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Zuma Update: SpaceX Exonerated by USAF

By Keith Cowing on January 22, 2018 7:26 PM.

SpaceX gets good news from the Air Force on the Zuma mission, Ars Technica

"A little more than two weeks have passed since the apparent loss of the highly classified Zuma mission. Since then, SpaceX has publicly and privately stated that its Falcon 9 rocket performed nominally throughout the flight--with both its first and second stages firing as anticipated. Now, the US Air Force seems to be backing the rocket company up. "Based on the data available, our team did not identify any information that would change SpaceX's Falcon 9 certification status," Lieutenant General John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, told Bloomberg News. This qualified conclusion came after a preliminary review of data from the Zuma launch. That's according to Thompson, who said the Air Force will continue to review data from all launches."

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Today's Shutdown News For NASA (Update)

By Keith Cowing on January 22, 2018 7:08 PM.

House votes to end government shutdown, sending legislation to Trump, Washington Post

"Congress voted late Monday to reopen the government after a three-day shutdown, sending President Trump a short-term spending bill that passed after Senate Republican leaders pledged to act on immigration policy next month. The House joined the Senate in passing the bill to fund the government through Feb. 8, reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program and roll back several health-care taxes. It passed 81-18 in the Senate and 266-150 in the House."

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Government Shutdown Shuts Down Falcon Heavy Test

By Keith Cowing on January 22, 2018 8:32 AM.

SpaceX Can't Test Falcon Heavy During U.S. Government Shutdown, Newsweek

"A statement from the 45th Space Wing read: "Due to the shutdown removing key members of the civilian workforce, the 45th Space Wing will not be able to support commercial static fires taking place on KSC. Without our civilian workforce, the 45th SW is unable to support launch operations as well." The 45th Space Wing is a department of the Air Force supporting space missions. The Verge reported that it was initially unclear if the static test could take place without the 45th's support, or if the test will be on hold until civilian staff are no longer restricted. Today, however, SpaceX confirmed the launch will halt the static fire. "This shutdown impacts SpaceX's Falcon Heavy demonstration, which is critical for future [national security space] missions," John Taylor, a SpaceX spokesperson, said in a statement to The Verge."

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Rocketlab Makes It To Orbit

By Keith Cowing on January 20, 2018 9:54 PM.

Rocketlab Places Three Satellites Into Orbit (with video), SpaceRef

"Rocketlab conducted its second Electron launch today placing three cubesats into orbit. The launch occurred from the remote Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand. Mission control is located in Auckland, New Zealand. On board was a Planetlab cubesat named Dove Pioneer which will conduct Earth resource imaging and two Lemur-2 cubesats for Spire which will be used for weather and ship tracking. In all of its social media postings the company used #stilltesting tag to denote the fact that these initial launches still involve significant testing and proof-of-concept studies."

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How NASA Is Shutting Down (Update)

By Keith Cowing on January 20, 2018 9:50 PM.

Message from the Acting Administrator - Government Shutdown Impacts to NASA

"The categorization of employees and whether or not someone is furloughed is not a reflection on the quality of their work, nor of their importance to our agency. It is merely a reflection of the legal requirements under which we must operate during a shutdown. Tomorrow, look for an email update from Human Capital Management Assistant Administrator Bob Gibbs that provides additional information for you, outlines steps being taken for an orderly closeout of your activities, and where to find additional information regarding the shutdown until a funding measure is passed by Congress and signed by the President."

NASA ARC Internal Memo: Informal Notice of Employee Furlough Status - Non Excepted

"Annual funding for the Government will expire at midnight on January 19, 2018. In the event no further agreement is reached to fund Federal agencies, Federal departments and agencies will not be permitted to incur further financial obligations performing activities funded by annual appropriations, except those related to the orderly suspension of operations or performance of excepted activities. This means that employees who do not perform activities excepted by law will be furloughed and unable to work. Our contingency plan assumes that International Space Station (ISS) activities will continue to protect the lives of the crew members on orbit and the safety and security of the ISS. Existing satellite missions in operation also will continue to protect the satellites and the data being collected. In addition, other activities involving protection of life and property will continue. All other Agency activities not determined to be legally exempt will stop."

