Recently in Commercialization Category

Exploration Production and Operations Long-Term Sustainability, NASA

"The primary goals enabling this vision include 1) moving ESD programmatic implementation to a construct in which industry owns vehicle production and the flight hardware, and leads the ground operations services, 2) production, operations, and maintenance costs at a substantial savings of 50% or more off of the current industry baseline per flight cost with a flight rate of one crewed flight and potential for at least one cargo flight per year (costs are inclusive of Orion/payload and system integration but exclusive of the Orion hardware, payload hardware, government personnel and government facility costs), and 3) a programmatic construct that is a launch service (across 2 contracts) available for additional customers, including other government agencies, international partners and commercial entities."

Keith's note: This RFI is hilarious. NASA wants people to submit ideas as to how to save "50% or more off of the current industry baseline per flight cost" when NASA itself has never said what a SLS flight costs. So ... how exactly does one submit a proposal to cut that unknown cost in half? And who would want to own this launch system for that matter since it was mandated by Congress - a rocket that took a decade longer and billions over budget to build? How predictable is its long term use when it took so long to build it in the first place? It has not even flown once.

And who is the customer? Oh, its NASA, of course, which has already shown its chronic willingness to spend vast amounts of money on this system - and bet their entire Artemis architecture on it. That means that any contractor knows going into this that they have NASA right where they want them. And if the contractor underbids or the rocket does not perform - and NASA is stuck without a ride - who will pick up the tab? Why NASA of course. This whole RFI is a fool's errand. I can't wait to see who responds.

Keith's note: This is going to be a real paradigm shift - and big (old) aerospace is not ready for it - and NASA has no idea whatsoever as to how it should respond.

New Orbital Destination Opens Up Space For Business And Travel, Creating New Ecosystem

"Blue Origin and Sierra Space today announced plans for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit. The station will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future. Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates including Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University."

Mary Lynne Dittmar Testimony - Hearing: International Collaboration and Competition in Space: Oversight of NASA's Role and Programs

"Axiom is the first (and so far, the only) company to develop a new station destined for low Earth orbit (LEO) without government funds for development, launch, and operations."

NASA Selects First Commercial Destination Module for International Space Station, NASA

"On Feb. 28, 2020, NASA awarded Axiom a firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with a maximum potential value, inclusive of options, of $140 million over an up to seven-year ordering period consisting of a five-year base period and a two-year option. NASA has selected Axiom Space of Houston to provide at least one habitable commercial module to be attached to the International Space Station as the agency continues to open the station for commercial use."

Keith's note: If you read the Space Act Agreement between NASA and Axiom you will see that it states that Axiom will get the funds to actually build and launch its first module. But let's apply a simple sanity test to all of this. NASA is giving Axiom $140 million for data and other lessons learned from this effort. If the claim that $140 million from NASA to buy data from the development of this module has nothing to do with construction, would Axiom have gone ahead and built and launched the module and docked it to the ISS without the NASA money? If there is no connection whatsoever between the $140 million and the development and launch of the Axiom module - as Axiom would have you think - then the answer should be "yes", right? You then have to ask if investors would have even been interested in Axiom without the $140 million financial vote of confidence from NASA. Also, $140 million goes a long way to develop data and lessons learned, while serving to keep a brand-new company going before it has any actual product. Just saying.

As for the question of whether NASA should be priming the pump to spur commercial use of space - sure, why not. It is a good role for NASA and the commercial crew/cargo experiences show that there is clear value for all involved. As such there is no reason why NASA should not help with ISS and LEO operations either. But splitting hairs and claiming that no government assistance was given - when in fact it was - a massive amount - simply muddies the reality of what is going on - and how it is happening - and leaves people shaking their heads.

Nanoracks, Voyager Space, and Lockheed Martin Teaming to Develop Commercial Space Station, Nanoracks

"Nanoracks, in collaboration with Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT], has formed a team to develop the first-ever free flying commercial space station. The space station, known as Starlab, will be a continuously crewed commercial platform, dedicated to conducting critical research, fostering industrial activity, and ensuring continued U.S. presence and leadership in low-Earth orbit. Starlab is expected to achieve initial operational capability by 2027."

George Washington Carver Science Park - The World's First Science Park in Space, Nanoracks

"Now, given the increasing maturity of the LEO ecosystem, it is time for Nanoracks to take the next step in driving LEO utilization operations. After intensive investigation and discussion with industry experts, I am delighted to announce that the Nanoracks collection of hardware on the ISS will henceforth be operated as a Science Park. A Science Park is a well-known business model that brings together companies and organizations in a shared endeavor, and I am thrilled to share our Science Park will be named for the great American agriculture scientist, Dr. George Washington Carver."

Q&A: The World's First Science Park in Space With Jeffrey Manber

"Nanoracks could not imagine a more aligned mission. The GWC Science Park will conduct operations based on our lessons learned from over a decade on the ISS, combining them with the wisdom of seasoned science park operators, to create a seamless experience for all our customers aboard the ISS. Taken together, we will begin developing the systems, procedures, and metrics to facilitate additional capital, allow a more sophisticated dialog with NASA and CASIS, and ultimately, prepare for the coming era of commercial space stations."

To Understand Low-Earth Orbit, Look to Mt. Everest

"Getting to low-Earth orbit is a lot like climbing Mt. Everest. It's not impossible, but it's difficult, expensive and risky. As experience grows, the difficulty of reaching the destination drops steadily, and the risk becomes more manageable."

"...the commercial era of Everest expedition rises with the ability of the general public to pay commercial outfitters to climb Everest at a fraction of the cost it took to climb in the 1920s."

"Ordinary people can pay commercial outfitters ot climb, making Mt. Everest more acceptable and less expensive to summit."

Keith's note: What a mess. For starters anyone who spent even a bare minimum amount of time researching this article and talking to actual climbers such as NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, or read regular news from the Everest region might learn something than what was written.

In a nutshell they'd learn that the risk to climbers has increased as access has expanded due to crowding on the mountain; an increased number of under-skilled people putting themsleves and others at risk by trying to climb a mountain they are not capable of climbing; increased pollution at base camp and on the mountain which affects climbers and residents; and continued economic stresses on the residents of Nepal who are grossly underpaid for the risks that they take. Oh yes "ordinary people" cannot - and should not ever - be climbing a mountain like this - regardless of cost or affordability. But they do - in greater numbers - thus negating whatever point about risk reduction that the author is trying to make.

It is also rather weird that NASA would put an article online about Everest up and not mention the fact that a NASA astronaut scaled it, another NASA astronaut died trying to climb it, and that a piece of the summit of Everest has been on board the International Space Station for more than a decade.

FYI I spent a month living at Everest Base camp in 2009 supporting a person who summitted and witnessed injuries and deadly avalanches with my own eyes.

And also, FWIW I have spoken to a number of astronaut mountaineers and they will tell you that the risks involved in climbing a mountain like this are vastly more complex to deal with and the effort itself is equally more physically arduous than sitting in a rocket while it does all the work of taking you to and from space. If you are going to compare these things you need to actually compare them for what they are.

But this sort of sloppy writing seems to pass as acceptable at NASA PAO these days. If this article reflects the way NASA is actually planning its Moon and Mars exploration then there are going to be some big problems for the people who go there. To put badly written things like this online is deceptive, superficial, and not in the best interest of informing the public.



Space Billionaires On SNL

Keith's note: Sources report that the NASA Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) has been moving all of its contracted work to MORI Associates Inc. under a contract awarded on a sole source basis via JSC under a new umbrella contract called Communications, Outreach, Multimedia, and Information Technology (COMIT). OSTEM AA Mike Kincaid has had previous experience working with MORI when he was at JSC.

This sole source contract is being awarded to MORI for all OSTEM work even though MORI was not the existing incumbent for all of this work at NASA OSTEM and NASA HQ. Meanwhile sources report that Mike Kincaid's brother Scott Kincaid, who works for Salesforce, a cloud-based Internet provider, has sat in on official NASA OSTEM meetings with NASA staff. The current plan, according to sources, is for NASA OSTEM to move its online platform work to ... Salesforce.

I have received no feedback or commentary on my reporting from Mike Kincaid or NASA PAO - so one has to assume that they do not contest any of it. Sad. NASA is the Earth's pre-eminent space agency with a vast reach oozing with softpower and inspiration - one that is truly global. As such, with an extra pot of money in the FY2022 budget request, you'd think that NASA would want to obtain the best contractor support possible to enable its education and outreach efforts. Guess again. Instead, they go for easy, unimaginative procurement solutions and grab the low-hanging fruit instead. I am rather sure this is not what Joe Biden had in mind when he coined the whole "Build Back Better" thing. Quite the contrary.

Nearly two months after discovering a problem with its Starliner spacecraft, Boeing is still searching for answers, Washington Post

"Several days after Boeing discovered the latest problem with its Starliner spacecraft, it removed the capsule from the rocket and returned it to the factory where engineers have been playing detective, trying to figure out what went wrong. But now, some two months after it first discovered an issue with some of the valves in the spacecraft's service module, the company still doesn't know with 100 percent certainty what caused 13 of those valves to remain shut when they should have been open, the latest embarrassment for a program that has suffered a series of blunders. And it's unclear when the company may attempt to launch it again."

Keith's note: Sources have told us that there is a similarity between the valves in Starliner and some of the valves in the SLS.

Keith's note: Yesterday I was on Bloomberg Radio live - twice - doing launch commentary for their morning show in Asia and was on Deutsche Welle at 9:00 pm EDT. I was CNN New Day this morning morning to talk about the mission. I cut an interview on CGTN tomorrow afternoon about China's space station crew's return to Earth and ... no doubt ... talking to someone else about space in the next few days. Update: I just did an Al Jazeera Arabic interview.


'They could be your neighbors' and they're going to space. SpaceX gets ready to fly the Inspiration4 crew., Washington Post

"But the Inspiration4 mission is of particular importance because three of the crew members are not wealthy, [Alan] Ladwig said. "They're not billionaires," he said. "They are people that could be our neighbors, people you went to school with, people you work with. And for them to get this opportunity is pretty fantastic."

- Elon Musk is dominating the space race. Jeff Bezos is trying to fight back., Washington Post
- Amazon Takes a Swipe at Musk as Satellite Feud Escalates, Bloomberg
- Elon Musk goads Jeff Bezos on Twitter as their prolonged space spat escalates, Geekwire

FAA Grounds Virgin Galactic

Keith's note: This is the news Virgin Galactic wanted to focus on today:

Virgin Galactic Announces First Commercial Research Mission

"Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. ... today announced the manifest for the next rocket-powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo Unity from Spaceport America, which will be the first commercial, human-tended research mission for the Company. ... The Company is targeting a flight window in late September or early October 2021, pending technical checks and weather."

Instead, this is what they had to deal with today (in chronologial order):

The Red Warning Light on Richard Branson's Space Flight, New Yorker

"On July 11th, nearly a minute into the rocket trip carrying Richard Branson ... But it was veering off course, and the light was a warning to the pilots that their flight path was too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical. If they didn't fix it, they risked a perilous emergency landing in the desert on their descent."

Virgin Galactic Statements In Response to New Yorker Article

"Although the flight's ultimate trajectory deviated from our initial plan, it was a controlled and intentional flight path that allowed Unity 22 to successfully reach space and land safely at our Spaceport in New Mexico. At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory."

FAA Statement halting Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two Flights

"Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShip Two vehicle to flight until the GFAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety."

Virgin Galactic Statement In Response To FAA Halt to SpaceShip Two Flights

"At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory, and at no time did the ship travel above any population centers or cause a hazard to the public. FAA representatives were present in our control room during the flight and in post-flight debriefs."

Jeff Bezos' NASA Lawsuit Is So Huge It's Crashing the DOJ Computer System

"As if NASA didn't have enough issues on their hands, the agency's computers keep crashing because the files from Blue Origin's lawsuit are too big -- resulting in a further delay to SpaceX's Human Landing System (HLS) contract. The size of Blue Origin's lawsuit (which clocks in at more than seven gigabytes worth of PDFs) is causing the Department of Justice's Adobe software to crash, according to documents obtained by space reporter Joey Roulette. The issue stems from the fact that the Acrobat can't combine "several hundred files at one time without crashing."

Starliner Returning to Factory to Resolve Valve Issue

"Today, Boeing informed NASA that the company will destack its CST-100 Starliner from the Atlas V rocket and return the spacecraft to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) for deeper-level troubleshooting of four propulsion system valves that remain closed after last Tuesday's scrubbed launch."

Keith's 1:00 pm EDT update: This just serves to confirm what I wrote earlier. Boeing and NASA have a big problem to deal with - a spacecraft that is simply not ready for prime time.

NASA, Boeing to Provide Update on Starliner's Orbital Flight Test-2

"NASA and Boeing are continuing discussions on the status of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission, and will host a joint media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT, Friday, Aug. 13, to discuss the second uncrewed flight of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station, as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program."

Boeing Works to Open Starliner Valves, Determine Cause of Valve Issues

"Nine of the previously affected 13 valves are now open and functioning normally after the application of electrical and thermal techniques to prompt and command them open. Similar techniques are now being applied to the four valves that remain closed."

What in the Hell Is Going on With Boeing's Starliner?, Gizmodo

"Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee and editor of the site NASA Watch, made his opinion known yesterday in a painfully brief post: How--why--did this spacecraft--one that is supposed to eventually fly humans--ever make it to the launch pad without fully operational propulsion valves in the first place? Just wondering."

Keith's note: Boeing shipped this spacecraft to the pad with the full intention of launching it. The first time this design flew its software did not know what time it was or where the spacecraft was. Then this new, basic problem arose in a fundamental spacecraft system. Rolling back from the pad is a serious decision. Now, after a week fiddling with some equipment required for both nominal and contingency operations of this human-rated spacecraft, Boeing still has not fixed the problem.

