March 2018 Archives

Keith's note: Apparently a little visibility had an effect. After several months of community debate the issue as to whether the Citrus College Rocket Owls can travel to the NASA Student Launch competition has now suddenly appeared in the agenda of the Citrus College Board of Directors who will meet next Tuesday. I can't help but think that Homer Hickam's emails and phone calls directly to the responsible officials had a direct impact.

As you can see from the screen grabs, the item on the agenda seeks permission is to allow the student team to go. Local sources suggest that it is unlikely that this would have appeared on the agenda unless the intent was to approve it.

Earlier post

CA's LGBTQ law blocks SoCal college rocket club from Alabama competition

"A Citrus College rocketry club may be reaching for the stars, but is coming up with a handful of politics. The Rocket Owls team has earned a coveted spot at the annual NASA Student Launch competition, where 60 college teams from across the country go head-to-head, building and launching high-altitude rockets. But the event is held in Huntsville, Alabama which is one of eight states now targeted by the California legislature's AB 1887. That law bans publicly funded travel to states deemed to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people."

Rocket Owls Commit to NASA Competition Despite Being Barred From Final Launch, Clarion

"Of the other five California schools accepted into the program, UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley have confirmed they are attending. "We have not experienced any problems with being unable to compete." UC Berkeley's CalSTAR Outreach officer, Adam Huth, said, "Technically, I believe teams in California are allowed to compete, they may just be unable to receive funding for the trip itself."

AB 1887 (full text)

"Specifically, AB 1887 does not apply to state travel that is required for any of the following purposes: To comply with requests by the federal government to appear before committees."

Keith's note: Homer Hickam of Rocket Boys/October Sky fame came across an article from California's Citrus College's Clarion newspaper that their rocket team wasn't going to be allowed to come to Huntsville, Alabama for the Student Launch competition because of AB 1887 - even though they had successfully accomplished all requirements and had been invited by NASA.

Investigating further, Hickam learned that several University of California teams were coming to the Student Launch competition by using their own funds. When he discovered the Citrus College team had raised their own travel money but the college board and Superintendent had still ordered them not to go, Hickam was outraged.

After going back and forth with NASA officials and Chancellor Eloy Oakley of California Community Colleges, Oakley threw up his hands and said it was all Citrus College Superintendent Geraldine Perri's fault and the decision lay entirely in her hands. Hickam has tried to contact Superintendent Perri but she has not responded. Hickam is trying to bring all the parties together to let these fine young students ( go to Huntsville and compete. Failing that, he's working to allow them to come as an unaffiliated team.

Hickam spoke to several students and employees of Citrus College and all seem to be afraid of Dr. Perri and what she might do. Anyone, they all said, who doesn't agree with her risks her ire. The rocket team has considered going to Huntsville as an independent team but fear if they do, Dr. Perri's wrath will cause their expulsion from the college and other penalties, including a permanent shut-down of the rocket club for future students. Most of the mentors of the rocket club are volunteers. Their permissions to go on-campus would likely also be removed.

The intent of AB 1887 certainly has clear, undisputed merit to battle discrimination that I fully support. But for Citrus College to use this law as a excuse to prevent students from travelling to this competition - using funds that are not from the government of the State of California or from personal accounts - is simply wrong. This is especially questionable when other California educational institutions have found a way for their student teams to participate using alternate sources of funding. Moreover the NASA Student Launch effort is an educational competition conducted on a national basis wholly operated by the Federal government, not by the state of Alabama. The Federal government - not the State of Alabama - invited the Rocket Owls to participate. Also, the bill refers to people who work in some capacity for the State of California. These are students - taxpayers - not employees - and they do not seek any funds from the State of California.

Let's hope that Citrus College management wakes up to the realization that their job is facilitating education - not blocking educational opportunities for their students. If you don't want to help your students, Geraldine Perri, fine. But at least allow these students to spend their own money to further their education.

