Biden Space: March 2021 Archives

Keith's note: OK so ... NASA Legislative Affairs is paying attention ;-)

Biden: "They ask what do we get out of it? Well, they said the same thing when we first went into space. They said the same thing. Pushing the frontiers lead to big benefits back home. When NASA created Apollo's digital flight system, unheard of at the time, and lead to technology that helps us today to drive our cars and fly airplanes. When NASA invented ways to keep food safer after hours - and used for decades to keep food safe in supermarkets. At leas 2,000 products and services and development as a regard - as a result of American exploration. GPS, computer chiips allowing us to see and talk to one another."

FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Plan

"The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race."

Keith's note: During the daily White House press briefing today space made the news again:

Kristin Fisher (Fox): "You know the Biden administration - they just announced its intention to retain the National Space Council - and this is on top of the White House voicing its support for the Space Force and NASA's Artemis program. I mean - these are three programs or policies that President Trump and the Trump administration put in place. So - would it be fair to say that space - and space policy - is one of the few areas where President Biden actually agrees with his predecessor?""

Jen Psaki: "I think that sounds accurate to me. Look - I think the President believes that the National Space Council provides an opportunity to generate national space policy strategies, synchronize on America's space activities at a time of unprecedented activity. It's also an opportunity to generate by America's own activities in space. So - it's certainly a program -- or a council - I should say -- he is excited to keep in place and one - I think it's fair to say - he agrees with the past administration's maintaining the program."

- Team Biden Decides To Keep The National Space Council, earlier post
- National Space Council UAG Wants You To Think They Did Something Important, earlier post

Keith's note: According to James Miller at NASA who emailed "NASA Internal Memo: National Space Council UAG Update from Chair, ADM Jim Ellis" to lots of the usual suspects within the DC space wonk choir, the National Space Council (NSpC) and its Users Advisory Group (UAG) are still alive and active (surprise) with all of their Trump-nominated members:

"... our UAG executive Committee (ExCom) has continued to meet on a regular basis and several Subcommittees, most notably the Education and Outreach Subcommittee, have also continued meeting or are planning to do so. Your participation in those sessions will, of course, be key to their continuing success. In summary, as both the UAG and the NSpC we advise are still active organizations, it seems appropriate that we continue to work to identify areas where we can contribute, even as we await any potential organizational changes."

If you go to pages 8-10 on the UAG's Transition Summary which is appended to this memo you will see that among the organizations the UAG's Education and Outreach subcommittee met with in January 2021 - as the Trump Administration was leaving and the Biden Administration was arriving - were:

EdChoice which is an Indiana-based nonprofit devoted to the privatization of schools through the promotion of an educational voucher system. The right-wing 501(c)(3) nonprofit is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a right wing/libertarian think tank. and The Reagan Institute which says "Here at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, our education programs are dedicated to cultivating the next generation of citizen-leaders. Each year we work with thousands of teachers, and tens of thousands of students from across the country to help foster engaged and informed citizens. We invite you to explore these pages for information on programs, scholarships, and opportunities for students and educators."

Keith's note: The usual suspects are telling me that the Biden Administration has decided to keep the National Space Council (NSpC). As to what its real role will be is still TBD. These same usual suspects also wanted to keep the Trump space advisory status quo in place - specifically the NSpC. They even sent the Biden White House a letter saying so (see "Big Aerospace Wants Biden To Keep Trump Space Policy Apparatus In Place"). .

The Biden Administration has brought back PCAST (President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology) and is filling the emptiness that the Trump Administration caused when they cleared out the offices at OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy). As such the nation's top science and technology policy discussions - including space - will be held at an executive level. as things more or less functioned during the Obama Administration. The NSpC will be answering to the Vice President unless they decide to change that. But regardless of what NSpC did or will do it will almost certainly be a tier below the PCAST and what OSTP uses to make decisions.

The membership of the NSpC was re-established by executive order in 2017. Its membership (since amended to include the Department of Energy) consists of the heads of a variety of cabinet level agencies plus other high level agencies. The heads of these agencies only attended to public meetings where pomp and circumstance often seemed to be the prime purpose of the meeting. Truth be known 99% of what the NSpC did was due to Scott Pace and his tiny staff. All of the smoke and mirrors could have been dispensed with and nearly everything that the NSpC did would still have been done - again, due to Scott Pace. Fact.

There is also the issue of what to do with the National Space Council's Users Advisory Group. As I noted in 2018:

"... the Users Advisory Group is almost entirely composed of either political favorites or representatives of large aerospace companies looking for more contracts from NASA and DOD. 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."

Keith's note: In a nutshell NASA's education and outreach activities are overlooked, underemphasized, and underfunded; scattered and unfocused; and are simultaneously duplicative and non-complimentary. This is nothing new. It has been this way for decades.

The NASA STEM Engagement Office used to be called the NASA Education Office but NASA changed it to satisfy the demands of the Trump Administration who tried to defund it year after year - but Congress always put the money back. The Trump folks are gone but the name remains. "STEM" is almost always used with the word "education". To say "STEM Engagement" is like referring to ice cream as a "frozen dairy product with flavoring" when everyone else just says "ice cream" but we all know that NASAese is a hard habit to break.

