July 2019 Archives

NASA Announces Call for Next Phase of Commercial Lunar Payload Services

"NASA has announced the latest opportunity for industry to participate in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) efforts to deliver science and technology payloads to and near the Moon. The newest announcement calls for companies to push the boundaries of current technology to support the next generation of lunar landers that can land heavier payloads on the surface of the Moon, including the South Pole, as part of the agency's Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, setting the stage for future human exploration of Mars."

NASA Announces US Industry Partnerships to Advance Moon, Mars Technology

"As NASA prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program, commercial companies are developing new technologies, working toward space ventures of their own, and looking to NASA for assistance. NASA has selected 10 U.S. companies for 19 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies and help maintain American leadership in space."

NASA Administrator Names Acting Director for Goddard Space Flight Center

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named George Morrow to serve as acting director of the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, effective Thursday, Aug. 1. Morrow will replace Chris Scolese, who is departing NASA to be the director of the National Reconnaissance Office."

ISS Research and Development Conference livestream

8:30 - 9:00 AM Morning Keynote with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and ISS National Lab CEO Dr. Joseph Vockley to Host Press Conference at ISS R&D Conference

"On Wednesday, July 31, during the 8th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory Chief Executive Officer Dr. Joseph Vockley will hold a press conference to discuss the critical importance of our nation's only orbiting laboratory."

Keith's note: Offsite media questions will be submitted via Facebook and Twitter screened by CASIS. Since CASIS refuses to accredit NASAWatch as news media it is unlikely that I will be allowed to ask a question.

What Is CASIS Up To?

Keith's 29 July note:
This was tweeted by Thomas Zurbuchen @Dr_ThomasZ earlier today "NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) missions will be challenging for various reasons & they may not always succeed. We're willing to accept some risk in order to get back to the Moon quickly with commercial partners, and do exciting science and tech development. While the first three companies selected to carry payloads to the Moon were announced in May, one of them, Orbit Beyond, Inc., has informed NASA that they will not be able to timely complete the awarded task order. As a result, NASA made a decision to comply with Orbit Beyond Inc's request and terminated the task order on terms agreeable to both parties. Orbit Beyond, Inc. remains a CLPS contract awardee and may be eligible to compete for future opportunities."

According to sources Team Indus was not willing to give OrbitBeyond the license needed to build this lander in the U.S. and the whole thing reached a halt this week with NASA realizing it was just not going to work. This is unfortunate for OrbitBeyond and the group of space companies it had assembled for this project. Hopefully they'll be able to move ahead with other projects.

Bengaluru firm to build moon lander for Nasa 2020 mission, Times of India

"Confirming the development, Team Indus engineer Ananth Ramesh told TOI: "Yes, we will be building the lander. It is most likely to be built in India too." Team Indus CEO Rahul Narayan was in the US to sign the contract documents on Thursday."

America's first private moon lander will be engineered in India, Quartz

"Orbit Beyond, which will assemble the lander and spacecraft in Florida, also includes US firms Honeybee Robotics, Advanced Space, Ceres Robotics, and Apollo Fusion to handle tasks including the installation of scientific payloads, maneuvering from the earth to the moon, and operations on the lunar surface."

Keith's 15 June note: If you read articles about OrbitBeyond in the Indian press they all say that the lander will likely be built in India. If you read stories published in the U.S. they say it will be assembled here. This issue apparently came up in last week's space science hearings. OrbitBeyond is a privately held company that was only recently established and looks to be designed as more of a shell company to coordinate the activities of its various team members. The bulk of the hardware is going to be of Indian design. The lingering question is: where will it actually be built?

Keith's 29 July note: OrbitBeyond has not replied to multiple requests on this issue sent more than a month ago. Various sources point to mounting management problems within OrbitBeyond. In a nutshell NASA picked Team Indus, an Indian company that was trying to win he Google Lunar X Prize to build this mission and they were calling all the shots.

My Open Letter to NASA Managers Who Can't Say "Moon" without "Mars" in the Same Sentence: Please stop it., Homer Hickam

"We've even got a Vice President who is behind NASA, who wants you to go to the moon and build something permanent there, and who has stuck out his neck for you. For years, lots of us have been working in every way we can - me with my books and my other writings - to get someone in the Executive Branch who is really serious about going back to the moon, not in a sprint with flags and all that but for a purpose that's good enough to keep us there.

But now I fear you're about to totally screw it up mainly because of where your heads are on this moon and Mars thing.

So, with great respect to all of you who toil every day on the pathways to space, let me be clear: Every time you folks at NASA tack "and then we're headed to Mars" onto your comments about going back to the moon, you diminish the moon as a destination whether you realize it or not. As such, you are totally confusing everybody, especially young people. Common sense says you're not going to Mars because you have no orders to go there and the technology not only doesn't exist, there are no plans to make it exist.

So, dear NASA folks, if we're going to get young people excited about space, trust me on this: The moon is exciting enough and I'm going to tell you why."

Keith's note: The CASIS-sponsored International Space Station Research And Development Conference is underway in Atlanta. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is speaking at ISSRDC on Wednesday. NASA has not issued any media advisories about Bridenstine's appearance or the conference in general but CASIS did last week.

You'd think that NASA would want people to know that this event is going on. Guess again. If you go to @Space_Station with its 2.7 million followers there has been no mention whatsoever. Nor has there been any mention by @NASA with its 32 million followers. No mention at NASA.gov, or at NASA TV, or at the NASA HQ ISS page.

A few weeks ago NASA went up to New York and did a big thing on Wall Street to promote NASA's plans to open up the ISS to more commercial uses. CASIS was invisible at that event and is not mentioned in any of NASA's new ISS commerce plans. Now NASA is going out of its way to dial back promotion of this ISSRDC event - even though there is a NASA logo all over everything.

If NASA was actually interested in the commercial potential of the ISS then you'd think that they'd use every opportunity to promote the potential of the ISS. But they don't. Why?

Keith's note: In a 7 March 2019 letter from NASA Space Station Director Sam Scimemi to CASIS CEO Joseph Vockley, Scimemi states that NASA believes that "the CASIS Board of Directors size and scope should be reduced. In addition to the subject if the Board's compensation addressed in CASIS Cooperative Agreement Modification 14, we recommend reducing the number and composition of the directors per the enclosed proposed revisions to your bylaws. We also believe that based on CASIS's performance since the NASA letter, dated November 16, 2017, that the ad hoc advisory committees created by the Board, including operations, business development, science and technology, and STEM education, are no longer required. The Board should retrun to a governing manner of corporate management and oversight in order to comply with the CASIS bylaws."

