Transition: December 2016 Archives

Trump 'very interested in a man going to the moon,' says historian, Washington Examiner

"A historian who met with Donald Trump says the president-elect was "very interested in a man going to the moon." Historian Douglas Brinkley met with Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Wednesday afternoon. Brinkley told reporters after the meeting his conversation with Trump focused on "Nixon and Reagan and Kennedy ... a sort of history of the presidency and past inaugurals and things like that." He also mentioned that Trump "was very interested in a man going to the moon and the moon shot so we were talking a little bit about that."

NASA's next stop--Mars or the Moon? John Grunsfeld and Paul Spudis argue for and against Mars and the Moon, Ars Technica

"Both men agree on one point: with NASA's limited funds, even before possible cuts under a Trump administration, the space agency can't do both. Sending astronauts to the Moon and establishing a colony would push human exploration of Mars into the second half of this century. Alternatively, making a direct push toward Mars would preclude any meaningful human exploration of the Moon. A choice must be made. For the last six years, NASA has continued developing a deep space capsule, Orion, as well as begun construction on a large new rocket, the Space Launch System, as the foundation of an exploration program. NASA has promoted a "Journey to Mars," but in reality the space agency has taken no definitive steps to preclude either a Moon or Mars pathway. That decision will have to be made soon. Within the next four years or so, the space agency must start designing and building specific hardware, for landing and living on either the Moon or Mars."

"Please join NASA's Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs in celebrating Seth's departure on a new journey. Thursday, January 12, 2017 4 - 7 p.m., Room 2E39, NASA Headquarters $15 suggested contribution RSVP:"

Keith's note: Best wishes, Seth, as you return to the real world ;-)

Trump convenes Pentagon brass 'to bring costs down', Politico

"Donald Trump on Wednesday convened more than half a dozen top military officers, including for a discussion about "trying to bring costs down" on the controversial F-35 fighter jet and other high-priced Pentagon projects."

Trump meets with U.S. defense contractors he criticized for costs, Reuters

"U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met on Wednesday with the chief executives of two major defense companies to pressure them to reduce project costs, part of his push to save taxpayer money on high-profile contracts. ... "Trying to get the costs down, costs. Primarily the (Lockheed Martin) F-35, we're trying to get the cost down. It's a program that's very, very expensive," Trump told reporters after meeting with the CEOs and a dozen Pentagon officials involved with defense acquisition programs who he said were "good negotiators." ... Trump has said Boeing's costs to build replacements for Air Force One planes - one of the most visible symbols of the U.S. presidency - are too high and urged the federal government in a tweet to "Cancel order!"

Keith's note: I wonder what Trump's reaction will be when his Transition Team tells him about costs/delays in the Boeing/Lockheed Martin SLS/Orion program. WIll he haul the CEOs back in for another deal making session?

Trump Landing Team Update

Keith's 16 December note: The Trump Landing Team will be halting work at NASA Headquarters in a few days and then coming back after New Year's. As such, I doubt that there will be any movement from Trump Tower in terms of naming an Administrator.

Then again there may be a few interesting developments prior to the Landing Team's vacation ...

Keith's 17 December update: Sources report that Brandon Eden, Alan Stern, Charles Miller are among new appointees submitted to join the Trump Landing Team at NASA for an increased focus on commercial space. There is a possible fourth new member as well. Stay tuned.

Keith's 20 December update: Sources report that Alan Lindenmoyer, former manager of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program, is also on the list of people to be added to the NASA Landing Team. Meanwhile it looks like Brandon Eden will not be on the Landing Team which is unfortunate given his familiarity with commercial space from his days working for Rep. McCarthy. Meanwhile, the SLS materials being assembled for the Landing Team are being advised by purported NASA Administrator possibility Doug Cooke (who has worked for years as a Boeing consultant) - who is not actually on the Landing Team. But wait, there's more: at least one of the NASA Landing Team wants to try to become NASA Administrator - because, well ... this is NASA Administrator Apprentice after all.

Peter Thiel now leading the fight for commercial space in Trump's NASA, Ars Technica

"Last Thursday, word began to trickle out about new appointments to the transition team with a decidedly commercial bent. Reports of the new transition team members first appeared in NASA Watch, and the Wall Street Journal confirmed them Monday. Ars understands that not all of the appointments are final, and Shank has resisted the new direction. "It will be interesting to see how Trump Tower handles the product of the Shank team versus the new team," one source told Ars."

Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump, Washington Post

"Climate data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been politically vulnerable. When Tom Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information, and his colleagues published a study in 2015 seeking to challenge the idea that there had been a global warming "slowdown" or "pause" during the 2000s, they relied, in significant part, on updates to NOAA's ocean temperature data set, saying the data "do not support the notion of a global warming 'hiatus.'" In response, the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee chair, Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.), tried to subpoena the scientists and their records."

