Recently in Election 2016 Category

A transition vet offers tips to Trump's NASA transition team, Courtney Stadd, SpaceNews

"You will also be subject to many rumors. Information is power in D.C. Any tidbit of information, no matter how trivial, is worth something to the consultants, lobbyists, journalists, bloggers, and self-appointed social media space policy mavens who are constantly trying to demonstrate their inside knowledge. And many people with an interest in the issues within your portfolio are not beyond greatly exaggerating their level of access. I've lived and worked in the nation's capital for 40 years and can attest to the hypocrisy that has always been a growth industry within the Beltway. But I have to say that in the wake of this election, I have never seen anything like the hypocrisy among the political class. The very people who disdained Donald Trump on the Monday before the election were currying for political favor within 24 hours of Hillary Clinton's concession phone call. By now, I am sure you have discovered many "friends" you never knew existed the day before the election."

Trump's space policy reaches for Mars and the stars, Space News

"NASA should be focused primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies."

"Trump to scrap Nasa climate research in crackdown on 'politicized science', The Guardian

"Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as "politically correct environmental monitoring". "We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research," Walker told the Guardian. "Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission. "My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump's decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science."

Yes, Donald Trump did call climate change a Chinese hoax, Politifact

"At one point, Clinton said, "Donald Trump says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese." Did he? Yes, though he later said it was a joke. The original source of this claim was a tweet Trump sent on Nov. 6, 2012, as we noted in a January 2016 fact-check of a similar claim by Clinton's Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders."

Trump admits 'some connectivity' between climate change and human activity, CNN

"President-elect Donald Trump conceded Tuesday there is "some connectivity" between human activity and climate change and wavered on whether he would pull the United States out of international accords aimed at combating the phenomenon, which scientists overwhelmingly agree is caused by human activity."

Keith's note: Last week a number of articles appeared with the startling (at least to the authors) news that President Trump was going to cut all of NASA's Earth science programs. The authors based this arm waving on quotes in the Guardian by on-again/off-again/on-again Trump transition team advisor Bob Walker. This is not the first time Walker has said something like this. Back in the middle of October, in a Space News op ed, Walker made similar comments. Other than these two comments by Walker we have little else to go on except some off-handed, indecisive quotes from Trump himself on climate change. So - will Trump gut NASA space science? We only have some hints from someone who may or may not actual know what Trump is going to do. If Trump does take a run at NASA's Earth science programs he'll have allies such as Sen. Ted Cruz and House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith who have been going after climate-based research funding for years. Then again, Trump may find himself consumed by far more pressing issues. We won't know until a Trump space policy emerges and a Trump team is installed on the 9th floor at NASA Headquarters.

Big change on the horizon for NASA under Trump, Lori Garver, The Hill

"NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden's perceived lack of enthusiastic support of the White House agenda gave an opening to the opposition. Without a willingness to take on these special interests, the administration made a Faustian bargain to secure congressional support for Earth sciences, technology and commercial crew, in exchange for support of developing a large expendable rocket (the Space Launch System or SLS) and deep space capsule (Orion) for human spaceflight. While these parochial interests still exist, a Trump White House has the opportunity to more effectively defend its own agenda. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), one the president-elect's most senior advisers, understands space issues and is a strong believer in commercial space development as the goal of space settlement. Former Congressman Robert Walker (R-Pa.) and former National Space Council executive director Mark Albrecht share many of Gingrich's views on the NASA bureaucracy and goals for NASA. Neither Albrecht nor Walker appear to be anxious to return to government service, but will certainly select a like-minded administrator."

NASA Under Trump, Planetary Society

"Of the $1 trillion of "discretionary" spending, more than half is spent on national defense. Everything else the government does - scientific research, border control, education, environmental protection, federal judges, infrastructure, NASA - comes from this non-defense discretionary amount. This has also been targeted for wholesale cuts by the Trump campaign in order to help pay for their large tax cut. These cuts, along with the reinstitution of the sequester (across-the-board cuts to all federal agencies), would collapse non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest point in modern history. This budgetary scenario potentially spells doom for NASA and its ambitions. The congressional subcommittee responsible for NASA - Commerce, Justice, and Science - is also responsible for the NSF, NOAA, the FBI, the Justice Department, and Commerce Department, and the Census, among others."

How Donald Trump's win could change the trajectory of commercial space ventures, Geekwire

"President-elect Donald Trump's advisers say they want to rely more on commercial ventures to pioneer the space frontier - but some of those ventures' high-profile backers aren't exactly in line with other parts of Trump's policy agenda. For example, SpaceX's billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, sees climate change as the biggest challenge facing humanity on Earth and has said a tax on carbon emissions is as necessary as garbage collection fees. In contrast, Trump has said concerns about climate change are a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, and has vowed to "cancel" U.S. participation in the recently established Paris climate pact. (The Chinese say they're trying to set Trump straight on that point.) Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, who founded Blue Origin to send passengers and payloads into space, is also the owner of The Washington Post. The Post, Amazon and Bezos were all caught up in Trump's ire during the campaign. On the flip side of the issue, there's at least one space billionaire who can hardly wait for Trump to get into office: Robert Bigelow, the founder of Bigelow Aerospace."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/admin.wheel.jpg

Will Trump pick an "agent of change" or an insider to lead NASA?, Ars Technica

"Probably the leading contender among the outsiders is a US Republican Representative from Oklahoma, Jim Bridenstine, who since being elected to Congress has quickly become a darling of the commercial space industry. ... Not only does [Scott] Pace presently work at a university in the nation's capital, he has also served George W. Bush on space policy and was 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney's chief space adviser."

Keith's note: FWIW the rumors here in DC suggest that Mike Griffin is looking for a position in the defense sphere. Mark Albrecht says that he's not interested in going back to government, Bob Walker notes that his lobbyist stance makes him (probably) ineligible, and Eileen Collins annoyed the Trump people when she suddenly backed out of the endorsement that they thought they were going to get.

If I were betting on horses it would be Bridenstine and Pace. Pace worked at NASA Headquarters for a number of years and has experience in the running of a large government agency with tens of thousands of employees and a multi-billion dollar budget. Bridenstine ran a small air & space museum and now has Potomac Fever and wants to stay in Washington when his self-imposed term limit expires. Pace is measured and deliberate with a deep understanding of space policy whereas Bridenstine is all fired up and motivated to enable change in the way that we explore and utilize space. It would be nice (for once) for a President to pick someone to run NASA with actual experience in running big things. It would also be nice to have an energetic advocate for space promoting NASA's efforts to a broadening audience.

Alas, as that song at Trump rallies often reminded us "you can't always get what you want". Stay tuned.

NASA Transition Update

NASA Internal Memo: Update on the Presidential Transition, NASA

"As many of you know, we are ready to support the presidential transition activities. NASA has a team and a process in place to ensure a smooth transition of our agency. Tom Cremins, NASA Transition Official, and Jolene Meidinger, NASA Transition Coordinator, have been leading the NASA Transition Team (NTT) in their readiness to provide the incoming administration with the information it needs about NASA's important work. The President-Elect Transition Team (PETT) has indicated that NASA will not be receiving an Agency Review Team (ART) at this time. NASA, as all federal agencies, stands ready to support the PETT at a future date."

Why hasn't Trump's transition team called the Pentagon?, CNN

"Election Day was eight days ago, but Donald Trump's transition team has yet to contact the Pentagon, State Department or other federal agencies. And a move to purge some transition advisers and employees has further slowed the process of getting the incoming administration off the blocks ... Trump's team will announce the first teams -- for the Justice Department and national security agencies -- Thursday, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday night. Economic and domestic policy teams will be announced next week. But it was not immediately when those officials will actually arrive at agencies in Washington. The White House was still waiting Wednesday night on names from the transition of the individuals who will form the landing teams."

Robert Walker, Wexler Walker

"A major space publication, Space News, attested to his effectiveness saying, "One of Washington's most influential lobbyists" whose "stature and influence have only grown since leaving Congress."

GOP congressman being considered for NASA administrator in Trump administration, Washington Post

"Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a former Navy pilot who is one of Congress's leading space exploration advocates, has had informal conversations with the Trump campaign about serving as NASA administrator or secretary of the Air Force, according to an official close to the congressman who is not authorized to speak publicly."

