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NAC Vs PAO On Transparency

By Keith Cowing on January 19, 2022 4:58 PM.

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Risk And Exploration At NASA

By Keith Cowing on January 19, 2022 4:40 PM.

Keith's note: To Mark McDaniel - thanks - Its nice to see that the "NASA Administrator's Symposium: Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea And The Stars" event that Sean O'Keefe, John Grunsfeld, and I put together is still relevant. FYI Wayne Hale ordered a box of the event's proceedings to use as a textbook when he was at JSC. And yes, I think another event is long overdue. The proceedings are online here at NASA.


Space Team Biden Report Card At Mission Day 365

By Keith Cowing on January 19, 2022 12:51 PM.

One Year into the Biden Administration, NASA Looks to Future

"Since President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn in one year ago, their administration has made generational progress for Americans - and made NASA a priority. This spring, as Artemis I lifts off from Kennedy Space Center, the world will once again witness America's unrivaled ingenuity and inspiration as NASA prepares the next generation to return to the Moon and on to Mars," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "I am proud of the work the agency has done to support this administration's priorities on climate change, global leadership, diversity, equity, STEM education, and so much more. And we all should look forward to an even more robust future as NASA continues to explore the heavens and benefit life here on Earth."


John Charles

By Keith Cowing on January 18, 2022 6:31 PM.

Keith's note: John Charles has died. I'll post more information when I get it. I first met John in 1987 during what was the first week or two working for NASA when I made a trip to JSC. He was such a nice man. No one believed more in NASA than John did. According to a note circulating around NASA: "The life sciences directorate at JSC is coordinating a flag-raising at Mission Control and fundraising for a memorial tree. [it] would be great to fund a couple of aerospace physiology graduate school scholarships in his name."

Ad Astra, John.

Keith's update: The following note has been circulating at NASA: "Space Medicine Association, which is an AsMA constituent organization of which John is a past president, is setting up a John Charles scholarship. For people who would like to donate to the scholarship fund, here is the information:

Here is how people can donate:
- go to
- click on "Ways to give"
- click on the Donate button
- enter amount and other information as requested
- in the notes section write " in memory of Dr. John Charles" or "SMA Dr. John B Charles Scholarship Fund"

Note: The Foundation is a 501c3 charitable organization so donations are tax deductible. We will direct all donations to the SMA fund within the Foundation. The Space Medicine Association will create the Scholarship and will include Kathy Charles in the development of the details."


Wayne Hale Speaks Truth To Power

By Keith Cowing on January 18, 2022 1:15 PM.

Keith's note: At this morning's NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee meeting,, the committee chair, Wayne Hale, offered these observations:

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The Only 2 Powerpoint Charts You Need To See Today

By Keith Cowing on January 18, 2022 11:00 AM.

Keith's note: The NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee is meeting today and tomorrow. Here's my summary/preview.

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SpaceRef/NASAWatch Interview on Asteroid 7482 Flyby

By Keith Cowing on January 18, 2022 6:05 AM.

Keith's note: Asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1), 1 kilometer in diameter will fly by Earth today 4.51 p.m. ET. It is moving at 47,344 miles per hour and will get no closer than 1.2 million miles. I was on CNN this morning to talk about this fly by and NASA's DART mission to impact another asteroid, (65803) Didymos this Fall.


Always Look Toward The Stars

By Keith Cowing on January 17, 2022 12:10 PM.

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That Immense Event On Earth That @NASA Missed

By Keith Cowing on January 17, 2022 12:06 PM.


It Takes More Than Logos On T-shirts For NASA To Fully Realize Its Branding Potential

By Keith Cowing on January 16, 2022 5:47 PM.

Sometimes it seems that everyone on Earth is wearing a NASA T-shirt, Washington Post

"Go to any college campus, Ulrich said, and there are "kids there with NASA shirts on. You see it on the subway. You see it on the street. It's just proliferating." It sure is. Last year, Ulrich said, the agency received 11,000 merchandising requests from companies that wanted to use the logo on some sort of object. NASA doesn't license the logo, it gives approval and requires that merchandisers follows its guidelines. For example, it can't be used on alcohol, food, cosmetics, tobacco, underwear or technology, and when it is used, it has to be the proper font, color, etc."

