June 2018 Archives

Keith's note: This is the question I asked at the User Advisory Council meeting today. "I have a question about the actual composition of the User's Advisory Group: With one exception only one person seems to be under 50 years of age and the panel is rather heavily loaded with Big Aerospace management. There is no apparent representation of the next generation of people who will actually live and work in space - you know, young people. Is this lack of representation by the next generation deliberate or an oversight?"

The National Space Council's User Advisory Group will meet on Tuesday at NASA Headquarters. The event will be webcast on Webex and audio will be available via dial-up.

Today the President will sign Space Policy Directive 3 (SPD-3) at the National Space Council meeting being held at the White House. SPD-3 deals principally with space traffic management. This morning in a media call National Space Council Executive Director Scott Pace said the U.S. needs to ave unfettered access and the ability to operate space - but space is becoming congested. The new policy (SPD-3) addresses these challenges.

SPD-3 establishes principles, goals, and guidance on how to achieve these goals. It also establishes responsibility within the U.S, government for taking on the task of implementing these goals: the Department of Defense will take the lead on developing an authoritative catalog of space objects; the Department of Commerce will be responsible for the releasable portions of the catalog for collision avoidance purposes; the Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation will lead the development of standards and practices, and the State Department will lead U.S. efforts to conduct these activities internationally with transparency.

Pace says that this is going to be a "bottom-up process" using best practices from industry. As such no treaty-level document is envisioned. Pace said that the U.S. wants to avoid creating an international treaty since that would be complicated and take time to do Instead, Pace says that they will be working to make this happen faster by having recommendations incorporated into various countries' laws and regulations.

Pace concluded by saying that a next step for the space council will be space debris and proximity operations as it relates to on-orbit servicing.


Update: President Donald J. Trump is Achieving a Safe and Secure Future in Space - Fact Sheet, White House

"FURTHER SPACE DEVELOPMENT: President Donald J. Trump signed Space Policy Directive - 3 directing the United States to lead the management of traffic and mitigate the effects of debris in space."

Keith's note: Newt Gingrich and Pete Worden have been removed from the National Space Council User Advisory Group (UAG) for reasons that sources say have to do with issues that arose while vetting Gingrich and Worden to serve on the UAG. That's the official excuse. Vetting is good thing to do especially for advisory groups. Oddly this "User" Advisory Group is more like a "Customer" Advisory Group with a majority of its members representing companies who already receive (and seek) huge amounts of money from NASA, DOD, DOC, etc. and have a vested interest in maintaining one or another aspect of the status quo. Actual potential users of space from the perspective of the U.S. government are virtually absent from this panel. This panel is all about serving the interests of Big Aerospace.

Many of the UAG members come from the top of Big Aerospace and serve as CEOs/Chairs/Presidents: Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin), Dennis Muilenburg (Boeing), Wes Bush (Northrop Grumman), Fatih Ozmen (Sierra Nevada), David Thompson (Orbital ATK), Gwynne Shotwell (SpaceX), Bob Smith (Blue Origin), and Tory Bruno (ULA). Add in members representing the two major commercial space trade groups for Big Aerospace such as Eric Stallmer (Commercial Spaceflight Federation) and Mary Lynne Dittmar (Coalition for Deep Space Exploration) and you have the majority of Big Aerospace Advising the National Space Council on how America should do things in space. Not exactly a recipe for change and innovation.

To be certain SpaceX and Blue Origin and other new companies seek to upset the status quo - but right now they are, for the most part, still regular government customers just like the older companies. By a strange coincidence, pushing for change and innovation in space are two traits that Gingrich and Worden are best known for. It would seem that these things are of lesser important to the National Space Council these days. Not a good sign.

Two years of stonewalling: What happened when a scientist filed a public records request for NASA code, Retraction Watch

"In June 2016, I filed a FOIA request with NASA and JPL for materials related to the NEOWISE project. Both NASA and JPL immediately bounced my requests. They were "unable to process" them, they said, because "it is unclear what specific records you are requesting." Really? One of the requested categories on my list was "Documents about WISE/NEOWISE data analysis, model fitting and details thereof, including any documents on least-squares algorithms, for example the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm or variations thereof." That was not specific enough? Frustrated, I hired some attorneys to revise the request into a form that met all legal requirements. My lawyers submitted very lawyerly clarification letters a few weeks later. Incredibly, NASA persisted in its claim that it could not process the requests, going so far as to "close" the cases. Among other absurdities, NASA claimed that it could only search paper files and not email. They can send men to the moon but...never mind."

