August 2020 Archives

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - Aug. 31, 2020

"ANNOUNCEMENT: These difficult times can be especially trying for those with children at home or other dependent/caregiver responsibilities. As we head into the fall, and more schools opt to conduct classes virtually, I am pleased to announce that the agency is able to continue offering excused leave through March 2021. Supervisors should approve all requests, to the extent possible, and work with employees to ensure all available leave options and schedule flexibilities are considered."

Sean O'Keefe Trump and the RNC abandoned the Republican platform and the legacy of Ronald Reagan, NBC

"I have not always agreed with Biden, and it's unlikely I will always agree with him if he is elected president. But when disagreements do occur, I will have returned to the ranks of the loyal opposition and will be able to express my objections and prescriptions by appealing to the deeply held principles that have guided him throughout his career in public service. Those differences will likely be due to conflicting views over policy, and at least the Democrats put out a party platform of policies to debate."

Joe Biden is the best choice for space progress, Opinion, Sean O'Keefe and John Grunsfeld, Florida Today

"Today, Americans face a choice about whether we want to renew that vision and continue to lead the world in exploration beyond our own planet, and our drive to unravel the mysteries of the universe. With opportunities at hand for innovation and exploration, the United States can again go in peace for all humankind. We believe the best leader to realize that ambition is Joe Biden. Like President Kennedy, Biden believes that NASA represents the best of America and helps our country to be even better -- that NASA inspires all Americans, serves as an engine for economic and technology developments, engages citizens in science and engineering, and boosts our global leadership by working with our partners across the world for continued peaceful development of space to the benefit of all."

Eyes Forward as Artemis Missions Set to Begin Next Year

"Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASA also completed a detailed cost and schedule assessment for Artemis I and established a new agency commitment for launch readiness by November 2021. While it is too early to predict the full impact of COVID-19, we are confident a November 2021 date is achievable with the recent pace of progress, and a successful Green Run hot fire test will enable us to better predict a target launch date for the mission. Taking this new launch readiness date into account, NASA also aligned the development costs for the SLS and Exploration Ground Systems programs through Artemis I and established new cost commitments. The new development baseline cost for SLS is $9.1 billion, and the commitment for the initial ground systems capability to support the mission is now $2.4 billion. NASA's cost and schedule commitment for Orion currently remains within original targets and is tied to demonstrating the capability to fly crew on the Artemis II mission by 2023."

Keith's note: Wait a minute, let's read that again. The last time NASA tossed out a number it was $7.17 billion (see GAO's NASA Actions Needed to Improve the Management of Human Spaceflight Programs). Now a routine blog posting that sits in an out-of-the-way place at NASA.gov casually says 'Oh yea - the whole SLS thing is going to cost 1/3 more'. Clearly this is going to trigger every imaginable automatic Congressional oversight alarm. At a time when the House wants a mostly flat NASA budget with an election weeks away, it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine how the 2024 lunar landing will happen under any circumstances - regardless of how the presidential election turns out and/or whether the Senate flips. I can't wait to see how Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration try to explain this.

And FWIW it is utterly baffling that this huge cost increase was released at the same time that the President was crowing about landing humans on the Moon. This totally undermines those claims.

As always, here's out ever-growing list of reports saying that SLS/Orion costs are out of control.

- Denial At Boeing Regarding Poor Performance On SLS, earlier post
- NASA OIG: Surprise, Surprise: Orion Is Behind Schedule, Over Cost, And Lacks Transparency, earlier post
- You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly, earlier post

OIG: NASA's Policy and Practices Regarding the Use of Non-Agency Information Technology Devices

"NASA is not adequately securing its networks from unauthorized access by IT devices. Although OCIO has deployed technologies to monitor unauthorized IT device connections, it has not fully implemented controls to remove or block these devices from accessing NASA's networks and systems. The initial December 2019 target date for NASA to complete installation of these controls has been delayed due to technological challenges and changes in OCIO mission priorities and requirements. Until the enforcement controls are fully implemented, NASA remains vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks."