NASA Just Shut Down. What If An Asteroid Comes?, Buzzfeed

"If an asteroid is headed toward Earth and NASA is shut down, who will astronomers call to issue a warning? The space agency hasn't quite figured it out yet, but said somebody should be around to answer the phone. "There will be people available should such an incident occur," NASA's Bob Jacobs told BuzzFeed News by email. During the 2013 government shutdown, the closure of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Asteroid Warning Twitter feed sparked headlines and concerns about the public not learning about space hazards. A JPL spokesperson told BuzzFeed News late on Friday that it's unclear whether the Asteroid Watch twitter account will be suspended this time."

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Life Goes On Aboard ISS During The Shutdown

By Keith Cowing on January 20, 2018 1:53 PM.

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JSC Center Director Ellen Ochoa Is Retiring

By Keith Cowing on January 19, 2018 5:41 PM.

NASA JSC Internal Memo: Center Director Ellen Ochoa Is Retiring

"Earlier today at the All Hands, I let people know that I am going to retire from NASA at the end of May. It's a really tough decision to determine when to make that transition; for me, it comes down to my personal situation. I reach 30 years at NASA, and my younger son turns 18, so this summer is a natural point for our family in which to move on to the next phase. We'll be moving to Boise, ID ..."

JSC Center Director Ellen Ochoa Picks Up Yet Another External Job, earlier post

"Keith's note: That's four companies/organizations for whom Ellen Ochoa serves on the board of directors while also serving as Center Director for NASA Johnson Space Center. If she has the time to do all of this external stuff perhaps she is not spending enough time on her day job. Why is it that the vast majority of NASA employees are not allowed to moonlight like this - but Ochoa is allowed to do so? Just sayin'."

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The Precise Moment A Young Woman's Space Career Began

By Keith Cowing on January 19, 2018 11:02 AM.

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Bridenstine Nomination Version 2.0 (Update)

By Keith Cowing on January 18, 2018 2:32 PM.

Bridenstine, Myers Nominations Again Clear Committee on Party-Line Votes, SpacePolicyOnline.com

"Four Republican Senators spoke in support of Bridenstine: Mike Lee (Utah), Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Cory Gardner (Colorado). All pointed to Bridenstine's background and service as a military pilot as evidence of his qualifications. Inhofe also cited Bridenstine's ability to "speak the language of Congress" as a benefit. Cruz said Bridenstine, a former Top Gun instructor, has many characteristics similar to an astronaut and urged that if Democrats want to pick a partisan fight that it not be on space, which traditionally is a bipartisan issue. The lack of a Senate-confirmed NASA administrator for almost a year is "bad for the United States of America, bad for space, it is bad for NASA" and bad for states like Texas, Florida, and Alabama. He accused Democrats of a partisan "wall of opposition" to a "well qualified veteran, and indeed a war hero" that is not in the best interest of ensuring American leadership in space. Gardner said that industry and military space leaders in Colorado support Bridenstine along with Colorado Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter."

With Democrats opposed, Trump's NASA pick gets political, Washington Post

"Sen. Bill Nelson, the influential Democrat from Florida, led the charge against Bridenstine, saying he lacked the credentials to lead the space agency. "The NASA administrator should be a consummate professional who is technically and scientifically competent and a skilled executive," he said during the confirmation hearing last year. "More importantly, the administrator must be a leader who has the ability to unite scientists, engineers, commercial space interests, policymakers and the public on a shared vision for future space exploration." added: "Frankly, Congressman Bridenstine, I cannot see how you meet these criteria."

Congressman Jim Bridenstine to Host Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and CEO of the Planetary Society at the State of the Union Address

"The Congressman is the nominee to be the next Administrator of NASA, and as I often say, NASA is the best brand the United States has. This means that the NASA Administrator not only works to advance space exploration, but serves as an informal ambassador of U.S. capability and optimism to the world."

- Bridenstine Survives His Confirmation Hearing
- Bridenstine's Written Answers To Questions From Congress

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Is Democratic Opposition To Bridenstine Wavering?

