Recently in TrumpSpace Category

From NASA PAO: "The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday's announcement of the intended nomination by President Donald Trump of James Morhard to serve as the agency's deputy administrator: "Today the President announced his intent to nominate James Morhard as Deputy Administrator of NASA. "Morhard is the United States Senate Deputy Sergeant at Arms. Prior to this, he was the Staff Director of the Senate Appropriations Committee. During his tenure there, he ran the Senate Commerce, Justice, State subcommittee that included all NOAA programs, and the Military Construction subcommittee where public/private partnerships were first used for military housing. "This administration is committed to American leadership in space, and I look forward to working with Mr. Morhard upon his confirmation."

Keith's note: The following full page color advertisement by Northrop Grumman appears on page A5 of today's Washington Post (larger image).

"MAKING HISTORY REQUIRES MISSION SUCCESS.

Northrop Grumman is proud to lead the industry team of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope - the largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built. Webb will fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe, and we are focused on ensuring that this once-unthinkable achievement becomes a reality. Webb pushes the limits of technology. We only get one chance to get it right - and we take that responsibility seriously. From putting men on the moon to seeing he first images from Hubble, there are many great firsts in space. When Webb travels one million miles from Earth and peers back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe, we will marvel at its discoveries and write the next chapter of great firsts in space. Making history requires mission success and we are all in."

Yea, Northrop Grumman is "all in" on this. Non-stop cost increases and schedule delays for 16 years have turned this project into a cash cow for the company. You bet they're "all in" - even if they can't seem to attach fasteners properly and don't read the instructions on what solvents to use to clean hardware. But that's OK since NASA will just keep paying those invoices.

Advertisements like this in the Washington Post like this can easily cost between $100,000 to $200,000. At a minimum you'd hope that the money for ads (which should be spent on fixing Northrop Grumman's dumb mistakes) would at least be used for public commentary that is a little more honest about the situation. Instead, you see no mention of any of these screw ups or obscene cost increases - problems that are so bad that Congress now has to reauthorize this project.

Northrop Grumman just wants you to know that "mission success" is important. Duh. I am not certain they care so long as they get paid. This is not how America is going to do that whole leadership-in-space thing. If this is an example of how we do that leadership thing we won't be able to afford to lead the way.

More Cost Increases And Delays For Webb Space Telescope

"As a result of the delay, Webb's total lifecycle cost to support the March 202l launch date is estimated at $9.66 billion. The development cost estimate to support the new launch date is $8.8B (up from the $8B development cost estimate established in 2011)."

NASA Announces Contract for Next-Generation Space Telescope Named after Space Pioneer (2002)

"The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for launch in 2010 aboard an expendable launch vehicle. NASA today selected TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif. [Bought by Northrop Grumman 2 months earlier], to build a next-generation successor to the Hubble Space Telescope in honor of the man who led NASA in the early days of the fledgling aerospace agency. Under the terms of the contract valued at $824.8 million, TRW will design and fabricate the observatory's primary mirror and spacecraft. TRW also will be responsible for integrating the science instrument module into the spacecraft as well as performing the pre-flight testing and on-orbit checkout of the observatory."

GAO: NASA Commercial Crew Program: Plan Needed to Ensure Uninterrupted Access to the International Space Station, GAO

"Further delays are likely as the Commercial Crew Program's schedule risk analysis shows that the certification milestone is likely to slip. The analysis identifies a range for each contractor, with an earliest and latest possible completion date, as well as an average. The average certification date was December 2019 for Boeing and January 2020 for SpaceX, according to the program's April 2018 analysis. Since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russia to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Additional delays could result in a gap in U.S. access to the space station as NASA has contracted for seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft only through November 2019.

NASA is considering potential options, but it does not have a contingency plan for ensuring uninterrupted U.S. access. NASA's certification process addresses the safety of the contractors' crew transportation systems through several mechanisms, but there are factors that complicate the process. One of these factors is the loss of crew metric that was put in place to capture the probability of death or permanent disability to an astronaut. NASA has not identified a consistent approach for how to assess loss of crew. As a result, officials across NASA have multiple ways of assessing the metric that may yield different results.

Consequently, the risk tolerance level that NASA is accepting with loss of crew varies based upon which entity is presenting the results of its assessment. Federal internal controls state that management should define risk tolerances so they are clear and measurable. Without a consistent approach for assessing the metric, the agency as a whole may not clearly capture or document its risk tolerance with respect to loss of crew."

Keith's note: On 13 June 2018 NASA civil servant John Guidi, Deputy Director of the HEOMD Advanced Exploration Systems Division, participated in a FISO (Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group) telecon. The title of his presentation was "NASA's Changing Human Spaceflight Exploration plans". That's certainly a topic of interest these days, yes?

FISO telecons are run by NASA GSFC civil servant Harley Thronson and Dan Lester at the University of Texas. The PDF of the presentation is here https://fiso.spiritastro.net/telecon/Guidi_6-13-18/Guidi_6-13-18.pdf unless the link does not work. Then maybe you can try this link http://fiso.spiritastro.net/telecon/Guidi_6-13-18/ unless it does not work either. Or maybe you can cut and paste the URL directly into your browser. Or maybe you can use another Internet access method. Tweeting links is a waste of time since they block that too. This is the sort of games that Harley Thronson and Dan Lester play.

The NASA civil servants who regular participate in these telecons do so as part of their official duties. Often times they release information at these FISO telecons that NASA has not officially released elsewhere. NASA PAO never announces these civil servant presentations as they regularly do for other conferences and workshops. So this all happens in semi-stealth mode - if Thronson and Lester let you know in advance or give you access to materials after the fact. If they do not like you then they block your IP address.

So here we are with NASA pivoting back to the Moon again and a presentation by a senior NASA Headquarters representative about NASA's current plans for returning to the Moon is available to some taxpayers on a private website but not others on an official NASA website. Why isn't this stuff posted on NASA.gov? Yea, NASA has this whole messaging thing down, doesn't it?

- Stealth Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Telecons, earlier post
- Yet Another Stealth NASA Briefing On Mars Mission Concepts, earlier post

Keith's note: There has been a meeting (actually an "unconference") called "Decolonize Mars" at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC this attended by people who do not want to colonize Mars.

According to the unconference website "The term decolonization refers to undoing the legacy of colonialism. Many people are used to hearing about "colonizing Mars" to talk about humanity living in space; here, we examine how using a colonialist framework in space reproduces past harm from humanity's history on Earth. This event is about envisioning fresh pathways for thinking about space exploration by stepping away from the ways we usually talk about space, which by definition is "decolonizing" the topic. Hence, "Decolonizing Mars"."

In other words they only seem to want like-minded attendees. Not that I don't agree with part of what I think they are getting at since we have certainly screwed up this planet - but there's a clear bias on one side of the argument in the mission statement. They are tweeting with the hashtag #decolonizemars but the invitation-only attendee list is password-protected. No media seem to have been allowed. No webcast. Nothing. This is rather odd for a meeting in a government facility convened by government employees.

This meeting was organized by the current Baruch S. Blumberg/NASA Chair of Astrobiology at the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. I knew Barry Blumberg rather well. Barry wanted to tell everyone about everything. I am not certain he'd like this closed door approach. This is just more DC choir practice in an echo chamber by a subset of the usual suspects. The remaining 99.9% of the people who pay for this party get left out. Just sayin'

Keith's note: I tuned into the Politico Space thing last night. I missed a lot of it since it was supposed to start at 6:15 but after 30 minutes of waiting for it to start I gave up and did something else. I checked back in later and listened for 15 minutes or so. I just happened to tune in just as Jim Bridenstine was asked about the whole Space Force thing. Being an actual warfighter who defended our country, a former Congressman who grappled with legislation, and a guy who thinks about space a lot, he knows his stuff.

Bridenstine answered the Space Force question cogently for 10 minutes or more, jumping back to the topic again and again later. Bridenstine clearly supports the idea of a Space Force and makes his viewpoint clearly without notes or stumbling. Indeed, now and then, he almost sounded like he was auditioning to be Secretary of the Space Force (SecSF).

What's odd about this is that no one at the Department of Defense really wants to talk about Space Force - just Bridenstine. Indeed, the impression one gets is that they are not too thrilled about turning the Pentagon into a Hexagon with a sixth service called Space Force (yes I stole that joke). You can't get the National Space Council to talk about this either. In Washington parlance Bridenstine probably got a little over his skis or was outside his swim lane a bit.

I do not think this signals any sort of military role for NASA. But this space agency does not operate in a vacuum (pun intended) when it comes to other space activities. If Bridenstine is the only one who is willing to talk about space in a larger context that includes things outside of NASA's purview such as Space Force - when no one else will - perhaps we should listen. Maybe he knows what is actually going on.

Now is the time for the Space Force. Trump just needs to get it right, op ed, Washington Post

"The Pentagon helped shoot down the "corps" idea a year ago. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote congressional leaders last October: "I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions." But Trump continued to push his pet space project. One advocate was Vice President Pence, chairman of the National Space Council and a rocket enthusiast who's said to have brought his family to Florida to watch NASA launches. Another was Newt Gingrich, the peripatetic former House speaker who, like Trump, enjoys promoting flashy, controversial ideas. "If Trump can break through the bureaucracy, all this will happen within a decade," even by 2020, Gingrich predicted in a phone interview Tuesday. Gingrich, who informally attends Space Council meetings, says he has talked with Trump about the idea but that the passion for it is the president's. The Air Force had been hoping this proposal would go away."

The Air Force is "as serious as a heart attack" about opposing the Space Corps, MuckRock

"While President Donald Trump's announcement earlier this year regarding the possible establishment of a "Space Force," FOIA shows that not everyone in his own administration is so keen on the idea. In a series of recently released emails from last year, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson made clear her opposition to the establishment of a semi-autonomous "Space Corps," insisting that it be the USAF in charge of militarizing the cosmos."

The New Arms Race Threatening to Explode In Space, Wired

Since he took office, President Trump has dropped numerous hints of the warnings he's evidently getting from military and intelligence leaders. During a spring livestream with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, he alluded, obliquely and without context, to the "tremendous military applications in space." And he has repeatedly floated the idea of creating a new branch of the armed forces specifically for celestial combat--culminating last week with a speech out-and-out ordering the Joint Chiefs of Staff to begin developing plans for a new "Space Force."

NASA Assessment of Mission Flexibility and Agility, NASA

"As you know, the President's National Space Strategy and Space Policy Directives have set NASA on an ambitious path of discovery and exploration that will require us to be more agile and flexible than ever. To that end, as NASA's part of an Administration plan for reorganizing the Executive Branch, the agency has been asked to assess over the next few months whether expanding the Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) model beyond JPL is the best approach for increasing agility and flexibility in support of the mission."

Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century (NASA Excerpt)

Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century

Page 17: "Establish an accelerated process for determining whether one or more of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Centers should be converted to, or host, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). FFRDCs can potentially allow the agency to be more agile in rapidly responding to changing needs and in recruiting and retaining scientific and technical expertise."

Page 83: "Process to Determine Best Role for FFRDCs

This proposal lays a process to determine if one or more of NASA's other Centers should be converted to, or host, an FFRDC. NASA would oversee this process and provide an analysis, including recommendations, to the White House by the end of August 2018 so that the outcome can be reflected in future budget and policy plans and proposals. NASA's analysis would draw from prior studies of this topic and evaluate the potential of an FFRDC to further the Administration's policy goals more effectively. In addition to studying whether one or more Centers could potentially be converted to an FFRDC in whole or in part, NASA would also establish whether it may be effective to perform new programs and projects using an FFRDC structure."

With three words, President Trump fortifies a flawed perception about NASA, Ars Technica

"Fresh off an appearance at a National Space Council meeting Monday, space was evidently on his mind when President Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday night. "Our beautiful ancestors won two world wars, defeated fascism and communism, and put a man on the face of the Moon," he told his adulatory crowd. "And I think you saw the other day, we're reopening NASA. We're going to be going to space." President Trump makes news at Space Council meeting by going off script. The crowd responded by chanting, "Space Force! Space Force!"

Mattis: Legislation needed to create 'space force', The Hill

"Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday said President's Trump's recent direction to establish a "space force" will require work with Congress that has not yet started. "This as you know is going to require legislation and a lot of detailed planning and we've not yet begun," Mattis told reporters outside the Pentagon prior to meeting with his German counterpart. "We've clearly got to start the process," Mattis added, noting that it is among the issues Pentagon leaders will bring up bring up on Friday morning when they meet with National Security Advisor John Bolton."

Air Force says planning for Space Force will be 'thorough' and 'deliberate', LA Times

"A letter to airmen signed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said the Air Force looked forward to working with the Defense Department, Congress and other national security partners to "move forward on this planning effort." However, it said the work to create what could be the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces would be a "thorough, deliberate and inclusive process." "As such, we should not expect any immediate moves or changes," the letter stated. "Our focus must remain on the mission as we continue to accelerate the space warfighting capabilities required to support the National Defense Strategy."

Keith's note: This is the question I asked at the User Advisory Council meeting today. "I have a question about the actual composition of the User's Advisory Group: With one exception only one person seems to be under 50 years of age and the panel is rather heavily loaded with Big Aerospace management. There is no apparent representation of the next generation of people who will actually live and work in space - you know, young people. Is this lack of representation by the next generation deliberate or an oversight?"

The National Space Council's User Advisory Group will meet on Tuesday at NASA Headquarters. The event will be webcast on Webex and audio will be available via dial-up.

Today the President will sign Space Policy Directive 3 (SPD-3) at the National Space Council meeting being held at the White House. SPD-3 deals principally with space traffic management. This morning in a media call National Space Council Executive Director Scott Pace said the U.S. needs to ave unfettered access and the ability to operate space - but space is becoming congested. The new policy (SPD-3) addresses these challenges.

SPD-3 establishes principles, goals, and guidance on how to achieve these goals. It also establishes responsibility within the U.S, government for taking on the task of implementing these goals: the Department of Defense will take the lead on developing an authoritative catalog of space objects; the Department of Commerce will be responsible for the releasable portions of the catalog for collision avoidance purposes; the Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation will lead the development of standards and practices, and the State Department will lead U.S. efforts to conduct these activities internationally with transparency.

Pace says that this is going to be a "bottom-up process" using best practices from industry. As such no treaty-level document is envisioned. Pace said that the U.S. wants to avoid creating an international treaty since that would be complicated and take time to do Instead, Pace says that they will be working to make this happen faster by having recommendations incorporated into various countries' laws and regulations.

Pace concluded by saying that a next step for the space council will be space debris and proximity operations as it relates to on-orbit servicing.


Update: President Donald J. Trump is Achieving a Safe and Secure Future in Space - Fact Sheet, White House

"FURTHER SPACE DEVELOPMENT: President Donald J. Trump signed Space Policy Directive - 3 directing the United States to lead the management of traffic and mitigate the effects of debris in space."

