Jody Singer Named Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Jody Singer (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named Jody Singer director of the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Singer has been the center’s deputy director since February 2016, and has been serving as acting director since the retirement of Todd May as center director in July. She is the first woman appointed to the position.

As Marshall’s director, Singer will lead one of NASA’s largest field installations, with almost 6,000 civil service and contractor employees and an annual budget of approximately $2.8 billion.

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Video: NASA Administrator Bridenstine Interviews Commercial Crew Astronauts

Video Caption: During a recent visit to Johnson Space Center, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sat down with astronauts Chris Ferguson and Sunita “Suni” Williams for an informal Q&A session about the Commercial Crew Program.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has worked with several American aerospace industry companies to facilitate the development of U.S. human spaceflight systems since 2010. Both Ferguson and Williams were selected to fly on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner for the Commercial Crew Program – marking the first time that American astronauts will launch to the International Space Station from American soil on American-made spacecraft since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011.

To watch specific portions of the Q&A about the future of human space exploration, use these timestamp:

2:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about what he has been doing since it was announced that he is a member of the Commercial Crew Program
3:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson explains why his flight suit says Boeing and not NASA
4:27 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about what a day in the life of an astronaut is like and what she has been up to since she was selected for the Commercial Crew program
6:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about how the Starliner is different from the Space Shuttle
7:30 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about how is the Starliner is similar to and different from the Soyuz
8:32 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about how many people the Starliner will be able to carry to the International Space Station
9:20 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the future of space exploration for NASA
10:58 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about her previous spaceflights and how her Commercial Crew flight will be different
12:20 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about their experience landing in space vehicles
15:20 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine and astronaut Chris Ferguson discuss thermal protection to keep astronauts safe
17:30 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the components of the Space Launch System and how it compares to technology for avionics
18:55 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson discusses how flying tests in the U.S. Navy prepared them for their upcoming missions
20:28 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson discusses what it’s like to dock the Starliner
21:30 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about training, automation and providing input to Boeing about the Starliner
22:30 – Astronauts Chris Ferguson and Suni Williams talk about the team of individuals who make human spaceflight possible
24:45 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the preparations that go into space exploration missions
25:46 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about NASA’s launch capabilities
26:52 – Astronauts Chris Ferguson and Suni Williams provide guidance to Administrator Jim Bridenstine as he docks the Boeing Starliner simulator

Bridenstine: NASA Lunar Plan Focused on Sustainable, Commercial Architecture

Orion near the moon (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA plans to send astronauts back to the surface of the moon within a decade using a sustainable architecture that stresses reusable vehicles and open systems, Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week.

“So how do we go sustainably?” Bridenstine said during a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). “We start by taking advantage of capabilities in this country that didn’t exist even five or 10 years ago. We have commercial companies that can do things that weren’t possible even a few years ago….

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NASA Examining Commercial Endorsements, Rocket Naming Rights

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Corporations buying the naming rights to launch vehicles and space missions, and NASA astronauts with endorsements and their photos on cereal boxes were some of the commercial ideas floated this week to help the agency commercialize space activities.

“There is interest in that right now,” Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during an appearance before the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). “The question is, is it possible? And the answer is, I don’t know. But, we need somebody to give us advice on whether it is.

“Why would we want to sell the naming rights?” he added. “Well, because then those private companies can then embed in their marketing campaigns NASA. We can embed NASA into the culture and fabric of American society and inspire generations of folks that will create those next capabilities to keep America preeminent not only in space but in science and technology and discovery and exploration.”

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Video: Jim Bridenstine Addresses NASA Advisory Council

Video Caption: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke the agency’s exploration goals, during a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) on Aug. 29 at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The Council meets several times a year for fact finding and deliberative sessions. Meetings are held at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, as well as at NASA Centers across the country.

NASA Flight Opportunities Program Selects 15 Space Technologies for Tests

New Shepard booster over the landing pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has selected 15 promising space technologies to be tested on commercial low-gravity simulating aircraft, high-altitude balloons and suborbital rockets. These flights will help advance technologies for future spaceflight, taking them from the laboratory to a relevant flight environment.

During an Aug. 28 visit to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, where the Flight Opportunities program is managed, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency will focus on funding more of these payload flights in the future.

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Vice President Pence Talks Future Human Space Exploration at NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Mike Pence

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Vice President Mike Pence, with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, will visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston Thursday, Aug. 23, to discuss the future of human space exploration and the agency’s plans to return to the Moon as a forerunner to future human missions to Mars.

The event will be held at 12:45 p.m. CDT in the Teague Auditorium at Johnson and will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Media Schedule (all times CDT):

  • 6:30-7:30 a.m. – Media call time and pre-set for video cameras and tripods
  • 7:30-9:30 a.m. – Venue access closed to press for security sweep
  • 9:30 a.m. – Media re-entrance
  • 12:45 p.m. – Event begins

Check out the latest on NASA’s plans for human space exploration at:

https://www.nasa.gov/topics/humans-in-space

UAE Space Agency, NASA Sign Agreement for Human Spaceflight Cooperation

The UAE is in the midst of creating an astronaut corps, with nine finalists vying for four spots in the program. The nation has already signed an agreement with Roscosmos to fly an astronaut to the International Space Station in 2019.

