Artemis: January 2020 Archives

Letter From Concerned Scientists Regarding H.R. 5666

"We are writing in response to the draft bill, HR 5666. We strongly agree that bipartisan support for our Nation's space program is absolutely critical for its ongoing success. We also support the provisions for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. We additionally strongly assert that commercial sector involvement is a critical investment in the future of our country. However, we have grave concerns about the text of the draft bill that was released on 24 January 2020."

Keith's note: In summary, with regard to Artemis, the Democrats do not think NASA has provided enough detail and provided some detail of their own in this bill but today they said that the detail probably does not matter. The Republicans would prefer a bill that says other things but since they are not in charge good enough is good enough. It would seem that no one on this subcommittee is actually all that interested in getting this right.

Chairwoman Horn Opening Statement for Subcommittee Markup of NASA Authorization Act of 2020

"This bill has stimulated considerable debate concerning the opportunities for commercial entities in the Moon to Mars program. And I am glad that the public and stakeholders care so deeply about NASA and our civil space program. But given some of the coverage and questions about the rationale and impact for the contents of the bill, let me be crystal clear: This bill is not about rejecting the Artemis program or delaying humans on the Moon until 2028. NASA can still work to safely get there sooner. This bill is taking the fiscally responsible approach of focusing the Moon efforts on the goal of being the first nation to set foot on Mars. Thus far, NASA has provided little to no details as to what, specifically, it will do on the Moon or how any Moon activities will be extensible to Mars. This bill does not pick favorites, rather it encourages companies and industry to participate in our nation's civil space program, which is led by NASA."

Chairwoman Johnson Opening Statement for Subcommittee Markup of NASA Authorization Act of 2020

"And I would suggest that no one get too focused on the specific milestone dates proposed in the bill. If NASA is able to get to the Moon before 2028, or if it takes longer than 2033 for NASA to orbit Mars, that's okay and is not precluded by this bill. I am more interested in maximizing the odds of success for this bold undertaking and making it as safe as any human journey into deep space can be, than I am in having NASA meet arbitrary deadlines."

Opening Statement of Ranking Member Frank Lucas at Subcommittee Markup of NASA Reauthorization

"The bill before us is not the NASA authorization the Republicans on the committee would have offered if we were in the majority. However, I recognize that we are in the minority and the legislative process offers opportunities to improve the legislation. In the days since this bill's introduction, I have heard from a wide range of advocates representing all aspects of space exploration both praising and raising concerns about the bill. I want to assure them I intend to continue working to ensure that the House-authored NASA authorization bill is the best product we can put forward that balances NASA's priorities and resources."

Opening Statement of Ranking Member Brian Babin at Subcommittee Markup of NASA Reauthorization

"But let me be clear, this is not an ideal bill. It is not the one I would have put forward had we been in the majority, but I can count and the majority would likely have the votes to get a bill out of committee with or without our support. Through working with the majority, I believe we have significantly strengthened their proposal in a way that fully supports the Administration's priority goals laid out in Space Policy Directive 1. I look forward to continuing to work with the majority to incorporate input from all stakeholders, including the Administration, as we move forward."

Keith's note: If you have been following NASA's exploration plans for more than 10 minutes you know that there have been a lot of pivots along the way. The chart above (minus my snarky large yellow arrows and captions) is floating around NASA and puts the past few decades of pivots, false starts, and detours in NASA's exploration plans into context. Notice that even though the whole focus right now is on the Moon the chart only shows Mars. It is rather obvious to see that we spent half a century between the Apollo era of actual exploration on another world and today talking about what to do next. While the immensely capable ISS has orbited Earth for 20 years it just goes in circles. It does not go anywhere. Nor have we. Only robots get to do the exploring. When is this going to change? Larger version (image) (pdf).

Today there is a briefing of the National Space Council's Users Advisory Group (UAG) on the current state of NASA's Artemis 2024 landing architecture. The UAG name is somewhat misleading in terms of its name since there are few actual "users" of space on the panel. It is mostly big aerospace company representatives (sellers), political appointees with little space expertise, aerospace trade group representatives and lobbyists, and retired NASA employees who now consult. But I digress.

The briefing will be held in the 9th floor conference room near the NASA Administrator's suite. The event runs from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm. The briefing will be chaired by HEOMD AA Doug Loverro and run by Deputy AA Ken Bowersox and Acting Deputy AA for Human Lunar Exploration Programs Marshall Smith. FWIW at the 24 July 2019 UAG meeting Marshall Smith told participants that NASA is going to "turn and burn" from the Moon to Mars, so keep that in mind. In addition, Jake Bleacher, Doug Craig, Dan Matizak, Michelle Rucker, and Pat Troutman will provide background information to UAG attendees.

