NASA as a Prop & Governance by Photo Op

Ivanka Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

On Tuesday, first daughter Ivanka Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos paid a visit to that shrine to American flight, the National Air & Space Museum, to urge girls to pursue careers in STEM.

The White House was probably hoping the event would distract attention away from the funding cuts that Ivanka’s father, Donald, has proposed in federal science and education funding. And, perhaps it did for some who are uniformed about the budget.

For others, the sight of Ivanka introducing a screening of Hidden Figures, a film about African American women who helped launch the first Americans into space, as her father is trying to zero out NASA’s education office was a bit too much to take.

In her introduction to the film, Ivanka Trump said that her father’s administration “has expanded NASA’s space exploration mission” though did not, unsurprisingly, mention that he actually proposed decreasing NASA funding and eliminating the education office.

The Trump-DeVos event drew some sharp criticism from Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who said in a statement:

“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump are feigning an interest in STEM careers with a photo op at the National Air and Space Museum while eliminating all funding for NASA’s education programs. This takes chutzpah to a new level. If this administration was genuinely interested in promoting STEM programs, it would walk the walk, not just talk the talk. The next generation of astronauts, scientists, engineers and mathematicians need support, not budget cuts eliminating the very programs being promoted.”

There was also no mention of the 13.5 percent in cuts Trump has proposed to the Education Department, which include the reduction or elimination of grants for teacher training, after-school programs and aid to ­low-income and first-generation college students.

Science and education are integral to our future as a nation. Trump can’t make America great by slashing his way to prosperity. A great and prosperous nation need to invest heavily in these areas if it wants to remain so.

Governing by photo op eventually catches up to you. Especially when you’re projecting images at odds with reality.

NASA Precise Landing Technologies Tested on Masten Rocket

Video Caption: NASA is flight testing next-generation lander navigation technology through the CoOperative Blending of Autonomous Landing Technologies (COBALT) project. The technology provides a spacecraft with knowledge during entry, descent and landing that enables it to precisely navigate and softly land close to surface locations that have been previously too risky to target with current capabilities. The technologies will enable future exploration destinations on Mars, the moon, Europa, and other planets and moons.

The two primary navigation components within COBALT include the Langley Research Center’s Navigation Doppler Lidar, which provides ultra-precise velocity and line-of-sight range measurements, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Lander Vision System, which provides navigation estimates relative to an existing surface map. The integrated system is being flight tested onboard a Masten Space Systems suborbital rocket vehicle called Xodiac. The COBALT project is led by the Johnson Space Center, with funding provided through the Game Changing Development, Flight Opportunities program, and Advanced Exploration Systems programs.

COBALT free flight tests, or untethered, on the rocket coming soon.

A New Market Emerges

SpaceX Crew Dragon Weldment Structure (Credit: SpaceX)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

NASA recently marked a decade since it began a new era in commercial spaceflight development for low-Earth orbit transportation. The space agency inked agreements in 2006 to develop rockets and spacecraft capable of carrying cargo such as experiments and supplies to and from the International Space Station.

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Orbital ATK Donates SRBs for Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibit

Endeavour and the shuttle carrier aircraft over Houston (Credit: NASA)

DULLES, Virg., 28 March 2017  (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, and NASA have donated a set of flight-worthy solid rocket boosters from the Space Shuttle Program to the California Science Center to display with a full-up exhibit of the Endeavour orbiter and external tank.

“We take great pride in our 30-plus years of participation in the Space Shuttle Program,” said Charlie Precourt, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division. “We’re pleased and honored that we can contribute hardware to this amazing exhibit at the California Science Center.”

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Camden Welcomes Vector Space Systems to County

WOODBINE, Ga., March 28, 2017 (Spaceport Camden PR) — The Camden County Board of Commissioners and County Administrator Steve Howard welcomed Vector to the future site of Spaceport Camden to conduct an initial set of ground operations on its full-scale Mechanical Engineering Unit (MEU) of the Vector-R rocket and the associated Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL). The visit was an opportunity to showcase the Vector-R launch system and concept of operations (CONOPS) to key members of the spaceport community, stimulate discussions regarding future launch operations and familiarize Vector personnel with Spaceport Camden.

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Trump Memorandum on Office of American Innovation

Credit: Matt Wade

Presidential Memorandum on The White House Office of American Innovation

SUBJECT:   The White House Office of American Innovation

America has long led the world in innovation and technological advancement.  American ingenuity has launched industries, created jobs, and improved quality of life at home and abroad.  To ensure that America remains the global innovation leader, I hereby direct the Senior Advisor to the President to head an office in the White House dedicated to American innovation.  This office will bring together the best ideas from Government, the private sector, and other thought leaders to ensure that America is ready to solve today’s most intractable problems, and is positioned to meet tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.  The office will focus on implementing policies and scaling proven private-sector models to spur job creation and innovation.

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Trump Sets Up Innovation Office Headed by….Wait for It….