- Yet Another Example Of The Global Reach Of The NASA Brand, earlier post

"NASA has done a good job - an increasingly good one - at allowing the logo's use - and not discouraging its use when the its is used in a positive and inspiring context. This is a consumate, textbook example of soft power. One would hope that NASA can continue along this path and that legislation that currently hinders NASA's ability to project its message via advertising and other venues - can be lifted by Congress."

- NASA's Global Branding Reach Is Often Under Appreciated, earlier post

"This is a perfect example of so-called "soft power". This costs NASA virtually - literally - nothing. Having worked with folks in Nepal on things related to this, the mere visibility of the NASA logo and recognition by NASA is enticement enough to generate in-country resources and support. Done properly you can have a global awareness of what NASA is and does and spark interest in other nation's space efforts. And the cases where a country has no space activities, spur their development. One would hope that this becomes part of what NASA includes in its Artemis outreach activities - since the ultimate goal is to go there with other nations."

- OSTP Director Speaks About America's Potential Soft Power, earlier post
- NASA Builds A Global Soft Power Capability And Then Ignores It, earlier post
- Space Apps: NASA Soft Power With An Under Appreciated - Untapped Global Potential, earlier post
- Why Am I Doing This NASA Website Critique Stuff?, earlier post
- Understanding NASA's Global Reach, earlier post
- NASA is Still A Potent (If Underutilized) Brand, earlier post
- Using NASA's Logo: Expensive T-Shirts Or Global Soft Power?, earlier post
- NASA's Pervasive Brand Recognition, earlier post
- One Major Road Block To Bridenstine's Advertising Ideas, earlier post

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Donald Gurnett

By Keith Cowing on January 13, 2022 10:06 PM.

Legendary Iowa space physicist Donald Gurnett dies

"Donald Gurnett, a pioneering space scientist whose career as a student, teacher, and researcher at the University of Iowa spanned more than 60 years, died on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. He was 81. When he retired in May 2019, Gurnett pointed to a litany of accomplishments that few--if any--will be able to match: He earned his undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees from Iowa, just when space exploration began; he is considered by many the founder of the field of space plasma wave physics; his discoveries include solving how auroras are created, the first detailed measure of radio emissions from the outer planets, and informing humankind of the first spacecraft to leave the solar system and reach the realm among the stars."

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ICYMI: Webb Made A Big Splash In New York City

By Keith Cowing on January 13, 2022 1:22 PM.


ASAP: NASA Really Needs To Fix Its Human Spaceflight Program Management

By Keith Cowing on January 11, 2022 5:32 PM.

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2021 Annual Report, ASAP

"... Funding such endeavors will obviously take considerable resources. However, history suggests (as shown in Figure 1) it is unlikely NASA's budget will ever again exceed 1% of the federal budget, as it did during the lead-up to the Apollo Program. Consequently, it will not be possible for NASA to single-handedly carry out all of the missions now envisioned. Considering its ambitious goals and con- strained budget, for NASA--and hence the United States--to continue to play a strategic leadership role in space, the Agency must transform. While private industry efforts are an ever more important factor in the U.S. government's future endeavors, the commercial sector alone has not, and will not, be the vehicle that drives national goals. Consequently, the Agency will need to operate differently--from strategic planning and how it approaches program management, to workforce development, facility maintenance, acquisition strategies, contract types, and partnerships."

"... In adopting this disaggregated, decentralized program structure between SLS, EGS, and Orion, with the view that it is a manageable alternative to the familiar and effective program framework that served it well for the Apollo, STS, and ISS programs, NASA has seemed to overlook the negative impacts to cohesive integrated risk management. In essence, it appears that the cancellation of the Constellation program has led to a cautious stance among NASA leaders driven by the assumption that having an Apollo-like program now is a problematic political optic, and like Constellation, a possible target for cancellation by a future Administration. In effect, NASA has accepted the disaggregated program structure as normal, and is now propagating this structure as a preferred business and risk management model, even though it is essentially an untried approach for an integrated systems engineering effort of this magnitude and complexity. Thus, behavior that was instantiated as a coping mechanism for unstable political guidance has become institutionalized--as has the embedded uncertainty in risk management. Furthermore, the Agency is attempting to manage the risk in the structure it has adopted without deliberately assessing why the structure is at least equivalent to, if not an improvement to, a more familiar structure, and whether it should be advanced as a wholly new program approach."