NASA Response to Recent Paper on NEOWISE Asteroid Size Results, earlier post

"Examination of the paper by members of the science community studying near-Earth objects has found several fundamental errors in Myhrvold's approach and analysis--mistakes that an independent peer review process is designed to catch. The errors in the paper lead to results that are easily refuted, such as sizes for well-known asteroids that are significantly larger or smaller than their already-verified sizes."

Asteroid thermal modeling in the presence of reflected sunlight with an application to WISE/NEOWISE observational data, astro-ph

Keith's note: Inevitably when someone takes over the helm of a government agency they run into the status quo. Some of us cynical space policy wonks are calling this slow motion impact process as being "consumed by The Blob." Stay tuned. Bridenstine has only had 2 months on the job.

Hearing: NASA Cost and Schedule Overruns: Acquisition and Program Management Challenges

"June 14, at 10:00 a.m. EDT, the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a Subcommittee on Space hearing titled, NASA Cost and Schedule Overruns: Acquisition and Program Management Challenges. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) 2018 Quick Look report, this report's assessments of major NASA projects, and a comparison of this 2018 assessment to cost control and program management trends that GAO and the NASA Inspector General (IG) assessed in previous years."

webcast

- Cristina Chaplain, GAO [prepared statement]
- Stephen Jurczyk, NASA [prepared statement]
- Paul Martin, inspector general, NASA [prepared statement]
- Daniel Dumbacher, AIAA [prepared statement]
- Chairman Babin [Opening Statement]
- Ranking Member Johnson's [Opening Statement]
- Ranking Member Bera's [Opening Statement]
- Chairman Smith [Opening Statement]

Axiom Space Vapor Ware

Axiom Space offers space station vacations starting in 2020, for $55 million, Geekwire

"How much would you pay for a 10-day stay in low Earth orbit? Houston-based Axiom Space has set a $55 million price point for trips that it says could begin as early as 2020. If you want to fly that soon, Axiom Space is offering accommodations on the International Space Station. But the company, headed by a former NASA space station program manager, says it'll eventually have its own place in space. "It is an honor to continue the work that NASA and its partners have begun, to bring awareness to the profound benefits of human space exploration and to involve more countries and private citizens in these endeavors," Axiom Space CEO and President Michael Suffredini said today in a news release."

Keith's note: Where is the module where these space tourists will have their space vacation? Who will launch it? Where is the investment money needed to make this happen? Etc.

COMSTAC Meeting Today

Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee-Open Meeting

The COMSTAC meeting will take place on Thursday, June 14th from 10:00 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT. The event will be webcast live. NASA Administrator Bridenstine will be speaking at 10:45 am EDT. Agenda, webcast

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2018/RidleyFinalPatch.jpg

Filmmaker Ridley Scott Creates 2018 International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory Mission Patch

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced the unveiling of its latest mission patch, designed by award-winning filmmaker and producer, Sir Ridley Scott. The mission patch represents all payloads intended for the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory in calendar year 2018."

Keith's note: The folks at CASIS seem to be preoccupied with SciFi. In the past they have created patches featuring Groot, Rocket Raccoon, and Star Wars droids. Yet the SciFi thing has not really helped them fill up the ISS with science goodness. After 7 years they have yet to fully utilize the resources NASA has been made available to them. That said, they like SciFi, and that's just fine so long as they remember what it is NASA is paying them $15 million a year to do. When I originally got this press release a small graphic was attached. It is supposed to be a Ridley Scott design but I could not really get a Ridley Scott vibe. So I fixed it. Which one do y'all like better?

- CASIS Has A New Patch: May The Farce Be With You
- CASIS and NASA Ignore Each Other at #ComicCon2016 Over A Raccoon and Groot
- Earlier CASIS posts

Subcommittee Approves FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill (NASA Excerpt)

"$110 million is provided for the NASA's education programs, which were proposed to be eliminated in the budget request, under a newly named Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Opportunities activity. Within STEM Opportunities, Space Grant is funded at $44 million, NASA's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is funded at $21 million, the Minority University Research and Education Project is funded at $33 million, and STEM Education and Accountability projects is funded at $12 million."

Keith's note: On one hand it is great that Senate appropriators halted the White House attempt to slash education funding at NASA (BTW the Obama White House tried to do the same thing). But then there's this goofy renaming of the NASA Office of Education to the NASA Office of "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Opportunities". "STEM" is almost always used in a sentence with "education". So why not just leave it as the NASA Office of Education? The organization will seemingly do the exact same things that it has always done with the same budget albeit with this wordy title.

