Bring Your Ideas to NASA@WORK

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard from employees across the agency who want to help the nation through this unprecedented time. These comments exemplify the prevailing, can-do spirit of NASA people and our willingness to take on any challenge.

As the nation comes together to confront this crisis, we must look at every opportunity for NASA to lend a hand and increase our contribution to America’s response. We have unique capabilities—several of which are already being used to help combat COVID-19. We also have talented people and decades of experience finding solutions to complex problems.

NASA will continue to support the Administration and local response efforts by our field centers. Starting today, we’re also asking the NASA workforce for ideas of how the agency can leverage its expertise and capabilities to provide additional support. Using our internal crowdsourcing platform NASA@WORK, you can submit ideas for solutions relevant to COVID-19. Multiple ideas may be selected for follow-up and potential action.

For this initial call, NASA leadership, working with the White House and other government agencies, determined three focus areas around personal protective equipment, ventilation devices, and monitoring and forecasting the spread and impacts of the virus. Other creative ideas are welcome, and as COVID-19 evolves, we may introduce additional topic areas to address the needs of the country.

You can find more information about the NASA@WORK opportunity below and online. I encourage anyone with an idea to submit it within the next two weeks, as it could propel meaningful contributions to the COVID-19 response.

Thank you all in advance for bringing your ingenuity to the table and helping with something so important. And thank you to the Space Technology Mission Directorate for spearheading this effort on behalf of the agency and for the benefit of the nation.

Ad astra,
Jim

 

March 24 Update on NASA Response to Coronavirus

Dear NASA family,

Our nation is fighting an invisible enemy – coronavirus (COVID-19). NASA is implementing important measures across the agency to do our part to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities. To continue NASA’s inspiring mission, the safety of our workforce is our top priority. We will not ask employees and contractors to perform work if we do not have the highest confidence that it is safe to do so. 

Mission-Essential Work

Last week, NASA leadership completed the first agencywide assessment of what work can be performed remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused. You can find the release here.

We are working closely with center directors, contractors and our partners to analyze this evolving situation to ensure we are taking the right steps for our workforce.

What We Can Do

Each of us has the important responsibility of taking extra precautions to protect ourselves and our team.  If you are performing on-site work and feel sick, do not go to work. Contact your supervisor immediately and schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.

For more than six decades, NASA has used its expertise to take on challenges that have benefited people worldwide in unexpected ways. Leadership across the agency is looking at how we can use our unmatched expertise and capabilities to help in the national response to COVID-19. We are coordinating an agencywide effort to see how NASA can help and we will be providing more details in the days to come.   

Changes at Centers

Following local, state and federal guidance, and taking into account local conditions, we have moved the following centers and facilities to Stage 4 of NASA’s Response Framework:

  • Glenn Research Center in Ohio
  • Plum Brook Station in Ohio
  • Armstrong Flight Research Center in California
  • Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia
  • Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York
  • Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who also reported its first case of an employee testing positive for COVID-19.

Two facilities will remain at Stage 4 after reporting new coronavirus cases, Michoud Assembly Facility reporting its first employee testing positive for COVID-19, and Stennis Space Center recording a second case of a member of the NASA family with the virus. Kennedy Space Center will remain at stage 3, one member of the workforce that has tested positive but given our mandatory telework policy the individual had not been on site for over a week prior to symptoms. For an updated list of the status of each of NASA’s facilities visit NASA People.

At Stage 4, mandatory telework is in effect for all personnel, with the exception of limited personnel required for mission-essential work and to maintain the safety and security of the center.

NASA leadership continues to monitor developments around the nation and follow the guidance from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local and state health officials in order to keep the NASA community safe. If at any point, as was demonstrated many times last week, we do not feel comfortable with the work conditions, we will not hesitate to temporarily suspend work. Mission-essential work is routinely reevaluated to determine if there is not another way to safely complete the work.

Ask the Administrator

This week, I will be joined by Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk and Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk to answer your questions on NASA’s response to COVID-19 during a recorded Q&A. We’ve collected your submitted questions for the “March 25 Ask the Administrator” event, and you’ll get an email Wednesday, March 25, letting you know when the video is available and where to watch it.

Your resilience and determination to continue the mission during this unprecedented challenge is worthy of our nation’s gratitude. I am grateful to be a part of this tremendous team as we navigate this difficult time together.

