Recently in TrumpSpace Category

Vice President Pence to Visit NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

"Vice President Mike Pence will visit NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Monday, Sept. 25. The Vice President will tour Marshall to get an update on the progress of the Space Launch System rocket and International Space Station science operations as the agency prepares for missions to deep space, around the Moon and ultimately to Mars."

Keith's note: Just to be clear the reason why VP Pence is visiting MSFC is because he was already going to be in Alabama to stump for Luther Strange - not the other way around. NASA TV seems to be uninterested in this event - no coverage is being shown on the schedule. But you can see what other people are saying about this on Twitter. Oddly NASA made a big deal about televising Pence's visit to KSC in July. Maybe they are afraid that Pence will touch some space hardware again.

- Deciphering The Core Space Message From Mike Pence, earlier post
- Vice President Mike Pence to Visit KSC Today (which was webcast live), earlier post

NASA nominee promoting 'consensus' agenda for space program

"Sean O'Keefe, NASA administrator during George W. Bush's first term, applauded Bridenstine's objectives. "I think he's picked a pretty good selection of priorities to pursue that will establish cohesion, bring aboard folks to support it, all the kinds of cautionary things that are appropriate in pursuing this," said O'Keefe, a professor of public administration at Syracuse University."

Bridenstine Wins Shelby's ENdorsement, Identifies Key NASA CHallenges, Space Policy Online

"Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) endorsed Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be the next Administrator of NASA today. Shelby chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, making his support quite significant. Bridenstine also has submitted answers to questions posed by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in preparation for his nomination hearing. They lay out what he sees as the key challenges facing the agency. ... Bridenstine also has been criticized for his views on climate change based largely on a statement he made on the floor of the House in 2013 asking that President Obama apologize to the people of Oklahoma for spending more money on climate change research than weather forecasting and warning. "Global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago," he said, which is incorrect. While temperatures have fluctuated over the centuries, he argued, that is due to natural forces, not humans. ... More broadly, Bridenstine made his mark in space circles through introduction in the last Congress of the American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA), which he referred to as a repository of provisions that could be inserted into various pieces of legislation as appropriate. They dealt with a broad range of civil, commercial, and national security space issues."

Space Florida backs NASA nominee, but senators aren't so sure, Orlando Sentinel

"Space Florida, the agency leading Florida's efforts in reviving the space industry at Cape Canaveral, praised President Donald Trump's new nominee to lead NASA, but Florida's two U.S. senators aren't embracing last week's pick. Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello called Oklahoma Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine "a dedicated student of the industry and a passionate champion in Congress for the maturation of the space economy." "He will no doubt apply the same knowledge, dedication, and passion to the leadership of NASA, for the benefit of all space stakeholders," DiBello said in a prepared statement. "New leadership at NASA, combined with the regeneration of the National Space Council and passage of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, will provide the guidance and stability necessary for NASA to continue to explore new frontiers, advance technology and sustain U.S. leadership in space."

Trump's pick for NASA lays out agenda and answers critics, Ars Technica

"Although Bridenstine is a politician, there are likely few people in Congress more qualified to lead the space agency. As a Naval aviator, he flew missions off of aircraft carriers and combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a member of Congress, Bridenstine immersed himself in space-related committees and policy decisions, seeking to reform US aerospace efforts in both civil and military space. The conservative has previously outlined broad goals to modernize the US spaceflight enterprise with his American Space Enterprise Act."

Keith's note: The confirmation schedule has been a little uncertain. For a while it looked as if there would be a confirmation hearing on 27 September. But nothing has appeared on the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee hearing calendar nor is any mention made on the nomination status page. That said, hearing preparations are already underway at NASA HQ. The support for Bridenstine's nomination offered by Space Florida's Frank DiBello is likely going to soften the stance taken by Rubio and Nelson.

Keith's note: I do not recall the NASA SLS mafia heading out to a specific state to talk to see how local companies are helping out on SLS - at least not recently. Is this just a one-off thing to curry favor in the Vice President's home state - or are they going to start doing this for every state in the union? And are the going to do this for other NASA programs? If this is a national effort then that would be an interesting way to demonstrate just how wide an industrial base is required to build large space hardware. But if this is just a dog and pony stunt to kiss up to the VP then its value will be minimal. This also smells like the beginning of a slow motion effort to assure the SLS faction that NASA has got their back.

Checking this page at NASA.gov you get this list of companies that support SLS/Orion and GSDO *(Ground Systems Development and Operations) in Indiana. So there is certainly a there - there - as there is across the country.

So NASA, what is the next state that the SLS road show will be visiting?

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/indiana.jpg

Biographical Information Submitted by NASA Administrator Nominee James Bridenstine

"I believe NASA's top three challenges are:

- Maintaining consistency and constancy of purpose while establishing a consensus agenda that can bridge multiple administrations regardless of party. This is essential to avoid resource-wasting program cancellations and maintain high morale both within the Agency and its contractor workforce;
- Maintaining and building international partnerships while ending dependency on unfriendly nations to avoid exploitable vulnerabilities;
- Bringing together traditional space companies and new space entrepreneurs into a comprehensive NASA vision to maximize resources and create efficiencies."

"My committee assignments and subcommittee chairmanship placed me in a position of responsibility for oversight of America's civil, commercial, and national security space. NASA is an incredible leadership and soft power tool for the United States of America. With NASA's global leadership, we will pioneer the solar system, sending humans back to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond. This requires a consistent, sustainable strategy for deep space exploration. I am fully familiar with NASA's role as a purchasing agent for NOAA and how critical this partnership is to protect lives and property. As a United States Representative from Oklahoma, I have led efforts to improve severe weather prediction and I have come to appreciate how complex Earth is as a system. NASA must continue studying our home planet. Unfortunately, Earth science sometimes gets pitted against planetary science for resources. This is not in the best interest of NASA, the United States, or the world. Mars once had a magnetic field, rivers, lakes, and an ocean on its north pole. At some point, Mars changed dramatically and we should strive to understand why. Studying other planets can inform our understanding of Earth. NASA must continue to advance both Earth science and planetary science for the benefit of mankind."

House lawmakers back amendment requiring Pentagon climate change report, The Hill

"The House Armed Services Committee's annual defense policy bill will include a provision requiring a Defense Department report on the effects of climate change on military installations. The amendment - brought up by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) in the readiness portion of Wednesday's markup - instructs each military service to come up with a list of the top 10 military installations likely to be affected by climate change over the next 20 years. The report would include a list of possible ways to combat such climate change threats as flooding, droughts and increased wildfires. ... Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) backed up Bishop's line of thinking. "It's just a report and there are strategic implications that we need to be aware of," he said."

House Poised To Approve National Defense Authorization Bill, NPR

"MCEVERS: So the House armed services committee has already approved this bill. Does that mean that Republicans are going along with this amendment?
WELNA: Not only did they go along with it in a clear voice vote. They even talked it up. Here's Jim Bridenstine, who's a Navy veteran from Oklahoma.
JIM BRIDENSTINE: There are real changes in the Arctic that do affect the Navy. The Arctic ice is disappearing. There are strategic changes that are being implicated here. And it's important for the Department of Defense to report to Congress on this. We're talking about a report here."

Keith's note: Bridenstine's support of this amendment - one that recognizes that climate change is something that needs to be paid attention to - was widely seen as being instrumental in its passage. So its probably not prudent to just dismissively categorize him as a climate denier. He may have said some things that certainly suggest this but he then went and voted in a way that clearly admits that there is something to climate change that warrants serious future study. I suspect we'll hear more about this at his upcoming confirmation hearing.

A Pioneering NASA Administrator, Air & Space

"These three "Pioneering Doctrines" embrace a bold statement of purpose for NASA: to extend our reach with machines and people beyond low Earth orbit, into deep space and to the objects of the Solar System. Under such a charter, the mission of the agency becomes nothing less than the opening up of the entire space frontier to exploration, use and development. This was one of the original purposes behind the Vision for Space Exploration in 2004, a goal that got lost in bureaucratic make-work minutiae of objectives and roadmaps. By maintaining and holding firm to a clear vision of space development beyond low Earth orbit, NASA can push the envelope while at the same time offering practical value for its cost."

Gay rights advocates target Trump's NASA nominee, Politico

"Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma and former Navy pilot, has drawn praise across the space community for his thoughtfulness on space policy and support for both traditional government programs and new private-sector ventures. But lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates are now trying to thwart his nomination based on Bridenstine's controversial social stances, as they did with one of Trump's nominees for Army secretary."

Keith's note: Yesterday Politico posted this article that took a harsh view of NASA Administrator nominee Bridenstine's stance on a variety of social issues and how they seem to be linked to how he'd run NASA. When you write articles like this context is important when you extract snippets for quoting. You can make an excerpted sentence mean anything you want - when it is out of context. Its also useful to see what the person who is being quoted actually thinks and feels when you string these quotes together. There is often more than meets the eye. I am not defending any of Bridenstine's stances and do not agree with a lot of them. That said:

"He railed against the 2013 Supreme Court decision declaring same-sex marriage constitutional. "The court's decision was a disappointment not only because it is contrary to millennia of human experience," he said, "but also because it is clearly contrary to the choice of the people as expressed in a constitutionally valid process."

As for DOMA, I am told that Bridenstine disagreed with the Supreme Court decision but when it became the law of the land he honored the law. People who know him well say that they have never seen even the slightest indication that he takes issue with anyone's sexual preference and that it has zero bearing on how he conducts himself.

"And he has criticized the Boy Scouts for allowing LGBT members. The left's agenda is not about tolerance, and it's not about diversity of thought," Bridenstine said in 2013. "It's about presenting a worldview of relativism, where there is no right and wrong, then using the full force of the government to silence opposition and reshape organizations like the Boy Scouts into instruments for social change."

As I understand it Bridenstine was an Eagle Scout and is very devoted to the organization. His comments are apparently reflective of his anger over the religious groups that have now initiated legal action about this issue and how this affects the ability of scout troops to function since many local scout organizations rely upon religious organizations and their facilities.

Support builds for Bridenstine to lead NASA despite past skepticism on climate change, Washington Post

"The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, representing many of the big legacy contractors, said it also welcomed the nomination, saying Bridenstine "has been an active and vocal advocate for space on Capitol Hill." But in a subsequent statement to The Washignton Post, the coalition's president, Mary Lynne Dittmar, backed away from a full endorsement, saying, "We look forward to learning more from Rep. Bridenstine during the Senate confirmation hearings."

Keith's note: This is the dilenma that Mary Lynne Dittmar and her organization face. They want to have it both ways. On one hand they envision a world where there is no SpaceX or Blue Origin - just the usual aerospace suspects building the giant Senate-designed SLS mega-rocket where everyone gets a piece of the contracting pie. On the other hand they resent the success of upstarts like SpaceX and Blue Origin and want to be seen as being just as sexy and cutting edge and able to "compete" in a commercial marketplace. Alas that is just impossible. Its like expecting a big dinosaur to eat an entire forest every day and yet still be able to tap dance when they are done eating.

Bridenstine has signaled an interest in seeing SLS and other big NASA projects through. Yet he also talks about lots of paradigm shifting ideas that are antithetical to the status quo. This drives Dittmar et al nuts. Stay tuned.

Support builds for Bridenstine to lead NASA despite past skepticism on climate change, Washington Post

"In addition to backing work with younger, entrepreneurial firms, Bridenstine has also voiced his support for the traditional industrial base, made up of behemoths such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing. They want to ensure that programs such as the Space Launch System, the massive rocket being developed by NASA, and the Orion crew capsule continue, even though they've been criticized for being well over budget and behind schedule. "It's not 'or.' It's 'and,' " said Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. "It's the notion that you can have the traditional approach and you can have this newer commercial approach, and both could yield great benefits to the agency. Bridenstine understands as well as anyone the capabilities that are offered by both of these sectors."

