July 2017 Archives

Russian official on new US sanctions and NASA: "Nothing lasts forever"

"However, Russia's chief space official, Dmitry Rogozin, warned Saturday that such a situation may not be tolerable forever. "They (the United States) have an interesting approach, they try not to harm areas in which they are interested," he said in a television interview. "They say that 'space is outside politics.' We take the 'space is outside politics' slogan into account, but nothing lasts forever."

Putin orders cut of 755 personnel at U.S. missions, Washington Post

"It is not yet clear how the State Department will reduce its staff in Russia. Some of the local staff were hired to help with a significant expansion of the U.S. embassy compound in Moscow. ... The Library of Congress had two U.S. staff and two foreign staff, and NASA had eight U.S. staff and four foreign staff members."

The Kremlin is done betting on Trump and planning how to strike back against U.S. sanctions, Washington Post

"Of course it's very difficult for Russia to do anything to harm the U.S. interests unless Russia is ready to take steps which will harm ourselves," said Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policies, an influential group of Russian foreign policy experts. Hawks poring over the U.S. sanctions say Moscow needs to break the rules. "It says that by no means shall sanctions apply to NASA projects," said Nikolay Platoshkin, a former Russian diplomat and professor at the Moscow University of the Humanities, referring to the bill passed by the Senate. "Here we go, a perfect tip, let them apply [to NASA], let American astronauts ride horses to the International Space Station."

H.R.3364 - Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

"SEC. 237. EXCEPTION RELATING TO ACTIVITIES OF THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION.

(a) In General.--This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall not apply with respect to activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

(b) Rule Of Construction.--Nothing in this Act or the amendments made by this Act shall be construed to authorize the imposition of any sanction or other condition, limitation, restriction, or prohibition, that directly or indirectly impedes the supply by any entity of the Russian Federation of any product or service, or the procurement of such product or service by any contractor or subcontractor of the United States or any other entity, relating to or in connection with any space launch conducted for--

(1) the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; or

(2) any other non-Department of Defense customer.

SEC. 238. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

Nothing in this part or the amendments made by this part shall be construed--

(1) to supersede the limitations or exceptions on the use of rocket engines for national security purposes under section 1608 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (Public Law 113-291; 128 Stat. 3626; 10 U.S.C. 2271 note), as amended by section 1607 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (Public Law 114-92; 129 Stat. 1100) and section 1602 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-328; 130 Stat. 2582); or

(2) to prohibit a contractor or subcontractor of the Department of Defense from acquiring components referred to in such section 1608."

Keith's note: H.R.3364 was passed by the House, then the Senate, and has now been sent to the President who has said that he will sign it into law. According to the bill NASA and space activities are specifically exempted from being part of any sanctions that the U.S. might impose upon Russia. Yet the people quoted by the Washington Post suggest that by saying that these things are exempt from our sanctions, we're actually saying that these things are vital and that upsetting them would damage our interests. Russia is now talking about the actions that they will take in response to the impending implementation of this legislation. Has the United States given Russia a roadmap of things they can focus their responses at - even if it results in damage to Russia itself?

How long is the ISS going to be able to remain an orbital, Antarctic-like, politics-free zone? The longer it manages to remain apart from terrestrial turmoils, the more space exploration speaks to a way to transcend such things. But there has to be a breaking point sooner or later.

- How Long Will ISS Remain Isolated From Terrestrial Politics?, earlier post
- Will U.S. Sanctions On Russia Impact ISS Operations?, earlier post
- Cold War Echoes On Earth And In Space, earlier post
- Watching Turmoil On Earth From Serene Vantage of Space, earlier post
- Russia, earlier posts

Analysis of age as a factor in NASA astronaut selection and career landmarks, PLoS One

"NASA's periodic selection of astronauts is a highly selective process accepting applications from the general population, wherein the mechanics of selection are not made public. This research was an effort to determine if biases (specifically age) exist in the process and, if so, at which points they might manifest ... the most striking observation was the loss of age diversity at each stage of selection. Applicants younger or older than approximately 40 years were significantly less likely to receive invitations for interviews and were significantly less likely to be selected as an astronaut. Analysis of the public-source data for all selections since the beginning of the astronaut program revealed significant age trends over time including a gradual increase in selectee age and decreased tenure at NASA after last flight, with average age at retirement steady over the entire history of the astronaut program at approximately 48 years."

