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Boeing Starliner Problems During Pad Abort Test

By Keith Cowing on July 21, 2018 9:14 PM.

Boeing suffers a setback with Starliner's pad abort test, Ars Technica

"The company said it conducted a hot-fire test of the launch-abort engines on an integrated service module at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico in June. The engines successfully ignited and ran for the full duration, but during engine shutdown an anomaly occurred that resulted in a propellant leak. "We have been conducting a thorough investigation with assistance from our NASA and industry partners," the statement said. "We are confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action. Flight safety and risk mitigation are why we conduct such rigorous testing, and anomalies are a natural part of any test program."


Odd Hearings Ahead On Webb Space Telescope Problems

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2018 9:22 PM.

Keith's note: Next week there will be an unusual pair of hearings - same committee, same topic, but a different witness lineup. Have a look:

Panel 1 - Wednesday July 25, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Hon. Jim Bridenstine, administrator, NASA
Mr. Tom Young, chairman, JWST Independent Review Board

Panel 2 - Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.
Mr. Wesley Bush, chief executive officer, Northrop Grumman Corp.
Mr. Tom Young, chairman, JWST Independent Review Board

OK, so this is strange. Webb Space Telescope is more than a decade late and has busted its budget cap yet again - this time by $800 million - so much so that Congress is required, by law, to reauthorize the entire project. Oddly, the NASA Administrator (who pays for this project) and the CEO of Northrop Grumman (who gets paid for this project) are not testifying together - not even on the same day. But the JWST IRB chair will testify with both Bridenstine and Bush. Its almost as if NASA wants to get their viewpoint and that of the Webb IRB first and then Northrop Grumman has 24 hours to get their act together - except - Congress usually wants prepared testimony submitted a day or more in advance. Or maybe there is a lot of looming tension and Congress does not want a cage match between NASA and Northrop Grumman. Stay tuned.

- Northrop Grumman's Webb Space Telescope Charm Offensive, earlier post
- Clueless Webb Telescope Advertisement From Northrop Grumman, earlier post
- More Cost Increases And Delays For Webb Space Telescope, earlier post
- Pieces Are Falling Off Of James Webb Space Telescope, earlier post
- Where Oh Where Did All Of That Webb Money Go?, earlier post

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Lunar Gateway: China Has Other Ideas

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2018 7:39 PM.

Chinese space official seems unimpressed with NASA's lunar gateway, Ars Technica

"Another slide from [CNSA's Pei Zhaoyu] offered some thoughts on the gateway concept, which NASA intends to build out during the 2020s, delaying a human landing on the Moon until the end of the decade at the earliest. Pei does not appear to be certain about the scientific objectives of such a station, and the deputy director concludes that, from a cost-benefit standpoint, the gateway would have "lost cost-effectiveness."

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Big Announcement at KSC With Pence?

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2018 7:37 PM.

Mike Pence will visit Cape Canaveral next month for a big space update, Orlando Weekly

"Vice President Mike Pence will visit NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral next month to announce the first astronaut crews under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, according to sources familiar with the matter. Pence, who chairs the National Space Council, will confirm a new launch date for the first private crew missions and announce which crew capsules each of the four selected astronauts will ride in to the International Space Station."

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NASA Might Launch From The UK

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2018 6:48 PM.

UK spaceports: NASA could launch satellites from new bases, Sky News

"Jim Bridenstine, who was appointed as NASA's administrator by US president Donald Trump earlier this year, said the UK government's plans for new spaceports open new opportunities. "We are thrilled about this. "It's about what we are trying to launch, where do we want it to go in orbit and who can provide the best price. "The UK and the US have a long partnership in space exploration," he added. "I would see NASA putting satellites on top of a rocket that launches from the UK," he said."


Blue Origin Makes Space Travel Seem Routine

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2018 11:15 AM.

Keith's note: Flawless 9th flight for BlueOrigin. If only airlines operated like this. Watch a replay.


More Flying Rich People Will Soon Fly Into Space. Yawn.

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2018 9:41 AM.


Northrop Grumman's Webb Space Telescope Charm Offensive

By Keith Cowing on July 17, 2018 11:29 PM.

Keith's note: Northrop Grumman has a big Webb Space Telescope Charm offense underway. Their ads are everywhere. First they took out that huge $200,000 full page ad in the Washington Post. Now they have a companion website using this code under ad links that pop up all over the place: When you get to the website you are treated to nothing but happy aerospace banter. No mention of launch dates and delays, more than a decade of multi-billion dollar cost overruns, the need for Congressional reauthorization due to cost overruns, anger by NASA managers, dumb engineering mistakes, etc. Instead, NorthropGrumman just pounds out their oxymoronic tag line "Making History Requires Mission SUccess".

