December 2016 Archives

Obama orders Russia expulsions, sanctions for interference in 2016 election, Reuters

"President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and sanctioned Russian intelligence officials who Washington believes were involved in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 presidential election. The measures, taken during the last days of Obama's presidency, mark a new low in U.S.-Russian relations which have deteriorated over serious differences on Ukraine and Syria. "These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior," Obama said in a statement from vacation in Hawaii."

Joint DHS, ODNI, FBI Statement on Russian Malicious Cyber Activity, FBI

"This activity by Russian intelligence services is part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and its citizens. These cyber operations have included spearphishing, campaigns targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations; theft of information from these organizations; and the recent public release of some of this stolen information."

- Cold War Echoes On Earth And In Space, Earlier post
- How Long Will ISS Remain Isolated From Terrestrial Politics?, Earlier post

Dealing With Orbital Traffic

Orbital Traffic Report Released

"The current Framework does not provide a holistic approach by leading in the combined development of technically informed "rules of the road" and the provision of value-driven, safety-based products and services used during spacecraft operations. Such "rules of the road", based on space traffic safety concerns, could lead to the maturation of international norms of behavior, which would greatly enhance the strategic stability of the space domain. Objectives for any space traffic safety governance framework were created by the study team that focus on mitigating space traffic safety-related risks, protecting and enhancing national security interests, and ensuring the economic vitality of the space domain and industry. Five Frameworks were created for consideration. Each Framework exists at a distinct point on a continuous spectrum of space traffic safety governance options in which the USG's prescriptive role ranges from low to high."

Trump 'very interested in a man going to the moon,' says historian, Washington Examiner

"A historian who met with Donald Trump says the president-elect was "very interested in a man going to the moon." Historian Douglas Brinkley met with Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Wednesday afternoon. Brinkley told reporters after the meeting his conversation with Trump focused on "Nixon and Reagan and Kennedy ... a sort of history of the presidency and past inaugurals and things like that." He also mentioned that Trump "was very interested in a man going to the moon and the moon shot so we were talking a little bit about that."

SETI's Echo Chamber

Why Only Americans Are Interested in the Hunt for Alien Life, Seth Shostak, NBC

"Bottom line? Today, SETI is solely an American enterprise. And even then, it's pretty minimal. SETI is not on the back burner ... it's on the pilot light. The total number of researchers can be tallied on your extremities, and there's essentially no government funding. The effort is tiny, but at least there's effort. So what's going on here? If a dozen other countries have the telescopes, the money, and the research horsepower to search for cosmic company, why is this extraordinarily profound quest confined to the U.S.?"

Keith's note: First of all, Project Breakthrough is being funded to the tune of $100 million by Russian businessman Yuri Milner. Milner is renting time to do SETI scans on the largest radio telescope on Earth which is located in China. So this claim about the U.S. being the only country that is interested in SETI is simply untrue. Follow the money. Second, there's Shostak's suggestion that America's special frontier mentality is behind all of this. No mention of the other nations of similar age who confronted - and still confront - real frontiers. A gross oversimplification to say the least. Lastly and most importantly: How can Shostak possibly know what people in every nation on Earth are or are not interested in? He seems to equate writing checks to the SETI Institute and renting telescope time as being the only way to measure "interest" in SETI. Could it be that limited budgets and other priorities that he is unaware of drive these decisions - just as they halted Congressional support for SETI in the U.S.?

Let me suggest that it is Shostak and his clan of SETI enthusiasts who have a problem understanding how to communicate with large portions of humanity about SETI. It may well be that there is a vast amount of public interest in astrobiology and searching for intelligent life - interest that does not show up on the radar screen of Shostak et al because they do not know how - or care - to search for it. Until the SETI community takes the time and creativity to understand humanity's stance on life in the universe with the same methodology that they apply to aliens, this situation is not going to change.

Vera Rubin

Vera Rubin Who Confirmed "Dark Matter" Dies, Carnegie Institution

"Renowned astrophysicist and National Medal of Science awardee Vera Rubin passed away in Princeton, N.J., the evening of December 25, 2016, at the age of 88. Rubin confirmed the existence of dark matter -- the invisible material that makes up more than 90% of the mass in the universe. She was a retired staff astronomer at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington, D.C. "Vera Rubin was a national treasure as an accomplished astronomer and a wonderful role model for young scientists," remarked Carnegie president Matthew Scott. "We are very saddened by this loss."

