Recently in Congress Category

Hearing NASA's Future in Low Earth Orbit: Considerations for International Space Station Extension and Transition

Witnesses: Robyn Gatens, Kate Rubins, Jeffrey Manber, Todd Harrison, William Shepherd.

Keith's note: I will be live tweeting of the hearing at @SpaceRef

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.

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

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

House Science Committee Hearing: A Review of the President's Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Proposal for NASA
10:00 am EDT
Witness: Bill Nelson

Watch live - House - NASA

Congress isn't happy about SpaceX's lunar lander and may vent this week, Ars Technica

"NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will appear at a committee meeting of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Wednesday, and the meeting could be full of intrigue when the subject of NASA's Artemis Program to land humans on the Moon and SpaceX comes up."

Statements on Pam Melroy's Senate Confirmation as NASA Deputy Administrator

"It's an honor to be confirmed by the Senate to serve as NASA Deputy Administrator, and I am humbled by President Biden and Vice President Harris' confidence in me," Melroy said. "I look forward to returning to the NASA family and working with Administrator Nelson to ensure the United States continues to lead in space and beyond - exploring the wonders of the universe, expanding the Earth science research critical to combatting climate change, unlocking scientific discoveries that will change the world as we know it, and inspiring the next generation of discoverers and dreamers."

NASA doesn't need to test SLS anymore, but the Senate mandates it anyway, Ars Technica

"But there was more to the NASA amendment. Wicker co-sponsored it and got his own language added to the bill. The Stennis-specific provision says NASA should "initiate development of a main propulsion test article for the integrated core stage propulsion elements of the Space Launch System, consistent with cost and schedule constraints, particularly for long-lead propulsion hardware needed for flight." ... This seems a somewhat curious rationale, as NASA has already said the SLS core stage does not need to be subjected to further ground tests. Rather, NASA is pushing to fly the vehicle as soon as possible, as the agency is sensitive to criticism that the rocket is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, and it's viewed by detractors as a jobs program."

Keith's note: And of course, since NASA Administrator Senator Nelson is for anything that it takes to fund SLS - even if NASA does not need it. He'll support this pointless SLS test article - just like he supported absolutely everything else associated with SLS.

- NASA Just Can't Get That Engine Test Stand Thing Right, earlier post
- NASA OIG: NASA's Decision Process for Conducting Space Launch System Core Stage Testing at Stennis, earlier post
- Too Many Test Stands at NASA?, earlier post
- OIG Slaps NASA on Un-Needed Stennis Test Stands - Again, earlier post

Keith's note: Resident science genius Rep. Gohmert (R-TX) asked someone from the Forest Service if they can alter the orbit of Earth and/or the Moon to deal with climate change. I guess there is a silver lining: we can all sleep well tonight in the knowledge that Rep. Gohmert knows that Earth orbits the sun.

Rep. Gohmert (R-TX): "I understand from what's been testified to by the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change understand that you want to work on the issue of climake change. I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that the Moon's orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth's orbit around the sun. And we know there has been significant solar flare activities. Um, and so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the Moon's orbit or the Earth's orbit around the sun? Obviously they would have profound effects on our climate."

Stunned Forest Service Representative: "I would have to follow up with you on that one Mr. Gohmert."

Gohmert: "Yea. Well, if you figure out a way that you in the, uh, in the Forest Service can make that change, I'd like to know."

Committee Leaders Request GAO Review of Cybersecurity Risks at NASA

"Today, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), along with Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Don Beyer (D-VA), and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Brian Babin (R-TX) sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of the cybersecurity risks to the sensitive data associated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) major projects and spaceflight operations."

Keith's 21 May update: Earlier this week Bill Nelson suggested that NASA could solve all of its financial woes by getting $10-11 billion out of the new Infrastructure bill. Well, tick tock. Republicans balked at the overall bill so President Biden came back with a smaller counter offer. There will likely be more. It looks like there is a lot less money in the cookie jar - and R&D is no longer going to be a priority. As I mentioned below, Nelson's faith-based budget plan really does not have a Plan B in case the infrastructure windfall he hopes for does not happen. Well ... half a trillion dollars just disappeared from the infrastructure bill that we were all looking at when Nelson testified.

Here's what's in Biden's counteroffer on infrastructure, CNN

"The new plan would reduce the size of Biden's initial proposal, known as the American Jobs Plan, from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion and make four key concessions, according to the counteroffer document obtained by CNN. ... Research and development: $180 billion: This is another investment Biden is prepared to take off the table. His original plan called on Congress to invest $180 billion to advance US leadership in critical technologies, upgrade the US's research infrastructure and establish the US as a leader in climate science, innovation and research and development."

Statement of: The Honorable Bill Nelson Administrator, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations

"President Biden's FY 2022 discretionary funding request, transmitted in April, is $24.7 billion for NASA, an increase of more than six percent over the FY 2021 enacted level. This funding supports the programs summarized here and supports significant NASA contributions to Administration priorities."

Keith's 20 May note: In yesterday's FY 2022 budget hearing Bill Nelson touched on a lot of things but two stood out: the HLS (Human Landing System) contract and getting more money for NASA. His prepared testimony matches with what he said during questioning. But one thing that is wholly absent from this prepared statement is where he expects to try and get billions in new funds - billions and billions of dollars' worth.

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: The nomination hearing for Pam Melroy to become Deputy Administrator of NASA is supposed to begin at 10:15 am EDT.

You can watch live here at Congress and here at NASA.

Testimony of Colonel Pamela Melroy Before The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation May 20, 2021

"NASA is unique because its programs are awe-inspiring and have the potential to fundamentally change humanity's understanding of the universe. NASA's role is collecting data about the Earth system and understanding the effects of climate change will be essential to those tasked with determining policy. If confirmed as Deputy Administrator, I will work closely with NOAA and ensure a robust program of Earth data collection and dissemination."

House Appropriations CJS subcommittee Hearing: FY 2022 Budget Request for NASA

Keith's note: This is the first time that NASA Administrator Senator Astronaut Bill Nelson faces Congress. There is no mention made of the hearing on the NASA TV calendar. But wait - the NASA TV site says it will air the hearing at 2:00 pm. So much for the accuracy of the NASA TV calendar I suppose.

Blue Origin's loss to SpaceX on the lunar lander contract may get Congress to do something it hadn't done before: Give NASA extra money, Washington Post

"Along with Dynetics, the defense contractor that also lost out on the contract, Blue Origin protested NASA's decision, saying the space agency "executed a flawed acquisition." It also took to Capitol Hill, lobbying its allies in Congress to force NASA to come up with the additional money and make a second award. On Wednesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) of Washington state, where Blue Origin is headquartered, came through, introducing legislation that calls for NASA to do just that. The legislation, which passed as an amendment to another bill, would authorize but not appropriate an additional $10 billion to the Artemis program through fiscal 2026. It also calls for NASA to pick a second winner for the contract."

Senate committee approves 2021 NASA Authorization, requires second HLS system, Space Policy Online

"This new NASA authorization bill would require NASA to fund HLS design, development, testing and evaluation "for not fewer than 2 entities" and gives the agency just 30 days after the bill is enacted into law to do it. How NASA could implement that in such a short time is a mystery. It went through a source selection process and chose a winner with documentation as to why. That decision is under protest at GAO, which must make a ruling by August 4. GAO can uphold the award or require NASA to change its decision. Either way, how an additional layer of congressionally-directed procurement action would affect that process is murky and could hang like a Damoclean sword over HLS, delaying its development and the timeline for putting astronauts back on the Moon. HLS is necessary for ferrying crews between lunar orbit and the surface."

Mars Hearing Today

Testimony By Bill Nelson Nominee for Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

"I also believe NASA plays an important role in inspiring the next generation of inventors and scientists. After the Apollo program, thousands of young people dedicated themselves to studying engineering, science, and computing. Not all of these people joined the space program. Some went into biology or the nascent computer industry. They made this country a technology and economic powerhouse. 60 percent of people alive today weren't alive to see a human walk on the Moon. Imagine who NASA and America inspires when we return to the Moon, and this time include women and people of color.

Finally, the President has highlighted that space investments spur economic growth, improve life on Earth, and keep America competitive. Through all NASA activities, the agency generated more than $64.3 billion in total economic output during fiscal year 2019, supported more than 312,000 jobs nationwide. Every state in the country benefits economically from NASA. Investments in research and technology are our seed corn for future economic growth, and are a key part of the Build Back Better plan."

Keith's note: The hearing got started with a seemingly endless stream of compliments that included the phrase "my good friend Bill Nelson". By the time that ended it was obvious that Nelson was going to be confirmed no matter what he said. Nelson was light on specifics - saying that he was nto allowed to talk to NASA - which is a little strange given how NASA helped him prepare Nelson for this hearing and escorted him around the Hill for office visits.

Sen. Wicker asked a question wherein he stated that NASA was planning a Moon landing on 2024 and a Mars landing in 2029, Nelson did not seek to correct Wicker about the 2029 Mars date. Later in the hearing Sen. Blackburn said that the Mars landing was planned for 2030. Nelson did not correct that. Later he said that the 2024 Lunar landing timetable set by the Trump Administration is still in place and that "space is hard". Nelson later said going to Mars was set to happen in the decade of the 2030s. So it is apparent that Sen. Nelson is somewhat uncertain about exactly what all of NASA's major human spaceflight goals are.

Nelson also tried to pass off some revisionist history wherein he was a staunch supporter of a "dual course" wherein NASA pursued both a government and commercial path do doing things in space. In reality he was a staunch supporter of the government approach (SLS aka "the big rocket") and sought to limit or move funds for commercial space to support SLS. Now he's found religion and claims to be a strong supporter of commercial space. So, stay tuned.

Sen. Cantwell made several comments suggesting that she was not exactly thrilled with the recent decision by NASA to sole source the Human Landing System (HLS) contract to SpaceX. Nelson made several comments saying that he supported competition in such activities but did not go so far as to suggest that he might change the HLS award to SpaceX. Given that the NASA HLS decision was overtly driven by NASA budget shortfalls efforts by Nelson to increase NASA's budget might hint at a revisit to this decision.

As for NASA and China - well, Nelson said that NASA will adhere to the law- specifically that enacted by Rep. Wolf. Regarding the Artemis Accords Nelson said that he hopes to expand the number of signatories to include countries that have yet to sign - with a focus on peaceful uses of space.

When asked what the specific value of the Biden budget for NASA Earth Science and climate change Nelson had no real specific answer other than to support the budget increase and note that NASA observes climate change and that this is (obviously) important.

Nelson was asked about education benefits that can be derived from the space program. He replied that "This is one of the areas I really want to pour the juice to at NASA as requested by the White House." He repeated the 'juice' phrase several more times. One would hope that Nelson is looking to truly overhaul NASA's education office and fix what is broken - and not simply pour money into it.

Again, as far as Nelson's confirmation is concerned, based on the hearing, this is a done deal.

Chairwoman Johnson Statement on NASA's Artemis Human Landing System Award

"I am disappointed that the Acting NASA leadership decided to make such a consequential award prior to the arrival of a new permanent NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator. The decision to make the award today also comes despite the obvious need for a re-baselining of NASA's lunar exploration program, which has no realistic chance of returning U.S. astronauts to the Moon by 2024. While work continues on the upcoming Artemis-1 mission, it will be critically important for the new NASA leadership team to carry out its own review of all elements of NASA's Moon-Mars initiative to ensure that this major national undertaking is put on a sound footing."

Keith's note: My question at the NASA press event: "Senator Nelson has been a staunch SLS supporter since day one. If NASA really used the capability of SpaceX Starship architecture to its fullest sustainable extent this could easily set forth a path to reduce the need for SLS launches. Sen. Nelson's confirmation hearing is next week. If Sen. Nelson says that this procurement decision should be revisited is NASA prepared to re-do the initial procurement to pick more than one HLS contractor? And if Congress needs to enact changes in law to accomodate a procurement change has NASA given thought as to how that would be accomplished?"

Jurczyk: "We have no plans to change our architecture for lunar landing missions. We did this procurement with a competition etc etc and made selection and we are moving forward we have no intent to revisit the selection."

Babin Requests Information on Europa Clipper Mission and SLS Use

" I'm expecting a prompt response from NASA answering our questions on their analyses of launch vehicles, as well as cost, schedule, and mission impacts."

Letter From Rep. Babin To NASA Administrator Jurczyk Regarding Europa Clipper and SLS Launch Issues

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2021/babin.s.jpg

Image guide: White = Actual information request from Babin to NASA; Gray = legal gotcha language from a Babin staffer (larger image)

Keith's note: You really should take a look at the letter that Rep. Babin sent to Steve Jurczyk on this whole Europa Clipper/SLS launch decision thing. I gotta tell you, I have neen reading letters between Congress and NASA for 25 years. Some have been rather pointed, confrontational, and snarky. And I have certainly written more than my fair share of snarky gotcha PAO and FOIA requests to NASA designed to make sure that no stone is left unturned. But I have to say that in all the time I have been editing NASAWatch I have never seen a letter from Congress to NASA requesting formation wherein the quasi-legalistic definitions of what constitutes the requested information - and how it is to be identified, sourced, and transmitted to Congress - that uses three times the words of what information is actually being asked for.

Rep. Babin is in the minority, so there is only so much mischief that he can do with whatever NASA provides. But he clearly has some legal eagle on his staff who is trying use their law degree to catch NASA in the act of doing something bad or not being responsive - however trivial the infraction may be.

- Moon 2024 Goal Delays SLS Availability For Europa Clipper, earlier post
- NASA OIG Audit: Management Of NASA's Europa Mission, NASA OIG, earlier post
- NASA OIG Follow-up to May 2019 Audit of Europa Mission: Congressional Launch Vehicle Mandate, earlier post

Opinion: The U.S. put a man on the moon. But it might be harder to do the same on Mars.Mitch Daniels, Washington Post

"If and when humankind reaches that next frontier, though, there are reasons to doubt that it will be a U.S. government space project that leads us there. Ironically, the society that put a man on the moon may be just the wrong one to succeed in this next great endeavor, at least through a grand national project like Apollo."

Keith's note: In his OpEd former OMB director Mitch Daniels spends 95% of his time explaining why NASA will probably never send humans to Mars - as if it were an indisputable future - one that is really not open to further discussion. His only bright light in terms of sending humans to Mars is a single paragraph punt to the private sector - with no real elaboration as to how it might happen. In other words government=bad, private sector=good. Details to to follow.

Daniels has had a chance to really get into the issues surrounding human spaceflight a decade ago. But his efforts were widely panned as being a flop. He mentions a report issued by a committee he chaired. Specifically it was the "Committee Reviews Report on Future of Human Spaceflight", issued by the NRC in response to a requirement in the NASA Authorization Act of 2014. NASA paid millions of dollars for this multi-year report generating effort.

As I wrote at the time: "NRC says NASA Is on the wrong path to Mars. That's about the only thing they took a clear position on in their report. In writing their report the committee dodged all of the big questions with the excuse that it was beyond their scope/charter. Trivial mention was made of commercial alternatives or whether the SLS-based model is the right way to get to Mars. In the briefing yesterday Mitch Daniels said that funding for all of this is "the secondary question". So there you go - yet another space policy report - one that cost $3.6 million and is being delivered more than 3 years after it was requested. The White House and NASA will ignore it. Congress will wave it around and then ignore it too. In the end we'll all be where we are now - with incomplete plans, no strategy, a big rocket with no payload, and nothing close to a budget to make any of it happen."

So ... here we are 7 years later and we are still trying to figure out where NASA is going to go - and why. Daniels et al had a chance to try and reset NASA's course but they shied away from a chance to do so - and they overtly told everyone that that they were not going to answer the big, obvious questions this report raised. Now its time for him to pop up and criticize what has/has not happend in the intervening 7 years. Like cicadas I guess we'll have to wait another 7 years for the next Daniels update.

As mentioned above, Daniels has found religion in commercial space. He found it but does not know what to do with it. Daniels is somewhat correct in stating that: "To do so, our commission concluded, would require making the goal a central, single-minded priority of the U.S. space program; a relentless, unswerving multi-decade commitment to a pre-agreed path to reach the goal; and constant investments in amounts well above the rate of inflation. American democracy is not very good at any of those things." Again, as I noted, Daniels et al listed the problems but had no idea what the solutions were. So why have a report if the report does not offer a solution to a problem? Oh wait: I almost forgot; this is Washington. Reports are solutions in and of themselves. Whether they offer anything useful is beside the point.

Daniels concludes his op ed by saying "The new Biden administration's overall agenda is bigger and more expensive than any before it, yet it appears to leave little or no space for space. With a micromanaging Congress resetting budgets on an annual basis, picking out a priority for NASA and sticking to it for 20 years or more is likely not in the cards; we've proved very poor at "perseverance." Plus, our legislators regularly carve out NASA dollars for favored non-exploratory causes such as environmental monitoring, and fiercely protect multiple space centers and resulting costly redundancies."

Again, Daniels does a nice job citing all of the problems and challenges and predicting a post mortem on things yet to come - things that he thinks are immutable and unable to be changed. In many instances he is right. But enough with the problems already.

