Keith's note: Denise J. Stewart has passed away. She worked at NASA Headquarters for a number of years.
Details to follow shortly.
NASA News Conference: Update on the Commercial Crew Program, SpaceRef Business
"NASA, Boeing and SpaceX will held a news briefing on NASA Television at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston on Jan. 26, to highlight key development activities, test plans and objectives for achieving certification of two American crew transportation systems."
Marc's note: Missed the news conference? Watch it from the link above.
Bolden "I don't ever want to write another check to Roscosmos"— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) January 26, 2015
Upshot of CCtCAP presser: SpaceX & Boeing on track for cmrl crew to be ready by 2017. Bolden optimistic Congress will fully fund in FY16.— Marcia Smith (@SpcPlcyOnline) January 26, 2015
Google Lunar XPrize Makes $5.25 Million in Awards, Google Lunar XPrize
"The deadline for the Google Lunar XPRIZE was officially extended until December 31, 2016. As part of this revised timeline, at least one team must provide documentation of a scheduled launch by December 31, 2015 for all teams to move forward in the competition."
"These five Milestone teams, with representatives from all over the world, will be gathered in San Francisco on Monday, January 26, for a glitzy awards ceremony."
Keith's note: 5 teams were competing for these milestone prizes. The same 5 teams won these milestone prizes. Has there ever actually been any real competition?Continue reading: Everyone Wins at Google Lunar X Prize.
"Fight for Space" is a feature length documentary film that explores the economic and cultural benefits of human space exploration, and examines the historical and political events that have led to the decline of human space exploration. "Fight for Space" presents viewpoints from Astronauts, politicians and staff, scientists, former NASA officials, commercial space entrepreneurs, and many other individuals in the space community. A complete list of interviewees is available at the bottom of this page."
"The Air Force and SpaceX have reached agreement on a path forward for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program that improves the competitive landscape and achieves mission assurance for national security space launches. Under the agreement, the Air Force will work collaboratively with SpaceX to complete the certification process in an efficient and expedient manner."
Elon Musk: Guest-Starring on The Simpsons Was 'Kind of Trippy', BloombergBusinessWeek
"Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has hired Michael Gazarik as Director for its Office of Technology on the Boulder campus effective March 2. Dr. Gazarik will lead the alignment of Ball's technology development resources with business development and growth strategies."
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Statement: "Mike's experienced leadership and commitment has been critical to building the strong foundation upon which our Space Technology Mission Directorate now stands," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Through his hard work and vision, he's developed an innovative, cross-cutting organization that creates the new knowledge and capabilities needed to enable our future missions. Mike's proven that technology drives exploration and is a critical component of our journey to Mars. His tireless work and dedication to fostering innovation at NASA will be sorely missed."
NASA Associate Administrator for Space Technology Michael Gazarik Statement: "It's been a great honor to lead a team that has, for the first time in more than a decade, created a robust, relevant and innovative space technology program at NASA. As my family and I embark on a new chapter in our lives and I accept an aerospace industry position, I depart knowing that the NASA team is well on its way to achieving important space technology milestones that will enable our journey to Mars and beyond."Categories: Personnel News
"Moon Express and Space Florida have signed an agreement that will lead to Moon Express spacecraft development and flight test operations at SLC-36 starting early this year. The agreement allows Moon Express and the state of Florida to make investments into the refurbishment of SLC-36, leading to a revitalized range and the immediate creation of 25-50 new jobs and potentially hundreds of direct and indirect new jobs over the next 5 years."Categories: Commercialization
The Space Program - A Modest Proposal, Paul Spudis
"I'm at a loss to explain why one aspect of the ARM mission hasn't been discussed in the media: seeing that advocates of the ARM think nothing about re-arranging the architecture of the Solar System for their convenience, environmental activists might object to the very idea behind the mission. We can't get to a near-Earth asteroid with the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), so let's just drag the asteroid to us! Imagine a defenseless rock, innocently tumbling its way through space, only to be snagged, bagged, and defiled appropriated and exploited by arrogant, human interlopers. There ought to be a law!"Categories: Exploration, Space & Planetary Science
Bolden: Keep Moving the Ball Forward, Don't Get Discouraged, SpacePolicyOnline
"Stressing that he was not suggesting President Obama would say anything about space exploration in tonight's State of the Union address, Bolden said the President could say "for the first time in human history we may be going inside the 20-years-to-Mars." Sending humans to Mars still is "without a doubt" at least 20 years away, he clarified, but "we're about to slip under that 20-year threshold."
"We conclude that NASA has the demonstrated organizational competence and technology base, by virtue of the Apollo success and other achievements, to carry out a successful program to land man on Mars within 15 years."
Keith's update: When I was growing up in the mid-60s I seem to recall NASA talking about going to Mars by 1981. That was less than 20 years, Charlie. Indeed, NASA has been talking about going to Mars "in 20 years" or "within 15 years" for the past 40-50 years. Seems like negative progress to me. Not sure what you are bragging about.
"I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars. In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space. Good luck, Captain and make sure to Instagram it."
"I've heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they're not scientists; that we don't have enough information to act. Well, I'm not a scientist, either. But you know whatI know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we'll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it."Continue reading: NASA and State of the Union Speech (Updated with quotes).
Marc's note: Updating my story from yesterday, SpaceX this evening issued the following statement.