Keith's note: Newt Gingrich and Pete Worden have been removed from the National Space Council User Advisory Group (UAG) for reasons that sources say have to do with issues that arose while vetting Gingrich and Worden to serve on the UAG. That's the official excuse. Vetting is good thing to do especially for advisory groups. Oddly this "User" Advisory Group is more like a "Customer" Advisory Group with a majority of its members representing companies who already receive (and seek) huge amounts of money from NASA, DOD, DOC, etc. and have a vested interest in maintaining one or another aspect of the status quo. Actual potential users of space from the perspective of the U.S. government are virtually absent from this panel. This panel is all about serving the interests of Big Aerospace.

Many of the UAG members come from the top of Big Aerospace and serve as CEOs/Chairs/Presidents: Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin), Dennis Muilenburg (Boeing), Wes Bush (Northrop Grumman), Fatih Ozmen (Sierra Nevada), David Thompson (Orbital ATK), Gwynne Shotwell (SpaceX), Bob Smith (Blue Origin), and Tory Bruno (ULA). Add in members representing the two major commercial space trade groups for Big Aerospace such as Eric Stallmer (Commercial Spaceflight Federation) and Mary Lynne Dittmar (Coalition for Deep Space Exploration) and you have the majority of Big Aerospace Advising the National Space Council on how America should do things in space. Not exactly a recipe for change and innovation.

To be certain SpaceX and Blue Origin and other new companies seek to upset the status quo - but right now they are, for the most part, still regular government customers just like the older companies. By a strange coincidence, pushing for change and innovation in space are two traits that Gingrich and Worden are best known for. It would seem that these things are of lesser important to the National Space Council these days. Not a good sign.

Keith's note: Inevitably when someone takes over the helm of a government agency they run into the status quo. Some of us cynical space policy wonks are calling this slow motion impact process as being "consumed by The Blob." Stay tuned. Bridenstine has only had 2 months on the job.

Subcommittee Approves FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill (NASA Excerpt)

"$110 million is provided for the NASA's education programs, which were proposed to be eliminated in the budget request, under a newly named Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Opportunities activity. Within STEM Opportunities, Space Grant is funded at $44 million, NASA's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is funded at $21 million, the Minority University Research and Education Project is funded at $33 million, and STEM Education and Accountability projects is funded at $12 million."

Keith's note: On one hand it is great that Senate appropriators halted the White House attempt to slash education funding at NASA (BTW the Obama White House tried to do the same thing). But then there's this goofy renaming of the NASA Office of Education to the NASA Office of "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Opportunities". "STEM" is almost always used in a sentence with "education". So why not just leave it as the NASA Office of Education? The organization will seemingly do the exact same things that it has always done with the same budget albeit with this wordy title.

This would be like renaming NASA's Aeronautics Directorate as the "Wings, Engines, Aerodynamics and Development (WEAD)" Directorate. I remain baffled as to the rationale for this. Maybe they do not want to offend the Department of Education (which is doing such a wonderful job of undermining education on its own). But I digress. Again, the good news is that NASA education is being saved. But we're also telling students that its better to use wordy phrases and acronyms when the proper word choice is a single, illustrative word. But then again, that is what NASA is famous for: its acronyms. So I guess we call this organization STEMOPS now.

Larger image

Back To The Moon 3.0

America's Return to the Moon: A Foothold, Not Just Footprints. Air & Space

"Our return to the Moon will not be like the Apollo-style sorties of the old Constellation project. This new approach calls for true lunar habitation - our first foothold on another world. The sooner we understand what is needed to get started, the better. The Trump administration's national policy directive (via its Space Council) calls for the return of humans to the lunar surface to use its resources. Since NASA has previously been tasked with this near-term space goal - lunar return - understanding the significance of the goal will go a long way toward completing a vital mission that has faltered and failed twice before."

'We Choose to Go to the Moon' Again--But When?, The Atlantic

"The lack of a bumper sticker-worthy target may be disappointing, particularly for lunar scientists and advocates who have been craving a renewed emphasis on the moon. Public deadlines for the space program can be beneficial in a number of ways; they can impose some sense of internal discipline, unite multiple corners of the scientific community, and rally excitement and inspiration from the public that's paying for it. But deadlines in space exploration are also notoriously fickle. They stall, they shift, they get tossed out by one president and reinstalled by another. And in the meantime, little actually gets done to reach them."

Keith's note: It has gotten to the point that nearly every picture of NASA Administrator Bridenstine has NASA CFO Jeff DeWit sitting next to him. This photobombing will - and now has - led to confusion as to who is actually running NASA. In 22 years of watching NASA I have never seen such a camera-seeking NASA CFO. People are just getting to know what Jim Bridenstine looks like and Jeff DeWit is just making that harder for NASA to do. "Jim" and "Jeff" are often in the same picture. Its understandable that some people would be easily confused. Just sayin'.

Just in case the original tweet gets deleted, this is what the story looked like. And this is what the tweet looked like.

NASA's Bridenstine signals reprieve for endangered climate missions, Science

"Bridenstine's embrace of these missions goes hand-in-hand with his evolution on climate change, turning from an occasional critic of the scientific consensus to a supporter of the realities of human-driven global warming. "I want to be clear," he said, "I do believe that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas - over 400 parts per million at this point, which is greater volumes than we've seen before. And that's because of human activity."

NASA administrator promises not to abandon International Space Station without alternative plan, The Verge

"There are companies that are interested in managing the ISS from a commercial perspective. That exists right now," said Bridenstine. "And that existed before I got to NASA. Companies were talking to me about this as a member of Congress long before I got here."

Bridenstine emphasizes partnerships with industry to achieve NASA goals, Space News

"The SLS, he argued, offered "a capability right now that no one else has, and so we want to deliver it." However, he said he'd be open to revisiting that should commercial vehicles with similar capabilities enter service in the future. "If there comes a day when someone else can deliver that, then we need to think differently. It's always evolving."

Keith's note: I was unable to attend this briefing at NASA HQ due to a death in my immediate family. There was no remote dial-in for this briefing so news media around the country who cover NASA were unable to participate. Apparently there is no speakerphone in the Administrator's office. That has to be the reason, right? That said, Bridenstine is already more available to the media than his predecessor so ...

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

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

Keith's note: This is somewhat baffling. The AGU is not some fly by night organization but rather one with an impressive history. That said, I cannot understand why they can't take a moment to inform their membership that Jim Bridenstine has made several clear statements about climate science - statements that directly concern issues raised by the AGU and its membership.

Keith's note: Big space policy news from the White House. But not a word about it from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Aerospace Industries Association, the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, the National Space Society, the Space Foundation, the Planetary Society or the Space Frontier Foundation. Only the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the Aerospace Industries Association have issued a statement. You have to wonder about the depth of commitment to commercial space from these space organizations when they cannot even bother to lift a finger to say thank you when the White House does them a big favor.

Commercial Partners Key to Sustainable Moon Presence, NASA

"As NASA shifts human exploration back to the Moon, U.S. commercial partnerships will be a key to expediting missions and building a sustainable presence on the lunar surface. The agency is orchestrating a robotic lunar campaign with a focus on growing commercial base of partnerships and activity that can support U.S. science, technology, and exploration objectives. NASA is planning a series of robotic commercial delivery missions as early as 2019 ahead of a human return to the Moon. These missions will deliver NASA instruments and technology to the surface of the Moon to conduct science and prepare for human exploration. Among the instruments to be flown are the instrumentation suite from the former Resource Prospector mission concept."

Keith's further update: The President has signed SPD-2. Larger image.

- Space Policy Directive-2 (Full Text)

Keith's update: The signing of SPD-2 by the President has been delayed until later today. Stay tuned.

Keith's 9:55 am note: Notes from 9:30 am EDT press event with National Space Council Executive Director Scott Pace:

At 11:00 am EDT today President Trump will sign Space Policy Directive 2 (SPD-2). SPD-2 will include 4 space policy directives based on recommendations made at the National Space Council meeting at KSC in February 2018 and is based on SPD-1. SPD-2 directs the Department of Transportation to revise the regulatory process for transportation to space and the Department of Commerce to revise regulations for remote sensing. SPD-2 will also create a "one stop shop" for commercial space at the Department of Commerce. SPD-2 will ask the Department of Commerce and OSTP to work with the FCC report to the President global competitiveness on radio frequency policy at ITU and other fora. SPD-2 also requires a report on export licensing of space technology. President Trump recognizes that space is important to U.S. global competitiveness and leadership.

President Donald J. Trump is Reforming and Modernizing American Commercial Space Policy

"REFORMING SPACE POLICY: President Trump's Space Policy Directive - 2 reforms America's commercial space regulatory framework, ensuring our place as a leader in space commerce.

UPDATING AND REFOCUSING: President Trump is committed to reforming our out-of-date space policies and has already taken significant steps to refocus United States space strategy."

Statement from Vice President Mike Pence on the President's Signing of Space Policy Directive-2

"This directive will encourage American leadership in space commerce by creating more certainty for investors and private industry, while focusing on protecting our national security and public-safety. As President Trump says, "We're a nation of pioneers, and the next great American frontier is space."

NASA Administrator Statement on Space Policy Directive-2

"SPD-2 provides yet another way for the members of the National Space Council to provide much-needed direction for the many different aspects of our nation's activity in space, providing communication and coordination on these complex enterprises for the benefit of our nation and the world."

Trump's new NASA head: Humans contributing in 'major way' to climate change, The Hill

"President Trump's newly minted head of NASA said Thursday that climate change is happening and humans are contributing to it in a "major way." Jim Bridenstine, a GOP congressman who was confirmed as the new administrator of NASA last month, made the comments while speaking to employees at his first town hall at NASA headquarters in Washington. "I don't deny the consensus that the climate is changing, in fact I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we human beings are contributing to it in a major way," Bridenstine said."

That NASA climate science program Trump axed? House lawmakers just moved to restore it, Science

"The House appropriations panel that oversees NASA unanimously approved an amendment to a 2019 spending bill that orders the space agency to set aside $10 million within its earth science budget for a "climate monitoring system" that studies "biogeochemical processes to better understand the major factors driving short and long term climate change." That sounds almost identical to the work that NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) was doing before the Trump administration targeted the program, which was getting about $10 million annually, for elimination this year."

Keith's note: NASA has developed a bunch of pre-prepared questions to be asked of NASA Administrator Bridenstine. NASA Employees were allowed to submit questions at http://nasa.gov/townhall. Then everyone had a chance to see them all and upvote their favorites. Oddly, a lot of these questions would certainly put Bridenstine on the spot if they were asked.

Tune in to the NASA Town Hall With Jim Bridenstine at 11:00 am EDT on NASA TV to see which of these questions get asked - and which ones are actually spontaneous. You have your user guide to see which is which. I am told that the top questions will be asked.

Reader note: "The top two questions (one about full-cost accounting, and one angling "diversity" toward accommodations for disabilities) have 70 more votes than the next top question, which is strange because neither of those questions were even ON the list at 4:25pm EDT yesterday. See attached ... the sudden viral nature of those two new "top questions" seems very strange indeed."

Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Administration Perspectives, Archived webcast

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

Examining The Future of the International Space Station, Statement of NASA IG Paul Martin, NASA OIG

"While all of these actions are positive steps, NASA's current plan to privatize the ISS remains a controversial and highly debatable proposition, particularly with regard to the feasibility of fostering increased commercial activity in low Earth orbit. Specifically, it is questionable whether a sufficient business case exists under which private companies can create a self-sustaining and profit-making business independent of significant Government funding. In particular, it is unlikely that a private entity or entities would assume the Station's annual operating costs, currently projected at $1.2 billion in 2024. Such a business case requires robust demand for commercial market activities such as space tourism, satellite servicing, manufacturing of goods, and research and development, all of which have yet to materialize.

Candidly, the scant commercial interest shown in the Station over its nearly 20 years of operation gives us pause about the Agency's current plan. This concern is illustrated by NASA's limited success in stimulating non-NASA activity aboard the Station through the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS). Established in 2011 to facilitate use of the ISS by commercial companies, academia, and other Government and non-Government actors for their research or commercial purposes, CASIS's efforts have fallen short of expectations. Apart from these privatization challenges, the amount of cost savings NASA may realize through commercialization of the ISS may be less than expected given that significant expenditures - particularly in crew and cargo transportation and civil servant costs - will likely continue even if many low Earth orbit activities transition to a privatized ISS or another commercial platform."

"Even if the Agency ends direct funding of the ISS in 2025 as envisioned in the President's FY 2019 budget request, it is unlikely that the bulk of the funding currently devoted to the ISS Program could be immediately diverted to these and other exploration activities. Even with termination of most Station activities, NASA expects to retain a presence in low Earth orbit and therefore would need to fund related crew and cargo transportation costs. Furthermore, significant funding would be required to maintain offices and infrastructure currently funded by the ISS Program such as the Mission Operations office, which is expected to be needed by future exploration programs."

"In January 2017, NASA completed a draft plan to address various deorbit scenarios; however, the plan has not been finalized and is pending review by the Russia Space Agency. And, while NASA engineers continue to work on the technical details of deorbit scenarios, the Agency presently does not have the capability to ensure a controlled deorbit of the ISS in the event of an emergency."




Back To The Moon 3.0

Back to the Moon, Again: Will the Third Time Be the Charm?, Air & Space

"By coincidence, on the same day the White House formally announced that goal in December, a group of space historians and policy experts convened at the National Air and Space Museum to try to put the new lunar initiative into historical context. Overall, the mood was skeptical. Mark Albrecht, who had been President George H.W. Bush's space advisor during the days of the (aborted) Space Exploration Initiative in the early 1990s, and who watched George W. Bush's Vision for Space Exploration collapse more than a decade later, put it bluntly: "We are currently 0 for 2. The question before us now is, will we go 0 for 3?" Bridenstine meant to reassure contract hopefuls at NASA's Moon meeting that the answer is no. Appearing unwounded by the protracted battle over his Senate confirmation, he strode into the NASA Auditorium, delivered a few pointed remarks, then left the group to its work. "This will not be Lucy and the football again," he promised. "We are going to the Moon." Thomas Zurbuchen, who heads NASA's science office, reinforced the message that there will be no reversals, or even dawdling, this time. The agency intends to "go to the Moon fast," he said."

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

"Lunar Discovery and Exploration.-- The Committee supports the requested level of $218,000,000 for the Lunar Discovery and Exploration program, including $18,000,000 for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and $200,000,000 for the new Lunar Future initiative. The Committee directs that the new Lunar Future initiative follow the lunar science priorities established by decadal surveys and the National Research Council's Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon and collect data to address the strategic knowledge gaps important for human exploration of the Moon. The Committee anticipates additional reports from the Academies regarding NASA's plans for lunar science and exploration. The funds provided for moon exploration are intended to support a mix of commercial lunar payload services; science instrument development; small satellite development; and long-duration lunar rover development. These funds will support science payloads and instruments for Lunar lander missions such as those developed in partnership with the private sector as part of NASA's Lunar CATALYST program. These robotic missions will provide NASA with access to the lunar surface and allow for an affordable procurement of a variety of science and exploration payloads to prepare for future science and crewed Exploration Missions."

Keith's note: Yet another post for which I had to shut off comments because everyone started to attack the host and not what questions were asked and what Bridenstine actually said. Knock it off.

Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts, Science

"You can't manage what you don't measure. The adage is especially relevant for climate-warming greenhouse gases, which are crucial to manage - and challenging to measure. In recent years, though, satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet's flows of carbon. Now, President Donald Trump's administration has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned."

