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Remarks By Vice President Pence at The Sixth Meeting Of The National Space Council

"But as we gather here today, we do so recognizing that it's been 47 years since the last American set foot on the moon. In fact, our great shuttle program, including the space shuttle Discovery behind me, was grounded nearly a decade ago. And the truth is, as all of you know, for too long America was content with low-Earth orbit, and missions focused on the Earth instead of aiming for the stars. But I'm proud to report that under President Trump's leadership, all of that is changing. As the President said in his Inaugural Address, "We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space..." And that's exactly what we're doing. (Applause.) It's true. After two and a half years under the President's leadership, America is leading in space once again. This President recognizes what the American people have known for more than a half a century, and that is that our security, our prosperity, and our very way of life, depend on American leadership and American leadership in space. Now, we acknowledge that low-Earth orbit is not our final destination, but rather it is a training ground for the infinite frontier of space. And I can assure you the American people are ready for the next chapter in our nation's history in space."

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NASA Television to Broadcast Sixth Meeting of the National Space Council

"NASA Television and the agency's website will provide live coverage of the sixth meeting of the National Space Council at 9:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 20, from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. This meeting will address a whole-of-government effort for deep space exploration, prospective cooperation with international partners, and strengthening U.S. commercial space leadership."

Panel: "Innovative Space Initiatives"
- Rex Geveden, President and Chief Executive Officer, BWX Technologies, Inc.
- Dr. Clive Neal, Professor, College of Engineering, University of Notre Dame
- Dr. Saralyn Mark, Founder and President, iGIANT® and SolaMed Solutions, LLC
- Dr. Elizabeth Turtle, Planetary Scientist, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Watch live at https://www.nasa.gov/live/

Newt Gingrich: We're in a space race with China - We must win to protect our economic and national security, Fox

"As our legacy space companies and NASA continue to fumble around and protect their prized projects, China is aggressively seeking to overcome the United States as the dominant space- faring nation."

Newt Gingrich trying to sell Trump on a cheap moon plan, politico

"Newt Gingrich and an eclectic band of NASA skeptics are trying sell President Donald Trump on a reality show-style plan to jump-start the return of humans to the moon -- at a fraction of the space agency's estimated price tag. The proposal, whose other proponents range from a three-star Air Force general to the former publicist for pop stars Michael Jackson and Prince, envisions creating a $2 billion sweepstakes pitting billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other space pioneers to see who can establish and run the first lunar base, according to a summary of the plan shared with POLITICO."

Keith's note: I have not seen the plan (neither has NASA apparently) - and I am not aware that it has been published online (link please) so I can't comment on it other than what other people write about it. If this is such a great plan then where is it? As best I can tell it was concocted - ad hoc - by a group of people (Space Development Steering Committee) who like to argue with each other - endlessly - on an email list. They can't even tell us who their current members are. I have stayed away from this list since I got tired of some of its members sending me countless emails demanding that I publish whatever it is that their latest collective rant was about.

Oh yes, depending on who you talk to about this plan it is/is not about China and there is/is not a new space race. You'd think that this sort of basic notion would be necessary in order to build a new space plan for America - right?

Let's be blunt about this. The current Administration has thrown in their total support plus some additional fire power to make the so-called "program of record" (SLS/Orion) work. They have accelerated the 2028 date for putting humans on the Moon by 4 years. And they have added a lot of new commercial aspects so as to engage the flexibility and ingenuity of the private sector. Alas, the budget to support this - or the previous - program of record is yet to be found. That said Jim Bridenstine has done his best to meld old and new, slow and fast, dull and inspirational together and make a big push to try and pull it off. Maybe we should at least try and make this one work?

Its not easy to pivot NASA and billions of dollars in space when the goals and goal posts are constantly changing. We have had many presidential marching orders in space. Since 2004 gone from Finish Shuttle and ISS, then Moon, then Mars; to Asteroid then Mars (skip the Moon); to Moon without ISS; to ISS then Moon; to ISS, then Moon, then Mars; to why the Moon - lets go to Mars before the end of my second term; then back to Moon (but quickly) to Mars." We are in the whiplash era of space policy formulation.

If the 2020 election gives this Administration another 4 years then perhaps there is a chance to accomplish the singular goal of putting Americans back on the lunar surface - once - using a mixture of SLS/Orion and private sector assets as is currently envisioned. However the whole "sustainable" aspect of this program lies beyond any notional second term for this Administration.

For the current administration to simply drop their current plans and pivot to whatever it is this new space policy cabal wants to do would give them at a minimum 1.5 years and a maximum of 5.5 years (with a second term) to pull it off. Given the current polls and mood in the country a change in Administrations is highly probable. If so then whatever is being done by NASA now under the current administration will face tumult and rearrangement - as was the case when the Obama Administration departed. While no one knows who the Democratic nominee i.e. potential 46th President will be, it is a safe bet that there will be substantial pivots, edits, deletions, and other changes in the current American space policy that would make current and proposed space policies moot - including this one that people are emailing one another about.

In other words more whiplash.

To be certain Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are going to do whatever they are going to do on their own timeline and will be more than happy to accept NASA business. But they are going to go ahead with what they are doing undeterred even if the government does not buy a ride. America needs an actual plan for its space activities - one that is actually a "plan" i.e. one built outward from simple basic precepts (or directives), utilizing a consistent but adaptable strategy, with goals and objectives that everyone understands and works toward that transcend partisan politics. Absent that plan then all we are going to get are homemade space plans that bounce around email lists and evaporate every time the body politic shifts in its collective seat.

But - if the current "plan" actually gains traction and shows evidence of being able to work albeit not in the way everyone would like - maybe its worth supporting for a while longer. Besides, what would we all rather have: a bunch of proposed space programs that never got implemented; programs that were implemented and were cut short before they could succeed or fail; or one that was given a chance to succeed and has made some progress? We won't know unless we try. Let's try.

Either way this latest space plan from the space fans too shall pass.

Keith's note: Several sources at NASA Marshall report that their managers sent them memos today that said that they would get 59 minutes of excused leave that they could use at any time next week *if* they went to the all-hands event in the MSFC auditorium today with Jim Bridenstine. Why 59 minutes? Answer: offering an hour or more of leave requires a different management approval mechanism. Other sources report that MSFC employees who were planning to work offsite via telework were told that they needed to come onsite today so that they could attend the all hands event.

I find it to be somewhat baffling that MSFC management was so paranoid that employees might not want to show up for an event of obvious importance to their personal and collective future at NASA that they sought to stuff the room with warm bodies as a show of support. Did they stop to think what NASA HQ would think? It is not as if these employees weren't going to tell people that their management sent these memos all over the center. This also sets a bad precedent for future all-hands events at MSFC and elsewhere..

Word of these official MSFC management urgings first appeared a week or so ago. There is now a fire lit under the existing rivalry between Texas and Alabama with regard to the Human Lunar Lander program - one that extends all the way to the halls of Congress. As such it was probably not too smart in a strategic sense for MSFC management to be caught doing sneaky stunts like this. The Texas delegation was absent from the Huntsville event. They have publicly stated - bluntly - that they did not agree with this decision and that they intend to have a strong voice in how this all unfolds. As such I suspect that the folks at JSC won't need management memos to prompt them to show up at events and rallies - if the occasion arises.

P.S. According to Sen. Cruz and congressional staffers from other offices, NASA's Office of Legislative Affairs did not pre-coordinate all of this with the Texas delegation. This is not the first time this year that Code L has neglected to exert due diligence in coordinating with everyone in advance of a major announcement. Texas is a potential toss-up state in 2020. Alabama is not. Just sayin'.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NASA Marshall to Lead Artemis Program's Human Lunar Lander Development

"NASA recently issued a draft solicitation and requested comments from American companies interested in providing an integrated human landing system - a precursor to the final solicitation targeted for release in the coming months. The agency's human lunar exploration plans are based on a two-phase approach: the first is focused on speed - landing on the Moon within five years, while the second will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. The agency will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare for the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars."

NASA Seeks Input from U.S. Industry on Artemis Lander Development, NASA

"The agency's internal studies point toward a three-stage human landing system, but NASA is also interested in alternative approaches that can accomplish the same long-term goals of global lunar access and a reusable landing system. The three-stage concept includes a transfer element for the journey from the lunar Gateway to low-lunar orbit, a descent element to carry the crew to the surface, and an ascent element to return them to the Gateway. From there, they would board Orion for the 250,000-mile trip back to Earth."

Keith's Update: Great. But if NASA was really interested in alternate approaches then why has it already started to award Gateway contracts based on their own architecture? Why throw money at things that might be changed? Unless the interest in changing things is not real. The most efficient thing for NASA to do would be to set basic requirements, then ask for the ideas - first, evaluate them, pick the best ones, and move ahead, But no. NASA is working backward asking people to fix things it has already started to build. Oh and NASA now has to do everything by 2024 instead of 2028. You'd think that with such an accelerated program that there'd be more of an emphasis on clarity of purpose and efficiency in approach. But this is NASA = Never A Simple Answer.

NASA Administrator to Discuss Human Lander Update for Artemis Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keith's note: Reader's guide

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

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

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

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

President Trump praises reusable rockets, omits Moon in space remarks, Ars Technica

"We're investing in the future of human spaceflight," the president said, prefacing his off-the-cuff remarks on spaceflight. "And some day soon American astronauts will plant the stars and stripes on the surface of Mars." Trump never mentioned the Moon, or his administration's lunar program, during this comment or in any of his subsequent remarks Thursday night. This is notable, because the signature human spaceflight initiative of his administration is the Artemis Program, an attempt to accelerate a human return to the Moon by 2024. The closest Trump came to acknowledging the Moon program was saying, "NASA has some of the greatest plans we've ever had. These are great people, great scientists."

President Trump says these 'rich guys' are 'paying a lot of rent' to launch rockets, Fox Business

"You know, I hear all these rich guys, for some reason they love space. So they're rich. I said, 'let them send the rockets up. What the hell do we have to do it, right?'" The president explained the privatized ventures like SpaceX are working to save many of the parts from rockets Opens a New Window. by re-landing them back on Earth. "It's almost like, what are we watching? Is this fiction?"

Letter From NASA JSC to CASIS Board Of Directors Regarding Cooperative Agreement No. NNH11CD70A/80JSC018M0005

"Pursuant to Paragraph 4.6, Change in Principal Investigator or Scope, of the subject cooperative agreement, the CASIS decision to change or significantly reduce the availability of services of the International Space Station National Laboratory Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Joe Vockley (Cooperative Agreement Paragraph 3.1.g), is not approved at this time. The NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration & Operations is requesting a strategic pause in CASIS activities relative to changes in the CASIS PI in order to enable NASA to establish an Independent Review Team to assess the underlying Cooperative Agreement to ensure we are on mission and appropriately resourced to produce breakthroughs that improve lives on Earth. NASA anticipates that this assessment will be completed within 12 weeks after the team has been established."

Keith's original 15 August note: Joe Vockely is still on full salary but has no defined operational responsibilities at CASIS at this time. His continued involvement at CASIS, long term, is not clear. CASIS COO Kenneth Schields is now the Acting CEO of CASIS. The chairman of the CASIS board, Philip Schein has been removed and two board members are currently acting jointly to run the board's activities. NASA Administrator Bridenstine has identified the chair of this CASIS review team as being Elizabeth R. Cantwell, the Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation at the University of Arizona. However the members of this team or details of the format or activities of the team have yet to be released.

Keith's 19 August update: According to Dr. Schein he had clearly stated his intention to retire from the CASIS board several months ago after 5 years of service. He then formally submitted a letter of resignation to the CASIS board. He was not voted off of the board or "removed" as we previously reported. Our original posting was based on multiple sources within CASIS. Alas, CASIS itself simply refuses to respond to media inquiries. We regret this error and posted this update within minutes of being informed by Dr. Schein.

The phrase "strategic pause" has not been defined by NASA other than to refer to efforts associated with "changes in the CASIS PI". As such one might logically conclude that this means that CASIS staff will continue with 99% of the routine payload tasks they have - tasks unaffected by who the CASIS PI is.

Memo from NASA HEOMD AA Ken Bowersox To NASA HEOMD Staff Regarding CASIS/ISS National Lab Changes

"1. The heads of the Science Mission Directorate and the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate will jointly commission an Independent Review to assess whether the ISS National Laboratory is on mission and appropriately organized and resourced to improve life here on Earth.

2. For the duration of the review, NASA's liaison to the ISS National Lab will move from HEOMD's ISS Division to the low Earth orbit commercialization activity currently being led by Doug Comstock. I appreciate all of your efforts as we work to develop the low Earth orbit economy. Feel free to stop by my office if you have any questions."

Keith's note: this review is a dual effort by HEOMD and SMD which underscores the overlapping interested between the directorates in terms of public/private activities on ISS and beyond. It also makes car that ISS Director Sam Scimemi is no longer the NASA liaison to CASIS.

Donald Trump stopping US government scientists from speaking out publicly is 'chilling', The Independent

"The Trump administration's decision to stop Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials and other government staff from speaking out publicly has prompted the country's leading scientific organisation to warn against "censorship and intimidation". The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest scientific society in the world, said many federal agencies had policies that "prohibit political interference" in how they relay information to the public. And the World Resources Institute think tank said the move to stop the "free flow of information" would have a "chilling effect on staff". In addition to the media blackout at the EPA, some other federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, were also told to suspend external communications, although the latter department's gag order was subsequently lifted. The ban includes the issuing of press releases, blogs, messages on Twitter and Facebook posts, according to information leaked to several media organisations. All media requests must be "screened" by the administration."

Under Trump, 26% of Climate Change References Have Vanished From .Gov Sites, Vice

"A report published by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) on Monday found that language related to climate change has disappeared at an alarming pace since Trump took office in 2016. Across 5,301 pages--ranging from websites belonging to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the US Geological Survey (USGS)--the use of the terms "climate change," "clean energy," and "adaptation" plummeted by 26 percent between 2016 and 2018. Of the pages where "climate change" was stricken, more than half belong to the EPA."

Keith's note: This search of NASA.gov yielded 29,529 results for "climate change". I am not sure what the search result would have been several years ago but this large search result seems to indicate that no one has tried to purge NASA's websites for climate change references - at least not yet. If anyone knows of any deletions or alternations, let me know.

Keith's note: Last week after the conclusion of the ISS Research and Development Conference in Atlanta, the chairman of the CASIS board of directors stepped down. The board is now being run on an interim basis by several other board members. Changes in CASIS senior management are likely. Further changes at CASIS are also to be expected. There are many skilled and dedicated people at CASIS who are up to the task of fixing things - so this is not necessarily a bad thing. Meanwhile CASIS stakeholders at NASA, in Congress, industry, and the scientific community are all talking about what should be done to fix things at CASIS and the ISS.

NASA is currently proposing the construction of a mini-space station (Gateway) in cis-lunar space that will be operated by NASA with the assistance of the private sector. If NASA cannot make public/private, commercial/scientific efforts function successfully in LEO on board a fully operational and well-understood platform like ISS then the chances that NASA can do the same thing a quarter of a million miles away - building upon ISS experience - are questionable to say the least.