Controversy over college rocket group coming to AL sparks outrage, WAFF

Keith's note: The White House has submitted a budget request for FY 2019 which calls of the elimination of the NASA Education Office. They seem to think that education is not worth an emphasis. Take a look at this article (in French). A teacher in Ghana was so intent upon teaching his students about computers - without computers to use - that he drew screen shots on a blackboard that is not even a blackboard but a painted wall. While we toss aside the value of education for no cogent reason others on this planet go to extraordinary lengths to educate the next generation. Some countries know what is important for the future.

Ghanaian teacher becomes a hero of the web with this drawing on a board, Les Observateurs

"A Ghanaian teacher has become a star on the web after publishing these photos: we see him reproduce very accurately on a table the word processor "Word". Due to lack of means, Owura Kwadwo Hottish is forced to teach his students computer science on this board. But his photos, which sparked a wave of sympathy on social networks, could help change things."

Keith's note: You may have seen a lot of stories recently in major news publications over the past week or so stating that the Kelly brothers now have different DNA or something to that effect. Not true. Another example of reporters writing stories about something that they simply do not understand (I am an actual biologist so I can say that). Scott Kelly's DNA did not change. How some of his DNA is expressed (or not expressed) changed as a result (apparently) of spending nearly a year in space. But again, his DNA did not change. He and his brother are just as identical genetically as they were before he left Earth. Here is what NASA JSC PAO sent to some news media (but not others) on this topic:

"Mark and Scott Kelly are still identical twins; Scott's DNA did not fundamentally change. What researchers did observe are changes in gene expression, which is how your body reacts to your environment. This likely is within the range for humans under stress, such as mountain climbing or SCUBA diving. The change related to only 7 percent of the gene expression that changed during spaceflight that had not returned to preflight after six months on Earth. This change of gene expression is very minimal. We are at the beginning of our understanding of how space flight affects the molecular level of the human body. NASA and the other researchers collaborating on these studies expect to announce more comprehensive results on the twins studies this summer."

NASA Twins Study Confirms Preliminary Findings, NASA

"Another interesting finding concerned what some call the "space gene", which was alluded to in 2017. Researchers now know that 93% of Scott's genes returned to normal after landing. However, the remaining 7% point to possible longer term changes in genes related to his immune system, DNA repair, bone formation networks, hypoxia, and hypercapnia."

Keith's note: Scott Kelly's genes i.e. the DNA sequence in his genome did not change so genes could not "return to normal". Nor are there any "changes in genes related to his immune system, DNA repair, bone formation networks, hypoxia, and hypercapnia." Rather, how the genes are expressed was changed and that expression changed over time with some changes reverting to preflight expression while others have not. But the genes are not changed.

No, Scott Kelly's Genes Were Not Changed, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA CFO nominee Jeff Dewitt has been confirmed by the Senate.

NASA Statement on Nomination for Agency Chief Financial Officer, earlier post

"The following is a statement from acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot on Wednesday's announcement of the intended nomination by President Donald Trump of Jeffrey DeWit to serve as the agency's Chief Financial Officer: "It is encouraging to see more members of the agency's leadership team being named. Jeff's solid financial background will be a tremendous addition as we continue to advance our nation's aeronautic and exploration initiatives."

Astronaut's DNA no longer matches that of his identical twin, NASA finds, CNN

"Spending a year in space not only changes your outlook, it transforms your genes. Preliminary results from NASA's Twins Study reveal that 7% of astronaut Scott Kelly's genes did not return to normal after his return to Earth two years ago. The study looks at what happened to Kelly before, during and after he spent one year aboard the International Space Station through an extensive comparison with his identical twin, Mark, who remained on Earth. NASA has learned that the formerly identical twins are no longer genetically the same."