Jen Rae Wang Resigns As NASA Associate Administrator of the Office of Communications

"I just wanted to let you know that Jen Rae Wang has resigned her position as associate administrator of the Office of Communications. I want to thank Jen Rae for the hard work she put into leading the office during this extended transition time. In the interim, I've asked Bob Jacobs to pick up duties as acting associate administrator as our search for a successor begins. Bob is no stranger to this role, and I'm confident we will be able to advance the important work underway in Communications as we look for a new associate administrator. Please give Bob your full support."

Keith's note: Jen Rae Wang was a Trump Administration political appointee. She resigned and left the building barely 2 weeks after a new NASA Administrator showed up for work. Clearly there was a difference in opinion as to how NASA public affairs was going to operate. I do not know her and had no interaction with her whatsoever during her time at NASA - but I certainly wish her well.

Changes At NASA HQ

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/bridenstine.banner.jpg

Keith's 29 April update: Looking back at my original posting I realized something that I had totally overlooked - something that someone like me should have paid much more attention to. In looking at @JimBridenstine tweets I saw speech patterns that I did not associate with the way that Jim Bridenstine talks. Of course, I did not stop to think that @NASAWatch - and NASAwatch.com - have a voice that is mine - but different than the way I actually speak. I have been doing this for so long I make the switch without thinking. Jim Bridenstine has surprised a number of people by diving directly into the use of social media. On one hand you want a NASA PAO strategy and filter on what the agency says and how it says it. On the other hand, these layers of filters can stiffle spontaneity and make it harder for NASA's new leader to chart his own course. Just take a look at how @ElonMusk does things. From all accounts I've heard thus far, NASA HQ was initially taken aback by this - and it is going to have to adapt to this new way of engaging with social media by its Administrator - not the other way around. This should prove to be interesting.

Keith's 28 April update: OK, so I guess this answers my question. Bridenstine's first public interaction with snarky NASAWatch and he made me eat my words. He learns fast.

Former NASA Administrator Weighs in on New Space Agency Head, EOS

"Eos: Why wouldn't Jim Bridenstine have been your first choice?

Bolden: He would not have been my first choice because he's a politician. And he is the first person, to my knowledge, ever selected from political office to become the NASA administrator. I don't think it's healthy for the agency to have someone who's a partisan in that position. The position calls for somebody who can carry out the president's agenda to the best of his ability but do it in a nonpartisan way and be able to work across the aisle. And I think his history is such that he may find some difficulty in working across the aisle."

Keith's note: It is amusing to hear Bolden say this. He was not President Obama's first choice to head NASA. He got the job in great part due to overt political lobbying by Sen. Nelson. The bulk of Bolden's job was politics - internal and external. Indeed, his position was "political" in that President Obama nominated him to enact his Administration's policies. If Bolden had gained some political experience prior to heading NASA he might have made more headway on some of the ongoing political issues that he had with the White House and Congress. Just sayin', Charlie.

Newt Gingrich: A glimpse of America's future in space in 2024, Fox

"If the Trump-Pence team pushes it, Falcon Heavy rockets could have more than 100 launches through 2024. The New Glenn, which will lift almost as much as the Falcon Heavy and will be rated to carry humans from Day One, could add another 20 flights between 2020 and 2024. Together, these approximately 120 heavy commercial flights would lift as much payload as 60 of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) flights. However, there will be at most four SLS flights by end of 2024, according to current plans. Each reusable commercial flight will also cost less than $100 million, while SLS flights will cost $700 million to $1 billion per launch."

- Trump Transition Team Wants Old Space Vs New Space Smackdown, earlier post
- Newt Gingrich Thinks SLS May Become a Museum Piece - Soon, earlier post

NASA Strategic Plan 2018

"NASA inspires the world with our exploration of new frontiers, our discovery of new knowledge, and our development of new technology. Our work benefits Americans and all humanity. Since NASA's inception in 1958 to present day, the Agency's history is written with each unique scientific and technological achievement. We have landed people on the Moon, visited every planet in the solar system, touched the Sun, and solved some of the core mysteries of our home planet. Today, our Nation's economic prosperity, National security, and cultural identity depend on our leadership in aeronautics, space exploration, and science. NASA accepts the challenge to continue our legacy of achievement and greatly expand the benefits we provide to mankind. Our success will be determined largely by the planning and investments we undertake today. This commitment is what drives our Vision, Mission, and overarching approach that form the core of our 2018 Strategic Plan."

Keith's note: In case you missed it, NASA issued yet another "strategic plan" in February. As is the case with previous iterations this is neither "strategic" nor is it a "plan". Rather, this is just the annual NASA justification - done in reverse - of what NASA has already decided to do for one reason or another. And again, this document is written as if all of these things sprang forth logically from the stated strategic goals - goals that are constantly in flux - and were developed after all of these programs were already undertaken.

One thing to note: the whole "Journey To Mars" thing is more or less gone. Mars, while mentioned, is no longer the agency's prime destination for human spaceflight. The Moon is now that prime focus for human spaceflight. How long before NASA tosses everything up in the air again?

Remarks by Vice President Pence at Swearing-In Ceremony of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Call to the International Space Station

"MS. WANG: ISS, this is headquarters. How do you hear us? (Laughter.) ISS, this is headquarters. How do you hear us? It is 220 million miles away. ISS? This is headquarters. How do you hear us? I'm being told in my ear that we're connecting through Johnson Space Center right now.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Did you pay the bill? (Laughter.)
MS. WANG: ISS, this is headquarters. How do you hear us?"

Vice President Pence Swears in New NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (with video)

"It is a great privilege for me to be here today, to be able to usher in on behalf of the President of the United States what we believe is a new chapter of renewed American leadership in space with the swearing-in of the newest Administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstine," said Vice President Pence."

Message from the Administrator: Greetings From Jim Bridenstine

"Greetings! It is my great pleasure to join the NASA team today. In the last few days, I have heard numerous times, "welcome to the NASA family." It truly feels like a family, and I am humbled to be a part of it. I want to thank the President and Vice President for the confidence they have placed in me and the entire NASA family as we continue NASA's critical missions. I also want to thank Robert Lightfoot for his strong leadership as the Acting Administrator during a time of transition and for his decades of service to NASA and our nation. His legacy is one of commitment to our mission and leadership in all capacities. NASA has a history of great leaders from the early days of Hugh Dryden and James Webb to our most recent leaders, Sean O'Keefe, Michael Griffin, and Charlie Bolden. I will do my best to serve our storied agency to the utmost of my abilities as we reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind. NASA represents the best of our country. We lead, we discover, we pioneer, and we inspire. I look forward to our journey together. Ad astra, Jim Bridenstine"

Keith's note: I took this picture in the "press spray" today at NASA HQ of the all hands senior staff meeting with newly sworn-in NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Vice President Pence. This all happened at the last second. We did not expect this kind of access and then suddenly one of the VP's press people was escorting us past lots of security check points. FWIW everyone in the room seemed to be happy that the leadership issue had been settled and that Bridenstine is on board. At the meeting Pence said that President Trump wanted Bridenstine "in the Oval Office before the day is out".

NASA Invites Media to Swearing-In of New Administrator James Bridenstine

"Media are invited to see Vice President Mike Pence swear in Jim Bridenstine as NASA's new administrator at 2:30 p.m. EDT Monday, April 23, at the agency's headquarters in Washington. The ceremony will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Following the swearing-in, Vice President Pence and newly sworn-in NASA Administrator Bridenstine will speak live with three NASA astronauts currently living and working aboard the International Space Station."

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

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/pence.wordcloud.jpg

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the 34th Space Symposium Colorado Springs, CO

"You know, since day one of our administration, President Trump has been working to keep his promise to restore America's proud legacy of leadership in space, because the President knows that space exploration is essential to our national security, it's essential to our nation's prosperity. But the President and I also understand it is essential to the very character of America. The work each of you do in the skies and in space supports our armed forces, spurs scientific discovery, drives innovation, helps America's farmers feed the world, creates the jobs of the future, and fills the rising generation with wonder and pride. The companies represented here today, and the thousands of American companies that form your supply chains, employ men and women in all 50 states - men and women who helped build the most advanced rockets, spaceships, and satellites in the world."

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

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

President Trump still pushing NASA pick Bridenstine despite slim path to Senate confirmation, USA Today

"The White House is standing by their NASA man. President Trump remains firmly behind his choice of Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be the next administrator of the space agency, even though he does not appear to have the votes for Senate confirmation. "Senate Democrats should stop their pointless obstruction, and confirm our eminently qualified nominee immediately," said Lindsay Walters, deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement to USA TODAY. "The President looks forward to Rep. Bridenstine's swift confirmation by the Senate, and is confident he will ensure America is a leader in space exploration once again."

McConnell sends warning over nomination votes, The Hill

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hinted Monday that he's willing to keep the Senate in town through Friday, or even into the weekend, as Republicans work to confirm a slate of President Trump's nominees. "We have a number of nominees to consider in the next several days. ... The Senate's workweek will not end until all of these amply qualified nominees are confirmed," McConnell said from the Senate floor."

Keith's note: Sources report that NASA is hopeful that NASA Administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine's nomination will be part of a batch of nominations being pushed forward through the Senate. Right now the math for Bridenstine is still precarious. Sen. Rubio is still seen as being in the "no" column and Sen. McCain is in Arizona. If the vote was taken today it would likely be 50 against, 49 for Bridenstine. Either McCain or Rubio needs to support the nomination or (unlikely at this point) a Democrat needs to break ranks and support the nomination. In case of a 50/50 spli, Vice President Pence could break the time in favor of Bridenstine. Stay tuned.

Letter From Lunar Research Community To Congress Regarding NASA Lunar Exploration and Discovery Program Budget

"We write today to express our enthusiastic support for the FY 2019 Budget Request for NASA's Lunar Exploration and Discovery Program. America's forward steps to the Moon are long overdue, and the proposed Lunar Exploration and Discovery Program in the FY 2019 Budget Request represents a credible plan to re-engage in lunar surface exploration as part of an innovative attempt to do so in an expedient and cost-effective way. We urge establishment of the Lunar Exploration and Discovery Program, as requested in the FY2019 budget, to fully fund the ongoing and highly successful Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, and restore to the United States' a technical capability to access the lunar surface and to once again lead lunar exploration once again."

Chamber of Commerce after Trump's Amazon attacks: 'Inappropriate' for officials to attack an American company, The Hill

"Neil Bradley, the executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says it is "inappropriate" for government officials to use their offices to criticize American companies. "It's inappropriate for government officials to use their position to attack an American company," Bradley told The New York Times in an article published Tuesday. Bradley's comments came after President Trump launched a series of tweets over several days in which he accused tech giant Amazon of scamming the U.S. Postal Service and failing to collect taxes on some sales."

The Pentagon is close to awarding a $10 billion deal to Amazon despite Trump's tweets attacking the company, business Insider

"But behind the scenes, some Department of Defense agencies are so sure that Amazon will be awarded the contract that they are preparing for a transition to GovCloud, which is Amazon's cloud infrastructure designed specifically for government use, according to this source. And Safra Catz, the CEO of another Amazon cloud competitor, Oracle, dined Tuesday with Trump. Oracle is competing against Amazon for the JEDI contract. Catz complained to Trump during the dinner that the Pentagon's intent to award the contract to a single company made it difficult for anyone but Amazon to win the bidding process, according to Bloomberg."

Keith's note: We've already seen this sort of behavior from the White House intrude upon procurement for several large aerospace projects - Air Force One and F-35. It is inevitable that a space project will find itself similarly perturbed. This is not the sort of environment that should be created to encourage and support a growing space industry.





Keith's 29 March update: NASA HQ sources report that Jeff Waksman was escorted out of the building by NASA security. Greg Autry was similarly escorted out of the building last year. Erik Noble did not get a golden watch either. But at least they were not fired by Twitter. FWIW no one who has devoted their time to NASA really deserves this sort of treatment. The Trump politicals at NASA are not a friendly bunch. Its like Game of Thrones. Tick tock.

Keith's 28 March note: Sources report that Trump political employee Jeff Waksman, Special Assistant to the Administrator, has been fired. There has been a certain amount of in-fighting amongst the Trump political appointees on the 9th floor at NASA HQ. Waksman is the third one to be fired in the past year. There will probably be at least one more departure in the near future.

- How Jonathan Dimock Auditioned To Be NASA White House Liaison, earlier post
- Chief of Staff Erik Noble Has Left NASA, earlier post
- Palace Intrigue On The 9th Floor At NASA HQ, earlier post
- Beachhead Team Members At NASA HQ, earlier post
- NASA Headquarters Transition Update - New 9th Floor Faces, earlier post

- Jeff Waksman, LinkedIn

"Member of President's "Beachhead" team at NASA, with a focus on policy/strategy/budget. Tasks include:

• Work with NASA's Strategy & Policy team, as well as both internal and external stakeholders, to develop policy and budget options for the incoming Administrator.
• Coordinate with the Executive Office of the President to ensure consistency of purpose, and to make sure that the White House's vision of space exploration and science/technology development is fulfilled.
• Assist NASA leadership with development of the President's FY2018 budget request and NASA's updated Strategic Plan.
• Work to increase efficiency within NASA, including both government reform and also helping the various NASA centers and NASA mission directorates to work more closely together.

As part of this role, served as a member of the President-elect's transition team on the NASA Landing Team from December 2016-January 2017, working with a highly skilled and experienced team to craft an agency policy plan for NASA."

President Trump went to Ohio today to talk about infrastructure. At one point he talked about space.

"We must recapture the excitement of creation, the spirit of innovation, and the spark of invention. And we're starting. You saw the rocket the other day, what's going on with cars, what's going on with so much. You see what's going on ... NASA space agency. All of a sudden it's back. Did you notice? It was dormant for many, many years. Now, it's back. And we're trying to have the private sector to invest the money. Why the hell should we do it, right? Let them invest. If they want to send rocket ships up, they're rich, let them do it. When I looked at the rocket that went up three weeks ago, where the tanks came back. Nobody's ever seen that. It looks like, like Star Wars. But I looked at it and I heard the cost. I think they said 85 million dollars. If the government did, you're talking about billions of dollars and maybe it wouldn't work so well. But I thought it was a fantastic thing. But we're working with the private sector and NASA, and we're, we're doing a great job. We've made so much progress in the last year. Don't forget. It's just been a little bit more than a year. But we've made so much progress. And other people are putting up a lot of money. And, they're using our facilities. I feel like a landlord, again. We're leasing them facilities. Not so bad. Not a bad idea. And they're doing a great job."

Keith's note: NASA has hardly been "dormant". Everything NASA is doing now was underway before Donald Trump took office. He has started nothing new. Yet. Indeed he has tried to cancel things. Plans by commercial space companies were also already in place and continue with no apparent impact by the Trump Administration. Yet. Just sayin'

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/america.first.jpg

President Donald J. Trump is Unveiling an America First National Space Strategy

"AMERICA FIRST AMONG THE STARS: President Trump's National Space Strategy works within his broader national security policy by putting America's interests first."

