TrumpSpace: March 2018 Archives

Keith's 29 March update: NASA HQ sources report that Jeff Waksman was escorted out of the building by NASA security. Greg Autry was similarly escorted out of the building last year. Erik Noble did not get a golden watch either. But at least they were not fired by Twitter. FWIW no one who has devoted their time to NASA really deserves this sort of treatment. The Trump politicals at NASA are not a friendly bunch. Its like Game of Thrones. Tick tock.

Keith's 28 March note: Sources report that Trump political employee Jeff Waksman, Special Assistant to the Administrator, has been fired. There has been a certain amount of in-fighting amongst the Trump political appointees on the 9th floor at NASA HQ. Waksman is the third one to be fired in the past year. There will probably be at least one more departure in the near future.

- How Jonathan Dimock Auditioned To Be NASA White House Liaison, earlier post
- Chief of Staff Erik Noble Has Left NASA, earlier post
- Palace Intrigue On The 9th Floor At NASA HQ, earlier post
- Beachhead Team Members At NASA HQ, earlier post
- NASA Headquarters Transition Update - New 9th Floor Faces, earlier post

- Jeff Waksman, LinkedIn

"Member of President's "Beachhead" team at NASA, with a focus on policy/strategy/budget. Tasks include:

• Work with NASA's Strategy & Policy team, as well as both internal and external stakeholders, to develop policy and budget options for the incoming Administrator.
• Coordinate with the Executive Office of the President to ensure consistency of purpose, and to make sure that the White House's vision of space exploration and science/technology development is fulfilled.
• Assist NASA leadership with development of the President's FY2018 budget request and NASA's updated Strategic Plan.
• Work to increase efficiency within NASA, including both government reform and also helping the various NASA centers and NASA mission directorates to work more closely together.

As part of this role, served as a member of the President-elect's transition team on the NASA Landing Team from December 2016-January 2017, working with a highly skilled and experienced team to craft an agency policy plan for NASA."

President Trump went to Ohio today to talk about infrastructure. At one point he talked about space.

"We must recapture the excitement of creation, the spirit of innovation, and the spark of invention. And we're starting. You saw the rocket the other day, what's going on with cars, what's going on with so much. You see what's going on ... NASA space agency. All of a sudden it's back. Did you notice? It was dormant for many, many years. Now, it's back. And we're trying to have the private sector to invest the money. Why the hell should we do it, right? Let them invest. If they want to send rocket ships up, they're rich, let them do it. When I looked at the rocket that went up three weeks ago, where the tanks came back. Nobody's ever seen that. It looks like, like Star Wars. But I looked at it and I heard the cost. I think they said 85 million dollars. If the government did, you're talking about billions of dollars and maybe it wouldn't work so well. But I thought it was a fantastic thing. But we're working with the private sector and NASA, and we're, we're doing a great job. We've made so much progress in the last year. Don't forget. It's just been a little bit more than a year. But we've made so much progress. And other people are putting up a lot of money. And, they're using our facilities. I feel like a landlord, again. We're leasing them facilities. Not so bad. Not a bad idea. And they're doing a great job."

Keith's note: NASA has hardly been "dormant". Everything NASA is doing now was underway before Donald Trump took office. He has started nothing new. Yet. Indeed he has tried to cancel things. Plans by commercial space companies were also already in place and continue with no apparent impact by the Trump Administration. Yet. Just sayin'

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/america.first.jpg

President Donald J. Trump is Unveiling an America First National Space Strategy

"AMERICA FIRST AMONG THE STARS: President Trump's National Space Strategy works within his broader national security policy by putting America's interests first."

Keith's note: At the USRA/SPI Moon exploration event yesterday in Washington D.C, I asked NASA HEOMD's Jason Crusan about the apparent mismatch between NASA policy and the recently-released White House Policy titled "America First National Space Strategy". I noted that HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier told a NASA Advisory Council committee the other day said the whole Lunar Outpost Gateway thing can be done on a flat budget with no adjustment for inflation. Of course, NASA never does big projects on time or within budget - Space Station, Webb, SLS being prominent examples. But NASA sells the Gateway concept with a significant role for international partners and the private sector with lots of cooperation i.e. NASA does not call all the shots. This global approach does have some positive aspects for many people.

Yet the White House's "America First" space policy is rather blunt in its intention that it wants a space policy that "prioritizes American interests first and foremost, ensuring a strategy that will make America strong, competitive, and great" and "ensures that international agreements put the interests of American people, workers, and businesses first." This does not sound too much like cooperation. I asked Crusan how he reconciled these two different approaches. Crusan tossed lots of pop management phrases out (he was clearly unprepared to talk about this White House policy document). Then he made one cogent observation: "it's a balancing act".