No one managing the NASA STEM Engagement Office is a formally trained education professional - starting with the Associate Administrator. This is no big deal if the office functions in backwater mode - where no one really cares what they do. But we are talking about the preeminent space agency on our planet. This Administration seems to be inclined to bring science and knowledge back into the way we run our society. Think of how often the equivalent if college education gets wasted every time a NASA contract has a daily cost hiccup. You would think that the agency is thinking of a total overhaul of its education and outreach - with a budget that can make that happen.

That said, if President Biden can put an actual teacher in charge of the Department of EDUCATION then NASA can change the name to reflect what the office does. With a person holding PhD in EDUCATION who is also First Lady one would think that this topic gets discussed at the dinner table in the White House. You'd think that NASA would sense an inherent green light to go a head and fix this situation and staff the organization with education professionals and give it a budget commensurate with its important role.

That said, NASA does do a lot of good education stuff. The hard part is figuring out what they do and why they do it - and how they tell if they are doing the right thing.

President Biden Announces his Intent to Nominate Bill Nelson for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, White House

"Most every piece of space and science law has had his imprint, including passing the landmark NASA bill of 2010 along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. That law set NASA on its present dual course of both government and commercial missions. In 1986 he flew on the 24th flight of the Space Shuttle. The mission on Columbia, orbited the earth 98 times during six days. Nelson conducted 12 medical experiments including the first American stress test in space and a cancer research experiment sponsored by university researchers. In the Senate he was known as the go-to senator for our nation's space program. He now serves on the NASA Advisory Council."

Keith's note: Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine today released the following statement after the Biden administration nominated Senator Bill Nelson to lead NASA.

"Bill Nelson is an excellent pick for NASA Administrator. He has the political clout to work with President Biden's Office of Management and Budget, National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and bipartisan Members of the House and Senate. He has the diplomatic skills to lead an international coalition sustainably to the Moon and on to Mars. Bill Nelson will have the influence to deliver strong budgets for NASA and, when necessary, he will be able to enlist the help of his friend, President Joe Biden. The Senate should confirm Bill Nelson without delay."

How ironic. Nelson used every nasty tool he had to try to thwart Bridenstine's nomination. When Jim finally got in what did he do? He put Bill Nelson - who had been defeated in a re-election bid - on the NASA Advisory Council. There are so few class acts in politics and government today. Jim Bridenstine is one of them. Bill Nelson is not. Let's hope that Nelson is able to rise above his past and become non-partisan and non-parochial and that he runs NASA for the American people and not just for Florida or one big rocket.

- Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Comments on Bill Nelson's Nomination
- Chairwoman Johnson and Subcommittee Chairman Beyer Applaud Nomination of Senator Bill Nelson for NASA Administrator
- CSF statement on the nomination of Senator Bill Nelson (Ret.) for NASA Administrator
- The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Congratulates the NASA Space Launch System Team as U.S. Prepares to Return to the Moon

- 2021 Bill Nelson Wants To Be NASA Administrator - 2017 Bill Nelson Says He's Not Qualified, earlier post
- Sen. Nelson's Effort To Undermine NASA by blocking Bridenstine, earlier post (2018)
- Bill Nelson Continues To Block NASA Administrator Nominees, earlier post (2009)

NASA Joins White House National Climate Task Force, NASA

"As a leading agency observing and understanding environmental changes to Earth, NASA has joined the National Climate Task Force. President Joe Biden issued an executive order Jan. 27, which initially outlined details of the task force."

NASA Is A Minor Part Of The Biden Climate Change Action Plan (Update), earlier post

"The Earth Science budget at NASA for FY 2021 is $2 billion. As such, you'd think that NASA, as the provider of Earth observation and research capabilities, would be a prime participant in the Biden Administration's Climate Action plans. Guess again."

- World Class Advisor Named For NASA's Minor Role In Climate Change Efforts, earlier post
- Climate Science At NASA: Building Back Better After The Trump Era, earlier post

Keith's note: Interesting historical note: Steve Isakowitz was the original Obama/Biden (planned) NASA administrator nominee back in 2009 - but Sen. Nelson refused to meet with him - blocking him and insisting on Charlie Bolden instead. Nelson then did his best to block Jim Bridenstine from becoming Administrator because he was a "career politician". These things don't always run smoothly.

Biden expected to nominate former senator Bill Nelson to be NASA administrator, Washington Post

"Lori Garver, who served as NASA deputy administrator under President Obama, said the choice of Nelson was "an ironic turn of events considering he blocked President Obama's top-nominees for the job in 2009 and then led the congressional effort that dismantled the Obama-Biden strategy and proposed budget, created the Space Launch System, reinstated Orion and cut funding for technology and commercial crew." She added that Nelson will need to understand why the SLS rocket "has cost so much more than projected." But she said he "has already had more influence on NASA than anyone in recent memory, so he has plenty of experience and should be able to hit the ground running."

