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NASA Considers Involvement With Mission Control TV Series

By Keith Cowing on January 18, 2017 11:22 AM.

CBS Picks Up Dana Klein/Mark Feuerstein Comedy, Andy Weir NASA Drama To Pilot, Deadine

"Written by Weir, Mission Control revolves around the next generation of NASA astronauts and scientists who juggle their personal and professional lives during a critical mission with no margin for error."

Keith's note: According to NASA PAO NASA has been approached by the show's producers and they are waiting on a script for final consideration. At this point NASA has not committed to assist the producers, allow use of its logo, facilities, staff etc.

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NASA Transition Update

By Keith Cowing on January 17, 2017 5:34 PM.

Keith's note: Sources report that Chris Shank is headed to DOD as part of their Beachhead team and is not staying at NASA or returning to Capitol Hill. Shank's former NASA boss Mike Griffin recently met with Trump Transition Team members and has expressed an interest in being nominated to be Secretary of the Air Force. Shank served for more than a decade in the Air Force. Stay tuned.

NASA "Beachhead Team" Taking Shape, Lightfoot Optimistic About NASA's Future, Space Policy Online

"Three landing team members who are rumored to be staying on are Greg Autry (as White House liaison), Rod Liesveld and Jeff Waksman. Two other names that have surfaced are Erik Noble, rumored to be the new White House advisor for NASA, and Brandon Eden. Noble is an atmospheric scientist who worked at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York from 2007-2013."

Earlier Transition Team and Trumpspace postings

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NASA Uses Bait and Switch Tactics To Buy Soyuz Seats

By Keith Cowing on January 17, 2017 4:00 PM.

Procurement of Crew Transportation and Rescue Services From Boeing, NASA

"NASA is considering contracting with The Boeing Company (Boeing) for crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian Soyuz vehicle. This transportation would be for one crewmember in the Fall of 2017 and one crewmember in the Spring of 2018. NASA is considering purchasing these services from Boeing, without competition, because no other vehicles are currently capable of providing these services in Fall 2017 or Spring 2018. NASA has contracts with two U.S. commercial companies for crew transportation to the ISS. However, these vehicles are still in the developmental stage, and not expected to begin fully operational flights to the ISS until 2019. NASA also is considering an option to acquire crew transportation from Boeing for three crewmembers on the Soyuz in 2019, to ensure the availability of back-up transportation capability in the event the U.S. commercial contractor vehicles are delayed or to augment future ISS operations and research."

"Russia recently announced its plans to decrement the Russian crew count onboard ISS from three to two, beginning in CY 2017. As a result of Russia reducing its crew count by one crewmember, there is now an available Soyuz seat in the 2017-2018 timeframe on each of the two planned spacecraft that would have otherwise had two Russian crew aboard. Of the 24 total Soyuz seats available in 2017-2018, the three seats resulting from the Russian crew decrement are the only available means of transporting additional US crewmembers to ISS during this period."

"An agreement was recently reached between the Boeing Company and S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Public Corporation, Energia ("RSC Energia"), who is the manufacturer of the Soyuz spacecraft and has the legal rights to sell the seats and associated services. As a part of this agreement, Energia agreed to provide to Boeing two specifically identified seats on the Soyuz spacecraft for long-duration travel to and from the ISS, one on a flight to occur in the Fall 2017 timeframe and another on a flight to occur in the Spring 2018 timeframe. Additionally, Energia provided Boeing three additional specifically identified seats in the Spring 2019 timeframe on two Soyuz spacecraft. Finally, Boeing and RSC Energia agreed that each of these five seats will include a launch of an individual to and from the ISS, including all services normally provided during launches to ISS. Boeing and RSC Energia have represented that Boeing has the full rights to these seats and can sell them to any third party."