Keith's note: Since I broke this story last week quite a number of people have noted that it is somewhat ironic that Bridenstine wants a job that is decided by the White House when legislation he offered (H.R. 4945 the American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA)) sought to strip the ability of the White House to appoint or manage the activities of the NASA Administrator. Since Bridenstine is self term-limiting, word has it that he wishes to stay in the Washington area and is looking for something that will last longer than the 2 years of his last term. However, he lacks any experience managing an organization with thousands of employees and a budget in the billions - but that's not unusual for a NASA administrator nominee. Also, FWIW self-promoting for jobs like this is usually not the best way to get them. Then again, this year the rules do not seem to apply, so who knows? Either way Bridenstine has certainly put in a lot of time on this topic since he arrived (see spacerenaissanceact.com) and has solid climate denial credentials - both of which should help. Oh yes, in case you want to lend your support, the staffer in Bridenstine's office who seems to be working on generating buzz on this is Christopher Ingraham @cwingraham




Why Mars Can Be Affordable And Achievable, Joe Cassady/AeroJet, Huffington Post

"On the other hand, the Space Launch System (SLS) is the key to placing large blocks of payload into Earth orbit. An analogy here on Earth would be how intermodal shipping of supplies and manufactured goods is accomplished. Short haul is accomplished by trucks or rail, while long haul is accomplished by massive ships. In this same way, SLS accomplishes the short haul mission to orbit, whereas the cargo is transported over the much larger distance to Mars by solar electric transport ships. The two different propulsion systems, each of which is appropriate for its particular type of mission, are complementary. And to transport the astronauts, we add in a third element: the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle as well as a deep-space habitat module, which together provide living space and life support systems."

Trump's Campaign CEO Ran a Secretive Sci-Fi Project in the Arizona Desert, Mother Jones

"Long before Stephen Bannon was CEO of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, he held a much different job - as the acting director of Biosphere 2, a $200 million scientific research facility in the mountains outside Tucson, Arizona. ... Bannon left Biosphere 2 after two years, and the project was taken over by Columbia University"

Trump's campaign CEO Stephen Bannon spent tumultuous time at Biosphere 2 in southern Arizona, Arizona Republic

"... the science project, which started with eight people living in a closed habitat, disintegrated amid earthly squabbles, lawsuits and allegations of sexual harassment involving Stephen Bannon. The former Biosphere 2 consultant went from dreams of space colonization to courtroom drama after he was accused in separate court filings of threatening one female employee and harassing another."

Biosphere 2, Wikipedia

"After a successful turnaround by Bannon & Co. in December 1995 the Biosphere 2 owners transferred management to Columbia University of New York City which embarked on a successful eight-year run at the Biosphere 2 campus. Columbia ran Biosphere 2 as a research site and campus until 2003. Subsequently, management reverted to the owners."

TrumpSpace Previews

What Will Trump's Space Program Look Like?, Lori Garver, Scientific American

"A Gingrich/Walker aligned NASA leadership team would likely advance an agenda that increases support for entrepreneurial space and re-focuses NASA on the Moon as the next human destination. Neither are big supporters of spending billions of dollars on large, government programs, numerous programs would be reviewed for possible cancellation or adjustment such as SLS, Orion, ISS, Mars 2020 etc. A Griffin return would also likely refocus NASA's human exploration goals on the Moon, but would be more open to continuing SLS and Orion, at the expense of ISS. Either agenda would almost certainly include continuation of the commercial crew program."

Trump: "I Will Free NASA" From Being Just a LEO Space Logistics Agency, Space Policy Online

"Did you ever see what's going on with space, with Russia and different places? And us? We're, like, we're like watching. Isn't that nice? So much is learned from that, too. "A cornerstone of my policy is we will substantially expand public private partnerships to maximize the amount of investment and funding that is available for space exploration and development. This means launching and operating major space assets, right here, that employ thousands and spur innovation and fuel economic growth. "I will free NASA from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistics agency for low earth orbit activity. Big deal. "Instead we will refocus its mission on space exploration. Under a Trump administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars. With a victory in November, everything will change. Just think about what we can accomplish in 100 days."

Trump's space policy reaches for Mars and the stars, op ed, Space News

"NASA's core missions must be exploration and science - and inspirational! These are the fundamental underpinnings of a Trump civilian space program. NASA should be focused primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies. Human exploration of our entire solar system by the end of this century should be NASA's focus and goal. Developing the technologies to meet that goal would severely challenge our present knowledge base, but that should be a reason for exploration and science. Space station activities must also remain robust given their long delayed, but now functioning, research potential. However, the U.S., working with the international community, should seek new participants in its mission and look to transitioning the station to a quasi-public facility supported by international contributions and resupplied utilizing commercially available services."

Keith's note: The Trump campaign was mostly caught by surprise by their win. While there was a formal Trump Transition Team operating, it had not gotten to the point of working details of who would visit each agency and what they would do once they arrived. If you check this chart you will see that NASA is currently not a priority for the Trump "Agency Action Team" structure. NASA is not even mentioned.

Right now the bulk of the Trump Transition Team for NASA is headed by former Rep. Bob Walker and Mark Albrecht. Walker spent 20 years representing Pennsylvania in the House and served as chair of the House Science Committee. He also chaired the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and was a member of the President's Commission on Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy. Albrecht was Executive Secretary of the National Space Council between 1989-1992 and principal space advisor to President George H. W. Bush. Albrecht is currently chairman of the board of U.S. Space LLC. It is going to take Walker and Albrecht a while to get up to speed.

Bolden Welcomes Trump

Internal NASA Memo From Charlie Bolden: Reaching for New Heights in 2017 and Beyond

"In times when there has been much news about all the things that divide our nation, there has been noticeable bipartisan support for this work, our work - support that not only reaches across the aisle, but across the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors. For this reason, I think we can all be confident that the new Trump Administration and future administrations after that will continue the visionary course on which President Barack Obama has set us, a course that all of you have made possible."

Donald Trump tells 10-year-old that 'space is terrific' but potholes are more important, Washington Post

"The local boy laughed, told the presidential candidate "yeah," and said: "I want to know your opinions on NASA." Trump wanted to make sure he correctly heard the question, turning to those around him to clarify if the boy was asking about the national space program or the North American Free Trade Agreement. A woman near the boy shouted: "Space!" "You know, in the old days, it was great," Trump told the boy, along with an audience of more than 600. "Right now, we have bigger problems - you understand that? We've got to fix our potholes. You know, we don't exactly have a lot of money."

Earlier election 2016 posts

Keith's update: I would expect that former Rep. Bob Walker is working in the background on the transition plan for NASA. You will also hear names such as Mark Albrecht mentioned for Administrator. Scott Pace and Jim Muncy should also figure prominently in this transition. More to follow.

The Election and Science

Beyond Trump vs Clinton: A scientist's guide to the US election, Nature

"Take Maryland, whose senior senator, Barbara Mikulski, is retiring after 30 years in office. Mikulski is not only the highest-ranking Democrat on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which formulates the Senate's spending bills. She's also the top Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that oversees funding for the NSF, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and has pushed to increase spending on science over the years. That interest is home-grown: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and several NOAA facilities, including the agency's satellite operations centre, are located in Maryland."

Trump takes aim at NASA's climate budget, The Hill

"In a Wednesday speech in Florida, Trump slammed the Obama administration for "undermining our space program." "I will refocus its mission on space exploration," he vowed. "Under a Trump administration, Florida and America, will lead the way into the stars." Trump's remarks are in line with many congressional Republicans who have vowed to prioritize space exploration. The promise to boost exploration funding was likely welcome news for those who see America leading the world in space missions, including a high-profile effort to send astronauts to Mars within decades. But the remarks are also raising alarm among many who fear the GOP plans are a cover for slashing NASA's significant budget for climate research."

NASA Advisory Council Meeting March 31 - April 1 2016, NASA

"Dr. Wanda Austin asked Mr. Bolden to discuss how NASA plans to work with the Presidential transition teams to maintain progress on NASA's current programs and activities. Mr. Bolden explained that the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 allows each political party, after their nominating convention, to assemble transition teams . Beginning in August 2016, NASA will have access to those transition teams. NASA 's intent is to be proactive with the transition teams and tell them as much as possible about NASA, its programs, and the President's vision and remind them, similar to the Hippocratic Oath, first of all to "do no harm. "The Nation is embarked as the leader of the world on an ambitious space exploration program. NASA has put together a great set of science programs. It has a more robust aeronautics program than at any time in the recent history of the Agency, and a technology development program that is helping to develop the cutting edge technologies that would be needed not just for the Journey to Mars but across the NASA portfolio. NASA will not wait for the transition teams to come to NASA, but will go to them."

