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Shh! NASA Wants Your Commercial Space Station Astronaut Ideas

By Keith Cowing on June 12, 2021 2:22 PM.

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

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

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

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

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

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Wallops PAO Is Giving Media Exclusives To Classified Launch Pads

By Keith Cowing on June 11, 2021 1:18 PM.

Keith's note: Really? NASA Wallops PAO is giving "exclusive on-pad access" to a launch pad with a classified mission sitting on it and only one media outlet gets this "exclusive on-pad access"? And they are bragging about it? And that's OK with NASA PAO? The last time I asked NASA HQ PAO about this they told me emphatically that they do not give "exclusives". WTKR News 3 is not exactly a nationally distributed news channel. Once again Wallops PAO is playing favorites with their local pals.

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NASAWatch on CNN: Billionaires And Their Rocketships

By Keith Cowing on June 10, 2021 8:36 PM.

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

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Biden Gives Yet Another Shout Out To Aeronautics And Space

By Keith Cowing on June 9, 2021 4:15 PM.

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New Look For NASA Small Business But It Still Ignores Its Own Events

By Keith Cowing on June 9, 2021 12:41 PM.

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

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Rep. Gohmert Wants To Alter Earth and Moon Orbits To Fight Climate Change

By Keith Cowing on June 9, 2021 10:04 AM.

Keith's note: Resident science genius Rep. Gohmert (R-TX) asked someone from the Forest Service if they can alter the orbit of Earth and/or the Moon to deal with climate change. I guess there is a silver lining: we can all sleep well tonight in the knowledge that Rep. Gohmert knows that Earth orbits the sun.

Rep. Gohmert (R-TX): "I understand from what's been testified to by the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change understand that you want to work on the issue of climake change. I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that the Moon's orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth's orbit around the sun. And we know there has been significant solar flare activities. Um, and so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the Moon's orbit or the Earth's orbit around the sun? Obviously they would have profound effects on our climate."

Stunned Forest Service Representative: "I would have to follow up with you on that one Mr. Gohmert."

Gohmert: "Yea. Well, if you figure out a way that you in the, uh, in the Forest Service can make that change, I'd like to know."

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Rogozin Dials Up The Complaints And Makes Threats

By Keith Cowing on June 8, 2021 11:39 AM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More Rich People In Space

By Keith Cowing on June 7, 2021 7:16 PM.

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Rethinking NASA's Search For Life In The Universe

By Keith Cowing on June 6, 2021 11:45 AM.

NASA is getting serious about UFOs, CNN

"We don't know if it's extraterrestrial. We don't know if it's an enemy. We don't know if it's an optical phenomenon," Nelson said. "We don't think [it's an optical phenomenon] because of the characteristics that those Navy jet pilots described ... And so the bottom line is, we want to know." NASA press secretary Jackie McGuinness said Nelson did not establish a formal task force to begin investigating UFOs. However, he did direct researchers to move forward with exploring any lines of questioning around the topic as they see fit."

Opinion: We're asking the wrong questions about UFOs, Washington Post

"In recent decades, science has focused on aspects of extraterrestrial inquiry, including the search for signs of life on other planets -- think the Mars rover-- and techno-signatures -- radio signals that appear to emanate from outside Earth. The research has been complex, evidence-based and demanding, pulling in scientists from across disciplines and all around the globe. The same should be true for the exploration of UAP sightings. If we want to understand what UAP are, then we need to engage the mainstream scientific community in a concerted effort to study them. ... Ravi Kopparapu is a planetary scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Jacob Haqq-Misra is a research scientist at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science."

Keith's note: There is a big government report coming out and it mentions UFOs, aliens, and the who knows what else. Its formal release is still more than 2 weeks away and yet we're already arguing about what it says and doesn't say - and what should be done about what its says or doesn't say. In essence we have little concrete evidence - about a report that apparently says that we have little concrete evidence - as to what these UFO/UAP things are or are not. We are accelerating our level of ignorance with arm waving and everyone is jumping on board.

This Department of Defense UFO/UAP report is going to force NASA and other agencies to respond. It cannot be stopped. it is coming out. Indeed it is already dribbling out. There is no way to get around that. If NASA is smart, they will take this opportunity to fix some things and use this opportunity to its advantage. Or they will find their commentary bouncing around the news and internet sphere with hesitant statements competing with overt conspiracy mongering and silly memes. But NASA can seize control of this conversation - if it wants to. It should.

NASA leadership says that the agency is going to look into this thing. Fine. NASA has a world class group of really smart people who can reprogram ancient robots in interstellar space while flying helicopters on Mars. To me, the question is whether NASA's Aeronautics Directorate is studying this UFO thing - which would make some sense given that the manner of motion whereby these objets seem to move is quite inexplicable. Or should NASA's Science Mission Directorate look into this (which makes less sense) as part of its search for life in the universe i.e. NASA's Astrobiology program. Probably both.

Continue reading: Rethinking NASA's Search For Life In The Universe.

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Nelson And Rogozin Had A Chat

By Keith Cowing on June 4, 2021 3:21 PM.

NASA Administrator Statement on Meeting with Roscosmos

"NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released the following statement after an introductory call Friday with Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin: "I was pleased to speak with General Director Dimitry Rogozin this morning in a productive discussion about continued cooperation between NASA and Roscosmos."