"Recommended Changes to CASIS, Inc. Bylaws

3.02 (2) The Board shall consist of not fewer than five (5) and not more than nine (9) managing directors with at least fifty percent of the exact number to be scientific of which shall be determined from time to time by the board.

3.10 Compensation of Directors. Directors may be reimbursed for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties to the Corporation in reasonable amounts but will not receive compensation for their service on the Board."

On 10 April 2019 Vockely signed off on a cooperative agreement modification which says that "The CASIS Board of Directors will not be compensated for their time in participating as a Board member (Travel expenses will be paid). This is consistent with best practices for non-profit Boards of Directors".

Hmm ... this change in policy states that not paying board members for their time "is consistent with best practices for non-profit Boards of Directors". If so then why did CASIS pay their board members in the first place? Where they not in compliance with best practices for non-profit Boards of Directors by virtue of making these payments? NASA highlighted issues with the CASIS board in a 16 November 2017 letter. CASIS replied to NASA about the issues raised by NASA on 22 January 2018. Apparently CASIS did not move on these issues thus requiring NASA to send another letter on 7 March 2019.

If you look at the most recent CASIS 990 form filed with the IRS for 2017 Part VII (pages 7 and 8) "Compensation of Officers, Directors,Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors" you will see what the CASIS board members are paid an average of $40,000 a year and senior members of CASIS staff are paid from $200,000 to over $300,000.

Eleven CASIS board members are listed in the latest 990 form. With one exception the board members were paid between $38,000 and $41,000 a year for 8.00 hours a week of work. For the sake of analysis, let's assume an average of $40,000 a year for those 10 people serving on the CASIS board. If you assume a 52 week year that's 416 hours per year or $96/hr. If you assume a 2,080 hour annual work year that rate is equal to an annual salary of $200,000.

In an earlier story from 2015 "Examining Staff and Board Member Salaries at CASIS" I noted that the 2013 990 form showed that CASIS board members were paid an average of $49,750 a year for 6.00 hours of work a week or $159.45 an hour. This hourly rate is what someone with a salary of $330,000 earns. So ... CASIS board members took a big pay cut. But they were still being paid as of the last IRS filing.

The current board listed by CASIS shows 9 board members - the maximum number that NASA requested. Given that the 990 form filed by CASIS claims that these board members work 8 hours a week (i.e. one work day) is significant. That means they devote 20% of a standard work week - every week - to CASIS. Exactly what that work is or how it is confirmed as having been accomplished is not mentioned by CASIS. I have been on the board of directors of two space-related non-profit organizations (no compensation whatsoever) so I have an idea what is involved in board responsibilities and why people serve on these boards.

At this level of payment and expected workload CASIS board members were contributing significant labor to CASIS more akin to what a consultant would offer - beyond what you might expect a board member to be offering. That point is now moot since the board members are doing it for free - assuming that CASIS has complied with NASA's request, that is. Of course there is also the question of whether the board's responsibilities have changed now that they are not being paid - or if they are still working one day a week for CASIS. I'd ask - but CASIS does not respond to any NASAWatch inquiries.

But wait: there is a press event with Jim Bridenstine and Joe Vockley on Wednesday at the ISSRDC event. Alas, offsite media can only use social media to suggest questions.

- 17 November 2017 Letter from NASA to CASIS Regarding Complaints About CASIS Activities
- 22 January 2018 Letter from CASIS To NASA Regarding Complaints About CASIS Activities
- Earlier posts about CASIS

Elon Musk says SpaceX could land on the moon in 2 years, Business Insider

"We recently asked Jeff DeWit, NASA's chief financial officer, about Musk's statements for an upcoming episode of "Business Insider Today," a top daily news show on Facebook. DeWit, who's in charge of helping the agency make the most cost-effective decisions, said he thought that the odds of SpaceX pulling off a private lunar landing with Starship before NASA can return there "are slim," but he did not rule out the possibility of a NASA-SpaceX partnership on a moon mission. In fact, he underscored the possibility. "More power to him. I hope he does it," DeWit said of Musk. "If he can do it, we'll partner with them, and we'll get there faster." He added: "This isn't about us doing it -- it's about America doing it. He's [got] an American company. I'd love to partner with him and get that done." SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment about DeWit's statements."

- Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson [statement]

"I want to commend our commercial space companies that are making such impressive progress. There's not a week that goes by without reading about a significant milestone in a commercial program, the deployment of a new capability in space, or an innovative plan that is attracting commercial investment."

- Rep. Kendra Horn [statement]
- Bhavya Lal, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute [statement]
- Carissa Christensen, Bryce Space and Technology [statement]
- Eric W. Stallmer, Commercial Spaceflight Federation [statement]
- Mike French, Aerospace Industries Association [statement]
- Laura Montgomery, Catholic University's Columbus School [statement]


"Green Run" Test Will Pave the Way for Successful NASA Moon Missions

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced July 25 the agency will conduct an "Green Run" core stage test for the Space Launch System rocket ahead of the upcoming Artemis 1 lunar mission. The first eight minutes of every Artemis mission with NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will begin with core stage and solid rocket boosters producing 8.8 million pounds of thrust to launch the agency's Orion spacecraft to the Moon. NASA will test the rocket's 212-foot tall core stage- the tallest rocket stage the agency has ever built- with a "Green Run" test on Earth before launch day to help ensure mission success and pave the way for future Artemis missions carrying crew to the Moon. Missions at the Moon will be a stepping stone to prepare for human exploration of Mars."

Starhopper Did Not Hop

NASA Gateway Program Justification For Other Than Full and Open Competition For The Minimal Habitation Module

"NASA's decision, based on review of each NextSTEP-2 contractor's capabilities, to sole source the procurement of the MHM flight unit for the cislunar Gateway to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) as a follow-on to the originally competitively awarded NextSTEP-2 BAA Appendix A, Habitat Systems studies, Contract NNH15CN76C (See below). ... In order to support the mandate to enable a human landing capability in 2024, the MHM must be launched in late 2023 to be delivered to Gateway no later than early 2024. The schedule constraints established by a December 2023 launch dictate that a module be on dock at Kennedy Space Center in mid-2023 for launch processing and integration. Per NASA's schedule analysis, this typical timeline for module production must already be compressed in order to achieve the 2024 human lunar landing deadline. Given that the NextSTEP-2 contractors advanced designs to a near System Design Review (SDR) fidelity, NASA determined that it must utilize the existing concepts from the NextSTEP-2 Appendix A and use the development done to date to minimize the additional design work necessary to produce a module in time."