"The Council discussed the upcoming transition in Presidential Administrations. Dr. Peterson advised that it would be important to be prepared to be proactive and present the transition teams with a plan for Mars. Mr. Hale reported that he had worked with the last transition team and learned that space policy is made at the White House. He asserted, "It is setting the expectation too high to suggest that NASA can affect the formulation of space policy." Ms. Blakey advised that it is important to know who is listened to on the transition teams."

Election only the start of a long-term NASA transition, SpaceNews

"While both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump established transition teams after accepting their parties' nominations this summer, months ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, that planning has yet to involve "landing teams" for NASA. "We're at the point now where, any day now, we could hear about individual names for the landing team for NASA," said Michael French, NASA chief of staff, speaking at a meeting of the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) here. "NASA has not received this information yet."

Keith's note: Interesting. With regard to presidential transition teams Charlie Bolden said "NASA will not wait for the transition teams to come to NASA, but will go to them". Now, with regard to who is on these transition teams, his chief of staff says "NASA has not received this information yet". So ... I guess no one followed Bolden's direction to seek out the transition teams. In my experience, transition teams never reveal their membership until after an election, so I am not sure he'd know who to talk to anyway . If you compare Bolden's and French's approaches they seem to be the opposite of each other. I wonder who is giving NASA HQ advice on all of this?

- Now NASA Wants Special Treatment From Congress, earlier post

Clinton Campaign Op Ed

Hillary will expand our space potential, op ed, Space News

"We are fortunate to be entering a dynamic new era in space - one that will enable us to explore new worlds, expand our scientific knowledge, push the frontiers of technological innovation, and achieve our boldest aspirations in space. This forward trajectory has been fueled by pragmatic policies that have brought together our brightest minds, and newest technologies, to forge new frontiers. As president, Secretary Clinton will not only build on our progress in space, but will advance inspirational, achievable, and affordable space initiatives."

Donald Trump's "peace through strength" space doctrine, op ed, Space News

"A key Trump goal will be to create lower costs through greater efficiencies. We must ensure that space products developed for one sector, but applicable to another, will be fully shared, not duplicated. It makes little sense to develop numerous launch vehicles at taxpayer cost, all with essentially the same technology and payload capacity. Coordinated policy could end such duplication of effort and could likely determine where there are private sector solutions that do not necessarily require government investment."

Keith's note: A second Trump space policy op ed in 2 weeks - and still no overt mention of support for SLS/Orion, ARM, or #JourneyToMars - just the same statement that government should not be developing launch capabilities when the private sector can do so.

- Trump Space Advisors Omit Support of SLS, Orion, ARM, #JourneytoMars, earlier post

Trump Scrubs KSC Visit

Keith's update: According to CNN, Trump has cancelled plans to visit KSC. So much for the photo op of his jet landing at KSC shuttle landing facility. Apparently they could not find a rally location offsite in a nearby location that would meet the expected audience numbers. I've also heard that there was a NASA concern that the campaign would try and do a tour where giant NASA logos would appear in campaign photos.

Donald Trump adds Sanford, St. Augustine to Florida swing, FloridaPolitics.com

"In addition, he's expected to tour Kennedy Space Center and meet with the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. That activity originally was scheduled for Monday but the Space Coast EDC reported it has been postponed to Tuesday. No details are yet available."

Donald Trump to meet with Florida space officials Monday, Orlando Sentinel

"Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has accepted an invitation to tour Kennedy Space Center and other locations on the Space Coast before sitting in on a roundtable of space industry leaders on Monday, Oct. 24. ... So far, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has not accepted invitations to tour the region. Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the economic development commission of Florida's Space Coast, said she hopes Trump's visit encourages Clinton to follow suit."

Trump's space policy reaches for Mars and the stars, Op Ed, Space News

"A 21st century space policy requires a bold combination of public missions, commercial solutions and the agility to address real threats and real opportunities. To craft such a policy, government must recognize that space is no longer the province of governments alone. Ronald Reagan anticipated this revolution long ago when he signed the 1984 Commercial Space Launch Act. ... Creating the technologies necessary to meet these goals would push us into the forefront of technological development and benefit our economy for decades to come. However, NASA cannot be expected to do this kind of 21st century Apollo-like mission if it is forced to accept outdated operational structures, contracting procedures, and bureaucracies created in the last century."

Keith's note: Former congresman, veteran space consultant, and Trump advisor Robert Walker is one of the two authors of this op ed. No mention is made of SLS, Orion, or ARM - yet a list of specific commercial companies and their capabilities - Orbital ATK, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon, Sierra Nevada, United Launch Alliance, Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace is included. Moreover a warning against Apollo-like missions (#JourneyToMars) is made.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on U.S. space policy, Space News

"TRUMP: After taking office, we will have a comprehensive review of our plans for space, and will work with Congress to set both priorities and mission."

"CLINTON Today, thanks to decades of successful American robotic explorers, we know more about the universe than ever before. We have learned that asteroids have shaped life on our home planet and will likely affect our future. Their scientific value and their potential as a resource make them valuable targets for further exploration. Many of the technologies we need to send astronauts to an asteroid can also serve as foundational technologies that will be necessary to make human exploration of Mars possible. While President Kennedy set NASA on a course to win the race against Russia to get to the moon, today, human spaceflight is a global endeavor, with astronauts and cosmonauts living and working together on the International Space Station -- a remarkable facility developed with 15 international partners. America should continue to push the boundaries of space and lead a global effort of exploration. I have always been an enthusiastic supporter of human space flight. My administration will continue to invest in this worthwhile endeavor. Mars is a consensus horizon goal, though to send humans safely, we still need to advance the technologies required to mitigate the effects of long-duration, deep-space flight."

Keith's note: In other words Trump has no idea. Clinton, on the other hand ...

WikiLeaks Reveals UFO ​Messages in Clinton Campaign Emails, Wall Street Journal (subscription)

"The former lead singer of the band Blink 182 was in recent contact with Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta about UFOs, newly disclosed emails show. Tom DeLonge, who was the guitarist for the power punk trio best known for songs like "Dammit" and "What's My Age Again," emailed Mr. Podesta at least twice. He wrote in cryptic terms about their well-documented mutual interest in more government disclosure about the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects of potential extraterrestrial origin. The emails, released by the website Wikileaks this month, also reveal that Mr. Podesta participated in a documentary that Mr. DeLonge is producing. Mr. Podesta, who has worked in the highest levels of government in the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, has expressed interested in the topic. And he has long championed further government disclosure around classified files concerning UFOs."

- Is This A Preview of Hillary Clinton's Space Policy?, earlier post
- Hillary Clinton Wants Area 51 Transparency (Slow News Day), earlier post
- Aliens and Space Policy, earlier post

Keith's note: WikiLeaks, Blink 182, John Podesta, and UFOs? This sounds like the premise of a South Park episode.

Senate Committee Advances Bill to Ensure Stability at NASA During Change of Administration, AIP

"The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has advanced a NASA authorization bill that focuses on space exploration and seeks to ensure stability at the space agency through the upcoming presidential transition. Unlike the House-passed NASA authorization bill, the Senate bill has only a few provisions specific to NASA's science divisions. Whereas the House backed a sweeping authorization bill that addresses all of NASA's major programs, including providing extensive guidance to NASA's Science Mission Directorate, the Senate bill focuses on big picture strategy and ensuring stability at the agency through the upcoming presidential transition. The Senate legislation emphasizes NASA's role in space exploration, and it would formalize in statute the horizon goal of sending humans to Mars as well as support steps for getting there."

Gaffe-prone Gary Johnson says humans must inhabit other planets, NY Daily News

"Gary Johnson might want to study up about Earth before worrying about other planets. The Libertarian Party presidential nominee -- who earlier this month infamously failed to recognize the Syrian city of Aleppo during a nationally televised interview -- said Sunday that the human race will ultimately be forced to live on other planets. "I mean, the plate tectonics at one point, Africa and South America separated and I am talking now about the Earth and the fact that we have existed for billions of years and will going forward," the gaffe-prone former New Mexico governor said on ABC's "This Week." "We do have to inhabit other planets. I mean, the future of the human race ... is space exploration. So, no, we should be prudent with the environment. We care about the environment," he said."

Gary Johnson's Solution For Climate Change Involves Moving to Other Planets, Gizmodo

"Look, what it points to also is the fact that we do have to inhabit other planets," Johnson continued. "The future of the human race is space exploration."

