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John Glenn Has Been Hospitalized For More Than A Week

By Keith Cowing on December 7, 2016 5:34 PM.

John Glenn, Hero Astronaut and Former Senator, Hospitalized, NBC

"Glenn was admitted to the hospital more than a week ago, a spokesman for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs said in a statement. The spokesman said he did not know Glenn's "condition or illness or prognosis" and cautioned that Glenn did not necessarily have cancer."

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TrumpSpace Details Emerge

By Keith Cowing on December 7, 2016 4:20 PM.

Some additional insight into the Trump Administration's space policy was revealed today in Washington DC. Meeting at the Cosmos Club, attendees at the 11th Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law heard from a number of speakers including former Congressman Bob Walker, who is advising the Trump Transition Team, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) who has been conducting a behind the scenes effort to become the next administrator of NASA.

Walker spoke first and said that the Trump space policy came together rather quickly at the end of the campaign and that he was asked to come up with one and deliver it - the next day. He cautioned the audience that just because he wrote some things this is not indicative of where the Transition Team - and the incoming NASA leadership - would necessarily go. That said, Walker said that there is an intent that the National Space Council be re-instituted so as to guide all space activities. civilian, military, and commercial. Walker went on to say that the Trump team is looking for a space policy that is "disruptive, resilient, and enduring".

For one thing, Walker said that they are looking for a much longer life for the ISS - and that it will need to be refurbished and upgraded. He speculated that it would need to be handed over to an organization or consortium eventually. They are also looking for opportunities to have the commercial sector backfill for NASA so that NASA can focus on deep space exploration. Walker was very clear on this point noting that there was an awareness of many government programs that "take a decade to do with technology that ends up being out of date".

At no time did Walker discuss NASA's Journey To Mars, or any other destination such as the Moon, preferring only to refer to "deep space exploration". To be fair, no one specifically asked him about these topics.

Walker said that he was not on the Trump Transition Team itself but that he was advising the Transition Team. When I asked him if he had any interest in becoming NASA Administrator he said "no". He did say that he had an interest in working with Newt Gingrich on broader issues in addition to NASA.

Walker was asked several times about SLS/Orion - in the context of Trump's recent comments about Boeing and Air Force One. Walker did not answer the questions specifically but went into a broader generalization that Trump is not a politician but rather that he is a deal maker. He also thought that Trump's funding of an ice rink in New York a few years back was a good example of what kind of president he'd be in Fact, Walker went on to say that Vice President elect Pence would be the de-facto "prime minister" and run the government while Donald Trump went out to cut deals.

The issue of Earth science eventually came up. Walker said that the Trump administration is not looking to cancel NASA climate science but rather that they wanted to transfer all of it to other agencies who might have greater expertise. Earth centric research would be transferred so as to allow NASA to focus on space exploration.

As Walker concluded responding to questions the meeting had a coffee break. Walker continued to talk to audience members as they got coffee. At one point Rep. Jim Bridenstine (the next speaker) showed up accompanied by a nervous-looking staffer. Bridenstine went over to Walker and said "good to see you again". After a short chat between Walker and Bridenstine it was time for Bridenstine to speak.

Bridenstine read from prepared remarks that were identical to things he has said in public before. He is worried about China and space-based threats and made little mention about exploration or other issues that confront NASA. His biggest interest seems to have to do with who should manage space traffic. Answer: the FAA - not DoD.

When it was time for questions, Bridenstine said that he was too busy with other things and that he "had to run". I raised my hand hoping to try and get him to answer a question i.e. "are you still trying to become the next Administrator of NASA" but Bridenstine woud not allow me to ask him a question - his eyes darting over to his staffer who was standing nearby as my hand went up in the air. Instead, he rattled off an email address for me to send an inquiry to and then made for the door with his staffer. In other words, no comment.

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NASA Administrator Speculation Update

By Keith Cowing on December 7, 2016 1:40 PM.

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Commenting Policy

By Keith Cowing on December 6, 2016 9:29 PM.

Keith's note: You've done it again. Twice in one week I have had to delete comments and close down commenting on a post. You folks need to stay on topic and not engage in personal attacks and pick fights. From now on if you comment inappropriately you will get banned on the first offense with no warning.


Continuing Resolution Protects SLS/Orion and JPSS - For Now

By Keith Cowing on December 6, 2016 8:27 PM.

