Policy: October 2013 Archives

A Last Chance to Tell the NRC *YOUR* Ideas for Human Spaceflight -- Via Twitter, Space Policy Online

"The National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Human Spaceflight is offering everyone a last chance to provide their ideas on the future of the human spaceflight program via a Twitter chat tomorrow, October 29, 2013. This is the first time the NRC is using social media to obtain input from the public. Anyone who wants to participate should tweet their ideas using the hashtag #humansinspace. Input will be accepted during a 27 hour period on October 29 -- from midnight Eastern Daylight Time through the next midnight Pacific Daylight Time."

Keith's note: "Everyone"? I don't think so. The SSB only told a handful of people about this last minute Twitter thing. What is really odd is that they did not even bother to inform the media or larger websites that could help spread the word. Indeed, they only told their panel members at the last minute. Oddly, just last week, NAS SSB staff specifically asked me to come in to talk to them on this topic and promised to keep me in the loop on things like this. So much for that.

I am not certain how the NAS SSB expects to get much input if they hide notices on their website and only drop a hint on one or two inside the beltway websites and tweet once to accounts with a hundred or so followers. Yes, I know things go viral easily - but a little strategic thinking and some serious visibility could have been achieved. Indeed, what about the rest of the 300 million people (i.e. "everyone") who pay to operate NASA - and also pay the NAS SSB for their $3.6 million studies?

Annual Call for Nominations for NASA science advisory subcommittees, NASA SMD

"NASA invites nominations for service on NASA science advisory subcommittees of the NASA Advisory Council. U.S. citizens may nominate individuals and also submit self-nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA's science advisory subcommittees. NASA's science advisory subcommittees have member vacancies from time to time throughout the year, and NASA will consider nominations and self-nominations to fill such intermittent vacancies. NASA is committed to selecting members to serve on its science advisory subcommittees based on their individual expertise, knowledge, experience, and current/past contributions to the relevant subject area."

Annual Invitation for Public Nominations by U.S. Citizens for Service on NASA Federal Advisory Committees (2013), earlier post

"NASA announces its annual invitation for public nominations for service on NASA Federal advisory committees. U.S. citizens may nominate individuals and also submit self- nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA's Federal advisory committees."

ASE Calls for Global Cooperation to Confront Asteroid Threats

"At a public event today at New York's American Museum of Natural History, the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), a professional society of astronauts and cosmonauts, issued a challenge to the global community to take the next vital steps to confront the threat from dangerous asteroids. The ASE Committee on Near-Earth Objects statement follows the United Nations General Assembly adoption if a suite of proposals to create an international decision-making mechanism for planetary asteroid defense."

Keith's note: Neil Tyson will be talking about "Delusions of Space Enthusiasts" on Wednesday from 9:00 - 10:00 am EDT at the National Academy of Sciences' Human Spaceflight panel. WebEx Access Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721 Conference Code: 448 560 9647. If none of these things work check here.

NAS will only allow 150 people to watch on WebEx. What is baffling is why the NAS can't simply do a Google Hangout. All you need is a laptop and the potential reach of their "public" events would be vastly enhanced. And it is free too. Of course, the NAS goes out of its way not to tell anyone about this "public" presentation. Only wonks and media can usually figure out what's going on in these meetings.

Keith's update: If you did not tune in to Tyson's presentation you did not miss much. He referred to slides a lot - but the NAS did not show his slides. Nor did the NAS capture the presentation for posting on YouTube. Based on his somewhat rambling presentation this morning, it is clear Tyson is not a big fan of commercial space. He thinks that only governments can lead the way in space and that commerce can only follow. He said that due to risk and expense one cannot valuate space from a commercial perspective. He also more or less dismissed the notion out of hand that America has ever really done anything in space for scientific, exploratory, or inspirational purposes and thinks that everything done in space can be traced back to war funding. He also dismissed the notion that investing in NASA has significant economic payback.

NAS Space Studies Board Quietly Announces Online Public Access After Event Starts, earlier post

NAS SSB: Committee on Human Spaceflight Meeting

Keith's note: Only after today's event began did the NAS Space Studies Board bother to tweet that there was a Webex feed for this meeting - something they only added to the event's page after the fact. Bill Gerstenmaier is speaking on "Status on HSF Plans and Challenges" . Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721 Conference Code: 448 560 9647

Attendees in the audience at the event were unaware that this event was being webcast or available on telephone dial-in. Indeed, I asked the SSB ahead of time and they said it would not be webcast or audiocast so I came into town only to learn that I could have listened from my office. Thanks guys. The National Academy of Sciences' Space Studies Board has been chronically uninterested in making these "public" meetings truly "public" - as are other NAS events, Congressional hearings, and NASA Advisory Council meetings. Is this Webex visibility a trend - or a fluke? We'll see.

