Recently in TrumpSpace Category

NASA Administrator to Discuss Collaboration with US Space Force, NASA

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will participate in a virtual discussion on the agency's collaboration with the United States Space Force at 9:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 22. This Space Power Forum event will stream live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, will join Bridenstine in this discussion, hosted and moderated by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies as part of its Space Breakfast Series."

Watch live on NASA TV

Memorandum of Understanding Between The National Aeronautics And Space Administration and The United States Space Force

"Despite their disparate missions, NASA and USSF share a common domain of operations space and with it a shared interest in similar capabilities, technologies, and best practices. Since NASAs inception in 1958, NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD) have shared knowledge regarding common interests. Specifically, NASA has made available to agencies directly concerned with national security, information on discoveries and technologies that have military value or significance. Conversely, national security agencies have shared with NASA, discoveries and information collected which have value or significance to its exploration, science, and technology missions. Historically, areas of collaboration have included space launch and range safety, space communications, human spaceflight support, space flight safety and space situational awareness, scientific research, and technology development."

The Space Force's relevance to the green agenda, The Hill

"But the service is also doing more in this domain. The USSF, for instance, is taking the lead on what will become the ultimate green energy technology: space-based solar power. Ignored for decades by both NASA and the Department of Energy, space-based solar power is unique as a renewable energy source because it is far more efficient than its terrestrial counterpart and requires much less land. Moreover, its vast availability would allow a mature system to meet current global demand many times over."

Keith's note: The Space Force fans are really grasping at straws to rationalize their new organization. The latest attempt involves this claim that it is the job of Space Force to take over space solar power work that NASA and the Department of Energy used to do or were supposed to do or that they once did (in someone's imagination). But wait, there's more:

"The USSF is also at the center of climate intelligence, helping us to know both about our weather patterns on Earth, and about the space weather -- activity of the Sun -- which impacts our biosphere. There would not even be a global green movement had it not been for early military space research to photograph our weather, which gave us our first view of our planet in the 1960s."

Right - and NOAA and NASA had nothing to do with any of this weather stuff. NASA launched America's first weather satellite but this isn't about facts.

Keith's note: So ... civilian space agency NASA is now looking at "areas of collaboration" with military space agency Space Force, according to Jim Bridenstine. I thought the whole point of having a civilian space agency was to have a civilian space agency - not a partner of a military space agency. Curiously, Jim Bridenstine was talking about the purposeful creation of a civilian space agency just yesterday.

Slippery Slope.

Keith's note: Today the White House is releasing Space Policy directive 5 (SPD-5) "Cybersecurity Principles for Space Systems" according to a media briefing with senior administration officials. This is the first policy for space systems to apply key cybersecurity principles to protect space systems for government and commercial operators. SPD-5 promotes SPD-3 "Space Traffic Management" including space debris issues and other government defense and security directives. SPD-5 notes that cybersecurity practices that apply to terrestrial systems also apply to space systems. Promotes a culture of prevention, risk management, and best practices. SPD-5 Further defines best practices, establishes norms, and will apply across our industrial base and calls for space systems software to be developed using risk based cyber security engineering cybersecurity. SPD-5 calls says that space system developers should protect against unauthorized access, jamming, spoofing, infiltration of ground systems, cybersecurity hygiene, and supply chain risks. SPD-5 says that developers should leverage widely adapted best practices and norms of behavior, and that operators should make appropriate risk trades appropriate to their systems cybersecurity.

President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive Establishing America's First Comprehensive Cybersecurity Policy For Space Systems

"Today, President Donald J. Trump issued Space Policy Directive-5 (SPD-5), the Nation's first comprehensive cybersecurity policy for space systems. SPD-5 establishes key cybersecurity principles to guide and serve as the foundation for America's approach to the cyber protection of space systems."

Eyes Forward as Artemis Missions Set to Begin Next Year

"Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASA also completed a detailed cost and schedule assessment for Artemis I and established a new agency commitment for launch readiness by November 2021. While it is too early to predict the full impact of COVID-19, we are confident a November 2021 date is achievable with the recent pace of progress, and a successful Green Run hot fire test will enable us to better predict a target launch date for the mission. Taking this new launch readiness date into account, NASA also aligned the development costs for the SLS and Exploration Ground Systems programs through Artemis I and established new cost commitments. The new development baseline cost for SLS is $9.1 billion, and the commitment for the initial ground systems capability to support the mission is now $2.4 billion. NASA's cost and schedule commitment for Orion currently remains within original targets and is tied to demonstrating the capability to fly crew on the Artemis II mission by 2023."

Keith's note: Wait a minute, let's read that again. The last time NASA tossed out a number it was $7.17 billion (see GAO's NASA Actions Needed to Improve the Management of Human Spaceflight Programs). Now a routine blog posting that sits in an out-of-the-way place at NASA.gov casually says 'Oh yea - the whole SLS thing is going to cost 1/3 more'. Clearly this is going to trigger every imaginable automatic Congressional oversight alarm. At a time when the House wants a mostly flat NASA budget with an election weeks away, it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine how the 2024 lunar landing will happen under any circumstances - regardless of how the presidential election turns out and/or whether the Senate flips. I can't wait to see how Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration try to explain this.

And FWIW it is utterly baffling that this huge cost increase was released at the same time that the President was crowing about landing humans on the Moon. This totally undermines those claims.

As always, here's out ever-growing list of reports saying that SLS/Orion costs are out of control.

- Denial At Boeing Regarding Poor Performance On SLS, earlier post
- NASA OIG: Surprise, Surprise: Orion Is Behind Schedule, Over Cost, And Lacks Transparency, earlier post
- You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly, earlier post

Keith's note: The prepared line was "And soon under my father's leadership, it will send Americans to Mars." OK Eric, what does "soon" mean? The target date for human Mars missions is still the mid 2030s. That is hardly "soon". Maybe you should check with your brother-in-law Kyle Yunaska, the NASA Deputy Chief of Staff, before you make these announcements. He has access to better info on the rocket science stuff. Just sayin'.

President Trump Is Making The World (And Space) Safe Again [space excerpt], RNC

"Space Policy Online: "There is substantially more than in Obama's 2015 strategy," about space."

Keith's note: Full context "Space is not a focus of the 55-page document, but there is substantially more than in Obama's 2015 strategy. That may be because Obama issued a National Space Policy in 2010 that contained extensive guidance about U.S. civil, commercial, national security, and cross-sector space activities, followed by a National Security Space Strategy in 2011. Trump has not issued similar guidance yet. Therefore what was released today is the most formal statement to date of Trump's views on these issues, although he, Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House National Space Council, and other administration officials have expressed many of them already."

Oh yes and SpaceQ: "U.S. aims to take lead in space traffic management with Space Policy Directive 3." is actually an article title on our sister website SpaceQ which covers Canadian space news, the article says "As reported in NASA Watch, during a morning media call this morning "National Space Council Executive Director Scott Pace said the U.S. needs to have unfettered access and the ability to operate space - but space is becoming congested. The new policy (SPD-3) addresses these challenges."

Oh yes with all the NASA hoopla about Artemis and the Artemis Accords this RNC/Trump greatest hits document makes zero mention. But they certainly mention Space Force a lot.

Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities and Cross-cutting Actions, OMB/OSTP

"5. American Space Leadership

R&D investments should continue to leverage efforts underway at American universities and in the private sector and focus on ensuring American leadership in space by supporting the Trump Administration's call for a return of Americans to the Moon's surface by 2024 for long-term exploration and utilization, and as a proving ground for future human missions to Mars. Microgravity research in biological and physical science on new platforms in Low Earth Orbit is important to enabling longer duration human missions in space and may have practical benefits to life on Earth. Departments and agencies should prioritize in-situ resource utilization on the Moon and Mars, cryogenic fuel storage and management, in-space manufacturing and assembly, advanced space-related power and propulsion capabilities, and orbital debris management. Departments and agencies should also prioritize activities that ensure an industrial base for commercial activity in space and that will broadly speed private-sector progress in meeting stated Government goals and furthering the space economy. Finally, departments and agencies should seek opportunities to work with advanced materials, additive manufacturing, and machine learning capabilities that have broad potential applications in space and on Earth."

Space Force releases 1st doctrine, defines "spacepower" as distinct form of military power

"The Space Capstone Publication explains why spacepower is a vital element of U.S. prosperity and security - now and in the future - and guides its employment in multidomain operations. As the USSF continues to grow and mature, we will continue to evolve our doctrine to stay on the cutting edge of defending our interests in space."

Space Capstone Publication, Spacepower (SCP)

"Military space forces must be responsible stewards of the space domain. When designing missions, training, and performing end of life operations, military space forces should make every effort to promote responsible norms of behavior that perpetuate space as a safe and open environment in accordance with the Laws of Armed Conflict, the Outer Space Treaty, and international law, as well as U.S. Government and DoD policy. Just like all forms of warfare, the prosecution of space warfare and the potential generation of collateral damage is judged against the principles of military necessity, distinction, and proportionality. Through this approach, military space forces balance our responsibilities for operational readiness with the safety and sustainability of the space environment for use by future generations."

"Space professionals recognize the independent impact spacepower has on National prosperity. Our global persistence postures the Joint Force to continuously assure Allies, deter aggression, coerce competitors, and defeat adversaries. We provide the enduring vigilance that protects the United States and our Allies from strategic surprise. Due to this global persistence and enduring vigilance, space professionals are perfectly postured to provide the Joint Force global, and not just regional, perspective and capabilities. As we look to the future, our orbital presence must secure the ever expanding frontier of U.S. space interests. At their most fundamental level, space professionals seek to protect our Nation's prosperity and security."

Keith's note: It is quite obvious from this document that the current Administration's space focus is the undisputed leadership and control of all aspects of space via military means. All other uses - scientific, exploration, humanitarian, commercial, societal - are of secondary importance to the mastery of space that the Space Force seeks to impose. Indeed the authors overtly talk about the need to "coerce competitors". Competition - whether it be commercial or governmental - when peaceful - is supposed to be good, right? These Space Force guys simply want to bend others to their will.

FYI "NASA" appears only once in this document - at the end - in the credits on page 61 where it says "Cover Image courtesy of NASA". The face that America's civilian space agency is literally a footnote to this other American space policy speaks volumes in terms of where the main focus is.

To be certain we have had space-based defense assets for more than a half century that need to be secured. But It seems to have escaped the notice of all of the would-be space warriors that imposing an enhanced military mindset upon all American space activities is the best way to push other nations to do the same. Curiously, we have had a continuous human presence on ISS for 20 years with Russia - one of our prime terrestrial politcal adversaries. If you include the Shuttle-Mir project then this continuos cooperation goes back to 1993 between the US and the USSR. We seem to get along vastly better in space than we do on Earth. Certainly there are lessons to be learned from this experience. Reading this document, you get the exact opposite impression: the ISS is not even mentioned.

Just as we are pushing for an overt increase in the militarization of space many in NASA are endorsing a push to get the International Space Station awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The policy disconnect between pursuing the peaceful and military uses of space could not be more profound.

- The Space Force Squad Wants To Create Problems - Not Avoid Them, earlier post
- Now Space Force Wants Its Own Starfleet Admirals, earlier post- Space Force Official Flag Presented To The President On Friday Because Of Course It Was, earlier post
- Space Force Has The Air Force Academy. Why Doesn't NASA Have A Space Academy?, earlier post
- More Space Force postings

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2020/trump.NASA.jpg

Keith's note: Here is the actual tweet. I am posting a picture of it since Trump tends to block a lot of people.

H.R. 7617 Division-by-Division Summary, House Appropriations Committee

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - $22.63 billion, equal to the FY 2020 enacted level. This funding includes continued investments in human space exploration efforts, as well as other investments, including the following:

• $819 million for Aeronautics research, an increase of $35 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and equal to the President's budget request, to continue efforts to improve passenger safety, fuel efficiency, and noise reduction, and to make air travel more environmentally sustainable.

• $126 million for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement, an increase of $6 million above the FY 2020 enacted level, to inspire young people to pursue future careers in science and engineering, and rejecting the Administration's request to eliminate funding for these programs."

Lucas and Babin: Appropriations Bill Fails to Prioritize NASA's Human Exploration Activities

"In particular, we need funding now to move forward on the Human Landing System, but this legislation provides only a fraction of what's needed to do that. As a nation, we need to prioritize human space exploration. This bill is shortsighted, and I hope we can do more to support NASA's critical missions."

America's Space Strategy Comes of Age, Peter Garretson, opinion, Newsweek

"As such, the report is something of a net assessment of our competitive strategic position vis-à-vis all sectors of space, from civilian to military to commercial. It focuses, in particular, on the six areas thought most likely to decide the great power competition: namely, space policy and finance, space information services, space transport and logistics, human presence, power for space systems, and space manufacturing and resource extraction. In these areas, it offers an action plan of more than 40 recommendations cumulatively designed to give America an undeniable qualitative edge in future space development."

Keith's note: This is what happens when you put a Space Force fan into a discussion about space policy. To them its all about projecting military power in space - and they want to project that military power in an antagonistic fashion that is simply going to prompt others to do the same. When they talk about "America's global leadership in space" they do not really care about the scientific or exploration stuff. They just want "to get to the "Star Trek Future" where they have troops and other things up there guarding things.

If 20 years of peaceful cooperation amongst the nations participating in the ISS has taught us anything it is that space offers an unusually compelling adventure that is more important than petty terrestrial politics. Think of all of the bad vibes between the U.S. and Russia. Go ahead - make a list. Yes, its long. Now look at the conflicts on the ISS. Make a list. I'm waiting. Where are they? That's right - there are none. How is that possible? To be certain we need to be vigilant in protecting our national assets in space - as we have been for more than half a century. But the Space Force squad seems to be hell bent on creating problems to solve in space instead of trying to avoid having problems in the first place.

- Now Space Force Wants Its Own Starfleet Admirals, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Take Over All Of NASA's Stuff, earlier post
- TV's Space Force Looks Like More Fun Than The Real One (Or Artemis), earlier post
- Space Force Official Flag Presented To The President On Friday Because Of Course It Was, earlier post
- Space Force Has The Air Force Academy. Why Doesn't NASA Have A Space Academy?, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Be Star Fleet, earlier post
- More Space Force postings

National Space Council Releases Report on Deep Space Exploration and Development

Today, the National Space Council released "A New Era for Deep Space Exploration and Development," a report prepared by the National Space Council staff in consultation with National Space Council members and the Users' Advisory Group that describes the rationale and purpose for the Administration's new direction in space. Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council Scott Pace, Ph.D., released the following statement: "'A New Era for Deep Space Exploration and Development' represents a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to this Administration's ambitious space exploration efforts, providing a vision for a sustained human presence on, and the robust commercial development of, the Moon and Mars. This report describes how and why the United States will proceed with deep space exploration, delineating the strategic interests and specific programs that underpin America's position as the world's leader among spacefaring nation."

Full report

Keith's note: Nice words - but no explanation of how this will be paid for. The word "budget" appears twice: "The term "sustainable" can have different meanings, depending on the context. For example, financial sustainability is the ability to execute a program of work within budget levels that are realistic, managed effectively, and likely to be available." and "If we are to have an effective American space strategy, we need to align our policies, programs, and budget with enduring national interests that span multiple administrations and Congresses."

NASA Has A CFO Nominee

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Individual to a Key Administration Post

"Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key position in his Administration: Dr. Greg Autry, of California, to be Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. ... Dr. Autry previously served on the NASA Agency Review Team and as the White House Liaison at NASA."

Keith's note: This is interesting since Autry was kicked off of the initial Trump "Beachead Team"/Transition Team at NASA a few months into the Administration. It is highly unlikely that this nomination will be taken up by the Senate before the election. If Trump loses it will never see the light of day. FWIW Autry is a former sidekick of White House official sinophobe Peter Navarro.

