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Yet Another NASA Computer Break In. Employee Data May Be Affected

By Keith Cowing on December 18, 2018 5:20 PM.

Potential Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Compromise of NASA Servers

"On Oct. 23, 2018, NASA cybersecurity personnel began investigating a possible compromise of NASA servers where personally identifiable information (PII) was stored. After initial analysis, NASA determined that information from one of the servers containing Social Security numbers and other PII data of current and former NASA employees may have been compromised. Upon discovery of the incidents, NASA cybersecurity personnel took immediate action to secure the servers and the data contained within. NASA and its Federal cybersecurity partners are continuing to examine the servers to determine the scope of the potential data exfiltration and identify potentially affected individuals. This process will take time. The ongoing investigation is a top agency priority, with senior leadership actively involved. NASA does not believe that any Agency missions were jeopardized by the cyber incidents."

- NASA Internal Memo: Breach of Personally Identifiable Information Update (2013), earlier post
- NASA's Stolen Laptop and Data Problem Just Got Worse (2012), earlier post
- NASA Still Has Big Unresolved Cybersecurity Issues , earlier post
- OIG: NASA Chief Information Officer Is Doing A Crappy Job , earlier post
- NASA Totally Flunks FITARA Scorecard 2 Years In A Row , earlier post

Earlier IT postings http://nasawatch.com/archives/itweb/

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Here Comes The Space Force (Update: Its called "Space Command")

By Keith Cowing on December 18, 2018 11:01 AM.

Trump to launch Space Command this week as Pence promotes space efforts, CNN

"President Donald Trump will order in the coming days the establishment of a new military space command, a move that comes as Vice President Mike Pence plans two high-profile visits related to the US space program, three US officials tell CNN. Pence will visit Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, and is expected to visit the Pentagon this week, in part to discuss Trump's sought-after Space Force. The new Space Command will be only the 11th combined combatant command, joining the ranks of Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, and Special Operations Command, which oversees elite troops known as Special Operations Forces. The White House did not respond to requests for comment."

Text of a Memorandum from the President to the Secretary of Defense Regarding the Establishment of the United States Space Command, White House

"Pursuant to my authority as the Commander in Chief and under section 161 of title 10, United States Code, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I direct the establishment, consistent with United States law, of United States Space Command as a functional Unified Combatant Command. I also direct the Secretary of Defense to recommend officers for my nomination and Senate confirmation as Commander and Deputy Commander of the new United States Space Command. I assign to United States Space Command: (1) all the general responsibilities of a Unified Combatant Command; (2) the space‑related responsibilities previously assigned to the Commander, United States Strategic Command; and (3) the responsibilities of Joint Force Provider and Joint Force Trainer for Space Operations Forces. The comprehensive list of authorities and responsibilities for United States Space Command will be included in the next update to the Unified Command Plan"

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Wright Brothers X 2

By Keith Cowing on December 17, 2018 4:01 PM.

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Rona Ramon

By Keith Cowing on December 17, 2018 1:13 PM.

Rona Ramon, Widow of Israel's First Astronaut Ilan Ramon, Dies at 54, Haaretz

"Rona Ramon, the widow of Israel's first and only astronaut, died of pancreatic cancer Monday at age 54. Ramon's husband, Ilan Ramon, was a crew member on America's 2003 Columbia space shuttle mission when the spacecraft blew up, killing all on board. Rona Ramon later lost her son Asaf, an Israel Air Force fighter pilot, in a training accident. She subsequently established the Ramon Foundation to promote academic excellence and social leadership among Israel's young people."

Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, New Moon Rising

"From the an event held on the one year anniversary of Columbia's loss at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC: "At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."

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Bettina Inclán Is NASA's New Office of Communications Associate Administrator

By Keith Cowing on December 17, 2018 5:26 AM.

Keith's 14 December note: NASA has a new Associate Administrator for the headquarters Office of Communications: Bettina Inclán. According to her Twitter profile at @BettinaInclan: "Entrepreneur. Storyteller. Political junky. Tired mom of 2 boys. Wife. Wine enthusiast. Proud Latina. Alum of Capitol Hill @GOP @RNCLatinos @NRCC Romney, McCain".

