August 2019 Archives

The Trump Administration Is Establishing the United States Space Command to Advance American Interests and Defend Our Nation

"Today, at the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the Secretary of Defense established the United States Space Command to ensure space superiority. The United States Space Command strengthens our ability to deter conflict and ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space. United States Space Command will be established as the newest unified combatant command under the Department of Defense and will include forces from all Military Services. United States Space Command will consist of military personnel, civilian employees, and contractors. The new unified combatant command will accomplish strategic objectives and enhance the capability of our military to protect America's dominance in space by: Employing assigned forces from every branch of the military to achieve vital victories in space. Delivering combat power by operating superior space capabilities such as communications, intelligence, navigation, and early missile detection and warning. The establishment of United States Space Command represents a crucial step to improving the Nation's space warfighting structure in our ever evolving world."

Russia Reacts to Trump's Space Warfare Command Launch, Newsweek

"A fight for supremacy among major powers on Earth is likely to breach the planet's atmosphere, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos has said. Dmitry Rogozin was reacting to the re-establishment of the U.S. Space Command, which was formalized in a ceremony at the White House in which President Donald Trump said that space was the next "war-fighting domain." Trump said on Thursday: "Now, those who wish to harm the United States, who seek to challenge us in the ultimate high ground of space. It's going to be a whole different ballgame." In a tweet, Rogozin said of the militarization of space: "Slowly but surely, we are heading towards this. @Roscosmos has no illusions about this. Everyone is working on it."

I'm a Retired Female Astronaut and I Can't Understand the Obsession With 'Gender Diverse' Space Crews, opinion by Marsha Ivins, Time

"And then there was Saralyn Mark, an M.D. and specialist in gender-based medicine, who spoke about gender bias. Her main point: NASA needs to -- no kidding -- realize there are gender differences because sending "gender diverse" crews to Mars is going to be difficult. At least I think that was her point. It was frankly hard to listen to because enough already! ...

... After Dr. Mark's testimony, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine once again mentioned how inspired his 11-year old daughter would be to see women taking leadership positions in space exploration. Well, Mr. Bridenstine, your agency has had women in leadership roles on and off the planet far longer than you have held your current position. And there have been women astronauts living, working and leading on spacecraft decades longer than your daughter has been alive. Why is she not inspired by that?"

Keith's note: I am not certain Marsha Ivins was listening to the same presentation I heard (see C-SPAN transcript below). For starters Dr. Mark and the other speakers had 3 minutes to make their points. Dr. Mark's commentary about differences in physiological responses to space travel based on gender is very real. Indeed, most of what she discussed had to do with physiology and human factors and how issues still remain to be addressed when planning long-term space missions. But Mark also spoke to the broader issue of diversity and the importance of making sure that when humans go into space that all of us are going.

Alas, Marsha Ivins seems to think that having women on space mission crews and in some leadership positions at NASA means that the whole diversity and gender equality thing is solved. It is not. Even the most cursory review of recent news stories will provide ample evidence of ongoing sexual harassment, pay disparities, imbalances in educational opportunities, and lingering paternalistic management practices within NASA, the aerospace industry, and the various scientific and academic institutions that make up the lager community that explorers space. But Marsha thinks that this was "hard to listen to because enough already!" Really Marsha?

Astronauts are special class of employees at NASA and often occupy a slightly strange position at the agency - one that is often isolated from reality. I know enough astronauts well enough to have seen this with my own eyes. In Ivins' case she saw diversity in space crews and says OK well we have diversity. Check that box. Next task. What about the rest of NASA, Marsha? In reality this most certainly is not the case across the agency and the aerospace industry and the scientific community as a whole.

Jim Bridenstine literally jumped out of the gate on his first day at NASA pledging to support diversity and equality at NASA. Bridenstine goes out of his way almost daily to talk about diversity and his personal commitment to enhancing equality. What does Marsha Ivins do? She crosses the line and dares to question the sincerity with which a father speaks of his own daughter's inspiration and future opportunities.

People look up to astronauts as role models. As such what does it say to people searching for guidance from an astronaut role model to see op eds with the words "I Can't Understand the Obsession With 'Gender Diverse' Space Crews" in the title? Such tone deaf and ill-informed comments do a disservice to everyone who strives to have a role in the exploration of space.

It's time for people like Marsha Ivins to descend from the former astronaut ivory towers and engage with the real world where pushing for more diversity and inclusion is never a bad thing to do. It will always be a work in progress. Contrary to what Ivins saw while wearing her flight suit there are 300 million people out there who live totally different lives - and they pay for this whole party in space. To them diversity and equality in opportunity matter. NASA succeeds best when all people can see themselves reflected in what NASA does.

Note: back in 2007 Marsha Ivins wanted to become a big time TV player in Hollywood. Have a look at her proposed project. At one point she says "I also understand that they should have access to a lot of stuff but do not get free reign to dig around in places we don't want them digging, and again since I have total control over the story line since there are only 2 of us writing it, we can guide the story." Hmmm ... "places we don't want them digging ..."

National Space Council Transcript of comments by Dr. Saralyn Mark 20 August 2019. Source: C-SPAN

Click to read

US Space Command: A vision for the final frontier, op ed, The Hill

"Tomorrow, the Trump administration will formally inaugurate the newest U.S. Combatant Command, U.S. Space Command. The occasion is a momentous one, because it marks the first, and long overdue, step toward a serious space policy on the part of the United States. Yet America's move into the "final frontier" is still missing an essential ingredient: a vision of what we seek to accomplish there. That vision, it is increasingly clear, needs to focus on development. For decades, U.S. space policy has been viewed through the lens of exploration, both human and robotic. But the future of American spacepower lies not in exploration, but in development. The economic development of the inner solar system will allow America to exploit its immense mineral and energy resources and secure a position of industrial, logistical, and maneuver advantage over the celestial lines of commerce. Military development, meanwhile, will provide the United States with a dominant spacepower position that underwrites an open international system and enables human expansion under a banner of liberty."

Keith's note: Here we go. The prospect of the new Space Force or the U.S. Space Command or whatever it is called this week has the Pentagon types ready to turn the whole solar system into a bunch of mining operations guarded by soldiers in spiffy new military space suits. No more of that science or exploration stuff - its for wimps. Now America is going to be great in space again. To be certain economic forces rightfully seek - and should be strongly welcomed and encouraged - to expand outward from Earth to utilize the resources of our solar system. But this should happen in a synergistic fashion with scientific exploration - by everyone.

Alas, the militaristic ethos oozing from this op ed speaks to a subset of the space community who simply wants to seize the so-called high ground of space - by any means necessary. Its all about militaristic projection of overt space power into space for its own sake with all other uses relegated to subservience. This mindset will simply prompt other powers to do the same. Just what we need: an arms race spreading across the solar system.

