Trump, Pence Demand Space Spectacular During Election Year as SLS Schedule Slides Further

SLS liquid hydrogen tank (Credit: NASA/Tyler Martin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

If you’ve been puzzling over exactly why NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suddenly floated the idea of flying the first Orion space capsule to the moon next year without the Space Launch System (SLS), The Washington Post has a couple of answers today:

  • SLS is much further behind schedule than anyone knew; and,
  • 2020 is a presidential election year.

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Pentagon Seeks $14.1 Billion for Military Space Programs

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Department of Defense (DOD) has requested to spend $14.1 billion on space programs in FY 2020, an amount that includes the establishment of a Space Force within the U.S. Air Force and a new Space Development Agency.

“The FY 2020 budget accelerates our efforts to move to a defendable space posture, which is critical as our adversaries continue to develop capabilities to counter our advantages in space,” the DOD said in budget documents. “This budget invests in the survivable and resilient Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared system and continues modernization of our GPS satellites communications systems and space warfighting enterprise.”

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Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 4 Establishing Space Force

Washington
White House Press Release

“Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security.”

— President Donald J. Trump

ESTABLISHING THE SPACE FORCE: President Donald J. Trump’s Space Policy Directive-4 is a bold, strategic step toward guaranteeing American space dominance that sets the framework for establishing the United States Space Force.

  • Space Policy Directive-4 calls on the Secretary of Defense to develop a legislative proposal establishing the Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces.
    • The Space Force will initially be established within the Department of the Air Force.
  • The legislative proposal will embody President Trump’s vision for the Space Force by requiring this new branch of the Armed Forces to:
    • Strengthen America’s ability to compete, deter and win in an increasingly contested domain.
    • Organize, train and equip our space warfighters with next-generation capabilities.
    • Maximize warfighting capability and advocacy for space while minimizing bureaucracy.

A VITAL NATIONAL INTEREST: Our use of space is necessary to keep our country safe, protect lives, and support our way of life.

  • The United States is the best in space, and our adversaries know it.
    • Space is a key source of strategic advantage for the United States, and potential foreign adversaries are determined to restrict our access to it.
    • America has the most capable military in the world, but we must address the looming threats from foreign adversaries in space to maintain our leadership and outpace competitors.
  • America will always seek peace through strength, and we will work with our allies and partners to secure that peace in space.
    • United States space forces will be ready to win in a competitive multi-domain environment against increasingly competitive adversaries.
  • To meet and deter challenges in space, Space Policy Directive-4:
    • Launches a joint interagency review by the National Space Council and the National Security Council to recommend changes to space operational authorities in order to address the threats posed by foreign adversaries.
    • Requires the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to create collaborative mechanisms to improve space capabilities and operations.

LEADING IN A NEW WARFIGHTING DOMAIN: President Trump knows warfare is changing – space is now a warfighting domain just like the air, land and sea.

  • No branch of the Armed Forces has been created since the United States Air Force was established in 1947, more than 70 years ago. The world has changed significantly since then.
  • Establishing the Space Force is critical to preparing the Department of Defense for the evolving warfighting environments of the twenty-first century.
  • President Trump is dedicated to protecting the Nation and preparing America’s military to deter and defeat threats in space.

Comments of President Trump and Vice President Pence at Space Force Directive Signing

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

THE PRESIDENT:  Today, I’m thrilled to sign a new order taking the next step to create the United States Space Force. So important, when you look at defense, when you look at all of the other aspects of where the world will be someday. I mean, this is the beginning. This is a very important process.

First, I want to recognize our wonderful Vice President, Mike Pence, who serves as the Chairman of the National Space Council. Thank you, Mike. Great job. I know you feel the same way I do.

I also want to thank Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who is with us; Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva; and the Executive Secretary of the Space Council, Dr. Scott Pace for being here today.

They’ve all worked very hard on the Space Force. They all believe in it very strongly, as I do. It’s the future. It’s where we’re going. I suspect, whether we like it or not, that’s where we’re going. It’s space. That’s the next step, and we have to be prepared.