Keith's note: NASA has been directed by Vice President Pence to truncate NASA's original plans to land people on the Moon in 2028 to a new date of 2024. That means NASA is going to have to make a number of prompt decisions on some basic aspects of how it accomplishes this 2024 goal. This NASA document makes mention of the fact that NASA is having to compress its procedures in order to meet the deadline set by Vice President Pence. NASA has decided that the only viable solution for a habitation module for the Gateway is to utilize a modified version of Northrop Grumman's Cygnus cargo spacecraft. This spacecraft (originally developed by Orbital Sciences which was bought by Northrop Grumman) has performed flawlessly each time it has flown, so it is a known, proven design. While it would not be surprising that other companies will protest this sole source decision by NASA, it is hard to argue that other companies could have been able to provide hardware on the dock at KSC when NASA needs it to be there.

The only thing that is missing from this document is the cost of this module which is redacted on page 5 of the original notice posted by NASA. Given the mysterious and ever-changing estimates of how much it will take NASA to meet the 2024 goal it is hard to imagine that this number will remain a secret. Indeed, just last week NASA Administrator Bridenstine openly admitted in congressional testimony that NASA has a chronic problem when it comes to estimating costs and then delivering on them.

Meeting the 2024 lunar landing date is going to be sporty - at a minimum. To his credit Jim Bridenstine has hit the ground running. Gateway has been downsized to a basic initial configuration. Maxar has the propulsion portion of the Gateway and Northrop Grumman now has the initial habitation portion. Orion and its service module exists and SLS is being fabricated albeit behind schedule. Moreover commercial launchers from SpaceX and ULA are ready for procurement to launch components. All that seems to be missing now is a lunar lander. NASA has a long way to go. Many people think that the landing could be done in a simpler fashion. But again, given the lead time Bridenstine has been given he has certainly risen to the challenge. It will be interesting to see who is picked to run HEOMD given that Bridenstine has said that some important decisions are on hold pending those appointments.

'Near-final' budget deal could prevent government shutdown, stabilize military funding, Defense News

"The retreat from the possibility of a one-year continuing resolution, which lawmakers and the administration had openly discussed, is a win for the Pentagon. While short-term stopgap CRs are nothing new, CRs do lock in spending at the previous year's level and bar new programs from starting as well as production increases."

Chris Kraft

NASA Administrator Remembers Mission Control Pioneer Chris Kraft

"Chris was one of the core team members that helped our nation put humans in space and on the Moon, and his legacy is immeasurable. Chris' engineering talents were put to work for our nation at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, before NASA even existed, but it was his legendary work to establish mission control as we know it for the earliest crewed space flights that perhaps most strongly advanced our journey of discovery. From that home base, America's achievements in space were heard across the globe, and our astronauts in space were anchored to home even as they accomplished unprecedented feats."

2009 Michael Collins Interviews Michael Collins UPDATED for the 50th Anniversary July 2019

"Q. Okay but getting back to the space program. What's next?

A. I hope Mars. It was my favorite planet as a kid and still is. As celestial bodies go, the moon is not a particularly interesting place, but Mars is. It is the closest thing to a sister planet that we have found so far. I worry that at NASA's creeping pace, with the emphasis on returning to the moon, Mars may be receding into the distance. I would advocate for a "JFK Express to Mars". President Kennedy's 1961 mandate to land man on the moon within the decade was a masterpiece of simplicity and we invoked it often to get the job done."

Remarks by Vice President Pence Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Kennedy Space Center, FL

"And while we've made great strides in advancing the President's bold vision for space -- unlike in years past, we will have the budgets to match it. And that's why I'm especially grateful today to be joined by some of the greatest champions of American leadership in space in the Congress of the United States: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Congressman Robert Aderholt, Congressman Brian Babin, Congressman Bill Posey, and other distinguished members of Congress. Would you please rise and allow us to express our appreciation for your strong support of renewed American leadership? (Applause.)"

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Remarks by Vice President Pence Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Kennedy Space Center, FL

"Apollo 11 is the only event in the 20th century that stands a chance of being widely remembered in the 30th century. A thousand years from now, July 20, 1969 will likely be a date that will live in the minds and imaginations of men and women, as long as there are men and women to remember -- across this world, across this solar system, and beyond."

Remarks by President Trump Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

"THE PRESIDENT: And we opened up our fields. When we took it over, they were all covered with grass, and they were broken and they were in bad shape. And NASA -- if you look at Kennedy, if you look down in Florida, you look -- wherever you want to look, it was not a pretty picture. They were almost, you could say, abandoned, and now they're in tip-top shape."

"THE PRESIDENT: And, you know, one of the things: We're bringing the glamour back to it because it lost the glamour. It lost everything. If you would have seen these fields when we took over -- really, you started about a year, year and a half ago. When we took over, it was unbelievable. It looked like an abandoned town. And now there's beauty. There's beauty, and there's a lot of things happening. A lot of really great things are happening. So we're very proud of that."

Presidential Message on Space Exploration Day, 2019

"To honor those who have come before us and for the future betterment of all humankind, we pledge to launch a new era of exploration, extending our pioneering spirit into the farthest reaches of the cosmos. My Administration is committed to reestablishing our Nation's dominance and leadership in space for centuries to come."

NASA Coverage of Vice President's Visit to Kennedy Space Center on Moon Landing Anniversary

"NASA will provide television, still image, and social media coverage of Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, July 20 - the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The day will begin at 11:25 a.m. EDT with Air Force Two's arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) runway."

Watch Pence's speech at KSC live at 1:00 pm EDT https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

Keith's note: 20 July 2019, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's landing on the Moon, is also the 100th Birthday of Sir Edmund Hillary. Along with Tenzing Norgay, they became the first humans to stand atop the highest point on our planet, Mt. Everest. in 1953. Years later Hillary became friends with Neil Armstrong and the two of them travelled to the North Pole together in 1985.

In 2009 Astronaut Scott Parazynski became the first person to fly in space and to stand atop Everest. He had four small Apollo 11 Moon rocks with him that I brought with me to Nepal. Those Moon rocks and a piece of the summit of Everest are now aboard the ISS in the cupola. A plaque mentions Hillary by name. (larger image) Oddly, despite all of the Apollo 11 hoopla, NASA has not made any mention of this historic resonance of improbable feats of exploration.