Keith's note: I just deleted half a dozen posts by readers that have nothing to do with the topic of this post: space policy. If you people cannot stay on topic I will shut off comments on election 2016 posts again.

ScienceDebate2016 Answers, ScienceDebate.org

"16. Space - There is a political debate over America's national approach to space exploration and use. What should America's national goals be for space exploration and earth observation from space, and what steps would your administration take to achieve them?"

Hillary Clinton (D): "President Kennedy's challenge in 1962 to go to the Moon within a decade electrified the nation, prompted a long period of American leadership in science and technology, and spurred a generation of innovators.

In the decades since, we have explored the sun and every planet in our solar system; mapped the surface and studied the atmosphere of Mars and confirmed the presence of water on the Red Planet; discovered new solar systems with Earth-like planets; mapped the distribution of galaxies in the universe; observed black holes, dark matter, and dark energy; built programs to monitor our ozone layer and the catastrophic impact of global climate change; and identified and mapped near-Earth asteroids as a first step to protect our planet from a major asteroid impact. The International Space Station stands as the largest and most complex international technological project in history and has been key to understanding the response of the human body to long periods in zero gravity. And in recent years, new companies have sprung up that offer the promise of innovative approaches to transporting cargo and, eventually, humans in space. Americans have always been willing to think big, take risks, and push forward. These pillars will continue to underpin what America does in space, just as they define who we are as a people.

As president, my administration will build on this progress, promote innovation, and advance inspirational, achievable, and affordable space initiatives. We must maintain our nation's leadership in space with a program that balances science, technology and exploration; protect our security and the future of the planet through international collaboration and Earth systems monitoring; expand our robotic presence in the solar system; and maximize the impact of our R&D and other space program investments by promoting stronger coordination across federal agencies, and cooperation with industry. I will work with Congress to ensure that NASA has the leadership, funding and operational flexibility necessary to work in new ways with industry, placing emphasis on inventing and employing new technologies and efficiencies to get more bang for the buck while creating jobs and growing the American economy.

Today, thanks to a series of successful American robotic explorers, we know more about the Red Planet than ever before. A goal of my administration will be to expand this knowledge even further and advance our ability to make human exploration of Mars a reality.

As a young girl, I was so inspired by America's leadership and accomplishments in space that I wrote to NASA about becoming an astronaut. As president, I will help inspire the next generation of young Americans and do what I can to ensure that we have the world's most exciting and advanced space program, one that meets our highest human aspirations in a world where the sky is no longer the limit."

Donald Trump (R): "Space exploration has given so much to America, including tremendous pride in our scientific and engineering prowess. A strong space program will encourage our children to seek STEM educational outcomes and will bring millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in investment to this country. The cascading effects of a vibrant space program are legion and can have a positive, constructive impact on the pride and direction of this country. Observation from space and exploring beyond our own space neighborhood should be priorities. We should also seek global partners, because space is not the sole property of America. All humankind benefits from reaching into the stars."

Keith's note: Gary Johnson did not respond. Jill Stein is against space commerce and military uses of space.

Keith's note: Someone just sent this to me - they found it on a bulletin board at the NASA center where they work. For a moment, as I started to read it, I thought it was legit. Then it became clear that it was not. Then I looked at the date on the letter. Lets just say that this letter is not real but given the way that this election has devolved since it was written it probably should be true. The original faux letter is presented below. The original can be downloaded here.

Trump's Campaign CEO Ran a Secretive Sci-Fi Project in the Arizona Desert, Mother Jones

"Long before Stephen Bannon was CEO of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, he held a much different job - as the acting director of Biosphere 2, a $200 million scientific research facility in the mountains outside Tucson, Arizona. ... Bannon left Biosphere 2 after two years, and the project was taken over by Columbia University. (It is currently part of the University of Arizona.) But his departure was marred, as the Tucson Citizen reported at the time, by a civil lawsuit filed against Space Biosphere Ventures by the former crew members who had broken in."

Before Breitbart, before Trump, Bannon bullied people in Biosphere 2, Boing Boing

"Archival reports from 1993 found in the Star-Telegram archives show that Bannon was hired to take over the project at a point where it losing $12-15 million a year. Bannon was a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who ran a firm based in Los Angeles and New York that specialized in media and entertainment investments. .. Bannon's actions soon ended up as part of a civil suit filed by some of the original Biospherians against the new guard. In court, he admitted speaking angry words that echo some more recent accusations against him."

Biosphere 2, wikipedia

"Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment: once from 1991 to 1993, and the second time from March to September 1994. Both attempts, though heavily publicized, ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animal and plant species, squabbling among the resident scientists and management issues."

Marco Rubio declares support for NASA plan, calls on presidential nominees to do same, Florida Politics

"Saying NASA needs long-range political assurances, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio declared broad backing for the space agency's agenda Friday and called on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to do the same. Rubio met Friday with space industry representatives and others in a roundtable discussion organized by the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast and Space Florida, the state's space industry development corporation. They heard from him what they wanted: that Florida's junior senator, seeking re-election, is behind NASA's most ambitious programs, to turn over as much lower-Earth orbit activity as possible to private companies, and focus the nation's manned space flight efforts on getting to Mars."

Challenge to presidential candidates: Debate about science, Washington Post

"Climate change. Mental health. Space exploration. Vaccinations. The health of the oceans. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs. These are not the typical meat-and-potatoes topics of presidential debates. Often, the candidates and people who ask them questions skip over such topics entirely. But dozens of non-partisan groups that represent millions of scientists and engineers across the country are eager to change that. For the third consecutive presidential election, the folks behind ScienceDebate.org are asking candidates to hold a debate exclusively about major issues in science, engineering, health and the environment. Since that almost certainly won't happen (it didn't in 2008 or 2012, either), the organizers have put together 20 questions they are asking candidates to address in writing. Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, said answers from the campaigns could help voters gauge how a candidate plans to use scientific information to make important decisions in the White House."

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Member Futuramic Recognized by Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

"The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (Coalition) is pleased one of its members, Futuramic Tool & Engineering (Futuramic), was recognized yesterday by Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton as "being on the front lines of a manufacturing renaissance in America." ... Clinton referenced Futuramic's role in the manufacturing of SLS stating the rocket was "being built to go from Macomb (Michigan) to Mars."

Keith's update: Looks like the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration's lobbying worked - almost - "NLSLS" (what she said) is not SLS - and Third World countries do build rockets. But Hillary did say "Mars".

Donald Trump addresses NASA and new media in his first Reddit AMA, Tech Crunch

"Asked by the same Redditor the role NASA should "play in helping to Make America Great Again," he responded with, "Honestly I think NASA is wonderful! America has always led the world in space exploration," echoing similar comments by Peter Thiel, whose recent Republican Convention address took issue with expenditures on war rather than space exploration, stating, "Instead of going to Mars, we invaded the Middle East." While unequivocally pro-NASA and America, Trump's response was decidedly less detailed than Obama's answer to a similar question on his own AMA."

That time Trump said "NASA' on reddit

Astronaut Mark Kelly "Thank you, everyone. I speak to you tonight as the proud son of two New Jersey cops; as a veteran of 39 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm and of 25 years in the United States Navy. And as a former NASA astronaut who flew four missions to space. My decades as a pilot, military officer, and astronaut gave me a unique perspective. From above, I saw our country at its best. I also saw humanity at its worst. I saw us lead an international coalition against the illegal invasion of Kuwait. I also saw the devastating human effects of war itself. From orbit, I saw our planet as a perfect blue marble. But I also saw shrinking glaciers and rainforests. At war and in space, I saw American leadership on display. But I was always frustrated to return to a country that struggles to address some of our biggest problems here at home."

Governor Jerry Brown: "As we just saw, climate change is unlike any other threat we humans face. It is overarching and affects the entire earth and all living things. It is slow. It is relentless. And it is subject to irreversible tipping points and vast unknowns. Combating climate change, the existential threat of our time, will take heroic effort on the part of many people and many nations. Make no mistake, climate change is REAL. The vast majority of world leaders and climate scientists, like those at NASA and the Department of Defense - indeed, almost anyone who chooses to think - believes in the science of climate change and sees the moral imperative to take action."