Keith's 14 March note: NO NO NO NO. The Kelly brothers are exactly the same genetically as they were the day they were born. No genes were "transformed". Their genes are the same as they were the day they were conceived. What changed during space travel was how some genes were expressed. Some genes were shut off. Some genes were activated, Some genes were expressed at different levels. I wish that science writers would take the time to talk to people who actually understand the topic. There are dozens of articles like this circulating right now that get the fundamental aspect of this research wrong. Also, FWIW, NASA needs to spend more time explaining what it is they are trying to say. As an actual space biologist I find all of this rather frustrating.

ICE spokesman resigns, citing fabrications by agency chief, Sessions about California immigrant arrests, Washington Post

"A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has resigned over what he described as "false" and "misleading" statements made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ICE acting director Thomas D. Homan. James Schwab worked out of the agency's San Francisco office until he abruptly quit last week. ... "I quit because I didn't want to perpetuate misleading facts," Schwab told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I asked them to change the information. I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn't agree with that. Then I took some time, and I quit."

Keith's note: James Schwab worked for a number of years at NASA Ames PAO. I got to know him during his time at NASA. I have to assume that his NASA tenure helped to fortify his propensity to tell the truth - no matter what.

Stephen Hawking, science's brightest star, dies aged 76, The Guardian

"Stephen Hawking, the brightest star in the firmament of science, whose insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired global audiences in the millions, has died aged 76. His family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning confirming his death at his home in Cambridge. Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. "He once said: 'It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love.' We will miss him for ever."

Professor Stephen Hawking Experiences the Freedom of Weightlessness During Historic Zero-Gravity Flight Out of Kennedy Space Center erlier post (2007)

Keith's note: President Trump spoke to military personnel at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego and starting talking about a new "Space Force". [Video] [Larger image]

"My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war fighting domain. Just like the land, air, and sea. We may have a Space Force. Develop another one. Space Force. We have the Air Force - we'll have a Space Force. We have the Army, the Navy. You know I was saying it the other day because we are doing a tremendous amount of work in space. I said 'maybe we need a new force - we'll call it the Space Force - and I was not really serious - and then I said what a great idea - maybe we'll have to do it. That could happen. That could be the breaking shore. Look at all those people back there. Look at that. Ahhh - that fake news. Ugh. They know - they understand. So think of that: Space Force. Because we're spending a lot - and we have a lot of private money coming in - tremendous. You saw what happened the other day - tremendous success. From the very beginning many of our astronauts have been soldiers and sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen, and marines. And our service members will be vital to ensuring that America continues to lead the way into the stars. It will lead the way in space. We're way, way behind - and we're catching up fast - so fast that nobody even believes it."

NASA Watch on CGTN

China sets sights on first manned space station in 2022, CGTN America

"The next frontier of China's space exploration program - a permanent, manned space station - is expected to be ready for service in 2022. But as this new station readies for launch, another is set to come crashing back to Earth. Keith Cowing, an astrobiologist and editor of, discusses this and other Chinese space developments with CGTN's Elaine Reyes."

Keith's note: I need to get some better lighting in my man cave. I look like a tired raccoon.

Keith's note: Acting NASA Administrator has just announced that he is retiring effective at the end of April. No Successor has been named.

NASA team,

It is with bittersweet feelings that I am announcing I will be retiring from the agency on April, 30, 2018. I will work with the White House on a smooth transition to the new administrator.

I cannot express enough my gratitude to the entire NASA team for the support during my career and especially the last 14 months as your acting administrator. The grit and determination you all demonstrate every day in achieving our missions of discovery and exploration are simply awe inspiring. I leave NASA blessed with a career full of memories of stunning missions, cherished friendships, and an incredible hope for what is yet to come.

When I look back on my time at NASA, I can't help but think about the people. From my friends in the test areas at Marshall and Stennis, to the folks that I sat with on console launching shuttles, to the Marshall team when I was the center director, and now as the acting administrator to the entire NASA team - what a privilege to work with such dedicated and passionate people every day.

There is no way I would be where I am today without having had such amazing opportunities and such a great set of colleagues. I've learned in so many ways that at NASA we make the impossible possible - whether it is with the missions we do or whether it is a small town kid who was able to lead the greatest agency in the world.

