Walking on Coals: Bridenstine Dances Around Hot Climate Change Issues

The new NASA global data set combines historical measurements with data from climate simulations using the best available computer models to provide forecasts of how global temperature (shown here) and precipitation might change up to 2100 under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Nominee Kinda Sorta Doesn’t Really
Walk Back Position on Global Warming

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Friday, the U.S. government released a long-in-the-making report on climate change that contained a stark assessment of what humans are doing to planet Earth.

“This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the report states. “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

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Will the National Space Council Make a Difference at NASA?

Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)

Warren Ferster Consulting asks whether the newly revived National Space Council will make much of a difference at NASA, whose human deep space programs are dependent upon the Congressionally supported Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft.

Some have suggested that, with a space council chaired by Vice President Mike Pence cracking the whip, the full potential of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin can be brought to bear in support of the nation’s space goals. The implication is this hasn’t happened to date, which is puzzling since leveraging commercial capabilities to support the International Space Station was the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s space policy.

Obama was challenged in that effort not by the lack of a National Space Council, but by Capitol Hill, where key lawmakers viewed his outsourcing initiative as a threat to the pet program that they mandated, the decidedly uncommercial Space Launch System.

The super-heavy-lift SLS is exhibit A of the argument that getting the Executive Branch speaking with one voice on space policy, while sensible, won’t matter a great deal if Congress has a different agenda.

To recap, Obama’s human spaceflight policy was to outsource ISS crew and cargo transportation and invest in technologies with the potential to change the economics of deep space exploration. To make budgetary room, Obama canceled Constellation, a collection of hardware development programs begun under his predecessor, George W. Bush.

The article notes that Bush got bipartisan approval from Congress for the Constellation program without a National Space Council. The program included Orion and two space shuttle-derived Ares boosters for human orbital and deep-space missions.

Obama subsequently canceled the Constellation program, only to have Congress revive the program as SLS and Orion. Only the smaller Ares orbital booster was canceled.

Obama Administration Highlights Space Achievements in Exit Memo

Astronaut Cady Coleman speaks to a group of fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts about her time in space, at the first-ever White House Campout, hosted by the First Lady as part of the Let's Move! Outside initiative on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. NASA also provided telescopes and led a stargazing activity. {Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
Astronaut Cady Coleman speaks to a group of fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts about her time in space, at the first-ever White House Campout, hosted by the First Lady as part of the Let’s Move! Outside initiative on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. NASA also provided telescopes and led a stargazing activity. {Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has released an exit memo highlighting the Obama Administration’s achievements in science and technology.  Excerpts covering achievements in space follows.
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Will Trump Scrap NASA’s Climate Research Mission?

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

NASA does more than explore other planets; it studies our own.
Agency scientists worry Donald Trump will abort the work.

by Andrew Revkin
ProPublica, Dec. 12, 2016, 8 a.m.

The wonders of NASA 2014 Mars rovers, astronaut Instagram feeds, audacious missions probing distant galactic mysteries 2014 have long enthralled the American public. And, it turns out, the accomplishments have won the agency the public’s trust: Polls have consistently shown NASA to be the second-most trusted government institution, behind only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The public, however, probably has less appreciation for the work NASA has done on its home planet. NASA’s $2-billion-a-year earth-science program has long tracked global-scale environmental conditions on Earth, including climate change.

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Original 7 Astronaut John Glenn Passes Away at 95

john-glenn-with-friendship-7-capsule
Sad to report that former NASA astronaut John Glenn, who became the first American to fly into orbit in 1962, has passed away in an Ohio hospital. He was 95 years old.

In addition to flying Friendship 7 in the Project Mercury, Glenn became the oldest person to travel into space when he joined the STS-95 space shuttle crew on a nearly 9-day orbital mission in 1998.

At the time of his second and final spaceflight, Glenn was a United States Senator from Ohio. He served in the Senate from December 1974 to January 1999.

