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Standing Up For Science

By Keith Cowing on September 24, 2020 9:30 PM.

NAS and NAM Presidents Alarmed By Political Interference in Science Amid Pandemic

"As advisers to the nation on all matters of science, medicine, and public health, we are compelled to underscore the value of science-based decision-making at all levels of government. Our nation is at a critical time in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic with important decisions ahead of us, especially concerning the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Policymaking must be informed by the best available evidence without it being distorted, concealed, or otherwise deliberately miscommunicated. We find ongoing reports and incidents of the politicization of science, particularly the overriding of evidence and advice from public health officials and derision of government scientists, to be alarming. It undermines the credibility of public health agencies and the public's confidence in them when we need it most. Ending the pandemic will require decision-making that is not only based on science but also sufficiently transparent to ensure public trust in, and adherence to, sound public-health instructions. Any efforts to discredit the best science and scientists threaten the health and welfare of us all.

Marcia McNutt
President, National Academy of Sciences

Victor J. Dzau
President, National Academy of Medicine"

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Will Japan's Investment In Artemis Save The Day?

By Keith Cowing on September 24, 2020 9:11 PM.

80-billion-yen budget request in the works for lunar probe, Ashai Shimbun

"The science and technology ministry's budget request for the next fiscal year will include an ask for some 80 billion yen ($760 million) to develop key equipment for a U.S.-led, manned lunar exploration mission. The ministry, which also oversees sports, culture and education, is aiming to accelerate the development of a new unmanned supply spacecraft, a life-support machine and other related equipment to help enable Japanese astronauts to land on the moon."

Keith's note: There are some who'd say that this large investment - with real money - by Japan will help make the Artemis program more stable and able to withstand attempts by the U.S. Congress or a future administration to cancel or delay it. They could be right. Yet back in the 1990s, despite billions in sunk investments by the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Canada, the U.S. Congress came within one vote of cancelling the space station while the White House also toyed with turning it off too. Just sayin'.

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Senate Hearing On NASA's Budget

By Keith Cowing on September 23, 2020 1:17 PM.

Hearing to conduct oversight of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget and activities

2:00 p.m. EDT, Room 325, Russell Senate Office Building

Witness: James Bridenstine

Watch live

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NASAWatch on Deutsche Welle: Artemis

By Keith Cowing on September 22, 2020 5:06 PM.

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NOAA Has Climate Change Denier Chief Scientist Nominee

By Keith Cowing on September 22, 2020 10:31 AM.

White House recommends Ryan Maue, meteorologist and critic of dire climate predictions, for NOAA chief scientist, Washington Post

"The White House has tapped Ryan Maue, a meteorologist who has challenged connections between extreme weather and climate change, to serve as the new chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Two NOAA officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the personnel move, confirmed the appointment is in progress."

Keith's note: Meanwhile, the CDC deleted some COVID-19 guidance it posted online regarding airborne transmission and social distancing revisions - because it was accurate. Oops. How did that happen? Oh and then there is this: NIH staffer to retire after he was exposed as the blogger behind anti-Fauci, anti-mask stories. Thus far NASA has more or less escaped the politicalization of Earth and climate science but that cannot go on forever.

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NASA And Space Force Are Collaborating

By Keith Cowing on September 22, 2020 10:04 AM.

NASA Administrator to Discuss Collaboration with US Space Force, NASA

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will participate in a virtual discussion on the agency's collaboration with the United States Space Force at 9:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 22. This Space Power Forum event will stream live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, will join Bridenstine in this discussion, hosted and moderated by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies as part of its Space Breakfast Series."

Watch live on NASA TV

Memorandum of Understanding Between The National Aeronautics And Space Administration and The United States Space Force

"Despite their disparate missions, NASA and USSF share a common domain of operations space and with it a shared interest in similar capabilities, technologies, and best practices. Since NASAs inception in 1958, NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD) have shared knowledge regarding common interests. Specifically, NASA has made available to agencies directly concerned with national security, information on discoveries and technologies that have military value or significance. Conversely, national security agencies have shared with NASA, discoveries and information collected which have value or significance to its exploration, science, and technology missions. Historically, areas of collaboration have included space launch and range safety, space communications, human spaceflight support, space flight safety and space situational awareness, scientific research, and technology development."