Jim Bridenstine, Trump's pick to lead NASA, is eager to see humans on the moon and Mars, LA Times

"It's a different kind of pick, obviously," said John Logsdon, a professor emeritus and founder of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute. "He comes without experience in maintaining a large organization and without direct space program experience. He doesn't come out of the aerospace industry. On the other hand, he's spent a lot of time thinking about NASA, thinking about the space program. I think he comes better prepared intellectually to take on the job than most people that have held the position."

Trump's Pick For NASA's New Administrator Used to Own a Rocket Racing Team, Motherboard

"Trump tapped Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma to fill the role of NASA administrator. Unlike NASA administrators of the past, Bridenstine--a climate change denier, former fighter pilot, and moon lover--doesn't have any science education or background. But boy, does he love planes. He owned a team in the short-lived Rocket League Racing, the brainchild of a bunch of rich guys who just wanted to see some stuff go real fast. ... As part of a required financial disclosure from the House of Representatives, This Land notes that in order to buy in on RRL, he made an investment that was, in his words, "not that big." They report that it was somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000--he sold four houses and a five-acre ranchette to do it. In light of Trump's pick for head of NASA, let's take a look at Bridenstine's ill-fated hobby."

Keith's note: Bridenstine may not be everything that everyone traditionally wants a NASA Administrator to be. But he also has some qualities that his predecessors may have lacked. I do not get the impression that he scares easily and he's apparently willing to take risks and make leaps of faith. NASA has not done much of that in a long time. A dose of this might just be what the agency needs. Just sayin'

Parts of Trump NASA pick's online presence scrubbed, CNN

"The removal of accounts and posts comes at a time when Congress will examine Bridenstine's record in the lead-up to his confirmation hearing. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts belonging to Bridenstine's campaign have been deleted entirely. Several posts on the Facebook page of Bridenstine's congressional office have also been deleted. The congressman's Soundcloud account now only hosts two radio interviews with the congressman, but a search of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine and the Google Cache show there used to be several radio interviews available on the account. Some of the missing interviews appear to be with conservative talk radio hosts like Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham. Matthew Rydin, a spokesperson for Bridenstine, said the campaign Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were deleted because his office was getting questions about whether Bridenstine was standing by his pledge to only serve three terms, which he is. "He is not campaigning for any office, so no reason to maintain the campaign accounts," Rydin said."

Keith's note: On one hand this is a rather amateurish thing for Bridenstine's staff to do since nothing ever disappears from the Internet. Deleting things like this simply tells the media and political opponents what he'd rather not be questioned about during confirmation hearings - assuring that these things will now be brought up with more emphasis than might have otherwise been the case. On the other hand, this selective editing may represent an attempt by Bridenstine to pivot away from more controversial stances in the past toward positions that are more in synch with where NASA is poised.

Bridenstine's past certainly affects who he is today. In the end Congress is going to vote on Bridenstine as a nominee for who he is at that moment and what they think he can do in the future. Right now there is little doubt that the votes are there to confirm him. As such I would urge Bridenstine and his staff to just leave the past alone and focus instead on the road ahead i.e. how he would serve as NASA's Administrator.

To be honest, I think this is probably a case of what I call "Right Stuff - Wrong Staff". Stay tuned.

NASA Nominee Jim Bridenstine Has Bold Vision for Space, Unclear Intentions for Science, American Institute of Physics

"Concerning NASA, [Bridenstine's] bill states that the agency has lacked a "clear purpose or mission," owing to a "lack of consistency in leadership along with budget uncertainty in out-years." It declares,

"NASA should undergo reorganization, altering its mission with a clearer focus, ridding itself of extraneous responsibilities handled elsewhere within the Federal Government or private industry, and standardizing activities across the whole of NASA."

In the bill, Bridenstine proposes that NASA amend its institutional objectives, which would include eliminating current objectives for the "expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space" and the conduct of studies on "the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes." It would also set three new objectives that would form the core of a new "pioneering doctrine":

"(1) The expansion of the human sphere of influence throughout the Solar System. (2) To be among those who first arrive at a destination in space and to open it for subsequent use and development by others. (3) To create and prepare infrastructure precursors in support of the future use and development of space by others."

Legal Basis For NASA Earth Science and Space Commercialization Activities, earlier Post

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/nasa.charter.small.jpg

EPA now requires political aide's sign-off for agency awards, grant applications, Washington Post

"The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience. In this role, John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued. According to both career and political employees, Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for "the double C-word" -- climate change -- and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations."

"BRIDENSTINE: Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles. During the Medieval Warm Period from 800 to 1300 A.D. --long before cars, power plants, or the Industrial Revolution--temperatures were warmer than today. During the Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1900 A.D., temperatures were cooler. Neither of these periods were caused by any human activity. Even climate change alarmists admit that the number of hurricanes hitting the U.S. and the number of tornado touchdowns have been on a slow decline for over 100 years. But here's what we absolutely know. We know that Oklahoma will have tornadoes when the cold jet stream meets the warm gulf air. And we also know that this President spends 30 times as much money on global warming research as he does on weather forecasting and warning. For this gross misallocation, the people of Oklahoma are ready to accept the President's apology, and I intend to submit legislation to fix this."

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

"All of that to say, in science, we know nothing. We can only do the best we can with what we know and if we are so hard pressed on believing that the earth is warming because of my Buick, then we can find evidence to prove that theory correct. But we can also find evidence that the earth has gone through cycles on hot and cold and gee.....that means that our carbon dating and light speeds change too. This is the same with all types of science. We can prove that oil fracking can rejuvenate the crust and make the surface flourish if we look for that evidence instead of pointing fingers at the oil companies. But of course this all comes down to what makes sensational news or if you are taking a position of defending your business model or political policies."

- Trump Eliminates National Climate Assessment Panel, earlier post
- Will Saying "Climate Change" Be Banned At All Government Agencies Or Just Some Of Them?, earlier post

Jim Bridenstine to Be Nominated by Trump to Lead NASA, NY Times

"The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician," Mr. Nelson, a Democrat, said in a statement on Friday."

Keith's update: I think it is the height of hypocrisy for Sen. Nelson to say that a politician cannot be an effective NASA Administrator especially when Nelson, a professional politician, overtly used his position - as a politician - to force NASA to give him a ride into outer space.

Rubio, Nelson blast Trump's NASA pick, Politco

"Florida's senators are voicing opposition to President Trump's pick for NASA administrator, Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine, saying a "politician" shouldn't lead the nation's space program. Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson wouldn't say if they'd buck the president and vote against Bridenstine, who was nominated Friday. But they suggested the GOP congressman's political past would needlessly spark a partisan fight in the Senate that could ultimately damage NASA."

Bridenstine Nominated To Be NASA Administrator, SpacePolicyOnline.com

"Bridenstine's nomination must first be approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and its Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee. The full committee is chaired by Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) and the subcommittee by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The top Democrat on the full committee is Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and on the subcommittee, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts). Assuming it clears the committee, a vote of the full Senate then will be required. A single Senator can delay a vote on a nomination. CSF's tweet suggests that Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) may not yet be convinced that Bridenstine is the right person for the job."

NASA Internal Memo: President's Nomination for NASA Administrator

"As you may have heard, President Trump has announced his intent to nominate U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine as the 13th NASA administrator. I am pleased to see the positive movement toward naming our next administrator, and look forward to sharing with him the incredible work you have been doing. The nomination must go through a Senate confirmation process first, as will the deputy administrator nomination when that person is named by the president. We will keep you in the loop as things progress and the nominations move forward. In the meantime, let's stay focused on the job at hand. I am proud of everyone across the agency and thank you for moving our missions forward. It remains a thrilling and humbling experience to lead this team and watch what you all can accomplish."

NASA Statement on Nomination for Agency Administrator

"I look forward to working with a new leadership team, and the administration, on NASA's ongoing mission of exploration and discovery. Our history is amazing, and our future is even brighter, as we continue to build on this nation's incredible global leadership in human exploration, science, aeronautics and technology."

Keith's update: In case you were on vacation in August we posted this story about the names of the next Administrator and Deputy Administrator of NASA on 15 August. A number of prominent publications noticed. Apparently the writers at Space News were on vacation and missed this story - until now.

As I noted 2 weeks ago the plan to announce the announcement of the nomination of Bridenstine and Schumacher was being planned for after Labor Day. Sources report that Bridenstine's official nomination will be announced as soon as next Tuesday and that Schumacher's will be announced a respectful distance afterward.

Keith's 15 August note: The exact date and venue for the formal announcement of these NASA leadership nominations has not been set. NASA HQ has liked to do events with a lot of pomp and flair so we'll see what they do for this announcement. Sources have told me that a post-Labor Day announcement was being planned but it may be moved up now. Or maybe it won't.

Looking at where NASA is - and where the Trump folks seem to want it to go - a pairing of Jim Bridenstine with John Schumacher make a lot of sense. Bridenstine's views seem to resonate well with a lot of what seems to be buzzing around inside the heads of TrumpSpace people. Schumacher has a long resume in senior positions at both NASA - so he'll give Bridenstine a lot of managerial support. Bridenstine has a lot of interest in emerging space commerce opportunities while Schumacher has a solid aerospace background - another way that their skillsets complement one another.

Commercial space is not going away. Neither is SLS. As such NASA will need to support both - hopefully in synergistic and complementary fashion. So the prudent thing to do was to select a team that can represent both camps and build a long term alliance between them. That is what this decision clearly seems to represent.

Sources: Trump administration has picked its NASA leader, Ars Technica

"NASA may finally be close to getting some clarity about its leadership during the Trump administration. On Tuesday, NASA Watch reported that the President will nominate US Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), as administrator and Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President John Schumacher as deputy administrator. Both men have been rumored to be nominated for these posts in recent weeks, but there have been no official confirmations as yet."

White House Likely to Name Rep. Jim Bridenstine NASA Chief by Next Month, Wall Street Journal

"Barring a last-minute holdup, these people said, announcements could come as soon as next week and not later than the first week of September. It isn't clear why the decisions, which Mr. Bridenstine and his supporters expected several months ago, took longer than had been anticipated. The likely timing of the nomination was first reported by NASA Watch, an independent website that tracks the agency and space issues."

The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change, Washington Post

"The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government's climate analysis into long-term planning. ... Administration officials are currently reviewing a scientific report that is key to the final document. Known as the Climate Science Special Report, it was produced by scientists from 13 different federal agencies and estimates that human activities were responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010."

- Third draft of the Climate Science Special Report (NOAA and NASA are the lead authors).
- Will Saying "Climate Change" Be Banned At All Government Agencies Or Just Some Of Them?

NASA power player will become new University of North Texas boss, Dallas News

"Thursday, University of North Texas regents are expected to select a longtime NASA leader to help launch the system into a new era of research and exploration. Lesa Roe will be announced as the sole finalist for the position of chancellor. Roe, who is currently acting as NASA's second in command, will replace longtime leader Lee Jackson, who is retiring after 15 years."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/priority.wordcloud.jpg

FY 2019 Administration Research and Development Priorities, OMB

Keith's update: The only space-related priority is missile defense. That's it. Look at the word cloud (larger image) of the things this document says. It should be obvious what this Administration's focus is - and is not.

Keith's note: The exact date and venue for the formal announcement of these NASA leadership nominations has not been set. NASA HQ has liked to do events with a lot of pomp and flair so we'll see what they do for this announcement. Sources have told me that a post-Labor Day announcement was being planned but it may be moved up now. Or maybe it won't.

Looking at where NASA is - and where the Trump folks seem to want it to go - a pairing of Jim Bridenstine with John Schumacher make a lot of sense. Bridenstine's views seem to resonate well with a lot of what seems to be buzzing around inside the heads of TrumpSpace people. Schumacher has a long resume in senior positions at both NASA - so he'll give Bridenstine a lot of managerial support. Bridenstine has a lot of interest in emerging space commerce opportunities while Schumacher has a solid aerospace background - another way that their skillsets complement one another.

Commercial space is not going away. Neither is SLS. As such NASA will need to support both - hopefully in synergistic and complementary fashion. So the prudent thing to do was to select a team that can represent both camps and build a long term alliance between them. That is what this decision clearly seems to represent.