Ad astra,
Jim

  

Helpful Links:

  • NASA Guidance: Please continue to check NASA People for resources and updates on the agency’s response to COVID-19.
  • COVID-19: For more information about COVID-19 please visit the CDC website.
  • Symptom tracker: A guide to help make decisions and seek appropriate care via CDC’s COVID-19 self-checker
  • Rumor Control: To prevent incorrect information from spreading, FEMA has put up a website to help dispel myths about COVID-19.
  • 15 Days to Stop the Spread: The White House has provided guidance to Americans on how we can slow the spread of the disease during this critical period.

 

Update on NASA’s Response to Coronavirus

NASA leadership is determined to make the health and safety of its workforce its top priority as we navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. To that end, the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are moving to Stage 4 of the NASA Response Framework, effective Friday, March 20.

The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team.  While there are no confirmed cases at Michoud, the facility is moving to Stage 4 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the local area, in accordance with local and federal guidelines.

Mandatory telework is in effect for NASA personnel at both facilities until further notice. Additionally, all travel is suspended. These measures are being taken to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities.

Access to Stennis and Michoud will be limited to personnel required to maintain the safety and security of the center, as approved by agency leadership and the resident agencies. All previously approved exceptions for onsite work are rescinded and new approvals will be required in order to gain access to the center.

NASA will temporarily suspend production and testing of Space Launch System and Orion hardware. The NASA and contractors teams will complete an orderly shutdown that puts all hardware in a safe condition until work can resume. Once this is complete, personnel allowed onsite will be limited to those needed to protect life and critical infrastructure.

We realize there will be impacts to NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce.

I ask all members of the NASA workforce to stay in close contact with your supervisor and check the NASA People website regularly for updates. Also, in these difficult times, do not hesitate to reach out to the NASA Employee Assistance Program, if needed.

I will continue to say, so none of us forget – there is no team better prepared for doing hard things. Take care of yourself, your family, and your NASA team.

Ad astra,
Jim

 

NASA is Prepared for this Challenge

Our nation is facing a challenging time amid this national health emergency. The well-being of you and your families remains the top priority for NASA leadership. While we know this situation presents a number of difficulties for our missions, we are confident there is no team better prepared for doing hard things.

We have accomplished so many incredible feats as an agency. We put Americans on the Moon, landed on Mars (seven times!), launched hundreds of crewed and robotic missions into space, created life-changing technologies, transformed aviation and sustained human presence on a laboratory that flies 250 miles above Earth for nearly 20 years – just to name a few things that once were thought to be impossible.

Our Mission Continues

Coronavirus (COVID-19) will continue to test our agency’s ability to bend but not break under stress. I am convinced that we are uniquely equipped for this time of heightened need to collaborate and communicate. Teams across the agency are well-practiced in responding to mission contingencies and reacting to unforeseen challenges.

For example, Ames Research Center in California was recently elevated to Stage 4 of NASA’s Response Framework, in adherence to the local government’s “shelter-in-place” order. Thanks to the leadership of Ames Center Director Eugene Tu, NASA’s mission continues with work on the supercomputer and ensuring advancement in mission-critical work while ensuring the safety of our employees.

As of today, the coronavirus has not significantly affected NASA’s operations. Preparations continue for the Space Launch System Green Run tests, upcoming launches of the Mars Perseverance rover mission, NASA’s Commercial Crew flight to the International Space Station, and construction of our James Webb Space Telescope targeted for launch next year. We will continue to communicate major changes throughout this situation.

Take Care of Each Other

Your efforts to follow the Administration’s 15 Days to Slow the Spread plan, as well as state and local guidelines, demonstrate NASA’s desire to be responsible citizens and good members of our communities. I encourage you to visit the federal government’s newly launched website, coronavirus.gov, to stay informed about the outbreak. This website lists the many ways to protect yourself and help you take the appropriate steps if you think you are sick.

Lastly, many of us are facing a unique challenge as we work to continue our mission: how to supervise young children while working from home. There probably isn’t one magic solution (if you discover it, please share it with the rest of us!), but the NASA Kids’ Club website may offer a few minutes of respite. You also can satisfy their curious young minds with all the great videos on NASA’s Youtube channel, particularly the new #AskNASA videos.

Thank you all for the extra measures you are doing to keep yourself safe and still fulfill our mission. Please continue to check the NASA People website often for updates, however, all emergency notifications will continue to be sent by email. While our progress as a team might be harder to visualize when teleworking from different locations, each of our individual efforts will, all together, propel our agency forward. I am confident NASA will emerge from this stronger and more unified as one team than ever before.

Ad astra,

Jim

March 17 Update on NASA’s Response to Coronavirus

Agency leadership continues to monitor developments regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) around the nation. We are closely following the advice of health professionals and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to keep our workforce safe. Implementing best practices early and quickly will increase the likelihoods of better outcomes.

