Keith's note: If you look at our calendar for the coming week you will see an unusual number of advisory meetings, policy briefings, seminars, etc. here in Washington, DC. Everyone will be talking about where they think space (e.g. NASA) policy and science will be going in the next few months and years. Many events conflict with one another in terms of timing. Many more of these events overlap in terms of their participants with a high quotient of the usual suspects in attendance at multiple meetings saying the same thing over and over again to one another. Guess what: no one knows what is going on. Seriously. From the White House on down, no one knows where space policy is going. And the more someone tells you that they do know, the more suspicious you should be of what they say - starting with me. It is a mess folks.
Recently in Transition Category
Keith's note: Erik Noble, a member of the Trump Beachhead team at NASA headquarters has departed NASA for a position at NOAA. Noble had been serving as Chief of Staff on the 9th floor. No word yet as to who is replacing him in that position.
Keith's note: Likely NASA Administrator nominee Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) will be the luncheon speaker at a Washington Space Business Roundtable event in downtown Washington DC at noon EDT today. I plan to be live tweeting his comments and responses to questions from the event on Twitter at @NASAWatch
"This shadow government of political appointees with the title of senior White House adviser is embedded at every Cabinet agency, with offices in or just outside the secretary's suite. The White House has installed at least 16 of the advisers at departments including Energy and Health and Human Services and at some smaller agencies such as NASA, according to records first obtained by ProPublica through a Freedom of Information Act request. These aides report not to the secretary, but to Rick Dearborn, the White House deputy chief of staff for policy, according to administration officials. A top Dearborn aide, John Mashburn, leads a weekly conference call with the advisers, who are in constant contact with the White House. The aides act as a go-between on policy matters for the agencies and the White House. Behind the scenes, though, they're on another mission: to monitor Cabinet leaders and their top staffs to make sure they carry out the president's agenda and don't stray too far from the White House's talking points, said several officials with knowledge of the arrangement."
Keith's note: FYI Rick Dearborn used to work for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and it is the Alabama mafia inside the Trump Administration that is holding up the naming of a new NASA Administrator (among other things).
"NASA Gregory Autry White House Liaison SES 1/20/17
NASA Brandon Eden Special Assistant to the Administrator GS-15 1/20/17
NASA Gregory Kennedy Senior Financial Advisor SES 1/20/17
NASA Rodney Liesveld Special Assistant to the Administrator GS-15 1/20/17
NASA Erik Noble Senior White House Advisor SES 1/20/17
NASA Jeffrey Waksman Special Assistant to the Administrator GS-15 1/20/17
NASA Jennifer Wang Special Assistant to the Administrator GS-15 1/20/17"
Keith's note:Greg Autry has departed from NASA.
"During his confirmation hearing this week, the Trump administration's nominee for this cabinet-level [Director of National Intelligence] position, former Senator Dan Coats, assured the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he would remain vigilant in keeping the nation's reconnaissance satellites ahead of the global curve. The United States would also speed up the process by which it gets new technologies into space, he said. However, when citing an example to make this point, Coats pointed toward the launch of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle earlier this month and its deployment of 104 satellites. "I was shocked the other day to read that the nation of India, on one rocket launch, deposited more than a hundred satellites in space," he said, according to Space News. "They may be small in size with different functions and so forth, but one rocket can send up [more than 100] platforms ... We've seen now 11 nations that have the capacity to launch instruments into space."
Keith's note: As reader MarcNBarrett notes: "I wonder, is he also aware that India has an orbiter around Mars?" -- or that they send a spacecraft to orbit the Moon ...
Keith's note: According to her Wikipedia page Lesa Roe "is currently serving as the Acting Deputy Administrator of NASA. Roe is also the Deputy Associate Administrator of NASA, being in role since May 2014.". I cannot find any announcement from NASA or the White House that she was appointed to the position of Acting NASA Deputy Administrator.
The Wikipedia page was last revised to add Roe's new position on 1 February 2017 by someone named "Hosgeorges" from the UK. On 22 February 2017 someone named دارين added a picture of Lesa Roe. Prior to that Roe's Wikipedia page was last changed on 8 May 2016. This senior leadership page on NASA.gov only mentions Robert Lightfoot as Acting NASA Administrator. But this page at NASA.gov (last changed on 10 February 2017) says "Deputy Administrator: Lesa Roe (acting)". So Hosgeorges in the UK knew about this NASA management change nearly a month ago - and NASA quietly added it to its website 2 weeks ago - but no one thought to put a memo out for the rest if us?
But wait: there's more: This page links to a NASA Advisory Council page shows a group portrait of the NAC with former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and refers to "Mr. Kenneth Bowersox (NAC Interim Chair)". Yet this page mentions the NAC and says "Chair: General Lester L. Lyles (USAF, Ret.)"
On 20 January 2017 Robert Lightfoot sent out a memo "Message from the Acting Administrator of NASA" which said "As the transition progresses, we have some initial assignments from the new administration. Erik Noble has been named White House Senior Advisor at NASA. Greg Autry, who was with the Agency Review Team, has been named White House Liaison."
According to this current NASA Organization Structure page last updated 10 February 2017 Erik Noble is now "Chief of Staff (acting)". According to multiple sources Greg Autry told people that he would be leaving his White House Liaison position at NASA effective 17 March 2017. But he left on 23 February instead. Oddly, the page was last updated on 10 February 2017 yet made no mention of Autry despite the importance of his position at the time.
Things are starting to get a little strange when NASA makes significant agency appointments like this and does not tell anyone else - except Hosgeorges and دارين that is.
King for a Day, Wayne Hale
"Many of my old friends and colleagues are asking me a question these days: "If you were NASA Administrator, what would you have the agency do?" I know what they want to hear: Moon, Mars, or Asteroid - what is the next destination for human spaceflight? But that is not the answer I would give. Whatever 'horizon goal' is established, without significant organizational and cultural changes at NASA, the chance for success is in doubt. To make NASA into the extraordinarily effective organization it once was and could be again will require significant work to transform it. NASA is filled with extremely smart, highly motivated individuals who are the experts in their fields. They can do amazing things. Measured against any other organization - government or commercial - the NASA civil service and contractor work force is outstanding in terms of inherent capabilities and the desire to make their projects successful. But success in NASA's endeavors is hobbled by three structural and cultural problems: (1) inter-center rivalry, (2) mind numbing bureaucracy, and (3) a paralyzing cultural requirement for perfection in all things."
Exclusive - Rep. Bridenstine: Shoot the Next One Down, Mr. President, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Breitbart
"President Trump should order the Secretary of Defense to position American assets and shoot down Kim Jong Un's next missile launch. Intercepting a North Korean missile would signal to Pyongyang that America has the capability and the willingness to defend our allies and the homeland. In the parlance of military strategy, the missile defense option enhances deterrence-by-denial. North Korea is more likely to be deterred from developing missiles if robust, layered missile defenses deny them any strategic benefit from striking first. The only two alternatives are preemptive offensive action and, of course, more strongly worded UN Security Council resolutions and toothless sanctions."
Keith's note: If a North Korean rocket threatens U.S. assets - or even seems to be doing so - we should defend ourselves. No argument there. Bridenstine has a military background and it is natural that he'd have concerns about issues such as this - and speak out about them. When I have heard him speak about space he does well when it comes to military, communications, and commercial space. But when it comes to NASA science - nothing but crickets. If Bridenstine is the nominee to become NASA administrator he clearly needs a Deputy and a strong AA and Center Director contingent to make up for his clear lack of science management experience.
The fact that this "exclusive" op ed by Bridenstine appears on Breitbart News, the controversial former employer of Trump's avatar Steve Bannon should not be lost on people. This sort of op ed placement does not happen by accident these days. There is clearly an idealogical mind meld going on here - as well as the beginnings of a possible Alternate NASA PR machine - one independent of NASA PAO - in the making.
White House prepping government reorg executive order, Federal News Radio
"The White House is preparing a new executive order to require agencies to plan and suggest ways to reorganize the government. Federal News Radio has learned that a draft order is circulating in the government and could be issued this week after the expected Senate confirmation of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The draft order includes a series of requirements for agencies to quickly turn around plans to improve how the department meets its mission. The draft also details a list of elements the agencies need to include in those plans ranging from a list of programs that are duplicative to whether state and local governments or the private sector could do the work better to the costs of ending or merging the capabilities. The draft order also calls on agencies to determine if back-office functions are duplicative with other services within another agency, bureau or program and if so, could they be consolidated."
Zero Base Review Team Report, 19 May 1995 (earlier NASA RIF Watch post)
"An internal NASA review team has produced proposals to enable the agency to meet the tough funding targets set by the Administration in the 1996 budget, Administrator Daniel S. Goldin said today. The proposals include sweeping management and organizational changes to cut spending an additional $5 billion by the end of the decade. "I'm pleased with what I've seen so far," Goldin said. "We've found ways to streamline operations, reduce overlap, and significantly cut costs without cutting our world-class space and aeronautics programs. We have much hard work before us, but I believe a stronger and more efficient NASA will emerge."
"[Planetary Society's Casey] Dreier cautions that the latest glimpse of potential Trump space policy may be just that--a peek into the internal debate over NASA's mission, rather than a clear roadmap for the space agency's future. ... Human spaceflight programs are expensive, and risk overshadowing such projects. "Science always tends to suffer when human spaceflight programs go over budget," Dreier says."
Keith's note: Of course Casey Drier omits the flip side of this statement - when space science missions go over budget (crashing Mars probes in the 90s, James Webb Space Telescope, Mars Science Laboratory, Mars 2020 rover etc.) Space Science tends to suffer much, much more - and it is self-inflicted.
"Congressional Democrats are rallying behind a bill to protect federal scientists from attempts to interfere with scientific discourse and dissemination of research results. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) yesterday introduced a bill (S.338) that would codify existing policies at some two dozen federal agencies. Those policies stem from a 2009 executive order from former President Barack Obama that required them to spell out how they would safeguard scientific integrity. The policies have dribbled out over the last 7 years."
- S.338 A bill to protect scientific integrity in Federal research and policymaking, and for other purposes
- Confusion Over Federal Agency Public Information Guidelines, earlier post
- Just A Reminder: NASA Is Required To Tell Everyone What It Does, earlier post
"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another commercial space evangelist with close ties to Trump, is also pushing the White House to embark on a major effort to privatize U.S. space efforts. "A good part of the Trump administration would like a lot more aggressive, risk-taking, competitive entrepreneurial approach to space," Gingrich said in an interview. "A smaller but still powerful faction represents Boeing and the expensive old contractors who have soaked up money with minimum results.
"It is a big fight," said former Republican Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, who drafted the Trump campaign's space policy and remains involved in the deliberations. "There are billions of dollars at stake. It has come to a head now when it has become clear to the space community that the real innovative work is being done outside of NASA."
- Commercial Spaceflight Federation Sells Out and Endorses SLS (Update), earlier post
- Trump Transition Team Wants Old Space Vs New Space Smackdown, earlier post
- Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture that Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public-Private-Partnerships, Charles Miller et al, Research Gate
As tweeted by @NASAWatch from the FAA Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington, DC today:
- Bridenstine: talking about Gene Cernan and his dream of sending Americans back to the Moon
- Bridenstine is presenting a laundry list of things China is doing/planning in space that America no longer does.
- Bridenstine: when we started paying Russia for Soyuz seats cost was $21m. Now it is $80m. "We are being gouged"
- Bridenstine: need to strike balance between what govt operates and what it procures
- Bridenstine: space situational awareness should be done by civilian entity no DOD
- Bridenstine wants to see govt models for for procurement augmented by commercial solutions
- Bridenstine: govt needs to plan for commercial systems in architectures
- Bridenstine: value of commercial solutions in space because prices lower due to competition
- Bridenstine: talks about commercial paths to cis-lunar space and surface of the Moon
- Bridenstine: need to update regulatory environment for space industry. FAA AST must be adequately funded.
- Bridenstine: FAA office commercial space has battles within FAA. Reorganization needed. Looking for Trump to elevate office
- Bridnestine: space is both an advantage and an Achilles heel
Smith, Babin Urge Passage of NASA Transition Authorization Act, SpacePolicyOnline
"Two top Republicans on the House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee are urging quick passage of the 2017 NASA Transition Authorization Act. ... House SS&T Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), who chaired the Space Subcommittee in the last Congress and is expected to do so again, both spoke at a Space Transportation Association (STA) event this evening. Smith said he hoped for action in the Senate in the next few days."
Trump Space Policy Options Emphasize Role of Private Enterprise, Wall Street Journal
"Growing tension between the two approaches is highlighted by a Jan. 23 email from Charles Miller, a member of NASA's original transition team, to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a confidant of Mr. Trump who also served on a higher-level transition team. In the memo, Mr. Miller advocates that NASA "hold an internal competition between Old Space and New Space" to determine the best and least expensive way to return to the Moon. "If this initiative can be approved quickly by the White House, and appropriately funded," he emphasized, there could be "private American astronauts, on private space ships, circling the Moon by 2020." According to the email, Mr. Miller, a former NASA official, says he "rewrote the 80+ page" original transition report to emphasize commercial space partnerships with the agreement of White House aide Erik Noble. ... In an interview, Mr. Miller said his proposals, which he believes were forwarded to other White House aides, didn't target, seek to downgrade or negatively affect SLS. The recommendations about the program were "very neutral," he added, and didn't affect it "one way or the other." Mr. Miller said he was asked by Mr. Noble "to help with fixing a draft document," and "I didn't consider it out of bounds."
Keith's note: NASA paid Miller to do a study on this topic in 2015. As for this whole "Old Space/New Space" thing. I can't wait to see how Miller et al define these two terms. Despite frequent use of these terms amongst space advocates no one has come up with a consistent/coherent definition. As such I am trying to imagine how you can have these two imaginary camps compete with one another. How does one certify that they are New Space or Old Space?
