Just as @NASA was directed to speed up lunar landing plans for #Artemis by @VP Pence sources report that OMB is trying to find ways to kill Gateway. That would suggest a more direct lunar architecture is preferred by the White House - or at least some people there. #Moon2024pic.twitter.com/js7neVRfVB
"As of May 2019, both contractors had delayed certification nine times, equating to more than 2 years from their original contracts (see figure). This includes several delays since GAO last reported in July 2018. ... NASA's ability to process certification data packages for its two contractors continues to create uncertainty about the timing of certification. The program has made progress conducting these reviews but much work remains. In addition, the program allowed both contractors to delay submitting evidence that they have met some requirements. This deferral has increased the amount of work remaining for the program prior to certification. In February 2019, NASA acknowledged that delays to certification could continue, and announced plans to extend U.S. access to the ISS through September 2020 by purchasing seats on the Russian Soyuz vehicle."
"We must have a clear-eyed appreciation for the risk involved in space exploration. Flying to the moon will not be much safer in 2024 than it was in 1969. Exploration always comes with risk, and with some regularity exploration risk is realized. The real cost of Artemis will be written in blood. Face that fact. This may be considered a poor time to bring this up - at a time when so many folks are actively working toward program approval. Death is hardly a selling point. But if we don't recognize that fact, the program will come apart at the first bad day."
"Challenge fosters excellence, often drawing on previously untapped skills and abilities. Each of us takes and accepts risk as a part of our daily existence. We often go out of our way to seek challenge. However, seeking challenge often means accepting a high level of risk. The dictionary defi nes risk as being exposed to hazard or danger. To accept risk is to accept possible loss or injury, even death. One of the key issues that continues to be debated in the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia is the level of risk NASA accepted. And, ultimately, the entire nation is now engaged in a broader debate over whether or not the exploration of space is worth the risk of human life. While risk can often be reduced or controlled, there comes a point when the removal of all risk is either impossible or so impractical that it completely undermines the very nature of what NASA was created to do--to pioneer the future. Everyone today understands that human space exploration is a risky endeavor. However, the quest for discovery and knowledge, and the risks involved in overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles is not unique to NASA. Whether the challenge is exploring the depths of our oceans or reaching the top of our highest mountains, great feats usually involve great risk."
"During that time when the VSE was seen as a refreshing recommitment to exploration post-Columbia - there was a momentary alliance between all factions. People thought bold adventurous thoughts again. Back to the Moon and then on to Mars. Craig Steidle was looking to do some branding and meme generation. He hit on one thing that was really ballsy (larger image) . The motto was "Fortuna Audaces Juvat" which is usually translated as a variant of "Fortune favors the bold" - a latin proverb most prominently repeated in Virgil's "Aeneid" at 10.284. You have no doubt seen this phrase before. Its common in the military - for good reasons. It has a Star Trek vibe to it. Craig Steidel drew a line in the sand and provided a motto to wear on one's shoulders as the agency set forth back into space. I thought it was a master stroke. Too bad NASA doesn't do things like this any more."
Keith's note: Wayne Hale's words ring true in a way we seem to be forgetting again. In 2004 John Grunsfeld and I organized a symposium on Risk and Exploration for Sean O'Keefe. At the core of this event was an attempt to compare risks faced - and accepted by NASA and those faced and accepted by other explorers. We held this event barely a year after the loss of Columbia - so these risk evaluations were foremost in everyone's minds. This event had a big effect on people's thinking - including Wayne Hale who ordered a box of copies of the Symposium's proceedings to use to educate his staff at JSC. So now here we are in 2019. We've had several accidents or "mishaps" as we develop commercial crew flights while flying on Soyuz spacecraft. NASA is now talking about skipping a "green test" - and all-up firing of the SLS first stage so that we can meet a rushed deadline - one set with little warning - to land humans on the Moon in 5 years.
Yes fortune does often favor the bold. But it also punishes the ill-prepared.
"There is not overwhelming enthusiasm for returning to the moon. In March, Vice President Mike Pence called for NASA to send astronauts to the moon within five years. Forty-two percent favor that idea, while 20% oppose and 38% neither favor nor oppose. Thirty-seven percent say sending astronauts to Mars should take precedence over going back to the moon, while 18% would rather have NASA send more astronauts to the moon. But 43% do not think either action should be a priority for the country. While about half of Americans would take the opportunity to orbit the Earth, most say they have no interest in traveling to the moon or Mars. Space travel has more appeal for younger adults."
