June 2018 Archives

Keith's note: A month ago I mentioned the Facebook advertsing that Boeing has been doing (see "Boeing's Imaginary Space Program"). Well, they are at it again. I just saw this advertisement show up on Facebook (larger image). It leads with "NASA hasn't used American-made spacecraft to send astronauts to space since 2011. Sign the petition to show you support AMERICAN-MADE SPACECRAFT." What's their point? The only competitor Boeing has right now for NASA business is another 100% American-made spacecraft by SpaceX. And I suppose you can add in Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin too if you want. So no matter who flies on a commercial vehicle they will be flying on an American spacecraft. So why is Boeing trying to get you to support something that happens no matter what?

If you click on the link it sends you to this link (note the tracking code in the URL) - you are now an "enthusiast" for their "sls-space-race-petition". https://watchusfly.com/campaigns/space-american-made-petition-acquisition/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=video-post&utm_campaign=acquisition_petition_sls-space-race-petition-2-b&utm_term=space&utm_content=enthusiast which asks you to "Add your name to support American-made spacecraft." By giving your name, email, and zip code. Of course they also put cookies in your browser and know your IP number. Oh yes - take a look at their policy page and look at all the things you will let them do with this information (as if anyone reads this stuff):

"Your use of social media features will result in the collection or sharing of information about you, depending on the feature. The basic details we receive depends on your social network account privacy settings. We encourage you to review the privacy practices and settings of the social media sites you use to make sure you understand the personal information that may be collected, used, and shared by those sites."

Sierra Nevada Corporation Internal Memo: Mark Sirangelo: My Transition At SNC

"I wanted to let you know of decision that I have made. After reflecting on my commercial space journey over the past 17 years and after significant consideration I have concluded that it is time for me to make a change and end my executive role leading Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems. This decision is being made from a positive personal place and as a friendly transition from SNC with the knowledge that the SNC space business is stable and strong."

Space plane could make first Alabama landing in 2022, AL.com

"A mini space plane could return from space and land at the Huntsville International Aiport as soon as 2022, the Alabama Space Authority was told today. "When the space shuttle landed, thousands of people would come out. It was a huge event," John Roth, vice president of business relations for Sierra Nevada Corp., said in Huntsville. "We haven't had a landing like that in a long time. We think that first landing is going to be a giant landing, and we'd like it to be here."

Keith's note: Is Sierra Nevada pandering to the Alabama congressional delegation or is there an actual, logical, reason to land in Alabama? Oh yes - Sierra Nevada says that their first mission might be "sponsored by the United Nations". But who is actually paying for it? The UN?

Keith's note: There has been a meeting (actually an "unconference") called "Decolonize Mars" at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC this attended by people who do not want to colonize Mars.

According to the unconference website "The term decolonization refers to undoing the legacy of colonialism. Many people are used to hearing about "colonizing Mars" to talk about humanity living in space; here, we examine how using a colonialist framework in space reproduces past harm from humanity's history on Earth. This event is about envisioning fresh pathways for thinking about space exploration by stepping away from the ways we usually talk about space, which by definition is "decolonizing" the topic. Hence, "Decolonizing Mars"."

In other words they only seem to want like-minded attendees. Not that I don't agree with part of what I think they are getting at since we have certainly screwed up this planet - but there's a clear bias on one side of the argument in the mission statement. They are tweeting with the hashtag #decolonizemars but the invitation-only attendee list is password-protected. No media seem to have been allowed. No webcast. Nothing. This is rather odd for a meeting in a government facility convened by government employees.

This meeting was organized by the current Baruch S. Blumberg/NASA Chair of Astrobiology at the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. I knew Barry Blumberg rather well. Barry wanted to tell everyone about everything. I am not certain he'd like this closed door approach. This is just more DC choir practice in an echo chamber by a subset of the usual suspects. The remaining 99.9% of the people who pay for this party get left out. Just sayin'

SpaceX Launches CRS-15 to the International Space Station, NASA

"Experiments investigating cellular biology, Earth science and artificial intelligence are among the research heading to the International Space Station following Friday's launch of a NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at 5:42 a.m. EDT. Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with more than 5,900 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the space station."

