Tag: Mike Pence

Dominic Cummings Wants Britain to Build a Manned Moon Base

 

Article by Ciaran McGrath                           March 4, 2020                           (express.co.uk)

• Dominic Cummings oversees Britain’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) as a special adviser to PM Boris Johnson. To mark the 50th anniversary of Britain’s Black Arrow rocket, which launched the UK into the space age, Cummings proposes that Britain consider “projects that could bootstrap new international institutions that help solve more general coordination problems such as the risk of accidental nuclear war.” “The most obvious example of a project like this,” said Cummings, “…is a manned international lunar base.”

• Cummings referred to plans devised by George Mueller, a former associate administrator for NASA, who is credited for masterminding the Apollo missions that included a Moon base – plans that Cummings said had been “tragically abandoned” in the 1970s.

• Cummings has little faith in older institutions like the UN and the EU to deliver workable solutions to global coordination problems. He believes that such solutions will more likely emerge as byproducts of new, large projects such as developing and building a Moon base. Such a Moon base would stimulate basic science, create an infrastructure for space industrialization, and encourage cooperation between the great world powers. Says Cummings, “[S]hifting our industrial/psychological frontiers into space drastically reduces the chances of widespread destruction.”

• Back in 1969, Mueller’s plan was to establish a space station in lunar orbit as a mobile base. From there, a lunar craft would go back and forth from the orbiting station to the surface of the Moon, systematically exploring the surface. When they’ve found a suitable place, they will establish the lunar base there.

• In 2018, space entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeted that he planned to build a base on the Moon by 2028.

• US Vice President Mike Pence has called on NASA to build a space platform in lunar orbit and put American astronauts on the Moon’s south pole within five years “by any means necessary”.

• Last year, Jeff Bezos of the ‘Blue Origin’ space company announced his plan to transport people to a manned lunar base by 2024. To this end, his company is working on the ‘Blue Moon’, a robotic space cargo carrier and lander for making cargo deliveries to the Moon.

 

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the blast-off of Britain’s Black Arrow rocket, launching the UK into the space age – and with 25 percent of the world’s small telecommunications satellites currently build in Britain, the potential is plain for all to see. Mr Cummings, who is overseeing a wide-ranging Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) outlined his ideas in a blog published last June, less than a month before he was appointed Boris Johnson’s special adviser.

                  Dominic Cummings

He wrote: “We need to consider projects that could bootstrap new international institutions that help solve more general coordination problems such as the risk of accidental nuclear war.

“The most obvious example of a project like this I can think of is a manned international lunar base which would be useful for a) basic science, b) the practical purposes of building urgently needed near-Earth infrastructure for space industrialisation, and c) to force the creation of new practical international institutions for cooperation between Great Powers.”

Mr Cummings referred to plans devised by George Mueller, NASA’s former associate administrator, and the man widely credited with masterminding the Apollo missions, for precisely such a base – plans which Mr Cummings said had been “tragically abandoned” in the 1970s.

Mr Cummings, who was campaign director for Vote Leave, had little faith in Brussels to deliver workable solutions.

He said: “The old institutions like the UN and EU – built on early 20th Century assumptions about the performance of centralised bureaucracies – are incapable of solving global coordination problems.

“It seems to me more likely that institutions with qualities we need are much more likely to eme

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NASA’s Full Artemis Plan Revealed: 37 Launches and a Lunar Outpost

by Eric Berger                   May 20, 2019                    (arstechnica.com)

• In March 2019, Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to return to the Moon by 2024. Since then, NASA has been working on a plan to accomplish this using existing technology, large projects nearing completion, and commercial rockets. The first draft of this unofficial “Artemis Plan” reveal a human landing in 2024, annual sorties to the lunar surface, and the construction of a Moon base beginning in 2028. It involves 37 launches of private and NASA rockets, and a mix of robotic and human landers. This plan is everything Pence asked for—an urgent human return, a Moon base, a mix of existing and new contractors.