So much for the notion of soft power - the prevailing ethos with which nearly everything in space is done in a collaborative fashion - without the laser pistols and photon torpedoes.

Starhopper Does A Big Hop

NASA OIG Follow-up to May 2019 Audit of Europa Mission: Congressional Launch Vehicle Mandate, NASA OIG

"NASA's renewed focus on returning humans to the Moon on an accelerated timetable means that an SLS will not be available to launch the Clipper mission to Europa before 2025 at the earliest. Given all of the foregoing factors, we urge Congress to consider removing the requirement that NASA launch the Europa Clipper on an SLS and allow the Agency to decide whether to use an SLS or a commercial vehicle based on cost, schedule, vehicle availability, and impact on science requirements."

"However, because of developmental delays and, more significantly, NASA's plans to use the first three SLS rockets produced for its Artemis lunar program, an SLS will not be available until 2025 at the earliest. Consequently, if completed on its projected schedule, the approximately $3 billion dollar Europa spacecraft (known as "Europa Clipper") will need to be stored for at least 2 years at a cost of $3 to $5 million per month until an SLS becomes available. NASA recently added $250 million in Headquarters-held reserves to the project to address these storage and related personnel costs. Congress could reduce risks to both the Europa mission and Artemis program while potentially saving taxpayers up to $1 billion by providing NASA the flexibility in forthcoming fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations legislation to determine the most cost effective and timely vehicle to launch the Europa Clipper mission in 2023 or whenever the satellite is completed."

NASA OIG Audit: Management Of NASA's Europa Mission, NASA OIG, earlier post

"In addition, although Congress directed NASA to use the SLS to launch the Clipper, it is unlikely to be available by the congressionally mandated 2023 date and therefore the Agency continues to maintain spacecraft capabilities to accommodate both the SLS and two commercial launch vehicles, the Delta IV Heavy and Falcon Heavy."

Couple who died in Oro Valley crash were parents of astronaut Laurel Clark, Tucson.com

"The couple that died in a crash in Oro Valley on Wednesday were the mother and stepfather of an astronaut who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. Margory and Richard Brown, both 85, died Wednesday morning after a crash on West Tangerine Road at North La Cañada Drive."

GINGRICH: We Need A Competition To Get America To The Moon - And Mars, Daily Caller

"We are not suggesting the traditional approach be changed in any way. The NASA bureaucracy should continue working with its traditional contractors to try to establish a permanent settlement on the moon and then on Mars. However, we are suggesting that by having a modest $2 billion prize (about the cost of one launch with the Space Launch System) it might be possible to have entrepreneurs, like Musk (whose Falcon rockets at SpaceX are the most successful reusable rockets in history) and Jeff Bezos (who already puts $1 billion a year of his own money into Blue Origin developing reusable rockets) step up to the plate and get the job done much faster and cheaper than traditional bureaucracy."

Keith's 26 August update: NASA is fighting an uphill battle right now to get the $1.6 billion supplemental appropriation just to make the whole Moon 2024 thing start. That is still an uncertain eventuality. It is going to be even more difficult to get the many tens of billions more to actually make this entire program happen. Trying a Plan B - one reliant upon prizes - would only serve to undermine the program of record - the one that is kept in place by the Alabama and Texas delegations. To be certain, the use of prizes has clear, inherent merit and deserves to be tried. But right now NASA and Congress have erected a status quo that would be threatened by prizes. As we have seen that status quo fights back whenever it is threatened. Until and unless someone find the right Jedi mind trick to get Texas and Alabama to change their ways the notion of prizes will remain a notion.

The Moon-Mars Development Prize Competition, Gingrich 360

"A number of us have been working on prizes for lunar development (for an illustrated outline of possibilities that currently exist or are in development go to Gingrich 360 for a paper inspired by Gen.l Kwast and his team). We believe that a prize open to American companies and American teams would attract a lot of talent and private investment. We also believe that such competitive innovation and entrepreneurship will create new assets and capabilities for the emerging Space Force."

Keith's 21 August note: Its hard to argue with most of what Newt and his gang say. One major problem: none of this will happen - at least not as they imagine - under the current administration since it would upset a serious portion of congressional power centers that are heavily invested in the SLS/Orion/Gateway architecture. We have already seen how the mere suggestion of commercial alternatives for EM-1 was stomped out by Sen. Shelby within hours. Just last week we saw the Human Lunar Lander program handed to the same center in Alabama that has given us the chronically delayed and grossly over-cost SLS program.

However, some of what Newt's posse has suggested may well happen anyway - without any prodding from government prizes. Let's wait and see what SpaceX and Blue Origin do - with their own money - for their own reasons. Its called disruptive innovation and it is happening in plain sight in Boca Chica. When SpaceX's Starship reaches orbit things will change forever.

Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S., Axios

"During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, "I got it. I got it. Why don't we nuke them?" according to one source who was there. "They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they're moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can't we do that?" the source added, paraphrasing the president's remarks. Asked how the briefer reacted, the source recalled he said something to the effect of, "Sir, we'll look into that." Trump replied by asking incredulously how many hurricanes the U.S. could handle and reiterating his suggestion that the government intervene before they make landfall. The briefer "was knocked back on his heels," the source in the room added. "You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, 'What the f---? What do we do with this?'"

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Keith's note: As best as I can understand the physics of nuking a hurricane, you'd need to drop a bunch of nukes to have any effect (if any) and that it would not be much. But the net result of using any nukes on a a hurricane would be to create a nuclear contaminated hurricane that would spread nasty things far and wide. But there is a bright side. We could use the hurricane nuking as a geoengineering test for Elon Musk's proposed plans to nuke Mars as part of a terraforming plan.

Why don't we try to destroy tropical cyclones by nuking them ?, NOAA

Nasa said to be investigating first allegation of a crime in space, BBC

"So if a Canadian national were to commit a crime in space, they would be subject to Canadian law, and a Russian citizen to Russian law. Space law also sets out provisions for extradition back on Earth, should a nation decide it wishes to prosecute a citizen of another nation for misconduct in space. As space tourism becomes a reality, so might the need to prosecute space crime, but for now the legal framework remains untested. Nasa officials told the New York Times that they were not aware of any crimes committed on the space station."

A NASA Astronaut's Divorce Has Sparked Claims of a Crime in Space: Report, Space.com

"According to Worden, her bank account was accessed without her permission from a NASA-affiliated computer network, prompting her to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. A family member also filed a complaint with NASA's internal Office of Inspector General."

