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HLS Contract: Sore Losers In Big Aerospace

By Keith Cowing on April 16, 2021 8:56 PM.

Coalition for Deep Space Comment As NASA Continues Path to Return to Moon

"The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (Coalition) applauds NASA for awarding a Human Landing System (HLS) contract for the Artemis program. Along with the Space Launch System, the Orion spacecraft, Exploration Ground Systems, and the Gateway, the HLS is a critical component for enabling the return of astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo era."

Keith's note: If you read this Coalition for Deep Space Exploration statement carefully you will see that while they "applaud NASA" on the HLS contract thing they are so small that can't even mention or congratulate SpaceX. SpaceX is not a member of the Coalition but all of the Big Aerospace companies who lost out on this contract are members.

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Congressional Reaction To HLS Announcement

By Keith Cowing on April 16, 2021 5:50 PM.

Chairwoman Johnson Statement on NASA's Artemis Human Landing System Award

"I am disappointed that the Acting NASA leadership decided to make such a consequential award prior to the arrival of a new permanent NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator. The decision to make the award today also comes despite the obvious need for a re-baselining of NASA's lunar exploration program, which has no realistic chance of returning U.S. astronauts to the Moon by 2024. While work continues on the upcoming Artemis-1 mission, it will be critically important for the new NASA leadership team to carry out its own review of all elements of NASA's Moon-Mars initiative to ensure that this major national undertaking is put on a sound footing."

Keith's note: My question at the NASA press event: "Senator Nelson has been a staunch SLS supporter since day one. If NASA really used the capability of SpaceX Starship architecture to its fullest sustainable extent this could easily set forth a path to reduce the need for SLS launches. Sen. Nelson's confirmation hearing is next week. If Sen. Nelson says that this procurement decision should be revisited is NASA prepared to re-do the initial procurement to pick more than one HLS contractor? And if Congress needs to enact changes in law to accomodate a procurement change has NASA given thought as to how that would be accomplished?"

Jurczyk: "We have no plans to change our architecture for lunar landing missions. We did this procurement with a competition etc etc and made selection and we are moving forward we have no intent to revisit the selection."

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All SpaceX Starship Tests Are Now NASA Artemis Tests

By Keith Cowing on April 16, 2021 5:40 PM.

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Formal NASA Human Lander Announced

By Keith Cowing on April 16, 2021 4:50 PM.

NASA Picks SpaceX to Land Next Americans on Moon

"At least one of those astronauts will make history as the first woman on the Moon. Another goal of the Artemis program includes landing the first person of color on the lunar surface. The firm-fixed price, milestone-based contract total award value is $2.89 billion."

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Welcome back to NASA, Pam. Nothing Has Changed

By Keith Cowing on April 16, 2021 2:39 PM.

Keith's note: Apparently neither NASA or the White House are inclined to issue a formal press release about the nomination of Pam Melroy to be NASA's new Deputy Administrator. Nothing on NASA.gov. I guess its not a big deal to NASA or the Administration. They just let things dribble out. Oh well, welcome back to NASA, Pam. Nothing has changed.

Keith's 3:20 pm EDT udpate: Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate eight leaders to key Administration posts (Pam Melroy)
Keith's 4:09 pm EDT udpate: NASA Statement on Nomination of Pam Melroy for Agency Deputy Administrator

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Melroy:
It's a great honor to be nominated by President Biden to support Senator Nelson and help lead NASA. The agency is critical in America's fight to combat climate change and maintain leadership in space.

This year, NASA will embark on the first human deep space exploration program since Apollo, launch the James Webb Telescope, test the first all-electric X-Plane, and further technologies to take humans to Mars. And the way to do it is as a team that honors diversity in every dimension!

Nelson:
As a retired USAF Colonel and test pilot, former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle commander, and a dynamic leader with a wide breadth of experience, I believe that Pam Melroy will be a great partner to help lead NASA.

Pam has the longstanding technical and leadership experience that will help NASA on its mission to explore the cosmos, expand climate change research, and ensure NASA-developed technologies benefit life here on Earth. It's important that NASA has a team leading the agency towards the future - one of partnership and collaboration with commercial providers and committed to advancing equity for all Americans. Together, we will work to help NASA reach its full potential and accomplish the agency's critical missions in the years and decades to come.

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NASA Human Landing System Announcement Soon

By Keith Cowing on April 16, 2021 12:39 PM.

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Pam Melroy Deputy Administrator Nomination Due On Friday

By Keith Cowing on April 15, 2021 4:48 PM.

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NASA Ames And NASA HQ STEM Ignore Each Other

By Keith Cowing on April 15, 2021 4:09 PM.

NASA Lands in Oakland! New Partnership with Chabot Space & Science Center Will Create NASA Learning Opportunities in the East Bay, NASA Ames

"A new partnership between NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley and Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California, is now underway. Anchoring the partnership, a new visitor center for Ames will provide an immersive, dynamic STEAM environment called "The NASA Experience," opening at Chabot in November 2021. Under the terms of a five-year Space Act Agreement, the organizations are beginning a long-term collaboration to create accessible STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, art, and math, community engagement and education opportunities in Oakland and beyond."