Clueless Webb Telescope Advertisement From Northrop Grumman

"Northrop Grumman just wants you to know that "mission success" is important. Duh. I am not certain they care so long as they get paid. This is not how America is going to do that whole leadership-in-space thing. If this is an example of how we do that leadership thing we won't be able to afford to lead the way."


More Turmoil At The Space Foundation

By Keith Cowing on July 17, 2018 2:29 PM.


Some Tweets Just Beg To Be Answered

By Keith Cowing on July 16, 2018 9:49 PM.


When Big Aerospace Funds Its Own Outside Sources

By Keith Cowing on July 16, 2018 10:26 AM.

The Air Force's $10000 toilet cover, Washington Post

"Loren Thompson, a defense consultant who works for the Lexington Institute, a think tank that gets funding from defense contractors, said he is worried the military will be unable to buy next-generation weapons systems if it spends too much on overpriced spare parts."

Northrop Grumman CEO will step down, Washington Post

"Loren Thompson, a defense consultant, said that when Warden was elevated to the COO position last year, "it was a signal that succession had begun." .. Thompson called Bush "a godsend for Northrop Grumman shareholders. Nobody in the industry believed when he became CEO that the share price would have get as high as it is today. In fact, the company was in such bad shape when Wes took over that his predecessor had to fight to get him the job."

Playing defense - but at a price?, Politico

"The 501(c)(3) Lexington Institute doesn't disclose its donors. But Thompson said it receives contributions from defense giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others, which pay Lexington to "comment on defense."

Keith's note: It is rather odd that the Washington Post does not bother to tell its readers that Loren Thompson's employer, the Lexington Institute, gets significant funding from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and other defense companies - especially when he is being quoted in articles about those companies. Yet the post goes out of its way (quite properly) to tell people that Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post every time Amazon, Whole Foods, or Blue Origin are mentioned in a story.


Brad Smith

By Keith Cowing on July 15, 2018 6:37 PM.

Planetary Exploration Newsletter: "Brad Smith was a pioneer in the exploration of the solar system. He participated in a number of US and international space missions, including Mars Mariners 6 and 7, the Mars Viking mission, the Soviet Vega mission to Halley's Comet, the Soviet Phobos mission to Mars, and the Wide Field/Planetary Camera team for the Hubble Space Telescope. He was the deputy team leader of the imaging team on the Mariner 9 Mars Orbiter, and was chosen by NASA to lead the camera team on the Voyager missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. He co-discovered a circumstellar disk around the nearby star, Beta Pictoris, the first direct evidence of a planetary system beyond our own, and continued these studies as a member of the infrared camera (NICMOS) experiment on the Hubble Space Telescope. For the full obituary and memorial service information, go to: The memorial service for Brad will be held from 2 to 5 PM on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Room 308, at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Please RSVP to Amy Phillips (amy_p -at - More information will be posted at the above site as it becomes available."

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Israel Is Not Done With Space Yet

By Keith Cowing on July 14, 2018 12:34 PM.

NASA will consider sending another Israeli astronaut into space, Times Of Israel

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine met Thursday with Israel's Science and Technology minister, Ofir Akunis, and they agreed to expand cooperation on issues including the international space station, space exploration, and earth science research, the Hebrew media Ynet website reported. Akunis expressed interest in sending a second Israeli astronaut into space and Bridenstine said the United States would consider the request, Haaretz newspaper reported."

Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, New Moon Rising

From the an event held on the one year anniversary of Columbia's loss at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC: "At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."

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NASA and Israel Reaffirm Cooperation in Space

By Keith Cowing on July 13, 2018 12:08 PM.


NASA Deputy Administrator Nominee Is James Morhard

By Keith Cowing on July 12, 2018 5:18 PM.

From NASA PAO: "The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday's announcement of the intended nomination by President Donald Trump of James Morhard to serve as the agency's deputy administrator: "Today the President announced his intent to nominate James Morhard as Deputy Administrator of NASA. "Morhard is the United States Senate Deputy Sergeant at Arms. Prior to this, he was the Staff Director of the Senate Appropriations Committee. During his tenure there, he ran the Senate Commerce, Justice, State subcommittee that included all NOAA programs, and the Military Construction subcommittee where public/private partnerships were first used for military housing. "This administration is committed to American leadership in space, and I look forward to working with Mr. Morhard upon his confirmation."

Continue reading: NASA Deputy Administrator Nominee Is James Morhard.


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