Will Trump get a man to Mars?, Politico

"Even Trump's space policy adviser for his campaign and transition says getting a man or woman on the face of Mars by 2024 is virtually impossible. "I don't think you'll get there [to Mars]," former Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Walker said in an interview about the possibilities under the Trump White House. "I do think that we will probably have a flight to the moon, an Apollo 8-type flight where you go up and go around the moon in a fairly short period of time." A NASA official who served under former President Barack Obama shared Walker's prediction. "I think things could go very well for going to the moon, which I think is more likely to be a Trump agenda," said Lori Garver, Obama's deputy NASA administrator. During his first six months in office, Trump has laid out an ambitious -- if non-specific -- space agenda."

How Jonathan Dimock Auditioned To Be NASA White House Liaison, earlier post

"National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA or Deep Space Exploration Administration or DSEA) -Aside from the fact this is based very heavily in science, there is also a large cry to reduce their $105.5b budget and even movements to roll our space program into DSEA. With the help of, and to the credit of, the administration there can be drastic cost cuttings for big wins for the administration."

NASA Internal Memo: EM-1 Crew Study Results Summary

"NASA determined it was feasible to fly crew on EM-1. However, in the balancing of the cost, schedule, and technical risks, and the fact this is a long-term exploration program, it was determined that the current baseline program was the better long-term solution. The study was beneficial and has improved NASA's overall planning for SLS, Orion, and ground systems. Given the decision not to fly crew on EM-1, NASA continues working toward an uncrewed first flight as the first mission in a series of deep space missions beyond the Moon in preparation for sending humans to Mars in the 2030s."

- Original Memo via Buzzfeed

NASA Could Have Flown Astronauts Around The Moon In 2020, BuzzFeed

"NASA wants people to know it could have done this, if they had the money, but won't because they don't," Keith Cowing of NASAWatch told BuzzFeed News. "It does kind of beg the question of why they weren't doing it this way all along if it was such a great idea."

Soyuz Launches to the International Space Station With Expedition 52/53 Crew (With video)

"About four minutes prior to launch, the space station flew over the launch site and was flying about 250 miles above south central Russia, just over the northeast border of Kazakhstan, at the time of launch. NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) are now safely in orbit."

"The crew will orbit Earth four times en route to the spacecraft's arrival and docking to the space station's Rassvet module, at 6 p.m. Tune in at 5:15 p.m. to NASA Television or the agency's website to watch the docking live."

Mission Approved - Bob Richards on the Moon Express Plan to Commercialize the Moon, SpaceQ

"Moon Express has raised $45 million(US), built hardware, tested some of it, and gotten the FAA and other government agencies to approve of its first commercial mission to the moon, and in less than a year might have its first spacecraft on the moon."

"In this episode of the SpaceQ podcast Bob Richards, CEO and co-founder of Moon Express talks about the latest news from the company, including how lunar samples they return could be worth tens of millions, possibly even hundreds of millions. If true, and if Moon Express can return those samples, then an important part of their business plan will have been accomplished and a new commercial frontier will have been opened up."

In Quest to Reach Alpha Centauri, Breakthrough Starshot Launches World's Smallest Spacecraft

"Breakthrough Starshot, a multi-faceted program to develop and launch practical interstellar space missions, successfully flew its first spacecraft -- the smallest ever launched. On June 23, a number of prototype "Sprites" - the world's smallest fully functional space probes, built on a single circuit board -- achieved Low Earth Orbit, piggybacking on OHB System AG's 'Max Valier' and 'Venta' satellites. The 3.5-by-3.5 centimeter chips weigh just four grams but contain solar panels, computers, sensors, and radios. These vehicles are the next step of a revolution in spacecraft miniaturization that can contribute to the development of centimeter- and gram-scale "StarChips" envisioned by the Breakthrough Starshot project."

Larger view

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves $19.5 Billion for NASA, SpacePolicyOnline

"The Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee approved $19.5 billion for NASA in FY2018 according to a committee press release. The figure was rounded, but the press release also said it is $437 million more than President Trump requested and $124 million less than FY2017. That would make $19.529 billion a more precise figure. The request was $19.092 billion. NASA's FY2017 funding level is $19.653 billion. The House Appropriations Committee was more generous, approving $19.872 billion. The bill has not gone to the House floor for debate yet. Only a few details were released by the Senate committee following the markup today. More information will be available after the full committee marks up the bill on Thursday."