You are likely going to hear that much more invasive work needs to be done - and that means prolonged delays in launching this vehicle. That also means that an army of Boeing and NASA safety people will parachute into this process and participate in months of work. Odds are that a launch will only happen in 2022. And even if that uncrewed mission is successful you are not likely to see a human crew on board until this time next year at the earliest. And there is an Atlas V waiting for something to do.

All of this costs Boeing money out of their pocket on top of the cost of dealing with OFT-1 remediation. Boeing only stands to get a certain amount of reimbursement from NASA for the crews that the agency will pay them to fly. Commercial missions are buying the only ride in town - SpaceX. As such a non-NASA revenue stream is simply not there for Boeing. At some point Boeing is going to have to either fix this spacecraft such that NASA and its crews wan to fly on it - or - Boeing is going to have to face the fiscal music and pull the plug on the whole misadventure. Stay tuned.

Today's media event will likely be summarized in a few sentences by most competent reporters. The rest of the event will be spent by both NASA and Boeing as they try too put a happy face on this and downplay the cold engineering reality and the potential impact on the program. And of course Kathy Lueders will say "space is hard" at some point in the briefing because that is all NASA knows how to say in these situations.

Blue Origin Federation, LLC; Dynetics, Inc.-A Leidos Company B-419783; B-419783.2; B-419783.3; B-419783.4 July 30, 2021, GAO

"Significantly higher-priced offerors submitting proposals for a demonstration mission for a human landing system for lunar exploration, under a broad agency announcement (BAA) with a preference for two awards, argue that agency was required to advise them via an amendment or discussions (or otherwise cancel the BAA altogether) once the agency learned that it had less funding than it needed to support multiple awards for the effort. We deny the protests because the BAA expressly put all offerors on notice that the number of awards was subject to available funding and the agency could make multiple contract awards, a single award, or no award at all."

Related files

NASA, Boeing Make Progress on Starliner Valve Issue

"Work progressed to restore functionality to several valves in the Starliner propulsion system that did not open as designed during the launch countdown for the Aug. 3 launch attempt. The valves connect to thrusters that enable abort and in-orbit maneuvering."

Keith's note: How - why - did this spacecraft - one that is supposed to eventually fly humans - ever make it to the launch pad without fully operational propulsion valves in the first place? Just wondering.

Keith's note: OK space fans. While the focus of this taxpayer policy advertisement is not a majority opinion, it is not an infrequently heard one either. To be certain, the organization trying to push for tax reform abducted the images and symbolism of the Branson/Bezos flights and used it for a gratuitous flyby attention grabber - because, why not? It works.

Meanwhile, outside the space bubble, out in the real world, where people are unemployed, facing disease and possibly eviction, and otherwise not experiencing the happiest, forward-looking of times, seeing ultra-rich people cavorting in space is perhaps not the best way to advertise the promise of space. I'm not suggesting that these commercial efforts stop. Rather, that people in a position to influence events and public commentary pause for a moment to think of ways to counter the negative impact of the space tourism thing with mention of space-related things of basic, commonplace societal benefit.

NASA is not going to do this since NASA has never really demonstrated that skillset. And they will never have it. Rather, its something that others should be thinking about right now. Just a thought.

This angry taxpayer ad is not the only one to borrow the space meme to make a point. There are many others. You may not go for what Big Oil is trying to put forth in their ads, but they do portray space as something hopeful. It is possible. Just sayin'

Or this ad which speaks to young people who think about space - a lot.

Oh yes, then there's this space program analogy in an op ed yesterday about preparing for the next pandemic - from the President's science advisor ...

As bad as covid-19 has been, a future pandemic could be even worse -- unless we act now, Opinion, Eric Lander, Washington Post

"These goals are ambitious, but they're feasible -- provided the work is managed with the seriousness, focus and accountability of NASA's Apollo Program, which sent humans to the moon."

Nanoracks Appoints Marshall Smith as Senior Vice President of Commercial Space Stations

"Nanoracks, a Voyager Space Holdings Company, has appointed Marshall Smith, the former Deputy Associate Administrator (DAA) for NASA's Systems Engineering and Integration (SE&I), Human Exploration and Operations (HEO), as Senior Vice President of Commercial Space Stations."

GAO Statement on Blue Origin-Dynetics Decision - Protests Denied

"On Friday, July 30, 2021, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied protests filed by Blue Origin Federation, LLC, of South Kent, Washington, and Dynetics, Inc.-A Leidos Company, of Huntsville, Alabama. The protesters challenged their non-selection for awards and the award of optional contract line item numbers to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), of Hawthorne, California, under Option A to Appendix H of Broad Agency Announcement (the announcement) No. NNH19ZCQ001K. Broad Agency Announcements typically provide for the acquisition of basic and applied research for new and creative research or development solutions to scientific and engineering problems. The rules for these procurements are not the same as those for standard competitive federal procurements, as agencies generally enjoy broader discretion in selecting the proposals most suitable to meeting their research and development needs when utilizing broad agency announcement procedures. The announcement was issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for a demonstration mission for a human landing system for lunar exploration."

In denying the protests, GAO first concluded that NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award. NASA's announcement provided that the number of awards the agency would make was subject to the amount of funding available for the program. In addition, the announcement reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all. In reaching its award decision, NASA concluded that it only had sufficient funding for one contract award. GAO further concluded there was no requirement for NASA to engage in discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement as a result of the amount of funding available for the program. As a result, GAO denied the protest arguments that NASA acted improperly in making a single award to SpaceX.

Letter From Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos To NASA Administrator Bill Nelson: Human Landing System

"In April (prior to your confirmation as NASA administrator), only one HLS bidder, SpaceX, was offered the opportunity to revise their price and funding profile, leading to their selection. Blue Origin was not offered the same opportunity. That was a mistake, it was unusual, and it was a missed opportunity. But it is not too late to remedy. We stand ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and solve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Program back on a more competitive, credible, and sustainable path. Our Appendix H HLS contract is still open and can be amended.

With that in mind and on behalf of the National Team, we formally offer the following for your consideration:

• Blue Origin will bridge the HLS budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2B to get the program back on track right now. This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments. This offer provides time for government appropriation actions to catch up.

• Blue Origin will, at its own cost, contribute the development and launch of a pathfinder mission to low-Earth orbit of the lunar descent element to further retire development and schedule risks. This pathfinder mission is offered in addition to the baseline plan of performing a precursor uncrewed landing mission prior to risking any astronauts to the Moon. This contribution to the program is above and beyond the over $1B of corporate contribution cited in our Option A proposal that funds items such as our privately developed BE-7 lunar lander engine and indefinite storage of liquid hydrogen in space. All of these contributions are in addition to the $2B waiver of payments referenced above.

• Finally, Blue Origin will accept a firm, fixed-priced contract for this work, cover any system development cost overruns, and shield NASA from partner cost escalation concerns."

Keith's note: You have to wonder who advises Jeff Bezos on his outreach, PR, and overall tone setting. More than half of the stories that have circulated (or continue to circulate) about his flight last week are not positive. Indeed some are overtly negative. So, instead of sending a private letter to Bill Nelson to make this offer, he releases this thing with the clear intent of trying to use public pressure and money (as an afterthought) to Big Foot the matter and reverse the HLS decision. Bad press about space billionaires having their way in space now mixes with space billionaires trying to change NASA decisions that they do not like. No one benefits from this.

GAO is not deterred by external pressure and they will make their decision known - possibly as early as next week. Nelson is going to have a hard time arguing with the GAO's protest ruling if they side with NASA's earlier decision - especially since the basic factor that guided the sole source decision i.e. not enough money for more than one contractor - is still in force. NASA decided to make one HLS award since they could not make a decision to spend money that they simply do not have. NASA still has no idea where they are going to get all the money to keep the program of record on track for a 2024 lunar landing - or any other landing.

Members of Congress from the affected states will pressure NASA to consider this offer. Bill Nelson did not really hide his displeasure at the down select to one vendor so he may not put up much of a fight. The GAO analysis was made without this offer from Blue Origin. Blue Origin only focuses on their side of the equation and does not take into account the things NASA will have to do to adopt their proposal. And if they accept Blue Origin's proposal then why shouldn't they just give Dynetics a second shot or, for that matter SpaceX and the other bidders and just re-do the whole procurement. Heck, Elon could throw a billion Bitcoin in ;-) If this after-the-fact proposal is now considered, then the net result will certainly be yet another delay in the process of developing a Human Landing System for Artemis. It also sends a message to big aerospace that you can reverse NASA decisions - if you offer enough money.

Besides, SpaceX may well decide to just go to the Moon anyway on their own dime.

FAA National Policy: FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program

"Purpose of This Order. This Order provides guidelines, eligibility, and criteria for the administration of the FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program."

Has NASA Lost Its Mojo?

Opinion: The billionaires' space efforts may seem tone-deaf, but they're important milestones, Miles O'Brien, Washington Post

"While NASA (and its Pasadena, Calif.-based Jet Propulsion Lab) are unmatched at unmanned space probes, the agency's record for manned missions has lagged, to say the least. For decades, NASA has acted like that guy bragging in a bar about winning a state championship 50 years ago. You may not love them, but the billionaires behind these private-sector efforts have both the resources and the impatience with government bureaucracy to put Americans back in space - where they belong."

Blue Origin Launches Four Commercial Astronauts To Space And Back (with video)

"Blue Origin successfully completed New Shepard's first human flight today with four private citizens onboard. The crew included Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, who all officially became astronauts when they passed the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space."

Keith's note: FYI I will be live on BBC World News starting around 9:00 am to co-anchor live coverage of today's Blue Origin flight. I will be on BBC at noon to do a recap. I will be on Al Jazeera Arabic between 2:35-2:55 pm and then on Deutsche Welle just after 3:00 pm. and then ABC News Live at 3:15 pm. Then its a limo ride into DC and CNN's Situation Room some time between 5-7 pm, a limo ride home, DW again at 7:00 pm, CGTN (US) just after 8:00 pm, CTV at 8:30 pm, and then CGTN (Beijing) at 10:00 pm. Then I crash.

No Caption Necessary

Virgin Galactic Successfully Completes First Fully Crewed Spaceflight, Virgin Galactic

"Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. today announced that VSS Unity successfully reached space, completing the Company's fourth rocket-powered spaceflight. Today's flight was the 22nd test flight of VSS Unity and the first test flight with a full crew in the cabin, including the Company's founder, Sir Richard Branson. The crew fulfilled a number of test objectives related to the cabin and customer experience, including evaluating the commercial customer cabin, the views of Earth from space, the conditions for conducting research and the effectiveness of the five-day pre-flight training program at Spaceport America."

Omaze and Sir Richard Branson to Make History by Sending Two People to Space Aboard A Virgin Galactic Flight, Omaze

"Today, Omaze, the charity fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes, and Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic Founder, announced they will give away two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial flight. The Omaze sweepstakes will support Space for Humanity, a nonprofit seeking to democratize space and send citizen astronauts of diverse racial, economic, and disciplinary backgrounds to space."

NASA Notice of availability of inventions for licensing: Human-Powered Ventilator

"The following application filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office under the Patent Cooperation Treaty is available for licensing: NASA Case No.: MSC-26813-1-PCT, Human-Powered Ventilator. The patent rights in this invention has been assigned to the United States of America as represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any prospective license will comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR part 404."

Inside NASA's Pandemic Response Campaigns

"Engineers at Johnson are offering a simpler ventilator solution, primarily for use in developing countries. As the pandemic unfolded, engineers who had developed a ventilator for use on the Orion spacecraft started updating it. The device is similar to human-powered ventilator bags used in ambulances, but those are squeezed by hand, which becomes tiring quickly. Johnson's ventilator is powered by larger muscle groups in the arms or even legs. It can be used to keep a patient alive for hours, perhaps while waiting for a bed to open up, said Kris Romig, technology transfer officer at Johnson."

Keith's note: Why isn't NASA talking about this? This is rather cool. It is 3-D printed, was designed for space but adapted for use on Earth. And it can be used in a wide array of locations including those with little or no resources - by the people who live there. Not only does it demonstrate the value of space technology's earthly applications it is also a source of potential soft power for NASA.

Imagine a remote village where this thing shows up with a NASA logo on the box - and their first interaction with America is via its space program. But wait: not so fast. NASA requires that you apply for a license to use this. Life saving inventions like this - developed at American taxpayer's expense - should be provided to anyone, anywhere with no constraints - especially as a global pandemic continues to rage in the places where people are often least capable of responding.

Oddly this release came out the other day - why is it that NASA requires a licensing process for the human powered respirator - which costs money and time to navigate - when the device could be saving lives as soon as someone uses a 3D printer to make it? Why doesn't NASA waive the patent rights as they have with all these other things and post the 3D printer file on GitHub or wherever they post the free stuff they share? I'd ask NASA PAO but they no longer answer questions. According to the Spinoff 2021 document (pages 67-68) there is some sort of effort to make it more widely available - but why go through this complicated process when you can simply post the file now?

NASA Software Benefits Earth, Available for Business, Public Use

Many of NASA's computational innovations were developed to help explore space, but the public can download them for applications that benefit us right here on Earth. The agency's latest software catalog has hundreds of popular programs, as well as more than 180 new ones, all available for free download. "From operations here on Earth to missions to the Moon and Mars, software is integral to all that NASA does," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "The good news is this technology is available to the public for free. The software suited for satellites, astronauts, engineers, and scientists as it is applied and adapted across industries and businesses is a testament to the extensive value NASA brings to the United States - and the world."