Q&A: Key legislator disses White House science office, Science

"[Rep. John] Culberson whose House of Representatives subcommittee oversees the budgets for NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has never been a fan of John Holdren, Obama's science adviser. And his latest comments are likely to further heighten anxiety among scientific leaders about how the U.S. research enterprise will fare under President-elect Donald Trump."

"Q: Some have suggested reviving the National Space Council. Would that be useful?

A: I'd have to see what the new administration proposes. But I think there are too many layers of government and advisory committees. A simplified and unified chain of command at NASA that is less political would help the agency immensely. And I will continue to try to make the NASA administrator more like the FBI director [in serving a 10-year term], so it can focus on its mission and worry less about changes in administration. The agency needs stability and certainty and adequate funding to accomplish everything on its plate.

Q: There's been talk of moving earth sciences out of NASA.

A: At this point that is very speculative. There's strong support in Congress for keeping a close eye on planet Earth and understanding our complex planet. And the future level of funding and who's responsible for earth science will be an ongoing debate with the new administration and the incoming Congress. I'm quite confident there will continue to be strong support for the earth sciences as well as planetary sciences and the human space flight program throughout Congress and in the new administration."

Harriett Jenkins

Dr. Harriett G. Jenkins, has passed away. Funeral Services and other details forthcoming.

Harriet Jenkins, The History Makers

"From 1974 until 1992, Jenkins worked as the assistant administrator for equal opportunity programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). ... From 1992 until 1996, she worked with the U.S. Congress and served as the director at the Office of Senate Fair Employment Practices in the U.S. Senate. ... Jenkins retired from the federal government in 1996. In 2000, NASA established a fellowship program in her name, awarding doctoral fellowships to qualifying minority students. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including placing her retirement in the Congressional Record."

The viewing for Dr. Jenkins will be at:
McGuire Funeral Service, Inc
7400 Georgia Ave NW
Washington DC 20012
202-882-6600
Sunday, January 8, 2017
2-4 p.m.

Piers Sellers

Keith's note: This note was sent out earlier today by Colleen Hartman, Director, Sciences and Exploration Directorate NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: "All, I am so very sad and bereft to tell you that Piers passed away this morning. He was not in pain and his family was with him. A light has left our world. We will miss him so very much. He asked that Tucker and I arrange a celebration of his life here in Washington DC. in the Spring time. Piers knew your work was the most important in the world. Please continue fighting the good fight and remembering the great times we had with the most amazing man in this world. We will never forget him. With deep sadness, Colleen"

NASA Administrator Remembers NASA Scientist, Astronaut Piers Sellers

"In a New York Times opinion piece in 2016, he said, 'As an astronaut, I spacewalked 220 miles above the Earth. Floating alongside the International Space Station, I watched hurricanes cartwheel across oceans, the Amazon snake its way to the sea through a brilliant green carpet of forest, and gigantic nighttime thunderstorms flash and flare for hundreds of miles along the Equator. From this God's-eye-view, I saw how fragile and infinitely precious the Earth is. I'm hopeful for its future.' "Today we lost a tremendous public servant who was dedicated to NASA, the nation and the world. He was a strident defender and eloquent spokesperson for our home planet, Earth. Spacewalker and scientist, free thinker and friend to our planet, and all who seek new knowledge, to say he will be missed would be a gross understatement."

Piers Sellers: A Legacy of Science, NASA

"Piers Sellers, who passed away on Dec. 23 more than a year after learning he had pancreatic cancer, leaves behind a dynamic legacy at NASA. As an astronaut he helped build the International Space Station. As a manager he helped lead hundreds of scientists. And as a public figure he was an inspiration to many for his optimistic take on humanity's ability to confront Earth's changing climate. But his most lasting contributions will be in the field where he began his career: science."

Trump's $440 billion weapon, Politico

"What Trump is doing, by targeting specific companies or specific federal contracts, is new and unprecedented, experts said. "Never seen anything like this," said Sean O'Keefe, a former secretary of the Navy and comptroller of the Defense Department. ... But political appointees are traditionally loyal to the president and civil servants would risk their career if they were to not fall in line. That means, in practice, contracting officers are likely to acquiesce. "They can choose to say, 'I refuse to do that,'" said O'Keefe, "and then obviously they find themselves counting barrels of fuel in Beirut or something after it's over."