Here's her Linked In profile: Bettina Inclán Agen. Bettina Inclán reports for duty at NASA next week. A quick Google search turned up these interesting stories that mention her:

Miami politician says aliens took her on a spaceship. Now she's running for Congress, Miami Herald (with video)

"A congressional candidate from Miami can go one better: Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera says she's been aboard a spaceship too. But this one was crewed by aliens. As in extraterrestrials. ... Rodriguez Aguilera, 59, a Republican who is running to replace retiring Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, recounted her experience with the ETs during a 2009 television interview." ... Rodriguez Aguilera's daughter is former Republican National Committee Hispanic outreach director Bettina Inclán Agen. Her son-in-law, Jarrod Agen, is Vice President Mike Pence's deputy chief of staff."

RNC ad has own staffer 'breaking up' with Obama cardboard cut-out, MSNBC (with video)

"The video portrays a woman sitting across a restaurant table from a cardboard cut-out of Obama. "You think I didn't see you with Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney?" the woman asks. "It's not me, it's you." But perhaps it is the woman. The actor depicting a disillusioned Obama supporter from 2008 is actually the RNC's Director of Hispanic Outreach Bettina Inclan. "You're just not the person I thought you were," Inclan tells cardboard Obama in the ad, while pretending to be someone she is not."

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Tony Stark Thanks Jim Bridenstine

By Keith Cowing on December 16, 2018 1:04 PM.

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Astrobiology Research Season Ends At Lake Untersee, Antarctica

By Keith Cowing on December 15, 2018 1:28 PM.

Astrobiologist Dale Andersen Antarctic Status Report 15 December 2018: Back at Novolazarevskaya Station

"The camp at Lake Untersee is now closed, we pulled the last three tents down early yesterday morning and completed packing our cargo into the sea container with the remainder going onto the other two cargo sleds. The traverse back went well and we are all back at Novolazarevskaya Station, now at the ALCI operated "Oasis Huts" just adjacent to the Russian Station Novolazarevskaya. We have stayed in the Oasis Huts many times over the years so it is like returning to our home away from home - warm beds, good food and hospitality and a place to wash off the last six weeks of wear and tear we have all accumulated. These huts, refurbished a few years ago, were built in the early 1960's by the Russian Antarctic program - the initial Novolazarevskaya Station - so it is always nice to be staying somewhere with an interesting history. ... All in all a great field season and we accomplished most of what we set out to do. Now it is time to head home, relax a bit over the holidays and then begin working on returned samples, analyzing data and planning for future work in this region."

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Virgin Galactic Does The Space Thing Their Own Way

By Keith Cowing on December 14, 2018 12:03 AM.

Keith's note: In September 2004, I was sitting in the auditorium at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California in the final session of the NASA Administrator's Symposium "Risk and Exploration: Earth, Moon and the Stars". I co-chaired this event with Astronaut/NASA Chief Scientist John Grunsfeld. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe departed the event early so as to fly in and be at Mojave for the attempt at winning the XPrize. We watched a live video feed in the meeting room. There was a scary moment at one point - actual risk, as was the discussion at our event - and then success at 100 km/62 miles - landing - and then celebration.

Yesterday's flight by Virgin Galactic, albeit to a lower altitude, is a milestone of sorts - one that was only won with a lot of hard work and ultimate sacrifices by multiple employees. When one enters "space" is a matter of definitions and opinion. In 2004 it was 62 miles. Yesterday it was 51.4 miles. Whatever. You can call them and ask why they picked the easier goal to strive for.

That said, and numbers not withstanding, a lot has been invested in this. Soon, paying customers will ride close to - or (depending upon your opinion) into "space". The formal definition is somewhat arbitrary but still a matter of formal definition that can always be adjusted. OK, so who cares. From where SpaceShipTwo was poised, Earth's curvature is obvious. There is no air outside. And your blood would boil if you opened the door. Its outer space. Deal with it. NASA is no longer the only way to get there.

A few years ago I completed the Suborbital Astronaut Certification program at NASTAR. I flew several full acceleration profiles in a world class centrifuge based upon data from the original SpaceShipOne flight. I was pumped and tried to bribe the centrifuge operator for a third flight. Anyone in resonable health can do this. You just need several hundred thousand dollars to spare. That is the greater challenge.

FWIW Virgin Galactic is hyper-sensitive to media depictions of their events. Some media outlets have dumped on them relentlessly for reasons that remain obscure. Despite rather positive depictions of their efforts and lots of off-the-record chats with staff over the years about how to do media, NASAWatch was not invited to cover this event.

OK. That's your call George. Nice spaceship.

