ESA Council Welcomes Bridenstine, Reviews Ongoing Programs

DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — The ESA Council held its 277th meeting at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt on 12 and 13 December 2018.The Council welcomed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who presented NASA’s vision for future space exploration. Mr Bridenstine praised the long-standing cooperation between ESA and NASA over the past 40 years through more than 260 major agreements including the iconic Hubble Space Telescope.

He strongly advocated international cooperation with ESA regarding space science, Earth science, the extension of the International Space Station operations and recognised the leading role of ESA on space safety and protection of space assets.

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NASA, NSF Announce Support for White House STEM Engagement Plan

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with other federal agencies, have committed to a White House-led effort to strengthen education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Charting a Course for Success: A Federal Strategy for STEM Education lays out the federal government’s role in furthering STEM education by working with state and local stakeholders, the education community and American employers. Its goals include building a STEM-proficient citizenry, creating a STEM-ready workforce and removing barriers to STEM careers, especially for women and underrepresented groups.

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Bridenstine Sees First Crew Dragon Flight Slipping into Spring

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

USA Today reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine believes the SpaceX Crew Dragon flight test scheduled for Jan. 7 will likely slip into spring.

That would mean the mission, which will not have a crew aboard for its flight to the International Space Station, would launch no sooner  than the first day of spring on March 20.

Bridenstine’s acknowledgment that January is a “very low probability” window is the first time the agency has publicly cast doubt on the timing of the scheduled launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test flight of the SpaceX rocket and capsule is a key step in NASA’s efforts to resume U.S. transport to Earth’s orbit nearly a decade after the space shuttle was mothballed.

The administrator attributed the delay to challenges with several components, including landing parachutes. Some of those systems could be tested without flying them on the initial flight.

It’s a matter of determining “what configuration are we willing to accept as an agency and are we willing to waive certain items (and) how do we test those items,” Bridenstine told reporters at NASA headquarters.

But he said the test flight “will certainly be in the first half of 2019,” a schedule that still would accommodate a crewed flight by the end of the year.

Parabolic Arc earlier reported that not all of Dragon’s systems would be ready in time for the first flight.

A flight test of Crew Dragon with astronauts aboard is currently scheduled for June 2019. NASA would then certify the vehicle to carry astronauts to the space station on a commercial basis.

Boeing is scheduled to test its Starliner spacecraft with an automated test in March and a flight with crew in August. NASA could extend the crewed flight from a brief stay at the space station to a long-duration mission.

Both SpaceX and Boeing are scheduled to conduct abort tests in between their automated and crewed flight tests. SpaceX will conduct an in-flight abort test; Boeing’s abort test will be conducted from a launch pad.

NASA needs to have at least one of the crew systems functional by January 2020. That is when the last agency astronaut to fly aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle on a paid basis is set to return.

Bridenstine Names Janet Karika as Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON

I am honored today to announce that Ms. Janet Karika will begin serving as my Chief of Staff on Monday, Nov. 26. Ms. Karika is a recognized subject matter expert on space policy, space transportation, and non-proliferation. She has a long association with NASA. As an Air Force captain she was an exchange scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, working on silicon carbide tiles.

For the past fifteen years, she has been supporting the NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) and the NASA Headquarters Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) Launch Services Office (LSO) coordinating launch vehicle fleet issue4s across the interagency.

Ms. Karika has a history of working space-related issues and studies to support congressional staffs, the Executive Branch, and various fe4eral agencies and departments, including the National Security Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Departments of Commerce, Defense, State and Transportation.

During her 38 years in the space and missile field, Ms. Karika served as the Executive Advisor to the Air Force for space acquisition programs and as the Assistant for Launch Systems for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During her military career, she was the Air Force Program Executive Office for Space (AFPEO/Space)’s Director for Launch Programs during the transition from heritage launch programs to the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. She worked on the development of ICBMs, upper stages for launch vehicles, commanded a 72-person nuclear detection operations center, and was a Materials Research Scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Ms. Karika holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with emphasis in ultra-high temperature composites used in space propulsion and thermal protection systems. She is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). She serves on the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) and chairs its Infrastructure Working Group. She is the Women in Aerospace (WIA) Board of Directors Vice Chair.

— Administrator Jim Bridenstine

NASA Administrator to Announce New Moon to Mars Partnerships with US Companies

Moon rising over Half Moon Bay in California. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA invites media to its headquarters in Washington for the announcement of new Moon partnerships with American companies at 2 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 29. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make the announcement, which will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Working with U.S. companies is the next step to achieving long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

In addition to the administrator and future partners to be announced, participants in the event include:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington
  • Stan Love, NASA astronaut, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston
  • Andrea Mosie, Apollo sample laboratory manager, Johnson
  • Barbara Cohen, associate project scientist for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • FIRST Robotics students from the Washington area

The event will be available through Facebook LiveTwitch TVYouTube, and Twitter/Periscope. The public may ask questions on Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA or by leaving a comment on the livestream of the event on the NASA Facebook page.

Under Space Policy Directive-1, the agency will lead an innovative and sustainable exploration of the Moon together with commercial and international partners.

