TrumpSpace: March 2017 Archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US science agencies face deep cuts in Trump budget, Nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Is Another OSTP

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

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

Washington Space Business Roundtable Luncheon With Rep. James Bridenstine

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


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

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

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

Only In Washington

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

OMB Budget Blueprint Excerpt for NASA

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

NASA budget would cut Earth science and education, Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Space is bigger than NASA, Scott Pace, The Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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This page is an archive of entries in the TrumpSpace category from March 2017.

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