- Summary of Results of a NASA-funded Study on: An Evolvable Lunar Architecture Leveraging Commercial Partnerships, Charles Miller President, NexGen Space LLC
- Affording a Return to the Moon by Leveraging Commercial Partnerships, NASA KSC (NASA server may have security issues)
- Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture that Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public-Private-Partnerships, Charles Miller et al, Research Gate
"This study's primary purpose was to assess the feasibility of new approaches for achieving our national goals in space. NexGen assembled a team of former NASA executives and engineers who assessed the economic and technical viability of an "Evolvable Lunar Architecture" (ELA) that leverages commercial capabilities and services that are existing or likely to emerge in the near-term. We evaluated an ELA concept that was designed as an incremental, low-cost and low-risk method for returning humans to the Moon in a manner that directly supports NASA's long-term plan to send humans to Mars."
"Mike Brown, the Caltech astronomer who famously "killed Pluto" with his discovery of dwarf planets in the outer solar system, said he still has misgivings. He's not opposed to activism in general -- Brown took his daughter to the Women's March in Los Angeles in January and called it "one of the most amazing things I've ever done." But he's not sure marching is the best way for scientists to advocate for their work. "Having a bunch of scientists marching takes the interesting thing about scientists away from them," he said. "These are educators and teachers and scientists [whose] super power is teaching you cool things about the universe around you." Maybe instead of marching, researchers should take Young's advice and conduct a teach-in instead, he mused. "I don't know," he said. "The attacks on science are pretty unprecedented, and maybe all these softer ideas are just crazy."
"NASA has yet to receive specific marching orders from the Trump administration, but you have voiced concerns. What is on your mind?
I'm having a difficult time adjusting to the turmoil of the first week of the Trump administration. Coming out of NASA and being a former military commander we are very dependent on understanding what is going on in the environment and understanding the need for climate data before we can deploy Marines and sailors and airmen. Finding an administration that doesn't understand that and day-by-day seems to be curtailing the availability of valuable data to decision makers concerns me.
Can you be more specific?
We provide a lot of (climate and environmental) data through over-flights and satellite data. That's what I think is threatened if we're not careful with the policies of the new administration."
Growing wave of federal workers is pushing back against Trump, Washington Post
"Presidents appoint the heads of agencies and a few officials at the top of each department, but the great majority of those who implement any administration's agenda are civil servants who enjoy legal protections meant to encourage them to blow the whistle on fraud and corruption. Short of formal whistleblowing, workers are finding small ways to express their opposition. At the Justice Department, some career civil servants asked their bosses whether they were allowed to protest their new president by marching or contacting a member of Congress. The answer was yes, if they did so on their own time and in their personal capacity. The day after the November election, the department's ethics office said workers could wear clothing that contained a political message. One lawyer who had worn a Hillary Clinton T-shirt beneath another layer of clothing said that once the advice was issued, "I took the layer off." In the past few days, protest accounts have popped up on social media from employees at several agencies."
"These new accounts also raise the fascinating question of whether "alternative" or "rogue" or "resistance" social media accounts will become a new norm even in Western nations that have not typically had a history of "governments in exile." One could imagine that every administration would have its "rogue" employees who disagree with particular policies heading out to Twitter to fire up their own resistance accounts. Taking this a step further, the party not in power could set up its own alternative Twitter accounts for each federal agency and issue their own statements interpreting the actions of each agency through their particular partisan lens."
Keith's note: I could not be happier to see this happen. NASAWatch started out as RIFWatch - an effort to inform people about an impending downsizing (RIF) at NASA. Guess what - that may be in NASA's future once again. I used to warn NASA that someday there would be dozens of websites like NASAWatch. I am so happy to have totally underestimated that number.
Keith's update: At first these Twitter accounts focused mostly on science issues. Then their originators (government employees, based on tweets these accounts made) handed the accounts over to non-government employees. Shortly thereafter, as visibility exploded, a lot of the commentary and follower's comments took a turn into overtly partisan, anti-Trump territory. Now its hard to extract the science policy issues from the rest of the noise. Such is social media.
"So [George] Abbey thinks the architecture of NASA's future plans should be thoroughly examined and redrawn. It won't even require a budgetary increase - just a smarter allocation of the currently available funding. For instance, he suggests scrapping the SLS program altogether. There's too much redundancy in the heavy-lift rocket market - SpaceX is working on their Falcon Heavy, Blue Origin is busy developing the New Glenn booster, and United Launch Alliance is drawing up plans for a Vulcan rocket. He also thinks a simple scaling-up of Boeing's already-proven and successful X-37 would create a serviceable replacement for the decommissioned shuttle fleet - a spaceplane that could be fitted for crewed flights and that also has the ability to transport matériel into space for orbital, in situ assembly."
"The Trump administration's "beachhead team" for NASA showed up Monday. So far, according to Lightfoot, everyone's just getting desks and phones and computers assigned. There has been no command from on high to change policies about communications - nor any attempt to take down the agency's extensive online discussions of human-influenced climate change or other scientific issues."
"To fund preparations for the exploration of the Moon and Mars an international cooperation campaign will have to be launched and private investors invited to participate to raise the money required, the chief of Russia's state-run corporation Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, has said. It emerged in the spring of 2016 that the Russian Rocket and Space Corporation Energiya and the US Boeing were developing a joint project of a lunar orbital station in two versions: either two small living modules or one big module. An SLS super-heavy carrier rocket being developed by NASA is expected to be used to deliver the station's elements and the crew to the Moon's orbit. In case of a multi-modular project, they are intended to be launched together with a US spacecraft Orion, which is also being developed by NASA."
Keith's note: According to NASA HQ PAO there is no change in NASA policy with regard to the release of data or information to the public.
"The White House denied on Wednesday that the new Trump administration ordered a curb on the flow of information from several government agencies involved in environmental issues. "They have not been directed by us to do anything," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters, adding employees have been told to adhere to their agency's own policies. "But that directive did not come from here."
"The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public. The communications director for President Donald Trump's transition team at EPA, Doug Ericksen, said Wednesday the review also extends to content on the federal agency's website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth's climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame. Former EPA staffers said Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations."
"Don't blame this one on the Trump administration. In a bungled attempt to anticipate the wishes of their new political bosses, the U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) on Monday imposed what was widely interpreted as a gag order on its scientists communicating with the public. But a senior ARS official tells ScienceInsider that it was a poorly-worded effort by career officials - not anyone appointed by Trump -- to remind employees of a longstanding U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy on clearing statements that have policy relevance with senior officials before releasing them."
"But that didn't stop House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) from taking the House floor Monday night to claim the media would cover Trump differently if he weren't a Republican. ... Smith said. "No, the national liberal media won't print that or air it or post it. Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth," he concluded. Smith delivers House floor speeches at least once a week criticizing the mainstream media. Earlier this month, he denounced a New York Times column describing the impact of droughts in Africa believed to be exacerbated by climate change as "fake news."
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly and abruptly canceled a major climate change summit scheduled for next month shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, according to emails sent to those scheduled to speak and obtained by E&E News. The Climate and Health Summit was scheduled to be held in Atlanta, where the CDC is headquartered, in February. Agency leaders did not directly address why the summit was canceled and instead forwarded an email sent to participants indicating it may be rescheduled. "We are currently exploring options so that the Summit may take place later in the year," CDC officials wrote."
"Asked about concerns that the next administration could violate principles of scientific integrity at the federal agencies, or even delete federal climate change datasets, McNutt replied: "There are protections in place through government data integrity and scientific integrity acts that would, if [these data suddenly disappeared,] would say, 'Hold it. That is not allowed. This data has to come back online.' ... It would take, in my view, an incredible coordinated move to delete all copies of...climate data. On the other hand, I don't see any reason why, if people want to copy this data and back it up one more time, that it's something they shouldn't do."
"In the science community there have been alarm bells, reports that the president has already launched a war on science," says Tobin Smith, vice-president for policy at the Association for American Universities in Washington DC. "I think it's way too premature to draw that conclusion."
"Many of the programmers who showed up at UCLA for the event had day jobs as IT consultants or data managers at startups; others were undergrad computer science majors. The scientists in attendance, including ecologists, lab managers, and oceanographers, came from universities all over Southern California. A motley crew of data enthusiasts who assemble for projects like this is becoming something of a trend at universities across the country: Volunteer "data rescue" events in Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Michigan over the last few weeks have managed to scrape hundreds of thousands of pages off of EPA.gov, NASA.gov, DOE.gov, and whitehouse.gov, uploading them to the Internet Archive. Another is planned for early February at New York University."
Keith's note: Last week NASA HQ was told by the incoming Trump administration that they wanted Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowski to stay on for while after the Inauguration to help with the transition. Then the Trump people suddenly changed their minds and Dave was no longer a NASA employee at noon on Friday. As such Dave did not have a proper chance to say farewell to folks at NASA. Before he was CFO he was the NASA Chief of Staff. Dave is one of those people in government that most folks never hear of. He just did his job diligently without any arm waving and did it exceptionally well. Dave was absolutely vital to how NASA worked - especially when it worked well. Its too bad he was not able to have a proper send off. You done good, Dave.
"As the transition progresses, we have some initial assignments from the new administration. Erik Noble has been named White House Senior Advisor at NASA. Greg Autry, who was with the Agency Review Team, has been named White House Liaison. I know you will all join me in giving them a warm welcome to the NASA family and thanking them for becoming part of this great agency. There will be other new and familiar faces arriving at Headquarters, and we will communicate with you as often as possible to keep you apprised of those developments."
Trump team prepares dramatic cuts, The Hill
"The changes they propose are dramatic. The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations. Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump's team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years."
"For example, about half of the government's discretionary spending is on the military. Cutting all discretionary spending each year means cutting all funding for the military, which is both politically and rationally a nonstarter. The formulas for how much is spent on the non-discretionary spending can be adjusted, but Trump has pledged not to cut spending on the so-called "entitlement" programs."
Keith's note: Sources report that Chris Shank is headed to DOD as part of their Beachhead team and is not staying at NASA or returning to Capitol Hill. Shank's former NASA boss Mike Griffin recently met with Trump Transition Team members and has expressed an interest in being nominated to be Secretary of the Air Force. Shank served for more than a decade in the Air Force. Stay tuned.
Keith's 23 Jan update: Trump to nominate Heather Wilson as Air Force secretary, Reuters: "President Donald Trump will nominate former U.S. Representative Heather Wilson to become Air Force secretary, the White House said on Monday."
NASA "Beachhead Team" Taking Shape, Lightfoot Optimistic About NASA's Future, Space Policy Online
"Three landing team members who are rumored to be staying on are Greg Autry (as White House liaison), Rod Liesveld and Jeff Waksman. Two other names that have surfaced are Erik Noble, rumored to be the new White House advisor for NASA, and Brandon Eden. Noble is an atmospheric scientist who worked at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York from 2007-2013."
@NASAWatch Funny - I thought our first two years at NASA were our best years. Sorry Charlie didn't agree!— Lori Garver (@Lori_Garver) January 17, 2017
Keith's note: I managed to watch today's NASA Town Hall broadcast (internally) on NASA TV today. Here are my @NASAWatch tweets - in sequence.
- NASA Landing Team has asked #NASA CFO David Radzanowski to stay on to "help get them over the hump" According to Charlie Bolden
-Bolden "Dava and I are going to leave Dave [Radzanowski] here to take care of Robert [Lightfoot]" #NASA
- NASA internal Town Hall: Lightfoot: "We need to show that we can transition our agency and not miss a beat"
- Bolden gave @DavaExplorer the #NASA Distinguished Service Medal today
- Town Hall: Bolden talking about @DavaExplorer coming to the A Suite said "we did OK before - but she brought some pizazz" 1/2
- But Bolden made no mention of @LoriGarver and how she kept him out of trouble for 6 years 2/2
- Town Hall: Bolden: "My first two years were horrible. I thought I just sucked as the #NASA Administrator"
- Town Hall: Bolden: "To put it bluntly I wasn't comfortable."
- Town Hall: Bolden: "I still come to work each day scared about what is going to happen that day"
- Town Hall: Bolden: "We brought Mike French and David Weaver over. Mike French encouraged me to do my job."
- Town Hall: Bolden: "French - You're the NASA Administrator & do not have to sit back & just say yes. You can tell ppl what you want to do"
- Bolden presented the #NASA Distinguished Service Medal to Mike French today
- When asked at Town Hall if the new Administration will continue with SLS and used it to send humans to Mars Bolden said "yes".
- Bolden "When I came here in 2009 Constellation was a great idea - but it was an idea"
- Bolden "our entrepreneurial partners are really excited about what they are doing"
- Bolden "we have met those goals that we have established"
- Bolden tells NASA employees to "become thebest story teller that there is" in explaining to others what they do at #NASA
- Bolden: "if you take care of your people they will take care of you" #NASA
- Bolden: "Don't forget about the other people who make it possible for you to do what you do."
- Lightfoot noted that a kid sent him a Xmas card - sat next to him on a plane while Lightfoot showed him a #NASA powerpoint presentation
Keith's note: There are only 5 working days left before the Inauguration at which time the Transition Team ceases to exist. Of the 4 people that were supposed to be added to the NASA Landing Team to augment commercial space expertise, only one (Charles Miller) actually made it onto the NASA Landing Team. Brandon Eden never made it onto the team due to the fact that so many people outside of NASA thought he'd be a good addition - and that apparently bothered someone within Team Trump. This is something Eden should take as a compliment.
Alan Lindenmoyer and Alan Stern (both of whom also have actual expertise) have yet to be formally named to the NASA Landing Party and, given the short time remaining, are probably not going to be joining the efforts at NASA HQ. As such the additional visibility for commercial space issues in Landing Team activities was not as prominent as was hoped. But given the fact that Elon Musk has met with Team Trump twice (the second time with Gwynne Shotwell in attendance) should indicate that the interest in commercial space has not faded.
Sources at NASA HQ report that the Landing Team, under Chris Shank's leadership, has conducted itself in a pleasant, professional manner and that things are now starting to wrap up. Charlie Bolden and Dava Newman are keeping their farewell activities low key but they will be departing in a few days. The question remains: who will be running NASA? Even if NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator nominees were to be announced tomorrow it would likely be some time before they were confirmed. Speculation has been that Robert Lightfoot would be named acting Administrator
but no one seems to have heard that this is indeed going to happen. Update: Lightfoot will be acting NASA Administrator effective 20 January 2017 at noon ET.