Sources: Trump administration has picked its NASA leader, Ars Technica

"NASA may finally be close to getting some clarity about its leadership during the Trump administration. On Tuesday, NASA Watch reported that the President will nominate US Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), as administrator and Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President John Schumacher as deputy administrator. Both men have been rumored to be nominated for these posts in recent weeks, but there have been no official confirmations as yet."

US federal department is censoring use of term 'climate change', emails reveal, Guardian

"Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference "weather extremes" instead. A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers' land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change."

White House reviewing new report that finds strong link between climate change, human activity, Washington Post

"A climate report based on work conducted by scientists in 13 federal agencies is under active review at the White House, and its conclusions about the far-reaching damage already occurring from global warming are at odds with the Trump administration's views. The report, known as the Climate Science Special Report, finds it is "extremely likely" that more than half of the rise in temperatures over the past four decades has been caused by human activity -- in contrast to Trump Cabinet members' views that the magnitude of that contribution is uncertain. The draft report, which has undergone extensive review, estimates that human impact was responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010."

Draft report (NOAA and NASA are the lead authors).

Rep. Smith Statement on Climate Report

"The alarmist climate media is at it again. In its latest reporting of a so-called leaked climate assessment the New York Times relies on exaggerated statements and false allegations of cover-ups in order to push an agenda."

Ranking Members Johnson, Bonamici, and Beyer Respond to Draft Climate Science Report

"I was disappointed to hear President Trump formally noticing his intent to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. As more evidence mounts that manmade climate change is a threat to our nation, it is the height of shortsightedness to surrender leadership on addressing this global challenge."

Keith's note: If USDA staff are ordered to do this, then you have to wonder when NASA and NOAA, other government agencies that study climate change on our planet, will start to do the same. Or ... will one agency have this editorial direction while others do not?

Will Trump get a man to Mars?, Politico

"Even Trump's space policy adviser for his campaign and transition says getting a man or woman on the face of Mars by 2024 is virtually impossible. "I don't think you'll get there [to Mars]," former Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Walker said in an interview about the possibilities under the Trump White House. "I do think that we will probably have a flight to the moon, an Apollo 8-type flight where you go up and go around the moon in a fairly short period of time." A NASA official who served under former President Barack Obama shared Walker's prediction. "I think things could go very well for going to the moon, which I think is more likely to be a Trump agenda," said Lori Garver, Obama's deputy NASA administrator. During his first six months in office, Trump has laid out an ambitious -- if non-specific -- space agenda."

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

"National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA or Deep Space Exploration Administration or DSEA) -Aside from the fact this is based very heavily in science, there is also a large cry to reduce their $105.5b budget and even movements to roll our space program into DSEA. With the help of, and to the credit of, the administration there can be drastic cost cuttings for big wins for the administration."

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves $19.5 Billion for NASA, SpacePolicyOnline

"The Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee approved $19.5 billion for NASA in FY2018 according to a committee press release. The figure was rounded, but the press release also said it is $437 million more than President Trump requested and $124 million less than FY2017. That would make $19.529 billion a more precise figure. The request was $19.092 billion. NASA's FY2017 funding level is $19.653 billion. The House Appropriations Committee was more generous, approving $19.872 billion. The bill has not gone to the House floor for debate yet. Only a few details were released by the Senate committee following the markup today. More information will be available after the full committee marks up the bill on Thursday."

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint Scott Pace to the National Space Council

"Over his career, Dr. Scott Pace has honed his expertise in the areas of science, space, and technology. Currently, he is the Director of the Space Policy Institute and Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University. Dr. Pace also serves as the Vice-Chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES). Previously, he served at NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), and the RAND Corporation's Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI)."

National Space Council Executive Secretary Hiding In Plain Sight, earlier post

"Take a close look at the upper left hand portion of this image taken at NASA KSC today of Vice President Pence and his entourage. There is one person who (from a distance) sure looks a lot like Scott Pace."

NASA finally admits it doesn't have the funding to land humans on Mars, Ars Technica

"Now, finally, the agency appears to have bended toward reality. During a propulsion meeting of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics on Wednesday, NASA's chief of human spaceflight acknowledged that the agency doesn't really have the funding it needs to reach Mars with the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. These vehicles have cost too much to build, and too much to fly, and therefore NASA hasn't been able to begin designing vehicles to land on Mars or ascend from the surface. "I can't put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is the other piece is, at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we don't have the surface systems available for Mars," said NASA's William H. Gerstenmaier, responding to a question about when NASA will send humans to the surface of Mars. "And that entry, descent and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars."

Kicking The Can Down the Road to Mars, SpaceRef (earlier post)

"And of course none of these Mars missions in the 2030s are in any budget - notional, proposed, or projected - that means anything to anyone actually working at NASA today. So it is hard to blame people who can't give you a straight answer. Just look at what their management has given them to work with - and what the agency has had to work with in terms of guidance from Congress and the White House. Just in the past 10-12 years NASA has veered away from the shuttle towards the Moon, then away from the ISS to Mars and away from the Moon and back to ISS, and now back to Mars (and maybe the Moon) and also some boulder on an asteroid."

President Trump's enemies list, Politico

"White House officials have taken notice of [Rep. Martha] Roby's efforts to make amends and view her efforts with some skepticism. While in the Oval Office for a NASA bill signing in March, Roby sidled up next to Trump - putting her front-and-center for the photo-op. Behind her push for the president's approval is a stark political reality: She is facing a fierce primary challenge from a Trump stalwart who has turned her past opposition to the president into the focal point of his campaign."

Keith's note: Guess which person is Rep. Roby. Could that neon yellow shirt be any brighter?

Keith's update: Official NASA response to the Pence "Do Not Touch" Photo: "The 'do not touch' signs are there as a day-to-day reminder, including the one visible on the titanium Forward Bay Cover for the Orion spacecraft. Procedures require the hardware to be cleaned before tiles are bonded to the spacecraft, so touching the surface is okay. Otherwise, the hardware would have had a protective cover over it like the thermal heat shield, which was nearby."

So in other words "do not touch" means "you can touch". Only at NASA.

Keith's note: Unlike some aspects of this White House Vice President Pence has a sense of humor. Well played.

Keith's note: KSC Director Bob Cabana had one thing to do during the walk through ... Larger view.

Mike Pence Touches NASA Equipment Labeled 'Do Not Touch', Becomes Instant Meme, Gizmodo

Keith's note: Take a close look at the upper left hand portion of this image taken at NASA KSC today of Vice President Pence and his entourage. There is one person who (from a distance) sure looks a lot like Scott Pace. Pace is widely expected to be named as executive secretary of the newly re-chartered National Space Council - and Pence made frequent mention of the Council in his remarks today. Just sayin' [Enlargement].

Keith's update: Yes, that is indeed Scott Pace.

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/pencewords.jpg

Remarks by the Vice President at Kennedy Space Center (with video), White House

"And I bring greetings from the man who is going to make that happen, his admiration for all of you gathered here and for America's storied history in space is boundless; and he is committed each and every day to American leadership at home, around the world, and in the boundless expanse of space, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)"

Keith's note: Just doing a simple word count shows that "America" appears 68 times. "Will" = 54. "Lead" = 33. "Space" = 73. "President" = 40 "(applause)" = 23. And so on. The speech was clearly designed to say that America will lead in space due to the President leading (applause).

Remarks by the Vice President at Kennedy Space Center (with video), White House

NASA Provides Coverage of Vice President Pence's Visit to Kennedy Space Center

"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 Thursday, July 6."

"NASA TV and the agency's website will air live coverage for parts of the visit starting at noon EDT with Air Force Two's arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility runway, followed by a special address to the center's workforce in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at 1 p.m."

"The Vice President will tour Kennedy and learn more about the center's work as a multi-user spaceport for commercial and government clients, as well as see the agency's progress toward launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies, and traveling past the moon, and eventually on to Mars and beyond with the help of NASA's new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket."

- Watch it live on SpaceRef starting at noon.

Marc's note: Vice President Mike Pence will make his first visit to KSC Thursday after formally being tasked with leading the reconstituted National Space Council. Oddly enough the press release states "traveling past the moon" but not traveling to the moon.

Science division of White House office no longer staffed: report, The Hill

"While the science division had no staff members as of Friday, a White House official told CBS News that the science and technology office was still functioning with 35 staffers. Still, that compares to the more than 100 employees who worked in the office under Obama."

How Jonathan Dimock Auditioned To Be NASA White House Liaison

"My preference in positions are as follows: Office of Science and Technology Policy - This topic is a natural fit for me. A lot of narratives can be driven or disproven with scientific evidence as long as there are no preconceived ideas walking into it. The mind sees what it wants to see and science is a theory and a means of communicating with other people in the same field, not a fact."

RSC BUDGET OPTIONS 2005 Summary and Explanation of Offsets, Rep. Mike Pence, RSC Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, RSC Budget & Spending Task Force Chairman

[Page 6] "Cancel NASA's New Moon/Mars Initiative 2006: -1,493 5-year savings -11,511 10-year savings -44,042"

[Page 8] "Cancel NASA's New Moon/Mars Initiative In 2004, the President announced a new initiative to explore the Moon and Mars with the goal of returning humans to the Moon by 2020. NASA currently intends to use the savings from phasing out the space shuttle in 2012 to fund this program. Savings: $44 billion over ten years ($11.5 billion over five years)"

Early Retirement for Space Shuttles Unlikely, Lawmakers Say, Space.com (2005)

"A group of Republican lawmakers led by Mike Pence of Indiana last week said the $104 billion to replace the shuttles with a new spaceship and rockets to carry astronauts back to the moon ought to be canceled to help pay to rebuild the hurricane-wrecked Gulf Coast. Key Congressional leaders said there is little political support for either suggestion."

Keith's note: The only person from NASA present at this event is an astronaut (Alvin Drew). No NASA Administrator. No Newt Gingrich or Bob Walker. And no Rep. Jim Bridenstine ...

Text of Executive Order Re-Establishing The National Space Council

"By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and in order to provide a coordinated process for developing a national space policy and strategy and for monitoring its implementation, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1. Purpose. This order is intended to re-establish the National Space Council ("the Council") as an independent entity tasked with advising and assisting the President with national space policy and strategy. Executive Order 12675 of April 20, 1989 (Establishing the National Space Council) created the Council, and the Council effectively ceased operation in 1993. This order re-establishes the Council and provides additional details regarding the Council's duties and responsibilities."

Remarks by the President Signing an Executive Order on the National Space Council

"Our travels beyond the Earth propel scientific discoveries that improve our lives in countless ways here, right here, at home: powering vast new industry, spurring incredible new technology, and providing the space security we need to protect the American people. And security is going to be a very big factor with respect to space and space exploration. At some point in the future, we're going to look back and say how did we do it without space?"

White House to formally announce a space council led by Mike Pence, Ars Technica

"Later today, the White House is expected to announce that President Trump has signed an executive order to reinstate the National Space Council. This should finally kick off the much-anticipated formulation of a space policy from the Trump administration, which will encompass military, civil, and commercial interests. The new council, led by Vice President Mike Pence, has the potential to do a great deal of good--or it could further muddy the waters of what already is kind of a mess."

Keith's note: There is an event of sorts at 3:00 pm EDT today wherein the Executive Order (which has been in existence for months) will be signed. VP Pence will be leading the NSC. But it is not expected that an executive director for the NSC will be named today although Scott Pace is widely expected to be chosen at some point. Today's event (very last minute BTW) is being orchestrated by the Alabama mafia. You can expect to see Mary Lynne Dittmar and the SLS-hugging Coalition For Deep Space Exploration in attendance. It seems that commercial space folks are being kept at arm's length for this little party. But there may be one or two commercial superstars who might parachute in at the last minute. Oh yes there will an astronaut or two there as well. Stay tuned.

Keith's note: This is how political campaign staff get a job after the campaign is over -- if you were a campaign loyalist and worked hard enough to get your candidate elected (and got noticed yourself), that is. Once the election is over the Transition Team asks you to make suggestions in terms of an agency or department you'd like to call home and then the Transition Team looks at the open positons in the Plum Book. If there's a fit you then parachute into your new position as a political appointee. In this case current NASA White House Liaison Jonathan Dimock sent an email to Molly Michael and Brian Jack at the Trump Transition Team angling for a job at NASA, or the Office of Science and Technology Policy, or maybe the Department of Energy.