Personally I think that the ISS is the 'undiscovered country' and that we have yet to fully tap its potential. Hopefully NASA and its various stakeholders and partners will take this opportunity to re-examine how utilization of ISS is conducted, fix what is broken, and build upon what works. A fully enabled and utilized ISS can be a crucial stepping stone along the path of the human exploration of the solar system. Not making the most of the ISS could result in a large pothole in that path.

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Keith's note: In light of the naked racism coming from the White House and the impact that it has had on societal events of late I need to say something. We are stronger as a result of our diversity - not weakened by it. Humanity evolved elsewhere - not in America. As such we are all immigrants. Full stop.

We have had a space station in orbit for decades that is the collaborative effort of many nations. When political strife fractures relationships on Earth, space keeps them intact. Small wonder that the ISS has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (recently endorsed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine).

Back in the 1960s when the original "Star Trek" first aired, we had a black and white TV. My first exposure to the future was a multi-ethnic/multi-racial/multi-species/gender-balanced crew exploring the universe. I fell for it. It never left me and resonates in my mind to this day half a century later. Alas, back in the 60s, with near simultaneity 20 feet away in my back yard, I was playing catch with a friend of mine. He was black. His name was Wesley. My bigoted neighbors shouted a racial slur at him. We played catch at his house after that. These two things clashed in my young mind. Yet the Star Trek ethos prevailed.

Indeed, in 2009, I had a resonant Star Trek epiphany of sorts in Nepal as I supported Scott Parazynski's ascent of Everest: "My Star Trek Episode at Everest".

Over the past 23 years that I have edited NASAWatch I have tried to avoid mention of partisan politics - and, when my personal views showed through, I openly admitted them - but sought contrary views.

NASA is being pushed to reassert, speed up, reinvigorate America's efforts in space. Hurray. Let's have more. Let's race back to the Moon and then to other places and try to out-compete one another with all manner of cool stuff such that we all benefit in the end.

But in so doing, America needs to assert itself in space in a way that advances the interests and the dreams of all Americans - and do so in a way that encourages all other nations to engage in space exploration in a fashion that advances the interests of all of humanity.

We've all seen those Star Trek episodes where worlds fall into chaos, tear themselves apart, and play only a negative role in the overall legacy of the universe. Let's not do that. We need to do the right thing.

Just sayin'

Note: my comments do not reflect on anyone at NASA. If anything the interest in diversity practiced by the folks behind the glass doors on the 9th floor embodies what I am talking about. As for NASAWatch readers who do not like what I have said and/or respond with profanity or threaten to never visit this site again: bye bye.

With Gerstenmaier gone, decision to fly NASA astronauts may be more contentious, Ars Technica

"SpaceX has already flown an uncrewed demonstration mission of its Dragon spacecraft. Boeing is likely to follow suit this fall with its own Starliner capsule, possibly as early as September. Then each company will have a critical test of its spacecraft's abort system, and then a chance to work through any final technical issues. But once that's done, one or both of the vehicles could be ready to launch astronauts from Florida by early 2020. "Here's where losing Gerstenmaier is going to hurt," said Wayne Hale, former space shuttle program manager and an adviser to NASA. "Bill was recognized by everybody as being technically well grounded and very astute. He was known to listen carefully, and to make his judgments based on good technical reasons."

Keith's note: The new management team selected to run HEOMD is going to have to hit the ground running. Key decisions about SLS will need to be made within weeks of their arrival in their new positions. To be certain the rest of the program is already in place preparing for these events. However, NASA has been directed to suddenly compress a program intended to do something in 2028 into a plan that is going to do that same thing in 2024. Planning for all of this has to go exactly right and hinges upon continued and coordinated political support (funding). And whether that political support will even be there all depends on the run up to - and the outcome of - one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. This is going to be rather sporty.

ISS Research and Development Conference livestream

8:30 - 9:00 AM Morning Keynote with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and ISS National Lab CEO Dr. Joseph Vockley to Host Press Conference at ISS R&D Conference

"On Wednesday, July 31, during the 8th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory Chief Executive Officer Dr. Joseph Vockley will hold a press conference to discuss the critical importance of our nation's only orbiting laboratory."

Keith's note: Offsite media questions will be submitted via Facebook and Twitter screened by CASIS. Since CASIS refuses to accredit NASAWatch as news media it is unlikely that I will be allowed to ask a question.

Keith's 29 July note:
This was tweeted by Thomas Zurbuchen @Dr_ThomasZ earlier today "NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) missions will be challenging for various reasons & they may not always succeed. We're willing to accept some risk in order to get back to the Moon quickly with commercial partners, and do exciting science and tech development. While the first three companies selected to carry payloads to the Moon were announced in May, one of them, Orbit Beyond, Inc., has informed NASA that they will not be able to timely complete the awarded task order. As a result, NASA made a decision to comply with Orbit Beyond Inc's request and terminated the task order on terms agreeable to both parties. Orbit Beyond, Inc. remains a CLPS contract awardee and may be eligible to compete for future opportunities."

According to sources Team Indus was not willing to give OrbitBeyond the license needed to build this lander in the U.S. and the whole thing reached a halt this week with NASA realizing it was just not going to work. This is unfortunate for OrbitBeyond and the group of space companies it had assembled for this project. Hopefully they'll be able to move ahead with other projects.

Bengaluru firm to build moon lander for Nasa 2020 mission, Times of India

"Confirming the development, Team Indus engineer Ananth Ramesh told TOI: "Yes, we will be building the lander. It is most likely to be built in India too." Team Indus CEO Rahul Narayan was in the US to sign the contract documents on Thursday."

America's first private moon lander will be engineered in India, Quartz

"Orbit Beyond, which will assemble the lander and spacecraft in Florida, also includes US firms Honeybee Robotics, Advanced Space, Ceres Robotics, and Apollo Fusion to handle tasks including the installation of scientific payloads, maneuvering from the earth to the moon, and operations on the lunar surface."

Keith's 15 June note: If you read articles about OrbitBeyond in the Indian press they all say that the lander will likely be built in India. If you read stories published in the U.S. they say it will be assembled here. This issue apparently came up in last week's space science hearings. OrbitBeyond is a privately held company that was only recently established and looks to be designed as more of a shell company to coordinate the activities of its various team members. The bulk of the hardware is going to be of Indian design. The lingering question is: where will it actually be built?

Keith's 29 July note: OrbitBeyond has not replied to multiple requests on this issue sent more than a month ago. Various sources point to mounting management problems within OrbitBeyond. In a nutshell NASA picked Team Indus, an Indian company that was trying to win he Google Lunar X Prize to build this mission and they were calling all the shots.

My Open Letter to NASA Managers Who Can't Say "Moon" without "Mars" in the Same Sentence: Please stop it., Homer Hickam

"We've even got a Vice President who is behind NASA, who wants you to go to the moon and build something permanent there, and who has stuck out his neck for you. For years, lots of us have been working in every way we can - me with my books and my other writings - to get someone in the Executive Branch who is really serious about going back to the moon, not in a sprint with flags and all that but for a purpose that's good enough to keep us there.

But now I fear you're about to totally screw it up mainly because of where your heads are on this moon and Mars thing.

So, with great respect to all of you who toil every day on the pathways to space, let me be clear: Every time you folks at NASA tack "and then we're headed to Mars" onto your comments about going back to the moon, you diminish the moon as a destination whether you realize it or not. As such, you are totally confusing everybody, especially young people. Common sense says you're not going to Mars because you have no orders to go there and the technology not only doesn't exist, there are no plans to make it exist.

So, dear NASA folks, if we're going to get young people excited about space, trust me on this: The moon is exciting enough and I'm going to tell you why."

NASA Gateway Program Justification For Other Than Full and Open Competition For The Minimal Habitation Module

"NASA's decision, based on review of each NextSTEP-2 contractor's capabilities, to sole source the procurement of the MHM flight unit for the cislunar Gateway to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) as a follow-on to the originally competitively awarded NextSTEP-2 BAA Appendix A, Habitat Systems studies, Contract NNH15CN76C (See below). ... In order to support the mandate to enable a human landing capability in 2024, the MHM must be launched in late 2023 to be delivered to Gateway no later than early 2024. The schedule constraints established by a December 2023 launch dictate that a module be on dock at Kennedy Space Center in mid-2023 for launch processing and integration. Per NASA's schedule analysis, this typical timeline for module production must already be compressed in order to achieve the 2024 human lunar landing deadline. Given that the NextSTEP-2 contractors advanced designs to a near System Design Review (SDR) fidelity, NASA determined that it must utilize the existing concepts from the NextSTEP-2 Appendix A and use the development done to date to minimize the additional design work necessary to produce a module in time."

Keith's note: NASA has been directed by Vice President Pence to truncate NASA's original plans to land people on the Moon in 2028 to a new date of 2024. That means NASA is going to have to make a number of prompt decisions on some basic aspects of how it accomplishes this 2024 goal. This NASA document makes mention of the fact that NASA is having to compress its procedures in order to meet the deadline set by Vice President Pence. NASA has decided that the only viable solution for a habitation module for the Gateway is to utilize a modified version of Northrop Grumman's Cygnus cargo spacecraft. This spacecraft (originally developed by Orbital Sciences which was bought by Northrop Grumman) has performed flawlessly each time it has flown, so it is a known, proven design. While it would not be surprising that other companies will protest this sole source decision by NASA, it is hard to argue that other companies could have been able to provide hardware on the dock at KSC when NASA needs it to be there.

The only thing that is missing from this document is the cost of this module which is redacted on page 5 of the original notice posted by NASA. Given the mysterious and ever-changing estimates of how much it will take NASA to meet the 2024 goal it is hard to imagine that this number will remain a secret. Indeed, just last week NASA Administrator Bridenstine openly admitted in congressional testimony that NASA has a chronic problem when it comes to estimating costs and then delivering on them.

Meeting the 2024 lunar landing date is going to be sporty - at a minimum. To his credit Jim Bridenstine has hit the ground running. Gateway has been downsized to a basic initial configuration. Maxar has the propulsion portion of the Gateway and Northrop Grumman now has the initial habitation portion. Orion and its service module exists and SLS is being fabricated albeit behind schedule. Moreover commercial launchers from SpaceX and ULA are ready for procurement to launch components. All that seems to be missing now is a lunar lander. NASA has a long way to go. Many people think that the landing could be done in a simpler fashion. But again, given the lead time Bridenstine has been given he has certainly risen to the challenge. It will be interesting to see who is picked to run HEOMD given that Bridenstine has said that some important decisions are on hold pending those appointments.

2009 Michael Collins Interviews Michael Collins UPDATED for the 50th Anniversary July 2019

"Q. Okay but getting back to the space program. What's next?

A. I hope Mars. It was my favorite planet as a kid and still is. As celestial bodies go, the moon is not a particularly interesting place, but Mars is. It is the closest thing to a sister planet that we have found so far. I worry that at NASA's creeping pace, with the emphasis on returning to the moon, Mars may be receding into the distance. I would advocate for a "JFK Express to Mars". President Kennedy's 1961 mandate to land man on the moon within the decade was a masterpiece of simplicity and we invoked it often to get the job done."

Remarks by Vice President Pence Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Kennedy Space Center, FL

"And while we've made great strides in advancing the President's bold vision for space -- unlike in years past, we will have the budgets to match it. And that's why I'm especially grateful today to be joined by some of the greatest champions of American leadership in space in the Congress of the United States: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Congressman Robert Aderholt, Congressman Brian Babin, Congressman Bill Posey, and other distinguished members of Congress. Would you please rise and allow us to express our appreciation for your strong support of renewed American leadership? (Applause.)"

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/pence20jul.jpg

Remarks by Vice President Pence Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Kennedy Space Center, FL

"Apollo 11 is the only event in the 20th century that stands a chance of being widely remembered in the 30th century. A thousand years from now, July 20, 1969 will likely be a date that will live in the minds and imaginations of men and women, as long as there are men and women to remember -- across this world, across this solar system, and beyond."

Remarks by President Trump Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

"THE PRESIDENT: And we opened up our fields. When we took it over, they were all covered with grass, and they were broken and they were in bad shape. And NASA -- if you look at Kennedy, if you look down in Florida, you look -- wherever you want to look, it was not a pretty picture. They were almost, you could say, abandoned, and now they're in tip-top shape."

"THE PRESIDENT: And, you know, one of the things: We're bringing the glamour back to it because it lost the glamour. It lost everything. If you would have seen these fields when we took over -- really, you started about a year, year and a half ago. When we took over, it was unbelievable. It looked like an abandoned town. And now there's beauty. There's beauty, and there's a lot of things happening. A lot of really great things are happening. So we're very proud of that."

Presidential Message on Space Exploration Day, 2019

"To honor those who have come before us and for the future betterment of all humankind, we pledge to launch a new era of exploration, extending our pioneering spirit into the farthest reaches of the cosmos. My Administration is committed to reestablishing our Nation's dominance and leadership in space for centuries to come."

NASA Coverage of Vice President's Visit to Kennedy Space Center on Moon Landing Anniversary

"NASA will provide television, still image, and social media coverage of Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, July 20 - the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The day will begin at 11:25 a.m. EDT with Air Force Two's arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) runway."

Watch Pence's speech at KSC live at 1:00 pm EDT https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

Keith's note: Small wonder why NASA people do not exactly look forward to these Oval Office things. No one knows what is going to happen until it happens.

Apollo Was NASA's Biggest Win - But Its Legacy is Holding The Agency Back. The Verge

"Apollo had a purpose. It was a major relay in the Space Race, and it showcased the incredible feats of engineering people can achieve when they bend their wills toward a common, monumental goal. It let people dream, and inspired innovation. But if NASA can't find a new purpose that motivates in the same way as the Cold War did, it's possible that the agency may remain trapped in its current cycle of development for human exploration for some time. The agency is trying to break out of this mold, but the politics of NASA and the space industrial complex that have been developing rocket hardware for decades make it difficult to evolve. And the agency may have the Apollo program to thank."

The Fraught Effort to Return to the Moon, The Atlantic

"The Trump administration faces a public skeptical of both destinations. According to a recent poll, 78 percent of respondents have a favorable view of NASA, and a majority say the government is spending too little when they're told that the agency's annual funding accounts for half a percent of the national budget. But just 42 percent think NASA should go to the moon in 2024, another recent poll found. A similar proportion of people think neither Mars nor the moon should be a priority. Even the two living Apollo 11 astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, think the United States should head to Mars instead of the moon."