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Keith's note: Strangely if you search for "Astronaut Code of Professional Responsibility" Google shows you this link http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/AstronautCodeEarthFinal.pdf that redirects to the JSC home page and not to the document. Searching the NASA.gov website does not show any results. Oddly Google has a description of this link that says "It directs us in the performance of our professional duties and expresses the basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct. Adherence to this code calls for a constant commitment to honorable behavior and ensures the continued privilege of participation in our Nation's space program." But if you use the Internet archive you can find this file that contains a picture of the code. We've also had it online since 2008. Alas, all this powerpoint chart says are happy words you'd expect to see in some sort of recruiting brochure for clean cut wholesome aw shucks Astronauts. Nothing is mentioned about what the rules are about adhering to laws in space and what happens when someone breaks a law while in space.

But you can find 14 CFR § 1214.403 - Code of Conduct for the International Space Station Crew here. The NASA Office of General Counsel Ethics Rules page points you to a 21 December 2000 Federal Register notice. We posted it too. There does not seem to be any mention of which laws apply to an astronaut's behavior in space in this document. This NASA LEO Economy FAQs page mentions the CFR as well but nowhere is there any mention of what happens if a NASA or commercial astronaut is accused of doing something illegal. FYI this astronaut code of conduct was developed when NASA and the ISS partners discovered that they had no rules to govern Dennis Tito's behavior on the ISS. Spolier: he did not break anything - including any laws.

BTW the The NASA OGC link to Multilateral Intergovernmental Agreement -- United States, Canada, European Space Agency, Japan, Russia (January 1998) is broken (security issue or something) as are the links to all of the bilateral agreements. I found another page that lists the original 1998 bilateral agreements. I searched through them and can't seem to fin anything about which laws apply to astronauts while aboard the ISS.

I read through all of the United Nations treaties affecting activities in outer space. Unless I missed something or did not understand what I was reading (likely) I do not see anything in these treaties about astronaut behavior being governed by terrestrial law. I am not a lawyer. But you'd think that NASA would make the basic agreement available to the public to read - especially now that there is a story in the news about alleged illegal behavior in space. And if there are specific rules about legal aspects of living and working in space you'd think that NASA would want to find them and add them to whatever rules the place of public-facing websites. Just sayin'

- Shh! The Astronaut Code of Professional Responsibility is Online, (2008), earlier post
- Evolving Traditions Aboard the International Space Station (2003), earlier post

Community Letter regarding NASA's Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program

"As you are aware, the Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program (LDEP) is the continuation of a credible plan to re-engage in lunar surface exploration that has evolved and matured in the past few years, and shown significant progress in the last year. After years of planning next steps toward the Moon, we believe this program is designed for both expediency and cost-effectiveness. That is why we urge its full funding in FY2020, thereby ensuring the continued operation of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, and restoring U.S. access to the surface of Earth's nearest neighbor for the first time in almost five decades.

We believe that the LEDP is critical to a vibrant space economy that will bring new and exciting employment opportunities to the next generation of scientists and engineers, as well extend beyond to all sectors of society. The LDEP will give the United States the opportunity to, at long last, systematically prospect for lunar resources, gather comprehensive new samples from many new locations, explore lunar lava tubes, investigate magnetic anomalies, and address a long list of unanswered geophysical questions whose answers have deep implications for advancing our knowledge of the formation of the Solar System and key planetary processes."

Recommendations Approved by the National Space Council to President Trump

"1. Within 60 days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator will designate an office and submit a plan to the Chairman of the National Space Council for sustainable lunar surface exploration and development, including necessary technologies and capabilities, to enable initial human missions to Mars.

2. NASA and the Department of State will continue joint efforts to engage international partners in identifying prospective cooperation involving the 2024 Moon landing and subsequent activities around and on the Moon. Lunar surface operations will be NASA's top priority for international cooperation.

3. At the next Council meeting, the NASA Administrator will present a plan to stabilize the Space Launch System and Orion programs and prevent future cost and schedule overruns. The plan will include the current projected launch windows for the first two launches of these vehicles.

4. At the next Council meeting, Council members will report on support to NASA in implementing Space Policy Directive-1."

The White House Issues National Security Presidential Memorandum on Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Systems

"Today, President Donald J. Trump issued a National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) on the safe and effective utilization of space nuclear systems as America explores and uses the Moon to develop sustainable technologies and operations necessary for human missions to Mars and elsewhere in the solar system."

Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Sixth National Space Council Meeting

"Within the Commerce Department, we have re-established the Office of Space Commerce after it was dormant for decades. It is the only place within the U.S. Government that is charged with pursuing the unique interests of the commercial space industry. The commercial industry has said repeatedly that it needs an advocate -- a one-stop shop -- in its dealings with both the U.S. government and foreign governments."

National Space Council Remarks As Prepared for Deputy Secretary Brouillette

"Today, we are working with NASA on a number of major initiatives to enable nuclear power space exploration over the next decade including powering the Mars 2020 Rover, demonstrating nuclear thermal propulsion and fission surface power, and developing the Dragonfly Rotorcraft, which in the 2030s will explore Saturn's moon Titan."

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Remarks By Vice President Pence at The Sixth Meeting Of The National Space Council

"But as we gather here today, we do so recognizing that it's been 47 years since the last American set foot on the moon. In fact, our great shuttle program, including the space shuttle Discovery behind me, was grounded nearly a decade ago. And the truth is, as all of you know, for too long America was content with low-Earth orbit, and missions focused on the Earth instead of aiming for the stars. But I'm proud to report that under President Trump's leadership, all of that is changing. As the President said in his Inaugural Address, "We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space..." And that's exactly what we're doing. (Applause.) It's true. After two and a half years under the President's leadership, America is leading in space once again. This President recognizes what the American people have known for more than a half a century, and that is that our security, our prosperity, and our very way of life, depend on American leadership and American leadership in space. Now, we acknowledge that low-Earth orbit is not our final destination, but rather it is a training ground for the infinite frontier of space. And I can assure you the American people are ready for the next chapter in our nation's history in space."

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NASA Television to Broadcast Sixth Meeting of the National Space Council

"NASA Television and the agency's website will provide live coverage of the sixth meeting of the National Space Council at 9:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 20, from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. This meeting will address a whole-of-government effort for deep space exploration, prospective cooperation with international partners, and strengthening U.S. commercial space leadership."

Panel: "Innovative Space Initiatives"
- Rex Geveden, President and Chief Executive Officer, BWX Technologies, Inc.
- Dr. Clive Neal, Professor, College of Engineering, University of Notre Dame
- Dr. Saralyn Mark, Founder and President, iGIANT® and SolaMed Solutions, LLC
- Dr. Elizabeth Turtle, Planetary Scientist, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Watch live at https://www.nasa.gov/live/

Keith's note: NASA JPL issued a press release on Monday titled "Mission to Jupiter's Icy Moon Confirmed". Great news for the Astrobiology community as noted by the release - except that the NASA Astrobiology website linked to in this release makes no mention of this news (maybe they will on Tuesday).