Keith's note: And how many decades has NASA CIO had to deal with - and fix - this problem? And when they can't do their job its always due to someone or something else.

NASA Administrator to Open Space Station Research and Development Conference, NASA

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is set to open the ninth annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) at 10 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 27, as the microgravity laboratory celebrates the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence in space."

Day 1 of ISSRDC Online Series to Feature NASA Leadership and Promote Commercialization of Low Earth Orbit, CASIS

"The 9th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) kicks off as a virtual event this Thursday, August 27, bringing together researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, and the general public to showcase the benefits of conducting research and technology development onboard our nation's industrial incubator in low Earth orbit (LEO). Each year, ISSRDC is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NASA, and the American Astronautical Society. This year, the conference will take place as an online series featuring three days of virtual plenary sessions: Day 1 on August 27, Day 2 on September 17, and Day 3 on October 22. The virtual sessions are free to attend; however, registration is required for each day."

Watch live on NASA TV

Keith's note: I will be live tweeting the entire ISSRDC on Thursday on @NASAWatch with the hashtag #ISSRDC I urge others who might be listening to try and do the same.

Jerry Carr

Family Statement Regarding the Passing of Col. Gerald P "Jerry" Carr, USMC Ret.

"Throughout his life and career, Jerry Carr was the epitome of an officer and a gentleman. He loved his family, he loved his country and he loved to fly. We are all enormously proud of his legacy as a true space pioneer and of the lasting impact of his historic mission aboard America's first space station. We will remember him most as a devoted husband, father, brother, grandfather and great grandfather. We will miss him greatly. - The Carr & Musick Families"

Jakob van Zyl

Michael Watkins: "I write with great sadness to let you know that Jakob van Zyl, our former Director for Solar System Exploration and Associate Director for Project Formulation and Strategy, passed away this morning following a heart attack Monday.

Jakob served the Lab for 33 distinguished years, culminating in his leadership of the Solar System Exploration Directorate through the successful operations of celebrated missions such as Juno, Dawn, Cassini, and the implementation of InSight and MARCO, along with ongoing development of Europa Clipper, Psyche, and all JPL instruments and the Mars Helicopter for Mars 2020."

Keith's note: The prepared line was "And soon under my father's leadership, it will send Americans to Mars." OK Eric, what does "soon" mean? The target date for human Mars missions is still the mid 2030s. That is hardly "soon". Maybe you should check with your brother-in-law Kyle Yunaska, the NASA Deputy Chief of Staff, before you make these announcements. He has access to better info on the rocket science stuff. Just sayin'.

Report Offers Roadmap to Mitigate Effects of Large Satellite Constellations on Astronomy, AAS

"The report from the Satellite Constellations 1 (SATCON1) workshop, organized jointly by NSF's NOIRLab and the American Astronomical Society (AAS), has been delivered to the National Science Foundation (NSF). Held virtually from 29 June to 2 July 2020, SATCON1 focused on technical aspects of the impact of existing and planned large satellite constellations on optical and infrared astronomy. NSF, which funded the workshop, also finances most of the large ground-based telescopes widely available to researchers in the United States. More than 250 astronomers, engineers, commercial satellite operators, and other stakeholders attended SATCON1. Their goals were to better quantify the scientific impacts of huge ensembles of low-Earth-orbiting satellites (LEOsats) contaminating astronomical observations and to explore possible ways to minimize those impacts."

President Trump Is Making The World (And Space) Safe Again [space excerpt], RNC

"Space Policy Online: "There is substantially more than in Obama's 2015 strategy," about space."

Keith's note: Full context "Space is not a focus of the 55-page document, but there is substantially more than in Obama's 2015 strategy. That may be because Obama issued a National Space Policy in 2010 that contained extensive guidance about U.S. civil, commercial, national security, and cross-sector space activities, followed by a National Security Space Strategy in 2011. Trump has not issued similar guidance yet. Therefore what was released today is the most formal statement to date of Trump's views on these issues, although he, Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House National Space Council, and other administration officials have expressed many of them already."

