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Lucy Heads Off To The Trojan Asteroids

By Keith Cowing on October 16, 2021 4:01 PM.

Lucy Asteroid Mission Launched

"NASA's Lucy mission, the agency's first to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, launched at 5:34 a.m. EDT Saturday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Over the next 12 years, Lucy will fly by one main-belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids, making it the agency's first single spacecraft mission in history to explore so many different asteroids. Lucy will investigate these "fossils" of planetary formation up close during its journey."



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Nanoracks Opens The The World's First Science Park in Space

By Keith Cowing on October 15, 2021 10:32 AM.

George Washington Carver Science Park - The World's First Science Park in Space, Nanoracks

"Now, given the increasing maturity of the LEO ecosystem, it is time for Nanoracks to take the next step in driving LEO utilization operations. After intensive investigation and discussion with industry experts, I am delighted to announce that the Nanoracks collection of hardware on the ISS will henceforth be operated as a Science Park. A Science Park is a well-known business model that brings together companies and organizations in a shared endeavor, and I am thrilled to share our Science Park will be named for the great American agriculture scientist, Dr. George Washington Carver."

Q&A: The World's First Science Park in Space With Jeffrey Manber

"Nanoracks could not imagine a more aligned mission. The GWC Science Park will conduct operations based on our lessons learned from over a decade on the ISS, combining them with the wisdom of seasoned science park operators, to create a seamless experience for all our customers aboard the ISS. Taken together, we will begin developing the systems, procedures, and metrics to facilitate additional capital, allow a more sophisticated dialog with NASA and CASIS, and ultimately, prepare for the coming era of commercial space stations."

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A Simplistic And Misleading Comparison Of Commercial Space And Mountaineering

By Keith Cowing on October 14, 2021 8:42 PM.

To Understand Low-Earth Orbit, Look to Mt. Everest

"Getting to low-Earth orbit is a lot like climbing Mt. Everest. It's not impossible, but it's difficult, expensive and risky. As experience grows, the difficulty of reaching the destination drops steadily, and the risk becomes more manageable."

"...the commercial era of Everest expedition rises with the ability of the general public to pay commercial outfitters to climb Everest at a fraction of the cost it took to climb in the 1920s."

"Ordinary people can pay commercial outfitters ot climb, making Mt. Everest more acceptable and less expensive to summit."

Keith's note: What a mess. For starters anyone who spent even a bare minimum amount of time researching this article and talking to actual climbers such as NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, or read regular news from the Everest region might learn something than what was written.

In a nutshell they'd learn that the risk to climbers has increased as access has expanded due to crowding on the mountain; an increased number of under-skilled people putting themsleves and others at risk by trying to climb a mountain they are not capable of climbing; increased pollution at base camp and on the mountain which affects climbers and residents; and continued economic stresses on the residents of Nepal who are grossly underpaid for the risks that they take. Oh yes "ordinary people" cannot - and should not ever - be climbing a mountain like this - regardless of cost or affordability. But they do - in greater numbers - thus negating whatever point about risk reduction that the author is trying to make.

It is also rather weird that NASA would put an article online about Everest up and not mention the fact that a NASA astronaut scaled it, another NASA astronaut died trying to climb it, and that a piece of the summit of Everest has been on board the International Space Station for more than a decade.

FYI I spent a month living at Everest Base camp in 2009 supporting a person who summitted and witnessed injuries and deadly avalanches with my own eyes.

And also, FWIW I have spoken to a number of astronaut mountaineers and they will tell you that the risks involved in climbing a mountain like this are vastly more complex to deal with and the effort itself is equally more physically arduous than sitting in a rocket while it does all the work of taking you to and from space. If you are going to compare these things you need to actually compare them for what they are.

But this sort of sloppy writing seems to pass as acceptable at NASA PAO these days. If this article reflects the way NASA is actually planning its Moon and Mars exploration then there are going to be some big problems for the people who go there. To put badly written things like this online is deceptive, superficial, and not in the best interest of informing the public.

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Building Earth's Other Space Station

By Keith Cowing on October 14, 2021 3:09 PM.

China to unveil younger team of astronauts for Shenzhou 13 space mission, South China Post

"The mission, which is planned to last for six months, will be piloted by Zhai Zhigang, 55, Wang Yaping, 41, and Ye Guangfu, 41, who were the backup crew of the recently completed Shenzhou 12 mission, said a source familiar with the mission plan. Wang will become China's first female astronaut to work in its new Tianhe core module of the Chinese space station."

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Confusing White House Policy Regarding Space Actors

By Keith Cowing on October 13, 2021 9:06 PM.