Keith's 23 July note: It would seem that the precedents set by GALEX and ISEE-3 Reboot have found resonance at NASA's Science Mission Directorate. I wonder how one might apply to take over Spitzer? Will there be a formal call for proposals, a NASA procurement notice, or some other formal mechanism to solicit ideas? If so, when? I sent a request to NASA. Stay tuned.

Keith's 25 July update: According to NASA PAO: "NASA has successfully operated the Spitzer Space Telescope since 2003. Based on the most recent senior review, NASA plans to end its funding for the Spitzer mission with the commencement of operations of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2019. NASA is exploring options to continue operation of Spitzer beyond March 2019 using non-NASA funding sources, including private funding. NASA is open to discussions regarding a non-NASA funded extension of the Spitzer mission."

NASA's Commercial Crew Program Target Flight Dates

"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. To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station. Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demonstration Mission 1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation mission. The following schedule reflects the most recent publicly-releasable dates for both providers."

TDRS-M Needs Repairs

NASA TDRS-M Status Update July 20, 2017

"NASA and Boeing are reviewing plans to safely replace an antenna on the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M). The satellite's Omni S-band antenna was damaged during spacecraft closeout activities July 14 at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The TDRS team is also evaluating a possible electrostatic discharge event involving spacecraft mechanical ground support equipment at the launch site."

Michael J. Fox Foundation and CASIS Announce Partnership to Grow Key Parkinson's Protein on International Space Station

"The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announce a partnership to send a key Parkinson's protein to the International Space Station for growth under microgravity conditions. Microgravity may allow bigger, more regular LRRK2 protein crystals to grow, which helps solve the protein's structure. That information could help scientists design optimized therapies against LRRK2, a key target in the pursuit of a Parkinson's cure."

LRRK2

"Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2), also known as dardarin (from the Basque word "dardara" which means trembling), is an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the PARK8 gene. LRRK2 is a member of the leucine-rich repeat kinase family. Variants of this gene are associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease and also Crohn's disease."

Keith's note: Very cool news which demonstrates the true potential for the ISS to host cutting edge research with the potential for real benefits back on Earth. Oddly, "NASA" is mentioned nowhere in this press release - you know, the agency that built and operates the ISS - and provides 99.99% of CASIS' income. You have to wonder if the PR people at CASIS even bother to think about how to best inform the public of what they are doing. Even if CASIS is trying to distance itself from NASA, anyone with an ounce of Internet savvy would know that "NASA" is a search term that would heighten the visibility of this press release as it is posted elsewhere on the Internet. Again - this is significant news and CASIS should be congratulated for pulling it off. I'm just not sure they have a full grasp of the responsibility that they have been given by NASA.

CASIS Quarterly Report for the Period January 1 - March 31, 2017

"Executive Summary: The second fiscal quarter (Q2) of 2017 (FY17) brought forward meaningful progress for the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory and demonstrated signals of opportunity for future space science platforms. From a big picture perspective, key developments in commercial space outside of the ISS National Lab are noteworthy for our stakeholder community. In March, SpaceX achieved a historic milestone on the road to reusability in space transportation with the world's first reflight of an orbital class rocket. This achievement in reusability signals the tangible progress that the industry is making toward lowering the cost of transportation, a well-established barrier for space research and development. In addition to this milestone, commercial companies publicly announced this quarter intent to develop standalone, privately funded space stations within the decade. Finally, Congress' actions to pass the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 provide a firm foundation for continuity of progress toward America's leadership in commercial space. These developments are encouraging to both traditional and nontraditional users of the ISS National Lab as our nation looks to develop long-term research initiatives in space. Adding to this renewed excitement in commercial space, momentum with space research development on the ISS National Lab continues to accelerate and expand."

Keith's note: What's really bizarre is that CASIS is feeding this overt NASA PR hype back to NASA as part of a quarterly report to its (sole) customer. As if NASA had not already read its own hype without the need for CASIS to regurgitate it as part of a contract deliverable. Or maybe CASIS is just trying to make NASA feel better and simultaneously inflate its on value by aligning itself with the NASA spin machine. Hard to tell. Maybe they hope the new White House staff are reading these things. There's actually a lot of really important updates in these quarterly reports (more to follow) that are worthy of wider dissemination. Valuable research is being accomplished on the ISS. I am just baffled as to why CASIS feels the need to puff it all up with hype.

