September 2020 Archives

Space Force Will Eventually Put Troops in Orbit, Ops Boss Says, Air Force Magazine

"Military troops in the Space Force will someday deploy to orbit, one of the service's top operations officials said Sept. 29. "At some point, yes, we will be putting humans into space," Maj. Gen. John E. Shaw, head of the Space Force's Space Operations Command and part of U.S. Space Command leadership, said during a conference organized by the AFWERX innovation group. "They may be operating command centers somewhere in the lunar environment or someplace else." Space Force officials, wary of being confused with NASA, usually shy away from questions about whether military personnel will go to the Final Frontier themselves. Experts have split on whether a Space Force astronaut corps is a good idea in the next couple of decades, if at all."

Outer Space Treaty of 1967

"Article IV

States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.

The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all States Parties to the Treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes. The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden. The use of military personnel for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes shall not be prohibited. The use of any equipment or facility necessary for peaceful exploration of the moon and other celestial bodies shall also not be prohibited."

- NASA And Space Force Are Collaborating, earlier post
- Space Force Fans Want To Implement The "Green Agenda", earlier post
- Space Force Is Obsessed With Being Space Force, earlier post
- 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

Trump White House recruited climate science critics to work at NOAA, Science

"At least three prominent researchers who question the severity of climate change rebuffed the opportunity to take a senior position at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The White House has been quietly working in recent weeks to reshape the leadership of NOAA with a goal of criticizing climate science, according to people who were contacted about the job. The revelation that administration officials approached multiple researchers with long records of casting doubt on human-caused climate change points to a political campaign to undermine mainstream science at one of the world's leading climate agencies, experts and observers said. After the initial candidates declined the position, the White House turned to David Legates, a geography professor at the University of Delaware who rejects the basic principles of climate science. Legates, now the deputy assistant secretly for observation and prediction at NOAA, has claimed that rising carbon dioxide levels would make the earth more hospitable to humans. John Christy, an atmospheric science professor at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, told E&E News that a White House official promised him he would be given a free hand to change the way NOAA approaches climate research."

White House recommends Ryan Maue, meteorologist and critic of dire climate predictions, for NOAA chief scientist, Washington Post

"The White House has tapped Ryan Maue, a meteorologist who has challenged connections between extreme weather and climate change, to serve as the new chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Two NOAA officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the personnel move, confirmed the appointment is in progress."

Keith's note: Meanwhile, the CDC deleted some COVID-19 guidance it posted online regarding airborne transmission and social distancing revisions - because it was accurate. Oops. How did that happen? Oh and then there is this: NIH staffer to retire after he was exposed as the blogger behind anti-Fauci, anti-mask stories. Thus far NASA has more or less escaped the politicalization of Earth and climate science but that cannot go on forever.

Economic development projects to bring 510 new jobs to Huntsville area, Made in Alabama (Alabama Department of Commerce)

"The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber today announced that new economic development projects will bring 510 new jobs and more than $71 million in investment to the community."

Keith's 27 Sep 10:54 am EDT note: This release was issued on 25 September 2020 - the same day as the NASA economic Report came out. The Made in Alabama (Alabama Department of Commerce) website makes no mention of the NASA Economic Impact report. NASA HQ makes no mention of this news from Alabama. NASA Marshall makes no mention of this local economic news or the NASA economic report on their website but their twitter account retweeted @JimBridenstine's tweet - once.

NASA's Impact on Economy Is No Secret to Space Coast, MyNews13

"In Florida, NASA employs 33,000 workers and makes a $5.9 billion impact on the Space Coast, according to Space Florida's Dale Ketcham. Planned missions to return to the moon and to go to Mars for the first time are responsible for a lot of that impact, he said."

There is no mention of this report (or a link to it) on the Space Florida website but they are responding to media requests. There is no mention on the NASA Kennedy website but they did retweet @JimBridensine's tweet - once. No mention is made on the Florida Governor's website or the Department of Economic Opportunity. Rep. Bill Posey has posted nothing on his website or his Twitter account. Sen. Rick Scott makes no mention on his website or Twitter account. Sen. Marco Rubio has nothing on his website but he does make mention on his Twitter account. Given the immense amount of money NASA has sent to Florida over the past half century you'd think that the folks there would be a little more interested in spreading the good news - especially when the economy is in such dire shape. Its baffling that NASA Kennedy is not making more of this good news.

Oddly, while Johnson Space Center makes no mention of this NASA economic impact report on their homepage, they do have an old link prominently featuring their own report: "Texas Comptroller Releases NASA Economic Impact Report". I mentioned this report back in September 2019 when JSC did a stealth launch of their own:

"Look at this Texas portion (larger image) of the list of companies that are suppliers to SLS/Orion/Artemis: "2019 Deep Space Exploration Systems Supplier Locations". These 182 companies are located all over Texas. I'll be willing to bet that nearly all of these companies have no idea that there is a NASA website that lists all of the small business that work on this project. The Texas Comptroller seems not to know about it. JSC does not mention it either. Why go through the time and expense of collecting this information if no one is told that it exists?"

While JSC still features this old economic news from a year ago on their website, JSC makes no mention of the new report - but they did retweet Jim Bridenstine's tweet - once.

There is no mention on the NASA Ames website; none at NASA Armstrong's website; nor any mention at NASA JPL's website - this despite the fact that the report cites California having "69,725 jobs in the California economy were supported by NASA activities in Fiscal Year 2019" and that "The total income impact of NASA in California was $6.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2019."

Keith's 28 Sep 12:21 pm EDT update: NASA Langley just issued this press release today at 12:13 pm EDT. NASA's Moon to Mars Economic Impact Study Shows Significant Benefit for Virginia - but no mention on their homepage.

No mention is made by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology or the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Jim Bridenstine will be testifying there on Wednesday - maybe he will mention the report).

No mention of the NASA report is made at the Aerospace Industries Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Space Foundation, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - or the National Space Council. To their credit, the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration does make brief mention on their website and links to the NASA report. And of course none of the space advocacy groups have bothered to say anything.

