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Chris Kraft

By Keith Cowing on July 22, 2019 6:00 PM.

NASA Administrator Remembers Mission Control Pioneer Chris Kraft

"Chris was one of the core team members that helped our nation put humans in space and on the Moon, and his legacy is immeasurable. Chris' engineering talents were put to work for our nation at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, before NASA even existed, but it was his legendary work to establish mission control as we know it for the earliest crewed space flights that perhaps most strongly advanced our journey of discovery. From that home base, America's achievements in space were heard across the globe, and our astronauts in space were anchored to home even as they accomplished unprecedented feats."

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Mike Collins Prefers Mars Over The Moon

By Keith Cowing on July 22, 2019 8:58 AM.

2009 Michael Collins Interviews Michael Collins UPDATED for the 50th Anniversary July 2019

"Q. Okay but getting back to the space program. What's next?

A. I hope Mars. It was my favorite planet as a kid and still is. As celestial bodies go, the moon is not a particularly interesting place, but Mars is. It is the closest thing to a sister planet that we have found so far. I worry that at NASA's creeping pace, with the emphasis on returning to the moon, Mars may be receding into the distance. I would advocate for a "JFK Express to Mars". President Kennedy's 1961 mandate to land man on the moon within the decade was a masterpiece of simplicity and we invoked it often to get the job done."

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Those Times The President Said The Moon/Mars Phrase

By Keith Cowing on July 21, 2019 1:10 PM.

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VP Pence At KSC: Bipartisan Support Without Bipartisan Attendance

By Keith Cowing on July 20, 2019 7:13 PM.

Remarks by Vice President Pence Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Kennedy Space Center, FL

"And while we've made great strides in advancing the President's bold vision for space -- unlike in years past, we will have the budgets to match it. And that's why I'm especially grateful today to be joined by some of the greatest champions of American leadership in space in the Congress of the United States: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Congressman Robert Aderholt, Congressman Brian Babin, Congressman Bill Posey, and other distinguished members of Congress. Would you please rise and allow us to express our appreciation for your strong support of renewed American leadership? (Applause.)"

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The Words VP Pence Said About Apollo 11

By Keith Cowing on July 20, 2019 7:09 PM.

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Remarks by Vice President Pence Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Kennedy Space Center, FL

"Apollo 11 is the only event in the 20th century that stands a chance of being widely remembered in the 30th century. A thousand years from now, July 20, 1969 will likely be a date that will live in the minds and imaginations of men and women, as long as there are men and women to remember -- across this world, across this solar system, and beyond."

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Bringing Beauty And Glamour Back To NASA For Centuries To Come

By Keith Cowing on July 20, 2019 2:04 PM.

Remarks by President Trump Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

"THE PRESIDENT: And we opened up our fields. When we took it over, they were all covered with grass, and they were broken and they were in bad shape. And NASA -- if you look at Kennedy, if you look down in Florida, you look -- wherever you want to look, it was not a pretty picture. They were almost, you could say, abandoned, and now they're in tip-top shape."

"THE PRESIDENT: And, you know, one of the things: We're bringing the glamour back to it because it lost the glamour. It lost everything. If you would have seen these fields when we took over -- really, you started about a year, year and a half ago. When we took over, it was unbelievable. It looked like an abandoned town. And now there's beauty. There's beauty, and there's a lot of things happening. A lot of really great things are happening. So we're very proud of that."

Presidential Message on Space Exploration Day, 2019

"To honor those who have come before us and for the future betterment of all humankind, we pledge to launch a new era of exploration, extending our pioneering spirit into the farthest reaches of the cosmos. My Administration is committed to reestablishing our Nation's dominance and leadership in space for centuries to come."

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Vice President Pence Visits KSC Today

By Keith Cowing on July 20, 2019 9:33 AM.

NASA Coverage of Vice President's Visit to Kennedy Space Center on Moon Landing Anniversary

"NASA will provide television, still image, and social media coverage of Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, July 20 - the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The day will begin at 11:25 a.m. EDT with Air Force Two's arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) runway."

Watch Pence's speech at KSC live at 1:00 pm EDT https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

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NASA Ignores Its Own Historic Resonances

By Keith Cowing on July 20, 2019 8:01 AM.

Keith's note: 20 July 2019, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's landing on the Moon, is also the 100th Birthday of Sir Edmund Hillary. Along with Tenzing Norgay, they became the first humans to stand atop the highest point on our planet, Mt. Everest. in 1953. Years later Hillary became friends with Neil Armstrong and the two of them travelled to the North Pole together in 1985.

In 2009 Astronaut Scott Parazynski became the first person to fly in space and to stand atop Everest. He had four small Apollo 11 Moon rocks with him that I brought with me to Nepal. Those Moon rocks and a piece of the summit of Everest are now aboard the ISS in the cupola. A plaque mentions Hillary by name. (larger image) Oddly, despite all of the Apollo 11 hoopla, NASA has not made any mention of this historic resonance of improbable feats of exploration.

In December 2017 Astronaut Randy Bresnik took lots of photos of Everest from the ISS cupola and posted them using the Twitter hashtag #4daysovereverest As he snapped these pictures, mere inches away from his knees in the ISS Cupola was the plaque with the Everest and Moon rocks. Bresnik never made any mention of this. Nor did NASA. NASA HEOMD and PAO have been reminded of this low hanging fruit in terms of a clear historic exploration relevance. They chose not to avail themselves of it.