So Mitch - is there ever going to be a solution forthcoming? The Biden/Harris team - at age 1 month - has already been prompted to respond to the space issue multiple times. Each and every response - many unprompted - has been one of support. Yes, words and empty promises are the prime commodity here in Washington. But at least the Biden/Harris team proceeds from a point of optimism and hope when it comes to space. No doubt the reality of governing post-pandemic America will dampen some of this - but at least they start from a good place. You? Not so much. People tend to accomplish more if they start out thinking that they can. There's a little hope. Let's run with it - while we can. Ad Astra Mitch.

- Why Does Space Policy Always Suck? (2013), earlier post
- Report From Slow Motion Advisory Committee on Human Space Flight (2013), earlier post
- Space Studies Board is (Not Really) Interested In What You Think, (2013), earlier post
- NRC Says NASA Is On The Wrong Path to Mars , (2014), earlier post
- Hearing on NRC Human Spaceflight Report, (2014), earlier post

Final FY21 Appropriations: NASA, AIP

"Under its fiscal year 2021 appropriation, NASA's budget is increasing 3% to $23.3 billion, with most of the additional funding allocated to its human exploration directorate. However, the increase falls short of the $25.2 billion the Trump administration had requested to support its goal of landing astronauts on the Moon in 2024.

The budget for NASA's science directorate is increasing 1% to $7.22 billion. This figure excludes the $79 million budget of the Biological and Physical Sciences Division, which was transferred to the science directorate from the human exploration directorate last year. All major science missions will have funding needed to move ahead on schedule. In addition, Congress has given the Europa Clipper mission leeway to launch on a rocket other than the in-development Space Launch System, a move that NASA estimates will save more than $1.5 billion.

An explanatory statement accompanying Congress' appropriations legislation provides funding and policy direction, and language from the House Appropriations Committee report conveys additional direction unless specifically negated in the final statement. The Senate Appropriations Committee did not formally submit its report, but language from a publicly released draft is incorporated in the explanatory statement."

Letter From U.S. Senators To President Biden Regarding NASA's Human Landing System (HLS) Program

"NASA's Artemis Program will return America to deep space, support economic recovery, strengthen national security, promote scientific research, and inspire the next generation. The HLS Program will develop 21st century crewed lunar landers - a critical piece of the Artemis architecture. We urge you to proceed with the planned selection and to include all necessary funding for HLS in your FY 2022 budget request."

- Artemis Human Lander Contract Decision Delayed, earlier post
- Jurczyk Is Sticking With A 2024 Artemis Lunar Landing Date - For Now, earlier post

Four defense contractors among firms halting political donations after Capitol riots, The Hill

"Defense contractors Northrop Grumman, Leidos, BAE Systems and Raytheon are among a growing number of companies that announced a pause on political donations to members of Congress following violent riots at the U.S. Capitol last week. Northrop - which last year contributed $4.8 million roughly equally to Democrats and Republicans - on Monday became the first major defense firm to halt its donations."

Walmart halts political donations to lawmakers who voted against Biden win, Washington Post

"An analysis by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics found four defense firms among the top 20 contributors to the campaigns of Republicans who objected to Biden's win. Northrop Grumman was 10th among them with $687,500 donated to lawmakers who objected to the election. ... The defense industry has in many ways walked in lockstep with Trump since he took office. The industry has benefited significantly from increased military spending under Trump, as well as the president's support for international arms sales. Lockheed Martin became a centerpiece of a White House-sponsored advertising campaign highlighting the administration's job creation credentials. When Trump blamed "both sides" for violence at a Charlottesville white supremacist rally in 2017, defense firms were among the few companies that supported the president's business councils. Other corporations left the councils in protest, leading to their dissolution."

- Sierra Nevada Prefers Republicans Over Democrats, earlier post
- Lopsided Political Support By Big Aerospace, earlier post
- How Big Aerospace Supported Efforts To Undermine Democracy, earlier post

There's A New "Make Space Great Again" Campaign Video From Team Trump, Earlier post

"At 4:10 the live chat begins. It is hosted by Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle who works on the Trump campaign. Her guests are former NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit and former astronaut and NASA GRC Center Director Janet Kavandi who is now a Senior Vice President at Sierra Nevada Corp. Apparently the Trump family is really into space - Eric Trump's brother-in-law Kyle Yunaska is the new Deputy Chief of Staff at NASA."

Keith's note: Some research from a noted space policy expert: Open Secrets has a lot of data that lets you do a deep dive into who gave what to whom. Check out this chart (larger image). Looking at Big Aerospace - specifically the top 12 NASA contractors and their PAC contributions by party during the recent election cycle - all but SpaceX and Bechtel favor the congressional republicans. Republican-leaning donors are shown in red, Democrat-leaning contributors are shown in blue.

Traditionally PACs focus on incumbents, which makes these numbers even more skewed. Every contractor gave significantly to Sen. Cruz (R-TX) and virtually ignored Sen. Sinema (D-AZ) for example. Oh yes, Sen. Sinema is about to become the Chair of the prime Senate space subcommittee (subcommittee on Aviation and Space, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation). Big Aerospace gave candidate (and now Senator) Mark Kelly (D-AZ) next to nothing yet many aerospace contributors maxed out when donating to his opponent, incumbent Sen. McSally (R-AZ).

With such a lopsided approach to contributions toward their opponents why should Democrats feel a need to advance the Big Aerospace agenda? Out of ~$12 million in contributions, over $1 million more was given to Republicans than Democrats. Boeing, SAIC and Aerojet Rocketdyne gave 60% (or more) to Republicans. Aerojet Rocketdyne gave 73% more. Other than ULA, only company PAC contributions are included in chis chart - not contributions from employees. ULA doesn't have a PAC, so employee contributions (73% Republican) were used.

How Big Aerospace Supported Efforts To Undermine Democracy, earlier post

S.2800 NASA Authorization Act

Senate Appropriations: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies FY 2021

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - $23.5 billion. The bill provides an increase of $866 million above the funding level for the previous year. It includes a funding increase of $689 million for human exploration activities related to returning U.S. Astronauts to the Moon. Funding levels for the Space Launch System, Orion, and associated ground systems remain unchanged from previous year levels, while funding for lunar landing systems is funded at $1 billion. Also provided is $120 million to restore funding for NASA's STEM education programs while also funding ongoing science missions, including the Roman telescope and PACE, and continuing critical aeronautics research."

Keith's note: NASA has been seeking $3 billion for Artemis systems including the Human Landing System to meet their current 2024 landing goal. Without this funding NASA has said that it would be rather difficult to accomplish this goal. The Senate has allotted more ($1 billion) that the House has ($628 million) but it still falls far short of what NASA says that it needs.

White House tells federal agencies to proceed with plans for Trump's February budget in latest sign of election defiance, Washington Post

"The White House budget proposal is typically issued in February, which would be at least two weeks after President Trump is scheduled to depart the White House. He lost the Nov. 3 election to former vice president Joe Biden, who is set to be sworn in on Jan. 20, though Trump has refused to accept the results. The decision to proceed with Trump's budget for the 2022 fiscal year has rankled and surprised several career staffers given Biden's victory, as well as the fact that the incoming Biden administration is expected to submit its budget plan to Congress early next year."

Keith's note: You would think that after Joe Biden's win that hearings on Trump Administration appointees would be moot. I guess not. Senators could be off focusing on pandemic-related legislation that has stalled - you know, something far more pressing. Instead, they prefer to waste their time rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. This hearing for three Trump nominees includes former Trump Landing Party member Greg Autry who has been nominated to become NASA CFO is still going ahead today at 2:30 pm EST. You can watch the pointlessness here.

Keith's note: Depending on the election results a week earlier this could be moot.

House space subcommittee chair still seeking NASA plan for 2024 lunar landing, Space News

"The chair of the House space subcommittee says NASA has still not convinced her that the agency has a viable plan to return humans to the moon by 2024. Speaking at a Wilson Center event Oct. 6 about the geopolitics of space, Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) said she was waiting to see a plan from NASA that explained how the agency's Artemis program could meet its goal of a human return to the lunar surface in four years. "We still haven't seen a plan that shows us we can get to the moon on the 2024 schedule," she said, including the ability of NASA to manage "multiple, simultaneous, large" development programs and the various demonstrations leading up to that crewed landing."

Keith's note: Actually NASA did issue a thing with the word "plan" in it except it skips the whole concept of answering important questions as to how it will actually happen.

- Important Artemis Questions Will Be Answered Today (Update), earlier post
- House Appropriators Just Made Doing Artemis Landing More Difficult, earlier post
- NASA Hits The Pause Button Again On The Back-To-The-Moon Thing (Update), earlier post
- NASA Releases Its Artemis "Plan" - 5 Months Late, earlier post
- NASA Really Really Needs An Artemis Plan - Soon, earlier post
- Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update), earlier post

Hearing to conduct oversight of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget and activities

2:00 p.m. EDT, Room 325, Russell Senate Office Building

Witness: James Bridenstine

Watch live

House Science Bills on Space Weather and Election Technology Pass the House

"S.881, the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow Act, more commonly referred to as the PROSWIFT Act, improves our ability to monitor and forecast space weather. Space weather is generated by magnetic activity on the Sun and can affect technologies on Earth ranging from cell phone communications to GPS navigation to the electric grid. The bill includes an amendment by Lucas to create a pilot program that will ensure that emerging private sector companies have a seat at the table and will be able to provide monitoring and forecast data which the federal government can purchase and utilize in space weather forecasts."

H.R. 7617 Division-by-Division Summary, House Appropriations Committee

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - $22.63 billion, equal to the FY 2020 enacted level. This funding includes continued investments in human space exploration efforts, as well as other investments, including the following:

• $819 million for Aeronautics research, an increase of $35 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and equal to the President's budget request, to continue efforts to improve passenger safety, fuel efficiency, and noise reduction, and to make air travel more environmentally sustainable.

• $126 million for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement, an increase of $6 million above the FY 2020 enacted level, to inspire young people to pursue future careers in science and engineering, and rejecting the Administration's request to eliminate funding for these programs."

Lucas and Babin: Appropriations Bill Fails to Prioritize NASA's Human Exploration Activities

"In particular, we need funding now to move forward on the Human Landing System, but this legislation provides only a fraction of what's needed to do that. As a nation, we need to prioritize human space exploration. This bill is shortsighted, and I hope we can do more to support NASA's critical missions."

John Lewis

Rep. John Lewis, Space Station Savior, Passes Away, Space Policy Online

"Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) passed away yesterday. A legendary civil rights activist, his role at a pivotal point in the history of the space station program is less well known. He is the Member of Congress who cast the deciding vote in 1993 to continue the program despite years of cost overruns and schedule delays. Today's International Space Station might not exist without his support."

Keith's note: I sat at my desk at NASA Space Station Freedom Program Office in 1993 listening to the roll call wondering if I'd have a job. John Lewis did indeed save the space station.

In voting to keep the space station program alive Rep. Lewis said: "I still believe, as do the majority of the American people, that it is America's destiny to explore space. Not for the cold war reasoning of proving we are the greatest Nation on Earth, but because we are the greatest Nation on Earth. We became great by dreaming and pursuing that dream. As soon as we lose the ability to dream and reach for the stars we cease to be great. Madam Chairman, let us keep the dream alive. Support the space station. All mankind will continue to reap the magnitude of benefits from this program." Update - see below 1

1 Reader note: "It's a great quote, but it's from the wrong Rep. Lewis. This is from Rep. Tom Lewis of Florida, and he never actually had the chance to speak these word during the debate because he ran out of time and had to submit it in writing. Citation: Page 13669: https://www.congress.gov/103/crecb/1993/06/30/GPO-CRECB-1993-pt10-2.pdf - https://www.c-span.org/video/?43471-1/house-session"

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Commerce-Justice-Science Funding Bill

Full Bill

"That the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall use the Space Launch System, if available, as the launch vehicles for the Jupiter Europa missions, plan for an orbiter launch no later than 2025 and a lander launch no later than 2027, and include in the fiscal year 2022 budget the 5-year funding profile necessary to achieve these goals."

"Provided, That not less than $1,400,500,000 shall be for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle: Provided further, That not less than $2,600,000,000 shall be for the Space Launch System (SLS) launch vehicle, which shall have a lift capability not less than 130 metric tons and which shall have core elements and an Exploration Upper Stage developed simultaneously to be used to the maximum extent practicable, including for Earth to Moon missions and Moon landings: Provided further, That of the amounts provided for SLS, not less than $400,000,000 shall be for SLS Block 1B development including the Exploration Upper Stage and associated systems including related facilitization: Provided further, That $459,700,000 shall be for Exploration Ground Systems including infrastructure in support of SLS Block 1B missions: Provided further, That the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall provide to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate, concurrent with the annual budget submission, a 5-year budget profile for an inte11 grated system that includes the SLS, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and associated ground systems that will ensure a crewed launch as early as possible, as well as a system-based funding profile for a sustained launch cadence that contemplates the use of an SLS Block 1B cargo variant and associated ground systems: Provided further, That $1,557,400,000 shall be for exploration research and development."

Keith's note: The $22.63 billion requested for NASA in FY 2021 is the same as it was for FY 2020. However the request for FY 2021 was for $25.2 billion - so thats $2.5 billion that is missing. Also, $1.57 billion is set aside for exploration research and development - but $4.72 billion was requested. How NASA is supposed to do the accelerated Artemis program such that they land humans on the Moon by 2024 is hard to fathom. Maybe the Senate will be more generous. As for the Europa missions on SLS - planing orbital mechanics to meet political direction using a Congressionally-designed rocket that has not yet flown is always a bad idea. But Congress still does it anyway. Meanwhile Jim Bridenstine is putting on a brave face. But this is an election year - one marked by racial, societal, and political strife amidst a pandemic that is increasingly out of control. So who knows.

Remarks by President Trump at Kennedy Space Center

Keith's note: Today at a media briefing Jim Bridenstine said that there was representation "from both sides of the aisle" at the Demo-2 launch. Yet this is what the President chose to say about Congressional members present at they events:

"Also with us are many members of my Cabinet, including our great new DNI, John Ratcliffe. Thank you,John. Thank you.(Applause.) We have a great friend of mine, a special man, ran a great, great campaign: Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. (Applause.) Thank you, Ron. Thank you, Ron. Your Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Leader Kevin McCarthy. Kevin, thank you very much. (Applause.) Great job you do, Kevin. And Representatives Matt Gaetz, John Rutherford, Michael Waltz, Bill Posey, Gus Bilirakis, Daniel Webster, Brian Mast, Elise Stefanik, Bill Flores, Brian Babin, Rodney Davis, Roger Marshall, and Steven Palazzo. Thank you very much, fellas. Thank you. (Applause.) What a great group of people. They're warriors. They're really warriors. They helped so much get this done, and so many other things."

All of the people mentioned are Republicans. No Democrats were mentioned. Apparently they did not make any contribution to the day's events - otherwise they'd have been mentioned, right? Today at a crew conversation from JSC Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and House Science, Space, and Technology ranking member Brian Babin (R-TX) were there. That committee's chair, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) was nowhere to be seen. "Both sides of the aisle?" Just sayin'.

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Horn Holds Bipartisan Teleconference on NASA's Response to COVID-19

"Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held a bipartisan teleconference with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Dr. Mike Watkins, Director at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The purpose of the teleconference was for Members to discuss NASA's uniquely skilled workforce and their activities and role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally (VITAL), which was designed and developed by JPL engineers in 37 days."

NASA's Approach to Increasing On-Site Work & Town Hall Transcript

"As these conditions become safer, there will be a phased and gradual return to work at agency centers and facilities. We know it has to be at a "condition level" where you really do feel safe. If you do not feel comfortable working on-site, or returning to work on-site, please talk to your supervisor about options to address your concerns. We will make every effort to provide alternate work arrangements without reservation or reprisal. Those who can accomplish their job via telework are encouraged to continue doing so."

Chairwomen Johnson and Horn Statements on Artemis Human Lander Systems Contract Awards, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"Unfortunately, more than a year after their announcement to accelerate the Artemis program, NASA has yet to provide Congress a transparent architecture and technical and cost assessment, despite our repeated requests. The American taxpayer deserves to know their money is being spent wisely, especially if they are being asked to invest billions of taxpayer dollars in a private lunar landing system. Our nation should dream boldly and pursue aspirational goals but we have to do so thoughtfully and intentionally. I look forward to working with NASA in good faith to steer our nation's space program in a direction that allows our country to achieve inspiring goals and explore space in a responsible and measured way."

Key House Democrats "DIsappointed" With HLS Awards, Space Policy Online

"However, if Johnson and Horn's views are shared by appropriators, it could signal trouble for NASA getting the funding increase it needs not just this year, but for the next several years, to execute Artemis. The FY2021 budget request alone is a 12 percent increase over current spending. Bridenstine expressed optimism yesterday that NASA's budget will not be impacted by the trillions being spent on COVID-19 relief. Noting how small NASA's budget is compared to the rest of government spending, less than half a percent, he said "We're not going to be the solution to balancing the budget. ... I don't think we're in any jeopardy."

- NASA Picks Human Lander System Developers

"With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program."