Oh yes: the CASIS website visitor target for FY 2017 is 129,000. That's pathetically small. NASA.gov blasts that out every second. Indeed, the website you are reading does that traffic in a matter of days. CASIS also seeks to have 114,000 Twitter followers by the end of FY 2017. By comparison @NASAWatch and @spaceRef have more than 110,000 followers. Other space websites have many more followers. Indeed @NASA has nearly 25,000,000 followers. At yesterday's ISS R&D Conference (sponsored by CASIS) everyone was moaning about how the public does not know what the ISS is doing. With such a tiny web presence CASIS is certainly not doing much to alleviate this situation.

NASA Destroyed Hundreds of Mystery Tapes Found in a Dead Man's Basement, Motherboard

"NASA takes records retention matters very seriously, so upon receiving notice about these former NASA assets, NASA undertook a new inspection in 2015-2016," a NASA spokesperson told me on Monday. "NASA determined that the magnetic tapes were in all likelihood erased prior to their original disposition," they added. "In addition, the tapes were suffering from extensive mold contamination. Weighing these factors, the agency determined the magnetic tapes were of no intrinsic or informational value to the agency." But if the dates on the tapes are accurate, ranging from 1961 to 1974, they coincide with a time in NASA history when thousands of data reels were destroyed, abandoned, or repurposed. As a result, there are gaps in data from many of NASA's older missions."

CASIS Announces Cotton Sustainability Challenge

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced a cotton sustainability challenge, sponsored by Target Corporation, where researchers and innovators will have the ability to propose solutions to improve crop production on Earth by sending their concepts to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. The challenge will leverage a broad range of disciplines to find breakthrough solutions that can be implemented affordably and benefit the cotton production community."

Congressman asks scientists if they've found ancient civilizations on Mars, Ars Technica

"The hearing was respectable, with on-point witnesses and mostly incisive questions. That is, until California Republican Dana Rohrabacher had his turn at the microphone. After asking a reasonable, if rambling, question about NASA's plans for a Mars sample return mission and the kind of fuel used by spacecraft, Rohrabacher got down to business. He asked, "You have indicated that Mars was totally different thousands of years ago. Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?"

- Goofy Mars Conspiracies Part 2 (child slave colonies on Mars), earlier post

Charles Bolden 'blunt' about Trump and space, says president 'talks a lot', AL.com

"The president had an opportunity after challenging NASA to show how we could put humans on the very first flight of SLS and Orion," Bolden said. He referred to the Trump administration's early request that NASA consider a crew on the first launch of the Space Launch System under development. NASA said, "It can be done, but it's got a healthy price tag, so we think we ought to stick with the plan we have now...," Bolden said. "The president could have very easily said, 'No, I want to do what I said.' We're going to put a crew on it. Go for it. I'm going to work with Congress and we're going to give you the money to do it.' That's the way we did Apollo."

Keith's note: Gee, if this crew on EM-1 thing was such a big deal for Bolden why didn't he say something like this at some point during his 8 years at NASA? Now it just sounds like sour grapes from the sidelines.

Keith's note: I was at the ISS R&D Conference today in Washington, DC (I'll be there all week). One of today's events was a panel that discussed the role of the National Academy of Science in advising NASA - specifically the Decadal Survey done on human spaceflight back in 2011. To be certain, as I have noted before, a lot of the NASA/NAS interaction is akin to choir practice in an echo chamber. But there is a lot of useful observation and advice embedded in these NASA reports that NASA would be wise to consider with regard to human spaceflight.

There was an odd interaction toward the end of the session when ISS Director Sam Scimemi asked if there was anything that the NAS could do to interest other federal agencies in spending money on space activities - which is an odd thing to consider even asking the NAS since they simply do not do that sort of advocacy. They are supposed to be impartial. As such its rather strange for the senior NASA civil servant running the ISS to be thinking - much less to say something like this in a public forum. Does he not know what role the NAS plays? Maybe someone should explain this to him. Its even odder that Scimemi would be out trying to drum up more funds for space given how well NASA did in the FY 2018 White House budget when compared to how badly other science agencies did in that same budget proposal. This makes NASA seem greedy and/or clueless.