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Important Artemis Questions Will Be Answered Today (Update)

By Keith Cowing on September 21, 2020 6:25 PM.

Keith's note: Last week Jim Bridenstine suggested that landing at the south pole of the Moon might not be in the cards for Artemis III. A few days later HEOMD AA Kathy Lueders did not give a clear answer when asked. The obvious questions will be "Will Artemis III land at the lunar south Pole? Will the Artemis III mission land before the end of 2024? When will the SLS Green Run Test happen?"

Oh yes there's a NASA hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday: "Hearing to conduct oversight of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget and activities"

NASA Publishes Artemis Plan to Land First Woman, Next Man on Moon in 2024, NASA

"Following a series of critical contract awards and hardware milestones, NASA has shared an update on its Artemis program, including the latest Phase 1 plans to land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon in 2024."

Keith's update: The update issued today by NASA makes no mention of the Artemis III landing site. The press release that announced the report makes no mention of the lunar south pole all together. But Jim Bridenstine was rather blunt today saying that Artemis III will will land at the lunar south pole. Full stop. Apparently someone tweeted something about something from the LEAG meeting last week and someone tweeted something else and ...

I asked a question that went roughly like this: "When Gateway was first announced lunar landings were still planned for 2028. Then last year things got moved up by 4 years to 2024. Yet after more than a year NASA is still not exactly sure what Gateway will or will not do or when these things will happen - especially with regard to the first human landing mission. "Sustainable" means different things to different people - to some it is funding to others it is engineering. The House seems to think it means funding. The more you delay Gateway, the more people are going to question why you even need it. When will you know exactly how Artemis III will be conducted?"

I got some meandering responses from Jim Bridenstine and Kathy Lueders which can be distilled down to "since NASA has chosen the private sector to do the whole 2024 lunar landing system thing NASA does not actually know how their astronauts will land on the Moon. Good? Bad? We'll soon see."

The House only gave NASA $600 million toward the Human Landing System. NASA needs $3.2 billion. Bridenstine is hopeful that there will be a CR (continuing resolution) soon followed by an omnibus appropriations bill either at the end of this year or in March 2021 and that he hopes/expects that the full $3.2 billion for the HLS will be in there. While ever the optimist, he also said "if Congress keeps delaying the funding we will go the the Moon at the earliest possible opportunity."

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Advanced Night Repair Serum In Space

By Keith Cowing on September 21, 2020 4:22 PM.

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

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

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

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Space Force Fans Want To Implement The "Green Agenda"

By Keith Cowing on September 20, 2020 8:49 PM.

The Space Force's relevance to the green agenda, The Hill

"But the service is also doing more in this domain. The USSF, for instance, is taking the lead on what will become the ultimate green energy technology: space-based solar power. Ignored for decades by both NASA and the Department of Energy, space-based solar power is unique as a renewable energy source because it is far more efficient than its terrestrial counterpart and requires much less land. Moreover, its vast availability would allow a mature system to meet current global demand many times over."

Keith's note: The Space Force fans are really grasping at straws to rationalize their new organization. The latest attempt involves this claim that it is the job of Space Force to take over space solar power work that NASA and the Department of Energy used to do or were supposed to do or that they once did (in someone's imagination). But wait, there's more:

"The USSF is also at the center of climate intelligence, helping us to know both about our weather patterns on Earth, and about the space weather -- activity of the Sun -- which impacts our biosphere. There would not even be a global green movement had it not been for early military space research to photograph our weather, which gave us our first view of our planet in the 1960s."

Right - and NOAA and NASA had nothing to do with any of this weather stuff. NASA launched America's first weather satellite but this isn't about facts.

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HEOMD Internal Reorganization Completed

By Keith Cowing on September 19, 2020 3:04 PM.

NASA human spaceflight directorate completes reorganization, SpaceNews

"The NASA directorate responsible for human spaceflight efforts has completed a long-anticipated internal reorganization intended to better align activities ranging from the International Space Station to Artemis. At a Sept. 16 Washington Space Business Roundtable webinar, Kathy Lueders, who took over as NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations three months ago, said that NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk formally approved a reorganization of her mission directorate the previous day."