At the last UAG meeting one of the actions was to form a UAG Task Force to look into NASA's plans to meet the Vice President's direction to dial up NASA's original plans and land people on the Moon by 2024 - and how that meshes with the White House's three previously issued Space Policy Directives. The UAG Task Force members are Eileen Collins, Pam Melroy, Mary Lynne Dittmar, Les Lyles, and David Wolf.

After this briefing the Task Force will go off and do up an assessment - of NASA's assessment - and eventually toss it back to the full UAG and eventually to the National Space Council itself. And then something else will happen I suppose where everyone lays their hands on it for group approval.

This briefing will be "pre-decisional" and "notional", of course. As such, whatever detail emerges please remember that your mileage may vary, contents may settle, etc.

NASA Authorization Bill Update By NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

"I am concerned that the bill imposes some significant constraints on our approach to lunar exploration. As you know, NASA has successfully fostered the development of a rapidly expanding commercial economy for access to space. We would like to continue building on this success as we develop the most efficient mission architectures and partnership approaches to accomplish our shared goals.

NASA seeks to expand the sphere of economic activity deeper into space by conducting space exploration and development with commercial and international partners. Without the dynamic participation of commercial partners, our chances of creating a sustainable exploration program are significantly diminished. In particular, we are concerned that the bill's approach to developing a human lander system as fully government-owned and directed would be ineffective. The approach established by the bill would inhibit our ability to develop a flexible architecture that takes advantage of the full array of national capabilities - government and private sector - to accomplish national goals. NASA would appreciate the opportunity to work with the Committee to develop language that would support a broader national and international effort that would maximize progress toward our shared exploration goals through the efficient application of our available resources.

NASA is fully committed to a lunar exploration program that supports and enables human missions to Mars. The Committee should be aware that the exploration of Mars is a very challenging goal both technically and from a resource perspective. If we are going to accomplish this goal, we will need the flexibility to rapidly develop technical expertise using the Moon and to fully engage commercial and international partners. We do think that the bill's concerns for limiting activities on the Moon could be counterproductive. If we are going to explore Mars in a safe and sustainable way, we will require a strong in situ resource utilization capability and significant technology development using the surface of the Moon. NASA would appreciate more flexibility in defining lunar surface activities that may contribute directly to Mars exploration."

Keith's note: Dear person in charge of the NASA interns thing: Did anyone bother to look at this all-male image before it was tweeted? Did no qualified women apply? Really? Have you read the responses to this tweet? You apparently did not get the Artemis generation memo.

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2019 Annual Report

"NASA's human space flight brand and reputation are driven by 60 years of operational excellence performing complex missions in extraordinarily difficult endeavors. Nevertheless, the dynamic environment of Lunar 2024, imposed on an Agency still involved in complex and hazardous operations in orbit, while simultaneously developing or sponsoring development of new rockets, spacecraft, and critical equipment, will challenge the NASA community. As the Agency undertakes the most ambitious human foray beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) since 1972, we advise:

• Regardless of how NASA addresses the technical challenges, the nation must avoid fluctuating policy goals, ambiguous objectives, budget inadequacies, and instability--including partial and full-year Continuing Resolutions--which add complexity and uncertainty to program management.
• Acknowledging the value of setting challenging but realistic and achievable schedules, NASA must guard against undue schedule pressure that might lead to decisions adversely impacting safety and mission assurance.
• NASA leadership must deliberately focus on communication and engagement with the workforce to preclude disconnects in risk assumptions across the organization and a culture of risk taking rather than one focused on deliberate risk management.
• As NASA evolves its interactions with commercial providers, it must maintain focus on the core tenets of system development as the mission is ultimately still a NASA responsibility."

"The dynamic environment of Lunar 2024 imposed on an Agency that is still involved in complex and hazardous operations in orbit (ISS) while simultaneously developing or sponsoring the development of new rockets, spacecraft, and critical equipment will stress the NASA community. The cumulative effect of these changes on the workforce has the potential to impact risk management across the Agency. As the Panel has pointed out before, one of NASA's strengths is the unwillingness to give up when faced with a tough challenge; this strength could become a weakness if a management team establishes an unrealistic program that contains time and budget constraints without fully addressing and managing risks. We advise NASA leadership to deliberately focus on transparency and engagement consisting of candid discussions at and between all levels of management around questions such as these:

• What is the strategy and what are the impediments and concerns from the top down?
• What are the corresponding concerns from the bottom up?
• What is the management team evaluation and response to the bottom-up concerns?
• What are the ongoing processes to periodically "take the pulse" on all of the above and consider course corrections?
• Through what regular management- and workforce-engagement process is NASA confident that it is appropriately managing risk, not simply taking risk to meet objectives?"