As mentioned last week, an interim 120 day "Beachhead" team is being assembled that would likely include Chris Shank as Chief of staff. It would not be surprising to see current Landing Team members Rodney Liesveld or Jeff Waksman as part of this interim team. Note: people who show up on the 9th floor at NASA Headquarters for short term tasks often tend to stay a while.
Update from Today's internal NASA Town Hall: the NASA Landing Team has asked NASA CFO David Radzanowski to stay on to "help get them over the hump" According to Charlie Bolden.
US Rep. Jim Bridenstine has now made it perfectly clear to Trump Tower that he would be honored to become NASA administrator.— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) January 12, 2017
NASA Transition Binder, NASA HQ
"NASA's historic and enduring leadership and cutting edge roles for the nation fall within three major strategic thrusts: discovery, exploration, and development. NASA's activities make advances that contribute to fundamental national purposes and goals that align to the core focus areas of our Mission Directorates (Science, Human Exploration and Operations, Space Technology, and Aeronautics Research). In addition, the Agency has a number of activities and support areas, including those in its Mission Support Directorate that enable NASA's missions. NASA's strategic landscape continues to be characterized by six major elements: ..."
Keith's note: This 95.6 MB, 366 page PDF document even has an opening video and theme song.
Keith's note: Attention news media: Mike Griffin is scheduled to chair this AIAA session tomorrow in Texas. Also, former SMD AA Alan Stern has expressed interest to people in being considered for Trump's NASA Administrator as well.
What would NASA in the age of Trump look like?, Houston Chronicle
"I don't expect anything grand and dramatic about space for the next two or three years," said Keith Cowing, a longtime NASA observer - and sometimes critic - who oversees a pair of websites related to NASA and other space matters. "They have to figure out how to run the government first. I don't think there is a grand picture for NASA yet. It is the last thing they are thinking about." One thing very much on Trump's mind, apparently, is the promised gargantuan tax cut. Though it is hard to imagine even a Republican Congress agreeing to a $7 trillion-plus loss in revenue over the following decade, even a more modest plan could gut discretionary spending and the government agencies that rely on it - like NASA."
"The discussion was very thoughtful, very focused on good objectives and focused on science value," he said in an interview after the town hall meeting. "We were ready for that. Every division director was ready to talk about their programs that way." The landing team, he added, has received all the information they requested. [NASA's Science Mission Directorate AA Thomas] Zurbuchen said he had not been able to glean any information from the landing team about the incoming administration's plans. That included, he said, who it might nominate to be the next administrator of NASA, or when that might take place."
"Elon Musk, the billionaire president of SpaceX and Tesla, is meeting with Donald Trump's senior counselor and chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to the press pool. Musk was spotted walking into New York's Trump Tower on Friday a little before noon. There aren't many details about what the two will be talking about at this point. It's not the first time Musk, who has a role advising Trump as part of the President's Strategic and Policy Forum -- has come to Trump Tower to meet with members of the incoming administration. In December he was one of several big, big names in the tech industry, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon's Jeff Bezos, that met with the president-elect in a gather that led to, if nothing else, some awkward photographs."
Keith's note: Charles Miller has joined the NASA Landing Team. No word yet as to whether the conflict of interest checks for Alan Lindenmoyer and Alan Stern have been completed. Given that Steve Cook (who works for a SLS subcontractor) made it onto the team to work SLS issues, this should not be taking as long as it has. Then again the presence of these commercial add-ons to the NASA Landing Team was imposed upon NASA Landing Team leader Chris Shank by Trump Tower to correct an imbalance in team expertise so some foot dragging is to be expected.
Given the rapidly approaching Inauguration (the point at which all Transition Team activities halt) Chris Shank has been proposing a "Beachhead Team" that would start work at NASA on 20 January with himself as Chief of Staff. Shank's proposal is that his job and others on the Beachhead Team would only last for 120 days and that the new NASA Administrator would then pick their own permanent team. This of course assumes that a new NASA Administrator is named and that they get through the confirmation process within 120 days without hitting the traffic jam posed by some of the more controversial appointees that looms ahead. Based on prior experience, when "temporary" people arrive at the 9th floor at NASA headquarters, they tend to hang around for a long time.
Keith's note: Now you can have your own personal Trump Transition Team "tweet buddy". Bravo. How very Trump.
GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine Seen as Top Choice for NASA Chief, Wall Street Journal
"Boeing and other legacy contractors have rallied behind Doug Cooke, a former senior NASA official under President George W. Bush, people with knowledge of the situation say. Mr. Cooke is known as a critic of some commercial initiatives. Many of those serving on the formal NASA transition team share those views, while favoring greater emphasis on manned exploration missions to the moon and deeper into the solar system. The plans are largely built around NASA's proposed heavy lift rocket, dubbed the Space Launch System, and companion Orion capsule. By contrast, champions of commercial space interests, including supporters of billionaire Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Blue Origin LLC, a closely held rocket-making company run by Amazon.com Inc.'s founder and chairman Jeff Bezos, favor less federal direction and more public-private partnerships, people with knowledge of the situation say. They have pushed hard for Mr. Bridenstine as a likely change agent, and at this point seem to have the upper hand, the people added."
Why the Moon Matters, Rep. Bridenstine
"While most satellites are not currently powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, next generation satellite architectures could utilize the lunar propellant if low-cost in-orbit servicing were available. Commercial operators will follow if the United States leads with its own constellations. Such leadership would require a whole-of-government approach with the interagency support of the newly reconstituted National Space Council. The objective is a self-sustaining, cis-lunar economy, whereby government and commercial operators save money and maximize the utilization of space through lunar resources."
Keith's note: The NASA Landing Team resumes work tomorrow. Charles Millier should be joining the festivities. No word yet as to whether Alan Lindenmoyer and Alan Stern's conflict of interest background checks have been completed. These three were added at the direction of Trump Tower in response to concerns that commercial space was not getting an equal seat at the table. As such there is a lot of nuancing going on with this Landing Team. Indeed, the commercial space faction sees this this as an "away team" opportunity while the status quo factions sees it as a "boarding party".
Meanwhile, anyone who claims to have an idea what is going on in the confusing world behind the scenes of the still-embryonic TrumpSpace policy effort has an equal chance of being wrong - or right - or both. Andy Pasztor has had a tendency to get things confused on this story, so ... that said, were I to venture a guess as to where the selection might be headed I would agree that the commercial faction within Team TrumpSpace has the edge, and, unless he decides to go for USAF, the job is probably Bridenstine's to decline. There is no obvious second choice from the commercial faction should Bridenstine not be named NASA Administrator - so do not count out the Status Quo/SLS/Alabama crowd just yet.
A personal opinion, if I may: Doug Cooke and the other members of the Griffin Clan on the Trump Landing Team and NASA represent the past - old fashioned ways of thinking that requires decades, eschews innovation, is addicted to political favoritism, and needs ever-larger buckets of money to keep going. That is the last thing that NASA needs right now - more of the same - especially when discretionary spending has a big bullseye painted on it. Bridenstine himself may be short on management skills, but he has managed to attract an impressively large amount of support from across the commercial space sector - where innovation and cost effectiveness are pre-requisites - and good management is the key to profitability. Going with the old way of doing things will inevitably doom NASA to increasing irrelevance. Alas, there is no guarantee that moving U.S. space efforts in more of a commercial direction will solve all of NASA's problems - but it does at least offer a chance to try things that have worked elsewhere.
Trump met with historian Douglas Brinkley. Brinkley said afterwards Trump "was very interested in a man going to the moon," per pool report.— Alex Pappas (@AlexPappas) December 28, 2016
Trump 'very interested in a man going to the moon,' says historian, Washington Examiner
"A historian who met with Donald Trump says the president-elect was "very interested in a man going to the moon." Historian Douglas Brinkley met with Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Wednesday afternoon. Brinkley told reporters after the meeting his conversation with Trump focused on "Nixon and Reagan and Kennedy ... a sort of history of the presidency and past inaugurals and things like that." He also mentioned that Trump "was very interested in a man going to the moon and the moon shot so we were talking a little bit about that."
"Both men agree on one point: with NASA's limited funds, even before possible cuts under a Trump administration, the space agency can't do both. Sending astronauts to the Moon and establishing a colony would push human exploration of Mars into the second half of this century. Alternatively, making a direct push toward Mars would preclude any meaningful human exploration of the Moon. A choice must be made. For the last six years, NASA has continued developing a deep space capsule, Orion, as well as begun construction on a large new rocket, the Space Launch System, as the foundation of an exploration program. NASA has promoted a "Journey to Mars," but in reality the space agency has taken no definitive steps to preclude either a Moon or Mars pathway. That decision will have to be made soon. Within the next four years or so, the space agency must start designing and building specific hardware, for landing and living on either the Moon or Mars."
"Please join NASA's Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs in celebrating Seth's departure on a new journey. Thursday, January 12, 2017 4 - 7 p.m., Room 2E39, NASA Headquarters $15 suggested contribution RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org"
Keith's note: Best wishes, Seth, as you return to the real world ;-)
"Donald Trump on Wednesday convened more than half a dozen top military officers, including for a discussion about "trying to bring costs down" on the controversial F-35 fighter jet and other high-priced Pentagon projects."
"U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met on Wednesday with the chief executives of two major defense companies to pressure them to reduce project costs, part of his push to save taxpayer money on high-profile contracts. ... "Trying to get the costs down, costs. Primarily the (Lockheed Martin) F-35, we're trying to get the cost down. It's a program that's very, very expensive," Trump told reporters after meeting with the CEOs and a dozen Pentagon officials involved with defense acquisition programs who he said were "good negotiators." ... Trump has said Boeing's costs to build replacements for Air Force One planes - one of the most visible symbols of the U.S. presidency - are too high and urged the federal government in a tweet to "Cancel order!"
Keith's note: I wonder what Trump's reaction will be when his Transition Team tells him about costs/delays in the Boeing/Lockheed Martin SLS/Orion program. WIll he haul the CEOs back in for another deal making session?
Keith's 16 December note: The Trump Landing Team will be halting work at NASA Headquarters in a few days and then coming back after New Year's. As such, I doubt that there will be any movement from Trump Tower in terms of naming an Administrator.
Then again there may be a few interesting developments prior to the Landing Team's vacation ...
Keith's 17 December update: Sources report that Brandon Eden, Alan Stern, Charles Miller are among new appointees submitted to join the Trump Landing Team at NASA for an increased focus on commercial space. There is a possible fourth new member as well. Stay tuned.
Keith's 20 December update: Sources report that Alan Lindenmoyer, former manager of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program, is also on the list of people to be added to the NASA Landing Team. Meanwhile it looks like Brandon Eden will not be on the Landing Team which is unfortunate given his familiarity with commercial space from his days working for Rep. McCarthy. Meanwhile, the SLS materials being assembled for the Landing Team are being advised by purported NASA Administrator possibility Doug Cooke (who has worked for years as a Boeing consultant) - who is not actually on the Landing Team. But wait, there's more: at least one of the NASA Landing Team wants to try to become NASA Administrator - because, well ... this is NASA Administrator Apprentice after all.
"Last Thursday, word began to trickle out about new appointments to the transition team with a decidedly commercial bent. Reports of the new transition team members first appeared in NASA Watch, and the Wall Street Journal confirmed them Monday. Ars understands that not all of the appointments are final, and Shank has resisted the new direction. "It will be interesting to see how Trump Tower handles the product of the Shank team versus the new team," one source told Ars."
"Climate data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been politically vulnerable. When Tom Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information, and his colleagues published a study in 2015 seeking to challenge the idea that there had been a global warming "slowdown" or "pause" during the 2000s, they relied, in significant part, on updates to NOAA's ocean temperature data set, saying the data "do not support the notion of a global warming 'hiatus.'" In response, the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee chair, Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.), tried to subpoena the scientists and their records."
Keith's note: Lamar Smith's policy director throughout this period of subpoenas was Chris Shank who currently leads the Trump Transition Team effort at NASA.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine: Why Trump Won, Frontpage Magazine
"And then who was campaigning for Donald Trump? Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And I got so frustrated. By then Hillary Clinton also had Al Gore and all these others, and I got so frustrated I sent a tweet. Ha! And it got a lot of attention. And in the tweet I said: "Given the stakes of this election if Paul Ryan is not for Donald Trump then I am not for Paul Ryan." It is true that Donald Trump has not been in the political arena nor has he been in the politically correct arena. He lives in a quite frankly vulgar industry - the entertainment industry. And I will also tell you that he reflects that."
Keith's note: Bridenstine has been spending a fair amount of time on space policy over his first two terms and many of the things he has talked about resonate with positions taken by Trump advisors Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker. The Trump cabinet nominees announced thus far run the range from prior supporter to prior opponents. And most of them have no government and/or agency-related subject matter experience. In this case Bridenstine was loyal when it counted- even if he's not exactly complementary now (as quoted). But he has been eager to learn and try new things (it would seem). So ... comments like this may hurt and/or help Bridenstine in his quest for the NASA (USAF) job. Who knows. But he does appreciate what Twitter can do. Welcome to NASA Administrator Apprentice.
Sen. Jeff Sessions Exerts Wide Influence Over Trump Space Plans, Wall Street Journal
"One sign of the influence Mr. Sessions has with the president-elect is that job seekers actively seek his support. Three former astronauts, including retired Air Force Lt. General Thomas Stafford, who was the head of NASA's astronaut corps and later was instrumental in development of the B-2 Stealth bomber, have urged the Alabama lawmaker to support [Doug] Cooke's bid to head NASA."