Oh yes and SpaceQ: "U.S. aims to take lead in space traffic management with Space Policy Directive 3." is actually an article title on our sister website SpaceQ which covers Canadian space news, the article says "As reported in NASA Watch, during a morning media call this morning "National Space Council Executive Director Scott Pace said the U.S. needs to have unfettered access and the ability to operate space - but space is becoming congested. The new policy (SPD-3) addresses these challenges."

Oh yes with all the NASA hoopla about Artemis and the Artemis Accords this RNC/Trump greatest hits document makes zero mention. But they certainly mention Space Force a lot.

NASA Researcher Arrested for False Statements and Wire Fraud in Relation to China's Talents Program, Department of Justice

"The charges allege Cheng and TAMU received funds based on Cheng knowingly providing false information to TAMU and consequently to NASA. In addition to the funds, Cheng personally benefited from his affiliation with TAMU and NASA with increased access to unique NASA resources, such as the International Space Station, according to the complaint. This access allegedly allowed Cheng to further his standing in China at Guangdong University of Technology and other universities. The charges further allege he held senior research positions there unknown to TAMU and NASA and was able to serve in the People's Republic of China Talents program. China's Talents Plans are allegedly designed to attract, recruit and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China's scientific development, economic prosperity and national security."

- Draft 2020 Democratic Party Platform Statement On Space, earlier post
- And Today's Stupid And Untrue Space Tweet Award Goes To ..., earlier post

Donald Arabian

NASA Legend Donald D. Arabian, SpaceCoast Daily

"He had a long and distinguished career as a senior NASA engineer, working on all the major U.S. manned space programs from Mercury through Apollo. He headed the Test Division at Johnson Space Center and was Chief of the Mission Evaluation Room (MER) responsible for solving in-flight problems throughout the Apollo Program. Don and the "Mer-men" as they liked to refer to themselves are best known for solving the problems on Apollo 13 that brought that crew home safely."

- Donald Arabian, Legacy
- Donald D. Arabian, NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project, Edited Oral History Transcript

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - Aug. 17, 2020

"This week the agency's COVID-19 Response leadership and I will record a town hall to answer your questions and provide an update on the status of the agency. If you'd like to submit a question, please visit https://www.nasa.gov/townhall before the submission window closes tomorrow, Aug. 18, at noon EDT. You'll receive a NASA INC message with a link to the video once it is available for viewing Thursday, Aug. 20."

NASA Associate Administrator Memo: Moving Forward Together; Next Agency Town Hall,

"On Wednesday, Aug. 19, I will join Administrator Bridenstine, Deputy Administrator Morhard, and other agency leaders, to answer your questions about how we move forward together."

Keith's note: The questions used to be available here but NASA has removed the link. They ere all about COVID-19 and teleworking. If anyone has a link to the archived event we'd appreciate it if you'd post in in the comments.

U.S. Department of Education Launches Space Mission Challenge for High School Students, Department of Education

"Today, the U.S. Department of Education launched CTE Mission: CubeSat, a national challenge to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond. The Department invites high schools to bring space missions to students by designing and building CubeSat prototypes -- in the classroom or at home. ... Each finalist will receive an equal share of the $25,000 cash prize pool as well as satellite development, hardware, and software kits. Challenge sponsors include Arduino, Blue Origin, Chevron, EnduroSat, LEGO Education, Magnitude.io, MIT Media Lab, and XinaBox."

Keith's note: I did a thorough check. There is no mention in this press release of NASA. Nor is there any mention of - or link to - NASA on the competition's website. To be certain there is no law or regulation that requires that NASA be involved in everything involving space but it is weird that with the whole "Artemis Generation" thing that NASA hypes that the Department of Education makes no mention of NASA - and that NASA makes no mention of this competition.