Despite his claims to the contrary, I can't say that Dimock was all that familiar with NASA since he referred to it as "National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA or Deep Space Exploration Administration or DSEA)" and cited its "$105.5b budget". But, when you look at his drive-by science philosophy treatise about how "This puts the age of the world (as we have perceived it) much younger than the "millions and billions" of years that has been widely excepted" and how "oil fracking can rejuvenate the crust and make the surface flourish" I guess I am really glad that he did not end up at OSTP.

----

From: "Jonathan W Dimock" jonathanwdimock@gmail.com
Date: January 13, 2017 at 2:25:45 AM EST
To: bjack@donaldtrump.com
Cc: molly.a.michael@ptt.gov
Subject: Requested Departments

CC: Molly Michael

Hey Brian -

I've reattached my resume so you have it on hand and below you will find the quick version and the longer version with more detail. I understand that any position is ultimately a "people position" and the underlying rules of government and politics apply but the following subjects are most familiar to me.

My preference in positions are as follows:

NASA Internal Memo: Agency Update - June 27, 2017

"Finally, as we work the FY19 budget process, we are preparing to submit our first response to the Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch. We have a number of initiatives -- including building off several activities like the Business Services Assessment and Capability Leadership -- which are well underway. Lesa Roe and I will be doing all-hands meetings at each center in August and look forward to updating everyone on these items."

NASA's Response To That White House Downsizing Thing, earlier post

How Long Will ISS Remain Isolated From Terrestrial Politics?, earlier post

Keith's note: How long is the ISS going to be able to remain an orbital, Antarctic-like, politics-free zone? The longer it manages to remain apart from terrestrial turmoils, the more space exploration speaks to a way to transcend such things. But there has to be a breaking point sooner or later.

Book Review: The Orbital Perspective, earlier post

"Perhaps the most pervasive theme in Garan's writing about the orbital perspective is collaboration - across disciplines, cultures, geography, income, and politics. To make his point he delves into the challenges that faced the International Space Station program. Curiously, as relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated due to Ukraine, the one joint endeavor that continues, more or less unaffected, is the ISS program. Therein lies lessons for many other projects, according to Garan."

This Week at NASA: Mid-Year at NASA (video), NASA

"2017 is shaping up to be another year of unprecedented exploration, amazing discoveries, technological advances and progress in development of future missions - and we're just six months into the year. Here are some of our top stories of 2017, so far - Mid-Year at NASA."

The Journey to Mars seems to be pretty much dead, Ars Technica

"The other planet not mentioned in the video is Earth, which NASA's charter in 1958 specifically calls upon the new federal agency to study. NASA has made some significant discoveries about Earth this year, from clouds and ice to the radiation belts that surround the planet."

Keith's 4:37 pm EDT note: This video is suddenly offline. The older one used to be here. First Eric writes his article and tweets it. I tweet a reply and post a link here at 12:26 pm EDT. Then a few hours later NASA just takes the video offline. FWIW we posted a link to it on SpaceRef last Saturday - and no one at NASA had a problem with it prior to that. Oops.

Oh but wait: they posted a revised version here. They removed the old SLS footage were it talks about "commercial" rockets and replaced it with a Falcon 9 launching followed by Orion orbiting the Moon. Meanwhile, the NASA infomercial narrator guy says "future crews will launch on American-made commercial spacecraft and will carry out exploration missions that will take humans farther out into space than ever before." One small problem: Orion is not "commercial". And its service module is made in Europe. If they re-edited the video to change the SLS clip to show a Falcon 9 (commercial launch vehicle) then why did they not include a Dragon or Starliner as well - unless, who cares?

NASA Leadership Update

Keith's note: This is an interview I did on "Newsday" on the BBC World Service 7 June 2017 on NASA's FY 2018 budget and proposed cuts made to Earth and climate missions by the Trump Administration.

Vice President Pence to Visit NASA's Johnson Space Center for Astronaut Class Announcement

"The new astronaut candidates could one day be performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil aboard spacecraft built by American companies, and traveling to the moon or even Mars with the help of NASA's new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket."

Keith's note: Well Duh, isn't that why NASA picks astronauts? Odd that NASA needs to remind the media what astronauts do. Oh yes NASA just sort of formally announced that it wants to send astronauts back to the Moon - and also to Mars - with a shrinking budget (shh!).

Mike Pence Abruptly Cancels PBS Interview After Comey Testimony Is Released, The Wrap

"Just moments after Comey's prepared opening remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee were posted to the United States Senate website, Vice President Mike Pence abruptly canceled a planned interview with PBS Newshour. ... No explanation for the cancelation was given, despite the fact that the interview had already been promoted on the air on Tuesday. The announcement came as a surprise to PBS correspondent Miles O'Brien, who was already at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to interview the vice president."

Keith's note: On Wednesday 7 June VP Pence will be at JSC for the astronaut announcement thing. The next day there is a markup of the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017 in Washington, DC and Rep. Jim Bridenstine will be in attendance. Given all of the visibility one would think that the JSC event might be a good place to announce that Bridenstine is the Administration's choice for NASA Administrator. Then again this announcement might be better done as a stand-alone event back in Washington, DC. Bridenstine is term-limited and has now spent 25% of his last term in the House waiting to see if he is going to be nominated to run NASA - or not. Bridenstine has told people that he wants to stay in DC once his term is over. Of course, the best place from which to pick a post-Congress landing site is from your seat in Congress. How long will Bridenstine be willing to wait for the NASA job? Stay tuned.

NASA to Discuss FY2018 Budget Proposal, Provide Virtual Tours of Centers

"NASA will hold a series of events Tuesday, May 23, highlighting the agency's Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal, including a televised State of NASA address by acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot."

Keith's note: Earlier this year the White House put forth a budget that cut many things at NASA - thus allowing it to barely tread water. Then Congress responded and NASA's budget picture dramatically improved - but only until 30 September 2017. Now the White House is issuing another budget proposal - this time for FY 2018. Once again the NASA budget is lacking in many ways. It also seeks to pick a fight with appropriators by eliminating the Europa missions that Rep. Culberson included - missions that NASA is required to conduct by law. We've seen this movie before.

NASA will be required to act in lock step with the White House and promote this latest budget request - even if it does damage to NASA programs. Right now NASA is hobbled by the lack of a confirmed Administrator with the top slots at the agency run by people in acting positions and some transition team holdovers. It is expected that Rep. Bridenstine will be nominated to head NASA within the coming days. Once he is confirmed (which may take a while due to ongoing White House distractions) Bridenstine is going to have to get a deputy with actual experience running a large, technically-oriented government R&D agency. He is also going to have to staff the 9th floor at NASA HQ with people who are similarly skilled - and not just rely upon 2016 campaign staffers who got a job simply as a reward for their loyalty.

The two budgets that the White House has submitted to Congress do little - if anything - to help NASA fund all of the things on its to-do list. To be certain, not cutting NASA earlier this year when other agencies were targeted for draconian cuts was an indication of some minimal support for NASA. However, the potential for NASA budget growth was all but non-existent. That said, the large programs NASA still wants to do i.e. SLS/Orion to Mars, the Lunar Gateway, etc. are increasingly underfunded and behind schedule.

Despite promises of a new breath of commercial space thinking in the way NASA does things, the presence of Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker in the wings has not made any noticeable change in NASA priorities - at least not yet. That may come when Scott Pace shows up for work at the National Space Council. But any coordinated policy formulation at the Space Council is going to take a long time to be translated into guidance for Administration budget requests.

In the mean time NASA is going to have to send its envoys to Congress to say that the President's budget cuts are good while simultaneously explaining why it does not have the money for the things Congress has told NASA to do. This is going to happen across the Federal government. Congress already spurned the earlier FY 2017 budget request from the White House. Congress will almost certainly do the same thing with the request for FY 2018. When all is said and done NASA's portfolio under the Trump Administration is going to look exactly like the Obama Administration's portfolio: Strategically scattered, chronically inefficient, and woefully underfunded.

- Trump's FY 2018 NASA Budget Is Not Huge, earlier post
- Bridenstine at NASA - and Pace at NSC - Expected Soon, earlier post
- Senators Reject Trump Push To Cut NASA Education, earlier post
- NASA's Good Budget News Is Not Actually All That Good, earlier post
- Congress Pushes Back Against Trump Science Cuts, earlier post
- Trump's NASA Budget Guts Earth Science and Totally Eliminates Education, earlier post

Third Way Statement on the Leaked May 8 Trump Budget, Third Way

2018 budget proposal to spread cuts across NASA programs, Space News

"The spreadsheet suggests that most major NASA accounts will see cuts compared to what Congress provided in the fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this month, which gave NASA $19.653 billion overall. Science would receive a little more than $5.71 billion, $53 million less than what it received in 2017."

Keith's note: Sources continue to report that Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is still the Administration's preferred choice to become NASA Administrator and that they expect to nominate him in the coming weeks. Former Rep. Bob Walker stated several weeks ago in a public event that the executive order creating (reinstating) the National Space Council has been drafted and that it is awaiting signature. The only thing holding that executive order up is identifying an Executive Secretary for the National Space Council. Sources report that the odds-on favorite for that position is veteran space policy expert Scott Pace.

Right now routine matters such as these positions are at the mercy of the growing chaos at the White House. Then, of course, once Bridenstine is nominated the issue of his confirmation arises and the same White House chaos - and Congress' response to it - is likely to drag out routine business even further. Once this all settles out you can expect a change in the composition of Trump political appointees at NASA HQ as well - so hang in there folks.

- Bridenstine Had To Be Re-Interviewed For Top NASA Job, earlier post
- Likely NASA Administrator Bridenstine Speaks, earlier post
- National Space Council Announcements Soon?, earlier post
- Bob Walker: National Space Council Executive Order Already Written, earlier post

Trump officials act to tilt federal science boards toward industry, Nature

"Legally, there is nothing to stop the Trump administration from appointing anybody it likes to agency science boards. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which governs most of them, does not spell out qualifications for membership. (Some committees such as the EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee are governed by their own statutes with stricter service rules.) "All FACA says is you need 'balanced representation'. It says nothing about conflicts of interest or scientific integrity," Wagner says. "If you wanted science advisory boards stripped down, with minimal constraints, anything goes, legally you could do that."

EPA dismisses half of key board's scientific advisers; Interior suspends more than 200 advisory panels, Washington Post

"Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department are overhauling a slew of outside advisory boards that inform how their agencies assess the science underpinning policies, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the federal government evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decided to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is "reviewing the charter and charge" of more than 200 advisory boards, committees and other entities both within and outside his department. EPA and Interior officials began informing current members of the move Friday, and notifications continued over the weekend."

Keith's note: Of course, this purge will eventually reach NASA as well - starting with the NASA Advisory Council. Stay tuned.

h/t @LorenGrush

Keith's note: Just a reminder. As you ponder why so many things at NASA are not happening (like getting a new Administrator) stop for a moment and consider that the most senior Trump political appointee at NASA is Jonathan Dimock. He is the White House Liaison - the prime person for interactions with the President. He has no known experience in government, science and technology, or space exploration. If you check out his Facebook page you will see that he has a fondness for Redbull and race cars. According to his LinkedIn page he is still "Field Director Donald J. Trump for President August 2015 - Present (1 year 10 months)." Most people would be tickled pink to work at NASA and say so on their resume. Just sayin'

Civil war rages throughout Trump administration, Politico

"[Sid Bowdidge, a Trump campaign staffer] pointed out that other Trump campaign staffers had been the subject of unflattering leaks. Among them: Danny Tiso, a Labor Department appointee, whose academic history has come under scrutiny, and Jonathan Dimock, a NASA staffer whose work background has been put under the microscope."

Meanwhile over at USDA ...

