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NASA Birthday Parties In DC

By Keith Cowing on September 20, 2018 10:01 PM.

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Space Tensions Eased: Cosmonauts Love Ivanka

By Keith Cowing on September 20, 2018 8:36 PM.

Ivanka Trump sent over the moon by Russian cosmonaut's message from ISS, ABC 13

"Before ending the call, NASA commander Dr. Andrew Feustel said he would be remiss if he didn't give Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev a chance to say hello. "Ivanka, I think you very kind and nice person," Artemyev said, as the crew looked on. "When I see you on TV and the news, my mood improves and rises." Trump blushed and let out a laugh. "That's very kind of you to say! Thank you!" she responded."

Keith's note: Everyone at NASA and Roscomos breathed a deep sigh of relief today when Oleg Artemyev made an overture to Ivanka Trump. The meeting between Dmitry Rogozin and Jim Bridenstine over possible Soyuz sabotage by U.S. astronauts will go much smoother now. Thanks Ivanka!

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Another Overtly Political Campaign Visit At JSC

By Keith Cowing on September 20, 2018 12:40 PM.

Ivanka Trump touring NASA's Johnson Space Center on Thursday, Houston Chronicle

"Ivanka Trump will be in Houston on Thursday for a tour of NASA's Johnson Space Center. President Donald Trump's daughter will be accompanied by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine."

Ivanka Trump to visit Mesquite on Friday to see how Walmart trains workers for today's economy, Dallas Morning News

"Ivanka Trump isn't the only member of the Trump family who'll be in Texas in the coming weeks. Texas State Rep. James Frank announced on his Facebook page that Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. would be in Wichita Falls for a rally on Oct. 3. And the president announced on Aug. 31 he would be coming to Texas in October to hold a "major rally" for Cruz."

Keith's note: That's three visits to JSC in Texas in a matter of a few months for Jim Bridenstine. All other NASA centers have had only one visit. Just sayin'. Also, FWIW Ted Cruz has a political rally shortly after his JSC campaign appearance with Ivanka tour just down the street at Franca's Real Italian Restaurant at 1101 East NASA Parkway on Thursday night (that's nice and close to JSC). Let's see who else shows up.

Keith's update: A hearing scheduled for next Wednesday titled "Global Space Race: Ensuring the United States Remains the Leader in Space" chaired by Ted Cruz suddenly appeared on the webpage of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. Its certainly convenient to have these JSC visits, rallys, and hearings all scheduled so close together. If Cruz is re-elected - and the Senate does not flip - then this is probably a good thing for human space flight at NASA. If either of those things do not happen well, who knows.

- VP Pence Visits Texas For A Fund Raiser And A JSC Visit, earlier post (23 August 2018)

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One Major Road Block To Bridenstine's Advertising Ideas

By Keith Cowing on September 20, 2018 11:50 AM.

Why NASA Needs a New Logo, Space.com

"The logo looks more vintage than victorious, according to the designers I interviewed. (Disclosure: None of the designers I spoke to works for, or has worked with, NASA. They are all experts, however, regarding branding campaigns for major public or private organizations.) The logo is an anachronism. A new logo should appeal to the entire nation, since NASA works with scientists and engineers throughout the United States and is funded by American taxpayers. It should show us where the agency intends to go, with our flag planted not in conquest but in camaraderie, with satellites among the stars and our spaceships as vessels of peace and goodwill."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/IMG_5388.m.jpgUnderstanding NASA's Global Reach, earlier post

"You would think that NASA would want to capitalize on such a potent branding strength. To be certain, they try. Due to Federal regulations the NASA logo cannot be used for commercial purposes or to imply any endorsement without formal approval by NASA. While this limits its use to some extent NASA is able to control its brand - something that is very important. But the one thing that you would think that NASA should be able to do i.e. use that logo in overt advertising and promotion, is banned by Federal law. Congress seems to think that NASA promotes itself too much. Yet they simultaneously chide NASA for not explaining itself better."

Keith's note: This Space.com article by Michael D. Shaw needed more research. NASA had a logo. Then they got a new one. Then they used the old one again. Impact? It's silly to try and get yet another logo for improved advertising and PR purposes when NASA is overtly prohibited by law from advertising. After more than 20 years of re-use, the NASA meatball logo is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. NASA's problems have nothing to do with brand visibility. It has that. Rather, NASA needs to find a way to get its mojo back again. Playing with logos will not accomplish that.

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Apparently The Force Is Not With The Space Force

By Keith Cowing on September 19, 2018 10:38 PM.

Shanahan downplays disagreements over Space Force structure, Defense News

"Days after the Air Force released a Space Force memo that seemed to contradict a plan laid out by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, the number two at the Pentagon downplayed any differences of opinion."

Wilson: $13 billion Space Force cost estimate is 'conservative'", Space News

"Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said her initial $13 billion cost estimate to stand up a Space Force and sustain it for five years is likely to be revised upward as more data is crunched. In a detailed memo submitted on Friday to Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Wilson provided the first glimpse into the potential cost, size and makeup of a military branch for space. The $13 billion projected cost over five years is based on a force of 13,000 people, including a headquarters of about 2,400."