Oh yes ... one other little detail: there is no mention of how the CubeSats get into space. Who launches them? Do they go up on a rocket or get tossed out of the ISS? Who pays for the ride? Details details.

Keith's note: I sent the following to NASA PAO: "Last night imagery of two NASA astronauts appeared in a Democratic National Convention video. Did the DNC seek permission from NASA and/or the astronauts portrayed to use this imagery for political purposes? If so did NASA grant permission? Does NASA intend to file a complaint with the DNC for the use of this imagery of two of its employees in a political context and/or ask for it to be deleted?"

The response I got today says "NASA was not made aware of the video before it was released and we did not provide any assistance or footage, which was publicly available online."

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - Aug. 17, 2020

"Shout Out: Tomorrow, Aug. 18, John W. "Jack" Boyd will retire, after joining NASA's predecessor, NACA, 73 years ago. Once serving as the associate center director for Ames and currently as senior advisor to the center director, Jack's early research in aerodynamics contributed to more efficient supersonic flight, such as the development of conical camber and canard configurations. As associate administrator for management, he helped realign headquarters to meet the challenges and the development of the Space Shuttle Program and what would eventually become the International Space Station. I am grateful for all of Jack's contributions from NACA to NASA and wish him the best! Thank you, Jack, and happy 95th birthday!"

Image: Me, Jack Boyd, and his wife at Cooper Garrod Vineyard in 2009. Larger image

Keith's note: When I read this today I had to re-read it since it contained words I never expected to see "Jack Boyd" and "retire". I sent Jack and Eugene Tu an email asking if there had been a clerical mistake. I first met Jack in the 1980s in my 30s and he was in his 60s when I visited Ames while working at NASA HQ Life Science Division. Flash forward: I'm filling out Medicare enrollment forms now. And Jack is still punching his timecard at NASA. In the ensuing 35 years I saw Jack regularly - especially when I was working on crazy projects at Ames. Jack's sharpness has been consistent - and he always seemed to find something funny in everything NASA did while being one of its most steadfast proponents. His advice to Ames - and NASA - has been cogent and reaches back to a time when slide rules and good engineering were important. Today software fixes everything. I am certain "retirement" is just something he's doing because he's 30 years overdue. Yet he'll probably just show up at Ames as a docent at the center's museum.

If you want to meet someone who lived through America's space program it is Jack Boyd. Jack knew NASA before there was a NASA.

Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities and Cross-cutting Actions, OMB/OSTP

"5. American Space Leadership

R&D investments should continue to leverage efforts underway at American universities and in the private sector and focus on ensuring American leadership in space by supporting the Trump Administration's call for a return of Americans to the Moon's surface by 2024 for long-term exploration and utilization, and as a proving ground for future human missions to Mars. Microgravity research in biological and physical science on new platforms in Low Earth Orbit is important to enabling longer duration human missions in space and may have practical benefits to life on Earth. Departments and agencies should prioritize in-situ resource utilization on the Moon and Mars, cryogenic fuel storage and management, in-space manufacturing and assembly, advanced space-related power and propulsion capabilities, and orbital debris management. Departments and agencies should also prioritize activities that ensure an industrial base for commercial activity in space and that will broadly speed private-sector progress in meeting stated Government goals and furthering the space economy. Finally, departments and agencies should seek opportunities to work with advanced materials, additive manufacturing, and machine learning capabilities that have broad potential applications in space and on Earth."

U.S. prosecutors probe ex-NASA official, Boeing over space contract: sources, Reuters

"The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal probe into whether NASA's former head of human spaceflight gave Boeing Co improper guidance during a lucrative lunar-lander contract competition, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday. The Justice Department has sent subpoenas to NASA, Boeing and Doug Loverro, who led the space agency's marquee space travel program until he resigned in May, as part of a grand-jury investigation into the possible violation of federal procurement laws, the sources said. In the probe, opened in June, prosecutors are focusing on communication between Loverro and Boeing space executive Jim Chilton in late January, during a blackout period for the Human Landing System competition, one of the sources said. Representatives for Boeing and Loverro declined to comment. NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment."

