What’s Happening in Space Politics July 3-9, 2022 –

Here’s’s list of space policy events for the week of July 3-9, 2022 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess, except for pro forma sessions.

During the week

The lazy, foggy days of summer are here (lazy for a week at least) in the United States as Americans celebrate Independence Day. The public holiday is July 4 (tomorrow) and most government offices and many businesses will be closed.

Washington DC’s “A Capitol Fourth” concert and fireworks return LIVE after a two-year COVID hiatus that kept it virtual. The Boeing-sponsored event will air on PBS and for troops overseas on American Forces Network. For those wishing to return to the in-person rally at the mall, be sure to check the latest news on Metro, which warns of late wait times and possible temporary station closures. PBS has a fun “Name That Firework” webpage. Do you know what this one is called? (Answer at the bottom of the page.)

Credit: PBS

The holidays aren’t until Monday, but a lot of people are taking the whole week off, so it’s a quiet time for space politics here in the United States. Europe, however, has two interesting events that will be webcast.

Tomorrow (Monday), ESA will hold an inaugural “launch event” for its new European Center for Space Economics and Commerce from 8:00-10:00 EDT (14:00-16:00 CEST). ECSECO will be located in Vienna, Austria and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) is the secretariat. ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher, Austrian Director General for Innovation and Technology Henriette Spyra and ESPI Director Jean-Jacques Tortora will give keynote speeches, followed by a table round. ECSECO “will provide a European platform for interdisciplinary discussions and research on space economics and trade”.

Illustration of the Vega-C rocket. Credit: ESA

On Thursday, another kind of inaugural launch event is scheduled – the maiden launch of Europe’s newest rocket, Vega-C, from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch is scheduled for 7:13 a.m. EDT (8:13 a.m. local time in French Guiana). It launches the Italian Space Agency’s LAser RElativity Satellite-2 (LARES-2) and six research cubesats.

Vega-C is a higher performance version of the Vega rocket. It has been in development for some time, but takes on new importance after Russia invaded Ukraine and suspended Euro-Russian cooperation on the Soyuz rocket that was launching medium-class payloads from Kourou and the Russia.

Vega-C is not the same class of rocket as Soyuz, but can put 2.2 tons into a 700 kilometer polar orbit compared to the 1.5 tons Vega could lift. ESA and other customers who had planned to use Soyuz are looking for alternatives and Vega-C can handle some of them. The European Sentinel-1C will now launch on Vega-C, for example. Its predecessors, Sentinel-1A and -1B, both launched on Soyuze.

It turns out that the 4th stage AVUM of Vega-C, built by Italian Avio, is powered by Ukrainian RD-843 engines. Avio issued a press release in March saying it remained confident of engine supplies despite the war, in part because deliveries had already been made as part of an effort to build up strategic stock. Looks like that was a great idea. ESA will broadcast the launch on ESA TV.

Other than that, the only event we know of this week is the Aerospace Corporation’s Space Policy Show webinar on Thursday with the head of the US Space Force’s Space Systems Command, Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting. The Space Foundation’s “Space Matters” webinar with Jim Bridenstine, Carissa Christensen and Bob Walker that was scheduled to take place on Thursday has been postponed to July 14.

It’s not quite an “event” in the sense that we use it to list What is happening because it’s just an upper stage burn, but we’ll mention that Rocket Lab will turn on its Lunar Photon’s HyperCurie Engine for one last time tomorrow morning and release NASA’s CAPSTONE Cubes en route to the Moon (we wrote about CAPSTONE last week). Rocket Lab will be streaming the burn and separation live on its website. Last we knew it was scheduled for 6:56 UTC (2:56 a.m. EDT)

Check back throughout the week for other events that we will learn about later and add to our schedule or make changes to these.

monday july 4th

Thursday July 7

And the answer is – it is a Palm firework according to PBS: “This shell contains some large comet stars, which when bursting create large tendrils which give it the appearance of a palm tree.” Comets. Stars. It’s kind of related to space (smile). Happy 4th of July!