But if you go to the link featured in today's NASA JPL press release about Europa Clipper - you know the "astrobiology" mission that is going to Europa to search for possible indications of life etc., Astrobiology is nowhere to be found. I looked throughout the entire europa.nasa.gov website. The word "astrobiology" is never mentioned once. The only related term is used to describe several participating scientist as being an "astrobiologist". But "life" - as in the search for - shows up more than a hundred times. Nor is any link provided to NASA's Astrobiology program.

Why is that?

How is it that NASA's 20+ year old program - one that recognized by the National Academies of Science in multiple reports and mentioned by name in congressional legislation - cannot be mentioned on the official NASA website for a mission that is overtly Astrobiology-themed? It really does look like one part of NASA does not know and/or does not seem to care what other parts of NASA are doing. If NASA cannot coordinate the interaction between some of its basic programs and organizations regarding this billion dollar mission how is the public is going to fully understand what this mission will do - and how other related work that NASA does in Astrobiology relates to it?

- NASA Makes Big Astrobiology Mission Announcement Without Saying "Astrobiology"
- NASA Leads The World In Astrobiology. Wow, Who Knew?, earlier post
- NASA Can't Figure Out What Astrobiology Is - Or Who Does It, earlier post
- NASA Is Incapable Of Explaining How It Does Astrobiology, earlier post
- NASA's Astrobiology Program Works Hard To Ignore Itself, earlier post
- NASA's Astrobiology Programs Ignore One Another, earlier post
- NASA Leads In Astrobiology. It Needs To Act That Way., earlier post

Correction

Keith's note: According to Dr. Philip Schein he had clearly stated his intention to retire from the CASIS board several months ago after 5 years of service. He then formally submitted a letter of resignation to the CASIS board. He was not voted off of the board or "removed" as we previously reported. Our original posting was based on multiple sources within and outside of CASIS. Alas, CASIS itself simply refuses to formally respond to media inquiries - so there is no way to confirm - anything - with CASIS. We regret this error and posted this update within minutes of being informed by Dr. Schein.

Newt Gingrich: We're in a space race with China - We must win to protect our economic and national security, Fox

"As our legacy space companies and NASA continue to fumble around and protect their prized projects, China is aggressively seeking to overcome the United States as the dominant space- faring nation."

Newt Gingrich trying to sell Trump on a cheap moon plan, politico

"Newt Gingrich and an eclectic band of NASA skeptics are trying sell President Donald Trump on a reality show-style plan to jump-start the return of humans to the moon -- at a fraction of the space agency's estimated price tag. The proposal, whose other proponents range from a three-star Air Force general to the former publicist for pop stars Michael Jackson and Prince, envisions creating a $2 billion sweepstakes pitting billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other space pioneers to see who can establish and run the first lunar base, according to a summary of the plan shared with POLITICO."

Keith's note: I have not seen the plan (neither has NASA apparently) - and I am not aware that it has been published online (link please) so I can't comment on it other than what other people write about it. If this is such a great plan then where is it? As best I can tell it was concocted - ad hoc - by a group of people (Space Development Steering Committee) who like to argue with each other - endlessly - on an email list. They can't even tell us who their current members are. I have stayed away from this list since I got tired of some of its members sending me countless emails demanding that I publish whatever it is that their latest collective rant was about.

Oh yes, depending on who you talk to about this plan it is/is not about China and there is/is not a new space race. You'd think that this sort of basic notion would be necessary in order to build a new space plan for America - right?

Let's be blunt about this. The current Administration has thrown in their total support plus some additional fire power to make the so-called "program of record" (SLS/Orion) work. They have accelerated the 2028 date for putting humans on the Moon by 4 years. And they have added a lot of new commercial aspects so as to engage the flexibility and ingenuity of the private sector. Alas, the budget to support this - or the previous - program of record is yet to be found. That said Jim Bridenstine has done his best to meld old and new, slow and fast, dull and inspirational together and make a big push to try and pull it off. Maybe we should at least try and make this one work?

Its not easy to pivot NASA and billions of dollars in space when the goals and goal posts are constantly changing. We have had many presidential marching orders in space. Since 2004 gone from Finish Shuttle and ISS, then Moon, then Mars; to Asteroid then Mars (skip the Moon); to Moon without ISS; to ISS then Moon; to ISS, then Moon, then Mars; to why the Moon - lets go to Mars before the end of my second term; then back to Moon (but quickly) to Mars." We are in the whiplash era of space policy formulation.

If the 2020 election gives this Administration another 4 years then perhaps there is a chance to accomplish the singular goal of putting Americans back on the lunar surface - once - using a mixture of SLS/Orion and private sector assets as is currently envisioned. However the whole "sustainable" aspect of this program lies beyond any notional second term for this Administration.

For the current administration to simply drop their current plans and pivot to whatever it is this new space policy cabal wants to do would give them at a minimum 1.5 years and a maximum of 5.5 years (with a second term) to pull it off. Given the current polls and mood in the country a change in Administrations is highly probable. If so then whatever is being done by NASA now under the current administration will face tumult and rearrangement - as was the case when the Obama Administration departed. While no one knows who the Democratic nominee i.e. potential 46th President will be, it is a safe bet that there will be substantial pivots, edits, deletions, and other changes in the current American space policy that would make current and proposed space policies moot - including this one that people are emailing one another about.

In other words more whiplash.

To be certain Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are going to do whatever they are going to do on their own timeline and will be more than happy to accept NASA business. But they are going to go ahead with what they are doing undeterred even if the government does not buy a ride. America needs an actual plan for its space activities - one that is actually a "plan" i.e. one built outward from simple basic precepts (or directives), utilizing a consistent but adaptable strategy, with goals and objectives that everyone understands and works toward that transcend partisan politics. Absent that plan then all we are going to get are homemade space plans that bounce around email lists and evaporate every time the body politic shifts in its collective seat.

But - if the current "plan" actually gains traction and shows evidence of being able to work albeit not in the way everyone would like - maybe its worth supporting for a while longer. Besides, what would we all rather have: a bunch of proposed space programs that never got implemented; programs that were implemented and were cut short before they could succeed or fail; or one that was given a chance to succeed and has made some progress? We won't know unless we try. Let's try.

Either way this latest space plan from the space fans too shall pass.

Keith's note: Several sources at NASA Marshall report that their managers sent them memos today that said that they would get 59 minutes of excused leave that they could use at any time next week *if* they went to the all-hands event in the MSFC auditorium today with Jim Bridenstine. Why 59 minutes? Answer: offering an hour or more of leave requires a different management approval mechanism. Other sources report that MSFC employees who were planning to work offsite via telework were told that they needed to come onsite today so that they could attend the all hands event.