Trump Nominates Senate Staffer for NASA Deputy Administrator

President Donald J. Trump today nominated a long-time Senate staffer who has neither a technical nor scientific background to be the space agency’s deputy administrator.

James Morhard, who is currently the U.S. Senate’s Deputy Sergeant at Arms, was nominated for the position. The decision represents a defeat for NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who had publicly advocated on behalf of Dr. Janet Kavandi, a former astronaut, engineer and analytical chemist who is director of the NASA Glenn Research Center.

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Battle Brews Over Filling NASA Deputy Administrator Spot

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Quartz reports there’s a battle brewing over who will be NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s deputy. The position of deputy administrator must be nominated by the president and approved by the Senate.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is a former lawmaker, and he says he wants a former astronaut, Dr. Janet Kavandi, as his deputy. But Donald Trump, who makes the final decision, is leaning toward a man with no experience in space technology.

Five sources with knowledge of the deliberations tell Quartz that the White House is seriously considering James Morhard, a veteran senate aide…

Kavandi, 58, joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 1994. She had previously been an engineer at Boeing, and earned a P.h.D in analytical chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle. She spent 33 days in space as an astronaut on three different space shuttle missions, then became the lead astronaut supervising work on the International Space Station and the deputy head of the astronaut office. In 2016, she became the director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center, which includes a huge vacuum chamber where SpaceX’s crew vehicle, the Dragon space capsule, is currently undergoing tests.

In his current job, Morhard, 61, is responsible for technology and administration in the offices of 100 senators and 88 committees and subcommittees. Starting off as an accountant at the Pentagon, he began his career as a legislative staffer in 1983, earning an MBA and a law degree along the way.

He rose to become the powerful chief of staff of the Appropriations Committee under the late senator Ted Stevens, and forged close ties with Republican senators. Morhard was a passenger, along with former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe, in a 2010 plane crash that killed Stevens and four others.

New NASA Position to Focus on Exploration of Moon, Mars and Worlds Beyond

Steve Clarke (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is taking a giant leap focusing the agency’s exploration of the Moon, Mars and our Solar System.

Effective immediately, Steve Clarke is SMD’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration. He will serve as the agency’s interface between the NASA mission directorates, the scientific community, and other external stakeholders in developing a strategy to enable an integrated approach for robotic and human exploration within NASA’s Exploration Campaign.

Clarke returns to NASA after serving as a senior policy analyst with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where he was responsible for a number of important initiatives.

“Steve returns to a position ideally suited for him and the agency as we return to the Moon,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “He’ll help integrate near-term and long-term lunar exploration with science missions and other destinations, including Mars.”
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NASA Administrator Statement on Space Policy Directive-2

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday’s signing of Space Policy Directive-2 by President Donald Trump:

“NASA is pleased with the White House’s continued commitment to advancing America’s leadership in space. Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2) is another step towards bolstering our nation’s dedication to uncovering new knowledge, protecting our national security, developing breakthrough technologies, and creating new jobs.

“Our thriving space economy will continue to grow and support our missions to the Moon and Mars thanks to the Administration’s long-term investment in commercial partners who now successfully carry research and cargo to the International Space Station, and will soon transport U.S. astronauts from American soil for the first time since 2011.
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NASA Names New Director of Johnson Space Center

Mark Geyer

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Monday the selection of Mark Geyer as the next director of the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. He’ll assume the director’s position on May 25, when current Center Director and former astronaut Ellen Ochoa retires after 30 years at the agency.

As Johnson’s center director, he’ll lead one of NASA’s largest installations, which has about 10,000 civil service and contractor employees – including those at White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico – and oversee a broad range of human spaceflight activities.

“Mark brings with him almost three decades of distinguished NASA leadership experience at the program, center and headquarters levels – he’s managed and he’s worked his way through the ranks and knows what it’s going to take to get our astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars. Johnson has been NASA’s home base for astronauts and mission control throughout our history, and Mark is eminently qualified to carry on this historic legacy,” said Bridenstine. “I also want to thank Ellen for her years of service to America and this agency. Her legacy and contributions to this center and to NASA are timeless. She will be missed.”

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House Measure Would Boost NASA Budget to $21.5 Billion

The House Appropriations Committee has released a draft bill that would increase NASA’s budget to $21.5 billion for fiscal year 2019. The total would be an increase of $810 million above the enacted amount for FY 2018 and $1.6 billion more than the Trump Administration requested.

NASA would spend $5.1 billion on deep space exploration, an increase of $294 million. The total includes $504 million for the Lunar Orbital Platform — Gateway.

Science would also be boosted by $459 million to $6.7 billion. The total includes $740 million for a Europa orbiter and lander.

Complete details on the proposed budget are still lacking. Below is what the committee has released thus far.
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