- Does NASA Know The Real Cost Of Sending Humans To The Moon?, Earlier post
- NASA Releases Its Artemis "Plan" - 5 Months Late, Earlier post
- GAO Wants To Remind You That Artemis Is Lacking Detail, Earlier post
- NASA Authorization Bill Markup, Earlier post

Keith's note: This is interesting. GAO usually just issues its reports and that's that. However, they are now overtly mentioning the recently released FY 2021 budget and are directing people to a report "NASA Lunar Programs: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Analyses and Plans for Moon Landing" that says:

"In March 2019, the White House directed NASA to accelerate its plans to return humans to the moon by 2024--4 years earlier than NASA had planned. To meet this new goal, NASA made some changes to its approach. But it is still pursuing an array of complex efforts, including a small platform in lunar orbit called the Gateway, where crew could transit to and from the moon. Some have questioned the path NASA is taking and NASA has not fully explained how it arrived at its plans. So we that NASA document its rationale for these decisions. We also recommended that NASA develop an official cost estimate for the 2024 lunar landing mission."
Not very subtle - especially for the GAO. If the GAO is publicly reminding people that NASA needs to provide more details then it is a sure thing that Congress will be asking for the same thing - since the report that GAO is referring to was delivered to Congress on 19 December 2019 in response to a request from the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.

Hearing: Space Situational Awareness: Key Issues in an Evolving Landscape, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (with video)

- Rep. Kendra Horn [statement]
- Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson [statement]
- Rep. Brian Babin [statement]
- Rep. Frank Lucas [statement]
- Brian Weeden, Secure World Foundation [statement]
- Daniel Oltrogge, AIAA Space Traffic Management Space Governance Task Force Chair [statement]
- Joanne Gabrynowicz, University of Mississippi Law Center [statement]
- Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology [statement]
- Ruth Stilwell, George Washington University [statement]

Space Missions of Global Importance: Planetary Defense, Space Weather Protection, and Space Situational Awareness, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (with video)

- Chairman Roger Wicker [statement]
- Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA [statement]
- William Murtagh, NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center [statement]
- Kevin O'Connell, DOC Office of Space Commerce [statement]
- Moriba Jah, University of Texas [statement]

Trump budget cuts funding for health, science, environment agencies, Washington Post

"President Trump once again is asking Congress to make major cuts to the budgets of science and health agencies while favoring research deemed essential to national security. The 2021 budget request delivered Monday to Congress includes a nearly 10 percent cut to Health and Human Services and a 26 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency. It asks for increases in funding for research on quantum computing and artificial intelligence, areas in which the United States competes with China. Trump also wants to grant NASA a multibillion-dollar boost to help the space agency put astronauts back on the moon. Trump budgets have repeatedly targeted agencies and programs that deal with science, health and the environment, but if tradition holds, the requested cuts have little chance of winning approval from the House of Representatives, which has the power of the purse and a Democratic majority."

Keith's note: Learning that the White House has singled NASA out for a substantial budget increase is always welcome news for the space community since it highlights the fact that space is important and space people think that space is important. Add in strong mention in the State of The Union address and at other high visibility events, a push for Space Force, and space folks certainly have a right to feel that there is new wind in their sails. One small problem: much of this is temporary. Alas, as has been the case in the past, large cuts in social services, education, science, and infrastructural budgets fall flat when they arrive at Congress. NASA stands out as a target by virtue of its large plus up while everyone else is getting cut back. Soon we'll hear the old saws "why spend money in space when it is needed here on Earth" and "We already did the Moon thing 50 years ago". As inspirational as this 12% increase is, the chances that it will actually happen are not very encouraging.

Today at the Space Foundation's State of Space event, Rep. Kendra Horn, the lead proponent of the recent NASA Authorization Act that is making its way through Congress said that the 12% proposed increase in NASA's budget is welcome, but that it does not address the $5-6 billion that she says that NASA has told her that they need every year to make the 2024 Artemis lunar landing to happen - and by the way where is NASA's actual plan to do this? When asked about the interest in having actual private sector participation in Artemis as proposed by the White House, Horn said instead that making everyone NASA contractors is better - something her NASA Authorization Act strives to do. Add in the Act's gutting of actual lunar utilization and exploration after the landings begin we'd be facing a Flags and Footprints 2.0 situation. Just as a huge NASA budget increase is going to be hard to sell to Congress against a backdrop of cuts elsewhere, spending any large amount of money on NASA - with or without a big increase - to go back and walk around on the Moon is going to be a hard sell as well when basic support services are on the chopping block.

When asked if she thought Artemis could survive the election and a possible change in the White House Horn replied that her authorization act had bipartisan support - so that was a good sign. We all saw what the Obama Administration did to the Bush Administration's human spaceflight program plan when they took over and what happened to Obama's space efforts when the Trump team took over. Horn referred to a certain amount of "whiplash" as being an integral part of what passes for space policy - and that this back and forth contributes to a lot of the problems we see in what NASA is doing or not doing at any given moment.

Now that I have served up a pile of negativity, lets look on the bright side. There is great interest - globally - in going back to the Moon - with both humans and robots, to do science and exploration, to both further national goals and conduct private sector projects. Oh yea Mars too. Alas, no one is exactly on the same page. Until we have an actual national strategy with goals, objectives, roles, and responsibilities clearly enumerated then this ad hoc, constantly pivoting approach is going to continue to stumble along. It takes more than short presidential directives or tedious, verbose NASA authorization Acts to make that happen. Barking orders and long wish lists chopped up into 4 year long bite size pieces won't work. It never has. We're just kicking the can down the road. Will someone please fix this? Thanks.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2015/canmars.jpgKicking The Can Down the Road to Mars, 2015, earlier post

"And of course none of these Mars missions in the 2030s are in any budget - notional, proposed, or projected - that means anything to anyone actually working at NASA today. So it is hard to blame people who can't give you a straight answer. Just look at what their management has given them to work with - and what the agency has had to work with in terms of guidance from Congress and the White House. Just in the past 10-12 years NASA has veered away from the shuttle towards the Moon, then away from the ISS to Mars and away from the Moon and back to ISS, and now back to Mars (and maybe the Moon) and also some boulder on an asteroid."

Trump said to propose roughly $3 billion NASA budget boost for 2021, TechCrunch

"President Donald Trump is set to request a budget of $25.6 billion for NASA for its fiscal 2021 operating year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. It's looking for nearly $3 billion more than the $22.6 billion NASA had for its current fiscal year, and the bulk of the new funding is said to be earmarked for development of new human lunar landers. This represents one of the single largest proposed budget increases for NASA in a couple of decades, but reflects Trump's renewed commitment to the agency's efforts as expressed during the State of the Union address he presented on February 4, during which he included a request to Congress to "fully fund the Artemis program to ensure that the next man and first woman on the Moon will be American astronauts."

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."

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."

AIA's Mike French on House NASA Authorization Act

"The space policy community should be smiling. After record marks last month, we now have bipartisan, bicameral support across Congress and the Executive Branch to return to the Moon this decade and go on to Mars. On the eve of an anticipated strong budget request, I'm looking forward to working as a community to secure and fund this consensus."

Commercial Spaceflight Federation statement on House Space Subcommittee Draft NASA Authorization Bill

"As written, the NASA Authorization bill would not create a sustainable space exploration architecture and would instead set NASA up for failure by eliminating commercial participation and competition in key programs. As NASA and the White House have repeatedly stated, any sustainable space exploration effort must bring together the best of government and commercial industry to achieve a safe and affordable 21st century space enterprise. We look forward to working with members of the House Space Subcommittee to address a number of concerns with the bill."

Letter to Congress From The Commercial Spaceflight Federation Regarding The NASA Authorization Bill

"This Committee should withdraw this bill and engage in a fully transparent process to seek NASA, industry, academic, and public input in a meaningful way. This legislation was apparently drafted with no input from critical stakeholders, the public, or even Members of the Committee, and should be reconsidered."

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Statement Regarding H.R. 5666

"However the path to executing this goal - including meaningful activity at the Moon - remains a topic of significant discussion, and this bill is helping to spark a robust exchange about the best way to achieve that bipartisan vision."

Keith's note: Vice President Pence put his authority on the line last Spring when he directed NASA to do the Artemis return to the Moon effort by 2024 "by any means necessary". His direction had the implied, implicit backing of the President. And Pence entrusted NASA to make it happen. Jim Bridenstine took that ball and, to his credit, ran long and strong with it. 

Now Congress, in a bipartisan action in the House with new NASA Authorization legislation, delays human landings, deletes hardware and puts a new item in the critical path, and deletes any useful use of capabilities on the lunar surface once we return with humans. Exploration and utilization is now Flags and Footprints 2.0. This action by Congress seeks to kick Pence and Bridenstine in the knees and remove any urgency or sense of purpose. While the 2024 date did have a few people wondering if it was doable, NASA's push to try and make it happen has been admirable - and refreshing - at least in my personal opinion.

The exact means whereby NASA would accomplish this 2024 goal has been lacking and is overdue for delivery. A rebooting of HEOMD management led to a rethinking of the overall game plan thus delaying things further. Congress has expressed doubts too. A new federal budget is due to be dropped by the White House soon wherein their plans for NASA will be revealed. Now this proposed legislation seeks to impose its own, downsized architecture upon NASA, undermine presidential directives, and negate a series of high-level procurements NASA has already put into motion.

Are there other ways to accomplish this 2024 goal? Of course there are. But that is not what this legislation does. It eviscerates the goal itself and shoves it off into an increasingly distant and uncertain future.

There is some discontent on the part of Users Advisory Group (UAG) members to the language in the NASA Authorization bill. Some of that discontent is in the process of being conveyed up to Pence. The bill's mark-up is scheduled 29 January and some NASA briefings to UAG members and others over NASA's Artemis architecture issues. There is also a big FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference event here in DC this coming week and NASA will pause to mourn the people lost in the exploration of space. Lots of things happening in simultaneity.  

Will Pence say something? Will Jim Bridenstine? I will be watching to see what, if anything bubbles up into the public arena. I am not sure that being optimistic is a useful place to be.

Most of the UAG is composed of big aerospace representatives and political appointees who will still make money anyway or not be affected by any change in course. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation has made their stance clear about this bill which "would not create a sustainable space exploration architecture and would instead set NASA up for failure by eliminating commercial participation and competition in key programs.". Yet AIA's statement and lack of any response from the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration or any other of the big aerospace industry groups suggests that they are fine with whatever happens since their corporate members and supporters will do OK. AIA's Mike French sits inside his bubble inside the Beltway and suggests that everyone is "smiling". In his world that is an expected opinion to promote since big aerospace will get more money to do less exploration. But who cares. The money must flow.

Keith's update : Coalition for Deep Space Exploration has issued a statement. It is wimpy and takes no stance whatsoever - since their member companies stand to benefit the most from the way this bill is written.

Authorization acts do not necessarily affect reality since they have no teeth when it comes to actual funding.  Agencies ignore these authorization acts when they can and embrace them when they need to.  NASA has often operated just fine for years without an authorization act governing their activities. But these authorization bills do reflect congressional thinking that can affect appropriations. And they also reflect the impact of corporate lobbyists on that thinking.

Up until Friday afternoon NASA was embarked on a plan to swiftly return to the Moon - with some urgency, And once NASA returned it had plans to make the most of a renewed human and robotic presence on the lunar surface. Indeed, Jim Bridenstine openly talked of extracting lunar ice. That is not flags and footprints folks. That's advanced exploration and utilization of another world. 

Now the House, bolstered by some aerospace company lobbying, wants to pull back from that urgency and turn the Artemis program into a long-term, level-of-effort endeavour where all of the aerospace companies get guaranteed income while taking forever to actually accomplish the end goal. The lunar landings will now be glorified stunts, and the goal of landing humans on Mars has been replaced with a goal of simply orbiting Mars.

We went to the moon in less than a decade half a century ago - inspiring a generation in the process since it happened in a time scale they could grasp in their daily lives. Half a century later it will take us much, much longer to just do a pale imitation of that earlier effort. Where is the inspiration in that? We used to actually do great things in space. Now our national goal in space is to delay doing mediocre things as long as possible.

When I was growing up in the mid-1960s as a young boy we were all told that we'd be on the Moon by the "end of this decade". My young life was pegged against the regular progress made toward that goal which we as a nation achieved. Jim Bridenstine has been telling young boys and girls and their parents of a similar goal. After more than a decade of development there will be a landing of men and women on the Moon in their immediate future. Now after mere months that 4 years is 8 years unless it changes again. We used to be able to set goals and meet them. Now everything is up for negotiation. Its hard to pin your hopes on something that is constantly changing.

Jim Bridenstine opened his initial presentations about going back to the Moon with a cautionary note that this is not another "Lucy and the Football" effort - one wherein everything is set up - only to have the ball taken away and the goal posts moved. NASA has been through this sort of policy stop-and-go pivoting whiplash far too many times in the half century since we dared to walk on another world.

Alas, in less than 2 years NASA is once again being denied access to the ball that was supposed to be in play. Sitting on the sidelines on the journey to nowhere is now what we aspire to instead. Sad.

More space policy news

Full text

Committee Members Introduce NASA Authorization Legislation

"This afternoon, Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Kendra Horn (D-OK) along with Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX), Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) introducedH.R.­­ 5666, the "National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2020." H.R. 5666 reaffirms NASA's foundational authority as a multi-mission agency and emphasizes the importance of balanced exploration, science, aeronautics, technology, and education portfolios. The Act establishes frameworks that put a premium on planning, oversight, transparency, and responsible fiscal and program management."

Markup of: HR 5666, the "National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2020"

Excerpts:

"-- The goal of NASA's Moon to Mars program shall be to land humans on Mars in a sus9 tainable manner as soon as practicable. The Moon to Mars program shall have the interim goal of sending a crewed mission to the lunar surface by 2028 and a goal of sending a crewed mission to orbit Mars by 2033.

-- In order to reduce risk and complexity and make maximum use of taxpayer investments to date, the Administrator shall in the conduct of the Lunar Precursor Initiative employ an architecture that utilizes the Orion vehicle and an integrated lunar landing system carried on an Exploration Upper Stage-enhanced Space Launch System for the human lunar landing missions. The Gateway to Mars shall not be required for the conduct of human lunar landing missions.

- The Administrator shall establish a Moon to Mars Program Office within 60 days of the enactment of this Act to lead and manage the Moon to Mars program.

- The Administrator shall complete development of the Space Launch System and the Space Launch System variant enabled by an Exploration Upper Stage, pursuant to section 302 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010. The Administrator shall take steps to develop the Block 2 variant to provide the full range of launch capability and performance available to the United States for the Administration's crewed and robotic exploration of deep space. The Administrator shall complete the development and testing of the Exploration Upper Stage for the Space Launch System.

-- Within 120 days of the date of enactment of this Act, the Ad3 ministrator shall develop an overall architecture and plan, consistent with sections 203(c)(1) and 203(c)(2), including-- (A) a list of the minimum set of human and robotic lunar surface activities that must be completed to enable a human mission to Mars, including those to be tested on the Gateway to Mars, along with a plan for completing those tasks within five years after the first human lunar landing; and (B) a list of the capabilities and risk re14 duction measures listed in section 203(f)(3).

- five-year funding estimates and profiles for the Moon to Mars Program. The budget profiles should include estimated funding requirements and profiles for the program elements in section 203(f), and related infrastructure, facilities, and operations that are consistent with the achievement of a crewed mission to Mars orbit by 2033

- Any establishment of a continuously crewed lunar outpost or research station shall not be considered an element of the Moon to Mars Program and shall be budgeted separately from the Moon to Mars program. (b) OTHER CREWED ACTIVITIES.--Crewed activities on or around the surface of the Moon that do not contribute to the goal of landing humans on Mars in as sustainable manner as practical shall not be included in the Moon to Mars Program and shall be budgeted separately from the Moon to Mars Program. (c) LUNAR IN-SITU RESOURCE UTILIZATION.-- Lunar in-situ resource utilization shall not be considered as risk reduction for the initial crewed missions to orbit and land on Mars. Any lunar in-situ resource utilization activities and shall not be included in the Moon to Mars Program and shall be budgeted separately from the Moon to Mars Program."

<Artemis Wins Only Lukewarm Support In Final NASA FY 2020 Appropriation, Space Policy Online

"The House and Senate Appropriations Committees released the final versions of all 12 FY2020 appropriations bills today and hope to get them passed by the end of the week. The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill that funds NASA is combined with three others -- Defense, Financial Services, and Homeland Security -- into H.R. 1158, the "national security minibus." It includes $22.629 billion for NASA, almost exactly the same as the $22.616 billion amended request, but with different priorities than the Trump Administration. Landing astronauts on the Moon by 2024 does not seem to be one of them. The bill rejects Trump Administration proposals to terminate or postpone a number of programs, and only partially funds the supplemental request for the Artemis Moon-by-2024 program. More than half the Artemis-related funding may not be obligated until NASA submits a multi-year plan explaining how it intends to execute that program and development of human lunar landers received far less than requested."