More False Memories About the Origin (and Cost) of SLS, earlier post
"This op ed piece also appeared in The Hill last week. Oddly the same exact words in the Mike Griffin/Dan Dumbacher op ed in the Huntsville times ("Contrary to some suggestions, the SLS will be very competitive with the advertised price of commercial U.S. systems - on the order of $4.5 million per ton of payload.") are to be found in an op ed "U.S. will keep lead in space with NASA's launch system" that appeared several days ago in the Orlando Sentinel - but this op ed has Doug Cooke and Steve Cook as the authors. If you read the Huntsville Times and Orlando Sentinel op eds side by side you will see that they were clearly written by the same people. Once again the Ares V mafia is mounting a PR effort to convince everyone that they were right all along."
Keith's note: Steve Cook is on the NASA Landing Team headed by Griffin loyalist Chris Shank. And lest we forget, Mike Griffin is still trying to worm his way back into NASA. Although I cannot find any indication that Griffin ever publicly endorsed Trump (I can't find any evidence that Doug Cooke did either) Mike Griffin did make a $500 political contribution - but to Jeb Bush.
Together Cooke, Cook, Shank, and Griffin represent the self-proclaimed "Band of Brothers" that originally gave us the Ares 1/Ares V cost/schedule nightmares - with the cancelled Ares V reborn as the new cost/schedule nightmare SLS. Haven't we seen this movie before?
"Donald Trump's transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation's carbon output. The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and "which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan." ... Thousands of scientists have signed petitions calling on the president-elect and his team to respect scientific integrity and refrain from singling out individual researchers whose work might conflict with the new administration's policy goals. This potential clash could prompt a major schism within the federal government, with many career officials waging a battle against incoming political appointees."
Will Trump Scrap NASA's Climate Research Mission?, Pro Publica
"But with the election of Donald Trump, there was immediate concern -- inside NASA and among the fans of its valued work on global warming -- about the future of the agency's earth-science program. Within hours of Trump's acceptance speech on Nov. 9, an internal email from a senior official in the Earth Sciences division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center circulated within NASA acknowledging worry that "funding may now be exposed to severe reductions." The last month is not apt to have eased that alarm. How does an astrobiologist react when advisors to the president-elect propose cutting funding to earth studies? Trump's most visible advisor on space policy has been Bob Walker, a former House Science committee chairman who is now a space-policy lobbyist pressing to move "Earth-centric" and "heavily politicized" climate science out of NASA altogether. And Christopher Shank, who was chosen by Trump to lead the transition at NASA, is a seasoned strategist who has expressed strong skepticism about the severity of global warming."
Keith's note: There are a number of Federal agencies involved in Earth and climate science - DOE, DOI, NOAA, NSF - and NASA. Given that the DOE Trump Landing Team is trying to find out which DOE employees are involved in climate research - and that Trump transition team advisor Bob Walker has been very specific about moving "Earth centric" programs (e.g. climate research) to another agency - one would expect that the NASA Trump Landing Team is going to be asking similar questions at NASA. Stay tuned.
Keith's update: Energy Dept refuses to name staffers who worked on climate for Trump transition, The Hill
"The Department of Energy said Tuesday it will reject the request by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team to name staffers who worked on climate change programs. Energy spokesman Eben Burnhan-Snyder said the agency received "significant feedback" from workers regarding a questionnaire from the transition team that leaked last week. "Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled," Snyder said. The survey for department leadership included more than 70 questions regarding what the agency does, its workforce, costs, professional affiliations and more."
Keith's note: I wonder what will happen if/when Trump notices the cost overruns and delays for the SLS program and the contractors who build it?
- Greg Autry - Employer (current or most recent): University of Southern California, Funding source: Volunteer
- Jack Burns - Employer (current or most recent): University of Colorado, Funding source: Volunteer
- Steve Cook - Employer (current or most recent): Dynetics, Inc., Funding source: Private
- Rodney Liesveld - Employer (current or most recent): National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Retired), Funding source: Volunteer
- Sandra Magnus - Employer (current or most recent): The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Funding source: Volunteer
- Jeff Waksman - Employer (current or most recent): U.S. House of Representatives (Formerly), Funding source: Volunteer
Keith's note: This is the "disturbance in the Force" that I was referring to the other day. Rodney Liesveld is a pal of Chris Shank's from Mike Griffin's time at NASA. Steve Cook was one of Griffin's confidants. Sandy Magnus has long-standing ties with Griffin via their positions at AIAA. The presence of Shank, Cook, Liesveld, and Magnus is further proof that Mike Griffin is lurking in the distance plotting a return to NASA. This is more of a Griffin "Boarding Party" than a "Landing Team".
Adding Jack Burns, an overt lunar exploration advocate, indicates that a pivot from #JourneyToMars toward #BackToTheMoon is in the cards.
Meanwhile Rep. Jim Bridenstine is still very much in the running according to sources.
Some additional insight into the Trump Administration's space policy was revealed today in Washington DC. Meeting at the Cosmos Club, attendees at the 11th Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law heard from a number of speakers including former Congressman Bob Walker, who is advising the Trump Transition Team, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) who has been conducting a behind-the-scenes effort to become the next administrator of NASA.
"For Air Force secretary, sources said Trump is considering Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), who has also been mentioned as a potential administrator for NASA. He also met with Trump's team on Monday. Hunter and Bridenstine were among the earliest and staunchest supporters of Trump in the House of Representatives."
"The Air Force earmarked $1.65 billion between 2015 and 2019 to develop two replacement jets, and said it may acquire up to three. However, it hasn't detailed the expected cost or delivery dates for building the planes as talks continue with Boeing, the White House and the Secret Service. "The statistics that have been cited [by Mr. Trump], shall we say, don't appear to reflect the nature of the financial arrangement between Boeing and the Department of Defense," said Obama White House spokesman Josh Earnest."
"As it turns out, though, the Trump tweet may not have been unprompted. CNN's Jake Tapper noted on Twitter that shortly before the tweet (which was posted at 8:52 a.m. Eastern) the Chicago Tribune posted an interview with the company's CEO, Dennis Muilenberg. "Anyone who paid attention to the recent campaigns and the election results realizes that one of the overarching themes was apprehension about free and fair trade," Muilenberg told the Tribune's Robert Reed. Fair trade has helped Boeing, which prides itself on being America's largest manufacturing exporter."
Trump sold all shares in companies in June, spokesman says, Washington Post
"Miller, the Trump spokesman, told The Post about Trump's stock sale Tuesday morning, following Trump's criticism of aviation giant Boeing. Trump reported owning between $50,000 and $100,000 of Boeing stock in the May filing. In the three years between Trump's original tweet about buying Boeing stock and June 2016, Boeing's share price climbed about 70 percent."
Keith's note: I just got back from the Aerospace Industries Association annual media luncheon in Washington EDC. There was a lot of nervous laughter about this news which was breaking just as well all arrived at the hotel. I am wondering what might happen if/when SLS/Orion cost increases and chronic delay - and the commercial alternatives - comes to Trump's attention. There are hints that this might be an issue in the op eds written by on-again off-again Trump advisor Bob Walker.
Will Trump go to Mars? Nasa's nervous wait, The Guardian
"The space policies were not very different. People would joke that you could take an editorial by a Republican space person, change a couple of words here and there and then put Clinton's name on it. We were all assuming that Clinton would win. I knew who the people were that would show up at Nasa the next day to begin the transition process," says Keith Cowing, a former Nasa employee who now edits Nasawatch.com. Then, of course, Trump won. At first it seemed no big deal, but then surprising events started to unfold. A day or two after the election, none of the expected Republican advisers were named as part of the Trump transition team for space. "They were either thrown off because they were lobbyists or had decided that they did not want to be involved," says Cowing, who has been reporting on Nasa from Washington DC for 20 years. "Suddenly it went from what seemed to be clarity to complete mystery."
Keith's note: Is this overt citation by the House Science Committee of a story on Breitbart, the former employer of President Elect Trump's policy advisor, a preview of coming actions on NASA's Earth science research? Oh yes, the committee's policy director is on the Transition Team for NASA. Then again, the committee also overtly referenced NASAWatch in its letter to NASA on ARM the other day ;-)
Keith's update: But wait: there's more - House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith also writes for Breitbart too: Rep. Lamar Smith: Amnesty Costs Workers and Taxpayers.
Trump's First 100 Days: Space, Scientific American
"What is certain, [Bob] Walker says, is that Trump's "space policy doesn't contemplate any real increases in NASA's spending.", It will likely have to accomplish all that it is being asked to do now and in the future without significant boosts to its bottom line, and with the distinct possibility of deep budget cuts. And that, more than anything else, could be very bad news for the space agency and its programs."
"As the incoming Administration evaluates ARM, it would benefit from clear guidance from both NASA and its advisory bodies. Similarly, it should be unencumbered by decisions made in the twilight of this Administration's term. Contrary to the assertions made in the press release, numerous advisory bodies have questioned the merits of the President's ARM mission. The NASA Advisory Council, the Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), and the National Research Council have all raised concerns with the mission since its proposal by the Administration," the letter states."
- NASA Boulder Retrieval Briefings: Look But Don't Touch, earlier post (this congressional letter cites this NASAWatch post as one of its references).
- NASA's Boulder Retrieval Mission, earlier post
"National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Employer (current or most recent): U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (Retired)
Funding source: Volunteer"
Keith's note: Chris Shank is policy director for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and Deputy Chief of Staff for Committee chair Lamar Smith. Prior to that he worked at NASA as part of Mike Griffin's so-called "Band of Brothers" as Director of Strategic Investments and Chief of Strategic Communications. It would not necessarily be incorrect to look at what the House Science Committee has been doing over the past few years (Pro-Constellation, Pro-SLS, Anti-ARM, lukewarm on commercial space, preference for going back to the Moon, Earth science skepticism, subpoenas to NOAA and EPA over climate and environmental issues) to get an understanding of Shank's possible stance on space issues. That said, Chris certainly understands space.
Also, Mark Albrecht, once thought by many to be part of NASA's transition team, is listed as one of the Department of Defense Landing Team members.
A transition vet offers tips to Trump's NASA transition team, Courtney Stadd, SpaceNews
"You will also be subject to many rumors. Information is power in D.C. Any tidbit of information, no matter how trivial, is worth something to the consultants, lobbyists, journalists, bloggers, and self-appointed social media space policy mavens who are constantly trying to demonstrate their inside knowledge. And many people with an interest in the issues within your portfolio are not beyond greatly exaggerating their level of access. I've lived and worked in the nation's capital for 40 years and can attest to the hypocrisy that has always been a growth industry within the Beltway. But I have to say that in the wake of this election, I have never seen anything like the hypocrisy among the political class. The very people who disdained Donald Trump on the Monday before the election were currying for political favor within 24 hours of Hillary Clinton's concession phone call. By now, I am sure you have discovered many "friends" you never knew existed the day before the election."
"NASA should be focused primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies."
"Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as "politically correct environmental monitoring". "We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research," Walker told the Guardian. "Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission. "My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump's decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science."
"At one point, Clinton said, "Donald Trump says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese." Did he? Yes, though he later said it was a joke. The original source of this claim was a tweet Trump sent on Nov. 6, 2012, as we noted in a January 2016 fact-check of a similar claim by Clinton's Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders."
"President-elect Donald Trump conceded Tuesday there is "some connectivity" between human activity and climate change and wavered on whether he would pull the United States out of international accords aimed at combating the phenomenon, which scientists overwhelmingly agree is caused by human activity."
Keith's note: Last week a number of articles appeared with the startling (at least to the authors) news that President Trump was going to cut all of NASA's Earth science programs. The authors based this arm waving on quotes in the Guardian by on-again/off-again/on-again Trump transition team advisor Bob Walker. This is not the first time Walker has said something like this. Back in the middle of October, in a Space News op ed, Walker made similar comments. Other than these two comments by Walker we have little else to go on except some off-handed, indecisive quotes from Trump himself on climate change. So - will Trump gut NASA space science? We only have some hints from someone who may or may not actual know what Trump is going to do. If Trump does take a run at NASA's Earth science programs he'll have allies such as Sen. Ted Cruz and House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith who have been going after climate-based research funding for years. Then again, Trump may find himself consumed by far more pressing issues. We won't know until a Trump space policy emerges and a Trump team is installed on the 9th floor at NASA Headquarters.
"Coming soon are a greater number of more capable anti-missile interceptors and radars deployed around the globe - on land, at sea and possibly in space, say these legislators and experts, several of whom have consulted with President-elect Donald Trump's advisers. ...Trump's thoughts on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect's other defense proposals, such as growing the Army and building more warships. As a candidate, Trump said little on the subject."
Keith's note: I'm sure that all of the experts mentioned in this article know how these systems work and are talking to people who talk to people who might talk to Trump's people. But at the present time there is no Trump space policy. So, at best, this is all semi-informed speculation. But, given other rhetoric associated with those lawmakers who will be asking questions at future hearings, it is not idle speculation to expect that more of a focus on overt weaponry in space may be on the horizon.
Big change on the horizon for NASA under Trump, Lori Garver, The Hill
"NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden's perceived lack of enthusiastic support of the White House agenda gave an opening to the opposition. Without a willingness to take on these special interests, the administration made a Faustian bargain to secure congressional support for Earth sciences, technology and commercial crew, in exchange for support of developing a large expendable rocket (the Space Launch System or SLS) and deep space capsule (Orion) for human spaceflight. While these parochial interests still exist, a Trump White House has the opportunity to more effectively defend its own agenda. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), one the president-elect's most senior advisers, understands space issues and is a strong believer in commercial space development as the goal of space settlement. Former Congressman Robert Walker (R-Pa.) and former National Space Council executive director Mark Albrecht share many of Gingrich's views on the NASA bureaucracy and goals for NASA. Neither Albrecht nor Walker appear to be anxious to return to government service, but will certainly select a like-minded administrator."
NASA Under Trump, Planetary Society
"Of the $1 trillion of "discretionary" spending, more than half is spent on national defense. Everything else the government does - scientific research, border control, education, environmental protection, federal judges, infrastructure, NASA - comes from this non-defense discretionary amount. This has also been targeted for wholesale cuts by the Trump campaign in order to help pay for their large tax cut. These cuts, along with the reinstitution of the sequester (across-the-board cuts to all federal agencies), would collapse non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest point in modern history. This budgetary scenario potentially spells doom for NASA and its ambitions. The congressional subcommittee responsible for NASA - Commerce, Justice, and Science - is also responsible for the NSF, NOAA, the FBI, the Justice Department, and Commerce Department, and the Census, among others."
