October 2018 Archives

Paul Allen

Keith's note: You all may be familiar with Serkan Golge, a NASA JSC employee who has been imprisoned in Turkey for bogus reasons for a long time. A NASAWatch reader noticed that someone at NASA is using the agency's Internet access to make changes to Golge's Wikipedia page - apparently in an effort to diminish his role at NASA. Golge was a full-time contractor with an office next to the MCC. But if you look at the edits it would seem that someone who wanted to minimize his role changed his page to say "working on projects." instead. There were two edits originating from 156.68.64.53 on 4 September 2018. Have a look at the before and after edits here. And another one here.

The NASA IP address where these edits originated is 156.68.64.53

IP Address - 156.68.64.53
City - Redstone Arsenal
State/Region - Alabama
Country Code - United States
Postal Code - 35812
ISP - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Time Zone -05:00

NASA's CIO Office is mostly useless. Let's see if they look into this. They should. I sent an email to NASA HQ and MSFC CIO offices and NASA HQ PAO. Lets see if they respond.

- One Of Your NASA Coworkers Is Still In a Turkish Jail Cell, earlier post
- NASA Employee Imprisoned By Turkey For No Reason, earlier post

Virgin's Richard Branson, tech investor Steve Case distance themselves from Saudi Arabia over alleged Khashoggi killing, Washington Post

"Branson said he was suspending his work as a director of two Saudi tourism projects and suspending discussions with the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund about a proposed investment in the space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit. "I had high hopes for the current government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and it is why I was delighted to accept two directorships in the tourism projects around the Red Sea," Branson said in a blog post Thursday. "What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government."

NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory Update: Out Of Safe Mode

"The cause of Chandra's safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to its normal pointing mode. The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra's gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that in turn led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum. The erroneous momentum indication then triggered the safe mode."

Chandra X-ray Observatory Enters Safe Mode; Investigation Underway

"At approximately 13:55 GMT on October 10, 2018, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode, where the telescope's instruments are put into a safe configuration, critical hardware is swapped to back-up units, the spacecraft points so that the solar panels get maximum sunlight, and the mirrors point away from the Sun. Analysis of available data indicates the transition to safe mode was nominal, i.e., consistent with normal behavior for such an event. All systems functioned as expected and the scientific instruments are safe. The cause of the safe mode transition is currently under investigation, and we will post more information when it becomes available."

Inspector General Attack On NASA Super-Rocket Marred By Mistakes, Omissions, Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute

"I have read the audit through twice and talked to Boeing executives about its findings. It appears to be a political document engineered by a holdover appointee from the Obama administration -- the same administration that tried to kill all of NASA's human exploration programs. It omits important information, misstates key facts and isn't even internally consistent in its assertions. ... First, the audit fails to provide historical context that might help explain why problems have occurred. This is only the second time in history that any country has tried to develop such a powerful rocket. The first time was the Saturn V program for Apollo missions to the Moon, half a century ago. With the demise of the Space Shuttle program, key skills were lost, infrastructure aged and the supply chain atrophied. NASA understood there were major challenges ahead, but the Inspector General is mum on their impact."

Keith's note: The core thrust of Thompson's paid whining is either Blame Obama or its so hard to build a big rocket (even though companies that Boeing bought did it half a century ago).

"The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about the Senate confirmation of James Morhard as the agency's deputy administrator: "Congratulations to Jim Morhard! He was confirmed as the 14th Deputy Administrator of NASA on Thursday, Oct. 11. "He joins our amazing agency at a crucial time in history. NASA is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and I look forward to working with him as we look towards NASA's next 60 years. His legislative and managerial talents will serve NASA well as we accomplish stunning achievements."

NASA Statement on Soyuz MS-10 Launch Abort (With video)

"The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 11 (2:40 p.m. in Baikonur) carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft. "Search and rescue teams were deployed to the landing site. Hague and Ovchinin are out of the capsule and are reported to be in good condition. They will be transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia outside of Moscow."