The whole intent of doing the Moon rock/Everest thing by Scott and I was to offer NASA a chance to invoke a real, no kidding, historic resonance between terrestrial and space exploration. Instead of using this nexus of exploration, NASA simply ignores it. Right now the wave of Apollo nostalgia is giving Artemis a brief surge. All too soon that will evaporate. Artemis needs to avail itself of every shred of historic and cultural relevance that it can muster. If NASA cannot use historic memes that have been deliberately crafted for them then this is going to be an uphill battle for the agency as it explains why tens of billions of dollars should be spent on going back to the Moon.

Just sayin'

Keith's update: Oh yes, then there is this. This same collection of 4 small Apollo 11 moon rocks led to Scott Parazynski meeting his future wife Meenakshi Wadhwa. Mini was the scientist who had to approve the loan of the Moon rocks to Scott and I - a request made by Bob Jacobs at NASA PAO. As such Bob Jacobs and I are moon rock matchmakers.

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NASA's Impressive Public Presence In Washington DC Today

By Keith Cowing on July 19, 2019 5:36 PM.

Keith's note: More pictures on @NASAWatch

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OK So That White House Space Event Happened ...

By Keith Cowing on July 19, 2019 3:43 PM.

Keith's note: Small wonder why NASA people do not exactly look forward to these Oval Office things. No one knows what is going to happen until it happens.

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NASA Unveils Artemis Program Identity

By Marc Boucher on July 19, 2019 3:04 PM.

Earth Blue, Rocket Red and Lunar Silver: A New Identity for Artemis Program to the Moon, NASA

"With this in mind, NASA is unveiling the new Artemis program identity, a bold look that embodies the determination of the men and women who will carry our missions forward. They will explore regions of the Moon never visited before, unlock mysteries of the Universe and test the technology that will extend the bounds of humanity farther into the Solar System."

Marc's note: Hey NASA Watch readers, what do you think of this new "identity"?

NASA Artemis program logo animated.
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Google Goes Full Apollo

By Keith Cowing on July 19, 2019 12:30 AM.

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Should NASA Do Mission To Planet Earth?

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2019 11:52 PM.

Forget new crewed missions in space. NASA should focus on saving Earth, op ed, Lori Garver, Washington Post

"After accomplishing this amazing feat, the aerospace community has again and again sought presidential proclamations to go further. President Trump is the fifth president to proclaim we will send humans to the moon and/or Mars within a specific time frame, a decree without a value proposition that has never inspired broad public support nor come close to coming true. NASA remains one the most revered and valuable brands in the world, and the agency is at its best when given a purpose. But the public doesn't understand the purpose of spending massive amounts of money to send a few astronauts to the moon or Mars. Are we in another race, and if so, is this the most valuable display of our scientific and technological leadership? If science is the rationale, we can send robots for pennies on the dollar. In a July Pew Research Center study, 63 percent of respondents said monitoring key parts of Earth's climate system should be the highest priority for the United States' space agency -- sending astronauts to the moon was their lowest priority, at 13 percent ; 18 percent favor Mars."

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More Confusing Slides From SMD

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2019 11:11 PM.

Keith's note: Earlier today I featured a silly slide shown by NASA Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz to the Astro2020 Decadal Survey Committee Meeting at the National Academy of Science (Mocking Cost Overruns And Schedule Slips At NASA (Update)). If you download his entire presentation (link) you will see that there several slides which serve one purpose: to confuse anyone who tries to understand what they are trying to say.

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In this slide (larger). Hertz says NASA is "not a science agency". Then he says that what "NASA is a mission-oriented agency, and science is the purpose and consequence of our space missions". So Science is what NASA does. And NASA is an agency - in this case an agency that does science. So why is NASA not a "science agency"? There is a distinction lacking a difference at work here.

"Science" is mentioned multiple times in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, As Amended. Hertz quotes this Act by saying "... carrying instruments and humans through space" when in fact neither the original or amended version of the Act uses these words. Instead they both say "living organisms through space". Hertz is trying to spin the language and intent of NASA's charter to say NASA does not do science - at a workshop where the next decade of space science is being planned. In the process he seems to have confused himself. I can only guess that Hertz changed "living organisms" to "humans" to try and make NASA sound more operational and less scientific.

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And then he includes a chart (larger) about "NASA Principles of Science" even though he claims NASA is not a science agency. My brain hurts.

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Then there's this confusing chart (larger) about why flagship missions cost so much. It seems to be saying that if NASA waited longer it would cost more to build things. But that we can now build better things for less money. Hertz then says "we started Webb in 2007, it will cost $8.8 billion and it has ~10x the collection area of Hubble". OK, so it will be a cool telescope - but what was the original cost of Webb supposed to be? $824.8 million was the advertised sticker price in 2002. By 2010 it had increased to $6.8 billion. But Hertz mentions none of this because the real villan is "the tyranny of inflation" according to the title on this chart. No it wasn't. Webb's obscene cost increase is not due to inflation - it is due to the fact that NASA did not know what it would cost when it started and then went on to mismanage the project for a decade - leading to delays and cost increases.

I think most people involved in the Decadal review see through Hertz's confusing charts. He has been doing this for a long time. That said, at a time when budgets are ever tighter - especially for science - you would hope that the government representatives from agencies who want to spend billions on science could at least use plain language to make their points.

Just sayin'

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NASA Wants You To Think SLS Can Do More Than A Saturn V

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2019 9:48 PM.

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More stories for July.

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 19 July 2019 - One Day to New Crew Launch

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 19 July 2019 - One Day to New Crew Launch

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, teams are making final preparations for the launch of NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos to the International Space Station.

More updates...

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