Artemis: August 2021 Archives

Jeff Bezos' NASA Lawsuit Is So Huge It's Crashing the DOJ Computer System

"As if NASA didn't have enough issues on their hands, the agency's computers keep crashing because the files from Blue Origin's lawsuit are too big -- resulting in a further delay to SpaceX's Human Landing System (HLS) contract. The size of Blue Origin's lawsuit (which clocks in at more than seven gigabytes worth of PDFs) is causing the Department of Justice's Adobe software to crash, according to documents obtained by space reporter Joey Roulette. The issue stems from the fact that the Acrobat can't combine "several hundred files at one time without crashing."

Keith's note: The opening speakers at today's Space Symposium session were General Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. Raymond said nothing new and just repeated his agency's talking points and had a bunch of people stand up in the audience for recognition. But he also said "space is hard" three times in his remarks - as if to instill a meme of caution and lowered expectations. He showed a short video that included Bill Nelson saying "space is hard". Then when Nelson spoke in person he said "space is hard" again. That's 5 "space is hard" citations in a matter of a few minutes by the top two space leaders in America. Its almost as if they are working together to try and set the stage for failure, lowered expectations, or for things not working as hoped. Thanks for cheering us up guys.

Nelson opened his remarks with the tired old spinoff excuse for what NASA does (cellphones and ski goggles) but did not really address what matters most to the 300 million taxpayers in America right now: the pandemic, political strife, and a shaky economy - other than to talk about jobs that he claims were created and/or supported by NASA. Yes, jobs are good but NASA never bothers to explain exactly how the jobs it cites are created by what NASA does. NASA just throws numbers out and then moves on. He also mentioned a new NASA app to let people see what NASA Earth satellites do but there is no mention of it at NASA.gov. Oh well.

To be certain, Nelson did lift his hopes upward momentarily and said "We can do hard things. We are a can-do people. ... for America to lead in space and continue to do so on Earth it will take all of us working together ... we are all in this together as citizens of this planet". But since this was a presentation to a crowd composed of the usual suspects in an echo chamber engaged in choir practice what else was he going to say, right? NASA did tell 48,000,000 Twitter followers at the last minute via Twitter that they could/watch listen to Nelson. But NASA passed on a chance to aim for the cheap seats with some relevancy to the real world and focused instead on the talking points that worked best with the select audience in attendance in Colorado.

Meanwhile we have yet to see anything emerge from the Biden Administration's National Space Council or its Users Advisory Group or OSTP with regard to space. Apparently Space Policy Is Hard too.

There are some new NASA videos featuring Drew Barrymore. Here is one of them. I have been a space enthusiast for more than 60 years so I do not need the sales pitch. Neither do space people. But saying that we're going to spend billions to go to another world to learn how to live there while our own world is burning from climate change and torn apart by civil strife flies in the face of what regular folks are inclined to support. NASA needs to explain itself better than simply saying that we are going to do these hard, expensive things in space because it makes sense - to NASA.

NASA did post a What does NASA do for you? feature at NASA.gov but it is mostly one sentence talking points, large pictures, and a few report links. Again, NASA passed on a chance to recognize what the nation and the world are going through - and missed yet another chance to "make the sale" with regard to the benefits of space to actual people living on the real world. Someday maybe NASA will learn to both listen to - and talk to - real people - and not just the person in the next NASA cubicle.

Keith's note: NASA PAO is sending this statement to news media - but you have to request it. Oddly although this is an official statement they will not post it on their own website for the public to see. And If PAO is in a bad mood they won't send it to you - even if you ask for it several times. They never sent it to me after 2 requests so I typed this from the various low res screen grabs that have been tweeted - any errors are due to my typing: (update: NASA PAO sent it to me - only after I made this post).

"NASA has voluntarily paused work with SpaceX for the human landing system (HLS)Option A contract effective Aug. 19 through Nov. 1. In exchange for this temporary stay of work, all parties agreed to an expedited litigation schedule that concludes on Nov. 1. NASA officials are continuing to work with the Department of Justice to review the details of the case and look forward to a timely resolution of this matter. NASA is committed to Artemis and to maintaining the nation's global leadership in space exploration With our partners, we will go to the Moon and stay to enable science investigations, develop new technology, and create high paying jobs for the greater good and in preparation to send astronauts to Mars"

Keith's note: Another week - and another link check update for the NASA Office of International and Interagency Relations (OIIR) website and its chronic inability to do some basic HTML updates. It looks like someone tried to fix the "Helpful Links" page by deleting links and breaking other links. For starters, they do not seem to know where these links are: Executive Order for the National Space Council (here it is)
White House Fact Sheet on the National Space Strategy (here it is)

This OIIR link for the International Space Station Crew Code of Conduct goes to a dead location. You can find it here at Cornell Law School: 14 CFR ยง 1214.403 - Code of Conduct for the International Space Station Crew or here at ESA or here at the Federal Register. No one seems to know where the International Space Station Bilateral Agreements are. Here they are from 1998 on NASA.gov.

