May 2019 Archives

Keith's note: I am wondering if the satellite spacing is some sort of binary message to Richard Branson or Jeff Bezos ...

Let's Stop Going in Circles - And Go Somewhere (2002).

"Between the time I was 2 and when I turned 14 humanity went from zero spaceflight capability to putting humans on the Moon. To me, my first vision of spaceflight was one where quantum leaps were to be expected. I knew this because I saw these leaps happening before my own eyes. That expectation took a firm hold of me and hasn't left me - or many of my generation. Yet we, and the generation that has followed us, have been cheated of what could have been done in space.

In the following three decades we have yet to send humans back to the Moon. Indeed, it would probably take us longer to recreate the ability to "land humans on the Moon and return them safely to the Earth" than it did to do so the first time. As for sending humans to Mars - it was 20 years or so away when I was a kid. Thirty years later it is still that far off - if not further.

As for the ISS, we could have built this - and should have built this - a decade ago. Now that the ISS has managed to become reality we need to refocus it - and ourselves - towards the true exploration of space. We need to go somewhere for a change. We can't sit at home - or drive around the block - and call ourselves "explorers"."

Keith's note: I wrote this in 2002 - 17 years ago. I was frustrated then. I am frustrated now. Someone born in the year I wrote only knows a world where people live permanently in space. Alas, yet another generation has grown to adulthood without seeing humans walk on another world.

Resignation Letter From Mark Sirangelo To NASA Administrator Bridenstine

"My notice today is for an end to my NASA employment on May 31, 2019. Due to complex nature of the efforts NASA is engaged in, I am open to discussing this situation further before that or to discussing a return to NASA in the future should the situation change. Meanwhile, I will start organizing a transition plan for the many things that I have work on and on list of outstanding activities. Please let me know who you would like me to work with on external messaging."

NASA Internal Memo: Appointment of Mark Sirangelo, 9 April 2019

"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Mark Sirangelo as a Special Assistant to the Administrator. In this role, Mark will have broad responsibility to work across the Mission Directorates to further develop the agency's plans for the Exploration Campaign. This includes a strategy to meet the Administration's policy to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. He will also lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to create the Moons to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities required for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond."

Expeditionary Astronauts Wanted, SpaceRef

"As NASA returns humans to the Moon and then heads out to Mars, a new type of astronaut will be required to explore these worlds. Let's called them "expeditionary astronauts". Just as expeditions fanned out across our planet to explore its wonders, expeditions to other worlds are now on the horizon. Project Apollo gave us a taste of what this could be like. Project Artemis will take it to a whole new level. And how we do these things is going to be different. Unlike Apollo NASA plans to go back to the Moon utilizing partnerships with other space agencies and private companies. Some companies may even go there on their own. The people who go on these missions are going to need skillsets much more diverse and synergistic than their Apollo predecessors. One astronaut has already started."

Commercial Space Transportation: Improvements to FAA's Workforce Planning Needed to Prepare for the Industry's Anticipated Growth, GAO

"Since 2016, AST has taken steps to improve how it determines its current workforce needs to carry out its mission including licensing commercial launch vehicle operations. These steps include more comprehensively monitoring staff time spent on specific activities and measuring the volume of the staff's work. While AST officials told us that AST is planning to continue to improve its workforce-planning efforts, GAO found that some aspects of AST's efforts fall short of key principles of strategic workforce planning. Such principles underscore the importance of determining both current and future workforce needs and identifying potential gaps in employee skills."

NASA Awards Artemis Contract for Lunar Gateway Power, Propulsion

"This firm-fixed price award includes an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity portion and carries a maximum total value of $375 million. The contract begins with a 12-month base period of performance and is followed by a 26-month option, a 14-month option and two 12-month options."

Maxar Selected to Build, Fly First Element of NASA's Lunar Gateway

"Maxar previously conducted a four-month study to develop affordable and innovative electric-propulsion-enabled concepts for the power and propulsion element spacecraft. Building on the successful completion of the study, Maxar has been selected to proceed with development. The power and propulsion element will provide power, maneuvering, attitude control, communications systems and initial docking capabilities. Maxar is currently targeting launch of the element on a commercial rocket by late 2022."

