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NASA Releases Its Artemis "Plan" - 5 Months Late

By Keith Cowing on April 3, 2020 7:59 PM.

NASA's Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development

"This document covers and responds to the Chairman of the National Space Council's direction to provide a plan for a sustained lunar presence, including the technologies and capabilities to enable the first human mission to Mars. For millennia humanity has looked at the Moon in wonder and awe. As the United States leads the development of a sustained presence on the Moon together with commercial partners and international partners, our presence on the Moon will serve as a constant reminder of the limitless potential of humanity. It will continue to inspire humanity as we seek ever more distant worlds to explore - starting with Mars.

... After Artemis III, the overall plan is to conduct operations on and around the Moon that help prepare us for the mission durations and activities that we will experience during the first human mission to Mars, while also emplacing and building the infrastructure, systems, and robotic missions that can enable a sustained lunar surface presence. To do this, we will develop Artemis Base Camp at the South Pole of the Moon."

... In addition to establishing Artemis Base Camp, another core element of the sustained lunar presence that feeds forward to Mars will be the expansion of habitation and related support systems at the Gateway. This evolution of the Gateway's systems to include large-volume deep space habitation would allow our astronauts to test, initially in lunar orbit, how they will live on their voyage to and from Mars. Gateway can also support our first Mars mission analogs on the lunar surface. For such a mission, we currently envision a four-person crew traveling to the Gateway and living aboard the outpost for a multi-month stay to simulate the outbound trip to Mars, followed by two crew travelling down to and exploring the lunar surface with the habitable mobility platform, while the remaining two crew stay aboard. The four crew are then reunited at the Gateway for another multi-month stay, simulating the return trip to Earth, before landing back home."

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."

- NASA Really Really Needs An Artemis Plan - Soon, earlier post
- Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update), earlier post

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Adjusting to the Temporary "New Normal"

By Keith Cowing on April 2, 2020 4:33 PM.

Message From The NASA Administrator: Adjusting to the Temporary "New Normal"

"It's been just over two weeks since NASA transitioned, as an agency, into Stage 3 of its coronavirus (COVID-19) response framework. In that time, several facilities have moved into Stage 4 due to on-site COVID-19 cases and/or an increasing number of cases in their surrounding communities. Marshall Space Flight Center recently became the latest to move to Stage 4. Approximately 75% of our workforce is now working from home - some in home offices, some at the kitchen table. Some of us have taken over the dining room, or other room that, just weeks ago, had been a shared space for family, friends, roommates, etc. I want to thank everyone who supports a NASA employee on the home front."

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The NASA Worm Logo Returns To Duty

By Keith Cowing on April 2, 2020 12:41 PM.

Keith's note: Those of you who are long time readers of NASAWatch will recall my old "Worm Watch" feature (I need to go find the files) wherein NASA employees would send me sightings of the officially forbidden logo. Its continued presence - and being featured on NASAWatch - used to drive a certain former NASA Administrator nuts. When an inquiry was circulated about removing it from the front of NASA HQ someone in the NASA IG office told me that they dropped a strong hint that there'd be an investigation. So that worm logo is still there. Of course the worm logo is also on Hubble, the Viking landers, and lots of other spacecraft.

FWIW Yesterday was the 24th birthday of NASAWatch. Today is the 86th birthday of NASA Worm logo designer (and NASAWatch fan) Richard Danne. I am sure that this is just a coincidence. ;-)

In recent years there has been a resurgence of the worm logo's popularity - it is on clothing and other items now - with a reprint of the original style guide by the logo's designer Richard Danne selling out. Can the meatball and worm co-exist? I proposed a compromise years ago - the so-called "worm ball" (Larger version). Regardless of where this all goes, it is nice to see a piece of NASA's history become cool again - cool enough to fly back into space.

- Using NASA's Logo: Expensive T-Shirts Or Global Soft Power?, earlier post
- Understanding NASA's Global Reach, earlier post
- LOST IN SPACE; Meatballs Devour Worms!!, NY Times, earlier post
- The Care and Feeding of the NASA Worm Logo, earlier post
- Here Come the NASA HQ Logo Cops (Again), earlier post
- From Worms to Meatballs -- NASA Talk Traces Emblematic History, earlier post


Bring Your Ideas to NASA@WORK

By Keith Cowing on April 1, 2020 9:57 PM.

