September 2021 Archives

Sherwood Boehlert

Former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, longtime CNY advocate and Utica native, dies at 84, Observer Dispatch

"Former Republican U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert died Monday at age 84, according to a statement from his former staff. Boehlert served in the House of Representatives for 24 years between 1983 and 2007 in three congressional districts in Central New York. The Utica native and New Hartford resident served as chair of the House Committee on Science at the end of his term."

Chairwoman Johnson Statement on the Passing of Former Chairman Sherwood Boehlert

"He also led our Committee admirably through the years following 9-11 and through investigations of the tragic Space Shuttle Columbia accident. Congressman Boehlert represented the best of what the American people should expect from their legislators: integrity, fairness, openness to diverse perspectives, and a determination to do what is right, even when it put his own political career at risk."

Yet Another NASA Town Hall

NASA Invites Media to Discuss Future of NASA

"NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other senior agency leaders will host an employee town hall for all civil servant and contractor employees at noon EDT, Tuesday, Sept. 21, to provide updates about the agency's human spaceflight programs, projects, and activities to the workforce. The town hall will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, the agency's website, and multiple agency social media platforms. Media are invited to a follow-on teleconference at 2:30 p.m. with audio streaming live online."

Keith's note: You can expect non-answers to the whole imaginary SLS launch schedule and also what the latest faith-based plan Senator Administrator Bill Nelson has to snag billions of infrastructure money for NASA to keep Artemis afloat - a plan which has so far failed.

NASA Leadership Positions Agency for Future, 21 September 2021

"NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced Tuesday the agency is creating two new mission directorates that will best position the agency for the next 20 years. The move separates the agency's current Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate into the new Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate (ESDMD) and Space Operations Mission Directorate. NASA is making the changes because of increasing space operations in low-Earth orbit and development programs well underway for deep space exploration, including Artemis missions."

NASA Creates Human Exploration And Operations Directorate, 12 August 2011

"NASA has announced the creation of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. The new organization, which combines the Space Operations and Exploration Systems mission directorates, will focus on International Space Station operations and human exploration beyond low Earth orbit."

NASA Announces New Headquarters Management Alignment, 15 January 2004

"Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Craig E. Steidle is the new Associate Administrator, Office of Exploration Systems. Since retiring from the Navy in March, 2000, he has been an independent aerospace consultant."

Keith's note: Back to the Future: during Vision For Space Exploration in 2003/2004 NASA split human exploration into 2 directorates. Then they changed it back in 2001. Now they are changing it again. NASA wants you to think that this is "progress" when in fact it is simply changing their phone book - again.

Federal workers can be fired for refusing vaccination, but must show up to work until their cases are determined, new guidance says, Washington Post

"Federal employees can be fired for refusing to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but as their disciplinary cases wind through the system, they will report to work alongside vaccinated colleagues, according to Biden administration guidance issued this week. The new guidance to implement a vaccine mandate for the government, which Biden announced last week, represents a reversal of the strategy the White House coronavirus task force pushed in August for those employees without shots who refused under an earlier plan to get regular testing for covid-19."

Frequently Asked Questions, Safer Federal Workforce

The Right Stuff Is For Everyone

Keith's note: Yesterday I was on Bloomberg Radio live - twice - doing launch commentary for their morning show in Asia and was on Deutsche Welle at 9:00 pm EDT. I was CNN New Day this morning morning to talk about the mission. I cut an interview on CGTN tomorrow afternoon about China's space station crew's return to Earth and ... no doubt ... talking to someone else about space in the next few days. Update: I just did an Al Jazeera Arabic interview.


'They could be your neighbors' and they're going to space. SpaceX gets ready to fly the Inspiration4 crew., Washington Post

"But the Inspiration4 mission is of particular importance because three of the crew members are not wealthy, [Alan] Ladwig said. "They're not billionaires," he said. "They are people that could be our neighbors, people you went to school with, people you work with. And for them to get this opportunity is pretty fantastic."

