Scott Pace Departs National Space Council

Scott Pace (Credit: GWU)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the Trump Administration winding down, Scott Pace has left his position as executive executive of the National Space Council and returned to his previous post in academia.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in my capacity as Executive Secretary of the National Space Council,” Pace said in a statement. “The leadership of the president in reviving the National Space Council and the active chairmanship of the Vice President have made the past four years among the most ambitious and productive years for the Unite States space enterprise.

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National Space Council Releases Planetary Protection Strategy

Mars weather seen from the InSight lander. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (National Space Council PR) — Today, the National Space Council released the National Strategy for Planetary Protection. This Strategy will advance the Nation’s role in the sustainable exploration of space by appropriately protecting other planetary bodies and the Earth from potentially harmful biological contamination from space exploration activities.

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National Strategy for Planetary Protection Fact Sheet

The composition of the Moon’s near side is oddly different from that of its far side, and scientists think they finally understand why. (Credits: NASA/NOAA)

National Space Council Fact Sheet

By Establishing a National Strategy for Planetary Protection, the United States Continues to Lead in the Safe and Sustainable Exploration and Commercialization of Space

PLANETARY PROTECTION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: The National Space Council released a strategy to ensure the protection of the Earth and other planetary bodies from harmful biological contamination from space exploration activities.

  • As the United States continues to lead in space exploration and commercialization, national policy must keep pace to accelerate our world-class commercial space sector and scientific enterprise, while appropriately avoiding biological contamination.
  • Many aspects of planetary protection policy have not been updated since the Apollo Era and do not reflect the increasing role and capabilities of the private sector.
  • Planetary protection against “forward contamination” ensures the validity of potential scientific discoveries in the search for extraterrestrial life.
  • Planetary protection against “backward contamination” ensures that the Earth’s biosphere is not adversely affected by the return of potentially hazardous microbes.

ADVANCING SPACE EXPLORATION LEADERSHIP: The National Strategy for Planetary Protection advances U.S. interests in science and exploration, commercial space activity, and international leadership.

  • This strategy outlines steps to implement direction from the 2020 National Space Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead U.S. departments and agencies in the development of planetary protection operational guidelines.
  • Meeting the strategy’s objectives will ensure a cohesive national effort that balances scientific discovery, human exploration, and commercial activity in space, while meeting applicable international and domestic obligations.
  • The United States will continue to lead in the sustainable exploration of space by appropriately protecting the Earth and other celestial bodies.
  • Best practices developed by the United States that account for commercial and international partners will ensure safety, sustainability, and predictability in space for the benefit of all humankind.

Global Leader in SSA/STM Officially Launches as Independent Company

EXTON, Pa. (COMSPOC PR) — COMSPOC Corp. — a global leader in space situational awareness (SSA), space domain awareness (SDA), and space traffic coordination and management (STCM) — commences as an independent company and no longer a subsidiary of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI). 

COMSPOC retains all SSA/STCM intellectual property, contracts, the products and services associated with SSA, SDA, and STM as well as its research arm, the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI), and the free space data service, CelesTrak. COMSPOC will also continue to provide staffing and resources for several global organizations including the Space Data Association and the Space Safety Coalition.

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Two USAF Facilities in Florida Designated as Space Force Bases

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence looks on as the signage is revealed re-designating Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base at a ceremony at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020. (Credit: U.S. Space Force)

By Charles Pope
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base were formally re-designated Dec. 9, as facilities central to the mission of the U.S. Space Force during a ceremony rich in symbolism that further confirmed the nation’s commitment to operating in and defending space.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the decision to shift the designation of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base during a formal ceremony at Cape Canaveral.

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NASA Names Artemis Team of Astronauts Eligible for Early Moon Missions

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 18 astronauts from its corps to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next astronaut missions on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

Vice President Mike Pence introduced the members of the Artemis Team Wednesday during the eighth National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Report Recommends Former Spaceport America Executives be Investigated for Possible Criminal Charges

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)
  • Outside investigation concluded former Executive Director Dan Hicks ignored spending regulations, submitted falsified travel documents, and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary travel and unrealistic projects
  • Hicks portrayed by staff as an incompetent manager who bullied employees
  • Ex-CFO Zach DeGregorio facilitated Hicks’ violations by improperly approving travel and ignoring rules and statutes
  • Former New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board Chairman Rick Holdridge accused of allowing violations to continue

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A highly critical investigation of Spaceport America has determined the New Mexico state government should consider formal criminal and/or administrative charges against former Executive Director Dan Hicks and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Zach DeGregorio for their mishandling of the spaceport’s finances.

“As detailed above, there is evidence to conclude that Dan Hicks violated criminal and administrative statutes, as well as the State of New Mexico Governmental Compliance Act, and Governor Lujan Grisham’s Code of Conduct, during his tenure as Director of the Spaceport,” the report said.

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National Space Council to Hold 8th Meeting on Dec. 9

Vice President Mike Pence addresses NASA employees, Thursday, July 6, 2017, at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The eighth — and most likely final — meeting of the National Space Council under the Trump Administration will take place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. at 12:30 p.m. EST.

Vice President Mike Pence will chair the meeting. NASA TV will livestream it.

The Trump Administration revived the National Space Council after a long period of non-existence. It’s not clear whether the Biden Administration will continue it.

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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