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Additional Cosponsors Sought For Apollo 1 Arlington Memorial Legislation

By Keith Cowing on December 1, 2016 4:45 PM.

Dear Colleague Letter: Cosponsor the Bipartisan Apollo 1 Memorial Act

"Although all three astronauts were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, it is surprising that we do not have a memorial at Arlington Cemetery to honor the lives of the crew of Apollo 1 as was done for the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews. H.R. 6147 , The Apollo I Memorial Act, would redress that unfortunate omission. As Arlington National Cemetery is where we recognize heroes who have passed in the service of the Nation, it is fitting on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo I accident that we acknowledge these astronauts by building a memorial in their honor. This bill would direct the Secretary of the Army, in consultation with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to construct at an appropriate place in Arlington National Cemetery, a memorial marker honoring these American heroes."

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House Science Committee Cites Trump's Favorite News Service

By Keith Cowing on December 1, 2016 2:21 PM.

Keith's note: Is this overt citation by the House Science Committee of a story on Breitbart, the former employer of President Elect Trump's policy advisor, a preview of coming actions on NASA's Earth science research? Oh yes, the committee's policy director is on the Transition Team for NASA. Then again, the committee also overtly referenced NASAWatch in its letter to NASA on ARM the other day ;-)

Keith's update: But wait: there's more - House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith also writes for Breitbart too: Rep. Lamar Smith: Amnesty Costs Workers and Taxpayers.

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Progress Launch Fails

By Keith Cowing on December 1, 2016 11:07 AM.

Problem Occurs During Launch of Progress 65 Resupply Mission to the ISS - Vehicle Burns up in Atmosphere (with video)

"A launch that seemingly was going perfect, quickly became a concern to Russian mission controllers when the third stage of the Soyuz rocket apparently shut down early, possibly leaving the Progress resupply spacecraft in a improper orbit. To make matters worse mission controllers have been unable to confirm at this point if the solar arrays are fully deployed. Contact was lost at T+ 6:23 just before it was supposed to achieve orbit."




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Congressional Moves To Gut OSTP

By Keith Cowing on December 1, 2016 12:19 AM.

Key legislator disses White House science office, Science

"The White House science office hasn't been very productive under President Barack Obama, says the chairman of a key congressional research spending panel. And Representative John Culberson (R-TX) says he'd like to see it downsized. ... Since becoming CJS chairman in January 2015, Culberson has used his position as a "cardinal" to advocate for his scientific priorities, starting with a multi-billion-dollar NASA mission to a jovian moon that some scientists believe may harbor life."

Keith's note: Funny how a member of Congress with zero science training shoves Europa missions down NASA's throat and then complains about a congressionally-mandated position in the Executive Branch that overtly seeks to have actual scientific input - from actual scientists - so as to make informed decisions - about science.

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10 SLS Flights And No Footprints on Mars

By Keith Cowing on November 30, 2016 4:32 PM.

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Get Used To Having Less Money For NASA

By Keith Cowing on November 30, 2016 12:33 PM.

Trump's First 100 Days: Space, Scientific American

"What is certain, [Bob] Walker says, is that Trump's "space policy doesn't contemplate any real increases in NASA's spending.", It will likely have to accomplish all that it is being asked to do now and in the future without significant boosts to its bottom line, and with the distinct possibility of deep budget cuts. And that, more than anything else, could be very bad news for the space agency and its programs."

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Upcoming Action On A New NASA Authorization Act

By Keith Cowing on November 30, 2016 12:31 PM.

Senate Floor Action on New NASA Authorization Act Could be Imminent, Space Policy Online

"Senate and House negotiators reportedly are close to agreement on a final version of a FY2017 NASA authorization act. Senate floor action on a draft compromise bill could come as early as tomorrow. A draft of a revised version of the bill reportedly reflecting compromise with the House is now circulating and rumors are that the Senate may take it up as early as tomorrow. SpacePolicyOnline.com obtained a copy of the new draft. A quick glance suggests that it is similar to what cleared the Senate committee, while incorporating elements of H.R, 810 and H.R. 2039 plus new provisions. These are a few highlights of the 114-page draft."