- Eric Trump's Brother-In-Law Is The New Deputy NASA Chief Of Staff. Seriously., previous post
- How Jonathan Dimock Auditioned To Be NASA White House Liaison, previous post

U.S. Air Force cadets study idea of Space Force bases on the Moon, Science

"Featuring weekly speakers and formalized research projects the students hope to turn into peer-reviewed papers, the group aims to game out the policies and philosophies that could guide military space activity when they are old enough to be in charge. In particular, these young cadets are interested in whether the Space Force might someday have a military presence on the Moon, and how it might work with civilians. That activity could put the Space Force in conflict with scientists, who typically view the cosmos as a peaceful place for inquiry. But part of the club's mission is speculating about that interplay--between the military and civilian scientists, civil space agencies, and private companies. Cadet J. P. Byrne, who will graduate in 2021, is the group's current president. He chatted with ScienceInsider about the institute's work."

The right tool to go to the moon, op ed, Tony Antonelli (Lockheed Martin), Politico

"Contrary to the iconic scene from "Apollo 13," we don't aspire to dumping a box of parts on a table and trying to make it work. Let's take the Dragon. You could add more backup computers, strings of communications, the ability to fly for days after loss of air pressure, and the ability to navigate in deep space without GPS and return to the Earth without the help of Mission Control. But it would no longer be a Dragon. It would be some new, untested vehicle that is bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable than Orion, which the best engineers and scientists from around the world have designed for the sole purpose of opening the Moon and Mars to humanity. Specific technologies are needed to go to deep space. NASA knew this when it designed Apollo more than 50 years ago; there's a reason it didn't send astronauts to the Moon in Gemini or Mercury spacecraft."

Keith's note: This is silly. A Lockheed Martin vehicle named "Orion" has flown once. Once. And when it flew it was a stripped down test vehicle with a fraction of the capabilities that the final version will have. An Orion has not flown since 2014. By the time it flies for a second time in 2021 (maybe) there will have been a gap 7 or more years. Humans will first fly on it in 2023 (maybe) - 9 years after the first flight. The SpaceX Crew Dragon has flown twice - once with a crew - and it will fly again (with a crew) in a few months and then 4 (or more) times before Orion carries its first crew. SpaceX will have vastly more operational experience with crewed Dragon vehicles before Lockheed Martin flies its second (uncrewed) Orion.

The Crew Dragon is based directly the fight-proven hardware developed for Cargo Dragon which has flown more than 20 times (reused on many of the flights) and will fly half a dozen more times before Orion carries a human crew. By the time Orion starts to fly SpaceX will already have an extensive body of cargo/crew flight experience upon which to draw for possible upgrades. Lockheed Martin will have virtually none. Unlike Orion, which is built along the standard old aerospace model wherein each vehicle is unique thus making upgrades more complex. Indeed it has already evolved from a cargo-only vehicle to a crewed vehicle (quite an increase in complexity). Indeed, SpaceX adopted classic consumer product thinking when it designed Dragon such that its spacecraft are designed - indeed expected - to be upgraded based on flight experience.

Stating that a theoretical Crew Dragon variant designed for lunar missions would be "bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable than Orion" is something a big aerospace company PR shop wants you to say - hoping that readers (legislators) who do not know better will fall for it. If anything, when compared to the SpaceX Dragon family and its possible derivatives, Orion is "bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable" than Dragon. Dragon is also much, much cheaper to fly than Orion and it always will be. And with regard to the difficulties of making new Dragon vehicles NASA has picked SpaceX's Dragon XL variant to service and supply the Gateway. NASA and SpaceX are already doing what Lockheed Martin's op ed is afraid of.

There seems to be some desperation amongst the SLS/Orion team these days. It is chronically over budget and years behind schedule and no one knows when it will actually fly. Indeed the SLS/Orion system is so problematic that the Artemis architecture it was supposed to be anchoring has been constantly changed to make up for its performance problems (Gateway, transfer stages) and delays (adding commercial launches and components). Just a few days ago the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration posted an op ed in The Hill which made some similarly misleading claims (see "You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly"). As one NASAWatch reader aptly put it "SLS is a national liability, not a national asset." You can expect more op eds like these from big aerospace as the election nears, the pandemic rages, the economy dives, and SLS slips further to the right while its imaginary budget evaporates.

Oh yes - although it is not part of the SLS/Orion project the other capsule being made by big aerospace, Boeing's Starliner, did not exactly wow its customer on its first flight.

NASA's mission to the moon is about far more than cost, Op Ed, Mary Lynne Dittmar/Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, The Hill

"As a result, the role played by national assets in deep space cannot be fulfilled solely by privately owned systems. Bringing someone else's rocket and crew vehicle to the geopolitical table does not convey the same intent. A national presence, backed by the full faith and measure of Congress, focuses international attention and creates incentives for partnerships around the globe."

Keith's note: This is nonsense. In the case of the U.S. the "national asset" i.e. SLS/Orion is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. Meanwhile SpaceX and other private companies could conduct the Orion/SLS plan for lunar exploration far more cheaply and flexibly than the SLS/Orion architecture ever could. Falcon 9/Heavy/Dragon work. SLS/Orion have not yet shown that they can.

It has apparently escaped Dittmar's notice that the original SLS/Orion plan - one that only used SLS and Orion has been continuously morphed into a program that uses more and more commercial capabilities to do the things that SLS/Orion cannot do - either for cost or capability reasons. Were NASA to have relied upon the SLS/Orion "national asset" alone it would have been impossible to meet this Administration's 2024 goal to land humans on the Moon. In fact, even with the shift toward enhanced commercial participation, chronic problems with SLS/Orion system now make it almost certainly incapable of doing its part in the current NASA plan to land humans on the Moon by 2024.

You cannot convey the intended political intent if the rocket you want to use to exert that intent has not flown and will not fly at the cost - or schedule - originally envisioned. Take a look at what European government-backed and Chinese-backed "commercial" companies are doing. They are copying SpaceX - they are not copying SLS/Orion. They learned from American successes - and failures. Can we?

Keith's update: NASA issued this press release today about initial authorization for the SRBs needed for 6 additional SLS flights - and that the eventual contract will "extend through Dec. 31, 2030". Yet nowhere in this release do they say when the first SLS launch will actually occur.

Readout from the Vice President's and Second Lady's Call to NASA Astronauts aboard the International Space Station

"The Vice President and Second Lady congratulated the astronauts and led a discussion of their experience living and working in space as part of Expedition 63, including upcoming planned space walks. All three astronauts previously flew on Shuttle missions to the ISS, and Vice President Pence asked what it means to them personally to be involved in this historic mission. The Second Lady asked the astronauts what advice they would give to young Americans they have inspired to become space professionals. Vice President Pence thanked the astronauts for their courageous service and professionalism as the United States leads again in space. He assured them that they have the confidence and the prayers of the American people."

Keith's note: That's nice. So why hasn't video of the actual conversation been released? Apparently it was an innocuous chit chat sort of thing but why can't we hear what was actually said?

Vice President Pence Congratulates Appointees to the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group

"Vice President Mike Pence, Chairman of the National Space Council, released the following statement on the appointment of members to serve on the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group. Nominated by the Vice President, the members of the Users' Advisory Group have been appointed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for two-year terms. The Users' Advisory Group serves to fulfill President Trump's directive to "foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange" across our nation's space enterprise to ensure that the United States remains the world's foremost spacefaring country."

Keith's note: Looks like we have another Trump space promotional video to enjoy on Trump TV. This video starts with some routine Biden bashing, followed by the "Make Space Great Again" campaign advertisement that the Trump campaign quickly pulled offline last week. At 4:10 the live chat begins. It is hosted by Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle who works on the Trump campaign. Her guests are former NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit and former astronaut and NASA GRC Center Director Janet Kavandi who is now a Senior Vice President at Sierra Nevada Corp. Apparently the Trump family is really into space - Eric Trump's brother-in-law Kyle Yunaska is the new Deputy Chief of Staff at NASA.

The video starts with Guilfoyle saying "with President Trump's inspirational leadership the United States has officially made space great again". She also mentioned that she was at the first DEMO-2 launch attempt. It is a little strange that political campaign people were on the invitation list when virtually no one else was invited. Oh well. Anyway, after a clip of the President taking credit for things that previous presidents initiated the hyperbole that follows continues that theme leaving one with the impression that before the President showed up NASA was closed for business or something. Oh and DeWit complains that the press does not give Ivanka Trump the credit she deserves for whatever it is she does. Like I said space is a family affair for all the Trumps.

- The First 2020 Election Space-Themed Campaign Commercial Flops, earlier post
- White House Post-Launch Commentary, earlier post
- Eric Trump's Brother-In-Law Is The New Deputy NASA Chief Of Staff. Seriously., earlier post

Keith's note: Along with the now silenced "Make Space Great Again" political campaign advertisement that was yanked within hours was another space-related PR effort - but the U.S. State Department. The State Department seems to have had a social media campaign of sorts to promote the @SpaceX DEMO2 mission around the world via the #LaunchAmerica hash tag. I guess this is supposed to be soft power except mostly it says "Hey - America did this". Sometimes they put the tweet out in the target country's official language. Often times its only in English. Some times they included videos that are narrated - and captioned - in English such as the one aimed at Colombia (the point being ...?). Curiously, the tweet aimed at Ukraine is captioned in Ukrainian.

In 2018 Ukraine had 41.98 million people. Colombia had 49.65 million. Given their similar size, you'd think that they would both warrant a local translation/captioning of the video. But wait: there are only 35 million Ukrainian speakers worldwide vs 572 million spanish speakers (53 million in the U.S.). 20 counties count Spanish as an official language. You could certainly create many more tailored tweets from U.S. embassies to each of these 20 countries with one video translation and reach many more people than the one-off Ukrainian translation. Just sayin'

NASA's accomplishments have always led the rest of world and continue to be a raw source of immense soft power. Now, if only America knew how to ask everyone else to work with them in a calm, collaborative fashion, and not just wave our flag at them on Twitter. Again, just sayin'

Keith's note: This video is posted on a non-Trump campaign YouTube account.

Keith's note: Parts of this Trump campaign commercial look like portions of a promo for the Netflix show "Space Force" or outtakes from the end of the film "Armageddon". Statements by the President such as "Because we are Americans and the future belongs totally to us" certainly do not suggest that international cooperation is something that the campaign is promoting. The Trump producers also ripped off a logo from Disney too. Did the NASA employees openly shown in this video give their permission to be shown in a partisan political commercial? Astronaut Karen Nyberg certainly did not think so. NASA policies seem to disagree as well. The campaign eventually pulled the ad offline but it has started to pop up again online elsewhere.

Media Usage Guidelines, NASA

"Current NASA employees, including astronauts, may not appear in commercial material," those guidelines state. "If a recognizable person, or talent (e.g., an astronaut or a noted personality engaged to narrate a film) appears in NASA material, use for commercial purposes may infringe a right of privacy or publicity. Permission should be obtained from the recognizable person or talent if the proposed use of the NASA material could be viewed as a commercial exploitation of that person."

- Trump Campaign Pulls Space Launch Ad That Violated NASA Rules, MSN
- Trump campaign removes space-themed ad amid complaints from former astronaut, others, CNN
- Trump campaign pulls 'Make Space Great Again' video that may have violated NASA regulations', Space.com
- Trump campaign pulls space-themed ad after complaints, SpaceNews
- After sparking consternation at NASA, Trump campaign pulls ad featuring SpaceX launch, Geekwire
- In Space No One Can Hear You Campaign: Trump Team Pulls Ad, Barrons

NASA human spaceflight directorate reorganization on hold, Space News

"During a June 1 webinar by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that a reorganization of the agency's Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate will be delayed until after the agency hires a successor to Doug Loverro, who left the agency May 19."

Keith's 4 June update: Bringing Mark Geyer back to NASA HQ to run HEOMD will make many people in the organization comfortable since there'd be a certain Gerstenmaier-like familiarity. But Jim Bridenstine originally replaced Bill Gerstenmaier with a new face and approach so as to refocus HEOMD to make the Artemis 2024 lunar landing feasible. Now a lot of that will be dialed back to the way it was before Doug Loverro took over. Between pandemic delays, election year uncertainties, and chronic SLS/Orion delays and cost overruns, Mark Geyer certainly has an immense challenge ahead of him.

Keith's 2 June note: When former HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier was fired last summer it took NASA 6 months to replace him. During that time major aspects of Artemis and SLS were put on hold or dialed back until a replacement could be found. The new AA Doug Loverro showed up in early 2020 and did what he was told to do and the system bounced him as a result. Now NASA is searching for a replacement for Loverro who, himself, was a replacement. And once again NASA is putting things on hold - as if the pandemic-caused delays were not bad enough.

If NASA follows precedent it will take quite some time to replace Loverro. The reorganization of HEOMD was planned based on a top to bottom assessment of HEOMD - by HEOMD. One would think that the reorganization was independent of one person's opinion and that it had broad organizational buy-in. Guess not.

Now NASA will put the whole Artemis thing on hold again for months until someone takes the job and then stay on hold for a few more months more while the new person gets up to speed and takes ownership of HEOMD. There is simply no way NASA will ever meet the Moon landing deadlines it has been given if every decision has the fate/opinion of one NASA employee as a potential single point of failure. If NASA cannot come up with a fault tolerant way to manage its people on Earth then the whole Moon thing is not going to happen as planned. Just sayin'.

Remarks by President Trump at Kennedy Space Center

"Today, the groundbreaking partnership between NASA and SpaceX has given our nation the gift of an unmatched power: a state-of-the art spaceship to put our astronauts into orbit at a fraction of the cost of the Space Shuttle. And it's much better. From now on, the United States will leverage the fast-growing capabilities of our commercial sector and the finest pieces of real estate on Earth -- which you need very badly -- to send U.S. astronauts into space. Under NASA's Commercial Crew program, we will use rockets and spacecraft designed, built, owned, and launched by private American companies, at a fixed price for the American taxpayer. Today's launch makes clear the commercial space industry is the future. The modern world was built by risk-takers and renegades, fierce competitors, skilled craftsmen, captains of industry who pursued opportunities no one else saw and envisioned what no one else could ever think of seeing. The United States will harness the unrivaled creativity and speed of our private sector to stride ever further into the unknown." [larger image]

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2020/30may2020pence.jpgRemarks by Vice President Pence at Kennedy Space Center Cape Canaveral, FL

"And in that spirit, today we begin a new era of human space exploration. And the credit goes to dedicated men and women all across this country, to the ingenuity and the hard work of the entire NASA team. America is proud of the men and women of NASA. (Applause.) But for the first time in our history, our astronauts have taken to the skies on a commercial rocket built by America's private sector. So join me in a vigorous round of applause for Elon Musk and the dedicated men and women of SpaceX. Job well done. (Applause.) That's great. Well deserved. (Applause.) Thanks, Elon." [larger image]

Kyle Yunaska Named Deputy Chief of Staff At NASA Headquarters

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named Kyle Yunaska as the agency's Deputy Chief of Staff. ... Yunaska also served as the Principal Deputy Director and Chief of Staff for DOE's Office of Policy and held several advisory roles throughout the Department. Prior to his work at DOE, Yunaska held a range of positions at various academic, nonprofit, and private sector organizations."

Eric Trump's brother-in-law gets promoted. E&E News (2017)

"Eric Trump's brother-in-law is now chief of staff in a Department of Energy policy shop that was once tasked with carrying out President Obama's climate change agenda, according to DOE's online registry. Kyle Yunaska at DOE's Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis (EPSA) may manage the front office operations and strategy and advise EPSA's principal deputy director, Carol Battershell, and Executive Director Sean Cunningham, according to a description of the position on DOE's website."

Meet The Hottest Bachelors Of Washington D.C., Inside Edition

"Kyle Yunaska is an accounting manager for a non-profit. The 29-year-old is ready to settle down."