Keith's note: Jim Bridenstine made repeated mention of the "Artemis Generation" today. In the press briefing after today's presentation by Bridenstine I asked HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier what this means. There are just under 80 million K-12 and college students in America. That's a lot - nearly 1/4 of all Americans. Back in the 60s when Gerst and I were growing up you could not escape mention of Apollo. NASA did an excellent job of making sure that all students knew what was going on and it was linked to the need to study math and science. NASA had to actually create whole new areas of study in universities since the specialties needed to study the Moon hardly existed. So how will NASA step up to create the Artemis Generation? Will it take an active role or is this just buzz words that NASA hopes someone elese will run with? Gerst gives a good reply - as does Mike Gold from Maxar. What I am really interested in hearing is what Jim Bridenstine thinks this means and what he envisons as NASA's role in creating, shaping, and supporting the Artemis Generation.


NASA Administrator to Make Artemis Moon Program Announcement, Media Teleconference Set

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make a significant announcement about the Artemis program's lunar exploration plans at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, May 23, at the Florida Institute of Technology. The remarks will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Administrator Bridenstine will announce the commercial partner selection to develop and build the first segment of NASA's Gateway outpost - the power and propulsion element (PPE). Gateway will be the lunar orbiting staging point to send astronauts to the Moon's surface in five years. Following his remarks, Bridenstine will answer questions from media at 2:10 p.m., in the Digital Scholarship Lab at Florida Institute of Technology's Evans Library, 2949 Science Cir., Melbourne. NASA also will host a media teleconference at 2:45 p.m."

- Status of Gateway Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)
- Spaceflight Demonstration of a Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)
- Spacecraft Demonstration of a Power and Propulsion Element Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) 80GRC018R0005
Industry Day July 10, 2018

Page 146-149: attendees: ADTL, Inc., Advanced Space, LLC, Aerojet Rocketdyne, The Boeing Company, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Honeywell, Human SpaceFlight Institute, Kratos|RT Logic, L3 Technologies, Leidos Innovations, Lockheed Martin Space, MAXAR Technologies, Moog, Inc., Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, RUAG Space USA, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Space Systems/Loral, SpaceX, Spectrolab, Inc., TTTech North America

Can Trump Put NASA Astronauts on the Moon by 2024? It's Unlikely, NY Times

"Although he has not spoken to Mr. Trump about the revised moon program, Mr. Bridenstine said the president was keen on this goal. "It was by his direction that we do this," he said. "Yet to be seen is whether this is a political priority the administration will make the effort to follow through on. Last year, the administration gave NASA a different, big task to accomplish by the end of 2024: ending direct federal financing of the International Space Station, one of NASA's largest yearly expenditures. That proposal ran into strong opposition from Ted Cruz, a Republican Senator from Texas. Since then, NASA has made no significant announcements about how it plans to shift to commercial space stations that do not yet exist."

Donald Trump is not getting his space money, Quartz

"Last week, the White House submitted a late funding request for an additional $1.6 billion in spending on a proposed Artemis moon program to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. Today, the House Appropriations committee left that request out of its spending plan for NASA and ignored many of the administration's other space priorities. Without that funding, any hope of the accelerated mission to the moon touted by Vice President Mike Pence is likely to disappear. It was a similar story yesterday, when the committee rejected White House plans to consolidate military space activity into a new service called Space Force."

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/artemis.plan.jpg

Larger view

NASA's full Artemis plan revealed: 37 launches and a lunar outpost, Ars Technica

"Last week, an updated plan that demonstrated a human landing in 2024, annual sorties to the lunar surface thereafter, and the beginning of a Moon base by 2028, began circulating within the agency. A graphic, shown below, provides information about each of the major launches needed to construct a small Lunar Gateway, stage elements of a lunar lander there, fly crews to the Moon and back, and conduct refueling missions."