Keith's note: At the USRA/SPI Moon exploration event yesterday in Washington D.C, I asked NASA HEOMD's Jason Crusan about the apparent mismatch between NASA policy and the recently-released White House Policy titled "America First National Space Strategy". I noted that HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier told a NASA Advisory Council committee the other day said the whole Lunar Outpost Gateway thing can be done on a flat budget with no adjustment for inflation. Of course, NASA never does big projects on time or within budget - Space Station, Webb, SLS being prominent examples. But NASA sells the Gateway concept with a significant role for international partners and the private sector with lots of cooperation i.e. NASA does not call all the shots. This global approach does have some positive aspects for many people.

Yet the White House's "America First" space policy is rather blunt in its intention that it wants a space policy that "prioritizes American interests first and foremost, ensuring a strategy that will make America strong, competitive, and great" and "ensures that international agreements put the interests of American people, workers, and businesses first." This does not sound too much like cooperation. I asked Crusan how he reconciled these two different approaches. Crusan tossed lots of pop management phrases out (he was clearly unprepared to talk about this White House policy document). Then he made one cogent observation: "it's a balancing act".

Oh yes: There is no mention of this official White House space policy document at NASA.gov. Nor has NASA released anything about it to the media. Stay tuned for more "balancing".

NASA Leadership Update

President Donald J. Trump is Unveiling an America First National Space Strategy

"AMERICA FIRST AMONG THE STARS: President Trump's National Space Strategy works within his broader national security policy by putting America's interests first.

- The Trump administration's National Space Strategy prioritizes American interests first and foremost, ensuring a strategy that will make America strong, competitive, and great.
- The new strategy emphasizes dynamic and cooperative interplay between the national security, commercial, and civil space sectors.
-- The United States will partner with the commercial sector to ensure that American companies remain world leaders in space technology.
- The new strategy ensures that international agreements put the interests of American people, workers, and businesses first.
- The National Space Strategy prioritizes regulatory reforms that will unshackle American industry and ensure we remain the leading global provider of space services and technology."

What NASA loses without a permanent leader, The Verge

"Despite the backlash to Bridenstine's politician status, being the NASA administrator means mostly working with politicians, says Garver. "I do think it is more a political job than an engineering job. Neither Charlie [Bolden] nor I did any engineering," she says. "You can't be an astrophysicist and a propulsion engineer; you got to trust your people to do that. Being able to advocate for your agency on the hill is a big part of it." .. "Because [Lightfoot] isn't the president's person, there is a loss of accountability," Jim Muncy, founder of PoliSpace, a space policy consulting agency, tells The Verge. "Having the president's own representative to guide the day-to-day implementation of the policy is part of that accountability."

- Shh! Bill Nelson Openly Champions Space Legislation Co-authored By Jim Bridenstine, earlier post
- This Is What Happens When People Try To Work Together in DC, earlier post
- Sen. Nelson's Effort To Undermine NASA, earlier post
- Why Should One Senator Boss NASA Around?, earlier post

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keith's note: President Trump spoke to military personnel at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego and starting talking about a new "Space Force". [Video] [Larger image]

"My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war fighting domain. Just like the land, air, and sea. We may have a Space Force. Develop another one. Space Force. We have the Air Force - we'll have a Space Force. We have the Army, the Navy. You know I was saying it the other day because we are doing a tremendous amount of work in space. I said 'maybe we need a new force - we'll call it the Space Force - and I was not really serious - and then I said what a great idea - maybe we'll have to do it. That could happen. That could be the breaking shore. Look at all those people back there. Look at that. Ahhh - that fake news. Ugh. They know - they understand. So think of that: Space Force. Because we're spending a lot - and we have a lot of private money coming in - tremendous. You saw what happened the other day - tremendous success. From the very beginning many of our astronauts have been soldiers and sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen, and marines. And our service members will be vital to ensuring that America continues to lead the way into the stars. It will lead the way in space. We're way, way behind - and we're catching up fast - so fast that nobody even believes it."

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

Judge wants Trump to mute Twitter users who bug him, not block them, Mashable

"The Trump administration contends that his Twitter account is a personal platform and not a public one. "

Keith's note: The following comments were made this morning by President Trump:

"Before me are some rocket ships [there were rocket models in front of him on the table]. You haven't seen that for this country in a long time...Many of the jobs we're doing are privately financed. We're letting them use the Kennedy Space Center for a fee and, you know, rich guys, you know, they love rocket ships. That's good. That's better than us paying for them. And I noticed the prices of the last one they say cost $80 million. If the government did it, the same thing would have cost probably 40- or 50-times that amount of money...I'm so used to hearing different numbers with NASA."

"But NASA is making tremendous strides and we're using a lot of private money, a lot of people that love rockets and they're rich. So they're going to be a little less rich probably, but a lot of rockets are going up. And we're really at the forefront -- nobody's doing what we're doing. And I don't know if you saw last -- with Elon -- with the rocket booster where they're coming back down. To me, that was more amazing than watching the rocket go up, because I've never seen that before. Nobody's seen that before, where they're saving the boosters, and they came back without wings, without anything. They landed so beautifully. So we're really at the forefront and we're doing it in a very private manner."

"At the same time NASA is very much involved and doing their own projects, but we're bringing that whole space flight back. We'll be sending something very beautiful to Mars in the very near future, and we're going to areas that nobody thought possible, certainly not this quickly. So we're very proud."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/trump.wordcloud.jpg

Scientists Share Ideas for Gateway Activities Near the Moon, NASA

"In late 2017, the agency asked the global science community to submit ideas leveraging the gateway in lunar orbit to advance scientific discoveries in a wide range of fields. NASA received more than 190 abstracts covering topics human health and performance, Earth observation, astrophysics, heliophysics, and lunar and planetary sciences, as well as infrastructure suggestions to support breakthrough science. Although it is too early to select specific research for the gateway, the workshop marks the first time in more than a decade the agency's human spaceflight program brought scientists from a variety of disciplines together to discuss future exploration."

Keith's note: This short blog posting is apparently all that the public will ever see as a result of the Deep Space Gateway workshop that NASA and LPI held in Denver last week - the one where media participation was hidden from the media and no one cared enough to even bother to webcast for others to hear.

- Deep Space Gateway Event Ends But No One Knows It Ever Happened, earlier post
- Stealthy NASA Deep Space Gateway Meeting Underway, earlier post

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gerstenmaier: U.S. Leadership in Space is "Ours to Lose" If Direction Changes Too Many Times, Space Policy Online

"Bill Gerstenmaier, the head of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said today that the United States is the "partner of choice" for countries wanting to engage in international space cooperation, but that leadership is "ours to lose" if too many changes in direction drive partners away."

Keith's note: Sage advice. And of course Gerst is totally faultless when it comes to all of the changes in direction. right? Lets dial back a decade or so. First Gerst was behind the Ares I/V/Orion Constellation thing. Then he was behind the SLS/Orion thing when the Constellation thing was turned upside down. Then he pushed the Journey to Mars thing. Then he jumped in behind the Asteroid Retrieval thing which eventually became the grab the small boulder thing. When no one liked the asteroid thing any more, he picked up the pieces and jumped behind the Deep Space Gateway thing. Then, to pay for the Deep Space gateway thing he jumped behind the commercialize ISS thing (with no one lined up to pay the bills). Then when the Mars thing was fading he pivoted to the Back to the Moon thing but he still wants to walk away from ISS in LEO to build a mini-ISS with no as-yet determined purpose out near the Moon.

Gerst is certainly flexible and adaptable. And he has kept a lot of important things alive that others sought to kill. But consistent in his direction? No. Not surprisingly, year after year he'll tell you that the Ares V/SLS is the perfect rocket for all of these ever-changing missions and destinations - even if he can never give a consistent cost of what an SLS costs to launch as the schedules continue to slip to the right. Of course he'll tell you that all of these pivots were all due to White House and/or Congressional direction and re-direction. He's correct. But behind the scenes in all of those scenarios, Gerst and HEOMD were constantly pitching their ideas to impressionable staffers - always trying to pivot to stay in synch with the space flavor of the month and stay one step ahead of the budget axe to keep the marching army employed. And of course no one has money for any of the payloads that SLS will fly. But its all notional anyway, so why bother with the actual budget thing.

Now, NASA can buy Falcon Heavy launches at 1/5 (or cheaper) the cost of an SLS with roughly 70% of a SLS launch capability online. And more cheap heavy lift is on the way from other suppliers coupled with nimble, small launchers from another suite of suppliers. Gerst is quite correct to warn that constant changes in direction can sour current and potential partners on future projects. But he seems to not see that this very problem he cites has been happening under his watch. Possible partners are now looking to China because China offers them what they want - while NASA offers potential parters what they can have. These two things are not the same.

The old way of exploring space no longer works. If NASA doesn't everyone else will. In fact, they already are. The agency is stuck in outdated subroutines that run in circles that result in increasingly inefficient output. Its time to hit the reset button.

Trump threatens to slap retaliatory tariff on European cars as trade war talk heats up, CNBC

"Trump's hasty decision to impose tariffs on steel imports has stoked talk of a brewing trade war, roiling both the political establishment and the global economic order. The move also prompted E.U. trade chiefs to weigh hitting a broad array of U.S. imports with a 25 percent tax, Reuters reported this week."

New Tariffs Could Harm Industry Critical to American Economic Security, Aerospace Industries Association

"Friday morning on CNBC, AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning was featured immediately following Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, emphasizing: "This is going to impact companies big and small in the aerospace and defense world. More importantly, we're concerned about retaliation. The aerospace and defense industry generates the largest net surplus in the manufacturing sector - over $86 billion a year. These companies thrive on the exports of their products."

Why Europe and Canada may retaliate against bourbon, Harleys and Levi jeans, Washington Post

"Another alternative would be to ban U.S. companies from bidding on Canadian defense and infrastructure contracts, Mendes, the economist, said. The advantage to that approach would be that Canadian consumers wouldn't feel the impact in their wallets. When Boeing launched a complaint against Bombardier, claiming the Canadian company had benefited from unfair government subsidies in the production of its C Series jet, the Canadian government retaliated by saying it wouldn't consider buying fighter jets from Boeing. That dispute was effectively settled in January, when the U.S. International Trade Commission voted that Boeing was not harmed by Bombardier."

Keith's note: I am waiting to see how the trade war that the White House has started will affect willingness of affected nations to cooperate with U.S. on future human spaceflight and on U.S. commercial space sector - and example of both being the Deep Space Gateway. Protectionism and isolationism do not seem to be synonymous with such an expansive endeavor as the exploration and utilization of space.

NASA Heads Back to Space Leaderless, Bloomberg

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

Keith's note: NASA is holding a Deep Space Gateway meeting in Denver right now. A hundred or so people are there. It is invitation-only. No webcast. No Webex. So U.S taxpayers and media cannot see what is going on but foreign nationals were invited - so they can. NASA and LPI never said media could attend, never provided any way to register, and never released any other information to that effect. They ignored an email I sent several months back inquiring. Now, half way through the event I find out they have hand-picked news media in attendance.

They claim that they cannot webcast this event since there are multiple sessions - yet it is so easy to do this with a cellphone and Facebook if need be. They also claim that since this is not a "decisional" meeting they do not see the need to webcast it yet they webcast things like this all the time.

Public and media concerns aside, no one at NASA who is working on the Deep Space Gateway or people working at companies and universities supporting this research can watch it either. All we get are short abstracts and a summary that someone at NASA PAO without a technical background will write in a few months about what they think is important from what other people said.

Scott Parazynski and I did live webcasts - daily - from 17,600 feet at Everest Base Camp 9 years ago using a small BGAN unit I carried on my back. NASA sent back live video of a Soyuz landing in Kazakhstan this morning and posting pictures shortly thereafter on Flickr yet they cannot webcast a simple meeting from a hotel in Denver about a project that will last several decades?

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

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

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

Astronaut: Trump's plan for the space station a huge mistake, op ed, Leroy Chiao, CNN

"What about privatizing the ISS? That idea is barely worth mentioning. The ISS was designed to operate with two big mission control centers, in Houston and Moscow. They each need standing armies of onsite engineers and technicians around the clock to monitor and send commands to the station. Estimates of the cost of launching spacecraft to the ISS vary, but they are certainly in the range of $100 million or more. Let's not even consider maintenance costs. Tell me with a straight face how a commercial entity is going to make money operating ISS? The Trump administration's thoughts to cancel ISS and send the savings to the moon is déjà vu. The actual savings will likely be again around 50% of the ISS program cost, and all we are likely to end up with is an inadequately funded moon program, as we have had for the last nine years. And no ISS, either. This path would likely leave us with nothing but a bare-bones spacecraft and rocket and no funding to go anywhere. Unless, of course, we decide to fly American astronauts on Chinese spacecraft to the coming Chinese space station. This would be a national travesty. What we need is a real commitment to maintain US leadership in human spaceflight."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/pence.cloud.jpg

Remarks by Vice President Pence at Second Meeting of the National Space Council, White House

"We've seen the increasing number of American businesses sending experiments to the International Space Station. We've witnessed the power of commercial satellites to reconnect isolated communities in the wake of natural disasters. And of course, just a couple of weeks ago, the world watched with wonder as the Falcon Heavy blasted off from this very shoreline, and then moments later sent two of its boosters sailing back down to Earth, where they landed side-by-side, intact, less than a mile from where they'd lifted off. Very impressive indeed. The evidence is clear: While the government can blaze new trails into exploring the outer expanse of space, like all frontiers, ultimately that will be settled by the dreams of our people, by the brilliance of our innovators, the energy of entrepreneurs, and the daring of our explorers together. This truth echoes through the history of the Kennedy Space Center, named for a President who challenged the American people to marshal the best of our, in his words, "energies and skills" to "become the world's leading space-faring nation."

Larger word cloud

Vice President Pence Announces National Space Council Users Advisory Group

"Vice President Mike Pence, Chairman of the National Space Council, today announced the candidates selected to serve on the National Space Council's Users Advisory Group. Pending official appointment by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the selected members of the Users Advisory Group will serve to fulfill President Trump's mandate to "foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange" across our nation's space enterprise. The announcement as made on the eve of the second meeting of the National Space Council. "Moon, Mars, and World Beyond: Winning the next Frontier" includes testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial, and national security sectors about the importance of the United States' space enterprise."

Keith's note: I find this comment posted by Mark Uhran to be most apt: "These are almost exclusively "sellers" of space services. This is supposed to be a "Users Advisory Group"-- users are potential "buyers". This is a fundamental distinction. The failure to recognize the difference between the supply side and demand side is troubling, and persistent in the civil space culture. There is far more space infrastructure available than ever previously in history, yet few non-government buyers (COMSATS are the notable exception). The "build it and they will come" approach has not succeeded. Good luck to Dave Wolf and Pete Worden in trying to bring any user (buyer) perspective to this group."

Of the 29 names, 12 (listed below) are from big aerospace, new/old space, and/or its trade organizations. Only a few of the people listed are currently in the business of developing payloads. Back when I worked at NASA on the space station - with Mark Uhran - we called those people who were going to utilize the space station "users". This Users Advisory Group is sadly lacking users.

Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance
Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman
Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
Adm. Jim Ellis, member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors
Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation
Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of the Boeing Company
Faith Ozmen, CEO of the Sierra Nevada Corporation
Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin
David Thompson, Founder and CEO of Orbital ATK
Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Mandy Vaughn, President of VOX Launch Company

Moon, Mars, and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier - National Space Council Recommendations

"RECOMMENDATION 1: The Secretary of Transportation should work to transform the launch and re-entry licensing regime.

RECOMMENDATION 2: The Secretary of Commerce should consolidate its space commerce responsibilities, other than launch and reentry, in the Office of the Secretary of Commerce.

RECOMMENDATION 3: The National Telecommunication and Information Administration should coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission to ensure the protection and stewardship of radio frequency spectrum necessary for commercial space activities.

RECOMMENDATION 4: The Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, in coordination with members of the National Space Council, should initiate a policy review of the current export licensing regulations affecting commercial space activity."

Partying Vs Policy Making

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

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

President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond (11 February 2004)

"The President's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy is charged with making recommendations to the President on implementation of his vision outlined in the policy statement "A Renewed Spirit of Discovery" and in the President's Budget Submission for Fiscal Year 2005. The commission will also advise NASA on the long-term implementation of the President's vision."

Vice President Pence to Lead National Space Council Meeting at Kennedy Space Center, White House

"Vice President Pence will lead the second meeting of the National Space Council at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. "Moon, Mars, and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier" will include testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial, and national security sectors about the importance of the United States' space enterprise. The Vice President will conclude his visit with a tour of Kennedy Space Center."

Moon, Mars, and Beyond 2.0, earlier post

Keith's note: Sources report that the membership of the National Space Council's User's Advisory Group (UAG) may be announced on Tuesday - or possibly Wednesday at the NSPC meeting. The UAG is larger than a lot of people wanted - partially as the result of many factions wanting to have their person representing their interests. I have been able to confirm a subset of the UAG membership thus far from multiple sources: Homer Hickam, Jeff Manber, Pam Melroy, Gwynne Shotwell, and Pete Worden. Note: 2 sources confirm Manber, another says he's not a member. I will add more names as I confirm them and correct any errors as they arise.

- National Space Council Users' Advisory Group Established, earlier post
- Apply Now To Be On The National Space Council Users' Advisory Group, earlier post

Vice President Pence to Lead National Space Council Meeting at Kennedy Space Center, White House

"Vice President Pence will lead the second meeting of the National Space Council at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. "Moon, Mars, and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier" will include testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial, and national security sectors about the importance of the United States' space enterprise. The Vice President will conclude his visit with a tour of Kennedy Space Center."

NASA to Host National Space Council Meeting at Kennedy Space Center

"All media applications for credentialing must be received by 8 p.m. today, Feb. 19. ... NASA Television and the agency's website will provide live coverage of the meeting beginning at 10 a.m. EST."

Keith's note: Gee, a whole 8 Hours advance notice for media to make travel plans after total silence with regard to media access. Obviously the NSpC wanted to limit media attendance as much as possible. Announcing media accreditation on a Federal holiday is one of the best ways to do that. At least we can watch people talking on TV. The way this is being rolled out is 100% White House. NASA has to do exactly what the White House tells them to do - or not do - even if it means sitting on things - and then foot the bill afterward.

Keith's note: NASA and other agencies have issued zero media advisories. Multiple people have been confirmed as being members of the NSpC's Users' Advisory Group - yet none have been named publicly. A large reception sponsored and paid for by the major aerospace organizations and all of the major aerospace companies is planned during the meeting - yet no official public mention has been made of this event (you are not invited, BTW).

Meanwhile, no mention is made on any NASA website or by other sponsoring agencies including the White House about NSpC activities in Florida. No word yet as to whether the NSpC meeting itself will even be televised for taxpayers to observe or if news media will be allowed to attend. Monday is a Federal holiday so don't expect a lot of updates.

The National Space Council Is Operating in Stealth Mode (Update), earlier post

Reception 20 February
- Parking Lot 4 Opens 5:30 p.m.
- 6:30 p.m. Front Entrance Opens (Guests will walk through the Explore Sign though security screening, proceed to Atlantis Facility for check-in)
- 7:00 p.m. Reception
- 9:30 p.m. Depart Event

National Space Council Meeting 21 February
- 7:00 a.m. Parking Lot 4 Opens, Front Entrance Opens, Go to Debus Conference Facility (Check-in will be inside with a light continental breakfast for guests.)
- 8:15 - 8:45 a.m. Bus Boarding - Lot 1 (Guests will exit Debus Conference Facility and be directed around the building and board KSCVC tour buses to the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF))
- NOON Depart Event - SSPF (Guests will board KCSVC tour buses back to Parking Lot 4)

Keith's 15 Feb note: The National Space Council (NSpC) (established by Presidential Executive Order) is having a big, potentially lavish, meeting at NASA KSC on 21 February in 5 days complete with a SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster on display. The NSpC's Users' Advisory Group (UAG) will also be meeting. The UAG is a FACA (Federal Advisory Committee Act) committee - yet no public announcement has been made in advance of this public meeting in the Federal Register per Federal law pertaining to publicizing standard FACA activities two weeks in advance. Nor has any formal mention been made of the NSpC meeting itself. No location has been announced and no attendance procedures for media or citizens have been announced. NASA and other agencies have issued zero media advisories. Multiple people have been confirmed as being members of the NSpC's Users' Advisory Group - yet none have been named publicly. A large reception sponsored and paid for by the major aerospace organizations and all of the major aerospace companies is planned during the meeting - yet no public mention has been made of this event (you are not invited, BTW). No mention is made on NASA's calendar page. No word yet as to whether this highly-staged event will be televised for taxpayers to observe.

This is your National Space Council operating in stealth mode.

Keith's 14 Feb note: Note that the all of the entries for this Solar Electric Propulsion project are blank (as is the case for RESTORE-L listed just before it in the document) and that there is a place holder image of a mountain with "Caption for Picture (No more than 10 lines)".

OMB and NASA do not know what this thing does, are not certain what it looks like (SEP looks like a mountain?), but they know exactly how much money they want to spend on it ($96 million). But they are also certain that NASA does not need to spend $99 million on an Education Office.

Keith's 15 Feb update: Well NASA quietly updated the PDF file and removed the empty/blank template stuff for RESTORE-L and SEP but they never bothered to fix the document's table of contents. Now the page numbering does not match. What else is screwed up? Amateur hour.

NASA FY 2019 Budget Estimates, NASA

(Excerpts below)

Keith's note: Yesterday NASA held a briefing with Acting CFO Andrew Hunter. When asked about how NASA plans to operate the ISS after 2025 when funding by NASA will cease, Hunter had no answer. The only clue he offered was that CASIS would continue to be part of the NASA space station utilization plan until 2025. Somehow, between now and 2025, NASA claims that it will be handing over all of its operational responsibilities to some yet to be defined private sector entities. It would seem, therefore, by default, that NASA intends to use CASIS to develop the multi-billion dollar customer base that will take over U.S. operations on the ISS and that NASA would be just another customer. How anyone can expect CASIS to complete a task several orders of magnitude greater than the one that they have failed to accomplish thus far is baffling in the extreme. All you have to do is read recent GAO and NASA OIG reports to see that there is extreme doubt with regard to CASIS' abilities.

Of course, NASA has still refused to deliver the ISS Transition Plan mandated by law and due last year. Based on this budget briefing NASA clearly has no plan and they have only begun to work on it.

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

NASA's Management of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NASA OIG

"... With respect to crew utilization, between September 2013 and April 2017 CASIS was allocated 2,915 crew research hours on the National Lab, but CASIS-managed projects used only 1,537 (52.7 percent) of these hours. Although CASIS officials attributed the organization's limited success in this area to three failed ISS resupply missions in FY 2015, given its performance to date, CASIS utilization rates for the National Lab will likely further diminish when NASA adds an additional crew member to the Station in late 2018."

"... In its FY 2016 assessment memorandum, NASA noted that absent growth in the project pipeline, the crew utilization rate for three crewmembers could drop below 50 percent. NASA intends to increase the number of crew aboard the U.S. segment of the ISS from three to four in late 2018 and plans to allocate a portion of the additional crew hours available to CASIS who, in turn, will need to recruit additional users. Consequently, without sustained increases in the number of new and repeat users, CASIS's crew time utilization could fall even further when the fourth crew member is added."

"... Even though in recent years NASA has become more involved in measuring CASIS's performance, the Agency still has not developed a performance strategy for the remaining 7 years of the agreement or provided quantifiable metrics by which to assess CASIS and help improve the organization's performance."

"... Despite CASIS's recent progress, FY 2017 fundraising is still far below the amounts discussed in the original CASIS proposal. CASIS officials stated that they replaced the fundraising model in the reference model and original proposal with a sponsored program model, which focuses on obtaining external funding to directly support research and STEM projects. Officials explained that CASIS was not able to pursue all fundraising sources described in the reference model and proposal such as royalty fees, which were prohibited in the agreement, and the membership structure that was found to be unsuccessful."

"... CASIS met only one of nine metrics related to outreach publicizing the unique benefits of using the National Lab to potential users, the White House, Congress, non-NASA Government agencies, commercial companies and researchers, media, kindergarten through grade 12 educators and students, and the general public."

"... By 2024, NASA will have invested $196 million in CASIS. In our opinion, weaknesses in performance measurement and the lack of an overall strategy have created an environment in which NASA continues to accept incremental improvement rather than more tangible attainment of agreed-upon goals. Consequently, without significant change, CASIS likely will fall short of advancing NASA's goal for a commercial economy in low Earth orbit. NASA needs to engage more substantively with CASIS and exercise more effective oversight of the cooperative agreement to clarify CASIS's role in helping build a robust economy in low Earth orbit."

- Earlier posts on CASIS

Letter From OMB Director Mulvaney to Houe Speaker Ryan, OMB

"This addendum includes additional funding for a limited set of Administration priorities, but notably, it also proposes to use higher spending caps as an opportunity to fix some long-time budget gimmicks that the Congress has used to circumvent the spending caps and add billions to the Nation's deficits. ... National Aeronautics and Space Administration: $300 million to fund innovative exploration-related programs and address needs in other parts of the agency."

Keith's note: So ... one would assume that had an overal budget deal not been reached last week (i.e. the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, mentioned in the opening of this letter) that NASA's budget would have only increased by $100 million. Note that the letter says the $300 million is to be used to "fund innovative exploration-related programs and address needs in other parts of the agency". Not very specific.

Keith's update: Acting NASA CFO just admitted that this budget plus up was a "surprise" and that they have to adjust their detailed budget document to show where they will spend the money. This is a nice position to be in - but NASA's budget is expected to be more or less flat in the out years which actually means a slow motion budget cut due to the eroding effect of inflation.

Feb. 12 'State of NASA' Events Highlight Agency Goals for Space Exploration

"Lightfoot will provide a "State of NASA" address to the agency's workforce at 1 p.m. EST from Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. His remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

- Watch live here: https://www.nasa.gov/live/

Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot: State of NASA: Fiscal Year 2019 Budget, NASA

"It is my privilege today to present President Trump's Fiscal Year 2019 budget request of $19.9 billion for NASA. It reflects the Administration's confidence that through NASA leadership, America will lead the way back to the Moon and take the next giant leap from where we made that first small step nearly 50 years ago. This budget focuses NASA on its core exploration mission and reinforces the many ways that we return value to the U.S. through knowledge and discoveries, strengthening our economy and security, deepening partnerships with other nations, providing solutions to tough problems, and inspiring the next generation. It places NASA and the U.S. once again at the forefront of leading a global effort to advance humanity's future in space, and draws on our nation's great industrial base and capacity for innovation and exploration."

- NASA FY 2019 Budget Documents, Strategic Plans and Performance Reports

Detailed NASA FY 2019 Budget proposal, OMB

"The Budget proposes the termination of the Office of Education and its portfolio of programs and projects. Unobligated balances previously appropriated under this heading may be used to support close-out costs. Moving forward, a small team at NASA headquarters funded out of Agency Management and Operations will be accountable for strategic direction and coordination of the agency's STEM engagement efforts."

- NASA FY 2019 Budget Estimates, NASA (pdf)

"Refocuses existing NASA activities towards exploration, by redirecting funding to innovative new programs and providing additional funding to support new public - private initiatives."

"Proposes to end direct U.S. financial support for ISS in 2025, with a seamless transition to the use of future commercial capabilities."

"Cancels WFIRST due to its significant cost and higher priorities within NASA. Increases funding for competed astrophysics missions and research."

"Proposes to terminate NASA's Office of Education, including its portfolio of grants and cooperative agreements and redirects funds to NASA's core mission of exploration. NASA headquarters will continue to be accountable for strategic direction and coordination of the agency's STEM engagement efforts."

The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a commercially run venture, NASA document shows., Washington Post

"The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a kind of orbiting real estate venture run not by the government, but by private industry. The White House plans to stop funding for the station after 2024, ending direct federal support of the orbiting laboratory. But it does not intend to abandon the orbiting laboratory altogether, and is working on a transition plan that could turn the station over to the private sector, according to an internal NASA document obtained by The Washington Post. "The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time - it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform," the document states. "NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit."

Trump mulling privatization of International Space Station: report, The Hill

"The space station program manager of Boeing, which has been involved with the ISS for over 20 years, warned of privatizing the station. "Walking away from the International Space Station now would be a mistake, threatening American leadership and hurting the commercial market as well as the scientific community," Mark Mulqueen said in a statement to The Post."

NASA Budgets for a Trip to the Moon, but Not While Trump Is President, NY Times

"According to excerpts from NASA documents obtained by The New York Times before the budget's release, the administration will propose $19.9 billion in spending for the space agency in fiscal year 2019, which begins on Oct. 1. That is a $370 million increase from the current year, the result of the budget deal reached in Congress last week and signed by Mr. Trump. The budget numbers were confirmed by a person who was not authorized to talk publicly about them. In future years, the administration would like NASA's spending to drop to $19.6 billion and stay flat through 2023. With inflation, NASA's buying power would erode, effectively a budget cut each year."

NASA FY 2019 Budget Hints: ISS Lifespan To Be Limited (Update), earlier post

"- Ending direct federal government support of the ISS by 2025 and transitioning to commercial provision of low Earth orbit (LEO) capabilities;"

Keith's note: You have to wonder what sort of feedback NASA is allowed to give to the White House on important decision like this given that NASA has had an acting Administrator for over a year. The feedback usually reverts to political appointees at NASA. Jonathan Dimock is one of the people who does this. Last year he listed his qualifications for this job below (Letter posted verbatim):

How Jonathan Dimock Auditioned To Be NASA White House Liaison, earlier post

"? National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA or Deep Space Exploration Administration or DESA)

o Aside from understanding the technical aspect of NASA and the components that goes into it. I can also understand the economics of launching satellites and supplies into space for both private and government entities. We all know that Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk with Space-X and various investors including Shaun Coleman with Vector Space are racing for more contacts with NASA and others. This is a time when NASA can scale back without huge loss to their operation and we can continue to provide suitable funding for suitable research that benefits the citizens both scientifically and economically. It is not outrageous to believe that a small cut in the $105.5b budget cannot be cut by even a small percentage for a large gain to the taxpayers while providing a big win for the administration."