Keith's note: How sneaky. Neither SpaceX or Boeing are going to have their crew services ready in time to replace Soyuz in the near term. So NASA uses Boeing to buy more Soyuz seats. Its not the first time that they have bought Soyuz seats. But NASA omits mention of the word "Soyuz" in the title of the presolicitation notice. No one will notice, right NASA? But wait - there's more - RSC Energia gave Boeing 5 Soyuz seats to settle a business deal gone sour (Sea Launch) - and Boeing can charge NASA whatever whatever they want for these seats. And if CST-100 flights are delayed further and more Soyuz seats are needed then Boeing can sell extra seats to NASA. Boeing makes money from NASA one way - or the other - unless SpaceX gets into space with their crewed Dragon.

As leadership departs, NASA quietly moves to buy more Soyuz seats, Ars Technica

"Last September, based upon anonymous sources, Ars reported that NASA had begun considering buying additional seats in 2019 as a hedge against further delays with the commercial crew program. Both NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the agency's head of human spaceflight, Bill Gerstenmaier, subsequently denied this report."

NASA considering Boeing offer for additional Soyuz seats, SpaceNews

"NASA officials previous indicated that there were no plans by the agency to purchase additional Soyuz seats directly from Roscosmos. William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said in an October interview that the deadline had passed for NASA to purchase additional Soyuz seats from Roscosmos for 2019 missions."

Keith's note: Have a look at the board of directors of RSC Energia. Five of the Eleven members work for Roscosmos including Yuri Vlasov "deputy general director for rocket and space industry of State Corporation for space activities Roscosmos". RSC Energia is owned by the Russian government. Buying Soyuz seats from RSC Energia instead of Roscosmos is a distinction without a difference. Boeing has not disclosed what the value of these seats are or what they will charge NASA for them.

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Leave It To Neil Tyson To Diminish What We've Done in Space

By Keith Cowing on January 16, 2017 10:00 PM.

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Gene Cernan

By Keith Cowing on January 16, 2017 3:33 PM.

Family Statement Regarding the Passing of Apollo Astronaut Eugene Cernan, Last Man to Walk on the Moon

"The family of Apollo Astronaut Capt. Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, announced that he passed away today following ongoing health issues. "It is with very deep sadness that we share the loss of our beloved husband and father," said Cernan's family. "Our family is heartbroken, of course, and we truly appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers. Gene, as he was known by so many, was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend." "Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation's leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the Moon," the family continued."

NASA Administrator Reflects on Legacy of Last Man to Walk on Moon

NASA Reflects on Legacy of Eugene Cernan and Other Videos

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SpaceX Nails It Again

By Keith Cowing on January 14, 2017 1:02 PM.

- SpaceX Nails Launch and Landing on Return to Flight.

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Understanding NASA's Global Reach

By Keith Cowing on January 13, 2017 12:59 PM.

Understanding NASA's Global Reach, SpaceRef

"A young boy in Chile wearing a NASA t-shirt explains a computer game to Pete Worden from Breakthrough Initiatives. How did he get that t-shirt? Why is he wearing it? Worden sent me this picture today. He is currently in Chile to announce that Breakthrough Initiatives has teamed with the European Southern Observatory to use the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to observe Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri is the destination of Breakthrough Starshot Initiative. Enhancements will be made to the VLT to allow it to detect small, potentially habitable planets in the Alpha Centauri system and possibly other star systems. So why is a boy wearing a NASA t-shirt in the Atacama region of Chile? Worden did not know. I have a theory."

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Wall Street Journal Looks Into SpaceX Business Plans

By Keith Cowing on January 13, 2017 10:52 AM.

Exclusive Peek at SpaceX Data Shows Loss in 2015, Heavy Expectations for Nascent Internet Service, Wall Street Journal

"SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., transformed the aerospace industry with innovative rocket features and Silicon Valley-style software design principles mandated by Mr. Musk, its billionaire founder and chief executive. The 15-year-old company became the first American firm in years to compete for commercial launch contracts, and the first company to launch and return a spacecraft from orbit. SpaceX declined to comment on details of its finances, but said it has a solid record of success and strong customer relationships. "We have more than 70 future launches on our manifest representing over $10 billion in contracts," said SpaceX Chief Financial Officer Bret Johnson. "The company is in a financially strong position and is well positioned for future growth," adding it has over $1 billion of cash and no debt.

