Recently in TrumpSpace Category
"In recent weeks, the Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX CEO has been named to Trump's team of business advisers and visited Trump Tower twice. The first time he was part of a big meeting with tech CEOs; the second came earlier this month for a private meeting with Trump's top aides. The blossoming relationship between Musk and Trump's camp has caught the attention of Tesla investors. "Elon Musk has an important line of communication to Donald Trump through his role as a strategic advisor to the President-elect," Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, wrote in an investor note Thursday. "We believe this level of coordination with the new administration could actually evolve into greater strategic value than with the prior administration," Jonas added. While the investor note was specifically about Tesla, it could also apply to SpaceX, which has lucrative government contracts for space shipments."
Trump team prepares dramatic cuts, The Hill
"The changes they propose are dramatic. The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations. Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump's team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years."
"For example, about half of the government's discretionary spending is on the military. Cutting all discretionary spending each year means cutting all funding for the military, which is both politically and rationally a nonstarter. The formulas for how much is spent on the non-discretionary spending can be adjusted, but Trump has pledged not to cut spending on the so-called "entitlement" programs."
Keith's note: There are only 5 working days left before the Inauguration at which time the Transition Team ceases to exist. Of the 4 people that were supposed to be added to the NASA Landing Team to augment commercial space expertise, only one (Charles Miller) actually made it onto the NASA Landing Team. Brandon Eden never made it onto the team due to the fact that so many people outside of NASA thought he'd be a good addition - and that apparently bothered someone within Team Trump. This is something Eden should take as a compliment.
Alan Lindenmoyer and Alan Stern (both of whom also have actual expertise) have yet to be formally named to the NASA Landing Party and, given the short time remaining, are probably not going to be joining the efforts at NASA HQ. As such the additional visibility for commercial space issues in Landing Team activities was not as prominent as was hoped. But given the fact that Elon Musk has met with Team Trump twice (the second time with Gwynne Shotwell in attendance) should indicate that the interest in commercial space has not faded.
Sources at NASA HQ report that the Landing Team, under Chris Shank's leadership, has conducted itself in a pleasant, professional manner and that things are now starting to wrap up. Charlie Bolden and Dava Newman are keeping their farewell activities low key but they will be departing in a few days. The question remains: who will be running NASA? Even if NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator nominees were to be announced tomorrow it would likely be some time before they were confirmed. Speculation has been that Robert Lightfoot would be named acting Administrator
but no one seems to have heard that this is indeed going to happen. Update: Lightfoot will be acting NASA Administrator effective 20 January 2017 at noon ET.
As mentioned last week, an interim 120 day "Beachhead" team is being assembled that would likely include Chris Shank as Chief of staff. It would not be surprising to see current Landing Team members Rodney Liesveld or Jeff Waksman as part of this interim team. Note: people who show up on the 9th floor at NASA Headquarters for short term tasks often tend to stay a while.
Update from Today's internal NASA Town Hall: the NASA Landing Team has asked NASA CFO David Radzanowski to stay on to "help get them over the hump" According to Charlie Bolden.
US Rep. Jim Bridenstine has now made it perfectly clear to Trump Tower that he would be honored to become NASA administrator.— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) January 12, 2017
Keith's note: Attention news media: Mike Griffin is scheduled to chair this AIAA session tomorrow in Texas. Also, former SMD AA Alan Stern has expressed interest to people in being considered for Trump's NASA Administrator as well.
What would NASA in the age of Trump look like?, Houston Chronicle
"I don't expect anything grand and dramatic about space for the next two or three years," said Keith Cowing, a longtime NASA observer - and sometimes critic - who oversees a pair of websites related to NASA and other space matters. "They have to figure out how to run the government first. I don't think there is a grand picture for NASA yet. It is the last thing they are thinking about." One thing very much on Trump's mind, apparently, is the promised gargantuan tax cut. Though it is hard to imagine even a Republican Congress agreeing to a $7 trillion-plus loss in revenue over the following decade, even a more modest plan could gut discretionary spending and the government agencies that rely on it - like NASA."
"The discussion was very thoughtful, very focused on good objectives and focused on science value," he said in an interview after the town hall meeting. "We were ready for that. Every division director was ready to talk about their programs that way." The landing team, he added, has received all the information they requested. [NASA's Science Mission Directorate AA Thomas] Zurbuchen said he had not been able to glean any information from the landing team about the incoming administration's plans. That included, he said, who it might nominate to be the next administrator of NASA, or when that might take place."