I could go on and research the PR given to this report for all 50 states. A simple Google news search will show how underwhelming the response has been. Let me be clear: this report is overflowing with great news for NASA and hundreds of communities across the nation. I hope NASA publishes more things like this since they have only scratched the surface of what NASA provides to this nation. America needs good news right now. The inspirational aspect of what NASA does as part of this good news is an added bonus in these dark times. But it is downright depressing to see NASA drop the ball when it comes to promoting its own good news - once again.

What happend to all of that presidential "Make Space Great Again" hoopla? Or was that just for campaign ads?

- NASA's Economic Impact Study Misses Much Of NASA's Economic Impact, earlier post
- NASA Economic Impact Report Released, earlier post
- NASA Report Details How Agency Significantly Benefits US Economy, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA put out an "Economic Impact Study" today. Not much thought was put into making the most of this report given that it was issued at 7:00 am on a Friday. So NASA will get one day of media bounce before a weekend at a time when news recycles every 17 minutes. Bad rollout planning aside, the report is quite useful and contains some very important information that bears on NASA's future - not just for the whole space thing - but as an economic and societal force. But this report is only useful to the extent that people know that it exists and that those people who convey its contents understand what it says and convey that information such that a broader audience can ingest and use it. NASA issued a brochure for the media but odds are very few regular taxpayers will ever know about it. That's a shame since NASA's impact is considerable.

As for the report itself, the breakdown of economic numbers is done on a state by state level. At the end of the day it is obvious that most economic policy has a high state level quotient to it. But if NASA really wanted to explain where it has an impact (and by default where it does not) the breakdown should be done at a town or zip code level. These maps with large states give a somewhat inaccurate impress of where the impact is derived. In many cases it is located in metropolitan or regional areas that either focus a state's economic power to limited areas, or span the borders of more than one state and offer a regional focus.

In many cases these maps point out woeful inequalities by default such as Montana (less than 1 FTE who earned $10,000), Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, etc.. Nothing is ever said in this report with regard to why some parts of America do not share in all of this NASA economic goodness. But wait: they do. These states have large agricultural and natural resource sectors of their economy that benefit from remote sensing. GPS and satellite communications enable many economic activities that would otherwise be impossible. And every person who lives there derives some benefit from all of these 'spinoffs" that NASA is forever waving its arms about. Yet I see no mention in this report as to how these technologies with clear NASA heritage and continued involvement impact these states. It just looks like they get nothing. Why would anyone in those states ever care about NASA's benefits since NASA shows there to be virtually none?

The report uses lots of models and makes incessant mention of how one NASA FTE civil servant job leads to X number of other jobs but the report never provides actual examples i.e. where a specific program with a specific number of civil servants resulted in contracts to specific companies and how many people they hired and what their collective economic impact on their community was. I think that would be most enlightening since most people are unaware of how this all works. I suppose some of the company stuff is proprietary but absent any granularity it seems that a 'one size fits all' metric is used to compute and express this multiplier effect.

Also - the efficiency with which a large aerospace contractor hires and conducts work vs how a small business does hiring can be vastly different. Since we constantly hear about how much of America's business is done by small businesses one would think that would be very useful information. Oh yes, although this was based on older FY 2019 information, given that we are all working at home now in a dispersed mode - and will be for some time to come - this would also give some insight as to what a dispersed, but networked, workforce can do.

It would be interesting to see how NASA's economic impact fares when compared on a dollar:dollar basis with scientific organizations such as NSF and NIST and on large developmental/operational organizations such as NOAA and DoD. It would also be interesting to compare what an academic dollar buys you vs what a commercial dollar can buy.

It would, of course, be interesting to see how the economics map put when compared to Congressional districts. Having once worked for a large aerospace contractor I can tell you with certainty that they know exactly who gets what. And if someone was really industrious they'd map political contributions ... but I digress.

I guess what I am looking for is how you translate this report (which I am certain has accurate information) into words that people outside of economic wonkery and internal beltway spin can understand. NASA put together a nice data dump but it is somewhat cold and devoid of any human connectivity. Does the report mention how often state and local organizations interact with NASA on business matters? Does it mention how many high school and college graduates take on majors related to - or inspired-by NASA and how that contributes to a broader aspect of the nation's economy?

This is a very useful report and I am sure there is a lot in there that I have missed. The reach of the agency's economic impact is chronically under appreciated and rarely quantified in such a comprehensive fashion. Kudos to the authors and sponsors.

But if I were a state economic official (from Montana) and I looked at what other states got from NASA, I'd like to know why they got what they did and why my state did not. If I was at a state or local chamber of commerce I'd like to see some local examples and lessons learned. It would be nice to see some plain language success stories - such as how a machine shop with several dozen employees got to make a part that goes in a NASA rocket and how the income from that one part employed people, how those people felt about their work, what the actual impact was interns of the specific jobs created, and how all of that translated (or did not translate) into visibility for NASA's role at an organic level. In essence I'd like to see how the mere presence of a company doing space stuff has impacts other than sheer numbers.

Members of Congress like big numbers and often fall under the spell of lobbyists and big aerospace companies and the self-serving yarns that they spin. But they also like small stories. They like to get letters about home town impacts and success stories based on real people leading normal lives. Such stories can often exceed they impact of a lobbyists' spin. You cannot quantify hope or inspiration and the impact that they have with mere numbers. But a report on NASA's economic impact is incomplete without presenting the impact of hope and inspiration - and pride - especially right now when people are looking for a bright light at the end of this horrible tunnel

NASA's impact on America is woefully underestimated - sadly, it is all too often underestimated by NASA itself.

NASA Report Details How Agency Significantly Benefits US Economy

"NASA released Friday the results of its first-ever agencywide economic impact report. The report shows that, through all NASA activities, the agency generated more than $64.3 billion in total economic output during fiscal year 2019, supported more than 312,000 jobs nationwide, and generated an estimated $7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes throughout the United States."