I find it to be somewhat baffling that MSFC management was so paranoid that employees might not want to show up for an event of obvious importance to their personal and collective future at NASA that they sought to stuff the room with warm bodies as a show of support. Did they stop to think what NASA HQ would think? It is not as if these employees weren't going to tell people that their management sent these memos all over the center. This also sets a bad precedent for future all-hands events at MSFC and elsewhere..

Word of these official MSFC management urgings first appeared a week or so ago. There is now a fire lit under the existing rivalry between Texas and Alabama with regard to the Human Lunar Lander program - one that extends all the way to the halls of Congress. As such it was probably not too smart in a strategic sense for MSFC management to be caught doing sneaky stunts like this. The Texas delegation was absent from the Huntsville event. They have publicly stated - bluntly - that they did not agree with this decision and that they intend to have a strong voice in how this all unfolds. As such I suspect that the folks at JSC won't need management memos to prompt them to show up at events and rallies - if the occasion arises.

P.S. According to Sen. Cruz and congressional staffers from other offices, NASA's Office of Legislative Affairs did not pre-coordinate all of this with the Texas delegation. This is not the first time this year that Code L has neglected to exert due diligence in coordinating with everyone in advance of a major announcement. Texas is a potential toss-up state in 2020. Alabama is not. Just sayin'.

"Have you ever seen LEGO bricks float? Now is your chance! Watch former NASA Astronaut Mike Massimino unbox and build LEGO sets in zero gravity! Get inspired to join the greatest adventure ever as we work together to put an astronaut on Mars! Let's Go!"

Mike Suffredini Objects to Legos in Space, earlier post (2012)

"Suff inquired about the relevance of performing the Lego experiment onboard from an ISS research priorities perspective. Ms. Robinson explained that Lego is Leland Melvin's top priority - for education given that Legos are something that children are very familiar with and that can reach tens of thousands of students. Suff asked if the folks at HQ had considered the negative aspects of showcasing Legos in that it may seem we are not utilizing 1SS resources to their fullest capacity. Ms. Robinson explained that she was not aware that people had considered that perspective and would pass this on."

Statement by Rep. Brian Babin Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC)," said Babin. "Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation's space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed."

Statement by Sen. Ted Cruz Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"As NASA moves forward with their plans I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure the Johnson Space Center remains the crown jewel in human space exploration."

Cruz, Cornyn, Babin Call On NASA to Award Lunar Lander Program to Johnson Space Center

"In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas - which has served as NASA's lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held."

NASA Marshall to Lead Artemis Program's Human Lunar Lander Development

"NASA recently issued a draft solicitation and requested comments from American companies interested in providing an integrated human landing system - a precursor to the final solicitation targeted for release in the coming months. The agency's human lunar exploration plans are based on a two-phase approach: the first is focused on speed - landing on the Moon within five years, while the second will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. The agency will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare for the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars."

NASA Seeks Input from U.S. Industry on Artemis Lander Development, NASA

"The agency's internal studies point toward a three-stage human landing system, but NASA is also interested in alternative approaches that can accomplish the same long-term goals of global lunar access and a reusable landing system. The three-stage concept includes a transfer element for the journey from the lunar Gateway to low-lunar orbit, a descent element to carry the crew to the surface, and an ascent element to return them to the Gateway. From there, they would board Orion for the 250,000-mile trip back to Earth."

Keith's Update: Great. But if NASA was really interested in alternate approaches then why has it already started to award Gateway contracts based on their own architecture? Why throw money at things that might be changed? Unless the interest in changing things is not real. The most efficient thing for NASA to do would be to set basic requirements, then ask for the ideas - first, evaluate them, pick the best ones, and move ahead, But no. NASA is working backward asking people to fix things it has already started to build. Oh and NASA now has to do everything by 2024 instead of 2028. You'd think that with such an accelerated program that there'd be more of an emphasis on clarity of purpose and efficiency in approach. But this is NASA = Never A Simple Answer.

NASA Administrator to Discuss Human Lander Update for Artemis Program

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, joined by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Scott DesJarlais and Brian Babin, will discuss updates on the agency's plans for landing humans on the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Alabama space center will manage NASA's lunar lander program, Ars Technica

"As part of the carefully negotiated agreement, Marshall will have responsibility for the overall program as well as two elements of what is planned to be a three-stage lander. The center in northern Alabama will oversee commercial development of the Transfer Element--planned to ferry the lander from the Lunar Gateway down to low-lunar orbit--as well as the Descent Element that will fly down to the surface. ... Meanwhile, the Houston, Texas-based Johnson Space Center will oversee development of the Ascent Element. "

Letter To NASA Administrator Bridenstine From Texas Congressional Delegation Regarding Artemis Lunar Lander

"We are writing to you today in light of a recent report that this Friday, August 16,2019, you plan to announce that the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will manage the development of the lunar lander for the Artemis program and oversee the commercial development of two of the three elements, the Transfer Element and Descent Element, of that lander. According to that same report the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, will oversee the commercial development of only one of three elements, the Ascent Element. This is very troubling if accurate. ... we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rational for this decision."

Cruz, Cornyn, Babin Call On NASA to Award Lunar Lander Program to Johnson Space Center

"In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas - which has served as NASA's lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held."

Keith's note: Reader's guide

1. NASA announced a lunar lander update event at MSFC with members of Congress. 2. Ars Technica reported details of what will be in that announcement i.e. shared development between JSC and MSFC
3. NASA Administrator disputed accuracy of Ars Technica Story.
4. Members of Congress saw Ars Technica story and are concerned that Texas may not get the lunar lander program - as they told NASA they wanted.

Keith's Update: Rep. Babin has pulled out of the event.

Statement by Rep. Brian Babin Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC)," said Babin. "Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation's space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed."

President Trump praises reusable rockets, omits Moon in space remarks, Ars Technica

"We're investing in the future of human spaceflight," the president said, prefacing his off-the-cuff remarks on spaceflight. "And some day soon American astronauts will plant the stars and stripes on the surface of Mars." Trump never mentioned the Moon, or his administration's lunar program, during this comment or in any of his subsequent remarks Thursday night. This is notable, because the signature human spaceflight initiative of his administration is the Artemis Program, an attempt to accelerate a human return to the Moon by 2024. The closest Trump came to acknowledging the Moon program was saying, "NASA has some of the greatest plans we've ever had. These are great people, great scientists."

President Trump says these 'rich guys' are 'paying a lot of rent' to launch rockets, Fox Business

"You know, I hear all these rich guys, for some reason they love space. So they're rich. I said, 'let them send the rockets up. What the hell do we have to do it, right?'" The president explained the privatized ventures like SpaceX are working to save many of the parts from rockets Opens a New Window. by re-landing them back on Earth. "It's almost like, what are we watching? Is this fiction?"