"President-elect Donald Trump's advisers say they want to rely more on commercial ventures to pioneer the space frontier - but some of those ventures' high-profile backers aren't exactly in line with other parts of Trump's policy agenda. For example, SpaceX's billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, sees climate change as the biggest challenge facing humanity on Earth and has said a tax on carbon emissions is as necessary as garbage collection fees. In contrast, Trump has said concerns about climate change are a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, and has vowed to "cancel" U.S. participation in the recently established Paris climate pact. (The Chinese say they're trying to set Trump straight on that point.) Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, who founded Blue Origin to send passengers and payloads into space, is also the owner of The Washington Post. The Post, Amazon and Bezos were all caught up in Trump's ire during the campaign. On the flip side of the issue, there's at least one space billionaire who can hardly wait for Trump to get into office: Robert Bigelow, the founder of Bigelow Aerospace."
"In the early 1990s, he and [Julia] Jones, a screenwriter, struck up a conversation in a restaurant and decided to try their hand at adapting Bannon's idea for a version of Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" set in space. That script went nowhere, but the two went on to work on dozens of film and television projects together."
Titus Andronicus, Wikipedia
"Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593, probably in collaboration with George Peele. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy, and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were extremely popular with audiences throughout the 16th century."
"Probably the leading contender among the outsiders is a US Republican Representative from Oklahoma, Jim Bridenstine, who since being elected to Congress has quickly become a darling of the commercial space industry. ... Not only does [Scott] Pace presently work at a university in the nation's capital, he has also served George W. Bush on space policy and was 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney's chief space adviser."
Keith's note: FWIW the rumors here in DC suggest that Mike Griffin is looking for a position in the defense sphere. Mark Albrecht says that he's not interested in going back to government, Bob Walker notes that his lobbyist stance makes him (probably) ineligible, and Eileen Collins annoyed the Trump people when she suddenly backed out of the endorsement that they thought they were going to get.
If I were betting on horses it would be Bridenstine and Pace. Pace worked at NASA Headquarters for a number of years and has experience in the running of a large government agency with tens of thousands of employees and a multi-billion dollar budget. Bridenstine ran a small air & space museum and now has Potomac Fever and wants to stay in Washington when his self-imposed term limit expires. Pace is measured and deliberate with a deep understanding of space policy whereas Bridenstine is all fired up and motivated to enable change in the way that we explore and utilize space. It would be nice (for once) for a President to pick someone to run NASA with actual experience in running big things. It would also be nice to have an energetic advocate for space promoting NASA's efforts to a broadening audience.
Alas, as that song at Trump rallies often reminded us "you can't always get what you want". Stay tuned.
"As many of you know, we are ready to support the presidential transition activities. NASA has a team and a process in place to ensure a smooth transition of our agency. Tom Cremins, NASA Transition Official, and Jolene Meidinger, NASA Transition Coordinator, have been leading the NASA Transition Team (NTT) in their readiness to provide the incoming administration with the information it needs about NASA's important work. The President-Elect Transition Team (PETT) has indicated that NASA will not be receiving an Agency Review Team (ART) at this time. NASA, as all federal agencies, stands ready to support the PETT at a future date."
"Election Day was eight days ago, but Donald Trump's transition team has yet to contact the Pentagon, State Department or other federal agencies. And a move to purge some transition advisers and employees has further slowed the process of getting the incoming administration off the blocks ... Trump's team will announce the first teams -- for the Justice Department and national security agencies -- Thursday, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday night. Economic and domestic policy teams will be announced next week. But it was not immediately when those officials will actually arrive at agencies in Washington. The White House was still waiting Wednesday night on names from the transition of the individuals who will form the landing teams."
Sources report Robert Walker says he isn't going to be involved in Trump transition team activities nor is he going to be an appointee #NASA— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) November 16, 2016
Robert Walker, Wexler Walker
"A major space publication, Space News, attested to his effectiveness saying, "One of Washington's most influential lobbyists" whose "stature and influence have only grown since leaving Congress."
"Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a former Navy pilot who is one of Congress's leading space exploration advocates, has had informal conversations with the Trump campaign about serving as NASA administrator or secretary of the Air Force, according to an official close to the congressman who is not authorized to speak publicly."
Keith's note: Since I broke this story last week quite a number of people have noted that it is somewhat ironic that Bridenstine wants a job that is decided by the White House when legislation he offered (H.R. 4945 the American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA)) sought to strip the ability of the White House to appoint or manage the activities of the NASA Administrator. Since Bridenstine is self term-limiting, word has it that he wishes to stay in the Washington area and is looking for something that will last longer than the 2 years of his last term. However, he lacks any experience managing an organization with thousands of employees and a budget in the billions - but that's not unusual for a NASA administrator nominee. Also, FWIW self-promoting for jobs like this is usually not the best way to get them. Then again, this year the rules do not seem to apply, so who knows? Either way Bridenstine has certainly put in a lot of time on this topic since he arrived (see spacerenaissanceact.com) and has solid climate denial credentials - both of which should help. Oh yes, in case you want to lend your support, the staffer in Bridenstine's office who seems to be working on generating buzz on this is Christopher Ingraham @cwingraham
Cape Canaveral reverberated with the effects of politics this week. One of the Republican candidates for Florida governor stumped around the area as space contractor giant United Space Alliance (USA) laid off another 900 employees.
This however did not dissuade Kennedy Space Center Director from predicting a bright future for the space center.
This week at Cape Canaveral saw the red, white and blue honored by one of the most historic of American traditions. It also saw local leaders both working to improve the economic future of the Space Coast region and acknowledging the benefits of the shuttle era extending into another year.
Cape Canaveral was in the spotlight this week both domestically and internationally. At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex a grant was unveiled designed to help space workers find work after the end of the shuttle program. An international team visited Kennedy Space Center and expressed their interest in joining the U.S. in future efforts to explore the solar system. To wrap up the week several veteran space flyers were inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Oh, and how about SpaceX, Falcon 9 lifts off on maiden voyage.
The Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) area was a hive of activity this week. The space shuttle Atlantis roared off the launch pad on its final mission, STS-132. Over at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex it was announced that the final frontier will beam down in the form of a live stage show. It was also revealed this week that come this September, Brevard County in general and KSC in particular will be playing host to robots in disguise!
This past week at Cape Canaveral saw the passing of a space legend, the build up to one of the final shuttle launches and efforts to stem the flow of highly-technical space jobs away from the area.
It also saw private space company SpaceX striving to meet the launch criteria for its Falcon 9 rocket.
"Overall, most agencies scored at 70 percent of total points or higher. Fewer than half of all agencies received 80 percent or higher. The top three agencies, which scored above 100 percent, were the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It should be noted that no agency achieved 100 percent compliance with the OGD criteria, as can be seen in the agencies' basic scores (scores that did not include any bonus points). Those agencies that scored over 100 percent overcame minor point deductions by earning bonus points."
Open Government Plans Evaluations Available -- Find Wide Variations in Plans, OpenThe Government
"No plan fulfilled all of the requirements of the OGD, but eight agencies created plans that stand out for their overall strength: NASA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Department of Labor(DOL). Of the top tier plans, NASA, HUD and EPA stand out for presenting model plans."
Nick Lampson "still in the running for NASA top job", Orlando Sentinel
"It seems the reports about former Democratic congressman Nick Lampson's demise as a contender for the NASA administrator's job have been greatly exaggerated. A person extremely close to Lampson has told the Orlando Sentinel that the Houston Chronicle misinterpreted remarks by the former Houston representative about being ready to "move on" with his life as meaning he was not interested in the NASA job. "Nick Lampson is still in the running despite earlier reports from the Houston Chronicle," the person, who is very familiar with the situation, said."
"Speaking this morning with ScienceInsider, Holdren discussed why he thinks the United States doesn't need new nuclear weapons. He warned of likely delays beyond 2015 in replacing the space shuttle and the possibility that China would launch U.S. astronauts during the interim."
"[Holdren] said the Bush administration's plan to return astronauts to the moon was underfunded so money was taken from science and aeronautics. Those areas, including climate change research, were "decimated," he said. The administration will "rebalance NASA's programs so that we have in space exploration, a suitable mix of manned activities and robotic activities," Holdren said. Doing that "will only get under way in earnest when a new administrator is in place." Holdren, who advises the president on such decisions, said he hopes Obama will pick a new NASA boss soon."
"Do we know when that is going to happen? I certainly hope we have a new [NASA] administrator in place in the next month that is a hope, and not a prediction."
"Not all experts are troubled about the agency's fate in the interim. Former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, who preceded Griffin, told FOXNews.com that Scolese is an "extraordinarily competent guy" who has a deep knowledge of engineering and of the "pulse and the rhythm of the agency." "He's got it -- he's going to be in fine shape," said O'Keefe. "It's not like the wheels are going to come off the cart."
We think: NASA needs a leader, opinion, Orlando Sentinel
"With the federal government now borrowing trillions of dollars to prop up the economy, it's understandable that Mr. Obama would weigh carefully the value for taxpayers in every federal program. But if big changes are coming in the space program, the price of delaying them, in money and time, could be steep. If the Obama administration intends to switch rocket designs for Constellation, for example, it should cut off work on Ares as soon as possible."
Whither NASA?, Achenblog, Washington Post
"Here's a name to add to the NASA Administrator-to-be Rumor Mill: Rep. Bart Gordon, head of a House science committee that oversees NASA. I asked him the other day if he was going to be administrator, and he said he already has the best job in the world and isn't going to trade it in for another. But I'd still keep his name on the list. He didn't outright deny that he might be the next boss on the ninth floor at NASA headquarters."
Ex-Rep. Lampson not headed to top NASA job, Houston Chronicle
"Former Rep. Nick Lampson said Tuesday he is no longer a contender for the $177,000-a-year NASA administrator post. The Stafford Democrat, who lost his seat in a predominantly Republican district in southeastern Texas last fall, told the Houston Chronicle that White House officials had "not made any kind of offer" after approaching him about the post. "I understand this (selection) is not easy. It is a slow, deliberate process," Lampson said in a telephone interview. "But at the same time, I feel comfortable in moving on with my life. That is what I've done."
NASA Awaits Word on Where It Is Going Next, Washington Post
"The Obama White House has twice been on the verge of making a formal nomination for a new head of the space agency but has pulled back both times because of grumbling from members of Congress with influence over space policy. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has lobbied openly for the nomination of Marine Gen. Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, but the White House has not seemed eager to oblige the senator. "I am frustrated, because I don't know what the delay is," Nelson said recently."
NASA still has room at top, Huntsville Times
"It's become almost a running joke within" the space community, said Keith Cowing, who runs the NASA watchdog Web site NASAWatch.com and monitors aerospace issues daily on Capitol Hill. "There's been all sorts of names floated and re-floated. It's really anybody's guess almost at this point. "But there have been some front-runner names out there recently that may have gained some traction."
"However, Pelosi did have good things to say about former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, the Texas Democrat who once represented the Johnson Space Center area and has been mentioned as a candidate to become the next NASA chief under Obama. "I think he is a great person for it. I really know Nick Lampson. I think he would be fantastic," she said. "He was a champion for NASA."
"KFDM News spoke with Lampson by telephone Thursday morning. He told us he hasn't been contacted by the Obama administration nor spoken with anyone in the administration about the NASA post. "They are keeping it real close to the vest," said Lampson. I don't know anything about it. I'd be flattered if I were asked. I'd certainly give it consideration. I'd be honored to serve if I'm asked."
Editor's note: Two names to watch in the coming days: Charles Bolden and Nick Lampson. Lampson reportedly had a meeting with Rahm Emanuel in the past few days, and I saw Bolden in Washington on the Hill last week at a NSBRI event. Stay tuned.
Editor's update: Nick Lampson is Twittering. Quick, everyone follow him and DM him about NASA ... meanwhile. Administration sources suggest that it is unlikely that any movement will occur on the NASA front until well after the President and his staff get back from their trip. So cool your thrusters, folks.
"THE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously we're really proud about the extraordinary work that our American astronauts are doing. You are representative of the dedication and sense of adventure and discovery that we're so proud of. But one of the things that's wonderful about this is that it is an international space station. And I know that we have our Japanese and Russian counterparts on board, as well. We'd love to say hello to them -- and hope that this is an example of the kind of spirit of cooperation that we can apply not just in space but here on the ground, as well."
Editor's note: President Obama called the shuttle and ISS crews this morning at 9:49 a.m. EDT. The President was joined by Acting NASA Administrator Scolese, members of Congress, and children from local schools.
Video (via Collectspace.com) Below
Who Will Serve as NASA Administrator?, Washington Post
"President Obama will speak with Shuttle Discovery astronauts today as they wrap up a series of spacewalks high above. But they still don't have a boss back here on Earth. "I will soon be appointing a new NASA director," Obama recently told a group of reporters from regional newspapers. "I think it's important for the long term vibrancy of our space program to think through what NASA's core mission is, and what the next great adventures and discoveries are under the NASA banner." Two weeks since that statement however, there's still no NASA chief and two candidates once believed to be finalists have been tapped for other government jobs: Steve Isakowitz was reappointed chief financial officer at the Energy Department and retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration will serve as a special envoy to Sudan."
Next NASA chief remains a subject of speculation and rumors, Orlando Sentinel
"Whatever the case, insiders say that Obama is unlikely toname anybody to the job before next month, despite urging byFlorida legislators that hepick somebody for thepost soon."
Who is Scott Gration? , The New Republic
"But there are also a few reasons for Darfur interventionists to worry. Significantly, Gration originally had his heart set on running NASA. Obama tried to put him there until defense lobbyists scotched the idea. This raises questions about whether this new assignment is an afterthought for both Gration and the administration. If Obama sees the Darfur envoy simply as a patronage job for loyal supporters--like the multilateral affairs job that went to Power--then he may not be that ambitious about Darfur."