- Ted Cruz On NASA, ISS, Star Trek, Bridenstine and "OMB Numbskulls", earlier post
- Trump Advisors Send Mixed Signals On ISS Support, earlier post
- Reaction To Proposed OMB Space Station Funding Cuts, earlier post
- NASA OIG Flunks CASIS - And NASA's Management of CASIS, earlier post

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

More comments below

National Space Council Meeting

Keith's note: The next meeting of the National Space Council will be 21 February at KSC. The people selected to serve on the Users' Advisory Panel are starting to be notified that they have been selected and will be in attendance as well. More to follow.

- National Space Council Users' Advisory Group Established, earlier post
- Apply Now To Be On The National Space Council Users' Advisory Group, earlier post

- National Space Council Users' Advisory Group Established, earlier post
- Apply Now To Be On The National Space Council Users' Advisory Group, earlier post

Keith's note: Here is a larger version of the image. See for yourself. This covers just 2 hours of twitterbot spamming. Each click creates a unique URL that the sponsor uses to learn which Twitter accounts are getting the most click throughs. This is a methodical campaign and the sponsor(s) make no effort to hide that fact. These things cost money. This is the current meme from @ClimateTruth: "Tell The Senate: Reject Climate Denier Jim Bridenstine as head of NASA #StopBridenstine https://act.climatetruth.org/sign/StopBridenstine". If you go to the petition site and enter a name and email they do not send a confirmation email to let you prove who yo are (I tried). So the name "Holden MuGroyne" is on their petition now. Oddly many of the Twitter accounts tweeting #stopbridenstine stuff follow CT Gov @DanMalloyCT yet if you look at his followers https://twitter.com/DanMalloyCT/following you will see that all of them have protected accounts that you cannot follow. Something strange is going on.

Keith's note: Yesterday @BillNye tweeted this statement: "Tomorrow night I will attend the State of the Union as a guest of Congressman Jim Bridenstine - nominee for NASA Administrator - who extended me an invitation in my role as CEO of The Planetary Society. The Society is the world's largest and most influential non-governmental nonpartisan space organization, co-founded by Carl Sagan. While the Congressman and I disagree on a great many issues - we share a deep respect for NASA and its achievements and a strong interest in the future of space exploration. My attendance tomorrow should not be interpreted as an endorsement of this administration, or of Congressman Bridenstine's nomination, or seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community. The U.S. Space Program has long been a source of American technical achievement, a symbol of our innovative spirit, and a source of national pride. There are extraordinary opportunities for our country, and for all humanity, in the continued exploration of space. Historically, the Space Program has brought Americans together, and during his address, I hope to hear the President's plans to continue exploring the space frontier."

Bill Nye and the State of a Polarized Union, Planetary Society

"Space exploration is one of the few areas of politics that still offers significant opportunities for bipartisan rapprochement. A shared passion for space can lay the groundwork for a relationship between individuals of very different political beliefs. This can help build trust and mutual respect between them, and potentially allow them to engage on more contentious issues that would otherwise be immediately dismissed or ignored. The current lack of mutual trust between the parties has been identified as one of the threats to a functioning democracy, and space provides a rare opportunity to try and reverse that trend."

Keith's update: This online article has this tweet embedded in it.

Bill Nye was a Trump nominee's guest at the State of the Union. Scientists were not amused, Washington Post

"When a congressman and current nominee for NASA Administrator asks you to be his guest at the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., how do you respond?" the society said in making the announcement. "For us, the answer was easy. Yes, Bill would be there."

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

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

What Trump Gets Right About NASA, Space Exploration, Eric Stallmer, CSF

"Today, a new generation of commercial space companies is taking the lead on space exploration and aerospace innovation. ... Other firms are developing commercial spacecraft systems to reach the moon and asteroids, land on the surface of other planets and preparing to deploy commercial habitats in space. Despite this progress, some inside the space community remain nostalgic about the government owning and controlling space assets. Late last year at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Space annual conference, for instance, then-NASA administrator Charlie Bolden told audience members that he "is not a big fan of commercial investment in large launch vehicles. ... The alternative, which lawmakers need to begin insisting on? Firm, fixed price contracts. Under this model, which works best with privately owned space hardware, taxpayers shoulder far less risk - and companies are incentivized to complete projects on time and under budget."

Keith's note: Meanwhile former Trump Transition Team member Charles Miller can barely contain his enthusiasm for this "leadership" which involves abandoning ISS - all with another Transtion Team member's (Greg Autry) approval. Meanwhile other Trump advisors tell say that such a plan to prematurely abandon support for ISS is exactly the opposite advice that they have been giving the Administration at the highest levels with regard to encouraging the commercialization of Low Earth Orbit.

NASA FY 2019 Budget Hints: ISS Lifespan To Be Limited (Update), earlier post

Keith's update: I engaged in a Twitter exchange via @NASAWatch with @GregWAutry. Try as I did, I could not get this Trump Transition Team member to answer a simple question about the defunding of ISS after 2025.

Statement by Sen. Bill Nelson Regarding Administration Space Station Plans

"If the Administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they're going to have a fight on their hands. Such a move would likely decimate Florida's blossoming commercial space industry, which is one of the reasons why Congress directed NASA to look at extending the ISS to 2028 and to provide a plan to help scientists and researchers continue experimenting in low-Earth orbit beyond that."

Statement from Robert Bigelow on reports of the International Space Station being defunded by 2025, Bigelow Aerospace

"It doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. ISS operations should continue provided there are aggressive initiatives to use commercial platforms for human space operations in parallel with the continued use of the ISS until such time that NASA can safely relieve itself of the enormous financial burden."

White House starts debate on when NASA should leave the space station, Ars Technica

"Without somewhere to operate and a predictable way of getting there, operations are not possible and expansion of American free enterprise in space is stifled," the chief executive officer of Made in Space, Andrew Rush, testified in 2017. Companies like Made in Space, as well as Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada, Boeing, SpaceX, and other commercial service providers oppose an end to station support before 2028. However, the counter argument being advanced by Scott Pace, executive secretary of the National Space Council, is that at some point these "commercial" companies need to begin standing up on their own and making profits beyond just government contracts. "He doesn't want them lining up for government programs like everyone else," one aerospace industry source told Ars."

Trump administration wants to end NASA funding for the International Space Station by 2025, The Verge

"... a NASA spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. "We will not comment on any leaked or pre-decisional documents prior to the release of the President's FY19 budget, which is scheduled for February 12."

Keith's uodate: Excerpt from OMB FY 2019 Budget Plan for NASA

"Passback provides $10,013.1 million for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Within this funding level, and consistent with the outyear guidance provided in the passback's front matter section, the HEOMD guidance is intended to support the following strategic human space exploration objectives:

- Pursuing a cislunar campaign that will establish U.S. preeminence to, and around, and on the Moon;
- Engaging non-traditional U.S. industrial partners and sectors in the space program;
- Using innovative approaches to combine lunar robotics, a cislunar presence, and human sorties possibilities, involving commercial and international participation to enhance U.S. leadership;
- Ending direct federal government support of the ISS by 2025 and transitioning to commercial provision of low Earth orbit (LEO) capabilities;
- Achieving an early milestone in human space exploration by launching the Power Propulsion Element in 2022 using a commercial launch vehicle;
- Supporting public-private partnerships that enable transportation services and landers to the moon by the early 2020s (See Science Passback for more details and ..."

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

"Keith's 11 Dec update: I did not hear back from NASA so I sent a second request. Stephanie Schierholz at NASA HQ PAO just sent this reply to my second request: "NASA is keeping Congress apprised as to the progress of the ISS Transition Report and plans to provide this report to the Committee as soon as possible. Please reach out to the Committee about obtaining a copy of the report once it is submitted."

Keith's note: It will be interesting to see what happens when Congress gets wind of OMB's ISS plans since NASA never delivered the ISS Transition plan required by law - the plan that explains how NASA intends to end its use of ISS.

Trump has picked a politician to lead NASA. Is that a good thing?, Science

"Although the Trump administration has proposed stiff cuts to earth science at NASA, the Senate has so far warded them off. [Kelvin Droegemeier, vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma in Norman] does not expect Bridenstine to support slashing the agency's budget, especially given that much of NASA's mission can be framed in terms of collecting data that are as applicable to understanding weather patterns as to understanding climate change. "He won't come in and say we're going to discontinue climate financing and take earth science and trash it," Droegemeier predicts. "He absolutely believes the planet is warming, that [carbon dioxide] is a greenhouse gas, and that it contributes to warming." ...

... "But Bridenstine's political chops could serve the agency well, says Laurie Leshin, the president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, and a former high-ranking NASA official who was set to help lead Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's potential transition. "NASA tends to value people who are geeks like them, in a good way," she says. But NASA often has plenty of technical expertise while lacking political savvy. "Somebody with that background, I think we should give him a chance to be successful."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridenstine Nomination Update, earlier post

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

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

Make America Great Again in Space Report Released by Potomac Institute

"In order to facilitate American leadership in the commercialization and industrialization of space, the federal government must undertake an investment effort in technology R&D and marketization infrastructure similar in scope to past revolutionary government efforts, with NASA leading the effort by partnering with the commercial industry over and above what it has done in the past. The U.S. needs to seize this opportunity for domestic economic growth, for if it does not, other countries will surely step in to fill the void. Our investment in space will continue the heritage of the United States' ceaseless growth of its economy and prosperity in new frontier, forging a path where others fear to tread."

Nominations Sent to the Senate Today, White House

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

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

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

Elon Musk pitched Trump on SpaceX's mission to colonize other planets, Business Insider

"SpaceX founder Elon Musk tried to get a newly elected Donald Trump on board with his company's mission to reach Mars, according to an excerpt from a new book on the Trump administration that has dominated headlines this week. Among the many claims made in Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," one passage described a scene at Trump Tower where then-president-elect Trump was taking meetings with tech titans like the Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. "Elon Musk, in Trump Tower, pitched Trump on the new administration's joining him in his race to Mars, which Trump jumped at," Wolff wrote in his tell-all book. Musk's effort was ostensibly an attempt to keep his company front-of-mind in the broad scope of national space exploration."

National Academies To Release Earth Science Decadal Survey, AIAA Aerospace America

"U.S. scientists plan to release their once-a-decade list of recommended Earth observation spending priorities Friday in a press conference in Washington, D.C. The scientific community survey, "Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space," was written by a committee assembled by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Known informally as the Earth sciences decadal survey, the document could affect spending decisions by Congress and the Trump administration, especially in the politically sensitive area of climate science. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., President Donald Trump's nominee for NASA administrator, spoke glowingly of the decadal survey process during his Nov. 1 confirmation, and he said "yes" when Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., asked if he would follow the recommendations.Bridenstine said the surveys lead policymakers to "make good decisions," and he added: "We need to follow the decadals."

Bridenstine's Climate Record Is Different Than You Thought, Earlier post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the Trump era is changing the federal bureaucracy, Washington Post

"The clock ran out for hundreds of acting officials in November when a little-known law called the Vacancies Act - designed to spur presidents to staff their government - kicked in, limiting them from making official decisions. The law allows acting officials to serve for up to 300 days, at which point they must yield their authority to the agency head, unless the president has nominated someone to the job. An official action taken in violation of the law could face a legal challenge."

Keith's note: If I understand this correctly, Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot could technically get caught up in this. Rep. Bridenstine's nomination was not carried over by the Senate - so the White House has to resubmit it - and sources report that they intend to do that. In the interim, one could argue that there is no active nomination for someone to head NASA. More than 300 days have passed since Lightfoot's appointment has passed (he assumed the position on 20 January 2017).

Keith's update: As I now understand things when Bridenstine's original nomination is returned to the White House by the Senate, the clock for temporary appointments (like Lightfoot's) is reset for another 210 days. When the White House resubmits Bridenstine's nomination to the Senate that clock will be reset again for 210 days from the date that he was renominated and will run until he is confirmed. If his second nomination is rejected, if he withdraws, or if it is not voted on and returned, then the clock is reset again for another 210 days.

Could the Pentagon's new R&E head take over military space programs?

"We haven't laid flat the final responsibilities there, but what's really exciting about next year is we've got Mike Griffin on board," who touts extensive experience in the space domain, the deputy told reporters Dec. 21. Griffin, a former NASA administrator during the George W. Bush administration, was formally nominated this month. He has yet to have a confirmation hearing but is expected to have one in January with the goal of having him in place by the Feb. 1 creation of the R&E job. As currently constructed, the R&E office is not planned to have a heavy hand in space issues, aside from its broad mandate to help develop new technologies. But Griffin's space experience seems to have captured the interest of Shanahan as the deputy is working through broader changes to the Pentagon."

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

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

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

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

NASA Invitation for Public Nominations of U.S. Citizens for Potential Service on the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group

"NASA announces an invitation for public nominations of U.S. citizens to serve as potential members of the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group (UAG). The UAG is a new Federal advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) being established pursuant to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1991 (Pub. L. 101611, Section 121) and Executive Order 13803, Section 6 (''Reviving the National Space Council'') signed by the President on June 30, 2017. The UAG is purely advisory and will ensure that the interests of industry and other non- Federal entities are adequately represented in the deliberations of the National Space Council. NASA is sponsoring the UAG on behalf of the National Space Council, an Executive Branch interagency coordinating committee chaired by the Vice President, which is tasked with advising and assisting the President on national space policy and strategy. Members of the UAG will serve either as ''Representatives'' (representing industry, other non-Federal entities, and other recognizable groups of persons involved in aeronautical and space activities), or as ''Special Government Employees'' (individual subject matter experts or consultants)."

Former NASA Flight Director Says A Return To The Moon Is Necessary Before Heading To Mars

"But what about plans for a return to the moon? ""First, you go to the moon before you go to Mars," George W.S. Abbey, a former director of NASA's Johnson Space Center said in an interview with the International Business Times. Abbey, is currently the Baker Botts Senior Fellow in Space Policy at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. Abbey was named director of flight operations in 1976 and helped develop strategies for future moon and Mars missions. Speaking to International Business Times, Abbey said international cooperation is a key to future missions and a return to the moon is necessary before NASA can get to Mars."

Pace Outlines Trump Administration's Approach to Space Development and Law, Space Policy Online

"The United States should seek to ensure that its space activities reflect "our values and not just our technologies," Pace urged. "We should seek to ensure that our space activities reflect those values: democracy, liberty, free enterprise, and respect for domestic and international law in a peaceful international order." To influence the development and utilization of space, the United States needs to "create attractive projects and frameworks in which other nations choose to align themselves and their space activities with us, as opposed to others." Pace praised the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which just turned 50 years old, saying there is "no doubt" that U.S. national interests are served by conducting space activities within that international legal framework. Conversely, he lambasted the 1979 Moon Agreement as "contrary to American interests." It declares the Moon to be the common heritage of mankind with all nations sharing equitably in benefits derived from its resources.