- SLS Software Problems Continue at MSFC, earlier post
- This Is How NASA Covers Up SLS Software Safety Issues (Update), earlier post
- MSFC To Safety Contractor: Just Ignore Those SLS Software Issues, earlier post
- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues Continue at MSFC, earlier post
- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update), earlier post
- Previous SLS postings

Keith's update: Comment posted by Doug Loverro

"It's always a pleasure to address NASAWatch followers since you all collectively are some of the most ardent supporters of everything that NASA does. That said, I'm not sure where the Nov 2020 date came from, but it's certainly not a date that we in HEO have been tracking since I came on board, nor even a while before that (although I know it was a date from long ago).

To set the record straight, the HEO team is just now beginning to run the assessment I promised 35 days ago to allow me to set the first SLS launch date. I expect to be able to do that in time for Congressional Hearings. But that does not mean we are standing still. In fact the Artemis 1 core is currently being "gift wrapped" and headed to the Pegasus Barge for shipment to Stennis on 8 Jan for our long planned Green Run test.

We expect that test to run through this coming fall, not far from that Nov 2020 date. And the really good new is that this ship date is within less than two weeks of the date planned to ship predicted back in March when VPOTUS asked us to land on the moon by 2024;. I can't promise we'll always be that good, but credit where credit is due--hats off to the NASA and Boeing team at MAF."

Keith's note: On more than one occasion Jim Bridenstine (and others at NASA) have sought to make it clear that NASA does not see Gateway as a "mini space station" only to call it a "space station" moments later. The meme they want to promote is that Gateway is supposed to be some sort of super service module that moves around and enables the whole human lunar landing thing. Well, now Paul Hertz from SMD is saying that they will be using Gateway for "astrophysics and other scientific investigations". In other words, Gateway is actually a space station (shh!) with inherent/embedded ability to do things that have zero relevance to landing people and things on the Moon. Statements like this simply serve to perpetuate the notion that NASA is simply recreating a ISS in lunar orbit and that they are trying to sell it by saying that it will do something for everyone.

Meanwhile NASA still cannot figure out how to fully utilize the space station they already have in Low Earth Orbit. Oh yes: there are people in HEOMD who seem to think that all of this lunar stuff is just temporary and that they will pivot toward Mars as soon as they can - thus leaving the Gateway with nothing to do. So maybe SMD is thinking of how to get in line for access to Gateway after HEMOD packs up and heads to Mars.

US and Japan in talks to boost space ties, send Japanese astronauts to moon in 2020s, The Mainichi

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine proposed to the Japanese government during a visit in September 2019 that it join the U.S. in a plan to put Japanese astronauts on the surface of the moon in the latter half of the 2020s, multiple sources familiar with the matter said. Bridenstine then held an unofficial meeting on Sept. 24, 2019, in Tokyo with figures including Yoshiyuki Kasai, head of the government's Space Policy Committee and honorary chairman at the Central Japan Railway Co., Takafumi Matsui, deputy head of the same committee as well as the director at the Chiba Institute of Technology's Planetary Exploration Research Center and a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, and Takehiko Matsuo, head of the National Space Policy Secretariat among others. At the meeting, Bridenstine is reported to have petitioned the attendees to carry out a forward-thinking assessment with a vision of having Japanese astronauts stand alongside American ones on the moon."

Keith's 2 Jan note: I have asked NASA PAO if this is accurate. Stay tuned.

Keith's 3 Jan update: NASA PAO sent the follow in response to my inquiry: "NASA's Artemis program relies heavily on the support of our commercial and international partners and several of our international partners have expressed great interest in potential collaboration. We're aggressively pursuing ways that other nations can contribute going forward. As he has done with other countries, Administrator Bridenstine discussed potential opportunities with counterparts in Japan during his visit there in September, but specific contributions and timelines have yet to be worked out. Various nations, including Canada, Japan, Australia and the member nations of the European Space Agency, have all expressed their strong support for Artemis Program and plan to join us for this new chapter in lunar exploration."