White House Opposes Space Corps, Space Policy Online

"The Trump Administration informed the House that it does not agree on the need for the Space Corps proposed in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The White House Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) called the proposal premature because DOD is still in the process of studying potential organizational changes. The White House used stronger language to object to two other space provisions in the bill. The House began debate on the bill (H.R. 2810) this afternoon."

Government debates need for military Space Corps, The Hill

"The House moved forward with its plans to create a Space Corps this week when it passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). But the proposal faces a long road before becoming reality. The administration, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, has come out strongly against the idea. And there's no equivalent proposal in the Senate, meaning the provision could be stripped out before the bill's final passage."

Congress Pushes To Create U.S. Space Corps, earlier post

TDRS-M Status Update - July 15, 2017

"NASA and Boeing are reviewing an incident that occurred during final spacecraft closeout activities on the Tracking Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M) mission at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on July 14, involving the Omni S-band antenna. The mission team is developing a plan to assess flight acceptance and the schedule forward. These additional activities are under evaluation for a planned TDRS-M launch Aug. 3, 2017, on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida."

Keith's note: Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) submitted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 that sets aside $50,000 stating "The Secretary of the Army shall, in consultation with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, construct at an appropriate place in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, a memorial marker honoring the three members of the crew of the Apollo I crew who died during a launch rehearsal test on January 27, 1967, in Cape Canaveral, Florida."

Ranking Member Johnson's Statement on House Vote to Establish Apollo 1 Memorial

"Today, the House of Representatives voted to establish a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the crew of the Apollo 1 mission, who perished in a spacecraft fire 50 years ago. It was included as an amendment by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) in H.R. 2810, the "National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2018" (NDAA). The House approved NDAA this morning by a vote of 344-81."

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint Scott Pace to the National Space Council

"Over his career, Dr. Scott Pace has honed his expertise in the areas of science, space, and technology. Currently, he is the Director of the Space Policy Institute and Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University. Dr. Pace also serves as the Vice-Chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES). Previously, he served at NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), and the RAND Corporation's Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI)."

National Space Council Executive Secretary Hiding In Plain Sight, earlier post

"Take a close look at the upper left hand portion of this image taken at NASA KSC today of Vice President Pence and his entourage. There is one person who (from a distance) sure looks a lot like Scott Pace."

Vector Space Systems - Small Rockets, Small Satellites and Possibly a Big Payday, SpaceQ (Story and Podcast)

"In 2016 Jim Cantrell and group of veteran space professionals started Vector Space Systems. Their goal? Nothing less than than building a small satellite launch company capable of launching upwards of 100 small satellites a year from at least three spaceports."

Note: Vector received some initial grant money from NASA.

Related: $30 Billion Market Value for Small Satellites Over Coming Decade, Euroconsult

"According to Euroconsult's latest report, Prospects for the Small Satellite Market, significant expansion in terms of capabilities and demand is underway in the smallsat market. Over 6,200 smallsats are expected to be launched over the next ten years, a substantial augmentation over that of the previous decade (several mega constellations are now included within the scope of this report). The smallsat market from 2017-2026 will be driven by the roll-out of multiple constellations accounting for more than 70% of this total, mainly for commercial operators."

"The total market value of these smallsats could reach $30.1 billion in the next ten years, up from $8.9 billion over the previous decade."

NASA finally admits it doesn't have the funding to land humans on Mars, Ars Technica

"Now, finally, the agency appears to have bended toward reality. During a propulsion meeting of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics on Wednesday, NASA's chief of human spaceflight acknowledged that the agency doesn't really have the funding it needs to reach Mars with the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. These vehicles have cost too much to build, and too much to fly, and therefore NASA hasn't been able to begin designing vehicles to land on Mars or ascend from the surface. "I can't put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is the other piece is, at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we don't have the surface systems available for Mars," said NASA's William H. Gerstenmaier, responding to a question about when NASA will send humans to the surface of Mars. "And that entry, descent and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars."

Kicking The Can Down the Road to Mars, SpaceRef (earlier post)

"And of course none of these Mars missions in the 2030s are in any budget - notional, proposed, or projected - that means anything to anyone actually working at NASA today. So it is hard to blame people who can't give you a straight answer. Just look at what their management has given them to work with - and what the agency has had to work with in terms of guidance from Congress and the White House. Just in the past 10-12 years NASA has veered away from the shuttle towards the Moon, then away from the ISS to Mars and away from the Moon and back to ISS, and now back to Mars (and maybe the Moon) and also some boulder on an asteroid."

