Bridenstine to Leave NASA Administrator Post

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a decision that has disappointed his supporters, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine plans to leave his position even if president-elect Joe Biden asked him to stay.

Irene Klotz broke the news in Aviation Week. The story is behind a paywall, but Klotz did tweet:

“You need somebody who has a close relationship with the president of the U.S. … somebody trusted by the administration…. including OMB, National Space Council, National Security Council. I think I would not be the right person for that in a new administration –Bridenstine

Agency administrators usually change when a new president comes in, particularly if he is from a different party. Bridenstine is a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma appointed by President Donald Trump, who was defeated by his Democratic opponent Biden last week.

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Trump Administration Releases Science and Technology Accomplishments from First Term White House

Credit: Matt Wade

OSTP Showcases S&T Wins That Changed the World Over the Past Four Years

WASHINGTON (OSTP PR) — The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today released “Advancing America’s Global Leadership in Science and Technology, Trump Administration Highlights: 2017-2020.” The document is a selection of significant investments, accomplishments, policies, and other actions undertaken by President Trump to advance science and technology.

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National Space Council Releases Deep Space Exploration and Development Report

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (White House PR) — Today, the National Space Council released “A New Era for Deep Space Exploration and Development,” a report prepared by the National Space Council staff in consultation with National Space Council members and the Users’ Advisory Group that describes the rationale and purpose for the Administration’s new direction in space. 

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Department of Energy Looks to Support Space Exploration

by Paul M. Dabbar
Under Secretary for Science
Department of Energy

America is on the verge of a new era of space exploration, and America’s leadership in the space domain will be due to its courage to go and its conviction to stay.  DOE, by many measures the “Department of Exploration,” is proud to be playing an essential part in rising to these challenges.

NASA and SpaceX recently launched American astronauts aboard an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station for the first time since 2011, and America is actively planning to return to the Moon … and then go even further.

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The Federation Praises Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Reform

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The Commercial Spaceflight Federation today praised the Department of Commerce’s release this week of a rulemaking that dramatically reforms the U.S. government’s regulation of the U.S. commercial remote sensing industry.

“We wish to thank Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Office of Space Commerce and its Director Kevin O’Connell, and NOAA’s Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs for publishing this forward-leaning, streamlined set of rules for this growing and important industry,”  declared Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “And we again thank Vice President Pence, the National Space Council, and its Executive Secretary Scott Pace for issuing Space Policy Directive 2 two years ago, which focused agencies across the government to minimize regulatory burden and streamline oversight.”

Up until now, the U.S. remote sensing industry has been governed by legislation and regulations written in the early 1990’s.  While capabilities and technologies have progressed over the decades, companies dealt with these outdated regulations, often prohibiting new technologies and disincentivising the industry.  License applications regularly took too long to authorize with little to no transparency into the decision making process. With these revised regulations, comes a new era for the remote sensing industry and as new licenses are granted, we hope to see these principles put into practice.

“Thank you to the Commerce Department for developing these new rules that reduce bureaucratic restrictions on industry so they can innovate faster, compete effectively internationally, and enable new applications for satellite observations of the Earth,” said Stallmer.  “CSF has fought hard for several years to promote legislative and regulatory reforms that would streamline these rules.  We believe that these new rules from the Department of Commerce are an important step forward to enable U.S. companies to compete in a growing international marketplace while protecting America’s national security concerns.”

Commerce Department Releases New Streamlined Commercial Remote Sensing Regulations

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2020 (NASA PR) — Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce released new regulations to improve the licensing process for private U.S. satellite remote sensing operations, helping ensure continued U.S. leadership in a critical commercial space industry.

The new final rules increase openness and transparency in the licensing process, will eliminate most restrictions on how licensed remote sensing systems may be operated, such as limits on the resolution of imagery, and prohibit the government from imposing additional conditions after a license has been issued.

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Head of NASA Human Spaceflight Resigns on Eve of SpaceX Crew Dragon Flight

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The head of NASA’s human spaceflight program has resigned three days before a flight readiness review (FRR) for the first human spaceflight from U.S. soil in nearly nine years.

Douglas Loverro, associate administrator for the human exploration and operations (HEO), resigned on Monday — nine days before a Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley and aboard is scheduled to be launched by a Falcon 9 rocket on May 27.

Loverro, who took on the job in December, was to have presided over a two-day review set to begin this Thursday on whether to go ahead with the crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Loverro would have made the final go/no decision.

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Former Congressman Culberson Joins National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group

John Culberson

Vice President Mike Pence has nominated former Congressman John Culberson and four other people to serve two-year terms on National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group. Four current members are leaving the board.

“The nominated members of the Users’ Advisory Group will serve to fulfill President Trump’s directive to ‘foster close coordination, cooperation, and technology and information exchange’ across our nation’s space enterprise to ensure that the United States remains the world’s foremost spacefaring country,” the White House said in a press release.