NASA's next stop--Mars or the Moon? John Grunsfeld and Paul Spudis argue for and against Mars and the Moon, Ars Technica

"Both men agree on one point: with NASA's limited funds, even before possible cuts under a Trump administration, the space agency can't do both. Sending astronauts to the Moon and establishing a colony would push human exploration of Mars into the second half of this century. Alternatively, making a direct push toward Mars would preclude any meaningful human exploration of the Moon. A choice must be made. For the last six years, NASA has continued developing a deep space capsule, Orion, as well as begun construction on a large new rocket, the Space Launch System, as the foundation of an exploration program. NASA has promoted a "Journey to Mars," but in reality the space agency has taken no definitive steps to preclude either a Moon or Mars pathway. That decision will have to be made soon. Within the next four years or so, the space agency must start designing and building specific hardware, for landing and living on either the Moon or Mars."

"Please join NASA's Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs in celebrating Seth's departure on a new journey. Thursday, January 12, 2017 4 - 7 p.m., Room 2E39, NASA Headquarters $15 suggested contribution RSVP: congressionalevents@nasa.gov"

Keith's note: Best wishes, Seth, as you return to the real world ;-)

NASA Future In-Space Operations: MOBIUS - Supersynchronous Earth Orbits for Lunar Missions


Now available is the November 16, 2016 NASA Future In-Space Operations (FISO) telecon material. The speaker was Madhu Thangavelu (USC) who presented "MOBIUS - Supersynchronous Earth Orbits for Lunar Missions."

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

Denver aerospace company pays $100,000 to settle kickback allegations, Denver Post

"United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing Corp. formed to provide cost-efficient spacecraft launch services to the federal government, has paid the United States $100,000 to settle allegations that a subcontractor paid its employees kickbacks in order to win contracts. As a result of the preferential treatment, Centennial-based ULA, and by extension, the U.S. government, paid higher costs for certain contracts to subcontractor Apriori Technologies between 2011 and 2015, acting U.S. Attorney Robert Troyer said in a news release Wednesday. According to Troyer, Apriori Technologies paid gratuities to certain ULA employees in order to induce ULA to award the consulting company contracts related to technology, compliance and project management."

Defense Contractor Settles Allegations Relating to Kickbacks Paid to Its Employees by Subcontractor, Department of Justice

"The settlement agreement is neither an admission of liability by ULA, nor a concession by the United States that its claims are not well founded."

Keith's note: I have been contacted by someone representing a company named aPriori(tm) Technologies Inc, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts. This is a different company than the "Apriori Technologies Inc." mentioned in the Denver Post article on connection with ULA. The Denver Post has not made an attempt to clarify this in their article but I felt that this clarification was warranted on NASAWatch given that i quoted the Denver Post's article.

- ULA VP Quits Over Controversial Remarks, earlier post
- DOD Inspector General: Investigation Regarding Assertions Made By Former United Launch Alliance Executive, earlier post

Trump convenes Pentagon brass 'to bring costs down', Politico

"Donald Trump on Wednesday convened more than half a dozen top military officers, including for a discussion about "trying to bring costs down" on the controversial F-35 fighter jet and other high-priced Pentagon projects."

Trump meets with U.S. defense contractors he criticized for costs, Reuters

"U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met on Wednesday with the chief executives of two major defense companies to pressure them to reduce project costs, part of his push to save taxpayer money on high-profile contracts. ... "Trying to get the costs down, costs. Primarily the (Lockheed Martin) F-35, we're trying to get the cost down. It's a program that's very, very expensive," Trump told reporters after meeting with the CEOs and a dozen Pentagon officials involved with defense acquisition programs who he said were "good negotiators." ... Trump has said Boeing's costs to build replacements for Air Force One planes - one of the most visible symbols of the U.S. presidency - are too high and urged the federal government in a tweet to "Cancel order!"

Keith's note: I wonder what Trump's reaction will be when his Transition Team tells him about costs/delays in the Boeing/Lockheed Martin SLS/Orion program. WIll he haul the CEOs back in for another deal making session?