Possible Trump pick for USDA science post draws darts, Science

"President Trump may be adding to his administration's challenges by picking someone without a science background to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) research programs, former agriculture secretary Dan Glickman said today. The Clinton administration official told E&E News that, while he doesn't know Sam Clovis - reported to be Trump's pick for undersecretary for research, education and economics - scientific knowledge is especially useful in a position that requires coordination with scientific agencies within the government."

Trump wants NASA to send humans to Mars pronto -- by his second term 'at worst', Washington Post

"TRUMP: "Tell me: Mars, what do you see a timing for actually sending humans to Mars? Is there a schedule and when would you see that happening?"

WHITSON: "Well, I think as your bill directed, it'll be approximately in the 2030s. As I mentioned, we actually are building hardware to test the new heavy launch vehicle, and this vehicle will take us further than we've ever been away from this planet. "So, unfortunately space flight takes a lot of time and money so getting there will require some international cooperation to get the - it to be a planet-wide approach in order to make it successful just because it is a very expensive endeavor. But it is so worthwhile doing."

TRUMP: "Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, okay?"

WHITSON: "We'll do our best."

Science wins reprieve in US budget deal, Nature

" ... $1.9 billion for NASA's Earth-science research programme, roughly equal to the 2016 level. The bill includes support for the Pre-Aerosol, Clouds, and Ocean Ecosystem satellite mission that Trump wants to eliminate. $1.9 billion for planetary science at NASA, an increase of roughly $300 million from the 2016 level. That includes $275 million for a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, including a lander. The bill would set aside $408 million for the Mars 2020 mission - and give NASA the green-light to investigate the possibility of sending a helicopter to the red planet."

Comprehensive Government Funding Bill Released, House Appropriations Committee

"The bill includes full Appropriations legislation and funding for the remaining 11 annual Appropriations bills through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2017. This level meets the base discretionary spending caps provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, and provides additional funding for national defense, border security, and other emergency needs."

FY 2017 Omnibus Summary - Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations

"NASA is funded at $19.7 billion in the bill, $368 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level."

Keith's note: This is the FY 2017 omnibus spending bill that covers current fiscal year spending and replaces the Continuing Resolution that governed spending at FY 2016 levels - until now. But FY 2018 starts in 5 months. What form NASA's budget will take in Trump's proposed FY 2018 budget is not clear at this point since this bill reverses (in a major way) nearly everything cut in Trump's budget proposal ("skinny budget") issued earlier this year. When you consider that Rep. Culberson has reiterated his support for two Europa missions each (presumably) launched on a SLS, that SLS continues to slip to the right and has inadequate reserves, and that Gingrich/Walker comments today about SLS speak to doubts within the Trump Administration about its survival, there is certain to be a SLS food fight at some point in the not too distant future. No doubt the future of SLS will be linked to what direction the White House wants to go in space - and how NASA will be directed to participate - or told to let others do some of the heavy lifting.

Keith's note: Tweets from the "ULCATS Symposium: Igniting An Industrial and National Security Revolution in Space" held this morning in Washington, DC. I asked Newt Gingrich how the Trump Administration could support ULCATS (Ultra-Low Cost Access to Space) such as described in this new report done for the USAF - yet simultaneously support UHCATS - Ultra HIGH Cost Access to Space offered by NASA's SLS program. Gingrich looked like he was waiting for this question and was clearly not a fan of SLS or other large, expensive launch systems supported by the government. More tweets at #ulcats

Censoring Science at EPA

EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades, Washington Post

"The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday evening that its website would be "undergoing changes" to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information. One of the websites that appeared to be gone had been cited to challenge statements made by the EPA's new administrator, Scott Pruitt. Another provided detailed information on the previous administration's Clean Power Plan, including fact sheets about greenhouse gas emissions on the state and local levels and how different demographic groups were affected by such emissions. The changes came less than 24 hours before thousands of protesters were set to march in Washington and around the country in support of political action to push back against the Trump administration's rollbacks of former president Barack Obama's climate policies."

Keith's note: New Zealand ambassador nominee Scott Brown "I'm not sure our folks understand, but a lot of launches for SpaceX go right out of New Zealand."

Flat NASA budgets pose risk to researchers, SpaceNews

"The prospect of extended flat budgets for NASA has some scientists concerned that research funds could be raided to support other programs. In a presentation April 19 to a microgravity research colloquium at the National Academies here, Gale Allen, acting chief scientist, said she had been warned at a recent agency meeting not to expect even increases to keep pace with inflation for the next five years. "Right now it looks like our budget for the next five years will be flat. There isn't even an inflationary aspect to it," she said. At a meeting the previous day, she said, NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that proposed budget profile amounted to a cut of $3.4 billion over those five years because of decreased purchasing power."

Trump Budget Cuts "Critical" NASA Climate Missions, Scientific American

"The proposed cancellations mesh with statements made by Trump, administration officials and some members of Congress who have argued that NASA should be focused on outer space and leave the job of observing Earth to other agencies. But NASA's unparalleled experience and expertise in developing new observational technologies and launching satellites makes it a crucial part of the Earth science enterprise, many experts say. "I don't see anybody else who could fill that gap," Adam Sobel, a Columbia University climate scientist, said."

OIG Report on NASA's Journey To Nowhere, earlier post

"... although the Agency's combined investment for development of the SLS, Orion, and GSDO programs will reach approximately $23 billion by the end of fiscal year 2018, the programs' average monetary reserves for the years leading up to EM-1 are much lower than the 10 to 30 percent recommended by Marshall Space Flight Center guidance."

Trump's OMB Does Not Know Who Operates DSCOVR, earlier post

Congressman Jim Bridenstine Says He's Still In Running To Lead NASA, NewsOn6

"Oklahoma First District Congressman Jim Bridenstine says he is still in the running to be the new head of NASA. Bridenstine told News On 6 he was recently asked back for another interview by the Trump administration. The Republican said, "I don't know what the end result is, but I keep interviewing, which is an indicator that maybe I'm still in the mix for it."

Bridenstine Has Second Interview for NASA Post, Roll Call

"While he lacks the science background of previous NASA administrators, he is a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee who has advocated for space exploration. "NASA is something that Republicans and Democrats both like," he said. "It's something everybody wants to do."

NASA OIG: NASA's Plans for Human Exploration Beyond Low Earth Orbit

"NASA's initial exploration missions on its Journey to Mars - EM-1 and EM-2 - face multiple cost and technical challenges that likely will affect their planned launch dates. Moreover, although the Agency's combined investment for development of the SLS, Orion, and GSDO programs will reach approximately $23 billion by the end of fiscal year 2018, the programs' average monetary reserves for the years leading up to EM-1 are much lower than the 10 to 30 percent recommended by Marshall Space Flight Center guidance. Low monetary reserves limit the programs' flexibility to cover increased costs or delays resulting from unexpected design complexity, incomplete requirements, or technology uncertainties. Moreover, software development and verification efforts for all three programs are behind schedule to meet a November 2018 EM-1 launch. Finally, NASA does not have a life-cycle cost estimate or integrated schedule for EM-2, which makes it difficult for Agency officials and external stakeholders to understand the full costs of EM-2 or gauge the validity of launch date assumptions."

Group knocks Trump by holding 'first protest in space', The Hill

"The Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN) launched a "protest in space" against President Trump this week in solidarity with the upcoming March for Science, by sending a weather balloon to space with a printed-out anti-Trump tweet attached to it."

Keith's note: Quote Source: "You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch." - Edgar D. Mitchell, Apollo 14

Trump's Transition Team Asked NASA About Surveying the Moon for Valuable Resources, Motherboard

"In the 100-plus pages of documents that Motherboard obtained--including emails, briefings, directories and budget spreadsheets--Trump's agency review team, or ART, asks only a handful of questions of NASA. One of them deals with the technology NASA develops, and whether anyone can profit from it. "The ART has requested the following information," one briefing paper states. "Provide data and examples of how NASA does technology development (perhaps even in the form of products) when working with industry--for example, types of contracts/partnerships and IP [intellectual property] arrangements."

FOIA Document response

What do the stars hold for the Trump administration? Here's how NASA's mission could change, PBS NewsHour

"REP. JOHN CULBERSON: I have always wanted to restore NASA to the glory days of Apollo, as you and I remember as kids. I want to see NASA go above and beyond the glory days of Apollo.

REP. JOHN CULBERSON: When Mike Griffin canceled the Europa mission last decade, it scarred me so badly, I swore I wouldn't let the bureaucrats cancel this mission again. So, today, the Europa orbiter and lander is the only mission it is still illegal for NASA not to fly."

Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, Bob Zimmerman

"A close look at these recommendations will reveal one common thread. Each is focused on shifting power and regulatory authority away from the federal government and increasing the freedom of American companies to act as they see fit to meet the demands of the market. The key word that defines this common thread is freedom, a fundamental principle that has been aspired to since the nation's founding. Political leaders from both parties have made the concept a central core tenet of American policy. Democrat John Kennedy stated that his commitment to go to the Moon was a "stand for freedom" in the Cold War. Republican Ronald Reagan proposed "Freedom" as the name for the new space station, and viewed it as a platform for promoting private enterprise in space. Freedom is actually a very simple idea. Give people and companies the freedom to act, in a competitive environment that encourages intelligent and wise action, and they will respond intelligently and wisely. The United States' history proves that freedom can work. It is time to prove it again, in space."

Wishful thinking collides with policy, economic realities in 'Capitalism in Space', op Ed Scott Pace, Space News

"Unfortunately, the report is rife with factual errors and misleading comparisons that make it all but useless, while occasionally making points we can agree with. It begins with erroneous assumptions on how NASA cargo and crew capabilities are being programmatically implemented. It projects outcomes based on the only operating NASA example of a public-private partnership, ISS cargo transportation. The core problem is that based on this minimal experience the author poses a false binary choice between "government" or "private sector" approaches to space transportation, a choice in which he argues that the government should abandon traditional acquisition practices in favor of relying on "free enterprise."

Keith's note: Scott you know as well as everyone else that there is indeed a clear difference between government space and private sector space. You also know that the moment that the government starts to stick its fingers into the way that a company does things that effort quickly becomes a de facto government space effort - no matter what sort of verbiage you may want to paint all over it to suggest otherwise. There is indeed a choice facing all of us as to how we do things in space. Some people are willing to consider that choice and embrace new ways of doing things. Others are determined to avoid doing so, preferring instead to dwell on outmoded models that no longer work.

Keith's note: Let's see how long it takes for NASA, NOAA, NSF etc. to be told to do the same thing by the White House.

Keith's note: If you look at our calendar for the coming week you will see an unusual number of advisory meetings, policy briefings, seminars, etc. here in Washington, DC. Everyone will be talking about where they think space (e.g. NASA) policy and science will be going in the next few months and years. Many events conflict with one another in terms of timing. Many more of these events overlap in terms of their participants with a high quotient of the usual suspects in attendance at multiple meetings saying the same thing over and over again to one another. Guess what: no one knows what is going on. Seriously. From the White House on down, no one knows where space policy is going. And the more someone tells you that they do know, the more suspicious you should be of what they say - starting with me. It is a mess folks.

The irony in Ivanka Trump's and Betsy DeVos's push for STEM education , Washington Post

"In her introduction to the film, Ivanka Trump said that her father's administration "has expanded NASA's space exploration mission" though did not, unsurprisingly, mention that he actually proposed decreasing NASA funding and eliminating the education office. The Trump-DeVos event drew some sharp criticism from Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who said in a statement:

"Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump are feigning an interest in STEM careers with a photo op at the National Air and Space Museum while eliminating all funding for NASA's education programs. This takes chutzpah to a new level. If this administration was genuinely interested in promoting STEM programs, it would walk the walk, not just talk the talk. The next generation of astronauts, scientists, engineers and mathematicians need support, not budget cuts eliminating the very programs being promoted."

There was also no mention of the 13.5 percent in cuts Trump has proposed to the Education Department, which include the reduction or elimination of grants for teacher training, after-school programs and aid to ­low-income and first-generation college students."