Trump signs NASA directive aiming at moon, Mars and beyond, Houston Chronicle

"When people question why the U.S. would return to the moon, Keith Cowing, editor of NASA Watch, a website devoted to space news, has a pretty simple answer: most people alive today have never seen a human walk on another world. "I think my generation should stop being selfish about what we did," said Cowing. "It really is time for the vast majority of the people in the world to have their chance to see this."

Doing Something Again For The First Time, earlier post

"Take a look at the chart below. More than half of the Americans alive today never saw humans walk on the Moon - as it happened - including the person slated to become the next administrator of NASA and the entire 2013 and 2017 astronaut classes. If/when we go back to the Moon in the next 5-10 years this number will increase. For them these future Moon landings will be THEIR FIRST MOON LANDINGS. That's several hundred million Americans waiting to see what I saw in 1969."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/doc.compare.med.jpg

Larger Image

Keith's note: As former Obama OSTP official Phil Larson notes, the Space Policy Directive 1 issued on Monday only revises a very, very small portion of the existing space policy. Since this White House did not change anything else it is reasonable to assume that they agree with the Obama space policy, as written. Of course, these space policies are iterative and you can trace certain themes back through the Obama, Bush 2, Clinton, Bush 1, and Reagan Administrations - and even further.

To be blunt, Monday's event at the White House was a hastily arranged photo op with some spoken words. The document that was signed also represents an indication that whatever space policy the National Space Council will eventually come up with will have its roots firmly planted in what has come before. However, Space Policy Directive 1 is also a course correction - a potentially significant one that pivots NASA from Mars (back) toward the Moon - something that is far more significant than the small number of words used to make the pivot.

Space policy is something that transcends Administrations and those who craft and refine it stand on the shoulders of those who came before. Sometimes a few well-placed words can have a disproportionately big impact. Sometimes.

- National Space Policy of the United States of America, June 28, 2010

- Presidential Memorandum on Reinvigorating America's Human Space Exploration Program, December 11, 2017

"Presidential Policy Directive-4 of June 28, 2010 (National Space Policy), is amended as follows: The paragraph beginning "Set far-reaching exploration milestones" is deleted and replaced with the following: "Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations;".

Keith's note: Oh yes, and these two guys said this:

Gingrich & Walker: Obama's brave reboot for NASA, op ed, Washington Times (2010)

"With the new NASA budget, the leadership of the agency is attempting to refocus the manned space program along the lines that successive panels of experts have recommended. The space shuttle program, which was scheduled to end, largely for safety reasons, will be terminated as scheduled. The Constellation program also will be terminated, mostly because its ongoing costs cannot by absorbed within projected NASA budget limits. The International Space Station will have its life extended to at least 2020, thereby preserving a $100 billion laboratory asset that otherwise was due to be dumped in the Pacific Ocean by middecade. The budget also sets forth an aggressive program for having cargo and astronaut crews delivered to the space station by commercial providers."

Moon, Mars, and Beyond 2.0

Trump Policy Promises Moon, Mars, and Beyond - Will This Time Be Different?, Space Policy Online

"Bold goals to continue trips to the Moon and go on to Mars envisioned in the immediate post-Apollo period never gained traction, nor did pronouncements by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 or President George W. Bush in 2004. President George W. Bush's plan to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2020, called Constellation, was cancelled by Obama after a 2009 independent review concluded that NASA would need $3 billion more per year to implement it. Obama decided to focus instead on the "Journey to Mars" with the goal of putting humans in orbit around Mars in the 2030s, bypassing the lunar surface and saving the billions of dollars required to build a lunar landing system and associated lunar surface systems for habitation and exploration."

President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program, earlier post (2004)

"Our second goal is to develop and test a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, by 2008, and to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014. The Crew Exploration Vehicle will be capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the Space Station after the shuttle is retired. But the main purpose of this spacecraft will be to carry astronauts beyond our orbit to other worlds. This will be the first spacecraft of its kind since the Apollo Command Module. Our third goal is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond. Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods. Eugene Cernan, who is with us today -- the last man to set foot on the lunar surface -- said this as he left: "We leave as we came, and God willing as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind." America will make those words come true. (Applause.)"

Keith's note: Gene Cernan stood with George Bush in 2004. Jack Schmitt Stood With Donald Trump in 2017. Not much has changed - except that Apollo 17 has now been the last mission where humans walked on another world for 45 years.

Notice of establishment of the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group.

"Purpose: The purpose of the UAG is purely advisory and shall be to ensure that the interests of industry, other nonFederal entities, and other persons involved in aeronautics and space activities are adequately represented in the deliberations of the National Space Council. The National Space Council is an Executive Branch interagency coordinating committee chaired by the Vice President, which is tasked with advising and assisting the President regarding national space policy and strategy.

Membership: Members of the UAG will serve either as ''Representatives'' (representing industry, other nonFederal entities, and other recognizable groups of persons involved in aeronautical and space activities) or ''Special Government Employees'' (individual subject matter experts)."

Keith's bote: The call for nominations will be published on Thursday.

Remarks By President Trump and Vice President Pence at Space Policy Directive 1 Signing Ceremony

"The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars. And perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond. This directive will ensure America's space program once again leads and inspires all of humanity. The pioneer spirit has always defined America, and we're picking that up in many other fields. I think you see that. I think it's obvious. All you have to do is look at what's happening with the markets and all of the great things that are happening. We're leading in many different fields again, and it'll get more and more obvious as you go along."

Presidential Memorandum on Reinvigorating America's Human Space Exploration Program

"Presidential Policy Directive-4 of June 28, 2010 (National Space Policy), is amended as follows: he paragraph beginning "Set far-reaching exploration milestones" is deleted and replaced with the following: "Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations;".

- Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Comment on Today's SPD-1 by President Trump
- AIA Welcomes Presidential Announcement of Human Space Exploration Goals
- CSF Statement on President Trump signing of Space Policy Directive 1

Keith's note: Today's White House event will likely be carried live on NASA TV and will be online here as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fuer5ws6ZY

White House Statement on Space Policy Directive 1 (SPD-1)

"The President, today, will sign Space Policy Directive 1 (SPD-1) that directs the NASA Administrator to lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars."

NASA Provides Coverage of Today's Space Policy Directive Signing

"Following the event, images, b-roll video, and interview video clips with acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot and National Space Council Executive Secretary Scott Pace will be available for download."

Keith's note: This White House event could serve to put some wind into Rep. Bridenstine's sails as he awaits a vote to confirm him as NASA administrator. If the White House is going to continue to throw its strong support toward NASA one can argue that this would only serve to suggest that Bridenstine will have the strong backing of the Administration in the implementation of its new space policies. In the past 11 months there have been a number of high-visibility NASA-related events with overt White House participation - more than what happened in the previous Administration's two terms. So, at this point, no one can accuse this White House of not being willing to expend political capital on NASA.

Senate Democrats and Independents (46+2=48) are expected to solidly oppose Bridenstine's confirmation due to direction from party leadership - even if they wanted to vote for Bridenstine (and there are a number of Democratic Senators who would otherwise vote for Bridenstine). The expected vote tally for Bridenstine's assumes that Sen. Rubio and Sen. McCain are "no" votes. So that makes 48+2=50. That leaves a probable 50/50 vote for confirmation with Vice President Pence on hand in case a tie breaker vote is required. If the vote happens before the holiday recess then Pence could tip the balance in a tie vote. But if the vote does not happen in December and a Democrat is elected in Alabama and is seated before a confirmation vote in January - and Rubio and McCain are still "no" votes - then there could be a 49/51 vote and Bridenstine would not be confirmed.

Then again everything could change. Stay tuned.

Major Policy Issues in Evolving Global Space Operations, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

"This paper is designed to inform decision-makers and other interested parties on how the United States may develop national space policy to address the dynamic space environment, based on input from a variety of experts. The issues addressed here, such as space traffic management, small satellites, proximity operations, orbital debris, counterspace threats, and norms of behavior, were chosen because they are likely to demand the attention of decision-makers in the near future. In addition to highlighting the issues, the report presents an overview of options for addressing them." .... The authors recognize that the experts consulted for this paper do not constitute a scientifically selected, statistically significant random sample from the community of space policy professionals. Nonetheless, the group includes a wealth of experience and a diversity of opinions sufficient to convey important insights and lessons on the range of questions they were asked to address."

Keith's note: These studies are fun to read but until/unless NASA in particular - and the U.S. government in general - can write down its top space priorities on a single sheet of paper this is just another one of those reports written by the usual suspects that will get tossed into the policy sausage grinder. Lets see what the National Space Council (NSpC) does.

NASA has never gone this long without a formal administrator, Ars Technica

"Four-time astronaut Charles Bolden resigned as NASA administrator on January 20, 2017, leaving the space agency after more than seven years on the job. Since then, a former director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, Robert Lightfoot, has served as interim director. He has held this post now for 315 days, or nearly 11 months. According to an analysis of the gaps between administrators at the space agency, NASA has never gone this long without a formal administrator. Beginning with T. Keith Glennan in 1958 and running through the term of Charles Bolden six decades later, there have been ten transitions between NASA administrators. The average gap between administrators has been 3.7 months."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/walmart-nation.jpg

Keith's note: Several weeks ago I posted "Doing Something Again For The First Time" which focused on the sector of the U.S. population that was not alive when humans landed on the moon. I have had 3 publication requests to reuse my graphic. Tonight I came across another graphic on Facebook. You can see it here at visualcapitalist.com.

In 2016 people talked about "flyover country" without giving it too much thought as to what it meant other than that's where Trump voters and/or Hillary haters lived. You've all heard me rant about how I think NASA needs to readjust its education and public outreach efforts so as to reach the large sectors of America that do not usually get NASA's attention. In my mind there is some overlap between the flyover country meme and what I consider to be a chronically underserved portion of America's population when it comes to NASA outreach.

I used to be on the board of Directors of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. We were always trying to understand where the underserved education markets were. I used to amuse myself by using Google Earth and its street view function to roam the U.S. at random looking for towns in flyover country that might have foreclosed buildings that could become Challenger Centers. I always found them - and they were always near big Walmart box stores.

Households revolve around income - where it comes from - and where it ends up being spent. It goes without saying that more income usually means more opportunities for people. And certain skilled portions of the labor market pay better than others. Look at this map (click to enlarge). In many ways there are "Two Americas" but not the ones you normally think about. In one America ("non-Walmart America") education, medical, and high-end manufacturing jobs lead the local economy. With that is a prerequisite focus on technical and scientific skills. In the the other "Walmart" America the focus is more on retail and service economy. Yet I would submit that while both Walmart and non-Walmart Americas have different business and educational mixes, their residents both share an equal capacity and desire to learn - and explore. And NASA is historically a prime magnet for such ambitions.

I'm not here to dump on Walmart. I shop there. But here in non-Walmart America when you ask someone to name the largest building in their city or town people talk about lots of universities, arenas, skyscrapers, factories, etc. Often in Walmart America the largest building is a Walmart - and you have to drive for many miles to reach it. But NASA focuses on communities where the big buildings are schools.

I am going to generalize and will get in trouble for doing so. In my 30 years of working for and/or watching NASA I feel that NASA aims virtually all of itself in terms of education and public outreach as if it is only talking to the the non-Walmart parts of the country - where people have a high technical expertise, easy Internet access, vote in urban trends, and have the income to pursue careers in exciting areas such as space exploration. It is always assumed that schools have the money to implement the stuff NASA posts on its websites.

That is not what you'd normally associate with flyover country. When Internet access is non-existent, school budgets are limited, and local job prospects lead young people away from (instead of toward) the chance to explore space, all of the fancy Internet stuff NASA blasts out online never makes contact. NASA has a website where you can find your town and get alerts by email when the space station is going to fly overhead. I go out every chance I get to watch it fly over my house. But what happens when your internet access requires a long bus ride - back and forth - every day - just to get those daily emails? The immediacy that non-Walmart America has to NASA falls flat in Walmart America. A space station flyover in flyover country is not all that it could be.

Oddly Johnson, Marshall, Kennedy, Langley, Wallops, Michoud, Stennis, and White Sands are all in Walmart America. Yet the interest within these field centers in engaging with surrounding Walmart America on themes and issues relevant to this sector of the population seems to fade after you drive out the center gates through a few county lines or zip codes.

The next time NASA crows in their #JourneyToMars tweets and SLS propaganda pieces about all the jobs that it has created in Texas, Alabama, Ohio, Florida etc. just remember that Walmart consistently does an even better job at employing more people than NASA does. Fact.

I'm not proposing any solutions. Let's see what the new guy does. But maybe NASA should partner with Walmart on the whole spinoff thing and put up a booth or kiosk in every store. They have 4,600 stores in the U.S. and 140,000,000 customers walk in their doors every week.

NASA CFO Nominee Announced

NASA Statement on Nomination for Agency Chief Financial Officer

"It is encouraging to see more members of the agency's leadership team being named. Jeff's solid financial background will be a tremendous addition as we continue to advance our nation's aeronautic and exploration initiatives."

Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit nominated by Trump for NASA finance post

"Many expected DeWit would immediately join the administration after Trump's surprise victory. When that didn't happen, speculation shifted to his running against Sen. Jeff Flake, who had been among the president's most high-profile GOP critics. Flake has since announced he will not seek re-election. A Republic review of the notifications DeWit is required to file with the secretary of state when he leaves Arizona show he spent about 50 days, including weekends, outside the state since early October 2016, about a month before the general election. Those dozen or so trips included Washington, D.C., New York and Trump properties."

Keith's note: Now is the time to read through the new NASA CFO nominee Jeffrey DeWit's Twitter account before it becomes sanitized - check @JeffDeWitAZ

Keeping the Focus on Mars, Scott Hubbard, editorial

"The Moon is scientifically much less diverse and interesting than Mars. For example, no one claims that life could have originated on the Moon - unlike Mars. The technologies needed for landing and living on an airless body like the Moon are quite different from Mars. Lunar technologies will have limited benefit to future Mars exploration. Finally, some claim that the Moon's resources, especially water ice, can be exploited for future exploration. In general, the Moon is extremely dry. There are data from previous missions to suggest that there may be more abundant water ice trapped at the poles of the Moon, but getting there and mining in temperatures nearing absolute zero will prove very challenging and expensive. By comparison, Mars has water in much greater concentrations distributed more broadly across the planet."

Keith's note: Former NASA "Mars Czar" and Planetary Society Mars advocate Scott Hubbard clearly thinks that there is no value in going back to the Moon. And he's not afraid to cherry pick facts and skew recent history to make his point. Of course he just thinks that he can proclaim that Mars is the nation's priority (he still thinks that he's the Mars Czar, apparently). Add in the Planetary Society's barely concealed aversion to putting humans on the surface of Mars. It should be quite obvious that the Planetary Society is soon going to be in an adversarial position once a new NASA Administrator is in place and this Administration's pivot toward the Moon becomes more evident. If Hubbard et al have their way everyone but America will be going to the Moon and only robots will ever land on Mars.

Oh yes, Mars Czar Scott - you did see this latest research about Mars, water, etc.? Resources to support human activity are abundant - but they are hard to access - everywhere.

Recurring Martian Streaks: Flowing Sand, Not Water?

"The findings published today in Nature Geoscience argue against the presence of enough liquid water for microbial life to thrive at these sites."