Boeing, NASA clash over push for Congress to fund new stage for moon rocket, Washington Post

"In the Senate version of the NASA authorization bill for next year, lawmakers included language dictating that the agency "continue development" of the upper stage so that it could be ready for the third flight of the SLS, or Artemis III, which would be in time to land humans on the moon by 2024. While there is no House version of the bill, or an appropriation, Boeing's early success at pushing a compliant Congress to mandate the new upper stage for the third flight, instead of a later one, as is now planned, could upend NASA's lunar landing plans and put Boeing in the position of redirecting policy that had been set by NASA's leaders, engineers and scientists who have something other than profits as their priorities. To meet the White House's 2024 lunar landing date, NASA has been trying to build a broad coalition of companies, and has said repeatedly that everyone needs to pull together to help make the moon mission possible by 2024. Listen: Moonrise podcast "When we have one contractor trying to dictate policy that benefits them over the others, it puts the whole program at risk," said one senior NASA official on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly."

Boeing's Misleading Anti-SpaceX Pro-SLS Facebook Ad Campaign, earlier post

"For starters NASA is building the SLS. Boeing - along with Lockheed Martin, Aerojet, Orbital ATK, and Airbus are building the pieces. One page says it is Boeing's SLS. The other says it is NASA's. Which is it? And yes, Starliner will be sending human crews into space but it is not "the method NASA uses to send astronauts into space." It is one of the methods - SpaceX is another method."

- Join Boeing's SLS Fan Club So They Can Track Your Activity Online, earlier post
- NASA OIG SLS Audit: Poor Management By Boeing - Send More Money, earlier post
- Is This Any Way To Go Back To The Moon?, earlier post

Trump's Excellent Space Force Adventure, Washington Post

"The creation of a Space Force is still being negotiated in Congress, where different versions of it have passed the House and Senate. As of press time, it's unclear whether the new military service will be included in the upcoming defense authorization act -- but, with bipartisan support, America's extraterrestrial military efforts are, one way or another, poised to accelerate."

Congress, White House near deal to create Space Force in exchange for paid leave for federal workers, Washington Post

"Congressional lawmakers and the White House are on the verge of reaching a sweeping agreement that would extend 12 weeks of paid parental leave to federal workers in exchange for making "Space Force" the sixth branch of the U.S. military, according to four people with knowledge of the tentative deal. The deal is part of a defense authorization bill that is slated to pass this month. If consummated, the agreement could mark one of the biggest deals President Trump has cut with Congress. It would secure a massive expansion of benefits for federal workers, something Democrats have long sought, in exchange for a realignment of the U.S. military that Trump has sought to secure as part of his legacy."

Dear Space Force Fans: Please Chill Out, earlier post

"With a little less of this hyperventillation and crass political favoritism - and perhaps a little more basic wartime defense/prevention discussion - maybe a few more people might support this Space Force thing. Otherwise this sort of breathless op ed arm waving invites nothing more than mockery on a slow news day."

Keeping Our Sights on Mars Part 2: Structuring a Moon-Mars Program for Success

Rep. Johnson

"Proponents of the Administration's crash program may argue that such a deadline will instill a sense of urgency and motivation into our space program. However, an arbitrary deadline that is uninformed by technical and programmatic realities, that is unaccompanied by a credible plan, and that fails to identify the needed resources is one that sets NASA up to fail rather than enabling it to succeed. Not only does that do the hardworking men and women of NASA and its contractor team a real disservice, but it will wind up weakening American leadership in space rather than strengthening it."

Rep. Babin

"At our last Space Subcommittee hearing, NASA said that maintaining the 2024 date for a Lunar landing is unlikely if they do not receive the additional funding they requested in their budget amendment. If a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing is any indication, the likelihood of receiving additional funding this year is decreasing."

Thomas Young

"A clear, unambiguous goal is required. Is the lunar part of the program to support success at Mars or is it to achieve sustained lunar presence? Does the Mars part of the program have specific objectives such as a Mars orbital mission followed by "boots on the ground," or is it a long-range objective? Answers to these questions will have a profound impact on schedule, cost and a reasonable timeline for humans to Mars. A clear, unambiguous goal must be followed by a detailed plan that is consistent with the goal and developed by the Mars-Moon program leadership. A detailed plan is the "glue" that integrates the vast array of Mars-Moon participants into the incredible team necessary to implement the Mars-Moon program. Additionally, a detailed plan is necessary to rally support, develop a credible budget, and obtain program and budget approval."

Thomas Stafford

"President Trump set a goal of returning to the Moon by 2024. NASA will have to make bold decisions and utilize a lot of the management techniques used during Apollo program. The leadership capability at NASA must be augmented at headquarters and at the applicable centers. The execution of a large complex program will require adequate systems engineering, integration and an appropriate budget to carry this out. The Congress will also need to produce adequate legislation to support this effort. Utilizing NASA and the aerospace industry as implementations capable of achieving this noble goal."

Rep. Horn

"Over the past 20 years, we have had a taste of the cost and effort involved in leading and maintaining long-term human spaceflight activities. Developing, assembling, and operating the International Space Station took over a decade to complete, represented a U.S. investment of over $80 billion dollars, and requires about $3 billion a year to support. Getting to the Moon and Mars will require much more."

Rep. Lucas

"As we set forth on our return to the Moon, we should always be mindful of the lessons we learned from Apollo and the decades that followed. Progressing incrementally on successive achievements, limiting the number of mission elements to decrease risk, and maintaining consistency of purpose are lessons that are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago."

Letter from OMB to Sen. Shelby regarding Senate versions of appropriations bills (NASA/Space excerpts)(PDF)

"The bill includes funding that the Administration believes is not in line with the overall effort to control non-defense spending reflected in the FY 2020 Budget request or underfunds key investments in critical areas supported in the FY 2020 Budget request, including:

- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Administration appreciates the Committee's continued support for space exploration, reflected in the $22.8 billion provided in the bill for NASA, which includes an increase of $680 million for lunar-focused exploration programs. However, the $1.6 billion provided for exploration research and development (R&D) is insufficient to fully fund the lander system that astronauts would use to return to the Moon in 2024. Funding exploration R&D at the $2.3 billion level requested in the FY 2020 Budget is needed to support the Administration's goal of returning to the Moon by 2024.

The Administration would also like to take this opportunity to share its views regarding language provisions in the bill including:

- NASA Europa Mission. The bill requires that NASA use the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to launch the Europa Clipper mission. The Administration is deeply concerned that this mandate would slow the lunar exploration program, which requires every SLS rocket available. Unlike the human exploration program, which requires use of the SLS, the Europa mission could be launched by a commercial rocket. At an estimated cost of over $2 billion per launch for the SLS once development is complete, the use of a commercial launch vehicle would provide over $1.5 billion in cost savings. The Administration urges the Congress to provide NASA the flexibility called for by the NASA Inspector General and consistent with the FY 2020 Budget request.

- NASA financial systems report language. The Committee report includes directive language for NASA that would hinder the Administration's efforts to help the agency make necessary corrections to its financial systems. These changes are needed to eliminate current deficiencies and improve NASA's ability to efficiently comply with the Antideficiency Act.

- Satellite Instrumentation Report Language. The Committee report includes language that would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study the impacts that instruments operating in the 23.6 to 24 gigahertz bands have on weather satellites. Such a study would be directly duplicative of past Agency studies on this subject, which were fully considered by the Administration in a lengthy interagency process earlier this year, leading to a carefully-wrought compromise that balances the spectrum needs of government and private enterprise. The Administration believes that further study is unnecessary, and asks that the language be removed.

The Administration appreciates that the bill includes funding for critical priorities, including:

- Space Force. The Administration greatly appreciates that the Committee establishes an "Operations and Maintenance, Space Force" appropriation within the Department of Defense (DOD) for the first time and has provided the requested funding for the initial operations of the United States Space Force. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to complement the Committee's work by modifying Title 10 of the United States Code to establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces in FY 2020."

Commerce Leaders Introduce the NASA Authorization Act of 2019

"The NASA Authorization Act would:

• Support NASA's human spaceflight and exploration efforts to return American astronauts to the Moon and prepare for future journeys to Mars.
• Extend authorization for the International Space Station through 2030 and direct NASA to take steps to grow the "space economy."
• Require the United States to maintain a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit through and beyond the useful life of the ISS.
• Support NASA's leadership in coordinating the development of next generation spacesuits.
• Leverage private sector investment to bolster human space exploration.
• Authorize NASA's Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL) authority. EUL allows companies to lease vacant or underutilized buildings owned by NASA with lease proceeds helping to fund capital improvements at the NASA centers.
• Provide rapid acquisition authorities similar to those that have proven successful at the Department of Defense and other agencies.
• Direct NASA to maintain and upgrade irreplaceable rocket launch and test infrastructure.
• Support vital life and physical science research to ensure that humans can live in deep space safely.
• Direct NASA to improve upon its planetary defense measures in order to protect Earth from asteroids and other near-Earth objects.
• Affirm NASA's commitment to aeronautics research by supporting a robust X-plane program as well as work on efficient propulsion concepts and advanced composites.
• Support NASA's STEM education and workforce efforts."

Chairman Serrano Statement at Hearing on NASA's Moon Landing Proposal

"Not even NASA's own leadership has enough confidence in the success and safety of advancing this timeline. NASA Acting Associate Administrator Bowersox, who is a former astronaut and here with us today, referred to the 2024 moon landing date as difficult to achieve in a House Science hearing last month, saying quote "I wouldn't bet my oldest child's birthday present or anything like that." Additionally, NASA's Manager for the Human Landing System, Lisa Watson-Morgan, was quoted in an article about the timing of the mission saying, quote: "This is a significant deviation for NASA and the government... all of this has to be done on the fast. It has to be done on the quick ... Typically, in the past, NASA is quite methodical ... which is good. We're going to have to have an abbreviated approach to getting to approval for industry standards for design and construction ... and how we're going to go off and implement this. So, this is a big paradigm shift, I would say, for the entire NASA community, too." Unquote. We cannot sacrifice quality just to be quick. We cannot sacrifice safety to be fast. And we cannot sacrifice other government programs just to please the President. Before asking for such a substantial additional investment, NASA needs to be prepared to state unequivocally which NASA missions will be delayed or even cancelled in the effort to come up with an additional $25 billion."

Budget leader says NASA's accelerated moon mission timeline unnecessary, Huston Chronicle

"And its for political reasons that the initiative could get stalled, said Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee and editor of NASA Watch, a website devoted to space news. "Here we are, 14 months from (an election) and everyone is doing the classic thing we see here in Washington: It's time to start either waiting people out until after the election or now is the time to strike and get something in place before change happens," Cowing said. That's likely one of the reasons Serrano is OK with a 2028 moon mission, Cowing said, especially since NASA programs backed by the current administration are typically gutted by the incoming president after the election."

Senate Appropriators Propose $22.75 Billion for NASA in FY2020, Some Extra for Artemis, Space Policy Online

"The Senate Appropriations Committee began marking up its version of the FY2020 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill that funds NASA today. The eagerly anticipated action is seen as a bellwether of Senate support for NASA's Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. The results appear mixed, with some but not all of the extra $1.6 billion NASA requested in May. It is an improvement compared to the House version, however, which did not include any of the $1.6 billion. Overall the agency did slightly better in the Senate committee than in the House, with a top-line of $22.75 billion compared to $22.32 billion."

Some NASA contractors appear to be trying to kill the Lunar Gateway, Ars Technica

"These members, including Oklahoma Democratic representative and committee chair Kendra Horn, as well as Alabama Republican representative Mo Brooks, were particularly skeptical of private rockets in their comments and questions during the hearing. They also pressed NASA on why the agency is not moving more quickly with development of a powerful second stage upgrade for the agency's Space Launch System rocket. This "Exploration Upper Stage" would increase the amount of mass the rocket could send to the Moon from 26 tons to 37 tons. Wednesday's hearing was notable because it appears to mark an escalation in an intense lobbying battle going on behind the scenes by some contractors--most likely led by Boeing--to kill NASA's proposed Lunar Gateway and instead accelerate funding for the Exploration Upper Stage ...

... What was surprising is that Horn and others at the hearing also appeared to be swayed by Cooke's view that bypassing commercial rockets and the Gateway would lead to a simpler and faster lunar mission. "I believe there is value in developing commercial capabilities," she said toward the end of the hearing. However, she added, "I am concerned that the decisions are not being driven by what is most efficient or effective and what is most cost efficient."

Keith's note: Yesterday Doug Cooke was pushing for the Exploration Upper Stage - something Boeing has been trying to get NASA to fund for years. Cooke has worked for Boeing for years. I thought it was a little odd that no one brought up that fact in the hearing - especially when you can see from his Truth in Testimony Disclosure Form that he as been paid $466,250 between 2017 and today. The bio at the end of his prepared testimony makes zero mention of "Boeing" but pushes the EUS. Just sayin'

This not so subtle campaign to eliminate Gateway has been underway for months.

'

Hearing: Developing Core Capabilities for Deep Space Exploration: An Update on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems

Watch live

Keith's note: Doug Cooke was pushing for the Exploration Upper Stage - something Boeing has been trying to get NASA to fund for years. Cooke has worked for Boeing for years. I thought it was a little odd that no one brought up that fact in the hearing - especially when you can see from his Truth in Testimony Disclosure Form that he as been paid $466,250 between 2017 and today. The bio at the end of his prepared testimony makes zero mention of "Boeing" but pushes the EUS. Just sayin'

NASA: Actions Needed to Improve the Management of Human Spaceflight Programs

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) three related human spaceflight programs are in the integration and test phase of development, a phase of the acquisition process that often reveals unforeseen challenges leading to cost growth and schedule delays. Since GAO last reported on the status of these programs in June 2019, each program has made progress. For example, the Orion program conducted a key test to demonstrate the ability to abort a mission should a life-threatening failure occur during launch. As GAO found in June 2019, however, the programs continue to face significant schedule delays. In November 2018, within one year of announcing an up to 19-month delay for the three programs--the Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle, the Orion crew spacecraft, and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)--NASA senior leaders acknowledged the revised launch date of June 2020 is unlikely. In addition, any issues uncovered during integration and testing may push the date as late as June 2021. Moreover, GAO found that NASA's calculations of cost growth for the SLS program is understated by more than 750 million dollars."

Chairwoman Horn's Opening Statement for Status of NASA's Exploration Systems Development Programs Hearing

"I ask these questions because we need to know how the near-term status of SLS and Orion affects our overall exploration goals. The House will vote soon on a Continuing Resolution for FY 2020--a relatively "clean" CR with no additional funding for the Moon program. What will this mean for the 2024 date? In the absence of detailed information, a plan, and an estimated budget profile for the Moon program, I can't get to a clear answer."

Chairwoman Johnson's Opening Statement for Status of NASA's Exploration Systems Development Programs Hearing

"Moreover, it has now been more than two months since the head of the NASA Human Exploration and Operations Directorate was removed from his position, with no permanent replacement yet identified--even though that position is critical to the success of NASA's Exploration and ISS programs. And we have been told not to expect a cost estimate or budget plan for the President's Moon program before next year."

Rep. Frank Lucas' Statement at Space Subcommittee Hearing on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems Programs

"Year after year, the Trump Administration has proposed increased funding for NASA Exploration Systems, only to have Congress appropriate even more than the Administration requested. This year the Administration took the extraordinary step of amending their budget by requesting an additional $1.6 billion to accelerate our return to the Moon by 2024. This will serve as a down payment on the systems necessary to enable this goal. The primary elements are already well under development."

Opening Statement of Rep. Brian Babin at Space Subcommittee Hearing on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems Programs

"While I am excited by the promise of how strategic assets like SLS and Orion will enable America's return to the Moon, this Committee has a responsibility to conduct oversight to ensure these programs are successful. All three exploration system elements - SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems -- have experienced many delays and cost overruns over the years. Some of the setbacks were caused by Administrations that tried to stifle program budgets and even cancel the programs."

Ohio senators propose renaming NASA site for Neil Armstrong, AP

"Ohio's U.S. senators want Congress to rename a NASA research facility in Ohio after astronaut Neil Armstrong. Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown introduced legislation Thursday to honor the Ohio native by renaming the NASA Plum Brook Station in Sandusky. Portman says he raised the idea with Armstrong in 2012, a year before Armstrong's death. The senator says Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, wasn't comfortable with the attention it would bring. Portman says he has since spoken with NASA and Armstrong's family and they support renaming the facility."

Keith's note: Wait a minute we already have a NASA Facility named after Neil Armstrong - NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC). Don't these congressional staffers have Google to check this stuff out before running it up to their boss? Or is NASA going to have two centers/facilities named "Armstrong"? I wonder what the good people of Sandusky think about this? Besides much of this facility is no longer even used - parts of it have already been demolished and the reactor has been decommissioned. How many Orion and Service Module tests are going to be done there before GRC has to go out and find something new to do with the old buildings. Oh yes a reader reminds me that NASA/KSC also has the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Facility just east of the HQ building, which is where Orion is assembled and tested. If NASA is not done honoring Neil Armstrong then perhaps picking a quasi abandoned facility out in the woods is not the best way to do so. Maybe Jeff Bezos can name a rocket after him.

NASA Honors Astronaut Neil Armstrong with Center Renaming, Earlier post (2014)

"Two generations of aerospace engineering excellence will come together March 1 when NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., is redesignated NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center."