By Keith Cowing on January 18, 2018 1:02 PM.

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Why Should One Senator Boss NASA Around?

By Keith Cowing on January 18, 2018 1:01 PM.

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Commercial Crew Hearing

By Keith Cowing on January 17, 2018 10:34 AM.

Hearing: Update on NASA Commercial Crew Systems Development

"10 a.m. EST, the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will hold a Subcommittee on Space hearing titled An Update on NASA Commercial Crew Systems Development. The purpose of the hearing is to examine the development of NASA's two commercial crew systems, being built by Boeing and SpaceX, to service the International Space Station."

- Watch live
- Hearing charter

Prepared statements:

- Cristina Chaplain (GAO)

"Both Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) are making progress toward their goal of being able to transport American astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). However, both continue to experience schedule delays. Such delays could jeopardize the ability of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Commercial Crew Program to certify either company's option--that is, to ensure that either option meets NASA standards for human spaceflight--before the seats the agency has contracted for on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft run out in 2019."

- Patricia Sanders (ASAP)
- Hans Koenigsmann (SpaceX)
- John Mulholland (Boeing)
- William Gerstenmaier (NASA)
- Rep. Smith
- Rep. Babin
- Rep. Bera
- Rep. Johnson

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Remembering Columbia

By Keith Cowing on January 17, 2018 12:00 AM.

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal 20 July 2003: Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings

"Our task was a somewhat solemn one. We were here to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson. Two memorials have already been erected by members of the HMP Team. The memorials take the form of an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory. These stone structures serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place. As we establish these memorial inukshuks, we do so for the very same reason the Inuit do: to aid in future exploration - in this case, of Devon Island. As such, these memorials will show the way for future explorers."

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GAO: FAA Dropped The Ball On Launch Insurance

By Keith Cowing on January 16, 2018 1:50 PM.

GAO: Commercial Space Launch Insurance: FAA Needs to Fully Address Mandated Requirements

"The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) report evaluating its maximum probable loss (MPL) methodology did not fully address the evaluation and consultation requirements specified by the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA). FAA officials said they have not been able to take the actions needed to fully satisfy the mandated elements because of issues such as resource limitations and the lack of available data. However, by not resolving these issues, FAA lacks assurance that launch companies are not purchasing more insurance than needed or that the federal government is not being exposed to greater indemnification costs than expected."

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Bridenstine Confirmation: Its Going To Be Close

By Keith Cowing on January 16, 2018 12:08 PM.

Rep. Bridenstine's Bid to Become NASA Head Stumbles Amid Partisan Brawl, Wall Street Journal (behind paywall)

"Now, industry officials and some congressional supporters of Mr. Bridenstine see the math becoming more challenging, partly due to factors outside their control. Last month's election of Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama narrowed the Republican majority, while continuing health issues could keep Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi from voting in favor or the nomination. With Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona widely seen as firmly opposed for policy and personal reasons, Senate GOP leaders envision a difficult - and potentially monthslong - confirmation battle, according to industry officials and others familiar with their thinking. ... White House officials, however, are standing behind the choice and, according to outsiders tracking the process, aren't considering alternative candidates. ... "The president looks forward to Rep. Bridenstine's swift confirmation by the Senate, and is confident he will lead NASA to ensure America is a leader in space exploration once again," said Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman."

Bridenstine Nomination Update, earlier post

"Right now the expected support for Rep. Bridenstine remains exactly where it has been for him (and many other Trump nominees) for many months: split along party lines. With Sen. Rubio still in the "no" column. If the vote were taken in December (and Sen. McCain and Sen. Cochran were well enough to be in town to vote) it is expected that Bridenstine would have been confirmed 51 to 49. Senator-Elect Jones (D-AL) has now been seated so the expected vote would now be 50/50 with Vice President Pence casting a tie-breaking vote - if nothing else change interms of the party line split with everyone voting and Rubio's stance."

Keith's note: Contrary to reporting by Wall Street Journal NASA Watch sources report that Sen. McCain is not against Bridenstine's nomination.

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NASA ISS Weekly Space to Ground Report - January 19, 2018

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