Keith's note: This tweet was posted around 1:00 pm EDT on 23 June. The launch is scheduled for the next day barely 19 hours away. NASA Wallops PAO never sent out a media advisory or a press release. I know this to be a fact since Keith Koehler at Wallops PAO recently confirmed that I am on the Wallops media list - so of course he'd have sent me one if there was one to send, right? Note that the tweet has a link to a youtube webcast - but no mention of anything at the Wallops website describing what the mission is about.

But if you go to the Wallops website - surprise surprise - there is a posting from 17 June 2021 - more than a week ago. Student Experiments to Blast Off from NASA Wallops. Ah, a student experiment. Does the NASA STEM Engagement office website or its Twitter account @NASASTEM mention this launch? No. NASA.gov has a Launches and Landings webpage devoted to upcoming agency launches. Does it mention this launch? No. NASA Wallops is managed by NASA Goddard. Doe you see any mention of these launches - managed by Goddard - mentioned by Goddard? No. NASA Langley is NASA's sister center in Virginia. No mention there either. But this is not surprising since all NASA field centers act as if they are the only NASA field center and rarely mention any other center (or NASA HQ for that matter).

GAO: Weapon Systems Annual Assessment Updated Program Oversight Approach Needed - Excerpt: National Security Space Launch (NSSL)

Keith's note: The ULA Vulcan program has contracted with Blue Origin to provide its BE-4 rocket engine. This BE-4 engine is not referred to by name in this report, but it is what is referred to in this report.

"A U.S. produced rocket engine under development for ULA's Vulcan launch vehicle is experiencing technical challenges related to the igniter and booster capabilities required and may not be qualified in time to support first launches beginning in 2021.
A joint program office and ULA team is tracking these challenges, and NSSL officials told us Vulcan remains on track to support first launches and certification in 2021. However, if ULA cannot complete engine qualification before the 2021 flight certification, the program might continue to rely on ULA's Atlas V--which uses engines manufactured in the Russian Federation--to support ULA's 2022 launches, despite a nearly $2.9 billion investment in new launch system development. SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy vehicles are certified to conduct national security launches. The Falcon Heavy is undergoing some modifications to fully meet launch requirements and is on track to support its first mission in May 2021."

SpaceX Launches Military Satellite on Reused Rocket, Bloomberg (Video)

"Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carries a U.S. Space Force satellite into orbit from its liftoff in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Bloomberg's Ed Ludlow and NASA expert Keith Cowing join "Balance of Power."

Keith's note: According to this posting on the NASA.gov website: NASA Seeks Proposals for Next 2 Private Astronaut Missions to Space Station which says "NASA is seeking proposals for two new private astronaut missions to the International Space Station as part of the agency's efforts to open space to more people than ever before. With these opportunities, U.S. commercial companies will continue to play an essential role in establishing a sustained presence in low-Earth orbit (LEO) through the agency's Commercial LEO Development Program."

A like to this was posted at NASA.gov. @NASA tweeted a link - once - around 1:00 pm on Friday 11 June. But nothing was sent out to the media press release email list or through the usual press release distribution channels. Friday afternoons are a great time to bury news - and it also means that some print publications have already decided on their edition for the following week. There is no mention of this at these official NASA pages where you'd expect commercial space station news like this would be posted: International Space Station, Commercial Space Economy, Commercial Crew Program. There is no mention at the CASIS/ISS National Laboratory website either - despite the fact that this opportunity involves work within the ISS National Lab. Oh yes: the International Space Station page still has no mention of the ISS National Laboratory or a link to it - so the ISS Program Office still ignores CASIS/ISS National Lab whenever possible.

A link to Research Opportunities for International Space Station Utilization NNJ13ZBG001N is on this NASA page, but no email from NSPIRES was sent out - which is odd since they send out emails about every other imaginable procurement and NASA opportunity. But if you try and click on "NNJ13ZBG001N" on the page you are sent to - well, there is no link to this thing that NASA just announced. But there are links to these old documents "Research Opportunities for ISS Utilization" and "ISS Commercial Activities Form" and an amendment that says "This amendment provides significant clarification updates for Focus Area 4A for Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Provider and adds Focus Area 4A.1 for Solicitation for PAM Provider for Two Flight Opportunities." which is a modified version of "Soliciting Proposals for Exploration Technology Demonstration and National Lab Utilization Enhancements"- which is apparently the thing NASA is announcing. So why doesn't NASA just have a simple link to this document instead of making you jump around, go down a rabbit hole. and guess that this is what they are talking about?

NASA has built up an elaborate Internet presence - one that can reach millions of people and the news media. Yet they simply decide to not bother using it. Nor can they make the actual information easy to find. Either this announcement is just not important or NASA cannot get its internal public relations act together. Hard to tell.

BTW Glavkosmos is now selling seats for flights to the ISS too.

Keith's note: I will be on CNN Friday morning around 6:30 am EDT talking about billionaires flying in their own rocket ships.

Keith's note: 2 weeks ago there was a posting on NASAWatch complaining about how badly NASA's Office of Small Business Programs website and social media usage were. This is how the website used to look just a few weeks ago. If you go to https://osbp.nasa.gov you are redirected to https://www.nasa.gov/osbp and a brand new website. What a coincidence. Alas, despite the spiffy new look, the NASA OSBP website still does not mention this "matchmaking" event being held tomorrow that its Twitter account @NASA_OSBP just tweeted about - one that is being held in Blue Origin's and Boeing's back yard.

Rogozin told on what conditions the United States handed over Sea Launch to Russia, RIA Novosti (auto translation)

"The United States agreed to transfer Russian space rocket complex "Sea Launch" under the condition that it will not compete with the US company SpaceX Elon Musk , said General Director of " Roscosmos " Dmitry Rogozin. "Specific strict restrictions were introduced when signing this contract for the transfer of two Sea Launch vessels to a Russian company (S7 - ed.) - an obligation that we do not have the right to use this Sea Launch in competition with Elon Musk," he said during parliamentary hearings in the State Duma. "Okay? That is, the US government, government lawyers act as a client of, in fact, a private company (SpaceX - ed.). Or maybe it is not a private company in this case, if with the help of state sanctions we are limited to compete with SpaceX?" "- added Rogozin."

Russia's space chief threatens to leave International Space Station program unless U.S. lifts sanctions

"Russia's space chief threatened Monday to withdraw from the International Space Station program if U.S. sanctions against Moscow's space entities are "not lifted in the near future." "If the sanctions against Progress and TsNIIMash remain and are not lifted in the near future, the issue of Russia's withdrawal from the ISS will be the responsibility of the American partners," Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said during a Russian parliament hearing on Monday, according to an NBC translation. "Either we work together, in which case the sanctions are lifted immediately, or we will not work together and we will deploy our own station," he added."

Roscosmos unable to launch some satellites due to sanctions -- Rogozin, TASS

"Russian space corporation Roscosmos will be unable to launch some satellites due to the lack of microchips that cannot be imported due to sanctions. "We have more than enough rockets, but there is nothing to put in space," Rogozin told the State Duma during hearings on Western sanctions and measures being taken to minimize their effects on the Russian economy and politics."

Issuance of a new Ukraine-related Executive Order; Ukraine-related Designations, U.S. Department of the Treasury

"ROGOZIN, Dmitry Olegovich (a.k.a. ROGOZIN, Dmitriy; a.k.a. ROGOZIN, Dmitry); DOB 21 Dec 1963; POB Moscow, Russia; Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation (individual) [UKRAINE2]."

- Can Sanctioned Roscosmos Chief Rogozin Visit The U.S.?, earlier post

Keith's update: It took them a while but @NASA_Technology tweeted a link - a day after the procurement notice was issued. But there is still no mention of this NIAC opportunity on the NASA Technology Directorate or NIAC websites.

The rivalry between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos already was intense. Now it's extending to the moon., Washington Post

"In a flier distributed on Capitol Hill last week, Elon Musk's SpaceX warned that legislation now being considered would reward "Jeff Bezos with a $10 billion sole-source hand-out" that would tie up NASA's moon plans and hand "space leadership to China." Bezos's Blue Origin space company countered quickly and forcefully. "Lie." "Lie." "Lie," it said of each of the allegations in SpaceX's paper, adding: "What is Elon Musk afraid of ... a little competition?" (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) The dueling documents are the latest point of tension in a long-simmering rivalry between two of the world's wealthiest men, billionaire "space barons" who have sparred on and off for years in their quest to privatize human space exploration. Musk and Bezos have fought over a launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center, battled over a patent related to landing rockets and argued over which of them actually pulled off that feat first."

Keith's note: Well worth reading. Stop and think about this for a moment, space commerce fans: Two billionaires who take turns being the richest person on Earth - are spending billions from a seemingly inexhaustible pot of money - to develop their own space infrastructures that eclipses - much of which NASA is incapable of doing. And now they are spending time and money squabbling about doing things in space with each one (and other billionaires too) trying to out-compete the other by doing even more in space - usually with their own money.

In a nutshell: space is now something that is worth the effort of the world's business leaders to use their finite work hours to trash talk about. Space is now much more important than it was a decade ago. The last time this sort of clash of the titans happened we ended up with vast train and airline systems, global communications networks, transnational manufacturing trade, etc. Just think of what lies ahead.

Rep. Cartwright Holding Artemis Supplier and NEPA Small Business Industry Day with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson Monday, May 24

"The event will focus on opportunities for small business contracting to support space exploration technology research and NASA's Artemis program, which aims to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024. An informational session will take place from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET, and matchmaking breakout sessions will be held from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. ET."

Keith's note: Where do I start?

1."first woman and the next man" is Trump lingo. "first woman and the first person of color" is Biden lingo. Gotta keep your memes and tag lines current, NASA. Just sayin'

2. Landing on the Moon "by 2024". Really? Who writes this stuff?

3. While the NASA OSBP Twitter account mentions this, if you go to the NASA Office of Small Business Programs website there is absolutely no mention of this event even though the NASA OSBP guy's smiling face is all over the graphic that came with this press release. (Update: they added something to their website late in the day).

4. This is a big deal for Pennsylvania, the Vice President's home state. So you'd think that the folks there would be psyched and all keyed up to support - or at least mention - this event. Nope. There is no mention at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce or at Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, etc.

5. There is mention of this event at @NASA, @NASAArtemis, @NASA_SLS, or @NASA_Orion on Twitter, or on the NASA.gov calendar, NASA TV schedule, NASA Artemis website, NASA commercial space website,

As you can see below NASA's Small Business team is not exactly up to date on the things that they are supposed to be up to date on. If they can't bother to be current with the important stuff then why should people take them seriously?

- That NASA SLS Small Business Report Is Out Of Date, earlier post
- SLS Spurred The Private Sector By Being A Bad Example, earlier post
- Yet Another Stealth NASA New Business Event, earlier post
- Another NASA Business Event Few Will Ever Hear About, earlier post
- JSC Is Not Very Excited About NASA's Economic Impact on Texas (Update), earlier post
- NASA Centers Can't Be Bothered To Mention The Economic Report, earlier post
- NASA Orion Buying Spree Makes Texas Happy Again, earlier post

Blue Origin's loss to SpaceX on the lunar lander contract may get Congress to do something it hadn't done before: Give NASA extra money, Washington Post

"Along with Dynetics, the defense contractor that also lost out on the contract, Blue Origin protested NASA's decision, saying the space agency "executed a flawed acquisition." It also took to Capitol Hill, lobbying its allies in Congress to force NASA to come up with the additional money and make a second award. On Wednesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) of Washington state, where Blue Origin is headquartered, came through, introducing legislation that calls for NASA to do just that. The legislation, which passed as an amendment to another bill, would authorize but not appropriate an additional $10 billion to the Artemis program through fiscal 2026. It also calls for NASA to pick a second winner for the contract."

Senate committee approves 2021 NASA Authorization, requires second HLS system, Space Policy Online

"This new NASA authorization bill would require NASA to fund HLS design, development, testing and evaluation "for not fewer than 2 entities" and gives the agency just 30 days after the bill is enacted into law to do it. How NASA could implement that in such a short time is a mystery. It went through a source selection process and chose a winner with documentation as to why. That decision is under protest at GAO, which must make a ruling by August 4. GAO can uphold the award or require NASA to change its decision. Either way, how an additional layer of congressionally-directed procurement action would affect that process is murky and could hang like a Damoclean sword over HLS, delaying its development and the timeline for putting astronauts back on the Moon. HLS is necessary for ferrying crews between lunar orbit and the surface."

NASA, Axiom Space to Host Media Briefing on Private Astronaut Mission, NASA

"NASA and Axiom Space have signed a mission order for the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station and will host a teleconference with media at 11 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 10, to discuss more details about the mission."

Keith's note: Over the past several months NASA HEOMD PAO has repeatedly denied me access to ISS-related media events. In one case JSC and HQ PAO staff overtly lied to me. I am rather certain that neither PAO or Axiom really want me to be allowed to ask a question, so its not really worth the bother of trying to participate these days and I may just listen in instead. Here are some questions that come to mind however.

1. (Specifically) what NASA services will this Axiom Space mission use and how much are they paying NASA for them i.e. to what extent is NASA underwriting this mission or is Axiom Space playing the full (actual, real, non-discounted) cost of the services that NASA will provide? In other words will NASA use any appropriated funds to cover expenses incurred by NASA specifically due to the uniques aspects of this mission that the agency will not be reimbursed for by Axiom Space?

2. Is there any connection, overlap, or synergy between this privately funded Axiom Space mission and the $140 million that NASA is paying Axiom to do its commercial space station add-on work? That is, is anything that Axiom Space is doing with NASA funding going to support this mission, and if so, how much NASA funding is being spent to support this mission?