Advising NASA, Wayne Hale

"My goals for the HEO committee and for the NAC itself will be to listen thoroughly, research broadly, think clearly and give the best advice possible. I would also like to work with the agency to make the HEO committee more diverse - not only in the usual sense of diversity but also more diverse in experience and opinion. So, a long post and probably too much about myself. If you have thoughts or advice for the agency - and I may regret this - please send them to me. Many folks already do. Please attend the HEO committee meetings whether in person or by audio conference - I will make sure you get access to the agenda and logistics."

NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee Meeting 28-29 May 2019

Everest +10

Keith's note: On 19 May 2009 at 6:15 pm EDT (20 May 4:00 am Nepal time) Astronaut Scott Parazynski stood on top of the world with piece of the Moon. My old, voided, damaged NASA badge (and a picture of astronaut Sunni Williams' dog Gorby) went along while Miles O'Brien served as our news anchor back in New York. Each of us has gone through a lot in the subsequent decade - some good, some bad. For Scott and I this adventure is as fresh in our minds as something that happened just yesterday. Its an adventure that just keeps on giving.

My Star Trek Episode at Everest

"In late April 2009 I found myself at Everest Base Camp for a month. I was living at 17,600 feet in Nepal 2 miles from China and 2 miles from the highest point on our planet. I was surrounded by the epic majesty of the Himalayas, a thousand people supporting several hundred Type A individuals with a shared intent to summit the mountain and stand in the jet stream. And all of this was enabled by the austere and noble Sherpa people. I was on a mission not unlike a space mission. My team mate was my long-time friend Scott Parazynski, an astronaut. And I had 4 small Apollo 11 Moon rocks in my pocket. I could just stop there and what is in these sentences would be cool enough. This had all the makings of a Star Trek episode - and I knew it."

That Time My Friend Walked Above The Sky (Book review)

"Then there's the books written by people who have attempted to climb Mt. Everest or other impressive climbs. Again, the sheer audacity of these climbs almost writes books with little human intervention required - other than memory. Of course, many climber tales are also crafted in a formulaic fashion - with one major exception: climbers like to talk about their fears, the awful conditions they endured, stupid choices, and how their path to the summit and back led them to new places in life - some of which are not always good. These books also talk about how one has to deal with real danger that can appear at any moment - danger that no one can ever be totally prepared for. And that danger can be unrelenting. There is no comfortable ride to the summit like there is to outer space."

Keith's note: Speaking as someone who did graduate research in gravitational biology and who worked at NASA Headquarters and elsewhere as a space life scientist, I am quite interested in the adaptations of life to prolonged exposure to conditions on the Moon. I am certain that there are changes in living systems in fractional gravity wherein changes in genomic expression can be measured. We've seen it in humans and other organisms exposed to microgravity in spaceflight and centrifugation (simulated hypergravity) on Earth. Alas, to date, the vast bulk of research where changes in gene expression are studied have to do with microgravity - not lunar or martian gravity.

Its nice to know that someone at NASA Gene Lab is paying attention to the news regarding Artemis and Moon2024. But the suggestion in this tweet that they might have anything relevant to 0.16G biology at this time is probably tenuous, at best. Indeed, a simple key word search of their website for "lunar" and "moon" shows this to be the case. But at least they are stepping up to the plate - which is good. A look at the NASA Space Station and CASIS websites shows no mention of Artemis or Moon2024.

One would hope that NASA would have an integrated strategy for such research that spans Earth- and space-based facilities. Right now its more like competing fiefdoms within NASA's sphere of funding influence rather than an overall, integrated program with clear goals directly related to operational as well as fundamental science. If preparatory work is needed to enable safe human operations and other life forms in lunar gravity to support the Artemis program (which is going to start up on the lunar surface in 2024) NASA should have already have enabling research under way. Instead it has a scattered collection of things. Someone needs to bring order to this disarray and create an integrated program of space biology and medicine at NASA so as to flight certify humans and other forms of life for prolonged exposure to other worlds. And this integrated program needs to be able to provide useful information in time to actually inform NASA mission planners - not after the fact.

