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Bridenstine Calls B.S. On Boeing Exploration Upper Stage Claim

By Keith Cowing on December 11, 2019 4:34 PM.

Boeing, NASA clash over push for Congress to fund new stage for moon rocket, Washington Post

"In an interview, Bridenstine said that while the upper stage will be a great asset for NASA some day, he said "any plan that requires an EUS to be ready by 2024 is a plan that reduces the probability of success. It's just not going to be ready. ... "All of our contractors lobby Congress to achieve what is in their best interest even though it may not be in the best interest of the nation," Bridenstine said in an interview. "This is another example of that. My job as NASA administrator is to make sure we do what's right for the country, and for the taxpayer.""

Farther, Faster: The Next Stage of America's Moon Rocket Takes Shape, Boeing

"As the first Space Launch System (SLS) core stage completes final functional tests ahead of delivery to NASA, Boeing is building the second core stage while accelerating work on a powerful new upper stage that will boost the rocket's performance for the third moon mission and beyond."

Keith's note: This self-serving puffery by Boeing et al obscures the real costs of things and makes it harder to do an apples:apples reality check in the open at a time when no one really trusts any of the costs or schedules associated with Artemis. Indeed bogus claims like this one by Boeing certainly sounds like 'fake news' ;-)

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Artemis Update From Bridenstine and Loverro

By Keith Cowing on December 10, 2019 4:16 PM.

Keith's note: Jim Bridenstine and Doug Loverro attended the Space News award event in Washington today. I asked them about the Moon/Mars plan that the Vice President and the National Space Council asked NASA to deliver in 60 days. Specifically I asked them if it had been delivered and if so could we see it. Bridenstine replied that it had not been delivered as requested and did not indicate when it would be despite it being rather overdue. See "Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update)"

Prior to my question Doug Loverro announced that he was assembling a Baseline Assessment Team to conduct a review to see where the Artemis/SLS/Orion program is and then decide how to move forward. Specifically Loverro said he did not know what the Artemis 1 launch date would be and that this date would only be set once the entire program had been given a look over.

Loverro went on to say that he did not want to see funding as a "crutch" for not meeting the goal of landing humans on the Moon by 2024. He noted that he "does "not complain about gravity or radiation" and that funding is just another obstacle to overcome. Bridenstine cautioned that just because the date of Artemis 1 may change that does not necessarily mean that all other launch dates will be delayed.

When asked about the budget situation Bridenstine said he thinks that there is a chance that NASA will get areal appropriation by 20 December. If not, he said that he's talking to his lawyers about ways to "move forward in this politically charged environment". NASA has other lunar-focused efforts underway that have adequate funding and it is possible that some of them could be used to further assist the human lander effort.

With regard to the ISS Bridenstine said "We know that the space station can't last forever. What are we doing now to make sure we do not have a gap in LEO since we are not going to build another ISS.

Inevitably the topic of Space Force came up in light of recent agreements in Congress. Both Bridenstine and Loverro are strong supporters of Space Force and it showed in their comments. At one point, Loverro sought to link what he's doing at NASA with what Space Force will be doing at DoD: "I am going to the Moon in 2024 and I do not want there to be any space pirates out there". He was kidding. I think. But wouldn't you want a few pirates in the mix? Just sayin'.

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Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update)

By Keith Cowing on December 10, 2019 3:34 PM.

Keith's 10 Dec update: ; I asked Jim Bridenstine today if this report has been delivered. He replied that it has not.

Findings from the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Preliminary Draft, 4 December 2019

"At the 6th meeting of the National Space Council, the following recommendation was adopted: "Within 60 days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator will designate an office and submit a plan to the Chairman of the National Space Council for sustainable lunar surface exploration and development, including necessary technologies and capabilities, to enable initial human missions to Mars."

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Sixth Meeting of the National Space Council, 20 August 2019

'And I recommend to the public's attention the public record that you will find that we are setting specific timelines for the Administrator in the next 60 days to designation of an office and submission of a plan for a sustainable lunar surface exploration and the development of crewed missions to Mars."

Keith's 6 Dec note: The 6th meeting of the National Space Council took place on 20 August 2019. The 60 day due date would therefore have been 19 October. It has been 47 51 days since the due date passed. Has anyone seen this report? Was it ever delivered? If not, when will it be delivered?

- Dear Colleague Letter From The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group On The Proposed NASA Budget Amendment, earlier post
- The Planetary Science Community Is Split On Artemis/Moon2024, earlier post

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Robert Pearce Is The New NASA Aeronautics AA

By Keith Cowing on December 10, 2019 3:20 PM.