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Two Decade NASA CIO Struggle To Implement Effective IT Governance

By Keith Cowing on September 18, 2020 11:45 AM.

Hearing link, Hearing on Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Information Technology Management, Policies, and Practices at NASA

Prepared statements

- Rep. Kendra Horn
- Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
- Rep. Brian Babin
- Jeff Seaton, Chief Information Officer (Acting) National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Diana L. Burley, Vice Provost for Research, American University

- Paul K. Martin, Inspector General, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

"Our concerns with NASA's IT governance and security are long-standing and reoccurring. For more than two decades, NASA's OCIO has struggled to implement an effective IT governance structure that aligns authority and responsibility commensurate with the Agency's overall mission. Specifically, we have found that the Agency Chief Information Officer (CIO) and IT security officials have limited oversight and influence over IT purchases and security decisions within Mission Directorates and at NASA Centers. The decentralized nature of NASA's operations coupled with its long-standing culture of autonomy hinder the OCIO's ability to implement effective enterprise-wide IT governance. For example, in an August 2020 audit we found OCIO's visibility into the process Centers use to authorize and approve IT systems and devices to access Agency networks remains limited.4 Although the NASA CIO is responsible for developing an Agency-wide information security program, OCIO relies on Center-based CIOs and IT security staff to implement and enforce the Agency's information security policies. This practice has allowed Centers to tailor processes to meet their own priorities, which has in turn led to inconsistent implementation of NASA's enterprise-wide IT security management. Such a decentralized approach to cybersecurity management limits OCIO's ability to effectively oversee NASA's information security activities and make informed decisions related to project timelines, costs, and efficiencies as well as realistically assess the overall security of NASA's numerous IT systems."

- Earlier posts on NASA IT

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The Path To Mars Flies Over Your House

By Keith Cowing on September 18, 2020 1:28 AM.

Keith's note: After 20 years of continuous human occupation, the full potential of the ISS has yet to be tapped. To borrow a phrase from Star Trek - which was borrowed from Shakespeare - the ISS is the 'undiscovered country'. With all the talk about how we'd conduct a human mission to Mars, we have a Mars transit spacecraft analog flying over our homes every day just waiting to be used to its fullest extent. Seeing the ISS passing by Mars in this image should be a reminder of the amazing potential of this expeditionary base camp in Low Earth Orbit. Let's use it - before we lose it.

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Did Russia Claim Venus? Too Bad They Can't Afford To Visit It Any More

By Keith Cowing on September 17, 2020 9:19 PM.

Hell Is in Space and It Belongs to Russia, Roscosmos Chief Says, Gizmmodo

"Our country was the first and only one to successfully land on Venus," Rogozin told attendees at the 2020 HeliRussia exhibition, according to Russia's state-run TASS news agency. "The [Russian] spacecraft gathered information about the planet -- it is like hell over there." "We believe that Venus is a Russian planet," Rogozin added. "Both agencies have historically struggled with funding. ... The Russian government has slashed funding for Roscosmos repeatedly in recent years, even as it's facing pressure from competitors like SpaceX who offer cheaper, reusable rockets. Rogozin has offered a lot of bluster about Roscosmos' capabilities despite the cuts, but this week he admitted that insufficient funding was taking a toll. "I don't quite understand how to work in these conditions," Rogozin said. "We are seeing that leading foreign space agencies are increasing their budgets." Going to hell just isn't as easy as it used to be."

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Virtual ISS R&D Conference Draws Another Record Audience

By Keith Cowing on September 17, 2020 4:19 PM.

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ISS Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) Continues

By Keith Cowing on September 17, 2020 1:43 PM.

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

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

The conference will also air on NASA TV

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Von Braun Symposium 2020.
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NASA Weekly ISS Space to Ground Report for 18 September, 2020

NASA Weekly ISS Space to Ground Report for 18 September, 2020 Video in Story

NASA's Space to Ground is your weekly update on what's happening aboard the International Space Station.

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