Kyle Robert Yunaska, ProPublica

President Trump to travel to Central Florida for historic astronaut launch

"President Donald Trump will be in attendance on Wednesday when NASA and SpaceX launch astronauts from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade. A White House officials tells WESH 2 News that Trump will travel to Central Florida to view the launch at Kennedy Space Center. "Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security," Trump said."

NASA Invites Public to Be Its Guests to Celebrate Historic 'Launch America'

"For the first time ever, NASA is hosting a global "NASA Social," an opportunity for social media users to get a behind the scenes view of the launch - virtually - and a unique way the public can celebrate the return of human spaceflight to American soil."

Airspace, Road, Bridge and Water Closures for SpaceX Demo-2

Vice President Mike Pence to Convene Seventh Meeting of the National Space Council

"The Seventh Meeting of the National Space Council will be held in Washington, D.C. on May 19th, 2020 at 10:30 AM EDT. The meeting, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, will convene at the NASA Headquarters building. The meeting will be livestreamed here on NASA TV, and additional details will be forthcoming."

National Space Council Announces Users' Advisory Group Nominations

"Vice President Mike Pence, Chairman of the National Space Council, today announced the nomination of candidates to serve on the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group for two-year terms. The nominated members of the Users' Advisory Group will serve to fulfill President Trump's directive to "foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange" across our nation's space enterprise to ensure that the United States remains the world's foremost spacefaring country."

What Are The Artemis Accords And Why Do We Need Them?, SpaceRef

"NASA has formally announced the "Artemis Accords" - a series of principles and processes whereby America and other countries would agree to a common set of principles covering how the Moon is to be explored and its resources utilized. But what are these accords and why do we need them? Given the renewed and expanded interest by many nations to explore the Moon this makes sense. There are two main issues involved here. One has to do with the common sense approaches that need to be made among multiple parties to ensure that things go smoothly. The other is the legalistic and diplomatic tedium that goes into international agreements."

Space Force flag to be unveiled to the world, presented to President Trump on Friday, Fox News

"For the first time in 72 years, the official flag of a new U.S. military service will be unveiled on Friday. Military leaders will present the flag of the newly created Space Force to President Trump in the Oval Office during a signing ceremony for the 2020 Armed Forces Day proclamation."

Keith's note: The fun begins at 12:30 pm EDT in the Oval Office.

Space Council To Update 2010 National Space Policy, Space Policy Online

"The White House National Space Council is looking at revising the existing U.S. National Space Policy, issued in 2010 during the Obama Administration. Space Council director Scott Pace said today he expects a lot of continuity with the existing policy, but enough has changed to warrant an update. Meanwhile, the head of Russia's space agency blasted the White House's plans to create a legal blueprint for lunar exploration and utilization reportedly called the Artemis Accords."

Keith's note: Oddly Space Force officials tell recruits that their jobs will be on Earth but then their OR people put out a video that suggests that there are offworld jobs available to recruit people. Confusing? Misleading?

"Conversation with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine: Join the CSIS Aerospace Security Project for a conversation with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. We will be discussing NASA's plans to go to the Moon and Mars as well as NASA's broader role in overall U.S. foreign policy and national security. May 5, 2020 11:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada) Register"

Keith's note: I'm told that this will be interesting. CSIS is dropping hints about this event being about "DIME" - which, in DC policy wonk talk, refers to "Diplomacy, Information, Military and Economics". As such, I'd be astonished if there is no mention of Space Force. You may hear mention of an interest in having NASA be funded as part of a larger infrastructure initiative in response to the pandemic.

Chairwomen Johnson and Horn Statements on Artemis Human Lander Systems Contract Awards, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"Unfortunately, more than a year after their announcement to accelerate the Artemis program, NASA has yet to provide Congress a transparent architecture and technical and cost assessment, despite our repeated requests. The American taxpayer deserves to know their money is being spent wisely, especially if they are being asked to invest billions of taxpayer dollars in a private lunar landing system. Our nation should dream boldly and pursue aspirational goals but we have to do so thoughtfully and intentionally. I look forward to working with NASA in good faith to steer our nation's space program in a direction that allows our country to achieve inspiring goals and explore space in a responsible and measured way."

Key House Democrats "DIsappointed" With HLS Awards, Space Policy Online

"However, if Johnson and Horn's views are shared by appropriators, it could signal trouble for NASA getting the funding increase it needs not just this year, but for the next several years, to execute Artemis. The FY2021 budget request alone is a 12 percent increase over current spending. Bridenstine expressed optimism yesterday that NASA's budget will not be impacted by the trillions being spent on COVID-19 relief. Noting how small NASA's budget is compared to the rest of government spending, less than half a percent, he said "We're not going to be the solution to balancing the budget. ... I don't think we're in any jeopardy."

- NASA Picks Human Lander System Developers

"With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program."

- Does NASA Know The Real Cost Of Sending Humans To The Moon?, Earlier post
- NASA Releases Its Artemis "Plan" - 5 Months Late, Earlier post
- GAO Wants To Remind You That Artemis Is Lacking Detail, Earlier post
- NASA Authorization Bill Markup, Earlier post

NASA Names Companies to Develop Human Landers for Artemis Moon Missions, NASA

"The following companies were selected to design and build human landing systems:
-- Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, is developing the Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) - a three-stage lander to be launched on its own New Glenn Rocket System and ULA Vulcan launch system.
-- Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, is developing the Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS) - a single structure providing the ascent and descent capabilities that will launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system.
-- SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, is developing the Starship - a fully integrated lander that will use the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket."

- Maxar Selected to Support Dynetics in Designing and Building a Lunar Human Landing System for NASA
- NASA Selects Blue Origin National Team to Return Humans to the Moon
- SNC to Lead Crew Module Development for Critical Piece of NASA's Artemis Program
- Dynetics to develop NASA's Artemis Human Lunar Landing System
- CSF Statement on NASA's Selection of Multiple Commercial Human Lander Awardees
- AIAA Statement: NASA selection of Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX for Artemis Lunar Lander Development
- Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Comments on HLS Awards

Keith's 25 April further update: A recording of Monday's Members-only AIAA telecon with NASA HEOMD AA Doug Loverro is now available for viewing here.

Keith's 21 April further update: While NASA PAO was ignoring my requests, AIAA was emailing Doug Loverro's around to hundreds of people. Note that the AIAA guys says "We thank NASA for permitting the public distribution of this information".

From: Steve Sidorek
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 1:17 PM
Subject: [EXTERNAL] Doug Loverro Webinar Slides
Greetings,
The slide deck that Doug Loverro presented during yesterday's webinar is attached. We thank NASA for permitting the public distribution of this information.
Regards,
Steve Sidorek
Director, Public Policy and Government Relations

Here are the slides: LOVERRO_LEO-Commercialization_AIAA.pdf

Keith's 21 April update: I have made several requests to NASA PAO for a copy of the presentation made by Doug Loverro. PAO has not replied to my requests. So I filed a FOIA request for the document. NASAWatch is not the only space news publication who was not offered access to this event. If this is how NASA PAO plans to roll out its new human exploration plans i.e. limiting access to the usual suspects inside the echo chamber - then its going to fall flat and not get the wider dissemination that it would otherwise get - and will so urgently need.

Soon, people are going to start wondering why we need to do all of this expensive space stuff when tens of millions of people are suddenly out of work. If this tone deaf approach is how NASA is going to explain itself then it is going to have a hard time justifying all the money headed its way. Just sayin'.

Keith's 20 April note: NASA gave exclusive access to the HEOMD AA today on a webinar run by AIAA that was only offered "exclusively to AIAA members". In other words you have to pay a fee for access. AIAA then hand-picked news media representatives to participate - but denied access to others. NASA PAO has not responded to my request for copies of the charts presented or any recordings made of the event. If NASA PAO is going to put senior officials up for public interactions where policy matters are discussed/unveiled then it behooves PAO to at least try to make certain that space media has equal access to these civil servants as they provide briefings in an official capacity. Blurry screengrabs of Powerpoint charts posted on Twitter just don't cut it.

Here's Marcia Smith's summary of the event:

NASA Reorganizing To Sharpen LEO Commercialization Efforts, MacDonald to Oversee CASIS, SpacePolicy Online

"NASA is reorganizing its human spaceflight office to sharpen its efforts at commercializing low Earth orbit (LEO). NASA's goal is to become only one of many customers using the International Space Station (ISS) and future LEO space facilities. The agency is moving out quickly to respond to a highly critical review of how non-NASA research is managed on the ISS, but acknowledges that it has work to do in convincing Congress that it has a viable plan. Doug Loverro, Associate Administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), spelled out NASA's goals and plans for LEO commercialization in a webinar for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) today."

The Space Force is ready to launch, OP Ed, Washington Post

"The Space Force was a pet project of President Trump's, and there has been more talk about new uniforms and logos than the mission. But that's about to change: Sadly, for a generation that grew up watching Apollo astronauts walking on the moon, space is now a contested domain. The latest sign was Russia's launch of an anti-satellite missile on Wednesday, joining China in demonstrating war-fighting capability in space."

Air Force Academy graduates cadets early amid coronavirus outbreak, first Space Force officers join the ranks, CNBC

"When you arrived in 2016 or so, you knew your graduation day would be memorable, but did you imagine that your commencement would take place in mid-April, or that each of us would have a face mask at the ready or that you would march a Covid compliant 8 feet apart on the Terrazzo, or for that matter, that commissioning into the Space Force would be an option," Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett posed to the graduating class. "Today, you are living history," she added. Of the graduating cadets, 86 commissioned for the first time into the U.S. Space Force. Vice President Mike Pence was on hand to deliver the commencement address."

Keith's note: NASA is doing the whole back to the Moon Artemis thing. They openly talk about grooming the "Artemis Generation". Yet barely a few months into its official existence The U.S. Space Force has just commissioned 86 officers. If Space Force can draw upon institutions such as the Air Force Academy to train recruits for service why isn't NASA developing a similar capability? Indeed, NASA often seems to be more interested in being a recruiting tool for Space Force than it does for itself.

Where is Starfleet Academy?

- Space Force Really Wants To Be Star Fleet, earlier post
- Space Force Is Using NASA Spacecraft As A Recruiting Tool, earlier post

Undergraduate Space Training evolves to tackle space threats, United States Space Force

"The training of new military space operators is evolving to meet the challenges in the space domain. A revamped initial skills training course now gives new space warfighters an early advantage in being ready to meet the unique demands of operating satellites and other space systems in a contested, degraded and operationally limited space domain."

NASA Astronaut, Air Force General to Talk with Students About Future of Air, Space

"NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt will discuss leadership for the future of air and space through an online educational opportunity at noon EDT Thursday, April 16. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Russia tests direct-ascent anti-satellite missile, United States Space Force

"Russia's DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing," said Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, USSPACECOM commander and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations. "The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the Nation, our allies and U.S. interests from hostile acts in space."

Earlier Space Force postings

Administration Statement on Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources

"Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources. This order addresses U.S. policy regarding the recovery and use of resources in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies. Dr. Scott Pace, Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, released the following statement on behalf of the Administration: "As America prepares to return humans to the Moon and journey on to Mars, this Executive Order establishes U.S. policy toward the recovery and use of space resources, such as water and certain minerals, in order to encourage the commercial development of space."

Fact Sheet: Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources

NASA's Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development

"This document covers and responds to the Chairman of the National Space Council's direction to provide a plan for a sustained lunar presence, including the technologies and capabilities to enable the first human mission to Mars. For millennia humanity has looked at the Moon in wonder and awe. As the United States leads the development of a sustained presence on the Moon together with commercial partners and international partners, our presence on the Moon will serve as a constant reminder of the limitless potential of humanity. It will continue to inspire humanity as we seek ever more distant worlds to explore - starting with Mars.

... After Artemis III, the overall plan is to conduct operations on and around the Moon that help prepare us for the mission durations and activities that we will experience during the first human mission to Mars, while also emplacing and building the infrastructure, systems, and robotic missions that can enable a sustained lunar surface presence. To do this, we will develop Artemis Base Camp at the South Pole of the Moon."

... In addition to establishing Artemis Base Camp, another core element of the sustained lunar presence that feeds forward to Mars will be the expansion of habitation and related support systems at the Gateway. This evolution of the Gateway's systems to include large-volume deep space habitation would allow our astronauts to test, initially in lunar orbit, how they will live on their voyage to and from Mars. Gateway can also support our first Mars mission analogs on the lunar surface. For such a mission, we currently envision a four-person crew traveling to the Gateway and living aboard the outpost for a multi-month stay to simulate the outbound trip to Mars, followed by two crew travelling down to and exploring the lunar surface with the habitable mobility platform, while the remaining two crew stay aboard. The four crew are then reunited at the Gateway for another multi-month stay, simulating the return trip to Earth, before landing back home."

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Sixth Meeting of the National Space Council, 20 August 2019

'And I recommend to the public's attention the public record that you will find that we are setting specific timelines for the Administrator in the next 60 days to designation of an office and submission of a plan for a sustainable lunar surface exploration and the development of crewed missions to Mars."

- NASA Really Really Needs An Artemis Plan - Soon, earlier post
- Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update), earlier post

Seventh Meeting of the National Space Council Postponed

"The Seventh Meeting of the National Space Council, scheduled to take place on March 24th, 2020 at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., has been postponed. A new date for the meeting will be determined."

Keith's note: From the White House: "The next meeting of the National Space Council, originally scheduled to take place on March 24th, 2020 at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, will now be held in Washington, D.C.

The meeting, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, will convene at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on March 24th, 2020. The meeting will be livestreamed, and additional details will be forthcoming."

Keith's note: On 21 February 2020 a memo titled "Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Flights Over NASA Centers/Facilities", written by Joseph S. Mahaley, Assistant Administrator, Office of Protective Services, was sent to the entire NASA workforce. It opens with:

"This communication is forwarded at the direction of NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurcyzk to educate all employees, contractors, tenants, and others having access to NASA properties on the threat posed to people, facilities and operations by unauthorized UAS/drone flights over NASA Centers/Facilities."

OK, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to advise employees about. Drones are problematic for many reasons. After going into the damage that can be caused by - and punishment for violations of NASA drone use policy, the author goes on to describe the various uses of drones:

"UAS/drones are used to film weddings, properties, inspect power lines, and to identify fires in remote forests. Criminals use them to "peep" into windows and to deliver contraband to prisons. U.S. Law Enforcement officials are concerned that terrorists may use UAS/drones in future attacks. Soon, UAS/drones will deliver packages to homes, ferry people to and from their destinations and for purposes not yet imagined: all with the help of NASA UAS traffic Management Systems!"

This is a weird train wreck of strange word capitalizations (editor needed), a list of the benefits of drone use, and the bad uses of drones - and they are all apparently benefiting from the NASA UAS traffic technology. Its like a list of NASA spinoffs for good guys and/or bad guys. The author then goes further to list the dangerous uses of drones:

"The Department of Defense very successfully uses UAS/Drones to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance. In January of this year, U.. Forces using an MQ-9 Reaper UAS, at the direction of President Trump, eliminated top Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani (leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force) under whose direction scores of U.S. Forces were killed or maimed and who was in Iraq to plan more attacks against Americans. UAS/drones can be used for good or ill; depending on the skill/intent of the operator."

To be clear this evil b*stard deserved no mercy. Full stop. You can debate whether or not it should have been done this way but not in a NASA memo. This paragraph reads like some political talking points and election year arm waving sent directly from the White House spin office. Why is NASA using an internal memo to employees to brag about a military attack mentioning the President by name - unless, perhaps, this is also a spin off of NASA UAS traffic management technology? I think we all doubt that this is the case. So why is it even mentioned?

This memo would be just fine without this overtly political paragraph. And to mix NASA benefits in the middle of a memo designed to warn people of certain dangers is a goofy place to try and promote NASA technology. Save that for a separate memo and focus on the risks. I hope someone in Jurcyzk's office pays a little more attention to incendiary and politically-tanted verbiage being sent out in official memos.