Keith's note: These NASA procurement activities aren't just a few people in a room working late on Friday afternoons. Hundreds are involved - for weeks - including lawyers, FAR experts etc. Lots of spreadsheets and PowerPoint. Something is missing from this story - either that or a whole lotta people at NASA and Boeing screwed up collectively.

Keith's note: I have known John Rummel for 35 years. I first worked with John at the old Life Science Division at NASA Headquarters. John has made an indelible mark on NASA's search for life in the universe. Vicki was awarded a Distinguished Public Service medal from NASA for her work on the Mars Phoenix mission. Please consider making a donation to help out John and Vicki and their family in this time of need.

"John, Vicky, and kids Tristan and Hannah were in a severe car accident on July 22nd. John and the kids are with Vicky now in Billings, Montana where she is undergoing surgeries to her legs, and where she will be monitored until her doctors can determine a safe release date. John sustained a handful of injuries as well, making it necessary to have a second and third pair of hands available to give Tristan and Hannah the best possible attention and care."

Hipkin-Rummel Get Well Soon Fund

Keith's note: These Space Force folks are clearly obsessed with medals, uniforms, ranks, logos, TV advertising, StarFleet etc. The comments posted in response to this tweet are priceless. I am not sure if the Space Force folks totally understand that many of their tweets are just begging for mockery.

- Military Space Guys Argue Over The Whole Space Force Rank Thing, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Be Star Fleet, earlier post
- Now Space Force Wants Its Own Starfleet Admirals, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Take Over All Of NASA's Stuff, earlier post
- TV's Space Force Looks Like More Fun Than The Real One (Or Artemis), earlier post
- More Space Force postings

NASA Associate Administrator Memo: Moving Forward Together; Next Agency Town Hall, NASA

"We're making steady progress safely returning mission-critical work on-site - yet another testament to the dedication of the NASA team. I, along with other agency leaders, am incredibly proud of the effort every NASA employee puts in every day to keep the mission moving forward. We also recognize that, with the approach of fall and the start of a new school year, many of us are dealing with even greater uncertainty. On Wednesday, Aug. 19, I will join Administrator Bridenstine, Deputy Administrator Morhard, and other agency leaders, to answer your questions about how we move forward together."

CASIS Board of Directors Welcomes New Members, CASIS

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the organization that manages the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory pursuant to a Cooperative Agreement with NASA, has inducted four new members to the organization's board of directors. As directors on the CASIS board, these highly decorated and scientifically diverse leaders will work with existing board members, executive staff, and NASA stakeholders to determine organizational priorities. The board seeks to ensure and enhance the ability of CASIS to optimize the use of the ISS National Lab through basic and applied space-based investigations that will continue progress toward our nation's goal of developing a sustainable market economy in low Earth orbit."

"What if we built a bridge, between and above all nations, to jointly discover the galaxy's great unknowns?" Join us this fall as we prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station. As a global endeavor, 240 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory, which has hosted more than 2,800 research investigations from scientists in over 100 nations."

Why the International Space Station Deserves Consideration for a Nobel Peace Prize, ISS National Laboratory

'Space Force officers must think like Navy officers if they are to succeed', Politico

"With Congress' blessing, Space Force admirals will create a service that promotes whole-of-nation space development and considers space commerce protection as a mission co-equal to warfighting. The Senate and House jointly passing the Starfleet Amendment into law would declare boldly that Americans want the Space Force to be both strong and wise enough to win the great power competition in space through strategic -- yet peaceful -- development that will both secure America and enrich the world. Make it so!."

Why giving the Space Force naval ranks might widen the schism with the Air Force, Politico

"Finally, and most importantly, symbols matter. The Space Force knows that with an embrace of naval rank comes expectations of naval roles. But does the Space Force want its officers to embrace navalist thinking? Although virtually all major space power theorists have consistently used maritime analogies, space power theory wasn't part of military education until quite recently, and has yet to make it into official doctrine."