This evening, NASA leadership has decided to elevate all centers and facilities to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework. Effective immediately, all employees and contractors will move to mandatory telework until further notice. Mission-essential personnel will continue to be granted access onsite. Please contact your supervisor as soon as possible if you have any questions.

Although a limited amount of employees have tested positive for COVID-19, it is imperative that we take this pre-emptive step to thwart further spreading of the virus among the workforce and our communities. A list of collaboration tools and information supporting telework is available on NASA’s Remote Collaboration Services webpage.

I strongly encourage you and your families to follow all local, state and federal guidelines to stay healthy and to help slow the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website lists many resources available if you need help, specific state health websites can be found here. Additionally, I urge all NASA employees to follow President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, announced yesterday afternoon. You can find these 15 Day guidelines on whitehouse.gov.

Agency leadership will continue to monitor the rapidly-evolving risks COVID-19 poses to our workforce. You should anticipate continued frequent communication from your center director, myself and others. Up-to-date agency announcements and guidelines are available on the NASA People website, please check it often.

NASA’s early and thoughtful actions in coordination with our country’s unified response to this health emergency is an incredible display of national solidarity. Thank you for your vigilance and flexibility. I am confident your diligence and commitment will ensure our mission will continue. Please make certain you are giving the appropriate attention to your health and that of your family.

Ad astra,

Jim

Update on NASA’s Response to Coronavirus

As we navigate this difficult time, the protection and care of the NASA family continues to be our top priority and the key consideration as we make decisions on how to move forward. NASA leadership is coordinating closely with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and interagency partners in our nation’s unified response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and regularly re-evaluating the conditions at each center. Your careful observance of recommendations is key to protecting our team and ensuring we accomplish our mission.

As you are aware, Ames Research Center in California was elevated to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework after an onsite case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 8. We recently received confirmation that an employee at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama has tested positive for COVID-19. As with Ames – in consultation with Marshall Center Director Jody Singer, NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk, and in accordance to agency response plans ­– Marshall has been elevated to Stage 3 and is in mandatory telework status, with restricted access to the center until further notice.

While we do not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any other NASA center as of today, March 14, out of an abundance of caution, all other NASA centers are transitioning to Stage 2 of our response framework. Center directors have been in contact with their employees about this status change and steps moving forward.

In Stage 2, telework is strongly encouraged for employees who can work remotely. Take home your laptop computer, power cord, NASA badge, and any other equipment you need to work effectively from an alternate location, as well as essential personal items you may need. Stay in regular contact with your supervisor. Travel that is not mission-essential, as defined in the response framework, will be limited agencywide.

More information on leave and telework is available on the NASA People website and a list of collaboration tools and information on VPN also is available online.

If you are performing mission-essential work on center, do not go to work if you feel sick. Everyone should take extra precautions to protect themselves and others. Please continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s chief health and medical officer, and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to talk with your supervisor.

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we’ll continue to closely monitor and coordinate with federal, state, and community officials to take any further appropriate steps to help safeguard the NASA family. Please check the NASA People website regularly for additional guidance.

The vigilance our workforce has displayed in our response to coronavirus is remarkable and has placed our agency in a position of strength as we confront this national emergency. Thank you for all you are doing to care for the health of our workforce and keeping the mission going. We will get through this together and continue to accomplish amazing things for our country and all of humanity. Please take care of yourselves and your families.

Ad astra,

Jim

A 21st Century Budget for 21st Century Space Exploration

President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget for NASA is worthy of 21st-century exploration and discovery. The President’s budget invests more than $25 billion in NASA to fortify our innovative human space exploration program while maintaining strong support for our agency’s full suite of science, aeronautics, and technology work.

The budget proposed represents a 12 percent increase and makes this one of the strongest budgets in NASA history. The reinforced support from the President comes at a critical time as we lay the foundations for landing the first woman and the next man on the South Pole of the Moon by 2024. This budget keeps us firmly on that path.

We are preparing to achieve pivotal milestones this year in development of the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and the Gateway. These make up the backbone of our Artemis program and are fully supported by this budget. They constitute our ability to build a sustainable lunar presence and eventually send human missions to Mars.

Most noteworthy, is the President’s direct funding of $3.3 billion for the development of a human landing system. This is the first time we have had direct funding for a human lander since the Apollo Program. We are serious about our 2024 goals, and the President’s budget supports our efforts to get the job done.