Keith's note: Notes from Today's press event with NASA Administrator Bridenstine:

- The decision to reassign Bill Gerstenmaier and others was made by Jim Bridenstine. He did not consult the President or Vice President about this personnel issue.
- the decision to replace Gerstenmaier et al was the result of a need fo rnew leadership at HEOMD.
- Gerstenmaier is to be congratulated for helping to keep human space programs alive at NASA during times when human spaceflight was not exactly a priority
- Bridenstine does not. know of there will be a commercial crew flight in 2019
- Bridenstine expects that the cost of landing Americans on the Moon by 2024 will cost less than $20 billion due, in part to commercial participation and advanced technology
- NASA has a diverse workforce including the astronaut corps and it will continue to diversify.
- Artemis will land the next two Americans on the Moon and the first one to set for will be a female NASA astronaut
- NASA has not decided whether or not to do a Green Run test of the SLS before it is launched.
- Bridenstine needs to put permanent people in place at HEOMD before making some important decisions
- When asked about education and public outreach and inspiring the next generation Bridenstine said "the best thing we can do is stunning achievements. What are we doing today that will have a stunning outcome such that 50 years from today people will be celebrating it."
- With regard to destinations and priorities Bridenstine said "Mars is that generational achievement that we are working toward. Going to the Moon to learn how to live on another world"
- When asked if Boeing will be held accountable for SLS delays and cost overruns Bridenstine said "they do or do not get compensation based on milestones. You will see in their award fee that we are not satisfied with their performance."

Forward To The Moon

Forward To The Moon, Jim Bridenstine, Explorers Journal (Explorers Club)

"I am the first NASA administrator to have never seen humans walk on another world. I intend to be the only administrator with that distinction. Right now there are more people alive than not who share my experience. While most of Earth's inhabitants were born after the end of the Apollo missions, roughly a quarter of all of the people alive today have always known a world where it is perfectly normal for people to live in space. In winter 1911-1912, two overland parties became the first humans to reach the South Pole within weeks of each other. While we visited the South Pole in airplanes in subsequent years, no one thought to travel overland again for nearly half a century. In many important ways that is where we are today with regard to the Moon. We fly over it with satellites while we stay home. It has been a half-century. It is time to go back."

'Smartest guy in the room': Pentagon R&D chief under fire after controversial firings, Inside Defense

"Key lawmakers are closely examining the behavior and decision-making of the Defense Department's technology chief, spurred by high-profile personnel departures from his office. Mike Griffin earlier this month, according to government sources, orchestrated early departures within days of each other for former Strategic Capabilities Office Director Chris Shank and former Space Development Agency Director Fred Kennedy. The moves, more than a dozen current and former government officials tell Inside Defense, are in line with a well-known pattern of controversial decision-making, turf fighting and abrasive behavior. But the abrupt exits have alarmed officials at the Defense Department and on Capitol Hill, particularly because Shank and Kennedy were Griffin's personal friends and hand-picked for their jobs."

House Armed Services Committee denies funding for Space Development Agency, Space News

"Specifically, the committee is concerned about the abrupt resignation of the director and the apparent change in direction for this proposed program, contrary to planned activities that had been briefed to the committee and contrary to what the committee supported," the letter said. Former SDA director Fred Kennedy resigned June 19. Sources said Kennedy quit following clashes with Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin over how the agency should be run."

Transcript: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on "Face the Nation," July 14, 2019, CBS

CBS: "So the first steps [on the Moon] in 2024 will be by a woman?"
Bridenstine: "That's the goal."

Women are less supportive of space exploration, but putting a woman on the Moon might change that, The Conversation

"From my perspective as a space policy analyst, this is an important message for NASA to send. Women have been historically excluded from the space program, especially early on. While women have made inroads both as astronauts and more generally within the NASA ranks since, there remains a significant gender gap in support for space exploration. And for Artemis to succeed in getting the first woman to the Moon by 2024, a lot of political and public support will be required."

Larger image

Transcript: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on "Face the Nation," July 14, 2019, CBS

Bridenstine: "We also want to keep our eye on what is President Trump's goal - what is his vision? He wants to put an American flag - on Mars. So we go to the Moon to learn how to live on another world."

CBS: "So the first steps [on the Moon] in 2024 will be by a woman?"
Bridenstine: "That's the goal."

For First Time, Majority in U.S. Backs Human Mission to Mars, Gallup

"Americans' views about landing an astronaut on Mars have shifted, with a majority now favoring the idea for the first time since 1969 and 1999, when majorities opposed the idea. The latest figure comes as President Donald Trump has committed to a manned Mars mission. In his Fourth of July speech, the president said, "We're going to be back on the moon ... and, someday soon, we will plant the American flag on Mars." Gallup first asked Americans about attempting to land astronauts on Mars in 1969, shortly after the U.S. accomplished the same feat on the moon. At that time, just 39% were in favor and 53% opposed. A subsequent update on the 30th anniversary of the moon landing found public opinion had changed little, with 43% in favor and 54% opposed to going to Mars."

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

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

Watch live.

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

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

Witnesses are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live video.

Witnesses:

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

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

Mr. Homer Hickman
Author
Rocket Boys

Mr. Gene Kranz (Testimony)
Flight Director
Apollo 11

Mr. Eric Stallmer (Testimony)
President
Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Defense Innovation Unit Solution Brief Solicitation: Orbital Outpost, Defense Innovation Unit

"The Department of Defense (DoD) seeks solutions for a self-contained and free flying orbital outpost. The solution must be capable of supporting space assembly, microgravity experimentation, logistics and storage, manufacturing, training, test and evaluation, hosting payloads, and other functions. Prospective bidders are invited to submit their proposals ("Solution Brief") per the guidelines below." ... "Desired future capabilities (available as options for initial or future implementation) include: Common berthing mechanism; In-space assembly using one or more robotic manipulators and interfaces accepting standard flight fixtures; Temporary or permanent attachment to other similar modular outposts (manned or unmanned); Servicing or re-provisioning to extend flight operations for a longer duration; Human-rating; Orbit transfer; Radiation hardening for beyond LEO applications; and Other unique features contributing to national security or defense."

Keith's note: These folks are starting out small and then looking to expand their capabilities in a modular fashion. It is not at all clear what the end result will be or what "human rating" means. Some people have been calling this thing a "mini-space station" but it is not obvious what it will be since they have options that go all over the place. Also, is there any connection between this project and the SpaceForce/Space Corps thing. As for the source of this solicitation, Defense Innovation Unit, they are a government entity that is "contracting with companies offering solutions in a variety of areas - from autonomy and AI to human systems, IT, and space - to solve a host of defense problems." And there is a Defense Innovation Advisory Board that seems to oversee what this group does. It is chaired by Google's Eric Schmidt and has Neil deGrasse Tyson as a member. You can follow them on Twitter at @DIU_x.

A Boost for Trump's Ego Is a Loss for America's National Parks, Washington Post

"Separately, according to two individuals familiar with the matter, the White House was negotiating with Park Service officials over whether to project an image from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission onto the Washington Monument for the event. Typically the agency does not allow projected images on monuments or historic structures, on the grounds that they should be preserved in their original form."

Larger image of what an Apollo 11 tribute on the Washington monument might look like.

Keith's note: During the event the President introduced heads of the branches of the military including the Space Force - even though Congress changed its name to the Space Corps. He also said "We have with us the renowned NASA flight director Gene Kranz. We are going to be back on the Moon soon and will plant the American flag on the face of Mars. Its happening Gene - its happening". A few minutes later he gave John Glenn a shout out. He then mentioned fighter pilots Chuck Yeager, Buzz Aldrin and Gus Grissom.

Here's a reality check on NASA's Artemis Moon landing program, Ars Technica

"OMB is definitely trying to kill Gateway," a senior spaceflight source told Ars. "OMB looks at what the Vice President said about getting to the Moon by 2024, and says you could do it cheaper if you didn't have Gateway, and probably faster. They are fighting tooth and nail to nix the Gateway." Bridenstine, a White House appointee, is caught in the crossfire between OMB on one side and industry and NASA human spaceflight managers on the other side. The industry supports Gateway because it offers another source of potentially lucrative contracts during the coming decade, and NASA managers view the Gateway as a sustainable project. With the Gateway, they argue, Artemis won't turn into another flags-and-footprints program like Apollo."

OMB Has Its Sights Set On Gateway, earlier post

"Just as NASA was directed to speed up lunar landing plans for Artemis by VP Pence sources report that OMB is trying to find ways to kill Gateway. That would suggest a more direct lunar architecture is preferred by the White House - or at least some people there."

Back To The Moon - By Any Means Necessary, earlier post

"After months of being shy about how much it will cost to send Americans back to the lunar surface by 2024, NASA Administrator Bridenstine has finally started to get specific. Upon hearing the numbers no one is really experiencing sticker shock. We all knew it would be a large number range that is beyond anything NASA could be expected to get. But Bridenstine is undeterred and is marching forth trying to make this whole thing work."

Space Exploration: Attitudes toward the U.S. Space Program, AP

"There is not overwhelming enthusiasm for returning to the moon. In March, Vice President Mike Pence called for NASA to send astronauts to the moon within five years. Forty-two percent favor that idea, while 20% oppose and 38% neither favor nor oppose. Thirty-seven percent say sending astronauts to Mars should take precedence over going back to the moon, while 18% would rather have NASA send more astronauts to the moon. But 43% do not think either action should be a priority for the country. While about half of Americans would take the opportunity to orbit the Earth, most say they have no interest in traveling to the moon or Mars. Space travel has more appeal for younger adults."

Back To The Moon - By Any Means Necessary, earlier post

"If Jim Bridenstine can craft the proverbial "elevator speech" that gets everyone, everywhere on board with Artemis - whether it is in the Halls of Congress or in a Walmart parking lot in 'Flyover Country' - then there will be no stopping NASA. Right now, PR slogans aside, the only clear reason we have is a directive from the White House with a delivery date that is equal to the length of a second term. Why isn't all of America buzzing about going back to the Moon? If NASA and Jim Bridenstine can answer that question then they will be well along the path of understanding how to find that elusive "Why" that Artemis is currently lacking."

Keith's note: It seems that this poll is answering my question. A lack of overt enthusiasm for Artemis and returning to the Moon may well reflect what the country is thinking right now. That can change - but only if the proponents for space exploration - be they NASA employees - or just regular citizens - need to make a better case for doing things in space. Absent that the polls are going to continue to be showing mediocre support.

Emails: Trump official pressed NASA on climate science, AP

"Once a skeptic about climate change, Jim Bridenstine came around to the prevailing view of scientists before he took over as NASA administrator. That evolution did not sit well with a Trump environmental adviser, nor a think-tank analyst he was consulting, according to newly disclosed emails that illustrate how skepticism of global warming has found a beachhead in the Trump White House. "Puzzling," said the May 2018 exchange between William Happer, now a member of President Donald Trump's National Security Council, and Thomas Wysmuller of the Heartland Institute, which disavows manmade climate change. Their exchange calls scientifically established rises in sea levels and temperatures under climate change "part of the nonsense" and urges the NASA head - who was copied in - to "systematically sidestep it." It cannot be discerned whether it was Happer or Wysmuller who put that pressure on the new NASA chief. Their exchange is included in emails from 2018 and 2019 that were obtained by the Environmental Defense Fund under the federal Freedom of Information Act and provided to The Associated Press." ...

... "We provide the data that informs policymakers around the world," spokesman Bob Jacobs said. "Our science information continues to be published publicly as it always has." Heartland Institute spokesman Jim Lakely said in an email that NASA's public characterization of climate change as man-made and a global threat "is a disservice to taxpayers and science that it is still pushed by NASA."

Keith's note: After months of being shy about how much it will cost to send Americans back to the lunar surface by 2024, NASA Administrator Bridenstine has finally started to get specific. Upon hearing the numbers no one is really experiencing sticker shock. We all knew it would be a large number range that is beyond anything NASA could be expected to get. But Bridenstine is undeterred and is marching forth trying to make this whole thing work.

The cost numbers appeared in a CNN article yesterday: "NASA has touted its bold plan to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024 for months. Now we're starting to get an idea of how much it will cost. The space agency will need an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for its moon project, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNN Business on Thursday. That would mean adding another $4 billion to $6 billion per year, on average, to the agency's budget, which is already expected to be about $20 billion annually. Bridenstine's remarks are the first time that NASA has shared a total cost estimate for its moon program, which is called Artemis (after the Greek goddess of the moon) and could send people to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century. NASA wants that mission to include two astronauts: A man and the first-ever woman to walk on the moon."

Let's take the high end of the cost range = $30 billion. NASA has asked for $1.6 billion as a supplement to its FY 2020 Budget. So lets round out the remainder to $28 billion. In order for the whole Artemis Moon 2024 thing to happen that additional money needs to appear - dependably on time - over the course of FY 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and likely 2025. Let's ignore ramp ups and other things associated with typical programs and divide this amount by 5. You get an additional $5.6 billion every year. Or, lets be charitable and assume that they hit the lower number i.e. $20 billion. After deducting the current $1.6 billion request that leaves roughly $18 billion in additional funding or $3.6 billion in additional funding per year. So NASA needs somewhere between $3.6 and $5.6 billion a year for 5 fiscal years in order to meet the vice president's goal of landing Americans on the Moon by the end of 2024.

Over the past several years NASA watched the lifetime of ISS extended again and again. Now the target seems to be in the 2028-2030 range. NASA had hoped to totally hand over LEO operations to the private sector so that they could pivot several billion a year into the Moon program - and that was the program aimed at a 2028 landing. Now that goal post has been moved up by 4 years. This ISS hand off is not going to happen. None of the business ideas presented to NASA recently work unless NASA is still paying the lion's share of the bills. So NASA is going to be funding ISS operations for the next decade.

Add in chronic SLS delays and cost increases, problems with JWST, and pressure to increase funding in its various science portfolios and NASA is already totally over subscribed and under equipped fiscally to achieve all that is on its plate. Using commercial alternatives is smart and will decrease costs but NASA will still be billions of dollar short - at the onset - as it embarks on the Moon 2024 effort. The only way to possibly meet the Moon 2024 deadline is to find throw out the program of record and try something much more spartan. But we all know that SLS and Orion are not going to be cancelled. Full stop.

Regardless of how NASA does this much more money is going to be needed. And that money will have to be fought for. The Administration is going to have to champion these costs increases for the remainder of this term and the entirety of a hypothetical second term. And they they will have to do so while pursuing cuts to other parts of the government - as they have claimed that they will be doing. Congress is not likely to go along with this lopsided support of NASA while other science and technology efforts are cut.

If a new Administration takes over in early 2021 then one has to wonder if Artemis and the 2024 deadline will survive. High visibility, pet projects touted by prior Administrations rarely survive intact when the new folks show up.

So - its all gloomy and impossible and foolish to even attempt this Moon 2024 thing, right? No. Not at all. We have unfinished business on the Moon - and if we do not go back, other nations will. The only way that Artemis can succeed in meeting a 2024 deadline is if it is conducted by NASA using the smartest approach available and if NASA is willing to walk away from expensive mistakes, eat the costs, and accept the criticisms that go with admitting failure.

Moreover, to ensure that the Artemis program is not guaranteed to drop dead in 2021, NASA needs to equip it with a simple, internally - and externally consistent reason for being. Even if this Administration gets a second term, Bridenstine is going to need Democratic buy-in to get the $1.6 billion. He is going to need it for another 5 years to get all of the money. And if the White House changes hands, he will need that buy-in even more.