Keith's note: I tuned into the Politico Space thing last night. I missed a lot of it since it was supposed to start at 6:15 but after 30 minutes of waiting for it to start I gave up and did something else. I checked back in later and listened for 15 minutes or so. I just happened to tune in just as Jim Bridenstine was asked about the whole Space Force thing. Being an actual warfighter who defended our country, a former Congressman who grappled with legislation, and a guy who thinks about space a lot, he knows his stuff.

Bridenstine answered the Space Force question cogently for 10 minutes or more, jumping back to the topic again and again later. Bridenstine clearly supports the idea of a Space Force and makes his viewpoint clearly without notes or stumbling. Indeed, now and then, he almost sounded like he was auditioning to be Secretary of the Space Force (SecSF).

What's odd about this is that no one at the Department of Defense really wants to talk about Space Force - just Bridenstine. Indeed, the impression one gets is that they are not too thrilled about turning the Pentagon into a Hexagon with a sixth service called Space Force (yes I stole that joke). You can't get the National Space Council to talk about this either. In Washington parlance Bridenstine probably got a little over his skis or was outside his swim lane a bit.

I do not think this signals any sort of military role for NASA. But this space agency does not operate in a vacuum (pun intended) when it comes to other space activities. If Bridenstine is the only one who is willing to talk about space in a larger context that includes things outside of NASA's purview such as Space Force - when no one else will - perhaps we should listen. Maybe he knows what is actually going on.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Approves the American Space SAFE Management Act

"The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved H.R.6226, the American Space Situational Awareness and Facilitation of Entity Management Act (American Space SAFE Management Act), introduced by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). This bill will establish the Department of Commerce as the civilian agency to provide civil space situational awareness and traffic coordination."

House Approves Space Technology and Commercial Space Bills

"Today, the U.S House of Representatives approved two bipartisan space bills that promote the Nation's leadership in rocket propulsion development and provide licenses for commercial space support vehicles and flights. These bills will ensure America remains a leader in space exploration and development. The American Leadership in Space Technology and Advanced Rocketry Act, or the ALSTAR Act, (H.R. 5345) was introduced by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the Space Subcommittee. The Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act (H.R. 5346) was introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), a member of the Space Subcommittee."

NASA Is Delaying The Launch Of Its $9 Billion Space Telescope -- Again, Buzzfeed

"Make no mistake, I'm not happy sitting here telling you this," NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen told reporters on a briefing about the delay. He deflected criticism from spacecraft contractor Northrop Grumman, saying, "we are part of the team that caused this problem and we are going to have to solve it together." Blowing the budget cap for JWST means that Congress will have to vote to reauthorize completion of the telescope, which has already drawn ire from lawmakers. NASA plans to ask for the authorization and extra money in February. "Program delays and cost overruns don't just delay the JWST's critical work, but they also harm other valuable NASA missions, which may be delayed, defunded, or discarded entirely," Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee told BuzzFeed News in a statement. His committee will hold a hearing to address the report next month. The witnesses will include the NASA administrator, James Bridenstine, and Northrup Grumman CEO Wes Bush. "I expect to see progress on keeping projects on budget and on time," said Smith."

Media Telecon on Status of James Webb Space Telescope, June 27th

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT [17:00 UTC], Wednesday, June 27, to provide an update on the agency's James Webb Space Telescope and the findings of an external independent review board. Webb will be the world's premier infrared space observatory and the largest astronomical space science telescope ever built. Audio of the call will stream live on NASA's website [https://www.nasa.gov/live]."

