TrumpSpace: June 2018 Archives

Keith's note: There has been a meeting (actually an "unconference") called "Decolonize Mars" at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC this attended by people who do not want to colonize Mars.

According to the unconference website "The term decolonization refers to undoing the legacy of colonialism. Many people are used to hearing about "colonizing Mars" to talk about humanity living in space; here, we examine how using a colonialist framework in space reproduces past harm from humanity's history on Earth. This event is about envisioning fresh pathways for thinking about space exploration by stepping away from the ways we usually talk about space, which by definition is "decolonizing" the topic. Hence, "Decolonizing Mars"."

In other words they only seem to want like-minded attendees. Not that I don't agree with part of what I think they are getting at since we have certainly screwed up this planet - but there's a clear bias on one side of the argument in the mission statement. They are tweeting with the hashtag #decolonizemars but the invitation-only attendee list is password-protected. No media seem to have been allowed. No webcast. Nothing. This is rather odd for a meeting in a government facility convened by government employees.

This meeting was organized by the current Baruch S. Blumberg/NASA Chair of Astrobiology at the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. I knew Barry Blumberg rather well. Barry wanted to tell everyone about everything. I am not certain he'd like this closed door approach. This is just more DC choir practice in an echo chamber by a subset of the usual suspects. The remaining 99.9% of the people who pay for this party get left out. Just sayin'

Keith's note: I tuned into the Politico Space thing last night. I missed a lot of it since it was supposed to start at 6:15 but after 30 minutes of waiting for it to start I gave up and did something else. I checked back in later and listened for 15 minutes or so. I just happened to tune in just as Jim Bridenstine was asked about the whole Space Force thing. Being an actual warfighter who defended our country, a former Congressman who grappled with legislation, and a guy who thinks about space a lot, he knows his stuff.

Bridenstine answered the Space Force question cogently for 10 minutes or more, jumping back to the topic again and again later. Bridenstine clearly supports the idea of a Space Force and makes his viewpoint clearly without notes or stumbling. Indeed, now and then, he almost sounded like he was auditioning to be Secretary of the Space Force (SecSF).

What's odd about this is that no one at the Department of Defense really wants to talk about Space Force - just Bridenstine. Indeed, the impression one gets is that they are not too thrilled about turning the Pentagon into a Hexagon with a sixth service called Space Force (yes I stole that joke). You can't get the National Space Council to talk about this either. In Washington parlance Bridenstine probably got a little over his skis or was outside his swim lane a bit.

I do not think this signals any sort of military role for NASA. But this space agency does not operate in a vacuum (pun intended) when it comes to other space activities. If Bridenstine is the only one who is willing to talk about space in a larger context that includes things outside of NASA's purview such as Space Force - when no one else will - perhaps we should listen. Maybe he knows what is actually going on.

Now is the time for the Space Force. Trump just needs to get it right, op ed, Washington Post

"The Pentagon helped shoot down the "corps" idea a year ago. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote congressional leaders last October: "I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions." But Trump continued to push his pet space project. One advocate was Vice President Pence, chairman of the National Space Council and a rocket enthusiast who's said to have brought his family to Florida to watch NASA launches. Another was Newt Gingrich, the peripatetic former House speaker who, like Trump, enjoys promoting flashy, controversial ideas. "If Trump can break through the bureaucracy, all this will happen within a decade," even by 2020, Gingrich predicted in a phone interview Tuesday. Gingrich, who informally attends Space Council meetings, says he has talked with Trump about the idea but that the passion for it is the president's. The Air Force had been hoping this proposal would go away."

The Air Force is "as serious as a heart attack" about opposing the Space Corps, MuckRock

"While President Donald Trump's announcement earlier this year regarding the possible establishment of a "Space Force," FOIA shows that not everyone in his own administration is so keen on the idea. In a series of recently released emails from last year, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson made clear her opposition to the establishment of a semi-autonomous "Space Corps," insisting that it be the USAF in charge of militarizing the cosmos."