In December 2017 Astronaut Randy Bresnik took lots of photos of Everest from the ISS cupola and posted them using the Twitter hashtag #4daysovereverest As he snapped these pictures, mere inches away from his knees in the ISS Cupola was the plaque with the Everest and Moon rocks. Bresnik never made any mention of this. Nor did NASA. NASA HEOMD and PAO have been reminded of this low hanging fruit in terms of a clear historic exploration relevance. They chose not to avail themselves of it.

The whole intent of doing the Moon rock/Everest thing by Scott and I was to offer NASA a chance to invoke a real, no kidding, historic resonance between terrestrial and space exploration. Instead of using this nexus of exploration, NASA simply ignores it. Right now the wave of Apollo nostalgia is giving Artemis a brief surge. All too soon that will evaporate. Artemis needs to avail itself of every shred of historic and cultural relevance that it can muster. If NASA cannot use historic memes that have been deliberately crafted for them then this is going to be an uphill battle for the agency as it explains why tens of billions of dollars should be spent on going back to the Moon.

Just sayin'

Keith's update: Oh yes, then there is this. This same collection of 4 small Apollo 11 moon rocks led to Scott Parazynski meeting his future wife Meenakshi Wadhwa. Mini was the scientist who had to approve the loan of the Moon rocks to Scott and I - a request made by Bob Jacobs at NASA PAO. As such Bob Jacobs and I are moon rock matchmakers.

Keith's note: More pictures on @NASAWatch

Keith's note: Small wonder why NASA people do not exactly look forward to these Oval Office things. No one knows what is going to happen until it happens.

Earth Blue, Rocket Red and Lunar Silver: A New Identity for Artemis Program to the Moon, NASA

"With this in mind, NASA is unveiling the new Artemis program identity, a bold look that embodies the determination of the men and women who will carry our missions forward. They will explore regions of the Moon never visited before, unlock mysteries of the Universe and test the technology that will extend the bounds of humanity farther into the Solar System."

Marc's note: Hey NASA Watch readers, what do you think of this new "identity"?

NASA Artemis program logo animated.

Google Goes Full Apollo

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Forget new crewed missions in space. NASA should focus on saving Earth, op ed, Lori Garver, Washington Post

"After accomplishing this amazing feat, the aerospace community has again and again sought presidential proclamations to go further. President Trump is the fifth president to proclaim we will send humans to the moon and/or Mars within a specific time frame, a decree without a value proposition that has never inspired broad public support nor come close to coming true. NASA remains one the most revered and valuable brands in the world, and the agency is at its best when given a purpose. But the public doesn't understand the purpose of spending massive amounts of money to send a few astronauts to the moon or Mars. Are we in another race, and if so, is this the most valuable display of our scientific and technological leadership? If science is the rationale, we can send robots for pennies on the dollar. In a July Pew Research Center study, 63 percent of respondents said monitoring key parts of Earth's climate system should be the highest priority for the United States' space agency -- sending astronauts to the moon was their lowest priority, at 13 percent ; 18 percent favor Mars."

Keith's note: Earlier today I featured a silly slide shown by NASA Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz to the Astro2020 Decadal Survey Committee Meeting at the National Academy of Science (Mocking Cost Overruns And Schedule Slips At NASA (Update)). If you download his entire presentation (link) you will see that there several slides which serve one purpose: to confuse anyone who tries to understand what they are trying to say.

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In this slide (larger). Hertz says NASA is "not a science agency". Then he says that what "NASA is a mission-oriented agency, and science is the purpose and consequence of our space missions". So Science is what NASA does. And NASA is an agency - in this case an agency that does science. So why is NASA not a "science agency"? There is a distinction lacking a difference at work here.

"Science" is mentioned multiple times in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, As Amended. Hertz quotes this Act by saying "... carrying instruments and humans through space" when in fact neither the original or amended version of the Act uses these words. Instead they both say "living organisms through space". Hertz is trying to spin the language and intent of NASA's charter to say NASA does not do science - at a workshop where the next decade of space science is being planned. In the process he seems to have confused himself. I can only guess that Hertz changed "living organisms" to "humans" to try and make NASA sound more operational and less scientific.

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And then he includes a chart (larger) about "NASA Principles of Science" even though he claims NASA is not a science agency. My brain hurts.

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Then there's this confusing chart (larger) about why flagship missions cost so much. It seems to be saying that if NASA waited longer it would cost more to build things. But that we can now build better things for less money. Hertz then says "we started Webb in 2007, it will cost $8.8 billion and it has ~10x the collection area of Hubble". OK, so it will be a cool telescope - but what was the original cost of Webb supposed to be? $824.8 million was the advertised sticker price in 2002. By 2010 it had increased to $6.8 billion. But Hertz mentions none of this because the real villan is "the tyranny of inflation" according to the title on this chart. No it wasn't. Webb's obscene cost increase is not due to inflation - it is due to the fact that NASA did not know what it would cost when it started and then went on to mismanage the project for a decade - leading to delays and cost increases.

I think most people involved in the Decadal review see through Hertz's confusing charts. He has been doing this for a long time. That said, at a time when budgets are ever tighter - especially for science - you would hope that the government representatives from agencies who want to spend billions on science could at least use plain language to make their points.

Just sayin'

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Keith's note: This Powerpoint chart (enlarge) was shown yesterday by NASA Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz to the Astro2020 Decadal Survey Committee Meeting at the National Academy of Science where they are working on the next decadal plan. At the heart of this plan is a strategic discussion of what resources can reasonable be expected to be available during the time frame under consideration and how to prioritize their wish list accordingly. We're all familiar with the immense cost overruns and schedule delays for the Webb Space Telescope.

I have watched Paul Hertz make these sort of presentations over the years. It is obvious that he has spent far too much time inside the alternate reality bubble at NASA and is unaware how charts like this can be interpreted by external eyes or, via webstreaming, that his words can be heard by external audiences. To be certain this is one chart from a larger presentation that I did not hear. That is the problem with NASA Powerpoint charts and their stilted language. When they escape into the wild they stand on their own without context as this chart has. But the words say what they say. Nowhere do we see words to the effect that cost overruns and schedule slips are bad and are to be avoided. Why state the obvious, eh? Maybe if it gets stated more often people at NASA will start to pay attention to these delays/overruns.