Air Force awards three Launch Service Agreements, USAF

"The U.S. Air Force announced today the award of three Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Launch Service Agreements to (in alphabetical order) Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, and United Launch Alliance. The award to Blue Origin will be for development of the New Glenn Launch System. The award to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems is for development of the OmegA Launch System. The award to United Launch Alliance will be for development of the Vulcan Centaur Launch System."

NASA Should Expand the Search for Life in the Universe and Make Astrobiology an Integral Part of its Missions, Says New Report

"To advance the search for life in the universe, NASA should support research on a broader range of biosignatures and environments, and incorporate the field of astrobiology into all stages of future exploratory missions, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Astrobiology, the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe, is a rapidly changing field, especially in the years since the publication of NASA's Astrobiology Strategy 2015. Recent scientific advances in the field now provide many opportunities to strengthen the role of astrobiology in NASA missions and to increase collaboration with other scientific fields and organizations. The report finds that these changes necessitate an updated science strategy for astrobiology."

OIG Audit: NASA's Management of the Space Launch System Stages Contract, OIG

"At its current rate, we project Boeing will expend at least $8.9 billion through 2021--double the amount initially planned--while delivery of the first Core Stage has slipped 2 1/2 years from June 2017 to December 2019 and may slip further. Between June 2014 and August 2018, Boeing spent over $600 million more than planned on developing Core Stages 1 and 2, and NASA officials have confirmed that in FY 2018 alone Boeing expended $226 million more than planned. Cost increases and schedule delays of Core Stage development can be traced largely to management, technical, and infrastructure issues driven by Boeing's poor performance. For example, Boeing officials have consistently underestimated the scope of the work to be performed and thus the size and skills of the workforce required. In addition, development of command and control hardware and software necessary for Core Stage testing is 2 years behind schedule, while equipment-related mishaps and an extreme weather event contributed to cost and schedule delays. Individually, each of these issues may have caused only minor cost and schedule problems, but taken as a whole they have resulted in a 2 1/2-year slip to the SLS Core Stage delivery schedule and approximately $4 billion in cost increases for development of the first two Core Stages. Furthermore, Boeing's cost and schedule challenges are likely to worsen given that the SLS has yet to undergo its "Green Run Test"--a major milestone that integrates and tests the Core Stage components.

Based on Boeing's current expenditure rate, NASA will need to increase the contract value by approximately $800 million to complete the first Core Stage for delivery to the Kennedy Space Center in December 2019. If the EM-1 launch takes place in June 2020, more than $400 million--for a total of $1.2 billion--would need to be added to the contract. This amount would only ensure delivery of Core Stage 1 and would not include the billions more required to complete work on Core Stage 2 and the EUS. Consequently, in light of the Project's development delays, we have concluded NASA will be unable to meet its EM-1 launch window currently scheduled between December 2019 and June 2020.

We found that several poor contract management practices by NASA contributed to the SLS Program's cost and schedule overruns. ..."

Keith's note: Apparently there is a NASA education competition for "Children ages 4-12 around the world, including NASA families, to submit artwork" on different space-related themes. This calendar was apparently announced on 13 September 2018

Given the global aspirations of this competition you would expect NASA to use its global brand i.e. @NASA and NASA.gov. But there is no mention. Nor is there any mention on the NASA STEM Engagement page or the NASA Commercial crew page.

There is this one tweet from @CommercialCrew on on 16 September 2018 and another on 28 September 2018 . Today Astronaut Victor Glover @VicGlover also tweeted a link (Glover is one of the NASA astronauts who will fly on SpaceX Crew-1 mission). NASA's Stem Engagement Office tweeted about it on 17 September 2018 and again on 25 September 2018

Otherwise, that's it. If this was truly an agency-wide effort with a stated intent of reaching children around the world, you would think that the agency would have put a little more effort into utilizing its global branding - unless the agency is not synchronized in such a fashion as to coordinate activities such as this one to make the best use of NASA assets.

But why is the NASA Commercial Crew Office doing NASA education activities specifically targeted at students? Who is in charge of this? Is there an overall, agency-level NASA Education and Outreach plan that specifically calls for the agency's commercial programs to target "children aged 4-12 - around the world"? Of course there isn't. The White House tried to gut NASA education funding - one of the main points being that this education stuff was already being done elsewhere - so why is NASA trying to reach beyond the nation's borders? Maybe a little more of a domestic focus is what this White House is thinking about.