Call for Nominations: National Space Council Users' Advisory Group

"The Users' Advisory Group (UAG) is a federal advisory committee comprised of experts from outside the United States Government (USG) created as part of the National Space Council (NSpC). The NSpC is an Executive Branch interagency coordinating committee chaired by the Vice President, which is tasked with advising and assisting the President on national space policy and strategy. UAG members provide counsel on any and all space policy issues. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has sponsored the UAG on behalf of the NSpC since 2018."

Keith's note: There is also a new Space Council Users' Advisory Group website but you need username/password to enter. That said, it remains to be seen if the Biden Administration intends to use the NSpC or the UAG to make real accomplishments or if these bodies are just mouth pieces for policy already generated internally. For the most part, the previous Administration filled the UAG with political allies, big aerospace reps, and people with minimal knowledge or interest in space. NSpC also bled the NASA PAO budget dry to put on NSpC and UAG circuses at showy venues to read scripted statements and do little else. Let's hope that this incarnation of NSpC and UAG shuns the glitz and focuses on the policy. Otherwise, we can punt on serious space policy for another 4 years.

National Space Council UAG Goes Through The Motions Of Being Interested, earlier post

"There are no real "users" of space on this panel. Nor are there any members from the next generation who will inherit and conduct America's space activities. All we see are sellers. Yet another choir practice session amongst the usual suspects in an echo chamber."

NASA Internal Memo: National Space Council UAG Update from Chair, ADM Jim Ellis (2021), earlier post

"Our composition has also evolved to appropriately include scientific and regional economic insights, as well. Our diverse representation has been our key strength since it has enabled discussion across many disciplines."

- National Space Council Users' Advisory Group News (Yawn), earlier post
- Space Council Users' Advisory Group Meets Without Any Users, earlier post
- National Space Council User Advisory Group Is Purging Innovation From Its Ranks, earlier post
- National Space Council UAG Wants You To Think They Did Something Important, earlier post

Gail Skofronick-Jackson

Keith's note: From the NASA GSFC Facebook page: "We are mourning the sudden loss of Dr. Gail Skofronick-Jackson this week. Gail has been part of NASA Earth science since 1997. She was a brilliant, deeply principled, and passionate scientist, beloved coworker, and friend. We send our condolences to Gail's family and honor Gail by continuing to commit to our mission as she did during her time with us. Her impact lives on in our work."

9/11: Bad News From Earth

11 September 2001: Bad news from Earth, New Moon Rising - SpaceRef

Larger image

"The news from Earth that morning wasn't good. Frank Culbertson would soon find that some of the day's pre-planned routine would be altered. As soon as he was told of the attacks, Culbertson checked to see when they would be passing over the east coast of the U.S. Discovering that this was only some minutes away, Culbertson grabbed a camera. The window in Mikhail Tyurin's cabin turned out to be the one with the best view."

Keith's note: I have lived in the Metro Washington DC area for 33 years - more than half my life. When I first moved to DC to work at NASA HQ I lived in Pentagon City directly across from the Pentagon in the River House III apartment building. The Pentagon was what I saw outside my window every single day. In the afternoons after work I often used to run on the road between the old heliport and the west side of the Pentagon - right where American Airlines Flight 77 struck. This image still makes me shudder.

As I would run by I'd always note a window where the yellow crane is in the left side of the image. There was always a red begonia in the window. I could easily drag my fingers on the smooth limestone surface of the building as I ran by. There was simply no real security back then. Had I still lived in my old apartment on 9/11 this horror would have unfolded outside my home's window. A friend of mine was driving to work and saw the plane come in. Others I knew were in the building and felt the impact. On a stunningly beautiful day we had been attacked in a brutal way by an unknown enemy."

More

Keith's note: NASA PAO just sent me this statement on the NASA Kennedy and NASA HQ security events which were connected after all. FWIW sources inside NASA say that the false alarm happened when a mistake was made in a training exercise in advance of a formal training event next week at NASA HQ as we reported earlier.

"A false alarm indicating an active shooter was set off at 11:05 a.m. EDT today (Sept. 10) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. As a result of that false alarm, a concerned citizen, thinking they were notifying the appropriate office, reported an active shooter to the security forces at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Kennedy security forces responded locally, issuing an alert for its headquarters building at about 11:50 a.m. After confirming no credible threat at either location, NASA issued an all clear to its workforce. The security forces at both locations acted quickly to assess and address the situation in an effective manner. An investigation is ongoing to determine how the alarm was triggered."