The Mercers, Trump mega-donors, back group that casts doubt on climate science, Washington Post

"Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House science committee, who issued a subpoena to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists over a study finding that there had been no slowdown or pause in global warming, told the group that it's time for "good science, rather than politically correct science." Steven Milloy, publisher of JunkScience.com, said the government has "perverted science." "There is no science going on in NOAA or NASA or EPA," said Milloy, who served on the Trump EPA transition team, to chuckles and applause. "There is no such thing as climate science."

US science agencies face deep cuts in Trump budget, Nature

"So far, the non-political 'career' employees at the agency are trying to remain calm and take a conciliatory approach with Trump's political appointees. "We've got four years with this administration, so we are trying to educate rather than confront," says one senior career official. Waleed Abdalati, a former chief scientist at NASA, offers similar advice to researchers who are worried about potential cuts to Earth-science programmes at NOAA and NASA. "Rumors are counterproductive," he says. "Rather than complain about what hasn't happened, we should advocate for what should happen."

Keith's note: Just remember folks, that OMB Budget Blueprint Excerpt for NASA "Provides $1.8 billion for a focused, balanced Earth science portfolio that supports the priorities of the science and applications communities, a savings of $102 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget terminates four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder) and reduces funding for Earth science research grants." This is not a budget document. Its just a snapshot in time. OMB wants to see who screams the loudest - and who doesn't scream as much. The budget that emerges in a month or two may be very different as a result. If you listen to the anti-climate change rhetoric coming out of the White House and its allied external allies and sympathetic members of Congress, it should be obvious that Earth science has a big target painted on it.

Trump taps Kushner to lead a SWAT team to fix government with business ideas, Washington Post

"President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy ... by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions. The innovation office has a particular focus on technology and data, and it is working with such titans as ... Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk."

Elon Musk's Billion Dollar Crusade to Stop The A.I. Apocalypse, Vanity Fair

"In a tech universe full of skinny guys in hoodies - whipping up bots that will chat with you and apps that can study a photo of a dog and tell you what breed it is - Musk is a throwback to Henry Ford and Hank Rearden. In Atlas Shrugged, Rearden gives his wife a bracelet made from the first batch of his revolutionary metal, as though it were made of diamonds. Musk has a chunk of one of his rockets mounted on the wall of his Bel Air house, like a work of art."

There Is Another OSTP

Obama's science diaspora prepares for a fight, Washington Post

"Phil Larson, who focused on space exploration issues at OSTP under Obama for five years before leaving for SpaceX and now the University of Colorado, said the way Obama and Holdren emphasized science and technology left a mark on those who worked there. "Their time at OSTP specifically under President Obama and Dr. Holdren galvanized a whole new kind of passion from them, because they saw it being paid attention to at the highest levels. ... The Obama administration was considered among the most science-friendly administrations in history, so it isn't surprising that his staffers at the center of that effort feel a sense of mission that carries beyond the White House gates. And now, with the Trump administration's assault on science taking form, that mission is rapidly increasing in scope and magnitude."

Washington Space Business Roundtable Luncheon With Rep. James Bridenstine

Keith's note: Likely NASA Administrator nominee Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) will be the luncheon speaker at a Washington Space Business Roundtable event in downtown Washington DC at noon EDT today. I plan to be live tweeting his comments and responses to questions from the event on Twitter at @NASAWatch


White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump's eyes and ears, Washington Post

"This shadow government of political appointees with the title of senior White House adviser is embedded at every Cabinet agency, with offices in or just outside the secretary's suite. The White House has installed at least 16 of the advisers at departments including Energy and Health and Human Services and at some smaller agencies such as NASA, according to records first obtained by ProPublica through a Freedom of Information Act request. These aides report not to the secretary, but to Rick Dearborn, the White House deputy chief of staff for policy, according to administration officials. A top Dearborn aide, John Mashburn, leads a weekly conference call with the advisers, who are in constant contact with the White House. The aides act as a go-between on policy matters for the agencies and the White House. Behind the scenes, though, they're on another mission: to monitor Cabinet leaders and their top staffs to make sure they carry out the president's agenda and don't stray too far from the White House's talking points, said several officials with knowledge of the arrangement."

Keith's note: FYI Rick Dearborn used to work for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and it is the Alabama mafia inside the Trump Administration that is holding up the naming of a new NASA Administrator (among other things).

Only In Washington

Keith's note: @ChelseaClinton retweeted @NASAWatch. Oops.

OMB Budget Blueprint Excerpt for NASA

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is responsible for increasing understanding of the universe and our place in it, advancing America's world-leading aerospace technology, inspiring the Nation, and opening the space frontier. The Budget increases cooperation with industry through the use of public-private partnerships, focuses the Nation's efforts on deep space exploration rather than Earth-centric research, and develops technologies that would help achieve U.S. space goals and benefit the economy. The President's 2018 Budget requests $19.1 billion for NASA, a 0.8 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level, with targeted increases consistent with the President's priorities."

NASA budget would cut Earth science and education, Washington Post

"President Trump's first federal budget seems to make good on his campaign promises to shift NASA's focus away from Earth and toward space. But it doesn't reveal where he thinks the agency should be headed -- to Mars, the moon or elsewhere. The total cut to the Earth-science budget is $102 million, or 5 percent of the program's annual budget, and it almost exclusively targets missions aimed at understanding climate change -- the ocean monitoring program PACE; the Orbiting Carbon ­Observatory-3; the Deep Space Climate Observatory; and the CLARREO Pathfinder, which measures heat in Earth's atmosphere. Also on the chopping block: the entire NASA Education office, which runs camps and enrichment programs, provides internships and scholarships for young scientists, and oversees efforts to support women and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields."

Trump's NASA budget preserves Mars mission, cuts Earth science, asteroid trip, education, USA Today

"Trump's vision for NASA calls for some dramatic shifts from the priorities the space agency pursued under President Obama, according to a broad budget outline the White House released Thursday. Line-item details on the administration's proposed spending plan for NASA and other executive branch agencies are expected in the coming weeks."

Message From the Acting NASA Administrator: Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request

"While more detailed budget information will be released in May, we have received a top line budget number for the agency as part of an overall government budget rollout of more than $19 billion. This is in line with our funding in recent years, and will enable us to effectively execute our core mission for the nation, even during these times of fiscal constraint. While the budget and appropriation process still has a long way to go, this budget enables us to continue our work with industry to enhance government capabilities, send humans deeper into space, continue our innovative aeronautics efforts and explore our universe."

Keith's note: NASA made out far better than other agencies. But the cuts to Earth science at NASA, NOAA and elsewhere clearly show a climate change denial trend. Equally as troubling are the cuts within agencies to education projects as well as to the education department itself. You do not need to worry about NASA Earth Science stuff being sent to NOAA since their cuts are even more extreme than NASA's. Lightfoot makes no mention whatsoever of the cuts to Earth science - he just says that "some missions are not going to go forward".

NASA's Acting Administrator also seems to think it is OK to demolish NASA's education office and that somehow NASA will make that function work elsewhere. No. There is a clear message being sent to government agencies and the White House and Congress will be watching to make sure that no education efforts are going on at NASA - just like they already make certain that NASA does not "advertise" its accomplishments to the American people.

But Robert Lightfoot wants you to think that this is all good news. NASA's leaders no longer lead. They just roll over.

Space is bigger than NASA, Scott Pace, The Hill

"During the presidential campaign, Vice President Mike Pence promised to "relaunch the national space policy council headed by the vice president." The White House does not, and has never needed, a space council to supervise NASA, but it does need a way to combine the separate strands of national security space programs, diplomatic engagement, commercial competition and civil space cooperation with a unity of national purpose and effort. Leadership in space is vital to protecting our own interests and creating a more stable international order in which the United States continues to be the indispensable nation. The Trump administration has the opportunity to "Make America Great Again" in space, not by repeating the past or relying on others to lead, but by working across traditionally separate departments and agencies and creating new partnerships for commerce, security and exploration. A national space council, led by Vice President Pence, can make this a reality."

Bill Nye has a few tips for President Trump on how to manage NASA, The Verge

"Nye saves his most optimistic hope for last. He argues that the Trump administration should increase NASA's budget by 5 percent each year for the next five years. That way, the agency will have the money it needs to execute its ambitious human spaceflight program and science programs. It's an incredibly hopeful thought at a time when NASA is currently working on the president's budget request for 2018. And all signs point to NASA facing a potentially large cut in its funding from the new administration. It's something that the Planetary Society is aware of. "Obviously we knew based on hints and signs that funding was going to be a challenge, but at the same time, the space community has to be honest about what it needs if it's going to succeed," says Dreier. "We should not change our message because the non-defense discretionary part of the budget may shrink. The 'five over five' plan is totally realistic in terms of overall spending."

Keith's note: All discretionary government spending faces extreme budget cuts and yet Bill Nye and The Planetary Society somehow expect NASA to be exempt from this government-wide budget reformatting effort - and get an increase - every year for 5 years - for they things that they want to be funded - all while NOAA's satellite data systems will be gutted, large number of government employees will be laid off, and tens of millions of people face the prospect of losing their health care? Really Bill?

Collective Denial At Planetary Science: Vision 2050 Workshop, earlier post

Trump budget expected to seek historic contraction of federal workforce, Washington Post

"Preliminary budget documents have also shown that Trump advisers have also looked at cutting the Environmental Protection Agency's staff by about 20 percent and tightening the Commerce Department's budget by about 18 percent, which would impact climate change research and weather satellite programs, among other things. Trump and his advisers have said that they believe the federal workforce is too big, and that the federal government spends - and wastes - too much money. They have said that Washington - the federal workers and contractors, among others - has benefited from government largesse while many other Americans have suffered. Federal spending, they have argued, crowds the private sector and piles regulations and bureaucracy onto companies. Trump's chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, has said Trump will lead a "deconstruction of the administrative state." On Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Obama loyalists had "burrowed into government." Last month, Trump said the government would have to "do more with less."

Trump, with NASA, has a new rocket and spaceship. Where's he going to go?, Washington Post

"There are practical issues, too: Musk has a reputation for overpromising on timelines. SpaceX has never launched anyone into space. The Falcon Heavy has never flown. Moreover, NASA officials would be unlikely to embrace a SpaceX moon flyby unless it clearly fit into the agency's long-term plans for deep-space exploration. What does Elon want to do with this - is it just a one-off tourist flight?" said NASA's top official for human spaceflight, William Gerstenmaier, in an interview with The Washington Post. "I don't see it as advancing human presence in the solar system."

Keith's note: NASA has never launched SLS and has never put people into space in Orion. SpaceX has launched (and recovered) multiple Falcon 9 rockets (the components of a Falcon Heavy) and has sent multiple Dragon spacecraft to/from the ISS on those same Falcon 9 rockets. SpaceX may have delays but they always deliver what they promise. NASA doesn't have as good of a record in that regard. With regard to lower cost, reusable spacecraft flying around the Moon - without NASA funding - such as SpaceX is planning to - if Bill Gerstenmaier doesn't "see it as advancing human presence in the solar system" then he really should relinquish his position at NASA to someone who understands what is going on these days. Indeed, Gerstenmaier is going to have a very hard time fitting in with what the Trump folks want to do if he continues with the antiquated mindset he is so fond of promoting.

Blue Origin's new engine isn't good enough for some congressmen, Ars Technica

"At the end of February, two US representatives, Mike Rogers of Alabama and Mac Thornberry of Texas, decided to push a little harder. On February 28, they sent a letter to Lisa Disbrow, the acting secretary of the US Air Force, and James MacStravic, who is performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. In addition to reiterating a desire that ULA continue to fly a second rocket, the Delta IV Heavy, the letter urges the Pentagon officials to be skeptical about the BE-4 engine. ... Although both Rogers and Thornberry are members of the House Armed Services Committee, it is difficult to avoid ascribing at least some political motives to the letter. In January, Aerojet Rocketdyne said it would produce the AR1 rocket engine in Huntsville, Alabama, creating 100 new jobs near NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Already, another Huntsville company, Dynetics, has become a subcontractor for the engine's main propulsion system. (A spokesman for Rogers didn't not reply to a request for comment)."