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NASA's Boulder Retrieval Mission Faces Likely Cancellation

By Keith Cowing on November 30, 2016 12:24 PM.

Smith, Babin Request Info on ARM Press Release, Report

"As the incoming Administration evaluates ARM, it would benefit from clear guidance from both NASA and its advisory bodies. Similarly, it should be unencumbered by decisions made in the twilight of this Administration's term. Contrary to the assertions made in the press release, numerous advisory bodies have questioned the merits of the President's ARM mission. The NASA Advisory Council, the Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), and the National Research Council have all raised concerns with the mission since its proposal by the Administration," the letter states."

- NASA Boulder Retrieval Briefings: Look But Don't Touch, earlier post (this congressional letter cites this NASAWatch post as one of its references).

- NASA's Boulder Retrieval Mission, earlier post

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More Inbred Thinking Amongst Space Advocates

By Keith Cowing on November 29, 2016 11:26 PM.

Keith's note: Explore Mars had a "leadership dinner" in Washington, DC tonight. This is a group photo (larger image) posted on Facebook. Here we go again. Another space group has a meeting. Guess who shows up: One female, nine males (mostly older white guys). This is not remotely representative of who will - should - explore Mars. The folks at Explore Mars mean well. But this event is representative of a much more pervasive issue in the space advocate community - lack of diversity. Until the usual suspects in the space advocate leadership clique get the message that they need to be far more representative of the taxpayers/citizenry who will pay for their party their impact will be minimal - at best. More choir practice in an echo chamber.

Keith's update: I am told by a participant in this event that this was a "[this was a] random group based on availability. [The] president of the organization is a woman and two of the Board of Advisers are women (and another one pending), none of whom were present." That said, the gender and age imbalance is still unrepresentative of the real world and will continue to be so - until the space crowd gets the message that they need to reflect the reality of the world around them - not the one they imagine inside their heads.

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NASA Has Its First Landing Team Member

By Keith Cowing on November 29, 2016 3:26 PM.

President-Elect Trump Announces Additional Agency Landing Team Members

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Christopher Shank
Employer (current or most recent): U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (Retired)
Funding source: Volunteer"

Keith's note: Chris Shank is policy director for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and Deputy Chief of Staff for Committee chair Lamar Smith. Prior to that he worked at NASA as part of Mike Griffin's so-called "Band of Brothers" as Director of Strategic Investments and Chief of Strategic Communications. It would not necessarily be incorrect to look at what the House Science Committee has been doing over the past few years (Pro-Constellation, Pro-SLS, Anti-ARM, lukewarm on commercial space, preference for going back to the Moon, Earth science skepticism, subpoenas to NOAA and EPA over climate and environmental issues) to get an understanding of Shank's possible stance on space issues. That said, Chris certainly understands space.

Also, Mark Albrecht, once thought by many to be part of NASA's transition team, is listed as one of the Department of Defense Landing Team members.


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Transition Teams and Draining Swamps

By Keith Cowing on November 28, 2016 9:57 PM.

A transition vet offers tips to Trump's NASA transition team, Courtney Stadd, SpaceNews

"You will also be subject to many rumors. Information is power in D.C. Any tidbit of information, no matter how trivial, is worth something to the consultants, lobbyists, journalists, bloggers, and self-appointed social media space policy mavens who are constantly trying to demonstrate their inside knowledge. And many people with an interest in the issues within your portfolio are not beyond greatly exaggerating their level of access. I've lived and worked in the nation's capital for 40 years and can attest to the hypocrisy that has always been a growth industry within the Beltway. But I have to say that in the wake of this election, I have never seen anything like the hypocrisy among the political class. The very people who disdained Donald Trump on the Monday before the election were currying for political favor within 24 hours of Hillary Clinton's concession phone call. By now, I am sure you have discovered many "friends" you never knew existed the day before the election."

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Russia Wants To Make The Moon Great Again

By Keith Cowing on November 28, 2016 8:34 PM.