Standing Up For Science

NAS and NAM Presidents Alarmed By Political Interference in Science Amid Pandemic

"As advisers to the nation on all matters of science, medicine, and public health, we are compelled to underscore the value of science-based decision-making at all levels of government. Our nation is at a critical time in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic with important decisions ahead of us, especially concerning the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Policymaking must be informed by the best available evidence without it being distorted, concealed, or otherwise deliberately miscommunicated. We find ongoing reports and incidents of the politicization of science, particularly the overriding of evidence and advice from public health officials and derision of government scientists, to be alarming. It undermines the credibility of public health agencies and the public's confidence in them when we need it most. Ending the pandemic will require decision-making that is not only based on science but also sufficiently transparent to ensure public trust in, and adherence to, sound public-health instructions. Any efforts to discredit the best science and scientists threaten the health and welfare of us all.

Marcia McNutt
President, National Academy of Sciences

Victor J. Dzau
President, National Academy of Medicine"

80-billion-yen budget request in the works for lunar probe, Ashai Shimbun

"The science and technology ministry's budget request for the next fiscal year will include an ask for some 80 billion yen ($760 million) to develop key equipment for a U.S.-led, manned lunar exploration mission. The ministry, which also oversees sports, culture and education, is aiming to accelerate the development of a new unmanned supply spacecraft, a life-support machine and other related equipment to help enable Japanese astronauts to land on the moon."

Joint Statement Of Intention In The Artemis Program By Italy and The United States, ASI

"Italy and the United States are interested in exploring potential Italian contributions to the Artemis Program, including but not limited to: the provision of crew habitation capabilities on the surface of the Moon and associated technologies to enable short-duration stays for crews on the Moon; the conduct of lunar surface science experiments and investigations; and the provision of telecommunication services through surface assets and lunar orbital constellations."

Keith's note: There are some who'd say that this large investment - with real money - by Japan (and likely Italy) will help make the Artemis program more stable and able to withstand attempts by the U.S. Congress or a future administration to cancel or delay it. They could be right. Yet back in the 1990s, despite billions in sunk investments by the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Canada, the U.S. Congress came within one vote of cancelling the space station while the White House also toyed with turning it off too. Just sayin'.

Hearing to conduct oversight of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget and activities

2:00 p.m. EDT, Room 325, Russell Senate Office Building

Witness: James Bridenstine

Watch live

NASA Administrator to Discuss Collaboration with US Space Force, NASA

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will participate in a virtual discussion on the agency's collaboration with the United States Space Force at 9:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 22. This Space Power Forum event will stream live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, will join Bridenstine in this discussion, hosted and moderated by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies as part of its Space Breakfast Series."

Watch live on NASA TV

Memorandum of Understanding Between The National Aeronautics And Space Administration and The United States Space Force

"Despite their disparate missions, NASA and USSF share a common domain of operations space and with it a shared interest in similar capabilities, technologies, and best practices. Since NASAs inception in 1958, NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD) have shared knowledge regarding common interests. Specifically, NASA has made available to agencies directly concerned with national security, information on discoveries and technologies that have military value or significance. Conversely, national security agencies have shared with NASA, discoveries and information collected which have value or significance to its exploration, science, and technology missions. Historically, areas of collaboration have included space launch and range safety, space communications, human spaceflight support, space flight safety and space situational awareness, scientific research, and technology development."

Keith's note: Last week Jim Bridenstine suggested that landing at the south pole of the Moon might not be in the cards for Artemis III. A few days later HEOMD AA Kathy Lueders did not give a clear answer when asked. The obvious questions will be "Will Artemis III land at the lunar south Pole? Will the Artemis III mission land before the end of 2024? When will the SLS Green Run Test happen?"

Oh yes there's a NASA hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday: "Hearing to conduct oversight of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget and activities"

NASA Publishes Artemis Plan to Land First Woman, Next Man on Moon in 2024, NASA

"Following a series of critical contract awards and hardware milestones, NASA has shared an update on its Artemis program, including the latest Phase 1 plans to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon in 2024."

Keith's update: The update issued today by NASA makes no mention of the Artemis III landing site. The press release that announced the report makes no mention of the lunar south pole all together. But Jim Bridenstine was rather blunt today saying that Artemis III will will land at the lunar south pole. Full stop. Apparently someone tweeted something about something from the LEAG meeting last week and someone tweeted something else and ...

I asked a question that went roughly like this: "When Gateway was first announced lunar landings were still planned for 2028. Then last year things got moved up by 4 years to 2024. Yet after more than a year NASA is still not exactly sure what Gateway will or will not do or when these things will happen - especially with regard to the first human landing mission. "Sustainable" means different things to different people - to some it is funding to others it is engineering. The House seems to think it means funding. The more you delay Gateway, the more people are going to question why you even need it. When will you know exactly how Artemis III will be conducted?"

I got some meandering responses from Jim Bridenstine and Kathy Lueders which can be distilled down to "since NASA has chosen the private sector to do the whole 2024 lunar landing system thing NASA does not actually know how their astronauts will land on the Moon. Good? Bad? We'll soon see."

The House only gave NASA $600 million toward the Human Landing System. NASA needs $3.2 billion. Bridenstine is hopeful that there will be a CR (continuing resolution) soon followed by an omnibus appropriations bill either at the end of this year or in March 2021 and that he hopes/expects that the full $3.2 billion for the HLS will be in there. While ever the optimist, he also said "if Congress keeps delaying the funding we will go the the Moon at the earliest possible opportunity."

NASA Highlights Science, Business on Next Northrop Grumman Mission to Space Station

"Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA and Stéphane de La Faverie, group president, The Estée Lauder Companies and global brand president, Estée Lauder, who will discuss plans to photograph the company's New Advanced Night Repair serum in the space station's iconic cupola window as part of NASA's efforts to enable business activities at the space station and develop a robust low-Earth orbit economy."

Keith's note: We got an advanced look at one of Phil's slides. NASA apparently did extensive simulations of the perfume photo op. Larger image

The Space Force's relevance to the green agenda, The Hill

"But the service is also doing more in this domain. The USSF, for instance, is taking the lead on what will become the ultimate green energy technology: space-based solar power. Ignored for decades by both NASA and the Department of Energy, space-based solar power is unique as a renewable energy source because it is far more efficient than its terrestrial counterpart and requires much less land. Moreover, its vast availability would allow a mature system to meet current global demand many times over."

