TrumpSpace: June 2020 Archives

NASA's mission to the moon is about far more than cost, Op Ed, Mary Lynne Dittmar/Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, The Hill

"As a result, the role played by national assets in deep space cannot be fulfilled solely by privately owned systems. Bringing someone else's rocket and crew vehicle to the geopolitical table does not convey the same intent. A national presence, backed by the full faith and measure of Congress, focuses international attention and creates incentives for partnerships around the globe."

Keith's note: This is nonsense. In the case of the U.S. the "national asset" i.e. SLS/Orion is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. Meanwhile SpaceX and other private companies could conduct the Orion/SLS plan for lunar exploration far more cheaply and flexibly than the SLS/Orion architecture ever could. Falcon 9/Heavy/Dragon work. SLS/Orion have not yet shown that they can.

It has apparently escaped Dittmar's notice that the original SLS/Orion plan - one that only used SLS and Orion has been continuously morphed into a program that uses more and more commercial capabilities to do the things that SLS/Orion cannot do - either for cost or capability reasons. Were NASA to have relied upon the SLS/Orion "national asset" alone it would have been impossible to meet this Administration's 2024 goal to land humans on the Moon. In fact, even with the shift toward enhanced commercial participation, chronic problems with SLS/Orion system now make it almost certainly incapable of doing its part in the current NASA plan to land humans on the Moon by 2024.

You cannot convey the intended political intent if the rocket you want to use to exert that intent has not flown and will not fly at the cost - or schedule - originally envisioned. Take a look at what European government-backed and Chinese-backed "commercial" companies are doing. They are copying SpaceX - they are not copying SLS/Orion. They learned from American successes - and failures. Can we?

Keith's update: NASA issued this press release today about initial authorization for the SRBs needed for 6 additional SLS flights - and that the eventual contract will "extend through Dec. 31, 2030". Yet nowhere in this release do they say when the first SLS launch will actually occur.

Readout from the Vice President's and Second Lady's Call to NASA Astronauts aboard the International Space Station

"The Vice President and Second Lady congratulated the astronauts and led a discussion of their experience living and working in space as part of Expedition 63, including upcoming planned space walks. All three astronauts previously flew on Shuttle missions to the ISS, and Vice President Pence asked what it means to them personally to be involved in this historic mission. The Second Lady asked the astronauts what advice they would give to young Americans they have inspired to become space professionals. Vice President Pence thanked the astronauts for their courageous service and professionalism as the United States leads again in space. He assured them that they have the confidence and the prayers of the American people."

Keith's note: That's nice. So why hasn't video of the actual conversation been released? Apparently it was an innocuous chit chat sort of thing but why can't we hear what was actually said?

Vice President Pence Congratulates Appointees to the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group

"Vice President Mike Pence, Chairman of the National Space Council, released the following statement on the appointment of members to serve on the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group. Nominated by the Vice President, the members of the Users' Advisory Group have been appointed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for two-year terms. The Users' Advisory Group serves to fulfill President Trump's directive to "foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange" across our nation's space enterprise to ensure that the United States remains the world's foremost spacefaring country."

Keith's note: Looks like we have another Trump space promotional video to enjoy on Trump TV. This video starts with some routine Biden bashing, followed by the "Make Space Great Again" campaign advertisement that the Trump campaign quickly pulled offline last week. At 4:10 the live chat begins. It is hosted by Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle who works on the Trump campaign. Her guests are former NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit and former astronaut and NASA GRC Center Director Janet Kavandi who is now a Senior Vice President at Sierra Nevada Corp. Apparently the Trump family is really into space - Eric Trump's brother-in-law Kyle Yunaska is the new Deputy Chief of Staff at NASA.

The video starts with Guilfoyle saying "with President Trump's inspirational leadership the United States has officially made space great again". She also mentioned that she was at the first DEMO-2 launch attempt. It is a little strange that political campaign people were on the invitation list when virtually no one else was invited. Oh well. Anyway, after a clip of the President taking credit for things that previous presidents initiated the hyperbole that follows continues that theme leaving one with the impression that before the President showed up NASA was closed for business or something. Oh and DeWit complains that the press does not give Ivanka Trump the credit she deserves for whatever it is she does. Like I said space is a family affair for all the Trumps.

- The First 2020 Election Space-Themed Campaign Commercial Flops, earlier post
- White House Post-Launch Commentary, earlier post
- Eric Trump's Brother-In-Law Is The New Deputy NASA Chief Of Staff. Seriously., earlier post

Keith's note: Along with the now silenced "Make Space Great Again" political campaign advertisement that was yanked within hours was another space-related PR effort - but the U.S. State Department. The State Department seems to have had a social media campaign of sorts to promote the @SpaceX DEMO2 mission around the world via the #LaunchAmerica hash tag. I guess this is supposed to be soft power except mostly it says "Hey - America did this". Sometimes they put the tweet out in the target country's official language. Often times its only in English. Some times they included videos that are narrated - and captioned - in English such as the one aimed at Colombia (the point being ...?). Curiously, the tweet aimed at Ukraine is captioned in Ukrainian.