Keith's note: Lamar Smith's policy director throughout this period of subpoenas was Chris Shank who currently leads the Trump Transition Team effort at NASA.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine: Why Trump Won, Frontpage Magazine

"And then who was campaigning for Donald Trump? Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And I got so frustrated. By then Hillary Clinton also had Al Gore and all these others, and I got so frustrated I sent a tweet. Ha! And it got a lot of attention. And in the tweet I said: "Given the stakes of this election if Paul Ryan is not for Donald Trump then I am not for Paul Ryan." It is true that Donald Trump has not been in the political arena nor has he been in the politically correct arena. He lives in a quite frankly vulgar industry - the entertainment industry. And I will also tell you that he reflects that."

Keith's note: Bridenstine has been spending a fair amount of time on space policy over his first two terms and many of the things he has talked about resonate with positions taken by Trump advisors Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker. The Trump cabinet nominees announced thus far run the range from prior supporter to prior opponents. And most of them have no government and/or agency-related subject matter experience. In this case Bridenstine was loyal when it counted- even if he's not exactly complementary now (as quoted). But he has been eager to learn and try new things (it would seem). So ... comments like this may hurt and/or help Bridenstine in his quest for the NASA (USAF) job. Who knows. But he does appreciate what Twitter can do. Welcome to NASA Administrator Apprentice.

Sen. Jeff Sessions Exerts Wide Influence Over Trump Space Plans, Wall Street Journal

"One sign of the influence Mr. Sessions has with the president-elect is that job seekers actively seek his support. Three former astronauts, including retired Air Force Lt. General Thomas Stafford, who was the head of NASA's astronaut corps and later was instrumental in development of the B-2 Stealth bomber, have urged the Alabama lawmaker to support [Doug] Cooke's bid to head NASA."

More False Memories About the Origin (and Cost) of SLS, earlier post

"This op ed piece also appeared in The Hill last week. Oddly the same exact words in the Mike Griffin/Dan Dumbacher op ed in the Huntsville times ("Contrary to some suggestions, the SLS will be very competitive with the advertised price of commercial U.S. systems - on the order of $4.5 million per ton of payload.") are to be found in an op ed "U.S. will keep lead in space with NASA's launch system" that appeared several days ago in the Orlando Sentinel - but this op ed has Doug Cooke and Steve Cook as the authors. If you read the Huntsville Times and Orlando Sentinel op eds side by side you will see that they were clearly written by the same people. Once again the Ares V mafia is mounting a PR effort to convince everyone that they were right all along."

Keith's note: Steve Cook is on the NASA Landing Team headed by Griffin loyalist Chris Shank. And lest we forget, Mike Griffin is still trying to worm his way back into NASA. Although I cannot find any indication that Griffin ever publicly endorsed Trump (I can't find any evidence that Doug Cooke did either) Mike Griffin did make a $500 political contribution - but to Jeb Bush.

Together Cooke, Cook, Shank, and Griffin represent the self-proclaimed "Band of Brothers" that originally gave us the Ares 1/Ares V cost/schedule nightmares - with the cancelled Ares V reborn as the new cost/schedule nightmare SLS. Haven't we seen this movie before?

Trump transition team for Energy Department seeks names of employees involved in climate meetings, Washington Post

"Donald Trump's transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation's carbon output. The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and "which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan." ... Thousands of scientists have signed petitions calling on the president-elect and his team to respect scientific integrity and refrain from singling out individual researchers whose work might conflict with the new administration's policy goals. This potential clash could prompt a major schism within the federal government, with many career officials waging a battle against incoming political appointees."

Will Trump Scrap NASA's Climate Research Mission?, Pro Publica

"But with the election of Donald Trump, there was immediate concern -- inside NASA and among the fans of its valued work on global warming -- about the future of the agency's earth-science program. Within hours of Trump's acceptance speech on Nov. 9, an internal email from a senior official in the Earth Sciences division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center circulated within NASA acknowledging worry that "funding may now be exposed to severe reductions." The last month is not apt to have eased that alarm. How does an astrobiologist react when advisors to the president-elect propose cutting funding to earth studies? Trump's most visible advisor on space policy has been Bob Walker, a former House Science committee chairman who is now a space-policy lobbyist pressing to move "Earth-centric" and "heavily politicized" climate science out of NASA altogether. And Christopher Shank, who was chosen by Trump to lead the transition at NASA, is a seasoned strategist who has expressed strong skepticism about the severity of global warming."

Keith's note: There are a number of Federal agencies involved in Earth and climate science - DOE, DOI, NOAA, NSF - and NASA. Given that the DOE Trump Landing Team is trying to find out which DOE employees are involved in climate research - and that Trump transition team advisor Bob Walker has been very specific about moving "Earth centric" programs (e.g. climate research) to another agency - one would expect that the NASA Trump Landing Team is going to be asking similar questions at NASA. Stay tuned.

Keith's update: Energy Dept refuses to name staffers who worked on climate for Trump transition, The Hill

"The Department of Energy said Tuesday it will reject the request by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team to name staffers who worked on climate change programs. Energy spokesman Eben Burnhan-Snyder said the agency received "significant feedback" from workers regarding a questionnaire from the transition team that leaked last week. "Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled," Snyder said. The survey for department leadership included more than 70 questions regarding what the agency does, its workforce, costs, professional affiliations and more."

Keith's note: I wonder what will happen if/when Trump notices the cost overruns and delays for the SLS program and the contractors who build it?