Larger image

First Reported Occurrence And Treatment Of Spaceflight Medical Risk On ISS, LSU

"Ultrasound examinations of the astronauts' internal jugular veins were performed at scheduled times in different positions during the mission. Results of the ultrasound performed about two months into the mission revealed a suspected obstructive left internal jugular venous thrombosis (blood clot) in one astronaut. The astronaut, guided in real time and interpreted by two independent radiologists on earth, performed a follow-up ultrasound, which confirmed the suspicion. ... The study was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under the Human Research Program (grant NNJ11ZSA002NA)."

Keith's note: When I lived at Everest Base Camp for a month at 17,600 ft in 2009 with astronaut Scott Parazynski I saw something serious like this happen almost daily. People came off the mountain in a bad way. Some came down in bags. I was on stretcher duty to the helo pad at one point. Indeed I suffered from extreme food poisoning and dehydration and have a permanent medical issue to this day as a direct result. I never heard anyone complain about the medical stuff since this is part of what it meant to be there. We all signed waivers. Alpine research continues to try and better understand all of the maladies that come with high altitude living and mountaineering and how to avoid and, if need be, treat them. Meanwhile people still climb.

This is going to be the same with the human exploration of space. You can reduce risks and be prepared for the worst and hopefully for some of the unexpected. But at the end of the day there is an embedded risk that has to be accepted. This instance may be the first case of diagnosing and treating a medical issue like this - remotely - while the patient is in space. It will not be the last.

While NASA to its credit has sought to reduce the risks of space travel, there is now a new player on the scene: Space Force - and as a branch of the military they have a different approach to dealing with risk. Interestingly the military can openly advertise recruitment of people to risk their lives for their country but NASA is prohibited by law from doing similar advertising and recruitment. It will be interesting to see how these two parallel approaches to human activities in space intersect and/or compete.

This government-funded biomedical research was conducted by government personnel on government employees on a government research facility. We should all be able to read about it. According to the LSU press release (NASA has published nothing about this that I know of) the link that they include (Venous Thrombosis during Spaceflight, New England Journal of Medicine) points to a page where you have to pay to read the full summary of the article. There is no link to the actual article. Yet if you know about the non-advertised/promoted NASA PubSpace service you can search for the title and find an open access version of the paper (which was actually published a month and a half ago).

This research was mentioned in the NASA Spaceline Current Awareness List #875 22 November 2019 (Space Life Science Research Results) (see item #4) which links to this summary on NCBI's PubMed (where the nation's biomedical research is collected) which, in turn, links to the open access article. But you have to dig to find this resource since, as is the case with PubSpace, NASA and CASIS make little effort to tell you about it. FWIW we have a full Spaceline archive back to 1996. NASA only has an archive online that goes back to 2003).

NASA regularly gets open access for planetary science results and puts that in press releases. The same should be done for biomedical research. HEOMD, SMD, and PAO need to talk to each other as to how to get more of this science out to the people who paid for it. NASA was required by law to create PubSpace. It has also had Spaceline online since 1996. Yet NASA goes out of its way not to tell people that these resources exist. The only way that NASA is going to get everyone on the same page when it comes to understanding the risks of spaceflight and what research is being done on ISS to mitigate these risks is get itself on the same page and use the resources it has at hand. This is an important piece of research. NASA should have been talking about it in November 2019 not letting it sneak out in a university press release over the holidays.

Findings from the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Final, 19 December 2019

"At the 6th meeting of the National Space Council, the following recommendation was adopted: "Within 60 days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator will designate an office and submit a plan to the Chairman of the National Space Council for sustainable lunar surface exploration and development, including necessary technologies and capabilities, to enable initial human missions to Mars."

- Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update), earlier post

"I asked Jim Bridenstine today if this report has been delivered. He replied that it has not."

President Bush Offers New Vision For NASA, 14 January 2004

"Our third goal," Bush said, "is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond." He proposed sending robotic probes to the lunar surface by 2008, with a human mission as early as 2015, "with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods of time." Bush said lunar exploration could lead to new technologies or the harvesting of raw materials that might be turned into rocket fuel or breathable air."

Keith's note: 16 years ago this month NASA was directed by a President to have Americans back on the Moon by 2015. It is now 2020 - and we're not there yet. NASA has now been tasked by another President to move up plans for a 2028 human landing to 2024. After 16 years we are still going to be 9 (13) years late. Are we actually making progress? At this rate ...

- GAO: NASA Will Have Problems Explaining Its Moon Plans, earlier post
- NASA Really Really Needs An Artemis Plan - Soon, earlier post



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This page is an archive of entries in the Artemis category from January 2020.

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