Get an editor, Steve.

I sent these questions to PAO etc. to see if someone can explain this: "Can someone explain why overt mention of a specific military action in Iraq was deemed necessary to mention in a memo designed to warn NASA employees about drones flying over NASA facilities?" and "Why was a memo used to warn employees about drone risks also used to promote the benefits of drone use?"

Full memo.

Keith's update: This is NASA PAO's non-answer answer: "Hey Keith. As you know, NASA is involved in the development of unmanned aircraft, and drone technologies and traffic management systems. The intent of the phrasing was to point out to employees that there are positive and negative uses of these technologies, and to give examples of both. The communication was intended to convey the risks to people, facilities, and operations posed by unauthorized flights over NASA Centers and facilities. The mention of the military drone strike was included, as this was a very recent example of the potential power and lethality of drones."

NASA planning document may offer clues to changes in Artemis program, Ars Technica

"For this assessment, about 60 people at the agency and from industry sought to determine the status of the program as it was currently structured. After the analysis, Loverro told staffers at NASA he had "concerns" about whether the existing plan would work. In particular, during internal briefings, Loverro expressed doubts about the remote assembly of elements of the lunar lander at the Gateway. He also wanted NASA engineers to make sure the Orion spacecraft, with crew on board, could dock to the lander without the Gateway. The potential revision of this plan, which may entail the launch of an entire lunar lander on an upgraded version of the SLS rocket, is notable for several reasons. Perhaps most significantly, it would place primary responsibility for NASA's Moon program on the shoulders of Boeing. That company is building the core stage of the SLS rocket, as well as an upgraded upper stage--the Exploration Upper Stage--that would now be required for use by August 2024 on the Block 1B version of the SLS. In fact, it would be required to accelerate development of the beefier SLS rocket."

Keith's note: NASA and the military have done low level things together for half a century when an astronaut from one of the service branches has flown in space. The two organizations share a common aeronautical and engineering heritage - so this is not at all surprising. But there has always been a clear line denoting NASA's chartered nature as a civilian organization. But now the brand new Space Force is dialing up that interaction - using NASA imagery on social media to promote a large, national military-themed event on board a NASA (civilian) spacecraft. Oddly NASA is not telling anyone about this event at NASA.gov - it is not on the home page or on the NASA.gov calendar. But it you happen to dig down into the schedule for NASA TV it is listed. NASA overtly promotes events between ISS astronauts and a hundred kids at a grammar school - why not this event? Just sayin'

Meanwhile. it is sort of strage that while the Space Force PR squad is pumping out social media posts with pictures of astronauts in space - and then swearing a bunch of them in - from space - that the deputy Space Force guy says that there is scant opportunity for any recruits to actually go into space. Looks like they need to work on their messaging - this is bit like the old "bait and switch" marketing ploy

Space Force's second-in-command admits he's a Star Trek fan but says there's 'almost ZERO' chance for recruits to follow in the footsteps of his heroes and go into space with his organization, Daily Mail

"The Space Force will also have a series of sensors on the ground, hiring 26,000 people with a $12 billion annual budget. But he warned that budding astronauts need not apply. 'That opportunity to be an astronaut inside the Space Force today is almost zero. The best thing to do if you want to be an astronaut is go talk to NASA,' he declared. 'But the rest of the world is going in the direction of the Space Force. We're talking about remotely piloted aircraft, drones, artificial intelligence, vehicles that operate by remote control or autonomous control -- that's Space Force.'"

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2020/19feb2020pence.jpg

Remarks by Vice President Pence to NASA Langley Research Center, White House (larger word cloud image)

"The President has directed NASA and the Administrator to accomplish our goal to return to the Moon and then on to Mars not only within five years, but let me be clear: The President has made it clear that we're going to accomplish this goal by any means necessary. In order to succeed, we are going to continue to focus on the mission over the means. We want to challenge each one of you here at Langley: Consider every available option and platform to meet our goals, including industry, government, and the entire American space enterprise. It's the reason why we're cutting out the underbrush of needless regulations and barriers to innovation, because we want you all to be able to reach, to engage, and to draw on the best ideas in America to get us where we're going by the time we set ourselves to get there. Our administration is absolutely committed to this goal and we want you all to have the same determination and resolve to get there. And this President and this administration and the American people are committed to achieving this goal through NASA and through the Langley Research Center. So let me at least give you one word of admonition on behalf of your President and on behalf of the entire National Space Council: More than ever before, we want you to engage your imaginations, your creativity. Challenge one another. You know, there's that old proverb that says, "Iron sharpens iron." So I encourage you to come in every day with that same impatience and energy that, frankly, I heard in the voices of everybody that Director Turner introduced me to today. The enthusiasm as we walked through the Center, the fire in their eyes -- just let that be in your eyes."

Keith's note: The Washington Post (owned by Jeff Bezos) ran a full page advertisement/op ed by Blue Origin (also owned by Jeff Bezos) in today's Washington Post written in response to a recent editorial about space policy by the Washington Post editorial board.

NASA keeps falling victim to presidential whims, Washington Post (image of full advertisement)

"Mars (of which the Moon is a part)" is either nonsense or exactly what legislators in the House of Representatives seem to have their eye on today: putting humans on the moon only as a jumping-off point to explore the red planet in person. That's different from the plan NASA is envisioning, despite the president's contradictory tweets; the agency looks to Mars in the distant future but treats the moon as an end in itself -- where it can establish bases on the far side and mine lunar ice, ostensibly for life support and rocket fuel. There's a powerful argument that satisfying the human drive to know doesn't actually require humans. Robots can do lots of exploring for lots less money than it costs to put people on (or float people above) celestial bodies; projects from the Curiosity rover to the Cassini spacecraft and beyond have taught us so. There's also an argument that the private companies increasingly interested in low-orbit adventuring should be entrusted with as much as they're able to carry out, to save NASA money and to ensure that exploratory work continues even as the whims of politicians shift. (Disclosure: One of those companies is owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Post.) These shifting whims are the greatest threat to a space program constantly afflicted by whiplash. Preferable as a greater emphasis on robotics might be, leaders are unlikely to stop insisting on going places because we can. These long-term goals are most likely to be achieved if they're guided by thoughtful science and professional planning, rather than the allure of a potential geopolitical coup or the grievances of constituent contractors. The longer the politicians argue back and forth about the moon vs. Mars, the less likely we are to go to either one."

To which Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith responds:

"Recently, the Washington Post editorial board cited presidential whim as being at the heart of today's efforts to push for greater United States leadership and focus in space. That view is representative of uniformed critiques that come from many corners and have helped stymie well-intentioned prior efforts to move our nation forward into space. It fails to recognize the massive shifts in the space industry that allow us to maje greater strides and the emerging threats that require us to re-double our efforts. Last year, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing on the Moon reminded us of the great pioneering capabilities and innovation that the U.S. has always demonstrated. But the first steps of Apollo were just that - the first steps in an unprecedented journey that is just beginning. ... All the forces - economic, political, technological, cultural - are in place for this transformation and we are now participating in an historic moment. This inevitable expansion will not be stopped by those that waiver and merely critique, but will be forged by those across government and industry who are un apologetic in their vision, and who are unafraid to build and to dream."

Trump budget cuts funding for health, science, environment agencies, Washington Post

"President Trump once again is asking Congress to make major cuts to the budgets of science and health agencies while favoring research deemed essential to national security. The 2021 budget request delivered Monday to Congress includes a nearly 10 percent cut to Health and Human Services and a 26 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency. It asks for increases in funding for research on quantum computing and artificial intelligence, areas in which the United States competes with China. Trump also wants to grant NASA a multibillion-dollar boost to help the space agency put astronauts back on the moon. Trump budgets have repeatedly targeted agencies and programs that deal with science, health and the environment, but if tradition holds, the requested cuts have little chance of winning approval from the House of Representatives, which has the power of the purse and a Democratic majority."

Keith's note: Learning that the White House has singled NASA out for a substantial budget increase is always welcome news for the space community since it highlights the fact that space is important and space people think that space is important. Add in strong mention in the State of The Union address and at other high visibility events, a push for Space Force, and space folks certainly have a right to feel that there is new wind in their sails. One small problem: much of this is temporary. Alas, as has been the case in the past, large cuts in social services, education, science, and infrastructural budgets fall flat when they arrive at Congress. NASA stands out as a target by virtue of its large plus up while everyone else is getting cut back. Soon we'll hear the old saws "why spend money in space when it is needed here on Earth" and "We already did the Moon thing 50 years ago". As inspirational as this 12% increase is, the chances that it will actually happen are not very encouraging.

Today at the Space Foundation's State of Space event, Rep. Kendra Horn, the lead proponent of the recent NASA Authorization Act that is making its way through Congress said that the 12% proposed increase in NASA's budget is welcome, but that it does not address the $5-6 billion that she says that NASA has told her that they need every year to make the 2024 Artemis lunar landing to happen - and by the way where is NASA's actual plan to do this? When asked about the interest in having actual private sector participation in Artemis as proposed by the White House, Horn said instead that making everyone NASA contractors is better - something her NASA Authorization Act strives to do. Add in the Act's gutting of actual lunar utilization and exploration after the landings begin we'd be facing a Flags and Footprints 2.0 situation. Just as a huge NASA budget increase is going to be hard to sell to Congress against a backdrop of cuts elsewhere, spending any large amount of money on NASA - with or without a big increase - to go back and walk around on the Moon is going to be a hard sell as well when basic support services are on the chopping block.

When asked if she thought Artemis could survive the election and a possible change in the White House Horn replied that her authorization act had bipartisan support - so that was a good sign. We all saw what the Obama Administration did to the Bush Administration's human spaceflight program plan when they took over and what happened to Obama's space efforts when the Trump team took over. Horn referred to a certain amount of "whiplash" as being an integral part of what passes for space policy - and that this back and forth contributes to a lot of the problems we see in what NASA is doing or not doing at any given moment.

Now that I have served up a pile of negativity, lets look on the bright side. There is great interest - globally - in going back to the Moon - with both humans and robots, to do science and exploration, to both further national goals and conduct private sector projects. Oh yea Mars too. Alas, no one is exactly on the same page. Until we have an actual national strategy with goals, objectives, roles, and responsibilities clearly enumerated then this ad hoc, constantly pivoting approach is going to continue to stumble along. It takes more than short presidential directives or tedious, verbose NASA authorization Acts to make that happen. Barking orders and long wish lists chopped up into 4 year long bite size pieces won't work. It never has. We're just kicking the can down the road. Will someone please fix this? Thanks.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2015/canmars.jpgKicking The Can Down the Road to Mars, 2015, 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."

- NASA Administrator Statement on Moon to Mars Initiative, FY 2021 Budget

- NASA FY 2021 Budget Info, NASA

- FY 2021 Budget, OMB

Keith's 9 Feb update: NASA is on page 101. Some highlights:

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is responsible for leading an innovative program of exploration that would return American astronauts to the Moon by 2024 and build a sustainable presence on the lunar surface as the first steps on a journey that will take America to Mars.

The Budget increases funding for innovative programs that would land astronauts on the Moon and support precursor missions and advanced technologies that would enable further exploration. The Budget also supports a broad range of high-performing NASA programs that are not directly supporting the Moon to Mars program, and includes reductions to some lower-performing programs.

The Budget provides $25.2 billion for NASA, a 12-percent increase from the 2020 enacted level.

The Budget provides robust funding for the programs that support this goal, including $3.4 billion for the development of lander systems, over $700 million to support lunar surface activities, and $233 million for robotic precursor missions to Mars that would also conduct cutting-edge science.

The Budget defers funding of upgrades--known as "Block 1B"--for the SLS, and instead focuses the program on completing the initial version of the SLS and ensuring a reliable SLS and Orion annual flight cadence. While a potentially beneficial future capability, the costly Block 1B upgrades are not needed to land astronauts on the Moon.

Consistent with prior budgets, the Budget provides no funding for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, two Earth science missions, and the Office of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement. The Budget continues to support education activities such as internships and fellowships funded outside of the Office of STEM Engagement. The Budget also proposes to terminate the SOFIA telescope, which has not proven to be as scientifically productive as other missions."

Trump said to propose roughly $3 billion NASA budget boost for 2021, TechCrunch

"President Donald Trump is set to request a budget of $25.6 billion for NASA for its fiscal 2021 operating year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. It's looking for nearly $3 billion more than the $22.6 billion NASA had for its current fiscal year, and the bulk of the new funding is said to be earmarked for development of new human lunar landers. This represents one of the single largest proposed budget increases for NASA in a couple of decades, but reflects Trump's renewed commitment to the agency's efforts as expressed during the State of the Union address he presented on February 4, during which he included a request to Congress to "fully fund the Artemis program to ensure that the next man and first woman on the Moon will be American astronauts."

Trump's 'manifest destiny' in space revives old phrase to provocative effect, Washington Post

"In reaffirming our heritage as a free nation, we must remember that America has always been a frontier nation," he told members of Congress, about three-quarters of the way through his speech. "Now we must embrace the next frontier: America's manifest destiny in the stars." Minutes later, some people on social media were alarmed. The phrase is anything but politically correct, on the left at least. And Trump and his base enjoy pushing the left's buttons.

Keith's note: Sometimes the best tweets are the tweets you never send, Jim Morhard.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2020/architecture.s.jpg


Keith's note: If you have been following NASA's exploration plans for more than 10 minutes you know that there have been a lot of pivots along the way. The chart above (minus my snarky large yellow arrows and captions) is floating around NASA and puts the past few decades of pivots, false starts, and detours in NASA's exploration plans into context. Notice that even though the whole focus right now is on the Moon the chart only shows Mars. It is rather obvious to see that we spent half a century between the Apollo era of actual exploration on another world and today talking about what to do next. While the immensely capable ISS has orbited Earth for 20 years it just goes in circles. It does not go anywhere. Nor have we. Only robots get to do the exploring. When is this going to change? Larger version (image) (pdf).

Today there is a briefing of the National Space Council's Users Advisory Group (UAG) on the current state of NASA's Artemis 2024 landing architecture. The UAG name is somewhat misleading in terms of its name since there are few actual "users" of space on the panel. It is mostly big aerospace company representatives (sellers), political appointees with little space expertise, aerospace trade group representatives and lobbyists, and retired NASA employees who now consult. But I digress.

The briefing will be held in the 9th floor conference room near the NASA Administrator's suite. The event runs from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm. The briefing will be chaired by HEOMD AA Doug Loverro and run by Deputy AA Ken Bowersox and Acting Deputy AA for Human Lunar Exploration Programs Marshall Smith. FWIW at the 24 July 2019 UAG meeting Marshall Smith told participants that NASA is going to "turn and burn" from the Moon to Mars, so keep that in mind. In addition, Jake Bleacher, Doug Craig, Dan Matizak, Michelle Rucker, and Pat Troutman will provide background information to UAG attendees.

At the last UAG meeting one of the actions was to form a UAG Task Force to look into NASA's plans to meet the Vice President's direction to dial up NASA's original plans and land people on the Moon by 2024 - and how that meshes with the White House's three previously issued Space Policy Directives. The UAG Task Force members are Eileen Collins, Pam Melroy, Mary Lynne Dittmar, Les Lyles, and David Wolf.

After this briefing the Task Force will go off and do up an assessment - of NASA's assessment - and eventually toss it back to the full UAG and eventually to the National Space Council itself. And then something else will happen I suppose where everyone lays their hands on it for group approval.

This briefing will be "pre-decisional" and "notional", of course. As such, whatever detail emerges please remember that your mileage may vary, contents may settle, etc.

NASA Authorization Bill Update By NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

"I am concerned that the bill imposes some significant constraints on our approach to lunar exploration. As you know, NASA has successfully fostered the development of a rapidly expanding commercial economy for access to space. We would like to continue building on this success as we develop the most efficient mission architectures and partnership approaches to accomplish our shared goals.