But we do have a solution. A few months ago Vice President Pence said "But know this: The President has directed NASA and Administrator Jim Bridenstine to accomplish this goal by any means necessary. In order to succeed, as the Administrator will discuss today, we must focus on the mission over the means. You must consider every available option and platform to meet our goals, including industry, government, and the entire American space enterprise."

NASA has only danced around the whole "by any means necessary" option. Now that the immense monetary needs are coming into focus it is obvious that NASA needs to revisit the means whereby this Moon project is accomplished. The current assumptions under which it is proceeding simply will not work. The money will not be there.

If Jim Bridenstine can craft the proverbial "elevator speech" that gets everyone, everywhere on board with Artemis - whether it is in the Halls of Congress or in a Walmart parking lot in 'Flyover Country' - then there will be no stopping NASA. Right now, PR slogans aside, the only clear reason we have is a directive from the White House with a delivery date that is equal to the length of a second term.

Why isn't all of America buzzing about going back to the Moon? If NASA and Jim Bridenstine can answer that question then they will be well along the path of understanding how to find that elusive "Why" that Artemis is currently lacking.

Dear Colleague Letter From The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group On The Proposed NASA Budget Amendment

"It came to our attention that the AAS / DPS sent a letter to its membership on 23 May 2019 detailing its concerns about three issues associated with the NASA proposed budget amendment and the rollout of the NASA Artemis program. These concerns include: the proposed Pell Grant offset, the NASA Administrator's proposed transfer authority, and "lack of community consensus on the science program." The first two concerns have to do with priorities within the administration, and the AAS/DPS stance is echoed by other professional societies. However, the third concern, that "there is not a community- wide consensus" on the lunar science to be accomplished with the requested $90M within the amendment, is incorrect and deserves clarification. LEAG was consulted extensively by NASA in the formulation of LDEP."

Message from the AAS President and DPS Chair: Moon - 2024?

"Since the changes in civilian space policy to return to the Moon have occurred after the last planetary science decadal survey in 2013 and that survey's midterm assessment in 2018, there is not a community-wide consensus on where the Administration's proposed lunar science program would rank within the relative priorities for lunar science, let alone within the priorities for the overall planetary science enterprise. The primary new lunar mission prioritized by the 2013 planetary decadal was the Lunar Geophysical Network (recommended for inclusion in the fifth New Frontiers competition). The 2013 survey also reaffirmed the 2003 survey's Lunar South Pole- Aitken Basin Sample Return mission for the fifth New Frontiers competition since it wasn't selected in the fourth New Frontiers round."

Taking an Anti-Moon 2024 Position While Pretending Not To, earlier post

"We have decided against taking an official position on NASA's Artemis proposal at this time. It is still very early, and we do not think that the benefits of public opposition to an ill-defined and untested proposal outweigh the use of political capital, at least not yet."

Keith's note: It took NASA 4 hours to translate President Trump's original tweet ...

NASA Advisory Council Meeting

"Thursday, May 30, 2019, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; and Friday, May 31, 2019, 8:30 a.m.-12:00 noon, Eastern Time. The agenda for the meeting will include reports from the following: Aeronautics Committee; Human Exploration and Operations Committee; Regulatory and Policy Committee; Science Committee; STEM Engagement Committee; Technology, Innovation and Engineering Committee"





NASA: Sustained presence on the moon will be a good investment, OpEd, Janet L. Kavandi, USA Today

"The Artemis Generation changes that. Our nation must take the next giant leap so long promised. As a female astronaut, I followed pioneers like Sally Ride to space and helped solidify their gains. Women's next frontier will be the moon. Nothing will inspire the next generation more than a sustained presence on the moon leading to deep space exploration. Our return to the moon also drives new technologies. And the scientific discoveries of recent years leave no doubt the moon has much more to reveal about Earth and our solar system."

Keith's note: Its hard to argue with anything in this OpEd. It makes mention of the "Artemis Generation" - a phrase coined by Jim Bridenstine. But who is the Artemis Generation? Is it the people currently working in the space business? Is it the students in school who will come of age as the Moon landings happen? Or is it a much broader segment of the population - one that NASA yearns to reach but never manages to contact? NASA has yet to define this. But that does not stop NASA from trying to read the minds of the Artemis Generation and second guess what sort of memes will tickle their fancy when it comes to the whole Moon 2024 thing.

Alas, in true NASA fashion, NASA continues to talk about the Artemis Generation as something they have decided to define. However they have yet to actually talk to the Artemis Generation. Newspaper OpEds only reach people who still read newspapers - paper or online. Is it on Reddit? Snapchat? Instagram? If NASA is trying to reach the next generation of people who will directly benefit from Artemis then they need to start using the modalities that they use. Moreover, NASA needs to go outside its usual confort zone - the "choir practice amongst the usual suspects" that I often refer to.

You'd think that the Space interest groups would do this. But they only talk to each other. The National Space Society is having its ISDC event in DC next week. Is it being webcast? No. Why bother telling the rest of the taxpaying public how space is an important thing that they should support? Yet Jim Bridenstine used his own cellphone to livestream a speech he made at an agricultural fair in California earlier this year. The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, the Space Foundation, the Aerospace Industries Association, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the AIAA, and so on - powered by millions of big aerospace dollars - could all be meeting with NASA to help reach the Artemis Generation and reach out beyond familiar territory. If they are I see no evidence that they are going to do anything. They never have. I doubt they ever will. They only exist to make sure money goes to their membership.

NASA's embryonic outreach efforts for Artemis/Moon 2024 are suffering from echoes of Apollo. It is perfectly fine to try and rekindle the same sort of excitement that I saw as a young boy during Apollo. But to assume that the same marketing psychology that worked with Apollo i.e. saying that it is important because NASA and the White House thinks it is important - is going to miss the mark with the real Artemis Generation. Did NASA use the same mindset to promote Apollo in the 1960s as was used to market aviation when the Wright Brothers were making their first flights? No. Similarly, heavily leaning on the Apollo mindset 50 years later is simply not going to work today.

NASA loves to broadcast what they think people should hear. Rarely do they ask what people want to hear, listen, and then adjust their message accordingly.

When NASA can reach the young people walking out of a Walmart in "Flyover Country" with a message about Artemis/Moon 2024 that resonates with their reality - only then will NASA have truly tapped the Artemis Generation - and be able to utilize their interest to help move the program forward. In the mean time their outreach efforts are just talking points on Powerpoint presentations that NASA civil servants bounce off of one another in windowless conference rooms about what they think people should find interesting or important - not what people in the real world actually think to be interesting or important.

During Thursday's NASA Advisory Council meeting Jim Bridenstine, who seems to have endless, relentless energy when it comes to promoting Artemis, asked the NAC membership what they thought was important about going back (or "forward") to the Moon. While they all had interesting things to say they all said pretty much what Janet Kavandi said. No one in the room was at the cusp of the beginning of a career. No one was from a middle class family. No one was seemingly from the Artemis Generation. More choir practice.

NASA has an unusual historic moment lying ahead of itself: the Apollo 11 50th anniversary. I have lived in metro Washington, DC for 33 years. I was at the big events for the 20th, 30th, and 40th anniversaries. I know how these things are planned. There will be a global focus on everything NASA says and does for a week in July. If the 50th anniversary events focus on elderly Apollo astronauts on a stage before an audience of adoring, aging baby boomers talking about how great Apollo was and maybe we should all do it again - since we miss Apollo - then Artemis will die before it is even born.

Go ahead and bring the Apollo legends on the stage. They are legends - and they are becoming rarer with inevitable frequency. But as they stand forth, NASA needs to push the envelope, turn the volume up to 11, take a risk and give America - and the world - something to talk about. Something to inspire the unusual suspects, so to speak.

Wouldn't it be something if ardent space fan Ariana Grande walked on that same stage, while the Apollo test pilots looked on, called herself "Artemis", and then belted out a song about wanting to be the first woman on the Moon.

Moon 2024?, American Astronomical Society

"We have decided against taking an official position on NASA's Artemis proposal at this time. It is still very early, and we do not think that the benefits of public opposition to an ill-defined and untested proposal outweigh the use of political capital, at least not yet. We are clearly opposed to the Pell Grant offset on principle, and we have serious concerns about the proposed transfer authority and the as-yet undefined scientific content of the proposed crewed Artemis lunar program."

Keith's note: Is is abundantly clear what the AAS thinks even if it is not official. So its sort of silly to say that no official position has been taken since an official blog post makes it clear what the current thinking is. Just sayin' Oh yes: NASA noticed.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump promises not just the moon, but Mars

"TRUMP: "Prime Minister Abe and I have agreed to dramatically expand our nations' cooperation in human space exploration. Japan will join our mission to send U.S. astronauts to space. We'll be going to the moon. We'll be going to Mars very soon."

THE FACTS: Not very soon. The U.S. will almost certainly not be sending humans to Mars in his presidency, even if he wins a second term.

The Trump administration has a placed a priority on the moon over Mars for human exploration (President Barack Obama favored Mars) and hopes to accelerate NASA's plan for returning people to the lunar surface. It has asked Congress to approve enough money to make a moon mission possible by 2024, instead 2028. But even if that happens, Mars would come years after that. International space agencies have made aspirational statements about possibly landing humans on Mars during the 2030s."

Resignation Letter From Mark Sirangelo To NASA Administrator Bridenstine

"My notice today is for an end to my NASA employment on May 31, 2019. Due to complex nature of the efforts NASA is engaged in, I am open to discussing this situation further before that or to discussing a return to NASA in the future should the situation change. Meanwhile, I will start organizing a transition plan for the many things that I have work on and on list of outstanding activities. Please let me know who you would like me to work with on external messaging."

NASA Internal Memo: Appointment of Mark Sirangelo, 9 April 2019

"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Mark Sirangelo as a Special Assistant to the Administrator. In this role, Mark will have broad responsibility to work across the Mission Directorates to further develop the agency's plans for the Exploration Campaign. This includes a strategy to meet the Administration's policy to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. He will also lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to create the Moons to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities required for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond."

NASA Awards Artemis Contract for Lunar Gateway Power, Propulsion

"This firm-fixed price award includes an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity portion and carries a maximum total value of $375 million. The contract begins with a 12-month base period of performance and is followed by a 26-month option, a 14-month option and two 12-month options."

Maxar Selected to Build, Fly First Element of NASA's Lunar Gateway

"Maxar previously conducted a four-month study to develop affordable and innovative electric-propulsion-enabled concepts for the power and propulsion element spacecraft. Building on the successful completion of the study, Maxar has been selected to proceed with development. The power and propulsion element will provide power, maneuvering, attitude control, communications systems and initial docking capabilities. Maxar is currently targeting launch of the element on a commercial rocket by late 2022."

Keith's note: Jim Bridenstine made repeated mention of the "Artemis Generation" today. In the press briefing after today's presentation by Bridenstine I asked HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier what this means. There are just under 80 million K-12 and college students in America. That's a lot - nearly 1/4 of all Americans. Back in the 60s when Gerst and I were growing up you could not escape mention of Apollo. NASA did an excellent job of making sure that all students knew what was going on and it was linked to the need to study math and science. NASA had to actually create whole new areas of study in universities since the specialties needed to study the Moon hardly existed. So how will NASA step up to create the Artemis Generation? Will it take an active role or is this just buzz words that NASA hopes someone elese will run with? Gerst gives a good reply - as does Mike Gold from Maxar. What I am really interested in hearing is what Jim Bridenstine thinks this means and what he envisons as NASA's role in creating, shaping, and supporting the Artemis Generation.


NASA Administrator to Make Artemis Moon Program Announcement, Media Teleconference Set

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make a significant announcement about the Artemis program's lunar exploration plans at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, May 23, at the Florida Institute of Technology. The remarks will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Administrator Bridenstine will announce the commercial partner selection to develop and build the first segment of NASA's Gateway outpost - the power and propulsion element (PPE). Gateway will be the lunar orbiting staging point to send astronauts to the Moon's surface in five years. Following his remarks, Bridenstine will answer questions from media at 2:10 p.m., in the Digital Scholarship Lab at Florida Institute of Technology's Evans Library, 2949 Science Cir., Melbourne. NASA also will host a media teleconference at 2:45 p.m."

- Status of Gateway Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)
- Spaceflight Demonstration of a Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)
- Spacecraft Demonstration of a Power and Propulsion Element Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) 80GRC018R0005
Industry Day July 10, 2018

Page 146-149: attendees: ADTL, Inc., Advanced Space, LLC, Aerojet Rocketdyne, The Boeing Company, Draper, Firefly Aerospace, Honeywell, Human SpaceFlight Institute, Kratos|RT Logic, L3 Technologies, Leidos Innovations, Lockheed Martin Space, MAXAR Technologies, Moog, Inc., Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, RUAG Space USA, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Space Systems/Loral, SpaceX, Spectrolab, Inc., TTTech North America

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

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

Donald Trump is not getting his space money, Quartz

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

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/artemis.plan.jpg

Larger view

NASA's full Artemis plan revealed: 37 launches and a lunar outpost, Ars Technica

"Last week, an updated plan that demonstrated a human landing in 2024, annual sorties to the lunar surface thereafter, and the beginning of a Moon base by 2028, began circulating within the agency. A graphic, shown below, provides information about each of the major launches needed to construct a small Lunar Gateway, stage elements of a lunar lander there, fly crews to the Moon and back, and conduct refueling missions."

Advising NASA, Wayne Hale

"My goals for the HEO committee and for the NAC itself will be to listen thoroughly, research broadly, think clearly and give the best advice possible. I would also like to work with the agency to make the HEO committee more diverse - not only in the usual sense of diversity but also more diverse in experience and opinion. So, a long post and probably too much about myself. If you have thoughts or advice for the agency - and I may regret this - please send them to me. Many folks already do. Please attend the HEO committee meetings whether in person or by audio conference - I will make sure you get access to the agenda and logistics."

NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee Meeting 28-29 May 2019

Accelerated NASA Moon Landing Plan Doesn't Need Canadian Robotic System, SpaceQ

"So with NASA deferring elements of the Gateway not needed for the new plan, comes the question of whether Canada's robotic system is needed to as part of the revised 2024 plan. In a follow-up email with Gerstenmaier, SpaceQ asked, with the updated moon plan and the revised architecture, is the expected Canadian contributed robotic arm (Canadarm 3) one of the capabilities needed to support a lunar landing in 2024? Gerstenmaier replied that "at this point in our planning the robotic arm is not required for the 2024 landing." He also said "we would like the arm as soon as available. The CSA arm concept is very creative and be used inside as well."

U.S. Moon Plans Are Causing Concern for the International Partners Including Canada, SpaceQ

"In a follow-up email with Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, Gerstenmaier wanted to provide a further comment on the matter. He said "the arm is not absolutely required for the lunar landing. We are making accommodations for the arm in early Gateway and will be ready to use the arm as soon as it is available."