NASA Completes Webb Telescope Review, Commits to Launch in Early 2021

"The Independent Review Board (IRB) established by NASA to assess progress on its James Webb Space Telescope has unanimously recommended that development on the world's premier science observatory should continue; NASA has established a new launch date for Webb of March 30, 2021. A report issued by the review board addresses a range of factors influencing Webb's schedule and performance, including the technical challenges and tasks remaining by primary contractor Northrop Grumman before launch."

"As a result of the delay, Webb's total lifecycle cost to support the March 202l launch date is estimated at $9.66 billion. The development cost estimate to support the new launch date is $8.8B (up from the $8B development cost estimate established in 2011). Along with the IRB's broad-view assessment, NASA also considered data from the project's Standing Review Board (SRB). Both review panels had concluded that a 2020 launch date would have been feasible before the recent acoustics test anomaly."

"Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (NGAS) should establish corrective actions in processes, training, personnel certification, individual accountability and a robust testing, analysis and inspection process. Agree. NGAS stood down operations and performed an independent set of reviews and rewrites of all propulsion procedures including feedback from the performers. Also, applied Integration & Test (I&T) procedure expertise to manufacturing operations. To further enhance robustness in I&T, NGAS will be incorporating cross program independent reviews of the table top and pre-task briefing processes."

NASA Announces Contract for Next-Generation Space Telescope Named after Space Pioneer (2002)

"The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for launch in 2010 aboard an expendable launch vehicle. NASA today selected TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif., to build a next-generation successor to the Hubble Space Telescope in honor of the man who led NASA in the early days of the fledgling aerospace agency. Under the terms of the contract valued at $824.8 million, TRW will design and fabricate the observatory's primary mirror and spacecraft. TRW also will be responsible for integrating the science instrument module into the spacecraft as well as performing the pre-flight testing and on-orbit checkout of the observatory."

- Webb Space Telescope May Bust Its Budget Cap Yet Again (Updated) (2018)
- Management Shake Up on Webb Space Telescope (2018)
- Yet Another Webb Problem Review Panel (2018)
- More Cost Overruns and Delays for Webb (2010)

Now is the time for the Space Force. Trump just needs to get it right, op ed, Washington Post

"The Pentagon helped shoot down the "corps" idea a year ago. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote congressional leaders last October: "I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions." But Trump continued to push his pet space project. One advocate was Vice President Pence, chairman of the National Space Council and a rocket enthusiast who's said to have brought his family to Florida to watch NASA launches. Another was Newt Gingrich, the peripatetic former House speaker who, like Trump, enjoys promoting flashy, controversial ideas. "If Trump can break through the bureaucracy, all this will happen within a decade," even by 2020, Gingrich predicted in a phone interview Tuesday. Gingrich, who informally attends Space Council meetings, says he has talked with Trump about the idea but that the passion for it is the president's. The Air Force had been hoping this proposal would go away."

The Air Force is "as serious as a heart attack" about opposing the Space Corps, MuckRock

"While President Donald Trump's announcement earlier this year regarding the possible establishment of a "Space Force," FOIA shows that not everyone in his own administration is so keen on the idea. In a series of recently released emails from last year, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson made clear her opposition to the establishment of a semi-autonomous "Space Corps," insisting that it be the USAF in charge of militarizing the cosmos."

The New Arms Race Threatening to Explode In Space, Wired

Since he took office, President Trump has dropped numerous hints of the warnings he's evidently getting from military and intelligence leaders. During a spring livestream with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, he alluded, obliquely and without context, to the "tremendous military applications in space." And he has repeatedly floated the idea of creating a new branch of the armed forces specifically for celestial combat--culminating last week with a speech out-and-out ordering the Joint Chiefs of Staff to begin developing plans for a new "Space Force."

"It has been our wish from the beginning, to avoid public discussion of our efforts to try to protect our father and his reputation from the debilitating effects of his worsening condition. We sought confidentiality through a motion with the court which held both parties responsible for maintaining confidentiality pending a formal judgement on the motion.

Legal counsel representing our father chose to defy the motion and make this effort part of a public spectacle designed to stir undue sympathy and support for the ridiculous lawsuit that they have brought on Dad's behalf.