Reopening the American Frontier: Promoting Partnerships Between Commercial Space and the U.S. Government to Advance Exploration and Settlement (with video)

"U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene the rescheduled hearing titled "Reopening the American Frontier: Promoting Partnerships Between Commercial Space and the U.S. Government to Advance Exploration and Settlement" at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 13, 2017. The subcommittee will examine partnerships between the U.S. government and commercial space industry to advance space exploration."

- Statement by Robert Cabana
- Statement by Tim Ellis
- Statement by Tim Hughes
- Statement by Jeffrey Manber
- Statement by Moriba Jah
- Statement by Sen. Bill Nelson

Moon Express Unveils Lunar Mission Architecture, Moon Express

"On July 12, 2017, Moon Express unveiled its exploration architecture, including plans to establish the world's first permanent lunar outpost at the South Pole of the Moon by 2020. The company's robotic explorers are flexible, scalable platforms that will help reopen the American frontier on the Moon, conduct prospecting and sample return operations, and support lunar science, exploration and commerce."

What You Need To Know About The Space Law Congress Is Considering, The Federalist

"Want to make money in space? It appears that Congress wants to help. It also appears from what Congress has so far proposed that their help will have only a limited value. The heart of the problem is twofold. First, the regulatory framework that American companies must navigate to get projects off the ground is difficult and complex. They must deal with multiple government agencies whose conflicting needs cause delays and increased costs. Sometimes this bureaucracy kills projects entirely. Second, there is significant worry in the investment community about the uncertainty of property rights in space. Article II of the Outer Space Treaty forbids countries from claiming territory in space, which means it is difficult for capitalist countries like the United States to establish secure property rights for its citizens on any territory in space."

Juno Completes Flyby Over Jupiter's Great Red Spot

"NASA's Juno mission completed a close flyby of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot on July 10, during its sixth science orbit. All of Juno's science instruments and the spacecraft's JunoCam were operating during the flyby, collecting data that are now being returned to Earth. Juno's next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on Sept. 1. Raw images from the spacecraft's latest flyby will be posted in coming days."

Keith's note: The first raw #images of Juno's flyover of Jupiter's great red spot have been posted online.

New survey highlights gender, racial harassment in astronomy and planetary science, AGU

"In a survey of workplace experiences among astronomy and planetary science professionals, about 40 percent of women of color reported feeling unsafe in their workplace because of their gender, while 28 percent feel unsafe due to their race. About 13 percent of the survey's female respondents reported skipping at least one class, meeting, fieldwork opportunity or other professional event for this reason. Some men of color also skipped events as a result of hearing racist comments at school or work, according to a new study detailing the survey's results in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, a journal of the American Geophysical Union."

Survey reveals widespread bias in astronomy and planetary science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"In an online survey about their workplace experiences, 88 percent of academics, students, postdoctoral researchers and administrators in astronomy and planetary science reported hearing, experiencing or witnessing negative language or harassment relating to race, gender or other physical characteristics at work within the last five years. Of the 423 respondents, 39 percent reported having been verbally harassed and 9 percent said they had suffered physical harassment at work."

- Harassment in Space Science and Astronomy (Update), earlier post
- Under-representation at Astronomy Conferences, earlier post
- Inclusive Astronomy, earlier post

President Trump's enemies list, Politico

"White House officials have taken notice of [Rep. Martha] Roby's efforts to make amends and view her efforts with some skepticism. While in the Oval Office for a NASA bill signing in March, Roby sidled up next to Trump - putting her front-and-center for the photo-op. Behind her push for the president's approval is a stark political reality: She is facing a fierce primary challenge from a Trump stalwart who has turned her past opposition to the president into the focal point of his campaign."

Keith's note: Guess which person is Rep. Roby. Could that neon yellow shirt be any brighter?

Nasa scientist researching mission to Mars still in prison a year on from failed Turkey coup, Telegraph

"It was only eight days after last year's failed coup attempt against Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but already the reprisals were in full swing. The 37-year-old Nasa physicist, a Turkish-American citizen who was working on the manned mission to Mars programme, was one of tens of thousands of academics, police, military and journalists who were rounded up and detained as Mr Erdogan sought to re-establish his grip on power."