NASA seeks to expand the sphere of economic activity deeper into space by conducting space exploration and development with commercial and international partners. Without the dynamic participation of commercial partners, our chances of creating a sustainable exploration program are significantly diminished. In particular, we are concerned that the bill's approach to developing a human lander system as fully government-owned and directed would be ineffective. The approach established by the bill would inhibit our ability to develop a flexible architecture that takes advantage of the full array of national capabilities - government and private sector - to accomplish national goals. NASA would appreciate the opportunity to work with the Committee to develop language that would support a broader national and international effort that would maximize progress toward our shared exploration goals through the efficient application of our available resources.

NASA is fully committed to a lunar exploration program that supports and enables human missions to Mars. The Committee should be aware that the exploration of Mars is a very challenging goal both technically and from a resource perspective. If we are going to accomplish this goal, we will need the flexibility to rapidly develop technical expertise using the Moon and to fully engage commercial and international partners. We do think that the bill's concerns for limiting activities on the Moon could be counterproductive. If we are going to explore Mars in a safe and sustainable way, we will require a strong in situ resource utilization capability and significant technology development using the surface of the Moon. NASA would appreciate more flexibility in defining lunar surface activities that may contribute directly to Mars exploration."

AIA's Mike French on House NASA Authorization Act

"The space policy community should be smiling. After record marks last month, we now have bipartisan, bicameral support across Congress and the Executive Branch to return to the Moon this decade and go on to Mars. On the eve of an anticipated strong budget request, I'm looking forward to working as a community to secure and fund this consensus."

Commercial Spaceflight Federation statement on House Space Subcommittee Draft NASA Authorization Bill

"As written, the NASA Authorization bill would not create a sustainable space exploration architecture and would instead set NASA up for failure by eliminating commercial participation and competition in key programs. As NASA and the White House have repeatedly stated, any sustainable space exploration effort must bring together the best of government and commercial industry to achieve a safe and affordable 21st century space enterprise. We look forward to working with members of the House Space Subcommittee to address a number of concerns with the bill."

Letter to Congress From The Commercial Spaceflight Federation Regarding The NASA Authorization Bill

"This Committee should withdraw this bill and engage in a fully transparent process to seek NASA, industry, academic, and public input in a meaningful way. This legislation was apparently drafted with no input from critical stakeholders, the public, or even Members of the Committee, and should be reconsidered."

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Statement Regarding H.R. 5666

"However the path to executing this goal - including meaningful activity at the Moon - remains a topic of significant discussion, and this bill is helping to spark a robust exchange about the best way to achieve that bipartisan vision."

Keith's note: Vice President Pence put his authority on the line last Spring when he directed NASA to do the Artemis return to the Moon effort by 2024 "by any means necessary". His direction had the implied, implicit backing of the President. And Pence entrusted NASA to make it happen. Jim Bridenstine took that ball and, to his credit, ran long and strong with it. 

Now Congress, in a bipartisan action in the House with new NASA Authorization legislation, delays human landings, deletes hardware and puts a new item in the critical path, and deletes any useful use of capabilities on the lunar surface once we return with humans. Exploration and utilization is now Flags and Footprints 2.0. This action by Congress seeks to kick Pence and Bridenstine in the knees and remove any urgency or sense of purpose. While the 2024 date did have a few people wondering if it was doable, NASA's push to try and make it happen has been admirable - and refreshing - at least in my personal opinion.

The exact means whereby NASA would accomplish this 2024 goal has been lacking and is overdue for delivery. A rebooting of HEOMD management led to a rethinking of the overall game plan thus delaying things further. Congress has expressed doubts too. A new federal budget is due to be dropped by the White House soon wherein their plans for NASA will be revealed. Now this proposed legislation seeks to impose its own, downsized architecture upon NASA, undermine presidential directives, and negate a series of high-level procurements NASA has already put into motion.

Are there other ways to accomplish this 2024 goal? Of course there are. But that is not what this legislation does. It eviscerates the goal itself and shoves it off into an increasingly distant and uncertain future.

There is some discontent on the part of Users Advisory Group (UAG) members to the language in the NASA Authorization bill. Some of that discontent is in the process of being conveyed up to Pence. The bill's mark-up is scheduled 29 January and some NASA briefings to UAG members and others over NASA's Artemis architecture issues. There is also a big FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference event here in DC this coming week and NASA will pause to mourn the people lost in the exploration of space. Lots of things happening in simultaneity.  

Will Pence say something? Will Jim Bridenstine? I will be watching to see what, if anything bubbles up into the public arena. I am not sure that being optimistic is a useful place to be.

Most of the UAG is composed of big aerospace representatives and political appointees who will still make money anyway or not be affected by any change in course. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation has made their stance clear about this bill which "would not create a sustainable space exploration architecture and would instead set NASA up for failure by eliminating commercial participation and competition in key programs.". Yet AIA's statement and lack of any response from the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration or any other of the big aerospace industry groups suggests that they are fine with whatever happens since their corporate members and supporters will do OK. AIA's Mike French sits inside his bubble inside the Beltway and suggests that everyone is "smiling". In his world that is an expected opinion to promote since big aerospace will get more money to do less exploration. But who cares. The money must flow.

Keith's update : Coalition for Deep Space Exploration has issued a statement. It is wimpy and takes no stance whatsoever - since their member companies stand to benefit the most from the way this bill is written.

Authorization acts do not necessarily affect reality since they have no teeth when it comes to actual funding.  Agencies ignore these authorization acts when they can and embrace them when they need to.  NASA has often operated just fine for years without an authorization act governing their activities. But these authorization bills do reflect congressional thinking that can affect appropriations. And they also reflect the impact of corporate lobbyists on that thinking.

Up until Friday afternoon NASA was embarked on a plan to swiftly return to the Moon - with some urgency, And once NASA returned it had plans to make the most of a renewed human and robotic presence on the lunar surface. Indeed, Jim Bridenstine openly talked of extracting lunar ice. That is not flags and footprints folks. That's advanced exploration and utilization of another world. 

Now the House, bolstered by some aerospace company lobbying, wants to pull back from that urgency and turn the Artemis program into a long-term, level-of-effort endeavour where all of the aerospace companies get guaranteed income while taking forever to actually accomplish the end goal. The lunar landings will now be glorified stunts, and the goal of landing humans on Mars has been replaced with a goal of simply orbiting Mars.

We went to the moon in less than a decade half a century ago - inspiring a generation in the process since it happened in a time scale they could grasp in their daily lives. Half a century later it will take us much, much longer to just do a pale imitation of that earlier effort. Where is the inspiration in that? We used to actually do great things in space. Now our national goal in space is to delay doing mediocre things as long as possible.

When I was growing up in the mid-1960s as a young boy we were all told that we'd be on the Moon by the "end of this decade". My young life was pegged against the regular progress made toward that goal which we as a nation achieved. Jim Bridenstine has been telling young boys and girls and their parents of a similar goal. After more than a decade of development there will be a landing of men and women on the Moon in their immediate future. Now after mere months that 4 years is 8 years unless it changes again. We used to be able to set goals and meet them. Now everything is up for negotiation. Its hard to pin your hopes on something that is constantly changing.

Jim Bridenstine opened his initial presentations about going back to the Moon with a cautionary note that this is not another "Lucy and the Football" effort - one wherein everything is set up - only to have the ball taken away and the goal posts moved. NASA has been through this sort of policy stop-and-go pivoting whiplash far too many times in the half century since we dared to walk on another world.

Alas, in less than 2 years NASA is once again being denied access to the ball that was supposed to be in play. Sitting on the sidelines on the journey to nowhere is now what we aspire to instead. Sad.

More space policy news

Keith's 17 January note: The authors finally fixed their error.

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2019 Annual Report

"NASA's human space flight brand and reputation are driven by 60 years of operational excellence performing complex missions in extraordinarily difficult endeavors. Nevertheless, the dynamic environment of Lunar 2024, imposed on an Agency still involved in complex and hazardous operations in orbit, while simultaneously developing or sponsoring development of new rockets, spacecraft, and critical equipment, will challenge the NASA community. As the Agency undertakes the most ambitious human foray beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) since 1972, we advise:

• Regardless of how NASA addresses the technical challenges, the nation must avoid fluctuating policy goals, ambiguous objectives, budget inadequacies, and instability--including partial and full-year Continuing Resolutions--which add complexity and uncertainty to program management.
• Acknowledging the value of setting challenging but realistic and achievable schedules, NASA must guard against undue schedule pressure that might lead to decisions adversely impacting safety and mission assurance.
• NASA leadership must deliberately focus on communication and engagement with the workforce to preclude disconnects in risk assumptions across the organization and a culture of risk taking rather than one focused on deliberate risk management.
• As NASA evolves its interactions with commercial providers, it must maintain focus on the core tenets of system development as the mission is ultimately still a NASA responsibility."

"The dynamic environment of Lunar 2024 imposed on an Agency that is still involved in complex and hazardous operations in orbit (ISS) while simultaneously developing or sponsoring the development of new rockets, spacecraft, and critical equipment will stress the NASA community. The cumulative effect of these changes on the workforce has the potential to impact risk management across the Agency. As the Panel has pointed out before, one of NASA's strengths is the unwillingness to give up when faced with a tough challenge; this strength could become a weakness if a management team establishes an unrealistic program that contains time and budget constraints without fully addressing and managing risks. We advise NASA leadership to deliberately focus on transparency and engagement consisting of candid discussions at and between all levels of management around questions such as these:

• What is the strategy and what are the impediments and concerns from the top down?
• What are the corresponding concerns from the bottom up?
• What is the management team evaluation and response to the bottom-up concerns?
• What are the ongoing processes to periodically "take the pulse" on all of the above and consider course corrections?
• Through what regular management- and workforce-engagement process is NASA confident that it is appropriately managing risk, not simply taking risk to meet objectives?"

Keith's note: On more than one occasion Jim Bridenstine (and others at NASA) have sought to make it clear that NASA does not see Gateway as a "mini space station" only to call it a "space station" moments later. The meme they want to promote is that Gateway is supposed to be some sort of super service module that moves around and enables the whole human lunar landing thing. Well, now Paul Hertz from SMD is saying that they will be using Gateway for "astrophysics and other scientific investigations". In other words, Gateway is actually a space station (shh!) with inherent/embedded ability to do things that have zero relevance to landing people and things on the Moon. Statements like this simply serve to perpetuate the notion that NASA is simply recreating a ISS in lunar orbit and that they are trying to sell it by saying that it will do something for everyone.

Meanwhile NASA still cannot figure out how to fully utilize the space station they already have in Low Earth Orbit. Oh yes: there are people in HEOMD who seem to think that all of this lunar stuff is just temporary and that they will pivot toward Mars as soon as they can - thus leaving the Gateway with nothing to do. So maybe SMD is thinking of how to get in line for access to Gateway after HEMOD packs up and heads to Mars.

US and Japan in talks to boost space ties, send Japanese astronauts to moon in 2020s, The Mainichi

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine proposed to the Japanese government during a visit in September 2019 that it join the U.S. in a plan to put Japanese astronauts on the surface of the moon in the latter half of the 2020s, multiple sources familiar with the matter said. Bridenstine then held an unofficial meeting on Sept. 24, 2019, in Tokyo with figures including Yoshiyuki Kasai, head of the government's Space Policy Committee and honorary chairman at the Central Japan Railway Co., Takafumi Matsui, deputy head of the same committee as well as the director at the Chiba Institute of Technology's Planetary Exploration Research Center and a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, and Takehiko Matsuo, head of the National Space Policy Secretariat among others. At the meeting, Bridenstine is reported to have petitioned the attendees to carry out a forward-thinking assessment with a vision of having Japanese astronauts stand alongside American ones on the moon."

Keith's 2 Jan note: I have asked NASA PAO if this is accurate. Stay tuned.

Keith's 3 Jan update: NASA PAO sent the follow in response to my inquiry: "NASA's Artemis program relies heavily on the support of our commercial and international partners and several of our international partners have expressed great interest in potential collaboration. We're aggressively pursuing ways that other nations can contribute going forward. As he has done with other countries, Administrator Bridenstine discussed potential opportunities with counterparts in Japan during his visit there in September, but specific contributions and timelines have yet to be worked out. Various nations, including Canada, Japan, Australia and the member nations of the European Space Agency, have all expressed their strong support for Artemis Program and plan to join us for this new chapter in lunar exploration."

Findings from the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Final, 19 December 2019

"At the 6th meeting of the National Space Council, the following recommendation was adopted: "Within 60 days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator will designate an office and submit a plan to the Chairman of the National Space Council for sustainable lunar surface exploration and development, including necessary technologies and capabilities, to enable initial human missions to Mars."

- Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update), earlier post

"I asked Jim Bridenstine today if this report has been delivered. He replied that it has not."

President Bush Offers New Vision For NASA, 14 January 2004

"Our third goal," Bush said, "is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond." He proposed sending robotic probes to the lunar surface by 2008, with a human mission as early as 2015, "with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods of time." Bush said lunar exploration could lead to new technologies or the harvesting of raw materials that might be turned into rocket fuel or breathable air."

Keith's note: 16 years ago this month NASA was directed by a President to have Americans back on the Moon by 2015. It is now 2020 - and we're not there yet. NASA has now been tasked by another President to move up plans for a 2028 human landing to 2024. After 16 years we are still going to be 9 (13) years late. Are we actually making progress? At this rate ...

- GAO: NASA Will Have Problems Explaining Its Moon Plans, earlier post
- NASA Really Really Needs An Artemis Plan - Soon, earlier post

Remarks by President Trump at Signing Ceremony for S.1790, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, White House

"It was nearly half a century from Kitty Hawk to the creation of the Air Force. And now it's 50 years after Apollo 11 that we create the Space Force. With today's signing, I will proudly appoint General Jay Raymond the first Chief of Space Operations. And he will become the very first member of the Space Force. And he will be on the Joint Chiefs. He will be on the Joint Chiefs, which we're now expanding by one position. That's a very powerful position. So, General Raymond, congratulations, and thank you for you everything you've done. (Applause.)"

With the stroke of a pen, U.S. Space Force becomes a reality, U.S. Space Force

"By creating a new, separate service with a dedicated purpose, the United States will maintain space superiority, even as space becomes more crowded and contested. The new defense law also directs that the Space Force "shall provide the freedom of operation in, from, and to space, while providing prompt and sustained space operations."

Barrett, Air Force leaders applaud Space Force's formal creation, U.S. Space Force

"With the establishment of the Space Force we elevate the 'organize, train and equip' function consistent with the criticality of the space domain," said Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command. "The Space Force will deliver the capabilities U.S. Space Command needs to control and exploit space for national advantage."

Larger image

GAO: NASA Lunar Programs: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Analyses and Plans for Moon Landing

"NASA conducted studies to inform its lunar plans, but did not fully assess a range of alternatives to these plans. GAO best practices state that analyzing alternatives provides a framework to help ensure that entities consistently and reliably select the alternative that best meets the mission need and justify agency decisions. Given NASA's schedule, conducting this analysis is no longer viable. Instead, NASA intends to create a summary of the studies that informed its lunar plans. However, it has not committed to a completion date. Without a documented rationale, NASA is ill-positioned to effectively communicate its decisions to stakeholders and facilitate a better understanding of its plans."

- NASA Really Really Needs An Artemis Plan - Soon, earlier post
- Artemis Update From Bridenstine and Loverro, earlier post
- Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update), earlier post

Keith's note: If you read the management response at the end of this report you will see that NASA will "provide a preliminary cost estimate fo the Artemis III mission by the end of calendar year 2020, once the agency makes baseline cost and schedule committments for the Human Landing System currently planned for September 2020)" ... " NASA is developing a document that will summarize the trades and architectural studies which constituted an analysis of architectural alternatives and resulted in the agency's decision to baseline the current lunar architecture and associated programs ... NASA currently pans to complete this document by July 2020". NASA also says that it will develop a "Moon to Mars campaign strategy".