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Earth Has Four New Astronauts

By Keith Cowing on October 13, 2021 3:30 PM.



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Actors Were Hired To Promote The Whole VP Space Thing

By Keith Cowing on October 12, 2021 4:09 PM.

Kamala Harris slammed for using child actors in bizarre space video, NY Post

"All five of them are actors," Carlo Bernardino, whose 13-year-old son Trevor was one of the youngsters taking part, told the Washington Examiner. "He's a child actor -- he's been trying to do this type of thing for a while. And so he has a manager and an agent in LA and they send him castings."

Children in Kamala Harris's NASA video were paid actors, Yahoo

"The Vice President's office did not select the kids who participated in the YouTube Originals special," a White House official told the Washington Examiner. A YouTube spokesperson told the Hill that "compensation was handled the same way as it is for all of our other YouTube Originals shows."

VP Harris Kicks Off World Space Week And NASA Ignores Her (Update), earlier post

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Earth Gets 4 New Astronauts Tomorrow Morning

By Keith Cowing on October 12, 2021 2:00 PM.

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No More Russian Coverage Of Russian Space News By Russians

By Keith Cowing on October 9, 2021 9:39 AM.

Russia tells its space reporters to stop reporting on the space program, Ars Technica

"The country already prohibits reporting on space activities containing classified information, but a new law extends to coverage of a variety of other space news. Essentially, any person in Russia who now reports on anything that might be even tangentially related to Russia's military activities or space activities will be labeled as a foreign agent. News organizations and individuals will be required to put a disclaimer on every single article, social media post, or tweet, reading, "This Report (Material) has been created or distributed by Foreign Mass Media Channels executing the functions of a Foreign Agent, and/or a Russian legal entity executing the functions of a Foreign Agent."

Keith's note: Oh well, so much for encouraging foreign agent media coverage of new space moviefilm being photographed on orbital space station.

Keith's update: But wait - there's more. Perhaps Rogozin is instituting this media ban to thwart bad news from surfacing from within Roscosmos so as to anger Putin further. Yea this whole ban the media thing should work, Dmitry. Great idea!

Putin slashes Russia's space budget and says he expects better results, Ars Technica

"But what does seem clear is that the Russian space program's future is bleak. Whereas China is rising with a space station of its own and ambitious new exploration plans and the US space industry is flourishing amid a rise in commercial activity, Russia is seeking to maintain a status quo of space vehicles developed decades ago."

- Earlier Russia posts

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VP Harris Kicks Off World Space Week And NASA Ignores Her (Update)

By Keith Cowing on October 7, 2021 9:28 AM.

Keith's 7 October update: It took TWO DAYS for NASA PAO and the NASA STEM Engagement Office to make mention of the event with VP Harris, one powered by global video giant YouTube. It is rather baffling that NASA would take so long to acknowledge an event which, in the end, turns a national spotlight on NASA and space exploration - during World Space Week (which is almost over now) If PAO AA Marc Etkind and STEM Office AA Mike Kincaid have a consistent policy for highlighting education and public outreach at NASA it is certainly not in evidence here. As for the White House liaison at NASA - no one seems to be listening to them. Just sayin'

Keith's 6 October update: A day later and there is still zero mention by NASA regarding this high profile space-related event with VP Harris. Supposedly there will be something online at NASA tomorrow - except nothing is mentioned by NASA. Oh yes, a NASA astronaut in space is involved. But why mention that. Meanwhile the national news media noticed - even if NASA is AWOL.

- Kamala Harris Will Host YouTube Special About Space Exploration: 'We're Going to Learn So Much', People
- 'Get Curious With Vice President Harris' Space-Themed Kids Special Set For Launch, Deadline/Yahoo
- YouTube announces new kids' special starring Harris, The Hill

Keith's 5 October note: This is clearly a space education effort - and it comes from the Vice President herself, you know, the person in the White House to whom the National Space Council and its Users Advisory Group answers. You'd think that the political appointees at NASA Headquarters on the 9th floor would be going out of their way to promote this. Guess again. There is no mention of this event at the NASA STEM Engagement Office website - or at NASA.gov. No press release or media advisory from NASA PAO either. No mention at @NASA or @NASASTEM. No mention at @VP or @WHOSTP either. This feature is supposed to launch "October 7 at 6am PT / 9am ET, on the NASA YouTube Channel" but there is no mention on the NASA TV schedule. Will it air on NASA TV or just on a website?