3. Is there any connection between the Axiom Space purchase of a flight from SpaceX and resale to the commercial passengers and Axiom Space's participation in the sale and swapping of commercial and Soyuz seats with NASA? If so how much NASA funding is involved and to whom is it being paid?

4. What ongoing NASA or other space agency activities on the ISS will have to be rescheduled to accommodate this Axiom Space mission and will Axiom Space be required to reimburse NASA or other agencies for these extra costs? If there is reimbursement involved how much will Axiom Space be paying and to whom?

5. Is the Dragon spacecraft new or used? Was the spacecraft being used for this mission specially built for Axiom Space or is it one built for use by NASA customers? Will any NASA crew missions to the ISS be affected by the addition of this Axiom Space flight? If so, how much work was required by NASA to readjust their schedule, how much did that additional effort cost, and how much of that additional effort was Axiom Space required to reimburse NASA for?

I might think of a few others. Feel free to post some suggestions in the comments section.

Sound On: FB Trump Ban, GOP Division, SpaceX (Podcast), Bloomberg

"Host Jack Fitzpatrick spoke to Boyd Matheson, former Chief of Staff for Senator Mike Lee, and Keith Cowing, astrobiologist and editor of the blog SpaceRef."

Keith's note: This aired on Wednesday. My piece starts at 25:30

Keith's note:
As you may recall NASA selected the SpaceX Starship-based proposal for the Human Landing System (HLS). Although work at SpaceX on HLS is on pause pending the Blue Origin/Dynetics protest evaluation, this test of SN15 should be considered as a test of NASA's HLS. Let's see if NASA bothers to make mention of this successful test. Or not.

Keith's note: This interview will air on the BBC World Service program "World Business Report" which is distributed on air and online - globally - to a weekly audience of ~ 300 million. It will air in the coming days.

Blue Origin Filed Protest With GAO Over NASA's HLS Option A decision, Blue Origin

"Today, Blue Origin filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding NASA's HLS Option A decision. Attached is a redacted copy of the protest. Additionally, here is a statement from Blue Origin: "NASA has executed a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goalposts at the last minute. In NASA's own words, it has made a 'high risk' selection. Their decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also endangers America's return to the Moon. Because of that, we've filed a protest with the GAO."

Redacted copy of Blue Origin's formal protest, 175 pages, PDF

Keith's note: They say this, which has some inherent logic:

"NASA's selection of only a single provider based on the Source Selection Statement claim that "NASA's current fiscal year budget did not support even a single Option A award" is inconsistent with NASA's documented acquisition strategy and public statements. Additionally, with only a single HLS provider, NASA risks the Nation's return to the Moon entirely on SpaceX's ability to deliver its proposed solution - Starship and the new Super Heavy booster - despite the "immense complexity" and "high risk" NASA itself documented in the source selection rationale."

But then 2 inches away on the same page they say this - which is simply a reflection of how Big Aerospace sees the world i.e. everyone needs to piece of the pie - even if it is more expensive - and requires funds that NASA simply does not have:

"This single award endangers domestic supply chains for space and negatively impacts jobs across the country, by placing NASA space exploration in the hands of one vertically integrated enterprise that manufactures virtually all its own components and obviates a broad-based nationwide supplier network. Such supplier consolidation cuts most of the space industrial base out of NASA exploration, impacting national security, jobs, the economy, and NASA's own future options. Exacerbating this situation is the fact that SpaceX's Starship uses the Super Heavy booster. Starship is incompatible with other U.S. commercial launch vehicles, further restricting NASA's alternatives and entrenching SpaceX's monopolistic control of NASA deep space exploration."

Source Selection Statement, NASA

"My selection determination with regard to Blue Origin's proposal is based upon the results of its evaluation considered in light of the Agency's currently available and anticipated future funding for the HLS Program. Blue Origin's proposal has merit and is largely in alignment with the technical and management objectives set forth in the solicitation. Nonetheless, I am not selecting Blue Origin for an Option A contract award because I find that its proposal does not present sufficient value to the Government when analyzed pursuant to the solicitation's evaluation criteria and methodology."

Coalition for Deep Space Comment As NASA Continues Path to Return to Moon

"The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (Coalition) applauds NASA for awarding a Human Landing System (HLS) contract for the Artemis program. Along with the Space Launch System, the Orion spacecraft, Exploration Ground Systems, and the Gateway, the HLS is a critical component for enabling the return of astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo era."

Keith's note: If you read this Coalition for Deep Space Exploration statement carefully you will see that while they "applaud NASA" on the HLS contract thing they are so small that can't even mention or congratulate SpaceX. SpaceX is not a member of the Coalition but all of the Big Aerospace companies who lost out on this contract are members.

Sierra Nevada Memo Announcing New Company "Sierra Space"

"To achieve this growth and even greater impact more quickly, today we are announcing our space business area will transition to become an independent, commercial space company - Sierra Space. Our teams and technologies are uniquely positioned to realize this significant current market opportunity to build the new space economy. Sierra Space will remain part of the SNC family as a subsidiary and continue deep cooperation and synergy across customers, technologies, and many shared activities."

IMEC and Cook County Partner with NASA to Bring New Business Opportunity Event to Manufacturers

"Cook County Board President Preckwinkle, the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium (CMMC), and IMEC will host a 3-Day virtual event with NASA and its prime contractors to bring new business opportunities to manufacturers in Cook County and throughout Illinois. In 2020, NASA's prime contractors received over $2B in contract funding to support the Marshall Space Flight Center's ongoing development of NASA's Space Launch System and its proposals to create complementary systems."

Keith's note: If you look at what the Biden Administration is saying about business and infrastructure they have a page focused on Illinois. They have one for every state. They are looking to reinvigorate a broad range of activities in America - not just infrastructure but also basic aspects of business.

You'd think that someone at NASA HQ would be reading the policy memos from the White House as to what is important and worth promoting a visible way. This event sounds like it is resonating with all of these new White House efforts. You'd think that NASA would want everyone to know about this - and show the White House that they are on board with all of there initiatives - not just in Illinois - but as an example of NASA-related events that could be conducted across America. Guess again.

There is no mention of this event or associated activity at the NASA MSFC home page or on its Doing Business page. No mention at NASA.gov. No mention at the NASA Office of Small Business Programs, or the NASA SLS home page, or at the NASA Commercial Space page.

As you can see below this is not the first time that NASA has bungled the outreach for the true economic impact of what it does.

- That NASA SLS Small Business Report Is Out Of Date, earlier post
- Another NASA Business Event Few Will Ever Hear About, earlier post
- JSC Is Not Very Excited About NASA's Economic Impact on Texas (Update), earlier post
- SLS Spurred The Private Sector By Being A Bad Example, earlier post
- NASA Centers Can't Be Bothered To Mention The Economic Report, earlier post
- Lockheed Martin's Bad Orion Marketing Hype, earlier post
- NASA: A Texas Institution with a Large Economic Impact, earlier post
- NASA Orion Buying Spree Makes Texas Happy Again, earlier post



Keith's note: You may have seen some stories, tweets, and LinkedIn comments about Space Hero and their TV program that will send someone to the ISS. Stephen Colbert mentioned it on TV. They openly claim that NASA is a "partner" on their website. Well, I specifically asked NASA HQ Public Affairs about the overt statement at https://www.spacehero.org that NASA is a "partner" with Space Hero. NASA replied and declined to confirm that an agreement is in place between NASA and Space Hero - or that they are a "partner" - saying instead:

"You asked about Stephen Colbert's comments on the Space Hero release. For us, we're still working out the final details and agreements on the Private Astronaut Missions. We believe it opens the door to interesting opportunities for private industry and we look forward to seeing the final proposals that could lead to programs like a Space Hero. We know companies will be out there talking about their shows and once we have final agreements in place we will be able to talk more about NASA's participation."

Keith's update: But wait: there's more - and "its complicated".

My response to NASA PAO's original comment: "So the answer is that there is no agreement in place between NASA and Space Hero at the present time and that NASA is not officially a partner with Space Hero as is overtly stated on the Space Hero website - Yes?"

Answer: "It's not that simple. The agreement is in phases. There is an initial agreement in place, but there are other steps that need to be completed. We working toward a final agreement that makes it possible."

I am still waiting to find out if NASA is actually "partner" as is stated on the Space Hero website. NASA's lawyers get very finicky about people claiming that NASA is a "partner" and the use of the agency's logo to imply a formal relationship. Stay tuned.

Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX - Book Review

"This retro future we are now witnessing is happening in many companies in many countries. But it can be traced back to one company - and one person: SpaceX, the brainchild of Elon Musk. With the notion of reusing rockets now accepted fact due to the Falcon 9, Musk is now building shiny stainless steel rockets in the middle of nowhere in Texas and blowing them up on a regular basis. And as soon as he can he plans to send people around the Moon and then to the surface of Mars. And when he does it will be in shiny aerodynamically-shaped spaceships from more than half a century ago.

The story of SpaceX - utterly synonymous with the story of Elon Musk - is the subject of Eric Berger's marvelous book "Liftoff". In a nutshell this book is a day-to-day diary of frequent near death corporate experiences, world-class MacGyvering, and engineers propelled by one part caffeine, one part RP-1, and one part dreams. This is all mixed in with in-your-face political jockeying, and a child-like drive on the part of Musk who read far too much science fiction as a kid and has the means to make it become reality. So he does."

Keith's note: With mounting focus on whether the SLS/Orion Artemis program's delays and cost overruns will continue and how they might be dealt with, one would think that NASA would want to have all of the supportive information it has generated to be accurate so as to best make the case. Given that a lot of money is being thrown around for COVID recovery - and more talk of lots of infrastructure investments is in the wind - there is even more to support having the best information - information that is consistent across the agency - as these things are discussed. You'd also want to have the agency's website configure das as to make those supportive things easy to find. But NASA doesn't do that whole consistency and access thing very well.

You'd also expect that the big aerospace companies who stand to make huge profits - no matter how delayed the Artemis program is - and their external support groups like Aerospace Industries Association, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, and the Space Foundation, would want to see accurate agency numbers and supporting information on the impact of this spending that they can cite so as to be on the same page as NASA.

On 5 May 2016 I noticed a tweet from the NASA Office of Small Business Programs that "Over 800 #smallbusinesses are contributing to the development of the Space Launch System". So I enquired and eventually got more detail about a repeort that they had just issued: "Space Launch System: A Case For Small Business".

If you go to "Space Launch System: A Case For Small Business" you will see that it was published 5 years ago - in 2016 - based on FY 2015 budgets and plans when Charlie Bolden was Administrator. No one has since bothered to update it for the Artemis program changes made during the Trump Administration including the new contracts that were awarded. Also missed are the changes due to cost overruns and program delays. So the numbers are all out of date. The report refers to "Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) scheduled for launch in 2018" on page 10 and refers to "Orbital ATK" which became part of Northrop Grumman several years ago.

Keith's note: One would think that the NASA Office of Small Business Programs website would be super happy about this news. Guess again.They make no mention whatsoever of this news. In fact this website does not even have an obvious link to SBIR or STTR information - the "small business" efforts mentioned in the news. Unless you know to click under "business development and technology" (instead of the more logical "small business programs") which this link that eventually refers you to "news". This does not speak well to the seriousness with which NASA pays attention to small business. More to follow on that.

Russian Film Plans Mean NASA Astronaut Could Spend an Entire Year in Space, Gizmodo

"Russian director Klim Shipenko and an actress to be named later might join the Soyuz MS-19 mission, which is scheduled for launch in October, as AP reports. .. Once filming activities are done, Shipenko and his partner, along with Novitskiy, would return home on MS-18, likely within a week. The two seats were meant for Vande Hei and Dubrov, which means the pair might have to stay on the ISS until the next return trip home, likely in the spring of 2022."

Keith's note: So ... NASA no longer has an arrangement with Russia to buy Soyuz seats. As such they have to use Axiom Space (who has some sort of undisclosed deal with Roscosmos to own/control a Soyuz seat) that they can swap for a seat on a Boeing or SpaceX flight (another TBD deal) - all for the purpose of assuring a U.S. presence on the ISS. But wait: the return seat is not guaranteed and the American flying in the Axiom Space Soyuz seat may have to stay on the ISS for a year?

I thought the whole idea behind the commercial crew thing was that SpaceX and Boeing were going to be flying to/from ISS on a regular basis and do so in a fashion that assured U.S. access - in both directions? So why is it that an American can't get a ride home when they are supposed to? This sounds like American astronauts are now flying on standby tickets. I'd ask NASA PAO - but they never answer these sort of questions.

Who negotiated this mess?

- Congress Inquires About NASA/Russia - Soyuz Deals, earlier post
- Is NASA Running A Soyuz Seat Swap Scheme?, earlier post
- NASA Wants To Buy Russian While The White House Says Buy American, earlier post

Artemis will accelerate the commercial space sector , Space News

"As the first flight of Artemis moves ever closer from Kennedy Space Center, critics continue to raise questions around the cost of the U.S. return to the moon by pointing to private sector alternatives as more expeditious and less resource intensive. Somehow lost in this critique is that the private sector is, in fact, the workforce behind all of NASA's design and manufacturing of launch vehicles and crew modules. That was true in the 1960s for Apollo and remains true today for Artemis."

Keith's note: This op ed by Christian Zur, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is one of those industry apologist word salads that includes history, buzz words, and rabbit holes that have nothing to do with the intended topic and distracts from the point he is trying to make.

He starts with fallacies such as "After all, since the retirement of the Saturn V rocket, no nation nor company had even built a vehicle capable of delivering astronauts back to cislunar orbit. Until the Space Launch System, that is." Um ... Falcon Heavy can do that easily. It has already flown. SLS has not.