2016 Democratic Party Platform DRAFT July 1, 2016

Keith's 7 July note: There is no mention of NASA or anything remotely close to space. No surprise. Platforms are just documents that are more focused on letting party people exercise their narrow interests than being close to anything that will ever really become a presidential administration's future policies. Besides, space is a niche issue - at best - one that usually becomes a punch line when it does creep into presidential campaigns (Newt Gingrich's moon base, John Kerry in the bunny suit, etc.) But I worked on the staff of two of Jerry Brown's campaigns (Gov. Moonbeam), so what do I know? Beam me up.

Keith's 22 July update: The revised version of the platform (as of 21 July) says: "Pushing beyond the boundaries of what we know is core to who we are as Americans. Democrats are immensely proud of all that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has done-through its achievements in science, technology and exploration-to better understand our place in the universe and inspire and educate generations of young people in this country to pursue careers in science. Space exploration is a reminder that our capacity for curiosity is limitless, and may be matched only by our ability to achieve great things if we work together. Democrats believe in continuing the spirit of discovery that has animated NASA's exploration of space over the last half century. We will strengthen support for NASA and work in partnership with the international scientific community to launch new missions to space."

Election 2016 postings

Sorry, Eileen Collins: Here's why America is already great in space, Ars Technica

"But the public needs to recognize this as well, which is why I was disappointed by Collins and her pining for the Apollo era on such a big stage. The reality is that the best way to "lead on the frontier" in the 21st century is not through flags and footprints, but rather by sending people into space to stay, in a sustainable way, with the eventual aim of making space profitable. One would hope that Donald J. Trump, if he is elected president, would recognize such capitalism when he sees it."

Retired astronaut Eileen Collins endorses Donald Trump in all but name, Mashable

"In a speech before the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, retired astronaut Eileen Collins delivered a sharp rebuke of NASA's recent leadership, endorsing controversial Republican nominee Donald Trump in all but name. Collins, who was the first woman to command a NASA space shuttle mission, had been expected to deliver a nonpartisan speech, and stopped just shy of issuing a more explicit endorsement. However, the speech will be viewed as a clear critique of NASA's leadership under the Obama administration."

Federal investigators: Cabinet secretary and potential Clinton running mate Julian Castro violated Hatch Act, Washington Post

"Housing Secretary Julian Castro violated the federal Hatch Act restricting partisan political activity by federal employees when he praised Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during an interview conducted from his government office, government investigators found Monday."

Keith's note: Stephanie Schierholz works for the NASA Public Affairs Office (PAO). Her job is to convey official NASA opinions - opinions that are guided by White House policies. She states that her Twitter account opinions are her own - yet she overtly uses that same Twitter account almost every day - during the day while she is at work - for official business - including the topics that she mentions in her tweet. Her tweet is also embedded in a popular Mashable article. Smells like a Hatch Act violation to me.

Prepared Comments by Astronaut Eileen Collins Republican National Convention, RNC

"We need leadership that will challenge every American to ask, "What's next?" We need leadership that will make America's space program first again. We need leadership that will make America first again. That leader is Donald Trump."

SU grad Eileen Collins skips Donald Trump mention in RNC speech, Syracuse.com

"According to the prepared transcript of the speech, she was supposed to end with "That leader is Donald Trump." Those words even appeared on the teleprompter at the back of the arena floor. But she didn't. Instead, she thanked the crowd and left the stage. At no point in the speech did she mention Trump by name."

Keith's update:
The take home message: Eileen Collins is mad because the Space Shuttle program was cancelled (by a republican President - shh!) and that the U.S. has no way to launch people into space (no mention of two private sector systems that will fly next year). She feels that great nations explore and that leadership in space contributes to leadership on Earth. She feels that the U.S. used to have leadership in space, that it currently does not have leadership in space, and that it needs to regain that leadership in space. There was no endorsement of anyone. Between mention in the party platform and prominence given at the RNC convention it will be interesting to see if the Democrats give space equal exposure.

Before Eileen Collins spoke the RNC aired a slick 3:44 long video about space exploration. Initially I thought it was rather odd that Collins had a professionally done, inspirational into - with a narrator and soundtrack tailor-made to introduce her when none of the other speakers had one. Indeed, all of the other speakers (except Cruz) endorsed Trump. Add in the prepared comments with an endorsement released to the media - and loaded into the teleprompter - and I get the impression that an endorsement from Collins was fully expected and that something changed at the very last minute.

Comments are open again. Be nice or I'll turn them off again.

Keith's update: Note the highlighted sentences below. Between the unused endorsement in the official prepared comments and what was said, the Trump campaign clearly had a hand in what she said.

RNC releases early excerpts of Wednesday convention speeches, Politico

"Eileen Collins, retired astronaut - "Nations that lead on the frontier, lead in the world. We need that visionary leadership again: leadership that will inspire the next generation to have that same passion. We need leadership that will challenge every American to ask, 'What's next?' We need leadership that will make America's space program first again. We need leadership that will make America first again."

According to Donald Trump's official Facebook page: "47 years ago our nation did something that NOBODY thought we could do - we were the first to put a man on the moon. It is time to be number one, again! Believe me, as President, we will once again, Make America First Again! #AmericaFirst #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #RNCinCLE"

Republican Platform

"The public-private partnerships between NASA, the Department of Defense, and commercial companies have given us technological progress that has reduced the cost of accessing space and extended America's space leadership in the commercial, civil, and national security spheres. The entrepreneurship and innovation culture of the free market is revitalizing the nation's space capabilities, saving taxpayer money, and advancing technology critical to maintain America's edge in space and in other fields. To protect our national security interests and foster innovation and competitiveness, we must sustain our preeminence in space by launching more scientific missions, guaranteeing unfettered access, and ensuring that our space-related industries remain a source of scientific leadership and education."

- Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker Endorse Obama's New NASA Plan, Urge Bipartisan Support, CSF (2010)
- Is Gingrich's Pro-Obama Space Policy Stance About to Flip Flop ... (2012)

Keith's note: Looks like the RNC just endorsed the Obama Administration's commercial space policy - just like New Gingrich and Bob Walker did. Then again Newt was against it before he was for it (or was it the other way around?). Of course, Mike Griffin was moving in this direction before Obama - and Sean O'Keefe before Griffin. Either way, its deja vu all over again with supporters of commercial space on both sides. Oddly, right now, Republicans in Congress are among the most vocal opponents of the current incarnation of the same commercial space policy that began in a Republican administration.

Keith's 7 July update: A week Two weeks Three weeks ago I sent NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan (and NASA HQ PAO) a simple question about her statement regarding NASA's value to America's economy i.e."there was a report that showed that for ever $1.00 you spend on NASA you get $4.00 returned to the economy". NASA has still not gotten back to me with an answer. Either NASA refuses to answer or (more likely) they cannot answer - because their answer would reveal that they have no idea where their claims come from.

After 20 years I can totally understand that some people at NASA are loathe to respond to NASAWatch questions like this - especially ones with a high gotcha quotient. I get that. But you'd think that such a basic talking point - one repeatedly used by senior agency personnel to explain the purported value of NASA to our economy - would be one that is strongly grounded in research data - data that should be at everyone's finger tips. Guess again. If NASA is unable to answer such a simple, basic question about a commonly-used talking point, why should anyone take agency staff seriously when they start to talk about commerce, economics, and return on investment?

NASA has no idea what it is talking about when it comes to its economic value to our nation. So they just make stuff up and hope that no one asks any questions.

NASA has been getting ready for visits from presidential campaign transition teams in the coming weeks. Based on my sources agency leadership is under some collective pervasive delusion that space is actually an issue that campaigns intend to pay attention to prior to the election. Moreover, their aim is to tell the campaigns that NASA is doing what it should be doing, to please just let NASA do whatever it is doing, and not ask too many questions as to why NASA is doing what it is doing. Among the things NASA would normally do is drop the whole dollar-invested/dollar-returned thing into the briefing charts. If NASA cannot answer a simple media question about NASA's numerical claim of value added benefits to the economy, I am not certain that they should be perpetuating these urban factoids by telling them to representatives of the next administration.

Trump calls on Elon Musk to settle all Muslims on Mars, editorial cartoon, Washington Post

"Musk is said to be thinking over the proposal, but plans have already leaked from the Musk studio showing a design for a luxury one-person, one-way vehicle to Uranus, with pink marble interior with gold fixtures, a full-length mirror and a Make the Solar System Great Again logo."