Vice President Kamala Harris Kicks Off World Space Week With New YouTube Original Special "Get Curious With Vice President Harris", YouTube

"Kicking off World Space Week, YouTube Originals today announced "Get Curious with Vice President Harris," a new special encouraging children to "get curious" about space. This once-in-a-lifetime event follows a group of lucky kids as they meet Vice President Kamala Harris, go on a scavenger hunt with clues delivered by NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough from the International Space Station, and get unprecedented exclusive access to the United States Naval Observatory."

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NASA History Office Loved Those Space Council Photo Ops

By Keith Cowing on October 6, 2021 12:01 AM.

Keith's note: It is rather strange that the NASA History Office decided to remind people of these lavish National Space Council photo ops - events that often bordered on campaign rallies (like the one at KSC) - that NASA was forced to put on by the Trump Administration. Money to pay for these things was squeezed out of everyone's program pockets at NASA HQ and elsewhere. Let's hope that the Biden White House does not prompt their version of the National Space Council to go for optics instead of substance.

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Space Billionaires On SNL

By Keith Cowing on October 3, 2021 10:15 AM.

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Let's Go Visit Paul Spudis On The Moon

By Keith Cowing on October 1, 2021 3:09 PM.

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Blue Origin Is Having A Bad Week

By Keith Cowing on September 30, 2021 11:02 PM.

Blue Origin "Gambled" with its Moon lander pricing, NASA says in legal documents, The Verge

"Overall, NASA effectively called BS on that argument, saying "Blue Origin made a bet and it lost." Blue Origin "made an assumption about the Agency's HLS budget, built its proposal with this figure in mind, and also separately made a calculated bet that if NASA could not afford Blue Origin's initially-proposed price, the Agency would select Blue Origin for award and engage in post-selection negotiations to allow Blue Origin to lower its price. All of these assumptions were incorrect," the four NASA attorneys wrote in the so-called Agency Report, dated May 26th. "Realizing now that it gambled and lost, Blue Origin seeks to use GAO's procurement oversight function to improperly compel NASA to suffer the consequences of Blue Origin's ill-conceived choices."

Keith's note: You simply must read this. Joey Roulette did a splendid job. The art of FOIA.

Keith's update: But wait, there's more:

FAA to review safety concerns raised by former Blue Origin employees, Reuters

"The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Thursday it will review safety concerns raised by former Blue Origin employees about billionaire Jeff Bezos' space company."

Bezos Wants to Create a Better Future in Space. His Company Blue Origin Is Stuck in a Toxic Past, Lioness

"We are a group of 21 former and current employees of Blue Origin. Many of us have spent our careers dreaming of helping to launch a crewed rocket into space and seeing it safely touch back down on Earth. But when Jeff Bezos flew to space this July, we did not share his elation. Instead, many of us watched with an overwhelming sense of unease. Some of us couldn't bear to watch at all."

Blue Origin fired a senior executive, citing inappropriate behavior. Current and former employees say it's part of the company's toxic culture, Washington Post

"Another former employee, who participated in writing the blog post, told The Post that working at Blue Origin was "a dispiriting and chaotic experience. That behavior was modeled and not held accountable. Even junior members started to mirror that. It's such a mess."


NASA Fumbles The Webb Telescope (re)Naming Issue

By Keith Cowing on September 30, 2021 4:17 PM.

Shadowed By Controversy, NASA Won't Rename New Space Telescope, NPR

"We have found no evidence at this time that warrants changing the name of the James Webb Space Telescope," says NASA administrator Bill Nelson."

NASA won't rename James Webb Space Telescope despite controversy, The Hill

"... more than a thousand people signed a petition earlier this year calling for the telescope to be renamed due to Webb allegedly being complicit in the purge of LGBT people from government service, known as the "Lavender Scare. ... Senior science communications officer Karen Fox told NPR, "We've done as much as we can do at this point and have exhausted our research efforts. ... Those efforts have not uncovered evidence warranting a name change," she added."

Keith's note: NASA PAO is sending this one sentence statement and commentary to some news media - but not others. This is all part of Marc Etkind's odd way of releasing news information - or not releasing it - as the case may be. There was a study done internally at NASA as to what to do about this issue. If NASA was truly going to do the whole transparency thing they'd release the results of that study. But they won't. As one prominent space scientist suggested to me, the original name was just fine i.e. Next Generation Space Telescope. Just sayin'

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Update 15 October, 2021 - Soyuz Thruster Firing Problem

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Update 15 October, 2021 - Soyuz Thruster Firing Problem

Three Russian inhabitants of the International Space Station are preparing to depart for Earth on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the rest of the Expedition 65 crew worked on a variety of life science activities as well as important orbital plumbing duties on Friday.

More updates...

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