Message From The NASA Administrator: Help the Nation - Bring Your Ideas to NASA@WORK, NASA

"Over the past few weeks, I've heard from employees across the agency who want to help the nation through this unprecedented time. These comments exemplify the prevailing, can-do spirit of NASA people and our willingness to take on any challenge. As the nation comes together to confront this crisis, we must look at every opportunity for NASA to lend a hand and increase our contribution to America's response. We have unique capabilities--several of which are already being used to help combat COVID-19. We also have talented people and decades of experience finding solutions to complex problems. NASA will continue to support the Administration and local response efforts by our field centers. Starting today, we're also asking the NASA workforce for ideas of how the agency can leverage its expertise and capabilities to provide additional support. Using our internal crowdsourcing platform NASA@WORK, you can submit ideas for solutions relevant to COVID-19. Multiple ideas may be selected for follow-up and potential action."

NASA Taps Workforce for Innovative Ideas for Coronavirus Response Efforts, NASA

"For the initial call for ideas, NASA leadership, working with the White House and other government agencies, determined three focus areas around personal protective equipment, ventilation devices, and monitoring and forecasting the spread and impacts of the virus. Other creative ideas are encouraged as well, and as COVID-19 evolves, the NASA @ WORK challenge may introduce additional topic areas to address the needs of the country." For employees seeking more information about the NASA @ WORK opportunity, visit:"

Keith's note: The responses below were to a tweet by Nestor Tezna @NestorTezna who is Policy Director (acting) at NASA. He was responding to my comment to @JimBridenstine. Tezna said that NASA was working with other agencies and commercial partners. I then tweeted these two replies. He responded back to thank me for my support. And then he deleted his original tweets. Odd.

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NASA Is Going To Need A New CIO

By Keith Cowing on April 1, 2020 4:42 PM.

NASA CIO Renee Wynn Set to Retire

"NASA Chief Information Officer Renee Wynn is retiring on April 30, 2020, after 30 years in Federal service. She is one of the longest-serving departmental CIOs at NASA and in the Federal Government. Before coming to NASA, Wynn spent 25 years at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where she served in several executive roles, including as acting CIO and deputy CIO. During her NASA tenure, Wynn said she had her work cut out for her. She was instrumental in improving the Agency's external reputation regarding cybersecurity and how information technology was managed at NASA."

Keith's note: To be brutally honest the NASA CIO organization has been totally ineffective for more than a decade. Hopefully Jim Bridenstine will hire someone who can fix the organization.

NASA Needs A New Chief Information Officer (2019), earlier post

"(sigh) more IT babble from the NASA CIO. AS far as NASA's blatantly obvious byzantine website mess the CIO could have addressed at any time - but they did not. Have a look at these stories about NASA's creaky, mismanaged, and needlessly redundant cyber infrastructure - from just the past year or so. NASA's CIO has been asleep at the wheel for years. Its time for a reboot."

NASA's CIO Is Officially Angry About Her Commuter Bus Website (Update)

"As it happens this commuter bus tweet was not even made by Renee Wynn but rather by someone else who has access to the @NASACIO Twitter account (even though the face on the Twitter page is Renee Wynn's). This error went unnoticed for more than 5 hours hours until NASAWatch pointed it out. And it took another 5 hours before an indirect message was sent to me explaining what had happened. ... You can hardly blame people at NASA for ignoring the CIO organization when they do things like this."

12,000 People Applied To Become A NASA Astronaut

By Keith Cowing on April 1, 2020 1:22 PM.

More Than 12,000 People Apply to Join NASA's Artemis Generation, #BeAnAstronaut, NASA

"More than 12,000 people have applied to join NASA's next class of astronauts, demonstrating strong national interest to take part in America's plans to explore the Moon and take humanity's next giant leap - human missions to Mars. Applications were received from every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories. However, the process is just beginning for NASA's Astronaut Selection Board, which will assess the applicants' qualifications and invite the most qualified candidates to the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston for interviews and medical tests before making a final selection. NASA expects to introduce the new astronaut candidates in the summer of 2021."