Sources: Russia tests anti-satellite weapon, CNN

"Russia has recently tested what is believed to be an anti-satellite weapon, US sources with knowledge of the test told CNN. The US tracked the weapon and it did not create debris, indicating it did not destroy a target, the source said. The Russian test, coming as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House next month, could be seen as a provocative demonstration of Moscow's capability in space."

Kremlin says almost all dialogue with U.S. is frozen, Reuters

"The Kremlin said on Wednesday almost all communications channels between Russia and the United States have been frozen but the U.S. State Department disputed the statement."

NASA International Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 December 2016

"The six Expedition 50 crew members from France, Russia and the United States are heading into the final holidays of the year with a muscle study and Earth observations today. The astronauts also checked out fluids and combustion science gear and practiced an emergency escape drill."

How Long Will ISS Remain Isolated From Terrestrial Politics?, Earlier post

NASA Notice of Information Collection, NASA HQ

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. ...

Comments are invited on--(1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of NASA, including whether the information collected has practical utility; (2) the accuracy of NASA's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including automated collection techniques or the use of other forms of information technology.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection. They will also become a matter of public record."

Keith's note: In case you have been thinking that NASA might be wasting everyone's time with all of their paperwork, consider this NASA "Notice of Information Collection" which seeks to collect comments - as to whether it should seek comments - on whether comments need to be sought - about what NASA does. I sense yet another bureaucratic Möbius or DO-loop in the making.

Trump Landing Team Update

Keith's 16 December note: The Trump Landing Team will be halting work at NASA Headquarters in a few days and then coming back after New Year's. As such, I doubt that there will be any movement from Trump Tower in terms of naming an Administrator.

Then again there may be a few interesting developments prior to the Landing Team's vacation ...

Keith's 17 December update: Sources report that Brandon Eden, Alan Stern, Charles Miller are among new appointees submitted to join the Trump Landing Team at NASA for an increased focus on commercial space. There is a possible fourth new member as well. Stay tuned.

Keith's 20 December update: Sources report that Alan Lindenmoyer, former manager of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program, is also on the list of people to be added to the NASA Landing Team. Meanwhile it looks like Brandon Eden will not be on the Landing Team which is unfortunate given his familiarity with commercial space from his days working for Rep. McCarthy. Meanwhile, the SLS materials being assembled for the Landing Team are being advised by purported NASA Administrator possibility Doug Cooke (who has worked for years as a Boeing consultant) - who is not actually on the Landing Team. But wait, there's more: at least one of the NASA Landing Team wants to try to become NASA Administrator - because, well ... this is NASA Administrator Apprentice after all.

Peter Thiel now leading the fight for commercial space in Trump's NASA, Ars Technica

"Last Thursday, word began to trickle out about new appointments to the transition team with a decidedly commercial bent. Reports of the new transition team members first appeared in NASA Watch, and the Wall Street Journal confirmed them Monday. Ars understands that not all of the appointments are final, and Shank has resisted the new direction. "It will be interesting to see how Trump Tower handles the product of the Shank team versus the new team," one source told Ars."

Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump, Washington Post

"Climate data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been politically vulnerable. When Tom Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information, and his colleagues published a study in 2015 seeking to challenge the idea that there had been a global warming "slowdown" or "pause" during the 2000s, they relied, in significant part, on updates to NOAA's ocean temperature data set, saying the data "do not support the notion of a global warming 'hiatus.'" In response, the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee chair, Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.), tried to subpoena the scientists and their records."

Keith's note: Lamar Smith's policy director throughout this period of subpoenas was Chris Shank who currently leads the Trump Transition Team effort at NASA.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine: Why Trump Won, Frontpage Magazine

"And then who was campaigning for Donald Trump? Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And I got so frustrated. By then Hillary Clinton also had Al Gore and all these others, and I got so frustrated I sent a tweet. Ha! And it got a lot of attention. And in the tweet I said: "Given the stakes of this election if Paul Ryan is not for Donald Trump then I am not for Paul Ryan." It is true that Donald Trump has not been in the political arena nor has he been in the politically correct arena. He lives in a quite frankly vulgar industry - the entertainment industry. And I will also tell you that he reflects that."