- Planetary Society Is For And Against Mars Colonization Or Something, earlier post
- The Planetary Society is For And Against Human Spaceflight, earlier post

Waiting For Bridenstine

Is Trump's NASA Nominee Ready to Tackle Climate Change?, Wired

"[Tony] Busalacchi, who has twice testified before Bridenstine's House Subcommittee on Space, says he's had two phone calls with Bridenstine since his nomination became public September 1. "He told me he regrets his [2013 House floor] statement in the past, and that he believes CO2 is a greenhouse gas and is contributing to climate change and man is contributing to climate change," Busalacchi says. Is Bridenstine just saying that to get in office? Busalacchi says he's taking Bridenstine at his word. "I see him as pragmatic and not an ideologue," Busalacchi says. "As a congressman he has been standing up for his constituents. It's one thing to be a congressman from Tulsa, it's another to be working for the American people as NASA administrator."

Keith's note: FWIW I think people will be pleasantly surprised by Bridenstine, should he be confirmed as the next Administrator of NASA.

Bridenstine Nomination APproved by Committee on Party-Line Vote, SpacePolicyOnline

"The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be NASA Administrator this morning on a party-line vote. The committee also approved Neil Jacobs to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction on a voice vote. The nominations next will go to the full Senate for a vote. Dates have not been announced."

Answers From Rep Bridenstine To Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Questions for the Record

Question: Mr. Bridenstine, in the documents you presented to the Committee, you stated that you believe that one of NASA's top challenges is "Bringing together traditional space companies and new space entrepreneurs into a comprehensive NASA vision to maximize resources and efficiencies." What role do you envision the private sector playing in helping NASA fulfill its mission? How will continued private sector involvement make NASA more efficient and allow it to fully maximize resources?

Answer: We must recognize that NASA currently has more mission than it has budget. The days when NASA's budget represented 3 to 4 percent of the federal budget are not likely to return. Nor would we want to necessarily replicate that model, as it proved to ultimately be unsustainable. Fortunately, times have changed and great advancements have been made. The American space industry is more capable than ever before. A lot of this is due to advancements in research and technology development made by NASA decades ago that entrepreneurial Americans have taken and advanced further. Should I be confirmed, NASA will develop exploration and science architectures that leverage everything the United States has to offer. This includes the private sector. This way, we will maximize resources and ensure NASA can carry out its mission.

Question: What are your thoughts on the establishment of a Deep Space Gateway as part of the exploration architecture?

Answer: The idea of a platform beyond LEO and in cislunar space provides a lot of opportunities for the United States. These opportunities include: partnerships with both the international community and commercial industry, staging area for lunar surface and Martian missions, testing life support systems outside of the Van Allen Belt, and more. Should I be confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress to determine if the Deep Space Gateway or other Deep Space architectures enable sustainable deep space exploration.

Question: Earlier this year, the President signed into law the NASA Transition Authorization Act. This law seeks continuity in NASA's core programs, such as the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft. Do you intend to continue NASA's work on SLS and Orion?

Answer: Yes, I am absolutely committed to continuing NASA's valuable work developing SLS and Orion, which will serve as the backbone of our architecture to return humans to the Moon, on to Mars, and further into Deep Space.

Question: Representative Bridenstine, though it doesn't receive as much public attention as NASA's exploration missions, the agency's Earth Science mission provides data critical for both scientific research and practical application. In fact, Indiana companies contribute to these missions by building sophisticated instruments to measure certain properties and conditions in the atmosphere. In turn, this data in part feeds into weather forecasting models to help create longer term and seasonal forecasts utilized by a variety of industries, such as agriculture and energy. I'm focused on making sure we retain the capability to perform these science missions that have a significant real-world application. Would you explain your view of NASA's Earth Science mission and whether you intend to prioritize it in future NASA budget submissions?

Answer: I support NASA's Earth Science mission. As a Representative from and resident of the state of Oklahoma, I have a keen appreciation for the role space plays in helping us save lives, protect property, and produce energy and food. NASA's Earth Science mission is critical to facilitating these activities, both through the programs that NASA operates itself as well as acting as the procurement agent for NOAA's weather satellites. If confirmed, NASA will continue to follow the guidance of the Earth Science decadal surveys and I will advocate within the Administration and with Congress to see that the agency is able to carry out the recommendations of those decadal surveys.

Q&A: Plotting U.S. Space Policy with White House Adviser Scott Pace, Scientific American

"Heavy-lift rockets are strategic national assets, like aircraft carriers. There are some people who have talked about buying heavy-lift as a service as opposed to owning and operating, in which case the government would, of course, have to continue to own the intellectual properties so it wasn't hostage to any one contractor. One could imagine this but, in general, building a heavy-lift rocket is no more "commercial" than building an aircraft carrier with private contractors would be."

Trump space adviser: Blue Origin and SpaceX rockets aren't really commercial, Ars Technica

"With these comments, Pace seems to be equating NASA's SLS rocket with Blue Origin's New Glenn and SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, saying one rocket is no more commercial than any other. However, under closer scrutiny, there is no comparison between the amount of funding that NASA has spent on its own rocket and the other boosters. The space agency has been working on the SLS rocket since 2011, and it annually spends in excess of $2 billion on development of the vehicle. Additionally, NASA spends $400 million or more per year on ground systems at Kennedy Space Center to support future SLS launches. These costs are likely to continue for nearly a decade until the SLS rocket reaches an operational cadence of approximately one mission per year."

NASA's 2017 Top Management and Performance Challenges, NASA OIG

"... In the long term, NASA's plans beyond EM-2 for achieving a crewed Mars surface mission in the late 2030s or early 2040s remain high level, serving as more of a strategic framework than a detailed operational plan. For example, the Agency's current Journey to Mars framework lacks objectives; does not identify key system requirements other than SLS, Orion, GSDO, and a Deep Space Gateway; and does not suggest target mission dates for crewed orbits of Mars or planet surface landings. If the Agency is to reach its goal of sending humans to Mars in the late 2030s or early 2040s, significant development work on key systems - such as a deep space habitat, in-space transportation, and Mars landing and ascent vehicles - must be accomplished in the 2020s. In addition, NASA will need to begin developing more detailed cost estimates for its Mars exploration program after EM-2 to ensure the commitment from Congress and other stakeholders exists to fund an exploration effort of this magnitude over the next several decades. Finally, NASA's decision whether to continue spending $3-$4 billion annually to maintain the ISS after 2024 - roughly a third of its exploration budget - will affect its funding profile for human exploration efforts in the 2020s, and therefore has significant implications for the Agency's Mars plans.

"... The rising cost of the SLS Program also presents challenges for NASA given the program may exceed its $9.7 billion budget commitment. The Agency plans to spend roughly $2 billion a year on SLS development but has minimal monetary reserves to address any technical challenges that may arise for EM-1 or EM-2. According to guidance developed at Marshall Space Flight Center (Marshall), the standard monetary reserve for a program such as the SLS should be between 10 and 30 percent during development. The SLS Program did not carry any program reserves in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and only $25 million in FY 2016 - approximately 1 percent of its development budget. Moving forward, the SLS Program plans to carry only minimal reserves through 2030, which in our view is unlikely to be sufficient to enable NASA to address issues that may arise during development and testing."

"... Despite the extension, in October 2015, we reported NASA will not have enough time to mitigate several known human space flight risks for future deep space missions. Accordingly, the Agency needs to prioritize its research to address the most important risks in the time available while also ensuring a spacecraft originally designed and tested for a 15-year life span will continue to operate safely and as economically as possible. While the amount of research being conducted on the ISS has increased over the past 8 years, several factors continue to limit full utilization."

"... The selection and balance of NASA's science missions is heavily influenced by stakeholders external to the Agency, including the President, Congress, the science community, and, to a lesser extent, other Federal and international agencies. The President and Congress provide direction through the budgeting and appropriation processes, which has a strong influence on the composition and overall balance of the Agency's science portfolio. The science community - as represented by the National Research Council (NRC) - establishes mission priorities based on a broad consensus within various science research disciplines. These priorities are set forth in the NRC's decadal surveys on the subject matter areas encompassed by the Science Mission Directorate's four divisions ... Managing differing priorities from numerous stakeholders and funding changes on a year-to-year basis (which we described as "funding instability" in a September 2012 report) can lead to inefficiencies, resulting in cost increases and schedule delays that can have a cascading effect on NASA's entire science portfolio."

Trump's NASA pick faces blistering criticism on Capitol Hill, Politco

"Nelson is the committee's ranking Democrat. He's also the only sitting congressman to have flown on the space shuttle and hails from the part of Florida that includes Cape Canaveral. During the hearing, Nelson said that Bridenstine's "time as a pilot and your service to our country in the military is certainly commendable," but he said it doesn't qualify him to "make the complex and nuanced engineering, safety and budgetary decisions for which the head of NASA must be accountable."

Keith's note: Odd. Nelson overtly used his political position to force NASA to fly him on a space shuttle mission. His only professional qualification? He was a lawyer. That's it. His (not so) secret astronaut nickname was "ballast". If NASA can teach a lawyer how to be an astronaut then I am certain that a fighter pilot with extensive combat experience (just like 3 previous NASA Administrators and many, many astronauts), 3 terms in Congress, with a MBA can be taught to run NASA. Just sayin'.

Trump's Nominee For NASA Chief Could Remake The Agency, Five Thirty Eight

"[Phil] Larson, a veteran of both the Obama administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy and SpaceX, said the confirmation hearing this week will be the true test of where Bridenstine stands. "For an Obama administration official, I am fairly bullish on his appointment, mainly because (a) I think it could be a lot worse, and (b) he does seem to have a passion for these issues," Larson said. "But his confirmation hearing will be important for getting him on the record on climate change."

Statement By Rep. James Bridenstine Before The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

"NASA is at a crucial time in its history, preparing to explore Deep Space again for the first time in forty-five years. To do this sustainably, we must develop a consensus-driven agenda, based on national interests. Should I be confirmed, it will be my intention to build off the work done by the great people at NASA during the last administration, and to move forward by following the guidance of the NASA Transition Authorization Act, appropriations legislation, and science decadal surveys. We must all do this together."

Contentious Bridenstine Nomination Hearing Splits Along Party Lines, Space Policy Online

"In the past, Bridenstine had indicated that he did not accept the scientific consensus that the climate is changing because of human activity. Today he said that he accepts that humans are a cause of climate change, but would not go as far as to say that it is the primary cause. He went on to say that NASA is the only agency in the world that can do the kind of science needed to answer questions like that."

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Nomination Hearing (Bridenstine et al)

"U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nominations hearing at 10:00 a.m. on 1 November, 2017, to consider four nominations subject to Senate confirmation."

The hearing will air on NASA TV (NTV-1 (Public)) and the agency's website at: http://www.nasa.gov/live

Pences Does LockMart

Trump taps former NASA head Griffin for deputy defense role: White House

"U.S. President Donald Trump intends to nominate Michael Griffin, a former administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, the White House said on Friday."

Commentary: Bridenstine wins a Democrat's support for NASA's top job, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Orlando Sentinel

"Despite our different political parties I am convinced Bridenstine will lead the brilliant scientists, engineers, technicians and outstanding personnel at NASA as it embarks on a new era of space exploration and scientific discovery. He fought for our country on the battlefield and fought for common-sense space policy in Congress. Now is the time for Jim Bridenstine to take command and grow NASA's capabilities and American leadership in space as NASA administrator."

Trump's nominee as NASA chief would literally run it into the ground, Rachel Licker Senior Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists, Red, Green, and Blue

"Bridestine's public remarks suggest that his current understanding of Earth science is largely informed by politically-charged skeptics of climate change research. Given that Bridenstine would enter into the Administrator position with no formal science education, it is particularly important that members of Congress test his ability to differentiate science from politics."

Biographical Information and Qualifications, Rep. James Bridenstine

"As a United States Representative from Oklahoma, I have led efforts to improve severe weather prediction and I have come to appreciate how complex Earth is as a system. NASA must continue studying our home planet. Unfortunately, Earth science sometimes gets pitted against planetary science for resources. This is not in the best interest of NASA, the United States, or the world. Mars once had a magnetic field, rivers, lakes, and an ocean on its north pole. At some point, Mars changed dramatically and we should strive to understand why. Studying other planets can inform our understanding of Earth. NASA must continue to advance both Earth science and planetary science for the benefit of mankind."

Sen. Patty Murray Calls On colleagues To Oppose Trump Nominee To Lead NASA

"In a letter today to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray (D-WA) urged her colleagues to oppose the nomination of Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to serve as Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)."

Keith's note: Nearly all of this letter has to do with issues that have almost nothing to do with NASA. The incendiary quotes noted in Murray's letter were not even made by Bridenstine but instead by other people. Murray is not on the committee and is the only senator who has signed this letter. Meanwhile letters of support for Bridenstine are circulating in Congress and among industry representatives. The hearing will consider 4 nominees - Bridenstine and three Commerce Department officials. As such the time for questions for each nominee will be limited. Sen. Nelson is expected to bring up environmental issues and question Bridenstine's qualifications. Support from Sen. Cruz and Sen. Inhofe (who will introduce Bridenstine) is expected. There will also be support from Democratic members of the committee. In the end Bridenstine has the support and the votes to be confirmed by the Senate as the next Administrator of NASA.

Keith's update: Sources report that Bridenstine's confirmation hearing will be on 1 November.

Keith's update: Still no word as to when the confirmation hearing for NASA Administrator nominee Rep. James Bridenstine will be held. There has been no change to this nomination status page for Bridenstine - nor is there any update to this matrix of pending nominations or on the hearings calendar for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

A date in the last week of September had been penciled in but this was pushed back 2 weeks so that Sen. Nelson and others could deal with a backlog of hurricane-related issues. Since then things have been delayed further. Sen. Rubio still has issues that seem to point back to the 2016 primary season. Meanwhile Sen. Nelson is digging his feet in in terms of opposing Bridenstine and now wants to delay the confirmation hearing indefinitely on the whole climate change issue.

Meanwhile, Bridenstine has been at NASA Headquarters to start the confirmation preparation process. Headquarters veteran Tom Cremins and newcomer Brandon Eden (both with extensive Capitol Hill experience) are in charge of those confirmation hearing preparations.

Why We Go to the Moon. It starts with a mission statement, Air & Space

"A mission statement is vital for people to succinctly understand and fully comprehend the reasons for returning to the Moon. Ideally, a mission statement is a simple, declarative sentence, one that permits no ambiguity about intentions or execution. There is much truth in the belief that if you can't sum up your mission in just a few words, you probably don't understand it yourself. One's mission statement must encompass both anticipated activities and imply the value of its accomplishment."

The Interplanetary Political Football of Space Exploration, Scientific American

"Leaving aside the harsh realities of any country's political motivations to go to space, as a member of the astronomical community, it's hard not to feel like a passenger in the back seat of a car, watching an ongoing struggle over the steering wheel. Having the vision for our space program remain agile and responsive in a changing science and technology landscape is one thing, but it bears remembering that if all we do is pivot, we'll never get anywhere."


Loading

 



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the TrumpSpace category.

Transition is the previous category.

Videos is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.