Oh yes: There is no mention of this official White House space policy document at NASA.gov. Nor has NASA released anything about it to the media. Stay tuned for more "balancing".

NASA Leadership Update

President Donald J. Trump is Unveiling an America First National Space Strategy

"AMERICA FIRST AMONG THE STARS: President Trump's National Space Strategy works within his broader national security policy by putting America's interests first.

- The Trump administration's National Space Strategy prioritizes American interests first and foremost, ensuring a strategy that will make America strong, competitive, and great.
- The new strategy emphasizes dynamic and cooperative interplay between the national security, commercial, and civil space sectors.
-- The United States will partner with the commercial sector to ensure that American companies remain world leaders in space technology.
- The new strategy ensures that international agreements put the interests of American people, workers, and businesses first.
- The National Space Strategy prioritizes regulatory reforms that will unshackle American industry and ensure we remain the leading global provider of space services and technology."

What NASA loses without a permanent leader, The Verge

"Despite the backlash to Bridenstine's politician status, being the NASA administrator means mostly working with politicians, says Garver. "I do think it is more a political job than an engineering job. Neither Charlie [Bolden] nor I did any engineering," she says. "You can't be an astrophysicist and a propulsion engineer; you got to trust your people to do that. Being able to advocate for your agency on the hill is a big part of it." .. "Because [Lightfoot] isn't the president's person, there is a loss of accountability," Jim Muncy, founder of PoliSpace, a space policy consulting agency, tells The Verge. "Having the president's own representative to guide the day-to-day implementation of the policy is part of that accountability."

- Shh! Bill Nelson Openly Champions Space Legislation Co-authored By Jim Bridenstine, earlier post
- This Is What Happens When People Try To Work Together in DC, earlier post
- Sen. Nelson's Effort To Undermine NASA, earlier post
- Why Should One Senator Boss NASA Around?, earlier post

Letter From House Members to Senate Leadership Regarding NASA Administrator Nominee Bridenstine

Keith's note: This letter was circulated by Rep. Babin and was signed by 61 members of the House - 12 of whom are Democrats. This would certainly seem to undermine Sen. Nelson's contention that Jim Bridenstine would be too political.

"We are keenly aware of how valuable NASA is, not only to our nation, but also the entire world. It would be a travesty to America's space program for it to remain leaderless at this critical time when America's space industry is making rapid advances that will set the course of space leadership for decades to come. This is why it is vitally important that the Senate take up and approve Jim Bridenstine's nomination. Jim Bridenstine has spent the bulk of his adult life in service to his country. His background is in naval aviation, flying the E2- C Hawkeye in Afghanistan and Iraq, and later the F-18 while also serving as an instructor at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center. He has been responsible for coordinating command and control of the battlefield from an airborne platform, with thousands of lives and billions of dollars affected by his decisions. In this service to his nation he has demonstrated both the technical capacity and leadership experience necessary to lead NASA."

Keith's note: NASA CFO nominee Jeff Dewitt has been confirmed by the Senate.

NASA Statement on Nomination for Agency Chief Financial Officer, earlier post

"The following is a statement from acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot on Wednesday's announcement of the intended nomination by President Donald Trump of Jeffrey DeWit to serve as the agency's Chief Financial Officer: "It is encouraging to see more members of the agency's leadership team being named. Jeff's solid financial background will be a tremendous addition as we continue to advance our nation's aeronautic and exploration initiatives."

Keith's note: President Trump spoke to military personnel at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego and starting talking about a new "Space Force". [Video] [Larger image]

"My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war fighting domain. Just like the land, air, and sea. We may have a Space Force. Develop another one. Space Force. We have the Air Force - we'll have a Space Force. We have the Army, the Navy. You know I was saying it the other day because we are doing a tremendous amount of work in space. I said 'maybe we need a new force - we'll call it the Space Force - and I was not really serious - and then I said what a great idea - maybe we'll have to do it. That could happen. That could be the breaking shore. Look at all those people back there. Look at that. Ahhh - that fake news. Ugh. They know - they understand. So think of that: Space Force. Because we're spending a lot - and we have a lot of private money coming in - tremendous. You saw what happened the other day - tremendous success. From the very beginning many of our astronauts have been soldiers and sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen, and marines. And our service members will be vital to ensuring that America continues to lead the way into the stars. It will lead the way in space. We're way, way behind - and we're catching up fast - so fast that nobody even believes it."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/spaceforce.jpg

Judge wants Trump to mute Twitter users who bug him, not block them, Mashable

"The Trump administration contends that his Twitter account is a personal platform and not a public one. "

Keith's note: The following comments were made this morning by President Trump:

"Before me are some rocket ships [there were rocket models in front of him on the table]. You haven't seen that for this country in a long time...Many of the jobs we're doing are privately financed. We're letting them use the Kennedy Space Center for a fee and, you know, rich guys, you know, they love rocket ships. That's good. That's better than us paying for them. And I noticed the prices of the last one they say cost $80 million. If the government did it, the same thing would have cost probably 40- or 50-times that amount of money...I'm so used to hearing different numbers with NASA."