• NASA’s projected cost for this program is $6 billion to $8 billion per year on top of NASA’s existing budget of about $20 billion. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has asked for an additional $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2020 to jump-start its lander development. Due to its massive cost, an international partnership will be needed to sustain this plan. The White House has proposed paying for the lunar project with a surplus in the Pell Grant Reserve Fund (provided to low-income college students). But this appears to be a non-starter with House Democrats.

• Boeing has been working on the core stage of the Space Launch System for eight years. The three-stage, reusable lunar lander envisioned by NASA to get humans to the lunar surface will require new, upgraded engines and control systems, including fuel management. It is uncertain that Boeing will be able to deliver an SLS core stage in 2020, then again in 2022, and then six more between 2024 and 2028, according to this ambitious plan.

• Funding for the lunar program is a harsh political reality. Will Congressional Democrats insist that NASA funding may only come from Department of Defense funds earmarked for Space Force? And what if Trump is not re-elected in 2020? Will a new administration pursue a lunar program that has barely gotten off the ground? Or will it pivot toward a lower-cost space program that makes extensive use of the new private space industry?

• If the funding issues are resolved, this NASA plan could take us back to the Moon. But it probably won’t happen by 2024. A more realistic date would be 2026 at the earliest, say sources inside NASA.

 

In the nearly two months since Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to return to the Moon by 2024, space agency engineers have been working to put together a plan that leverages existing technology, large projects nearing completion, and commercial rockets to bring this about.

Last week, an updated plan that demonstrated a human landing in 2024, annual sorties to the lunar surface thereafter, and the beginning of a Moon base by 2028, began circulating within the agency. A graphic, shown below, provides information about each of the major launches needed to construct a small Lunar Gateway, stage elements of a lunar lander there, fly crews to the Moon and back, and conduct refueling missions.

This decade-long plan, which entails 37 launches of private and NASA rockets, as well as a mix of robotic and human landers, culminates with a “Lunar Surface Asset Deployment” in 2028, likely the beginning of a surface outpost for long-duration crew stays. Developed by the agency’s senior human spaceflight manager, Bill Gerstenmaier, this plan is everything Pence asked for—an urgent human return, a Moon base, a mix of existing and new contractors.

One thing missing is its cost. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has asked for an additional $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2020 as a down payment to jump-start lander development. But all of the missions in this chart would cost much, much more. Sources continue to tell Ars that the internal projected cost is $6 billion to $8 billion per year on top of NASA’s existing budget of about $20 billion.

The plan also misses what is likely another critical element. It’s not clear what role there would be on these charts for international partners, as nearly all of the vehicles could—and likely would—come from NASA or US- based companies. An international partnership, as evidenced by the International Space Station program, is likely key to sustaining a lunar program over the long term in the US political landscape.

Three miracles

Although the plan is laudable in that it represents a robust human exploration of deep space, scientific research, and an effort to tap water resources at the Moon, it faces at least three big problems.

The first issue is funding and political vulnerability. One reason Bridenstine has not shared the full cost of the program as envisioned is “sticker shock” that has doomed other previous efforts. However, if NASA is going to attempt a Moon landing with this specific plan—rather than a radical departure that relies on smaller, reusable rockets—the agency will need a lot more money.

So far, the White House has proposed paying for this with a surplus in the Pell Grant Reserve Fund. But this appears to be a non-starter with House Democrats. “The President is proposing to further cut a beneficial needs-based grants program that provides a lifeline to low-income students, namely the Pell Grants program, in order to pay for the first year of this initiative—something that I cannot support,” House science committee chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has said.

Congress is also not going to give NASA an unlimited authority to reprogram funds, with an apparently open-ended time frame, which Bridenstine has sought.

A second problem is that NASA’s current plan relies on its contractors to actually deliver hardware. Boeing’s work on the core stage of the Space Launch System is emblematic of this problem. The company has been working on the core stage for eight years, and it is unlikely to be ready for flight before another year or two. Boeing’s management of the contract has been harshly criticized by NASA’s Inspector General. After all this, can Boeing be counted on to deliver an SLS core stage in 2020, then again in 2022, and six more between 2024 and 2028?