NASA Secures First International Partnership for Moon to Mars Lunar Gateway, NASA (28 February 2019)

"Today, Canada leads the world in space-based robotic capabilities, enabling critical repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope and construction of the International Space Station. Our new collaboration on Gateway will enable our broader international partnership to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars."

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

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

Today 12:30 p.m. EDT: NASA Town Hall on Moon 2024 Budget Amendment with Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Watch at http://nasa.gov/nasalive

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






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

Trump's NASA sees Space Force as a means to bring free market capitalism to the final frontier, Muckrock

"In an internal draft of NASA's "National Exploration Campaign Report" from August 2018, the authors of the report identify the very first of five strategic goals for the new campaign as "Transition U.S. human spaceflight in LEO to commercial operations, which support NASA and the needs of an emerging private sector market." It is only once you get to number three on the list of strategic goals that NASA plans to "Foster scientific discovery."

Keith's note: There is a nice long, deep dive FOIA response from NASA a a result of a Muckrock request at the end that makes fascinating reading.

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

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

Opening Statements

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

Keith's note: Let's start with the loss of Columbia in 2003. O'Keefe talks Bush into completing ISS, then retiring Space Shuttle, then going back to the Moon by 2018 and then on to Mars 10 years Later. Then Iraq happens and Griffin changes course with the "Apollo on Steroids" thing and pivots toward Mars and away from the Moon. Then Obama tells Bolden "Moon - been there, done that, lets do Mars in 25 years, and hey let's go capture a mini-asteroid because why not?". Then Trump says "make space great again" using all of the Obama/Bolden leftovers. Then Pence gets impatient with Bridenstine and says "do the Moon by the end of our second term - oops, I mean in 5 years - instead of whenever". Now we are left with White House guidance to go back to the Moon sooner - or later. The "sooner" crowd is lead by Bridenstine. The "later" crowd - using Obama leftovers - is led by Gerstenmaier and the status quo. Meanwhile China plans to have lots of people on the Moon before we do - but probably not before Bezos and Musk do so with their own rocket ships and their own money.

Did I miss anything?

Facing 2024 deadline, NASA issues a report defending the Lunar Gateway, Ars Technica

"On Wednesday, as NASA continued to press lawmakers to support an accelerated plan to return humans to the Moon, the space agency began distributing a document titled Why Gateway? The document summarizes why NASA thinks a space station near the Moon is critical to human exploration, and it was first shared internally by the Gateway program office at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The document can be read here. The five-page paper is not signed by any NASA official, nor is a point-of-contact listed. Additionally, because there are several grammatical errors and typos, it appears the document was rushed into production. Since it is not marked "for internal use only," and it written at a fairly general technical level, it seems meant for public consumption, including members of Congress amid criticism of the concept."

- NASA Wants The Lunar Gateway To Do Everything For Everyone
- NASA's Advisors Struggle With Gateway Selling Points
- Bridenstine: Gateway Is - And Is Not - A Space Station
- NASA's Solution To Operating A Human Facility Like Gateway: Droids.
- Former NASA Administrator Griffin: Gateway Is A "Stupid Architecture"

"The Trump administration wants NASA to get back to the moon by 2024, using any means necessary. But will the money and the commitment be there to support the effort? Science correspondent Miles O'Brien talks to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about technical and political risk, international competition and his broader vision for the agency."

High cost, lack of support spell trouble for 2024 Moon landing plan, Ars Technica

"It will be a lot of money, regardless. According to two Washington, DC-based sources, NASA has informed the White House that it will need as much as $8 billion a year, for the next five years, to speed development of the Space Launch System rocket, a Lunar Gateway, a lunar lander, new spacesuits, and related hardware for a 2024 landing. This is on top of the agency's existing annual budget of about $20 billion, which includes everything from the International Space Station to astrophysics research."

Evaluation of a Human Mission to Mars by 2033 - Full report(PDF)

"In August 2017, NASA asked the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) to conduct this independent assessment, specifically requesting that STPI use NASA's current and notional plans for human exploration as the basis for the spaceflight systems and timelines presented in this study. STPI produced a draft report in December of 2017. Because NASA's exploration program was refocused in 2018, STPI was asked to update the earlier report in September 2018. Additional research was conducted between September 2018 and January 2019. This report is the result of those efforts."

"Under NASA's current and notional plans, four complex elements--SLS, Orion, Gateway, and the DST--need to be developed and completed to launch a human mission to orbit Mars. These technology developments would occur while NASA also designs and launches lunar landers and human astronauts to the Moon's surface. Figure ES-1 depicts a notional schedule for an orbital crewed mission to Mars orbit. We find that even without budget constraints, a Mars 2033 orbital mission cannot be realistically scheduled under NASA's current and notional plans. Our analysis suggests that a Mars orbital mission could be carried out no earlier than the 2037 orbital window without accepting large technology development, schedule delay, cost overrun, and budget shortfall risks. Further budget shortfalls or delays in the construction or testing of the DST would likely require the mission to depart for Mars in 2039 at the earliest."

"Given that NASA's investment in SLS, Orion, and the Gateway will continue with or without the orbital mission to Mars, the additional cost beyond these elements, of just the orbital mission to Mars, is $45 billion in FY 2017 dollars, which includes the costs of SLS launches, Orion capsules, the DST and its supplies, and ground support during DST missions."

"We found that NASA's current Human Research Program Integrated Research Plan to study human health risks associated with long-duration deep space spaceflight lacks sufficient detail in both evidence and strategy to justify the predicted timeline to develop risk mitigation strategies, or even estimate a realistic cost to retire the risks. Further, the document does not present a unified plan to prioritize NASA's approach to filling in gaps in knowledge, especially on the combined effects of radiation, low-or-micro-gravity, and isolation on astronauts. Accordingly, NASA's current approach to studying human health in deep space presents high risks to astronauts on a three-year mission to Mars."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Short Doc - Commanding Space: The Story Behind the Space Force, Center for Strategic and International Studies

"When President Trump announced plans to create a new military service for space in 2018, it took many by surprise. But the idea of creating a Space Force had been simmering behind the scenes for decades. This short documentary looks at the history of the Space Force debate and how it became a top priority for the Trump administration and some members of Congress."

Keith's note: This has to be the most inbred, self-serving, kiss-up award ever given by the space community to itself. Have you no shame Space Foundation?

The chair of the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group is James O. Ellis Jr. Ellis was elected to the Space Foundation Board of Directors in January 2010 and served as its Chairman from January 2016 through November 2017. The Space Foundation has a scholarship in his name. Could the inter-relationship be any more obvious?

And its not just the Space Foundation. AIAA has a similar and obvious overlap with the National Space Council - and they even bragged about that a few weeks ago: "American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) members Col. Eileen Collins, Daniel Dumbacher, Sandra "Sandy" Magnus, and Wanda Sigur will lend their expertise on human space exploration at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council on March 26 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama."

Both of these organizations have boards made up of Big Aerospace and military representatives - most of whom have a lifetime pass to the revolving door between the industry, government, and Congress. For a large industry organization funded by companies who get their incomes from NASA and DoD to turn around and give an award to an advisory group they also participate in - the same one that will shape the future of American space policy (i.e. their business) - is the height of hubris.

To confound the whole matter this award is for public outreach. Public outreach? When has the National Space Council done any actual public outreach? They hold meetings at big aerospace events such as Space Symposium where all of the usual suspects meet up once a month and listen to each other talk and then give each other awards. Someone please show me how the National Space Council has made an effort to reach the remaining 99.999% of the nation - you know, the people who pay the taxes that pay for all the nifty space toys? They only do inreach - not outreach.

And you wonder how things like SLS never die despite chronic delays and overruns?

Pace Accepts Space Foundation's Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award on Behalf of Vice President Pence, National Space Council

"The Morrow Award stands for an important concept: heightening the public awareness and understanding of space programs and technology. The President, by reinvigorating the National Space Council, and the Vice President, through his determined leadership, have taken strides in elevating space policy on the national stage."

Keith's update: Looks like they are drinking the same flavor of Koolaid at the National Space Council. "elevating" is not outreach. Go ask 100 people at random on the street anywhere outside of Washington DC what they think of "SPD-1". You can even explain the acronym as you ask. No one will know what you are talking about. All they know is that NASA does not have spacesuits for women in space. Tick tock.

NASA Internal Memo: Appointment of Mark Sirangelo

"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Mark Sirangelo as a Special Assistant to the Administrator. In this role, Mark will have broad responsibility to work across the Mission Directorates to further develop the agency's plans for the Exploration Campaign. This includes a strategy to meet the Administration's policy to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. He will also lead the planning for the proposed agency restructuring to create the Moons to Mars Mission Directorate that will manage the programs to develop the Gateway, human rated lander and surface systems to return to the Moon and establish a permanent presence. The new proposed Directorate will also manage the Exploration Research and Technology programs to enable capabilities required for exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond."

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Fifth Meeting of the National Space Council Huntsville, AL

"Just a few moments ago, Buzz Aldrin was reflecting on his time in the Apollo program. He talked about that fabled Apollo 11 mission. He said, in 1962, we had an objective; we had time, but we didn't have a plan. In Space Policy Directive-1, the President directed NASA to create a lunar exploration plan. But as of today, more than 15 months later, we still don't have a plan in place. But Administrator Bridenstine told me, five minutes ago, we now have a plan to return to the moon. (Applause.)"

Opening Statement Chair Kendra Horn (D-OK) Full Committee Hearing: A Review of the NASA Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request

"Finally, a full year and a half AFTER its Congressionally-directed due date, the Committee received the report directed in Section 435 of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017. According to the report, it's clear that getting to the surface of Mars in the 2030s is impossible under this Administration's current approach to exploration. Moreover, the report acknowledges what many on this Committee have been surmising during past hearings--namely, that there is no actual Plan for a human Mars mission. It states that NASA's Exploration Campaign Report, "is a high-level strategy...is mainly a plan for a plan...and may not ultimately play a substantive role in efforts to place humans in Mars orbit by 2033. Further specificity of NASA's long-term plans in a public document would help Congress and other public policy officials make informed decisions over the coming decades."

Can We Please See The NASA Moon Plan?, earlier post

Chairwoman Johnson Opening Statement for NASA FY20 Budget Request Hearing

"Given the absence of an urgent crisis, it would be the height of irresponsibility for the Vice President of the United States to direct NASA to land astronauts on the Moon within the next five years without knowing what it will cost, how achievable the schedule is, and how it will impact NASA's other programs. I expect you, Mr. Administrator, to provide the same information to this Committee today as I assume you provided to the White House on each of those questions in advance of the Vice President's speech."

Moon 2024 Gets Cool Reception By House Committee Democrats, SpacePolicyOnline

"As for the cost, Bridenstine said the Administration is working on an amendment to the budget request and hopes to submit it by April 15. April 15 is the date by which Congress is supposed to adopt each year's Budget Resolution setting out the top-line numbers for how much money Congress can allocate for various purposes."

Ranking Member Frank Lucas Opening Statement at Full Committee Hearing - A Review of the NASA FY2020 Budget Request

"NASA is getting the bucks, so now it's time to deliver. Too often programs become complacent when funding is taken for granted. Congress and NASA need to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. We need to ensure these programs stay on schedule and within cost. Congress, along with the reconstituted National Space Council, led by Vice President Pence, provide this oversight."

Questions submitted to NASA Town Hall Meeting With Administrator Jim Bridenstine

"These are the questions submitted online at http://www.nasa.gov/townhall before and during today's NASA Town Hall with Jim Bridenstine. The number to the left is the number of votes the question got."

"Will the administration and congress back up this audacious goal with an appropriate influx of funding?

Isn't this the first step in the return to "schedule over safety"? Been there, done that - with catastrophic results.

Accelerating our return to the moon is an unfunded mandate. How will we do it without gutting our other important missions?

Please explain in detail what "We'll change the Agency, not the mission" entails.

NASA peaked at 34,000 engineers during Apollo, today we have half that. Are we going to receive more resources?

Over the past fifteen years, the Agency has been directed to go to Mars, then the Moon, then an Asteroid, then an Asteroid around the Moon, then Mars, then a space station around the Moon, and now the Moon again. What steps do you plan to take to reduce the programmatic whiplash that keeps us from actually accomplishing any of these grand plans?

VP Pence directed us to land a crew on the moon within the next 5 yrs "by any means necessary", what means will you be using?

What assurance can be given that this plan for lunar return will survive a change in administrations after the 2020 election?"

Town Hall with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

"Headquarters is hosting an agencywide town hall with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Monday, April 1, at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Please join the Administrator for this important discussion on our Moon to Mars plans. All employees, contractors and civil servants, are encouraged to participate in person at Headquarters in the Webb auditorium or at the designated viewing location at their center. The event will air live on NASA Television (public channel), through your center cable or streaming distribution, and on the agency's website at https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive."

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Fifth Meeting of the National Space Council Huntsville, AL

"Just a few moments ago, Buzz Aldrin was reflecting on his time in the Apollo program. He talked about that fabled Apollo 11 mission. He said, in 1962, we had an objective; we had time, but we didn't have a plan. In Space Policy Directive-1, the President directed NASA to create a lunar exploration plan. But as of today, more than 15 months later, we still don't have a plan in place. But Administrator Bridenstine told me, five minutes ago, we now have a plan to return to the moon. (Applause.)"

Keith's note: OK. So NASA has a "plan". A plan usually has words - words that are contained in a document. Plans usually have pictures and diagrams too. A plan cites goals and objectives and the steps that will be taken to meet goals and achieve objectives. There is usually a timeline and a budget associated with such a plan too. So, if NASA now has a plan to go back to the Moon, is NASA going to share that plan with the rest of us?





Recommendations Approved by the National Space Council to President Trump

"Recommendations on Human Space Exploration

1. Consistent with the overall goals of SPD-1, the United States will seek to land Americans on the Moon's South Pole by 2024, establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028, and chart a future path for human Mars exploration. NASA's lunar presence will focus on science, resource utilization, and risk reduction for future missions to Mars.
2. NASA will continue to improve its structure and management, and improve cost and schedule performance, to implement SPD-1, seeking legislative authorization as necessary. NASA will create a Moon-to-Mars Mission Directorate and make all necessary efforts to achieve Exploration Mission-1 no later than 2020 and Exploration Mission-2 no later than 2022.
3. NASA will unleash American industry, including public-private partnerships and other mechanisms, to enhance innovation and sustainability of activities from low Earth orbit to the lunar surface and beyond.
4. The United States will engage with and involve current and future international partners to enable a sustainable program of lunar exploration and development.
5. The NASA Administrator will provide an update on the implementation of SPD-1 and these specific items to the Chair at the next meeting of the National Space Council."

President Donald J. Trump Is Boldly Putting Americans Back on the Moon

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Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Fifth Meeting of the National Space Council Huntsville, AL

"Well, thank you all. To Governor Ivey, Secretary Ross, Secretary Chao, Secretary Wilson; to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine; to all the members of the National Space Council and the Users' Advisory Group; to Dr. Deborah Barnhart and the great team here at the Space and Rocket Center; honored guests; and especially to all the dedicated the men and women of the Marshall Space Flight Center: It is great to be back in Rocket City. (Applause.) Thank you for joining us for this fifth meeting of the National Space Council at an enormously important time in American leadership in space."