Keith's note: The Space Force fans are really grasping at straws to rationalize their new organization. The latest attempt involves this claim that it is the job of Space Force to take over space solar power work that NASA and the Department of Energy used to do or were supposed to do or that they once did (in someone's imagination). But wait, there's more:

"The USSF is also at the center of climate intelligence, helping us to know both about our weather patterns on Earth, and about the space weather -- activity of the Sun -- which impacts our biosphere. There would not even be a global green movement had it not been for early military space research to photograph our weather, which gave us our first view of our planet in the 1960s."

Right - and NOAA and NASA had nothing to do with any of this weather stuff. NASA launched America's first weather satellite but this isn't about facts.

NASA human spaceflight directorate completes reorganization, SpaceNews

"The NASA directorate responsible for human spaceflight efforts has completed a long-anticipated internal reorganization intended to better align activities ranging from the International Space Station to Artemis. At a Sept. 16 Washington Space Business Roundtable webinar, Kathy Lueders, who took over as NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations three months ago, said that NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk formally approved a reorganization of her mission directorate the previous day."

Hearing link, Hearing on Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Information Technology Management, Policies, and Practices at NASA

Prepared statements

- Rep. Kendra Horn
- Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
- Rep. Brian Babin
- Jeff Seaton, Chief Information Officer (Acting) National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Diana L. Burley, Vice Provost for Research, American University

- Paul K. Martin, Inspector General, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

"Our concerns with NASA's IT governance and security are long-standing and reoccurring. For more than two decades, NASA's OCIO has struggled to implement an effective IT governance structure that aligns authority and responsibility commensurate with the Agency's overall mission. Specifically, we have found that the Agency Chief Information Officer (CIO) and IT security officials have limited oversight and influence over IT purchases and security decisions within Mission Directorates and at NASA Centers. The decentralized nature of NASA's operations coupled with its long-standing culture of autonomy hinder the OCIO's ability to implement effective enterprise-wide IT governance. For example, in an August 2020 audit we found OCIO's visibility into the process Centers use to authorize and approve IT systems and devices to access Agency networks remains limited.4 Although the NASA CIO is responsible for developing an Agency-wide information security program, OCIO relies on Center-based CIOs and IT security staff to implement and enforce the Agency's information security policies. This practice has allowed Centers to tailor processes to meet their own priorities, which has in turn led to inconsistent implementation of NASA's enterprise-wide IT security management. Such a decentralized approach to cybersecurity management limits OCIO's ability to effectively oversee NASA's information security activities and make informed decisions related to project timelines, costs, and efficiencies as well as realistically assess the overall security of NASA's numerous IT systems."

- Earlier posts on NASA IT

Keith's note: After 20 years of continuous human occupation, the full potential of the ISS has yet to be tapped. To borrow a phrase from Star Trek - which was borrowed from Shakespeare - the ISS is the 'undiscovered country'. With all the talk about how we'd conduct a human mission to Mars, we have a Mars transit spacecraft analog flying over our homes every day just waiting to be used to its fullest extent. Seeing the ISS passing by Mars in this image should be a reminder of the amazing potential of this expeditionary base camp in Low Earth Orbit. Let's use it - before we lose it.

Hell Is in Space and It Belongs to Russia, Roscosmos Chief Says, Gizmmodo

"Our country was the first and only one to successfully land on Venus," Rogozin told attendees at the 2020 HeliRussia exhibition, according to Russia's state-run TASS news agency. "The [Russian] spacecraft gathered information about the planet -- it is like hell over there." "We believe that Venus is a Russian planet," Rogozin added. "Both agencies have historically struggled with funding. ... The Russian government has slashed funding for Roscosmos repeatedly in recent years, even as it's facing pressure from competitors like SpaceX who offer cheaper, reusable rockets. Rogozin has offered a lot of bluster about Roscosmos' capabilities despite the cuts, but this week he admitted that insufficient funding was taking a toll. "I don't quite understand how to work in these conditions," Rogozin said. "We are seeing that leading foreign space agencies are increasing their budgets." Going to hell just isn't as easy as it used to be."

Day 2 of ISSRDC Online Series to Feature Space Investment, Commercialization, and NASA-driven Programs

"Day 2 of the 9th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) will take place virtually this Thursday, September 17, 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. The day will kick off with a session focused on space-based research that is leading to commercial product applications. Multiple plenary sessions will be dedicated to NASA-driven initiatives like GeneLab and the Cold Atom Lab. Additionally, a session focused on trends within the investment community will be led by executive leadership within Nasdaq."

The conference will also air on NASA TV

Space Travel Reality Show Set To Send Contestant To ISS In Works From Space Hero Company & Propagate, Deadline

"The trip of the Space Hero winner will be on a SpaceX Dragon rocket. Space Hero, billed as the first space media company, is working with Axiom Space, manufacturer of the world's first privately funded commercial space station -- a module for the ISS where the private astronauts can stay -- and full-service human spaceflight mission provider. Led by Mike Suffredini who served as NASA's International Space Station program manager for 10 years, Axiom handles all aspects of the Space Hero private astronaut mission, from brokering the trip to the ISS -- currently earmarked for early 2023 -- and securing the rocket seat to training the aspiring astronauts and insurance coverage."

NASA astronauts have a new task: make videos of Estee Lauder products, CNN

"The International Space Station has served as the world's most unique laboratory for two decades, hosting hundreds of scientific experiments, crews of astronauts and even the occasional slime. But now, NASA, one of the space station's primary operators, is preparing to oversee the largest push of business activity aboard the ISS. Later this month, up to 10 bottles of a new Estée Lauder (EL) skincare serum will arrive at the space station, a NASA spokesperson told CNN Business. NASA astronauts are expected to film the items in the microgravity environment of the ISS and the company will be able to use that footage in ad campaigns or other promotional material."

Keith's note: So ... civilian space agency NASA is now looking at "areas of collaboration" with military space agency Space Force, according to Jim Bridenstine. I thought the whole point of having a civilian space agency was to have a civilian space agency - not a partner of a military space agency. Curiously, Jim Bridenstine was talking about the purposeful creation of a civilian space agency just yesterday.

Slippery Slope.

Where Will Artemis III Land?