Dakota Creek launches R/V Neil Armstrong , Earlier post (2014)

"Dakota Creek Industries (DCI) launched the oceanographic research ship R/V Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) at its Anacortes, WA, shipyard on February 22nd, 2014. Construction of the  R/V Neil Armstrong and her sister vessel R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28), also well under way at DCI, have progressed according to plan, meeting original schedule and cost baselines."

Statement by Rep. Brian Babin Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC)," said Babin. "Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation's space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed."

Statement by Sen. Ted Cruz Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"As NASA moves forward with their plans I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure the Johnson Space Center remains the crown jewel in human space exploration."

Cruz, Cornyn, Babin Call On NASA to Award Lunar Lander Program to Johnson Space Center

"In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas - which has served as NASA's lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held."

NASA Administrator to Discuss Human Lander Update for Artemis Program

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, joined by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Scott DesJarlais and Brian Babin, will discuss updates on the agency's plans for landing humans on the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Alabama space center will manage NASA's lunar lander program, Ars Technica

"As part of the carefully negotiated agreement, Marshall will have responsibility for the overall program as well as two elements of what is planned to be a three-stage lander. The center in northern Alabama will oversee commercial development of the Transfer Element--planned to ferry the lander from the Lunar Gateway down to low-lunar orbit--as well as the Descent Element that will fly down to the surface. ... Meanwhile, the Houston, Texas-based Johnson Space Center will oversee development of the Ascent Element. "

Letter To NASA Administrator Bridenstine From Texas Congressional Delegation Regarding Artemis Lunar Lander

"We are writing to you today in light of a recent report that this Friday, August 16,2019, you plan to announce that the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will manage the development of the lunar lander for the Artemis program and oversee the commercial development of two of the three elements, the Transfer Element and Descent Element, of that lander. According to that same report the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, will oversee the commercial development of only one of three elements, the Ascent Element. This is very troubling if accurate. ... we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rational for this decision."

Cruz, Cornyn, Babin Call On NASA to Award Lunar Lander Program to Johnson Space Center

"In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas - which has served as NASA's lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held."

Keith's note: Reader's guide

1. NASA announced a lunar lander update event at MSFC with members of Congress. 2. Ars Technica reported details of what will be in that announcement i.e. shared development between JSC and MSFC
3. NASA Administrator disputed accuracy of Ars Technica Story.
4. Members of Congress saw Ars Technica story and are concerned that Texas may not get the lunar lander program - as they told NASA they wanted.

Keith's Update: Rep. Babin has pulled out of the event.

Statement by Rep. Brian Babin Regarding NASA's Decision To Award Lunar Lander Program Management to Marshall Space Flight Center

"I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC)," said Babin. "Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation's space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed."

Letter From Senate Budget Committee Chair Michael Enzi to NASA About SLS/JWST delays/Cost overruns

"I am troubled by continued reports of cost growth and schedule delays involving major projects of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that could jeopardize future missions. ... I am concerned that the persistent cost growth and schedule delays identified by GAO put at risk vital NASA misions and taxpayer dollars. Therefore I request your responses to the following questions: ... please provide your response in writing by August 14, 2019. Additionally I ask that your staff provide my Budget Committee staff with quarterly briefings on the status of GAO's open recommendations."

Mocking Cost Overruns And Schedule Slips At NASA (Update), earlier post

"As NASA Administrator Bridenstine noted in testimony before the Senate yesterday "NASA has not been good at realistic budgets and schedules. We need to get better at that. ... We have a long history at NASA for cost and schedule not being set in a realistic way and that leads to a lack of confidence in people - such as this committee." Whether it is Webb or Mars landers or SLS NASA has some major work to do to restore confidence in its budgeting and program management."

- Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson [statement]

"I want to commend our commercial space companies that are making such impressive progress. There's not a week that goes by without reading about a significant milestone in a commercial program, the deployment of a new capability in space, or an innovative plan that is attracting commercial investment."

- Rep. Kendra Horn [statement]
- Bhavya Lal, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute [statement]
- Carissa Christensen, Bryce Space and Technology [statement]
- Eric W. Stallmer, Commercial Spaceflight Federation [statement]
- Mike French, Aerospace Industries Association [statement]
- Laura Montgomery, Catholic University's Columbus School [statement]


'Near-final' budget deal could prevent government shutdown, stabilize military funding, Defense News

"The retreat from the possibility of a one-year continuing resolution, which lawmakers and the administration had openly discussed, is a win for the Pentagon. While short-term stopgap CRs are nothing new, CRs do lock in spending at the previous year's level and bar new programs from starting as well as production increases."

Statement by NASA Administrator Bridenstine: Hearing: Moon to Mars: NASA's Plans for Deep Space Exploration

"This week, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo-11 mission to the Moon. At this point in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins had been in flight for just over a day, with the historic lunar landing ahead of them. Now, NASA is working to build a sustainable, open architecture that returns humanity to our nearest neighbor. We are building for the long term, going to the Moon to stay, and moving beyond to Mars. We are designing an open, durable, reusable architecture that will support exploration for decades to come. Sustainability requires reusable systems and partnerships from across the commercial sector and around the world. Robotic scientific missions delivered by commercial landers will be the first Artemis elements to land on the Moon."

Live webcast starts at 10:30 am EDT

Hearing: A Review of NASA's Plans for the International Space Station and Future Activities in Low Earth Orbit

"Location: 10:00 AM 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC, US, 20515"

Watch live.

- Statement of Chair Kendra Horn (D-OK) of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.

- Statement Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

Witnesses are:

- Mr. William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (Statement)

- The Honorable Paul K. Martin, Inspector General, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Statement)

- Professor Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, Professor Emerita University of Mississippi, Editor-in-Chief Emerita, Journal of Space Law (Statement)

- Mr. Eric W. Stallmer, President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation (Statement)

Hearing: NASA Exploration Plans: Where We've Been and Where We're Going

"U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, will convene a hearing titled, "NASA Exploration Plans: Where We've Been and Where We're Going" at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. The purpose of this hearing is to honor the upcoming 50th anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Apollo 11 mission and the United States landing the first man on the moon. The hearing will examine NASA's plans for future human spaceflight missions."

Live video.

Witnesses:

Dr. Christine Darden (Testimony)
Data Analyst and Aerospace Engineer Researcher
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Dr. Mary Dittmar (Testimony)
President and Chief Executive Officer
Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

Mr. Homer Hickman
Author
Rocket Boys

Mr. Gene Kranz (Testimony)
Flight Director
Apollo 11

Mr. Eric Stallmer (Testimony)
President
Commercial Spaceflight Federation

CBO Report: H.R. 2500, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Space Force Excerpt)

"Most of the personnel and assets for the Space Corps would be transferred to the new service from existing forces. CBO estimates that DoD has 22,900 military and civilian personnel who perform space-related activities. Many of those could be transferred to the new service and thus would not affect net costs. In addition, CBO estimates that the Space Corps would require between 4,100 and 6,800 additional personnel for new management and support positions. Those additional positions would increase costs. In total, CBO estimates the annual recurring costs and onetime costs of the new Space Corps would increase by about $3.6 billion over the 2020-2024 period. Annual Costs. In a previous study, CBO estimated that the additional management and overhead positions required for this new military service would increase annual costs by between $0.8 billion and $1.3 billion (in 2020 dollars)."

Congress Shrinks Space Force, earlier post

HASC Chairman Smith Earmarks $500M Giveaway For SpaceX, Potentially Aborting Air Force Space Plans, Loren Thompson, Forbes

Keith's note: First Thompson goes on a rant against SpaceX:

"Smith's proposed language is Washington politics at its worst. According to the Air Force, if it becomes law U.S. access to critical national security orbits will be endangered, the military will need to rely longer on Russian rocket engines, and the cost of all national-security space missions will increase. As if that were not enough, the Air Force says Smith's proposal would reward an uncompetitive offeror while punishing successful competitors who have been sharing the cost of developing launch vehicles with the government."

Then after he's unloaded on SpaceX, Thompson tosses this little caveat out:

"I should note that the one "traditional" supplier that won an agreement is co-owned by two companies that contribute to my think tank, but that is really beside the point here".

Oh - so his salary at Lexington Institute is paid in part by companies that compete with SpaceX - but he's not biased since this is all "really beside the point". Got it. Funny how Thompson neglects to mention the de facto duopoly between Lockheed Martin and Boeing for EELVs that persisted for a very long time wherein the companies were paid to develop and then maintain their rockets so as to be ready to fly them for DoD. But, again, that is "really beside the point". Just sayin'

House Armed Services strikes agreement on Trump's Space Force, Roll Call

"Democrats and Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee have agreed to language that would create a streamlined Space Force -- a top priority of President Donald Trump's -- and plan to insert it as an amendment to the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill on Wednesday.... The bipartisan agreement calls for a single four-star general in charge of Space Force, compared with the three four-star generals the administration envisioned. It would also have fewer personnel transferred from other services into the Space Force, Smith said."

White House blocked intelligence agency's written testimony calling climate change 'possibly catastrophic', Washington Post

"White House officials barred a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony this week to the House Intelligence Committee warning that human-caused climate change is "possibly catastrophic." The move came after State officials refused to excise the document's references to federal scientific findings on climate change. ... White House officials took aim at the document's scientific citations, which refer to work conducted by federal agencies including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ... The prepared testimony also notes that 18 of the past 20 years have ranked as the warmest on record, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, "and the last five years have been the warmest five."

Farewell To Long-term Climate Change Predictions, earlier post

Can Trump Put NASA Astronauts on the Moon by 2024? It's Unlikely, NY Times

"Although he has not spoken to Mr. Trump about the revised moon program, Mr. Bridenstine said the president was keen on this goal. "It was by his direction that we do this," he said. "Yet to be seen is whether this is a political priority the administration will make the effort to follow through on. Last year, the administration gave NASA a different, big task to accomplish by the end of 2024: ending direct federal financing of the International Space Station, one of NASA's largest yearly expenditures. That proposal ran into strong opposition from Ted Cruz, a Republican Senator from Texas. Since then, NASA has made no significant announcements about how it plans to shift to commercial space stations that do not yet exist."

Donald Trump is not getting his space money, Quartz

"Last week, the White House submitted a late funding request for an additional $1.6 billion in spending on a proposed Artemis moon program to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. Today, the House Appropriations committee left that request out of its spending plan for NASA and ignored many of the administration's other space priorities. Without that funding, any hope of the accelerated mission to the moon touted by Vice President Mike Pence is likely to disappear. It was a similar story yesterday, when the committee rejected White House plans to consolidate military space activity into a new service called Space Force."

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science Funding Bill

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - NASA is funded at $22.32 billion, $815 million above the 2019 enacted level. This funding includes:

- $7.16 billion for NASA Science programs - $255.6 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level.
- $123 million for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement, $13 million above fiscal year 2019 and rejecting the Administration's request to eliminate funding for these programs, which help inspire and train the country's future STEM workforce.
- $5.1 billion for Exploration - $79.1 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This includes funding to continue the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System, and related ground systems.

Chairwomen Johnson and Horn Question Funding Plan for NASA's Accelerated Moon Landing Program

"While I am a supporter of challenging human space exploration endeavors that can take us to the Moon and eventually to Mars, based on the limited information provided to Congress it is impossible to judge the merits of the President's budget amendment," saidChairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. "We don't know how much money will be required in total to meet the arbitrary 2024 Moon landing deadline or how that money will be spent. We don't know how much additional money will subsequently be required to turn the crash program to get astronauts to the Moon by 2024 into a sustainable exploration program that will lead to Mars. And we don't know what NASA's technical plan for its lunar program is. What we do know is that the President is proposing to further cut a beneficial needs-based grants program that provides a lifeline to low-income students, namely the Pell Grants program, in order to pay for the first year of this initiative--something that I cannot support."

The Emerging Space Environment: Operational, Technical, and Policy Challenges (Watch live)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, will convene a hearing titled, "The Emerging Space Environment: Operational, Technical, and Policy Challenges," at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. The hearing will examine civil-military coordination, cooperation, and related issues within the space domain.

Witnesses:

The Honorable Jim Bridenstine, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Mr. Kevin O'Connell, Director, Office of Space Commerce, Department of Commerce
Mr. Robert Cardillo, Former Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, Vice Commander, Space Command, United States Air Force
Col. Pamela A. Melroy, United States Air Force (ret.)

"NASA leaders, including Administrator Jim Bridenstine, will host a media teleconference today, Monday, May 13 to discuss how a new budget amendment for the fiscal year 2020 proposal will help NASA's plan to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024.
The media teleconference at 7 p.m. EDT will discuss details of the budget amendment. Audio and visuals from the teleconference will stream live at: https://www.nasa.gov/live. The agency budget amendment and supporting information are available online at: https://www.nasa.gov/budget. Administrator Bridenstine also will host an employee town hall at 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 14 live from NASA Headquarters in Washington. The meeting will be carried on NASA Television and the agency's website."






Keith's note: If you subtract $321 million from Gateway the numbers balance. No word yet as to where the money actually comes from (outside of NASA) or what the final cost of the Moon2024 thing will be. Stay tuned.

NASA's plan to get to the Moon by 2024 isn't ready yet, The Verge

"Horn demanded to know why the amendment isn't ready yet during today's hearing. "We recognize that this is a really serious challenge we have to weigh in front of us, and we need a really solid plan," William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and an expert at today's hearing, responded. He added: "We need to make sure it's all integrated and all put together in a way that really makes sense." Gerstenmaier noted that the amendment also has to get approval from the White House, which may also be slowing things down. However, he claimed that details will be ready soon. "We're probably several weeks away, maybe a week to two weeks away from being able to give you a plan," he said."

Opening Statements

- Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
- Chair Kendra Horn
- Ranking Member Brian Babin
- Ranking Member Frank Lucas
- William H. Gerstenmaier and Mark Sirangelo
- Patricia Sanders
- Jonathan Lunine
- Walt Faulconer

NASA FY 2020 Budget hearing: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

2:30 pm EDT Live video

NASA Advisory Council; Regulatory and Policy Committee Meeting

11:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Dial-in/webex info

Keith's update: This is NASA PAO's response - they declined to confirm Bridenstine's statements that NASA will deliver its revised budget to Congress by the end of April / early May as reported by multiple news publications. "Last week, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine formally announced the agency's plan to get the next man and first woman on the Moon by 2024. We are in the process of evaluating and discussing what additional resources will be needed to land NASA astronauts on the Moon in five years. We'll provide further information in the near future."

Keith's note: I sent a request to NASA PAO but have not received an answer. Meanwhile it looks like Jim Bridenstine talked to some media the other day. Of course this Moon 2024 thing requires not one but 4-5 sequential NASA budgets - all at optimum levels - to achieve. Otherwise there will be delays and/or cannibalization of other NASA programs. This is a Hail Mary pass. But why not try it since the standard approach doesn't work. The challenge for Bridenstine is to parse his people - the ones who want to try to fix the situation and those who do not. Those who prefer the status quo can be a formidable impediment to surmount since they have had decades of practicing schedule delays and cost overruns.

NASA's plan to put humans on the moon by 2024 is taking shape -- but will they get the money?, Houston Chronicle

"So, NASA is working up a budget that would allow for faster operations without sacrificing safety. Bridenstine said he will deliver that budget to Congress in late April or early May."

How much will the Moon plan cost? We should know in two weeks, Ars Technica

"Then, Bridenstine will have to work to finalize the budget amendment before the end of April and begin the process of selling that to Congress, including skeptical Democrats. The agency will have to start choosing lander designs this summer and procure funding from Congress by early fall. If NASA is to reach the Moon, Bridenstine will have to keep right on running."

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Mark-up

"U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building G50 to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.

S. 919, Space Frontier Act, Sponsor: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
S. 881, Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act, Sponsors: Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)"

Today's Budget Hearing

NASA's Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2020
2:30pm
Witness: Jim Bridenstine
Subcommittees: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (116th Congress)
Live-stream can be found here: https://youtu.be/Bpkpd8gk1hc






Hearing: America in Space: Future Visions, Current Issues, House Science Committee

10:00 am EDT - Witnesses: Ellen Stofan, Peggy Whitson, and Frank Rose

The New Space Race: Ensuring U.S. Global Leadership on the Final Frontier, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation

10:00 am EDT - Witnesses: Jim Bridenstine and Kevin O'Connell

Keith's note: Hint: Watch the Bridenstine hearing.

Prepared Testimony by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation United States Senate

"Under the auspices of the ISS National Laboratory, managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NASA and CASIS continue to expand research on the ISS sponsored by pharmaceutical, technology, consumer product, and other industries, as well as by other Government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Through CASIS' efforts, the ISS National Lab has reached full capacity for allocated crew time and upmass and downmass. NASA also works with commercial companies, such as NanoRacks, to support commercial activity on the ISS."

Keith's note: Someone did not check their facts. CASIS is still unable to use all of the crew time and resources NASA offers them.

March 11 Events Highlight NASA's Moon to Mars Plans, FY 2020 Budget

"NASA invites media and social media to agency centers across the country Monday, March 11, to get an up-close look at America's work to return astronauts to the Moon and on to Mars, following the delivery of President Trump's fiscal year 2020 budget proposal to the U.S. Congress."