Accelerated NASA Moon Landing Plan Doesn't Need Canadian Robotic System, SpaceQ

"So with NASA deferring elements of the Gateway not needed for the new plan, comes the question of whether Canada's robotic system is needed to as part of the revised 2024 plan. In a follow-up email with Gerstenmaier, SpaceQ asked, with the updated moon plan and the revised architecture, is the expected Canadian contributed robotic arm (Canadarm 3) one of the capabilities needed to support a lunar landing in 2024? Gerstenmaier replied that "at this point in our planning the robotic arm is not required for the 2024 landing." He also said "we would like the arm as soon as available. The CSA arm concept is very creative and be used inside as well."

U.S. Moon Plans Are Causing Concern for the International Partners Including Canada, SpaceQ

"In a follow-up email with Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, Gerstenmaier wanted to provide a further comment on the matter. He said "the arm is not absolutely required for the lunar landing. We are making accommodations for the arm in early Gateway and will be ready to use the arm as soon as it is available."

NASA Secures First International Partnership for Moon to Mars Lunar Gateway, NASA (28 February 2019)

"Today, Canada leads the world in space-based robotic capabilities, enabling critical repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope and construction of the International Space Station. Our new collaboration on Gateway will enable our broader international partnership to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars."

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science Funding Bill

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - NASA is funded at $22.32 billion, $815 million above the 2019 enacted level. This funding includes:

- $7.16 billion for NASA Science programs - $255.6 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level.
- $123 million for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement, $13 million above fiscal year 2019 and rejecting the Administration's request to eliminate funding for these programs, which help inspire and train the country's future STEM workforce.
- $5.1 billion for Exploration - $79.1 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This includes funding to continue the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System, and related ground systems.

Chairwomen Johnson and Horn Question Funding Plan for NASA's Accelerated Moon Landing Program

"While I am a supporter of challenging human space exploration endeavors that can take us to the Moon and eventually to Mars, based on the limited information provided to Congress it is impossible to judge the merits of the President's budget amendment," saidChairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. "We don't know how much money will be required in total to meet the arbitrary 2024 Moon landing deadline or how that money will be spent. We don't know how much additional money will subsequently be required to turn the crash program to get astronauts to the Moon by 2024 into a sustainable exploration program that will lead to Mars. And we don't know what NASA's technical plan for its lunar program is. What we do know is that the President is proposing to further cut a beneficial needs-based grants program that provides a lifeline to low-income students, namely the Pell Grants program, in order to pay for the first year of this initiative--something that I cannot support."

The Emerging Space Environment: Operational, Technical, and Policy Challenges (Watch live)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, will convene a hearing titled, "The Emerging Space Environment: Operational, Technical, and Policy Challenges," at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. The hearing will examine civil-military coordination, cooperation, and related issues within the space domain.

Witnesses:

The Honorable Jim Bridenstine, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Mr. Kevin O'Connell, Director, Office of Space Commerce, Department of Commerce
Mr. Robert Cardillo, Former Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, Vice Commander, Space Command, United States Air Force
Col. Pamela A. Melroy, United States Air Force (ret.)

Trump targets Pell Grant money for NASA's budget boost, AP/Washington Post

"The Trump administration wants to shift money for Pell Grants for college education to fund new spending, including a $1.6 billion bump for NASA to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024. Under a budget amendment sent to Congress Monday evening, the administration would use an additional $1.9 billion in surplus Pell Grant money to fund other budget priorities, including an infusion of new cash for NASA "so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!" President Donald Trump tweeted. ,,, Officials insisted the re-allocation of the Pell Grant money would have no impact on those currently receiving grants, which help low-income students pay for college. "This does not cut any spending for Pell Grant programs as the budget continues to ensure all students will get their full Pell Grant and keeps the program on sound fiscal footing," Office of Management and Budget spokesman Wesley Denton said in a statement."

Today 12:30 p.m. EDT: NASA Town Hall on Moon 2024 Budget Amendment with Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Watch at http://nasa.gov/nasalive

"NASA leaders, including Administrator Jim Bridenstine, will host a media teleconference today, Monday, May 13 to discuss how a new budget amendment for the fiscal year 2020 proposal will help NASA's plan to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024.
The media teleconference at 7 p.m. EDT will discuss details of the budget amendment. Audio and visuals from the teleconference will stream live at: https://www.nasa.gov/live. The agency budget amendment and supporting information are available online at: https://www.nasa.gov/budget. Administrator Bridenstine also will host an employee town hall at 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 14 live from NASA Headquarters in Washington. The meeting will be carried on NASA Television and the agency's website."