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Pence Briefed on Space Force Proposal at Pentagon Meeting

by Sandra Erwin                    December 19, 2018                        (spacenews.com)

• On Tuesday December 18th,Vice President Mike Pence announced President Trump’s Pentagon directive to establish a four star U.S. Space Command. While at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Tuesday, Pence said, “We’re working as we speak with leaders in both parties in Congress to stand up the United States Space Force before the end of 2020.”

• On Wednesday, VP Pence was at the Pentagon to receive a briefing on space operations and cyber defense. One of the topics was the Pentagon’s draft proposal, named SPD-4, establishing a Space Force as a sixth separate military branch. The directive is being finalized and could be signed by the president shortly after the new year.

• The SPD-4 directive would instruct Department of Defense to submit a legislative proposal on how the new service would be organized and a budget request. Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said to reporters, “We’re right now in final coordination in the building on the legislative proposal.”

• The Space Force will most likely be initially organized under the Department of the Air Force. This approach would be less costly and more likely to get congressional support, experts said. The Air Force had already included an Air Force Space Command. Under this construct, Space Force would still meet the criteria to be considered a sixth service, said Thomas Taverney, the former vice commander of the Air Force Space Command.

• The Pentagon could keep costs under control by making the Space Force a leaner organization that does not require multiple layers of bureaucracy to get things done, Taverney said. “Maybe we can come up with a more efficient way to set up the organization.”

• One part of the plan that is still unresolved is the establishment of a preliminary Space Development Agency to accelerate innovation and insertion of commercial technology into space programs. Its functions and makeup have not yet been decided. A study team will have 60 days to complete this task. “What is it going to be? An overarching policy organization? A separate acquisition organization? Or a new acquisition organization that takes pieces from the others?” Taverney asked.

• Air Force brass is pushing for Fred Kennedy, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office, to head the Space Development Agency. Kennedy has past experience working at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and has ‘space acquisition’ expertise.

[Editor’s Note]   It now appears that the Deep State tentacles of the Air Force and DARPA are creeping into the creation and control of this supposedly “separate sixth branch of the military”. Is this the ‘Space Force’ that President Trump intended?

 

Vice President Mike Pence visited the Pentagon on Wednesday to receive a briefing on space operations and cyber defense. One of the topics was the proposal the Pentagon is drafting to establish a Space Force as a separate military branch.

Speaking with reporters shortly before Pence arrived at the Pentagon Wednesday morning, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the establishment of a Space Force was one item on the agenda. “We’re going to talk to him about a number of projects going on here in the building,” Shanahan said, according to a pool report.

Pence came to the Pentagon one day after announcing that President Trump directed the Defense Department to establish U.S. Space Command as a four-star combatant command. Speaking on Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Pence said Trump will also sign a new space policy directive in the coming days that will lay out plans and a timeline to create a U.S. Space Force as a sixth branch of the armed forces. “We’re working as we speak with leaders in both parties in Congress to stand up the United States Space Force before the end of 2020,” said Pence.

The new space policy directive, named SPD-4, is the fourth major space policy action by the Trump administration. According to sources, the directive is being finalized and could be signed by the president shortly after the new year. The policy memo would instruct DoD to submit a legislative proposal on how the new service would be organized and a budget request. The National Space Council, led by Pence, has been in back and forth coordination with DoD on the legislative proposal.

Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday that the legislative proposal has not yet been shared with Congress. “We’re right now in final coordination in the building on the legislative proposal,” he said. “I think we’re still on the timeline. We’ve kind of all talked about it.”

DoD sources said the Space Force proposal will likely recommend organizing the new branch initially under the Department of the Air Force. This would make the Space Force comparable to the Marine Corps, which is part of the Department of the Navy. This approach would be less costly and more likely to get congressional support, experts said.

Organizing the Space Force under the Department of the Air Force is “probably the most logical way to solve this in the near term, said Thomas Taverney, a retired Air Force major general who served as vice commander of Air Force Space Command.

The Space Force under this construct would still meet the criteria to be considered a sixth service, Taverney told SpaceNews.

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