Keith's note: A new STEM education activity at NASA Ames has been announced at - and by - NASA Ames. Typically, there is no mention of this NASA STEM education news by @NASASTEM Twitter account. There is no link within the NASA Ames press release of the NASA STEM Engagement Office at NASA HQ - which, in turn, makes no mention of this new NASA STEM educational partnership at NASA Ames.

No one within the NASA education community seems to want to cooperate with any other part of NASA and the NASA STEM Office at NASA HQ - the place where you'd expect some sort of central focus on all that NASA does in terms of education, seems to be out of the loop. And NASA Public Affairs does not seem to care either.

This is not #BuildBackBetter folks.

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Bill Nelson Confirmation Hearing Date Set

By Keith Cowing on April 15, 2021 12:53 PM.

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Stupid Mars Headline Goes Global And NASA Sits On Its Hands (Update)

By Keith Cowing on April 15, 2021 11:49 AM.

Keith's note: This article in The Sun is featured front and center on Drudge Report which means that a hundred million people are going to see it and - even if they do not actually click on the link - they still get the impression that "NASA lander 'in crisis' as probe engulfed by Martian dust storms..." which points to "LIGHT'S OUT Nasa's Insight lander 'in crisis' as $800m probe is engulfed by Martian dust storms" on The Sun in the UK. The Sun does link to the latest NASA Insight report from JPL - dated 12 February 2021 - two months ago. Given the false impressions that are circulating one would think that JPL, SMD, and PAO would fix this situation with an update such that these stupid arm waving headlines do not start to echo around the world.

And of course everyone in the media - seeing one incendiary headline - and absent any update for 2 months from NASA - piles onto the exaggerated narrative with headlines using the words "die", "deep trouble", etc. Someone at NASA needs to manage this news much better. If the lander is indeed on the verge of shutting down - then say so. If not, then say so. Letting editors who pick headlines to get clicks is not the way to circulate accurate spacecraft health reports. Just sayin'

- NASA's Lander Is About to Die on Mars, Interesting engineering
- NASA's Insight Mars Lander Is 'in Crisis', And Has Entered Emergency Hibernation, ScienceAlert
- NASA's Mars InSight lander may be in deep trouble, BGR
- NASA's InSight Mars lander is going into emergency hibernation. If it can't save its batteries, it could die., Yahoo

Keith's update:

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Sierra Nevadą Is Creating A New Space Company

By Keith Cowing on April 14, 2021 9:00 AM.

Sierra Nevada Memo Announcing New Company "Sierra Space"

"To achieve this growth and even greater impact more quickly, today we are announcing our space business area will transition to become an independent, commercial space company - Sierra Space. Our teams and technologies are uniquely positioned to realize this significant current market opportunity to build the new space economy. Sierra Space will remain part of the SNC family as a subsidiary and continue deep cooperation and synergy across customers, technologies, and many shared activities."

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Review: The High Frontier: The Untold Story Of Gerard K. O'Neill

By Keith Cowing on April 12, 2021 10:51 PM.

The High Frontier: The Untold Story Of Gerard K. O'Neill: A Review

As the size of satellites shrinks and the ubiquity of the technology expands it is close to being possible to build a rocket in a garage and put something into space. OK, I am exaggerating. But my straw man talking point is a lot closer to reality today than it might have been 40 years ago.

Back in the late 1970s and 1980s the potential of space exploration had started to morph into the era of space utilization. Utilization meant different things to different people. Some wanted to make money. Full stop. Others wanted to settle the solar system. Most were somewhere in the middle with an eye on both extremes. But most people tended to think small since space efforts had, to date, involved putting small things in space, once in a while and at great expense to get them there.

Some of you may recall the world before Federal Express or the Internet. It cost a lot to move things across Earth. More to get things into space. What happens when the cost of putting things into space drops while the need to bring things to space from Earth drops as well? That was at the heart of what Gerald K. O'Neill thought about - what this documentary aptly focuses on.

Full Review

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Yet Another Stealth NASA New Business Event

By Keith Cowing on April 12, 2021 1:47 PM.

IMEC and Cook County Partner with NASA to Bring New Business Opportunity Event to Manufacturers

"Cook County Board President Preckwinkle, the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium (CMMC), and IMEC will host a 3-Day virtual event with NASA and its prime contractors to bring new business opportunities to manufacturers in Cook County and throughout Illinois. In 2020, NASA's prime contractors received over $2B in contract funding to support the Marshall Space Flight Center's ongoing development of NASA's Space Launch System and its proposals to create complementary systems."

Keith's note: If you look at what the Biden Administration is saying about business and infrastructure they have a page focused on Illinois. They have one for every state. They are looking to reinvigorate a broad range of activities in America - not just infrastructure but also basic aspects of business.