"But NASA is making tremendous strides and we're using a lot of private money, a lot of people that love rockets and they're rich. So they're going to be a little less rich probably, but a lot of rockets are going up. And we're really at the forefront -- nobody's doing what we're doing. And I don't know if you saw last -- with Elon -- with the rocket booster where they're coming back down. To me, that was more amazing than watching the rocket go up, because I've never seen that before. Nobody's seen that before, where they're saving the boosters, and they came back without wings, without anything. They landed so beautifully. So we're really at the forefront and we're doing it in a very private manner."

"At the same time NASA is very much involved and doing their own projects, but we're bringing that whole space flight back. We'll be sending something very beautiful to Mars in the very near future, and we're going to areas that nobody thought possible, certainly not this quickly. So we're very proud."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2018/trump.wordcloud.jpg

Scientists Share Ideas for Gateway Activities Near the Moon, NASA

"In late 2017, the agency asked the global science community to submit ideas leveraging the gateway in lunar orbit to advance scientific discoveries in a wide range of fields. NASA received more than 190 abstracts covering topics human health and performance, Earth observation, astrophysics, heliophysics, and lunar and planetary sciences, as well as infrastructure suggestions to support breakthrough science. Although it is too early to select specific research for the gateway, the workshop marks the first time in more than a decade the agency's human spaceflight program brought scientists from a variety of disciplines together to discuss future exploration."

Keith's note: This short blog posting is apparently all that the public will ever see as a result of the Deep Space Gateway workshop that NASA and LPI held in Denver last week - the one where media participation was hidden from the media and no one cared enough to even bother to webcast for others to hear.

- Deep Space Gateway Event Ends But No One Knows It Ever Happened, earlier post
- Stealthy NASA Deep Space Gateway Meeting Underway, earlier post

Peters, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill Supporting U.S.-Israel Space Cooperation

"U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) today introduced bipartisan legislation to support the longstanding partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA). Cooperation between the two agencies has resulted in a host of beneficial achievements, including work on global positioning systems (GPS) and the Mars Curiosity Rover. ... The U.S.-Israel Space Cooperation Act directs the NASA Administrator to continue working in cooperation with the ISA to further peaceful space exploration and scientific discovery while taking appropriate measures to protect U.S. intellectual property and other sensitive information. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved companion legislation in December 2017."

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Encourage U.S. and Israeli Collaborations on Space Exploration Breakthroughs (9 Sep 2016)

"Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage U.S. and Israeli scientists to continue collaborating on breakthroughs in space exploration. The United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act would direct the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to work with the Israel Space Agency to identify and together pursue new potential scientific discoveries in space."

Keith's note: The "United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act" was originally introduced in the House as H.R. 5989 by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) with co-author Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) as the first cosponsor in 2016. It was reintroduced in 2017 by Kilmer (with Bridenstine as the first co-sponsor) as H.R.1159 - United States and Israel Space Cooperation Act. HR 1159 was passed by the house on 21 December 2017 and sent to the Senate. The Senate bill is not yet online but given the bipartisan support it is likely to be identical to the House version.

Sen. Bill Nelson has been quick to criticize Rep. Bridenstine's choice to be NASA Administrator because Bridenstine would somehow inject politics into the way that NASA operates and that would be truly awful or something. Yet Sen. Nelson is now openly crowing about space legislation that he is co-sponsoring - legislation originally co-authored by Rep. Bridenstine. So one would conclude that Nelson likes Bridenstine's space politics (at least in some instances). Who knows. Maybe they agree on other things too.

Gerstenmaier: U.S. Leadership in Space is "Ours to Lose" If Direction Changes Too Many Times, Space Policy Online

"Bill Gerstenmaier, the head of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said today that the United States is the "partner of choice" for countries wanting to engage in international space cooperation, but that leadership is "ours to lose" if too many changes in direction drive partners away."