- Greg Autry - Employer (current or most recent): University of Southern California, Funding source: Volunteer
- Jack Burns - Employer (current or most recent): University of Colorado, Funding source: Volunteer
- Steve Cook - Employer (current or most recent): Dynetics, Inc., Funding source: Private
- Rodney Liesveld - Employer (current or most recent): National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Retired), Funding source: Volunteer
- Sandra Magnus - Employer (current or most recent): The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Funding source: Volunteer
- Jeff Waksman - Employer (current or most recent): U.S. House of Representatives (Formerly), Funding source: Volunteer

Keith's note: This is the "disturbance in the Force" that I was referring to the other day. Rodney Liesveld is a pal of Chris Shank's from Mike Griffin's time at NASA. Steve Cook was one of Griffin's confidants. Sandy Magnus has long-standing ties with Griffin via their positions at AIAA. The presence of Shank, Cook, Liesveld, and Magnus is further proof that Mike Griffin is lurking in the distance plotting a return to NASA. This is more of a Griffin "Boarding Party" than a "Landing Team".

Adding Jack Burns, an overt lunar exploration advocate, indicates that a pivot from #JourneyToMars toward #BackToTheMoon is in the cards.

Meanwhile Rep. Jim Bridenstine is still very much in the running according to sources.

TrumpSpace Details Emerge

Some additional insight into the Trump Administration's space policy was revealed today in Washington DC. Meeting at the Cosmos Club, attendees at the 11th Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law heard from a number of speakers including former Congressman Bob Walker, who is advising the Trump Transition Team, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) who has been conducting a behind-the-scenes effort to become the next administrator of NASA.

Trump considering colonel who caught Saddam Hussein for Army secretary, Washington Post

"For Air Force secretary, sources said Trump is considering Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), who has also been mentioned as a potential administrator for NASA. He also met with Trump's team on Monday. Hunter and Bridenstine were among the earliest and staunchest supporters of Trump in the House of Representatives."

Boeing Becomes Latest Company to Draw Trump's Ire, Dow Jones

"The Air Force earmarked $1.65 billion between 2015 and 2019 to develop two replacement jets, and said it may acquire up to three. However, it hasn't detailed the expected cost or delivery dates for building the planes as talks continue with Boeing, the White House and the Secret Service. "The statistics that have been cited [by Mr. Trump], shall we say, don't appear to reflect the nature of the financial arrangement between Boeing and the Department of Defense," said Obama White House spokesman Josh Earnest."

Did Donald Trump tank Boeing's stock because he was mad about a news article?

"As it turns out, though, the Trump tweet may not have been unprompted. CNN's Jake Tapper noted on Twitter that shortly before the tweet (which was posted at 8:52 a.m. Eastern) the Chicago Tribune posted an interview with the company's CEO, Dennis Muilenberg. "Anyone who paid attention to the recent campaigns and the election results realizes that one of the overarching themes was apprehension about free and fair trade," Muilenberg told the Tribune's Robert Reed. Fair trade has helped Boeing, which prides itself on being America's largest manufacturing exporter."

Trump sold all shares in companies in June, spokesman says, Washington Post

"Miller, the Trump spokesman, told The Post about Trump's stock sale Tuesday morning, following Trump's criticism of aviation giant Boeing. Trump reported owning between $50,000 and $100,000 of Boeing stock in the May filing. In the three years between Trump's original tweet about buying Boeing stock and June 2016, Boeing's share price climbed about 70 percent."

Keith's note: I just got back from the Aerospace Industries Association annual media luncheon in Washington EDC. There was a lot of nervous laughter about this news which was breaking just as well all arrived at the hotel. I am wondering what might happen if/when SLS/Orion cost increases and chronic delay - and the commercial alternatives - comes to Trump's attention. There are hints that this might be an issue in the op eds written by on-again off-again Trump advisor Bob Walker.

Waiting For TrumpSpace

Will Trump go to Mars? Nasa's nervous wait, The Guardian

"The space policies were not very different. People would joke that you could take an editorial by a Republican space person, change a couple of words here and there and then put Clinton's name on it. We were all assuming that Clinton would win. I knew who the people were that would show up at Nasa the next day to begin the transition process," says Keith Cowing, a former Nasa employee who now edits Then, of course, Trump won. At first it seemed no big deal, but then surprising events started to unfold. A day or two after the election, none of the expected Republican advisers were named as part of the Trump transition team for space. "They were either thrown off because they were lobbyists or had decided that they did not want to be involved," says Cowing, who has been reporting on Nasa from Washington DC for 20 years. "Suddenly it went from what seemed to be clarity to complete mystery."

Keith's note: Is this overt citation by the House Science Committee of a story on Breitbart, the former employer of President Elect Trump's policy advisor, a preview of coming actions on NASA's Earth science research? Oh yes, the committee's policy director is on the Transition Team for NASA. Then again, the committee also overtly referenced NASAWatch in its letter to NASA on ARM the other day ;-)

Keith's update: But wait: there's more - House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith also writes for Breitbart too: Rep. Lamar Smith: Amnesty Costs Workers and Taxpayers.



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