Zur then goes on to somehow equate a large NASA workforce, some World War II contracts and some other government programs that sparked the semi-conductor industry. OK, so space stuff drives innovation. Guess what: he is right: and the innovation now resides mostly in the private sector when launch services that rival NASA's can be bought - off the shelf - now - for vastly cheaper than what has been sunk into SLS - or what the per-use cost of each mission on SLS would be.

Artemis did indeed accelerate activity in the private sector by offering private sector a role. SLS also accelerated the capability of the private sector - but it did so by providing a wonderful example of what not to do ever again - starting with the building of a government-designed mega-rocket that is too expensive to operate - and then making it the choke point in a human exploration program that has chronic whiplash from 2 decades switching back and forth from one destination to another.

SLS is not the inovation we got from NASA rocket science investments. Falcon rockets are.

- George Abbey: Time To Reconsider The Need For SLS, earlier post

NASA Signs Contract to Fly a NASA Astronaut on April Soyuz Rotation to the International Space Station

"To ensure continuous U.S. presence aboard the International Space Station, NASA has signed a contract with a U.S. commercial company Axiom Space of Houston to fly a NASA astronaut on an upcoming Soyuz rotation on Soyuz MS-18, scheduled to launch April 9. In exchange, NASA will provide a seat on a future U.S. commercial spacecraft, expected to launch in 2023, as part of a space station crew rotation mission. The "seat" on each flight includes transportation to and from the International Space Station and comprehensive mission support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing and crew rescue services.

Because the services are determined to be of comparable value to both parties, the contract contains no exchange of funds.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will launch aboard the Soyuz for a full expedition aboard the International Space Station. NASA will continue to work with Axiom to fly a non-NASA astronaut Axiom designates on a U.S. commercial spacecraft."

Keith's note: For starters Axiom Space does not have the ability to launch anything into space. They have to procure those services elsewhere. In this case Axiom clearly has some sort of deal with Roscosmos - one that Roscomos likes. Otherwise NASA would deal directly with Roscosmos as they have been for decades, right? So, assuming that the Russians are not stupid, is Axiom getting a special discount from Roscosmos as a marketing fee in exchange for selling a seat to NASA? Apparently so since they are certainly not doing this for free (they are in "business", yes?). So, why can't NASA get the same discount - without needing to use Axiom as a middleman?

Congress noticed the third party aspect of this: "Given the information and testimony listed above, it appears that NASA may be seeking to procure a Russian Soyuz seat from a third-party, on a noexchange-of-funds-basis, and that a formal agreement between NASA and Russia for seat exchanges may not be in place."

NASA Updates Pricing Policy to Full Value for Commercial Activities on Space Station

"In June 2019, NASA first released its commercial marketing pricing policy to establish subsidized pricing to stimulate and enable the use of resources on the space station. NASA anticipated revisiting the pricing policy periodically and adjusting prices as market forces dictated in response to interest, market growth, and competition (reference NID 8600.121). The pricing policy from June 2019 did not reflect full reimbursement for the value of NASA resources; it was intended to stimulate the market and was planned to be adjusted. Based on discussions with stakeholders, the current market growth, and in anticipation of future commercial entities capable of providing similar services, the agency has updated the Commercial Use Activities pricing policy effective immediately."

Keith's note: NASA has done a stealth increase on the cost of making commercial use of the ISS. This is what it cost on 13 July 2019. And this is what it costs now.

ISS expedition crew member time used to cost $17,500/hr. Now it costs $130,000/hr. Upmass (passive cargo) used to cost $3,000/Kg - now it costs $20,000/kg. The earlier rate chart included fees for private astronaut missions which cost $11,250 per day for life suport/toilet and crew suplies (and food) at $22,500 per person per day. The basic cost (without internet or power) was $33,750/day per person. NASA has yet to post a revised rate chart for private visitors but since everything else has increased by a factor of approximately 7, that daily cost will probably increase to around $236,250 per day.

- NASA Announces A Space Station Pricing Plan, earlier post
- OIG Announces Review Of NASA's LEO Commercialization Activities, earlier post
- SpaceX Announces First Wholly Civilian Crewed Space Mission, earlier post
- ISS Commercialization Is Here: Reality Shows and Perfume Ads, earlier post
- Trying To Figure Out The Axiom Team's NASA Agreements (Updated), earlier post
- Expanding The ISS For Customers That No One Can Identify, earlier post

Scrap the Space Launch System, Bloomberg

"Perhaps predictably, the program has been plagued with problems from the start. A report last year from NASA's inspector general warned of "rising costs and delays," "shortcomings in quality control," "challenges with program management," "technical issues," "development issues," "infrastructure issues," "performance issues" and more. A watchdog report in December found "uncertain plans, unproven cost assumptions, and limited oversight."

Bloomberg Assails NASA Space Launch System With Misconceptions And Faulty Logic, Forbes

"The editorial board at Bloomberg News launched a nonsensical attack on NASA's human spaceflight program last week. It was full of dubious assertions about alternatives to the Space Launch System, the first deep-space rocket NASA has built for human transport since Saturn V lofted Apollo missions to the Moon half a century ago. I don't normally call attention to arguments that I think are wrong, but since Bloomberg's screed was explicitly aimed at the Biden administration, I thought it might be useful to rebut some of the questionable claims advanced by the editorial board."

Keith's note: Forbes is pretty desperate for "news" comment when they print these blatantly biased columns about aerospace companies by Loren Thompson whose think tank employer is funded by the very same companies who get zillions of dollars from NASA to build the SLS. Despite his claim that he's responding to someone else's inaccuracies, what he actually wrote is a collision of contradictory nonsense, self-licking ice cream cones, and recycled Big Aerospace lobbying points.

This is my favorite, by far: "The editorial board complains that SLS is "years behind schedule." If it had bothered to look, it would have realized that every major launch vehicle developed by NASA and by private industry ends up running years behind schedule." So in other words, its OK for NASA to propose schedules and then let the companies walk all over them and stick out their hands to say 'more money please' since everyone overruns. Who needs schedules or budgets, right? It is just taxpayer money anyway.

To be honest though. I'm not sure the Biden folks are giving either of these op eds a whole lot of attention since they are two sides of the same problem.

Letter From House Science Committee Republicans To NASA On Soyuz Flights

"NASA's recent solicitation for "International Space Station Seat Exchange," indicated that "NASA has no remaining crew seats on Soyuz." At the January 2018 Committee hearing, the NASA witness testified that "[t]he manufacturing time of a Soyuz of approximately 3 years will not allow additional Soyuz to be manufactured." Given the information and testimony listed above, it appears that NASA may be seeking to procure a Russian Soyuz seat from a third-party, on a noexchange-of-funds-basis, and that a formal agreement between NASA and Russia for seat exchanges may not be in place. In order for the Committee to better understand what NASA intends to use the aforementioned solicitation to procure, and more specifically, how it intends to procure those services, please facilitate a bipartisan briefing for Committee staff. If you have any questions related to this request, please contact Mr. Tom Hammond with the minority Committee staff."

NASA Wants To Buy Russian While The White House Says Buy American (Update), earlier post

"So ... why is it that NASA is buying a seat from Roscosmos via a third party? Axiom Space has to be making some money off of this, right? So why go through Axiom Space and pay them a fee when NASA can just go directly to Roscosmos - minus the Axiom Space reselling path - as NASA has done for decades? Wouldn't that be cheaper? Does this involve the $140 million deal that Axiom Space has with NASA to study their commercial space station module? Or ... does the use of Axiom Space (an American company) as a middle man provide a way to technically "buy American"?"

Keith's note: Just in case you missed it, this report by IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute came out in March 2020: "Measuring the Space Economy: Estimating the Value of Economic Activities in and for Space". Among the authors is Acting NASA Chief of Staff Bhavya Lal.

"The purpose of this report is to provide more targeted estimates of the size of the space economy than are currently employed. It does so by adopting a more restrictive definition of the space economy that only includes the value of goods and services provided to governments, households, and businesses from space or used to support activities in space; it excludes activities that are enabled by space, but are primarily generated terrestrially. We adopt this definition because we believe that an estimate of the size of the space economy focused on activities from or in space would help U.S. Government policy makers develop better policies to foster the growth of commercial activities for or in space, and help clarify for investors and entrepreneurs interested in the space economy the current extent and size of markets focused exclusively on space."

NASA is bargaining with a US space startup for a Soyuz seat, The Verge

"NASA is planning to buy an astronaut seat on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft through Texas-based aerospace firm Axiom Space, according to two people familiar with the plans. It was unclear how much NASA is considering paying Axiom for the single Soyuz seat or what cut Axiom would get from the deal."

Keith's update: Nice scoop by Joey Roulette. So ... why is it that NASA is buying a seat from Roscosmos via a third party? Axiom Space has to be making some money off of this, right? So why go through Axiom Space and pay them a fee when NASA can just go directly to Roscosmos - minus the Axiom Space reselling path - as NASA has done for decades? Wouldn't that be cheaper? Does this involve the $140 million deal that Axiom Space has with NASA to study their commercial space station module? Or ... does the use of Axiom Space (an American company) as a middle man provide a way to technically "buy American"?

NASA Weighs Options for Additional Crew Transportation for Spring Soyuz Mission to Space Station

"NASA now is considering obtaining a supplemental seat on the upcoming spring Soyuz crew rotation mission for a NASA astronaut to add additional capability to the agency's planning. The agency issued a public synopsis to identify all sources that potentially could provide the crew transportation service in the needed timeframe beyond the capability NASA already has in operation with the agency's Commercial Crew Program. ... Securing an additional Soyuz seat assures the back-up capability of at least one U.S. crew member aboard the International Space Station in the event of a problem with either spacecraft. NASA is considering providing in-kind services for this supplemental crew transportation service, rather than an exchange of funds."

Executive Order on Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America's Workers, 25 January 2021

"Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of my Administration that the United States Government should, consistent with applicable law, use terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in, the United States. The United States Government should, whenever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America's workers thrive. Additionally, to promote an accountable and transparent procurement policy, each agency should vest waiver issuance authority in senior agency leadership, where appropriate and consistent with applicable law."

Keith's 9 Feb note: NASA has been crowing about its commercial crew capabilities with SpaceX and soon, with Boeing. The whole idea behind the commercial crew thing was to provide the U.S. with its own redundant ability to launch astronauts and to end the reliance on foreign providers. The idea behind having more than one domestic provider was that one could back up the other using dissimilar redundancy i.e. two different systems. Now, NASA apparently wants to back-up the back-up citing dissimilar redundancy as the rational. So it now wants doubly-dissimilar redundancy, it would seem. Or do they have doubts about Boeing and/or SpaceX?

With regard to NASA saying "NASA is considering providing in-kind services for this supplemental crew transportation service, rather than an exchange of funds.", the "in-kind services" that NASA is offering cost NASA something to provide. They are not provided to NASA for free. NASA is offering something that cost them money in exchange for these Soyuz seats - seats provided by an offshore source.

Meanwhile the White House issued an executive order mere days after taking office that mandates a government focus on procuring goods and service domestically. Is NASA somehow special in thinking that it can overtly ask for a foreign provider when we make nice sexy spaceships domestically? SpaceX just announced that it is launching an overtly commercial flight, and launching another for Axiom, and yet another for Tom Cruise. Is there really a lack of domestic capability? Or is NASA just falling back into old habits. Just wondering.

SpaceX: World's First All-Civilian Mission to Space Will Usher in New Era of Commercial Space Exploration

"Plans for the world's first all-civilian mission to space were announced today from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. The mission is being targeted for the fourth quarter of this year and will be commanded by Jared Isaacman, the 37-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments [NYSE:FOUR] and an accomplished pilot. Named Inspiration4 in recognition of the four-person crew's mission to inspire support for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® and send a humanitarian message of possibility, the journey represents a new era for human spaceflight and exploration. Isaacman is donating the three mission seats alongside him to crew members who will be selected to represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity."

Ford v. Ferrari--in Space!, by acting Chief of Staff Bhavya Lal, Issues, June 2020

" ... this seems to be a victory for both the American taxpayer and the nation's space program. SpaceX intends to take not only NASA astronauts to the ISS but also private spaceflight participants, leveraging government investment to commercialize its now-proven launch services."

Kathy Lueders "Gets It"

FAA And NASA Sign MOU

FAA and NASA Sign MOU to Strengthen Partnership in Commercial Space Activities, FAA

"The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) (PDF) to support commercial space activities related to the transport of government and non-government passengers, cargo, and payloads for both orbital and suborbital missions. "This FAA-NASA collaboration at the Administrator level will advance America's commercial space sector, aid science and technology, and help coordinate U.S. national space policies," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao."

Boeing Charged with 737 Max Fraud Conspiracy and Agrees to Pay over $2.5 Billion, Department of Justice

"The Boeing Company (Boeing) has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal charge related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG's evaluation of Boeing's 737 MAX airplane. Boeing, a U.S.-based multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells commercial airplanes to airlines worldwide, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in connection with a criminal information filed today in the Northern District of Texas. The criminal information charges the company with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Under the terms of the DPA, Boeing will pay a total criminal monetary amount of over $2.5 billion, composed of a criminal monetary penalty of $243.6 million, compensation payments to Boeing's 737 MAX airline customers of $1.77 billion, and the establishment of a $500 million crash-victim beneficiaries fund to compensate the heirs, relatives, and legal beneficiaries of the 346 passengers who died in the Boeing 737 MAX crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302."

After ISS - What?