Dmitry Rogozin held phone call with NASA head Bill Nelson, Roscosmos

"Therewith, the head of Roscosmos stated several questions that had been initiated by the US side earlier and now are substantially hindering the cooperation. First of all this is about the sanctions introduced by the American administration against the enterprises of the Russian space industry, as well as the absence of any official information in Roscosmos from the US partners on the plans to further control and operate the ISS."

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NASA Technology Ignores Its Cool Stuff But Follows Lady Gaga On Twitter

By Keith Cowing on June 3, 2021 4:04 PM.

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

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NASA Seeks Public Input On Something That The Public Cannot See

By Keith Cowing on June 3, 2021 1:00 PM.

Keith's note: Make sure you read this carefully. NASA Wants your input on something that they use to coordinate public outreach. They call it NSPIREHub and apparently it is a very cool thing. At least they think so. Update: check below. NASA responded - exactly as I expected them to ...

Name of Information Collection: NASA Serves the Public To Inspire Reach-Out and Engage (NSPIREHub), NASA via Federal Register

"The NASA Serves the Public to Inspire Reach-Out and Engage (NSPIREHub) is a one-stop, web-based volunteer management system that streamlines communications, recruitment and marketing and enhances reporting and management of official outreach events. The NSPIREHub engages, informs and inspires current docents, employees (civil servants and contractors), interns and qualified members of the general public to share NASA's advancements, challenges and contributions through participation in official outreach (i.e., launch support, special events support activities, etc.).

The NSPIREHub utilizes a multiple tiered, role-based NAMS provisioning to empower system administrators to request and collect specific user information for the purpose of coordinating the carrying out of NASA's official outreach activities. These specific purposes include but are not limited To: Facilitating pre-event briefings, onsite and virtual support trainings, shadowing opportunities and assignment scheduling.

The information collected and protected within the NSPIREHub helps to ensure all outreach support team members, prior to serving, are equipped with the tools, skills and confidence necessary to share their stories in alignment with NASA's communication priorities. It also makes possible the efficient reporting of metric data relevant to the impact of official outreach on fulfillment of NASA's responsibilities as related to the Space Act, Section 203."

I Googled "NSPIREHub" and got nothing. I used the NASA.gov search engine got nothing. I even tried NTRS. Nothing. I tried searching for "NASA Serves the Public to Inspire Reach-Out and Engage". Nothing - except this Federal Register notice, that is. This Federal Register posting says that NSPIREHub "is a one-stop, web-based volunteer management system that ..." "Is" - that's the operative word. This notice says that this NSPIREHub thing exists and that it does something. But I cannot find any mention of it - anywhere. Is this some sort of secret internal NASA thing? If so then why does this data collection notice seek public input if the public cannot even see the thing to begin with? How can they be expected to provide any input on something that they cannot see? Who owns this NSPIREHub thing? PAO? NASA STEM Engagement? Is this a NASA HQ effort or does some field center run this in stealth mode somewhere?

I have to hand it to NASA though. They have apparently created a totally stealthy public outreach system. Only NASA would think to do invisible outreach, I guess.

Keith's update: I sent a request to the person listed on the Federal Register notice and NASA HQ PAO. It was forwarded to someone at KSC who replied:

"I just want to make sure what type of information you are looking for so I send you the right stuff. The actual website that holds the working information is not available to the public for use. It is only intended for use by NASA/Contractor's with access behind the firewall. Can you please let me know what type of information you are interested in?"

So I replied:

"The reason I ask is that the Federal Register notice clearly asks for public input: "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections." How can the general public provide input for a site that it cannot see? I am a member of the general public so can I see what I need to see in order to provide public feedback? Otherwise why was this notice seeking general public input issued?"

BUT - and this is important - the person at KSC who is responsible is going to pull some things together for me. I am genuinely interested in how NASA does education and outreach - which is what drew my attention to this Federal Register posting in the first place. So, let's see what NASA provides me.

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The State Of NASA

By Keith Cowing on June 3, 2021 2:01 AM.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson Delivers State of NASA Address (Video)

"Nelson remarked on his long history with NASA, and among other topics, discussed the agency's plans for future Earth-focused missions to address climate change and a robotic and human return to the Moon through the Artemis program, as well as announcing two new planetary science missions to Venus - VERITAS and DAVINCI+."

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NASA Selects Two Discovery Missions to Venus

By Marc Boucher on June 2, 2021 4:48 PM.

NASA Selects 2 Missions to Study 'Lost Habitable' World of Venus

"NASA has selected two new missions to Venus, Earth's nearest planetary neighbor.

Part of NASA's Discovery Program, the missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world when it has so many other characteristics similar to ours - and may have been the first habitable world in the solar system, complete with an ocean and Earth-like climate.

These investigations are the final selections from four mission concepts NASA picked in February 2020 as part of the agency's Discovery 2019 competition. Following a competitive, peer-review process, the two missions were chosen based on their potential scientific value and the feasibility of their development plans. The project teams will now work to finalize their requirements, designs, and development plans."

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There Is A "State of NASA" Event On Tuesday

By Keith Cowing on June 2, 2021 1:09 AM.

Media Invited to Administrator's State of NASA Remarks on Climate, Artemis

"In his first address to the workforce, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will discuss the agency's plans for future climate science missions, the agency's plans for a robotic and human return to the Moon through the Artemis program, and more during a State of NASA event at 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 2. The event will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency's website."

Watch

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