NASA Names New Director of Johnson Space Center

Mark Geyer

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Monday the selection of Mark Geyer as the next director of the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. He’ll assume the director’s position on May 25, when current Center Director and former astronaut Ellen Ochoa retires after 30 years at the agency.

As Johnson’s center director, he’ll lead one of NASA’s largest installations, which has about 10,000 civil service and contractor employees – including those at White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico – and oversee a broad range of human spaceflight activities.

“Mark brings with him almost three decades of distinguished NASA leadership experience at the program, center and headquarters levels – he’s managed and he’s worked his way through the ranks and knows what it’s going to take to get our astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars. Johnson has been NASA’s home base for astronauts and mission control throughout our history, and Mark is eminently qualified to carry on this historic legacy,” said Bridenstine. “I also want to thank Ellen for her years of service to America and this agency. Her legacy and contributions to this center and to NASA are timeless. She will be missed.”

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House Measure Would Boost NASA Budget to $21.5 Billion

The House Appropriations Committee has released a draft bill that would increase NASA’s budget to $21.5 billion for fiscal year 2019. The total would be an increase of $810 million above the enacted amount for FY 2018 and $1.6 billion more than the Trump Administration requested.

NASA would spend $5.1 billion on deep space exploration, an increase of $294 million. The total includes $504 million for the Lunar Orbital Platform — Gateway.

Science would also be boosted by $459 million to $6.7 billion. The total includes $740 million for a Europa orbiter and lander.

Complete details on the proposed budget are still lacking. Below is what the committee has released thus far.
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Video: Jim Bridenstine Addresses Humans to Mars Conference

Video Caption: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine delivered the keynote address at the Humans to Mars Summit 2018, on Wednesday, May 9 at The George Washington University, in Washington. The annual event addresses the technical, scientific and policy challenges of making human exploration of Mars a reality.

Video: Bridenstine Addresses Lunar Industry Day

Video Caption: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine asked commercial companies to help get the agency back to the Moon as quickly as possible during an ‘industry day’, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, held at NASA Headquarters in Washington. NASA is calling for commercial proposals for delivering instruments, experiments, and other small payloads to the surface of the Moon as early as next year. This solicitation is part of a broader Exploration Campaign that will pave the way for a human return to the Moon.

Atlas V Launches InSight Spacecraft to Mars

NASA’s Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission is the first interplanetary launch from the West Coast of the U.S. After its six-month journey, InSight will descend to Mars to study the heart of the Red Planet. (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission is on a 300-million-mile trip to Mars to study for the first time what lies deep beneath the surface of the Red Planet. InSight launched at 7:05 a.m. EDT (4:05 am PDT) Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

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NASA Lays Out Plans for Lunar Exploration, Explains Resource Prospector Cancellation

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is returning to the Moon with commercial and international partners as part of an overall agency Exploration Campaign in support of Space Policy Directive 1. It all starts with robotic missions on the lunar surface, as well as a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway for astronauts in space beyond the Moon. Right now, NASA is preparing to purchase new small lunar payload delivery services, develop lunar landers, and conduct more research on the Moon’s surface ahead of a human return. And that long-term exploration and development of the Moon will give us the experience for the next giant leap – human missions to Mars and destinations beyond.

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LEAG Letter Protesting Cancellation of Resource Prospector Mission

Resource Prospector prototype. (Credit: NASA)

The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) sent the following letter to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday protesting the cancellation of the Resource Prospector mission.

Mr. James Bridenstine
NASA Administrator

26 April 2018

Dear Mr. Bridenstine:

We are writing on behalf of the community that the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) represents regarding the Resource Prospector (RP) mission, which has been under development for much of the last decade, to explore a polar region of the Moon for potential volatile deposits. These deposits have extremely important exploration implications, as they could be viable resources to support not only human exploration into the Solar System but also a thriving lunar economy. Additionally, the deposits have unique scientific significance since they record the delivery of volatiles to the inner Solar System, including the Earth.

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NASA Cancels Lunar Resource Prospector, Promises Aggressive Commercial Strategy

The Resource Prospector prototype searches for a buried sample tube at the Johnson Space Center rock yard in August 2015. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a move that left the lunar science community stunned, NASA has canceled the Resource Prospector mission, which would have sent a rover to the moon to drill holes in search of ice and other volatiles that could be used to support human settlers and miners and turned into fuel to power spacecraft.

In place of the mission, which was set to launch in 2022, the space agency issued a draft request for proposal (RFP) on Friday for the new Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Under CLPS, NASA would pay companies to carry instruments and experiments to the lunar surface aboard privately-built landers and rovers.