- Elon Musk is dominating the space race. Jeff Bezos is trying to fight back., Washington Post
- Amazon Takes a Swipe at Musk as Satellite Feud Escalates, Bloomberg
- Elon Musk goads Jeff Bezos on Twitter as their prolonged space spat escalates, Geekwire

Biden to announce that all federal workers must be vaccinated, with no option for testing, AP

"President Joe Biden on Thursday will impose more stringent vaccine rules on federal workers, and take steps to encourage private businesses to do the same, during a major speech meant to lay out a new approach to combating the coronavirus. Among the steps the President will take is signing an executive order requiring all federal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of being regularly tested to opt out of the requirement, according to a source familiar with the plans. The President will also sign an executive order directing the same standard be extended to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government. The Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service and National Institutes of Health will also complete their previously announced vaccination requirements, which the White House estimates covers 2.5 million workers."

- White House COVID Plan, White House
- Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, White House
- Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees, White House

Keith's note: NASA makes an announcement about three of its employees with Hispanic heritage - in association with an organization that focuses on hispanic heritage. NASA has told me that they have an in-house ability to easily translate releases into Spanish. So, what does NASA PAO do with a press release that could be - should be - issued in Spanish goes out? No translation. Go figure.

NASA OIG: NASA's Construction Of Facilities

"... The process also does not effectively utilize business cases for Agency-level prioritization, despite their value towards providing the required business need and justification for initiating projects in terms of a cost-benefit analysis. Moreover, assumptions such as the scope of the projects used in the Agency's business cases did not consistently match the actual scope of the approved projects. For energy savings projects costing less than $10 million, Centers do not submit a business case to request funds. Instead NASA only considers a projected total cost savings per year with not all expenses, such as operations and maintenance, factored in as part of the life-cycle cost analysis.

... In addition, NASA policy does not distinguish between the use of institutional and programmatic CoF funds. As a result, Centers often use funds that traditionally support institutional capabilities such as office buildings and utility systems to fund highly technical projects that Mission Directorates were unwilling to fund for various reasons including the difficulty in determining cost sharing arrangements for facilities with multiple users. Using institutional CoF funds to build specialized facilities for testing and development dilutes the funds available for making critical repairs and supporting other more traditional institutional requirements.

... Of the 20 CoF projects we reviewed, 6 incurred significant cost overruns ranging from $2.2 million to $36.6 million and 16 of the projects are 3 months to more than 3 years behind their initial schedules. Costs increased primarily because requirements were not fully developed by the Agency before construction began, requirements were not fully understood by contractors, and contract prices were higher than originally estimated. Delays occurred because projects faced postponed start times and changing requirements, among other reasons. Finally, NASA did not provide effective oversight to determine whether the Agency's portfolio of CoF projects met cost, schedule, and performance goals."

Keith's note: And so on. Its a mess. NASA has no cohesive, consistent plan to identify what facilities need to be demolished, repaired, upgraded, or replaced. They have never had such a plan - nor will they. Just imagine the spending spree that is about to unfold as every NASA center director grabs their bucket of infrastructure money - with their congressional delegation shoveling the money in without looking.

Keith's note: This is the report "NASA's Construction Of Facilities" [posted by the NASA OIG this morning. PDF. Interesting topic given all of the Infrastructure money NASA is going to get. Too bad it is an empty document. I don't think @NASAOIG really follows Twitter - indeed, they only follow one account: @COVID_Oversight. You'd think that they;d follow at least one or two @NASA accounts.

Update: It took @NASAOIG several hours to notice that they had posted a blank report - but they fixed it.