In other words NASA is not going to be in a position to provide much detail in the National Space Council's requested report report (already 60 days overdue) until next summer - a year after it was requested. Nor are they apparently going to be able to tell Congress what it needs to tell them in order to get all of their funds released. Moreover NASA will not have its Artemis cost estimates figured out until late next year - barely three calendar years before they expect to put humans back on the Moon. And NASA still does not have a plan for the whole Mars thing - and can't say when they will.

Exactly two years ago the White House stated "Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations". In March 2019 a frustrated Vice President Pence said "In Space Policy Directive-1, the President directed NASA to create a lunar exploration plan. But as of today, more than 15 months later, we still don't have a plan in place. But Administrator Bridenstine told me, five minutes ago, we now have a plan to return to the moon." Moments later he said "it is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the Moon within the next five years."

In their response to this GAO report NASA says that they won't even have a plan until late next summer - a year after Pence expressed his frustration about the lack of a plan. in March 2019 Pence gave NASA 5 years to put footprints on the Moon which is now seen as being no later than 31 December 2024. The agency is now telling us (and Pence) that it will have taken them yet another year to come up with a plan. And if the agency stays true to its bad habits the plan will still have major holes in it and no one will be able to stand there with a straight face and say how much it will cost. And then, just as they deliver this plan the election happens and ...

Artemis Wins Only Lukewarm Support In Final NASA FY 2020 Appropriation, Space Policy Online

"More than half the Artemis-related funding may not be obligated until NASA submits a multi-year plan explaining how it intends to execute that program and development of human lunar landers received far less than requested."

Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update), earlier post

"'[Pence] And I recommend to the public's attention the public record that you will find that we are setting specific timelines for the Administrator in the next 60 days to designation of an office and submission of a plan for a sustainable lunar surface exploration and the development of crewed missions to Mars."

Keith's note: I asked NASA Administrator Bridenstine about the report requested by the Vice President and the National Space Council last week. The last meeting of the took place on 20 August 2019. Pence's 60 day due date would therefore have been 19 October. It has been 61 days since the due date passed. Bridenstine said that the report has not been delivered and would provide a date when it will delivered.

Current top to bottom Artemis reviews being conducted by new HEOMD AA Doug Loverro are going to take some time. This recent budget action requires an Artemis program plan before all of the funds are released. Vice President Pence and the National Space Council also called for NASA to deliver an Artemis program plan. It is quite obvious by now that the White House and Congress do not have a clear idea as to how NASA is going to place humans on the Moon by 2024. They want to see plans.

Based on 20+ years of watching NASA, the agency has never been good at delivering this sort of plan to Congress and/or the White House. NASA never delivers these plans on time and the plans that are delivered usually punt on many of the important points which spawned the request for the plan in the first place. The Vice President expressed clear frustration with NASA Artemis progress and plans earlier this year. Congress has provided (at best) lukewarm support - along with healthy skepticism as to the why and how of NASA's plans.

NASA needs to hit the ground running in January. There is no more schedule margin to burn. The sooner NASA provides a plan that is realistic - one that is not based on faith-based notional plans - the better the chance they will have to pull this off with the resources needed to make it happen. As for the contractor community: it is time for them to do what they are paid to do - on time - and knock off lobbying Congress for more money to do things that NASA is not asking for.

Boeing, NASA clash over push for Congress to fund new stage for moon rocket, Washington Post

"In the Senate version of the NASA authorization bill for next year, lawmakers included language dictating that the agency "continue development" of the upper stage so that it could be ready for the third flight of the SLS, or Artemis III, which would be in time to land humans on the moon by 2024. While there is no House version of the bill, or an appropriation, Boeing's early success at pushing a compliant Congress to mandate the new upper stage for the third flight, instead of a later one, as is now planned, could upend NASA's lunar landing plans and put Boeing in the position of redirecting policy that had been set by NASA's leaders, engineers and scientists who have something other than profits as their priorities. To meet the White House's 2024 lunar landing date, NASA has been trying to build a broad coalition of companies, and has said repeatedly that everyone needs to pull together to help make the moon mission possible by 2024. Listen: Moonrise podcast "When we have one contractor trying to dictate policy that benefits them over the others, it puts the whole program at risk," said one senior NASA official on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly."

Boeing's Misleading Anti-SpaceX Pro-SLS Facebook Ad Campaign, earlier post

"For starters NASA is building the SLS. Boeing - along with Lockheed Martin, Aerojet, Orbital ATK, and Airbus are building the pieces. One page says it is Boeing's SLS. The other says it is NASA's. Which is it? And yes, Starliner will be sending human crews into space but it is not "the method NASA uses to send astronauts into space." It is one of the methods - SpaceX is another method."

- Join Boeing's SLS Fan Club So They Can Track Your Activity Online, earlier post
- NASA OIG SLS Audit: Poor Management By Boeing - Send More Money, earlier post
- Is This Any Way To Go Back To The Moon?, earlier post

Keith's note: Jim Bridenstine and Doug Loverro attended the Space News award event in Washington today. I asked them about the Moon/Mars plan that the Vice President and the National Space Council asked NASA to deliver in 60 days. Specifically I asked them if it had been delivered and if so could we see it. Bridenstine replied that it had not been delivered as requested and did not indicate when it would be despite it being rather overdue. See "Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update)"

Prior to my question Doug Loverro announced that he was assembling a Baseline Assessment Team to conduct a review to see where the Artemis/SLS/Orion program is and then decide how to move forward. Specifically Loverro said he did not know what the Artemis 1 launch date would be and that this date would only be set once the entire program had been given a look over.

Loverro went on to say that he did not want to see funding as a "crutch" for not meeting the goal of landing humans on the Moon by 2024. He noted that he "does "not complain about gravity or radiation" and that funding is just another obstacle to overcome. Bridenstine cautioned that just because the date of Artemis 1 may change that does not necessarily mean that all other launch dates will be delayed.

When asked about the budget situation Bridenstine said he thinks that there is a chance that NASA will get areal appropriation by 20 December. If not, he said that he's talking to his lawyers about ways to "move forward in this politically charged environment". NASA has other lunar-focused efforts underway that have adequate funding and it is possible that some of them could be used to further assist the human lander effort.

With regard to the ISS Bridenstine said "We know that the space station can't last forever. What are we doing now to make sure we do not have a gap in LEO since we are not going to build another ISS.

Inevitably the topic of Space Force came up in light of recent agreements in Congress. Both Bridenstine and Loverro are strong supporters of Space Force and it showed in their comments. At one point, Loverro sought to link what he's doing at NASA with what Space Force will be doing at DoD: "I am going to the Moon in 2024 and I do not want there to be any space pirates out there". He was kidding. I think. But wouldn't you want a few pirates in the mix? Just sayin'.

Keith's 10 Dec update: ; I asked Jim Bridenstine today if this report has been delivered. He replied that it has not.

Findings from the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Preliminary Draft, 4 December 2019

"At the 6th meeting of the National Space Council, the following recommendation was adopted: "Within 60 days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator will designate an office and submit a plan to the Chairman of the National Space Council for sustainable lunar surface exploration and development, including necessary technologies and capabilities, to enable initial human missions to Mars."

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Sixth Meeting of the National Space Council, 20 August 2019

'And I recommend to the public's attention the public record that you will find that we are setting specific timelines for the Administrator in the next 60 days to designation of an office and submission of a plan for a sustainable lunar surface exploration and the development of crewed missions to Mars."

Keith's 6 Dec note: The 6th meeting of the National Space Council took place on 20 August 2019. The 60 day due date would therefore have been 19 October. It has been 47 51 days since the due date passed. Has anyone seen this report? Was it ever delivered? If not, when will it be delivered?

- Dear Colleague Letter From The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group On The Proposed NASA Budget Amendment, earlier post
- The Planetary Science Community Is Split On Artemis/Moon2024, earlier post

Trump's Excellent Space Force Adventure, Washington Post

"The creation of a Space Force is still being negotiated in Congress, where different versions of it have passed the House and Senate. As of press time, it's unclear whether the new military service will be included in the upcoming defense authorization act -- but, with bipartisan support, America's extraterrestrial military efforts are, one way or another, poised to accelerate."

Congress, White House near deal to create Space Force in exchange for paid leave for federal workers, Washington Post

"Congressional lawmakers and the White House are on the verge of reaching a sweeping agreement that would extend 12 weeks of paid parental leave to federal workers in exchange for making "Space Force" the sixth branch of the U.S. military, according to four people with knowledge of the tentative deal. The deal is part of a defense authorization bill that is slated to pass this month. If consummated, the agreement could mark one of the biggest deals President Trump has cut with Congress. It would secure a massive expansion of benefits for federal workers, something Democrats have long sought, in exchange for a realignment of the U.S. military that Trump has sought to secure as part of his legacy."

Dear Space Force Fans: Please Chill Out, earlier post

"With a little less of this hyperventillation and crass political favoritism - and perhaps a little more basic wartime defense/prevention discussion - maybe a few more people might support this Space Force thing. Otherwise this sort of breathless op ed arm waving invites nothing more than mockery on a slow news day."

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Keith's note: Jim Bridenstine spoke at a Space Transportation Association luncheon today in Washington DC. At one point he talked about seeing a "million people living on the Moon in 50 years". So I tweeted that. Soon Twitter lit up with people doing weird math as to how many SLS flights would be required and at what cost. Seriously space fans? SpaceX Starship anyone? Anyway I got a call from Bridenstine a bit later and then tweeted this out:

"OK I just spoke with @JimBridenstine about what he thought he said - and meant to say - but had a slip of the tongue. He meant to say "a million people on the National Mall" celebrating our progress on the Moon 50 years from now. First he referred to huge crowds on the National Mall in DC this past July for Apollo 50 events. He referred to seeing 500,000 people on the Mall here in DC before (we all have) noting "They are usually not happy". The Apollo crowds were happy. Then he started to talk about how we are going to the Moon to stay, and started to imagine what things would be like 50 years hence such that we could "have a million people on the National Mall" celebrating our exploration and utilization of the Moon."

Hmm ... maybe Bridenstine was subconsciously channeling "Star Trek First Contact" (even if he claims to be a SpaceBalls/Star Wars fan):

"Zefram Cochrane: You don't have a moon in the 24th century?

William Riker: Sure we do. Just looks a lot different. There are 50 million people living on the moon in my time. You can see Tycho City, New Berlin... even Lake Armstrong on a day like this."

One other thing Bridenstine said was "the thing about Apollo is that it ended. We want Artemis to continue". Imagine If Apollo never ended 50 years ago and that lunar exploration and development continued and expanded. How many people might be living on the Moon now? Its time to catch up.

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The Space Force's moment of truth, op ed, Peter Garretson, Politico

"Within the Bay Area itself are Made-in-Space, NASA's Ames Research Center, and a conglomerate of Silicon Valley affiliated companies. How will they fare without the Space Force? A recent report State of the Space Industrial Base: Threats, Challenges and Actions outlined the threat these companies face by China's predatory pricing, investment in front companies, control of supply chains, and theft of intellectual property. Just this month, the US-China Economic and Security Commission, created by Congress, endorsed a Space Force to ensure" freedom of navigation and keeping lines of communication open, safe, and secure in the space domain, as the U.S. Navy does for U.S. interests in the maritime commons."

Keith's note: Huh? How is Space Force going to help Made-in-Space? There is no Space Force now and they're doing just fine. Is Space Force going to place armed guards around the ISS to keep the Chinese away? Is Space Force going to prevent China from utilizing space for commercial purposes so that only the U.S. can? Is Space Force going to engage in IP and patent protection in space and on Earth? The national defense aspect of Space Force has some logic to it. But the way the Space Force fans are whipping this whole thing up its as if there will be Space Force Cops patrolling in outer space writing parking tickets, chasing bad guys, and directing space traffic.

Oh and then there's this little gem "Second, it will have a devastating and compounding effect on jobs in key congressional districts." Aren't all congressional districts "key"? Or is this a scare tactic for big aerospace and the members of Congress they have ensnared in their lobbying efforts?

With a little less of this hyperventillation and crass political favoritism - and perhaps a little more basic wartime defense/prevention discussion - maybe a few more people might support this Space Force thing. Otherwise this sort of breathless op ed arm waving invites nothing more than mockery on a slow news day.

Commentary: Beyond the decadal surveys: Establishing policy for US space science, Physics Today

"A surprisingly small number of individuals at the OMB are involved in space science: the director of the OMB and the associate director for natural resource programs, both of whom are political appointees; the deputy associate director for the energy, science, and water division; and the fewer than 10 individuals who make up the division's science and space branch. Space science is, for the most part, handled by just a few career civil servants. I've not come across anyone in Congress or the executive branch who simply did not want to fund space-science missions. I have, however, encountered government officials who are vividly frustrated with cost overruns, and I have found that bureaucrats tend to value flexibility. The folks I met at the OMB and on Capitol Hill were sensitive to unforeseen occurrences or prescriptive options that placed undue limits on future actions, particularly if they interfered with agreed-on courses of action or involved a time frame beyond which policies--or politicians--might experience turnover."

Keith's note: @VP Pence retweeted this tweet and it has gone viral. Oops.

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VP Pence Visited Ames Today

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Remarks by Vice President Pence to NASA's Ames Research Center Employees and Guests

"And unlike in years past, under this President's leadership, I'm proud to report we not only have the will, we not only have the support of the American people, we not only have the greatest innovators and inventors, but we also have the budgets to match. We're going to give NASA the resources they need to accomplish their mission. In fact, this President has already signed into law the largest budget ever for this agency in the modern era, and we're about to add another billion and a half."

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Keeping Our Sights on Mars Part 2: Structuring a Moon-Mars Program for Success

Rep. Johnson

"Proponents of the Administration's crash program may argue that such a deadline will instill a sense of urgency and motivation into our space program. However, an arbitrary deadline that is uninformed by technical and programmatic realities, that is unaccompanied by a credible plan, and that fails to identify the needed resources is one that sets NASA up to fail rather than enabling it to succeed. Not only does that do the hardworking men and women of NASA and its contractor team a real disservice, but it will wind up weakening American leadership in space rather than strengthening it."

Rep. Babin

"At our last Space Subcommittee hearing, NASA said that maintaining the 2024 date for a Lunar landing is unlikely if they do not receive the additional funding they requested in their budget amendment. If a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing is any indication, the likelihood of receiving additional funding this year is decreasing."

Thomas Young

"A clear, unambiguous goal is required. Is the lunar part of the program to support success at Mars or is it to achieve sustained lunar presence? Does the Mars part of the program have specific objectives such as a Mars orbital mission followed by "boots on the ground," or is it a long-range objective? Answers to these questions will have a profound impact on schedule, cost and a reasonable timeline for humans to Mars. A clear, unambiguous goal must be followed by a detailed plan that is consistent with the goal and developed by the Mars-Moon program leadership. A detailed plan is the "glue" that integrates the vast array of Mars-Moon participants into the incredible team necessary to implement the Mars-Moon program. Additionally, a detailed plan is necessary to rally support, develop a credible budget, and obtain program and budget approval."

Thomas Stafford

"President Trump set a goal of returning to the Moon by 2024. NASA will have to make bold decisions and utilize a lot of the management techniques used during Apollo program. The leadership capability at NASA must be augmented at headquarters and at the applicable centers. The execution of a large complex program will require adequate systems engineering, integration and an appropriate budget to carry this out. The Congress will also need to produce adequate legislation to support this effort. Utilizing NASA and the aerospace industry as implementations capable of achieving this noble goal."

Rep. Horn

"Over the past 20 years, we have had a taste of the cost and effort involved in leading and maintaining long-term human spaceflight activities. Developing, assembling, and operating the International Space Station took over a decade to complete, represented a U.S. investment of over $80 billion dollars, and requires about $3 billion a year to support. Getting to the Moon and Mars will require much more."