Jared Kushner (Credit: Lori Berkowitz)

The Washington Post reports President Donald Trump has set up a new office at the White House focused on innovation, and you’ll never believe who he selected to run it.

The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements….

In a White House riven at times by disorder and competing factions, the innovation office represents an expansion of Kushner’s already far-reaching influence. The 36-year-old former real estate and media executive will continue to wear many hats, driving foreign and domestic policy as well as decisions on presidential personnel. He also is a shadow diplomat, serving as Trump’s lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East….

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Invention May Give Spacecraft Improved Damage Report

Prototypes of the damage detection system in development at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center shows the pieces designed to pinpoint impacts on spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

There are few ways for astronauts to know exactly when the outside of their spacecraft has been damaged, but that may change in the future with an invention that acts like a sensory skin to pick up signs of damage in real-time. The invention uses a series of several technologies to create circuits printed on thin layers and that can be embedded in a spacecraft’s structure, scientists behind the invention said.

If successfully incorporated, the innovation could also be applied to a host of satellites, aircraft and even habitats on other worlds.

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SpaceX to Refly Falcon 9 First Stage on Thursday

Falcon 9 first stage after landing on drone ship (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX looks to make history on Thursday by re-flying a Falcon 9 first stage for the first time.

Elon Musk’s company is targeting a 6 p.m. EDT liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The booster is carrying the SES-10 communications satellite.

The refurbished first stage was used to launch a Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station last April. The stage landed on a drone ship off shore.

A brief static fire of the first stage’s 9 Merlin 1-D engines is scheduled for today.

French Guiana Paralyzed By Strikes, Unrest

Soyuz rocket launch from French Guiana. (Credit: ESA)

French Guiana faced a general strike on Monday as unrest spread in the overseas department that hosts Europe’s only orbital launch site. An Ariane 5 launch scheduled for last week remains on indefinite hold as French officials attempt to address deep-seating problems there.

As tensions mounted, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced plans to send a high-level ministerial mission before week’s end aimed at signing a pact addressing anger over high crime, the cost of living and the quality of health care and other social services. Protests have already blocked roads to neighbouring Brazil and Suriname, and shuttered many businesses and schools….

French Guiana senator Antoine Karam said on BFM-TV that the population has been ignored despite grave problems, such as 50 per cent unemployment among young people and 30 per cent of the population lacking drinking water and electricity in their homes.

“We’re not treated in the same way as the mainland French,” he said, despite French Guiana being the site of Europe’s Ariane rocket launches — and the window for French technology.

“Today, that window has been broken,” Karam said.

Read the full story.

This Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livington:

SPECIAL TIME: 1. Monday, March 27, 2017: 9:30-11 AM PDT (12:30-2:00 PM EDT, 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT): We welcome BACK DR. M.V. “COYOTE” SMITH, COL, USAF (RET)to discuss his proposal for an American US Space Corps.

2. Tuesday, March 28, 2017: 7-8:30 PM PDT, 10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT: We welcome back JAY WITTNER with KIRBY IKIN & DALE SKRAN in honor of the NSS anniversary.

3. Friday, March 31, 2016: 9:30-11AM PDT; (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM – 1 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. ANITA SENGUPTA of JPL for updates with the Cold Atom Lab.

4. Sunday, April 2, 2017: 12-1:30 PM DST (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT): I am at the Space Foundation Symposium. Please see the website newsletter for suggested Golden Oldie programs you can play.

GAO Report: FAA Launch Insurance Update Remains Work in Progress

Members of the 45th Space Wing’s Incident Management Team responded to an explosion Sept. 1, 2016, on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (Credit: 45th Space Wing)

The FAA’s effort to update insurance requirements for space launches remains a work in progress that could expose the federal government to excess financial risk, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Under the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, Congress required the FAA to update the requirements for insurance that private launch providers must purchase for damages to third parties and federal property.  The requirements had not been updated since 1988.

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Tom Stafford Wins NSS Space Pioneer Award

Tom Stafford (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford, USAF, Ret, is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Historic Space Achievement category. This award covers his service in the Gemini, Apollo and Apollo-Soyuz programs. In particular, the flight of Gemini 9A on June 3, 1966, was 51 years ago.

The National Space Society invites the public to join them in presenting the Pioneer Award to General Stafford on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at the 36th NSS International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2017). The conference will be held in St Louis, Missouri, at the Union Station Hotel, running from May 25-29, 2017.

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PSI’s Toolbox for Research and Exploration Project Funded for $5.5 Million

TUCSON, Ariz. (PSI PR) – The Planetary Science Institute has been awarded $5.5 million by NASA to be a research node of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to advance basic and applied research for lunar and planetary science, and advance human exploration of the solar system. The node, known as the Toolbox for Research and Exploration (TREX) project, will be led by PSI Senior Scientist Amanda Hendrix, the Principal Investigator, and funded for five years. The Deputy Principal Investigator for TREX is PSI Senior Scientist Faith Vilas. An additional 18 PSI scientists are on the team.

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