This would be like renaming NASA's Aeronautics Directorate as the "Wings, Engines, Aerodynamics and Development (WEAD)" Directorate. I remain baffled as to the rationale for this. Maybe they do not want to offend the Department of Education (which is doing such a wonderful job of undermining education on its own). But I digress. Again, the good news is that NASA education is being saved. But we're also telling students that its better to use wordy phrases and acronyms when the proper word choice is a single, illustrative word. But then again, that is what NASA is famous for: its acronyms. So I guess we call this organization STEMOPS now.

Larger image

New Head Of Roscosmos Is Under Formal U.S. Sanction, earlier post

Issuance of a new Ukraine-related Executive Order; Ukraine-related Designations, U.S. Department of the Treasury: "ROGOZIN, Dmitry Olegovich (a.k.a. ROGOZIN, Dmitriy; a.k.a. ROGOZIN, Dmitry); DOB 21 Dec 1963; POB Moscow, Russia; Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation (individual) [UKRAINE2]."

Executive Order 13660--Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine, Federal Registry 10 March 2014: "I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in subsection 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons."

@DRogozin 29 April 2014: "After analysing the sanctions against our space industry I suggest the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline"

Putin says Russia needs to return its leadership in space exploration, TASS

"Russia should make many steps forward to return its leading positions in space exploration, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his Q&A session on Thursday. "These technologies are developing and they are developing very actively and are being commercialized very actively and in this sense we must make many steps forward, including with regard to the quality of satellites and the quality of equipment. We must return and firmly keep our competence and leadership in launches," the Russian president said."

Russia's Rapidly Evaporating Space Program, earlier post

"Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev agreed to slash funding for Russia's space programme by 30 percent on Thursday, an effort to reign in state spending in the face of a deepening economic crisis."

Steve Clarke Named Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration at NASA's Science Mission Directorate

"Effective immediately, Steve Clarke is SMD's Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration. He will serve as the agency's interface between the NASA mission directorates, the scientific community, and other external stakeholders in developing a strategy to enable an integrated approach for robotic and human exploration within NASA's Exploration Campaign. Clarke returns to NASA after serving as a senior policy analyst with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where he was responsible for a number of important initiatives."

Keith's note: One would assume the HEOMD would add a similar position to interact with SMD. Interesting how NASA says it needs to developing a strategy to enable an "integrated approach for robotic and human exploration within NASA's Exploration Campaign". Usually (in the real world) when you use capitalization it is for a formal name i.e. "Exploration Campaign". Is that a formal name, or, as is usually the case with NASA grammar, is the use of uppercase letters meant to tell you it is important to NASA? it is also a little odd that they need an "integrated approach" since NASA already has one, so why does it need to develop another one? Or does the whole "America First National Space Strategy" (they also used upper case letters) mean that NASA needs a do-over?

NASA Releases Plan Outlining Next Steps in the Journey to Mars, earlier post

House Science Committee Oversight Democrats Request Hearing on White House's "Ignore" Science Memorandum, House Science Committee Democrats

"The suggestion to "ignore" science as one policy option regarding climate change was suggested in a memo prepared for senior White House and federal agency officials last fall by Michael Catanzaro, former Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Energy and Environmental Policy, according to a recent story in the Washington Post. Mr. Catanzaro, who joined the Trump Administration in 2017 from the CGCN Group, where he was a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry returned to CGCN in April 2018. However, the Members pointed out in the letter to Chairman Abraham, "the implications of his 'ignore science' memo still warrant a thorough review and appropriate oversight from the Science Committee - it speaks volumes as to how this Administration handles scientific evidence."

Back To The Moon 3.0

America's Return to the Moon: A Foothold, Not Just Footprints. Air & Space

"Our return to the Moon will not be like the Apollo-style sorties of the old Constellation project. This new approach calls for true lunar habitation - our first foothold on another world. The sooner we understand what is needed to get started, the better. The Trump administration's national policy directive (via its Space Council) calls for the return of humans to the lunar surface to use its resources. Since NASA has previously been tasked with this near-term space goal - lunar return - understanding the significance of the goal will go a long way toward completing a vital mission that has faltered and failed twice before."

'We Choose to Go to the Moon' Again--But When?, The Atlantic

"The lack of a bumper sticker-worthy target may be disappointing, particularly for lunar scientists and advocates who have been craving a renewed emphasis on the moon. Public deadlines for the space program can be beneficial in a number of ways; they can impose some sense of internal discipline, unite multiple corners of the scientific community, and rally excitement and inspiration from the public that's paying for it. But deadlines in space exploration are also notoriously fickle. They stall, they shift, they get tossed out by one president and reinstalled by another. And in the meantime, little actually gets done to reach them."