NASA Administrator Names Robert Pearce Head of Agency Aeronautics

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named Robert Pearce as the next associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD). Pearce replaces Jaiwon Shin, who retired from the agency on Aug. 31. "Bob is a visionary leader with a deep understanding of the current and future aeronautics environment," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "He'll do a great job directing NASA in helping create a generational shift in air travel for the United States and the world."

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NASA Ames Public Affairs Is Asleep. Or Clueless. Probably Both.

By Keith Cowing on December 9, 2019 7:19 PM.

Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-seed startup accelerator, partners with NASA Ames to offer startups access to space technology

"The Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-seed startup accelerator, announced this week it signed a partnership agreement with NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, to help startup founders connect to selected NASA software and technologies while providing a robust global network of startup resources. The accelerator also announced open applications for the "Founder Institute Advanced Technologies Accelerator" program in Silicon Valley. The new program will help startup founders and entrepreneurs to leverage NASA Technology and and the Founder Institute's Global Network to build companies of the future. Based in Silicon Valley and with chapters across 180+ cities and 60+ countries, the Founder Institute has helped its alumni raise over $800 million in funding."

Remarks by Vice President Pence to NASA's Ames Research Center Employees and Guests

"To Dr. Tu and all the innovators and visionaries here who are designing and building that bright future of American leadership in space, it's a great honor to join you here in the beating heart of Silicon Valley at the NASA Ames Research Center. ... "Ames is proof that in today's age, the public and private sectors can achieve far more together than we ever have apart," Pence said. "And I really want to commend each and every one of you for the way that NASA and the way that NASA Ames are engaging the private sector to bring the best of America back to space."

Keith's 8Dec note: There is no mention of this important news at the Main NASA Ames website, on its news page, or via @NASAAmes on Twitter. NASA HQ does not seem to know anything about this news. Ames sits in the middle of Silicon Valley. Vice President Pence noticed. So did The Founder Institute. The Founder Institute and Pence noted the value of public/private partnerships and the immense potential resident within NASA Ames. Too bad Ames PAO seems to be oblivious to both its location and potential.

Keith's 9 Dec update: Stil no mention of this by Ames.

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A Strange Tweet From Russian Space Droid Fedor

By Keith Cowing on December 9, 2019 2:34 PM.

Keith's note: This creepy tweet shows Fedor, the Russian space droid who recently spent some time on the ISS, looking out the window at a nuclear explosion. The weird picture is accompanied with this text (Google translation):

"You can call me anything you like - a "dumb piece of iron" or something else, but when I find out about the VADA solution, I'll still tell you this:
1) those who invented it have big problems with the processor in their heads,
2) and those who are willing to tolerate this do not have not only a rod, but also a spine. And it's even worse"

It is often hard to tell what Russian social media accounts are official or quasi-official - or something else. The account's Twitter profile says "Fedor @ FEDOR37516789 The first anthropomorphic robot to work in space, the call sign Skybot F-850, an assistant crew of the International Space Station. Here are just facts about space." It was rather active during Fedor's flight. It only follows 8 other Twitter accounts, @NASA, @SpaceX and then the major Russian space agency accounts - including the head of Roscosmos @Rogozin.

I think maybe "VADA" is "WADA" (World Anti-Doping Agency) who just banned Russia from participating in sports due to doping. Some commenters are arguing whether VADA is referring to a "piece of iron" or "an Indian bagel". Why a space droid is tweeting about doping (or Indian bagels) is weird. Looking at a nuclear explosion while doing so is even weirder.

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Artemis Day At Michoud: Missed Opportunities To Engage

By Keith Cowing on December 9, 2019 9:47 AM.

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Cutting Deals To Get The Space Force

By Keith Cowing on December 9, 2019 9:11 AM.

Trump's Excellent Space Force Adventure, Washington Post

"The creation of a Space Force is still being negotiated in Congress, where different versions of it have passed the House and Senate. As of press time, it's unclear whether the new military service will be included in the upcoming defense authorization act -- but, with bipartisan support, America's extraterrestrial military efforts are, one way or another, poised to accelerate."

Congress, White House near deal to create Space Force in exchange for paid leave for federal workers, Washington Post

"Congressional lawmakers and the White House are on the verge of reaching a sweeping agreement that would extend 12 weeks of paid parental leave to federal workers in exchange for making "Space Force" the sixth branch of the U.S. military, according to four people with knowledge of the tentative deal. The deal is part of a defense authorization bill that is slated to pass this month. If consummated, the agreement could mark one of the biggest deals President Trump has cut with Congress. It would secure a massive expansion of benefits for federal workers, something Democrats have long sought, in exchange for a realignment of the U.S. military that Trump has sought to secure as part of his legacy."