Musk’s Behavior Triggers NASA Safety Review of SpaceX & Boeing

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

The Washington Post reports NASA safety reviews of its two commercial crew providers was triggered by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s use of drugs and alcohol.

The review, to begin next year, would look at both Boeing and SpaceX, the companies under contract to fly NASA’s astronauts, and examine “everything and anything that could impact safety” as the companies prepare to fly humans for the first time, William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
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NASA TV to Air Welcome of European Service Module

The European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft is loaded on an Antonov airplane in Bremen, Germany, on Nov. 5, 2018, for transport to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For the first time, NASA will use a European-built system as a critical element to power an American spacecraft, extending the international cooperation of the International Space Station into deep space. (Credits: NASA/Rad Sinyak)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is hosting an event at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9 a.m. EST Friday, Nov. 16, to celebrate the arrival of the European Service Module for the agency’s Orion spacecraft. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will preside over the event, which will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Provided by ESA (European Space Agency) and built by ESA contractor Airbus Space, the service module will provide power, air and water to the Orion spacecraft on missions to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.

Speaking at the event are:

  • Janet Petro, deputy director of Kennedy
  • Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development
  • Sue Motil, Orion European Service Module integration manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center
  • Mark Kirasich, Orion Program manager at the agency’s Johnson Space Center
  • Phillippe Deloo, European Service Module program manager at ESA
  • Jan Wörner, ESA director general

The service module departed Bremen, Germany, Monday, Nov. 5, and arrived at Kennedy the following day. A team at Kennedy will perform final outfitting, integration and testing of the service and crew modules, and other elements of Orion, in preparation for its first mission, an uncrewed test flight.

Find more information about Orion at:

https://www.nasa.gov/orion

NASA, ESA to Hold Ceremony to Mark Arrival of First Orion Service Module

View from below: Orion European Service Module-1 (Credit: ESA–A. Conigli)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting media to its Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9 a.m. EST Friday, Nov. 16, for an event marking the arrival from Bremen, Germany, of the European Service Module – the powerhouse that will supply NASA’s Orion spacecraft with electricity, propulsion, thermal control, air and water.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Jan Wörner, as well as other senior leaders from NASA and ESA will discuss with media the international cooperation needed to send humans to the Moon and Mars. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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National Space Council Approves Measures to Advance Space Force

Mike Pence

The National Space Council today approved six recommendations to the president concerning the establishment of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Services.

The six recommendations presented include:

  • Forming a United States Space Command to control our space forces and develop the tactics, techniques, and procedures for military space operations.
  • Establishing the Space Force as a separate and distinct branch of the military whose mission will be to organize, train, and equip combat space forces.
  • Calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a Space Force and provide funding for the United States Space Command.
  • Launching a joint review by the National Space Council and National Security Council of existing space operational authorities for meeting national security objectives, informed by DOD’s assessment of the authorities required.
  • Creating a Space Development Agency to ensure Americans in the Space Force have cutting-edge warfighting capabilities.
  • Creating collaborative mechanisms with the Intelligence Community to improve unity of efforts for the development of space capabilities and operations.

The approvals came after the council, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, heard from three experts who said that establishing an independent Space Force was essential to meeting the growing threats posed to the United States by foreign adversaries.

The White House also published a press release today outlining plans for the Space Force.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gave an update on the investigation into the aborted launch of a crew flight to the International Space Station. He said he was confident that Russia will have resolved the problem in time to launch a new crew to the International Space Station in December as planned.

Mr. Rogozin Goes to Washington

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin will be paying a visit to the United States at a date TBD, The Moscow Times reports.

The White House has temporarily lifted an entry ban imposed on the head of Russia’s federal space agency to allow him to visit the United States, the head of NASA has said in an interview with Russian media.

The U.S. banned entry to and froze the assets of ex-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, along with other officials it blames for Moscow’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Rogozin, 54, oversaw Russia’s powerful arms industry before he was appointed to head the Roscosmos state space agency earlier this year.

Rogozin will now be able to travel to the U.S. under a workaround that removes the sanctions for the duration of his visit, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told the state-run TASS news agency Friday.

Video: Bridenstine Interviews Astronaut Hague About Soyuz Abort

Video Caption: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks via satellite with astronaut Nick Hague in Houston. Hague and Russian crewmate Alexey Ovchinin safely made a ballistic landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 11, when the launch of their Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station was aborted due to an anomaly.

Senate Confirms Morhard as NASA Deputy Administrator

The Senate has confirmed James Morhard as NASA deputy administrator on Friday. Morhard had been serving as the Senate deputy sergeant at arms.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine issued the following statement about the confirmation:

“Congratulations to Jim Morhard! He was confirmed as the 14th Deputy Administrator of NASA on Thursday, Oct. 11.

“He joins our amazing agency at a crucial time in history. NASA is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and I look forward to working with him as we look towards NASA’s next 60 years. His legislative and managerial talents will serve NASA well as we accomplish stunning achievements.” 

Astronaut, Cosmonaut Safe After Abort During Launch to International Space Station

Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, left, and Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA, right. embrace their families after landing at the Krayniy Airport, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are resting comfortably in the city of Baikonur, Kazakhstan, after an anomaly occurred shortly after their launch.

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