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NASA Administrator Statement on Return to Moon in Next Five Years

"Among the many topics discussed during our meeting at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, was to accelerate our return to the Moon:

- NASA is charged to get American astronauts to the Moon in the next five years.
- We are tasked with landing on the Moon's South Pole by 2024.
- Stay on schedule for flying Exploration Mission-1 with Orion on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket next year, and for sending the first crewed mission to the lunar vicinity by 2022.
- NASA will continue to 'use all means necessary' to ensure mission success in moving us forward to the Moon."

Keith's note: OK, so that is sporty to say the least but wait - the commercial EM-1 option is now dead:

"Earlier today I was also at Marshall Space Flight Center for an all-hands to reinforce our commitment to SLS with the workforce. We discussed my recent announcement that NASA would consider all options to fly Orion around the Moon on schedule. I shared the analysis we conducted to asses flying the Orion on different commercial options. While some of these alternative vehicles could work, none was capable of achieving our goals to orbit around the Moon for Exploration Mission-1 within our timeline and on budget. The results of this two-week study reaffirmed our commitment to the SLS. More details will be released in the future."

So ... SLS is the only solution and somehow, HEOMD, MSFC, and Boeing are suddenly going to not only be on time and on budget - but they are going to increase the speed with which they deliver SLS/Orion capabilities without a budget increase. The same people are going to suddenly learn a bunch of new tricks - seemingly over night. Or ... are we going to see a bunch of reassignments and retirement parties? Something has to give. The status quo is clearly not going to just become efficient over night - and things are going to have to change over night if this challenging new schedule is going to be met.

"We will take action in the days and weeks ahead to accomplish these goals. We have laid out a clear plan for NASA's exploration campaign that cuts across three strategic areas: low-Earth orbit, the Moon, and Mars and deeper into space. "I have already directed a new alignment within NASA to ensure we effectively support this effort, which includes establishing a new mission directorate to focus on the formulation and execution of exploration development activities. We are calling it the Moon to Mars Mission Directorate."

OK- so NASA will change the phone book and they have a "plan". Earlier today VP Pence lamented the fact that NASA did not have a plan to go to the Moon after 15 months of National Space Council operations - but that Jim Bridenstine told him today that NASA now has a plan. So ... let's see the plan.

The Vice President certainly laid down the gauntlet to NASA to get off its collective butt and go back to the Moon. Jim Bridenstine happily picked up the gauntlet and accepted that challenge. Now its up to NASA and its contractor workforce to either work with Bridenstine and Pence or, by sitting on their hands, to work against them.

What is at stake? Well ... what do you think will happen when SpaceX and Blue Origin start sending their own missions to the Moon - without NASA?

The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration's Comments on March 26 National Space

"Though we support the focus of this White House on deep space exploration and the sense of urgency instilled by aggressive timelines and goals, we also are cognizant of the resources that will be required to meet these objectives. Bold plans must be matched by bold resources made available in a consistent manner in order to assure successful execution. Similarly, the contracting mechanisms by which spacecraft, facilities, systems and supporting equipment are incorporated into a robust Moon-to-Mars architecture must be applied in a rapid and flexible manner with only the absolute minimum of bureaucratic process and oversight necessary to succeed. This is especially true for technologies that have long been in use but continue to labor under excessive oversight during development - a burden that exacerbates cost, schedule, and program risks."

Keith's note: Based on what was said at the National Space Council today by Vice President Pence, the standard procedure employed by NASA and Big Aerospace is not working and that NASA needs to avail itself of "any means necessary" to land Americans on the Moon by 26 march 2024. Clearly the standard practices employed by the Coalition for Deep Space member companies are not working. If they were then the need for a "course correction" vis-a-vis the architecture for getting humans back to the Mon would not be required. Big Aerospace has not been able to be "bold" for decades.

NASA Television to Broadcast Fifth Meeting of the National Space Council

"NASA Television and the agency's website will provide live coverage of the fifth meeting of the National Space Council starting at 1 p.m. EDT Tuesday, March 26. The meeting will focus on the Trump Administration's Moon, Mars and beyond plans, and be held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama."

Fifth Meeting of the National Space Council March 26 in Huntsville

"On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, at 12:00 p.m. CDT, Vice President Mike Pence will chair the fifth meeting of the National Space Council at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This meeting will focus on President Trump's plan to restore American leadership in space and the next steps in implementing his vision to send Americans to the moon, Mars, and beyond. As chairman of the Council, Vice President Pence will convene the meeting, receive reports from Council members, hear from two expert panels on human space exploration, lead a Council discussion, and present policy recommendations for the President."

Keith's note: If you look at the agenda you will see that this is yet another short meeting of the usual suspects who will read pre-prepared statements that echo what others have said at previous NSpC events - and what has been said in front of innumerable blue ribbon panels for decades. In the end there will never be crisp findings nor enough funding to accomplish whatever this panel wants NASA to do. These people really need to focus on specific, realistic deliverables - not buzz words strung together. Otherwise its just more choir practice in an echo chamber.

AIAA Members to Speak at National Space Council Meeting on March 26

"AIAA's executive director emeritus, Sandy Magnus, who's also a former NASA astronaut, will sit on the first panel, "Ready to Fly," which includes AIAA Associate Fellow Col. Eileen Collins, U.S. Air Force (ret.), former NASA astronaut and the first female Space Shuttle commander, and Gen. Lester Lyles, U.S. Air Force (ret.) and former Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The "Ready to Explore" panel will feature two AIAA members: Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director, former Purdue University aerospace engineering professor, and NASA (ret.) Deputy Associate Administrator, Exploration Systems Development Division, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate; and AIAA member Wanda Sigur, former vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Space Systems. Jack Burns, University of Colorado Boulder, also will participate in the panel."

All we see at this event are people who represent the status quo in big aerospace and government. And to reinforce this bias, AIAA, the big organization for Big Aerospace with a built-in revolving door, wants everyone to know that they have multiple members presenting at this meeting i.e. the deck is stacked in favor of the status quo. Where are the 20-and 30-something people who are entering the space workforce - the ones who ought to have a say in where things are going? Every speaker is over 50. Many are over 60. This is not new. The whole NSpC/UAG thing is like this.

Space Council Users' Advisory Group Meets Without Any Users, earlier post

"Have a look at the National Space Council User's Advisory Group meeting agenda. Not a single person who is speaking is actually a "user" of space - they are either big Aerospace Reps, politicians, government employees, or reps from other advisory bodies. There is no "user" input in evidence."

During the public input section of the meeting I asked how many UAG members are actually users and how many are sellers and noted that no one on the committee really seemed to be speaking for the next generation of space explorers. The chairman responded: "Users are defined in the broadest of sense so we are all users." He said he "appreciates my continued interest" in what they are doing or something. In other words go away with your actual questions.

New White House budget spells trouble for NASA's SLS rocket, Ars Technica

"Two sources familiar with the thinking of Vice President Mike Pence--who leads US space policy--have said he is frustrated with the slow pace of the nation's efforts to send humans to the Moon. In particular, he is growing tired of delays with NASA's Space Launch System rocket, which was originally due to launch in 2017 and is now likely delayed until 2021 at the earliest. ... With this proposal, therefore, NASA is taking away a key upgrade to the Space Launch System's upper stage, proposing to launch Gateway on commercial rockets, and removing a high-profile mission from the launch manifest--the Europa Clipper. This leaves just one real task for SLS, which no commercial rocket can presently perform: the direct delivery of a crewed Orion capsule to a high lunar orbit."

FY 2020 Federal Government Budget (NASA starts on page 97)

"- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is responsible for leading an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and bring new knowledge and opportunities back to Earth.

- The Budget takes steps to achieve lunar exploration goals sooner, improve sustainability of NASA's exploration campaign, and increase the use of commercial partnerships and other procurement models to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of NASA programs.

- The Budget includes $363 million to support commercial development of a large lunar lander that can initially carry cargo and later astronauts to the surface of the Moon.

- The Budget focuses funding for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, a heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, to ensure the rocket is operational in the early 2020s when it will be needed to carry astronauts to the vicinity of the Moon.

- The Budget requests $21 billion for NASA, a $283 million or 1.4-percent increase from the 2019 estimate."

Keith's note: NASA's enacted FY 2019 budget was $21.5 billion. The White House budget request for NASA's FY 2020 budget is $21.019 billion which actually means a 2.2% decrease in NASA's budget. But NASA (at the direction of the White House) wants you to think that this is an increase. Congress will be weighing in on this.

- FY 2020 Budget Summary Briefing (2 MB PDF)
- FY 2020 Budget Agency Fact Sheet (300 KB PDF)
- - FY 2020 Budget Mission Fact Sheet (510 KB PDF)
Video: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine's Remarks on the FY 2020 Budget
- Earlier budget postings

U.S. Science Envoy Program (2018)

"The Honorable Charles Frank Bolden Jr., (USMC-Ret.), recently retired from service as the 12th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). At NASA, Bolden oversaw the safe transition from 30 years of Space Shuttle missions to a new era of exploration focused on full utilization of the International Space Station and space and aeronautics technology development. As a Science Envoy for Space, Gen. Bolden will promote American leadership in space exploration and emphasize the importance of commercial opportunities."

India won't re-invent wheel with human mission: US space envoy, The Times of India

"Major General Charles Frank Bolden, the former NASA administrator who has been appointed the US' first space envoy, says there's no reason for Indians to be apprehensive about the Indian Space Research Organisation's proposed human spaceflight mission as the space agency won't be reinvent."

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

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

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

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

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

Trump's new science adviser says it's not his job to correct the president on climate change, Vice

"But in an interview in his brand-new office next to the White House, Droegemeier evaded questions about his own views. He told VICE News he has no opinion on the president's winter-storm tweets and has no plans to talk to him about them. "The main thing for me is to provide the president with the best science advice possible," he said. Droegemeier said he does believe climate change is occurring, and that humans play a "significant" role in it. But he ultimately landed on a standard refrain often heard within the Republican Party, arguing that humans aren't the main culprit. "If you say humans are the cause of climate change, that's incorrect because climate change is due to humans and natural variability," he said."

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Mike Pence: It's time for Congress to establish the Space Force (Opinion), Washington Post

"Since taking office, President Trump's top priority has been to strengthen our national defense and protect the American people. We have made historic investments to rebuild our armed forces. We have removed unnecessary restraints on our commanders, giving them the rules of engagement they need to defeat our enemies. And to meet the emerging threats in space, the newest war-fighting domain, the president has called for the creation of the U.S. Space Force."

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

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

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

Canada Is Going To The Moon, SpaceQ

"Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed what many had hoped for by committing Canada to participate in the NASA led effort to return to the moon. Canada will contribute a smart robotic system to the NASA's Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G) program. The smart robotic system includes a next-generation robotic arm, which is already being called the Canadarm3, other unnamed equipment, and specialized tools to be used on this unique system."

NASA Secures First International Partnership for Moon to Mars Lunar Gateway

"NASA is thrilled that Canada is the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost. Space exploration is in Canada's DNA. In 1962, Canada became the third nation to launch a satellite into orbit with Alouette 1."

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

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

Video of signing activities at the White House, CSPAN

Text of Space Policy Directive-4: Establishment of the United States Space Force, White House

"Section 1. Introduction. Space is integral to our way of life, our national security, and modern warfare. Although United States space systems have historically maintained a technological advantage over those of our potential adversaries, those potential adversaries are now advancing their space capabilities and actively developing ways to deny our use of space in a crisis or conflict. It is imperative that the United States adapt its national security organizations, policies, doctrine, and capabilities to deter aggression and protect our interests. Toward that end, the Department of Defense shall take actions under existing authority to marshal its space resources to deter and counter threats in space, and to develop a legislative proposal to establish a United States Space Force as a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces within the Department of the Air Force. This is an important step toward a future military department for space. Under this proposal, the United States Space Force would be authorized to organize, train, and equip military space forces of the United States to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict."

Remarks by President Trump at Signing Ceremony for Space Policy Directive-4 (Space Policy Comments Excerpt)

"Our adversaries and -- whether we get along with them or not, they're up in space. And they're doing it, and we're doing it. And that's going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation -- and you could say "offense" -- but let's just be nice about it and let's say the defense of our nation is going to be. America must be fully equipped to defend our vital interests. Our adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space, and they're working very hard at that. That's why my administration has recognized space as a warfighting domain and made the creation of the Space Force a national security priority. I think we'll have great support from Congress, because they do support something when we're talking about such importance. And a lot of the generals, a lot of the people involved have been speaking to Congress. And we have some very interesting dialogue going on."

Alabama Wants Y'all To Join Their Space Force, earlier post

Rep. Mo Brooks pushes to put 'Space Force' command in Alabama, AL.com

"Alabama's congressional representatives aren't wasting any time lobbying for the Pentagon to put President Trump's new "Space Force" command on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks told an all-star panel of witnesses at a committee hearing today that, "I hope that you will help make Redstone Arsenal a finalist in the space command headquarters debate." On Tuesday, it was U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) saying the headquarters of the new force should be in Huntsville."

Keith's note: Despite the intention of keeping military and civilian space activities clearly separate (something this White House and previous Administrations have tried to do) it would seem that at least two state's politicians want to blend them together - or muddy the distinctions - for local political reasons.

Keith's note: There was a White House media telecon this morning dealing with the signing of SPD-4 to create Space Force this afternoon at 2:00 pm ET by the President. According to the senior Administration official who spoke SPD-4 establishes United States Space Force. Space is integral to our way of life and modern warfare. Our adversaries are preparing ways to use space. Space Force seeks to deter aggression and protect our interests.

Video of signing activities at the White House, CSPAN

SPD-4 will lead to legislative proposals to create a 6th branch of the DOD. Space Force will be created initially under USAF as a first step with an option to eventually set up a separate Space Force. The head of the Space Force will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Space. DOD Undersecretary of Space will appointed by president with Senate confirmation

Space Force will consolidate military authorities to prevent overlaps and duplication and will assume all military space acquisition and establish career paths. #SpaceForce Space Force will *NOT* include NASA, NOAA, NRO, or other non-military space organizations or mission of the federal government. Space Force will organize, train, and equip forces to operate in space domain, on Earth, and within the electromagnetic spectrum. Space Development Agency is not a specific part of SPD-4 but it is part of existing authority and not a focus of SPD-4.

DDO will establish a combatant command called the United States Space Command. This legislation will enable lethality of this joint Force. The Space Force Legislative proposal will deal with ranks and promotion potential to make sure everyone who transfers to Space Force. Space Force and Space Command are two different organizations. Space Force is under civilian command organize, training, equipping. Space Command will be created by DOD to implement combatant activities that Space Force puts into place.