As NASA Administrator Bridenstine noted in testimony before the Senate yesterday "NASA has not been good at realistic budgets and schedules. We need to get better at that. ... We have a long history at NASA for cost and schedule not being set in a realistic way and that leads to a lack of confidence in people - such as this committee." Whether it is Webb or Mars landers or SLS NASA has some major work to do to restore confidence in its budgeting and program management.

As such you would think that official NASA presentations would take the matter seriously and not be flippant or try and debunk cost overrun "myths" or negate their impact as not being all that bad. Moreover, one would think that the Administrator's concerns would translate into a more serious tone about the budget realities that lie ahead and not feed the collective denial among space scientists who think that they are running all of their programs just fine and more money is always available.

Just sayin'

I sent a request to Paul Hertz, SMD, and PAO asking "Can you provide me with the background information used by SMD to reach the conclusions stated on this chart? Also: are there any charts in your presentation that state that cost overruns and schedule slips are bad and are to be avoided?" Hertz will ignore my request.

Keith's note: Response from Paul Hertz (surprised me): "My complete chart set is posted at https://www8.nationalacademies.org/pa/projectview.aspx?key=51398#MeetingId11211.

You posted Chart 59.

"Are there any charts in your presentation that state that cost overruns and schedule slips are bad and are to be avoided?" -- See charts 69-72.

"NASA has always spent 55%-70% of the annual budget on developing large missions." - See Chart 58. This statement is only about Astrophysics (that was clear in the context of the presentation, but it is not explicitly stated).

"When a flagship overruns, it delays the next flagship. NASA protects R&A and the Explorers from flagship overruns to maintain a balanced program." - See Chart 36 (amount of funding for R&A or Explorers during period of Webb overruns). This statement is only about Astrophysics (that was clear in the context of the presentation, but it is not explicitly stated).

"The reduction in Explorer launch rate around 2010 was due to a reduction in the overall Astrophysics budget." - See Chart 36 (top line from FY09 to FY13)."

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American kids want to be famous on YouTube, and kids in China want to go to space: survey, Business Insider

"Neil Armstrong became a role model in the eyes of kids everywhere 50 years ago when he became the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. Kids in a recent survey, however, were much more likely to aspire to be the next YouTube star rather than the next person in space. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Lego, found that children in the US and the United Kingdom were three times as likely to want to be YouTubers or vloggers as astronauts when they grow up. The survey asked 3,000 kids ages 8 to 12 to choose from five professions to answer which they wanted to be when they grew up: astronaut, musician, professional athlete, teacher, or vlogger/YouTuber. Though the top choice among kids in the US and the UK was vlogger/YouTuber, 56% of kids in China said they wanted to be an astronaut."

LEGO Group Kicks Off Global Program To Inspire The Next Generation Of Space Explorers As NASA Celebrates 50 Years Of Moon Landing, LEGO

"Nearly all children aged eight to 12 from China (97%), US (88%) and UK (87%) envision a human going to Mars in the future. In China, about a quarter (24%) of kids who think humans will go to Mars say it will happen either this year or next. Three-quarters of kids believe that humans will live in outer space or on a different planet, though kids from China are more likely to think so (96%) than are kids from the US (66%) and UK (62%). Similarly, when asked if they personally would like to go to outer space or a different planet, kids from China are more likely to say 'yes' (95%) than are kids from the US (68%) or UK (63%). The survey also revealed that today's children are three times more likely to aspire to be a YouTuber (29%) than an Astronaut (11%). When asked 'which ... careers are part of space exploration?' Astronaut was the most chosen answer (90%), followed by Engineer (58%) and Computer Programmer (52%). Only seven percent of children see a role for a Farmer/Gardener in the space program, an indication that kids may not realize all of the different jobs required to support space travel."

Keith's note: This week we're all being bathed in a 24/7 wave of Apollo nostalgia. NASA's proposed Artemis program is benefiting from the afterglow. But what is going to happen next week when all of the Apollo hoopla is over? In Chinese students will be pursuing their dream of becoming an astronaut while U.S. kids will be webcasting from their bedrooms.

Keith's update: I mentioned this poll's results tonight on CGTN America:

Humanity now lives in space permanently. Our spacecraft have left the solar system. Our space telescopes look back to the beginning of time. We are spacefarers.

Space technology has its roots in weapons of war. America's early accomplishments in space were achieved with direct use of Nazi technology and personnel. Russia followed a similar path. Today North Korea, Iran, and other nations use rocket designs with a clear lineage originating with Hitler's V-2. All technology is iterative. Smart technology persists and finds peaceful uses despite its war making origins.

As we focus on the 50th anniversary of America's Apollo 11 mission, it would be informative to glance back at the legacy of using Nazi technology to accomplish this epochal feat of human ingenuity. For me this is incredibly personal.

Hitler's V-2 nearly killed my father. Yet I helped design things that flew into space on rockets inspired by V-2 technology - often with my friends on board. The technology that tried to kill my father gave me a career.

As best I can collate the facts, on 18 March 1945, a V-2 missile was launched from Statenkwartier in The Hague in occupied Netherlands at 9:25 am by Battery 485.  It was one of the last V-2 launches before Germany lost the ability to use these weapons. As the rocket sped away from the surface it reached an altitude of over 50 miles - perhaps more - the edge of space. After a flight time of 5 minutes or so it fell from space with a vengeance and slammed into London at nearly 2,000 miles per hour. It hit near the Marble Arch Underground station - specifically at Hyde Park (near Speakers Corner) in Westminster.  

The blast created by the impact formed a crater 60 feet across and sent a supersonic shockwave outward. An instant later and several blocks away the shockwave picked my father up out of bed in his room above a pub and threw him through a set of glass doors.  He had no warning that this was going to happen. No one ever did. While he was badly cut up, he was otherwise all right - physically.  

My father had been invited to go out for beers with his roommates - but he was broke - so he went to bed early instead. He never saw his roommates again.  My father was 22 at the time.

Continued below

Statement by NASA Administrator Bridenstine: Hearing: Moon to Mars: NASA's Plans for Deep Space Exploration

"This week, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo-11 mission to the Moon. At this point in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins had been in flight for just over a day, with the historic lunar landing ahead of them. Now, NASA is working to build a sustainable, open architecture that returns humanity to our nearest neighbor. We are building for the long term, going to the Moon to stay, and moving beyond to Mars. We are designing an open, durable, reusable architecture that will support exploration for decades to come. Sustainability requires reusable systems and partnerships from across the commercial sector and around the world. Robotic scientific missions delivered by commercial landers will be the first Artemis elements to land on the Moon."