Russia is developing a mega-rocket that will transport supplies to build a base on the MOON, Deputy PM reveals, Daily Mail

"Russia is developing a mega-rocket that will transport supplies to build a base on the moon, the country's Deputy Prime Minister has revealed. President Vladimir Putin wants work to begin on the new 'super-heavy' rocket which will 'pave the way' for a lunar research station. It will enable the construction of a Russian base that will be both 'visitable and inhabitable', according to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. ... In 2029, a new spacecraft named Federation will fly to the moon's orbit, he added. 'In the 2030s, we set the task of a manned flight to the moon and in 2031 we plan landing on the moon,' Mr Solntsev told TASS. Russia is inviting Esa and Nasa to jointly develop a module for landing on the moon, Mr Solntsev said."

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Is Trump Going To Gut NASA Earth Science? Who Knows.

By Keith Cowing on November 28, 2016 4:39 PM.

Trump's space policy reaches for Mars and the stars, Space News

"NASA should be focused primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies."

"Trump to scrap Nasa climate research in crackdown on 'politicized science', The Guardian

"Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as "politically correct environmental monitoring". "We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research," Walker told the Guardian. "Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission. "My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump's decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science."

Yes, Donald Trump did call climate change a Chinese hoax, Politifact

"At one point, Clinton said, "Donald Trump says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese." Did he? Yes, though he later said it was a joke. The original source of this claim was a tweet Trump sent on Nov. 6, 2012, as we noted in a January 2016 fact-check of a similar claim by Clinton's Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders."

Trump admits 'some connectivity' between climate change and human activity, CNN

"President-elect Donald Trump conceded Tuesday there is "some connectivity" between human activity and climate change and wavered on whether he would pull the United States out of international accords aimed at combating the phenomenon, which scientists overwhelmingly agree is caused by human activity."

Keith's note: Last week a number of articles appeared with the startling (at least to the authors) news that President Trump was going to cut all of NASA's Earth science programs. The authors based this arm waving on quotes in the Guardian by on-again/off-again/on-again Trump transition team advisor Bob Walker. This is not the first time Walker has said something like this. Back in the middle of October, in a Space News op ed, Walker made similar comments. Other than these two comments by Walker we have little else to go on except some off-handed, indecisive quotes from Trump himself on climate change. So - will Trump gut NASA space science? We only have some hints from someone who may or may not actual know what Trump is going to do. If Trump does take a run at NASA's Earth science programs he'll have allies such as Sen. Ted Cruz and House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith who have been going after climate-based research funding for years. Then again, Trump may find himself consumed by far more pressing issues. We won't know until a Trump space policy emerges and a Trump team is installed on the 9th floor at NASA Headquarters.

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You Are All Paying For Dava Newman's Personal Antarctic Sightseeing Trip

By Keith Cowing on November 27, 2016 6:40 PM.

Keith's note: This rather shameless Dava. Really. You are required to submit your formal resignation no later than 7 December. Your desk needs to be empty by 20 January. Yet you are on a victory lap to Antarctica at taxpayer expense - and bragging about it. Why? Will you even have enough time to write up a trip report before you head back to MIT? Enjoy the perks - while they last.

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GAO Urges Deeper FAA Insight into Aerial and Suborbital Vehicles

By Keith Cowing on November 25, 2016 6:38 PM.

FAA Should Examine How to Appropriately Regulate Space Support Vehicles, GAO

"Company officials GAO interviewed identified potential uses for "space support vehicles"- which include a variety of aircraft from high-performance jets to balloons and the aircraft portion of a hybrid launch systems (a vehicle that contains elements of both an aircraft and a rocket-powered launch vehicle) - but the size of the market for these uses is unclear. Company officials said they plan to use space support vehicles to train spaceflight participants and to conduct research in reduced gravity environments. For example, some company officials said they would like to use high-performance jets to train future spaceflight participants by exposing them to physiological and psychological effects encountered in spaceflight. Other company officials said they would like to use space support vehicles to research how objects or people react in reduced gravity environments. It is difficult to know the size of the market for spaceflight training and research as GAO found no studies on these markets. However, stakeholders said they expect interest in research to increase."

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NASA ISS Space to Ground Weekly Report - 1 December 2016

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