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Pence to Swear in Bridenstine as NASA Administrator on Monday

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Media are invited to see Vice President Mike Pence swear in Jim Bridenstine as NASA’s new administrator at 2:30 p.m. EDT Monday, April 23, at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The ceremony will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Following the swearing-in, Vice President Pence and newly sworn-in NASA Administrator Bridenstine will speak live with three NASA astronauts currently living and working aboard the International Space Station. Expedition 55 crew members Scott Tingle, Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold will offer congratulations and take questions from the Vice President and Administrator Bridenstine. The astronauts will also briefly share stories of their experiences on the orbiting outpost from 250 miles above Earth, traveling at 17,500 miles per hour.

Bridenstine was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday, April 19, to serve as the agency’s 13th administrator. Prior to this position, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of Oklahoma, where he held positions on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Bridenstine also is a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve and the former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.

Bridenstine: “Honor” to be Confirmed as NASA Administrator

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Statement From Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.)

“It is an honor to be confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as NASA Administrator. I am humbled by this opportunity, and I once again thank President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their confidence. I look forward to working with the outstanding team at NASA to achieve the President’s vision for American leadership in space.”

Jim Bridenstine served as a U.S. Navy pilot on active duty for nine years, followed by four years in the Navy Reserve where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  In 2015 he transitioned to the Oklahoma Air National Guard.  He was elected to Congress in 2012 and serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.  In 2016 he introduced the American Space Renaissance Act.  Bridenstine lives in Tulsa, OK with his wife Michelle and their three children. For a full bio, please click here.

Bridenstine Squeaks in as NASA Administrator in Party-Line Vote

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

The nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to serve as the next NASA Administrator was narrowly approved by the U.S. Senate on Thursday afternoon.

The part-line vote was 50-49, with all Republicans voting yes and all the Democrats opposed. Sen. John McCain, who is absent undergoing cancer treatments, did not vote.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who had raised concerns about confirming a politician to run an agency with broad bipartisan support, voted to support the nomination.

Democrats opposed the nomination for several reasons, including Bridenstine’s previous claims that global warming is not occurring. He has since modified his views.

Bridenstine Narrowly Survives Vote to Vote on His Nomination

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

The Senate has scheduled a vote on the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to become the next NASA Administrator on Thursday at 1:45 p.m. EDT.

Tomorrow’s showdown comes after a procedural vote to end debate on Wednesday that showed how sharply divided the Senate is about Bridenstine’s nomination. The measure passed 50-48, with all Republicans voting in the affirmative and all Democrats voting against it.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) initially voted against the nomination, resulting in a 49-49 tie. However, he later switched his vote to the affirmative. Vice President Mike Pence could have broken the tie, but he was not in the capital on Wednesday.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had previously questioned Bridenstine’s nomination. However, he voted to end debate.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) did not vote on Wednesday. McCain is undergoing cancer treatment; Duckworth gave birth to a daughter last week.

Senate to Vote on Bridenstine’s Nomination to Lead NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has filed a motion to bring the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to become the next administrator of NASA to a vote on the Senate floor.

News of the cloture motion was tweeted by Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) on Monday. The account is operated by the Senate Republican Cloakroom staff.

Bridenstine was nominated for the position by President Donald Trump in September. The Senate Commerce Committee approved by a narrow party-line vote, with all the Democratic members voting against it.

Democrats have said that Bridenstine lacks the requisite scientific and technical background to lead the nation’s space agency. They have also questioned his past statements that global warming was not occurring. NASA spends $1.9 million on Earth science programs.

The vote on Bridenstine could be very close. It is believed that all 49 Democrats will vote against it. That would leave a narrow margin of 51 Republicans to vote for Bridenstine.

However, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has questioned  the wisdom of appointing a partisan politician to run an agency that has broad bipartisan support.

Vice President Mike Pence could break a 50-50 tie. However, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been absent from the Senate undergoing cancer treatments.

Bridenstine’s Nomination Remains in Limbo in Senate

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Nearly 15 months into Donald Trump’s term as president, NASA still lacks an administrator as the acting one prepares to retire in just 20 days. Meanwhile, the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) has been bogged down in the Senate for more than seven months.

USA Today reports the president is not giving up despite what appear to be long odds.

President Trump remains firmly behind his choice of Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be the next administrator of the space agency, even though he does not appear to have the votes for Senate confirmation.

“Senate Democrats should stop their pointless obstruction, and confirm our eminently qualified nominee immediately,” said Lindsay Walters, deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement to USA TODAY. “The President looks forward to Rep. Bridenstine’s swift confirmation by the Senate, and is confident he will ensure America is a leader in space exploration once again.”

Bridenstine’s critics say NASA should be led by a “space professional” rather than a politician, and it’s not just the Senate’s 49 Democrats who are blocking the president’s pick

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also has voiced deep misgivings.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is out of the Senate undergoing cancer treatments. If he were to return and support the nomination, Vice President Mike Pence could break a 50-50 tie.

NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot is set to retire on April 30.