NASA's history has many chapters with each of us having a part. I've written my part and now the pen is in your hands - each one of you. I know you will make this nation proud as you accomplish the many missions you have in front of you. For me, I look forward to more time with my family and closest friends, and cheering the NASA team on from the outside.

God speed to all of you and thanks for the opportunity to be part of something truly bigger than each of us individually! It's been an unbelievable ride!

Sincerely, Robert

NASA Independent Review Team SpaceX CRS-7 Accident Investigation Report Public Summary

"The SpX CRS-7 mission consisted of a SpaceX Falcon 9 version 1.1 launch vehicle and a Dragon spacecraft loaded with 4303 lbs (1952 kgs) of cargo. At approximately 139 seconds into flight, the launch vehicle experienced an anomalous event in the upper stage liquid oxygen (LOx) tank, resulting in the loss of the mission. The first stage of the vehicle, including all nine Merlin 1D engines, operated nominally. The Dragon spacecraft also indicated no anomalous behavior prior to the mishap, and survived the second stage event, continuing to communicate with ground controllers until it dropped below the horizon."

Elon Musk, speaking at SXSW, projects Mars spaceship will be ready for short trips by first half of 2019, CNBC

"Musk held a surprise question and answer session at the annual technology and culture festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday. The billionaire told attendees that "we are building the first Mars, or interplanetary ship, and I think well be able to short trips, flights by first half of next year." Mindful of elevating expectations too high, Musk hedged a bit. "Although sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know..." he said to laughter."

Keith's note: Steve Jurczyk has been named as NASA Acting Associate Administrator. This is the position that Robert Lightfoot held before being named as Acting NASA Administrator. NASA currently has no Acting Deputy Administrator or Chief of Staff. James Reuter will replace Jurczyk as Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate. This webpage at NASA HQ was quietly changed on 9 March. But NASA HQ does not seem to think anyone needs to be told about these management changes.

FCC Accuses Stealthy Startup of Launching Rogue Satellites, IEEE Spectrum

"The only problem is, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had dismissed Swarm's application for its experimental satellites a month earlier, on safety grounds. The FCC is responsible for regulating commercial satellites, including minimizing the chance of accidents in space. It feared that the four SpaceBees now orbiting the Earth would pose an unacceptable collision risk for other spacecraft. If confirmed, this would be the first ever unauthorized launch of commercial satellites. On Wednesday, the FCC sent Swarm a letter revoking its authorization for a follow-up mission with four more satellites, due to launch next month. A pending application for a large market trial of Swarm's system with two Fortune 100 companies could also be in jeopardy."

Judge wants Trump to mute Twitter users who bug him, not block them, Mashable

"The Trump administration contends that his Twitter account is a personal platform and not a public one. "

Keith's note: The following comments were made this morning by President Trump:

"Before me are some rocket ships [there were rocket models in front of him on the table]. You haven't seen that for this country in a long time...Many of the jobs we're doing are privately financed. We're letting them use the Kennedy Space Center for a fee and, you know, rich guys, you know, they love rocket ships. That's good. That's better than us paying for them. And I noticed the prices of the last one they say cost $80 million. If the government did it, the same thing would have cost probably 40- or 50-times that amount of money...I'm so used to hearing different numbers with NASA."

"But NASA is making tremendous strides and we're using a lot of private money, a lot of people that love rockets and they're rich. So they're going to be a little less rich probably, but a lot of rockets are going up. And we're really at the forefront -- nobody's doing what we're doing. And I don't know if you saw last -- with Elon -- with the rocket booster where they're coming back down. To me, that was more amazing than watching the rocket go up, because I've never seen that before. Nobody's seen that before, where they're saving the boosters, and they came back without wings, without anything. They landed so beautifully. So we're really at the forefront and we're doing it in a very private manner."