The New Arms Race Threatening to Explode In Space, Wired

Since he took office, President Trump has dropped numerous hints of the warnings he's evidently getting from military and intelligence leaders. During a spring livestream with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, he alluded, obliquely and without context, to the "tremendous military applications in space." And he has repeatedly floated the idea of creating a new branch of the armed forces specifically for celestial combat--culminating last week with a speech out-and-out ordering the Joint Chiefs of Staff to begin developing plans for a new "Space Force."

NASA Assessment of Mission Flexibility and Agility, NASA

"As you know, the President's National Space Strategy and Space Policy Directives have set NASA on an ambitious path of discovery and exploration that will require us to be more agile and flexible than ever. To that end, as NASA's part of an Administration plan for reorganizing the Executive Branch, the agency has been asked to assess over the next few months whether expanding the Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) model beyond JPL is the best approach for increasing agility and flexibility in support of the mission."

Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century (NASA Excerpt)

Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century

Page 17: "Establish an accelerated process for determining whether one or more of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Centers should be converted to, or host, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). FFRDCs can potentially allow the agency to be more agile in rapidly responding to changing needs and in recruiting and retaining scientific and technical expertise."

Page 83: "Process to Determine Best Role for FFRDCs

This proposal lays a process to determine if one or more of NASA's other Centers should be converted to, or host, an FFRDC. NASA would oversee this process and provide an analysis, including recommendations, to the White House by the end of August 2018 so that the outcome can be reflected in future budget and policy plans and proposals. NASA's analysis would draw from prior studies of this topic and evaluate the potential of an FFRDC to further the Administration's policy goals more effectively. In addition to studying whether one or more Centers could potentially be converted to an FFRDC in whole or in part, NASA would also establish whether it may be effective to perform new programs and projects using an FFRDC structure."

With three words, President Trump fortifies a flawed perception about NASA, Ars Technica

"Fresh off an appearance at a National Space Council meeting Monday, space was evidently on his mind when President Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday night. "Our beautiful ancestors won two world wars, defeated fascism and communism, and put a man on the face of the Moon," he told his adulatory crowd. "And I think you saw the other day, we're reopening NASA. We're going to be going to space." President Trump makes news at Space Council meeting by going off script. The crowd responded by chanting, "Space Force! Space Force!"

Mattis: Legislation needed to create 'space force', The Hill

"Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday said President's Trump's recent direction to establish a "space force" will require work with Congress that has not yet started. "This as you know is going to require legislation and a lot of detailed planning and we've not yet begun," Mattis told reporters outside the Pentagon prior to meeting with his German counterpart. "We've clearly got to start the process," Mattis added, noting that it is among the issues Pentagon leaders will bring up bring up on Friday morning when they meet with National Security Advisor John Bolton."

Air Force says planning for Space Force will be 'thorough' and 'deliberate', LA Times

"A letter to airmen signed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said the Air Force looked forward to working with the Defense Department, Congress and other national security partners to "move forward on this planning effort." However, it said the work to create what could be the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces would be a "thorough, deliberate and inclusive process." "As such, we should not expect any immediate moves or changes," the letter stated. "Our focus must remain on the mission as we continue to accelerate the space warfighting capabilities required to support the National Defense Strategy."

Keith's note: This is the question I asked at the User Advisory Council meeting today. "I have a question about the actual composition of the User's Advisory Group: With one exception only one person seems to be under 50 years of age and the panel is rather heavily loaded with Big Aerospace management. There is no apparent representation of the next generation of people who will actually live and work in space - you know, young people. Is this lack of representation by the next generation deliberate or an oversight?"

The National Space Council's User Advisory Group will meet on Tuesday at NASA Headquarters. The event will be webcast on Webex and audio will be available via dial-up.