Rep. Lucas

"As we set forth on our return to the Moon, we should always be mindful of the lessons we learned from Apollo and the decades that followed. Progressing incrementally on successive achievements, limiting the number of mission elements to decrease risk, and maintaining consistency of purpose are lessons that are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago."

Letter from OMB to Sen. Shelby regarding Senate versions of appropriations bills (NASA/Space excerpts)(PDF)

"The bill includes funding that the Administration believes is not in line with the overall effort to control non-defense spending reflected in the FY 2020 Budget request or underfunds key investments in critical areas supported in the FY 2020 Budget request, including:

- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Administration appreciates the Committee's continued support for space exploration, reflected in the $22.8 billion provided in the bill for NASA, which includes an increase of $680 million for lunar-focused exploration programs. However, the $1.6 billion provided for exploration research and development (R&D) is insufficient to fully fund the lander system that astronauts would use to return to the Moon in 2024. Funding exploration R&D at the $2.3 billion level requested in the FY 2020 Budget is needed to support the Administration's goal of returning to the Moon by 2024.

The Administration would also like to take this opportunity to share its views regarding language provisions in the bill including:

- NASA Europa Mission. The bill requires that NASA use the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to launch the Europa Clipper mission. The Administration is deeply concerned that this mandate would slow the lunar exploration program, which requires every SLS rocket available. Unlike the human exploration program, which requires use of the SLS, the Europa mission could be launched by a commercial rocket. At an estimated cost of over $2 billion per launch for the SLS once development is complete, the use of a commercial launch vehicle would provide over $1.5 billion in cost savings. The Administration urges the Congress to provide NASA the flexibility called for by the NASA Inspector General and consistent with the FY 2020 Budget request.

- NASA financial systems report language. The Committee report includes directive language for NASA that would hinder the Administration's efforts to help the agency make necessary corrections to its financial systems. These changes are needed to eliminate current deficiencies and improve NASA's ability to efficiently comply with the Antideficiency Act.

- Satellite Instrumentation Report Language. The Committee report includes language that would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study the impacts that instruments operating in the 23.6 to 24 gigahertz bands have on weather satellites. Such a study would be directly duplicative of past Agency studies on this subject, which were fully considered by the Administration in a lengthy interagency process earlier this year, leading to a carefully-wrought compromise that balances the spectrum needs of government and private enterprise. The Administration believes that further study is unnecessary, and asks that the language be removed.

The Administration appreciates that the bill includes funding for critical priorities, including:

- Space Force. The Administration greatly appreciates that the Committee establishes an "Operations and Maintenance, Space Force" appropriation within the Department of Defense (DOD) for the first time and has provided the requested funding for the initial operations of the United States Space Force. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to complement the Committee's work by modifying Title 10 of the United States Code to establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces in FY 2020."

Commerce Leaders Introduce the NASA Authorization Act of 2019

"The NASA Authorization Act would:

• Support NASA's human spaceflight and exploration efforts to return American astronauts to the Moon and prepare for future journeys to Mars.
• Extend authorization for the International Space Station through 2030 and direct NASA to take steps to grow the "space economy."
• Require the United States to maintain a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit through and beyond the useful life of the ISS.
• Support NASA's leadership in coordinating the development of next generation spacesuits.
• Leverage private sector investment to bolster human space exploration.
• Authorize NASA's Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL) authority. EUL allows companies to lease vacant or underutilized buildings owned by NASA with lease proceeds helping to fund capital improvements at the NASA centers.
• Provide rapid acquisition authorities similar to those that have proven successful at the Department of Defense and other agencies.
• Direct NASA to maintain and upgrade irreplaceable rocket launch and test infrastructure.
• Support vital life and physical science research to ensure that humans can live in deep space safely.
• Direct NASA to improve upon its planetary defense measures in order to protect Earth from asteroids and other near-Earth objects.
• Affirm NASA's commitment to aeronautics research by supporting a robust X-plane program as well as work on efficient propulsion concepts and advanced composites.
• Support NASA's STEM education and workforce efforts."

NASA shares details of lunar surface missions--and they're pretty cool

"One of the limitations on returning samples is the Orion spacecraft, which will carry astronauts back from lunar orbit to Earth. Chavers said the Orion spacecraft does not have any designated space for a box of sample rocks taken from the lunar surface. "We just don't know what the capability will be," Chavers said of bringing rocks back to Earth inside Orion. This would seem to be an important detail to nail down."

Keith's note: There are times when I am convinced that NASA people are simply unaware that people are actually listening to what they say. The answer should have been "Of course we'll be bringing Moon rocks back. We're working on the exact mass/volume right now" - unless NASA is actually not planning to bring Moon rocks back to Earth - after spending tens of billions to go back to the Moon.

NASA should shed lesser priorities to achieve a 2024 moon landing, Op Ed, Doug Cooke

"NASA should focus major new development on an integrated lander/ascent vehicle launched on an SLS 1B. With Orion launched on a separate SLS, the lunar landing would be achieved with these two flights, and at most one commercial launch with additional fuel. This is a much simpler approach with a significantly higher probability of success."

Keith's note: On one hand Boeing consultant Doug Cooke wants to kill Gateway because it adds complexity and increases the number of points where a failure could derail the Moon 2024 thing. No argument there. He then goes on to push for the SLS variant that features Boeing's Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) - and requires more SLS flights. The net result is likely going to be a wash when it comes to cost. And given the SLS program's chronic inability to do anything on time or within budget, there are likely to be SLS and EUS issues that will also cause the 2024 deadline to be missed.

Or, NASA could adopt an open source, multi-path, modular approach relying on existing commercial launchers, and standard interfaces. And if you have to build SLS then use it as a cargo vehicle only. If a large effort is to be mounted on the Moon and cislunar space then propellant depots should be thrown into the mix. Relying on SLS in an architecture for sending Americans and cargo back to the Moon is, itself, the prime risk factor so long as it remains in the critical path - whether it is 2024 or 2028 that you are aiming for.

Its anyone's guess right now as to how the election will turn out. As we've all seen, when a new Administration arrives they have a strong tendency to fiddle with the previous Administration's space goals. Adopting flexibility in terms of launch vehicles and space assets is the best way to assure that something will survive a potential transition and put people on the Moon. But sticking with a program that is utterly reliant upon SLS - a program that gets more expensive and extends its target date with every passing day - is not the best way to assure that we'll be heading back to the Moon. And if this whole Moon thing is supposedly being done to get humans to Mars sooner, then the need to be more flexible and creative is underscored.

Then again Jeff and Elon may just make this whole NASA Moon/Mars thing moot.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/luke.gifMessage from the NASA Administrator: NASA Strategic Alignment, NASA

"There continues to be a requirement for greater coordination in the Agency to ensure alignment with the Office of the Administrator given the increasingly diverse and growing interests and capabilities in space and aeronautics, and in light of the President's major exploration campaign. Last November, I named Tom Cremins as the Associate Administrator for Strategic Engagement and Assessments to put a greater focus around these technical areas, as well as continue to support me in defining and setting Agency strategy and plans. We have now determined that a Federated Board, working closely with Tom, and led by the relevant deputy associate administrators in the Human Exploration and Operations, Science, and Space Technology mission directorates, will add to these efforts. The Board will ensure Agency alignment and coordination with my strategic direction and help to define and implement Agency priorities. The Board leverages mission directorate staff and support from Agency support offices as needed for Board discussions and coordination. I have asked the associate administrators and the center directors for their full support in making the Federated Board successful in their efforts to ensure strategic alignment across the Agency."

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Remarks by Vice President Pence at the 2019 International Astronautical Congress Opening Ceremony

"The truth is, for more than a generation, a vision for human space exploration had languished in this country and around the world. But those days are over. With America's renewed vision for human space exploration, we will lead mankind into the vast expanse of space. The task before us will involve hardship and hazard, sacrifice and determination. And it will require faith. Faith in the boundless capacity of American ingenuity and the ingenuity and cooperation of freedom-loving nations around the world. Faith in the extraordinary courage of the men and women who, even now, train and prepare to move the boundary lines of human knowledge. And faith, as generations of Americans have long believed, that even if we rise on the wings of the dawn, even if we go up to the heavens, even there, His hand will guide us and His right hand will hold us fast."

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Trump: "THIS IS THE FIRST TIME FOR A WOMAN OUTSIDE OF THE SPACE STATION. OUR FLIGHT ENGINEER, CHRISTINA COOK AND FLIGHT ENGINEER JESSICA MEIR. I JUST WANT TO CONGRATULATE YOU, WHAT YOU DO IS INCREDIBLE. SO, YOU'RE VERY BRAVE PEOPLE. I DON'T THINK I WANT TO DO IT. I MUST TELL YOU THAT. BUT YOU ARE AMAZING PEOPLE. THEY'RE CONDUCTING THE FIRST EVER FEMALE SPACE WALK TO REPLACE AN EXTERIOR PART OF THE SPACE STATION."

Crew: "THANK YOU. FIRST OF ALL, WE DON'T WANT TO TAKE TOO MUCH CREDIT BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN -- THERE HAVE BEEN MANY OTHER FEMALE SPACE WALKERS BEFORE US, THIS IS JUST THE FIRST TIME THERE'S BEEN TWO WOMEN OUTSIDE AT THE SAME TIME."

Trump "ON ANOTHER LAND. PRESIDENT TRUMP: VERY EXCITING. EXCITING TIMES. THAT WHOLE PROGRAM WAS DEAD WHEN I TOOK IT OVER. WHEN WE CAME INTO OFFICE. AND SOMETHING THAT MIKE LIKED VERY MUCH, I LIKED VERY MUCH. AND YOU'RE BOTH DOING A FANTASTIC JOB, EVERYBODY IS DOING A FANTASTIC JOB. IT'S BEEN TOTALLY REINVIGORATED I THINK TO A LEVEL THAT'S IT'S NEVER BEEN. AND WE'RE ALSO THINKING IN TERMS OF DEFENSE. WE HAVE THE SPACE FORCE HAPPENING THAT'S GOING ALONG VERY NICELY AS YOU KNOW. WE'RE CREATING A NEW FORCE, IT'S CALLED THE SPACE FORCE..."

Chairman Serrano Statement at Hearing on NASA's Moon Landing Proposal

"Not even NASA's own leadership has enough confidence in the success and safety of advancing this timeline. NASA Acting Associate Administrator Bowersox, who is a former astronaut and here with us today, referred to the 2024 moon landing date as difficult to achieve in a House Science hearing last month, saying quote "I wouldn't bet my oldest child's birthday present or anything like that." Additionally, NASA's Manager for the Human Landing System, Lisa Watson-Morgan, was quoted in an article about the timing of the mission saying, quote: "This is a significant deviation for NASA and the government... all of this has to be done on the fast. It has to be done on the quick ... Typically, in the past, NASA is quite methodical ... which is good. We're going to have to have an abbreviated approach to getting to approval for industry standards for design and construction ... and how we're going to go off and implement this. So, this is a big paradigm shift, I would say, for the entire NASA community, too." Unquote. We cannot sacrifice quality just to be quick. We cannot sacrifice safety to be fast. And we cannot sacrifice other government programs just to please the President. Before asking for such a substantial additional investment, NASA needs to be prepared to state unequivocally which NASA missions will be delayed or even cancelled in the effort to come up with an additional $25 billion."

Budget leader says NASA's accelerated moon mission timeline unnecessary, Huston Chronicle

"And its for political reasons that the initiative could get stalled, said Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee and editor of NASA Watch, a website devoted to space news. "Here we are, 14 months from (an election) and everyone is doing the classic thing we see here in Washington: It's time to start either waiting people out until after the election or now is the time to strike and get something in place before change happens," Cowing said. That's likely one of the reasons Serrano is OK with a 2028 moon mission, Cowing said, especially since NASA programs backed by the current administration are typically gutted by the incoming president after the election."

New Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate: Douglas Loverro

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Wednesday selected Douglas Loverro as the agency's next Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Loverro succeeds former astronaut Kenneth Bowersox who has been acting associate administrator since July. "I worked with Doug for many years on the Hill and he is a respected strategic leader in both civilian and defense programs, overseeing the development and implementation of highly complicated systems," said Administrator Bridenstine from Headquarters in Washington. "He is known for his strong, bipartisan work and his experience with large programs will be of great benefit to NASA at this critical time in our final development of human spaceflight systems for both Commercial Crew and Artemis." For three decades, Loverro was in the Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) developing, managing, and establishing national policy for the full range of National Security space activities."

Douglas L. Loverro, LinkedIn

Why the United States needs a Space Force, OpEd, Douglas Loverro, Space News

"The president got it right. We need a Space Force. Space is too critical for the nation's defense not to have an organization that speaks for its importance, defends it against all comers, and jealously advocates for new missions and new responsibilities. Space is too crucial to national security to be stalled by a lack of focus and an unwillingness to respond until pushed."

Keith's note: Loverro still has to drink from multiple fire hoses for a while to get up to speed before he can make the big SLS decisions. And if the whole Space Force thing happens then NASA will now have firm support for it at the top levels of agency management.

Interestingly Loverro appears in the FEC donor database most recently as having made multiple contributions to Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath who is challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Earlier donations noted in OpenSecrets show him to be a Democrat - or perhaps an Independent - which tends to support the notion that Bridenstine simply sought expertise in his choice without letting politics becoming involved. A good sign.

Budget leader says NASA's accelerated moon mission timeline unnecessary, Huston Chronicle

"Cowing said he is heartened by the pick, even though Loverro appears to lack civilian space experience. "It's kind of a refreshing choice to pick someone outside the usual suspects within NASA human spaceflight," Cowing said. "Clearly, how things have been running for the past decade is rockets don't launch and bringing a new perspective is required."

Some NASA contractors appear to be trying to kill the Lunar Gateway, Ars Technica

"These members, including Oklahoma Democratic representative and committee chair Kendra Horn, as well as Alabama Republican representative Mo Brooks, were particularly skeptical of private rockets in their comments and questions during the hearing. They also pressed NASA on why the agency is not moving more quickly with development of a powerful second stage upgrade for the agency's Space Launch System rocket. This "Exploration Upper Stage" would increase the amount of mass the rocket could send to the Moon from 26 tons to 37 tons. Wednesday's hearing was notable because it appears to mark an escalation in an intense lobbying battle going on behind the scenes by some contractors--most likely led by Boeing--to kill NASA's proposed Lunar Gateway and instead accelerate funding for the Exploration Upper Stage ...

... What was surprising is that Horn and others at the hearing also appeared to be swayed by Cooke's view that bypassing commercial rockets and the Gateway would lead to a simpler and faster lunar mission. "I believe there is value in developing commercial capabilities," she said toward the end of the hearing. However, she added, "I am concerned that the decisions are not being driven by what is most efficient or effective and what is most cost efficient."

Keith's note: Yesterday Doug Cooke was pushing for the Exploration Upper Stage - something Boeing has been trying to get NASA to fund for years. Cooke has worked for Boeing for years. I thought it was a little odd that no one brought up that fact in the hearing - especially when you can see from his Truth in Testimony Disclosure Form that he as been paid $466,250 between 2017 and today. The bio at the end of his prepared testimony makes zero mention of "Boeing" but pushes the EUS. Just sayin'

This not so subtle campaign to eliminate Gateway has been underway for months.

Report: The Future of Space 2060 and Implications for U.S. Strategy: Report on the Space Futures Workshop, Air Force Space Command 5 September 2019

"Key conclusions reached were:

- The U.S. must recognize that in 2060, space will be a major engine of national political, economic, and military power for whichever nations best organize and operate to exploit that potential.
- The U.S. faces growing competition from allies, rivals, and adversaries for leadership in the exploration and exploitation of space.
- China is executing a long-term civil, commercial, and military strategy to explore and economically develop the cislunar domain with the explicit aim of displacing the U.S. as the leading space power. Other nations are developing similar national strategies.
- A failure to remain a leading space power will place U.S. national power at risk. To avert this, the U.S. coalition must promote and optimize the combined civil, military, and commercial exploitation of space to best serves the nation's interests.
- The U.S. military must define and execute its role in promoting, exploiting, and defending the expanded military, civil, and commercial U.S. activities and human presence in space."