'Turncoat' NASA chief Bridenstine says he changed mind about climate change because he 'read a lot', Climate Depot

"Another reason why he was quickly captured probably is that he knows nothing about science. In justifying himself, Bridenstine referred to "The Science" as having convinced him. Whenever anybody talks vaguely about "The Science" as his justification for believing in global warming that is a sure sign that he in fact knows nothing about the issues involved. He is just appealing to authority, which is almost always a dumb thing to do."

Keith's note: Hilarious. When Jim Bridenstine was nominated to be NASA Administrator he was derided (mostly by people on the left side of the political spectrum) for having no scientific background i.e. anti-science and of being a climate change denier. As Bridenstine talked to actual climate scientists at NASA he became convinced that the scientific basis of human contributions to climate change was real - and said so. Now the political right derides Bridenstine for having no scientific background because he listened to actual scientists.

In the Trump Administration, Science Is Unwelcome. So Is Advice, New York Times

"There are exceptions to the retreat from science. In April, scientists bristled when Jim Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma who is not a scientist, took over the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Mr. Bridenstine had questioned whether human activity is the primary cause of global warming. But last month Mr. Bridenstine testified before a Senate committee that he had experienced a climate-science conversion. Asked if he believed greenhouse gases are the primary cause of the warming planet, he responded, "Yes." His own agency, he said, has found it "extremely likely that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming, and I have no reason to doubt the science." Mr. Bridenstine described his views as an "evolution." Moments like these are not the norm, however."

Keith's note: It has gotten to the point that nearly every picture of NASA Administrator Bridenstine has NASA CFO Jeff DeWit sitting next to him. This photobombing will - and now has - led to confusion as to who is actually running NASA. In 22 years of watching NASA I have never seen such a camera-seeking NASA CFO. People are just getting to know what Jim Bridenstine looks like and Jeff DeWit is just making that harder for NASA to do. "Jim" and "Jeff" are often in the same picture. Its understandable that some people would be easily confused. Just sayin'.

Just in case the original tweet gets deleted, this is what the story looked like. And this is what the tweet looked like.

Aerospace Corporation Policy Paper proposes Launch Unit Standards for SmallSats

"The Aerospace Corporation's Center for Space Policy and Strategy (CSPS) released a new policy paper today that explores the benefits of Launch Unit standards for smallsats during its Emerging Issues in Space Technology and Policy event at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. "More than 6,000 smallsats are expected to launch in the next 10 years, which is six times more than in the previous decade," said Carrie O'Quinn, senior project engineer for Aerospace's Research and Development Department. "As smallsats have increased in popularity, many stakeholders continue to advocate for cost-effective solutions in order to reduce cost and time-to-launch."

Keith's note: A lot of people have asked if this is a Photoshopped image. No. It is real. This actually happened in 1992. How quickly we forget.

Majority of Americans Believe It Is Essential That the U.S. Remain a Global Leader in Space, Pew Research

"- Sending astronauts to Mars: 18% top priority, 45% important but lower priority, 37% not too important or should not be done.
- Sending astronauts to the moon: 13% top priority, 42% important but lower priority, 44% not too important or should not be done. "

NASA: Mars Has Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane

"NASA's Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet."

"While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet's surface and subsurface."

"The new findings - 'tough' organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere - appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science."

NASA's Bridenstine signals reprieve for endangered climate missions, Science

"Bridenstine's embrace of these missions goes hand-in-hand with his evolution on climate change, turning from an occasional critic of the scientific consensus to a supporter of the realities of human-driven global warming. "I want to be clear," he said, "I do believe that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas - over 400 parts per million at this point, which is greater volumes than we've seen before. And that's because of human activity."

NASA administrator promises not to abandon International Space Station without alternative plan, The Verge

"There are companies that are interested in managing the ISS from a commercial perspective. That exists right now," said Bridenstine. "And that existed before I got to NASA. Companies were talking to me about this as a member of Congress long before I got here."

Bridenstine emphasizes partnerships with industry to achieve NASA goals, Space News

"The SLS, he argued, offered "a capability right now that no one else has, and so we want to deliver it." However, he said he'd be open to revisiting that should commercial vehicles with similar capabilities enter service in the future. "If there comes a day when someone else can deliver that, then we need to think differently. It's always evolving."