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OIG: NASA's Astronaut Office May Not Have The Right Stuff In The Future

By Keith Cowing on January 11, 2022 12:03 PM.

NASA OIG: NASA's Management Of Its Astronaut Corps, OIG

"... However, the astronaut corps is projected to fall below its targeted size or minimum manifest requirement in fiscal year (FY) 2022 and FY 2023 due to attrition and additional space flight manifest needs. More concerning, the Astronaut Office calculated that the corps size would exactly equal the number of flight manifest seats NASA will need in FY 2022. As a result, the Agency may not have a sufficient number of additional astronauts available for unanticipated attrition and crew reassignments or ground roles such as engaging in program development, staffing Astronaut Office leadership and liaison positions, and serving as spokespeople for the Agency. In light of the expanding space flight opportunities anticipated for the Artemis missions, the corps might be at risk of being misaligned in the future, resulting in disruptive crew reorganizations or mission delays.

... However, astronaut skillset data is not consistently collected, comprehensively organized, or regularly monitored or updated. The Chief and Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office said they can use various tracking systems, if needed, but given the small number of astronauts in the corps they primarily rely on their own informal knowledge to inform skillset decisions. While this kind of informal decision making has been used to manage ISS missions, it might not be effective as the size of the corps increases, still-evolving Artemis requirements are incorporated into astronaut training, and attempts to track skillsets over time for multiple missions become more complex.

... The Astronaut Office's personnel databases also lack comprehensive demographic information specific to the astronaut corps. This poses a challenge to assessing whether NASA is meeting Agency and Administration diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility objectives.

... As the Agency prepares for crewed Artemis missions, astronaut training needs will change. As with sizing, the current astronaut training framework is primarily aligned to ISS mission requirements. The Astronaut Office is in the process of developing a framework for Artemis training, but this framework has not been formally chartered nor have any Artemis crews been announced. As such, specific mission-focused training for the Artemis II mission--the first crewed Artemis flight--has not yet begun. the Agency could be overestimating the time available to develop and implement the necessary training framework and regimen across key Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), next-generation spacesuits, Human Landing . Delays in moving beyond the current ISS-focused approach for current and future astronauts increase the risk of delays in developing the necessary training to meet Artemis mission goals."

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NASA Chief Scientist And Senior Climate Advisor Announced

By Keith Cowing on January 10, 2022 12:19 PM.

NASA Announces Katherine Calvin As New NASA Chief Scientist And Senior Climate Advisor

"NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that Dr. Katherine Calvin will serve the agency in dual roles as chief scientist and senior climate advisor effective Monday. Calvin succeeds Jim Green, who retired from his role Jan. 1 as chief scientist after more than 40 years of service at NASA, and Gavin Schmidt, who has served as senior climate advisor in an acting capacity since the position was created in February 2021. NASA established the senior climate advisor position to ensure effective fulfillment of the Biden-Harris Administration's climate science objectives for the agency. Schmidt will maintain his role as director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York."


More stories for January.


Don’t Blow Yourself Up - The Further True Adventures and Travails of the Rocket Boy of October Sky By Homer Hickam
Kepler Communications - Aether - Unbound Connectivity to your on-orbit assets
Stolen Skies by Tim Powers - Baen Books

Monthly Archives

Astronaut Kayla Barron Sets Up An AstroBee Robotic Free Flyer

Astronaut Kayla Barron Sets Up An AstroBee Robotic Free Flyer

NASA astronaut and Expedition 66 Flight Engineer Kayla Barron sets up an AstroBee robotic free flyer with an experimental audio sensor for the SoundSee Mission experiment.

More updates...