Keith's note: Really guys? Space Force still hasn't created anything yet - they slap their logos on other organization's satellites. They have not chased any bad guys in space yet. More importantly, they have not figured out what Space Force wants to be when it grows up. Yet there are already food fights about what rank system to use, what the uniforms should look like, and what logos will be used on official Space Force swag. Someone should do a TV show about this. Oh wait ....

- Space Force Really Wants To Be Star Fleet, earlier post
- Now Space Force Wants Its Own Starfleet Admirals, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Take Over All Of NASA's Stuff, earlier post
- TV's Space Force Looks Like More Fun Than The Real One (Or Artemis), earlier post
- More Space Force postings

Space Force releases 1st doctrine, defines "spacepower" as distinct form of military power

"The Space Capstone Publication explains why spacepower is a vital element of U.S. prosperity and security - now and in the future - and guides its employment in multidomain operations. As the USSF continues to grow and mature, we will continue to evolve our doctrine to stay on the cutting edge of defending our interests in space."

Space Capstone Publication, Spacepower (SCP)

"Military space forces must be responsible stewards of the space domain. When designing missions, training, and performing end of life operations, military space forces should make every effort to promote responsible norms of behavior that perpetuate space as a safe and open environment in accordance with the Laws of Armed Conflict, the Outer Space Treaty, and international law, as well as U.S. Government and DoD policy. Just like all forms of warfare, the prosecution of space warfare and the potential generation of collateral damage is judged against the principles of military necessity, distinction, and proportionality. Through this approach, military space forces balance our responsibilities for operational readiness with the safety and sustainability of the space environment for use by future generations."

"Space professionals recognize the independent impact spacepower has on National prosperity. Our global persistence postures the Joint Force to continuously assure Allies, deter aggression, coerce competitors, and defeat adversaries. We provide the enduring vigilance that protects the United States and our Allies from strategic surprise. Due to this global persistence and enduring vigilance, space professionals are perfectly postured to provide the Joint Force global, and not just regional, perspective and capabilities. As we look to the future, our orbital presence must secure the ever expanding frontier of U.S. space interests. At their most fundamental level, space professionals seek to protect our Nation's prosperity and security."

Keith's note: It is quite obvious from this document that the current Administration's space focus is the undisputed leadership and control of all aspects of space via military means. All other uses - scientific, exploration, humanitarian, commercial, societal - are of secondary importance to the mastery of space that the Space Force seeks to impose. Indeed the authors overtly talk about the need to "coerce competitors". Competition - whether it be commercial or governmental - when peaceful - is supposed to be good, right? These Space Force guys simply want to bend others to their will.

FYI "NASA" appears only once in this document - at the end - in the credits on page 61 where it says "Cover Image courtesy of NASA". The face that America's civilian space agency is literally a footnote to this other American space policy speaks volumes in terms of where the main focus is.

To be certain we have had space-based defense assets for more than a half century that need to be secured. But It seems to have escaped the notice of all of the would-be space warriors that imposing an enhanced military mindset upon all American space activities is the best way to push other nations to do the same. Curiously, we have had a continuous human presence on ISS for 20 years with Russia - one of our prime terrestrial politcal adversaries. If you include the Shuttle-Mir project then this continuos cooperation goes back to 1993 between the US and the USSR. We seem to get along vastly better in space than we do on Earth. Certainly there are lessons to be learned from this experience. Reading this document, you get the exact opposite impression: the ISS is not even mentioned.

Just as we are pushing for an overt increase in the militarization of space many in NASA are endorsing a push to get the International Space Station awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The policy disconnect between pursuing the peaceful and military uses of space could not be more profound.