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The SpaceX Starship Users Guide Is Now Online

By Keith Cowing on April 1, 2020 1:15 PM.

SpaceX Starship Users Guide Revision 1.0 March 2020

"SpaceX's Starship system represents a fully reusable transportation system designed to service Earth orbit needs as well as missions to the Moon and Mars. This two-stage vehicle--composed of the Super Heavy rocket (booster) and Starship (spacecraft) as shown in Figure 1--is powered by sub-cooled methane and oxygen. Starship is designed to evolve rapidly to meet near term and future customer needs while maintaining the highest level of reliability.

Starship has the capability to transport satellites, payloads, crew, and cargo to a variety of orbits and Earth, Lunar, or Martian landing sites. Potential Starship customers can use this guide as a resource for preliminary payload accommodations information. This is the initial release of the Starship Users Guide and it will be updated frequently in response to customer feedback."


NASAWatch Is 24

By Keith Cowing on April 1, 2020 12:00 AM.

Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 24 on 1 Apr 2020. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 and was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on an ISDN line in my little condo in Reston, Virginia (see 20 Years Ago Today: The Seeds of NASAWatch). Here a few things from those early days that are still online:

- Rogue Webmasters, Government Executive, 1 Oct 1996
- NASA's Most Important Asset, Gerry Griffin, 31 December 1996
- Dan Goldin Comments to the Space Science Advisory Committee (SSAC) Meeting, 6/17/96
- Changes in Thinking At NASA November 29, 1996, PBS News Hour

Plus this piece from 2016

- NASA Watch Celebrates 20 Years of Critiquing the Space Agency's Every. Single. Move., Inverse (2016)

Just to show you how things have changed, this photo should shock a few of you ... (well worth a click) - and no, it is not an April Fool's joke. Today, some up and coming bloggers and digeratti love to throw snark at me just like I threw it at Dan Goldin back in the day. Life is funny like that.

Those of you who have followed my 'other' exploits will know that I have had a certain interest in doing online updates from distant and extreme locations (Devon Island, Everest Base Camp, etc.). This website (still online), "The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-Term Research Project - Life in Extreme Environments; An Antarctic Field Journal", done with my friend Dale Andersen, was one of the very earliest - possibly the first - website actually updated from Antarctica.

People have been asking me to look back on things and pick the events that are most memorable. After all I have spent nearly 1/3 of my life running this damn thing. I have been given many chances to do things because of my peculiar notoriety. This shaky video, done live with my friend Miles O'Brien in 2009 - about our mutual friend Scott Parazynski - while this picture was being taken - is the one singular moment where it all came together. I wrote about it here: "My Star Trek Episode at Everest".

Thanks to all of you for stopping by for the past 24 years. Let's all hope we're here for the 25th anniversary.


SMD COVID-19 Epidemic FAQ

By Keith Cowing on March 31, 2020 2:43 PM.

NASA SMD: Frequently Asked Questions about Grants and Research during the COVID-19 Epidemic

"If you have questions about conducting your research or managing your grants during the COVID-19 epidemic, NASA SMD has prepared a Question and Answer document. The document outlines SMD's implementation of recent guidance from the Office of Management and the Budget as well as questions regarding the processing of existing awards and the donation of Personal Protective Equipment purchased using NASA grant funds."


The Lockheed Martin Family Quietly Steps Up To Help

By Keith Cowing on March 31, 2020 11:53 AM.

Keith's note: I got this note from a Lockheed Martin employee last night:

"Keith: I have been an avid reader of NASAWatch since the 1990's (RIFwatch times) and I saw the post on Lockheed Martin's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a large Lockheed Martin team working last week and this past weekend with local hospitals in Denver to help make items to replace PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that are critically needed. Some are as simple as repurposing the standard surgical masks into 3D printed cartridge filters that can attach to respirator masks, making 3D printed respirator masks, and even rapid prototyping PAPRs (Powered, Air-Purifying Respirator) that the hospital cannot get.