In 2018 Ukraine had 41.98 million people. Colombia had 49.65 million. Given their similar size, you'd think that they would both warrant a local translation/captioning of the video. But wait: there are only 35 million Ukrainian speakers worldwide vs 572 million spanish speakers (53 million in the U.S.). 20 counties count Spanish as an official language. You could certainly create many more tailored tweets from U.S. embassies to each of these 20 countries with one video translation and reach many more people than the one-off Ukrainian translation. Just sayin'

NASA's accomplishments have always led the rest of world and continue to be a raw source of immense soft power. Now, if only America knew how to ask everyone else to work with them in a calm, collaborative fashion, and not just wave our flag at them on Twitter. Again, just sayin'

Keith's note: This video is posted on a non-Trump campaign YouTube account.

Keith's note: Parts of this Trump campaign commercial look like portions of a promo for the Netflix show "Space Force" or outtakes from the end of the film "Armageddon". Statements by the President such as "Because we are Americans and the future belongs totally to us" certainly do not suggest that international cooperation is something that the campaign is promoting. The Trump producers also ripped off a logo from Disney too. Did the NASA employees openly shown in this video give their permission to be shown in a partisan political commercial? Astronaut Karen Nyberg certainly did not think so. NASA policies seem to disagree as well. The campaign eventually pulled the ad offline but it has started to pop up again online elsewhere.

Media Usage Guidelines, NASA

"Current NASA employees, including astronauts, may not appear in commercial material," those guidelines state. "If a recognizable person, or talent (e.g., an astronaut or a noted personality engaged to narrate a film) appears in NASA material, use for commercial purposes may infringe a right of privacy or publicity. Permission should be obtained from the recognizable person or talent if the proposed use of the NASA material could be viewed as a commercial exploitation of that person."

- Trump Campaign Pulls Space Launch Ad That Violated NASA Rules, MSN
- Trump campaign removes space-themed ad amid complaints from former astronaut, others, CNN
- Trump campaign pulls 'Make Space Great Again' video that may have violated NASA regulations', Space.com
- Trump campaign pulls space-themed ad after complaints, SpaceNews
- After sparking consternation at NASA, Trump campaign pulls ad featuring SpaceX launch, Geekwire
- In Space No One Can Hear You Campaign: Trump Team Pulls Ad, Barrons

NASA human spaceflight directorate reorganization on hold, Space News

"During a June 1 webinar by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that a reorganization of the agency's Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate will be delayed until after the agency hires a successor to Doug Loverro, who left the agency May 19."

Keith's 4 June update: Bringing Mark Geyer back to NASA HQ to run HEOMD will make many people in the organization comfortable since there'd be a certain Gerstenmaier-like familiarity. But Jim Bridenstine originally replaced Bill Gerstenmaier with a new face and approach so as to refocus HEOMD to make the Artemis 2024 lunar landing feasible. Now a lot of that will be dialed back to the way it was before Doug Loverro took over. Between pandemic delays, election year uncertainties, and chronic SLS/Orion delays and cost overruns, Mark Geyer certainly has an immense challenge ahead of him.

Keith's 2 June note: When former HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier was fired last summer it took NASA 6 months to replace him. During that time major aspects of Artemis and SLS were put on hold or dialed back until a replacement could be found. The new AA Doug Loverro showed up in early 2020 and did what he was told to do and the system bounced him as a result. Now NASA is searching for a replacement for Loverro who, himself, was a replacement. And once again NASA is putting things on hold - as if the pandemic-caused delays were not bad enough.

If NASA follows precedent it will take quite some time to replace Loverro. The reorganization of HEOMD was planned based on a top to bottom assessment of HEOMD - by HEOMD. One would think that the reorganization was independent of one person's opinion and that it had broad organizational buy-in. Guess not.

Now NASA will put the whole Artemis thing on hold again for months until someone takes the job and then stay on hold for a few more months more while the new person gets up to speed and takes ownership of HEOMD. There is simply no way NASA will ever meet the Moon landing deadlines it has been given if every decision has the fate/opinion of one NASA employee as a potential single point of failure. If NASA cannot come up with a fault tolerant way to manage its people on Earth then the whole Moon thing is not going to happen as planned. Just sayin'.


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This page is an archive of entries in the TrumpSpace category from June 2020.

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