NASA Shares Findings, Recommendations, and Response to Review of International Space Station National Lab

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An external team appointed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has completed its review of the operations and management of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, which the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) manages.

The Independent Review Team (IRT) delivered its report to the agency in February, and NASA is now publicly releasing the report in full as well as the agency’s response to its recommendations.

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NASA Taps Workforce for Innovative Ideas for Coronavirus Response Efforts

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — For more than 60 years, NASA has overcome a range of unique challenges. Now, the agency is looking to leverage its expertise and capabilities to help the nation with the unprecedented challenge of coronavirus (COVID-19). To come up with new, innovative ideas for how NASA can best contribute to COVID-19 response efforts, the agency is tapping into the brainpower and creativity of its workforce.

On April 1, NASA launched an agencywide call for ideas on its internal crowdsourcing platform NASA @ WORK. The internal website fosters collaboration and provides NASA employees with an inventive way to share knowledge and solve challenges.

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More NASA Centers Go to Stage 4 as KSC Worker Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Message from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

Dear NASA family,

Our nation is fighting an invisible enemy – coronavirus (COVID-19). NASA is implementing important measures across the agency to do our part to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities. To continue NASA’s inspiring mission, the safety of our workforce is our top priority. We will not ask employees and contractors to perform work if we do not have the highest confidence that it is safe to do so.

Mission-Essential Work

Last week, NASA leadership completed the first agencywide assessment of what work can be performed remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused. You can find the release here.

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NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020 (NASA PR) — To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.” 

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NASA Moves to Stage 4 on Coronavirus Pandemic; SLS & Orion Testing Suspended

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Update on NASA’s Response to Coronavirus
by Jim Bridenstine
NASA Administrator

NASA leadership is determined to make the health and safety of its workforce its top priority as we navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. To that end, the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are moving to Stage 4 of the NASA Response Framework,  effective Friday, March 20.

The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team.  While there are no confirmed cases at Michoud, the facility is moving to Stage 4 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the local area, in accordance with local and federal guidelines.

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NASA Remembers Apollo 15 Astronaut Al Worden

Astronaut Al Worden

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Former astronaut Alfred M. Worden, command module pilot on the Apollo 15 lunar landing, passed away March 18, 2020, in Texas.

“I’m deeply saddened to hear that Apollo astronaut Al Worden has passed away,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted about Worden. “Al was an American hero whose achievements in space and on Earth will never be forgotten. My prayers are with his family and friends.”

NASA Administrator’s Statement on the Passing of Alfred M. Worden

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NASA Goes to Mandatory Telework

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2020 (NASA PR) — The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine:

“Agency leadership continues to monitor developments regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) around the nation. We are closely following the advice of health professionals and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to keep our workforce safe. Implementing best practices early and quickly will increase likelihoods for better outcomes.

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NASA Administrator Statement on Agency Coronavirus Status

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Washington
March 14, 2020

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine:

“As we navigate this difficult time, the protection and care of the NASA family continues to be our top priority and the key consideration as we make decisions on how to move forward. NASA leadership is coordinating closely with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and interagency partners in our nation’s unified response to coronavirus (COVID-19), and regularly re-evaluating the conditions at each center.

“As you are aware, Ames Research Center in California was elevated to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework after an onsite case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 8. We recently received confirmation that an employee at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama has tested positive for COVID-19. As with Ames – in consultation with Marshall Center Director Jody Singer, NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk, and in accordance to agency response plans ­– Marshall has been elevated to Stage 3 and is in mandatory telework status, with restricted access to the center until further notice.

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NASA Selects First Science Instruments to Send to Gateway

Gateway with Orion over the Moon (Credit: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected the first two scientific investigations to fly aboard the Gateway, an orbital outpost which will support Artemis lunar operations while demonstrating the technologies necessary to conduct a historic human mission to Mars. The instruments selected for Gateway will observe space weather and monitor the Sun’s radiation environment.