NASA could see a 5 percent budget cut next year, official says, Houston Chronicle

"President Donald Trump is expected to propose a 5 percent cut to NASA's budget next year, a decision that stands in stark contrast to the president's pushed to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972. The proposed cuts -- part of sweeping cuts to non-defense discretionary spending in every agency -- was disclosed in an article published online Monday by Russ Vought, acting head of the Office of Management and Budget. "It's unfortunate that once again when everyone is getting excited about going back to the moon ... that the announcement is on the heels of cuts for NASA," said Keith Cowing, editor of NASA Watch, a website devoted to space news. "This is not the signal you would hope to see at an agency that is about to embark on a multi-decade program of returning to and exploring the moon. ... "Again, NASA is caught making all these plans with faith-based projections where budgets will be," Cowing said. "There's nothing wrong with being optimistic, but at the end of the day, you can't just click your heels three times and hope money falls out of the sky."

Keith's note: It is going to be interesting to see how NASA is affected by the 5% across the board cuts that the White House is planning to make. For NASA that could mean as much as half a billion dollars or so. While the Vice President has all but set up a second home at NASA, his enthusiasm for space exploration needs to be followed with the funding to make all of the promises actually happen. Add in the chronic problems with SLS (which always require more money to fix), the inability for NASA to get its ISS privatization/commercialization plans implemented (while CASIS fumbles everything); and the challenge of keeping enthusiasm going for a first (return) human landing still a decade away. And then there's the impending pivot in the House on Earth and climate science, and the funding equation NASA is confronted with is as challenging as it has ever been.

It Was a Big Week in Politics for Star Trek: Voyager Fans, Slate

"The show's lasting influence can be felt in two stories from this week about prominent Democratic politicians, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacey Abrams, both of whom are fans of Voyager and, in particular, its lead character. The first surprise nod to Trek in the political sphere came from the Daily Mail's unexpectedly wholesome interview with Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, who described how Voyager became a portent of her daughter's future success."

Stacey Abrams, Star Trek Nerd, Is Traveling at Warp Speed, NY Times

"She has seen every iteration of "Star Trek" and can recite with picayune detail the obscure plot points from incidents buried deep in the canon. She likes space-time anomalies. She admires Captain Picard but reveres Admiral Janeway. One of her favorite things is "Shattered," the 157th episode of "Voyager," in which the ship goes through a temporal rift that tantalizingly splits it into different timelines. Yes, this is Stacey Abrams, the politician who drew a great deal of national attention when she narrowly lost the race for governor of Georgia last November."

Keith's note: This may be lost on Trump space people but just watch what happens if the Democrats take back the White House in 2020. In the mean time, keep an eye open for this to bubble up during Congressional hearings on NASA's role in education, earth science, and inspiring people to look upward. But also watch for this to pop up in non-space discussions as well. Space exploration - and its role models - both real and fictitious - has lessons to teach outside the space realm.

Ralph Hall

Oldest-ever U.S. representative Ralph Hall dies at age 95, PBS

"Hall, who flew Hellcat fighters during World War II, was known in Congress for promoting NASA and energy production. Hailing from Rockwall, east of Dallas, he was fond of saying that he voted with his party often but always voted with his district."

Chairwoman Johnson's Statement on the Passing of Chairman Ralph Hall

"It was an honor and a privilege to serve alongside him on the House Science Committee, where he served as both the Chair of the Committee and the Ranking Member. He always listened to my suggestions and concerns, and never failed to make time spent in the Committee a thoroughly enjoyable experience. No matter what party he belonged to, Congressman Hall believed in reaching out to find common ground in order to serve his constituents. That spirit of service is something I will dearly miss."

New Cornyn, Peters Bill Will Usher in New Era of Space Exploration,

"U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today introduced the Advancing Human Spaceflight Act, which would extend the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030, direct NASA to develop a next-generation spacesuit to enable human exploration beyond low earth orbit, and establish the goal of permanent human presence beyond Earth as national policy. "The only way to continue learning about the universe around us is to aim high and dream big," said Sen. Cornyn. "I'm grateful for the continued work of and input from Houston's space community as we drafted this bill, which sets the stage for a new era of space exploration and to reassert American leadership in space discovery." "Investing in space exploration helps solidify our leadership in the global economy, uncover new discoveries and inspire the next generation of scientists and astronauts," said Senator Peters. "This bipartisan legislation would ensure that the servicemen and women of NASA can continue their cutting-edge research and exploration missions, and I look forward to seeing the pioneering solutions that drive the next era of innovation."

Let's Go Back To The Moon With Less Money, earlier post

Suzanne Gillen Named NASA Associate Administrator for Legislative Affairs

"Gillen spent 14 years in the U.S. Senate, where she served as professional staff for NASA, civil space, and aviation policy for Chairman John Thune on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation from September 2013 to March 2018. In this position, she managed the development and legislative advancement of both the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 and the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017. She also worked as part of the team drafting the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act. Gillen also served in various staff roles for several U.S. Senators and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works."

Keith's update: S. 3277 failed passage on the House on a 239 -137 vote under a suspension of the rules wherein debate is limited, no amendments allowed, and a 2/3 majority is required for passage.

Bill Nelson's last big space bill approved by U.S. Senate, Florida Politics

"Senate Bill 3277, which was introduced in July with Texas Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as primary sponsor and Nelson and Democratic U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts as the co-sponsors, was approved unanimously Thursday. It's closest companion, House Resolution 2809, was approved in the House of Representatives in April, though there are some significant differences. SB 3277 includes a number of provisions, many of them offered by Nelson, which would streamline and clarify the roles played by NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies in promoting the commercial space business, and extend and expand NASA's program to work with such private space companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin at centers such as Kennedy Space Center."

AIA Comment on Senate Passage of the Space Frontier Act

"This bipartisan bill is a strong statement in support of America's growing commercial space industry. It would update space transportation regulations and commit to the full use of the International Space Station through 2030 for critical commercial and scientific purposes. We look forward to working with members of Congress next year to get commercial space legislation passed and signed into law, ensuring American space presence and dominance into the future."

S.3277 - Space Frontier Act of 2018

Space Infrastructure Leasing Bill Sent to President's Desk, House Science Committee

"Today, the House of Representatives unanimously approved S. 7, the NASA Enhanced Use Lease Extension Act of 2018, sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss). The bipartisan bill is now on its way to the President's desk. S.7 enables commercial access to valuable NASA infrastructure and facilities. NASA's enhanced use lease authority gives NASA a crucial tool to partner with the private sector."

Culberson's ouster could spell big problems for NASA's Orion program, experts say, Houston Chronicle

"NASA programs -- especially Orion, which is focused on putting humans back on the moon -- could be in trouble after Republican U.S. Rep. John Culberson lost his House seat to Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. Culberson, a Republican from Texas, led the House Appropriations Committee that funds NASA for the last four years. And he's been a stanch advocate of science and human spaceflight over his nearly two decades in office, said Keith Cowing, editor of NASA Watch, a website devoted to space news. "Nothing is better than to have an advocate for space science and exploration sitting on the committee in the House where NASA funding starts," Cowing said Wednesday morning. ... "Culberson may be partisan, but he's a clear advocate for science," Cowing said. ... Still, it's a shame to lose Culberson, Cowing said, because "so few people are championing science and exploration missions and putting their partisan stances aside, but here's Culberson forcefully looking for life elsewhere."

"The question is how will that affect NASA's space science portfolio?""

Some takeaways for science from yesterday's U.S. elections, Science

"Representative John Culberson (R-TX), who chairs a spending panel that funds NASA and the National Science Foundation, lost to Democrat Lizzie Fletcher. Culberson has been a major advocate of NASA's Europa Clipper mission to a jovian moon; his defeat could mean the project will face obstacles."

What the 2018 midterms mean for NASA and planetary science, Planetary Society

"Europa Clipper, the mission currently in formulation that would fly by Europa dozens of times, is likely to continue without Culberson's support. NASA has formally endorsed the mission, and it is highly ranked by the planetary science decadal survey report. If pressed, I would say the odds of Europa Clipper launching on an SLS have now dropped considerably, and its launch date also now likely to be in the mid-2020s as opposed to 2022. I have a hard time seeing how the Europa lander project continues without Culberson, because NASA has not formally requested the mission, and it lacks consensus support from the scientific community. Culberson had been planning -- and still may be able to -- allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to this effort in fiscal year 2019, but no other member of Congress is likely to pick up that effort in 2020 or beyond."

Keith's note: Looks like Planetary Society wants you to think that its time to give up on the exploration of Europa.

Election Snapshot

Keith's note: Sen. Bill Nelson D-FL and Rep. John Culberson R-TX have been defeated. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson D-TX is seeking to become the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Keith's update: Dana Rohrabacher R-CA has lost as well. Bill Nelson apparently wants a recount.

For the 7th Congressional District: Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, opinion, Houston Chronicle

"It's not that Culberson doesn't care about water. He does. But most of the time, he seems to care a bit more about the water on Europa, an icy moon orbiting Jupiter, than he does the water in the Addicks and Barker dams. Or in our bayous. Or in our homes. Culberson has expended untold political capital trying to force NASA to send probes to Europa in search of alien life. That's an admirable scientific mission, even if some planetary researchers think the limited resources could be better spent. Here on Earth, Houstonians can rest assured that Fletcher will prioritize human life over the extraterrestrial. That includes life-saving flooding policies that emphasize prevention over costly recovery."

Keith's note: Rep. Culberson has been a tireless champion of the exploration of Europa, Astrobiology, SETI, and interstellar exploration. If the House flips Rep. Culberson will lose his House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies chairmanship. With that will go his overt advocacy and the ability to use that advocacy as chair to push things through the appropriations process. Rep. José Serrano, New York is the ranking member of the subcommittee and is poised to take over as chair. Serrano is not known for any overt support for these things - and he is certainly not the active advocate that Culberson has been. Elections have consequences.

Meanwhile, a PAC supporting Culberson's opponent is running a goofy ad that dumps on him for supporting space science at NASA - some of which studies climate change. Based on this ad Culberson's opponent is apparently against funding NASA. This is an odd stance to take in an area where NASA is a major economic force.

Keith's note: A hearing by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology yesterday competed with another hearing being held simultaneously by the Senate Commerce Committee. Not much happened in the House hearing other than the usual routine posturing by both sides. The main topic of discussion was the future of the ISS. Bill Gertsenmaier repeated the same incomplete jingos used concocted by NASA to describe how NASA somehow expects the ISS to be paid for by the private sector in the 2024/2025 time frame. Gertsenmaier referred to the NASA ISS Transition Plan (not really a "Plan") required by law, but was delivered months late to Congress. The three NASA Center directors present to testify said nothing particularly interesting.

Rep. Babin announced that he's introducing H.R.6910 "To specify goals and objectives of the United States with respect to human spaceflight, and for other purposes." This bill includes language that would extend the life of the International Space Station to 2030. Similar language on ISS extension was included in S.3277 - Space Frontier Act of 2018 which was passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee in August. The topic of ISS extensions was a conversation between Jim Bridenstine and Ted Cruz in the other hearing held yesterday.

- Hearing charter
- Video recording of hearing
- [Statement] Full Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)
- [Statement] Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas)
- [Statement] Ranking Member Johnson
- [Statement] Ranking Member Bera
- [Statement] William Gerstenmaier, HEOMD Associate Administrator
- [No prepared statement] Mark Geyer, JSC; Jody Singer, MSFC; Robert Cabana, KSC

In the Senate NASA Administrator Bridenstine Testified before the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, In reality Bridenstine testified before Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). Bill Nelson did a flyby appearance and no one else really stayed long enough to say much of anything. Cruz pushed on the issue of not being distracted by the Moon as we head for Mars, not abandoning the ISS, allowing NASA to derive financial benefit from better ISS commercialization and use of its logo, and making sure that the U.S. remains the global leader in space exploration. Bridenstine agreed with Cruz on everything - and was intrigued by Cruz' s comments on space commerce. Sen. Markey was all over NASA's Earth and Space Science plans and the fate of NASA's Education Office and Technology Directorate to which Bridenstine gave the stock NASA answers.

At one point Cruz referred to the NASA report "National Space Exploration Campaign Report - Pursuant to Section 432(b) of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10), September 2018," which was required by law and due for delivery in 2017 which NASA delivered late (just like the ISS Transition Report). Cruz asked Bridenstine about the report's stated intent of putting humans back ont he Moon by 2029 and asked why it only took 7 years to go from statement of intent to landing on the Moon in the 1960s and why does it take so much longer now? Bridenstine said that this was the first question he asked when he arrived at NASA. His answer: NASA is going back in a sustainable fashion - to stay - and is doing so with partners in a more constrained fiscal environment. OK. That works for the time being - he's new to the job. But additional digging on his part is going to show that there is more to this than the talking points that he's been given.

- Webcast
- Global Space Race: Ensuring the United States Remains the Leader in Space Bill Nelson Opening Statement
- Prepared statements by Jim Bridenstine, Sen. Cruz, and Sen. Markey were not posted

One thing sticks out of these two hearings: both focused on important topics that NASA was required, by law, to provde reports to Congress about. Both reports, authored by Bill Gerstenmaier's HEOMD, were delivered many months after their due date. The reports provide no meaningulful information as to what NASA plans to do, why it wants to do these things, how it plans to do them, what it will actually cost, and who will pay to make all of this happen. These questions were, of course, what Congress wanted NASA's reports to answer in the first place. This pattern from NASA HEOMD of foot dragging and vague responses to simple questions from Congress has typified the way that NASA has explaining its human exploration plans for the past ten years. These responses are filled with Powerpoint cartoons but are otherwise lacking in real substance. And when the real programs go awry its hard to see why or understand what the consequences are - other than the need for more money and time.

A new Administrator now has to look at his agency's lackluster performance and, as prompted by Sen. Cruz, answer the question as to why it takes NASA longer to do things it once did much faster - and whether this is the way that the agency is going to comply with the current Administration's intent that NASA regain and/or maintain its leadership in space. Quite honestly it seems to be exactly the opposite of what is required.

- Yet Another NASA Space Policy Report That Reveals No Policy, earlier post
- NASA Quietly Submits ISS Transition Plan To Congress (Update) , earlier post

Hearing: Global Space Race: Ensuring the United States Remains the Leader in Space

"U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled "Global Space Race: Ensuring the United States Remains the Leader in Space," at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. Witnesses: The Honorable James Bridenstine, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration"

Hearing: 60 Years of NASA Leadership in Human Space Exploration: Past, Present, and Future

"2:00 p.m. William Gerstenmaier, HEOMD; Mark Geyer, JSC; Jody Singer, MSFC; Robert Cabana, KSC"

Keith's note: The Senate hearing with Cruz and Bridenstine should be much more interesting given their previous interactions and their recent joint visit to NASA JSC. The House hearing is going to be filled with boring non-answers from NASA HQ and field center representatives reading from talking points that serve to tow the line and make no news.

AIA Presents Wings of Liberty Award to Sen. Richard Shelby

"The Aerospace Industries Association is proud to present the annual "Wings of Liberty" award to Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama for his work to ensure funding for defense and non-defense programs vital to our national security and the health of our nation's aerospace industry. Senator Shelby is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and chairs the Defense Subcommittee. Previously, Senator Shelby chaired the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee, which provides funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Transportation Subcommittee which handles the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)."

John McCain

Early Retirement for Space Shuttles Unlikely, Lawmakers Say, space.com (2005)

"A group of Republican lawmakers led by Mike Pence of Indiana last week said the $104 billion to replace the shuttles with a new spaceship and rockets to carry astronauts back to the moon ought to be canceled to help pay to rebuild the hurricane-wrecked Gulf Coast."

Remarks by Vice President Pence on the Administration's Space Policy Priorities Houston, TX

"The end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011 left America without a viable human Space launch program. While I was a member of Congress, I actually had the opportunity to attend three different shuttle launches - some of the most inspiring experiences of my little family's lives."

Nomination Hearing: James Morhard for NASA Deputy Administrator

"U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10: 15 a.m. on Thursday, August 23, 2018, to consider three presidential nominees."

Morhard's response to questions from the committee

Watch Live

Testimony: Mr. James "Jim" Morhard, of Virginia, to be Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

"I believe transformational leadership and the empowerment and strength of partnering, will ensure a new era for America's space programs, advance scientific knowledge for the Earth, and inspire a new generation to enter the STEM fields. If confirmed, it would be my highest honor to help NASA in these endeavors. This is the time."

Nomination Hearing: James Morhard for NASA Deputy Administrator

"U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10: 15 a.m. on Thursday, August 23, 2018, to consider three presidential nominees."

- Nomination questionaire

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2018/morhard.quote.jpg

Pentagon not waiting for Congress to create space force: report, The Hill

"The Department of Defense is reportedly planning to create a new Space Operations Force in upcoming months at the direction of President Trump, despite lacking congressional approval for the new military service branch. Defense One reports that the Pentagon has laid out its plan to create the new Space Force in a 14-page report that will be given to lawmakers later this week. Defense One reports that it has reviewed a draft copy of the report dated July 30. The plan as it is currently laid out in the draft includes creating a Space Force with four parts, three of which will be established over the next few months. A combatant command for space, a joint agency that will purchase military satellites and a new warfighting community are among the three parts to be established in the near future."