We have refrained from discussing the lawsuit publicly other than to debunk specific aspects of it that could hinder the ongoing operation of the Foundation. The time has come to recognize where the elder exploitation is truly occurring and address the flawed foundation of the lawsuit.

Let it be clear that every one of these allegations are products of the increased confusion and memory loss that Dad has demonstrated in recent years. Every one of them can be easily refuted by witnesses, bank and corporate records and, if necessary, we will prove this in court. But the responsibility for this outrageous lawsuit rests with those would seek to leverage his condition for their own agenda.

Although Dad's current handlers want to spin this as "Buzz vs Family," that could not be farther from the truth. We will not attack our father on any basis, for any reason. We are committed to protecting him, his reputation and his legacy. Our work together on this foundation is testament to that. We will not allow opportunistic agents who see an opportunity to grab the spotlight break our family apart.

We dearly love and respect our father and want him to return to us so we can continue our mission together to advance his dreams and legacy within the space program today, and with generations of explorers to come."

Media Contact: Griffin Communications Group, brett@griffincg.com or gwen@griffincg.com"

"Matt Murray, Editor-in-Chief - Gretchen Morgenson, Senior Special Writer, Investigations

Re: Buzz Aldrin

Our firm represents Andrew Aldrin and Jan Aldrin. Your recent article, "Buzz Aldrin Fights Family for Control of His Space Legacy," was riddled with inaccurate and unverified claims which, given the usual high standard of Wall Street Journal reporting, warrant substantial correction on the record. That the subject's name was given incorrectly in a corresponding caption (Edward "Buzz" Aldrin v. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin), is an early indication of the general carelessness with which the article presents multiple inaccurate and false claims made by Col. Aldrin's handlers, many of them corrected herein. Additionally, our clients were not provided with any reasonable opportunity to specifically respond to the many false allegations made against them in this article.

1. First, it is germane to the overall discussion to recognize that public disclosure and discussion of court proceedings to determine competency is against the wishes of the Aldrin family. The family has specifically requested full confidentiality in the interest of their father. This request is currently under consideration by the court.

2. The Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation was established in his name and created specifically to support new activities beyond the primary education focus on the Share Space Foundation. The foundation has sponsored several workshops on Mars habitation and numerous articles on Mars transportation concept. Col. Aldrin participated in many of these activities.

3. The management and distribution of funds has always been completely controlled by business management company Callas & Carlson, who oversees distribution of set salaries and expenses according to strict criteria. Neither Andy Aldrin nor Christina Korp have had the ability to pay or reimburse themselves in any way.

4. Andy has never used his father's personal credit card. Those who have served as his executive assistants were on his card to pay his expenses, but never used for personal use - a fact that can be easily confirmed. Christina was taken off of Buzz's account by Lisa LaBonte, recently, who changed the billing address to her business address in Virginia."

"After the article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, I must respond. I have tried to stay out of the fray so as not to create any mixed signals while the Aldrin family and I try to protect and maintain Buzz Aldrin's reputation, legacy and ability to sustain himself in the future in this difficult situation. However, I cannot stand by while there are unwarranted personal attacks on my integrity, honesty, professionalism and character. I am being unfairly defamed by the managers of the newly formed Buzz Aldrin Ventures and its legal counsel. I encourage those that know me to research the background of these individuals. I also encourage media to be careful what they write and make sure the facts are correct. There are too many inaccuracies in the public arena at the moment to respond on an individual basis. Please know that I am devastated by these lies and shocked that reputable publications like the Journal would run a story like the one just published without fairly seeking both sides of the story. With legal action now pending, I hope you understand my need to be cautious. This same level of caution is not being followed by the people currently surrounding Buzz who are sharing misinformation and unfounded accusations about me and the Aldrin family. I intend to continue to take the professional route.