- The Space Force Squad Wants To Create Problems - Not Avoid Them, earlier post
- Now Space Force Wants Its Own Starfleet Admirals, earlier post- Space Force Official Flag Presented To The President On Friday Because Of Course It Was, earlier post
- Space Force Has The Air Force Academy. Why Doesn't NASA Have A Space Academy?, earlier post
- More Space Force postings

Keith's note: The new Netflix series "Away"" premiers on 4 September 2020. "Commander Emma Green leaves behind her husband and daughter to lead an international crew of astronauts on a perilous three-year mission to Mars."

Alan Phillips

Alan Harwood Phillips

"Alan Harwood Phillips, 60, of Albemarle passed away on Monday, August 3, 2020 at home surrounded by his family following a four month battle with brain cancer. ... Alan was the founding director of the NASA Safety Center and served as director until his retirement in July of last year. Prior to his selection as director of the NSC, he led Langley Research Center's Office of Safety and Mission Assurance in Hampton, VA for four years. In this position, he led and managed the Center's Institutional Safety and Mission Assurance Program and was accepted as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES). One of Mr. Phillips' greatest accomplishments was when he received the Presidential Rank Award, which recognizes select members of the SES for their sustained excellent service. Throughout his career and travels, Alan formed deep friendships with numerous colleagues."

Ad Astra.

Keith's note: Seriously? No educational degree is required to lead an outreach effort for the world's preeminent space agency - one that needs to reach 328 million people domestically and billions internationally? And this uneducated person can earn from $102,663 to $157,709 when the median income in the U.S. is just over $30,000 at a time when unemployment is exploding? Baffling.

The job I had at NASA required that I have a college degree and experience. I would have had great difficulty doing my job without a graduate degree. Was NASA incorrect in asking that I have that degree? To be certain life experience and enthusiasm is vitally important, but I am trying to wrap my head around the notion that NASA is no longer going to require college degrees for jobs that require scientific and engineering knowledge. Our society is already on a road toward collective dumbing down - you can especially see it in how people react to the science behind pandemics. This Administration seems to see actual education as a liability and they put that bias into practice every day.

- Eric Trump's Brother-In-Law Is The New Deputy NASA Chief Of Staff. Seriously., earlier post
- How Jonathan Dimock Auditioned To Be NASA White House Liaison, earlier post

Here's the job description

"Summary
The News and Multimedia Division within the NASA Office of Communications in Washington, DC is seeking a skilled individual to serve as a public affairs specialist in the Digital Communications Branch. The public affairs specialist is responsible for developing digital media strategies, tactics, products and messaging in support of NASA's charter in the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act to reach the widest practicable audience.

Responsibilities
- Oversees the development, implementation, execution, and measurement of social media channel strategies, with a focus on content production, community management, social listening and targeted audience growth.
- Establishes and implements a modern community management strategy that positions the agency as responsive and engaged with online audiences.
- Leads the creation of digital media plans and editorial calendars. This includes managing projects requiring agency-wide collaboration with communicators who specialize in audio, eBooks, mobile apps, social media, television, video, AR/VR and web.
- Coordinates with communication staffers, agency subject matter experts other relevant stakeholders to ensure consistent messaging and a timely, coordinated release of digital products.
- Maintains agency-owned accounts according to best practices. This includes creating or updating account profile information and artwork, creating or consolidating accounts, managing follower lists, etc.
- Stays up to date with the latest digital trends, sharing learning with stakeholders and making recommendations for new tactics and tools.
- Supports agency events and programs, including live coverage on digital platforms that may occur outside of standard business hours.
- Duties described above are at the full-performance level. Duties assigned at a lower grade level will be of more limited scope, performed with less independence and limited complexity; duties will be commensurate with the grade of selected employee"

Worm Watch

NASA's 'worm' logo lay dormant for 28 years. So why are people so obsessed with it?, Fast Company

"Fast-forward to 1992. As Danne tells it, the logo was retired by executive decision. The new NASA administrator at the time, Dan Goldin, allegedly didn't like the worm and wanted to bring back the meatball as the primary logo. According to Danne, it was quickly phased out. NASA confirmed it was an executive decision but didn't have any more details about Goldin's motivations."