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Virgin Galactic Reaches "Space"

By Keith Cowing on December 13, 2018 10:53 AM.

Richard Branson Welcomes Astronauts Home from Virgin Galactic's Historic First Spaceflight

"The historic achievement has been recognised by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who announced today that early next year they will present pilots Mark "Forger" Stucky and Frederick "CJ" Sturckow with FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings at a ceremony in Washington DC. CJ, as a four-time Space Shuttle pilot, will become the only person to have been awarded NASA and FAA wings."

Keith's note: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of 51.4 miles today after 15 years of struggles to replicate the performance of SpaceShipOne in 2004. AFter some additional tests commercial passengers will reportedly be carried. But did they go to "space" today?

According to Wikipedia "The Kármán line, or Karman line, lies at an altitude of 100 km (62 mi; 330,000 ft) above Earth's sea level and commonly represents the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space. This definition is accepted by the Fédération aéronautique internationale (FAI), which is an international standard-setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics. ... The U.S. Air Force definition of an astronaut is a person who has flown higher than 50 miles (80 kilometres) above mean sea level, approximately the line between the mesosphere and the thermosphere. NASA formerly used the FAI's 100-kilometer (62 mi) figure, though this was changed in 2005, to eliminate any inconsistency between military personnel and civilians flying in the same vehicle."

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two only reached 51.4 miles. So that's not "space" if you accept the decades-old internationally-accepted definition. Ironically, all of the hoopla and arm waving in 2004 when SpaceShipOne won the XPrize happened only after it had passed the 100km/62 mile Karman line. It took Virgin 15 years to almost make the same altitude again.

But now there's an effort a foot to lower the internationally-accepted altitude to make it easier to reach "space". But no one has formally adopted that yet, As such it looks like Virgin Galactic jumped the shark to some extent for the purposes of marketing, etc. In some countries and from the perspective of some regulatory agencies, they did not reach "space" - yet. Just sayin'.

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A Teaching Moment For NASA

By Keith Cowing on December 12, 2018 10:11 PM.

NASA Head Jim Bridenstine Claps Back At Curry, TMZ

"Enter Bridenstine ... who says Curry's claim is so outrageous -- the point guard just cannot be serious. "I think it's funny," Jim tells us ... "I can't imagine he really believes that. It's outside the realm of what's possible." In fact ... Jim REALLY set Steph straight, saying, "Here's the thing, we didn't just go to the moon once, we went to the moon six times! And, we did it from 1969 to 1972!!!" Bridenstine also doubled down on NASA's invitation to have Curry come check out all their evidence -- saying he'd LOVE to prove Steph wrong and get him involved in the space program afterward! "My son is a HUGE fan of Steph Curry. So, if we can get him involved in space, I'm for it!"

Warriors' Stephen Curry says he was joking about moon landing, will visit NASA, ESPN

"But in terms of the reaction that I've gotten, I am definitely going to take [NASA] up on their offer. I am going to educate myself firsthand on everything that NASA has done and shine a light on their tremendous work over the years. And hopefully people understand that education is power, informing yourself is power. For kids out there that hang on every word that we say, which is important, understand that you should not believe something just because somebody says it. You should do your homework and understand what you actually believe."

Keith's note: There are a lot of people who did not pay attention in science class when they were growing up. A lot of other people are hit from a hundred different directions by conspiracy theories and fiction portrayed so realistically that they think it is fact. Other people just like to kid around. Some people simply do not care about NASA or space. Its not NASA's fault that people get these ideas in their head - for whatever reason they end up thinking these things.

The easy thing to do is to dismiss instances like this when other people genuinely doubt the Moon landings. But then there's the chance to take a celebrity's incomplete knowledge of the historic achievements of NASA's Apollo program and convert it into a teaching moment. Stephen Curry has quickly admitted that he was kidding but sees the chance to turn a bunch of arm waving by the news media into something far more useful. As former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe used to say in reference to his Jesuit schooling, "you make converts one at a time".

Suggestion for Jim Bridenstine: your new marketing phrase is to "Go forward to the Moon" Fine. However saying "Go back to the Moon" might help dial back some of the Moon landing hoax stuff. If we are going back it means that we've already been there. Your "forward" thing could leave the question open in some people's minds. Just sayin'

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CASIS Pays Big Bucks For Leadership With No Space Experience

By Keith Cowing on December 11, 2018 8:16 PM.