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Buzz And Arnold Want You To Go To Mars

By Keith Cowing on January 13, 2017 12:02 AM.

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Today's Farewell Town Hall At NASA

By Keith Cowing on January 12, 2017 9:10 PM.

Keith's note: I managed to watch today's NASA Town Hall broadcast (internally) on NASA TV today. Here are my @NASAWatch tweets - in sequence.

- NASA Landing Team has asked #NASA CFO David Radzanowski to stay on to "help get them over the hump" According to Charlie Bolden
-Bolden "Dava and I are going to leave Dave [Radzanowski] here to take care of Robert [Lightfoot]" #NASA
- NASA internal Town Hall: Lightfoot: "We need to show that we can transition our agency and not miss a beat"
- Bolden gave @DavaExplorer the #NASA Distinguished Service Medal today
- Town Hall: Bolden talking about @DavaExplorer coming to the A Suite said "we did OK before - but she brought some pizazz" 1/2
- But Bolden made no mention of @LoriGarver and how she kept him out of trouble for 6 years 2/2
- Town Hall: Bolden: "My first two years were horrible. I thought I just sucked as the #NASA Administrator"
- Town Hall: Bolden: "To put it bluntly I wasn't comfortable."
- Town Hall: Bolden: "I still come to work each day scared about what is going to happen that day"
- Town Hall: Bolden: "We brought Mike French and David Weaver over. Mike French encouraged me to do my job."
- Town Hall: Bolden: "French - You're the NASA Administrator & do not have to sit back & just say yes. You can tell ppl what you want to do"
- Bolden presented the #NASA Distinguished Service Medal to Mike French today
- When asked at Town Hall if the new Administration will continue with SLS and used it to send humans to Mars Bolden said "yes".
- Bolden "When I came here in 2009 Constellation was a great idea - but it was an idea"
- Bolden "our entrepreneurial partners are really excited about what they are doing"
- Bolden "we have met those goals that we have established"
- Bolden tells NASA employees to "become thebest story teller that there is" in explaining to others what they do at #NASA
- Bolden: "if you take care of your people they will take care of you" #NASA
- Bolden: "Don't forget about the other people who make it possible for you to do what you do."
- Lightfoot noted that a kid sent him a Xmas card - sat next to him on a plane while Lightfoot showed him a #NASA powerpoint presentation

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NASA Beachhead Team Prepares To Take Over

By Keith Cowing on January 12, 2017 4:39 PM.

Keith's note: There are only 5 working days left before the Inauguration at which time the Transition Team ceases to exist. Of the 4 people that were supposed to be added to the NASA Landing Team to augment commercial space expertise, only one (Charles Miller) actually made it onto the NASA Landing Team. Brandon Eden never made it onto the team due to the fact that so many people outside of NASA thought he'd be a good addition - and that apparently bothered someone within Team Trump. This is something Eden should take as a compliment.

Alan Lindenmoyer and Alan Stern (both of whom also have actual expertise) have yet to be formally named to the NASA Landing Party and, given the short time remaining, are probably not going to be joining the efforts at NASA HQ. As such the additional visibility for commercial space issues in Landing Team activities was not as prominent as was hoped. But given the fact that Elon Musk has met with Team Trump twice (the second time with Gwynne Shotwell in attendance) should indicate that the interest in commercial space has not faded.

Sources at NASA HQ report that the Landing Team, under Chris Shank's leadership, has conducted itself in a pleasant, professional manner and that things are now starting to wrap up. Charlie Bolden and Dava Newman are keeping their farewell activities low key but they will be departing in a few days. The question remains: who will be running NASA? Even if NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator nominees were to be announced tomorrow it would likely be some time before they were confirmed. Speculation has been that Robert Lightfoot would be named acting Administrator but no one seems to have heard that this is indeed going to happen. Update: Lightfoot will be acting NASA Administrator effective 20 January 2017 at noon ET.