LOST IN SPACE; Meatballs Devour Worms!!, New York Times Magazine (1999).

"For the past six years NASA has been trying to wipe out the tubular red logo (''the worm'') that has symbolized space exploration since 1975. The chief exterminator is Dan Goldin, NASA's administrator, who says that the original 1958 emblem (''the meatball'') better commemorates the program's mission. But wasting the worm, which has adorned everything from welcome mats to wind tunnels, is taking longer than Goldin would like. Keith Cowing, an ex-NASA payload manager who documents worm sightings on the NASA Watch Web site, raps Goldin's subordinates for obsessively hiding the worm from the boss. A NASA spokesman protests, saying the agency is worming itself -- harmlessly -- over time (old letterhead will be used up, etc.): ''If someone decides they better go and eradicate this, that or the other thing, it's not because of Goldin."

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2020/trump.NASA.jpg

Keith's note: Here is the actual tweet. I am posting a picture of it since Trump tends to block a lot of people.

Mike Freilich

NASA Administrator Statement on the Passing of Mike Freilich

"Mike Freilich, passionate explorer and former director of NASA's Earth Science Division: "Our planet has lost a true champion with the passing of Mike Freilich. NASA sends our condolences to his loved ones, and the entire NASA Family shares their loss. "As the head of NASA Earth Science, Mike was known for his diligence and an unwavering commitment to accuracy and making sure the science was strong. His oversize passion for all things related to expanding knowledge about the complex systems of our planet saw an incredible diversity of missions launch on his watch. Mike never avoided the tough decisions, but his deep expertise and innate love of science helped our agency to innovate and expand the ways it observes our home planet."

Perseverance: Being There

Perseverance: The Mission and the Team, Thomas Zurbuchen

"As we went through the countdown, just minutes before the launch of NASA's Perseverance rover, we got a message that seemed fitting: "there is an Earthquake in Pasadena." MiMi Aung, the project director of Ingenuity, the pioneering Mars helicopter was just on air from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory when her world started shaking. "She seemed a little more nervous than normal." somebody remarked and wondered why. Minutes later, the same person wondered: "how did she keep it together during all this?" This is the question many have asked many times, and the Perseverance team answered it over and over, not by words, but by actions. Here are some Perseverance moments during the past few years."

Keith's update: I just had a chat with GSFC management. In a nutshell this pandemic and telework has gone on longer than anyone expected and it will go on for quite some time - well into 2021. As such, people and policies need to constantly adapt to an uncertain and ever changing future. You can expect some clarification from GSFC management soon including a request from the GSFC workforce for employee input on how to better adjust existing rules, clarification of those rules and safety concerns, and the reality of trying to telework during a global pandemic.

Please try to help your management help you - and reciprocate when they seek your assistance.

My Statement on the Successful Splashdown of NASA-SpaceX Dragon Endeavour, Joe Biden

"Congratulations to NASA, SpaceX, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, and all the hardworking women and men who made possible a successful conclusion to this historic mission. The first American splashdown in 45 years was executed with precision and professionalism, just like the entirety of this awe-inspiring trip to the International Space Station. This is a victory for American innovation and persistence, and I am proud of the role President Obama and I had in fighting to ensure that commercial crew flights from American soil would become a reality. As president, I look forward to leading a bold space program that will continue to send astronaut heroes to expand our exploration and scientific frontiers through investments in research and technology to help millions of people here on Earth."

Chairwomen Johnson and Horn Celebrate Successful Splashdown of SpaceX Demo-2

"After a momentous launch to space from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade, NASA astronauts have successfully returned home after a productive mission on the International Space Station," said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). "The safe return of these two NASA astronauts is a significant milestone for America's space program. I want to welcome Astronauts Hurley and Behnken home and congratulate all those who made their mission possible."


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