New Space Force price tag fuels Capitol Hill skeptics, Military Times

"Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman had already decided to lead opposition in the U.S. House to President Donald Trump's "Space Force" proposal. But a widely leaked Air Force estimate that creating a space force as a new military service would cost $13 billion over the first five years only stiffened Coffman's resolve. Coffman, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee and sits on its Strategic Forces Subcommittee, was sure other lawmakers agree with him. "A really bad idea is a 'Department of Space,'" Coffman said in an interview Tuesday, adding, "I feel confident we can block this. The president will not have the votes."

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That Time A Falcon Rocket Visited Washington, DC

By Keith Cowing on September 19, 2018 10:54 AM.

SpaceX Falcon Launch Vehicle Unveiled in Washington D.C., earlier post (2003)

"Among the speakers at the rocket's unveiling were Elon Musk, President and CEO of SpaceX and Patti Grace Smith, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, FAA. Musk and Smith were introduced by Keith Cowing, editor of NASA Watch.com."

Keith's note: How time flies. I must say that this was a really interesting event. I was also one of the people standing at the podium to introduce Patti and Elon referring to the Falcon 1 as "not your father's rocket". The idea for this, as best as I can recall, emerged from a discussion that my late friend and co-author Frank Sietzen and I had. At that time Frank was SpaceX's first employee in Washington, DC. I think I said something to the effect of "why not bring the rocket to DC and just park it in front of NASA Headquarters?" Frank said I was crazy and then admitted that Elon was a little crazy too. He suggested it to Elon. Then it happened - again, as best I recall.

FYI one of the buildings in the picture is the old NASA HQ. Maybe I should Photoshop a Falcon 9 in front of the current NASA HQ ...

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Which Future In Space Do You Want To See?

By Keith Cowing on September 18, 2018 12:19 PM.

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A Very Different Take On Experiencing Space Travel

By Keith Cowing on September 17, 2018 11:19 PM.

The Next Expedition To The Moon Will Be Filled With Artists

"SpaceX exceeded everyone's expectations tonight by announcing that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa bought not just one but all of the seats in a BFR mission to fly by the Moon. Stating "I choose to go to the Moon", Maezawa, who made his money in the entertainment and clothing business, explained that he had been fascinated by the Moon since he was a kid. Maezawa said that he did not want to go alone. So, in Elvis Presley fashion, he bought out the venue and is going to invite a number of artists to go along on the Moon trip with him."

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National Space Council UAG Goes Through The Motions Of Being Interested

By Keith Cowing on September 17, 2018 12:20 PM.

Keith's note: Once again we see an exercise in checking the boxes with regard to the making of space policy. A White House-created committee of experts, hand-selected to focus on a desired ad somewhat pre-determiined outcome, goes through the motions of being interested in what people have to say. They only go to friendly locations where dissent or differences in opinion are unlikely - and consensus can be proclaimed by default. They never talk to anyone from the remaining 99.9999% of American electorate who ultimately pays for all of the shiny space toys.

Then, at their next meeting, they can show a Powerpoint chart with a group that they have reached out to with a check next to it. In this case the Users Advisory Group is almost entirely composed of either political favorites or representatives of large aerospace companies looking for more contracts from NASA and DOD. There are no real "users" of space on this panel. Nor are there any members from the next generation who will inherit and conduct America's space activities. All we see are sellers. Yet another choir practice session amongst the usual suspects in an echo chamber.

In this case (see the AIAA photos below) the room is nearly empty and there is no webcast. The echo must be particularly evident this time - but there is no one there to (other than Jeff Foust) to notice.

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U.S. - Canada Space Cooperation Remains Strong

By Marc Boucher on September 17, 2018 11:47 AM.

U.S. - Canada Space Cooperation Remains Strong

Canada and U.S. Space Cooperation Remains Strong but Funding Drives Programs, SpaceQ

"On September 7 the Wilson Center's Canada Institute in Washington organized a one day event titled "Over the Horizon: A New Era for Canada-U.S. Space Cooperation?" As with many events like this, discussions behind the scenes is where a lot of the action was. Though, there was one clear fact that no one could surmount."

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SpaceX Will Announce Their Moon Passenger Next Week

By Keith Cowing on September 13, 2018 9:57 PM.

@SpaceX: "SpaceX has signed the world's first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle--an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space. Find out who's flying and why on Monday, September 17."

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Jody Singer Named As MSFC Center Director

By Keith Cowing on September 13, 2018 3:14 PM.

Jody Singer Named Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named Jody Singer director of the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Singer has been the center's deputy director since February 2016, and has been serving as acting director since the retirement of Todd May as center director in July. She is the first woman appointed to the position."

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Congress Is Honoring Hidden Figures

By Keith Cowing on September 13, 2018 2:05 PM.