The International Space Station can't stay up there forever. Will privately run, commercial replacements be ready in time?, Washington Post

"Wary of a gap, Bridenstine has increasingly been sounding the alarm, urging Congress to fully fund its requests to build a commercial presence in Earth orbit that would include private stations. Last year, NASA requested $150 million as part of its plan, but Congress granted just a tenth of that. For the fiscal 2021 budget, NASA requested the same amount but will receive just $17 billion, sparking a new round of warnings: "ISS won't last forever & incentivizing the private sector to begin follow-on capabilities are needed now," said Lori Garver, who served as NASA deputy administrator in the Obama administration. "This concept isn't hard, have we learned nothing in the last 10 years?"

Aerojet Rocketdyne to be Acquired by Lockheed Martin in $5.0 Billion All-Cash Transaction, Aerojet Rocketdyne

"We are pleased to bring together our complementary companies in a transformative transaction that will provide premium cash value for our shareholders and tremendous benefits for our employees, customers and partners," said Eileen P. Drake, CEO and President of Aerojet Rocketdyne. "Joining Lockheed Martin is a testament to the world-class organization and team we've built and represents a natural next phase of our evolution. As part of Lockheed Martin, we will bring our advanced technologies together with their substantial expertise and resources to accelerate our shared purpose: enabling the defense of our nation and space exploration. On behalf of the Aerojet Rocketdyne Board and management team, I'd like to thank all of our employees for their unwavering dedication and focus in helping us achieve this great milestone."

Keith's note: Every time one of these big aerospace dinosaurs eats another dinosaur they promise that there will be increased value to the customers etc. Except it never happens. Costs always go up and projects are always delayed. Stockholders may realize some profit but the customers (taxpayers) invariably have to spend more money for the same products.

Lockheed Martin now owns Aerojet Rocketdyne (Aerojet and Rocketdyne merged a few years ago) which means they control all SLS propulsion except for the SRBs and they build Orion. Boeing oversees SLS. Northrop Grumman ate Orbital ATK which was formed when Orbital Sciences and ATK merged. They control Cygnus and Antares and the SLS SRBs. So the SLS is now built by 3 companies that used to be 7 just a few years ago. Oh yes - Lockheed Martin co-owns United Launch Alliance with Boeing. ULA is going to use Blue Origin engines. Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman formed the HLS "National Team". Just keep this in mind when the whole Artemis project gets revisited in a few months because it costs too much and is years behind schedule.

Space Economy, Bureau of Economic Analysis

"BEA has developed a preliminary set of statistics measuring the contributions of space-related industries to the overall U.S. economy. These estimates give business leaders, policymakers, and the public a new tool to analyze the space economy and to inform investment decisions. Preliminary estimates of the U.S. space economy's GDP, gross output, private employment, and private compensation by industry were published in the December 2020 Survey of Current Business. BEA will continue to explore options for further work and extensions to these space economy statistics."

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract to Blue Origin for New Glenn Launch Services, NASA

"NASA has awarded a NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract to Blue Origin and their New Glenn launch service in accordance with the contract's on-ramp provision. The New Glenn launch service will be available to NASA's Launch Services Program(LSP) to use for future missions in accordance with the on-ramp provision of NLS II."

Keith's note: It is good to see that NASA is including the ever-expanding launch market to accomplish its various missions - even when the rides they buy are on vehicles that have yet to actually fly. Alas, once upon a time, NASA only gave out contracts such as this to companies with rockets that actually existed and had flown a half a dozen times. Now, NASA relies more on other factors to make these awards. Given the huge amounts of money involved and the fact that this rocket is part of what may support the Artemis Program, you'd think that we'd get a peek at the actual rocket. Some some insight into what basis upon which NASA made this decision - as was the case with Falcon 9 and Antares - would also be nice. Just sayin'

Keith's note: Heads up Jim Reuter: Have you seen "Welcome to NASA's Virtual Technology Day on the Hill" The page has 11 videos with speakers. Only one speaker is female.

Really?

NASA Selects Companies to Collect Lunar Resources for Artemis Demonstrations

"Space resources will play a key role in NASA's Artemis program and future space exploration. The ability to extract and use extraterrestrial resources will ensure Artemis operations can be conducted safely and sustainably in support of establishing human lunar exploration. Moreover, in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) will play a vital role in a future human mission to Mars. Like many other operations, ISRU activities will be tested and developed on the Moon, building the required knowledge to implement new capabilities that will be necessary to overcome the challenges of a human mission to Mars."

A top NASA official asked Boeing if it would protest a major contract it lost. Boeing then tried to profit from the inside information, Washington Post

"Boeing did not protest the award of the lunar lander contract -- which was awarded on April 30 to three bidders for a total of nearly $1 billion: a team led by Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin; the defense contractor Dynetics; and Elon Musk's SpaceX. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) But it did something that NASA officials found just as alarming: After Loverro told Chilton that Boeing would not win the award, the company attempted to revise and resubmit its bid. That last-ditch effort to win one of the contracts was so unusual, given that the time for bids had passed, that members of the NASA committee considering the award feared it may amount to a violation of procurement regulations. They alerted the agency's inspector general, who in turn referred the matter to the Justice Department. The U.S. attorney's office in the District of Columbia has impaneled a grand jury and is investigating, officials said."

Keith's update: In this well-researched article we learn that former HEOMD AA Doug Loverro was concerned that Boeing would file a protest when it did not win and that the protest would slow down NASA's fast-paced effort to land humans on the Moon by 2024. So Loverro called to see if Boeing was going to protest a loss. In hindsight, not the best action to take - but he was not the selecting official so it did not affect the procurement. It is what Boeing did after that call that is highly problematic - possibly illegal - not what Loverro did.

A new era for space travel? Space X makes history with first crewed mission (video), France24

Keith's note: I was on France 24 today for a 45 minute segment on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission and space commerce. If you go to 9:15 you will hear my neighbor's cat "Ruby" ask to be on TV. And she was. Welcome to PandemicTV.

NASA Watch On BBC For Crew-1

Report of NASA's Top Management and Performance Challenges, OIG

"Challenge 3: Sustaining a Human Presence in Low Earth Orbit

NASA's plan for the ISS, as detailed in the President's FY 2021 budget request, envisions new commercial facilities and platforms in low Earth orbit. This plan includes a request for $150 million for commercialization of low Earth orbit. The effectiveness of this plan while continuing to provide substantial funding to maintain and operate the ISS remains to be seen, particularly with regard to the feasibility of fostering increased commercial activity in low Earth orbit. It is clear that the ISS will require significant federal funding beyond 2025, given the current limited commercial market interest in assuming the Station's operational costs. To the point, an independent review conducted in 2017 concluded that the profitability of a commercial platform like the ISS in low Earth orbit is questionable and will be highly dependent upon generating sufficient revenue from commercial activities and keeping operation costs low."

Keith's note: Odds are that the new NASA Administrator will be dealing with this next Spring/Summer.

NASA OIG: NASA's Management Of Its Acquisition Workforce

"In addition, 95 percent of NASA's certified acquisition workforce met continuous learning requirements needed to maintain their certification in the reporting periods we evaluated. However, the Agency's migration to the Federal Acquisition Institute Training Application System (FAITAS), the official system of record for acquisition programs, is incomplete. As such, NASA relies on multiple systems and stakeholders to manage these certification programs, reducing the Agency's ability to fully validate the accuracy and completeness of workforce certification and training data."

The Future Is Here, Y'all

Wicker Introduces Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency Act

"U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency (SPACE) Act. The legislation would authorize the Department of Commerce (DOC) to provide space situational awareness (SSA) services to civil, commercial, and international space operators."

Keith's note: My question to the 1:00 pm Asteroid mission media telecon: "There is a lot of talk these days from NASA about the collection and utilization of resources in the solar system - indeed, the recently signed #Artemis Accords specifically deal with this issue with regard to the Moon, Mars, Asteroids, and comets. Is the OSIRIS-Rex sample collection system open source - can other space agencies or companies use this technology? Is it being considered for use on other missions? Same question about the Lucy, Psyche and DART systems."

With regard to OSIRIS-Rex Lori Glaz said that NASA needs to check. Regarding the Psyche mission Lindy Elkins-Tanton said that it is being done via a partnership with Maxnar who was selected because they have a lot of experience over a hundred spacecraft. The hope is that the design of the mission will be available to future missions. Regarding Lucy, Hal Levison said that a lot of the hardware is proprietary to Lockheed Martin and is based on flown hardware to reduce costs. No mention was made regarding DART technology.

Keith's update: At the 3:00 pm briefing I re-asked the question of SMD AA Thomas Zurbuchen adding: "NASA is going to do something that it has never done before with applicability to many future missions and activities in space - things that have been called out in the Artemis Accords. Many of the missions you are sending out are technology demonstrators. If you are sending a thing to a world with the specific task of demonstrating a way to do something new on that world, then the results - and the way you got them - are of equal importance - and the Artemis Accords would seem to want you to make a lot of that information accessible. Is NASA going to make OSIRIS-Rex technology available in an open source fashion for other agencies - and perhaps companies - to use? I know there is a difference between scientific results and engineering performance and that there are always ITAR issues. How is the dissemination of this new technology going to evolve?"

He replied: "We have been a leader internationally in making things public. We are also making our models public. We believe in the dissemination of science since that speeds up discovery and also broadens it. We think that doing so inspires people to figure out things to do with our science in ways that we would have never thought to do. There were multiple solutions to the technology needed for this mission. In this case the arm was developed by a Lockheed Martin employee - so according to U.S. law the company owns that invention. I talked to Lockheed Martin and asked what they'd do if someone was interested in the design and they said to come on in since they are interested in spreading this technology. There are many different avenues to take regarding intellectual property (IP). IP is an important ingredient of pharmaceutical discovery. If we want to encourage the speed of discovery then we need a IP model that adapts to way that this actually works. Success for us at NASA is not just that the mission is successful. We want any company that can use the technology that we have developed to enhance business base to create more jobs around the country. In that regard I think we are consistent with the Artemis Accords."

NASA Detects Lattice Confinement Fusion, NASA GRC

"A team of NASA researchers seeking a new energy source for deep-space exploration missions, recently revealed a method for triggering nuclear fusion in the space between the atoms of a metal solid. Their research was published in two peer-reviewed papers in the top journal in the field, Physical Review C, Volume 101 (April, 2020): "Nuclear fusion reactions in deuterated metals" and "Novel nuclear reactions observed in bremsstrahlung-irradiated deuterated metals. ... With more study and development, future applications could include power systems for long-duration space exploration missions or in-space propulsion. It also could be used on Earth for electrical power or creating medical isotopes for nuclear medicine."

Keith's note: As you know I have been posting Cold Fusion sightings on NASAWatch for years. NASA Glenn and Langley have had some folks working on this for years. They usually use center director's discretionary funds or other funding sources that require little scrutiny from the normal research funding process. And they make big claims for their research but they rarely have proof to back up their claims. Now it seems that these folks have published in peer reviewed journals in April 2020. The implications, as mention on this official NASA web page could be profound. So, assuming that everything mentioned in this NASA GRC post and the associated papers is true, then why has NASA been silent about this? Seriously, this would be one heck of a spinoff for NASA to crow about. Does NASA HQ not know about this? Do they know but do not care? Or is there still something missing that makes this whole thing a real solution to space travel?

- Earlier Cold Fusion Postings

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces Historic Commercial Space Transportation Reforms, FAA

"U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced the publication of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements Final Rule for commercial space transportation launches and reentries. "This historic, comprehensive update to commercial space launch and reentry licensing requirements facilitates greater growth in this industry and helps America to maintain our #1 position in the world," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. This rule modernizes the way FAA regulates and licenses commercial space operations and allows the burgeoning aerospace industry to continue to innovate and grow, while maintaining public safety."

HeroX Helps NASA Advance Lunar Exploration with a Miniaturized Payload Prototype Challenge, HeroX

"HeroX, the world's leading platform for crowdsourced solutions, today launched the crowdsourcing competition "Honey I Built the NASA Payload, The Sequel" on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The challenge seeks to develop miniature payload prototypes that can be sent to the Moon to help fill gaps in lunar knowledge. Lunar resources are potentially abounding, and these prototypes can also help discover some of these key resources scientists think might be on the Moon."

Keith's note: This stuff is cool. NASA should do more of it. But, coolness, aside, NASA is not interested in making any mention if it as far as I can tell. If you go to the NASA Tournament Lab website no mention of this new challenge is made. Indeed the page was last updated on 9 July 2020. This NASA Tournament Lab is apparently run by the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) at JSC in collaboration with Harvard University - they do not mention this challenge either. Nor does SMD, HEOMD, STMD, or the Artemis web page. And the official Twitter account @nasa_ntl and the main NASA Twitter account for these sort of things at @NASASolve have not made any mention either.

Why hold these cool events if you don't bother to tell people about them, NASA?

- NASA Space Apps Challenge: An Underutilized Tool For Global Reach, earlier post
- How NASA Uses DIME/Soft Power To Extend A Global Reach (Update), earlier post
- Understanding NASA's Global Reach, earlier post
- NASA's Global Branding Reach Is Often Under Appreciated, earlier post

Space Force considers merging Cape Canaveral with Kennedy Space Center, Ars Technica

"Would NASA be willing to listen as well? The space agency administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said yes. "I'm glad to see big ideas being proposed such as a potential merger," he told Ars. "This, and other ambitious concepts for the future should all be given due consideration. However, such a proposed merger would require a great deal of work and effort. For the time being, NASA will continue to focus on enhancing the efficiencies and capabilities at our existing launch facility. Our team at KSC has already done a great job creating a thriving spaceport to serve both NASA and commercial needs."