DOD secretary will be tasked to submit a budget as part of the President's FY 2020 budget request. DOD and DNI will issue a report of progress in 180 days. DOD Secretary will propose suggested authority changes within 90 days.

No estimates of the budget for Space Force were provided. Standing up a new branch of the military is something we have not done in 70 yeas so there will be some significant costs.

NASA Administrator Hosts Media, Industry Forum on Lunar Exploration Plans, NASA

"NASA invites media to its headquarters in Washington Thursday, Feb. 14, to learn more about agency partnership opportunities with American companies to develop reusable systems that can land astronauts on the Moon. Events will begin with a media roundtable at 12:30 p.m. EST with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the agency's Human Exploration and Operations Missions Directorate, and Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate."

NASA has taken a significant step toward human landings on the Moon, Ars Technica

"For two years, the Trump administration has made various noises about returning humans to the Moon. There have been bill signings with Apollo astronauts such as Buzz Aldrin and Harrison Schmitt. Vice President Mike Pence has traveled to NASA facilities around the country to make speeches. And the president himself has mused about the Moon and Mars. However, beyond talk of returning humans to the Moon, much of the country's civil space policy and budgeting priorities really hadn't changed much until late last week. On Thursday, NASA released a broad agency announcement asking the US aerospace industry for its help to develop large landers that, as early as 2028, would carry astronauts to the surface of the Moon."

Partnerships Between NASA and Industry Can Support Lunar Exploration, Say Two New Reports, NAS

"However, the two reports find that the activities undertaken to date, although aligned with community consensus for lunar science priorities, do not replace missions recommended in the National Academies' most recent planetary science decadal survey and remain subject to many unknowns, such as the ability of standardized commercial lunar landers to interface with complex science payloads."

"In 2019 we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew one quarter of one million miles through space to plant an American flag on the face of the Moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag, Buzz Aldrin. Thank you, Buzz. This year, American astronauts will go back to space in American rockets."

Trump Reportedly Demanded That NASA Fly a Manned Mission to Mars by 2020, Splinter

"What if we sent NASA's budget through the roof, but focused entirely on that instead of whatever else you're doing now. Could it work then?" Lightfoot told him he was sorry, but he didn't think it was possible. This left Trump "visibly disappointed," Sims wrote. "But I tried to refocus him on the task at hand. We were now about 90 seconds from going live."

How Trump Offered NASA Unlimited Funding to Go to Mars in His First Term, New York Magazine

"Lightfoot explained to the president -- who, again, had recently signed a bill containing a plan for Mars -- that NASA planned to send a rover to Mars in 2020 and, by the 2030s, would attempt a manned spaceflight. "Trump bristled," according to Sims. He asked, "But is there any way we could do it by the end of my first term?" Sims described the uncomfortable exchange that followed the question, with Lightfoot shifting and placing his hand on his chin, hesitating politely and attempting to let Trump down easily, emphasizing the logistical challenges involving "distance, fuel capacity, etc. Also the fact that we hadn't landed an American anywhere remotely close to Mars ever."

China's lunar first unlikely to kick off a new space race, Houston Chronicle

"Cowing said he will not be surprised to see a Chinese flag on the moon in coming years. "When they will do it, I'm not sure. Their resources are more constrained than ours but they are nothing if not relentless," Cowing said. "I think there's an excellent chance that if our goals start shifting toward the early 2030s, if we go back we'll be waving at China saying, 'Hi guys, we're back.'" If that happens, he said it would make sense to partner with the Chinese on the lunar surface. "If you build a beach house next to someone else's beach house, you're both going to get worried when there's a storm and you're going to try to avoid the problems," he said. "That's the underlying theme in space, too."

China lands Chang'e-4 probe on 'dark' side of moon, Deutsche Welle

"If we are as a species going to study the moon further, we need to go to the far side," NASA Watch editor Keith Cowing told DW."

Trump to launch Space Command this week as Pence promotes space efforts, CNN

"President Donald Trump will order in the coming days the establishment of a new military space command, a move that comes as Vice President Mike Pence plans two high-profile visits related to the US space program, three US officials tell CNN. Pence will visit Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, and is expected to visit the Pentagon this week, in part to discuss Trump's sought-after Space Force. The new Space Command will be only the 11th combined combatant command, joining the ranks of Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, and Special Operations Command, which oversees elite troops known as Special Operations Forces. The White House did not respond to requests for comment."

Text of a Memorandum from the President to the Secretary of Defense Regarding the Establishment of the United States Space Command, White House

"Pursuant to my authority as the Commander in Chief and under section 161 of title 10, United States Code, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I direct the establishment, consistent with United States law, of United States Space Command as a functional Unified Combatant Command. I also direct the Secretary of Defense to recommend officers for my nomination and Senate confirmation as Commander and Deputy Commander of the new United States Space Command. I assign to United States Space Command: (1) all the general responsibilities of a Unified Combatant Command; (2) the space‑related responsibilities previously assigned to the Commander, United States Strategic Command; and (3) the responsibilities of Joint Force Provider and Joint Force Trainer for Space Operations Forces. The comprehensive list of authorities and responsibilities for United States Space Command will be included in the next update to the Unified Command Plan"

Keith's 14 December note: NASA has a new Associate Administrator for the headquarters Office of Communications: Bettina Inclán. According to her Twitter profile at @BettinaInclan: "Entrepreneur. Storyteller. Political junky. Tired mom of 2 boys. Wife. Wine enthusiast. Proud Latina. Alum of Capitol Hill @GOP @RNCLatinos @NRCC Romney, McCain".

Here's her Linked In profile: Bettina Inclán Agen. Bettina Inclán reports for duty at NASA next week. A quick Google search turned up these interesting stories that mention her:

Miami politician says aliens took her on a spaceship. Now she's running for Congress, Miami Herald (with video)

"A congressional candidate from Miami can go one better: Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera says she's been aboard a spaceship too. But this one was crewed by aliens. As in extraterrestrials. ... Rodriguez Aguilera, 59, a Republican who is running to replace retiring Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, recounted her experience with the ETs during a 2009 television interview." ... Rodriguez Aguilera's daughter is former Republican National Committee Hispanic outreach director Bettina Inclán Agen. Her son-in-law, Jarrod Agen, is Vice President Mike Pence's deputy chief of staff."

RNC ad has own staffer 'breaking up' with Obama cardboard cut-out, MSNBC (with video)

"The video portrays a woman sitting across a restaurant table from a cardboard cut-out of Obama. "You think I didn't see you with Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney?" the woman asks. "It's not me, it's you." But perhaps it is the woman. The actor depicting a disillusioned Obama supporter from 2008 is actually the RNC's Director of Hispanic Outreach Bettina Inclan. "You're just not the person I thought you were," Inclan tells cardboard Obama in the ad, while pretending to be someone she is not."

A Teaching Moment For NASA

NASA Head Jim Bridenstine Claps Back At Curry, TMZ

"Enter Bridenstine ... who says Curry's claim is so outrageous -- the point guard just cannot be serious. "I think it's funny," Jim tells us ... "I can't imagine he really believes that. It's outside the realm of what's possible." In fact ... Jim REALLY set Steph straight, saying, "Here's the thing, we didn't just go to the moon once, we went to the moon six times! And, we did it from 1969 to 1972!!!" Bridenstine also doubled down on NASA's invitation to have Curry come check out all their evidence -- saying he'd LOVE to prove Steph wrong and get him involved in the space program afterward! "My son is a HUGE fan of Steph Curry. So, if we can get him involved in space, I'm for it!"

Warriors' Stephen Curry says he was joking about moon landing, will visit NASA, ESPN

"But in terms of the reaction that I've gotten, I am definitely going to take [NASA] up on their offer. I am going to educate myself firsthand on everything that NASA has done and shine a light on their tremendous work over the years. And hopefully people understand that education is power, informing yourself is power. For kids out there that hang on every word that we say, which is important, understand that you should not believe something just because somebody says it. You should do your homework and understand what you actually believe."

Keith's note: There are a lot of people who did not pay attention in science class when they were growing up. A lot of other people are hit from a hundred different directions by conspiracy theories and fiction portrayed so realistically that they think it is fact. Other people just like to kid around. Some people simply do not care about NASA or space. Its not NASA's fault that people get these ideas in their head - for whatever reason they end up thinking these things.

The easy thing to do is to dismiss instances like this when other people genuinely doubt the Moon landings. But then there's the chance to take a celebrity's incomplete knowledge of the historic achievements of NASA's Apollo program and convert it into a teaching moment. Stephen Curry has quickly admitted that he was kidding but sees the chance to turn a bunch of arm waving by the news media into something far more useful. As former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe used to say in reference to his Jesuit schooling, "you make converts one at a time".

Suggestion for Jim Bridenstine: your new marketing phrase is to "Go forward to the Moon" Fine. However saying "Go back to the Moon" might help dial back some of the Moon landing hoax stuff. If we are going back it means that we've already been there. Your "forward" thing could leave the question open in some people's minds. Just sayin'

Keith's note: The NASA Advisory Council's Human Exploration and Operations Committee is having problems trying to explain why NASA needs to build the Gateway. If they can't figure out why it is needed, how is NASA going to sell this whole Gateway thing to Congress and the taxpaying public?

Keith's note: This comment was posted in response to this NASAWatch post. I hear this a lot - sadly with increasing frequency.

"This (below) was written on FACEBOOK this week. I know the person who wrote it and it speaks volumes on why NASA should no longer develop rockets.

"Thursday will be my last day to work. I don't retire until 3 January, but I will be on leave. I hate to end on such a low note, but it's that or go bonkers. I dared to speak up on a safety issue on the new launch vehicle a couple of years ago and I got shuffled into a useless and meaningless job. I do little to nothing and when I ask for more work, I get nothing. They won't let me transfer either. I've been fighting to move and no manager in my chain of command will lift a finger. So much for speaking up. Certain managers at NASA made my dream job into a nightmare. You can't buck the system even when they tell you that it's your job to do so. I hope that nothing bad comes of the issue but my conscience is clear. I made a safety concern known. Anybody need a slightly used engineer?"

Want to honor George H.W. Bush? Send astronauts to Mars, Washington Post

"The new president was offering NASA, which at the time lacked a clear mission for its human spaceflight program, a lifeline, guaranteeing his support for an assertive Space Exploration Initiative (SEI). But the fiscal realities of the late 1980s, when budget deficits had exploded, required the organization to think in a new way. NASA, however, wasn't up to the job. Rather than thinking innovatively and offering new ideas for reaching the moon and Mars, the agency simply recycled concepts that had been dominant within the space program since its earliest days. Its plan included the construction of a substantial in-orbit infrastructure, where massive spacecraft for lunar and Mars exploration would be assembled before departing for their final destinations. Each alternative pathway identified by a study team required enormous capital expenditures. Over a 30-year implementation period, this initiative would have cost more than $500 billion. This would have required more than doubling the agency's budget. The tone-deafness of NASA's plan shocked the National Space Council. NSC Executive Secretary Mark Albrecht called it "the biggest 'F' flunk, you could ever get in government. . . . It was just so fabulously unaffordable, it showed no imagination." The report quickly turned Capitol Hill against the space agency, with one key congressional aide stating that SEI was dead on arrival."

Keith's note: NASA is heading down this path again. Uninspiring plans that rely on budgets that simply will not be there. Two Presidents named Bush pushed NASA to send humans back to the Moon and then on to Mars. 30 years after the first and 15 years after the second Bush proclamations, we still have not gone to either location. As the old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ..."

Full SEI report

White House Seeks Alternatives to Independent Space Force, Defense One

"The four options, according to one of the officials, include: 1) an Air Force-owned space corps that includes only Air Force assets, 2) an Air Force-owned space corps that also takes space-related troops and assets from the Army and Navy, 3) an independent service that takes from the Air Force, Army, and Navy, and 4) an independent service that takes from the three services plus parts of the intelligence community."

The creation of a Space Force would cost less than $3 billion, according to a new report, Washington Post

"President Trump's Space Force, a proposed military department dedicated to fighting war in space, would cost the Pentagon $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion in additional money over five years, according to a study released this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. That estimate is far below the $13 billion price tag that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson recently reported to Pentagon leaders and is certain to fuel the debate over the cost and necessity of what would become the first new military service branch since the Air Force was created in 1947. While the White House has pushed aggressively for the establishment of the Space Force, which Trump has championed in rallies, a new military department would need to be approved by Congress. It is unclear whether there is enough support for it to pass."

Pace Announces Departure of Deputy Executive Secretary Stout, Thanks Stout for Service, White House

"Dr. Scott Pace, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, today released the following statement upon the departure of Jared Stout, Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff, from the Council staff."

NASA's Moon Plan Panned by Space Council Advisers

"Stressing that these are his private views, [Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin] said 2028 "is so late to need as to not be worthy to be on the table." From a systems engineering standpoint, building the Gateway before humans are on the surface is a "stupid architecture" because it will be needed only as a depot for propellant once it is being manufactured on the surface."

Former NASA administrator says Lunar Gateway is "a stupid architecture", Ars Technica

"Prefacing his comments by saying that these were his personal beliefs, Griffin said, "I think 2028 is so late-to-need that it doesn't even need to be on the table. Such a date does not demonstrate that the United States is a leader in anything. This is 2018. It took us eight years to get to the Moon the first time, and you're going to tell me it takes 10 to 12 to 14 to do it again when we know how? I just want to drop a flag on the play."

National Space Council Users' Advisory Group Meeting

"In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announces a meeting of the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group (UAG). This will be the second meeting of the UAG. DATES: Thursday, November 15, 2018, from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Eastern Time."

Keith's note: Have a look at the National Space Council User's Advisory Group meeting agenda. Not a single person who is speaking is actually a "user" of space - they are either big Aerospace Reps, politicians, government employees, or reps from other advisory bodies. There is no "user" input in evidence. This is not at all surprising when you look at the UAG subcommittee membership. Yet another pointless example of choir practice in a echo chamber by the usual suspects inside the Beltway.



NASA says it can put humans on Mars within 25 years, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"The cost of solving those means that under current budgets, or slightly expanded budgets, it's going to take about 25 years to solve those," former NASA astronaut Tom Jones told reporters. "We need to get started now on certain key technologies."

NPC Newsmaker: Becoming Martians: NASA's 25-year Plan for Humans to Inhabit the Red Planet

"Humans are on the precipice of becoming an interplanetary species. We earthlings are on our way to becoming Martians. In fact, the future Martians are here on Earth now, training for Mars missions using new technological developments following a strict timeline that will get us there within 25 years."

Keith's note: Blah blah blah. In 2010 NASA started to talk about sending humans to Mars in the early 2030s i.e. approximately 25 years away. 8 years later and its still 25 years away. When I was a boy growing up in the 60s we were going to be on Mars in 1981 when I'd have been 26. Based on this latest 25 year prediction I will be 88. There is something fundamentally wrong with these predictions on the part of NASA. Some astronauts and space pros like participants Tom Jones, James Garvin, and Richard Davis would be perfectly happy if we never went anywhere. They'd rather talk about going somewhere than actually go somewhere. Meetings = action at NASA.