Short-Term Continuing Resolution to Maintain Government Operations Released House Appropriations Committee

"House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today introduced a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) (H.R. 2028) to prevent a government shutdown and continue funding for federal programs and services until April 28, 2017. The legislation also contains funding for emergency disaster relief. ... The CR also includes provisions needed to prevent catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental changes to government programs, to support our national security, and to ensure good government. Some of these provisions include: ... A provision allowing funds for NASA's Deep Space Exploration program to avoid delays that would increase long-term costs. ... A provision allowing funds for the Joint Polar Satellite System programs, ensuring the continuation of data for weather warnings, including forecasts of severe weather events."

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Trump's Air Force One Tweet: Implications for SLS/Orion?

By Keith Cowing on December 6, 2016 3:20 PM.

Boeing Becomes Latest Company to Draw Trump's Ire, Dow Jones

"The Air Force earmarked $1.65 billion between 2015 and 2019 to develop two replacement jets, and said it may acquire up to three. However, it hasn't detailed the expected cost or delivery dates for building the planes as talks continue with Boeing, the White House and the Secret Service. "The statistics that have been cited [by Mr. Trump], shall we say, don't appear to reflect the nature of the financial arrangement between Boeing and the Department of Defense," said Obama White House spokesman Josh Earnest."

Did Donald Trump tank Boeing's stock because he was mad about a news article?

"As it turns out, though, the Trump tweet may not have been unprompted. CNN's Jake Tapper noted on Twitter that shortly before the tweet (which was posted at 8:52 a.m. Eastern) the Chicago Tribune posted an interview with the company's CEO, Dennis Muilenberg. "Anyone who paid attention to the recent campaigns and the election results realizes that one of the overarching themes was apprehension about free and fair trade," Muilenberg told the Tribune's Robert Reed. Fair trade has helped Boeing, which prides itself on being America's largest manufacturing exporter."

Trump sold all shares in companies in June, spokesman says, Washington Post

"Miller, the Trump spokesman, told The Post about Trump's stock sale Tuesday morning, following Trump's criticism of aviation giant Boeing. Trump reported owning between $50,000 and $100,000 of Boeing stock in the May filing. In the three years between Trump's original tweet about buying Boeing stock and June 2016, Boeing's share price climbed about 70 percent."

Keith's note: I just got back from the Aerospace Industries Association annual media luncheon in Washington EDC. There was a lot of nervous laughter about this news which was breaking just as well all arrived at the hotel. I am wondering what might happen if/when SLS/Orion cost increases and chronic delay - and the commercial alternatives - comes to Trump's attention. There are hints that this might be an issue in the op eds written by on-again off-again Trump advisor Bob Walker.

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NASA Chief Scientist Stofan Is Leaving

By Keith Cowing on December 5, 2016 3:09 PM.

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Aleta Jackson

By Keith Cowing on December 5, 2016 9:48 AM.

Loretta (Aleta) Jackson, obituary
Aleta Jackson, LinkedIn

According to Agile Aero: "Loretta 'Aleta' Jackson has over 40 years' experience in the aerospace community, starting with electronics research and prototype development with McDonnell Douglas on the Gemini program. She has been chief researcher for several small electronics and engineering firms in Tucson, Arizona. Some of the projects she has worked on include Manned Orbiting Laboratory, StarTracker, the Tomahawk cruise missile program, Strategic Defense Initiative Organization and the Delta Clipper/Clipper Graham DC-X. For over ten years Aleta served as editor of the Journal of Practical Applications in Space. Her articles have been published in the Washington Post, Analog and technical magazines. In September, 1999, she was one of the founders of XCOR Aerospace, the others being Jeff Greason, Dan DeLong and Doug Jones."

Keith's note: I have known Aleta forever it would seem. Every interaction and every email was always positive. And nearly every email mentioned cats. There were cats wandering around XCOR's hangar that she looked out for. I asked her once if they climbed up inside the rockets. This link she sent me in response. Ad Astra Aleta

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Dueling Space Barons

By Keith Cowing on December 5, 2016 9:22 AM.

Rocket men: why tech's biggest billionaires want their place in space, Guardian

"Bezos and Musk have developed an intense personal rivalry, says Ashlee Vance. "As time has gone on and these companies have been successful, ambitions have grown. Musk and Bezos used to be cordial, but they're vicious now." In 2013, SpaceX and Blue Origin fought over control of a Nasa launch pad and a patent for landing rockets at sea; Musk won both tussles. When Blue Origin tried to block SpaceX from using the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Musk emailed Space News slamming the company and questioning its ability to build a rocket that would meet Nasa standards. "We are more likely to discover unicorns dancing in the flame duct," Musk wrote. After a successful Blue Origin test launch and landing in November 2015, Bezos used his first ever tweet to boast about "the rarest of beasts - a used rocket"."