- Hillary Clinton Wants Area 51 Transparency, earlier post

Nation Demands NASA Stop Holding Press Conferences Until They Discover Some Little Alien Guys, The Onion

"Nobody even cares that there's some water on Mars; we have water on Earth so you shouldn't even bother having a stupid press conference unless there's proof of alien guys with a bunch of eyes or tentacles or something," said Fort Wayne, IN resident Kyle Schultz, echoing the sentiment of Americans across the country who insisted that NASA stop telling them about new black holes, asteroids, or a type of element on another planet's surface until they have pictures of orange or purple aliens running around a weird futuristic city. "And none of that microscopic organism crap."

Hillary Clinton Gives UFO Buffs Hope She Will Open the X-Files, New York Times

"In a radio interview last month, she said, "I want to open the files as much as we can." Asked if she believed in U.F.O.s, Mrs. Clinton said: "I don't know. I want to see what the information shows." But she added, "There's enough stories out there that I don't think everybody is just sitting in their kitchen making them up." When asked about extraterrestrials in an interview with The Conway Daily Sun in New Hampshire last year, Mrs. Clinton promised to "get to the bottom of it." "I think we may have been" visited already, she said in the interview. "We don't know for sure."

Keith's note: One of these stories is not true.

Keith's note: Heads up NASA HQ 9th floor: Chris Christie is heading Donald Trump's transition Team. You need to get to work on those pothole powerpoint slides, Charlie.

Potholes Trump Space In Trump Space Policy, earlier post

"[Trump's] answers to Aerospace America's questions align with comments he made during a campaign stop in Manchester, NH in November. There he offered what has become perhaps his most memorable remark about space exploration, that it is important, "but we have to fix our potholes."

Trump Praises NASA, But Dodges Funding Questions in Aerospace America Q&A, Space Policy Online

"In brief, Trump said that NASA "has been one of the most important agencies in the United States government for most of my lifetime" and he wants it to remain that way. But in response to a question about whether the United States is spending the proper amount of money on NASA, he demurred: "I am not sure that is the right question. What we spend on NASA should be appropriate for what we are asking them to do. ... Our first priority is to restore a strong economic base to this country. Then, we can have a discussion about spending." He similarly deflected a question about whether sending humans to Mars should continue to be a goal. He strongly supported government-private sector partnerships in space. His answers to Aerospace America's questions align with comments he made during a campaign stop in Manchester, NH in November. There he offered what has become perhaps his most memorable remark about space exploration, that it is important, "but we have to fix our potholes."

Transition Fever, Lori Garver, Op Ed, SpaceNews

"The bottom line is that we in the space community can't have it both ways. We can't take the public's money, but then not allow the leaders they elect to have any say about NASA's direction. While the multi-year process of getting both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to agree on NASA programs and budgets may be frustrating, that is the "price" we pay for spending public tax dollars. These inherent challenges are part of why I believe we should do everything possible to incentivize the private sector to do more. ... If we follow the path many have suggested and limit the influence of future presidents over NASA and its leadership, we are likely to see less support for the agency, not more. It would also embolden those who want less of a sustainable strategic space program in favor of parochial pet projects. NASA stands to benefit greatly from the energy of a new presidency and should be preparing to welcome the transition team with open arms and open books."

Keith's note: In this Op Ed Garver talks about her transition Team experiences in 2008 and how NASA was less than forthcoming with information about the status Constellation - specifically Ares V. I wonder what will await the next transition team when it comes time for them to hear the SLS briefing. Sticker shock? Buyer's remorse? Another large rocket termination? Yet another blue ribbon panel?

News From The Future

Keith's note: This weekend the Boston Globe ran a fake newspaper front page from the future as a parody of the Trump campaign. NASA was featured.

Space Community Braces For Another U.S. Transition, Aviation week

"White House staffers have told reporters Obama wants to leave his successor "a clean barn" without the financial and foreign policy troubles he inherited. Although civil spaceflight has not been a White House priority under Obama, Bolden is trying to emulate the clean-barn pattern at NASA."

Hillary On Area 51 Secrets: 'I Think We Ought To Share It With The Public', Daily Caller

"Hillary Clinton says barring any national security risk, she would like to open up the government files on Area 51 to the public if she is elected president. "I would like us to go into those files and hopefully make as much of that public as possible," she told Jimmy Kimmel Thursday night on his late night ABC talk show. "If there's nothing there, let's tell people there's nothing there." When Kimmel followed up by asking what she would do if she discovered there was actually something alarming in the files, Clinton replied: "Well, if there is something there, unless it's a threat to national security, I think we ought to share it with the public."

Keith's note: This video from last week's Goddard Memorial Symposium features Marcia Smith, Editor, SpacePolicyOnline.com; Lori Garver, General Manager, ALPA; Chris Shank, Policy Director for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee; Sandy Magnus, AIAA Executive Director; and Mary Lynne Dittmar, Executive Director, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration. The real discussion - bordering on a debate - was between Lori Garver and Chris Shank. You could say it was the opening salvo of space policy in the 2016 election.

The most naive thing to be said came from Mary Lynne Dittmar when she got to talking about a mandate to explore space (around 1:10:00) "Why is space held to this sort of standard that we - in this country - have to come to some single consensus about what the mandate needs to be in order for us to go forward? We don't do that for almost anything else." In other words, who needs a clear reason to go build SLS (i.e. a mandate)? We should just build it and then find something to go do with it - because we want to do something, somewhere - eventually - because that's what space people do - build new things that go into space. Oh, and just send us everyone else's money when we need it. In other words space IS special - to space people. They are just are blind to the obvious and feel no compulsion to make what they are doing actually relevant to the people who pay for their party.

Space Policy White Paper = Shopping List For The Journey to Nowhere, Previous post

"On one hand the space groups want to have a say in the political decisions that affect their members (and donors). But on the other hand they'd rather not have the politicians pay too much attention to space such that the current status quo is not upset. In other words "write us the checks but don't rock the boat" - or more bluntly "look but don't touch". This is, at best, naive thinking on the part of the space community."

- White Paper Lays Out Steps to Ensure U.S. Leadership in Space, AIAA, earlier post
- NASA Begins Its Journey To Nowhere, earlier post
- ASAP: NASA Has No Plan or Firm Funding For Its #JourneyToMars, earlier post

Keith's note: Last week a group of space-related organizations rented the National Press Club so they could announce a white paper on space policy. Why bother? Space is not going to be an issue in the 2016 campaign.

At the press event Elliot Pulham from The Space Foundation said "We thought it would be a good time to have a platform of information out there that all candidates could refer to, learn from and take to heart as they plan their campaigns" but moments later he also said "To some extent, the purpose of this is not to have space become a big presidential issue". Pulham added "Let's not undo anything." Sandy Magnus from the AIAA said that this coalition wanted to take the issue of space policy "off the table" but at the same time she said that this group wants to "stress the importance" of space.

Such is the problem with these sort of documents from the space community. On one hand the space groups want to have a say in the political decisions that affect their members (and donors). But on the other hand they'd rather not have the politicians pay too much attention to space such that the current status quo is not upset. In other words "write us the checks but don't rock the boat" - or more bluntly "look but don't touch". This is, at best, naive thinking on the part of the space community.

If you read the white paper it becomes immediately apparent that this coalition wants everything that they are doing to be supported and in some cases, they want even more money. They also want a stable funding environment (makes sense). The two main programs being supported by this coalition are SLS/Orion and Commercial Crew and Cargo with gratuitous mention of other projects that are important to the members of this coalition. Indeed that is all that this white paper is actually about: supporting specific big aerospace contracts. There is no similarly identified support for specific space, planetary, and earth science. Small wonder that the Planetary Society, American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, et al are not among the members of this coalition.

While a lot of prominent names are affixed to this white paper it is clearly being driven by the so-called "four amigos": Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Orbital ATK - the builders of SLS/Orion. Look at the organizations listed and ponder who the prime donors/members are. Its not that hard to fill in the blanks amidst the smoke and mirrors. No surprise folks - this is how these things always work.

Buzz Does CPAC

Buzz Aldrin Addresses CPAC; Urges Continued Space Exploration, Town Hall

"Retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin received a standing ovation at CPAC on Thursday, speaking "not as a Republican" or as a Democrat, but as someone who is concerned that America needs to maintain its space exploration program."

The 2016 Presidential Candidates' Views on NASA and Space Exploration, Gizmodo

"Want to get to Mars? Well, NASA needs money to do it, and the president, along with Congress, mostly calls the shots. But NASA has been consistently underfunded over the last decade, and only saw its budget restored to healthier levels in 2016, when Congress carved out $19.3 billion for the agency. With missions to Mars and Jupiter on the horizon, and ambitions of curbing US dependency on Russian launches to the ISS, NASA's no doubt hoping that the next president keeps the money flowing."