I am a space biologist. When I started working at the NASA Life Science Division at NASA HQ in 1986 we were already working on sending humans to Mars. We never stopped. This has nothing to do with science per se. Yes the risks are real. But they can be dealt with. This has everything to do with using the funding and assets at NASA's disposal for a strategic research plan to methodically reduce risk and flight certify humans for trips to destinations such as Mars. NASA has never had such a strategy and has dabbled in meandering hobby shop science for decades. Now would be a good time to start thinking strategically. Otherwise NASA will never find a way to go to Mars.

Meanwhile SpaceX is building a Mars rocketship and can go to Mars without NASA funding or permission. How will they do it? They'll take the best science at hand, maybe do a little of their own, do informed consent, have their crew sign waivers, and then go to Mars. If NASA won't let their employees take the risk the private sector will. When I lived at Everest Base Camp for a month in 2009 I did so after signing a waiver. People do this risk/benefit calculation all the time. Virtually everyone at Everest signed a waiver. NASA has to WANT to go to Mars and then focus its scattered energies on that end point. In the end someone has to step up and sign off on the increased risk. It will never be zero. Otherwise NASA needs to stand back and let others do it. And they will. Will SpaceX make it? We'll see. Are they trying? Yes. Is NASA trying? No. They just do telecons and Powerpoint.

We're about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Yea. Let's have a big feel-good party to celebrate the fact that we dropped the ball on our Apollo achievements and no longer know how to do something that we once did with style and daring half a century ago.

SpaceX's next big BFR spaceship part finished in Port of LA tent facility, Teslarati

"The first 9-meter (29.5-foot) diameter composite propellant tank dome for SpaceX's full-scale BFR spaceship prototype has been spotted more or less complete at the company's temporary Port of Los Angeles facility, unambiguous evidence that SpaceX is continuing to rapidly fabricate major components of its next-generation rocket."

NASA Is Still Kicking The Can Down the Road to Mars, earlier Post

Keith's note: If you search for "Space Entrepreneurship Conference USC Marshall" you get this link but if you go there, it says "404 - Page Not Found". If you go to the events page at USC Marshall there is no mention of this event. Greg Autry, who was fired by the Trump NASA Transition Team, has taught at USC Marshall. Yet another example of choir practice in an echo chamber by the usual suspects out of reach of the people who actually pay for the all the shiny space things. This whole National Space Council thing lacks transparency and simply rubber stamps things done behind the scenes, out of sight of the rest of us. And NASA is complicit in the way that these things are being done.

#SpaceForce Double Header

Transformers: Space

"Vice President Mike Pence is confirmed to speak at The Washington Post on October 23 as part of a "Transformers: Space" event. Pence, who serves as chairman of the National Space Council, will talk one-on-one with National Political Reporter Robert Costa about the Trump administration's plan to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military and other important space policy matters."

National Space Council Meeting

President Donald J. Trump Is Launching America's Space Force

"The six recommendations presented to the President call for:

-- Forming a United States Space Command to control our space forces and develop the tactics, techniques, and procedures for military space operations.
-- Establishing the Space Force as a separate and distinct branch of the military whose mission will be to organize, train, and equip combat space forces.
-- Calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a Space Force and provide funding for the United States Space Command.
-- Launching a joint review by the National Space Council and National Security Council of existing space operational authorities for meeting national security objectives, informed by DOD's assessment of the authorities required.
-- Creating a Space Development Agency to ensure Americans in the Space Force have cutting-edge warfighting capabilities.
-- Creating collaborative mechanisms with the Intelligence Community to improve unity of efforts for the development of space capabilities and operations."

NASA's recent woes took root with loss of space shuttle program, Houston Chronicle

"The decision to end the shuttle program came in 2004 as President George W. Bush's administration shifted its focus to frontiers beyond Earth's orbit. But with too few coins to divvy up amongst its many projects and a lack of political direction, the history-making agency instead has been forced to change course virtually every four years as political winds change. "NASA's budget and policy seem to be based on Twitter," said Keith Cowing, editor of NASA Watch, a website devoted to space news. "It's like, 'How can I come up with something in 280 characters?' We can't think long term. We can't think multi-administrations." That leaves space agency leaders wondering what will happen after the 2020 election. President Donald Trump has pushed to bolster human exploration -- with an eye toward the moon and then onto Mars -- but what happens if he isn't re-elected is anyone's guess. Policy fluctuations "can be difficult to weather," Mark Geyer, director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, previously told the Houston Chronicle. "It can cause fluctuations in the space program and that's hard if you're trying to move the country forward. But that's life, so you need to develop strategies to navigate that."

Inspector General Attack On NASA Super-Rocket Marred By Mistakes, Omissions, Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute

"I have read the audit through twice and talked to Boeing executives about its findings. It appears to be a political document engineered by a holdover appointee from the Obama administration -- the same administration that tried to kill all of NASA's human exploration programs. It omits important information, misstates key facts and isn't even internally consistent in its assertions. ... First, the audit fails to provide historical context that might help explain why problems have occurred. This is only the second time in history that any country has tried to develop such a powerful rocket. The first time was the Saturn V program for Apollo missions to the Moon, half a century ago. With the demise of the Space Shuttle program, key skills were lost, infrastructure aged and the supply chain atrophied. NASA understood there were major challenges ahead, but the Inspector General is mum on their impact."

Keith's note: The core thrust of Thompson's paid whining is either Blame Obama or its so hard to build a big rocket (even though companies that Boeing bought did it half a century ago).

"The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about the Senate confirmation of James Morhard as the agency's deputy administrator: "Congratulations to Jim Morhard! He was confirmed as the 14th Deputy Administrator of NASA on Thursday, Oct. 11. "He joins our amazing agency at a crucial time in history. NASA is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and I look forward to working with him as we look towards NASA's next 60 years. His legislative and managerial talents will serve NASA well as we accomplish stunning achievements."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Space Exploration Campaign Report - Pursuant to Section 432(b) of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10), September 2018, NASA

Keith's note: Once again NASA is trying to tell us that all is well in space and that it is moving ahead with a plan - "The National Space Exploration Campaign aims to revitalize and add direction to NASA's enduring purpose to carry out human and robotic exploration missions, expanding the frontiers of human experience and scientific discovery of the natural phenomena of Earth, other worlds, and the cosmos as a whole."

Despite the lofty words including the addition of the "cosmos" among NASA's ambitions, this plan is actually a withdrawal from earlier, more lofty exploration goals.

Of course, this report from NASA was due quite some time ago (last year) but NASA never bothers to do what Congress directs them to do - even if it is in the form of public law i.e. P.L. 115-10 which was enacted on 21 March 2017.

According to this report: "2024 - Based on results of human-class lunar lander capability demonstration missions, status of other human systems, other possible mission enhancements (e.g., retro-braking stage, launch vehicle availability) make decision on date and method of human lunar surface return and the mission objectives." In other words we still have to wait until 2024 to decide how to land Americans on the Moon a gain. But then it will take how may years before we actually do this?

All the report says is "Post-2024 Decisions - Based on the cost of lunar surface access, viability of higher-power systems and ISRU, as revealed by exploration and science missions and technology investments, and on private-sector and international demand for lunar surface access, determine the nature of a sustainable American human presence on the lunar surface and associated infrastructure development projects."

In other words it will be close to the 2030s before an American lunar lander reaches the Moon. During the Obama Administration we were going to be sending human crews to Mars (if you believed their Powerpoint slides) by the early 2030s. So now NASA is going to take almost as long only to land humans a quarter million miles away. Those are certainly lowered expectations. That sounds like negative progress - again, if you believe NASA's notional Powerpoint slides and white papers.

Meanwhile, in another potential magic act. NASA will wave more Powerpoint charts and make ISS totally commercial:

"2022 - Based on status of commercial module and/or free-flyer space station development and emerging commercial activities on ISS, fine-tune plans to end direct Federal funding of ISS by 2025 to ensure continuous access to a LEO space platform. Post-2024 Decisions - Based on the status of commercial module and/or free-flyer space station development and emerging commercial human spaceflight activities in LEO, decide on appropriate NASA and overall governmental support to ensure ongoing NASA requirements and permanent U.S. presence in LEO."

In other words NASA says that this ISS conversion to private sector operations will happen - unless it doesn't happen.

As For Mars, well, the whole "by the mid-2030s" thing that Obama people made NASA say does not look very plausible now. Not only will NASA just be landing its first people back on the Moon again, but according to this report it won't even have an architecture for going back to Mars for another 6 years (Apollo had one before people even flew on Apollo but who cares). One would assume, at this snail's pace, that vehicle design and construction would drag on like Orion/SLS has for the past decade.

"2024- Based on results of investment in Mars-forward technology R&D investment portfolio, Gateway development and operations, launch vehicle and crew vehicle development and operations, decide on architecture of human Mars orbital mission and begin associated systems development. Post-2024 Decisions - Based on results of robotic roundtrip mission, cislunar operations, and progress of Mars-forward technology R&D investment portfolio, determine set of technology investments and timeline required to achieve human landing on the surface of Mars."

In a nutshell, NASA's words may indicate that it has lofty goals but the murky timeline it presents suggests that its ability to do the things needed to meet these goals decreases in terms of speed with every passing year. Meanwhile, American commercial companies with billions in their own funding are planning to send people back to the Moon.

What's wrong with this picture?

Russia throws doubt on joint lunar space station with U.S.: RIA, Reuters

"Moscow may abandon a project to build a space station in lunar orbit in partnership with U.S. space agency NASA because it does not want a "second fiddle role," a Russian official said on Saturday. Russia agreed last year to work with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on plans for the moon-orbiting Deep Space Gateway, which will serve as a staging post for future missions. But the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia might exit the joint programme and instead propose its own lunar orbit space station project. "The Russian Federation cannot afford to play the second fiddle role in it," he was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency, without much further elaboration."

Keith's note: Russia's space program is broke, so its not surprising that they are admitting the obvious - in a way that makes it look like someone else is at fault. As for playing "second fiddle" Roscosmos simply does not have the funds to play first fiddle, so good luck with that Dmitry.

Ivanka Trump sent over the moon by Russian cosmonaut's message from ISS, ABC 13

"Before ending the call, NASA commander Dr. Andrew Feustel said he would be remiss if he didn't give Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev a chance to say hello. "Ivanka, I think you very kind and nice person," Artemyev said, as the crew looked on. "When I see you on TV and the news, my mood improves and rises." Trump blushed and let out a laugh. "That's very kind of you to say! Thank you!" she responded."

Keith's note: Everyone at NASA and Roscomos breathed a deep sigh of relief today when Oleg Artemyev made an overture to Ivanka Trump. The meeting between Dmitry Rogozin and Jim Bridenstine over possible Soyuz sabotage by U.S. astronauts will go much smoother now. Thanks Ivanka!

Ivanka Trump touring NASA's Johnson Space Center on Thursday, Houston Chronicle

"Ivanka Trump will be in Houston on Thursday for a tour of NASA's Johnson Space Center. President Donald Trump's daughter will be accompanied by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine."

Ivanka Trump to visit Mesquite on Friday to see how Walmart trains workers for today's economy, Dallas Morning News

"Ivanka Trump isn't the only member of the Trump family who'll be in Texas in the coming weeks. Texas State Rep. James Frank announced on his Facebook page that Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. would be in Wichita Falls for a rally on Oct. 3. And the president announced on Aug. 31 he would be coming to Texas in October to hold a "major rally" for Cruz."

Keith's note: That's three visits to JSC in Texas in a matter of a few months for Jim Bridenstine. All other NASA centers have had only one visit. Just sayin'. Also, FWIW Ted Cruz has a political rally shortly after his JSC campaign appearance with Ivanka tour just down the street at Franca's Real Italian Restaurant at 1101 East NASA Parkway on Thursday night (that's nice and close to JSC). Let's see who else shows up.

Keith's update: A hearing scheduled for next Wednesday titled "Global Space Race: Ensuring the United States Remains the Leader in Space" chaired by Ted Cruz suddenly appeared on the webpage of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. Its certainly convenient to have these JSC visits, rallys, and hearings all scheduled so close together. If Cruz is re-elected - and the Senate does not flip - then this is probably a good thing for human space flight at NASA. If either of those things do not happen well, who knows.

- VP Pence Visits Texas For A Fund Raiser And A JSC Visit, earlier post (23 August 2018)

Shanahan downplays disagreements over Space Force structure, Defense News

"Days after the Air Force released a Space Force memo that seemed to contradict a plan laid out by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, the number two at the Pentagon downplayed any differences of opinion."

Wilson: $13 billion Space Force cost estimate is 'conservative'", Space News

"Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said her initial $13 billion cost estimate to stand up a Space Force and sustain it for five years is likely to be revised upward as more data is crunched. In a detailed memo submitted on Friday to Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Wilson provided the first glimpse into the potential cost, size and makeup of a military branch for space. The $13 billion projected cost over five years is based on a force of 13,000 people, including a headquarters of about 2,400."

New Space Force price tag fuels Capitol Hill skeptics, Military Times

"Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman had already decided to lead opposition in the U.S. House to President Donald Trump's "Space Force" proposal. But a widely leaked Air Force estimate that creating a space force as a new military service would cost $13 billion over the first five years only stiffened Coffman's resolve. Coffman, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee and sits on its Strategic Forces Subcommittee, was sure other lawmakers agree with him. "A really bad idea is a 'Department of Space,'" Coffman said in an interview Tuesday, adding, "I feel confident we can block this. The president will not have the votes."

Keith's note: Once again we see an exercise in checking the boxes with regard to the making of space policy. A White House-created committee of experts, hand-selected to focus on a desired ad somewhat pre-determiined outcome, goes through the motions of being interested in what people have to say. They only go to friendly locations where dissent or differences in opinion are unlikely - and consensus can be proclaimed by default. They never talk to anyone from the remaining 99.9999% of American electorate who ultimately pays for all of the shiny space toys.

Then, at their next meeting, they can show a Powerpoint chart with a group that they have reached out to with a check next to it. In this case the Users Advisory Group is almost entirely composed of either political favorites or representatives of large aerospace companies looking for more contracts from NASA and DOD. There are no real "users" of space on this panel. Nor are there any members from the next generation who will inherit and conduct America's space activities. All we see are sellers. Yet another choir practice session amongst the usual suspects in an echo chamber.

In this case (see the AIAA photos below) the room is nearly empty and there is no webcast. The echo must be particularly evident this time - but there is no one there to (other than Jeff Foust) to notice.

U.S. - Canada Space Cooperation Remains Strong

Canada and U.S. Space Cooperation Remains Strong but Funding Drives Programs, SpaceQ

"On September 7 the Wilson Center's Canada Institute in Washington organized a one day event titled "Over the Horizon: A New Era for Canada-U.S. Space Cooperation?" As with many events like this, discussions behind the scenes is where a lot of the action was. Though, there was one clear fact that no one could surmount."

Keith's note: Repeating Apollo would be a mistake, But evoking the excitement of that era would not be incorrect.


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