Keith's note: Of course Dynetics is where Steve Cook (who was on the Trump landing team at NASA HQ) and other Ares V/SLS veterans from MSFC went after they left NASA. And Cook is one of the usual suspects often seen in league with Doug Cooke, Dan Dumbacher, and Mike Griffin pushing their own Alabama-centric Apollo-on-Steroids notions in op eds and behind the scenes in Congress.

- Former NASA Leaders Who Still Ignore Reality, earlier post
- More False Memories About the Origin (and Cost) of SLS, earlier post

Here are More than 400 Officials Trump has Quietly Deployed Across the Government, ProPublica

"NASA Gregory Autry White House Liaison SES 1/20/17
NASA Brandon Eden Special Assistant to the Administrator GS-15 1/20/17
NASA Gregory Kennedy Senior Financial Advisor SES 1/20/17
NASA Rodney Liesveld Special Assistant to the Administrator GS-15 1/20/17
NASA Erik Noble Senior White House Advisor SES 1/20/17
NASA Jeffrey Waksman Special Assistant to the Administrator GS-15 1/20/17
NASA Jennifer Wang Special Assistant to the Administrator GS-15 1/20/17"

Keith's note:Greg Autry has departed from NASA.

Trump plan for 40% cut could cause @EPA science office 'to implode,' official warns, Science Insider

"The Trump administration wants to cut spending by EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) by more than 40% from roughly $510 million to $290 million, according to sources that have seen preliminary directives from the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The cuts target scientific work in fields including climate change, air and water quality, and chemical safety."

The US intelligence nominee can't believe India just launched 104 satellites, Ars Technica

"During his confirmation hearing this week, the Trump administration's nominee for this cabinet-level [Director of National Intelligence] position, former Senator Dan Coats, assured the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he would remain vigilant in keeping the nation's reconnaissance satellites ahead of the global curve. The United States would also speed up the process by which it gets new technologies into space, he said. However, when citing an example to make this point, Coats pointed toward the launch of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle earlier this month and its deployment of 104 satellites. "I was shocked the other day to read that the nation of India, on one rocket launch, deposited more than a hundred satellites in space," he said, according to Space News. "They may be small in size with different functions and so forth, but one rocket can send up [more than 100] platforms ... We've seen now 11 nations that have the capacity to launch instruments into space."

Keith's note: As reader MarcNBarrett notes: "I wonder, is he also aware that India has an orbiter around Mars?" -- or that they send a spacecraft to orbit the Moon ...

How Trump's disciplined speech came together, Politico

"A senior administration official also said references to NASA and space travel were dropped at the last-minute due to timing. "We wanted to keep the speech to an hour," this person said."

NASA Budget News Is Not Good

Trump to Ask for Sharp Increases in Military Spending, Officials Say, NY Times

"President Trump will instruct federal agencies on Monday to assemble a budget for the coming fiscal year that would include sharp increases in Defense Department spending; major cuts to other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency; and no reductions to the largest entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, according to four senior administration officials. The outline, drafted by the Office of Management and Budget director, Mick Mulvaney, is the first volley to the federal agencies. Departments will have several days to comment on the plan, and congressional leaders will be alerted ahead of Mr. Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night."

Want to build infrastructure that will make America Great? Look to the stars, op ed,The Hill

"As much as America's government space programs have accomplished, there are many aspects of our nation's space infrastructure that are crumbling every bit as badly as interstate highways. Take a tour of most NASA or Air Force space facilities and you will see buildings that predate Neil Armstrong's first walk on the Moon and that have been postponing badly needed maintenance since the end of the Cold War. Space is an inspiring part of America's history, but the country's space facilities should represent the technological state of the art, not a rusting time capsule from the 1960s."

King for a Day, Wayne Hale

"Many of my old friends and colleagues are asking me a question these days: "If you were NASA Administrator, what would you have the agency do?" I know what they want to hear: Moon, Mars, or Asteroid - what is the next destination for human spaceflight? But that is not the answer I would give. Whatever 'horizon goal' is established, without significant organizational and cultural changes at NASA, the chance for success is in doubt. To make NASA into the extraordinarily effective organization it once was and could be again will require significant work to transform it. NASA is filled with extremely smart, highly motivated individuals who are the experts in their fields. They can do amazing things. Measured against any other organization - government or commercial - the NASA civil service and contractor work force is outstanding in terms of inherent capabilities and the desire to make their projects successful. But success in NASA's endeavors is hobbled by three structural and cultural problems: (1) inter-center rivalry, (2) mind numbing bureaucracy, and (3) a paralyzing cultural requirement for perfection in all things."

TrumpSpace Update

Exclusive - Rep. Bridenstine: Shoot the Next One Down, Mr. President, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Breitbart

"President Trump should order the Secretary of Defense to position American assets and shoot down Kim Jong Un's next missile launch. Intercepting a North Korean missile would signal to Pyongyang that America has the capability and the willingness to defend our allies and the homeland. In the parlance of military strategy, the missile defense option enhances deterrence-by-denial. North Korea is more likely to be deterred from developing missiles if robust, layered missile defenses deny them any strategic benefit from striking first. The only two alternatives are preemptive offensive action and, of course, more strongly worded UN Security Council resolutions and toothless sanctions."

Keith's note: If a North Korean rocket threatens U.S. assets - or even seems to be doing so - we should defend ourselves. No argument there. Bridenstine has a military background and it is natural that he'd have concerns about issues such as this - and speak out about them. When I have heard him speak about space he does well when it comes to military, communications, and commercial space. But when it comes to NASA science - nothing but crickets. If Bridenstine is the nominee to become NASA administrator he clearly needs a Deputy and a strong AA and Center Director contingent to make up for his clear lack of science management experience.

The fact that this "exclusive" op ed by Bridenstine appears on Breitbart News, the controversial former employer of Trump's avatar Steve Bannon should not be lost on people. This sort of op ed placement does not happen by accident these days. There is clearly an idealogical mind meld going on here - as well as the beginnings of a possible Alternate NASA PR machine - one independent of NASA PAO - in the making.

Reader note from Kevin "I noticed a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over Melbourne that looks identical to the TFR's over Palm Beach International the last two weekends for Trump's stays at Mar-a-Lago. The Melbourne TFR matches the SpaceX launch window suggesting POTUS will be viewing the launch. I wonder if POTUS will then announce a new space policy to return to the moon from Pad 39a, but this time with commercial rockets. See https://skyvector.com/ for details on the TFR's"

Keith's note: When I asked NASA PAO they said that Trump is not attending a launch but that he will be "close".

Trump advisers' space plan: To moon, Mars and beyond, Politco

"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another commercial space evangelist with close ties to Trump, is also pushing the White House to embark on a major effort to privatize U.S. space efforts. "A good part of the Trump administration would like a lot more aggressive, risk-taking, competitive entrepreneurial approach to space," Gingrich said in an interview. "A smaller but still powerful faction represents Boeing and the expensive old contractors who have soaked up money with minimum results.

"It is a big fight," said former Republican Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, who drafted the Trump campaign's space policy and remains involved in the deliberations. "There are billions of dollars at stake. It has come to a head now when it has become clear to the space community that the real innovative work is being done outside of NASA."

- Commercial Spaceflight Federation Sells Out and Endorses SLS (Update), earlier post
- Trump Transition Team Wants Old Space Vs New Space Smackdown, earlier post
- Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture that Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public-Private-Partnerships, Charles Miller et al, Research Gate

Q&A: David Gelernter, Possible Science Advisor to the President, The Scientist

"TS: Where do you fall on climate change?

DG: My own belief is that global warming is real, that it is happening. . . . After all, the Earth's climate has oscillated clearly in the past. We expect not stability, but oscillation. The evidence I've seen has not convinced me that the cause of this global warming or an appreciable contribution [to it] is human activity. But not until I spend a lot more time with the topic . . . would I be in a position to give anybody advice on it. ... The fact is, the Earth is a very, very large object, and scientists especially think of themselves as gigantically important, and pushing culture around, and changing civilization--which they do, occasionally, to some extent. But I think some of them haven't fully grasped what a gigantic proposition it is for measly human activity, whether it's good or bad, to change something like the climate of a planet in the Solar System."

Q&A: William Happer, Possible Science Advisor to the President, The Scientist

"TS: Did climate change come up at all during that first conversation?

WH: Very briefly. I said, 'I'm sure you know my position that I think climate change has been tremendously exaggerated--its significance. Climate is important, always has been, but I think it's become sort of a cult movement in the last five or 10 years.' So in just a sentence of two, I said, 'That's my view of it.' And he said, Well, I agree with you. But that's all we discussed."

Trump Space Policy Options Emphasize Role of Private Enterprise, Wall Street Journal

"Growing tension between the two approaches is highlighted by a Jan. 23 email from Charles Miller, a member of NASA's original transition team, to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a confidant of Mr. Trump who also served on a higher-level transition team. In the memo, Mr. Miller advocates that NASA "hold an internal competition between Old Space and New Space" to determine the best and least expensive way to return to the Moon. "If this initiative can be approved quickly by the White House, and appropriately funded," he emphasized, there could be "private American astronauts, on private space ships, circling the Moon by 2020." According to the email, Mr. Miller, a former NASA official, says he "rewrote the 80+ page" original transition report to emphasize commercial space partnerships with the agreement of White House aide Erik Noble. ... In an interview, Mr. Miller said his proposals, which he believes were forwarded to other White House aides, didn't target, seek to downgrade or negatively affect SLS. The recommendations about the program were "very neutral," he added, and didn't affect it "one way or the other." Mr. Miller said he was asked by Mr. Noble "to help with fixing a draft document," and "I didn't consider it out of bounds."

Keith's note: NASA paid Miller to do a study on this topic in 2015. As for this whole "Old Space/New Space" thing. I can't wait to see how Miller et al define these two terms. Despite frequent use of these terms amongst space advocates no one has come up with a consistent/coherent definition. As such I am trying to imagine how you can have these two imaginary camps compete with one another. How does one certify that they are New Space or Old Space?

- Summary of Results of a NASA-funded Study on: An Evolvable Lunar Architecture Leveraging Commercial Partnerships, Charles Miller President, NexGen Space LLC

- Affording a Return to the Moon by Leveraging Commercial Partnerships, NASA KSC (NASA server may have security issues)

- Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture that Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public-Private-Partnerships, Charles Miller et al, Research Gate

"This study's primary purpose was to assess the feasibility of new approaches for achieving our national goals in space. NexGen assembled a team of former NASA executives and engineers who assessed the economic and technical viability of an "Evolvable Lunar Architecture" (ELA) that leverages commercial capabilities and services that are existing or likely to emerge in the near-term. We evaluated an ELA concept that was designed as an incremental, low-cost and low-risk method for returning humans to the Moon in a manner that directly supports NASA's long-term plan to send humans to Mars."

NASA debunks bogus Trump tweet sent from 'ISS', NY Post

"That tweet is fake. It's just someone having fun," said NASA social media manager John Yembrick. He said space station tweets are managed from the ground in Houston, and that the offending tweet came from a bogus account. The social media team at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston flagged the tweet last night and verified it wasn't real, Yembrick said."

Keith's note: So ... someone from the news media actually thought there was a chance that someone at NASA - possibly the President - tweeted something from space - and they contacted NASA to see if this was real -- and someone at NASA JSC PAO had to actually "flag", and then "verify" that the tweet was not real? How does one do that? Is there a procedure for this at NASA JSC PAO? Apparently implementing common sense has a process at NASA too - you can't just use it. Larger image

Keith's update: According to NASA PAO the NY Post did not call NASA to confirm the validity of this tweet first. Indeed, the NY Post posted originally posted a story as if this was a real thing. Then again, we are living in the Trumpiverse.

United Launch Alliance is cutting jobs again, Denver Business Journal

"United Launch Alliance is again cutting jobs as it seeks to become more price-competitive with Elon Musk's SpaceX and other rocket companies. The Centennial-based rocketmaker, the largest space launch contractor to the federal government, is seeking voluntary departures to trim an unspecified number of positions. ULA said it isn't specifying the number because it considers that competitively sensitive information. The company shed 350 jobs last year through a combination of voluntary buyouts and layoffs and said last summer more cuts would be coming this year."