Keith's note: Every time you turn around it seems that Space Force is trying to grab a piece of NASA's turf. First it was floating the idea of putting military soldiers in orbit and on the Moon, now they want to start grabbing NASA launch facilities. I get the whole efficiency thing but it sure sounds like Space Force is in the driver's seat on these ideas and NASA is playing catch-up in responding to them. The idea originated with Space Force because of their needs - not NASA's. NASA did not seek out this activity. Funny how everything works just fine for 60 years - then Space Force appears and starts to try and change everything to suit their needs. Just sayin'.

- Space Force Says That It Plans To Send Troops To The Moon, earlier post
- NASA And Space Force Are Collaborating, earlier post
- Space Force Fans Want To Implement The "Green Agenda", earlier post
- Space Force Is Obsessed With Being Space Force, earlier post
- Military Space Guys Argue Over The Whole Space Force Rank Thing, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Be Star Fleet, earlier post
- 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
- More Space Force postings

Economic development projects to bring 510 new jobs to Huntsville area, Made in Alabama (Alabama Department of Commerce)

"The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber today announced that new economic development projects will bring 510 new jobs and more than $71 million in investment to the community."

Keith's 27 Sep 10:54 am EDT note: This release was issued on 25 September 2020 - the same day as the NASA economic Report came out. The Made in Alabama (Alabama Department of Commerce) website makes no mention of the NASA Economic Impact report. NASA HQ makes no mention of this news from Alabama. NASA Marshall makes no mention of this local economic news or the NASA economic report on their website but their twitter account retweeted @JimBridenstine's tweet - once.

NASA's Impact on Economy Is No Secret to Space Coast, MyNews13

"In Florida, NASA employs 33,000 workers and makes a $5.9 billion impact on the Space Coast, according to Space Florida's Dale Ketcham. Planned missions to return to the moon and to go to Mars for the first time are responsible for a lot of that impact, he said."

There is no mention of this report (or a link to it) on the Space Florida website but they are responding to media requests. There is no mention on the NASA Kennedy website but they did retweet @JimBridensine's tweet - once. No mention is made on the Florida Governor's website or the Department of Economic Opportunity. Rep. Bill Posey has posted nothing on his website or his Twitter account. Sen. Rick Scott makes no mention on his website or Twitter account. Sen. Marco Rubio has nothing on his website but he does make mention on his Twitter account. Given the immense amount of money NASA has sent to Florida over the past half century you'd think that the folks there would be a little more interested in spreading the good news - especially when the economy is in such dire shape. Its baffling that NASA Kennedy is not making more of this good news.

Oddly, while Johnson Space Center makes no mention of this NASA economic impact report on their homepage, they do have an old link prominently featuring their own report: "Texas Comptroller Releases NASA Economic Impact Report". I mentioned this report back in September 2019 when JSC did a stealth launch of their own:

"Look at this Texas portion (larger image) of the list of companies that are suppliers to SLS/Orion/Artemis: "2019 Deep Space Exploration Systems Supplier Locations". These 182 companies are located all over Texas. I'll be willing to bet that nearly all of these companies have no idea that there is a NASA website that lists all of the small business that work on this project. The Texas Comptroller seems not to know about it. JSC does not mention it either. Why go through the time and expense of collecting this information if no one is told that it exists?"

While JSC still features this old economic news from a year ago on their website, JSC makes no mention of the new report - but they did retweet Jim Bridenstine's tweet - once.

There is no mention on the NASA Ames website; none at NASA Armstrong's website; nor any mention at NASA JPL's website - this despite the fact that the report cites California having "69,725 jobs in the California economy were supported by NASA activities in Fiscal Year 2019" and that "The total income impact of NASA in California was $6.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2019."

Keith's 28 Sep 12:21 pm EDT update: NASA Langley just issued this press release today at 12:13 pm EDT. NASA's Moon to Mars Economic Impact Study Shows Significant Benefit for Virginia - but no mention on their homepage.

No mention is made by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology or the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Jim Bridenstine will be testifying there on Wednesday - maybe he will mention the report).

No mention of the NASA report is made at the Aerospace Industries Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Space Foundation, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - or the National Space Council. To their credit, the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration does make brief mention on their website and links to the NASA report. And of course none of the space advocacy groups have bothered to say anything.

I could go on and research the PR given to this report for all 50 states. A simple Google news search will show how underwhelming the response has been. Let me be clear: this report is overflowing with great news for NASA and hundreds of communities across the nation. I hope NASA publishes more things like this since they have only scratched the surface of what NASA provides to this nation. America needs good news right now. The inspirational aspect of what NASA does as part of this good news is an added bonus in these dark times. But it is downright depressing to see NASA drop the ball when it comes to promoting its own good news - once again.

What happend to all of that presidential "Make Space Great Again" hoopla? Or was that just for campaign ads?

- NASA's Economic Impact Study Misses Much Of NASA's Economic Impact, earlier post
- NASA Economic Impact Report Released, earlier post
- NASA Report Details How Agency Significantly Benefits US Economy, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA put out an "Economic Impact Study" today. Not much thought was put into making the most of this report given that it was issued at 7:00 am on a Friday. So NASA will get one day of media bounce before a weekend at a time when news recycles every 17 minutes. Bad rollout planning aside, the report is quite useful and contains some very important information that bears on NASA's future - not just for the whole space thing - but as an economic and societal force. But this report is only useful to the extent that people know that it exists and that those people who convey its contents understand what it says and convey that information such that a broader audience can ingest and use it. NASA issued a brochure for the media but odds are very few regular taxpayers will ever know about it. That's a shame since NASA's impact is considerable.

As for the report itself, the breakdown of economic numbers is done on a state by state level. At the end of the day it is obvious that most economic policy has a high state level quotient to it. But if NASA really wanted to explain where it has an impact (and by default where it does not) the breakdown should be done at a town or zip code level. These maps with large states give a somewhat inaccurate impress of where the impact is derived. In many cases it is located in metropolitan or regional areas that either focus a state's economic power to limited areas, or span the borders of more than one state and offer a regional focus.

In many cases these maps point out woeful inequalities by default such as Montana (less than 1 FTE who earned $10,000), Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, etc.. Nothing is ever said in this report with regard to why some parts of America do not share in all of this NASA economic goodness. But wait: they do. These states have large agricultural and natural resource sectors of their economy that benefit from remote sensing. GPS and satellite communications enable many economic activities that would otherwise be impossible. And every person who lives there derives some benefit from all of these 'spinoffs" that NASA is forever waving its arms about. Yet I see no mention in this report as to how these technologies with clear NASA heritage and continued involvement impact these states. It just looks like they get nothing. Why would anyone in those states ever care about NASA's benefits since NASA shows there to be virtually none?

The report uses lots of models and makes incessant mention of how one NASA FTE civil servant job leads to X number of other jobs but the report never provides actual examples i.e. where a specific program with a specific number of civil servants resulted in contracts to specific companies and how many people they hired and what their collective economic impact on their community was. I think that would be most enlightening since most people are unaware of how this all works. I suppose some of the company stuff is proprietary but absent any granularity it seems that a 'one size fits all' metric is used to compute and express this multiplier effect.

Also - the efficiency with which a large aerospace contractor hires and conducts work vs how a small business does hiring can be vastly different. Since we constantly hear about how much of America's business is done by small businesses one would think that would be very useful information. Oh yes, although this was based on older FY 2019 information, given that we are all working at home now in a dispersed mode - and will be for some time to come - this would also give some insight as to what a dispersed, but networked, workforce can do.

It would be interesting to see how NASA's economic impact fares when compared on a dollar:dollar basis with scientific organizations such as NSF and NIST and on large developmental/operational organizations such as NOAA and DoD. It would also be interesting to compare what an academic dollar buys you vs what a commercial dollar can buy.

It would, of course, be interesting to see how the economics map put when compared to Congressional districts. Having once worked for a large aerospace contractor I can tell you with certainty that they know exactly who gets what. And if someone was really industrious they'd map political contributions ... but I digress.

I guess what I am looking for is how you translate this report (which I am certain has accurate information) into words that people outside of economic wonkery and internal beltway spin can understand. NASA put together a nice data dump but it is somewhat cold and devoid of any human connectivity. Does the report mention how often state and local organizations interact with NASA on business matters? Does it mention how many high school and college graduates take on majors related to - or inspired-by NASA and how that contributes to a broader aspect of the nation's economy?

This is a very useful report and I am sure there is a lot in there that I have missed. The reach of the agency's economic impact is chronically under appreciated and rarely quantified in such a comprehensive fashion. Kudos to the authors and sponsors.

But if I were a state economic official (from Montana) and I looked at what other states got from NASA, I'd like to know why they got what they did and why my state did not. If I was at a state or local chamber of commerce I'd like to see some local examples and lessons learned. It would be nice to see some plain language success stories - such as how a machine shop with several dozen employees got to make a part that goes in a NASA rocket and how the income from that one part employed people, how those people felt about their work, what the actual impact was interns of the specific jobs created, and how all of that translated (or did not translate) into visibility for NASA's role at an organic level. In essence I'd like to see how the mere presence of a company doing space stuff has impacts other than sheer numbers.

Members of Congress like big numbers and often fall under the spell of lobbyists and big aerospace companies and the self-serving yarns that they spin. But they also like small stories. They like to get letters about home town impacts and success stories based on real people leading normal lives. Such stories can often exceed they impact of a lobbyists' spin. You cannot quantify hope or inspiration and the impact that they have with mere numbers. But a report on NASA's economic impact is incomplete without presenting the impact of hope and inspiration - and pride - especially right now when people are looking for a bright light at the end of this horrible tunnel

NASA's impact on America is woefully underestimated - sadly, it is all too often underestimated by NASA itself.

NASA Report Details How Agency Significantly Benefits US Economy

"NASA released Friday the results of its first-ever agencywide economic impact report. The report shows that, through all NASA activities, the agency generated more than $64.3 billion in total economic output during fiscal year 2019, supported more than 312,000 jobs nationwide, and generated an estimated $7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes throughout the United States."

NASA Highlights Science, Business on Next Northrop Grumman Mission to Space Station

"Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA and Stéphane de La Faverie, group president, The Estée Lauder Companies and global brand president, Estée Lauder, who will discuss plans to photograph the company's New Advanced Night Repair serum in the space station's iconic cupola window as part of NASA's efforts to enable business activities at the space station and develop a robust low-Earth orbit economy."

Keith's note: We got an advanced look at one of Phil's slides. NASA apparently did extensive simulations of the perfume photo op. Larger image

Day 2 of ISSRDC Online Series to Feature Space Investment, Commercialization, and NASA-driven Programs

"Day 2 of the 9th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) will take place virtually this Thursday, September 17, bringing together researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, and the general public to showcase the benefits of conducting research and technology development onboard our nation's industrial incubator in low Earth orbit (LEO). Each year, ISSRDC is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NASA, and the American Astronautical Society. The day will kick off with a session focused on space-based research that is leading to commercial product applications. Multiple plenary sessions will be dedicated to NASA-driven initiatives like GeneLab and the Cold Atom Lab. Additionally, a session focused on trends within the investment community will be led by executive leadership within Nasdaq."

The conference will also air on NASA TV

Space Travel Reality Show Set To Send Contestant To ISS In Works From Space Hero Company & Propagate, Deadline

"The trip of the Space Hero winner will be on a SpaceX Dragon rocket. Space Hero, billed as the first space media company, is working with Axiom Space, manufacturer of the world's first privately funded commercial space station -- a module for the ISS where the private astronauts can stay -- and full-service human spaceflight mission provider. Led by Mike Suffredini who served as NASA's International Space Station program manager for 10 years, Axiom handles all aspects of the Space Hero private astronaut mission, from brokering the trip to the ISS -- currently earmarked for early 2023 -- and securing the rocket seat to training the aspiring astronauts and insurance coverage."

NASA astronauts have a new task: make videos of Estee Lauder products, CNN

"The International Space Station has served as the world's most unique laboratory for two decades, hosting hundreds of scientific experiments, crews of astronauts and even the occasional slime. But now, NASA, one of the space station's primary operators, is preparing to oversee the largest push of business activity aboard the ISS. Later this month, up to 10 bottles of a new Estée Lauder (EL) skincare serum will arrive at the space station, a NASA spokesperson told CNN Business. NASA astronauts are expected to film the items in the microgravity environment of the ISS and the company will be able to use that footage in ad campaigns or other promotional material."

Space Resources are the Key to Safe and Sustainable Lunar Exploration

"Today, we're taking a critical step forward by releasing a solicitation for commercial companies to provide proposals for the collection of space resources. When considering such proposals, we will require that all actions be taken in a transparent fashion, in full compliance with the Registration Convention, Article II and other provisions of the Outer Space Treaty, and all of our other international obligations. We are putting our policies into practice to fuel a new era of exploration and discovery that will benefit all of humanity. The requirements we've outlined are that a company will collect a small amount of Moon "dirt" or rocks from any location on the lunar surface, provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material, along with data that identifies the collection location, and conduct an "in-place" transfer of ownership of the lunar regolith or rocks to NASA. After ownership transfer, the collected material becomes the sole property of NASA for our use."

Pick an agency, any agency, Space Review

"Congress, though, rejected the proposal, with appropriators skeptical that Commerce was the best agency to handle civil STM. Prior to SPD-3, the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, or AST, had been the leading candidate to handle STM in addition to its work licensing commercial launches and reentries. While the administration decided to give that authority to the Office of Space Commerce, some in Congress still thought AST was the better home. ... The report, led by a panel chaired by Michael Dominguez, former assistant secretary of the Air Force and which included former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe and former NRO director Marty Faga, was released August 20. And, much to the relief of the administration, it concluded that the Office of Space Commerce was indeed the best agency for the job. "Following its evaluative criteria, the Panel determines OSC to be best suited to perform STM tasks within the federal government," the report succinctly stated."