Today the President will sign Space Policy Directive 3 (SPD-3) at the National Space Council meeting being held at the White House. SPD-3 deals principally with space traffic management. This morning in a media call National Space Council Executive Director Scott Pace said the U.S. needs to ave unfettered access and the ability to operate space - but space is becoming congested. The new policy (SPD-3) addresses these challenges.

SPD-3 establishes principles, goals, and guidance on how to achieve these goals. It also establishes responsibility within the U.S, government for taking on the task of implementing these goals: the Department of Defense will take the lead on developing an authoritative catalog of space objects; the Department of Commerce will be responsible for the releasable portions of the catalog for collision avoidance purposes; the Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation will lead the development of standards and practices, and the State Department will lead U.S. efforts to conduct these activities internationally with transparency.

Pace says that this is going to be a "bottom-up process" using best practices from industry. As such no treaty-level document is envisioned. Pace said that the U.S. wants to avoid creating an international treaty since that would be complicated and take time to do Instead, Pace says that they will be working to make this happen faster by having recommendations incorporated into various countries' laws and regulations.

Pace concluded by saying that a next step for the space council will be space debris and proximity operations as it relates to on-orbit servicing.


Update: President Donald J. Trump is Achieving a Safe and Secure Future in Space - Fact Sheet, White House

"FURTHER SPACE DEVELOPMENT: President Donald J. Trump signed Space Policy Directive - 3 directing the United States to lead the management of traffic and mitigate the effects of debris in space."

Keith's note: Newt Gingrich and Pete Worden have been removed from the National Space Council User Advisory Group (UAG) for reasons that sources say have to do with issues that arose while vetting Gingrich and Worden to serve on the UAG. That's the official excuse. Vetting is good thing to do especially for advisory groups. Oddly this "User" Advisory Group is more like a "Customer" Advisory Group with a majority of its members representing companies who already receive (and seek) huge amounts of money from NASA, DOD, DOC, etc. and have a vested interest in maintaining one or another aspect of the status quo. Actual potential users of space from the perspective of the U.S. government are virtually absent from this panel. This panel is all about serving the interests of Big Aerospace.

Many of the UAG members come from the top of Big Aerospace and serve as CEOs/Chairs/Presidents: Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin), Dennis Muilenburg (Boeing), Wes Bush (Northrop Grumman), Fatih Ozmen (Sierra Nevada), David Thompson (Orbital ATK), Gwynne Shotwell (SpaceX), Bob Smith (Blue Origin), and Tory Bruno (ULA). Add in members representing the two major commercial space trade groups for Big Aerospace such as Eric Stallmer (Commercial Spaceflight Federation) and Mary Lynne Dittmar (Coalition for Deep Space Exploration) and you have the majority of Big Aerospace Advising the National Space Council on how America should do things in space. Not exactly a recipe for change and innovation.

To be certain SpaceX and Blue Origin and other new companies seek to upset the status quo - but right now they are, for the most part, still regular government customers just like the older companies. By a strange coincidence, pushing for change and innovation in space are two traits that Gingrich and Worden are best known for. It would seem that these things are of lesser important to the National Space Council these days. Not a good sign.

Keith's note: Inevitably when someone takes over the helm of a government agency they run into the status quo. Some of us cynical space policy wonks are calling this slow motion impact process as being "consumed by The Blob." Stay tuned. Bridenstine has only had 2 months on the job.

Subcommittee Approves FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill (NASA Excerpt)

"$110 million is provided for the NASA's education programs, which were proposed to be eliminated in the budget request, under a newly named Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Opportunities activity. Within STEM Opportunities, Space Grant is funded at $44 million, NASA's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is funded at $21 million, the Minority University Research and Education Project is funded at $33 million, and STEM Education and Accountability projects is funded at $12 million."

