TrumpSpace: July 2020 Archives

H.R. 7617 Division-by-Division Summary, House Appropriations Committee

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - $22.63 billion, equal to the FY 2020 enacted level. This funding includes continued investments in human space exploration efforts, as well as other investments, including the following:

• $819 million for Aeronautics research, an increase of $35 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and equal to the President's budget request, to continue efforts to improve passenger safety, fuel efficiency, and noise reduction, and to make air travel more environmentally sustainable.

• $126 million for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement, an increase of $6 million above the FY 2020 enacted level, to inspire young people to pursue future careers in science and engineering, and rejecting the Administration's request to eliminate funding for these programs."

Lucas and Babin: Appropriations Bill Fails to Prioritize NASA's Human Exploration Activities

"In particular, we need funding now to move forward on the Human Landing System, but this legislation provides only a fraction of what's needed to do that. As a nation, we need to prioritize human space exploration. This bill is shortsighted, and I hope we can do more to support NASA's critical missions."

America's Space Strategy Comes of Age, Peter Garretson, opinion, Newsweek

"As such, the report is something of a net assessment of our competitive strategic position vis-à-vis all sectors of space, from civilian to military to commercial. It focuses, in particular, on the six areas thought most likely to decide the great power competition: namely, space policy and finance, space information services, space transport and logistics, human presence, power for space systems, and space manufacturing and resource extraction. In these areas, it offers an action plan of more than 40 recommendations cumulatively designed to give America an undeniable qualitative edge in future space development."

Keith's note: This is what happens when you put a Space Force fan into a discussion about space policy. To them its all about projecting military power in space - and they want to project that military power in an antagonistic fashion that is simply going to prompt others to do the same. When they talk about "America's global leadership in space" they do not really care about the scientific or exploration stuff. They just want "to get to the "Star Trek Future" where they have troops and other things up there guarding things.

If 20 years of peaceful cooperation amongst the nations participating in the ISS has taught us anything it is that space offers an unusually compelling adventure that is more important than petty terrestrial politics. Think of all of the bad vibes between the U.S. and Russia. Go ahead - make a list. Yes, its long. Now look at the conflicts on the ISS. Make a list. I'm waiting. Where are they? That's right - there are none. How is that possible? To be certain we need to be vigilant in protecting our national assets in space - as we have been for more than half a century. But the Space Force squad seems to be hell bent on creating problems to solve in space instead of trying to avoid having problems in the first place.

- Now Space Force Wants Its Own Starfleet Admirals, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Take Over All Of NASA's Stuff, earlier post
- TV's Space Force Looks Like More Fun Than The Real One (Or Artemis), earlier post
- Space Force Official Flag Presented To The President On Friday Because Of Course It Was, earlier post
- Space Force Has The Air Force Academy. Why Doesn't NASA Have A Space Academy?, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Be Star Fleet, earlier post
- More Space Force postings

National Space Council Releases Report on Deep Space Exploration and Development

Today, the National Space Council released "A New Era for Deep Space Exploration and Development," a report prepared by the National Space Council staff in consultation with National Space Council members and the Users' Advisory Group that describes the rationale and purpose for the Administration's new direction in space. Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council Scott Pace, Ph.D., released the following statement: "'A New Era for Deep Space Exploration and Development' represents a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to this Administration's ambitious space exploration efforts, providing a vision for a sustained human presence on, and the robust commercial development of, the Moon and Mars. This report describes how and why the United States will proceed with deep space exploration, delineating the strategic interests and specific programs that underpin America's position as the world's leader among spacefaring nation."

Full report

Keith's note: Nice words - but no explanation of how this will be paid for. The word "budget" appears twice: "The term "sustainable" can have different meanings, depending on the context. For example, financial sustainability is the ability to execute a program of work within budget levels that are realistic, managed effectively, and likely to be available." and "If we are to have an effective American space strategy, we need to align our policies, programs, and budget with enduring national interests that span multiple administrations and Congresses."

NASA Has A CFO Nominee

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Individual to a Key Administration Post

"Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key position in his Administration: Dr. Greg Autry, of California, to be Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. ... Dr. Autry previously served on the NASA Agency Review Team and as the White House Liaison at NASA."

Keith's note: This is interesting since Autry was kicked off of the initial Trump "Beachead Team"/Transition Team at NASA a few months into the Administration. It is highly unlikely that this nomination will be taken up by the Senate before the election. If Trump loses it will never see the light of day. FWIW Autry is a former sidekick of White House official sinophobe Peter Navarro.