Live webcast starts at 10:30 am EDT

Apollo Was NASA's Biggest Win - But Its Legacy is Holding The Agency Back. The Verge

"Apollo had a purpose. It was a major relay in the Space Race, and it showcased the incredible feats of engineering people can achieve when they bend their wills toward a common, monumental goal. It let people dream, and inspired innovation. But if NASA can't find a new purpose that motivates in the same way as the Cold War did, it's possible that the agency may remain trapped in its current cycle of development for human exploration for some time. The agency is trying to break out of this mold, but the politics of NASA and the space industrial complex that have been developing rocket hardware for decades make it difficult to evolve. And the agency may have the Apollo program to thank."

The Fraught Effort to Return to the Moon, The Atlantic

"The Trump administration faces a public skeptical of both destinations. According to a recent poll, 78 percent of respondents have a favorable view of NASA, and a majority say the government is spending too little when they're told that the agency's annual funding accounts for half a percent of the national budget. But just 42 percent think NASA should go to the moon in 2024, another recent poll found. A similar proportion of people think neither Mars nor the moon should be a priority. Even the two living Apollo 11 astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, think the United States should head to Mars instead of the moon."

Trump officials deleting mentions of 'climate change' from U.S. Geological Survey press releases, Science

"In the case of the California coastline study, the press release went through the office of James Reilly, the director of USGS, a former astronaut who is attempting to minimize the consideration of climate change in agency decisions. Reilly is preparing a directive for agency scientists to use climate models that predict changes through 2040, when the effect of emissions is expected to be less severe. The New York Times first reported on the directive. At his 2018 confirmation hearing, Reilly promised to protect the agency's scientific integrity."

Keith's note: Notes from Today's press event with NASA Administrator Bridenstine:

- The decision to reassign Bill Gerstenmaier and others was made by Jim Bridenstine. He did not consult the President or Vice President about this personnel issue.
- the decision to replace Gerstenmaier et al was the result of a need fo rnew leadership at HEOMD.
- Gerstenmaier is to be congratulated for helping to keep human space programs alive at NASA during times when human spaceflight was not exactly a priority
- Bridenstine does not. know of there will be a commercial crew flight in 2019
- Bridenstine expects that the cost of landing Americans on the Moon by 2024 will cost less than $20 billion due, in part to commercial participation and advanced technology
- NASA has a diverse workforce including the astronaut corps and it will continue to diversify.
- Artemis will land the next two Americans on the Moon and the first one to set for will be a female NASA astronaut
- NASA has not decided whether or not to do a Green Run test of the SLS before it is launched.
- Bridenstine needs to put permanent people in place at HEOMD before making some important decisions
- When asked about education and public outreach and inspiring the next generation Bridenstine said "the best thing we can do is stunning achievements. What are we doing today that will have a stunning outcome such that 50 years from today people will be celebrating it."
- With regard to destinations and priorities Bridenstine said "Mars is that generational achievement that we are working toward. Going to the Moon to learn how to live on another world"
- When asked if Boeing will be held accountable for SLS delays and cost overruns Bridenstine said "they do or do not get compensation based on milestones. You will see in their award fee that we are not satisfied with their performance."

Forward To The Moon

Forward To The Moon, Jim Bridenstine, Explorers Journal (Explorers Club)

"I am the first NASA administrator to have never seen humans walk on another world. I intend to be the only administrator with that distinction. Right now there are more people alive than not who share my experience. While most of Earth's inhabitants were born after the end of the Apollo missions, roughly a quarter of all of the people alive today have always known a world where it is perfectly normal for people to live in space. In winter 1911-1912, two overland parties became the first humans to reach the South Pole within weeks of each other. While we visited the South Pole in airplanes in subsequent years, no one thought to travel overland again for nearly half a century. In many important ways that is where we are today with regard to the Moon. We fly over it with satellites while we stay home. It has been a half-century. It is time to go back."

'Smartest guy in the room': Pentagon R&D chief under fire after controversial firings, Inside Defense

"Key lawmakers are closely examining the behavior and decision-making of the Defense Department's technology chief, spurred by high-profile personnel departures from his office. Mike Griffin earlier this month, according to government sources, orchestrated early departures within days of each other for former Strategic Capabilities Office Director Chris Shank and former Space Development Agency Director Fred Kennedy. The moves, more than a dozen current and former government officials tell Inside Defense, are in line with a well-known pattern of controversial decision-making, turf fighting and abrasive behavior. But the abrupt exits have alarmed officials at the Defense Department and on Capitol Hill, particularly because Shank and Kennedy were Griffin's personal friends and hand-picked for their jobs."

House Armed Services Committee denies funding for Space Development Agency, Space News

"Specifically, the committee is concerned about the abrupt resignation of the director and the apparent change in direction for this proposed program, contrary to planned activities that had been briefed to the committee and contrary to what the committee supported," the letter said. Former SDA director Fred Kennedy resigned June 19. Sources said Kennedy quit following clashes with Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin over how the agency should be run."

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Static Fire Test Anomaly Investigation Statement

"Initial data reviews indicated that the anomaly occurred approximately 100 milliseconds prior to ignition of Crew Dragon's eight SuperDraco thrusters and during pressurization of the vehicle's propulsion systems. Evidence shows that a leaking component allowed liquid oxidizer - nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) - to enter high-pressure helium tubes during ground processing. A slug of this NTO was driven through a helium check valve at high speed during rapid initialization of the launch escape system, resulting in structural failure within the check valve. The failure of the titanium component in a high-pressure NTO environment was sufficient to cause ignition of the check valve and led to an explosion."

NASAWatch on CGTN

Book Review: "Eight Years To The Moon"

"Half a century ago we went to the Moon. We went from no human spaceflight capability to the ability to land people on another world in 8 years. "Eight Years To The Moon" by Nancy Atkinson chronicles the behind the scenes efforts required to accomplish this improbable task. Suitcase-sized computers, monster rockets, and some good old fashioned flying would be required. NASA had all of the flying stuff. The other things - well, that is what this book covers. The format is chronological - you follow the creation of this immense capability from scratch to reality - and you do so while looking over the shoulders - or sometimes the beer glasses, slide rules, or chalk boards - of the people who made this all happen."