Could Donald Trump be better for NASA in Alabama than Obama?, Huntsville Times
"Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel was on the NASA Advisory Council when George W. Bush was president. He says Bush's old plan might make a good new plan. "I personally think deep space is something the government should do," McDaniel said, noting that the moon is deep space. "We talked about that when I was on the Advisory Council. The key word (in Bush's plan) was 'beyond.' We were going to the moon, Mars and beyond. "If you go back and it's in preparation for going to Mars, an asteroid or beyond Mars, that's great," McDaniel said. "We as a nation have to do things that have never been done before."If you say we're just going back to the moon," McDaniel said, "been there, done that."
More False Memories About the Origin (and Cost) of SLS, earlier posts
"Then there's this other whopper from Mike: "And, contrary to some suggestions, SLS launches will cost no more than existing commercial U.S. systems - which are currently advertised at about $4.5 million per ton of payload." How can you possibly make such a statement when the number of launches is unknown - and a lot of SLS development was paid for by Ares V and not included in Mike's secret math. But who cares, right? No one inside or outside of NASA has ever grasped what it really costs for the agency to develop and launch things."
Keith's note: Typical anti-commercial space bashing from one of the usual Huntsville mouthpieces who can't think of anything new to say.
- OIG Reality Check on Orion Cost and Planning
- NASA Still Has No Idea What a SLS Launch Will Cost
- Double GAO Reports: SLS and Orion Cost and Risk Estimates Are Still Unreliable
- earlier SLS/Oriopn osts
GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine Seen as Top Choice for NASA Chief, Wall Street Journal
"Boeing and other legacy contractors have rallied behind Doug Cooke, a former senior NASA official under President George W. Bush, people with knowledge of the situation say. Mr. Cooke is known as a critic of some commercial initiatives. Many of those serving on the formal NASA transition team share those views, while favoring greater emphasis on manned exploration missions to the moon and deeper into the solar system. The plans are largely built around NASA's proposed heavy lift rocket, dubbed the Space Launch System, and companion Orion capsule. By contrast, champions of commercial space interests, including supporters of billionaire Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Blue Origin LLC, a closely held rocket-making company run by Amazon.com Inc.'s founder and chairman Jeff Bezos, favor less federal direction and more public-private partnerships, people with knowledge of the situation say. They have pushed hard for Mr. Bridenstine as a likely change agent, and at this point seem to have the upper hand, the people added."
Why the Moon Matters, Rep. Bridenstine
"While most satellites are not currently powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, next generation satellite architectures could utilize the lunar propellant if low-cost in-orbit servicing were available. Commercial operators will follow if the United States leads with its own constellations. Such leadership would require a whole-of-government approach with the interagency support of the newly reconstituted National Space Council. The objective is a self-sustaining, cis-lunar economy, whereby government and commercial operators save money and maximize the utilization of space through lunar resources."
Keith's note: The NASA Landing Team resumes work tomorrow. Charles Millier should be joining the festivities. No word yet as to whether Alan Lindenmoyer and Alan Stern's conflict of interest background checks have been completed. These three were added at the direction of Trump Tower in response to concerns that commercial space was not getting an equal seat at the table. As such there is a lot of nuancing going on with this Landing Team. Indeed, the commercial space faction sees this this as an "away team" opportunity while the status quo factions sees it as a "boarding party".
Meanwhile, anyone who claims to have an idea what is going on in the confusing world behind the scenes of the still-embryonic TrumpSpace policy effort has an equal chance of being wrong - or right - or both. Andy Pasztor has had a tendency to get things confused on this story, so ... that said, were I to venture a guess as to where the selection might be headed I would agree that the commercial faction within Team TrumpSpace has the edge, and, unless he decides to go for USAF, the job is probably Bridenstine's to decline. There is no obvious second choice from the commercial faction should Bridenstine not be named NASA Administrator - so do not count out the Status Quo/SLS/Alabama crowd just yet.
A personal opinion, if I may: Doug Cooke and the other members of the Griffin Clan on the Trump Landing Team and NASA represent the past - old fashioned ways of thinking that requires decades, eschews innovation, is addicted to political favoritism, and needs ever-larger buckets of money to keep going. That is the last thing that NASA needs right now - more of the same - especially when discretionary spending has a big bullseye painted on it. Bridenstine himself may be short on management skills, but he has managed to attract an impressively large amount of support from across the commercial space sector - where innovation and cost effectiveness are pre-requisites - and good management is the key to profitability. Going with the old way of doing things will inevitably doom NASA to increasing irrelevance. Alas, there is no guarantee that moving U.S. space efforts in more of a commercial direction will solve all of NASA's problems - but it does at least offer a chance to try things that have worked elsewhere.