Letter From NASA JSC to CASIS Board Of Directors Regarding Cooperative Agreement No. NNH11CD70A/80JSC018M0005

"Pursuant to Paragraph 4.6, Change in Principal Investigator or Scope, of the subject cooperative agreement, the CASIS decision to change or significantly reduce the availability of services of the International Space Station National Laboratory Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Joe Vockley (Cooperative Agreement Paragraph 3.1.g), is not approved at this time. The NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration & Operations is requesting a strategic pause in CASIS activities relative to changes in the CASIS PI in order to enable NASA to establish an Independent Review Team to assess the underlying Cooperative Agreement to ensure we are on mission and appropriately resourced to produce breakthroughs that improve lives on Earth. NASA anticipates that this assessment will be completed within 12 weeks after the team has been established."

Keith's original 15 August note: Joe Vockely is still on full salary but has no defined operational responsibilities at CASIS at this time. His continued involvement at CASIS, long term, is not clear. CASIS COO Kenneth Schields is now the Acting CEO of CASIS. The chairman of the CASIS board, Philip Schein has been removed and two board members are currently acting jointly to run the board's activities. NASA Administrator Bridenstine has identified the chair of this CASIS review team as being Elizabeth R. Cantwell, the Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation at the University of Arizona. However the members of this team or details of the format or activities of the team have yet to be released.

Keith's 19 August update: According to Dr. Schein he had clearly stated his intention to retire from the CASIS board several months ago after 5 years of service. He then formally submitted a letter of resignation to the CASIS board. He was not voted off of the board or "removed" as we previously reported. Our original posting was based on multiple sources within CASIS. Alas, CASIS itself simply refuses to respond to media inquiries. We regret this error and posted this update within minutes of being informed by Dr. Schein.

The phrase "strategic pause" has not been defined by NASA other than to refer to efforts associated with "changes in the CASIS PI". As such one might logically conclude that this means that CASIS staff will continue with 99% of the routine payload tasks they have - tasks unaffected by who the CASIS PI is.

Memo from NASA HEOMD AA Ken Bowersox To NASA HEOMD Staff Regarding CASIS/ISS National Lab Changes

"1. The heads of the Science Mission Directorate and the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate will jointly commission an Independent Review to assess whether the ISS National Laboratory is on mission and appropriately organized and resourced to improve life here on Earth.

2. For the duration of the review, NASA's liaison to the ISS National Lab will move from HEOMD's ISS Division to the low Earth orbit commercialization activity currently being led by Doug Comstock. I appreciate all of your efforts as we work to develop the low Earth orbit economy. Feel free to stop by my office if you have any questions."

Keith's note: this review is a dual effort by HEOMD and SMD which underscores the overlapping interested between the directorates in terms of public/private activities on ISS and beyond. It also makes car that ISS Director Sam Scimemi is no longer the NASA liaison to CASIS.

- Crisis at CASIS: New Opportunities or Looming End Game?, earlier post
- NASA Asked CASIS To Stop Paying Its Board Of Directors, earlier post
- Earlier CASIS posts

NASA to seek independent review of ISS National Laboratory

"However, a NASA letter to CASIS, dated Aug. 13 and obtained by SpaceNews, called for a "strategic pause in CASIS activities" while the independent review panel works "to ensure we are on mission and appropriately resourced to produce breakthroughs that improve lives on Earth." The letter estimated the that review would take 12 weeks to complete. The letter also referenced a request by CASIS "to change or significantly reduce the availability of services" of Joseph Vockley, who is president and chief executive of CASIS and serves as principal investigator for NASA's grant to CASIS to operate the ISS national lab. NASA said it was deferring that request until after "this strategic pause and assessment." A source familiar with the situation said that the CASIS board recently sought to remove Vockley, a move that would require the concurrence of NASA."

Keith's note: I am told that the acting CEO of CASIS is CASIS COO Ken Shields. Sources also report that some final management decisions affecting senior leadership at CASIS - ones that require NASA concurrence - were put on hold last night. So these letters may have been superseded to some extent. Stay tuned.

NASA Administrator to Discuss Human Lander Update for Artemis Program, NASA

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, joined by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Scott DesJarlais and Brian Babin, will discuss updates on the agency's plans for landing humans on the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Alabama space center will manage NASA's lunar lander program, Ars Technica

"As part of the carefully negotiated agreement, Marshall will have responsibility for the overall program as well as two elements of what is planned to be a three-stage lander. The center in northern Alabama will oversee commercial development of the Transfer Element--planned to ferry the lander from the Lunar Gateway down to low-lunar orbit--as well as the Descent Element that will fly down to the surface. ... Meanwhile, the Houston, Texas-based Johnson Space Center will oversee development of the Ascent Element. "

Keith's note: Watch as the MSFC Transfer and Descent elements get too heavy and then squeeze the JSC Ascent element. We've seen this movie before.

Donald Trump stopping US government scientists from speaking out publicly is 'chilling', The Independent

"The Trump administration's decision to stop Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials and other government staff from speaking out publicly has prompted the country's leading scientific organisation to warn against "censorship and intimidation". The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest scientific society in the world, said many federal agencies had policies that "prohibit political interference" in how they relay information to the public. And the World Resources Institute think tank said the move to stop the "free flow of information" would have a "chilling effect on staff". In addition to the media blackout at the EPA, some other federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, were also told to suspend external communications, although the latter department's gag order was subsequently lifted. The ban includes the issuing of press releases, blogs, messages on Twitter and Facebook posts, according to information leaked to several media organisations. All media requests must be "screened" by the administration."

Under Trump, 26% of Climate Change References Have Vanished From .Gov Sites, Vice

"A report published by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) on Monday found that language related to climate change has disappeared at an alarming pace since Trump took office in 2016. Across 5,301 pages--ranging from websites belonging to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the US Geological Survey (USGS)--the use of the terms "climate change," "clean energy," and "adaptation" plummeted by 26 percent between 2016 and 2018. Of the pages where "climate change" was stricken, more than half belong to the EPA."

Keith's note: This search of NASA.gov yielded 29,529 results for "climate change". I am not sure what the search result would have been several years ago but this large search result seems to indicate that no one has tried to purge NASA's websites for climate change references - at least not yet. If anyone knows of any deletions or alternations, let me know.

Blue Origin protests launch contract rules as it competes with SpaceX, ULA, Northrop Grumman, Geekwire

"Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture is protesting the rules of the game for awarding future national security launch contracts, while continuing to play against SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and Northrop Grumman. All four companies have submitted bids in the second phase of an Air Force competition aimed at selecting vendors for launches in the 2022-2026 time frame. In the first phase of the competition, the Air Force said it would set aside as much as $2.3 billion to support the development of Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket, ULA's Vulcan rocket and Northrop Grumman's OmegA rocket. All those rockets are scheduled to enter service in the 2021 time frame. However, the Air Force said it would reduce the field to two companies next year. Moreover, SpaceX - which didn't qualify for development funds in Phase 1 - is joining the field for Phase 2 with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, both of which are already flying."