Glenn was the last of NASA’s Original 7 astronauts to pass away. Scott Carpenter died in 2013 at the age of 88.

My deepest sympathies to his wife, Annie, and his family and friends.

President Barack Obama issued a statement today on Glenn’s passing.

Statement by the President on the Passing of John Glenn

When John Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas rocket in 1962, he lifted the hopes of a nation. And when his Friendship 7 spacecraft splashed down a few hours later, the first American to orbit the Earth reminded us that with courage and a spirit of discovery there’s no limit to the heights we can reach together.

With John’s passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend. John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars. John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond–not just to visit, but to stay.

Today, the people of Ohio remember a devoted public servant who represented his fellow Buckeyes in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and who fought to keep America a leader in science and technology. Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Annie, their children John and Carolyn and the entire Glenn family. The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn.

Obama Signs Law to Prevent Encroachments on Nation’s Spaceports

us_spaceports_2016
President Barack Obama has signed into law a measure that will help the nation’s growing legion of spaceports fight the encroachment of obstacles such as transmission lines that could endanger suborbital spacecraft.

The measure, sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), was inspired by a problem experienced by the Mojave Air and Space Port, which is in the Congressman’s district. A utility company built extra tall transmission towers near the airport, sparking safety concerns among officials there.

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Obama Signs Executive Order on Space Weather

Solar flare and Coronal Mass Ejection from the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory.  (Credit: NASA).
Solar flare and Coronal Mass Ejection from the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Credit: NASA).

By Dr. Tamara Dickinson
Principal Assistant Director for Environment and Energy
White House

Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that seeks to coordinate efforts to prepare the Nation for space weather events.

The Executive Order will help reduce economic loss, save lives, and enhance national security by ordering the creation of nationwide response and recovery plans and procedures that incorporate technologies that mitigate the effects of space-weather events.

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Making Human Settlement of Space a Reality

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

By John Holdren and Charles Bolden

Today, President Obama outlined a vision to CNN for the future of space exploration.  Echoing what he said in the 2015 State of the Union address, the President wrote, “We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time.”  Later this week, many of the Nation’s top innovators will come together in Pittsburgh at the White House Frontiers Conference, where they will further explore, among other things, how American investments in science and technology will help us settle “the final frontier” – space.   But today, we’re excited to announce two new NASA initiatives that build on the President’s vision and utilize public-private partnerships to enable humans to live and work in space in a sustainable way.

In April 2010, the President challenged the country – and NASA – to send American astronauts on a Journey to Mars in the 2030s.  By reaching out further into the solar system and expanding the frontiers of exploration, the President outlined a vision for pushing the bounds of human discovery, while also revitalizing the space industry and creating jobs here at home.

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Obama Nominates Hyten to Lead U.S. Strategic Command

Gen. John E. Hyten
Gen. John E. Hyten

President Barack Obama has nominated U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten as the new commander of U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom).

Hyten had headed Air Force Space Command since 2014. President Obama has nominated Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond, who serves as the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations, to replace Hyten at that position in overseeing space operations.

“I want to congratulate Gen. John Hyten on his nomination by President Obama to be commander of U.S. Strategic Command,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a press release.

“I’ve known and worked closely with Gen. Hyten for several years, and over the course of his three-and-a-half decades in the Air Force, he has been a model for generations of men and women in uniform,” Carter said. “And he’s done so in a wide range of roles: from commanding airmen at the squadron, group, wing, and major command levels, to leveraging America’s space assets in support of troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, to helping our military confront 21st-century threats in new domains like space and cyberspace.”

Hyten will replace Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney as Stratcom’s commander. The nomination requires Senate confirmation.

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International Institute of Space Law Weighs in on Space Mining Law

IISL_logoINTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SPACE LAW

Position Paper on Space Resource Mining
Adopted by consensus by the Board of Directors on 20 December 2015

I. The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act

On 25 November 2015, the President of the United States signed into law the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262).1 It consists of four Titles: I. Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship; II. Commercial Remote Sensing; III. Office of Space Commerce; and IV. Space Resource Exploration and Utilization.