Since there will be effort required to set up and collect the artwork, someone is going to have to pay labor costs. If a calendar is produced, then someone will have to be paid to do that. And if it is printed and distributed that will cost something too. Is this really what NASA's Commercial Crew Office should be doing right now? Yes, its probably a trivial amount of money in the overall grand scheme of things. But this speaks to a broader lack of simple strategic thought on NASA's part. If the educational needs of children are really what is of concern, aren't there more focused products that stand a better chance of educating children than a glorified coloring book?

Rick Searfoss

Richard Alan Searfoss, 1956-2018

"Col. Richard Alan Searfoss of Bear Valley Springs, 62, passed away at home on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. Funeral services will be held Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at 2 p.m., preceded by a viewing at 12:30 p.m., at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 600 Anita Drive, Tehachapi, CA. A full obituary will be in next week's edition of the Tehachapi News."

Keith's note: I got to know Rick after he left NASA. We had lots of phone conversations about commercial space. We were almost exactly the same age so we tended to make similar popular cultural jokes. He was really psyched about the notion of training people to fly on XCOR by strapping them into a fighter jet and putting them trough a "Right Stuff" sort of training program - orange flight suits and all - and that the suborbital fight would be more of the same - just higher and faster. He figured this might weed a few customers out but that the ones who made it through would have had one helluva ride. I tried to convince him to expand the ground school such that more people could get a taste of the ultimate experience. Eventually he'd end our long conversations with something like "well it's starting to snow up here in Tehachapi - gotta go." Ad Astra Rick.

Hubble Is In Safe Mode As Gyroscope Issues Are Diagnosed, NASA

"The gyro that failed had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year, and its failure was not unexpected; two other gyros of the same type had already failed. The remaining three gyros available for use are technically enhanced and therefore expected to have significantly longer operational lives. Two of those enhanced gyros are currently running. Upon powering on the third enhanced gyro that had been held in reserve, analysis of spacecraft telemetry indicated that it was not performing at the level required for operations. As a result, Hubble remains in safe mode. Staff at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance."

Keith's 7 October note: According to these tweets from Dr. Rachel Osten, Deputy Mission Head for the Hubble Space Telescope at the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Hubble Space Telescope is in Safe Mode after a gyroscope failure. No word from NASA PAO yet.

Keith's 8 October 9:21 am EDT update: According to According to this update: "Daily Report #8120 Period Covered: 08:00 PM October 06, 2018 - 07:59 PM October 07, 2018 (DOY 280/0000z - 280/2359z) There were no scheduled observations during the report period."

Readout of NASA Administrator Bridenstine's Visit to the 69th International Astronautical Congress, NASA

"Administrator Bridenstine arrived in Bremen, Germany on Sunday, September 30 to attend the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) and meet with a number of space agency leaders. On Sunday evening, he made brief remarks on the U.S. Exploration Campaign to visiting members of parliament from around the world hosted by the Bremen Regional Parliament. Later, he hosted a reception for his space agency counterparts. Invitees, among others, included representatives of twenty-two space agencies. On Monday, October 1, Bridenstine met with Administrator Zhang Kejian, of the China National Space Administration (CNSA). This was the first meeting of the two leaders and it provided an opportunity to share their respective program priorities including plans for lunar exploration."

Keith's update: Dave Mosher at Business Insider is now on the trail of Boeing's stealth smear campaign against SpaceX.

Boeing may have used a lobbying firm to plant a scathing opinion piece about SpaceX in US news outlets. At stake is billions of dollars in NASA contracts, Business Insider

"Hagar said he never submitted the op-ed article to The Washington Times. He said he shared his written opinion with only one person, a Boeing employee, whom he repeatedly declined to identify. "I don't want to start anything," Hagar said. "I'm not interested in that." Shortly after Hagar gave his op-ed article to Boeing, he said, it appeared in The Washington Times. He said he gave Boeing "permission to publish it wherever." "I knew it would be in different publications, but not how many," he said."