Transcript: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on "Face the Nation," July 14, 2019, CBS

CBS: "So the first steps [on the Moon] in 2024 will be by a woman?"
Bridenstine: "That's the goal."

Women are less supportive of space exploration, but putting a woman on the Moon might change that, The Conversation

"From my perspective as a space policy analyst, this is an important message for NASA to send. Women have been historically excluded from the space program, especially early on. While women have made inroads both as astronauts and more generally within the NASA ranks since, there remains a significant gender gap in support for space exploration. And for Artemis to succeed in getting the first woman to the Moon by 2024, a lot of political and public support will be required."

Larger image

Transcript: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on "Face the Nation," July 14, 2019, CBS

Bridenstine: "We also want to keep our eye on what is President Trump's goal - what is his vision? He wants to put an American flag - on Mars. So we go to the Moon to learn how to live on another world."

CBS: "So the first steps [on the Moon] in 2024 will be by a woman?"
Bridenstine: "That's the goal."

For First Time, Majority in U.S. Backs Human Mission to Mars, Gallup

"Americans' views about landing an astronaut on Mars have shifted, with a majority now favoring the idea for the first time since 1969 and 1999, when majorities opposed the idea. The latest figure comes as President Donald Trump has committed to a manned Mars mission. In his Fourth of July speech, the president said, "We're going to be back on the moon ... and, someday soon, we will plant the American flag on Mars." Gallup first asked Americans about attempting to land astronauts on Mars in 1969, shortly after the U.S. accomplished the same feat on the moon. At that time, just 39% were in favor and 53% opposed. A subsequent update on the 30th anniversary of the moon landing found public opinion had changed little, with 43% in favor and 54% opposed to going to Mars."

NASA Moves Forward With Plans For Multi-Billion-Dollar Moon Rocket, NPR

"[NASA SLS Core Stage Manufacturing Manager Chad] BRYANT: Think of it as a jobs program. So we're taking - all of the funding that is given us to build this rocket, we're creating jobs everywhere. And not only that, we're all coming together to build a product that is going to make us proud to be Americans."

Earlier SLS posts

Leadership Changes in Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Memo

As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars. In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate.

For Climbing Robots, the Sky's the Limit, NASA

"Robots can drive on the plains and craters of Mars, but what if we could explore cliffs, polar caps and other hard-to-reach places on the Red Planet and beyond? Designed by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a four-limbed robot named LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fishhooks in each of its 16 fingers and using artificial intelligence (AI) to find its way around obstacles. In its last field test in Death Valley, California, in early 2019, LEMUR chose a route up a cliff while scanning the rock for ancient fossils from the sea that once filled the area."

Marc's note: I had the opportunity to see some early prototype climbing robots on Devon Island in the high arctic where they were being tested in an analog environment alongside an exploration team. To me, it's clear when humans return to the moon and venture beyond we'll need our robot helpers. However, some within the space community aren't as convinced and argue that humans should stay on Terra firma. IMHO that's ridiculous.

Hearing: A Review of NASA's Plans for the International Space Station and Future Activities in Low Earth Orbit

"Location: 10:00 AM 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC, US, 20515"

Watch live.

- Statement of Chair Kendra Horn (D-OK) of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.

- Statement Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

Witnesses are:

- Mr. William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (Statement)

- The Honorable Paul K. Martin, Inspector General, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Statement)

- Professor Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, Professor Emerita University of Mississippi, Editor-in-Chief Emerita, Journal of Space Law (Statement)

- Mr. Eric W. Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation (Statement)

Follow the Apollo 11 Mission in Real Time

Apollo 11 in Real Time

"This website replays the Apollo 11 mission as it happened, 50 years ago. It consists entirely of historical material, all timed to Ground Elapsed Time--the master mission clock. Footage of Mission Control, film shot by the astronauts, and television broadcasts transmitted from space and the surface of the Moon, have been painstakingly placed to the very moments they were shot during the mission, as has every photograph taken, and every word spoken."

Credits:

- Ben Feist: Ben is a software engineer and historian at NASA JSC and Goddard. He created the concept, research, mission data restoration, audio restoration, video, software architecture and programming. Follow @BenFeist for updates.

- Stephen Slater: Archive Producer, historical audio/footage synchronization
- Chris Bennett: Visual design, interface styling and programming
- David Charney: Visual design
- Arnfinn Holderer: Audio restoration programming
- Robin Wheeler: Photography timing, transcript corrections

Marc's note: This is brilliantly done.

Hearing: NASA Exploration Plans: Where We've Been and Where We're Going

"U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, will convene a hearing titled, "NASA Exploration Plans: Where We've Been and Where We're Going" at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. The purpose of this hearing is to honor the upcoming 50th anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Apollo 11 mission and the United States landing the first man on the moon. The hearing will examine NASA's plans for future human spaceflight missions."

Live video.

Witnesses:

Dr. Christine Darden (Testimony)
Data Analyst and Aerospace Engineer Researcher
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Dr. Mary Dittmar (Testimony)
President and Chief Executive Officer
Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

Mr. Homer Hickman
Author
Rocket Boys

Mr. Gene Kranz (Testimony)
Flight Director
Apollo 11

Mr. Eric Stallmer (Testimony)
President
Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Virgin Galactic and Social Capital Hedosophia Announce Merger to Create the World's First and Only Publicly Traded Commercial Human Spaceflight Company, Virgin Galactic and Social Capital Hedosophia

"VIRGIN GALACTIC ("VG") and SOCIAL CAPITAL HEDOSOPHIA ("SCH"), a public investment vehicle sponsored by Social Capital and Hedosophia, announced that the boards of directors of each company have approved a definitive agreement under which VG and SCH will merge, with the current shareholders of SCH expected to own up to approximately 49% of the combined company. Upon closing of the transaction, which is expected in the second half of 2019, VG will be introduced as the first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company."

Marc's note: Not that I want to quibble with the marketing people who put this together, but you could argue that Boeing, which will soon be sending astronauts to space, is also a publicly traded company that includes human spaceflight as part of their product offering. And ULA, the launch provider, is jointly owned by Boeing.

Times Square to Transform Into Tranquility Base, the Moon Landing Site, in Honor of 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11, Aldrin Family Foundation and The People's Moon

"The Aldrin Family Foundation will host a day-long, free family celebration in support of The People's Moon project on July 20 in Times Square in honor of the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements of all time - landing a human on the Moon. City, state and national partners have come together to help transform the heart of New York City into Tranquility Base, the Apollo 11 landing site. From fun-filled educational activities to iconic footage from 1969 on the infamous Times Square screens to a giant Apollo photo mosaic, families will have the opportunity to spend nearly 14 hours celebrating this historic milestone."