"At the same time NASA is very much involved and doing their own projects, but we're bringing that whole space flight back. We'll be sending something very beautiful to Mars in the very near future, and we're going to areas that nobody thought possible, certainly not this quickly. So we're very proud."

Scientists Share Ideas for Gateway Activities Near the Moon, NASA

"In late 2017, the agency asked the global science community to submit ideas leveraging the gateway in lunar orbit to advance scientific discoveries in a wide range of fields. NASA received more than 190 abstracts covering topics human health and performance, Earth observation, astrophysics, heliophysics, and lunar and planetary sciences, as well as infrastructure suggestions to support breakthrough science. Although it is too early to select specific research for the gateway, the workshop marks the first time in more than a decade the agency's human spaceflight program brought scientists from a variety of disciplines together to discuss future exploration."

Keith's note: This short blog posting is apparently all that the public will ever see as a result of the Deep Space Gateway workshop that NASA and LPI held in Denver last week - the one where media participation was hidden from the media and no one cared enough to even bother to webcast for others to hear.

- Deep Space Gateway Event Ends But No One Knows It Ever Happened, earlier post
- Stealthy NASA Deep Space Gateway Meeting Underway, earlier post

Letter From Bobby Braun to House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Regarding NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate

"Specifically, the proposed re-organization of the "Space Technology Mission Directorate" into "Human Exploration" within NASA is among the most devastating long-term aspects proposed. Past history has shown that large development programs and technology development activities cannot and should not exist together, as a small hiccup in the development programs eats the budget of the basic research and technology advancement needed to accomplish more in space. In fact, when integrated in this manner approximately a decade ago, NASA's space technology activities were eviscerated. Most striking, the Administration is proposing this re-organization without any discussion with Congress, industry or the university community, and without a NASA Administrator in place. This can only be described as an egregious over-reach by political appointees without an appreciation for the long-standing scope of the Agency. This proposal contradicts Title 7 of the space policy put forward by Congress and signed by President Trump in March 2017. Burying this proposed organizational change in the FY19 budget request, while simultaneously proposing other major cancelations and changes to the NASA portfolio, is an attempt to curtail community discussion of the importance of the Space Technology Mission Directorate to the nation's future in space."

Senators Blast NASA and OMB Over Future Of ISS, earlier post

"In fact, Congress specifically required that the transition plan include cost estimates for extending operations of the ISS to 2024, 2028, and 2030, and an evaluation of the feasible and preferred service life of the ISS through at least 2028 as a unique scientific, commercial, and space exploration related facility. P.L. 115-10 specifically required the NASA Administrator to deliver a report to Congress no later than December 1, 2017. As of today, that report has not been delivered to Congress as required by federal statute."

Did NASA Deliver The ISS Transition Plan To Congress Required By Law? Update: No, earlier post

"I did not hear back from NASA so I sent a second request. Stephanie Schierholz at NASA HQ PAO just sent this reply to my second request: "NASA is keeping Congress apprised as to the progress of the ISS Transition Report and plans to provide this report to the Committee as soon as possible. Please reach out to the Committee about obtaining a copy of the report once it is submitted." In other words the report is late, has not been delivered, NASA does not know when it will be delivered. NASA is not going to tell anyone when it has been delivered and people will have to go ask Congress where the report is - whenever NASA gets around to delivering it."

Hearing On NASA Budget

Hearing charter

"The purpose of the hearing is to review the Administration's fiscal year 2019 (FY19) budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)."

Statements by Rep. Bera, Rep.Johnson, Rep. Babin

Peters, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill Supporting U.S.-Israel Space Cooperation

"U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) today introduced bipartisan legislation to support the longstanding partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA). Cooperation between the two agencies has resulted in a host of beneficial achievements, including work on global positioning systems (GPS) and the Mars Curiosity Rover. ... The U.S.-Israel Space Cooperation Act directs the NASA Administrator to continue working in cooperation with the ISA to further peaceful space exploration and scientific discovery while taking appropriate measures to protect U.S. intellectual property and other sensitive information. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved companion legislation in December 2017."