What Elon Musk stands to gain and lose with Trump, USA Today

"Musk has been blunt about wanting to send humans to Mars, joking that he'd even like to die there, "just not on impact." But getting there is going to require a lot of capital. SpaceX is still a small player when it comes to securing lucrative government contracts from NASA and the Department of Defense, the majority of which still get handed to longtime commercial partners such as ULA, says former NASA administrator Lori Garver."

President Trump and science: 10 things to look for (and fear?), Science

"Whither space exploration? Space was never a front-burner issue for the Obama administration, and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was generally viewed as at best a cheerleader for policies on human and robotic exploration that were poorly articulated and never adequately funded. Does Trump have a more muscular vision? Is "unlocking the mysteries of space" a tacit endorsement of what some influential Republicans hope will be a costly robotic mission to find life on a watery moon of Jupiter? Does it presage astronauts returning to the moon? And what will be his administration's stance on commercial space ventures?"

Obama's NASA made strides on commercial space, but stumbled on exploration, The Verge

"During the presidential campaign, advisors to President-elect Trump expressed praise for the focus on public-private partnerships in space. However, those same advisors hinted that all of Obama's efforts in strengthening NASA's Earth Science division may be undone, and that all of the space agency's climate missions may be transferred to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

Revenge of the bureaucrats, Politico

"The Trump personnel team led by Kay Coles James and Linda Springer, both also Bush alumni, has broad goals to reduce the size of domestic agencies while slightly bolstering the defense workforce, say sources close to the transition. Aides are also mulling a process, known as "reduction in force," that would allow the new administration to skirt the civil service's complicated rules for hiring and firing. The easiest way to make such reductions might be through budget cuts to each agency, which would be outlined in Trump's first budget proposal this spring."

Trump freezes hiring of many federal workers, Washington Post

"President Trump instituted a governmentwide hiring freeze Monday, signing an executive order that he said would affect all employees "except for the military."

How Trump Could Unravel Obama's Science Legacy, Scientific American

"The much-larger ranks of non-political 'career' employees, meanwhile, could shrink under Trump, who has pledged to freeze federal hiring within his first 100 days in office. Staffing levels at science agencies - which stayed relatively flat under Obama, despite his enthusiasm for research - could eventually dwindle by attrition."

Elon Musk's surprising secret weapon: Trump?, CNN

"In recent weeks, the Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX CEO has been named to Trump's team of business advisers and visited Trump Tower twice. The first time he was part of a big meeting with tech CEOs; the second came earlier this month for a private meeting with Trump's top aides. The blossoming relationship between Musk and Trump's camp has caught the attention of Tesla investors. "Elon Musk has an important line of communication to Donald Trump through his role as a strategic advisor to the President-elect," Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, wrote in an investor note Thursday. "We believe this level of coordination with the new administration could actually evolve into greater strategic value than with the prior administration," Jonas added. While the investor note was specifically about Tesla, it could also apply to SpaceX, which has lucrative government contracts for space shipments."

Trump team prepares dramatic cuts, The Hill

"The changes they propose are dramatic. The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations. Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump's team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years."

Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending, Washington Post

"For example, about half of the government's discretionary spending is on the military. Cutting all discretionary spending each year means cutting all funding for the military, which is both politically and rationally a nonstarter. The formulas for how much is spent on the non-discretionary spending can be adjusted, but Trump has pledged not to cut spending on the so-called "entitlement" programs."

Keith's note: There are only 5 working days left before the Inauguration at which time the Transition Team ceases to exist. Of the 4 people that were supposed to be added to the NASA Landing Team to augment commercial space expertise, only one (Charles Miller) actually made it onto the NASA Landing Team. Brandon Eden never made it onto the team due to the fact that so many people outside of NASA thought he'd be a good addition - and that apparently bothered someone within Team Trump. This is something Eden should take as a compliment.

Alan Lindenmoyer and Alan Stern (both of whom also have actual expertise) have yet to be formally named to the NASA Landing Party and, given the short time remaining, are probably not going to be joining the efforts at NASA HQ. As such the additional visibility for commercial space issues in Landing Team activities was not as prominent as was hoped. But given the fact that Elon Musk has met with Team Trump twice (the second time with Gwynne Shotwell in attendance) should indicate that the interest in commercial space has not faded.

Sources at NASA HQ report that the Landing Team, under Chris Shank's leadership, has conducted itself in a pleasant, professional manner and that things are now starting to wrap up. Charlie Bolden and Dava Newman are keeping their farewell activities low key but they will be departing in a few days. The question remains: who will be running NASA? Even if NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator nominees were to be announced tomorrow it would likely be some time before they were confirmed. Speculation has been that Robert Lightfoot would be named acting Administrator but no one seems to have heard that this is indeed going to happen. Update: Lightfoot will be acting NASA Administrator effective 20 January 2017 at noon ET.

As mentioned last week, an interim 120 day "Beachhead" team is being assembled that would likely include Chris Shank as Chief of staff. It would not be surprising to see current Landing Team members Rodney Liesveld or Jeff Waksman as part of this interim team. Note: people who show up on the 9th floor at NASA Headquarters for short term tasks often tend to stay a while.

Update from Today's internal NASA Town Hall: the NASA Landing Team has asked NASA CFO David Radzanowski to stay on to "help get them over the hump" According to Charlie Bolden.

- Earlier TrumpSpace and Transition Team postings

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/admin.wheel.2.jpg

Keith's note: Attention news media: Mike Griffin is scheduled to chair this AIAA session tomorrow in Texas. Also, former SMD AA Alan Stern has expressed interest to people in being considered for Trump's NASA Administrator as well.

What would NASA in the age of Trump look like?, Houston Chronicle

"I don't expect anything grand and dramatic about space for the next two or three years," said Keith Cowing, a longtime NASA observer - and sometimes critic - who oversees a pair of websites related to NASA and other space matters. "They have to figure out how to run the government first. I don't think there is a grand picture for NASA yet. It is the last thing they are thinking about." One thing very much on Trump's mind, apparently, is the promised gargantuan tax cut. Though it is hard to imagine even a Republican Congress agreeing to a $7 trillion-plus loss in revenue over the following decade, even a more modest plan could gut discretionary spending and the government agencies that rely on it - like NASA."

NASA science chief seeks to allay concerns about transition, Space News

"The discussion was very thoughtful, very focused on good objectives and focused on science value," he said in an interview after the town hall meeting. "We were ready for that. Every division director was ready to talk about their programs that way." The landing team, he added, has received all the information they requested. [NASA's Science Mission Directorate AA Thomas] Zurbuchen said he had not been able to glean any information from the landing team about the incoming administration's plans. That included, he said, who it might nominate to be the next administrator of NASA, or when that might take place."

Could Donald Trump be better for NASA in Alabama than Obama?, Huntsville Times

"Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel was on the NASA Advisory Council when George W. Bush was president. He says Bush's old plan might make a good new plan. "I personally think deep space is something the government should do," McDaniel said, noting that the moon is deep space. "We talked about that when I was on the Advisory Council. The key word (in Bush's plan) was 'beyond.' We were going to the moon, Mars and beyond. "If you go back and it's in preparation for going to Mars, an asteroid or beyond Mars, that's great," McDaniel said. "We as a nation have to do things that have never been done before."If you say we're just going back to the moon," McDaniel said, "been there, done that."

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

"Then there's this other whopper from Mike: "And, contrary to some suggestions, SLS launches will cost no more than existing commercial U.S. systems - which are currently advertised at about $4.5 million per ton of payload." How can you possibly make such a statement when the number of launches is unknown - and a lot of SLS development was paid for by Ares V and not included in Mike's secret math. But who cares, right? No one inside or outside of NASA has ever grasped what it really costs for the agency to develop and launch things."

Keith's note: Typical anti-commercial space bashing from one of the usual Huntsville mouthpieces who can't think of anything new to say.

- OIG Reality Check on Orion Cost and Planning
- NASA Still Has No Idea What a SLS Launch Will Cost
- Double GAO Reports: SLS and Orion Cost and Risk Estimates Are Still Unreliable
- earlier SLS/Oriopn osts

GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine Seen as Top Choice for NASA Chief, Wall Street Journal

"Boeing and other legacy contractors have rallied behind Doug Cooke, a former senior NASA official under President George W. Bush, people with knowledge of the situation say. Mr. Cooke is known as a critic of some commercial initiatives. Many of those serving on the formal NASA transition team share those views, while favoring greater emphasis on manned exploration missions to the moon and deeper into the solar system. The plans are largely built around NASA's proposed heavy lift rocket, dubbed the Space Launch System, and companion Orion capsule. By contrast, champions of commercial space interests, including supporters of billionaire Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Blue Origin LLC, a closely held rocket-making company run by Amazon.com Inc.'s founder and chairman Jeff Bezos, favor less federal direction and more public-private partnerships, people with knowledge of the situation say. They have pushed hard for Mr. Bridenstine as a likely change agent, and at this point seem to have the upper hand, the people added."

Why the Moon Matters, Rep. Bridenstine

"While most satellites are not currently powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, next generation satellite architectures could utilize the lunar propellant if low-cost in-orbit servicing were available. Commercial operators will follow if the United States leads with its own constellations. Such leadership would require a whole-of-government approach with the interagency support of the newly reconstituted National Space Council. The objective is a self-sustaining, cis-lunar economy, whereby government and commercial operators save money and maximize the utilization of space through lunar resources."

Keith's note: The NASA Landing Team resumes work tomorrow. Charles Millier should be joining the festivities. No word yet as to whether Alan Lindenmoyer and Alan Stern's conflict of interest background checks have been completed. These three were added at the direction of Trump Tower in response to concerns that commercial space was not getting an equal seat at the table. As such there is a lot of nuancing going on with this Landing Team. Indeed, the commercial space faction sees this this as an "away team" opportunity while the status quo factions sees it as a "boarding party".

Meanwhile, anyone who claims to have an idea what is going on in the confusing world behind the scenes of the still-embryonic TrumpSpace policy effort has an equal chance of being wrong - or right - or both. Andy Pasztor has had a tendency to get things confused on this story, so ... that said, were I to venture a guess as to where the selection might be headed I would agree that the commercial faction within Team TrumpSpace has the edge, and, unless he decides to go for USAF, the job is probably Bridenstine's to decline. There is no obvious second choice from the commercial faction should Bridenstine not be named NASA Administrator - so do not count out the Status Quo/SLS/Alabama crowd just yet.

A personal opinion, if I may: Doug Cooke and the other members of the Griffin Clan on the Trump Landing Team and NASA represent the past - old fashioned ways of thinking that requires decades, eschews innovation, is addicted to political favoritism, and needs ever-larger buckets of money to keep going. That is the last thing that NASA needs right now - more of the same - especially when discretionary spending has a big bullseye painted on it. Bridenstine himself may be short on management skills, but he has managed to attract an impressively large amount of support from across the commercial space sector - where innovation and cost effectiveness are pre-requisites - and good management is the key to profitability. Going with the old way of doing things will inevitably doom NASA to increasing irrelevance. Alas, there is no guarantee that moving U.S. space efforts in more of a commercial direction will solve all of NASA's problems - but it does at least offer a chance to try things that have worked elsewhere.

Earlier TrumpSpace and Transition Team postings

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

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

Trump's $440 billion weapon, Politico

"What Trump is doing, by targeting specific companies or specific federal contracts, is new and unprecedented, experts said. "Never seen anything like this," said Sean O'Keefe, a former secretary of the Navy and comptroller of the Defense Department. ... But political appointees are traditionally loyal to the president and civil servants would risk their career if they were to not fall in line. That means, in practice, contracting officers are likely to acquiesce. "They can choose to say, 'I refuse to do that,'" said O'Keefe, "and then obviously they find themselves counting barrels of fuel in Beirut or something after it's over."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Landing Team Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rep. Jim Bridenstine: Why Trump Won, Frontpage Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TrumpSpace Details Emerge

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

TrumpSpace Previews

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

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

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

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

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

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


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