Keith's note: Sage advice. And of course Gerst is totally faultless when it comes to all of the changes in direction. right? Lets dial back a decade or so. First Gerst was behind the Ares I/V/Orion Constellation thing. Then he was behind the SLS/Orion thing when the Constellation thing was turned upside down. Then he pushed the Journey to Mars thing. Then he jumped in behind the Asteroid Retrieval thing which eventually became the grab the small boulder thing. When no one liked the asteroid thing any more, he picked up the pieces and jumped behind the Deep Space Gateway thing. Then, to pay for the Deep Space gateway thing he jumped behind the commercialize ISS thing (with no one lined up to pay the bills). Then when the Mars thing was fading he pivoted to the Back to the Moon thing but he still wants to walk away from ISS in LEO to build a mini-ISS with no as-yet determined purpose out near the Moon.

Gerst is certainly flexible and adaptable. And he has kept a lot of important things alive that others sought to kill. But consistent in his direction? No. Not surprisingly, year after year he'll tell you that the Ares V/SLS is the perfect rocket for all of these ever-changing missions and destinations - even if he can never give a consistent cost of what an SLS costs to launch as the schedules continue to slip to the right. Of course he'll tell you that all of these pivots were all due to White House and/or Congressional direction and re-direction. He's correct. But behind the scenes in all of those scenarios, Gerst and HEOMD were constantly pitching their ideas to impressionable staffers - always trying to pivot to stay in synch with the space flavor of the month and stay one step ahead of the budget axe to keep the marching army employed. And of course no one has money for any of the payloads that SLS will fly. But its all notional anyway, so why bother with the actual budget thing.

Now, NASA can buy Falcon Heavy launches at 1/5 (or cheaper) the cost of an SLS with roughly 70% of a SLS launch capability online. And more cheap heavy lift is on the way from other suppliers coupled with nimble, small launchers from another suite of suppliers. Gerst is quite correct to warn that constant changes in direction can sour current and potential partners on future projects. But he seems to not see that this very problem he cites has been happening under his watch. Possible partners are now looking to China because China offers them what they want - while NASA offers potential parters what they can have. These two things are not the same.

The old way of exploring space no longer works. If NASA doesn't everyone else will. In fact, they already are. The agency is stuck in outdated subroutines that run in circles that result in increasingly inefficient output. Its time to hit the reset button.

Trump threatens to slap retaliatory tariff on European cars as trade war talk heats up, CNBC

"Trump's hasty decision to impose tariffs on steel imports has stoked talk of a brewing trade war, roiling both the political establishment and the global economic order. The move also prompted E.U. trade chiefs to weigh hitting a broad array of U.S. imports with a 25 percent tax, Reuters reported this week."

New Tariffs Could Harm Industry Critical to American Economic Security, Aerospace Industries Association

"Friday morning on CNBC, AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning was featured immediately following Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, emphasizing: "This is going to impact companies big and small in the aerospace and defense world. More importantly, we're concerned about retaliation. The aerospace and defense industry generates the largest net surplus in the manufacturing sector - over $86 billion a year. These companies thrive on the exports of their products."

Why Europe and Canada may retaliate against bourbon, Harleys and Levi jeans, Washington Post

"Another alternative would be to ban U.S. companies from bidding on Canadian defense and infrastructure contracts, Mendes, the economist, said. The advantage to that approach would be that Canadian consumers wouldn't feel the impact in their wallets. When Boeing launched a complaint against Bombardier, claiming the Canadian company had benefited from unfair government subsidies in the production of its C Series jet, the Canadian government retaliated by saying it wouldn't consider buying fighter jets from Boeing. That dispute was effectively settled in January, when the U.S. International Trade Commission voted that Boeing was not harmed by Bombardier."

Keith's note: I am waiting to see how the trade war that the White House has started will affect willingness of affected nations to cooperate with U.S. on future human spaceflight and on U.S. commercial space sector - and example of both being the Deep Space Gateway. Protectionism and isolationism do not seem to be synonymous with such an expansive endeavor as the exploration and utilization of space.

NASA Heads Back to Space Leaderless, Bloomberg

"NASA observers, including some Democrats with ties to the agency, contend that Bridenstine's political background would be beneficial to a NASA administrator, who must navigate the shoals between the White House and Congress, which appropriates the agency's budget. "I'm still fairly bullish on what Jim Bridenstine would do for the agency," said Phil Larson, a former senior adviser in President Barack Obama's Office of Science and Technology Policy. "The main point now is NASA needs a leader as soon as possible, and leaving a nominee in question--I don't care what side of the aisle you're on--leaving a nomination open as these types of policies and questions and meetings are being hashed out helps no one."


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This page is an archive of entries in the TrumpSpace category from March 2018.

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