House Science Bills on Space Weather and Election Technology Pass the House

"S.881, the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow Act, more commonly referred to as the PROSWIFT Act, improves our ability to monitor and forecast space weather. Space weather is generated by magnetic activity on the Sun and can affect technologies on Earth ranging from cell phone communications to GPS navigation to the electric grid. The bill includes an amendment by Lucas to create a pilot program that will ensure that emerging private sector companies have a seat at the table and will be able to provide monitoring and forecast data which the federal government can purchase and utilize in space weather forecasts."

NASA OIG: NASA's Planetary Science Portfolio

"While PSD and the Centers are focused on meeting current mission needs, they are at risk of neglecting investments that would help ensure long-term maintenance of NASA's unique planetary science infrastructure. These include (1) sustaining technical capabilities to support future mission needs; (2) a workforce facing increasing risk from an impending wave of retirements that is exacerbated by the lack of sufficient workforce data for management to make informed decisions, challenges associated with transfer of knowledge, and limited awareness of hiring authority best practices; (3) a lack of adequate funding to repair, maintain, and modernize the Deep Space Network, which provides tracking, telemetry, and command services for deep space missions; and (4) funding mid-level technology development. Moreover, the lack of a cohesive "One NASA" approach by stakeholders, including Center management, Mission Directorate management, and NASA's technical workforce, is hindering the Agency's ability to identify, prioritize, and address longer-term risks to planetary science infrastructure."

Breakthrough Initiatives to Fund Study into Search for Primitive Life in the Clouds of Venus

"Breakthrough Initiatives, the privately-funded space science programs founded by science and technology investor and philanthropist Yuri Milner, are funding a research study into the possibility of primitive life in the clouds of Venus. The study is inspired by the discovery, announced yesterday, of the gas phosphine, considered a potential biosignature, in the planet's atmosphere. The science team undertaking the research will comprise world-class physicists, astronomers, astrobiologists, chemists and engineers, led by Dr. Sara Seager, Professor of Planetary Science, Physics and Aerospace Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The group will investigate the scientific case for life and analyze the technical challenges of an exploratory mission in the event that such evidence proves compelling."

OIG: NASA's Management of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy Program

"The lack of clear and achievable performance expectations and lack of concurrence between SMD and SOFIA management on science output goals including publication and citation metrics has reduced productivity and threatens the Program's future viability. The Program is unlikely to achieve the community's expectation of 150 publications per year by 2022, or the Program's goal of 100 annual publications, as it only produced 33 publications in 2019 and the actions proposed to meet this goal fall short of the transformational changes required to address current operational and technical challenges. Further, the proposed actions are unlikely to mitigate SOFIA's lack of competitiveness because of the Program's poor efficiency on a science-per-dollar basis when compared to other observatories."

Is Artemis Starting To Fade?

Keith's note: Are we seeing an indication that the expansive, fast-paced goals NASA has for Artemis are now colliding with reality?

Stay Safe Stennis and Michoud

Hints of life on Venus, RAS

"An international team of astronomers, led by Professor Jane Greaves of Cardiff University, today announced the discovery of a rare molecule - phosphine - in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially, or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes - floating free of the scorching surface, but still needing to tolerate very high acidity. The detection of phosphine molecules, which consist of hydrogen and phosphorus, could point to this extra-terrestrial 'aerial' life. The new discovery is described in a paper in Nature Astronomy."

Keith's 14 Sep update: Apparently the RAS has changed its mind about how it is going to do their big announcement and a live stream will be presented at 11:00 am EDT here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IIj3e5BFp0

Keith's 13 September 18:32 pm note: There is a big press release coming out tomorrow (Monday 14 September) morning at the Royal Astronomical Society. They want you to know its big news. The press release has been issued in advance to some journalists under embargo - but not others (like us). We have not seen the press release. But according to several sources knowledgeable with the details of the announcement (who are not under embargo) phosphine has been discovered in the atmosphere of Venus. Its presence suggests - suggests - some strange chemistry going on since phosphine is something you'd only expect to see if life (as we know it) was involved.

The presence of phosphine is seen by many astrobiologists as a "biosignature" i.e. an indicator of the possible presence of life. The detection was made by the Atacama (ALMA) array located in Chile and the James Clerk Maxwell telescope located in Hawaii. The research team includes members from the University of Manchester, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cardiff University. A paper will appear in the 14 September issue of Nature Astronomy.

From what we're told the researchers have concluded that abiotic mechanisms (i.e. ones that do not involve life) that might produce phosphine cannot account for the large amount that they have detected. The phosphine has been detected in the region within the atmosphere of Venus that is considered by some to be potentially habitable. As to what spin the researchers put on this, we'll have to wait for reporters who have the press release or are allowed to participate in the Zoom press conference thing tomorrow at 15:00 GMT to let us know.

Jay Melosh

Space Resources are the Key to Safe and Sustainable Lunar Exploration

"Today, we're taking a critical step forward by releasing a solicitation for commercial companies to provide proposals for the collection of space resources. When considering such proposals, we will require that all actions be taken in a transparent fashion, in full compliance with the Registration Convention, Article II and other provisions of the Outer Space Treaty, and all of our other international obligations. We are putting our policies into practice to fuel a new era of exploration and discovery that will benefit all of humanity. The requirements we've outlined are that a company will collect a small amount of Moon "dirt" or rocks from any location on the lunar surface, provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material, along with data that identifies the collection location, and conduct an "in-place" transfer of ownership of the lunar regolith or rocks to NASA. After ownership transfer, the collected material becomes the sole property of NASA for our use."

Keith's note: As you may recall last year I posted a story "That Time Wernher von Braun's Rocket Tried To Kill My Father" about my father's near brush with death from a V-2 attack in London in March 1945 and how he - and later I - grappled with the personal impact of a weapon that fell from space. I visited the impact site in Hyde Park 2016. I recently got this email from Brian Roselle who is my age and had parents who lived through part of World War II in London. As it happens his mother was there at the impact area too as the rocket came in. Like Brian, I almost did not exist because of this rocket. In my case, it gave me a career 40 years later.