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Bridenstine Statement on Coronavirus, Closing of NASA Ames

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine:

“On Sunday, March 8, we received confirmation an employee at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). We believe the exposure at the center has been limited, but — out of an abundance of caution, and in consultation with Ames’ Center Director Eugene Tu, NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk, and in accordance to agency response plans — Ames Research Center is temporarily on mandatory telework status with restricted access to the center until further notice.

“Limiting personnel at the center will allow Ames medical personnel and public health officials to determine potential contacts and assess areas that may require additional cleaning and mitigate potential exposure to center personnel. Working with county officials, Ames leadership and medical personnel are working to trace the contacts of the employee and notifying individuals who may have had significant contact with that person.

“Access to Ames is restricted to essential personnel only as required to safeguard life, property, and critical mission functions approved at the level of the associate center director. More guidance will follow for those who do not have equipment to work from home or who work in labs or other facilities requiring similar technical equipment that are fixed assets. 

“In addition, due to the current uncertainty about the coronavirus situation in the United States and its potential impact on travel during the next few weeks, three NASA Earth Science airborne science campaigns slated to deploy across the country this spring have rescheduled their field activity until later in the year. The campaigns are DeltaX, Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere (DCOTTS), and Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE), which would include flights from Ames. The scientific returns of these projects are not expected to be impacted by this change of plans.

“Last Friday’s agencywide voluntary telework exercise was a good test of NASA’s large-scale preparedness with no reported issues to the overall IT system. I’ve asked all NASA employees to continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s Chief Health and Medical Officer, and if they have questions, don’t hesitate to talk with their supervisor.

“You’ve heard the agency’s leadership say the protection and care of our NASA team is the top priority and critical to the success of the agency’s mission, and it’s true. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation evolves, we’ll continue to closely monitor and coordinate with federal, state, and community officials to take any further appropriate steps to help safeguard the NASA family.”

NASA to Fund Researchers to Fly on Suborbital Vehicles, Maybe Astronauts

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

After spending a few years in hibernation, the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) is being held in Colorado this week. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but I’ve been following all the action on Twitter.

In a keynote address on Monday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine floated the idea of letting the space agency’s astronauts fly aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicles. He also discussed certifying the systems to comply with a subset of NASA’s human ratings requirements.

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Next-gen Suborbital Space Research and Education Conference to be held March 2-4

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to keynote conference

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 27, 2020 (NSRC PR) — Since its debut in 2010, the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) has rapidly become the largest gathering of suborbital researchers and educators in the world, providing an invaluable forum for information, discussion, coordination and networking in this community.

NSRC-2020, to be held at the Omni Interlocken hotel in Broomfield, Colorado, March 2-4, will bring together vehicle providers, spaceport operators, government officials, industry leaders and hundreds of researchers and educators to engage in a variety of presentations, panels, workshops and networking opportunities. The NSRC conference series is jointly led by Southwest Research Institute and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

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Bridenstine to Give Keynote at NSRC 2020; Advanced Registration Closes Thursday

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (NSRC PR) — We just received confirmation today that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will be giving a keynote talk at NSRC-2020!

The conference will be held at the beautiful Omni Interlocken Hotel and Resort in Broomfield, Colorado, on March 2-4, with an opening reception Sunday, March 1, at 7:30 pm.

And a reminder that the Advanced Registration Deadline is this Thursday, Feb 13! You can register at  https://www.boulder.swri.edu/NSRC2020/Site5/Registration.html

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Gerstenmaier Joins SpaceX as Consultant

William Gerstenmaier (Credit: NASA)

CNBC reports that SpaceX has hired William Gerstenmaier, who formerly headed NASA’s human spaceflight program, to serve as a consultant for the company’s reliability engineering team.

The move comes as SpaceX prepares to fly its first Crew Dragon mission with astronauts later this year. The flight test is currently scheduled for the second quarter.

The crew plans to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). A successful flight would clear the way for certification of the vehicle to fly crews to ISS on a commercial basis.

Gerstenmaier was demoted from his position as NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations last July over continued delays with the Space Launch System and Orion programs. He had served in that position for 14 years.

Gerstenmaier’s reassignment as a special adviser to Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard was his first step out the door. He left NASA in December after 42 years with the space agency.