Nominees are pending official appointment by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

New Members

John Culberson
Former U.S. Congressman, Texas

Eileen Drake
President and CEO, Aerojet Rocketdyne

Dr. Bruce Jakosky
Professor of Atmosphere and Space Physics, University of Colorado

Jeanette Nuñez
Lieutenant Governor of Florida
Chairwoman of the Board, Space Florida

James D. Taiclet, Jr.
Board member, Lockheed Martin Corporation
Takes over as President and CEO on June 15

Departing Members

Marillyn Hewson
President and CEO, Lockheed Martin
Retiring on June 15

David Thompson
Former President and CEO, Orbital ATK

Steve Crisafulli
Former Speaker, Florida House of Representatives

Eric Schmidt
Former CEO and Executive Chairman, Google

Current Members

Admiral James Ellis, Jr., USN, Retired
Chairman, Users’ Advisory Group

Former Commander, United States Strategic Command, member of the Space Foundation Board of Directors

Dr. Buzz Aldrin, USAF, Retired
Apollo 11 astronaut

Tory Bruno
President and CEO, United Launch Alliance

David Calhoun
President and CEO, The Boeing Company

Dean Cheng
Scholar at the Heritage Foundation

Colonel Eileen Collins, USAF, Retired
Four-time shuttle astronaut, first female shuttle commander

Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar
President and CEO, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

Tim Ellis
CEO, Relativity Space

Homer Hickam
Board Member, U. S. Space & Rocket Center; former NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center engineer; Author of “Rocket Boys”

The Honorable Kay Ivey
Governor of Alabama

Fred Klipsch
Board of Trustees, Marian University;
Chairman and CEO, Klipsch Audio Technologies, Retired

General Les Lyles, USAF, Retired
Chairman, NASA Advisory Council

Colonel Pam Melroy, USAF, Retired
Three-time shuttle astronaut, former Deputy Director of the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Fatih Ozmen
CEO, Sierra Nevada Corporation

Harrison H. Schmitt
Former United States Senator, New Mexico; Apollo 17 astronaut

Gwynne Shotwell
President and COO, SpaceX

Dr. Robert H. Smith
CEO, Blue Origin

Eric Stallmer
President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Pamela Vaughan
STEM Integration Specialist for the Arkansas Department of Education

Mandy Vaughn
President, VOX Space

Kathy Warden
Chairman, CEO, and President, Northrop Grumman Corporation

Stuart O. Witt
Former Navy pilot; founder, Mojave Air and Spaceport; former chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

David Wolf, M.D.
Four-time shuttle astronaut, Purdue University

China’s Ambitious Plans to Dominate Cislunar Space

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s plans to achieve a commanding position in cislunar space. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is determined to establish a commanding position in cislunar space, seeing it as a strategic location from which to dominate the final frontier.

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USAF Seeks SBIR Proposals for Cislunar Space Operations

In what might be a reaction to China’s ambitious space program, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) will award funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to proposals for commercial technology that will allow it to operate in cislunar space.

“As the space beyond geosynchronous orbit becomes more crowded and competitive, it is important for the Air Force to extend its space domain awareness responsibilities to include this new regime.. To support this new body of work, the Air Force is seeking commercial innovation in support of space domain awareness for future cislunar operations,” the service said in a pre-solicitation notice.

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China Aims to Knock Out U.S. Space Systems in Conflict

China’s 2007 test of its ground-based ASAT missile destroyed one of its own defunct satellites in LEO. The graphic depicts the orbits of trackable debris generated by the test 1 month after the event. The white line represents the International Space Station’s orbit. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine the growing threat from China’s military space systems. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China has spent the last 15 years testing kinetic kill, directed energy, electromagnetic, cyber and other systems in an effort to develop methods for crippling American satellites during a conflict.

“China’s development of offensive space capabilities may now be outstripping the United States’ ability to defend against them, increasing the possibility that U.S. vulnerability combined with a lack of a credible deterrence posture could invite Chinese aggression,” according to a new report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

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SIA Releases Principles of Space Safety for Commercial Satellite Industry

WASHINGTON, DC (SIA PR) — The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced the release of a set of Principles of Space Safety, drafted to help protect freedom of use and long-term access to space by ensuring safe flight operations for satellites, human spacecraft and other space missions.

SIA is a U.S.-based trade association that for more than two decades has advocated on behalf of the U.S. satellite industry regarding policy, regulatory, and legislative issues affecting the commercial satellite business. 

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U.S. Space Command Established

White House Announcement

“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

President Donald J. Trump

ESTABLISHING SPACE COMMAND: Today, at the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the Secretary of Defense established the United States Space Command to ensure space superiority.

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Pence to Chair National Space Council Meeting Next Week

Vice President Mike Pence and the National Space Council are back in action next week after a five-month hiatus.