Our adversaries and — whether we get along with them or not, they’re up in space. And they’re doing it, and we’re doing it. And that’s going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation — and you could say “offense” — but let’s just be nice about it and let’s say the defense of our nation is going to be.

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Text of Space Policy Directive-4: Establishment of the United States Space Force

Credit: Matt Wade

SUBJECT: Establishment of the United States Space Force

Section 1.  Introduction.  Space is integral to our way of life, our national security, and modern warfare.  Although United States space systems have historically maintained a technological advantage over those of our potential adversaries, those potential adversaries are now advancing their space capabilities and actively developing ways to deny our use of space in a crisis or conflict.  It is imperative that the United States adapt its national security organizations, policies, doctrine, and capabilities to deter aggression and protect our interests. Toward that end, the Department of Defense shall take actions under existing authority to marshal its space resources to deter and counter threats in space, and to develop a legislative proposal to establish a United States Space Force as a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces within the Department of the Air Force. This is an important step toward a future military department for space.  Under this proposal, the United States Space Force would be authorized to organize, train, and equip military space forces of the United States to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict.

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Trump Nominates NASA Goddard Director to Head National Reconnaissance Office

Christopher Scolese

Presidential Nomination

Christopher Scolese of New York, to be the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Mr. Scolese currently serves as the Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Previously, he served as the associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and as NASA’s chief engineer.

Mr. Scolese is the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, the NASA Distinguished Leadership Medal, the Goddard Outstanding Leadership Medal, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) National Capital Section Young Engineer/Scientist of the Year award.

NASA, Buzz Aldrin Get Shout Out During State of the Union Speech

Buzz Aldrin salutes during the 2019 State of the Union address. (Credit: U.S. Senate Photo Studio/John Shinkle)

With Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin in attendance, President Donald Trump gave a shout out to NASA during the annual State of the Union address.

“In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets,” he said.

NASA’s commercial crew program is set to begin transporting astronauts to the International Space Station later this year. Today, NASA released the following schedule for flight tests of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Test Flight Planning Dates:

SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): March 2, 2019
Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): NET April 2019
Boeing Pad Abort Test: NET May 2019
SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test: June 2019
SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): July 2019
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): NET August 2019

Government Shutdown Ends — for Now

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

President Donald Trump just announced that a deal has been reached to reopen the government after a partial shutdown that has lasted five weeks.

The agreement does not include any money for the wall Trump wants to build on the southern border with Mexico. And the deal only lasts three weeks. So, either the president and Congress will negotiate their differences and reach a permanent deal during that time. Or, it’s going to be like deja vu all over again come Feb. 15.

Federal employees will receive full pay they lost during the shutdown. Many government contractors will not. What effect the closure will have on the economy is yet to be seen.

Two events occurred today that may have influenced the decision to end the shutdown.

One in 10 unpaid air traffic controllers called in sick to work. The resulting shortfall resulted in the FAA stopping flights from landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York. That, in turn, caused disruptions of air travel across the system.

The slowdown came two days after three unions representing air traffic controllers, airline pilots and flight attendants issued a dire statement saying the safety and security of air travel were rapidly breaking down.

“We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public due to the government shutdown. This is already the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States and there is no end in sight. In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented,” they said.

Trump has gotten most of the blame from the public for the shutdown. Air travel grinding to a halt for any length of time due to an air traffic controller sickout would have been very bad news for the administration politically. A major air disaster would be even worse.

The other major development on this Friday was the indictment of long-time Trump associate Roger Stone by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. That story is too complicated to go into here. Suffice to say, whether planned or not, the end of the shutdown allowed Trump to appear on TV and change the subject — if only temporarily.

Stay tuned. It ain’t over yet.

NOAA Nominee Steps Down as AccuWeather CEO, Sells Interest in Company

Barry Lee Myers

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Jan. 4, 2019 (AccuWeather PR) — AccuWeather, the world’s largest and fastest growing weather media company as well as the leader in weather-related big data, business and predictive analytics, today announced that Chief Executive Officer Barry Lee Myers has stepped down as officer and director from AccuWeather and has sold all of his interest in the company and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, effective January 1, 2019.