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Internal Memo Regarding Employee Use of Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil

"The lack of standards means there are CBD products being marketed that contains a sufficient level of THC to cause a positive drug test result. Please be aware that, the use of any compounds or substances not approved by the FDA cannot be used as a legitimate medical explanation for a positive drug test result. As a reminder, the use of illegal drugs by federal employees is not permissible under any circumstances, regardless of state and/or local laws; this includes the use of Marijuana or products that contains THC for recreational and/or medical purposes. NASA is authorized to conduct pre-employment testing of any individual who will occupy a testing designated position (TDP) and Random testing of employees who occupy a TDP. All employees are subject to testing under provisions for reasonable suspicion and post-accident and/or unsafe practice testing regardless of the TDP designation of their position."

Keith's note: Last week after the conclusion of the ISS Research and Development Conference in Atlanta, the chairman of the CASIS board of directors stepped down. The board is now being run on an interim basis by several other board members. Changes in CASIS senior management are likely. Further changes at CASIS are also to be expected. There are many skilled and dedicated people at CASIS who are up to the task of fixing things - so this is not necessarily a bad thing. Meanwhile CASIS stakeholders at NASA, in Congress, industry, and the scientific community are all talking about what should be done to fix things at CASIS and the ISS.

NASA is currently proposing the construction of a mini-space station (Gateway) in cis-lunar space that will be operated by NASA with the assistance of the private sector. If NASA cannot make public/private, commercial/scientific efforts function successfully in LEO on board a fully operational and well-understood platform like ISS then the chances that NASA can do the same thing a quarter of a million miles away - building upon ISS experience - are questionable to say the least.

Personally I think that the ISS is the 'undiscovered country' and that we have yet to fully tap its potential. Hopefully NASA and its various stakeholders and partners will take this opportunity to re-examine how utilization of ISS is conducted, fix what is broken, and build upon what works. A fully enabled and utilized ISS can be a crucial stepping stone along the path of the human exploration of the solar system. Not making the most of the ISS could result in a large pothole in that path.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/Star-Trek1.jpg

Keith's note: In light of the naked racism coming from the White House and the impact that it has had on societal events of late I need to say something. We are stronger as a result of our diversity - not weakened by it. Humanity evolved elsewhere - not in America. As such we are all immigrants. Full stop.

We have had a space station in orbit for decades that is the collaborative effort of many nations. When political strife fractures relationships on Earth, space keeps them intact. Small wonder that the ISS has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (recently endorsed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine).

Back in the 1960s when the original "Star Trek" first aired, we had a black and white TV. My first exposure to the future was a multi-ethnic/multi-racial/multi-species/gender-balanced crew exploring the universe. I fell for it. It never left me and resonates in my mind to this day half a century later. Alas, back in the 60s, with near simultaneity 20 feet away in my back yard, I was playing catch with a friend of mine. He was black. His name was Wesley. My bigoted neighbors shouted a racial slur at him. We played catch at his house after that. These two things clashed in my young mind. Yet the Star Trek ethos prevailed.

Indeed, in 2009, I had a resonant Star Trek epiphany of sorts in Nepal as I supported Scott Parazynski's ascent of Everest: "My Star Trek Episode at Everest".

Over the past 23 years that I have edited NASAWatch I have tried to avoid mention of partisan politics - and, when my personal views showed through, I openly admitted them - but sought contrary views.

NASA is being pushed to reassert, speed up, reinvigorate America's efforts in space. Hurray. Let's have more. Let's race back to the Moon and then to other places and try to out-compete one another with all manner of cool stuff such that we all benefit in the end.

But in so doing, America needs to assert itself in space in a way that advances the interests and the dreams of all Americans - and do so in a way that encourages all other nations to engage in space exploration in a fashion that advances the interests of all of humanity.

We've all seen those Star Trek episodes where worlds fall into chaos, tear themselves apart, and play only a negative role in the overall legacy of the universe. Let's not do that. We need to do the right thing.

Just sayin'

Note: my comments do not reflect on anyone at NASA. If anything the interest in diversity practiced by the folks behind the glass doors on the 9th floor embodies what I am talking about. As for NASAWatch readers who do not like what I have said and/or respond with profanity or threaten to never visit this site again: bye bye.

Union: Mulvaney comments confirm agency moves meant to cut, AP

"A federal employees union charged Tuesday that recent comments by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirm the Trump administration's "grand strategy" to cut the federal workforce by relocating agency offices out of Washington. Mulvaney said last week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's plan to relocate several hundred of jobs from Washington to the Kansas City area is "a wonderful way to streamline government." Speaking to a group of fellow Republicans in his home state of South Carolina, he said it's "nearly impossible" to fire federal workers but added that many will not move to "the real part of the country."

Mulvaney: Relocating Offices is a 'Wonderful Way' to Shed Federal Employees, Government Executive

"I don't know if you saw the news the other day, but the USDA moved two offices out of Washington, D.C., I think to Kansas City, Missouri," Mulvaney boasted, while encouraging applause. "Guess what happened. Guess what happened. More than half the people quit." (USDA has not yet decided if the offices will be in Kansas or Missouri.)"

Mulvaney Comments on Transfers Are Telling, Says Union, FEDweek

"The AFGE union said that the comments "confirm what our union has been saying all along: the administration's decision to transfer hundreds of USDA jobs from D.C. isn't about helping federal employees do their jobs better or delivering better services to the American taxpayer. Their goal is to drive out hardworking and dedicated civil servants and silence the parts of the agencies' research that the administration views as inconvenient."

Keith's note: OK NASA HQ employees (maybe GSFC employees too): Do you love your NASA job enough to be forcibly moved to a NASA field center? Sure, they pay all moving costs, adjust your salary, and all of that good stuff, but they move you away from your community. When will the NASA HQ reorganization plans be announced? I have not heard of any yet - but NASA is just another Federal agency and it is likely that this will happen since this Administration seems to be happy that the moving threat makes people quit.

Thoughts? (no non-NASA HQ employee comments, please). Technically, this is not a RIF. But, to reflect back to the very first post that led to the creation of NASAWatch in 1996 - then called "NASA RIF Watch" there is a value to "the use of fear as a tool in corporate downsizing."''

With Gerstenmaier gone, decision to fly NASA astronauts may be more contentious, Ars Technica

"SpaceX has already flown an uncrewed demonstration mission of its Dragon spacecraft. Boeing is likely to follow suit this fall with its own Starliner capsule, possibly as early as September. Then each company will have a critical test of its spacecraft's abort system, and then a chance to work through any final technical issues. But once that's done, one or both of the vehicles could be ready to launch astronauts from Florida by early 2020. "Here's where losing Gerstenmaier is going to hurt," said Wayne Hale, former space shuttle program manager and an adviser to NASA. "Bill was recognized by everybody as being technically well grounded and very astute. He was known to listen carefully, and to make his judgments based on good technical reasons."