As mentioned last week, an interim 120 day "Beachhead" team is being assembled that would likely include Chris Shank as Chief of staff. It would not be surprising to see current Landing Team members Rodney Liesveld or Jeff Waksman as part of this interim team. Note: people who show up on the 9th floor at NASA Headquarters for short term tasks often tend to stay a while.

Update from Today's internal NASA Town Hall: the NASA Landing Team has asked NASA CFO David Radzanowski to stay on to "help get them over the hump" According to Charlie Bolden.

- Earlier TrumpSpace and Transition Team postings

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NASA Future In-Space Operations: Satellite Servicing

By Marc Boucher on January 12, 2017 10:41 AM.

NASA Future In-Space Operations: NASA Satellite Servicing Evolution

Now available is the January 11, 2017 NASA Future In-Space Operations (FISO) telecon material. The speaker was Ben Reed (NASA GSFC) who presented "NASA Satellite Servicing Evolution."

Note: The audio file and presentation are online and available to download.

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Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2016 Annual Report

By Keith Cowing on January 11, 2017 3:59 PM.

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2016 Annual Report

"At this critical time, with designs maturing, hardware being produced, and testing intensifying, it is important to maintain a focus on safety, risk reduction, and mission assurance. Challenges and difficult decisions will need to be faced with clarity, transparency, and thoroughness. Inevitably, there will be risks that must be accepted, but that should occur only after thought- ful deliberation of alternatives, understanding the benefits of acceptance, and careful documentation of the decision including the process and rationale for arriving at it. The ASAP reiterates the need for consistent program goals, funding, and schedules, also known as "constancy of purpose." Human space flight and exploration are inherently challenging and risky and require far-reaching, long-term national com- mitment to capitalize on painstakingly achieved knowledge and to realize the results of resource investments. The lack of consistent commitment negatively impacts cost, schedule, performance, workforce morale, process discipline, and - most importantly - safety. The impact on NASA programs from continuing employment of Continuing Resolutions (CRs) is of concern to the ASAP. The uncertainty of an assured and exact budget for a long-duration, technically challenging program and the partial release of funds as the CR unfolds adds, at best, complexity to managing programs and, importantly to the ASAP, can distract from maintaining the required focus on safety."

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No Big Changes In Congressional Oversight of NASA

By Keith Cowing on January 10, 2017 9:33 PM.

Texas Remains Powerful Space Influence as House Appropriations, Senate Commerce Announce Subcommittee Chairs, Space Policy Online

"The House Appropriations Committee announced the members who will chair its 12 subcommittees today. At the same time, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee announced the Republican members and chairs of its six subcommittees. There is no change for NASA and NOAA, but the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee will get a new chairwoman -- Kay Granger of Texas. She joins fellow Texans in chairing key space-related committees and subcommittees."

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NASA Transition Binder Is Now Online With Bonus Theme Song Track

By Keith Cowing on January 10, 2017 7:40 PM.

NASA Transition Binder, NASA HQ

"NASA's historic and enduring leadership and cutting edge roles for the nation fall within three major strategic thrusts: discovery, exploration, and development. NASA's activities make advances that contribute to fundamental national purposes and goals that align to the core focus areas of our Mission Directorates (Science, Human Exploration and Operations, Space Technology, and Aeronautics Research). In addition, the Agency has a number of activities and support areas, including those in its Mission Support Directorate that enable NASA's missions. NASA's strategic landscape continues to be characterized by six major elements: ..."

Keith's note: This 95.6 MB, 366 page PDF document even has an opening video and theme song.

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NASA International Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 January 2017

NASA International Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 January 2017

Today: Extra-vehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Loop Scrub: Today, the crew configured EMUs 3006 and 3008 for loop scrubbing following last week's EVA.

More updates...

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