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Encourage U.S. and Israeli Collaborations on Space Exploration Breakthroughs (9 Sep 2016)

"Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage U.S. and Israeli scientists to continue collaborating on breakthroughs in space exploration. The United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act would direct the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to work with the Israel Space Agency to identify and together pursue new potential scientific discoveries in space."

Keith's note: The "United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act" was originally introduced in the House as H.R. 5989 by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) with co-author Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) as the first cosponsor in 2016. It was reintroduced in 2017 by Kilmer (with Bridenstine as the first co-sponsor) as H.R.1159 - United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act. HR 1159 was passed by the house on 21 December 2017 and sent to the Senate. The Senate bill is not yet online but given the bipartisan support it is likely to be identical to the House version.

Sen. Bill Nelson has been quick to criticize Rep. Bridenstine's choice to be NASA Administrator because Bridenstine would somehow inject politics into the way that NASA operates and that would be truly awful or something. Yet Sen. Nelson is now openly crowing about space legislation that he is co-sponsoring - legislation originally co-authored by Rep. Bridenstine. So one would conclude that Nelson likes Bridenstine's space politics (at least in some instances). Who knows. Maybe they agree on other things too.

Gerstenmaier: U.S. Leadership in Space is "Ours to Lose" If Direction Changes Too Many Times, Space Policy Online

"Bill Gerstenmaier, the head of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said today that the United States is the "partner of choice" for countries wanting to engage in international space cooperation, but that leadership is "ours to lose" if too many changes in direction drive partners away."

Keith's note: Sage advice. And of course Gerst is totally faultless when it comes to all of the changes in direction. right? Lets dial back a decade or so. First Gerst was behind the Ares I/V/Orion Constellation thing. Then he was behind the SLS/Orion thing when the Constellation thing was turned upside down. Then he pushed the Journey to Mars thing. Then he jumped in behind the Asteroid Retrieval thing which eventually became the grab the small boulder thing. When no one liked the asteroid thing any more, he picked up the pieces and jumped behind the Deep Space Gateway thing. Then, to pay for the Deep Space gateway thing he jumped behind the commercialize ISS thing (with no one lined up to pay the bills). Then when the Mars thing was fading he pivoted to the Back to the Moon thing but he still wants to walk away from ISS in LEO to build a mini-ISS with no as-yet determined purpose out near the Moon.

Gerst is certainly flexible and adaptable. And he has kept a lot of important things alive that others sought to kill. But consistent in his direction? No. Not surprisingly, year after year he'll tell you that the Ares V/SLS is the perfect rocket for all of these ever-changing missions and destinations - even if he can never give a consistent cost of what an SLS costs to launch as the schedules continue to slip to the right. Of course he'll tell you that all of these pivots were all due to White House and/or Congressional direction and re-direction. He's correct. But behind the scenes in all of those scenarios, Gerst and HEOMD were constantly pitching their ideas to impressionable staffers - always trying to pivot to stay in synch with the space flavor of the month and stay one step ahead of the budget axe to keep the marching army employed. And of course no one has money for any of the payloads that SLS will fly. But its all notional anyway, so why bother with the actual budget thing.

Now, NASA can buy Falcon Heavy launches at 1/5 (or cheaper) the cost of an SLS with roughly 70% of a SLS launch capability online. And more cheap heavy lift is on the way from other suppliers coupled with nimble, small launchers from another suite of suppliers. Gerst is quite correct to warn that constant changes in direction can sour current and potential partners on future projects. But he seems to not see that this very problem he cites has been happening under his watch. Possible partners are now looking to China because China offers them what they want - while NASA offers potential parters what they can have. These two things are not the same.

The old way of exploring space no longer works. If NASA doesn't everyone else will. In fact, they already are. The agency is stuck in outdated subroutines that run in circles that result in increasingly inefficient output. Its time to hit the reset button.