"President Obama also made the following announcement today: Steve Isakowitz, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Energy - Steve Isakowitz was sworn in June 1, 2007 as Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Energy after being unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate."
Editor's note: Now that Steve Isakowitz has been shot down by Sen. Nelson, and Scott Gration is headed to Africa, a new name has started to circulate inside the Obama Administration as a possible NASA Administrator: Mae Jemison. Dr. Jemison is a former astronaut who flew on STS-47 in 1992. Jemison went to college with Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Obama. Jemison has been present at some initial Administration planning activities when Jarrett was in attendance. Stay tuned.
Marking Womens History, an Accomplished Troupe, Washington Post
"First Lady Michelle Obama will celebrate Womens History Month on Thursday by bringing a star-studded group of female actors, singers and others to visit 11 schools in the Washington area. .. Mae C. Jemison, a former astronaut, will also meet with students."
Florida lawmakers urge Obama to name new NASA chief, Orlando Sentinel
"Two Space Coast lawmakers today urged the Obama administration to quickly pick a new NASA chief as the agency "faces numerous time-sensitive challenges and needs decisive leadership," according to a letter signed by U.S. Reps. Suzanne Kosmas and Bill Posey. Most pressing is the fate of NASA's human spaceflight program. The space shuttle is set for a 2010 retirement, but its replacement is not scheduled to fly before 2015 at the earliest -- which likely would leave thousands of Kennedy Space Center workers without jobs."
[Photo] "First lady Michelle Obama, left, hugs former NASA Astronaut Mae C. Jemison, right, as she welcomes guests to the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 19, 2009, as she hosted a series of events in celebration of Women's History Month."
"A senior administration official says President Barack Obama has chosen retired Air Force Gen. J. Scott Gration to be a special envoy to war-wracked Sudan. Gration is a close personal friend of Obama and has considerable experience on African issues.
The administration official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Gration is the pick of both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The announcement was being made Wednesday."
Editor's note: Well, it certainly seems that Sen. Nelson is of the mind that he is going to decide who is - or rather - who is not the next NASA Administrator. It should be no secret by now that Nelson would like to see former astronaut Charles Bolden nominated. Widely regarded as a sterling individual, few people dislike Bolden or question his capabilities.
However, the White House seems to have other ideas as to who they'd like to nominate. Nelson made it quite clear that he did not want Scott Gration to be the nominee due to a lack of space experience. Now, Nelson has made it clear that he does not want to see Steve Isakowitz as the nominee either and has taken active steps to block Isakowitz's name from moving forward.
It would seem that Nelson's prime, personal criteria for picking a NASA administrator is staunch support for human space flight - and keeping the shuttle flying as long as possible (thus reducing job loss in Florida). Alas, there are are other things besides human space flight on NASA's agenda.
This is starting to get silly - and is becoming counterproductive so far as NASA's best interests are concerned. It is time for Sen. Nelson to stop being selfish and allow the remaining members of the Senate to have some say in this matter - and to let the White House actually nominate someone to run NASA - someone who can run the agency for the entire nation, not just Florida.
Bill Nelson and Co. take down Obama's NASA frontrunner , Orlando Sentinel
"Nelson and other NASA boosters did not like Isakowitzs reputation as a tough fiscal manager. Nelson aides blamed Isakowitz for helping kill a repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope -- a decision that was later reversed under former NASA chief Mike Griffin -- and they worry that he would not be a strong supporter of human spaceflight. Manned spaceflight is vital for KSC, which launches the space shuttle and would be in charge of preparing its replacement for missions."
Obama calls NASA an agency 'adrift' and in need of new mission, Orlando Sentinel
"OBAMA: ... I will soon be appointing a new NASA director. I think it's important for the long term vibrancy of our space program to think through what NASA's core mission is and what the next great adventures and discoveries are under the NASA banner. The space shuttle program has yielded some extraordinary scientific discoveries, but I think it's fair to say that there's been a sense of drift to our space program over the last several years. We need to restore that sense of excitement and interest that existed around the space program. Shaping a mission for NASA that is appropriate for the 21st century is going to be one of the biggest tasks of my new NASA director. Once we have that vision, then I think that it's going to be much easier to build support for expanding our space efforts. What I don't what NASA to do is just limp along. And I don't think that's good for the economy in the region either. ..."
"OBAMA: First of all, we have authorized were budgeted for additional shuttle launches that had not been scheduled. So we're extending the life of the shuttle because a) I think it is doing some important work and b) we are very mindful of the economic impact of the space program in the region."
"NASA will fly the Space Shuttle to complete the International Space Station and then retire the Shuttle in 2010; an additional flight may be conducted if it can safely and affordably be flown by the end of 2010."
Editor's note: I am not sure how you can be saying that you will be "extending the life of the shuttle" at the same time that you state in budget documents that you are going to "retire the Shuttle in 2010".
"The document orders Mr. Obama's top science adviser to help draft guidelines that will apply to every federal agency. Agencies will be expected to pick science advisers based on expertise, not political ideology, the memorandum said, and will offer whistle-blower protections to employees who expose the misuse or suppression of scientific information."
Editor's note: There is continued Congressional interest in Washington in Steve Isakowitz as a possible NASA Administrator - Sen. Mikulski in particular. A very small "bring back Mike" contingent is also still at work in and around Capitol Hill albeit without much success. And a "draft Len Fisk" effort is also underway. Whether any of these efforts will have any effect remains to be seen. Stay tuned.
Editor's note: Multiple sources report that Mike Griffin is mounting a quiet, but persistent comeback campaign on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. So far, none of the people in the Obama Administration who let him go and/or those who could have kept him in the job seem to be remotely interested in asking him back. Stay tuned.
Steve Isakowitz leads the pack for NASA Administrator job, Orlando Sentinel
"But the frontrunner, at least for now, appears to be Isakowitz. He was sworn in as the Energy Department's CFO on June 1, 2007, after being unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Prior to that he has distinguished career serving at the Office of Management and Budget, the CIA and NASA. At NASA he was Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller, and Deputy Associate Administrator in charge of major space exploration programs. An engineer, he used to work for Lockheed Martin."
Editor's note: "Appears" is the operative word...
Editor's 30 Jan note: I keep hearing the name Lester Lyles mentioned as a possible choice for NASA Administrator. He was a senior Obama campaign advisor, served on the President's Commission on U.S. Space Policy, has extensive space experience from his days in the USAF, is participating in the ongoing NAS study "Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program", and is also a member of the NASA Advisory Council. Unlike Scott Gration, Lyles has obvious space creds. I have always been impressed by him.
This of course could mean absolutely nothing - just idle chatter on a Friday - and what fun is a Friday without some unsubstantiated rumors and gossip, eh?
Editor's 17 Feb update: Lyles' name is suddenly making the rounds again here in Washington - this time with much more of an air of certainty.
Editor's note: In this video, President Obama speaks about the value of science and technology and our future workforce.
Obama down to four names for NASA chief, Orlando Sentinel
"President Obama told Florida lawmakers on Tuesday that he was down to four names in his search for a new NASA chief, although Obama would not reveal the finalists, according to congressional sources. House Democrats from Florida, including U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando, traveled with Obama during his trip to Fort Myers to tout his partys $800 billion economic stimulus plan. During the commute, Florida lawmakers had a chance to quiz the new president on a variety of issues, including NASA."
Scott Gration - Current Position: NASAAdministrator (since January 2009), Whorunsgov.com (Washington Post)
"His Air Force and administrative experience will come in handy when Gration takes the helm of NASA as the head administrator."
Editor's 1:44 pm EST note: It would seem that Whorunsgov.com ("A Washington Post Company Publication") is about a month behind the times as far as next NASA administrator trial balloon derby is concerned.
Editor's 6:30 pm EST update: They updated their website. It now says "Current Position: Adviser to President Barack Obama (since 2006)".
Political Tensions Hamper Search for NASA Chief, Wall Street Journal
"Disagreements between the White House and some senior Democratic lawmakers have complicated the choice of the next U.S. civilian space chief -- and led to the emergence of a possible compromise candidate. Retired four-star Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles is now viewed as new contender to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, according to lawmakers and aerospace industry officials. Gen. Lyles once headed the country's missile-defense program and more recently participated in blue-ribbon commissions studying manned space exploration."
"Q Robert, the James A. Baker Institute is recommending that the Obama administration defer another lunar shot, and instead focus on energy and climate change. Does the White House have a reaction on that?
MR. GIBBS: I don't have anything particularly from -- I would point you to folks over at NASA. I don't have any particular guidance on that."
"With little notice, the president and first lady Michelle Obama bolted the gated compound of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in their tank of a limousine on Tuesday. They ended up at a Washington public school, greeted by children who could not care less about the collapse of a Cabinet secretary nomination. ... He was upbeat. He and his wife read the students a book about the inspirational story of astronauts landing on the moon. He took a class photo, accepted hugs from the children, thanked them for pictures they made him, and even delivered them a couple of brown-paper bags full of books."
Second-graders brighten Obama's Daschle-dashed day, Christian Science Monitor
"After pleasantries, the president and Mrs. Obama began to read "The Moon Over Star" by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkey. The book is about Neil Armstrong's moon landing. A White House handout noted that "for the young protagonist of this lyrical and hopeful picture book, that landing is something that inspires her to make one giant step toward all of the possibilities that life has to offer." ... When the story was over, the president said, "That's a nice book." Then he asked who wanted to be an astronaut. One student said yes. "What else do people want to be?" he asked. The replies included doctor, football player, and sculptor. One boy wanted to be president. "I think you might make it," the president said."
Executive Order: Freedom of Information Act, White House
"All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, inorder to renew their commitment to the principles embodied inFOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA. The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should takeaffirmative steps to make information public.They should not wait for specific requests from the public.All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government.Disclosure should be timely. ... Ialso direct the Director of the Office ofManagement and Budgetto update guidance to the agencies to increase and improve information dissemination to the public, including through the use of new technologies, and to publish suchguidancein the Federal Register."
Executive Order: Transparency and Open Government, White House
"Government should be transparent. ... Government should be participatory. ... Government should be collaborative. ... I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum.The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive."
Editor's note: How will this affect NASA? How SHOULD it affect NASA?
Maximizing NASA's Potential In Flight and on the Ground: Recommendations for the Next Administration, by George Abbey, Neal Lane, and John Muratore, James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University
"Recommendation 1: Restructure the human space initiative and keep the space shuttle flying until 2015
Recommendation 2: Deliver short-term (within four years) payoffs in energy and the environment, especially in the area of climate change
Recommendation 3: Deliver longer-term payoffs (within four to eight years) for energy and the environment
Recommendation 4: Ensure an ongoing and effective robotic space science program
Recommendation 5: Implement a reinvigorated and effective aeronautical research program, with particular attention to low-carbon fuels and efficiency, to help the future well-being of the nation's aviation industry"
Editor's note: The Obama administration is clearly interested in Earth science and has focused most of NASA's stimulus package funds on climate and Earth science issues. Right now a volcano (Mount Redoubt) is about to erupt in Alaska with the potential to disrupt life in the region. With this renewed focus on Earth science you'd think that NASA SMD would take a little time to gather all the things their various satellites can do with regard to this volcano and put it online - if for no other reason to show that they are paying attention to the White House. Alas, a look at SMD's news page shows nothing. Nor is there anything on SMD's home page or NASA.gov for that matter.
Ed, there was no telescope or planetary spacecraft money in the science portion of that package - just "critical Earth science missions".
Redoubt Activity, Alaska Volcano Observatory
"The arrival of a new year reminds us that life is a journey, one that takes us on many unexpected paths. NASA's role is to pioneer journeys into the unknown for the benefit of humanity. Along the way, we sometimes experience tragedy instead of triumph.
Today, we pause to reflect on those moments in exploration when things did not go as expected and we lost brave pioneers. But what sets us apart as Americans is our willingness to get up again and push the frontiers even further with an even stronger commitment and sense of purpose.
On this Day of Remembrance, we remember the sacrifices of those who dared to dream and gave everything for the cause of exploration. We honor them with our ongoing commitment to excellence and an unwavering determination to continue the journey on the path to the future.
President Barack Obama"
Stimulus Bill Includes Millions for Satellite Program, Washington Post
"Here's a troubling one from Taxpayer's For Common Sense: Spending on the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System, a program to generate weather and climate data, has doubled over the last 14 years to $12.5 billion -- even though none of the satellites have been launched."
"Obama Administration has announced several interim leadership changes for NASA, which are effective immediately."
Editor's note: Looks like the effort to nominate Major General Jonathan Scott Gration to be the next Administrator of NASA has faded. Multiple sources report that objections by Sen. Nelson, Sen. Mikulski, and others about Gration's experience with NASA have caused this trial balloon to drift away. The personal connection with President Obama just was not enough, so it would seem. The ball is now back in the Obama team's court. Note: contrary to much speculation, the transition team in place at NASA Headquarters (now moving into more permanent positions at the agency) was not directly involved in the selection or vetting of possible nominees such as Gration. They did have some input but that was early in the process. As such, it would be prudent to look toward the White House for hints as to what will happen next. Stay tuned.
Editor's hint: As different groups pass by President Obama, different people appear for a few minutes at his side and then disappear. Let's see who shows up when NASA closes the parade.
Editor's update: Hey is that Barbara Romig in the suit on the rover? How cool. !!!
More screen grabs of the rover in the parade here. Note that MSNBC does not know what "NASA" stands for. Meanwhile all the major networks cut away from the parade just as the rover appeared except the local news channel here in DC and MSNBC who flashed a few seconds.
Editor's note: CNN just announced that it tasked GeoEye to take a satellite photo of the Mall and will air it as soon as they get it.
Editor's update 5:00 pm EST: CNN has shown the image on air. I cannot find it online.
Editor's update 6:00 pm EST: Here it is (thanks to CollectSpace)
Editor's hint: Here it is at GeoEye. You can also see that Google Earth has added it as well.