Unfortunately, almost a year ago, some people began to exert undue influence on Buzz. These individuals began to actively try to drive a wedge between Buzz and his children, and me, for what I fear is their own benefit. As many people have noted, there is a different tone with Buzz's Twitter account due to these individuals taking over control of that account. New companies were very recently started by this new team, under the guise of benefitting Buzz.

NASA Langley contract employees get pay cuts under new contractor, Daily Press

"In March, NASA Langley announced it had chosen its newest contractor, Alutiiq-Fusion Joint Venture, to provide about 200 employees under Langley's administrative, media and professional services (LAMPS II) contract. Soon after, Stefula was stunned to discover she would have to take a 37 percent pay cut to keep her job. She wasn't alone. Several contract workers at the center interviewed by the Daily Press say their salary reductions range from 8 percent to 37 percent, and that countless colleagues have taken similar cuts, or greater. They cite unsubstantiated accounts of a few senior staffers who had their pay slashed by 70 percent."

"Langley's new contractor is a partnership between Alutiiq LLC, a Native American-owned business based in Anchorage, Alaska, and Media Fusion of Huntsville, Ala. The companies divvied up employees, with Alutiiq largely handling the administrative and professional staffing and Media Fusion the media services, video production and public affairs. Alutiiq-Fusion also took on a subcontractor, Banner Staffing in Washington, D.C., to handle about a dozen workers for Langley's Office of Human Capital Management."

Keith's note: The most pathetic aspect of this is a refusal to answer questions from the reporter from the Daily Press. Instead the companies involved and NASA Langley PAO simply sent a statement. And no one has heard from Langley Center Director David Bowles. As such, employees have to do their own investigative reporting to find out why they are getting pay cuts. How pathetic and uncaring. People working their asses off for Langley get unexpected and wholly unwarranted pay cuts and their management doesn't have the spine to face them or the media to explain things?

Let's hope Sen. Kaine and Sen. Warner take further action since David Bowles and his management team clearly are not going to. Cutting employee salaries with no notice or reason is not the way to go back to the Moon.

Rep. Mo Brooks pushes to put 'Space Force' command in Alabama, AL.com

"Alabama's congressional representatives aren't wasting any time lobbying for the Pentagon to put President Trump's new "Space Force" command on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville."

Mo Brooks pitches Space Force headquarters at Redstone Arsenal, WAFF

"Forgive me for diverging from the primary focus of this hearing, but it occurs to me that each of you has significant persuasive influence on where the new space command will be headquartered, so I am going to touch on that for a moment. In that vein, I hope you will help make Redstone Arsenal a finalist in the space command headquarters debate. Redstone Arsenal has a lot to offer. We have related to space command-- either related a lot or related a little-- the following space command activities: United States Army Aviation and Missile Command; Aviation and Missile Research Developmental and Engineering Center; PEO Missiles and Space; United States Army Space and Missile Command; Army Forces Strategic Command; United State Missile Defense Agency; Defense Intelligence Agency's Missile and Space Intelligence Center; NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, which is the home and birthplace of America's space program; a wealth of intellectual talent; engineers, we have the highest concentration of engineers in the United States of America; physicists; mathematicians; scientists."

Keith's note: The following statement was received by NASA Watch from the Aldrin family:

"We are deeply disappointed and saddened by the unjustified lawsuit that has been brought against us individually and against the Foundation that we have built together as a family to carry on Dad's legacy for generations to come. When we established the current structure several years ago, it was done so at Buzz's request and with his full support. If nothing else, our family is resilient and our ability to work together to solve problems and accomplish great things is strong. We love and respect our father very much and remain hopeful that we can rise above this situation and recover the strong relationship that built this foundation in the first place.

We will not be commenting further on the lawsuit and ask your understanding and respect for our family privacy at this extremely difficult time."

--- Andy Aldrin and Jan Aldrin"

Keith's note: Some background information posted on Twitter with regard to @TheRealBuzz and people associated with various activities using Buzz Aldrin's name. Click below to read.