Keith's note: I was unable to attend this briefing at NASA HQ due to a death in my immediate family. There was no remote dial-in for this briefing so news media around the country who cover NASA were unable to participate. Apparently there is no speakerphone in the Administrator's office. That has to be the reason, right? That said, Bridenstine is already more available to the media than his predecessor so ...

Majority of Americans Believe It Is Essential That the U.S. Remain a Global Leader in Space, Pew Research

"Sixty years after the founding of NASA, most Americans say the U.S. should be at the forefront of global leadership in space exploration and believe that - even as private space companies emerge as increasingly important players - NASA's role is still vital for U.S. space exploration. In a national survey of 2,541 U.S. adults conducted March 27-April 9, 2018, roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say it is essential for the U.S. to continue to be a world leader in space exploration. Strong public support is widely shared across gender, generational, educational and political groups. Also, some 80% of Americans say the International Space Station has been a good investment for the country."

"- Monitoring key parts of Earth's climate system: 63% said it should be a top NASA priority; 25% said it should be an important but lower priority; and 11% said it is not too important or should not be done.
- Monitoring asteroids or other objects that could hit Earth: 62% top priority.
- Conducting basic scientific research to increase knowledge and understanding of space: 47% top priority.
- Developing technologies that could be adapted for other uses: 41% top priority.
- Conducting research on how space travel affects human health: 38% top priority.
- Searching for raw materials and natural resources for use on Earth: 34% top priority.
- Searching for life and planets that could support life: 31% top priority.
- Sending astronauts to Mars: 18% top priority, 45% important but lower priority, 37% not too important or should not be done.
- Sending astronauts to the moon: 13% top priority, 42% important but lower priority, 44% not too important or should not be done.
"

Keith's note: So, among those surveyed, observing and protecting Earth is NASA's most important task while sending people to other worlds is the lowest ranked. So much for the assumptions of many space advocates.

Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Stakeholder Perspectives (Webcast)

"U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness will convene a hearing entitled 'Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Stakeholder Perspectives,' at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The second in a series of hearings to examine the role of the International Space Station (ISS), this hearing will provide ISS stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the value of the ISS to our national space program and the future of human space exploration."

- Bill Nelson [Statement]
- Cynthia Bouthot, CASIS [Statement]
- Jim Chilton, Boeing [Statement]
- Bob Mitchell, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership [Statement]
- Michael Suffredini, Axiom Space [Statement]

Keith's note: China is getting ready to launch a new space station which, when complete, will be on par with Mir with many capabilities similar to those offered by the ISS. China is openly seeking governmental and commercial participation. Meanwhile they are about to land a rover on the far side of the Moon as part of a methodical plan to land humans there.

Meanwhile NASA is trying to rid itself of the ISS through various half-hearted efforts to commercialize this amazing resource that rely on smoke and mirrors and faith-based funding plans. NASA is also puffing itself up again for the third time in less than 20 years to #GoBackToTheMoon or something with budgets that do not come close to making such a thing possible. Oh by the way #JourneyToMars is still on the books.

One would think that the prudent thing would be to leverage our interests with those of China as we have done with Russia and many other nations around the world. But short-sighted legislation and targeted xenophobia currently prevents this.

- Michael J.S. Belton (1934-2018)
- Georg von Tiesenhausen (1914 - 2018)
- Per Tegnér (1944-2018)







Northrop Grumman Expands Houston Operations, Looks to Local Businesses to Join Space Exploration Team


"Northrop Grumman Corporation announced today that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cleared Northrop Grumman's proposed acquisition of Orbital ATK Inc. The FTC's Bureau of Competition has completed its review of the merger, and the Premerger Notification Office has informed the company that the waiting period under the HSR Act has terminated, allowing the companies to complete the merger. As part of that clearance, the FTC issued a decision and order providing for solid rocket motors to be available on a non-discriminatory basis under specified circumstances and under processes defined in the order."

Note: Orbital ATK will now be known as Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.

Soyuz Launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome with Three New ISS Crew Members (with video)

"Three crew members are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:12 a.m. EDT Wednesday (5:12 p.m. Baikonur time)."

"The Soyuz spacecraft carrying Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos is scheduled to dock to the space station's Rassvet module at 9:07 a.m. Friday, June 8. Coverage of docking will begin at 8:15 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency's website, followed at 10:30 a.m. by coverage of the opening of hatches between the spacecraft and station."