Earlier posts

Sens. Cruz, Nelson, Markey Introduce Space Frontier Act

"U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Wednesday introduced the Space Frontier Act (S. 3277). This commercial space bill builds upon the 2015 Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act by streamlining and reforming the regulatory framework for commercial space launch and Earth observation operations, which is crucial to maintaining American leadership in space. The bill also extends the operation and utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030 to ensure that the U.S. is getting the maximum return on American taxpayer investment to avoid creating a leadership vacuum in low Earth orbit."

S. 3277

Keith's note: Contain your enthusiasm, space fans. This grab bag of ideas does not actually fund itself. It may well make it easier for space commerce to proceed with various commercial ventures by cutting some red tape. But in terms of the things this bill wants NASA to pay for (like ISS through 2030) this legislation just says that its OK to spend money on these things. Actually spending money to do these things is another matter entirely and is up to appropriators to argue about annually for the next 12 years or so. How NASA will be assured of the funding needed to fund ISS through 2030 while doing the whole Moon/Mars thing has yet to be addressed. Oh yes - what about Space Force?

House Science Committee Demands Answers on James Webb Space Telescope Delays

"In questioning, Smith asked whether Northrop Grumman had taken responsibility for the problems listed in the IRB report. "In Mr. Young's report there were several instances of preventable human error that were pinpointed that led to millions of dollars in cost overruns. I'm wondering if those employees are still employed by Northrop Grumman," Smith asked. Bush could not confirm that anyone had been fired as a result of the human errors that have delayed JWST. Smith asked if Northrop Grumman was planning to pay the $800 million in above-cap expenses, and the answer was also no. "I wish that Northrop Grumman would take responsibility and show a little bit more good faith both for the taxpayer and for the cost overruns," Smith said."

Hearing: Destination Mars - Putting American Boots on the Surface of the Red Planet (with video archive)

"U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled "Destination Mars - Putting American Boots on the Surface of the Red Planet" at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. The hearing will focus on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) exploration priorities and will be the first in a series of hearings in anticipation of a future NASA authorization legislation."

Prepared Statements: Sen. Bill Nelson; Tory Bruno, ULA; Chris Carberry, Explore Mars. Inc.; Dava Newman, MIT; Peggy A. Whitson, NASA (ret.)

NASA's next great space telescope is stuck on Earth after screwy errors, Washington Post

"Mission success is the cornerstone of everything we do. Getting it right is the most important thing," said Scott Willoughby, program manager for the Webb at Northrop Grumman. "No, we don't need a culture change. We need people to understand how hard it is. We need people to know that we're going to get it right."

Keith's note: Given the immense cost overruns and delays with Webb, this has to be the most clueless, tone deaf comment I have ever heard from an aerospace company. "No, we don't need a culture change." Seriously? This week there will be an unusual pair of hearings - same committee, same topic, but a different witness lineup. Have a look:

Panel 1 - Wednesday July 25, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Hon. Jim Bridenstine, administrator, NASA
Mr. Tom Young, chairman, JWST Independent Review Board

Prepared statements: Thomas Young; Jim Bridenstine; Rep. Babin; Rep. Smith;
Rep. Johnson; Rep. Bera

Panel 2 - Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 9:00 9:30 a.m.
Mr. Wesley Bush, chief executive officer, Northrop Grumman Corp.
Mr. Tom Young, chairman, JWST Independent Review Board

Watch live

Hearing charter

"Since the JWST program has now breached under 51 USC 30104 notification conditions, the hearing discussion on July 25 will explore NASA program management effectiveness, program continuation and reauthorization, and budgetary implications across NASA's entire science portfolio, to include the WFIRST program. The second part on July 26 will explore contractor issues and recommended improvements regarding contractor accountability."

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Approves the American Space SAFE Management Act

"The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved H.R.6226, the American Space Situational Awareness and Facilitation of Entity Management Act (American Space SAFE Management Act), introduced by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). This bill will establish the Department of Commerce as the civilian agency to provide civil space situational awareness and traffic coordination."

House Approves Space Technology and Commercial Space Bills

"Today, the U.S House of Representatives approved two bipartisan space bills that promote the Nation's leadership in rocket propulsion development and provide licenses for commercial space support vehicles and flights. These bills will ensure America remains a leader in space exploration and development. The American Leadership in Space Technology and Advanced Rocketry Act, or the ALSTAR Act, (H.R. 5345) was introduced by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the Space Subcommittee. The Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act (H.R. 5346) was introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), a member of the Space Subcommittee."

Hearing: NASA Cost and Schedule Overruns: Acquisition and Program Management Challenges

"June 14, at 10:00 a.m. EDT, the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a Subcommittee on Space hearing titled, NASA Cost and Schedule Overruns: Acquisition and Program Management Challenges. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) 2018 Quick Look report, this report's assessments of major NASA projects, and a comparison of this 2018 assessment to cost control and program management trends that GAO and the NASA Inspector General (IG) assessed in previous years."

webcast

- Cristina Chaplain, GAO [prepared statement]
- Stephen Jurczyk, NASA [prepared statement]
- Paul Martin, inspector general, NASA [prepared statement]
- Daniel Dumbacher, AIAA [prepared statement]
- Chairman Babin [Opening Statement]
- Ranking Member Johnson's [Opening Statement]
- Ranking Member Bera's [Opening Statement]
- Chairman Smith [Opening Statement]

After rancorous confirmation fight, NASA's Bridenstine mends fences with the Democrats who opposed him, USA Today

"In a statement Wednesday to USA TODAY by the agency, Bridenstine made clear his desire to build the congressional relationships he'll need to propel the Trump administration's ambitious space agenda including returning astronauts to the moon. "NASA is one of America's most storied agencies and has long had bipartisan support," he said. "Just as all previous administrators, I intend to build and maintain great relationships on both sides of the aisle so NASA can continue it's history-making science, exploration, and discovery missions. Phone calls and meetings on the Hill and at NASA headquarters facilitate these relationships."

Hearing: Review of the FY2019 Budget Request for NASA

Cruz, Nelson: Congress, And Only Congress, WIll Decide When To End Funding For ISS, Space Policy Online

"Cruz grilled Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, on why NASA missed the statutory deadline to submit the ISS Transition Report. He also demanded to know why NASA had not provided all drafts that were sent from NASA to the White House and rejected as he and Nelson requested in a February letter. The implication is that OMB, not NASA, picked the 2025 date. Cruz's effort to get Gerstenmaier on the record as to who chose the date were unsuccessful. Gerstenmaier carefully navigated the intense questioning without implicating any particular part of the Administration."

Statement by William Gerstenmaier - Hearing Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Administration Perspectives

"NASA is preparing to secure the Nation's long-term presence in LEO by partnering with industry to develop commercial orbital platforms, and capabilities that the private sector and NASA can utilize after the cessation of direct U.S. Federal funding for ISS by 2025."

- NASA Quietly Submits ISS Transition Plan To Congress (Update), earlier post
- What About That Space Station Transition Plan NASA?, earlier post
- Did NASA Deliver The ISS Transition Plan To Congress Required By Law? Update: No, earlier post
- Is NASA Going To Break The Law By Not Delivering An ISS Transition Plan To Congress?, earlier post

GOP lawmaker says rocks falling into ocean to blame for rising sea levels, The Hill

"A Republican lawmaker on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee said Thursday that rocks from the White Cliffs of Dover and the California coastline, as well as silt from rivers tumbling into the ocean, are contributing to high sea levels globally. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) made the comment during a hearing on technology and the changing climate, which largely turned into a Q&A on the basics of climate research."

Republican lawmaker: Rocks tumbling into ocean causing sea level rise, Science

"The Earth is not warming. The White Cliffs of Dover are tumbling into the sea and causing sea levels to rise. Global warming is helping grow the Antarctic ice sheet. Those are some of the skeptical assertions echoed by Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee yesterday."

Here's how big a rock you'd have to drop into the ocean to see the rise in sea level happening now, Washington Post

"Certainly 3.3 millimeters doesn't sound like a lot of water to displace, and it does seem, to Brooks's point, that it's an amount -- about 0.1 inch -- that would be easy to displace with a cliff collapse near San Diego. The equivalent rise relative to surface area in an Olympic-sized swimming pool would be 0.0000000000114 millimeters. That's not possible, though, since a water molecule isn't that small. But when you apply 3.3 millimeters of rise to the entire ocean? We're talking about a lot of water that's displaced -- 3.3 millimeters across about 362 million square kilometers of surface area. The total volume displaced, then, would be 1.19 trillion cubic meters of water."

Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks loses to science in a landslide, Huntsville Times

"It would have been comical if it had come from a middle school science fair, but it didn't. It came from a guy on a committee making decisions for the most powerful country on earth about the future of the planet. Brooks made his comments while questioning climate scientist Philip Duffy, who had pointed out that seas across the world are rising four times faster than they did a century ago. Instead of dealing with the ways to protect the future, to consider the possibility climate scientists know what they are talking about, he just threw rocks. "Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up," he said. Mo's laws. Perplexing for a scientist. "I'm pretty sure that on human time scales, those are miniscule effects," Duffy responded."

Rep. Mo Brooks responds to John Archibald's 'vilifying' column, Huntsville Times

"Over the history of planet Earth, far and away the #1 cause of sea level rise has been erosion and its resulting deposits of sediment and rocks into the world's seas and oceans. There is no close second cause of sea level rise. At a minimum, over many millions of years, thousands of cubic miles of eroded material have been deposited into the Earth's seas, forcing rising sea levels."

Keith's note: Its going to be a busy morning for NASA here in Washington DC. I'll try to post as much as I can. H/t Marcia Smith

- Hearing: America's Human Presence in Low-Earth Orbit 10:00 am EDT (webcast)
- Full Committee Markup - FY 2019 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, 10:00 a EDT (webcast)
- Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Meeting 10:30 - 11:45 am EDT (audio)
- NASA Town Hall With Jim Bridenstine 11:00 am EDT (NASA TV)

Report to Accompany House Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2019 (PDF)

"The Committee on Appropriations submits the following report in explanation of the accompanying bill making appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes."

(NASA starts on Page 57).

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/watchusfly.jpg

Keith's note: We've all heard about those misleading campaign ads on Facebook. Well, while the campaign ads are under scrutiny big aerospace companies are quietly luring people to websites that are not what they seem to be at first glance.

This ad is currently running on Facebook. According to the coding embedded in the link it is "campaign=acquisition_newsletter_tier-two-space-race-b" and I am an "enthusiast". When you go to the link it sends you to this page at watchusfly.com (registered by Boeing in 2016) which says "America is in a modern-day space race, and Boeing is leading the charge by building the spacecraft that will keep us in the lead. Boeing's Space Launch System is the world's largest and most powerful rocket. It is the foundation for America's plan to send humans to Mars. Boeing's Starliner is a re-usable capsule that will soon be the method NASA uses to send astronauts into space." But when you go to this page for more information it says "NASA's Space Launch System provides a critical heavy-lift capability, powering people and cargo beyond our moon and into deep space."

For starters NASA is building the SLS. Boeing - along with Lockheed Martin, Aerojet, Orbital ATK, and Airbus are building the pieces. One page says it is Boeing's SLS. The other says it is NASA's. Which is it? And yes, Starliner will be sending human crews into space but it is not "the method NASA uses to send astronauts into space." It is one of the methods - SpaceX is another method.

House Approves American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act

"The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously passed the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act (H.R. 2809), which simplifies and strengthens the space-based remote sensing regulatory system, enhances U.S. compliance with international obligations, improves national security and removes regulatory barriers facing new and innovative space operators. The bill is sponsored by House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)."

Keith's 19 April update: The vote tally today is 50 to 49. Jim Bridenstine is the next administrator of NASA. Vice President Pence was present in case there was a 50/50 tie. Sen. Flake waited until the last minute to vote yes and then Sen. Duckworth cast the final vote (No) for the day. Sen. McCain was not present for voting today. When/where Bridenstine will be sworn in is not known. But there is extreme interest in having Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot to hand over the Keys to NASA to Bridenstine before Lightfoot leaves NASA on Friday.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Approves Bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2018

"The U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), today approved the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 5503) by a vote of 26-7. The bill was introduced by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman of the Space Subcommittee, and cosponsored by Chairman Smith along with 17 committee members.

- Authorizes $20.74 billion for NASA for fiscal year 2018, the level enacted in the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, and $21.21 billion for NASA for fiscal year 2019
- Supports President Trump's vision of American space leadership by funding Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft
- Supports NASA using American private sector innovation and investments to unlock the economic potential of outer space"

Keith's earlier note: Sources report that the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator is now moving forward in the Senate along with other nominees. A vote could happen soon.

Keith's update: The floor debate and vote on Bridenstine's nomination could come as early as this Thursday thus allowing Robert Lightfoot to handover the reigns of NASA to Jim Bridenstine before Lightfoot departs on Friday.

Keith's update: NASA quietly posted the International Space Station Transition Report pursuant to Section 303(c)(2) of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10) a few days ago.

"This report responds to direction in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10, hereafter "the Act"), Section 303(c)(1), to submit to Congress a report evaluating the International Space Station (ISS) as a platform for research, deep space exploration, and low-Earth orbit (LEO) spaceflight in partnership with its four foreign space agency partners, and the commercial space sector (see Appendix for text of the reporting requirement, excerpted from the Act)."

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Markup NASA Authorization Act of 2018

"TUESDAY, April 17, at 10 a.m. EDT, the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will meet to consider the following legislation: H.R. 5503, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2018, introduced today by Rep. Brian Babin (R- Texas). The legislation authorizes the programs of NASA for fiscal years 2018 and 2019."

Keith's 13 April note: According to this text of HR 5503 the ISS Transition Report has been submitted to Congress. So when will NASA release it to the public?

Sec. 202. ISS Transition (a) Findings

"(4) The ISS transition report, submitted pursuant to section 50111(c)(2) of title 51, United States Code, provides an explanation of NASA's plans to foster the development of private industry capabilities and private demand with a goal of ending direct NASA support for ISS operations by the end of fiscal year 2024.

(5) The plans laid out in the ISS transition report are conditionally flexible and require feedback to inform next steps. In addition, the feasibility of ending direct NASA support for ISS operations by the end of fiscal year 2024 is dependent on many factors, some of which are indeterminate until the Administration carries out the initial phases of the ISS transition plan."

- What About That Space Station Transition Plan NASA?, earlier post
- Did NASA Deliver The ISS Transition Plan To Congress Required By Law? Update: No, earlier post
- Is NASA Going To Break The Law By Not Delivering An ISS Transition Plan To Congress?, earlier post
- Senators Blast NASA and OMB Over Future Of ISS, earlier post
- Is Privatizing ISS A Smart Thing To Do?, earlier post
- White House Plan To Defund ISS By 2025 Moves Ahead, earlier post
- Reaction To Proposed OMB Space Station Funding Cuts, earlier post

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Approves Space Exploration and Entrepreneurship Bills

"The American Leadership in Space Technology and Advanced Rocketry Act, or the ALSTAR Act, (H.R. 5345) was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the Space Subcommittee. The Commercial Space Support Vehicle Act (H.R. 5346) was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), a member of the Space Subcommittee. The Innovators to Entrepreneurs Act (H.R. 5086) was introduced on February 26, 2018, by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), ranking member on the Research and Technology Subcommittee, and cosponsored by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), a member of the Research and Technology Subcommittee."

DIVISION B-COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018

NATIONAL SPACE COUNCIL This Act includes $1,965,000 for the activities of the National Space Council.

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION This Act includes $20,736,140,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Page 31-34

"Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).-In lieu of House and Senate language regarding WFIRST, the agreement includes $150,000,000 for WFIRST, which is the highest priority of the 2010 Astrophysics Decadal Survey. In October 2017, NASA received the findings from the WFIRST Independent External Technical/Management/Cost Review (WIETR), which found in part that the current science management strategy is appropriate and that the Class B risk classification for the WFIRST mission is not consistent with NASA policy for strategically important missions with comparable levels of investment and risk, most if not all of which are class A missions. Accordingly, NASA shall provide to the Committees within 60 days of enactment of this Act a preliminary life cycle cost estimate, including any additions needed to achieve Class A classification, along with a year by year breakout of development costs."

"SPACE TECHNOLOGY This Act includes $760,000,000 for Space Technology. Within this amount, $130,000,000 is for RESTORE; $75,000,000 is for nuclear thermal propulsion activities; up to $20,000,000 is for the Flight Opportunities Program; and no less than $25,000,000 is for additive manufacturing research."

EXPLORATION The bill provides an additional $350,000,000 for launch capabilities and infrastructure associated with constructing a second mobile launch platform, as recommended by the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, which will enable an acceleration in the launch schedule for Exploration Mission-2. The funds also will allow flexibility for future NASA and other Federal agency missions that will require heavy-lift capabilities beyond those of current launch vehicles as well as enable a sustainable Space Launch System (SLS) launch cadence.

"EDUCATION This Act includes $100,000,000 for Education, including $18,000,000 for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research; $40,000,000 for Space Grant; $32,000,000 for the Minority University Research and Education Project; and $10,000,000 for STEM Education and Accountability Projects. The agreement adopts Senate language regarding future placement of this program and direction regarding administrative costs."