Dear Space Force Fans: Please Chill Out, earlier post

"With a little less of this hyperventillation and crass political favoritism - and perhaps a little more basic wartime defense/prevention discussion - maybe a few more people might support this Space Force thing. Otherwise this sort of breathless op ed arm waving invites nothing more than mockery on a slow news day."

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Bridenstine: "The NASA brand is the most valuable brand America has"

By Keith Cowing on December 6, 2019 2:16 PM.

Keith's note: Yesterday at the STA luncheon Jim Bridenstine said that "the NASA brand is the most valuable brand America has" - Inside - and outside our borders. In October I cited an example of how NASA's logo - its brand - has a ubiquitous, global reach - and that it is associated with exciting, hopeful, advanced things with no known downside.

"This is a perfect example of so-called "soft power". This costs NASA virtually - literally - nothing. Having worked with folks in Nepal on things related to this, the mere visibility of the NASA logo and recognition by NASA is enticement enough to generate in-country resources and support. Done properly you can have a global awareness of what NASA is and does and spark interest in other nation's space efforts. And the cases where a country has no space activities, spur their development. One would hope that this becomes part of what NASA includes in its Artemis outreach activities - since the ultimate goal is to go there with other nations."

NASA has done a good job - an increasingly good one - at allowing the logo's use - and not discouraging its use when the its is used in a positive and inspiring context. This is a consumate, textbook example of soft power. One would hope that NASA can continue along this path and that legislation that currently hinders NASA's ability to project its message via advertising and other venues - can be lifted by Congress.

- NASA's Global Branding Reach Is Often Under Appreciated, earlier post
- Understanding NASA's Global Reach, earlier post
- NASA is Still A Potent (If Underutilized) Brand, earlier post
- Using NASA's Logo: Expensive T-Shirts Or Global Soft Power?, earlier post
- NASA's Pervasive Brand Recognition, earlier post
- One Major Road Block To Bridenstine's Advertising Ideas, earlier post

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Imagine A Million People Living On The Moon in 50 Years

By Keith Cowing on December 5, 2019 6:24 PM.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/firstcontacthd1572.jpg

Keith's note: Jim Bridenstine spoke at a Space Transportation Association luncheon today in Washington DC. At one point he talked about seeing a "million people living on the Moon in 50 years". So I tweeted that. Soon Twitter lit up with people doing weird math as to how many SLS flights would be required and at what cost. Seriously space fans? SpaceX Starship anyone? Anyway I got a call from Bridenstine a bit later and then tweeted this out:

"OK I just spoke with @JimBridenstine about what he thought he said - and meant to say - but had a slip of the tongue. He meant to say "a million people on the National Mall" celebrating our progress on the Moon 50 years from now. First he referred to huge crowds on the National Mall in DC this past July for Apollo 50 events. He referred to seeing 500,000 people on the Mall here in DC before (we all have) noting "They are usually not happy". The Apollo crowds were happy. Then he started to talk about how we are going to the Moon to stay, and started to imagine what things would be like 50 years hence such that we could "have a million people on the National Mall" celebrating our exploration and utilization of the Moon."

Hmm ... maybe Bridenstine was subconsciously channeling "Star Trek First Contact" (even if he claims to be a SpaceBalls/Star Wars fan):

"Zefram Cochrane: You don't have a moon in the 24th century?

William Riker: Sure we do. Just looks a lot different. There are 50 million people living on the moon in my time. You can see Tycho City, New Berlin... even Lake Armstrong on a day like this."

One other thing Bridenstine said was "the thing about Apollo is that it ended. We want Artemis to continue". Imagine If Apollo never ended 50 years ago and that lunar exploration and development continued and expanded. How many people might be living on the Moon now? Its time to catch up.

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Dear Space Force Fans: Please Chill Out

By Keith Cowing on December 5, 2019 5:56 PM.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/moonraker.gif

The Space Force's moment of truth, op ed, Peter Garretson, Politico

"Within the Bay Area itself are Made-in-Space, NASA's Ames Research Center, and a conglomerate of Silicon Valley affiliated companies. How will they fare without the Space Force? A recent report State of the Space Industrial Base: Threats, Challenges and Actions outlined the threat these companies face by China's predatory pricing, investment in front companies, control of supply chains, and theft of intellectual property. Just this month, the US-China Economic and Security Commission, created by Congress, endorsed a Space Force to ensure" freedom of navigation and keeping lines of communication open, safe, and secure in the space domain, as the U.S. Navy does for U.S. interests in the maritime commons."