Here's the Order of the Parade Procession: Army First, NASA Last, Washington Post
"The Presidential Inaugural Committee released the order that the parade procession will march down the 1.5-mile path along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House tomorrow. Over 10,000 people from all 50 states will follow Barack Obama and Joseph Biden along the route. Reps from the U.S. Army and Reserves will lead off, and a contingent from NASA will bring up the rear."
"We'll be somewhere near the end," said Ferguson. "We were told not right behind the horses, but close."
JSC Rover to Join Inaugural Parade and Crabwalk, earlier post
On Twitter: NASA Rob Ambrose w/ NASA's Lunar Electric Rover (LER), going live with Presidental Inaugural Parade twitter stream
"All- As required, I have previously submitted my resignation as NASA Administrator, effective 1200 EST 20 January 2009. Having heard nothing to the contrary, I conclude that it has been accepted by President Obama. Until such time as the president nominates, and the Senate confirms, a new Administrator, the agency will be in the best possible hands with Chris Scolese as Acting Administrator. I wish all of you the very best. It was an honor to serve NASA, and to do so with you. I have greatly appreciated the many expressions of thanks and good wishes which have been sent. There are many, many others not on this list who should also be thanked. Please feel free to forward to those in your individual organizations. Good luck to all. Mike"
Editor's note: Change.gov is now pointing to Whitehouse.gov. If you Google for "white house vision space" you get http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/space/index.html "A Renewed Spirit of Discovery" President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program ..." yet if you go that link you get a new Obama White House "Page not found" error page. Searching for "NASA", "moon" etc. on whitehouse.gov produces no reference to VSE or anything meaningful about the past decade of NASA or space exploration.
I guess it is time to start all over again.
Reader note: The link is here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/
Where is space?
"Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who serves as chairman of the Senate commerce subcommittee on space, has cautioned Obama against picking an outsider. It has been no secret that Griffin wanted to stay on. In recent weeks, allies organized a lobbying effort aimed at convincing Obama that this would be a bad time to shake up the space agency."
Editor's note: Last week, well-placed sources reported that the Obama Transition Team had begun to circulate a name for vetting for the job of NASA Administrator: Major General Jonathan Scott Gration. Its a week later and this choice seems to have faded to a great degree. Stay tuned.
"Section 1. Order of Succession. Subject to the provisions of section 2 of this memorandum, the following officials of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in the order listed, shall act as and perform the functions and duties of the office of the Administrator of NASA (Administrator), during any period in which both the Administrator and Deputy Administrator of NASA (Deputy Administrator) have died, resigned, or otherwise become unable to perform the functions and duties of the office of Administrator, until such time as the Administrator or Deputy Administrator is able to perform the functions and duties of that office:"
Editor's update: Released today:
"SUMMARY: AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT
"In the next two weeks, the Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in. ... NASA: $600 million, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states; $150 million for research, development, and demonstration to improve aviation safety and Next Generation air traffic control (NextGen); and $50 million to repair NASA centers damaged by hurricanes and floods last year."
Obama a little confused about today's state, The Swamp (Baltimore Sun - March 2008)
"During the question-and-answer portion of an event at a recreational center here, Obama was asked about the nation's space program. "I grew up on Star Trek," Obama said. "I believe in the final frontier." But Obama said he does not agree with the way the space program is now being run and thinks funding should be trimmed until the mission is clearer. "NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration," he said. "I don't think our kids are watching the space shuttle launches. It used to be a remarkable thing. It doesn't even pass for news anymore."
Editor's update: In a video titled "Step Forward" which introduces USAservice.org - public service is highlighted. President-elect Obama narrates and says "You may ask yourself - where's my moon, my levee, my dream ..." as pictures of Apollo 11 and a footprint on the lunar surface appear on the screen. Click on the image to play.
Retired Fighter Pilot to Run NASA?, Washington Post
"What a difference it will make to have an Administrator who has a personal relationship with the President and will have his calls taken," opined one commenter this morning on the NASA Watch blog."
Obama may pick Nutley resident to head NASA, The Star-Ledger
"We've had other administrations who didn't have space backgrounds. He's a retired major general. He has experience running large organizations," said Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut and West Orange native who had not heard of Gration until his name surfaced for the position."
Too early to call NASA chief job for Gration?, Orlando Sentinel
"A retired Air Force general is not an automatic lock to becomes NASA's next administrator, according to sources familiar with the situation. Instead, these sources -- who requested anonymity because of the fluid nature of the nominating process -- cautioned that no final decision has been made in response to reports that J. Scott Gration would lead the space agency."
Ex-Fighter Pilot Could Be Next NASA Chief, Washington Post
"Sources said the selection is not a done deal, but a formal announcement could precede Obama's inauguration. Gration, who retired from the Air Force in 2006, could not be reached for comment. His possible nomination was reported Tuesday night on the Web sites NASA Watch and Space.com. "He's not at all known to members of the space community," space industry analyst John Logsdon said."
Retired Air Force General Is Leading Candidate for NASA's Top Post, Wall Street Journal
"The choice of Gen. Gration was first reported by online industry publications NASA Watch and SpaceRef.com. The personnel moves follow weeks of speculation that the president-elect was leaning toward appointing a scientist or perhaps a former astronaut as NASA administrator. The current agency head, Michael Griffin, has angered some Obama insiders by publicly lobbying to stay on and bristling at the transition team's questions about current priorities."
Gration to Head NASA, MSNBC
"Nelson, the senior Senator from Florida, flew in space himself and when hearing about Gration's possible appointment said, "I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experiece in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency." Following the loss of the space shuttle Columbia's crew of seven O'Keefe was replaced by current NASA Administrator Michael Griffin."
Editor's update: The following was provided by former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe in response to Jay Barbree's article at MSNBC today:
"Jay, just saw your online posting. I didn't realize you had such a dismissive opinion of my tenure. Sen. Nelson never expressed his disapproval, but he's certainly entitled to his view.
But regardless of your opinions, the facts in your column are a bit off. The Columbia accident happened barely a year after I arrived at NASA. Your article infers that Mike Griffin replaced me soon after the Columbia tragedy. In fact, it was nearly two and a half years later.
In that span of time, we formulated a new strategy for NASA -- the Vision for Space Exploration -- announced in January 2004 almost a year after Columbia. We implemented all the Return to Flight requirements recommended by the CAIB before my departure. My successor arrived in time to witness the RTF launch. In between those events we landed the Rovers on Mars - developed, built and launched during my tenure - and kept the space station occupied and supplied through a close cooperation with our Russian space colleagues
So, in spite of my lacking prior experience at NASA, perhaps we did OK? Of course, all that was accomplished is a testimonial to the great commitment of the professionals at NASA. I was given the priviledge of serving them.
Best regards, Sean"
Gration to Head NASA, MSNBC
"Nelson, the senior Senator from Florida, flew in space himself and when hearing about Gration's possible appointment said, "I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experiece in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency."
Editor's update: Hmm, isn't it ironic that someone like Bill Nelson would say this about someone else's job qualifications when he himself got a chance to fly on a space shuttle with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. I'm told that many in the astronaut office gave Nelson the nickname "ballast" at the time. Curiously, Jay Barbree never bothered to mention this blatant hypocrisy. How quickly we all forget.
Key U.S. Senator Cautions Obama on NASA Pick, Space.com
"I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experience in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency. I hope President Obama's pick will have that kind of [NASA] background," Nelson said today through his spokesman, Dan McLaughlin."
Editor's update: Again, it is hypocritical in the extreme for Nelson's PR flack to be thumping this theme when his own boss used his position to get a seat on a Space Shuttle - a seat he was utterly unqualified to occupy.
Editor's update: Interestingly, Gration was the very last to be introduced - and then spoke on behalf of the swarm of generals and admirals on the stage. There should be little doubt that he is hot wired to President-elect Obama. Stay tuned.
More gays to serve in Obama White House, Washington Blade
"Dave Noble, a gay man led efforts to mobilize gay voters for Obama's presidential campaign, will serve as the White House's liaison to NASA."
Editor's update: This is the only article that I came across that describes the new White House liaison to NASA. It is titled what it is titled - and it was published where it was published. If any of you wish to infer that I have a bias in some regard and that I am trying to be sensational, you could not be more wrong. Moreover, if you want to submit posts that get into this guy's personal life, as some of you have, they will simply be ignored. There is zero tolerance for bigotry on NASA Watch.
Recession may ground space flights, The Hill
"President-elect Obama will have to decide the fate of the costly U.S. space program amid a global recession and skyrocketing deficits. Obama faces a decision at the end of April on whether to continue the Space Shuttle initiative, which NASA otherwise plans to shut down. Congress last fall set a deadline for the new administration to decide this spring on whether to reverse course and continue the program, still the only way NASA has to transport Americans into space. Extending the program would come at a high cost; two shuttle flights a year cost $3 billion, according to outgoing NASA administrator Michael Griffin. Thats even more expensive with a $1.2 trillion fiscal-year deficit as a backdrop."
Editor's note: I am scheduled to be on I am onNewsRadio 740 - KTRHat 7:30 am CST this morning.
Editor's update: Wow. I found myself in complete agreement with GWSA (George Abbey) - who was also interviewed!
Editor's note: Sources report that The Obama Transition Team has circulated a name for vetting for the job of NASA Administrator: Major General Jonathan Scott Gration. The name may not ring a bell, but Gration was an early Obama supporter and has been advising him on things since the start of Obama's campaign. As you can see from his online resume Gration is no wallflower. Indeed, having been vetted by life, so to speak, the process of vetting him for the NASA Administrator's job - and subsequent confirmation, ought to be a cinch.
Meanwhile, sources now report that Charles Kennel is not being formally vetted for the Administrator's job but rather, he was contacted at some point by the Obama folks to bounce some ideas off of him.
The last time NASA had an Administrator with close personal ties to the White House, (Sean O'Keefe), NASA got the Vision for Space Exploration. O'Keefe's successor had zero White House credentials or political savvy and NASA's accumulated political capital began to evaporate - and with it support for the resources and attention that the agency needed. If indeed Gen. Gration does turn out to be the nominee, and the next NASA Administrator is a close confidant of the President ...
Hero-Worshipping Obama, Newsweek
"The candidate's new Swahili-speaking military adviser, Gen. Scott Gration, sees him as America's Mandela. The general also has some strong views of his own: 'I believe if you could get rid of all the nuclear weapons this would be a wonderful world,' he says."
Scott Gration, Wikipedia
"... spent a year assisting Hans Mark, the Deputy Administrator of NASA."
NASA chief warns of layoffs if funding levels frozen, Houston Chronicle
"Outgoing NASA administrator Michael Griffin warned today that the space agency may have to lay off an unspecified number of contractors on the back-to-the-moon Constellation program if Congress continues to freeze NASA spending below the $17.6 billion requested for this year by the Bush administration. Griffin told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Space Foundation that continuing funding of the space agency at the level specified in a temporary budget resolution would force the personnel cutbacks."
Editor's note: Isn't it funny how Mike Griffin only plays the layoff scare tactic a few days before he leaves NASA - and does so as a parting shot? This media briefing was not for all the media - only a select few. Others were not allowed to attend. This was likely to be Griffin's last media availability as Administrator. As such, this is very much in keeping with his personal distain for the media and his preference for organizations such as the Space Foundation who are not interested in transparency. Of course, David Mould agreed with this selective media access. Hopefully that will begin to change in a few days.
Reader update: "I've been following what the Obama Transition team has been doing with their Change.gov website and saw that just recently they created something they call the Citizen's Briefing Book. The idea behind this is for people to : "Share your ideas on any issue facing the new administration, then rate or comment on other ideas. The best rated ideas will rise to the top -- and be gathered into a Citizen's Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama after he is sworn in." Right now there are a few regarding NASA and space exploration but not enough votes to rise to the top. I just wanted to let you know about this with hopes that you would make a post about it. Your website reaches a large pro-space audience and maybe with that kind of exposure the space exploration ideas will have a chance to reach our President-elect."
NAC Science Committee Continues to Shrink, earlier post
"The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Science Committee has just lost three of its members. Charles Kennel (Chair), Wes Huntress, and Eugene Levy have resigned. More to follow. Word has it that the three committee members who quit were asked to quit because of their insistence that they wanted to give advice to NASA regarding its entire range of science research - not just the subset relating to moon exploration."
Editor's update: Sources report that Kennel has expressed surprise at the sudden interest by the Obama Transition Team and has confirmed that he is apparently under serious consideration for the NASA Administrator slot. Meanwhile, other sources report that Charles Bolden has yet to be contacted by the Obama Transition Team.
Editor's update: According to JSC PAO the rover will be at the very end of the parade. Along the way it will demonstrate its various control features including the ever popular "crab walk". Astronauts from the STS-126 crew as well as other astronauts and NASA personnel will walk alongside the rover. The rover will be driven by astronaut Mike Gernhardt. The two space suits attached to the back end of the rover will be occupied by a spacesuit technician and astronaut Rex Walheim. When the rover gets to the reviewing stand it will stop, Walheim will disconnect himself from the rover, step down, hold up an American flag and salute President Obama.
The rover will be shipped to Washington DC by truck. I am awaiting cost numbers from NASA for the rover, NASA personnel (including the technicians who support the rover) and other costs associated with NASA's participation - as well as who is footing the bill. I suspect (but do not have any numbers) that when is all said and done, the cost will be cheaper than some of the silly extravaganzas that are regularly featured in the parade. A media day will be held at NASA HQ on 21 January from 1:30 to 3:00 featuring the rover.
Editor's note: Remember when I said that "NASA needs Kirk not Scotty" the other day? Well I was wrong. NASA needs Wesley.
The other day many of the NASA Gen Y crowd were furiously tweeting and retweeting a link via Twitter that points to yet another Administrator poll/petition site. At first, although skewed by their preferences, it seemed to at least have some of the right names on it (even if I was deemed more qualified than Wes Huntress for a few days). Then yesterday it turned into yet another example of Internet narcissism by deluge of followers of the guy who runs Bad Astronomy blog. Alas, my "followers" were weak by comparison. I am clearly not worthy. Oh well. Here is a chance to boost Wil Wheaton's post-Star Trek career (he is currently Number 2). He actually has some interesting things to say. Give him your support. Maybe he can fix NOMAD.