Keith's note: If you subtract $321 million from Gateway the numbers balance. No word yet as to where the money actually comes from (outside of NASA) or what the final cost of the Moon2024 thing will be. Stay tuned.

Trump's NASA sees Space Force as a means to bring free market capitalism to the final frontier, Muckrock

"In an internal draft of NASA's "National Exploration Campaign Report" from August 2018, the authors of the report identify the very first of five strategic goals for the new campaign as "Transition U.S. human spaceflight in LEO to commercial operations, which support NASA and the needs of an emerging private sector market." It is only once you get to number three on the list of strategic goals that NASA plans to "Foster scientific discovery."

Keith's note: There is a nice long, deep dive FOIA response from NASA a a result of a Muckrock request at the end that makes fascinating reading.

Meet the Women in Charge of NASA's Science Divisions, NASA

"For the first time in NASA's history, women are in charge of three out of four science divisions at the agency. The Earth Science, Heliophysics and Planetary Science divisions now all have women at the helm. Each hails from a different country and brings unique expertise to NASA's exploration efforts. "We have an extraordinary group of women responsible for the success of dozens of NASA space missions and research programs, revealing new insights about our planet, Sun and solar system," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. "They are inspiring the next generation of women to become leaders in space exploration as we move forward to put the first woman on the Moon."

Women are now in charge of NASA's science missions, Mashable

"What's more, of the latest class of 12 astronauts, almost half, five, are women. Still, a woman has never led the entire space agency, as NASA's administrator. This is not surprising. Women still have a stark minority representation in the most powerful positions of U.S. government. Of the 21 members of President Trump's cabinet, four are women. Though females make up nearly 51% of the U.S. population, just 24 percent of Congress is represented by women. NASA, though, is a clear leader in recognizing the leadership abilities and scientific savvy of the agency's female researchers. What are these three women in charge of?"

Keith's note: There are thousands - millions of people like this guy. If NASA can expand its efforts to attract and encourage this sort of enthusiasm - at all age levels - then there is no limit to where NASA - America - can go in space.

Sir Richard Branson Announces Virgin Galactic Move to Spaceport America this Summer, as Company Readies for Commercial Service

"At a press conference today at the New Mexico State Capitol Building in Santa Fe, hosted by New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Galactic's development and testing program had advanced sufficiently to move the spaceline staff and space vehicles from Mojave, California to their commercial operations headquarters at Spaceport America, New Mexico. The move, which involves more than 100 staff, will commence immediately and continue through the summer, to minimise schooling disruption for families. Virgin Galactic partnered with New Mexico in an agreement which saw the state complete construction of Spaceport America, the world's first, purpose-built commercial spaceport, and Virgin Galactic committing to center its commercial spaceflight activities at the facilities once its vehicles and operations were ready for service."

Blue Origin Reveals Its Lunar Lander

"Note: Blue Origin held an event in Washington DC today SpaceRef Interactive/NASAWatch and number of other news organizations were denied attendance. The company also decided not to livestream the event. It is difficult to understand why Blue Origin acts this way when it comes to making announcements. Their press release is below: ... Today, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced his vision to go to space to benefit Earth at a special event in Washington D.C. In addition, he also announced the Blue Moon lunar lander, which is capable of taking people and payloads to the lunar surface."

Jeff Bezos is about to speak publicly about Blue Origin, his secretive rocket company, CNN

"Things are different this week. Blue Origin is hosting a rare event with media in Washington, DC, on Thursday. Bezos himself is scheduled to speak, but it's not entirely clear what will be discussed. The invitations said that Bezos plans to give an update on Blue Origin's "progress and share our vision of going to space to benefit Earth." Spokespeople for Blue Origin declined to share further details."

Keith's note: Once again Blue Origin is playing favorites with the news media - some are invited - others are not.. I wonder if the Washington Post was invited?

