Artemis: June 2020 Archives

NASA Updates Date, Time for Media Teleconference with Administrator, New Head of Human Spaceflight

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 18, to introduce Kathy Lueders, the newly selected associate administrator of the agency's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate."

Keith's note: I asked Kathy Lueders: "I have a simple yes/no question. Given delays due to COVID-19 and chronic cost overruns and launch date slips will NASA be able to land people on the Moon by December 31, 2024? yes or no?" she replied "I don't have a crystal ball. ... I wish I knew the answer. It would make my job a lot easier. We're going to try. ... You need to start. One step at a time, right? If you say I can't get there, well, you're not going to get there. ... If things come up along the way where technically it takes us longer ... we'll go figure it out, but right now the team is trying. It is tough." Jim Bridenstine added "asking a yes/no question is the wrong approach. If you ask me I will answer "yes" and we are working at this every day."

Keith's 16 June update: As we first reported last night ISS Program Manager Kirk Shireman is leaving NASA. Additional NASA sources have confirmed that he has announced his retirement effective 26 June, This departure is quite a surprise to people at NASA.

NASA Updates Date, Time for Media Teleconference with Administrator, New Head of Human Spaceflight

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 18, to introduce Kathy Lueders, the newly selected associate administrator of the agency's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate."

NASA Names Joel Montalbano As Acting International Space Station Program Manager

"Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as acting manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment is effective Friday, June 26, the date Kirk Shireman, who has been in the position since 2015, is retiring from the agency to take a position in private industry."

Kathy Lueders Selected to Lead NASA's Human Spaceflight Office

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Friday selected Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders to be the agency's next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. Since 2014, Lueders has directed NASA's efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft, which culminated in the successful launch of Demo-2 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30."

Keith's note: So much for the Mark Geyer stories I was being fed. I guess he finally said "no" enough times ;-)

Pace, Bowersox Worry About Artemis Funding, Space Policy Online

"The National Space Council's Scott Pace and NASA's Ken Bowersox both expressed concern about getting the money needed to execute the Artemis program today. Pace thinks that even if Congress approves the 12 percent increase for NASA this year, the agency's budget will grow only at the rate of inflation thereafter. Bowersox said although Congress has given NASA a lot of money already, he senses they are not yet convinced of the need to get back to the Moon by 2024. Both spoke to a joint meeting of the Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine."

S. 2800, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2019 - As ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on November 13, 2019, CBO

"The bill would
• Authorize appropriations totaling $22.8 billion in 2020 for activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and would provide direction on those activities
• Extend operation of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030
• Extend NASA's authority to enter into enhanced-use lease (EUL) agreements
• Permit NASA to increase voluntary separation incentive payments from $25,000 to $40,000

Estimated budgetary effects would primarily stem from
• Extending operations of the ISS
• Spending of the authorized appropriations
• Potential use of third-party financing to construct and renovate facilities for energy production, launch, and other specialized uses under EUL agreements

Areas of significant uncertainty include
• Estimating the value of investments and amount of government use of facilities constructed by third parties under EUL agreements."

Keith's note: Given the pandemic-induced economic crisis and what will be needed to dig out of it, the probability that there will be adequate funds for a sprint program to land on the Moon by 2024, is rapidly evaporating. Add in chronic delays and cost overruns for the SLS/Orion, chaotic management continuity at HEOMD, Congressional doubts, and a presidential election with an inevitable re-evaluation of space goals and possibly an acting Administrator, and the chance that this will happen at all is minimal. Even if this Administration gets a second term NASA has not done what is necessary to pull this off.

Look at what the Congressional Budget Office put into their analysis. What happens if NASA does not get funding at the $22 billion level in the next few years? They will either have to cut or cancel things - or delay things which simply ends up costing more in the end. And oh yes, there's a lot of old stuff at NASA that is falling apart and new facilities that need to be built. The only possible hope NASA can cling to is a huge infrastructure/recovery/stimulus package as we emerge from our current troubles that would enhance government spending. But hope is not the best basis upon which to plan a high speed return to the Moon.

Understanding NASA's Global Reach, SpaceRef (earlier post)

"A young boy in Chile wearing a NASA t-shirt explains a computer game to Pete Worden from Breakthrough Initiatives. How did he get that t-shirt? Why is he wearing it? So why is a boy wearing a NASA t-shirt in the Atacama region of Chile? Worden did not know. I have a theory. In 2010 NASA was instrumental in rescuing 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped in the San José copper mine. The mine is located near Copiapó, Chile. Parnal Observatory, where the VLT is located is 411 Km north of Copiapó a town with a population of 200,000. La Serena, the town where this photo was taken, is located 349 km south of Copiapó and also has a population of over 200,000. These locations are all connected by the same road (Route 5). I would have to assume that NASA remains a very popular entity in the region after the mine rescue - popular enough that its logo is something that children want to wear."