Letter From House Members to Senate Leadership Regarding NASA Administrator Nominee Bridenstine

Keith's note: This letter was circulated by Rep. Babin and was signed by 61 members of the House - 12 of whom are Democrats. This would certainly seem to undermine Sen. Nelson's contention that Jim Bridenstine would be too political.

"We are keenly aware of how valuable NASA is, not only to our nation, but also the entire world. It would be a travesty to America's space program for it to remain leaderless at this critical time when America's space industry is making rapid advances that will set the course of space leadership for decades to come. This is why it is vitally important that the Senate take up and approve Jim Bridenstine's nomination. Jim Bridenstine has spent the bulk of his adult life in service to his country. His background is in naval aviation, flying the E2- C Hawkeye in Afghanistan and Iraq, and later the F-18 while also serving as an instructor at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center. He has been responsible for coordinating command and control of the battlefield from an airborne platform, with thousands of lives and billions of dollars affected by his decisions. In this service to his nation he has demonstrated both the technical capacity and leadership experience necessary to lead NASA."

Keith's note: NASA CFO nominee Jeff Dewitt has been confirmed by the Senate.

NASA Statement on Nomination for Agency Chief Financial Officer, earlier post

"The following is a statement from acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot on Wednesday's announcement of the intended nomination by President Donald Trump of Jeffrey DeWit to serve as the agency's Chief Financial Officer: "It is encouraging to see more members of the agency's leadership team being named. Jeff's solid financial background will be a tremendous addition as we continue to advance our nation's aeronautic and exploration initiatives."

Letter From Bobby Braun to House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Regarding NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate

"Specifically, the proposed re-organization of the "Space Technology Mission Directorate" into "Human Exploration" within NASA is among the most devastating long-term aspects proposed. Past history has shown that large development programs and technology development activities cannot and should not exist together, as a small hiccup in the development programs eats the budget of the basic research and technology advancement needed to accomplish more in space. In fact, when integrated in this manner approximately a decade ago, NASA's space technology activities were eviscerated. Most striking, the Administration is proposing this re-organization without any discussion with Congress, industry or the university community, and without a NASA Administrator in place. This can only be described as an egregious over-reach by political appointees without an appreciation for the long-standing scope of the Agency. This proposal contradicts Title 7 of the space policy put forward by Congress and signed by President Trump in March 2017. Burying this proposed organizational change in the FY19 budget request, while simultaneously proposing other major cancelations and changes to the NASA portfolio, is an attempt to curtail community discussion of the importance of the Space Technology Mission Directorate to the nation's future in space."

Senators Blast NASA and OMB Over Future Of ISS, earlier post

"In fact, Congress specifically required that the transition plan include cost estimates for extending operations of the ISS to 2024, 2028, and 2030, and an evaluation of the feasible and preferred service life of the ISS through at least 2028 as a unique scientific, commercial, and space exploration related facility. P.L. 115-10 specifically required the NASA Administrator to deliver a report to Congress no later than December 1, 2017. As of today, that report has not been delivered to Congress as required by federal statute."

Did NASA Deliver The ISS Transition Plan To Congress Required By Law? Update: No, earlier post

"I did not hear back from NASA so I sent a second request. Stephanie Schierholz at NASA HQ PAO just sent this reply to my second request: "NASA is keeping Congress apprised as to the progress of the ISS Transition Report and plans to provide this report to the Committee as soon as possible. Please reach out to the Committee about obtaining a copy of the report once it is submitted." In other words the report is late, has not been delivered, NASA does not know when it will be delivered. NASA is not going to tell anyone when it has been delivered and people will have to go ask Congress where the report is - whenever NASA gets around to delivering it."

Hearing On NASA Budget

Hearing charter

"The purpose of the hearing is to review the Administration's fiscal year 2019 (FY19) budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)."

Statements by Rep. Bera, Rep.Johnson, Rep. Babin

Peters, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill Supporting U.S.-Israel Space Cooperation

"U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) today introduced bipartisan legislation to support the longstanding partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA). Cooperation between the two agencies has resulted in a host of beneficial achievements, including work on global positioning systems (GPS) and the Mars Curiosity Rover. ... The U.S.-Israel Space Cooperation Act directs the NASA Administrator to continue working in cooperation with the ISA to further peaceful space exploration and scientific discovery while taking appropriate measures to protect U.S. intellectual property and other sensitive information. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved companion legislation in December 2017."

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Encourage U.S. and Israeli Collaborations on Space Exploration Breakthroughs (9 Sep 2016)

"Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage U.S. and Israeli scientists to continue collaborating on breakthroughs in space exploration. The United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act would direct the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to work with the Israel Space Agency to identify and together pursue new potential scientific discoveries in space."

Keith's note: The "United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act" was originally introduced in the House as H.R. 5989 by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) with co-author Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) as the first cosponsor in 2016. It was reintroduced in 2017 by Kilmer (with Bridenstine as the first co-sponsor) as H.R.1159 - United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act. HR 1159 was passed by the house on 21 December 2017 and sent to the Senate. The Senate bill is not yet online but given the bipartisan support it is likely to be identical to the House version.

Sen. Bill Nelson has been quick to criticize Rep. Bridenstine's choice to be NASA Administrator because Bridenstine would somehow inject politics into the way that NASA operates and that would be truly awful or something. Yet Sen. Nelson is now openly crowing about space legislation that he is co-sponsoring - legislation originally co-authored by Rep. Bridenstine. So one would conclude that Nelson likes Bridenstine's space politics (at least in some instances). Who knows. Maybe they agree on other things too.

NASA Heads Back to Space Leaderless, Bloomberg

"NASA observers, including some Democrats with ties to the agency, contend that Bridenstine's political background would be beneficial to a NASA administrator, who must navigate the shoals between the White House and Congress, which appropriates the agency's budget. "I'm still fairly bullish on what Jim Bridenstine would do for the agency," said Phil Larson, a former senior adviser in President Barack Obama's Office of Science and Technology Policy. "The main point now is NASA needs a leader as soon as possible, and leaving a nominee in question--I don't care what side of the aisle you're on--leaving a nomination open as these types of policies and questions and meetings are being hashed out helps no one."

Cruz, Nelson: Future of ISS Should be Determined by Emergence of a Viable and Proven Commercial Alternative and Needs of Our National Space Program

"While we have been strong proponents of the U.S. commercial space sector, prematurely ending direct U.S. Government funding of ISS could have disastrous consequences. The future of ISS should be determined by the emergence of a viable and proven commercial alternative and the needs of our national space program." The Senators continued, "In fact, Congress specifically required that the transition plan include cost estimates for extending operations of the ISS to 2024, 2028, and 2030, and an evaluation of the feasible and preferred service life of the ISS through at least 2028 as a unique scientific, commercial, and space exploration related facility. P.L. 115-10 specifically required the NASA Administrator to deliver a report to Congress no later than December 1, 2017. As of today, that report has not been delivered to Congress as required by federal statute."

Did NASA Deliver The ISS Transition Plan To Congress Required By Law? Update: No, earlier post

Lockheed Martin got $35.2 billion from taxpayers last year. That's more than many federal agencies., Washington Post

"Of Lockheed Martin's $51 billion in sales last year, nearly 70 percent, or $35.2 billion, came from sales to the U.S. government. It's a colossal figure, hard to comprehend. So think of it this way: Lockheed's government sales are nearly what the Trump administration proposed for the State Department next year in its recently released spending plan. Or $15 billion more than all of NASA. Or about the gross domestic product of Bolivia. With a White House proposal to spend a massive amount on defense next year in what one consultant called an "eye-watering" budget for the defense industry, Lockheed, the world's largest defense contractor, could get even more. ... Boeing is in second place with annual sales of $26.5 billion in 2016, a year in which the top five defense contractors -- including General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman -- had total sales of nearly $110 billion to the U.S. government, according to federal procurement data. The five biggest defense contractors took in more money from the U.S. government than the next 30 companies combined."

Live tweeted on @NASAWatch via a Facebook live feed from the FAA Commercial Space Conference underway in Washington DC

More comments below

NASA has gone a year without a formal leader--with no end in sight, Ars Technica

"Five months ago, the Trump administration finally put forward a nominee for the post of administrator, Oklahoma Congressman and pilot James Bridenstine. Although he was confirmed along a party-line vote twice during Senate confirmation hearings, he has yet to receive a vote before the full Senate. Increasingly, it is obvious that the White House does not have the votes to confirm Bridenstine in a Senate where Republicans hold only a narrow margin. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, has led opposition to Bridenstine, saying he is too politically polarizing a figure to lead NASA. Nelson has convinced his fellow Floridian Senator, Republican Marco Rubio, to oppose Bridenstine as well."

Bridenstine, Myers Nominations Again Clear Committee on Party-Line Votes, SpacePolicyOnline.com

"Four Republican Senators spoke in support of Bridenstine: Mike Lee (Utah), Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Cory Gardner (Colorado). All pointed to Bridenstine's background and service as a military pilot as evidence of his qualifications. Inhofe also cited Bridenstine's ability to "speak the language of Congress" as a benefit. Cruz said Bridenstine, a former Top Gun instructor, has many characteristics similar to an astronaut and urged that if Democrats want to pick a partisan fight that it not be on space, which traditionally is a bipartisan issue. The lack of a Senate-confirmed NASA administrator for almost a year is "bad for the United States of America, bad for space, it is bad for NASA" and bad for states like Texas, Florida, and Alabama. He accused Democrats of a partisan "wall of opposition" to a "well qualified veteran, and indeed a war hero" that is not in the best interest of ensuring American leadership in space. Gardner said that industry and military space leaders in Colorado support Bridenstine along with Colorado Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter."

With Democrats opposed, Trump's NASA pick gets political, Washington Post

"Sen. Bill Nelson, the influential Democrat from Florida, led the charge against Bridenstine, saying he lacked the credentials to lead the space agency. "The NASA administrator should be a consummate professional who is technically and scientifically competent and a skilled executive," he said during the confirmation hearing last year. "More importantly, the administrator must be a leader who has the ability to unite scientists, engineers, commercial space interests, policymakers and the public on a shared vision for future space exploration." added: "Frankly, Congressman Bridenstine, I cannot see how you meet these criteria."

Congressman Jim Bridenstine to Host Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and CEO of the Planetary Society at the State of the Union Address

"The Congressman is the nominee to be the next Administrator of NASA, and as I often say, NASA is the best brand the United States has. This means that the NASA Administrator not only works to advance space exploration, but serves as an informal ambassador of U.S. capability and optimism to the world."

- Bridenstine Survives His Confirmation Hearing
- Bridenstine's Written Answers To Questions From Congress

Commercial Crew Hearing

Hearing: Update on NASA Commercial Crew Systems Development

"10 a.m. EST, the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will hold a Subcommittee on Space hearing titled An Update on NASA Commercial Crew Systems Development. The purpose of the hearing is to examine the development of NASA's two commercial crew systems, being built by Boeing and SpaceX, to service the International Space Station."

- Watch live
- Hearing charter

Prepared statements:

- Cristina Chaplain (GAO)

"Both Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) are making progress toward their goal of being able to transport American astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). However, both continue to experience schedule delays. Such delays could jeopardize the ability of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Commercial Crew Program to certify either company's option--that is, to ensure that either option meets NASA standards for human spaceflight--before the seats the agency has contracted for on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft run out in 2019."

- Patricia Sanders (ASAP)
- Hans Koenigsmann (SpaceX)
- John Mulholland (Boeing)
- William Gerstenmaier (NASA)
- Rep. Smith
- Rep. Babin
- Rep. Bera
- Rep. Johnson

Rep. Bridenstine's Bid to Become NASA Head Stumbles Amid Partisan Brawl, Wall Street Journal (behind paywall)

"Now, industry officials and some congressional supporters of Mr. Bridenstine see the math becoming more challenging, partly due to factors outside their control. Last month's election of Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama narrowed the Republican majority, while continuing health issues could keep Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi from voting in favor or the nomination. With Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona widely seen as firmly opposed for policy and personal reasons, Senate GOP leaders envision a difficult - and potentially monthslong - confirmation battle, according to industry officials and others familiar with their thinking. ... White House officials, however, are standing behind the choice and, according to outsiders tracking the process, aren't considering alternative candidates. ... "The president looks forward to Rep. Bridenstine's swift confirmation by the Senate, and is confident he will lead NASA to ensure America is a leader in space exploration once again," said Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman."

Bridenstine Nomination Update, earlier post

"Right now the expected support for Rep. Bridenstine remains exactly where it has been for him (and many other Trump nominees) for many months: split along party lines. With Sen. Rubio still in the "no" column. If the vote were taken in December (and Sen. McCain and Sen. Cochran were well enough to be in town to vote) it is expected that Bridenstine would have been confirmed 51 to 49. Senator-Elect Jones (D-AL) has now been seated so the expected vote would now be 50/50 with Vice President Pence casting a tie-breaking vote - if nothing else change interms of the party line split with everyone voting and Rubio's stance."

Keith's note: Contrary to reporting by Wall Street Journal NASA Watch sources report that Sen. McCain is not against Bridenstine's nomination.

Nominations Sent to the Senate Today, White House

The White House submitted a list of nominations today including Rep. Bridenstine.

- James Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, vice Charles F. Bolden, Jr., resigned.

- Jeffrey DeWit, of Arizona, to be Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, vice David Radzanowski.

PN896 - James Bridenstine - National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Congress.gov

"Latest Action 01/03/2018 - Returned to the President under the provisions of Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6 of the Standing Rules of the Senate."

Keith's note: Rep. Bridenstine's nomination has now been returned to thee White House by the Senate. The White House will have to be resubmitted for the second session of this Congress. All sources report that the Administration is still quite firmly behind Bridenstine and that this "re-nomination" is simply a matter of routine paperwork that will happen after the holidays. Whether there will need to be another confirmation hearing is unclear at this point.

Bridenstine's nomination to be NASA Administrator did not come up for a vote in 2017. Right now the expected support for Rep. Bridenstine remains exactly where it has been for him (and many other Trump nominees) for many months: split along party lines. With Sen. Rubio still in the "no" column. If the vote were taken in December (and Sen. McCain and Sen. Cochran were well enough to be in town to vote) it is expected that Bridenstine would have been confirmed 51 to 49. Senator-Elect Jones (D-AL) has now been seated so the expected vote would now be 50/50 with Vice President Pence casting a tie-breaking vote - if nothing else change interms of the party line split with everyone voting and Rubio's stance.

In the Senate 30 hours is formally set aside for confirmation of nominees. But usually the 30 hours is waived by unanimous consent or significantly shortened by agreement between Democrats and Republicans to a much more manageable period. Alas, Sen. Nelson has refused to accept any deals. As such there was simply no way to really schedule this confirmation in the remaining time that the Senate was going to be in session in 2017. This issue will reassert itself when the White House takes a second run at nominating Bridenstine in 2018. More details on this issue can be found here.

The knife edge aspect of the expected vote is due to the hyper-partisan state of affairs here in Washington. Many confirmations are stalled. Contrary to some reports Bridenstine's nomination was not delayed by Senate Republicans due to a lack of votes. Bridenstine had a narrow, but very consistent block of votes that would have led to his confirmation had the vote occurred. Under more traditional circumstances Bridenstine would have had a number of Democratic votes to confirm. If he is confirmed that bipartisan support should become evident.

In the mean time Robert Lightfoot will continue to be the acting Administrator of NASA. (see The Vacancies Act - And NASA Management)

Keith's note: With government shut down issues and an evaporating calendar, it is unlikely that Rep. Bridenstine nomination to be NASA Administrator will come up in 2017. Right now the expected support for Rep. Bridenstine remains exactly where it has been for him (and many other Trump nominees) for many months: split along party lines. With Sen. Rubio still in the "no" column if the vote were taken today (and Sen. McCain and Sen. Cochran were well enough to be in town to vote) it is expected that Bridenstine would be confirmed 51 to 49. With a vote that is now most likely to happen in January (or later) in 2018, and the seating of Sen.-Elect Jones (D-AL), the expected vote would be 50/50 with Vice President Pence casting a tie breaking vote.

There is also an issue of the time needed for a floor debate. In the Senate 30 hours is formally set aside for confirmation of nominees. But usually the 30 hours is waived by unanimous consent or significantly shortened by agreement between Democrats and Republicans to a much more manageable period. Alas, Sen. Nelson has refused to accept any deals. As such there was simply no way to really schedule this confirmation in the remaining time that the Senate was going to be in session. More details on this issue can be found here.

Bridenstine's nomination from the White House will have to be resubmitted for the second session of this Congress. All sources report that the Administration is still quite firmly behind Bridenstine and that this "re-nomination" is simply a matter of routine paperwork that will happen after the holidays. Whether there will need to be another confirmation hearing is unclear at this point.

The knife edge aspect of the expected vote is due to the hyper-partisan state of affairs here in Washington. Many confirmations are stalled. Contrary to some reports Bridenstine's nomination was not delayed by Senate Republicans due to a lack of votes. Bridenstine had a narrow, but very consistent block of votes that would have led to his confirmation had the vote occurred. Under more traditional circumstances Bridenstine would have had a number of Democratic votes to confirm. If he is confirmed that bipartisan support should become evident.


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