"Visiting my brother this weekend we looked in a shoe box with pictures and articles from our parents from WWII, and it reminded me of an incident my Mom mentioned years ago. Mom once told me of this incident she had while she was in London, where she had a close call. A V-2 rocket struck the Hyde Park area near where she was at the time and the explosion was extremely big and shook her up quite a bit, to the point where she wasn't sure if she was going to survive whatever was happening. She was OK and subsequently found a fragment that landed in the park, picked it up, and it was still very hot. She ended up keeping the fragment and this was among the items we looked at this past weekend along with a note identifying it as the V-2 piece picked up in Hyde Park. I took a picture and attached it here. I found your article on NASA Watch while looking up more background on V-2 incidents. As you might guess, the article resonated with me. Between my Mom and Dad I think there were probably a few close calls in the European Theater at that time that went my way, so she could become a war bride to an American soldier and I could eventually come along. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience, I have learned a little more."

At the end of my article I described a chance encounter with a young european couple and their boy at the foot of the V-2 at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. As it happens, they live in the Netherlands a few blocks away from where the V-2 that nearly killed my father and Brian's mother was launched. Small world.

NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk: Agencywide Quiet Fridays are Here!

"With much of the NASA workforce currently teleworking, gone - for now - are the days of the casual collaborations and conversations that happen in hallways or office pop-ins. In their place, many of us are seeing a significant increase in more formal, scheduled meetings. In an effort to help employees maintain a balance of communication, collaboration, and individual productivity, NASA is implementing an agencywide "Quiet Friday" program effective Friday, Sept. 25."

Keith's note: NASA needs to spend a little more time promoting International SpaceApps Challenge than it has done in the past. Given that humans now live in orbit permanently - and have done so for 20 years - you'd think that NASA would be looking for ways to capitalize upon its global brand reach and the inherent soft power opportunity that goes with being a bright light in an otherwise gloomy time here on Planet Earth. Everyone is isolated - globally. This is a chance to connect and utilizing that NASA global brand.

Keith's update: NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - Sept. 8, 2020

"Shout Out: NASA's International Space Apps Challenge 2020, dubbed the largest global hackathon in the world, will be kicking off its 9th year on Oct. 2-4. The event brings innovators of all ages and backgrounds together to solve some of the world's biggest challenges. NASA employees can share the opportunity with friends and family, or involve kids learning at home in the all-virtual event this year. Teams can choose from space- and Earth-related challenges to challenges focused on history and youth. There's something for everyone!"

Gerstenmaier warns against ending space station program prematurely, Space News

"We don't want to do an Apollo: a rush to a single objective and then have nothing left," he continued. "We need to build infrastructure, leave pieces behind that the private sector can use, as well as the government, to move forward." Gerstenmaier said he didn't know how long such a transition from the ISS to private facilities would take, but didn't think there was a firm deadline for ending the station. "I don't know that there's a hard date where the station needs to be retired," he said. "I think there will be probably a push to retire the station with the idea that you're going to free up funds for exploration. That's what I described to you as a false choice."

Keith's note: When most people hear the phrase "space science" it is logical to expect that they think of "science" in "space". Maybe its astronomy or planets. Maybe its studying how humans live in space. Perhaps its analyzing samples from another world or looking for life in the universe. It might even include looking down at Earth from space. But "space science" simply refers to "science" - and not any one discipline or sub-discipline.

But at NASA "space science" it has been used for decades to refer to missions that do astronomy, astrophysics, heliophysics and to some extent planetary and Earth science. ISS would never be mentioned unless it is for some astronomy or astrophysics payload on board. And there'd be no mention of any "science" done in "space" by NASA's Human Exploration, Technology or Aeronautics Directorates - even if the science was done in space. Since NASA people use a subset of the English language that reflects the NASA phone book and budget plans - and power point lingo - and not how the rest of the world sees things - its websites tend to reflect these distinctions peculiar to NASA. Advisory bodies, OMB, and Congress fall into the same trap. "Space Science" at NASA is not what the phrase probably means to English speakers who hear the two words used together.

Google's top link from a search for "space science" is to a Wikipedia page "outline of space" which defines it this way: "Space science encompasses all of the scientific disciplines that involve space exploration and study natural phenomena and physical bodies occurring in outer space, such as space medicine and astrobiology." Sounds like they mean all science done in - and about - space. Makes sense. Sometimes the top link from Google goes to "Space Science" at the National Air & Space Museum which says "Space science--science performed from vehicles that travel into Earth's upper atmosphere or beyond--covers a broad range of disciplines, from meteorology and geology, to lunar, solar, and planetary science, to astronomy and astrophysics, to the life sciences."

But use the phrase "space science" to a NASA person and the defintion is much smaller and limited. The first NASA link to come up from a Google search for "space science" is "Space Science & Astrobiology @ Ames" which offers this de-facto definition of their piece of space science as:

"The Division will pursue primary leadership roles in NASA missions and mission support activities, based on our current capabilities in the following key strategic focus areas: Life Detection Research and Technology, Mission-Driven Analog Research and Mission Concept Operations, Radiative Transfer Modelling, Laboratory Astrophysics Research, (Exo)planetary Formation, Evolution, Characterization, and Technology Studies"

That is somewhat smaller than the top search result. But it is the first time something from NASA shows up. Not everyone is going to understand the whole field center organizational aspect of NASA. They will simply see "NASA". The next search result you get us is "Space Science" - a PDF reflexting the FY 2003 budget plan that says:

"NASA's Space Science Enterprise will continue to address these four profound questions: How did the universe begin and evolve? We seek to explain the earliest moments of the universe, how stars and galaxies formed, and how matter and energy are entwined on the grandest scales. How did we get here? We investigate how the chemical elements necessary for life have been built up and dispersed throughout the cosmos, evidence about how the Sun affects Earth, similarities between Earth and other planets, and how comets and asteroids in our solar system affect Earth. Where are we going? Our ultimate place in the cosmos is wrapped up in the fate of the universe. Humanity has taken its first steps off our home world, and we will contribute to making it safe to travel throughout the solar system. Are we alone? Beyond astrophysics and cosmology, there lies the central human question: Are we on Earth because of an improbable accident of nature? Or is life, perhaps even intelligent life, scattered throughout the cosmos? Now, in support of the President's new vision of space exploration, orbiting observatories and planetary probes will be joined by human explorers in seeking answers to these questions. Robotic scouts will blaze the trail, reconnoitering the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets of the solar system in advance of human expeditions, as observatories monitor the sun and its effects on its planetary retinue. The Space Science Enterprise will work with the new Exploration Systems Enterprise to develop and deploy new technologies, first on automated spacecraft and then on human missions."