Keith's note: Bridenstine has been spending a fair amount of time on space policy over his first two terms and many of the things he has talked about resonate with positions taken by Trump advisors Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker. The Trump cabinet nominees announced thus far run the range from prior supporter to prior opponents. And most of them have no government and/or agency-related subject matter experience. In this case Bridenstine was loyal when it counted- even if he's not exactly complementary now (as quoted). But he has been eager to learn and try new things (it would seem). So ... comments like this may hurt and/or help Bridenstine in his quest for the NASA (USAF) job. Who knows. But he does appreciate what Twitter can do. Welcome to NASA Administrator Apprentice.

Sen. Jeff Sessions Exerts Wide Influence Over Trump Space Plans, Wall Street Journal

"One sign of the influence Mr. Sessions has with the president-elect is that job seekers actively seek his support. Three former astronauts, including retired Air Force Lt. General Thomas Stafford, who was the head of NASA's astronaut corps and later was instrumental in development of the B-2 Stealth bomber, have urged the Alabama lawmaker to support [Doug] Cooke's bid to head NASA."

More False Memories About the Origin (and Cost) of SLS, earlier post

"This op ed piece also appeared in The Hill last week. Oddly the same exact words in the Mike Griffin/Dan Dumbacher op ed in the Huntsville times ("Contrary to some suggestions, the SLS will be very competitive with the advertised price of commercial U.S. systems - on the order of $4.5 million per ton of payload.") are to be found in an op ed "U.S. will keep lead in space with NASA's launch system" that appeared several days ago in the Orlando Sentinel - but this op ed has Doug Cooke and Steve Cook as the authors. If you read the Huntsville Times and Orlando Sentinel op eds side by side you will see that they were clearly written by the same people. Once again the Ares V mafia is mounting a PR effort to convince everyone that they were right all along."

Keith's note: Steve Cook is on the NASA Landing Team headed by Griffin loyalist Chris Shank. And lest we forget, Mike Griffin is still trying to worm his way back into NASA. Although I cannot find any indication that Griffin ever publicly endorsed Trump (I can't find any evidence that Doug Cooke did either) Mike Griffin did make a $500 political contribution - but to Jeb Bush.

Together Cooke, Cook, Shank, and Griffin represent the self-proclaimed "Band of Brothers" that originally gave us the Ares 1/Ares V cost/schedule nightmares - with the cancelled Ares V reborn as the new cost/schedule nightmare SLS. Haven't we seen this movie before?

Keith's note: Simon Porter (@ascendingnode) works at SwRI on New Horizons. Juno is managed by SwRI, so I assume he knows something about JunoCam too. Despite the Twitter scolding by Porter, the JunoCam website has no statement as to when specific images will be released. Here's the strange thing: someone on the Juno team clearly has an image file of Jupiter's rings as seen by Juno - an image that they managed to put into a format that could be shown via a laptop on a screen for hundreds (thousands) of people to see at AGU. So, if such an image file exists, why can't the Juno folks Tweet that same image for the rest of us to see? If it was not technically possible to Tweet the image, someone in the audience could have taken a picture of the picture and then tweeted it. But wait, there is some sort of ban of pictures taken inside of the AGU sessions - even though people in those sessions constantly post them with a #AGU16 tag on them anyway.

Meanwhile, today, in a public park across the street from the meeting site in San Francisco lots of AGU attendees went to a rally to promote transparency for climate science research - something that may be threatened under the incoming Trump administration. On one hand these scientists want government funding for their research and for their data to be publicly available. Yet in other cases they want government funding for their research but only show the results of their research to each other and maybe to the public - eventually. I have made a request to NASA SMD and PAO for this image. I am waiting for a yes or a no.

You science folks can't have it both ways. If you want government money then you need to be proactive in all instances with the results of your government-funded research.

Keith's update: According to NASA PAO: "the plan is to post the Jupiter ring image to the Mission Juno website tomorrow morning. As you may have noticed, most of the images from Sunday's second science pass (PJ3) have already posted - a day ahead of schedule. Unlike most of our raw images, the "ring" needs some processing, since it's a full spin image with 360-degrees of spacecraft rotation vs an arc."

I still do not understand why the image shown publicly at AGU could not have been tweeted. NASA posted/tweeted raw images from Opportunity, Spirit, and Curiosity as soon as they arrived on Earth. Cleaned up versions were posted later.