NASA's plan to get to the Moon by 2024 isn't ready yet, The Verge

"Horn demanded to know why the amendment isn't ready yet during today's hearing. "We recognize that this is a really serious challenge we have to weigh in front of us, and we need a really solid plan," William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and an expert at today's hearing, responded. He added: "We need to make sure it's all integrated and all put together in a way that really makes sense." Gerstenmaier noted that the amendment also has to get approval from the White House, which may also be slowing things down. However, he claimed that details will be ready soon. "We're probably several weeks away, maybe a week to two weeks away from being able to give you a plan," he said."

Opening Statements

- Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
- Chair Kendra Horn
- Ranking Member Brian Babin
- Ranking Member Frank Lucas
- William H. Gerstenmaier and Mark Sirangelo
- Patricia Sanders
- Jonathan Lunine
- Walt Faulconer

Keith's note: On page 4 of CASIS FY18 Q2 Quarterly Report for the Period January 1 - March 31, 2018 CASIS says:

"As manager of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, CASIS seeks to maximize both utilization of in-orbit resources and downstream value to life on Earth. To support these efforts, CASIS developed a methodology to assess the value creation of the projects in its portfolio. Working with external subject matter experts in an annual meeting, CASIS estimated (as of year-end FY17) the future value of the ISS National Lab portfolio will exceed $900 million in incremental revenue from addressable markets totaling more than $110 billion. Additional parameters indicating positive value to the nation include a time-to-market acceleration of 1-3 years and the development of more than 20 new solution pathways (a measure of innovation that can lead to a major advance in knowledge or new intellectual property). These data are updated annually but included in each quarterly report."

What does this even mean? Where is the "incremental revenue" being generated? On Earth? In space? Both? What are the "addressable markets"? How does CASIS know that these addressable markets are or will be $110 billion in size? Is CASIS saying that the stuff on the ISS i.e. "the ISS National Lab portfolio" is (or will be) producing revenue - in excess of $900 million? Where is this money coming from and where is it going i.e where is all of the selling happening? What is the time frame - years? Decades? Is this the CASIS portfolio (do they own things?) or is this NASA stuff? Or both? Is any company making a profit on their investment in their research on ISS? If so, then who are these companies? And what are these "solution pathways"?

CASIS is telling NASA in its official quarterly reports that the $15 million a year NASA spends on CASIS is resulting (or will result) in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue - or potential revenue - on stuff that CASIS is doing - stuff that could be worth $110 billion. Who are the lucky people who are going to be making this windfall? Names please. This certainly sounds great - but does CASIS actually explain any of their methodology - methodology they produced with NASA funding? No. They say that this is all updated annually but it never seems to be disseminated to NASA or to the taxpayers who are footing this party. Why is that? Is this how NASA is going to conduct its vastly expanded commercialization of the ISS in order to pay for its exploration plans - econo-babble and imaginary space markets?

NASA OIG: NASA's Heliophysics Portfolio

"To improve NASA's management of its heliophysics portfolio, we recommended the Associate Administrator for Science direct the HPD Director to (1) require that all JCL analyses include all discrete development risks including important risks managed outside of the project--such as a project's launch vehicle--with potential cost and/or schedule impacts; (2) complete implementation of NSWAP tasks; (3) reassess HPD's capabilities and resources and update its roadmap for implementing 2013 Decadal recommendations with expected completion dates based on the Division's updated budget and priorities over the next 5 years; and (4) establish a formal mechanism to increase collaboration with DOD and the commercial space industry regarding heliophysics research and space weather modeling and forecasting efforts."

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/casis.perf.17.jpg

Larger image Source: CASIS FY17 Q2 Quarterly Report for the Period January 1 - March 31, 2017, page 12

Keith's note: When it comes to the utilization of the U.S. National Laboratory aboard the International Space Station, its what CASIS does with the free resources that they are offered by NASA that counts. The most important, and often the most limited resource, is crew time. As you can see in the figure above, as of mid-2017, CASIS has had a hard time using all of the crew time that NASA has given to CASIS.