P.S. Although Mike Griffin is leaving NASA, you can still be one of the 3,000 people (real and imaginary) who supported his quest to stay on the job. The current tally is 2,919, so time is running out if you want to be part of that elite group of 3,000. The most popular Griffin supporter name thus far is "Anonymous". In addition, "Frank Poole" (the movie astronaut killed by HAL 9000) and "Harry Stamper" (Bruce Willis in "Armageddon") are still unwavering in their support of Mike as well.
Editor's note: Wil Wheaton's name suddenly disappeared from this online "poll" despite clearly being in second place. So much for the veracity of these sites - not that anyone suspected that there was.
MSFC gets ear of next White House, Huntsville Times
"Rex Geveden, president of Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc. and a former Marshall deputy director, along with Shar Hendrick, a former Marshall liaison to Congress, met with transition team members in Washington."
Editor's note: One of the DIRECT guys is supposed to have met with the Transition Team at NASA to talk about their Powerpoint rocket as well. Word has it Buzz was going with them. Contrary to rumoured intentions, the job of the NASA Transition Team is not to pass judgement on everything at NASA - but rather, to collect data. At some point, someone will ask if they have heard of one engineering idea or another - or heard the concerns of one field center vs another. Or paid attention to a prominent ego or vocal advocacy group. They cannot listen to everyone, but it is worth their time to try and do their best in that regard such that the largest population feels that they have had a shot at providing input and advice.
It is the Transition Team's job to have covered all the bases - even if some of the input is of marginal or mostly pro forma value in the grander scheme of things. If you look at Change.gov you will see that the Obama effort is erring on the side of being inclusive and transparent. Contrary to its popularly rumoured closed door activities, the Transition Team members onsite at NASA are not making engineering or programatic decisions. Nor are they selecting the next NASA Administrator. They are collecting data for others to use. The really hard work - by others - starts on 20 Jan 2009.
Editor's update: Oh no: all the DIRECT fanboys are upset with me again - including bodily function puns. (Sigh). Others are throwing hissy fits about how awful I am when it comes to their pet rocket - yet at least a dozen reader posts here today mention DIRECT and/or Jupiter. Oh well. I certainly hope they conducted their discourse in a more adult fashion with the Transition Team.
NASA Renegades Pitch Obama Team New Post-Shuttle Plan, Popular Mechanics
"We were received well, but they were very clear they are offering no opinions at this point," says Ross Tierney, a collectible space model kit designer from Florida who presented the alternative plan. "To get what is essentially a presidential level meeting is an honor and privilege for us. We hope something comes of it." .... During today's meeting, the Jupiter Direct team presented a copy of the February issue of Popular Mechanics that profiles the origin and spread of their alternative idea."
Editor's update: a "collectible space model kit designer" made the presentation? They couldn't even find a real engineer? Oh well, now the Transition Team can check that box off their list.
"Despite a last-ditch campaign by some supporters to keep NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on the job, the transition team of President-elect Barack Obama is now vetting a handful of replacement candidates, among them scientist Charles Kennel, who previously ran the agency's Earth science division, according to sources familiar with the situation."
NAC Science Committee Continues to Shrink, earlier post
"The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Science Committee has just lost three of its members. Charles Kennel (Chair), Wes Huntress, and Eugene Levy have resigned. More to follow. Word has it that the three committee members who quit were asked to quit because of their insistence that they wanted to give advice to NASA regarding its entire range of science research - not just the subset relating to moon exploration."
"NASA is promoting itself in more down to earth terms these days: It claims the technology it develops to explore life in outer space can actually help sustain life on this planet. NASA's "Greenspace" is a Web site launched last year to showcase several environmentally friendly projects that are underway at NASA's Ames Research Center."
Editor's note: This is a far more likely outcome given the pattern and themes that Obama's team has followed on related nominations such as OSTP and NOAA. Wes Huntress has reportedly taken himself out of consideration otherwise he'd fit the bill as well. One thing to note folks: if someone is under consideration, they certainly know it by now. And if they know it, as Scott Pace wisely suggested, they don't show it. You do not do this sort of thing at the last minute - especially within the "No Drama Obama" team.
Meanwhile, Gen. Bolden still claims to have not been contacted in any way. Other names that continue to fill up my email box include Stern, Worden, Hubbard. And the fact that I keep hearing them means absolutely nothing. As has been the case with O'Keefe and Griffin - and with most of the Obama nominees - it is likely that the real name will emerge only shortly before they are formally named.
Reassessing Constellation will waste space resources - Obama should rename Griffin as NASA's leader, opinion, Gene Kranz, Houston Chronicle
"President-elect Barack Obama faces challenges that will define his administration for years to come. His Cabinet selections indicate that he is building an outstanding leadership team that will competently serve our nation during the critical government transition and the early years of his administration. Soon he must decide to extend the tenure of the current administrator, Mike Griffin, or select a new NASA administrator."
Editor's note: Mike Griffin will be giving an agencywide All Hands presentation on 16 January. He then goes away for a 2 week ski vacation and does not come back. He has submitted his resignation letter but has heard nothing back. More to follow.
Editor's note: OK. I give up. I have tried to keep the rumor mongering and speculation about Mike Griffin's replacement at a low level roar, but everyone seems to be in the mood to speculate these days. Doc has his "Keep Mike" petition and it would seem that everyone that the media talks to these days is "advising" or "familiar with" what the Transition Team is thinking - even before the Transition Team itself knows what it is thinking.
So, have at it. Vote early and often.
Who do you think should be the next administrator of NASA - and why?. Please try and make the suggestions serious. But if you can't fight the urge, then at least try to be funny and/or creative.
Editor's note: The following email was sent out this morning by Marty Hauser, the Space Foundation's VP for Washington operations. It was sent to some members of the media - but not all. I am not on their list it would seem (sigh).
"Please join the Space Foundation for a Q&A breakfast discussion with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on Tuesday, January 13 at 9 a.m. The event will take place at the City Club of Washington (Franklin Square location), 1300 I Street, N.W., Washington D.C. Please RSVP to SFCG@spacefoundation.org Dr. Griffin began his duties as the 11th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on April 14, 2005. As Administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the U.S. Vision for Space Exploration.
"As for Griffin's book of speeches, it was a natural for the NASA history office and coincides with the end of the presidential term, Mould said. NASA printed 2,500 books at a cost of $57,000 with the ability to produce more..."
Editor's note: I just got my copy of Mike Griffin's book Leadership in Space" NASA SP 2008-564. Despite Dave Mould's comments, I cannot find any mention of the NASA History Office in this book. Yet all of the books I have that the NASA History Office has put out clearly say so. Nor is there any mention of this book on the History Office website. I am told that the Administrator's office actually paid for this book.
Mike Griffin Has A New Book Out for Christmas, earlier post
Editor's note: As has always been the case, when NASA's next Administrator has been under consideration, rumors fly, names are floated (some sane, some wacky), rumors abound, unsuspecting people suddenly see their names online and get annoying phone calls late at night at home and ... well, you know the process. Usually, none of this is close to correct.
A blog posting by the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday has exploded into a series of un-sourced stories that suddenly proclaim former astronaut Charles Bolden as the front runner to replace outgoing Administrator Mike Griffin (spousal petition campaign not withstanding).
As they say, nature (and the news) abhors a vacuum.
Let's take a deep breath.
First of all, Mike Griffin is toast (sorry Scott and Becky, game over). Second, President-elect Obama has a broad plan. Alas, NASA's role in this plan is only partially colored in. Despite wild ruminations about what the Transition Team at NASA does or does not do or want, many things remain in limbo.
That said, Charlie Bolden is an A-1, five star class act. At some point I will convey a seemingly innocuous encounter I had with him 20 years ago in Building 4 at JSC which, to me, speaks volumes about the man. Sean O'Keefe sought him out to be his deputy. Pentagon politics thwarted that plan. NASA's loss.
This may all be media hype. It may also be spot on. One thing is certain, Mike Griffin is leaving. Obama has a plan. I can see a clear path wherein Bolden is a player at NASA. His post-NASA career speaks volumes to his leadership capabilities.
Let it happen as it needs to happen, folks. Look forward, not backward.
This could be good. Very good. You can buy engineering smarts by the yard. Yet true leadership is much harder to find, and trumps engineering smarts 7 days a week. This is more than being the smartest guy in the room. It is about knowing when this is - or is not - the case. Oops, Mike Griffin never installed that software.
In the final equation, Mike Griffin is just dime-a-dozen hired help. In contrast, Charlie Bolden is a much rarer breed: NASA at its finest.
NASA needs a Kirk in the captain's chair, not a Scotty.
Transition Watch: Petitioning at NASA, Federal Times
"But despite these obvious roadblocks, this reporter wonders if Rebecca Griffin won't be successful in the end. After all, in recent years there have been a few successful online campaigns. For example, in 2007, the fans for the now-cancelled show "Jericho" used an online appeal to convince CBS to keep the program on the air for another season. And a couple of New York Mets fans started an online petition to save the team's giant homerun apple from the scrapheap or auction block after the team moves from Shea Stadium to the new Citi Field this spring. The Star-Ledger reports that the apple will be on display at Citi Field. If television and sports fans can meet with such success, surely fans of the NASA administrator can mount a successful campaign...right?"
Utahn petitioning Obama to keep current NASA administrator (with video!), KSL
"In the coming weeks, Horowitz will send the signatures to the president-elect; he'll also personally take copies to Capitol Hill. Horowitz says it's a small trip, considering the trip this country is capable of with Griffin at the helm. "I truly believe without his leadership NASA will have a hard time returning to the moon and going to Mars," Horowitz said."
Editor's note: "Signatures", Doc? On some pages, one third of the names are "Anonymous", many are fake ("Frank Poole", "Heywood Floyd", "Delos D. Harriman" etc.), and none of them can be verified. All you have to do is log in and log out at Starbucks and you get get a new IP each time. Oh well.
NASA: Mike Griffin out, Charlie Bolden in?, Orlando Sentinel
"Some of his closest friends and supporters, including his wife, Rebecca Griffin, and former astronaut Scot Horowitz, launched a campaign to try to convince the incoming administration to keep Griffin, a veteran rocket scientist. The sometimes heavy-handed effort ranged from soliciting members of Congress during the last space shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center, to a much publicized on-line petition and even an e-mail from Rebecca urging that her husband be retained. But Beltway insiders say the effort backfired and even some of Griffin's most ardent supporters on the Hill, like Florida's senior senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, saw the lobbying as craven."
Boosters of Incumbent NASA Head May Be Doing Him No Favors, Congressional Quarterly
"Scott Horowitz, a former astronaut and associate NASA administrator, has been circulating a petition to keep Griffin on board. And just before Christmas, Griffin's wife sent out an e-mail to friends urging them to sign the same document. "This strikes me as pretty unusual, especially to be so public. There's nothing about what I've read or heard that would seem to help Griffin's chances of being retained," said David Goldston, former staff director of the House Science Committee under Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y. "Administrations generally, and this one in particular, seem to recoil at being put in a box publicly."
"Sources involved in the White House transition said Bolden was under consideration for the NASA post, but they did not indicate that a final decision had been made. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the selection process publicly."
Editor's note: All of the people mentioned in these articles as Administrator candidates have expressed overt disinterest in the job at one point or another. Bolden has made statements that no one in an official or unofficial capacity has approached him on the topic. Then again, people can change their minds.
Bolden is widely admired - indeed, Sean O'Keefe wanted him to be his deputy until Donald Rumsfeld made that impossible. Of course, it should not be a surprise that Bill Nelson is promoting Bolden - they both flew on STS-61C.
At this point, of all the names floated in these articles, only Scott Hubbard has been seeking the job albeit quietly. Hubbard got a gold star from NASA Watch for his defense of his workforce as Mike Griffin eviscerated it.
As for who will be acting Administrator when Mike Griffin leaves, that has not been decided yet. But Mike Griffin is indeed leaving NASA, folks. His antics of late have simply served to make this a certainty.
For NASA Administrator, This Mission Is a Tad Personal, The Fed page, Washington Post
"Democrats, as would be expected, are lobbying intensely for senior jobs in the new administration. It's a bit more unusual to see top Bush administration officials lobbying to keep their jobs. But that appears to be the case with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. ... But Griffin would be "honored" to be asked to stay on, Mould said. "A lot of people seem to like and support Mike and think he's doing a good job," he said. Hmmm. Somehow we're thinking that "a lot of people" does not include the president-elect's folks."
Keep Mike Petition
Griffin Beg-a-thon Update, earlier post
Vote To Keep Mike, earlier post
Making Sure The Workforce Gets The Message, earlier post
Mike Griffin Has A New Book Out for Christmas, earlier post
NASA chief's wife to Obama: Don't fire my husband, AP (Via Washington post)
"Efforts by those close to Griffin lobbying on his behalf are unusually bold, even for ego-heavy Washington. Past efforts on behalf of job hopefuls have been more behind-the-scenes so plausible deniability can be maintained. "It sounds like the only thing left is to stencil Mike Griffin on the side of shuttle," joked Paul Light, a professor of public policy and a presidential transition expert at New York University. "I've never heard of a campaign to keep one's job that goes beyond the edge of private discussion. ... Maybe he should be texting next." David Goldston, a former chief of staff for the House Science Committee and a lecturer on science policy at Harvard University, said, "This kind of public campaigning to keep a job is unusual and usually tends to backfire in new administrations."
Editor's update: The comments on this AP article at Huffington Post are interesting.
Editor's 2 Jan 11:27 am EST note: Have a look at these two signatures/comments below from Scott Horowitz's heavily-edited petition to "Keep Mike". I'll be willing to bet that item 2326 will be deleted because it casts doubt on Mike Griffin - yet item 2313 is almost certainly going to be allowed to stand - even if the author's point of reference with Griffin was nearly 50 years ago.