That is much more expansive and seems to include pretty much everything that the Wikipedia definition describes. But there is no mention of Artemis. Oh wait: that is because it is from the FY 2003 era "Vision for Space Exploration" era under President George W. Bush. This is 2020. A 17 year old page like this showing up in a Google search result is easily found and easily remedied. But NASA does not seem to care. Nowhere in the top pages of search results for "space science" is there a link to a NASA page other than the one to the division at Ames. NASA is the pre-eminent space agency when it comes to space science so this is a little odd when a search for "space science" results in one page from a field center and another from 2003.

So lets make the Google search a little more specific for "NASA Space Science". The first search result we get - which is highlighted by Google is the one mentioned above describing a division at NASA Ames. The second result is Science at NASA - science.nasa.gov - the main NASA Science Mission Directorate page at science.nasa.gov. If you click "about us" you get some pictures but no definition of what Space Science is. The link on that page to "NASA's Science Vision" gets you to this:

"NASA's science program seeks answers to profound questions that touch us all: How and why are Earth's climate and the environment changing? How and why does the Sun vary and affect Earth and the rest of the solar system? How do planets and life originate? How does the universe work, and what are its origin and destiny? Are we alone?"

No mention is made of studying humans in space or other science done on ISS. But if you go down several links you get "Space Station Research & Technology" which talks about the science done in space on the ISS with lots of useful links to other resources. Alas, there is no link to this page from science.nasa.gov nor does this page link to science.nasa.gov - so anyone landing at science.nasa.gov will not know that there is a resource for ISS research unless they dig around for a while. Conversely people arriving at this ISS science page might not get a full appreciation of the vast scope of NASA's various science programs.

If you take the route of skipping Google and just going directly to NASA.gov you see these categories at the top of the page: "Humans in Space, Moon to Mars, Earth, Space Tech, Flight, Solar System and Beyond, STEM Engagement, History, Benefits to You"

The "Earth" and "Solar System and Beyond" pages point to content outside of the official NASA Space Science page at science.nasa.gov and do not point to science.nasa.gov. Conversely science.nasa.gov does not point to the "Earth" and "Solar System and Beyond" pages. So you have two independent and inconsistent lines of communication. But wait there's more: The "Humans in space page" page linked to from nasa.gov does not point to the "Space Station Research & Technology" page. So you have a similar redundant path in NASA's overall web strategy that is duplication and unnecessary.

Google cannot improve on bad website design. Its algorithms simply bring forth results on how things are arranged on websites and how people find and link to these resources. NASA could easily delete old information like the 2003 space science page (or replace it with current information); cross link pages that merit cross linking and delete duplicative pages. If need be referral or redirect pages at old links can send people to the right location. A good web design will also allow Google's search spiders to find pages more easily and, if done properly, find them along the lines of topic organization that make sense when someone uses Google to find something. People using a revised NASA website design which is built with an eye on how search engines find things would also find things more easily.

NASA was tasked by its Administrator more than a year to fix this sort of mess. They have not. One of the problems, IMHO is that NASA is only used to being in transmission mode. They do not listen very much. They are used to being providers of information about NASA but they seem to lack any real input from actual users of information about NASA. If they did then their websites would look a lot different. I was once told by a former NASA AA that NASA is popular in spite of itself and its bad outreach coordination simply because its stuff is so compelling and cool. They are quite correct. And NASA is not only stuck in transmission mode, everyone uses a different frequency on incompatible systems to transmit.

NASA people are forever talking about how NASA benefits everyone else and how frustrated they are that more people do not see this. But these same NASA people are hampered by a system of stovepipes and competing fiefdoms at every organizational level at NASA that make a coherent and consistent story impossible to tell. It has been like this for decades. That said, NASA's cool stuff reaches around the world in spite of the internal roadblocks. Imagine what the agency could do if it finally fixed its outreach mechanisms online so as to facilitate - not hinder - this spread of massive NASA coolness?

Form follows function, NASA.

Keith's note: Today the White House is releasing Space Policy directive 5 (SPD-5) "Cybersecurity Principles for Space Systems" according to a media briefing with senior administration officials. This is the first policy for space systems to apply key cybersecurity principles to protect space systems for government and commercial operators. SPD-5 promotes SPD-3 "Space Traffic Management" including space debris issues and other government defense and security directives. SPD-5 notes that cybersecurity practices that apply to terrestrial systems also apply to space systems. Promotes a culture of prevention, risk management, and best practices. SPD-5 Further defines best practices, establishes norms, and will apply across our industrial base and calls for space systems software to be developed using risk based cyber security engineering cybersecurity. SPD-5 calls says that space system developers should protect against unauthorized access, jamming, spoofing, infiltration of ground systems, cybersecurity hygiene, and supply chain risks. SPD-5 says that developers should leverage widely adapted best practices and norms of behavior, and that operators should make appropriate risk trades appropriate to their systems cybersecurity.

President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive Establishing America's First Comprehensive Cybersecurity Policy For Space Systems

"Today, President Donald J. Trump issued Space Policy Directive-5 (SPD-5), the Nation's first comprehensive cybersecurity policy for space systems. SPD-5 establishes key cybersecurity principles to guide and serve as the foundation for America's approach to the cyber protection of space systems."

NASA Administrator Announces Senior Leadership Updates

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has announced updates in senior leadership positions at Headquarters in Washington, including Stephen Shinn becoming acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Melanie Saunders, who has served as acting Chief Financial Officer since February 2020, will return to her position as NASA Deputy Associate Administrator. She has held that position since 2018. Cathy Mangum, who has been the acting Deputy Associate Administrator while Saunders was acting CFO, will continue to lead the agency's COVID-19 response and other agency priorities."

"I appreciate Melanie and Cathy stepping up and taking on these critical positions, especially during this unprecedented year with the COVID-19 pandemic," said Administrator Bridenstine. "And I'm confident in Steve's leadership while we await Senate confirmation of the President's NASA CFO nominee."