That was then: @DRogozin Dmitry Rogozin via Twitlonger 29 April 2014: "After analysing the sanctions against our space industry I suggest the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline http://t.co/8zGQhr9GVi D.Rogozin: US Lets Down Its ISS Astronauts By Sanctions Against Russian Space Programme"

This is now: Russian space chief invites Elon Musk to his home: 'I already set the teakettle on heat', CNN

"Russia's space chief was watching as billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson blasted into space aboard vehicles they helped fund -- and wishing Russian oligarchs would follow suit. "Our millionaires prefer to invest more in yachts rather than in spaceships," Dmitry Rogozin told CNN in his first interview with Western media since becoming Roscosmos' director general. "But maybe kids of current Russian millionaires will be much more wise creatures." Rogozin is impressed with the United States' burgeoning space tourism industry, including Branson's Virgin Galactic and Bezos' Blue Origin."

- Rogozin Dials Back The Rhetoric And Talks About Cooperation, earlier post
- New Head Of Roscosmos Is Under Formal U.S. Sanction, earlier post
- Rogozin Gets Scolded By Putin's No. 2, earlier post

Draft House Infrastructure Bill Funds NASA and NOAA Space Programs But Not HLS, Space Policy Online

"NASA will get an extra $4.4 billion if Congress agrees with draft legislation proposed by the House committee that oversees the agency. While generous, it is far short of what NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is seeking and does not include any money for a second lunar lander for the Artemis program. The committee is also proposing over $4 billion for NOAA, including additional money for the space weather satellite program. Nelson is hoping Congress will add $15.7 billion to NASA's coffers on top of the agency's regular appropriations through President Biden's effort to secure $4.5 trillion for the nation's infrastructure."

Bill Nelson Says He's Discovered A New Pile Of Money For NASA, earlier post May 2021

"Nelson decided that the way for NASA to get out of the fiscal mess it is in is to do a Hail Mary pass and dive into the new TBD Jobs Bill that the Administration is formulating and grab some dollars. He said "You can put $5.4 Billion into the jobs bill for the HLS that would be at the end of the day producing jobs. Another $200 million could go into that bill for spacesuits." He went on to say "We can also put $585 million on nuclear thermal propulsion." Nelson then turned to another pot of forthcoming money - the multi-trillion dollar Infrastructure bill and said "Part of the jobs bill is infrastructure - there's another $5.4 Billion. Look at NASA facilities in your state (congressman) - there is aging infrastructure." Do the math. All told, it looks like he wants to raid the cookie jar for something like $10 - 11 billion. One would assume that OMB is on board with this plan."

Keith's note: I thought Senator Administrator Bill Nelson had this all figured out. Seriously, he would not have freelanced on his plan to get a NASA windfall without OMB approval, right? Meanwhile SLS is not going to launch until the middle of next year; there's only money for one HLS contract (despite all of the lawsuit activity); and the money needed just to keep the status quo in place is simply not there. Does Bill Nelson have a Plan B? We'd all like to see it. Stay tuned.

- Earlier SLS postings

FAA Grounds Virgin Galactic

Keith's note: This is the news Virgin Galactic wanted to focus on today:

Virgin Galactic Announces First Commercial Research Mission

"Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. ... today announced the manifest for the next rocket-powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo Unity from Spaceport America, which will be the first commercial, human-tended research mission for the Company. ... The Company is targeting a flight window in late September or early October 2021, pending technical checks and weather."

Instead, this is what they had to deal with today (in chronologial order):

The Red Warning Light on Richard Branson's Space Flight, New Yorker

"On July 11th, nearly a minute into the rocket trip carrying Richard Branson ... But it was veering off course, and the light was a warning to the pilots that their flight path was too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical. If they didn't fix it, they risked a perilous emergency landing in the desert on their descent."

Virgin Galactic Statements In Response to New Yorker Article

"Although the flight's ultimate trajectory deviated from our initial plan, it was a controlled and intentional flight path that allowed Unity 22 to successfully reach space and land safely at our Spaceport in New Mexico. At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory."

FAA Statement halting Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two Flights

"Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShip Two vehicle to flight until the GFAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety."

Virgin Galactic Statement In Response To FAA Halt to SpaceShip Two Flights

"At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory, and at no time did the ship travel above any population centers or cause a hazard to the public. FAA representatives were present in our control room during the flight and in post-flight debriefs."