NASA's new administrator says he's talking to companies about taking over operations of the International Space Station, Washington Post

"NASA is talking to several international companies about forming a consortium that would take over operation of the International Space Station and run it as a commercial space lab, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an interview."

"'We're in a position now where there are people out there that can do commercial management of the International Space Station,' Bridenstine said in his first extensive interview since being sworn in as NASA administrator in April. 'I've talked to many large corporations that are interested in getting involved in that through a consortium, if you will.'"

Marc's note: The annual maintenance cost of the ISS per the article is about $3 - $4 billion in today's dollars. While the idea of the commercial sector taking over operations of the space station isn't a bad idea, I've yet to hear anyone present a business case that makes this work. I look forward to reading and evaluating any credible plan put forward.

Keith's Note: There is nothing new in this article other than a Bridenstine quote or two. This topic has been openly debated since the FY 2019 budget proposal was issued by the White House in January. Here are a few of our posts:

- Senators Tell White House: We Decide The Future Of ISS, earlier post
- If CASIS Is How NASA Will Commercialize ISS That Plan Will Fail, earlier post
- NASA OIG Delivers Blunt Reality Check On NASA's Faith-Based ISS Plans, earlier post
- NASA Quietly Submits ISS Transition Plan To Congress (Update), earlier post
- Senators Blast NASA and OMB Over Future Of ISS, earlier post
- Is Privatizing ISS A Smart Thing To Do?, earlier post
- NASA Budget Document Overlooks Multiple Advisory Group Findings and Recommendations on the ISS, earlier post
- ISS After 2025: Is CASIS The Solution Or The Problem?, earlier post
- White House Plan To Defund ISS By 2025 Moves Ahead, earlier post
- China Is Seeking Users For Their New Space Station, earlier post

NASA Evaluating JWST Independent Review Report, Space Policy Online

"NASA is in the process of evaluating the report from the Independent Review Board chaired by Tom Young to assess the status of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Established in March, the Board was due to submit its report on May 31. NASA said today that the Board has completed its work and briefed NASA. The report will be released later this month after NASA determines the impact on cost and schedule."

NASA: Mars Curiosity Rover's Labs Are Back in Action

"NASA's Curiosity rover is analyzing drilled samples on Mars in one of its onboard labs for the first time in more than a year."

"'This was no small feat. It represents months and months of work by our team to pull this off,' said Jim Erickson, project manager of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Curiosity rover is part of the MSL mission. 'JPL's engineers had to improvise a new way for the rover to drill rocks on Mars after a mechanical problem took the drill offline in December 2016.'"

Expedition 55 Astronauts Return Safely Back to Earth

"Three members of the International Space Station Expedition 55 crew, including NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, returned to Earth Sunday after 168 days of living and working in low-Earth orbit."

"Tingle, astronaut Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos landed at 8:39 a.m. EDT (6:39 p.m. in Kazakhstan) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan."

Keith's note: This appears at the bottom of the newsletter that Boeing pays Politico to put out weekly: "A message from The Boeing Company: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg asserted, "It's the only rocket being built that has the capacity to go back to the moon and then go to Mars." With 9.2 million pounds of thrust, there's no questioning the physical power behind the Space Launch System. The opportunities for exploration it will offer are even more undeniable. By rocketing into space, we will unlock clues about our place in the universe, spawn brand new innovations that will improve life back on Earth, all while inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers. That's the true power of the Space Launch System."

Where do I start? No one knows exactly when an SLS will actually fly. But it will not have the "capacity to go back to the moon and then go to Mars" since NASA is going to do all of the Moon and Mars stuff via the Deep Space Gateway thing.They are not sending SLS to Mars. SLS can send stuff to the Moon (but not as much as NASA had originally planned). Under NASA's current architectures (pick any one you want) things are going to be put together near Earth or the Moon before they go to Mars. When they will go to Mars - well (again) pick any one of them. It looks like it will be the mid-2030s.

But wait: You could assemble a human Mars mission using existing Falcon Heavy rockets at a fraction of the cost of using SLS rockets. But there is no need for that since SpaceX plans to start its self-funded BFR Mars program in 2022. Even if they are delayed they will get people and things to the Martian surface well before any of Boeing's SLS hardware will. And, of course, Boeing is not sending a damn thing to Mars or the Moon. NASA is. And if NASA did not pay Boeing to do this then they would be building combat aircraft instead. But Boeing keeps wanting everyone who reads their newsletter to think that they have their own space program when in fact they have none.

Boeing's Misleading Anti-SpaceX Pro-SLS Facebook Ad Campaign, earlier post


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