Trump met with historian Douglas Brinkley. Brinkley said afterwards Trump "was very interested in a man going to the moon," per pool report.— Alex Pappas (@AlexPappas) December 28, 2016
Trump 'very interested in a man going to the moon,' says historian, Washington Examiner
"A historian who met with Donald Trump says the president-elect was "very interested in a man going to the moon." Historian Douglas Brinkley met with Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Wednesday afternoon. Brinkley told reporters after the meeting his conversation with Trump focused on "Nixon and Reagan and Kennedy ... a sort of history of the presidency and past inaugurals and things like that." He also mentioned that Trump "was very interested in a man going to the moon and the moon shot so we were talking a little bit about that."
Trump's $440 billion weapon, Politico
"What Trump is doing, by targeting specific companies or specific federal contracts, is new and unprecedented, experts said. "Never seen anything like this," said Sean O'Keefe, a former secretary of the Navy and comptroller of the Defense Department. ... But political appointees are traditionally loyal to the president and civil servants would risk their career if they were to not fall in line. That means, in practice, contracting officers are likely to acquiesce. "They can choose to say, 'I refuse to do that,'" said O'Keefe, "and then obviously they find themselves counting barrels of fuel in Beirut or something after it's over."
"Both men agree on one point: with NASA's limited funds, even before possible cuts under a Trump administration, the space agency can't do both. Sending astronauts to the Moon and establishing a colony would push human exploration of Mars into the second half of this century. Alternatively, making a direct push toward Mars would preclude any meaningful human exploration of the Moon. A choice must be made. For the last six years, NASA has continued developing a deep space capsule, Orion, as well as begun construction on a large new rocket, the Space Launch System, as the foundation of an exploration program. NASA has promoted a "Journey to Mars," but in reality the space agency has taken no definitive steps to preclude either a Moon or Mars pathway. That decision will have to be made soon. Within the next four years or so, the space agency must start designing and building specific hardware, for landing and living on either the Moon or Mars."
"Donald Trump on Wednesday convened more than half a dozen top military officers, including for a discussion about "trying to bring costs down" on the controversial F-35 fighter jet and other high-priced Pentagon projects."
"U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met on Wednesday with the chief executives of two major defense companies to pressure them to reduce project costs, part of his push to save taxpayer money on high-profile contracts. ... "Trying to get the costs down, costs. Primarily the (Lockheed Martin) F-35, we're trying to get the cost down. It's a program that's very, very expensive," Trump told reporters after meeting with the CEOs and a dozen Pentagon officials involved with defense acquisition programs who he said were "good negotiators." ... Trump has said Boeing's costs to build replacements for Air Force One planes - one of the most visible symbols of the U.S. presidency - are too high and urged the federal government in a tweet to "Cancel order!"
Keith's note: I wonder what Trump's reaction will be when his Transition Team tells him about costs/delays in the Boeing/Lockheed Martin SLS/Orion program. WIll he haul the CEOs back in for another deal making session?
Keith's 16 December note: The Trump Landing Team will be halting work at NASA Headquarters in a few days and then coming back after New Year's. As such, I doubt that there will be any movement from Trump Tower in terms of naming an Administrator.
Then again there may be a few interesting developments prior to the Landing Team's vacation ...
Keith's 17 December update: Sources report that Brandon Eden, Alan Stern, Charles Miller are among new appointees submitted to join the Trump Landing Team at NASA for an increased focus on commercial space. There is a possible fourth new member as well. Stay tuned.
Keith's 20 December update: Sources report that Alan Lindenmoyer, former manager of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program, is also on the list of people to be added to the NASA Landing Team. Meanwhile it looks like Brandon Eden will not be on the Landing Team which is unfortunate given his familiarity with commercial space from his days working for Rep. McCarthy. Meanwhile, the SLS materials being assembled for the Landing Team are being advised by purported NASA Administrator possibility Doug Cooke (who has worked for years as a Boeing consultant) - who is not actually on the Landing Team. But wait, there's more: at least one of the NASA Landing Team wants to try to become NASA Administrator - because, well ... this is NASA Administrator Apprentice after all.
"Last Thursday, word began to trickle out about new appointments to the transition team with a decidedly commercial bent. Reports of the new transition team members first appeared in NASA Watch, and the Wall Street Journal confirmed them Monday. Ars understands that not all of the appointments are final, and Shank has resisted the new direction. "It will be interesting to see how Trump Tower handles the product of the Shank team versus the new team," one source told Ars."