Keith's note: Meanwhile the usual suspects inside the Beltway in Big Aerospace are lining up for jobs ...

Biden to tap Bill Nelson to lead NASA, Politico

"If you have someone like Sen. Nelson, who has decades of experience and a personal relationship with the president, they'll have a different ability to voice their reaction or response to the budget process. ... That will have a very real impact," said Mike French, the vice president of space systems at the Aerospace Industries Association. "To me, the most important thing is your ability to manage and look out for the agency's interests ... independent of your background."

2021 Bill Nelson Wants To Be NASA Administrator - 2017 Bill Nelson Says He's Not Qualified, earlier post

Keith's 7 March update: Update: it took @NASAJPL and @NASA two days to tweet something about the event. There is still no mention about the event at the JPL website or on NASA.gov.

Keith's 5 March note: Yesterday morning the President's schedule was released. At 5:00 pm EST was "The President participates in a virtual call to congratulate the NASA JPL Perseverance team on the successful Mars landing" with a note that this was restricted to "in-house Pool Spray". In other words the only people in the room would be the small group of cameras and personnel that taped the event so as to provide the footage to all media outlets. In keeping with a rule set by the White House Correspondents Association, no one else can broadcast that event. Yes, it sounds silly and restrictive to the free flow of information, but it is what it is. Eventually C-SPAN and other news outlets posted it - within a matter of minutes after the call ended.

NASA had the better part of a day to prepare for this. The intended audience was NASA JPL but over 6,000 employees and associated researchers were invited to listen and watch. The full text of the event was posted by the White House between 7:00 and 8:00 pm EST per standard procedure. (Here is a sentence by sentence analysis).

You would think that NASA and JPL would have had more than enough advance notice so as to arrange for a recording to be made for later posting as well as to have a transcript made. Failing that, you'd think that they could have posted links on their websites and massive Twitter accounts.

Keith's note: More than 6,000 people were invited to listen to the President's remarks. NASA TV was not allowed to broadcast it live to the rest of the nation. But some media outlets were allowed to record it for their exclusive use. The success of Mars Perseverance is for all Americans to share - not just a chosen few. I thought that this team got that. Guess not. The first part of this video has no audio for some reason.

'Remarks by President Biden in a Call to Congratulate the NASA JPL Perseverance Team on the Successful Mars Landing

"DR. MOHAN: Absolutely. So my path actually started way back when I was a child, watching my first episode of Star Trek. In addition to those fantastical scenes of space, what really captured my attention was this really close-knit team who was working together, manipulating this technological marvel with the sole purpose of exploring space and understanding new things and seeking new life."

BIDEN: God only knows what is going to come from this. God only knows what is going to happen. But you all are incredible. All of the dreams that you have created in other people's minds - all the young kids. I tell you what... I just wanted to thank you and tell you, you know, it just seems that we are on the side of the angels. At the moment when things look like they are really dark in America, over our history, something has come along. Something has come along - and you guys came along and you did this. so I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is presumptuous of me to say how proud I am of you - but I am so proud of you. And Mike, the teamwork that still exists there - and the importance of it and the consequence of what you are doing - its only just a start. I had a group of folks in my office not too long ago - House and Senate members - Democrats and Republicans - talking about infrastructure. And I have, on a shelf in the Oval Office, a Moon rock. And they walked over and said 'is this actually a Moon rock - from the Moon?' And I jokingly said 'you ain't seen nothin' yet. Wait 'til you see what comes home from Mars.' "

There is a better video here on C-SPAN.

NASA's Space Launch System, George W.S. Abbey, Baker Institute for Public Policy

"In view of the current availability of a significant number of commercial launch vehicles with proven payload capabilities, as well as the industry's progress in providing a launch vehicle with significantly greater lift capabilities, the Biden administration should reconsider the need for the SLS during its annual budget review. Its launch costs are much greater than those being quoted for existing rockets, as well as those projected for larger commercial boosters with comparable payload capabilities to the SLS. Affordability must always be considered in view of demanding budgets and in view of the availability and the acceptability of lower-cost alternatives."

The Biden administration has set out to dismantle Trump's legacy, except in one area: Space, Washington Post

"Though many in the space community thought the Trump administration's goal to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 was impossible and politically motivated, it gave the program momentum. And many at NASA were worried that the Biden administration, which said virtually nothing about space during the campaign, would change course again, continuing a record often compared with the scene in the cartoon strip "Peanuts" when Lucy pulls the football away just as Charlie Brown is about to kick it. Since coming into office, however, Biden has shown an interest in space. He installed a moon rock in the Oval Office, and the White House published a video of him watching NASA's Perseverance rover landing on Mars last month. Afterward Biden called to congratulate Steve Jurczyk, NASA's acting administrator, who has spent more than 30 years at NASA."

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Biden Space category from March 2021.

Biden Space: February 2021 is the previous archive.

Biden Space: April 2021 is the next archive.

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