FY21.”

House Armed Services Committee, Readiness Subcommittee Hearing: “Fiscal Year 2021 Air Force and Space Force Readiness Posture”

  • The witnesses were Shon J. Manasco (Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force), Gen. Stephen Wilson (Vice Chief of Staff, Air Force), Lt. Gen. David Thompson (Vice Commander, U.S. Space Force).
  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) asked how the Space Force can ensure cultural values of mission dominance as they stand up a new service branch. Lt. Gen. Thompson answered, “by acknowledging that space is a warfighting domain, overhauled training system to focus on threats in space, development of techniques, delivering capabilities, and understanding the culture of other warfighters.”
  • Lt. Gen. Thompson mentioned they are moving quickly to stand up the Space Force. The priorities remain: Protecting and defending satellites, building a robust architecture, developing warfighters’ capabilities, and developing a broad range of options in response to attacks. The Space Force is also looking to improve “space domain awareness” networks and modernize technologies such as GPS anti-jam and anti-spoofing to ensure American access to space. The Space Force will also make national security investments such as providing competition between launch providers to reduce reliance on RD-180 engines, and promote the economy through the Space Enterprise Consortium, etc.
  • Lt. Gen. Thompson noted that there are 16,000 servicemembers assigned but not yet transferred into the Space Force, that about 80% of activities (support functions) will be provided by the Air Force, and that the Space Force will focus on developing, fielding, and operating space capabilities, as well as protecting cyber missions in space. Gen. Wilson reiterated that there will be a seamless integration between both the Air Force and Space Force.
  • When members advocated for the Air Force bases located in their districts to be among the possible base selections for Space Command, Gen. Thompson mentioned that they are considering all options, including bases in nontraditional locations, and being aware of potential opportunities with commercial and civil space entities in each location.

Wednesday, March 4:

Full HASC Committee Hearing: “The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for the Department of the Air Force”

  • The witnesses were the Hon. Barbara Barrett (Secretary of the Air Force, Department of the Air Force), David Goldfein (Chief of Staff, Department of the Air Force), and Gen. John “Jay” Raymond (Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force).
  • Doug Lamborn (R-CO) advocated for Colorado Springs to be the headquarters for Space Command. “When it comes to a large Reserve personnel, Colorado has a Reserves component for the Air Force.” He also shared his concerns that not tapping into Colorado’s resources will lead to a workforce shortage. Gen. Raymond recognized Rep. Lamborn’s concerns but said, “We’re going to review the role of Reserve components,” and assured that, “there will be no lapse in capability.”
  • When asked for updates from other members, Gen. Raymond assured them that Space Force will redesign the process and reopen it to invite all who think their location would be an ideal headquarters for the new branch. Almost every member advocated for the Air Force base in their district.
  • Many members asked about the relationship between the Air Force and Space Force. Sec. Barrett said that the “space domain is integral to the Air Force” and that the Air Force supports a lean, agile Space Force. Gen. Goldfein reiterated that both work seamlessly together for joint domain operations.
  • When asked who is responsible for space acquisition by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Gen. Raymond answered that the Space Force will bring people across departments to “unite efforts from groups of folks who do this” for a common architecture. They are developing a plan that he will assess next week.
  • Raymond said the Space Force will take 63–65 cadets from the Air Force Academy. The Space Force just advertised 40 positions for civilians (5,000 applications have been received), as 80% of the staff will rely on the Air Force for support functions.
  • Raymond, in answering Rep. Jim Banks’ (R-IN) question, said the Space Force is creating a culture to accept startups with “open” standards for nontraditional companies to meet, standing up a Space Rapid Capabilities Office, and delegating authority for programs down to a lower level.
  • Salud Carbajal (D-CA) also advocating for his state to be selected for Space Command headquarters, asked about the policy changes required to meet increasing space launch rates. Gen. Raymond answered that increasing launch rates would be achievable by reducing costs, lowering barriers of entry, and leveraging commercial space capabilities.