Neil Tyson will be talking about "Delusions of Space Enthusiasts" on Wednesday from 9:00 - 10:00 am EDT. WebEx Access Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721 Conference Code: 448 560 9647. Otherwise, this committee's efforts tomorrow and part of Wednesday will be devoted to closed door sessions that SSB doesn't seem to feel that anyone needs to know about (who is speaking etc.) - even though 100% of the cost of these meetings is paid for by NASA.

Yet Another Slow Motion Advisory Committee on Human Space Flight

"Net result: the committee's advice will be out of synch with reality and somewhat overtaken by events having taken a total of 3 years, 7 months to complete. Oh yes: the cost of this study? $3.6 million.. The soonest that a NASA budget could be crafted that took this committee's advice into account would be the FY 2016 budget request. NASA and OMB will interact on the FY 2016 budget during Fall 2014 and it won't be announced until early 2015 - 4 1/2 years after this committee and its advice was requested in the NASA Authorization Act 2010."

Why Does Space Policy Always Suck?

"This self-perpetuating space policy echo chamber existed before sequesters, shutdowns, and CRs and it will continue to exist once this current budget nonsense is resolved - and it will survive as future congressional calamities ensue. Yet people still wonder why, after all these years, the process whereby space policy is developed sucks so very much - and why NASA finds it harder and harder to do what it is chartered to do."

American Human Spaceflight Floundering, Opinion, Mark Sykes, SpaceNews

"A workshop of experts met recently in Washington to review and discuss the Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM). It is apparent that the mission is poorly conceived and lacking in basic planning, and carries huge cost and schedule risk that is more dumb than heroic. NASA may not know it yet, but ARM is dead, and the future of American human spaceflight is again in question. Perhaps it is time to move away from stunt as policy -- a tragic legacy of the Apollo program. If we are going to confront a true frontier like space, we need to ask some basic questions to find out what is possible or at least practical. Then we can define long-term goals with a real plan to achieve them."

Bolden's Confusing Asteroid Mission Rationale (Revised), earlier post

"To be blunt, there is no compelling rationale for the Asteroid Redirect & Return Mission (ARRM). There never has been. Based on the way that Charlie Bolden continually stumbles through his conflicting explanation of what the mission is and is not, there never will be a clear reason why it needs to be done."

- Asteroid Experts Are Not Very Fond of NASA's Asteroid Mission, earlier post

NAS SSB: Committee on Human Spaceflight Public and Stakeholder Opinions Panel

"This meeting is closed in its entirety."

Keith's note: Sigh, yet another NAS SSB meeting on "public and stakeholder Opinions" that is closed to the "public" and "stakeholders" i.e. the taxpayers who paid for it. As previously noted on NASA Watch, these expensive ($3.6 million) panels, composed of the usual suspects plus a few newbies, take years to churn out an end product. The product is watered down and is biased toward the pre-ordained opinions of Congress, the committee, and the select consultants that the SSB consults. No description is ever presented to the public as to how input is solicited, processed, or collated - nor does the public have any recourse whereby they can find out how the committee conducted itself.

The end result is presented to Congress. Congress reads the cover page, holds a hearing, and asks NASA to respond within 90 days to questions that miss the original point that the NAS committee was chartered to discuss. The White House then ignores the report - as does NASA - and Congress. Everyone then pats themselves on the back - and the process starts all over again - ignoring everything that the NAS SSB just did.

Because that is how it is done.

This self-perpetuating space policy echo chamber existed before sequesters, shutdowns, and CRs and it will continue to exist once this current budget nonsense is resolved - and it will survive as future congressional calamities ensue.

Yet people still wonder why, after all these years, the process whereby space policy is developed sucks so very much - and why NASA finds it harder and harder to do what it is chartered to do.

Yet Another Slow Motion Advisory Committee on Human Space Flight, earlier post

"Net result: the committee's advice will be out of synch with reality and somewhat overtaken by events having taken a total of 3 years, 7 months to complete. Oh yes: the cost of this study? $3.6 million.. The soonest that a NASA budget could be crafted that took this committee's advice into account would be the FY 2016 budget request. NASA and OMB will interact on the FY 2016 budget during Fall 2014 and it won't be announced until early 2015 - 4 1/2 years after this committee and its advice was requested in the NASA Authorization Act 2010."

NASA Wants You To Nominate The Advisors It Ignores

"Charlie Bolden listens (I guess) to what the committee members have to say and then ignores 99% of what is said. Its mostly a slow-motion Kabuki theater: NASA people moving in the shadows - but little real substance up front."


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