- Eric Trump's Brother-In-Law Is The New Deputy NASA Chief Of Staff. Seriously., previous post
- How Jonathan Dimock Auditioned To Be NASA White House Liaison, previous post

U.S. Air Force cadets study idea of Space Force bases on the Moon, Science

"Featuring weekly speakers and formalized research projects the students hope to turn into peer-reviewed papers, the group aims to game out the policies and philosophies that could guide military space activity when they are old enough to be in charge. In particular, these young cadets are interested in whether the Space Force might someday have a military presence on the Moon, and how it might work with civilians. That activity could put the Space Force in conflict with scientists, who typically view the cosmos as a peaceful place for inquiry. But part of the club's mission is speculating about that interplay--between the military and civilian scientists, civil space agencies, and private companies. Cadet J. P. Byrne, who will graduate in 2021, is the group's current president. He chatted with ScienceInsider about the institute's work."

The right tool to go to the moon, op ed, Tony Antonelli (Lockheed Martin), Politico

"Contrary to the iconic scene from "Apollo 13," we don't aspire to dumping a box of parts on a table and trying to make it work. Let's take the Dragon. You could add more backup computers, strings of communications, the ability to fly for days after loss of air pressure, and the ability to navigate in deep space without GPS and return to the Earth without the help of Mission Control. But it would no longer be a Dragon. It would be some new, untested vehicle that is bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable than Orion, which the best engineers and scientists from around the world have designed for the sole purpose of opening the Moon and Mars to humanity. Specific technologies are needed to go to deep space. NASA knew this when it designed Apollo more than 50 years ago; there's a reason it didn't send astronauts to the Moon in Gemini or Mercury spacecraft."

Keith's note: This is silly. A Lockheed Martin vehicle named "Orion" has flown once. Once. And when it flew it was a stripped down test vehicle with a fraction of the capabilities that the final version will have. An Orion has not flown since 2014. By the time it flies for a second time in 2021 (maybe) there will have been a gap 7 or more years. Humans will first fly on it in 2023 (maybe) - 9 years after the first flight. The SpaceX Crew Dragon has flown twice - once with a crew - and it will fly again (with a crew) in a few months and then 4 (or more) times before Orion carries its first crew. SpaceX will have vastly more operational experience with crewed Dragon vehicles before Lockheed Martin flies its second (uncrewed) Orion.

The Crew Dragon is based directly the fight-proven hardware developed for Cargo Dragon which has flown more than 20 times (reused on many of the flights) and will fly half a dozen more times before Orion carries a human crew. By the time Orion starts to fly SpaceX will already have an extensive body of cargo/crew flight experience upon which to draw for possible upgrades. Lockheed Martin will have virtually none. Unlike Orion, which is built along the standard old aerospace model wherein each vehicle is unique thus making upgrades more complex. Indeed it has already evolved from a cargo-only vehicle to a crewed vehicle (quite an increase in complexity). Indeed, SpaceX adopted classic consumer product thinking when it designed Dragon such that its spacecraft are designed - indeed expected - to be upgraded based on flight experience.

Stating that a theoretical Crew Dragon variant designed for lunar missions would be "bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable than Orion" is something a big aerospace company PR shop wants you to say - hoping that readers (legislators) who do not know better will fall for it. If anything, when compared to the SpaceX Dragon family and its possible derivatives, Orion is "bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable" than Dragon. Dragon is also much, much cheaper to fly than Orion and it always will be. And with regard to the difficulties of making new Dragon vehicles NASA has picked SpaceX's Dragon XL variant to service and supply the Gateway. NASA and SpaceX are already doing what Lockheed Martin's op ed is afraid of.

There seems to be some desperation amongst the SLS/Orion team these days. It is chronically over budget and years behind schedule and no one knows when it will actually fly. Indeed the SLS/Orion system is so problematic that the Artemis architecture it was supposed to be anchoring has been constantly changed to make up for its performance problems (Gateway, transfer stages) and delays (adding commercial launches and components). Just a few days ago the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration posted an op ed in The Hill which made some similarly misleading claims (see "You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly"). As one NASAWatch reader aptly put it "SLS is a national liability, not a national asset." You can expect more op eds like these from big aerospace as the election nears, the pandemic rages, the economy dives, and SLS slips further to the right while its imaginary budget evaporates.

Oh yes - although it is not part of the SLS/Orion project the other capsule being made by big aerospace, Boeing's Starliner, did not exactly wow its customer on its first flight.


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