"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has raised a billion dollars in a financing round with two new investors, Google and Fidelity. They join existing investors Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity Partners and Capricorn. Google and Fidelity will collectively own just under 10% of the company.
SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecraft. This funding will be used to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability, and satellite manufacturing."
With this new investment, SpaceX is now valued at over $10 billion. A nice way to start the year even if their Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship suffered some damage from that spectacular crash landing earlier this month by the Falcon 9 first stage recovery attempt.Categories: Commercialization
"For Jay Herman, an atmospheric scientist at Goddard and EPIC instrument scientist, the delay has a silver lining: the refurbishment revealed a manufacturing defect in EPIC that would have let in stray light and potentially ruined its image of Earth. The delay allowed enough time to study the problem and correct for it. "So in some ways," says Herman, "I'm very glad it did not fly 14 years ago. Because it might have been embarrassing."
Keith's note: Wow. It was a good idea to wait 14 years after all - imagine another Hubble-like embarrassment for NASA? It will be interesting to see how NASA calculates the total cost of Goresat/DSCOVR- from inception to final launch. I doubt they can. And if they do, they'll lowball it to avoid another form of embarrassment.Categories: Space & Planetary Science
"[HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier]: On August 6, 2014, the Source Evaluation Board (SEB) appointed to evaluate proposals for the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract (CCtCap) under Request for Proposals (RFP) NNK14467515R presented the results of its evaluation to me and other senior officials of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). I held a follow-up meeting on August 19th to ask additional questions of the SEB and receive input from my advisors. My decision on selection of the successful Offeror is set forth in this Source Selection Statement."
"Sierra Nevada alleges that NASA's evaluation of proposals departed from the RFP's stated criteria, and was unequal and unreasonable. We deny the protest."Categories: Commercialization
"Marc W. Buie, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., and a member of the New Horizons team, agrees with Dr. Stern but wishes the issue would go away. Years ago, people would be fascinated to hear the scientific puzzles about Pluto. Now, conversations usually start with "Is Pluto a planet?" "It's a very annoying, distracting issue," Dr. Buie said. "You have to get past this wall of this nonscientific issue before you get to the good things."
"The moon is such a planet I can't even stand it," [Fashion designer] Mizrahi says, exasperated. "Well, what else is it if it's not a planet?" Under Dr. Stern's definition, Mr. Mizrahi would win the argument. "I am happy to defend him," Dr. Stern said via email Sunday. "I see no logical reason why large moons that are in hydrostatic equilibrium should not be considered planets too, and I call them that." Dr. Stern's classification system distinguishes moons as "secondary planets," while "primary planets" directly orbit around the sun -- pushing the number of planets in the solar system to more than 20."
Keith's note: So ... let's see if I understand the New Horizons mission's revised solar system nomenclature: Planets orbit the sun. Planets also orbit other Planets. Moons orbit Planets but Moons do not orbit the sun otherwise they'd be Planets which also orbit Planets and the sun. But wait - there's more: now we need to add Primary Planets and Secondary Planets into the mix. So when does a Moon become a Secondary Planet? Is it still a Moon also? Can Planets be Moons and Moons be Planets?
Iapetus is not in hydrostatic equilibrium so it is not a Planet (right?). But it is a Moon (right?). But Iapetus is larger than Ceres which is .. a Planet (right?) Pluto's Moon Charon is smaller than Iapetus but Pluto fans refer to it as a Planet. Alas, Pluto fans always love to use the "Titan is larger than Mercury" argument to justify Titan as a Planet.
I can't wait to see how all NASA education materials are adjusted for the New Horizons mission so as to tackle this issue. Textbooks will clearly need to be revised to reflect NASA's latest discoveries. Who determines how these revisions will be made? Will other missions be required to adapt accordingly or is NASA going to be talking about more than one system of planetary nomenclature? What will happen at press events - will NASA be required to issue press releases in both nomenclatures (as well as English/metric)? WiIl this IAU Vs Pluto fans thing just drag on and on?
The oddest thing of all is how the Pluto fans rant about how some small group of people at IAU made this decision about what a Planet is without consulting everyone else - yet the Pluto fans have gone out and proclaimed this new nomenclature for Planets and Moons without consulting anyone else. Pot-Kettle-Back.
Why make things more complex? Our solar system has lots of worlds. Ice worlds. Rock worlds. Gas worlds. Some worlds are big others are small. Some worlds orbit the sun and are "planets". Some worlds orbit planets and are called "moons". This simply defines the location of a world - not its inherent physical nature. #OcamsRazorCategories: Education, Space & Planetary Science
Gold Plates, GSA Auction
One lot consisting six 24KT gold plates weighing 6,015.5 grams. These plates were reportedly flown in space for 69 months. Please click on attachment for purity information rounded to the nearest 1/10th determined by x-ray fluorescence.
"LDEF's 69 months in space provided scientific data on the long-term effects of space exposure on materials, components and systems that has benefited NASA spacecraft designers to this day."
Keith's note: Hmmm ... These plates were reportedly flown in space for 69 months. Sounds like LDEF to me. But "reportedly flown"? Is GSA uncertain whether these things have been flown in space? Can't they just ask NASA?Categories: Commercialization
Today: Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) Maintenance: In preparation for CIR maintenance activities, Wilmore reviewed overview materials, set up and configured the Maintenance Work Area (MWA) and gathered tools.