Starting in mid-2018 CASIS stopped including detailed summaries of their actual ISS utilization (including previous year's percentages) in these quarterly reports to NASA. That's somewhat less than transparent. Let's see how they report how they have been doing in the past year. Stay tuned.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/casis.perf.18.jpg

Larger image Source: CASIS FY18 Q2 Quarterly Report for the Period January 1 - March 31, 2018, page 22

Keith's note: Let's start with the loss of Columbia in 2003. O'Keefe talks Bush into completing ISS, then retiring Space Shuttle, then going back to the Moon by 2018 and then on to Mars 10 years Later. Then Iraq happens and Griffin changes course with the "Apollo on Steroids" thing and pivots toward Mars and away from the Moon. Then Obama tells Bolden "Moon - been there, done that, lets do Mars in 25 years, and hey let's go capture a mini-asteroid because why not?". Then Trump says "make space great again" using all of the Obama/Bolden leftovers. Then Pence gets impatient with Bridenstine and says "do the Moon by the end of our second term - oops, I mean in 5 years - instead of whenever". Now we are left with White House guidance to go back to the Moon sooner - or later. The "sooner" crowd is lead by Bridenstine. The "later" crowd - using Obama leftovers - is led by Gerstenmaier and the status quo. Meanwhile China plans to have lots of people on the Moon before we do - but probably not before Bezos and Musk do so with their own rocket ships and their own money.

Did I miss anything?

"Bill Ingalls has served as NASA's Earth-based photographer for three decades, expertly capturing the space agency's rocket launches and critical moments -- even shooting a vehicle test inside an active volcano."

Watching Apollo 11 with NASA Historian Bill Barry

"What lessons can we draw from the Apollo program to apply to challenges we face now, such as climate change?

One of the big triumphs of the Apollo program was that we managed to make it all come together and work. Going to the moon in less than 10 years seemed pretty impossible to a lot of people at the time, but we managed to make it happen. To a great extent, I think the lesson that comes out of Apollo is how to manage a big project and that big projects can be done."

Keith's note: "How to manage a big project"? The NASA historian has clearly not read the history of large programs Like the ISS, Webb Space Telescope - or SLS. I am not sure that any lessons were learned from Apollo. Quite the opposite. Just sayin'.

Facing 2024 deadline, NASA issues a report defending the Lunar Gateway, Ars Technica

"On Wednesday, as NASA continued to press lawmakers to support an accelerated plan to return humans to the Moon, the space agency began distributing a document titled Why Gateway? The document summarizes why NASA thinks a space station near the Moon is critical to human exploration, and it was first shared internally by the Gateway program office at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The document can be read here. The five-page paper is not signed by any NASA official, nor is a point-of-contact listed. Additionally, because there are several grammatical errors and typos, it appears the document was rushed into production. Since it is not marked "for internal use only," and it written at a fairly general technical level, it seems meant for public consumption, including members of Congress amid criticism of the concept."

- NASA Wants The Lunar Gateway To Do Everything For Everyone
- NASA's Advisors Struggle With Gateway Selling Points
- Bridenstine: Gateway Is - And Is Not - A Space Station
- NASA's Solution To Operating A Human Facility Like Gateway: Droids.
- Former NASA Administrator Griffin: Gateway Is A "Stupid Architecture"

"The Trump administration wants NASA to get back to the moon by 2024, using any means necessary. But will the money and the commitment be there to support the effort? Science correspondent Miles O'Brien talks to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about technical and political risk, international competition and his broader vision for the agency."

Keith's note: I sent this request to NASA PAO: With regard to this @NASA tweet:

"Will the lunar EVA suit to be used on the lunar surface in 2024 be developed in-house at NASA or will it be procured through the standard NASA contracting process from an external vendor? Can you provide me with the name of that spacesuit, where it is being developed, the contractor(s) involved in its development, what the budget is for its development, and when specifications for that suit will be ready for inclusion in an RFP? If there is no specific suit under development, can you describe the procurement strategy i.e. when will a down select of concepts be made, when will an RFP will be issued, when will test models will be delivered for testing, and when will the suit be first used in space?"