Keith's note: I have posted a link to this story many times. It involves a boy in Chile wearing a NASA logo t-shirt. Check out the tweet below. Apparently there are others in Chile who follow what NASA and SpaceX - have been doing lately. Yet another example of NASA's global reach. Oddly, NASA never talks about this global reach except to say it is big and broke records (sound familiar?). I have asked NASA for some detailed statistics about their reach during Demo-2. I got a few numbers about YouTube. Nothing about Internet reach in terms of country statistics, Twitter impressions, etc. You know - the sort of things that can show just how truly global NASA's reach is - with real numbers. But it is more than numbers. It is also about action. Why not retweet this tweet from Chile? It is non-controversial and inspirational. But NASA doesn't do that sort of thing. NASA has a vast, and mostly unappreciated global reach - a reach NASA itself simply does not understand or know how to fully utilize.

See "The True Extent Of NASA's Reach During The Demo-2 Launch"

NASA investigating former official's contacts with Boeing on lunar contracts, Fox News

"NASA's inspector general is investigating an allegation that a high-ranking NASA official earlier this year improperly guided Boeing Co. regarding an agency competition for lucrative lunar-lander contracts, according to people familiar with the details The probe, according to these people, focuses on communications Boeing officials had with the head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's human-exploration office, Doug Loverro, before he resigned in May. The inspector general's staff, these people said, is looking into an allegation that Mr. Loverro improperly provided guidance that could have offered the Chicago aerospace giant unusual insight into aspects of the competition. Boeing ultimately was eliminated in the competition for technical and cost reasons unrelated to the communications with Mr. Loverro, according to these people. The outcome was viewed as a blow for Boeing, long formidable in U.S. space exploration efforts."

Keith's note: Along with the now silenced "Make Space Great Again" political campaign advertisement that was yanked within hours was another space-related PR effort - but the U.S. State Department. The State Department seems to have had a social media campaign of sorts to promote the @SpaceX DEMO2 mission around the world via the #LaunchAmerica hash tag. I guess this is supposed to be soft power except mostly it says "Hey - America did this". Sometimes they put the tweet out in the target country's official language. Often times its only in English. Some times they included videos that are narrated - and captioned - in English such as the one aimed at Colombia (the point being ...?). Curiously, the tweet aimed at Ukraine is captioned in Ukrainian.

In 2018 Ukraine had 41.98 million people. Colombia had 49.65 million. Given their similar size, you'd think that they would both warrant a local translation/captioning of the video. But wait: there are only 35 million Ukrainian speakers worldwide vs 572 million spanish speakers (53 million in the U.S.). 20 counties count Spanish as an official language. You could certainly create many more tailored tweets from U.S. embassies to each of these 20 countries with one video translation and reach many more people than the one-off Ukrainian translation. Just sayin'

NASA's accomplishments have always led the rest of world and continue to be a raw source of immense soft power. Now, if only America knew how to ask everyone else to work with them in a calm, collaborative fashion, and not just wave our flag at them on Twitter. Again, just sayin'

NASA human spaceflight directorate reorganization on hold, Space News

"During a June 1 webinar by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that a reorganization of the agency's Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate will be delayed until after the agency hires a successor to Doug Loverro, who left the agency May 19."

Keith's 4 June update: Bringing Mark Geyer back to NASA HQ to run HEOMD will make many people in the organization comfortable since there'd be a certain Gerstenmaier-like familiarity. But Jim Bridenstine originally replaced Bill Gerstenmaier with a new face and approach so as to refocus HEOMD to make the Artemis 2024 lunar landing feasible. Now a lot of that will be dialed back to the way it was before Doug Loverro took over. Between pandemic delays, election year uncertainties, and chronic SLS/Orion delays and cost overruns, Mark Geyer certainly has an immense challenge ahead of him.

Keith's 2 June note: When former HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier was fired last summer it took NASA 6 months to replace him. During that time major aspects of Artemis and SLS were put on hold or dialed back until a replacement could be found. The new AA Doug Loverro showed up in early 2020 and did what he was told to do and the system bounced him as a result. Now NASA is searching for a replacement for Loverro who, himself, was a replacement. And once again NASA is putting things on hold - as if the pandemic-caused delays were not bad enough.

If NASA follows precedent it will take quite some time to replace Loverro. The reorganization of HEOMD was planned based on a top to bottom assessment of HEOMD - by HEOMD. One would think that the reorganization was independent of one person's opinion and that it had broad organizational buy-in. Guess not.

Now NASA will put the whole Artemis thing on hold again for months until someone takes the job and then stay on hold for a few more months more while the new person gets up to speed and takes ownership of HEOMD. There is simply no way NASA will ever meet the Moon landing deadlines it has been given if every decision has the fate/opinion of one NASA employee as a potential single point of failure. If NASA cannot come up with a fault tolerant way to manage its people on Earth then the whole Moon thing is not going to happen as planned. Just sayin'.


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

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