Keith's note: On one hand it is great that Senate appropriators halted the White House attempt to slash education funding at NASA (BTW the Obama White House tried to do the same thing). But then there's this goofy renaming of the NASA Office of Education to the NASA Office of "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Opportunities". "STEM" is almost always used in a sentence with "education". So why not just leave it as the NASA Office of Education? The organization will seemingly do the exact same things that it has always done with the same budget albeit with this wordy title.

This would be like renaming NASA's Aeronautics Directorate as the "Wings, Engines, Aerodynamics and Development (WEAD)" Directorate. I remain baffled as to the rationale for this. Maybe they do not want to offend the Department of Education (which is doing such a wonderful job of undermining education on its own). But I digress. Again, the good news is that NASA education is being saved. But we're also telling students that its better to use wordy phrases and acronyms when the proper word choice is a single, illustrative word. But then again, that is what NASA is famous for: its acronyms. So I guess we call this organization STEMOPS now.

Larger image

Back To The Moon 3.0

America's Return to the Moon: A Foothold, Not Just Footprints. Air & Space

"Our return to the Moon will not be like the Apollo-style sorties of the old Constellation project. This new approach calls for true lunar habitation - our first foothold on another world. The sooner we understand what is needed to get started, the better. The Trump administration's national policy directive (via its Space Council) calls for the return of humans to the lunar surface to use its resources. Since NASA has previously been tasked with this near-term space goal - lunar return - understanding the significance of the goal will go a long way toward completing a vital mission that has faltered and failed twice before."

'We Choose to Go to the Moon' Again--But When?, The Atlantic

"The lack of a bumper sticker-worthy target may be disappointing, particularly for lunar scientists and advocates who have been craving a renewed emphasis on the moon. Public deadlines for the space program can be beneficial in a number of ways; they can impose some sense of internal discipline, unite multiple corners of the scientific community, and rally excitement and inspiration from the public that's paying for it. But deadlines in space exploration are also notoriously fickle. They stall, they shift, they get tossed out by one president and reinstalled by another. And in the meantime, little actually gets done to reach them."

Keith's note: It has gotten to the point that nearly every picture of NASA Administrator Bridenstine has NASA CFO Jeff DeWit sitting next to him. This photobombing will - and now has - led to confusion as to who is actually running NASA. In 22 years of watching NASA I have never seen such a camera-seeking NASA CFO. People are just getting to know what Jim Bridenstine looks like and Jeff DeWit is just making that harder for NASA to do. "Jim" and "Jeff" are often in the same picture. Its understandable that some people would be easily confused. Just sayin'.

Just in case the original tweet gets deleted, this is what the story looked like. And this is what the tweet looked like.

NASA's Bridenstine signals reprieve for endangered climate missions, Science

"Bridenstine's embrace of these missions goes hand-in-hand with his evolution on climate change, turning from an occasional critic of the scientific consensus to a supporter of the realities of human-driven global warming. "I want to be clear," he said, "I do believe that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas - over 400 parts per million at this point, which is greater volumes than we've seen before. And that's because of human activity."

NASA administrator promises not to abandon International Space Station without alternative plan, The Verge

"There are companies that are interested in managing the ISS from a commercial perspective. That exists right now," said Bridenstine. "And that existed before I got to NASA. Companies were talking to me about this as a member of Congress long before I got here."

Bridenstine emphasizes partnerships with industry to achieve NASA goals, Space News

"The SLS, he argued, offered "a capability right now that no one else has, and so we want to deliver it." However, he said he'd be open to revisiting that should commercial vehicles with similar capabilities enter service in the future. "If there comes a day when someone else can deliver that, then we need to think differently. It's always evolving."

Keith's note: I was unable to attend this briefing at NASA HQ due to a death in my immediate family. There was no remote dial-in for this briefing so news media around the country who cover NASA were unable to participate. Apparently there is no speakerphone in the Administrator's office. That has to be the reason, right? That said, Bridenstine is already more available to the media than his predecessor so ...


Loading

 



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

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

TrumpSpace: May 2018 is the previous archive.

TrumpSpace: July 2018 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.