Casey DreierAug 13, 2018

Space Policy & Advocacy Program Quarterly Report - July 2018

The Planetary Society's Space Policy and Advocacy team publishes quarterly reports on their activities, actions, priorities, and goals in service of their efforts to promote space science and exploration in Washington, D.C.

The Space Policy & Advocacy program reached new heights this quarter, with legislation from the House funding planetary science at a record $2.7 billion for FY 19, the launch of the planetary science caucus at a major event in the Library of Congress, and ongoing engagement with NASA's new leadership.

Key Actions & Achievements

  • Organized the first Planetary Science Caucus launch event in the Library of Congress

  • Organized a caucus dinner with eleven members of the congressional caucus and The Planetary Society’s Board of Directors

  • Supported of PSD funding increases to $2.7 billion in the House

  • Released Space Advocacy 101 course to members

  • Bill Nye visited with NASA Administrator Bridenstine

  • Arranged congressional meetings and visit to STScI for Board Member Bob Picardo

  • Began new petition campaign to address the final phase of the FY19 budget cycle

  • Supported the annual fundraising drive

  • Co-organized a round table discussion on space at the University of Washington

  • Met with the new Deputy Administrator for the Australian Space Agency


  • Continue to build membership in the Planetary Science Caucus

  • Ensure funding to continue the NEOCam project

  • Finalize human spaceflight priorities and principles

  • Establish and reaffirm relationships with new NASA leadership



Emails sent to Congress


In-person congressional meetings


R-D partisan breakdown of meetings


Average space policy podcast listenership


Space Advocate Newsletter audience

Activity Highlights

Planetary Science Caucus Launch Event in Washington, D.C.

After helping to establish the Planetary Science Caucus in January, the Society organized its launch event in May. Modeled after our “After Cassini” event the previous year, the Advocacy team leveraged connections with the Library of Congress, scientific and industry partners, and congressional offices to host a major event in Washington, D.C. for less than $500 of direct costs to the organization. The event featured five members of Congress, speeches by the two co-Chairs John Culberson and Derek Kilmer, hosting by Bill Nye and a significant portion of The Planetary Society’s Board of Directors, and included exhibits from seven partner organizations, including Lockheed-Martin, Moon Express, and JHU’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

Planetary Society co-hosts a space round table in Washington State

The Planetary Society, working with the University of Washington, co-organized and co-hosted a space round table meeting in Seattle that brought together state legislators, business leaders, and educators to discuss the future of the space industry in the state. The meeting discussed ways in which the space industry could partner with the higher education system to address both private and public needs.

Fundraising and survey responses

Our annual fundraising appeal for the Space Policy & Advocacy program succeeded in raising over $115,000 (not including the $50,000 in matching funds) and secured ~5,000 responses to our policy priorities survey. While this is significantly lower than 2017, it is in-line with previous years’ efforts.

The survey—while not scientific—nonetheless provides insights into the feelings of a committed subset of the membership and our organization’s supporters. Notable was a strong interest in human spaceflight and landing on Mars, strong support for the ongoing operations of the ISS, and planetary defense.

Board member Bob Picardo makes first dedicated visit to Capitol Hill

In our effort to more fully engage the Board of Directors, the D.C. Advocacy team arranged a series of meetings during a visit by Bob Picardo. The focus was on delivering the Society’s top-level message for exploration and increasing membership in the Caucus. Bob also made a trip to the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Space Advocacy 101 launches to members and the public

The Planetary Society’s first online training course was released to its members via The Planetary Report. We are currently tracking the user experience and preparing for increased marketing in Q4.

Original Content

The team continued to provide regular columns to The Planetary Report, and wrote five original blog posts on space policy issues, generating 14,896 unique page views this quarter.

The Space Policy Edition (SPE) podcast average listenership increased by 10% from the previous quarter. The audience size remains in-line with the weekly episodes of Planetary Radio.

The monthly Space Advocate e-Newsletter audience dipped by 10% to just below 30,000 recipients by the end of the third quarter. This drop was due to the implementation of new “opt-in” privacy standards from the European GDPR law, which reduced the size of our deliverable list. Not adjusted for delivery permissions, the overall group continued its steady growth to nearly 36,000 individuals.


We released a new petition addressing the final stages of congressional activity for the FY 19 budget performed well, generating more than 13,000 messages in support of WFIRST, Planetary Science, and space science.

Looking ahead to Q4 (July 1st - September 30th)

  • Congress goes into recess for August, so there will be a lower rate of activity on the Hill during this quarter

  • Work to ensure compromise funding bill includes TPS priorities for planetary science and NEOCam

  • Increase our congressional check-ins with Republican members of Congress

  • Prepare plan for supporting recommendations for planetary protection from recent NAS report

Let’s Go Beyond The Horizon

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