Ranking Member Johnson and Vice Chairman Lucas Introduce the Hidden Figures

"Today, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced H.R. 6795, the "Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act." Vice Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) is an original cosponsor of the legislation. This bill awards the Congressional Medal of Honor, Congress's highest civilian honor, to Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, Christine Darden, and all the women computers, mathematicians, and engineers at NASA, and its precursor organization NACA, who devoted their talents in service to the United States through World War II, the Space Race, and the Cold War. During this period, women submitted their work anonymously, were paid less than their male peers, and had few opportunities for career advancement. In addition, women of color were initially subjected to the indignity of segregated dining and bathroom facilities. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a Senate version of the legislation, S. 3321."

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Russian Conspiracy Mongering In Space (Update)

By Keith Cowing on September 13, 2018 9:52 AM.

NASA, Roscosmos Statement on International Space Station Leak

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin met for the first time yesterday via teleconference to discuss the status of International Space Station (ISS) operations in response to a request from Roscosmos. "As part of their discussion, Dmitry Rogozin informed his American counterpart about Roscosmos' decision to establish a Roscosmos-led Commission to investigate the cause of the leak in the Soyuz (MS-09/55S) spacecraft currently docked to the station."

Russian theory that NASA sabotaged the space station spreading like wildfire, Ars Technica

"A growing number of Russian publications have been putting forth an absurd new theory--that a NASA astronaut deliberately caused the leak on board the station in order to force the evacuation of a sick crew member. The story has spread like wildfire during the last 24 hours, according to Robinson Mitchell, who translates Russian space stories for Ars."

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Is Bad Science Better Than No Science? (Update)

By Keith Cowing on September 13, 2018 9:01 AM.

Could November elections scramble a controversial U.S. mission to a frozen moon?, Science

"Culberson's lander has been somewhat controversial among scientists because it hasn't gone through NASA's traditional selection and vetting process. And today, researchers at an agency advisory meeting debated whether the congressional elections in November could bring a new lander-related headache: the defeat of Culberson, who is facing a tough re-election contest. If Culberson loses, NASA risks becoming "locked in" to an expensive and complicated project that lacks a key champion in Congress, one researcher worried.

"The science goals of the Europa lander do not follow from our current knowledge of Europa," said Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Although there is abundant ice for a lander to sample on Europa, he suggested, there is no concrete evidence of other ingredients necessary for life, such as carbon, nitrogen, biologically useful energy, or organic molecules. But given that the lander is already receiving money, he concluded in an about-face, scientists should support it. "A bad life detection mission is better than no life detection mission," he said."

Keith's note: With regard to the frank commets by participants in the NASA Outer Planets Assessment Group meeting as presented in this Science article: the event was open and on the record and news media were listening in. Based on this article one can easily get the impression that the Europa Lander is viewed by some NASA scientists as having little value other than political - but its funded so - hey, lets run with it and take the money. The politicians who support this mission are viewed as disposable i.e. if one is not re-elected or the House flips and they lose their committee chairmanship, another politician can be found to support a given pet NASA/JPL/SwRI/etc. mission. This may be true in a cynical sense, but I feel silly having to remind a bunch of otherwise smart people that they are saying things in a not-so-smart context. The politicians are listening. What are they and their staff supposed to think when they hear this stuff? They stick their necks out to listen to the science community, support missions, get the money year after year, fight off enemies, and sign NASA's praises and yet the ever-so-clever scientists at NASA sit in their little meetings and try to out-strategize the actual decision makers. People at NASA are never satisfied with good enough and can't fight the urge to complain when their particular science thing is not the way they want it to be. This behavior never ends well for NASA.

A note of science clarification: Chris McKay is quoted as saying "A bad life detection mission is better than no life detection mission." The Europa Lander is not a "life detection mission" any more than Europa Clipper is. Reading the Europa Lander Study 2016 Report it becomes immediately and abundantly clear that this mission is looking for biosignatures - not overt life detection. This may sound confusing but there is a big difference. Biosignatures are a range of measurements of substances and conditions known to be produced (most likely if not exclusively) by Earth life. But any one biosignature is not necessarily a solid indicator of life (past or present). Indeed, in many cases organic molecules associated with life (biosignatures) can also be formed naturally by chemical processes (abiotic) that do not involve life at all. But data taken from a series of biosignatures, repeatedly taken in various locations over time can be used to point to life's increasing probability - or absence. Short of actually seeing a life form and directly measuring its chemistry detecting life on another world is not going to be a simple, one shot "detection" process. To understand the current NASA Astrobiology approach to searching for biosignatures please read the 2018 NASA-authored paper "The Ladder of Life Detection"

You can be assured that future meetings of NASA's Outer Planets Assessment Group will have many more people listening in. NASA people need to learn when to speak their minds and when to sit down and shut up. This has nothing to do with transparency. It has everything to do with common sense.

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 12 September 2018 - Japan's HTV-7 Spacecraft Launch Rescheduled to Friday

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 12 September 2018 - Japan's HTV-7 Spacecraft Launch Rescheduled to Friday Video in Story

JAXA's (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) launch of its HTV-7 resupply ship to the International Space Station has been rescheduled to Friday.

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