Keith's update: Official NASA response to the Pence "Do Not Touch" Photo: "The 'do not touch' signs are there as a day-to-day reminder, including the one visible on the titanium Forward Bay Cover for the Orion spacecraft. Procedures require the hardware to be cleaned before tiles are bonded to the spacecraft, so touching the surface is okay. Otherwise, the hardware would have had a protective cover over it like the thermal heat shield, which was nearby."

So in other words "do not touch" means "you can touch". Only at NASA.

Keith's note: Unlike some aspects of this White House Vice President Pence has a sense of humor. Well played.

Keith's note: KSC Director Bob Cabana had one thing to do during the walk through ... Larger view.

Mike Pence Touches NASA Equipment Labeled 'Do Not Touch', Becomes Instant Meme, Gizmodo

Keith's note: Take a close look at the upper left hand portion of this image taken at NASA KSC today of Vice President Pence and his entourage. There is one person who (from a distance) sure looks a lot like Scott Pace. Pace is widely expected to be named as executive secretary of the newly re-chartered National Space Council - and Pence made frequent mention of the Council in his remarks today. Just sayin' [Enlargement].

Keith's update: Yes, that is indeed Scott Pace.

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/pencewords.jpg

Remarks by the Vice President at Kennedy Space Center (with video), White House

"And I bring greetings from the man who is going to make that happen, his admiration for all of you gathered here and for America's storied history in space is boundless; and he is committed each and every day to American leadership at home, around the world, and in the boundless expanse of space, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)"

Keith's note: Just doing a simple word count shows that "America" appears 68 times. "Will" = 54. "Lead" = 33. "Space" = 73. "President" = 40 "(applause)" = 23. And so on. The speech was clearly designed to say that America will lead in space due to the President leading (applause).

Remarks by the Vice President at Kennedy Space Center (with video), White House

NASA Provides Coverage of Vice President Pence's Visit to Kennedy Space Center

"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 Thursday, July 6."

"NASA TV and the agency's website will air live coverage for parts of the visit starting at noon EDT with Air Force Two's arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility runway, followed by a special address to the center's workforce in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at 1 p.m."

"The Vice President will tour Kennedy and learn more about the center's work as a multi-user spaceport for commercial and government clients, as well as see the agency's progress toward launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies, and traveling past the moon, and eventually on to Mars and beyond with the help of NASA's new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket."

- Watch it live on SpaceRef starting at noon.

Marc's note: Vice President Mike Pence will make his first visit to KSC Thursday after formally being tasked with leading the reconstituted National Space Council. Oddly enough the press release states "traveling past the moon" but not traveling to the moon.

It was a case of the third time being the charm as SpaceX conducted its 10th launch this year. The Intelsat 35e has separated from the Falcon 9 second stage as expected and is in a good orbit.

- Launch replay.

SpaceX Dragon's second splashdown is a historic first, CNET

"Until now, no single craft has visited the ISS and returned to Earth more than once. In fact, all other non-SpaceX vehicles that visit the space station are designed to burn up in the atmosphere after a single flight. SpaceX has been recovering its Dragon capsules via splashdowns in the ocean, but this is the first time that one of those recycled craft has completed a second re-supply mission."

House panel votes to split Air Force, create new U.S. Space Corps, Federal News Radio

"As part of its version of the 2018 Defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee voted late Wednesday night to create a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces: the U.S. Space Corps, which would absorb the Air Force's current space missions."

Alabama Congressman proposes creating new branch of US military: The Space Corps, Al.com

"The proposal would put the branch under the command of the Air Force, though the commander would be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, much like the Marine Corps' role in the Navy. Rogers and Cooper said the Department of Defense is not able to address the challenges created by protecting U.S. assets in space, "thus Congress has to step in."

Pentagon 'Space Corps' Plan Leaves Earth Science in the Dust, Wired

"The idea of creating a new military space command even as the White House takes an axe to peaceful Earth-observing systems devoted to science. The Trump administration wants to cancel five NASA earth science missions and slash NOAA's budget for studying the Earth, weather, and oceans--including ground and space-bound sensors. Samson and other policy watchers say cuts to NASA's and NOAA's satellite monitoring programs are driven by the Trump administration's hostility toward (and denial of) climate change. In fact, NOAA's climate and weather programs observing satellites are also vital to keeping the United States safe."


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