Keith's note: I just read this during the public input portion of today's NASA Advisory Council Regulatory and Policy Committee Meeting:

"My name is Keith Cowing. I am a former NASA civil servant and space biologist whose job in the 1990s entailed many of the utilization tasks currently assigned to CASIS - except we were planning them before there was an actual space station. CASIS has had nearly a decade to get up to speed with regard to its responsibilities as laid out in their NASA cooperative agreement and as a non-profit entity. CASIS has a guaranteed annual income of $15 million which is provided to CASIS - by NASA - regardless of the quality of performance demonstrated by CASIS. After nearly a decade CASIS still relies upon NASA for 99.9% of its funding.

Despite being given a government sanctioned monopoly on the utilization of the US portion of the ISS - the so-called ISS National Laboratory - CASIS has yet to be able to fully utilize the on-orbit resources given to it by NASA - including the all important crew time. CASIS has been unable to provide adequate metrics to explain what it does. Both the NASA Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office have found significant problems with CASIS' performance as well as NASA's management of CASIS which could be characterized as being somewhat of an absentee landlord. When CASIS was given its ISS role NASA only envisioned partial utilization of its overall ISS assets - those covered by the ISS National Lab. Now, a decade later, NASA envisions turning over the totality of its operations on board the ISS to the private sector. To do so NASA needs to totally revisit how it manages ISS including the CASIS Cooperative Agreement.

Given that CASIS is already incapable of meeting its chartered responsibilities on just a portion of the ISS it is unlikely that it can be expected to assume additional responsibilities that would go with managing all U.S. assets on the ISS. As such I would urge NASA to end its agreement with CASIS and re-compete these ISS National Lab responsibilities as part of a larger effort to transfer operations of the ISS to a commercial entity - if that is indeed where NASA intends to go.

The ISS is an unprecedented research facility - one who's full potential has yet to be fully realized. Despite what they might want you to believe CASIS is not the solution to the under utilization of the ISS. Rather, CASIS is the cause of its under utilization. This under utilization has gone on for far too long. Indeed CASIS often seems to be far more interested in comic book character tie-ins than doing quality science.

NASA needs to get this whole utilization thing fixed before the agency tries to commercialize anything more on the ISS. Not to do so will be to continue to waste an astonishing facility - one constructed at great expense.

Thank you for your time."

NASA OIG: NASA's Management and Development of Spacesuits

"NASA continues to manage an array of design and health risks associated with the EMUs used by ISS crew. In addition, only 11 of the 18 original EMU Primary Life Support System units - a backpack-like structure that performs a variety of functions required to keep an astronaut alive during a spacewalk - are still in use, raising concerns that the inventory may not be adequate to last through the planned retirement of the ISS. Given these issues, NASA will be challenged to continue to support ISS needs with the current fleet of EMUs through 2024, a challenge that will escalate significantly if Station operations are extended to 2028.

Despite spending nearly $200 million on NASA's next-generation spacesuit technologies, the Agency remains years away from having a flight-ready spacesuit capable of replacing the EMU or suitable for use on future exploration missions. As different missions require different designs, the lack of a formal plan and specific destinations for future missions has complicated spacesuit development. Moreover, the Agency has reduced the funding dedicated to spacesuit development in favor of other priorities such as an in-space habitat.

After examining these spacesuit development efforts, we question NASA's decision to continue funding a contract associated with the Constellation Program after cancellation of that Program and a recommendation made by Johnson Space Center officials in 2011 to cancel the contract. Rather than terminate the contract, NASA paid the contractor $80.8 million between 2011 and 2016 for spacesuit technology development, despite parallel development activities being conducted within NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Division. Moreover, given the current development schedule, a significant risk exists that a next-generation spacesuit prototype will not be sufficiently mature in time to test it on the ISS prior to 2024. Finally, little schedule margin exists between anticipated delivery of the Orion Crew Survival System spacesuit in March 2021 and NASA's current internal launch date of August 2021 for its first crewed mission beyond low Earth orbit."

NASA FY 2020 Budget hearing: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

2:30 pm EDT Live video

NASA Advisory Council; Regulatory and Policy Committee Meeting

11:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Dial-in/webex info


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