Fire at SpaceX Starship facility in Cocoa causes damages to equipment, Florida Today

"Emergency crews responded to a SpaceX prototyping facility in Cocoa Monday afternoon, putting out a small fire that caused damages to equipment and infrastructure but no injuries."

Marc's note: Emre Kelly (@EmreKelly) of Florida Today is reporting there is about $50-$100K in damages.

NASA Takes Grassroots Approach To Future Spacesuits, Aviation Week

"There are spacesuits. And then there are spacesuits."

"NASA's most successful have been very much safety- and mission-driven. Some have been worn inside a spacecraft during launch and entry in case of decompression, to enable mission abort and astronaut rescue."

Defense Innovation Unit Solution Brief Solicitation: Orbital Outpost, Defense Innovation Unit

"The Department of Defense (DoD) seeks solutions for a self-contained and free flying orbital outpost. The solution must be capable of supporting space assembly, microgravity experimentation, logistics and storage, manufacturing, training, test and evaluation, hosting payloads, and other functions. Prospective bidders are invited to submit their proposals ("Solution Brief") per the guidelines below." ... "Desired future capabilities (available as options for initial or future implementation) include: Common berthing mechanism; In-space assembly using one or more robotic manipulators and interfaces accepting standard flight fixtures; Temporary or permanent attachment to other similar modular outposts (manned or unmanned); Servicing or re-provisioning to extend flight operations for a longer duration; Human-rating; Orbit transfer; Radiation hardening for beyond LEO applications; and Other unique features contributing to national security or defense."

Keith's note: These folks are starting out small and then looking to expand their capabilities in a modular fashion. It is not at all clear what the end result will be or what "human rating" means. Some people have been calling this thing a "mini-space station" but it is not obvious what it will be since they have options that go all over the place. Also, is there any connection between this project and the SpaceForce/Space Corps thing. As for the source of this solicitation, Defense Innovation Unit, they are a government entity that is "contracting with companies offering solutions in a variety of areas - from autonomy and AI to human systems, IT, and space - to solve a host of defense problems." And there is a Defense Innovation Advisory Board that seems to oversee what this group does. It is chaired by Google's Eric Schmidt and has Neil deGrasse Tyson as a member. You can follow them on Twitter at @DIU_x.

Space Exploration: Attitudes toward the U.S. Space Program, AP

"Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. moon landing, 60% say the space program has provided enough benefit to the country to justify its cost, while 38% do not consider the country's expenditures on the space program warranted. Most Americans say it is important for the space program to monitor objects including asteroids, comets, and other objects that could impact the Earth, as well as scientifically research the universe, our solar system, and the Earth. On the other hand, the establishment of permanent human settlements on other planets or developing an American military presence in space are not considered priorities." ... "There is not overwhelming enthusiasm for returning to the moon. In March, Vice President Mike Pence called for NASA to send astronauts to the moon within five years.[1] Forty-two percent favor that idea, while 20% oppose and 38% neither favor nor oppose. Thirty-seven percent say sending astronauts to Mars should take precedence over going back to the moon, while 18% would rather have NASA send more astronauts to the moon. But 43% do not think either action should be a priority for the country. While about half of Americans would take the opportunity to orbit the Earth, most say they have no interest in traveling to the moon or Mars. Space travel has more appeal for younger adults."

A Boost for Trump's Ego Is a Loss for America's National Parks, Washington Post

"Separately, according to two individuals familiar with the matter, the White House was negotiating with Park Service officials over whether to project an image from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission onto the Washington Monument for the event. Typically the agency does not allow projected images on monuments or historic structures, on the grounds that they should be preserved in their original form."

Larger image of what an Apollo 11 tribute on the Washington monument might look like.

Keith's note: During the event the President introduced heads of the branches of the military including the Space Force - even though Congress changed its name to the Space Corps. He also said "We have with us the renowned NASA flight director Gene Kranz. We are going to be back on the Moon soon and will plant the American flag on the face of Mars. Its happening Gene - its happening". A few minutes later he gave John Glenn a shout out. He then mentioned fighter pilots Chuck Yeager, Buzz Aldrin and Gus Grissom.

Here's a reality check on NASA's Artemis Moon landing program, Ars Technica

"OMB is definitely trying to kill Gateway," a senior spaceflight source told Ars. "OMB looks at what the Vice President said about getting to the Moon by 2024, and says you could do it cheaper if you didn't have Gateway, and probably faster. They are fighting tooth and nail to nix the Gateway." Bridenstine, a White House appointee, is caught in the crossfire between OMB on one side and industry and NASA human spaceflight managers on the other side. The industry supports Gateway because it offers another source of potentially lucrative contracts during the coming decade, and NASA managers view the Gateway as a sustainable project. With the Gateway, they argue, Artemis won't turn into another flags-and-footprints program like Apollo."

OMB Has Its Sights Set On Gateway, earlier post

"Just as NASA was directed to speed up lunar landing plans for Artemis by VP Pence sources report that OMB is trying to find ways to kill Gateway. That would suggest a more direct lunar architecture is preferred by the White House - or at least some people there."

Back To The Moon - By Any Means Necessary, earlier post

"After months of being shy about how much it will cost to send Americans back to the lunar surface by 2024, NASA Administrator Bridenstine has finally started to get specific. Upon hearing the numbers no one is really experiencing sticker shock. We all knew it would be a large number range that is beyond anything NASA could be expected to get. But Bridenstine is undeterred and is marching forth trying to make this whole thing work."

CBO Report: H.R. 2500, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Space Force Excerpt)

"Most of the personnel and assets for the Space Corps would be transferred to the new service from existing forces. CBO estimates that DoD has 22,900 military and civilian personnel who perform space-related activities. Many of those could be transferred to the new service and thus would not affect net costs. In addition, CBO estimates that the Space Corps would require between 4,100 and 6,800 additional personnel for new management and support positions. Those additional positions would increase costs. In total, CBO estimates the annual recurring costs and onetime costs of the new Space Corps would increase by about $3.6 billion over the 2020-2024 period. Annual Costs. In a previous study, CBO estimated that the additional management and overhead positions required for this new military service would increase annual costs by between $0.8 billion and $1.3 billion (in 2020 dollars)."

Congress Shrinks Space Force, earlier post


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