Title IV, which is of interest here, addresses in a preliminary way space resource exploitation.

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U.S., India to Deepen Cooperation in Space

india-flagPresident Barack Obama is on a state visit to India. The U.S. and Indian governments released a joint statement focusing on areas of cooperation, including enhanced cooperation in space. The following are excerpts from the statement.

The Prime Minister and the President acknowledged and expressed satisfaction at the qualitative reinvigoration of strategic ties and the intensity of substantive interactions since the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in September 2014.  They appreciated the focused action and accomplishments by both sides on the decisions taken during the Summit in September and in this regard, they welcomed:

  • The 30 September 2014 signing of an implementing agreement between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to conduct the joint NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission.

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi agreed to further promote cooperative and commercial relations between India and the United States in the field of space.  The leaders noted the on-going interactions between their space agencies, including towards realizing a dual frequency radar imaging satellite for Earth Sciences, and exploring possibilities for cooperation in studying Mars.

The Leaders took note of ongoing U.S.-India space cooperation, including the first face-to-face meeting of the ISRO-NASA Mars Working Group from 29-31 January 2015 in Bangalore, in which the two sides will consider opportunities for enhanced cooperation in Mars exploration, including potential coordinated observations and analysis between ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission (MAVEN).  The Prime Minister and the President also welcomed continued progress toward enhanced space cooperation via the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group, which will meet later this year in India.

Judge Issues Injunction Barring ULA From Procuring Russian Engines

elon_musk_control_panel
Elon Musk

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Elon Musk’s efforts to overturn a U.S. Air Force launch contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA) has had an immediate impact, with a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge issuing a preliminary injunction barring rival ULA  from any further purchases of Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines for its Atlas V launch vehicle.

Judge Susan G. Braden issued the order late Wednesday barring ULA and the U.S. Air Force “from making any purchases from or payment of money to NPO Energomash or any entity, whether governmental, corporate or individual, that is subject to the control of Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin, unless and until the court receives the opinion of the United States Department of the Treasury, and the United States Department of Commerce and United States Department of State, that any such purchases or payments will not directly or indirectly contravene Executive Order 13,661. The scope of this preliminary injunction does not extend to any purchase orders that have been placed or moneys paid to NPO Energomash prior to the date of this Order.”

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NASA Supports Innovative New Manufacturing

A 3-D printed rocket part blazes to life during a hot-fire test. (Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)
A 3-D printed rocket part blazes to life during a hot-fire test. (Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)

by David Weaver

On Tuesday, President Obama announced that Chicago will be the site of a public-private partnership Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute.. Led by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the agency will support the new Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute with tools including prize challenges, university research grants and expert advice and knowledge sharing.

The idea behind the new Chicago institute is that manufacturing is being transformed by digital design, which replaces the drawing table with the capacity to work and create in a virtual environment. It has the potential for producing a faster and cheaper next-generation aircraft engine, or drastically reducing the amount of scrap material associated with small manufacturing runs and speeding the design process among multiple suppliers.

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NASA’s Day of Remembrance Pays Tribute to 3 Brave Crews

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks to NASA personnel and others during a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery.  The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration.  Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks to NASA personnel and others during a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA’s Day of Remembrance, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Message from the Administrator: Day of Remembrance

Today we pause in our normal routines and reflect on the contributions of those who lost their lives trying to take our nation farther into space. On our annual Day of Remembrance, please join me in giving thanks for the legacy of the STS-107 Columbia crew; the STS-51L Challenger crew; the Apollo 1 crew; and Mike Adams, the first in-flight fatality of the space program as he piloted the X-15 No. 3 on a research flight.

These men and women were our friends, family and colleagues, and we will never forget their lives and passion to push us farther and achieve more.  They have our everlasting love, respect and gratitude.

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