All of the Space Policy Directives (SPDs) signed by the Trump Administration and previous Administrations (which are still binding unless rescinded or updated) have been removed from the OIIR website. The Space Foundation has everything nicely listed here on their website. No mention is made of the Artemis Accords - even though NASA continues to add signatories during the Biden Administration. The text is here on NASA.gov.

And since this is an International Relations page where are the links to all of those International space treaties that govern how the U.S. does things in space? No mention whatsoever. The United Nations has a nice list here.

You'd think that the largest space agency on Earth, with IT/Web budgets in the hundreds of million of dollars, could create and maintain a simple web page with links that can be found in seconds via Google. People come to these websites looking for information only to find broken or absent links. I guess its time for more memos and meetings on how to fix the links - even though I have repeatedly offered correct links for them to use - all they have to do is cut and paste. The people in charge of this website at NASA OIIR are lazy and/or inept. Seriously.

- 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

Keith's note: NASA Public Affairs has issued this statement (you have to ask for it and they are apparently not going to post it on their website for some reason):

"NASA was notified that Blue Origin filed a bid protest with the United States Court of Federal Claims (COFC) following the denial of the protests filed with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding NASA's selection for the human landing system (HLS) Option A award. NASA officials are currently reviewing details of the case. NASA is committed to the Artemis program and the nation's global leadership in space exploration. With our partners, we will go to the Moon and stay to enable science investigations, develop new technology, and create high paying jobs for the greater good and in preparation to send astronauts to Mars. As soon as possible, the agency will provide an update on the way forward for returning to the Moon as quickly and as safely as possible under Artemis."

Spacesuits and Lawsuits Put 2024 Moon Landing in Jeopardy, NextGov

"NASA may not land astronauts on the Moon by 2024 because two spacesuits won't be ready on time and because losing bidders have protested the lunar lander contract, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Tuesday. "The goal is 2024. We have just been held up for 100 days waiting for the protest" filed by Blue Origin and Dynetics to the Government Accountability Office over NASA's decision to award the contract to SpaceX, Nelson said.. The protest had halted all work on the lander until GAO threw it out on July 30." ... "Nelson said Blue Origin might delay the lunar lander work further with appeals. "We are waiting as we speak to find out if there is going to be a further appeal to the Federal Court of Claims, which is like a federal district court, and then of course you can take appeals from there on to the United States Court of Appeals," he said. "So there are a lot of blockades that have been put in front of us."

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin sues NASA, escalating its fight for a Moon lander contract, The Verge

"Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin brought its fight against NASA's Moon program to federal court on Monday. The complaint escalates a monthslong crusade by the company to win a chunk of lunar lander funds that was only given to its rival, Elon Musk's SpaceX. The company's lawsuit, coming weeks after its first protest over the Moon program was squashed by a federal watchdog agency, could trigger another procedural pause to SpaceX's contract and add a new lengthy delay to NASA's race to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024."

NASA OIG: NASA's Development of Next-Generation Spacesuits, NASA OIG

"NASA's current schedule is to produce the first two flight-ready xEMUs by November 2024, but the Agency faces significant challenges in meeting this goal. This schedule includes approximately a 20-month delay in delivery for the planned design, verification, and testing suit, two qualification suits, an ISS Demo suit, and two lunar flight suits. These delays- attributable to funding shortfalls, COVID-19 impacts, and technical challenges - have left no schedule margin for delivery of the two flight-ready xEMUs. Given the integration requirements, the suits would not be ready for flight until April 2025 at the earliest. Moreover, by the time two flight-ready xEMUs are available, NASA will have spent over a billion dollars on the development and assembly of its next-generation spacesuits."

Keith's note: Patricia Stoll, President, Space Systems & Engineered Solutions at ILC Dover responded to a @NASAWatch tweet on this issue - as well as one by @NASAOIG. Interesting. NASA might want to take notice.

Blue Origin Federation, LLC; Dynetics, Inc.-A Leidos Company B-419783; B-419783.2; B-419783.3; B-419783.4 July 30, 2021, GAO

"Significantly higher-priced offerors submitting proposals for a demonstration mission for a human landing system for lunar exploration, under a broad agency announcement (BAA) with a preference for two awards, argue that agency was required to advise them via an amendment or discussions (or otherwise cancel the BAA altogether) once the agency learned that it had less funding than it needed to support multiple awards for the effort. We deny the protests because the BAA expressly put all offerors on notice that the number of awards was subject to available funding and the agency could make multiple contract awards, a single award, or no award at all."

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This page is an archive of entries in the Artemis category from August 2021.

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