You'd think that someone at NASA HQ would be reading the policy memos from the White House as to what is important and worth promoting a visible way. This event sounds like it is resonating with all of these new White House efforts. You'd think that NASA would want everyone to know about this - and show the White House that they are on board with all of there initiatives - not just in Illinois - but as an example of NASA-related events that could be conducted across America. Guess again.

There is no mention of this event or associated activity at the NASA MSFC home page or on its Doing Business page. No mention at NASA.gov. No mention at the NASA Office of Small Business Programs, or the NASA SLS home page, or at the NASA Commercial Space page.

As you can see below this is not the first time that NASA has bungled the outreach for the true economic impact of what it does.

- That NASA SLS Small Business Report Is Out Of Date, earlier post
- Another NASA Business Event Few Will Ever Hear About, earlier post
- JSC Is Not Very Excited About NASA's Economic Impact on Texas (Update), earlier post
- SLS Spurred The Private Sector By Being A Bad Example, earlier post
- NASA Centers Can't Be Bothered To Mention The Economic Report, earlier post
- Lockheed Martin's Bad Orion Marketing Hype, earlier post
- NASA: A Texas Institution with a Large Economic Impact, earlier post
- NASA Orion Buying Spree Makes Texas Happy Again, earlier post

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Book Review: "The Mission: A True Story"

By Keith Cowing on April 12, 2021 9:22 AM.

"The Mission: A True Story" By David W. Brown: A Review

"To most people outside of NASA, a space mission that is making the news often appears out of nowhere. Sometimes there may be a little news when it is launched and maybe some tidbits along the way. Otherwise, when it does something cool - like land on a planet or sends back pretty pictures, you hear about it albeit with no back story. For a moment NASA gets a sugar high and then ... nothing - unless the mission makes a big discovery down the road. 

Yes, NASA puts out newsy things with factoids and status reports, but for most people, these missions just seem to happen. But where did the mission come from, people may wonder. Whose idea was it? Who are those people jumping up and down in the control room? Were there other ways to do the mission? Did someone want to go somewhere else instead? Did everyone agree or were there arguments? And by the way, where did that mission's name come from anyway?

"The Mission" by David W. Brown takes a rather unorthodox look into the backstory of space missions by focusing on one in particular: the mission currently known as Europa Clipper. Brown documents how this mission came to be, the iterations and name changes it went through, the internal gyrations among program managers, budgeteers, scientists, and politicians, but most importantly, the people. Yes, while the spacecraft are usually the stars of the show, this expensive, shiny hardware is simply a reflection of a team of humans putting their mind toward a distant task -  while swatting off other humans who would seek to deter them from their task "

Full review

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My STS-1 Story

By Keith Cowing on April 12, 2021 8:55 AM.

Keith's note: I had an interesting job at STS-1 - I was Jerry Brown's advance man. I took a few days off from my job at Rockwell Downey where I stood inside of Discovery and Atlantis as they were being built to work for my old boss (I worked on his 1980 presidential campaign). The trip to the launch was insane. The area was still somewhat boarded up after the post-Apollo economic downturn and things were opening up for the shuttle era. So everyone was happy on the Space Coast.

At one point I: drove a large Chevy back and forth between the Mouse Trap and the old Holiday Inn (more than once) with Mercury and Gemini astronauts inside: tried to get Jerry to say hi to Christopher Reeve (he did, what a really nice guy he was); tried to keep Jerry away from Pat Boone (failed); set up a dinner with our group and (then) Rep. Bill Nelson - who then stood us up; and spent a lot of time talking to author James Michener about the new space book he was writing. The son of the President of Mexico, Nichelle Nichols, astronaut Rusty Schweickart, and Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand were in our traveling entourage.

Before the launch I also spent a lot of time walking around with George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg (who joined our merry bunch) looking at IMAX cameras and bothering Tom Brokaw while a very patient Judy Resnik answered questions. We then walked down A1A to Al Neuharth's Punkin Center. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" premiered 15 June 1981. Let's just say I got a slight preview of coming attractions. I left them saying "keep doing what you are doing". They did.

After the launch at Al Neuharth's house I let Alan Shephard and Buzz Aldrin use my motel key to scratch their signatures on the viewfinder of the Hasselblad camera that our photographer Jamie Stoughton used - his father was JFK's photographer (he also took the B&W photos of me and Jerry at the launch). An hour or so after the launch a helicopter flew over the house and dropped bundles of Florida Today newspapers showing pictures of the launch we just saw. The entire event was surreal.

Oh and then there was the landing. At the landing I offered Nastassja Kinski a donut on the bus up to Edwards and she acted insulted that I'd offer her junk food. At the VIP area John Denver and I were trying to figure out how to properly use the Canon A-1 cameras we had both just bought. And then the shuttle dropped like a brick onto the runway. I was 25. My feet never touched through ground through out this mission.

That is my STS-1 story.

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 April, 2021 - Expedition 64 Trio Back On Earth

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 April, 2021 - Expedition 64 Trio Back On Earth Video in Story

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos landed on Earth at 12:55 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 17 in Kazakhstan. The trio departed the International Space Station in their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft at 9:34 p.m.

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