I have worked here for three decades and this is still the coolest thing I have seen Lockheed Martin do. I am even more surprised and proud that the company is doing this without PR. Corporate is really behind this and it is all overhead or volunteer hours (one of my designers has been in over 30 hours this weekend to support).

From what I have seen locally they really are working hard to do just about all they can do on short turn around. This is not just local though. All portions of the company from Space, to Aero, to Information Systems have been engaged to do this same support - with the specific focus driven by local needs of hospitals - not corporate. I am actually proud of what corporate is doing. Great efforts are being done with no press and that is wonderful and worth lauding."

I am told from another source that Lockheed Martin has collected maks and safety glasses from their shops in their Denver facilities, Michoud Assembly Facility, and Kennedy Space Center.

Well done.

- Lockheed Martin Details How It Plans To Respond to COVID-19, earlier post


JPL Forms New Planetary Science Directorate

By Keith Cowing on March 30, 2020 9:08 PM.

NASA JPL Internal Email: Creating the Future of Planetary Science, NASA JPL

"Today, the Mars Exploration Directorate and the Solar System Exploration Directorate are integrating to form the new Planetary Science Directorate (4X). This new organization comes at a critical time as the nature of NASA's planetary science efforts continues to expand and the next decade's blueprint has yet to be written. This new organization is designed to improve our alignment and communications with NASA HQ and our partner organizations, improve the integration & communication of our priorities and challenges across the Lab, and strengthen our collaboration and interactions with the planetary science community."

NASA JPL Internal Memo: Creating the Future of Planetary Science (with JPL Planetary Science Directorate leadership assignments), NASA JPL

"Since the fall, we have been assessing options to best position the Lab to execute its future in planetary science. Effective today, the Mars Exploration Directorate and the Solar System Exploration Directorate are integrating to form the new Planetary Science Directorate (4X). This organizational change is designed to improve alignment and communications with NASA HQ and our partner organizations, improve the integration & communication of our priorities and challenges across the Lab, and strengthen our collaboration and interactions with the planetary science community. We will team with other organizations across the Lab in development of a strong, diverse and inclusive personnel pipeline for the future roles in the Directorate and across the Lab. We will learn from each other and be an even greater force for discovery going forward."


Just What Everyone Needs Right Now - Thanks Neil Tyson - Not

By Keith Cowing on March 30, 2020 9:06 PM.

Keith's note: I also tweeted this response: "Thanks for the cosmic buzzkill. Just what everyone needs right now - purposeful negativity by you when we all should be trying to pull together and look beyond - and above - today's bad times to a hopeful future that lies ahead." That said, Elon had a better response - one that he can back up with action.


Rethinking What It Means To Be A Truly Global Species

By Keith Cowing on March 30, 2020 5:03 PM.

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NASA Administrator Update

By Keith Cowing on March 30, 2020 2:55 PM.

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - March 30, 2020, NASA

"Thank you for all your questions in last week's Ask the Administrator. Our agency's response to COVID-19 is admirable and characteristic of the strength and spirit of our team. If you haven't had a chance to view the recording, you can do so here. These difficult challenges have a way of bringing out our best and because of that I believe we will be better for it. Please continue to stay in frequent contact with your supervisor and check the NASA People website regularly for updates."

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National Academy of Sciences Space Science Week

By Keith Cowing on March 30, 2020 12:05 PM.

NAS Space Science Week 2020 Events March 31-April 1

"During Space Science Week, five committees meet simultaneously to discuss recent advances in their fields, hear from federal agencies about upcoming projects, and plan future work. We invite you to tune in remotely for the open sessions of these meetings, which will take place on March 31-April 1, 2020."


More stories for April.


Military PNT Conference – May 18 - 29 2020, London, UK

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 1 April 2020 - SpaceX Dragon to Return Next Monday

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 1 April 2020 - SpaceX Dragon to Return Next Monday Video in Story

A U.S. cargo craft is being packed for its return to Earth next week while robotics controllers get ready to install a new European science platform on the International Space Station.

More updates...