"If Jim Bridenstine can craft the proverbial "elevator speech" that gets everyone, everywhere on board with Artemis - whether it is in the Halls of Congress or in a Walmart parking lot in 'Flyover Country' - then there will be no stopping NASA. Right now, PR slogans aside, the only clear reason we have is a directive from the White House with a delivery date that is equal to the length of a second term. Why isn't all of America buzzing about going back to the Moon? If NASA and Jim Bridenstine can answer that question then they will be well along the path of understanding how to find that elusive "Why" that Artemis is currently lacking."
Keith's note: It seems that this poll is answering my question. A lack of overt enthusiasm for Artemis and returning to the Moon may well reflect what the country is thinking right now. That can change - but only if the proponents for space exploration - be they NASA employees - or just regular citizens - need to make a better case for doing things in space. Absent that the polls are going to continue to be showing mediocre support.
"This application uses information from previous grant 0068-EX-ST-2019. This STA is necessary for Dragon2 capsule telemetry, tracking, and command, for the upcoming SpaceX Commercial Crew vehicle demonstration mission to the International Space Station. The launch and re-entry licensing authority is the FAA. Launch is also to be coordinated with the Eastern Range. On-orbit rendezvous with the ISS is to be coordinated with the NASA.
Requested Period of Operation
Operation Start Date: 11/01/2019
Operation End Date: 05/01/2020"
Keith's note: If you visit the NASA Mars 2020 website and go to the Science page it talks about the mission's strategy as being to "Seek Signs of Life" on Mars. That is what NASA's Astrobiology program does, right? Alas, this JPL website does not use the word "astrobiology" - anywhere. Not even in the Instruments page.
Oddly If you go to the NASA Mars Exploration Program page on science there is a link to "Astrobiology" which refers to Mars 2020. If you go to the NASA Astrobiology page on Mars 2020 it describes the Mars 2020 mission as a mission with lots of Astrobiology on it.
If you go to the main NASA science page (which makes no mention of "Astrobiology" and use the search function to search for "astrobiology" you get a search results page that says "no results found" but has some old Astrobiology press releases from 2008.
Why are these parts of NASA incapable of presenting a common description of this mission or Astrobiology?
"In November 2018, within one year of announcing an up to 19-month delay for the three programs - the Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle, the Orion spacecraft, and supporting ground systems - NASA senior leaders acknowledged the revised date of June 2020 is unlikely. Any issues uncovered during planned integration and testing may push the launch date as late as June 2021. Moreover, while NASA acknowledges about $1 billion in cost growth for the SLS program, it is understated. This is because NASA shifted some planned SLS scope to future missions but did not reduce the program's cost baseline accordingly. When GAO reduced the baseline to account for the reduced scope, the cost growth is about $1.8 billion. In addition, NASA's updated cost estimate for the Orion program reflects 5.6 percent cost growth. The estimate is not complete, however, as it assumes a launch date that is 7 months earlier than Orion's baseline launch date. If the program does not meet the earlier launch date, costs will increase further."
"Multiple IT security control weaknesses reduce JPL's ability to prevent, detect, and mitigate attacks targeting its systems and networks, thereby exposing NASA systems and data to exploitation by cyber criminals. ... We also found that security problem log tickets, created in the ITSDB when a potential or actual IT system security vulnerability is identified, were not resolved for extended periods of time - sometimes longer than 180 days. ... Further, we found that multiple JPL incident management and response practices deviate from NASA and recommended industry practices. ... Finally, while the contract between NASA and Caltech requires JPL to report certain types of IT security incidents to the Agency through the NASA SOC incident management system, no controls were in place to ensure JPL compliance with this requirement nor did NASA officials have access to JPL's incident management system. Collectively, these weaknesses leave NASA data and systems at risk. Despite these significant concerns, the contract NASA signed with Caltech in October 2018 to manage JPL for at least the next 5 years left important IT security requirements unresolved and instead both sides agreed to continue negotiating these issues. As of March 2019, the Agency had not approved JPL's plans to implement new IT security policies and requirements NASA included in its October 2018 contract."
"My integrity and belief in SCO's mission is more important to me than my friendship over many years with Mike (Griffin)." That is why the head of the Pentagon's vaunted Strategic Capabilities Office, Chris Shank, has resigned rather than see his office transferred to DARPA. Griffin called Shank into his office on Friday and told him the office would be transferred and asked for Shank's resignation. He agreed and immediately resigned. Griffin has pushed hard for the transfer of the SCO but Rep. Mac Thornberry, top HASC Republican, added language calling for more study of the move in the HASC National Defense Authorization Act markup last Wednesday. The Senate Armed Services Committee added similar language. They are not alone in opposing the transfer of SCO."
Keith's note: Next week a SpaceX Falcon Heavy with be launched. On board will be the Celestis Heritage payload. Inside will be some ashes of my long time friend and collaborator Frank Sietzen. It would seem that Frank is about to become the first journalist in space. Frank was also the first SpaceX employee in Washington DC.