"Climate data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been politically vulnerable. When Tom Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information, and his colleagues published a study in 2015 seeking to challenge the idea that there had been a global warming "slowdown" or "pause" during the 2000s, they relied, in significant part, on updates to NOAA's ocean temperature data set, saying the data "do not support the notion of a global warming 'hiatus.'" In response, the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee chair, Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.), tried to subpoena the scientists and their records."
Keith's note: Lamar Smith's policy director throughout this period of subpoenas was Chris Shank who currently leads the Trump Transition Team effort at NASA.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine: Why Trump Won, Frontpage Magazine
"And then who was campaigning for Donald Trump? Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And I got so frustrated. By then Hillary Clinton also had Al Gore and all these others, and I got so frustrated I sent a tweet. Ha! And it got a lot of attention. And in the tweet I said: "Given the stakes of this election if Paul Ryan is not for Donald Trump then I am not for Paul Ryan." It is true that Donald Trump has not been in the political arena nor has he been in the politically correct arena. He lives in a quite frankly vulgar industry - the entertainment industry. And I will also tell you that he reflects that."
Keith's note: Bridenstine has been spending a fair amount of time on space policy over his first two terms and many of the things he has talked about resonate with positions taken by Trump advisors Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker. The Trump cabinet nominees announced thus far run the range from prior supporter to prior opponents. And most of them have no government and/or agency-related subject matter experience. In this case Bridenstine was loyal when it counted- even if he's not exactly complementary now (as quoted). But he has been eager to learn and try new things (it would seem). So ... comments like this may hurt and/or help Bridenstine in his quest for the NASA (USAF) job. Who knows. But he does appreciate what Twitter can do. Welcome to NASA Administrator Apprentice.
Sen. Jeff Sessions Exerts Wide Influence Over Trump Space Plans, Wall Street Journal
"One sign of the influence Mr. Sessions has with the president-elect is that job seekers actively seek his support. Three former astronauts, including retired Air Force Lt. General Thomas Stafford, who was the head of NASA's astronaut corps and later was instrumental in development of the B-2 Stealth bomber, have urged the Alabama lawmaker to support [Doug] Cooke's bid to head NASA."
More False Memories About the Origin (and Cost) of SLS, earlier post
"This op ed piece also appeared in The Hill last week. Oddly the same exact words in the Mike Griffin/Dan Dumbacher op ed in the Huntsville times ("Contrary to some suggestions, the SLS will be very competitive with the advertised price of commercial U.S. systems - on the order of $4.5 million per ton of payload.") are to be found in an op ed "U.S. will keep lead in space with NASA's launch system" that appeared several days ago in the Orlando Sentinel - but this op ed has Doug Cooke and Steve Cook as the authors. If you read the Huntsville Times and Orlando Sentinel op eds side by side you will see that they were clearly written by the same people. Once again the Ares V mafia is mounting a PR effort to convince everyone that they were right all along."
Keith's note: Steve Cook is on the NASA Landing Team headed by Griffin loyalist Chris Shank. And lest we forget, Mike Griffin is still trying to worm his way back into NASA. Although I cannot find any indication that Griffin ever publicly endorsed Trump (I can't find any evidence that Doug Cooke did either) Mike Griffin did make a $500 political contribution - but to Jeb Bush.
Together Cooke, Cook, Shank, and Griffin represent the self-proclaimed "Band of Brothers" that originally gave us the Ares 1/Ares V cost/schedule nightmares - with the cancelled Ares V reborn as the new cost/schedule nightmare SLS. Haven't we seen this movie before?
"Donald Trump's transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation's carbon output. The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and "which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan." ... Thousands of scientists have signed petitions calling on the president-elect and his team to respect scientific integrity and refrain from singling out individual researchers whose work might conflict with the new administration's policy goals. This potential clash could prompt a major schism within the federal government, with many career officials waging a battle against incoming political appointees."
Will Trump Scrap NASA's Climate Research Mission?, Pro Publica
"But with the election of Donald Trump, there was immediate concern -- inside NASA and among the fans of its valued work on global warming -- about the future of the agency's earth-science program. Within hours of Trump's acceptance speech on Nov. 9, an internal email from a senior official in the Earth Sciences division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center circulated within NASA acknowledging worry that "funding may now be exposed to severe reductions." The last month is not apt to have eased that alarm. How does an astrobiologist react when advisors to the president-elect propose cutting funding to earth studies? Trump's most visible advisor on space policy has been Bob Walker, a former House Science committee chairman who is now a space-policy lobbyist pressing to move "Earth-centric" and "heavily politicized" climate science out of NASA altogether. And Christopher Shank, who was chosen by Trump to lead the transition at NASA, is a seasoned strategist who has expressed strong skepticism about the severity of global warming."