A shadowy op-ed campaign is now smearing SpaceX in space cities, Ars Technica

"According to the LMG website, the 15-year-old firm "develops and executes public-, Hill-, and agency-facing issue advocacy campaigns that shift the narrative in a changing world." More bluntly, the SourceWatch website calls LMG a "secretive Washington DC public affairs firm" with a history of placing op-eds, and it seeks to mask the op-eds' financial sponsors. Ars could not confirm the ultimate sponsor of the op-eds, but there are some potentially pertinent facts. For one, Boeing is touted on the LMG website as a client, and it is listed as one of LMG's three main "featured narratives" on its homepage. (LMG says, as part of its campaign for a Boeing tanker plane, that it "developed and executed an aggressive 'outside game' campaign working with dozens of major grassroots organizations, labor unions, suppliers and vendors and national security experts to make the case for Boeing's bid. We developed messaging... and helped manage a newly developed social media campaign amplifying our nationwide chorus of genuine American voices supporting Boeing.") Boeing, which is not mentioned in the op-eds, is also the only competitor to SpaceX in the commercial crew program. Could Boeing be the client behind the anti-SpaceX op-eds? A spokesman for Boeing, Jerry Drelling, told Ars, "We have no comment."

Keith's note: This is creepy. What is Boeing up to? As noted above, a firm overtly linked to them is connected to an anti-SpaceX editorial campaign. Boeing has deep pockets when it comes to PR. They have poured a lot of money into a weekly space news letter with Politico. Boeing is also prominently featured in a space-related event with Vice President Pence here in Washington, DC later this month. And of course they send lots of money to the overtly pro-SLS organization Coalition for Deep Space Exploration. Meanwhile Boeing has an ongoing social media campaign on Facebook which entices people to sign up for a newsletter - one that as an obscure but lengthy terms of service that reserves the right for Boeing to collect, use, and resell information about people who sign up. They use space as a topic to entice people to sign up but then route you to pages that urge you to support a lobbying effort for a weapon system they want Congress to buy. Again, what is Boeing up to?

- Boeing's Creepy Petition Wants To Track Your Online Activity, earlier post
- Join Boeing's SLS Fan Club So They Can Track Your Activity Online, earlier post
- Boeing's Misleading Anti-SpaceX Pro-SLS Facebook Ad Campaign, earlier post

The op-ed effort exposed by Eric Berger is eerily similar to another stealth smear effort that NASAWatch exposed back in 2016 wherein a DC PR firm (Orange Hat Group) was linked to a website designed to attack Elon Musk and SpaceX (See "Why Does Brad Summey Hate On Elon Musk So Much?". To this day I am not certain who footed the bill since no one would comment. The website they created, whoiselonmusk.com, was still online until September when the domain registration expired. Remnants of the site are online here. Shortly after I outed this site this was added to the bottom of the page "The Center for Business and Responsible Government (CBRG) is a non-partisan organization dedicated to highlighting cronyism and its effect on American taxpayers and policy. We believe public officials should establish an even playing field for all businesses to compete in the marketplace, not just those special interests who line their pockets." Of course this organization does not exist and never did.

This is how big aerospace and other actors try and undermine the competition these days.If they can't compete with a better product at a better price they head for the gutter instead. What is pathetic is how badly they try and hide their tracks such that any enterprising journalist can use Google searches and make a few phone calls to reveal the true nature of these smear efforts.

Lockheed Martin Reveals New Human Lunar Lander Concept, Lockheed Martin

"Today, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Bremen, Germany, Lockheed Martin experts revealed the company's crewed lunar lander concept and showed how the reusable lander aligns with NASA's lunar Gateway and future Mars missions."

"Let's go to the Moon" is key focus at IAC 2018, Blue Origin

"Moving heavy industry from Earth into space is at the core of Blue Origin's mission. The future will be better for our children - and our children's children - if we use space to benefit life on Earth and enable millions of people to live and work in space. The next logical step in this path is a return to the Moon. To do this we need reusable access to the lunar surface and its resources. We're in the conceptual design phase of a large lunar lander that will provide that access called Blue Moon."