Keith's note: The new management team selected to run HEOMD is going to have to hit the ground running. Key decisions about SLS will need to be made within weeks of their arrival in their new positions. To be certain the rest of the program is already in place preparing for these events. However, NASA has been directed to suddenly compress a program intended to do something in 2028 into a plan that is going to do that same thing in 2024. Planning for all of this has to go exactly right and hinges upon continued and coordinated political support (funding). And whether that political support will even be there all depends on the run up to - and the outcome of - one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. This is going to be rather sporty.

Letter From Senate Budget Committee Chair Michael Enzi to NASA About SLS/JWST delays/Cost overruns

"I am troubled by continued reports of cost growth and schedule delays involving major projects of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that could jeopardize future missions. ... I am concerned that the persistent cost growth and schedule delays identified by GAO put at risk vital NASA misions and taxpayer dollars. Therefore I request your responses to the following questions: ... please provide your response in writing by August 14, 2019. Additionally I ask that your staff provide my Budget Committee staff with quarterly briefings on the status of GAO's open recommendations."

Mocking Cost Overruns And Schedule Slips At NASA (Update), earlier post

"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."

Jack Kerrebrock

Jack Kerrebrock, professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronautics, dies at 91, MIT

"Jack L. Kerrebrock, professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, died at home on July 19. He was 91. ... Kerrebrock enjoyed an international reputation as an expert in the development of propulsion systems for aircraft and spacecraft. Over the years, he served as chair or member of multiple advisory committees - both government and professional - and as NASA associate administrator of aeronautics and space technology."

NASA Announces US Industry Partnerships to Advance Moon, Mars Technology

"SpaceX will work with Glenn and Marshall to advance technology needed to transfer propellant in orbit, an important step in the development of the company's Starship space vehicle."

Draft NASA Environmental Assessment for the SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy Launch Vehicle at Kennedy Space Center (KSC)

"Purpose and Need: NASA's purpose and need for the Proposed Action is to develop and implement formal agreements with SpaceX for use of NASA assets and to provide services and commodities to enable Starship/Super Heavy launches. Commercial use of KSC real property supports NASA's mandate to encourage the fullest commercial use of space, supports the goals of the National Aeronautics and Space Act, and advances the National Space Policy that federal agencies shall ensure that U.S. Government space technology and infrastructure is made available for commercial use on a reimbursable, noninterference, and equitable basis. The need for the Proposed Action also aligns with NASA's Space Act Agreement and the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation's mission, which is to support the U.S. goal of encouraging activities by the private sector to strengthen and expand U.S. space transportation infrastructure. Additionally, the Proposed Action will support NASA in its continued mission to expand commercial uses of space and the space industry by facilitating SpaceX efforts to strengthen United States (U.S.) space transportation and launch infrastructure. It would also provide greater mission capability to NASA and SpaceX by continuing the development of ever evolving next generation launch vehicles and spacecraft. Additionally, the Proposed Action may support NASA in meeting the U.S. goal of near-term lunar exploration."

"Operation - The SpaceX goal is to eventually launch Starship/Super Heavy approximately 24 times per year. As Starship/Super Heavy launches gradually increase to 24 launches per year, the number of launches of the Falcon would decrease. The Starship and Super Heavy would exceed the lift capabilities of the Falcon Heavy. Due to the higher lift capability, Starship/Super Heavy could launch more payloads and reduce the overall launch cadence when compared to Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. This would increase the cost effectiveness of the space industry. Starship/Super Heavy missions would include Lunar and Mars destinations, currently not supported by any other space vehicle, increased satellite payload missions, and human spaceflight. Missions could range from tests of the launch vehicle and ship, to cargo delivery. The manifest is incomplete at this time but would evolve as the rocket develops. There could be multiple launches in close succession required to support a single mission (i.e., Lunar Program sending multiple payloads to resupply)."

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/CIO.Tweet.jpg

Keith's 4:38 pm update: As it happens this commuter bus tweet was not even made by Renee Wynn but rather by someone else who has access to the @NASACIO Twitter account (even though the face on the Twitter page is Renee Wynn's). This error went unnoticed for more than 5 hours hours until NASAWatch pointed it out. And it took another 5 hours before an indirect message was sent to me explaining what had happened.

To be certain this was an innocuous tweet made by a frustrated DC commuter. But this Twitter account belongs to the NASA CIO - the Chief Information Officer. They are in charge of oversight for all NASA communications and IT. This is troubling to say the least given that use of this account is apparently not monitored by anyone at the NASA CIO organization; that this account has been used by CIO staff (who should know something about the whole IT thing) for things that are blatantly personal and utterly inappropriate; and that the organization who is responsible for proper use of IT at NASA cannot even admit their own mistakes - yet they will hound others at NASA who make them. You can hardly blame people at NASA for ignoring the CIO organization when they do things like this.

Keith's 1:51 pm update: The tweet has been deleted. It used to say "Talk about burying the lead--I had to click through three pages on the PRTC / OmniRide website to even know there was a bus driver strike and what to do about it. Nothing on their Facebook page. Not cool people... https://t.co/PzvAVSRfwO -- NASA OCIO (@NASAcio) August 5, 2019" Luckily I employed another advanced Internet concept that the CIO is seemingly unaware of: a screen grab. FWIW I actually first noticed this @NASACIO tweet at 7:27 am. It was only after it was mentioned on NASAWatch hours later that it was pulled down. So much for the notion that the NASA CIO pays a lot of attention to social media.

Keith's original 12:22 pm note: Kinda funny that NASA CIO Renee Wynn uses her official Twitter account to complain about a bus schedule. Yet when it comes to complying with government guidance on cybersecurity Wynn's office refuses to reply to all media inquiries and routinely gets failing scores on her office's progress from Congres. Now, Wynn's office is co-charted by the NASA Administrator to fix the inefficiencies and redundancies within NASA's internet presence - something the the current CIO has utterly ignored through her time at NASA. Lets hope that she starts to pay the same amount of time looking at NASA websites as she pays to the design of her commuter bus' website. Also, FWIW, if you used #omniride and #PTRC hashtags in your tweet they might actually see your complaint a little more easily. Its one of these Internet tricks you are apparently unaware of.

Oh yes the phrase is "burying the lede" not "lead". Just sayin'.

- NASA Continues To Flunk Basic IT and Cybersecurity Rankings, earlier post
- Overhauling NASA's Tangled Internet Presence, earlier post
- NASA Needs A New Chief Information Officer, earlier post
- NASA CIO Misses Little Things That Could Cause Big Problems, earlier post
- NASA OIG Finds Pervasive Problems With JPL Cybersecurity, earlier post


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