We will soon launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade. This recaptured ability will not only allow us to do more science and more exploration than ever before, but will also broaden commercial activity in low-Earth orbit to support ever greater private partnerships.

As we prepare to celebrate 20 years of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station this year, we will continue to look for ways to partner with private enterprise and give more people access to the unique environment microgravity offers. Similarly, when we go to the Moon in the next four years, we are interested in taking the world with us. This includes those involved in our Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative and the international relationships we have forged over the decades.

The FY 2021 budget positions NASA to spearhead a new era of human space exploration without focusing funds on one program at the expense of others. This all-of-NASA approach to the future will help us take advantage of all the exciting, new horizons emerging in science, aeronautics, and technology.

The decadal survey priorities are strongly supported by this budget, including history’s first Mars sample return mission, the Europa Clipper, and development of a host of new trailblazing Earth observation missions. In aeronautics, the budget backs all our cutting-edge research on commercial use of supersonic aircraft, all-electric airplanes, and development of an unmanned aerial system that will make flying small drones safer and more efficient in the 21st century.

NASA is on the cusp of embarking on era-defining exploration. The civilization-changing technology we develop will deepen humanity’s scientific knowledge of the universe and how to take care of our ever-changing world.

I am confident the FY 2021 budget’s proper investment in our agency’s priorities, coupled with NASA’s unmatched talents and expertise, will strengthen our national posture for continued space preeminence and, as President Trump said during his State of the Union speech last week, help our nation embrace the next frontier.

To learn more about our budget, please visit: www.nasa.gov/budget

Day of Remembrance – January 30, 2020

Each year at this time, the NASA community pauses on this Day of Remembrance to honor the brave women and men who lost their lives for the most noble of goals: the pursuit of truth and greater understanding. Today, we remember the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia, as well as those who surrendered all in support of missions of exploration and discovery. Our expressions of gratitude for their sacrifice cannot retract the overwhelming pain of their loss, but perhaps our efforts can further propel forward the purpose for which they gave their lives.

NASA’s Day of Remembrance gives all of us an opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on the lessons of the past and on the lives of those who dared slip the bonds of Earth and reach for greater heights. Space exploration holds many rewards as well as countless unforgiving dangers. Unfortunately, NASA has learned through sad experience the high price spaceflight demands for mistakes and failures. Each of these tragedies have changed NASA. The lessons we learned from them influence everything we do today, ensuring the sacrifices of the fallen will never be forgotten.

Shortly after the Apollo 1 accident that catastrophically killed all three crew members, flight director Gene Kranz addressed his team at mission control. “Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity and neglect,” he said. “Somewhere, somehow, we screwed up [and] we should have caught it.” Kranz insisted that from that moment on his team would be known for two words: “tough and competent.” This renewed sense of personal accountability marked the transformation of a slapdash engineering culture into one with a relentless pursuit of perfection. This culture of excellence has persisted and permeated throughout all of NASA. Similarly, the Challenger and Columbia investigative reports have further perfected and cemented our unrelenting determination to keep our astronauts safe.

Taps is played by a member of The Old Guard after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as part of NASA’s Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The wreaths were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

This year the lessons of the past are ever at the forefront of our minds as we prepare to return human spaceflight to our nation. In the very near future, we will once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil – something not done since the end of the Shuttle program in 2011, and a capability our nation must never lose again. NASA’s close partnerships with American businesses will revolutionize spaceflight as commercial spacecraft pave the way to an era of greater human spaceflight opportunities than ever before. These commercial partners know that our standards of safety are uncompromising and are informed by the heart-wrenching loss of heroes we will forever honor on this Day of Remembrance.

The daring pioneer spirit of our men and women throughout the years as they take their seats aboard our spacecraft is remarkable. There is nothing inevitable about scientific discovery nor is there a predetermined path of cutting-edge innovation. Long hours of arduous study and courageous experimentation are required merely to glimpse a flicker of enlightenment that can lead to greater heights of human achievement. Our fallen heroes knew this and it is why they risked their lives. To expand our knowledge of the cosmos is to pursue a better life on Earth for our children, and future generations to come. Much of the technological triumphs and success we enjoy today and the scientific advancements awaiting humanity on the horizon of this new, dynamic era of 21st-century spaceflight are the very gifts they wished to bestow. Our efforts today in pursuing the objectives of the Artemis Program and others honor our heroes for the foundations they laid that make our success possible.

Today on NASA’s Day of Remembrance, I encourage all to reflect on the legacy and memory of our friends and colleagues who lost their lives to advance humanity to new frontiers. Let us give gratitude not only in words but through our actions by redoubling our efforts in honor of their selfless sacrifice.