Today's Episodes of Commercial Space were Brought to You by ..., Richard Cooper

"Below are just some of the names of people I think we need to recognize and celebrate for their courage and vision that have made todays and the future of commercial space possible. Some of these names are of people who have sadly passed away but others thankfully are still with us, and still very active in pioneering commercial space. Also note that my list is by no means complete. In fact in compiling these names and achievements it is a challenge that I want to share with others to contribute towards."

Trump transition team for Energy Department seeks names of employees involved in climate meetings, Washington Post

"Donald Trump's transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation's carbon output. The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and "which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan." ... Thousands of scientists have signed petitions calling on the president-elect and his team to respect scientific integrity and refrain from singling out individual researchers whose work might conflict with the new administration's policy goals. This potential clash could prompt a major schism within the federal government, with many career officials waging a battle against incoming political appointees."

Will Trump Scrap NASA's Climate Research Mission?, Pro Publica

"But with the election of Donald Trump, there was immediate concern -- inside NASA and among the fans of its valued work on global warming -- about the future of the agency's earth-science program. Within hours of Trump's acceptance speech on Nov. 9, an internal email from a senior official in the Earth Sciences division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center circulated within NASA acknowledging worry that "funding may now be exposed to severe reductions." The last month is not apt to have eased that alarm. How does an astrobiologist react when advisors to the president-elect propose cutting funding to earth studies? Trump's most visible advisor on space policy has been Bob Walker, a former House Science committee chairman who is now a space-policy lobbyist pressing to move "Earth-centric" and "heavily politicized" climate science out of NASA altogether. And Christopher Shank, who was chosen by Trump to lead the transition at NASA, is a seasoned strategist who has expressed strong skepticism about the severity of global warming."

Keith's note: There are a number of Federal agencies involved in Earth and climate science - DOE, DOI, NOAA, NSF - and NASA. Given that the DOE Trump Landing Team is trying to find out which DOE employees are involved in climate research - and that Trump transition team advisor Bob Walker has been very specific about moving "Earth centric" programs (e.g. climate research) to another agency - one would expect that the NASA Trump Landing Team is going to be asking similar questions at NASA. Stay tuned.

Keith's update: Energy Dept refuses to name staffers who worked on climate for Trump transition, The Hill

"The Department of Energy said Tuesday it will reject the request by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team to name staffers who worked on climate change programs. Energy spokesman Eben Burnhan-Snyder said the agency received "significant feedback" from workers regarding a questionnaire from the transition team that leaked last week. "Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled," Snyder said. The survey for department leadership included more than 70 questions regarding what the agency does, its workforce, costs, professional affiliations and more."

Commercial Crew Flight Dates Delayed To 2018

"The next generation of American spacecraft and rockets that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station are nearing the final stages of development and evaluation. Targeted Flight Dates:
Boeing Orbital Flight Test: June 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: August 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: November 2017
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2: May 2018"

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/nasa.charter.small.jpg

Keith's note: The next time you read about people on the NASA Transition Team saying that it is not NASA's job to conduct Earth science research - or wondering why NASA supports space commerce - just remind them: its the law. If they want proof then direct them to "National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, Pub. L. No. 85-568, 72 Stat. 426-438 (Jul. 29, 1958) As Amended".

Keith's note: I wonder what will happen if/when Trump notices the cost overruns and delays for the SLS program and the contractors who build it?

Keith's note: According to sources at NASA MSFC the contractor performing software safety tests found massive errors in the SDF test cases (no hardware testing, just software). The quality check of the test cases was given a stand down order by George Mitchell. Mitchell is Andy Gamble's deputy on SLS flight software safety. Mitchell had already told the contractor that they were not allowed to impact the testing or ask for re-testing. Further, he said that these tests had already been accepted as successfully verifying the flight software requirements. In other words the issues raised by NASA MSFC employees about SLS flight software testing are officially moot.

- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues Continue at MSFC, earlier post
- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update), earlier post

- Greg Autry - Employer (current or most recent): University of Southern California, Funding source: Volunteer
- Jack Burns - Employer (current or most recent): University of Colorado, Funding source: Volunteer
- Steve Cook - Employer (current or most recent): Dynetics, Inc., Funding source: Private
- Rodney Liesveld - Employer (current or most recent): National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Retired), Funding source: Volunteer
- Sandra Magnus - Employer (current or most recent): The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Funding source: Volunteer
- Jeff Waksman - Employer (current or most recent): U.S. House of Representatives (Formerly), Funding source: Volunteer

Keith's note: This is the "disturbance in the Force" that I was referring to the other day. Rodney Liesveld is a pal of Chris Shank's from Mike Griffin's time at NASA. Steve Cook was one of Griffin's confidants. Sandy Magnus has long-standing ties with Griffin via their positions at AIAA. The presence of Shank, Cook, Liesveld, and Magnus is further proof that Mike Griffin is lurking in the distance plotting a return to NASA. This is more of a Griffin "Boarding Party" than a "Landing Team".

Adding Jack Burns, an overt lunar exploration advocate, indicates that a pivot from #JourneyToMars toward #BackToTheMoon is in the cards.

Meanwhile Rep. Jim Bridenstine is still very much in the running according to sources.

My John Glenn Story

Keith's note: Although I met him more than once in my 30 years in Washington, my association with John Glenn was one of a degree of separation - I knew many people who knew him well.

In 2009, I spent a month on a mission to a strange, beautiful, dangerous place with someone (astronaut Scott Parazynski) who spent several weeks on a mission to a strange, beautiful, dangerous place with John Glenn.

There is a scene in "The Right Stuff" (that never actually happened) where Gordon Cooper watches Glenn fly over Australia at night with some aborigines while sparks fly upward from their fire. Years later, on my way to Everest to meet up with Scott, I taught a Sherpa to spot satellites in the night sky - and that movie scene flashed through my mind.

That is my John Glenn story.

John Glenn

Statement by the President on the Passing of John Glenn

"The last of America's first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn."

Statement by NASA Administrator Bolden on the Passing of John Glenn

"The entire NASA Family will be forever grateful for his outstanding service, commitment and friendship. Personally, I shall miss him greatly. As a fellow Marine and aviator, he was a mentor, role model and, most importantly, a dear friend."

ASU university explorer Scott Parazynski remembers his colleague and friend, astronaut and former U.S. Sen. John Glenn

"I first got to spend time with him in January of 1998 after he became part of our crew. He walked in to the crew in a really unique and funny way. He said, 'If any of you guys call me Sen. Glenn, I'll ignore you. My name is just John or Payload Specialist No. 2.' That kind of set it. He just wanted to be one of the crew, no special treatment or favors. A very down-to-earth, humble guy."

The otherworldly spirit of John Glenn, Homer Hickam, Washington Post

"Ironically, John Glenn, the Mercury astronaut most Americans can still name, was the quiet one. He was strong and steady and never in any manner outlandish. He touched us in a different way. There was something about that balding, red-headed Marine with his lopsided smile that just made people love him. It seemed to those of us following the space race back then that everything Glenn did, his Midwestern, "aw shucks" manner of speech, his obvious love for and dedication to his wife, Annie, even his daily jogs along the Cape Canaveral beach, was pure and wholesomely American."

Keith's note: I got this as a text message via satellite phone from astrobiologist Dale Andersen on the shores of Lake Untersee in Antarctica this afternoon: "John Glenn was for me and for so many others of my generation a hero, a legend and The Right Stuff - an icon of space exploration. Interestingly, we just (minutes ago) finished watching Apollo 13 this evening - a wonderful story and a great film (and even better once one has read the flight log end to end). I hope the sacrifices made by those early space pioneers will not be squandered and that they will be honored by our country by re-energizing our space program - one dedicated to exploration, innovation and placing humans back on the surface of the moon and on Mars in the very, very near future. Its time to invest in science, engineering and imagination once again and to move well beyond LEO! From the mountains of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Dale"

TrumpSpace Details Emerge

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.

Trump considering colonel who caught Saddam Hussein for Army secretary, Washington Post

"For Air Force secretary, sources said Trump is considering Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), who has also been mentioned as a potential administrator for NASA. He also met with Trump's team on Monday. Hunter and Bridenstine were among the earliest and staunchest supporters of Trump in the House of Representatives."

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."

Commenting Policy

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.

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."

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.

Aleta Jackson

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

Dueling Space Barons

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.

Waiting For TrumpSpace

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."

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."

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.

Progress Launch Fails

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."




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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