Keith's note: Space is just a blip on the political radar. Rarely, if ever, has it had any influence on a presidential election whatsoever - and then, it was fleeting and usually on late night comedy shows. Nor is it likely to change during this election. Besides, whatever you hear during the campaign will be revised and reinterpreted after the election. The candidates forget the issue 2 minutes after they answer a question about it.

Nothing on the horizon suggests that there will be a large increase in NASA's budget. Nor is anyone really targeting NASA for drastic cuts. Given the large commitments the agency is already in the middle of, and the prospect of flat budgets, it is unlikely that there will be any seismic shifts. As for the #JourneyToMars - absent a large infusion of money (again, not likely) the current pay-as-you-go, we-don't-need-a-plan approach is simply not going to get us to Mars any sooner.

The most that space advocates should hope for after the dust settles is that the agency will be held more accountable for its performance and that some budgetary and policy stability will be injected into things already underway so as to make them progress more efficiently.

Kicking The Can Down the Road to Mars, earlier post

Hearing: The Space Leadership Preservation Act and the Need for Stability at NASA

"Tomorrow, February 25 at 10:00 a.m. ET, the House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the need for stability at NASA through changing presidential administrations. The hearing will feature former astronaut and first female Space Shuttle pilot and commander, Colonel Eileen Collins, as well as former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. Rep. John Culberson, chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, will also testify. Culberson is the author of legislation the Science Committee will review on Thursday, the Space Leadership Preservation Act, which is intended to bring stability to NASA despite changing presidential administrations."

Keith's note: So ... would Mike Griffin entertain the notion of being Donald Trump's NASA Administrator?

Hearing Charter: The Space Leadership Preservation Act and the Need for Stability at NASA

Statement by Eileen Collins: Hearing: The Space Leadership Preservation Act and the Need for Stability at NASA

"I believe program cancellation decisions that are made by bureaucracies, behind closed doors, and without input by the people, are divisive, damaging, cowardly, and many times more expensive in the long run. As a shuttle commander, I would never make a huge decision without input from all the experts, even the ones I do not agree with. So what will keep us from having surprises like this that set us back years? Answer: A continuity of purpose over many years, over political administrations, and over normal changes in leadership throughout the chain of command. I know there must be ways to do this through policy, organizational structure, and strong leadership."

Statement by Michael Griffin: Hearing: The Space Leadership Preservation Act and the Need for Stability at NASA

"What might the "right path" look like? I have been clear in the past and hope to be clear now to me the most logical step beyond the ISS is an international partnership, led by the United States, to return to the Moon, this time to stay. In the course of so doing we will learn what is needed to go beyond, to go to Mars. And if, as I have long suspected, the Moon turns out to be quite an interesting and useful destination in its own right, well then, so much the better."

GAO: NASA: Preliminary Observations on Major Acquisition Projects and Management Challenges, GAO

"Our ongoing work has also found that the Space Launch System and Orion, the two largest projects in this critical stage of development, face cost, schedule, and technical risks. For example, the Space Launch System program has expended significant amounts of schedule reserve over the past year to address delays with development of the core stage, which is the Space Launch System's propellant tank and structural backbone. The Orion program continues to face design challenges, including redesigning the heat shield following the determination that the previous design used in the first flight test in December 2014 would not meet requirements for the first uncrewed flight. The standing review boards for each program have raised concerns about the programs' ability to remain within their cost and schedule baselines. If cost overruns materialize on these programs, they could have a ripple effect on the portfolio and result in the potential postponement or even force the cancellation of projects in earlier stages of development. We have ongoing work on both of these programs and we plan to issue reports on them later this summer."

Advising The Next President

Sean O'Keefe reflects on high-profile positions, recent appointment to advise next US president, Daily Orange

"O'Keefe's next challenge will be having a spot on the National Academy of Public Administration's (NAPA) Presidential Transition panels. As one of six panel members, O'Keefe will help advise the next U.S. president on issues involving public governance and public management. ... The six members on the panel come from very diverse backgrounds, O'Keefe said, but they all have one common denominator: they have previously served in a public capacity."

Keith's note: O'Keefe tells me that he and his fellow panelists serve in an honorary capacity and that they will provide advice across a broad range of issues. Whether the TBD administration listens to what they have to say, well, that is another question.

Bernie Sanders on Science and technology, Feel The Bern - unofficial Bernie Sanders Fan Site

"Does Bernie support funding for space exploration? Bernie believes space exploration is beneficial and exciting, and is generally supportive of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but when it comes to a limited federal budget, Bernie's vote is to take care of the needs of struggling Americans on this planet first.

In a Q&A session on the online forum reddit on May 19, 2015, Bernie wrote: "I am supportive of NASA not only because of the excitement of space exploration, but because of all the additional side benefits we receive from research in that area. Sometimes, and frankly I don't remember all of those votes, one is put in a position of having to make very very difficult choices about whether you vote to provide food for hungry kids or health care for people who have none and other programs. But, in general, I do support increasing funding for NASA."

Keith's note: This is not an official Sanders campaign site, so your mileage may vary when it comes to what Sanders' official stance is on space. I doubt that there is much, if any difference, however. Of course what these Sanders fans have posted is simply a variation on the classic "why spend money in outer space when it should be spent on Earth" rationale for not supporting NASA. The millions in property damage (something that can disportionately affect "struggling Americans") that is avoided by better weather forecasting from satellite data seems to be unimportant- as are many well known benefits from space technology. Also, like it or not, 100% of the salaries paid to people by NASA are paid to people living on Earth and all of that money is spent by people on Earth who give that money to other people - on Earth. The color of the money paid to NASA employees or their contractors is precisely the same as is paid to employees (or grantees) of any other government agency or contractor and is of equal value when it comes to buying food or paying rent. Also, its sort of odd that NASA is always singled out as somehow depriving children of food when other government programs vastly greater in size (pick one) are never mentioned. The root of this common mindset is as much NASA's problem by virtue of it not explaining what it does as it is with ignorant citizenry who never bother to learn what what their government does with their tax dollars.

Reminder to commenters: Stick to the topic of space policy in 2016. If you misbehave in the comments section I will delete your comments. If this turns into an other off-topic partisan food fight I will shut comments off completely. Have a nice day.

An astronaut's complaint about the president perfectly captures what is wrong with NASA, TechInsider

"During a Reddit AMA from the International Space Station on Jan. 23 Astronaut Scott Kelly called out the US government for its lack of financial support for NASA. When a Reddit user asked Kelly what he'd like to see the next president of the United States do, Kelly had an interesting answer: "I would like the next president to support a budget that allows us to accomplish the mission that we are asked to perform, whatever that mission may be," Kelly wrote. ... To Kelly's point, even though the Obama administration directed NASA to start working on a manned mission to Mars, many have criticized the administration and Congress for not adequately funding NASA, causing critical Mars projects to fall behind schedule."

Bigelow Hearts Trump

Donald Trump tells 10-year-old that 'space is terrific' but potholes are more important, Washington Post

"You know, in the old days, it was great," Trump told the boy, along with an audience of more than 600. "Right now, we have bigger problems -- you understand that? We've got to fix our potholes. You know, we don't exactly have a lot of money." But it's not that Trump doesn't love space. After all, he once tweeted in August 2012: "It is very sad to see what @BarackObama has done with NASA. He has gutted the program and made us dependent on the Russians."

If elected, Hillary Clinton vows to 'get to the bottom' of the UFO mystery, Geekwire

"If we were visited someday I wouldn't be surprised," he said. "I just hope that it's not like 'Independence Day.'" When Hillary Clinton was asked about those comments and the prospects for getting a visit from extraterrestrials, she replied, "I think we may have been.[visited already]. We don't know for sure." Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, has long called for more disclosure about UFO cases, although he hasn't said specifically what needs to be revealed. When he left his post as senior adviser to President Barack Obama, he tweeted that his "biggest failure of 2014" was his inability to secure the disclosure of UFO files. Today, Podesta noted Hillary Clinton's reported comment that he made the candidate "personally pledge we are going to get the information out" about aliens and Area 51."

Keith's note: Great. The goofy UFO beliefs of long-time Clintonite John Podesta are apparently one of the cornerstones of Hillary Clinton's new space policy.