Myers is one of the world’s leading authorities on the business of weather, and on the use and distribution of weather-related and similar information, and has been an integral part and a leading force on AccuWeather’s executive management team for decades. He was nominated by President Trump to become the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Myers was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee after a public hearing and his nomination was forwarded to the full Senate for confirmation. His nomination, along with hundreds of others, did not receive Senate confirmation before the expiration of the 115th Congress and will require re-nomination by the President to advance in the 116th Congress.

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Trump Orders Creation of United States Space Command

Credit: Matt Wade

President to the Secretary of Defense Regarding the Establishment of the United States Space Command

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

SUBJECT:       Establishment of United States Space Command as a Unified Combatant Command

Pursuant to my authority as the Commander in Chief and under section 161 of title 10, United States Code, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I direct the establishment, consistent with United States law, of United States Space Command as a functional Unified Combatant Command.  I also direct the Secretary of Defense to recommend officers for my nomination and Senate confirmation as Commander and Deputy Commander of the new United States Space Command.

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NOAA-Led Climate Change Report Predicts Dire Consequences for Nation

The second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment released last week forecasts a future full of wrath of God type events right out of the Bible. [Download report at nca2018.globalchange.gov]

In the decades ahead, the United States will experience: rising sea levels swamping coastal areas; severe droughts that will threaten vital food supplies; killer heat waves that will leave thousands dead annually; an increase in the number and intensity of wildfires like the ones seen in California this year; stronger hurricanes and other storms causing severe damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure; an increased number of power outages as an aging power grid struggles under the heat; and the migration of tropical diseases northward.

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Trump Appoints Alan Stern to National Science Board

Alan Stern

WASHINGTON (White House PR) — President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to be Members of the National Science Board for the remainder of six-year terms expiring May 10, 2024:

  • Maureen L. Condic of Utah
  • Suresh V. Garimella of Indiana
  • Steven Leath of Alabama
  • Geraldine Richmond of Oregon
  • S. Alan Stern of Colorado
  • Stephen Willard of Maryland
  • Maria Theresa Zuber of Massachusetts

Musk: Still Looking to Launch BFR to Mars in 2024

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Kara Swisher of Recode posted an interview with Elon Musk last week. Below are lightly edited excepts concerning SpaceX and Musk’s plans for Mars.

Well let’s get to rockets, then. SpaceX. Last time we talked, you said you wanted to die on Mars, just not on landing. Which was a very funny joke, although it’s probably not a joke, it’s probably —

Well, it’d be ironic if that had happened. I have to be careful about tempting fate, because I think often the most ironic outcome is the most probable….

Instead of discussing your death, let’s discuss what’s going on at SpaceX. What are some of the things you’re doing?

We successfully launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two. So that’s twice the power, twice the thrust of the next biggest rocket. And we actually launched a Tesla — my Tesla Roadster — to Mars orbit. The reason we did that is actually because, normally, when a new rocket is launched, you just put a dummy payload, which is like a block of concrete or something.
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SIA Praises Administration Effort to Develop Sustainable Spectrum Strategy

Washington, D.C., October 29, 2018 – The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced that it is commending the release of a Presidential Memorandum calling for the development of a long-term sustainable American spectrum plan.  In the Presidential Memo titled, “Developing a Sustainable Spectrum Strategy for America’s Future” the President called for policy recommendations that recognize the importance of sustaining a spectrum environment for critical space networks and the need to develop a Spectrum Strategy Task Force which will include representation of the National Space Council.

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Presidential Memorandum on Developing a Sustainable Spectrum Strategy for America’s Future

Credit: Matt Wade

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT:  Developing a Sustainable Spectrum Strategy for America’s Future

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to use radiofrequency spectrum (spectrum) as efficiently and effectively as possible to help meet our economic, national security, science, safety, and other Federal mission goals now and in the future.  To best achieve this policy, the Nation requires a balanced, forward-looking, flexible, and sustainable approach to spectrum management.

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