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Hooray: Space Command / Space Force Is Here!, earlier post

Statement from NOAA

"From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama. This is clearly demonstrated in Hurricane Advisories #15 through #41, which can be viewed at the following link. The Birmingham National Weather Service's Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time."

Keith's note: Looks like the political hacks in NOAA PAO are taking their orders directly from the White House and not from NOAA's own scientists and weather experts. Let's hope NASA does not find itself in this situation.

NOAA staff warned in Sept. 1 directive against contradicting Trump, Washington Post

"Nearly a week before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly backed President Trump over its own scientists, a top NOAA official warned its staff against contradicting the president. In an agencywide directive sent Sept. 1 to National Weather Service personnel, hours after Trump asserted, with no evidence, that Alabama "would most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated," staff was told to "only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise from some national level social media posts which hit the news this afternoon."

NOAA's support of Trump over its own scientists provokes uproar in weather community, Washington Post

"Three former NOAA heads have expressed this concern. Kathryn Sullivan, a former NASA astronaut who ran the agency under President Barack Obama, said that throughout NOAA's history, the agency -- including its political appointees -- has committed "to not let any political factors sway the scientific credibility and clarity of Weather Service forecasts and warnings." She stated: "The anonymous and disingenuous statement NOAA tweeted out is a major breach of scientific integrity that damages the NWS and stains the agency's leadership."

National Weather Service chief backs forecasters who contradicted Trump's Dorian claim, AP

"The head of the National Weather Service issued a strong public defense Monday of forecasters who contradicted President Donald Trump's claim that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to Alabama as it approached the United States. Director Louis Uccellini said forecasters in Birmingham did the right thing Sept. 1 when they tried to combat public panic and rumors that Dorian posed a threat to Alabama. It was only later that they found out the source of the mistaken information, he said. Speaking at a meeting of the National Weather Association, Uccellini said Birmingham forecasters "did what any office would do to protect the public." "They did that with one thing in mind: public safety," said Uccellini, who prompted a standing ovation from hundreds of forecasters by asking members of the Birmingham weather staff to stand."

Report: Wilbur Ross Threatened To Fire NOAA Employees After Birmingham Statement, TPM

"Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs from Greece to threaten him and top officials with termination if they didn't contradict a statement from the Birmingham, Alabama office undermining President Donald Trump's bogus Hurricane Dorian meteorology. According to the New York Times, Ross called Jacobs two days after Trump wielded his infamous Sharpie map to undergird his baseless conviction that Alabama was originally projected to be hit by Hurricane Dorian."

What will we call the men and women of the Space Force?, The Hill

"In the shorter term, Space Force personnel may conduct operations beyond Earth orbits in the near- to mid-term, so the nickname "orbiter" may unduly limit their potential. Defining Space Force personnel by motive power seems both limiting and premature. But "rocketeer" and "orbiter" have the obvious negatives of sounding a bit silly and not commanding respect. ... The main drawbacks of "trooper" might also sound silly because of pop culture references, and there is no clear understanding of what a space "trooper" does. Since the Space Force will probably not field anything resembling "Starship Troopers'" Mobile Infantry anytime soon (or for that matter, "Star Wars'" storm troopers), trooper may also be considered false advertising by the American public. In addition, it would not be a good idea to mirror image the Russians and copy their model when we are trying to create a separate and unique force of our own."

Letter From OMB To Senate Armed Services Committee Regarding National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020

"Space Force (Sections 1601, 1602, 1603, 1604, and 1608). Elevating the space domain to be on par with the air, land, and sea domains is critical to advancing the role of space power in our national defense. The Nation must transform our approach to space from a support function to a domain of competition-and potential conflict-in which our space forces are prepared to deter aggression and, if necessary, to fight and win. While the bill provides some elements to elevating the space domain, it does not provide the necessary legislative authority to establish the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces. The Administration strongly urges the Congress to explicitly designate the Space Force as a separate sixth branch of the Armed Forces and include all related technical and conforming amendments. Further, quickly developing a strong, multifaceted culture is critical, and the Administration urges the Congress to provide authority to transfer personnel from all branches of the Armed Forces into the Space Force."

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies: Fiscal Year 2021 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities Full document, OMB/OSTP

"Advanced Military Capabilities: Relevant departments and agencies should invest in R&D to deliver the advanced military capabilities that will help meet emerging threats and protect American security into the future, including offensive and defensive hypersonic weapons capabilities, resilient national security space systems, and modernized and flexible strategic and nonstrategic nuclear deterrent capabilities.

Critical Infrastructure Resilience: Departments and agencies should invest in critical infrastructure R&D that improves resilience to natural disasters and physical threats, including extreme terrestrial events, cyber and electromagnetic pulse attacks, and exploitation of supply chain vulnerabilities. Departments and agencies should prioritize investments in space weather R&D according to the 2019 National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan2 and, where applicable, pay specific attention to improving research to operations and operations to research capabilities...

... Earth System Predictability: Knowing the extent to which components of the Earth system are practicably predictable - from individual thunderstorms to long-term global change- is vitally important for physical understanding of the Earth system, assessing the value of prediction results, guiding Federal investments, developing effective policy, and improving predictive skill. Departments and agencies should prioritize R&D that helps quantify Earth system predictability across multiple phenomena, time, and space scales. Strategic coordination and leveraging of resources across agencies on research and modeling efforts is needed to accelerate progress in this area. Additionally, agencies should emphasize how measures of and limits to predictability, both theoretical and actual, can inform a wide array of stakeholders. They also should explore the application of AI and adaptive observing systems to enhance predictive skill, along with strategies for obtaining substantial improvements in computational model performance and spatial resolution across all scales.

... 5. American Space Exploration and Commercialization

R&D investments should continue to leverage efforts underway at American universities and in the private sector and focus on ensuring American leadership in space by supporting the Trump Administration's call for a return of Americans to the Moon's surface by 2024 and utilizing the Moon as a proving-ground for a future human mission to Mars. Departments and agencies should prioritize in-situ resource utilization on the Moon and Mars, cryogenic fuel storage and management, in-space manufacturing and assembly, and advanced space-related power and propulsion capabilities. Departments and agencies should also prioritize activities that ensure an industrial base for commercial activity in space and that will broadly speed private-sector progress in meeting stated Government goals and furthering the space economy. Finally, departments and agencies should seek opportunities to work with advanced materials, additive manufacturing, and machine learning capabilities that have broad potential applications in space and on Earth."

The Trump Administration Is Establishing the United States Space Command to Advance American Interests and Defend Our Nation

"Today, at the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the Secretary of Defense established the United States Space Command to ensure space superiority. The United States Space Command strengthens our ability to deter conflict and ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space. United States Space Command will be established as the newest unified combatant command under the Department of Defense and will include forces from all Military Services. United States Space Command will consist of military personnel, civilian employees, and contractors. The new unified combatant command will accomplish strategic objectives and enhance the capability of our military to protect America's dominance in space by: Employing assigned forces from every branch of the military to achieve vital victories in space. Delivering combat power by operating superior space capabilities such as communications, intelligence, navigation, and early missile detection and warning. The establishment of United States Space Command represents a crucial step to improving the Nation's space warfighting structure in our ever evolving world."

Russia Reacts to Trump's Space Warfare Command Launch, Newsweek

"A fight for supremacy among major powers on Earth is likely to breach the planet's atmosphere, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos has said. Dmitry Rogozin was reacting to the re-establishment of the U.S. Space Command, which was formalized in a ceremony at the White House in which President Donald Trump said that space was the next "war-fighting domain." Trump said on Thursday: "Now, those who wish to harm the United States, who seek to challenge us in the ultimate high ground of space. It's going to be a whole different ballgame." In a tweet, Rogozin said of the militarization of space: "Slowly but surely, we are heading towards this. @Roscosmos has no illusions about this. Everyone is working on it."

US Space Command: A vision for the final frontier, op ed, The Hill

"Tomorrow, the Trump administration will formally inaugurate the newest U.S. Combatant Command, U.S. Space Command. The occasion is a momentous one, because it marks the first, and long overdue, step toward a serious space policy on the part of the United States. Yet America's move into the "final frontier" is still missing an essential ingredient: a vision of what we seek to accomplish there. That vision, it is increasingly clear, needs to focus on development. For decades, U.S. space policy has been viewed through the lens of exploration, both human and robotic. But the future of American spacepower lies not in exploration, but in development. The economic development of the inner solar system will allow America to exploit its immense mineral and energy resources and secure a position of industrial, logistical, and maneuver advantage over the celestial lines of commerce. Military development, meanwhile, will provide the United States with a dominant spacepower position that underwrites an open international system and enables human expansion under a banner of liberty."

Keith's note: Here we go. The prospect of the new Space Force or the U.S. Space Command or whatever it is called this week has the Pentagon types ready to turn the whole solar system into a bunch of mining operations guarded by soldiers in spiffy new military space suits. No more of that science or exploration stuff - its for wimps. Now America is going to be great in space again. To be certain economic forces rightfully seek - and should be strongly welcomed and encouraged - to expand outward from Earth to utilize the resources of our solar system. But this should happen in a synergistic fashion with scientific exploration - by everyone.

Alas, the militaristic ethos oozing from this op ed speaks to a subset of the space community who simply wants to seize the so-called high ground of space - by any means necessary. Its all about militaristic projection of overt space power into space for its own sake with all other uses relegated to subservience. This mindset will simply prompt other powers to do the same. Just what we need: an arms race spreading across the solar system.

So much for the notion of soft power - the prevailing ethos with which nearly everything in space is done in a collaborative fashion - without the laser pistols and photon torpedoes.

GINGRICH: We Need A Competition To Get America To The Moon - And Mars, Daily Caller

"We are not suggesting the traditional approach be changed in any way. The NASA bureaucracy should continue working with its traditional contractors to try to establish a permanent settlement on the moon and then on Mars. However, we are suggesting that by having a modest $2 billion prize (about the cost of one launch with the Space Launch System) it might be possible to have entrepreneurs, like Musk (whose Falcon rockets at SpaceX are the most successful reusable rockets in history) and Jeff Bezos (who already puts $1 billion a year of his own money into Blue Origin developing reusable rockets) step up to the plate and get the job done much faster and cheaper than traditional bureaucracy."

Keith's 26 August update: NASA is fighting an uphill battle right now to get the $1.6 billion supplemental appropriation just to make the whole Moon 2024 thing start. That is still an uncertain eventuality. It is going to be even more difficult to get the many tens of billions more to actually make this entire program happen. Trying a Plan B - one reliant upon prizes - would only serve to undermine the program of record - the one that is kept in place by the Alabama and Texas delegations. To be certain, the use of prizes has clear, inherent merit and deserves to be tried. But right now NASA and Congress have erected a status quo that would be threatened by prizes. As we have seen that status quo fights back whenever it is threatened. Until and unless someone find the right Jedi mind trick to get Texas and Alabama to change their ways the notion of prizes will remain a notion.

The Moon-Mars Development Prize Competition, Gingrich 360

"A number of us have been working on prizes for lunar development (for an illustrated outline of possibilities that currently exist or are in development go to Gingrich 360 for a paper inspired by Gen.l Kwast and his team). We believe that a prize open to American companies and American teams would attract a lot of talent and private investment. We also believe that such competitive innovation and entrepreneurship will create new assets and capabilities for the emerging Space Force."

Keith's 21 August note: Its hard to argue with most of what Newt and his gang say. One major problem: none of this will happen - at least not as they imagine - under the current administration since it would upset a serious portion of congressional power centers that are heavily invested in the SLS/Orion/Gateway architecture. We have already seen how the mere suggestion of commercial alternatives for EM-1 was stomped out by Sen. Shelby within hours. Just last week we saw the Human Lunar Lander program handed to the same center in Alabama that has given us the chronically delayed and grossly over-cost SLS program.

However, some of what Newt's posse has suggested may well happen anyway - without any prodding from government prizes. Let's wait and see what SpaceX and Blue Origin do - with their own money - for their own reasons. Its called disruptive innovation and it is happening in plain sight in Boca Chica. When SpaceX's Starship reaches orbit things will change forever.

Community Letter regarding NASA's Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program

"As you are aware, the Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program (LDEP) is the continuation of a credible plan to re-engage in lunar surface exploration that has evolved and matured in the past few years, and shown significant progress in the last year. After years of planning next steps toward the Moon, we believe this program is designed for both expediency and cost-effectiveness. That is why we urge its full funding in FY2020, thereby ensuring the continued operation of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, and restoring U.S. access to the surface of Earth's nearest neighbor for the first time in almost five decades.

We believe that the LEDP is critical to a vibrant space economy that will bring new and exciting employment opportunities to the next generation of scientists and engineers, as well extend beyond to all sectors of society. The LDEP will give the United States the opportunity to, at long last, systematically prospect for lunar resources, gather comprehensive new samples from many new locations, explore lunar lava tubes, investigate magnetic anomalies, and address a long list of unanswered geophysical questions whose answers have deep implications for advancing our knowledge of the formation of the Solar System and key planetary processes."

Recommendations Approved by the National Space Council to President Trump

"1. Within 60 days, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator will designate an office and submit a plan to the Chairman of the National Space Council for sustainable lunar surface exploration and development, including necessary technologies and capabilities, to enable initial human missions to Mars.

2. NASA and the Department of State will continue joint efforts to engage international partners in identifying prospective cooperation involving the 2024 Moon landing and subsequent activities around and on the Moon. Lunar surface operations will be NASA's top priority for international cooperation.

3. At the next Council meeting, the NASA Administrator will present a plan to stabilize the Space Launch System and Orion programs and prevent future cost and schedule overruns. The plan will include the current projected launch windows for the first two launches of these vehicles.

4. At the next Council meeting, Council members will report on support to NASA in implementing Space Policy Directive-1."

The White House Issues National Security Presidential Memorandum on Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Systems

"Today, President Donald J. Trump issued a National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) on the safe and effective utilization of space nuclear systems as America explores and uses the Moon to develop sustainable technologies and operations necessary for human missions to Mars and elsewhere in the solar system."

Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Sixth National Space Council Meeting

"Within the Commerce Department, we have re-established the Office of Space Commerce after it was dormant for decades. It is the only place within the U.S. Government that is charged with pursuing the unique interests of the commercial space industry. The commercial industry has said repeatedly that it needs an advocate -- a one-stop shop -- in its dealings with both the U.S. government and foreign governments."

National Space Council Remarks As Prepared for Deputy Secretary Brouillette

"Today, we are working with NASA on a number of major initiatives to enable nuclear power space exploration over the next decade including powering the Mars 2020 Rover, demonstrating nuclear thermal propulsion and fission surface power, and developing the Dragonfly Rotorcraft, which in the 2030s will explore Saturn's moon Titan."

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

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

Larger view

NASA Television to Broadcast Sixth Meeting of the National Space Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other words more whiplash.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NASA Administrator to Discuss Human Lander Update for Artemis Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keith's note: Reader's guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just sayin'

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

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

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

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

ISS Research and Development Conference livestream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presidential Message on Space Exploration Day, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fraught Effort to Return to the Moon, The Atlantic

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

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

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

Forward To The Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch live.

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

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

Witnesses are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live video.

Witnesses:

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

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

Mr. Homer Hickman
Author
Rocket Boys

Mr. Gene Kranz (Testimony)
Flight Director
Apollo 11

Mr. Eric Stallmer (Testimony)
President
Commercial Spaceflight Federation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OMB Has Its Sights Set On Gateway, earlier post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emails: Trump official pressed NASA on climate science, AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NASA Advisory Council Meeting

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moon 2024?, American Astronomical Society

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

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


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