Crunch time (9/12/23)
Happy Tuesday. Hoping to see some of you tomorrow at the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Aerospace Summit, where I’ll be moderating a panel on the cislunar economy.
Did someone forward you this email? Subscribe to Polaris here.
A Busy Fall on Capitol Hill
Image: Jacqueline Feldscher
As lawmakers settle back into DC following the August recess, Congress is facing a long list of space to-dos—but not a lot of time to tackle them.
Members have a little over two weeks to tackle three major priorities with deadlines at the end of September: passing a fiscal 2024 funding bill, deciding whether to extend the learning period for commercial spaceflight, and approving an FAA reauthorization.
$$$: The budget is likely to be Congress’ main focus this month, since it has widespread impact beyond the space program. If Congress does nothing, the government would shut down at 12:01am on Oct. 1. So lawmakers will likely be pretty motivated to pass funding bills or (as has become the norm in recent years) a short-term continuing resolution to keep the lights on while they hammer out a full year bill.
NASA asked for $27.2B in FY24, but appropriators in both the House and Senate released bills that would give the agency ~$25B, a significant drop that is likely to disproportionately target science programs, including Mars Sample Return.
A CR would hold NASA funding levels flat at the fiscal 2023 level—$25.4B—so not too different from what it’s expected to get in the appropriations process. But it would also prohibit the agency from launching any new starts.
Just keep learning: The upcoming expiration of the rulemaking moratorium for commercial human spaceflight is also on the horizon. In 2004, Congress imposed an eight-year “learning period” to allow commercial crewed spaceflight to take off (pun intended) without the burden of safety regulations that could crush the newborn industry. It’s been extended twice as the industry has grown slowly, and is now set to expire on Oct. 1.
Lawmakers now have to decide if it’s time to let the FAA impose safety regulations on companies flying paying passengers to space, or whether the industry needs more time. They’re getting some mixed messages: Industry has asked for more time, but a RAND report from April said it’s time to let it expire.
State of the FAA: The bill that authorized the FAA is also set to expire at the end of the month, and Congress is working to quickly consider its follow up, since a gap in authorization bills could cause the agency to partly shutdown.
In July, the House passed its version of the bill, which includes space priorities such as asking the FAA to look at other ways rockets and planes can safely share the airspace as launch cadence ramps up and tracking new data, e.g., the number of authorized launches and reentries.
But Senate counterparts have not yet marked up their version of the bill and are lagging behind as the deadline approaches.
Verve closes the gap between ideation & design decision
Requirements Management + Digital Thread
What if you could manage your entire engineering team’s design decisions & assumptions in a central, accessible, revision-controlled location?
What if you could finish your 6 month project in 6 weeks by eliminating common friction in your engineering processes?
With Verve, you can.
Built by engineers from SpaceX, Slingshot Aerospace, & SRI International, Verve manages the messy human layer of engineering, generally considered “Requirements Management.”
Complex engineering teams from aerospace to medical devices can drastically decrease time-to-market for critical world-changing products.
Verve works where you do, capturing & managing engineering requirements inside your tools & across complex datasets. Formal requirements and other design descriptions are captured once and used everywhere, presenting themselves according to each respective user's role, drastically enhancing time-to-value.
With an inclusive digital engineering workflow, your engineering team can streamline the integration of diverse data sets from multiple design systems & tools.
Library of Cosmos
President Joe Biden will tap Michael Whitaker to lead the FAA (via Payload).
India and the US will cooperate on planetary defense, according to a White House joint statement.
Tulane is officially launching its space law program this week.
Can decades-old space policy cover the future of exploration and tech?
New Speakers Confirmed For Space Capitol II
We’re so excited to announce that Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), the chair of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, will join us for Space Capitol II in DC next week!
The event will bring together emerging space companies and the government for a thought leadership and networking experience, with food and beverages provided.
Tweet of the week
Earlier today, I notified Guardians of the Space Force’s new mission statement:
𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧’𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧, 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐞
— General Chance Saltzman (@SpaceForceCSO)
Sep 6, 2023