Keith's note: Huh? How is Space Force going to help Made-in-Space? There is no Space Force now and they're doing just fine. Is Space Force going to place armed guards around the ISS to keep the Chinese away? Is Space Force going to prevent China from utilizing space for commercial purposes so that only the U.S. can? Is Space Force going to engage in IP and patent protection in space and on Earth? The national defense aspect of Space Force has some logic to it. But the way the Space Force fans are whipping this whole thing up its as if there will be Space Force Cops patrolling in outer space writing parking tickets, chasing bad guys, and directing space traffic.

Oh and then there's this little gem "Second, it will have a devastating and compounding effect on jobs in key congressional districts." Aren't all congressional districts "key"? Or is this a scare tactic for big aerospace and the members of Congress they have ensnared in their lobbying efforts?

With a little less of this hyperventillation and crass political favoritism - and perhaps a little more basic wartime defense/prevention discussion - maybe a few more people might support this Space Force thing. Otherwise this sort of breathless op ed arm waving invites nothing more than mockery on a slow news day.

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NASA JSC Certainly Got All Of The Safety Memos

By Keith Cowing on December 4, 2019 8:17 PM.

Keith's note: From a retired NASA employee and long-time NASAWatch reader:

"Keith, the attached photo was just too instructive to pass up. Let me explain. This is at the Gilruth Center at JSC.

I believe that it visually shows the risk averse nature of NASA and says something about space politics. I.e., one stop sign wasn't enough. A second one is safer. And then a sign explaining what a stop sign means. Man are we safely redundant.

I am a retired NASA engineer and could not pass up the hilarious sight.

Enjoy."

Larger image

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Interesting Results Today From Parker Solar Probe

By Keith Cowing on December 4, 2019 1:04 PM.

NASA to Present First Findings of Solar Mission in Media Teleconference

"NASA will announce the first results from the Parker Solar Probe mission, the agency's revolutionary mission to "touch" the Sun, during a media teleconference at 1:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 4. During the teleconference, mission experts will discuss research results from four instruments on the probe, which are changing our understanding of the Sun and other stars. Their findings also will be published at 1 p.m. Wednesday on the website of the journal Nature. Teleconference audio will stream live at: https://www.nasa.gov/live"

Parker Solar Probe: We're Missing Something Fundamental About the Sun, University of Michigan

"Our closest-ever look inside the Sun's corona has unveiled an unexpectedly chaotic world that includes rogue plasma waves, flipping magnetic fields and distant solar winds under the thrall of the Sun's rotation, according to University of Michigan researchers who play key roles in NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission."

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Dmitry Rogozin Certainly Has A Sweet Deal Right Now

By Keith Cowing on December 4, 2019 7:20 AM.

A big salary, luxury cars, and a new dacha--Russia's space leader lives large, Ars Technica

"A leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny, recently turned his attention toward the country's space program. In an entertaining 13-minute video not unlike those produced by "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" on HBO, Navalny tackles corruption surrounding the construction of the Vostochny Spaceport in far-eastern Russia, as well as the apparently lavish lifestyle of Roscosmos leader Dmitry Rogozin. (The video is in Russian; it was translated for Ars by Robinson Mitchell. The English-language captions are mostly accurate.) ... Evidently Rogozin's job has other perks. According to the documents, Rogozin has also purchased new vehicles: for himself, a Mercedes-Benz S560, and his wife, a Range Rover. Combined, these vehicles are valued at about $300,000. And then the Roscosmos chief also acquired an 8,600 sq. foot dacha north of Moscow worth about $3 million. And the documents appear to obscure even more gains, Navalny argues."

- Vostochny Spaceport Corruption Has Not Gone Away, earlier post
- Russia Wants To Lead In Space By Spending Less Money On It, earlier post
- Vostochny Spaceport Has A Few Criminal Issues, earlier post
- Putin Wants To Jail Spaceport Employees, earlier post
- Earlier Russia postings

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Bridenstine and Loverro Answered All The Tough Questions

By Keith Cowing on December 3, 2019 2:54 PM.

Full video

"NASA held an Agency-wide Town Hall with Administrator Bridenstine and Douglas Loverro, NASA's new Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at noon EST. During the Town Hall, the Administrator introduced Douglas Loverro, and they answered questions from the agency's workforce."

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Russian Cargo Droid Docks With The ISS

Russian Cargo Droid Docks With The ISS

Traveling approximately 260 miles over the Yellow Sea east of Shanghai, the automated Russian Progress 74 cargo resupply spacecraft docked at 5:35 a.m. EST to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

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