Russia and China Want to Build a Base on the Moon Together, Newsweek

"Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Russia's Roscosmos State Space Corp. and the former deputy defense minister, said that the Russian and Chinese space programs were considering working jointly to establish a lunar station. As Russia prepares to meet its 2021 deadline for the country's first unmanned lunar mission, a growing relationship with China has presented new opportunities as Moscow's ties to the U.S. continue to worsen."

Agreement with Israel Space Agency for Commercial Lunar Cooperation, NASA

"NASA has signed an agreement with the Israel Space Agency (ISA) to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL's commercial lunar mission, expected to land on the Moon in 2019."

Moon Express Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Canadian Space Agency

"Under the agreement, the CSA and Moon Express will explore the possibilities of using Moon Express lunar orbiter and lander systems for potential CSA payloads and will promote possibilities for collaboration between Moon Express and the Canadian space industry and academia."

NASA Administrator Highlights 'Moon to Mars' Events Across Agency Oct. 24, NASA

"During these events, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will speak at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at noon EDT, spotlighting NASA's new Moon to Mars approach for human space exploration. He'll discuss the agency's plans to lead a sustainable return to the Moon, which includes the integration of U.S. companies and international partners, with the aim to use the Moon as a proving ground for the ultimate goal - sending astronauts to Mars."

Statement on International Space Station Investigation, NASA

"On August 29, 2018 a small hole was discovered on the International Space Station. This resulted in a pressure leak. The hole has been identified and fixed by Space Station crew. Russian media recently reported that General Director Rogozin said the hole was not a manufacturing defect. Ruling out a manufacturing defect indicates that this is an isolated issue which does not categorically affect future production. This conclusion does not necessarily mean the hole was created intentionally or with mal-intent. NASA and Roscosmos are both investigating the incident to determine the cause. The International Space Station Program is tentatively planning a spacewalk in November to gather more information. On October 11, American Astronaut Nick Hague and Russian Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will launch to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Administrator Bridenstine is scheduled to attend the launch and plans to meet with Mr. Rogozin. This will be their first in-person meeting. They had a telephone call on September 12 during which they discussed the International Space Station leak."

Musk underprices space launches to squeeze Russia out of market, says Roscosmos CEO, TASS

"SpaceX CEO Elon Musk quotes knock-down prices on launches of his spacecraft at 40-60 million US dollars to squeeze Russia out of the space market, CEO of Russia's state space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said on Monday. Russian expert slams Musk's use of booster relaunch as gimmick to show off to investors "If you compare the price Musk sells his rockets to Pentagon at and the price he quotes for them on the market, you will see that this is nothing but pure dumping. In order to drive Russia from the market he sells launches at 40 to 60 million dollars while being paid 150 million for a launch by Pentagon," he told Russia's TV Channel One."

Roskosmos Chief Says Space Station Hole Was 'Deliberate', RadioFree Europe

"Rogozin, who heads the Russian space agency Roskosmos, said in an interview on state-run television that an expert commission had wrapped up its initial findings. "The first commission has already concluded its work. It has factually reached the conclusion that rules out any manufacturing defect, which is important for finding out the truth," he said. "The version that now remains is it was a deliberate act, and a second commission will determine where this occurred," Rogozin added."

Keith's note: Russia clearly wants something. So, true to form, they make conflicting statements to the media - some versions are aimed at domestic audiences, others are aimed at external audiences. The fact that U.S. astronauts are actually living on the same space station that they supposedly sabotaged and that they'd need to ride the damaged Soyuz home shows just how silly this whole thing is.

To counter this non sequitur Roscosmos deflects attention away from the real underlying issues to the whole SpaceX conspiracy thing without noting that Russia continues to cut its own space budget and has limitations on its ability to compete in a rapidly evolving space sector. When Boeing and SpaceX start to launch U.S. crews to the ISS, a steady source of income for Soyuz flights will more or less evaporate with no obvious replacement customer in sight. But worry not, a solution to placate Russia's issues is always found. Its one of those 'two steps forward one step back' things.

NASA Turns 60 Today


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