NASA Assessment of Mission Flexibility and Agility, NASA

"As you know, the President's National Space Strategy and Space Policy Directives have set NASA on an ambitious path of discovery and exploration that will require us to be more agile and flexible than ever. To that end, as NASA's part of an Administration plan for reorganizing the Executive Branch, the agency has been asked to assess over the next few months whether expanding the Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) model beyond JPL is the best approach for increasing agility and flexibility in support of the mission."

Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century (NASA Excerpt)

Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century

Page 17: "Establish an accelerated process for determining whether one or more of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Centers should be converted to, or host, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). FFRDCs can potentially allow the agency to be more agile in rapidly responding to changing needs and in recruiting and retaining scientific and technical expertise."

Page 83: "Process to Determine Best Role for FFRDCs

This proposal lays a process to determine if one or more of NASA's other Centers should be converted to, or host, an FFRDC. NASA would oversee this process and provide an analysis, including recommendations, to the White House by the end of August 2018 so that the outcome can be reflected in future budget and policy plans and proposals. NASA's analysis would draw from prior studies of this topic and evaluate the potential of an FFRDC to further the Administration's policy goals more effectively. In addition to studying whether one or more Centers could potentially be converted to an FFRDC in whole or in part, NASA would also establish whether it may be effective to perform new programs and projects using an FFRDC structure."

Keith's note: The following statement was received by NASA Watch from the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation (https://buzzaldrinfoundation.org) in response to an inquiry we made about recent postings on @TheRealBuzz:

"Keith,

Thanks for your interest and concern. In response to your questions from NASA Watch, I have been reassured by the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation that, contrary to recent Twitter postings on @TheRealBuzz, Christina Korp has not been terminated. Such a termination would require a majority vote of the board, which has not occurred. Christina is continuing in her ongoing roles with the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation and Share Space Foundation.

We are not sure who is responsible for the Tweet regarding Christina, but we are confident Buzz did not write this. It appears, as many have speculated online, that management of the Twitter account @TheRealBuzz has indeed been reassigned without proper verification.

I will add that the Aldrin family and Foundation colleagues have expressed concern for Buzz's potential vulnerability to manipulation by other parties seeking to gain access to and control of Foundation and personal resources. In addition to the important mission of the Foundation, they remain committed to protecting his personal reputation and professional legacy, as well as his ability to remain self-sustaining financially.

Thanks for your interest.

Jeff Carr
Spokesman for Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation"

With three words, President Trump fortifies a flawed perception about NASA, Ars Technica

"Fresh off an appearance at a National Space Council meeting Monday, space was evidently on his mind when President Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday night. "Our beautiful ancestors won two world wars, defeated fascism and communism, and put a man on the face of the Moon," he told his adulatory crowd. "And I think you saw the other day, we're reopening NASA. We're going to be going to space." President Trump makes news at Space Council meeting by going off script. The crowd responded by chanting, "Space Force! Space Force!"

National Near Earth Object Preparedness Plan Released

"A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects -- asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth -- otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact, the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks. NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several other governmental agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs."

Mattis: Legislation needed to create 'space force', The Hill

"Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday said President's Trump's recent direction to establish a "space force" will require work with Congress that has not yet started. "This as you know is going to require legislation and a lot of detailed planning and we've not yet begun," Mattis told reporters outside the Pentagon prior to meeting with his German counterpart. "We've clearly got to start the process," Mattis added, noting that it is among the issues Pentagon leaders will bring up bring up on Friday morning when they meet with National Security Advisor John Bolton."

Air Force says planning for Space Force will be 'thorough' and 'deliberate', LA Times

"A letter to airmen signed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said the Air Force looked forward to working with the Defense Department, Congress and other national security partners to "move forward on this planning effort." However, it said the work to create what could be the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces would be a "thorough, deliberate and inclusive process." "As such, we should not expect any immediate moves or changes," the letter stated. "Our focus must remain on the mission as we continue to accelerate the space warfighting capabilities required to support the National Defense Strategy."

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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