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Good morning, Payload nation. Hope you had a great Halloween.

A Halloween liftoff for Crew-3 mission was too good to be true. Citing bad weather, NASA and SpaceX postponed the launch of four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff is now targeted for the wee hours of Wednesday morning. 

Today’s newsletter: 
🌍 COP26 and space
📊 NASA funding
📅 The week ahead


COP26: The Space Angle

Meltwater on the Petermann Glacier in Greenland. Photo: Planet/Skysat

The UN’s 26th UN Climate Change Conference—or COP26—has started in Glasgow, Scotland. On the docket: decarbonization negotiations. Over 120 world leaders will gather in Glasgow over the next week. 

  • FYI: In its latest climate science report, published in August, the UN calls for the world to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. 

What’s space got to do with the Scottish talks? 
Well, satellite-gathered data is pretty central to our understanding of how the planet is changing. Earth Observation (EO) is one of space’s most commercially advanced—and competitive—sub-sectors. EO imagery is indispensable in tracking climate change and contributing to mitigation strategies. 

It’s no surprise, then, that EO players have made their way to Scotland for COP26 (including Satellite Vu, a UK company we recently spoke with). 

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO), a partnership of 100+ governments and organizations, will participate in negotiations and dozens of COP26 events. The group’s goals in Glasgow are to “promote the role of EO” in climate solutions. 

The long view: “Satellites were absolutely key in understanding we had a climate crisis,” Krystal Azelton, director of space applications programs at the Secure World Foundation, told Politico

By the numbers: 

  • The White House’s first annual budget proposal sought $24.8B for NASA, including a $2.25B for the Earth Science Division, and $6.98B for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • Those numbers would represent annual boosts of 12.5%, 22%, and 25%, respectively. Expect final numbers to be slightly lower, though, once congressional appropriators are all said and done. 
  • Hundreds of commercial EO satellites are in low-Earth orbit (LEO). 

+ Want more? Read Politico’s excellent deep dive published yesterday, on how EO constellations could help us “wage war” on climate change. Also check out Quartz’s article on finding hidden emissions with satellites. 


New NASA Funding?

Photo: NASA

The Biden administration has floated two ambitious bills that are being debated in Congress—and inching closer toward the finish line. The $3.5 trillion spending bill, which was halved in negotiations to $1.75TN, stands to bring NASA new funding.

What changes? NASA could get ~$1.1BN. The original “build back better” bill had proposed roughly 4x in funding—$4.4BN—for the US space agency, while NASA Administrator Bill Nelson had floated 15x as much. Of the $1.1BN (h/t SpacePolicyOnline)… 

  • $750 million would go to repairing/modernizing NASA facilities
  • $140 million would fund climate change R&D
  • $225 million would be allocated for sustainable aviation R&D

“If in fact that bill passes, and my expectation is that it will pass, then what you have is a total of about a billion and a half dollars for NASA…that [we] did not have before,” administrator Bill Nelson said last week. “That is a considerable positive.” 

  • Nelson’s $1.5BN figure also counts the ~$320M that was recently appropriated for repairs on hurricane-damaged NASA infrastructure.

Next steps: The House is eyeing a Tuesday vote, NBC reports.


In Other News

  • Florida is suing NASA and other federal entities over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In related news, the Pentagon recently said that defense contractors in Texas must be vaccinated, after TX Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning vaccine mandates. 
  • SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy could fly three US Space Force missions next year, per SpaceNews. 
  • Nobody will be using the space toilet on the Crew Dragon Endeavour when it takes astronauts back to Earth soon. 
  • Martha Stewart is interested in a joyride to space. 
  • Astronauts made tacos with chili peppers grown at the ISS.

The Week Ahead

Today: COP26 kicked off in earnest today, and runs through Friday, Nov. 12. 

Tuesday: The 23rd Global MilSatCom Conference starts in London and runs through Thursday. And NASA will hold a news conference on the engineering of the James Webb Space Telescope. 

Wednesday: Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAX) will report Q3 earnings at market close. SpaceX will launch three NASA astronauts and one German astronauts to the ISS. They’ll stay for six months. Liftoff is targeted for 1:19 AM ET, from Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A. Another expected launch: China’s Yaogan-32-O2 reconnaissance satellite. 

Friday: Launch window opens for Astra, which will attempt an orbital launch. Astra rocket LV0007 will carry a test payload for the US Space Force and lift off from a spaceport in Kodiak, Alaska. 

Saturday: JAXA will launch the RAISE-2 mission on an Epsilon rocket from Uchinoura Space Center, with a nine-satellite payload.