House Appropriations Committee – Defense Subcommittee Hearing: U.S. Space Force Organizational Plan

  • The witnesses were Maj. Gen. Clinton E. Crosier (Director, Space Force Planning, Office of Chief of Space Operations) and Lt. Gen. David Thompson (Vice Commander, U.S. Space Force).
  • Crosier mentioned that the 6,000–16,000 Air Force Space Command servicemembers assigned to Space Force will be “formally transferred” (reassigned) to the Space Force by September 1. This will extend to more members of the Air Force, as well as members of the Army and Navy in 2022.
  • Raymond will host the first international meeting of 10–15 space chiefs at Space Symposium.
  • Thompson said they are considering factors for choosing a base and providing a transparent selection process. Maj. Gen. Crosier emphasized that cost and practicality are big factors. “Unless there is an overwhelming operational need to locate something somewhere, it is more cost effective to keep things where they are.”
  • To answer members’ concerns about threats from adversaries, Lt. Gen. Thompson said, “We began prototyping capabilities to protect our assets in space,” which is a drastic improvement compared to four years ago when they did not have capabilities to defend against adversaries in space.
  • Other topics discussed included acquisitions, the Space Development Agency, the joint Space Warfighter programs, and the roles of the National Guard and National Reserves.

House Appropriations’ Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee Hearing: Member Day

  • According to their statements, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) spoke in support of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), as NASA’s Glenn Research Center “employs more than 3,000 scientists, engineers, and technicians in Northeast Ohio.”
  • Ed Perlmutter’s (D-CO) statement expressed support for Mars 2033, and the Artemis program, “as long as that program continues to focus on reducing the risks for our human missions to Mars by 2033.” Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) supports additional funding for the Arecibo Observatory.
  • In his statement, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) called for additional NASA funding to perform rodent research and “nonhuman mammalian embryology/eukaryotic experiments” on the International Space Station.

Thursday, March 5:

Senate Appropriations’ Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Hearing: “Review of the FY2021 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Commerce.”

  • The witness was Secretary Wilbur Ross (U.S. Department of Commerce).
  • At the hearing, Sec. Ross outlined the risk of catastrophic collisions, protecting critical space assets, and the importance of tracking space debris. The FY2021 Budget request seeks $15 million for the Office of Space Commerce to implement the transition of space situational awareness responsibilities from the Department of Defense, and $108.1 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Follow On (SWFO) program.
  • Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) expressed skepticism about the proposal to combine the Office of Space Commerce with the Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) office and move the combined office under the Secretary of Commerce.
  • Moran also explained that this proposal was rejected because there needed to be more steps outlined for the proposal, and he was unsure why it was necessary to be moved under the Secretary of Commerce. Sec. Ross explained this proposal was to elevate the office to cooperate with European and international partners, and to send internal and external messages to communicate the urgent need (citing there have been recent near misses of potential satellite collisions).
  • Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) asked for a legislative update on the organizational transfer, expressing concerns that “appropriators are usually discouraged from authorizing.”
  • Moran inquired as to how the transition would affect costs for the Defense Department, in which Sec. Ross mentioned that both Gen. John “Jay” Raymond and the National Space Council are supportive of this organizational proposal.

Upcoming Events

  • March 9–12: SATELLITE 2020 Conference, Washington, D.C.
  • March 9: Space Domain Awareness meeting, by Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Policy and Strategy and the George Washington University Space Policy Institute, 11:00 a.m., Washington, D.C.
  • March 11: Senate Commerce Hearing on Nominations for Dr. Neil Jacobs (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Mr. Chase Johnson (Federal Communications Commission), 10:00 a.m., Washington, D.C.
  • March 13: FY2021 President’s Budget Request Meeting, by Space Advocates, 2:00 p.m., Washington, D.C.

Reading Corner

SpaceNews Op-Ed | “The Greatest Challenge for the Space Community – Talent” by Tom E. Zelibor

  • The article provides the Space Economy Scorecard as of January 2020, and also discusses whether we have access to the full potential of space.
  • The article recommends various strategies for the transfer of knowledge to the future space workforce and explains a “space for all” approach.

Aerospace Defense Review Op-Ed | “Space Technology Is a $400 Billion Workforce Development Opportunity” by Shelli Brunswick

The article discusses how a lack of a skilled, available, and adaptable workforce can drastically harm the space industry, and how the pathways to enter this dynamic workforce are “elusive” to many.

The Space Review | “Handicapping the Megaconstellations” by Jeff Foust

The article discusses broadband satellite megaconstellations, “heavyweight” companies, and the past failures of some ventures.

Space Trivia

On March 16, 1926, Dr. Robert Goddard launched the world’s “first liquid-fueled” rocket in Massachusetts. The launch site, now “Goddard Rocket Launch Site,” is a National Historic Landmark.


Posted in Public Policy and Government Affairs