Keith's note: There are a number of Federal agencies involved in Earth and climate science - DOE, DOI, NOAA, NSF - and NASA. Given that the DOE Trump Landing Team is trying to find out which DOE employees are involved in climate research - and that Trump transition team advisor Bob Walker has been very specific about moving "Earth centric" programs (e.g. climate research) to another agency - one would expect that the NASA Trump Landing Team is going to be asking similar questions at NASA. Stay tuned.
Keith's update: Energy Dept refuses to name staffers who worked on climate for Trump transition, The Hill
"The Department of Energy said Tuesday it will reject the request by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team to name staffers who worked on climate change programs. Energy spokesman Eben Burnhan-Snyder said the agency received "significant feedback" from workers regarding a questionnaire from the transition team that leaked last week. "Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled," Snyder said. The survey for department leadership included more than 70 questions regarding what the agency does, its workforce, costs, professional affiliations and more."
Keith's note: I wonder what will happen if/when Trump notices the cost overruns and delays for the SLS program and the contractors who build it?
- Greg Autry - Employer (current or most recent): University of Southern California, Funding source: Volunteer
- Jack Burns - Employer (current or most recent): University of Colorado, Funding source: Volunteer
- Steve Cook - Employer (current or most recent): Dynetics, Inc., Funding source: Private
- Rodney Liesveld - Employer (current or most recent): National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Retired), Funding source: Volunteer
- Sandra Magnus - Employer (current or most recent): The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Funding source: Volunteer
- Jeff Waksman - Employer (current or most recent): U.S. House of Representatives (Formerly), Funding source: Volunteer
Keith's note: This is the "disturbance in the Force" that I was referring to the other day. Rodney Liesveld is a pal of Chris Shank's from Mike Griffin's time at NASA. Steve Cook was one of Griffin's confidants. Sandy Magnus has long-standing ties with Griffin via their positions at AIAA. The presence of Shank, Cook, Liesveld, and Magnus is further proof that Mike Griffin is lurking in the distance plotting a return to NASA. This is more of a Griffin "Boarding Party" than a "Landing Team".
Adding Jack Burns, an overt lunar exploration advocate, indicates that a pivot from #JourneyToMars toward #BackToTheMoon is in the cards.
Meanwhile Rep. Jim Bridenstine is still very much in the running according to sources.
Some additional insight into the Trump Administration's space policy was revealed today in Washington DC. Meeting at the Cosmos Club, attendees at the 11th Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law heard from a number of speakers including former Congressman Bob Walker, who is advising the Trump Transition Team, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) who has been conducting a behind-the-scenes effort to become the next administrator of NASA.
What Will Trump's Space Program Look Like?, Lori Garver, Scientific American
"A Gingrich/Walker aligned NASA leadership team would likely advance an agenda that increases support for entrepreneurial space and re-focuses NASA on the Moon as the next human destination. Neither are big supporters of spending billions of dollars on large, government programs, numerous programs would be reviewed for possible cancellation or adjustment such as SLS, Orion, ISS, Mars 2020 etc. A Griffin return would also likely refocus NASA's human exploration goals on the Moon, but would be more open to continuing SLS and Orion, at the expense of ISS. Either agenda would almost certainly include continuation of the commercial crew program."
Trump: "I Will Free NASA" From Being Just a LEO Space Logistics Agency, Space Policy Online
"Did you ever see what's going on with space, with Russia and different places? And us? We're, like, we're like watching. Isn't that nice? So much is learned from that, too. "A cornerstone of my policy is we will substantially expand public private partnerships to maximize the amount of investment and funding that is available for space exploration and development. This means launching and operating major space assets, right here, that employ thousands and spur innovation and fuel economic growth. "I will free NASA from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistics agency for low earth orbit activity. Big deal. "Instead we will refocus its mission on space exploration. Under a Trump administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars. With a victory in November, everything will change. Just think about what we can accomplish in 100 days."
Trump's space policy reaches for Mars and the stars, op ed, Space News
"NASA's core missions must be exploration and science - and inspirational! These are the fundamental underpinnings of a Trump civilian space program. NASA should be focused primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies. Human exploration of our entire solar system by the end of this century should be NASA's focus and goal. Developing the technologies to meet that goal would severely challenge our present knowledge base, but that should be a reason for exploration and science. Space station activities must also remain robust given their long delayed, but now functioning, research potential. However, the U.S., working with the international community, should seek new participants in its mission and look to transitioning the station to a quasi-public facility supported by international contributions and resupplied utilizing commercially available services."