Hillary Clinton's often-told story that NASA rejected her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, Washington Post

"According to NASA and some space historians, the message in the response that Clinton claims to have received is consistent with NASA policy and the agency's attitudes toward the possibility of female astronauts at the time. It is debatable whether the tone of the letter Clinton describes fits NASA's response to girls or aspiring female college students in the early 1960s. NASA could not authenticate the one 1962 letter that exists in cyberspace that appears to confirm Clinton's account, though the agency says it has no reasons to doubt it is a genuine NASA letter."

Keith's note: No comments are being allowed on this election 2016 post due to prior commenter behavior. Please do not try and post them elsewhere.

Trump on Space

For Donald Trump, fixing potholes is a higher priority than NASA, Mashable

"In the old days, it [NASA] was great. Right now, we have bigger problems, you understand that," Trump said. "We have to fix our potholes. We don't exactly have a lot of money." Right now NASA receives roughly one half of 1% of the overall federal budget each year, amounting to about $18 billion allocated to the space agency for fiscal year 2015. Trump also made it clear that he is excited about the emerging private spaceflight industry. "You know, space is actually being taken over privately, which is great," he said according to a WMUR video taken of the event. "It's being taken over, a lot of private companies going up into space. I like that maybe even better."

Jeb Bush Wants Aspirational Goals for NASA, SpacePolicyOnline

"Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush enthusiastically called for NASA to pursue aspirational goals in concert with the private sector during a campaign Town Hall meeting yesterday. The former Florida governor has previously expressed his support for the space program. ... Asked what he would do as President to get Congress to allocate more money to NASA to restore U.S. leadership in space, Bush said "I think we need to be more aspirational again." He criticized the Obama Administration for making the United States reliant on Russia for launching people into space and stressed the need for an independent means for getting crews to the space station."

Jeb Bush: Newt Gingrich's moon colony idea was 'cool', CNN

"When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed the idea of forming colonies on the moon during his 2012 presidential bid, he got a lot of laughs. But not from Jeb Bush. The former Florida governor said Wednesday that he actually liked the idea. Recalling the skeptical responses to Gingrich's pitch, Bush said he remembered thinking, "Really? I think it's pretty cool."

Keith's note: I have already had to delete several posts by people that were needlessly partisan and/or gratuitously insulting. If NASAWatch readers are just going to go partisan and/or personal on these election postings then I am going to not allow any comments on election 2016 posts. Got that folks? Stick to policy.

What Ted Cruz gets wrong about Star Trek, Washington Post

"Star Trek" Captain James T. Kirk is a Republican. That's what Ted Cruz wants you to think, anyway. In an interview with the New York Times, Cruz argues that what makes Kirk, well, Kirk, are the very values that define the GOP. "I think it is quite likely that Kirk is a Republican and [Jean-Luc] Picard is a Democrat," Cruz told the Times, suggesting that Picard Kirk's successor as captain of the fictional USS Enterprise is too rational to be an effective leader. Cruz clearly believes that the country would benefit from having a Kirk-like figure in the White House. But as arguments for electing a Republican go, this is not a winning one."

- How Candidates Would Respond to an Angry E.T. Threat, earlier post (2012)
- Survey: Obama Would Protect Earth From Angry ETs Better Than Romney, earlier post (2012)
- President Visits Roswell, NM: "I Come in Peace", earlier post (2012)

Keith's note: In the past week I have posted two items about election 2016 - one mentioning Ted Cruz, the other mentioning Hillary Clinton. I have had to delete several dozen comments - nearly all of them under imaginary user names - that were posted/submitted which were utterly off-topic and/or made unsubstantiated personal attacks on the candidates or other individuals. I have had to shut off commenting on both posts. I am tired of this. If you people are going to turn NASAWatch into a place where people who are afraid/unwilling to even use their own names and engage in this behavior then I will not allow comments on these posts and will start to ban repeat offenders. I am not going to warn you again. Grow up or go away.

Hillary Clinton sounds the alarm on meteorites, Politico

"When I was a little girl, I guess I was a teenager by then 14, I think, and the space program was getting started, and I wanted to be an astronaut, and I wrote to NASA," she recounted. "And I said, 'What do I have to do to be prepared to be an astronaut?' And they wrote back and said, 'Thank you very much, but we're not taking girls,'" she remembered. "That, thankfully changed with Sally Ride and a lot of the other great women astronauts," she said. But "to be fair," she added, "I never could have qualified anyway, so you know, not something I spent a lot of time losing sleep over, but I really, really do support the space program."

Ted Cruz Is Really Excited About Pluto. So Why Does He Want to Cripple NASA?, Mother Jones

"But NASA is also one of the main purveyors of the satellite observations of Earth that are a basic necessity for many fields of Earth science. That's the part Cruz doesn't like: He wants to slash the agency's budget for Earth sciencesin particular, for climate change, a subject on which Cruz's theories are, in the words of one scientist, "a load of claptrap." It's not just Cruz. In the House, Republicans are forging ahead with a bill that would gut $90 million from NASA's Earth science budget. There are a couple major problems with that approach, and they make Cruz's lauding of the Pluto mission distinctly ironic and hypocritical. First, NASA is uniquely equipped among federal agencies to send satellites into space, so it would be hard to transfer its Earth research to some other outfit. (These are the very satellites, by the way, that produce the data Cruz likes to erroneously cite as evidence against global warming.)"

Keith's note: Comments are closed. People have gone totally off topic and are ranting and making personal attacks. Please do not try and post comments elsewhere since they will be deleted.

'Space Guy' Jeb Bush Would Increase Funding To NASA, Huff Post

"If elected president in 2016, Jeb Bush would propose an increase in funding to NASA. "I'm a space guy," Bush said in a Wednesday sit-down with the New Hampshire Union Leader's editorial board. The former of governor of Florida, where a large portion of the country's aerospace industry resides, said he would also support increasing federal spending on research and development. The Obama administration proposed a half-billion dollar increase to NASA's budget earlier this year, totaling $18.5 billion for fiscal year 2016. That request could run aground in the Republican-controlled Congress, where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a presidential candidate and the chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Competitiveness, feels that a reordering of the space agency is in order."

Keith's note: There is a strange conference "Pioneering Space National Summit" scheduled for 19-20 February at the Reagan Trade Center here in Washington DC. Lots of organizations are listed as sponsors. Oddly the agenda lists no speakers and simply talks about working groups that will "discuss" issues. Later, things will (apparently) be prioritized.

The website says that this event has "the explicit goal of creating a basic SpaceMap for the United States, and identifying strategic knowledge gaps to be overcome for this nation to successfully open the frontier beyond low Earth orbit to human development and settlement ... For this to happen those involved in all areas of space must move beyond current debates and battles over priorities, goals and participation and come to a basic set of agreements, addressing the reasons we choose to go into space, where in space we want to go and in what order ... etc."

Uh huh. Every time there is an Administration change looming space folks get the urge to try things like this. It never works. In the decades I have been around the space community I have never seen a strategy of any strategic value developed in the course of a 2 day free-for-all event open to everyone and anyone. No one agrees on enough things for such a consensus to be developed. And whatever the space folks do manage to produce just gets ignored - if for no other reason than someone was not involved or some group's favorite planet or project is not prominently mentioned. Besides, each new Administration starts more or less from scratch anyway and they want to change NASA's course from what the previous folks did (good or bad). Their policy priorities (or lack thereof) for space are rooted in plans that are focused on themes far more broad than what bounces around inside the heads of space advocates.

Oddly, when you go to the registration page it says "This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:" Nowhere on this website are you told how to get that password. So ... without the password how can you register? Emails sent to the address listed on the site are ignored. The site has been like this for weeks without this basic detail being fixed. If they cannot allow people to register for this conference I am certain that they are ill-equipped to do all of the more difficult tasks such as herding space people around in working groups and cracking the whip on consensus development.

Keith's update: One of our readers discovered that if you go to http://newworldsinstitute.org/ (there is no actual link to this organization from the meeting website to click on) that this is an invitation-only affair. As such you now have a deliberate effort to limit input - and that almost certainly guarantees that there will be space advocates who will be left out in the cold who will promptly denounce/ignore whatever this group puts out. Where is AIAA? AIA? AAS? AAAS? Planetary Society? Mars Society? Space Foundation?, IEEE?, Challenger Center?, ASGSR?, AsMA?, ASE?, American Astronomical Society?

After ignoring my previous emails over the past few weeks I just got this response back "Thank you for your interest in the Pioneering Space National Summit. Registration is by invitation only, and is closed at this time." Oh well, I would not invite me either.

Ad Astra or Whatever.


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