 

 

NASA Authorization Bill Update

I would like to thank the Committee for producing a comprehensive NASA authorization bill. I am particularly encouraged that the bill is proceeding on a bipartisan basis, reflecting a consensus on a Moon to Mars approach. Maintaining a bipartisan, consensus approach is critical to constancy of purpose and supporting a long-term national commitment to the human exploration of the Moon and Mars. The bill envisions a destination of Mars while supporting missions to the Moon as the most effective strategy to achieve that critical, shared goal. NASA would appreciate the opportunity to work with the Committee in a bipartisan way, as we did with the Senate Commerce Committee, on some modifications.

I am concerned that the bill imposes some significant constraints on our approach to lunar exploration. As you know, NASA has successfully fostered the development of a rapidly expanding commercial economy for access to space. We would like to continue building on this success as we develop the most efficient mission architectures and partnership approaches to accomplish our shared goals.

NASA seeks to expand the sphere of economic activity deeper into space by conducting space exploration and development with commercial and international partners. Without the dynamic participation of commercial partners, our chances of creating a sustainable exploration program are significantly diminished. In particular, we are concerned that the bill’s approach to developing a human lander system as fully government-owned and directed would be ineffective. The approach established by the bill would inhibit our ability to develop a flexible architecture that takes advantage of the full array of national capabilities – government and private sector – to accomplish national goals. NASA would appreciate the opportunity to work with the Committee to develop language that would support a broader national and international effort that would maximize progress toward our shared exploration goals through the efficient application of our available resources.

NASA is fully committed to a lunar exploration program that supports and enables human missions to Mars. The Committee should be aware that the exploration of Mars is a very challenging goal both technically and from a resource perspective. If we are going to accomplish this goal, we will need the flexibility to rapidly develop technical expertise using the Moon and to fully engage commercial and international partners. We do think that the bill’s concerns for limiting activities on the Moon could be counterproductive. If we are going to explore Mars in a safe and sustainable way, we will require a strong in situ resource utilization capability and significant technology development using the surface of the Moon. NASA would appreciate more flexibility in defining lunar surface activities that may contribute directly to Mars exploration.

NASA subject matter experts are now closely reviewing the available bill text to identify issues and concerns of a more technical, detailed nature, and we would appreciate an opportunity to share the results of this review with the Committee at the appropriate time.

We would welcome an opportunity to work with the Committee on a bill that would accommodate a broader partnership approach. I appreciate the Committee’s bipartisan efforts and congratulate you on producing this bipartisan consensus in favor of a Moon to Mars exploration program.

Update on Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test

 

NASA and Boeing are in the process of establishing a joint, independent investigation team to examine the primary issues associated with the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test.

The independent team will inform NASA and Boeing on the root cause of the mission elapsed timer anomaly and any other software issues and provide corrective actions needed before flying crew to the International Space Station for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The team will review the primary anomalies experienced during the Dec. 2019 flight test, any potential contributing factors and provide recommendations to ensure a robust design for future missions. Once underway, the investigation is targeted to last about two months before the team delivers its final assessment.

In parallel, NASA is evaluating the data received during the mission to determine if another uncrewed demonstration is required. This decision is not expected for several weeks as teams take the necessary time for this review. NASA’s approach will be to determine if NASA and Boeing received enough data to validate the system’s overall performance, including launch, on-orbit operations, guidance, navigation and control, docking/undocking to the space station, reentry and landing. Although data from the uncrewed test is important for certification, it may not be the only way that Boeing is able to demonstrate its system’s full capabilities.

The uncrewed flight test was proposed by Boeing as a way to meet NASA’s mission and safety requirements for certification and as a way to validate that the system can protect astronauts in space before flying crew. The uncrewed mission, including docking to the space station, became a part of the company’s contract with NASA. Although docking was planned, it may not have to be accomplished prior to the crew demonstration. Boeing would need NASA’s approval to proceed with a flight test with astronauts onboard.

Starliner currently is being transported from the landing location near the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range to the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility in Florida. Since landing, teams have safed the spacecraft for transport, downloaded data from the spacecraft’s onboard systems for analysis and completed initial inspections of the interior and exterior of Starliner. A more detailed analysis will be conducted after the spacecraft arrives at its processing facility.

Boeing’s Orbital Flight test launched on Friday, Dec. 20, on United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission successfully landed two days later on Sunday, Dec. 22, completing an abbreviated test that performed several mission objectives before returning to Earth as the first orbital land touchdown of a human-rated capsule in U.S. history.