Keith's note: CASIS, the non-profit created to run the ISS National Laboratory, has been on a hiring spree of late. Three high level executives have been hired at $300K+ annual salaries recently. Meanwhile, existing CASIS staff are not getting cost of living increases and having their vacation benefits cut. It would seem that no one is going to fix the big, lingering problems at CASIS.

Joseph Vockley was recently hired as the new Executive Director of CASIS. He has zero experience with space but he's pulling in a salary close to $400k a year. In addition to Vockley CASIS has hired CASIS Chief Strategy Officer, Richard Leach (an old buddy of Vockley's) and Vice President Christine Kretz. Neither of the positions filled by Leach or Kretz were advertised. Neither Kretz or Leach have any space experience.

When you ask Bill Gertsenmaier and Jim Bridenstine how they will be certain that the ISS will be able to be taken over by commercial funding when NASA pulls out, they point to CASIS as the prime solution to that looming problem. CASIS' response is to hire new leadership with no basic space flight experience. This is not what you'd expect an organization that needs to beef up its space commercialization skill set would be doing to meet that challenge. Indeed, CASIS is still unable to use all of the crew and other resources that NASA offers it on the ISS.

We've been looking into the CASIS mess since its inception. In the past year Bill Gerstenmaier finally seemed to have gotten the message and had his staff tell CASIS to clean up its act after years after year of underperformance. In "Is CASIS Fixing Its Management Problems?" the series of NASA and CASIS interactions on management are examined. Alas, it would seem that CASIS was only paying lip service to NASA's concerns and NASA is utterly disinterested in making CASIS do the job that they are being paid to do.

- CASIS Responds To NASA's List Of Problems With CASIS, earlier post
- CASIS Is Still Broken, earlier post
- Earlier CASIS postings

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About That New Orion Span Space Station ...

By Keith Cowing on December 10, 2018 7:37 PM.

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NASA's Solution To Operating A Human Facility Like Gateway: Droids.

By Keith Cowing on December 10, 2018 2:58 PM.

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Boeing Has No Idea Who Is Buying Their Satellites. Or Do They?

By Keith Cowing on December 9, 2018 6:58 PM.

Boeing Was Going to Build Satellites for a China-Funded Firm. Why It Just Backed Out of the Deal, Fortune

"Boeing has canceled a deal to build a communications satellite -- which it has almost completed -- on the basis that the startup that ordered it has defaulted on payments. The sudden cancellation, however, comes on the heels of a report that detailed how the project was actually financed by a firm owned by the Chinese government. The Wall Street Journal exposed the situation earlier this week. The startup that ordered the satellite is called Global IP, and it wanted to use it for African Internet access. However, the deal was financed by an outfit called China Orient Asset Management, which is owned by the Chinese finance ministry and bankrolls military technology suppliers in the country. According to that report, some national security officials suspected Boeing was trying to bypass a ban on selling satellites directly to China. The ban is in place because of fears over the Chinese military gaining access to sensitive technology."

2 Companies Pay Penalties For Improving China Rockets, NY Times (2003)

"Two leading American aerospace companies have agreed to pay a record $32 million in penalties to settle civil charges that they unlawfully transferred rocket and satellite data to China in the 1990's. The agreement, which was completed on Tuesday and released today, comes two months after the State Department accused the companies, Hughes Electronics Corporation, a unit of General Motors, and Boeing Satellite Systems of 123 violations of export laws in connection with the Chinese data transfers. In a joint statement the companies said they ''express regret for not having obtained licenses that should have been obtained'' in the 1990's by a Hughes unit, the Hughes Space and Communications Company, which was acquired in 2000 by Boeing."

Keith's note: This has happened before. And this time Boeing only discovered the Chinese financing of this satellite in the past few days when the Wall Street Journal figured it out? Really Boeing?

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NASA's Advisors Struggle With Gateway Selling Points

By Keith Cowing on December 9, 2018 6:39 PM.

Keith's note: The NASA Advisory Council's Human Exploration and Operations Committee is having problems trying to explain why NASA needs to build the Gateway. If they can't figure out why it is needed, how is NASA going to sell this whole Gateway thing to Congress and the taxpaying public?

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More stories for December.

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 December 2018 - Robotic Refueling Mission 3 Installed

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 December 2018 - Robotic Refueling Mission 3 Installed Video in Story

Today - Airway Monitoring: Today the crew performed the setup activities for the upcoming Airway Monitoring US Lab (ambient) session.

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