Keith's update: Based on some people inside the NASA firewall this link on the NASA OIIR useful links page to the International Space Station Crew Code of Conduct works. http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=2000_register&docid=00-32381-filed. However, this what you get as a taxpayer, journalist, researcher, member of Congress etc. if you are outside the firewall and you click on this link.

Same result whether it is Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. Apparently NASA PAO and the NASA CIO do not understand that firewalls limit access. Why put links to a website that only work inside the NASA firewall on a public facing site so that the public cannot use them? Doesn't NASA have a contractor whose job it is to check out NASA's websites? Meanwhile the people running the OIIR "helpful links" page still cannot seem to find any links at all for "Executive Order for the National Space Council", "White House Fact Sheet on the National Space Strategy", or "International Space Station Bilateral Agreements",

Draft House FY2022 NDAA Calls for International Norms of Behavior in Space, Space Policy Online

"The House Armed Services Committee will mark up its version of the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act tomorrow in what is expected to be a marathon session that may extend beyond midnight. Among the bill's provisions is direction to the National Space Council to coordinate U.S. government efforts to prioritize objectives for developing norms of behavior for space and to the Secretary of State to use them in international negotiations."

Keith's note: Alas, if you are a policy maker wanting to learn more about this topic, or a reporter trying to write an article, or just a citizen wanting to learn more and see what the current ISS rules of behavior are, the natural place to go is the NASA Office of International and Interagency Relations (OIIR). Their "helpful inks" page (which is still full of broken and missing links) is the place where the information is supposed to be, But if you click on International Space Station Crew Code of Conduct. If you do then you get "This site can't be reached". But if you happen to know that there is a thing called Google, and look for that document under that same name, you can go to 14 CFR § 1214.403 - Code of Conduct for the International Space Station Crew at Cornel Law School.

It is just plain baffling that NASA OIIR and PAO allow a page that is supposed to be the place where international relationships are explained sit in a public facing location - broken. I laid out these errors and offered corrections 2 months ago but NASA doesn't seem to take public input - so things stay broke.

- NASA Tries To Fix A Webpage By Breaking It
- NASA's Websites Need Some Attention, earlier post
- NASA Is Still Sleepwalking When It Comes to Policy Transparency, earlier post
- NASA's International and Interagency Relations Team Doesn't Bother To Update, earlier post

NASA's big rocket misses another deadline, now won't fly until 2022, Ars Technica

"Publicly, NASA is still holding on to the possibility of a 2021 launch date for the debut flight of its Space Launch System rocket. This week, an agency spokesperson told Ars that "NASA is working toward a launch for the Artemis I mission by the end of this year." However, a source said the best-case scenario for launching the Artemis 1 mission is spring of next year, with summer being the more realistic target for a test flight of the heavy lift rocket and Orion spacecraft. The space agency is already running about two months behind internal targets for testing and integrating the rocket at Kennedy Space Center, and the critical pre-flight tests remain ahead."

- SLS Just Lost One Of Its Big Selling Points, earlier post
- Surprise: SLS Will Cost 30% More Than The Last Big Cost Increase, earlier post
- Congress Uses Legal Snark To Ask NASA About SLS And Europa, earlier post
- Babin Requests Information on Europa Clipper Mission and SLS Use, earlier post
- NASA OIG Follow-up to May 2019 Audit of Europa Mission: Congressional Launch Vehicle Mandate, earlier post
- Europa Clipper Mission Confirmed, earlier post
- GAO Report On NASA: Things Cost More And Take Longer, earlier post
- Moon 2024 Goal Delays SLS Availability For Europa Clipper, earlier post

NASA Michoud Hurricane Ida Status Report Aug. 31, 2021 4:30 p.m. (with images)

"Assessments continue at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility following Hurricane Ida. Damage to the roofs of several buildings have been confirmed and includes loose panels, panels removed during the storm, debris and water damage. Michoud remains on limited generator power for essential areas. Due to no power in the factory, assessments inside have been limited and by flashlight only. No damage has been observed to date to flight hardware with inspections inside the factory to continue for the next several days. Crews will also continue assessments and inspections across the facility grounds and buildings. Debris remains across campus and on roadways and is being cleared by on-site teams. The facility remains closed and access limited to essential personnel."


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