NASA Administrator to Open Space Station Research and Development Conference, NASA

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is set to open the ninth annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) at 10 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 27, as the microgravity laboratory celebrates the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence in space."

Day 1 of ISSRDC Online Series to Feature NASA Leadership and Promote Commercialization of Low Earth Orbit, CASIS

"The 9th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) kicks off as a virtual event this Thursday, August 27, bringing together researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, and the general public to showcase the benefits of conducting research and technology development onboard our nation's industrial incubator in low Earth orbit (LEO). Each year, ISSRDC is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), NASA, and the American Astronautical Society. This year, the conference will take place as an online series featuring three days of virtual plenary sessions: Day 1 on August 27, Day 2 on September 17, and Day 3 on October 22. The virtual sessions are free to attend; however, registration is required for each day."

Watch live on NASA TV

Keith's note: I will be live tweeting the entire ISSRDC on Thursday on @NASAWatch with the hashtag #ISSRDC I urge others who might be listening to try and do the same.

Report Offers Roadmap to Mitigate Effects of Large Satellite Constellations on Astronomy, AAS

"The report from the Satellite Constellations 1 (SATCON1) workshop, organized jointly by NSF's NOIRLab and the American Astronomical Society (AAS), has been delivered to the National Science Foundation (NSF). Held virtually from 29 June to 2 July 2020, SATCON1 focused on technical aspects of the impact of existing and planned large satellite constellations on optical and infrared astronomy. NSF, which funded the workshop, also finances most of the large ground-based telescopes widely available to researchers in the United States. More than 250 astronomers, engineers, commercial satellite operators, and other stakeholders attended SATCON1. Their goals were to better quantify the scientific impacts of huge ensembles of low-Earth-orbiting satellites (LEOsats) contaminating astronomical observations and to explore possible ways to minimize those impacts."

Keith's note: I sent the following to NASA PAO: "Last night imagery of two NASA astronauts appeared in a Democratic National Convention video. Did the DNC seek permission from NASA and/or the astronauts portrayed to use this imagery for political purposes? If so did NASA grant permission? Does NASA intend to file a complaint with the DNC for the use of this imagery of two of its employees in a political context and/or ask for it to be deleted?"

The response I got today says "NASA was not made aware of the video before it was released and we did not provide any assistance or footage, which was publicly available online."

U.S. prosecutors probe ex-NASA official, Boeing over space contract: sources, Reuters

"The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal probe into whether NASA's former head of human spaceflight gave Boeing Co improper guidance during a lucrative lunar-lander contract competition, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday. The Justice Department has sent subpoenas to NASA, Boeing and Doug Loverro, who led the space agency's marquee space travel program until he resigned in May, as part of a grand-jury investigation into the possible violation of federal procurement laws, the sources said. In the probe, opened in June, prosecutors are focusing on communication between Loverro and Boeing space executive Jim Chilton in late January, during a blackout period for the Human Landing System competition, one of the sources said. Representatives for Boeing and Loverro declined to comment. NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment."

Keith's note: These NASA procurement activities aren't just a few people in a room working late on Friday afternoons. Hundreds are involved - for weeks - including lawyers, FAR experts etc. Lots of spreadsheets and PowerPoint. Something is missing from this story - either that or a whole lotta people at NASA and Boeing screwed up collectively.

CASIS Board of Directors Welcomes New Members, CASIS

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the organization that manages the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory pursuant to a Cooperative Agreement with NASA, has inducted four new members to the organization's board of directors. As directors on the CASIS board, these highly decorated and scientifically diverse leaders will work with existing board members, executive staff, and NASA stakeholders to determine organizational priorities. The board seeks to ensure and enhance the ability of CASIS to optimize the use of the ISS National Lab through basic and applied space-based investigations that will continue progress toward our nation's goal of developing a sustainable market economy in low Earth orbit."

My Statement on the Successful Splashdown of NASA-SpaceX Dragon Endeavour, Joe Biden

"Congratulations to NASA, SpaceX, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, and all the hardworking women and men who made possible a successful conclusion to this historic mission. The first American splashdown in 45 years was executed with precision and professionalism, just like the entirety of this awe-inspiring trip to the International Space Station. This is a victory for American innovation and persistence, and I am proud of the role President Obama and I had in fighting to ensure that commercial crew flights from American soil would become a reality. As president, I look forward to leading a bold space program that will continue to send astronaut heroes to expand our exploration and scientific frontiers through investments in research and technology to help millions of people here on Earth."

Chairwomen Johnson and Horn Celebrate Successful Splashdown of SpaceX Demo-2

"After a momentous launch to space from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade, NASA astronauts have successfully returned home after a productive mission on the International Space Station," said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). "The safe return of these two NASA astronauts is a significant milestone for America's space program. I want to welcome Astronauts Hurley and Behnken home and congratulate all those who made their mission possible."

America must return to the moon 'as soon as possible', Harrison Schmitt, Politico

"It has been remarkable to see the National Team, including Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, work closely together with NASA. Blending established entities and entrepreneurial space firms is a good prescription for success. The team is aptly named, as it represents our national heritage in lunar exploration, our national pride in science and technology innovation, and the national strength of our commercial space industry."

Keith's note: The sole intent of this op ed is not to sing the praises of America's plans for returning humans to the Moon as the title suggests. Rather, it is to sell the industry partnering of "the National Team" led by Blue Origin. If the op ed really focused on all that NASA is doing for the Human Landing System and Artemis you'd see SpaceX, Dynetics, Maxar, Astrobotic, Boeing, and a bunch of other companies mentioned. But they are not. Indeed the impression the uninformed (Congressional) reader is that the "National Team" mentioned herein is indeed America's official National Team since no one else is mentioned. Oh, and the listed author is a Blue Origin consultant.

The real "National Team" is composed of all of the companies and institutions supporting NASA's Artemis program - not just those who belong to one contractor team or another - or belong to either the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration or the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

Caveat Emptor.

Former Spaceflight CEO and French entrepreneur join forces to launch astronaut training startup, Geekwire

"If the 2010s were the decade when small satellites revolutionized the space industry, the 2020s will be when commercial space odysseys finally go mainstream. At least that's the gamble that Jason Andrews, the co-founder and former CEO of Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, is taking with French-born tech entrepreneur Nicolas Gaume. Today Andrews and Gaume are taking the wraps off Orbite, a Seattle startup that will focus on getting would-be spacefliers ready for those future odysseys. "You're going to go to a space camp for the next generation," Gaume said."

Keith's update: (Sigh) Yet another company backed by rich people to train commercial astronauts for their space flights. Of course there is a rich seaside spa angle to this with all the luxury perks. Maybe R2D2 will serve drinks. But there are no actual training facilities yet. And no one is flying commercial space passengers yet - suborbital or orbital. But this space camp resort thing will open in 2023 or something. And since all of these spaceflight tickets are ultra expensive - the equivalent of a house or several college educations - what's another few tens of thousands of dollars to the rich folks?

I have had two rounds of parabolic flights on ZeroG and did the suborbital astronaut scientist centrifuge training program at NASTAR. They are excellent, professional introductions to what can be expected for suborbital flights, and I highly recommend both. As for all of the other adult space camp stuff Orbite (and its competitors) will offer - who knows. The facilities that you need to actually do provide this kind of training are not cheap and they don't just pop into existence. But ... there are lots of former astronauts looking for a new gig - so the instructor recruitment part will be easy. But until the actual demand appears it is questionable as to whether these luxury add-ons to commercial spaceflight will be able to survive. As always, caveat emptor - and Beam Me Up.

Orbite website

Keith's note: Bragging about things that a simple Google search can refute isn't the best marketing approach, Lockheed Martin. Here's a list of the past week's desperate bragging attempts by Boeing and Lockheed Martin:

- Denial At Boeing Regarding Poor Performance On SLS, earlier post
- You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly, earlier post
- Lockheed Martin's Flawed Comparison Between Orion and Dragon, earlier post

NASA Provides Update on Commercial Crew Program, Close Call Review of Boeing's Orbital Flight Test

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 7, to discuss the outcome of its High Visibility Close Call review of the December 2019 uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft. Participants in the briefing will be: Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program."

Keith's update: NASA had a telecon with HEOMD AA Kathy Lueders and Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. In a nutshell they have completed their report on the problems associated with Boeing's Starliner OFT-1 flight, have 81 recommendations that need to be implemented. No firm date for the re-flight OFT-2 for Starliner were offered other than maybe by the end of this year. In essence the NASA/Boeing processes broke down and an extensive review was made to be certain that "no stone went unturned" - as had been directed by Lueders' predecessor Doug Loverro.

I asked: "You only discovered that you had major problems with Starliner after the vehicle was actually in flight. The NASA/Boeing preflight process clearly failed in this regard. Yet things like this did not happen with SpaceX. Why did the NASA/SpaceX process work so well when it did not work very well with Boeing? Shouldn't the NASA process be the same for both contractors or are they that different from each other that different approaches are required? Given that SpaceX seems to have a better handle on this are NASA/SpaceX lessons learned being applied to the NASA/Boeing process to get them up to speed?"

Some intersting answers resulted. Stich admitted that when one spacecraft provider comes forth with a newer approach (SpaceX) than another (Boeing) people naturally tend to pay more attention to the new approach. "Perhaps we did not take the time we needed to in hindsight. We learned a lesson and we will be applying those lessons equally." Stitch admitted that NASA probably felt somewhat more comfortable with Boeing's more traditional approach and as a result so SpaceX may have had more oversight since they had a newer approach. "This is a wakeup call for NASA and all of its contractors and they all want the lessons learned."

NASA Developing a Plan to Fly Personnel on Suborbital Spacecraft

"For the first time in the agency's history, NASA has initiated a new effort to enable NASA personnel to fly on future commercial suborbital spaceflights. NASA's Flight Opportunities program has successfully worked with emerging commercial suborbital transportation systems to fly research payloads to space for short periods of microgravity time. In addition, the Flight Opportunities program recently released a call that allows those non-NASA researchers to propose accompanying their payloads in suborbital space."

NASA Suborbital Crew Space Transportation Services

"In conjunction with a system qualification of suborbital transportation systems, NASA is considering acquisition of Suborbital Crew Space Transportation Services for NASA Astronauts and other NASA personnel from one or more U.S. providers through commercial services contracts. Depending on mission requirements, NASA may purchase single seats, multiple seats within one mission, or seats for an entire 'charter' mission. NASA is seeking pertinent information from industry which may be used to formulate one or more solicitations related to the SubC effort."

Keith's update: These two events happened a few hours - and a few hundred feet - apart from one another. Some people are looking up to the sky for answers while others seek some answers back on Earth.

NASA to Ring The Nasdaq Stock Market Opening Bell from the International Space Station in Honor of the First Commercial Crew Launch

"NASA will ring the Nasdaq Opening Bell remotely from the International Space Station to commemorate the first Commercial Crew launch. Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator, Demo - 2 Launch Crew, Robert Behken, Douglas Hurley, and ISS Commander Chris Cassidy, will ring the Opening Bell in a virtual bell ringing ceremony from the International Space Station. Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. ET"

Keith's note: Its not clear what bell will actually be rung - the ISS has a ship's bell which was rung to welcome the Dragon crew yesterday. A live event "Tue., June 2, 9:20 a.m. EDT: SpaceX employee event and Class of 2020 Mosaic presentation with ISS crew" is shown on the NASA TV schedule with the ISS crew starting at 9:15 am. Watch live

Keith's note: At today's media telecom with Jim Bridenstine I asked if he could clarify NASA's media reach during the Demo-2 launch since he says that it topped everyone's viewing habits. I got one number "10.3 million concurrent viewers across all NASA platforms". I asked about these "heat charts" that NASA showed which seem to only show limited interest in the states where Dragon was built and flown and asked for additional viewership statistics. I don't expect to see any. I also asked how NASA can be seen as being relevant when we see split screens on TV with NASA on one side and riots on the other. How is NASA going to convince these angry and worried people who are out in the streets wearing gas masks - and not watching 2 guys take off in a rocket ship - that this is more important than problems "back here on Earth" (as this question is often couched). His response below:

Remarks by President Trump at Kennedy Space Center

Keith's note: Today at a media briefing Jim Bridenstine said that there was representation "from both sides of the aisle" at the Demo-2 launch. Yet this is what the President chose to say about Congressional members present at they events:

"Also with us are many members of my Cabinet, including our great new DNI, John Ratcliffe. Thank you,John. Thank you.(Applause.) We have a great friend of mine, a special man, ran a great, great campaign: Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. (Applause.) Thank you, Ron. Thank you, Ron. Your Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Leader Kevin McCarthy. Kevin, thank you very much. (Applause.) Great job you do, Kevin. And Representatives Matt Gaetz, John Rutherford, Michael Waltz, Bill Posey, Gus Bilirakis, Daniel Webster, Brian Mast, Elise Stefanik, Bill Flores, Brian Babin, Rodney Davis, Roger Marshall, and Steven Palazzo. Thank you very much, fellas. Thank you. (Applause.) What a great group of people. They're warriors. They're really warriors. They helped so much get this done, and so many other things."

All of the people mentioned are Republicans. No Democrats were mentioned. Apparently they did not make any contribution to the day's events - otherwise they'd have been mentioned, right? Today at a crew conversation from JSC Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and House Science, Space, and Technology ranking member Brian Babin (R-TX) were there. That committee's chair, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) was nowhere to be seen. "Both sides of the aisle?" Just sayin'.


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