- Former NASA CFO Jeff DeWit Joins Trump Campaign As COO, earlier post
- Eric Trump's Brother-In-Law Is The New Deputy NASA Chief Of Staff. Seriously., earlier post
- NASA Has A CFO Nominee, earlier post

"Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key position in his Administration: Dr. Greg Autry, of California, to be Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. ... Dr. Autry previously served on the NASA Agency Review Team and as the White House Liaison at NASA."

Keith's note: Autry's nomination is listed on the executive calendar as of 29 July 2020 - #2150 - but it has not been referred to any committee yet. It is unlikely that this nomination will be taken up by the Senate before the election. If Trump loses it will never see the light of day.

The NASA CFO's job used to be about the agency's financial matters and nothing else. In the past 4 years it has become a way for White House political influence to be maintained at NASA via a different channel. Of course presidential son Eric Trump's brother-in-law Kyle Yunaska is NASA's Deputy Chief of Staff - so there are multiple direct channels from the Trump Administration into NASA HQ. Oh yes, former CFO Jeff DeWit is the COO of the President's re-election campaign.

Keith's note: A year and a half ago Jim Bridenstine directed NASA to fix its online services. he told the agency "I am calling for a full modernization of NASA's digital presence to best reflect the priorities and activities of the Agency in this new era of science, discovery, and exploration. To accomplish that we will: ..." . Have they done what he asked them to do? No. In fact, some things have just gotten worse.

Here's one example. Go to NASA Science Mission Directorate homepage and click on "news" and then "press releases". You'd expect to see a current listing, right? Guess again. The last one posted is dated 30 July 2020. No mention of NASA's Chandra Opens Treasure Trove of Cosmic Delights or Primary Mirror for NASA's Roman Space Telescope Completed or The Moon Is Rusting, and Researchers Want to Know Why issued in the past 24 hours. If you go to More science news they are not mentioned either.

But if you go to NASA.gov these things are available. Curiously when you go to NASA.gov there is no way to find the SMD homepage. If you click on Solar System and Beyond you see SMD's recent stories but no link to the SMD homepage. If you look at the SMD homepage you will notice that there is no link to NASA.gov - unless you scroll all the way down to a little link at the bottom of the page.

If you use the NASA.gov search engine and look for "astrobiology" the official NASA Astrobiology website never shows up in the search results (I stopped looking after 3 pages of results).

In summary: NASA SMD won't easily send you to NASA.gov and NASA.gov won't send you to SMD. None of these sites has a consistent and current link to the things that SMD releases - and the search engine for all of NASA can't even find the main home page of the program (Astrobiology) that drives all the science on the fancy new $2 billion rover headed to Mars.

- NASA Has Had A Year To Reorganize Their Web Presence. Did They?, earlier post
- SMD Sends A $2 billion Astrobiology Mission to Mars and Then Forgets About Astrobiology, earlier post
- NASA Just Can't Stop Doing Web Stuff Twice UPDATE: Three Times, earlier post
- NASA's Confusing ICESAT-2 Websites, earlier post
- Progress Made In Making NASA's Internet Presence Leaner, earlier post
- Dueling NASA Websites Update, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA has an Astrobiology rover heading to Mars. Time to dial up the Astrobiology stuff, right? Guess again. Check out the NASA SMD website. Do a search for Search for "astrobiology". These are the top search results - yes they are rather stale. Not exactly the top shelf outreach that you'd expect SMD to be doing for a $2 billion Astrobiology mission on its way to Mars. Just sayin'

- Dr. Michael New - Astrobiology Discipline Scientist Mar 24, 2008
- Due Dates delayed for C.20 Astrobiology Science And Technology For Exploring Planets (ASTEP) Mar 16, 2011
- Amendment 8: New TBD C.23 Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research
SOLAR SYSTEM May 9, 2019
- Sled Dogs Carry Astrobiology to Dizzying Heights EARTH Mar 12, 2008

Keith's update: As a reader has noted it you click "newest" then the results are more current. But please tell me what website design thought went into making "relevance" the default setting for search results when it shows random news more than a decade old? Did NASA SMD bother to have actual humans test drive this? And regardless of which button you click there are few search results regarding actual NASA Astrobiology research - despite databases that are online that can provide that information. I see no search results that link to the official NASA Astrobiology website at astrobiology.nasa.gov. My point still stands. NASA has no idea how to present its search for life in the universe - Astrobiology - to a public audience. And when you bring these issues to their attention they simply do not care.

If you go to Pubspace - a research results database established by NASA at NCBI and search for "astrobiology" you get 1,192 search results which are all scientific papers. If you go to the Astrophysics Data System which the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under NASA Cooperative Agreement you get 218,350 results - again, all research results. If you go to arXiv.org preprint server and search for "astrobiology" you get 503 results of relevant research. Searching for other relevant key words such as "biosignatures" or "habitable" would yield even more results. Why doesn't NASA SMD include these resources in their search engine algorithm? If this is beyond the skill set of the web folks at NASA then why doesn't NASA make prominent mention of these research search engines - not just for astrobiology but for other aspects of NASA space science research - by simply linking to them?

If you go to the official NASA Astrobiology website you will see that the top story is a recycled post from 4 January 2020 about a comic book. Yes, a comic book. If you want current Astrobiology news that covers the actual research go here.

Earth's First Space Teacher

Pick an agency, any agency, Space Review

"Congress, though, rejected the proposal, with appropriators skeptical that Commerce was the best agency to handle civil STM. Prior to SPD-3, the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, or AST, had been the leading candidate to handle STM in addition to its work licensing commercial launches and reentries. While the administration decided to give that authority to the Office of Space Commerce, some in Congress still thought AST was the better home. ... The report, led by a panel chaired by Michael Dominguez, former assistant secretary of the Air Force and which included former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe and former NRO director Marty Faga, was released August 20. And, much to the relief of the administration, it concluded that the Office of Space Commerce was indeed the best agency for the job. "Following its evaluative criteria, the Panel determines OSC to be best suited to perform STM tasks within the federal government," the report succinctly stated."


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