Trump threatens to slap retaliatory tariff on European cars as trade war talk heats up, CNBC

"Trump's hasty decision to impose tariffs on steel imports has stoked talk of a brewing trade war, roiling both the political establishment and the global economic order. The move also prompted E.U. trade chiefs to weigh hitting a broad array of U.S. imports with a 25 percent tax, Reuters reported this week."

New Tariffs Could Harm Industry Critical to American Economic Security, Aerospace Industries Association

"Friday morning on CNBC, AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning was featured immediately following Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, emphasizing: "This is going to impact companies big and small in the aerospace and defense world. More importantly, we're concerned about retaliation. The aerospace and defense industry generates the largest net surplus in the manufacturing sector - over $86 billion a year. These companies thrive on the exports of their products."

Why Europe and Canada may retaliate against bourbon, Harleys and Levi jeans, Washington Post

"Another alternative would be to ban U.S. companies from bidding on Canadian defense and infrastructure contracts, Mendes, the economist, said. The advantage to that approach would be that Canadian consumers wouldn't feel the impact in their wallets. When Boeing launched a complaint against Bombardier, claiming the Canadian company had benefited from unfair government subsidies in the production of its C Series jet, the Canadian government retaliated by saying it wouldn't consider buying fighter jets from Boeing. That dispute was effectively settled in January, when the U.S. International Trade Commission voted that Boeing was not harmed by Bombardier."

Keith's note: I am waiting to see how the trade war that the White House has started will affect willingness of affected nations to cooperate with U.S. on future human spaceflight and on U.S. commercial space sector - and example of both being the Deep Space Gateway. Protectionism and isolationism do not seem to be synonymous with such an expansive endeavor as the exploration and utilization of space.

NASA Heads Back to Space Leaderless, Bloomberg

"NASA observers, including some Democrats with ties to the agency, contend that Bridenstine's political background would be beneficial to a NASA administrator, who must navigate the shoals between the White House and Congress, which appropriates the agency's budget. "I'm still fairly bullish on what Jim Bridenstine would do for the agency," said Phil Larson, a former senior adviser in President Barack Obama's Office of Science and Technology Policy. "The main point now is NASA needs a leader as soon as possible, and leaving a nominee in question--I don't care what side of the aisle you're on--leaving a nomination open as these types of policies and questions and meetings are being hashed out helps no one."

Keith's note: Yesterday I sent the following email to NASA JPL employee Ron Baalke yesterday about two inaccurate tweets he has posted (and retweeted) regarding the Challenger accident. I cc:ed JPL and NASA HQ PAO. The tweets are still out there misinforming people. No one at NASA seems to care that a NASA employee is perpetuating misleading information. Yes, its a "private" Twitter account - one that goes out of its way to identify the owner as a JPL employee. This account is also used for work-related promotion of JPL projects. This account is otherwise a very useful one full of space facts - with these two glaring exceptions. When other people circulate inaccurate information like this about NASA events NASA PAO gets all upset. But when a NASA employee does it, no one cares. Go figure.

"I see that your twitter account just retweeted these tweets. They are factually incorrect on several levels. 1. Space Shuttle Challenger did not "explode". Challenger was torn apart by extreme aerodynamic forces as a result of an explosion in the External Tank. 2. The crew of Space Shuttle Challenger were killed by the breakup of the vehicle and/or the impact of the crew compartment with the ocean at high speed - not by any "explosion". These are matters of established fact. Please correct your tweets."

Keith's additional note: There is some debate as to whether the ET actually "exploded" in a technical sense. A large fireball occurred as the ET lost structural integrity itself - and Challenger was attached to the ET. Jim Oberg wrote an excellent article about what did and did not happen. Read Myth #2.

Returning To Earth At Dawn

"The Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 54 crew members Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei of NASA and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 (February 27 Eastern time.) Acaba, Vande Hei, and Misurkin are returning after 168 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 53 and 54 crews onboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)"



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