Keith's note: This sounds reminiscent of the late 1800s when dueling millionaires (often called "the barons of industry") dueled with one another - but, in the process, caused America to be covered with railroads, oil fields, coal mines, telegraph, telephone, and electrical grids, and eventually roads filled with cars and skies filed with airplanes.

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Waiting For TrumpSpace

By Keith Cowing on December 4, 2016 4:31 PM.

Will Trump go to Mars? Nasa's nervous wait, The Guardian

"The space policies were not very different. People would joke that you could take an editorial by a Republican space person, change a couple of words here and there and then put Clinton's name on it. We were all assuming that Clinton would win. I knew who the people were that would show up at Nasa the next day to begin the transition process," says Keith Cowing, a former Nasa employee who now edits Nasawatch.com. Then, of course, Trump won. At first it seemed no big deal, but then surprising events started to unfold. A day or two after the election, none of the expected Republican advisers were named as part of the Trump transition team for space. "They were either thrown off because they were lobbyists or had decided that they did not want to be involved," says Cowing, who has been reporting on Nasa from Washington DC for 20 years. "Suddenly it went from what seemed to be clarity to complete mystery."

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Additional Cosponsors Sought For Apollo 1 Arlington Memorial Legislation

By Keith Cowing on December 1, 2016 4:45 PM.

Dear Colleague Letter: Cosponsor the Bipartisan Apollo 1 Memorial Act

"Although all three astronauts were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, it is surprising that we do not have a memorial at Arlington Cemetery to honor the lives of the crew of Apollo 1 as was done for the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews. H.R. 6147 , The Apollo I Memorial Act, would redress that unfortunate omission. As Arlington National Cemetery is where we recognize heroes who have passed in the service of the Nation, it is fitting on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo I accident that we acknowledge these astronauts by building a memorial in their honor. This bill would direct the Secretary of the Army, in consultation with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to construct at an appropriate place in Arlington National Cemetery, a memorial marker honoring these American heroes."

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House Science Committee Cites Trump's Favorite News Service

By Keith Cowing on December 1, 2016 2:21 PM.

Keith's note: Is this overt citation by the House Science Committee of a story on Breitbart, the former employer of President Elect Trump's policy advisor, a preview of coming actions on NASA's Earth science research? Oh yes, the committee's policy director is on the Transition Team for NASA. Then again, the committee also overtly referenced NASAWatch in its letter to NASA on ARM the other day ;-)

Keith's update: But wait: there's more - House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith also writes for Breitbart too: Rep. Lamar Smith: Amnesty Costs Workers and Taxpayers.

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Progress Launch Fails

By Keith Cowing on December 1, 2016 11:07 AM.

Problem Occurs During Launch of Progress 65 Resupply Mission to the ISS - Vehicle Burns up in Atmosphere (with video)

"A launch that seemingly was going perfect, quickly became a concern to Russian mission controllers when the third stage of the Soyuz rocket apparently shut down early, possibly leaving the Progress resupply spacecraft in a improper orbit. To make matters worse mission controllers have been unable to confirm at this point if the solar arrays are fully deployed. Contact was lost at T+ 6:23 just before it was supposed to achieve orbit."




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Congressional Moves To Gut OSTP

By Keith Cowing on December 1, 2016 12:19 AM.

Key legislator disses White House science office, Science

"The White House science office hasn't been very productive under President Barack Obama, says the chairman of a key congressional research spending panel. And Representative John Culberson (R-TX) says he'd like to see it downsized. ... Since becoming CJS chairman in January 2015, Culberson has used his position as a "cardinal" to advocate for his scientific priorities, starting with a multi-billion-dollar NASA mission to a jovian moon that some scientists believe may harbor life."

Keith's note: Funny how a member of Congress with zero science training shoves Europa missions down NASA's throat and then complains about a congressionally-mandated position in the Executive Branch that overtly seeks to have actual scientific input - from actual scientists - so as to make informed decisions - about science.

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10 SLS Flights And No Footprints on Mars

By Keith Cowing on November 30, 2016 4:32 PM.

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More stories for December.

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NASA International Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 December 2016

NASA International Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 December 2016 Video in Story

The Expedition 50 crew worked on a series of life science experiments and maintenance operations today. A pair of astronauts also trained for the arrival of Japan's HTV-6 resupply ship next week.

More updates...

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