TrumpSpace: July 2019 Archives

ISS Research and Development Conference livestream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2019/pence20jul.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Presidential Message on Space Exploration Day, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fraught Effort to Return to the Moon, The Atlantic

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

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

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

Forward To The Moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larger image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch live.

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

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

Witnesses are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live video.

Witnesses:

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

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

Mr. Homer Hickman
Author
Rocket Boys

Mr. Gene Kranz (Testimony)
Flight Director
Apollo 11

Mr. Eric Stallmer (Testimony)
President
Commercial Spaceflight Federation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OMB Has Its Sights Set On Gateway, earlier post

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

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

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


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