"Poised on the cusp of these new systems, we run the risk of being penny wise and pound foolish as we make the same mistake that doomed the space shuttle to much higher cost operations: starving a spacecraft development program in the name of saving a few pennies for today's budget bottom line resulting in the compromised systems that, if they fly at all, will not be cheap enough to enable business in space."
"National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge William G. Kocol has found the California Institute of Technology engaged in unfair labor practices at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Caltech administers JPL under contract with NASA. In 2011, Caltech issued letters of highest level disciplinary reprimand to five JPL employees because they used JPL's internal email system to discuss the implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling on the working conditions at JPL. The five employees had been plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case."
Full NLRB decision (worth reading by all NASA employees)
"I reject JPL's contention that it had no choice but to comply with NASA's directives. I start by pointing out that HSPD 12 was not specific as to how the Government was to implement the directive. Other departments in the Government, according to the employees, implemented it a manner less invasive of the privacy of their employees. And the NASA badging requirements morphed and evolved, apparently in response to the concerns voiced by 30 the employees. Finally, there is no evidence that JPL itself could not have sought to influence NASA to address some of the concerns of its employees. NASA and JPL chose the manner in which they implemented HSPD 12 and some employees concertedly complained and sought to change it. The employees have a Section 7 right to do so."
"By issuing written warnings to Robert Nelson, Dennis Byrnes, Scott Maxwell, Larry D'Addario, and William Bruce Banerdt because they engaged in protected, concerted activities, the Respondent has engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 8(a)(1) and Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act. Having found that the Respondent has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, I shall order it to cease and desist therefrom and to take certain affirmative action designed to effectuate the policies of the Act."
Keith's note: Of course NASA and JPL will appeal this decision. It would be interesting to see how much they will pay the lawyers (and who pays for those lawyers) who seek to oppose the rights of employees.
Is NASA about jobs, or actually accomplishing something?, Houston Chronicle
"The diversity of these centers, including sites in populous states like Texas, California, Florida and Ohio, ensures political clout for the agency in both houses of Congress. At the same time, NASA has to continually spread work around all of these centers and keep senators and representatives from the homes of each of the 10 happy. Which is to say, first and foremost, saving jobs."
"... All that costs money, and Bolden says NASA's $16.8 billion budget request gets chopped to just $16.1 billion if the seqester is not rectified. "At the $16.1 billion level, there is no way in the world they can continue to operate a center like JSC at the level of employment that we have right now," Bolden said. Bolden laments this would mean cutbacks at all NASA centers, primarily contractors. But furloughs for civil servants, he confides, could also become necessary."
"Boldly go where no one has gone before! The Ames Exchange has bought out an entire theater for the NASA Ames workforce to view the new Star Trek Into Darkness film at AMC Mercado 20 at 4:30 PM on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Hard-badged employees may pick up their complimentary ticket at the Beyond Galileo gift shop starting this Thursday, May 16, 2013, but hurry, tickets are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis."
Bright Explosion on the Moon, NASA Science News
"The 40 kg meteoroid measuring 0.3 to 0.4 meters wide hit the Moon traveling 56,000 mph. The resulting explosion1 packed as much punch as 5 tons of TNT."
Keith's note: C'mon guys. Pick one system of measurement and stick with it - or show both systems for all measurements.
Oh yes, then there's this statement: "U.S. Space Exploration Policy eventually calls for extended astronaut stays on the lunar surface."
Huh? Has the author (Tony Phillips) been reading the news lately? NASA is not sending people to the Moon again per White House policy.
"The IG conducted an independent investigation into the circumstances of how and why the noose was placed at the Bldg. F-5 construction site. The IG's findings corroborated the results of the previous investigations conducted separately by the Office of Protective Services and the contractor. While the incident itself remains disturbing, it's important to note that none of the three investigations found evidence of criminal wrongdoing."
"Quantum computing may be the key to solving some of the most challenging computer science problems. This is why Google in collaboration with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association today announced that they will launch the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab."
Keith's note: I'll be a guest on HuffPost Live: What Would A Colony On Mars Look Like? at 2:30 pm EDT
"American astronaut Buzz Aldrin says the U.S. and NASA should focus on establishing a permanent colony on Mars by 2040. How likely is a future that include humans actually living on Mars? Should we be allocating our resources to this endeavor?"
"On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) -- or larger -- radar telescope at their disposal."
Keith's note: NASA PAO just loves to make puns with their press release headlines. The asteroid was not actually named after the QE2. Given that the popular impression of cruise ships these days is that they are disease-ridden floating toilets, I suppose someone will inevitably connect recent news about Earth's water coming from asteroids (meteorites) and a giant cruise ship in space and ...
Internal NASA GSFC memo: "Congress just passed a law that bars NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, and Department of Justice from buying IT systems that have been "produced, manufactured or assembled" by companies "owned, operated or subsidized" in any way by the Chinese. The only exceptions to this rule are for hardware that is deemed to be in the interests of national security, or if the FBI decides that a component's acquisition does not carry any risk of "cyber-espionage or sabotage." While Goddard is working out processes to handle this legislation, the direction from Goddard's Chief Information Officer is that no IT products shall be purchased at this time, via P-card of any other mechanism. This applies to hardware, software and maintenance, and to both civil servant and contractor purchases."
"Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee's Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, inserted a version of the measure in an appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 drafted last year. It was subsequently added to the Senate's version of the continuing resolution that covered full appropriations for several agencies, including Commerce, Justice, NASA and NSF."
Keith's note: This applies across the agency. There are Lenovo ThinkPad laptops on the ISS. Lenovo is owned by Chinese business interests. And these ThinkPads can't be replaced by Mac laptops or iPads because most (nearly all) of them are assembled in China. Larger image
"Homer Hickam, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie October Sky, has joined the ranks of scientists and engineers around the globe in support of Kiera Wilmot - the 16-year-old Florida student who found herself in hot water after her science experiment went awry. Wilmot, who has an outstanding school record and whose mother works in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field, was expelled from school permanently and arrested by police after her science experiment caused a small explosion. Although not authorized by her teacher, no one was hurt in the incident and no damage was caused. Kiera was also charged with possession and discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device: both felonies."
"The website Southern Fried Science took a turn away from discussions on conservation and endangered species to weigh in on Kiera's case, asking scientists how many "accidentally blew something up in high school doing science?" Many responded by describing their adolescent capers."
Keith's note: If this over reactive mindset was in place in the early 1980s, then a dozen or so of the Chemistry students I taught while in grad school would have been felons - every semester.
Kiera Wilmot, student who caused small explosion, won't face charges, Orlando Sentinel
"Brian Haas, an assistant state attorney and spokesman for the office, said he could not provide details of the diversion-program agreement reached in a juvenile's case. But he said the teenager and her guardian had signed the agreement. "The pending case has been dismissed. No formal charges will be filed," read the office's statement."
Keith's 10:03 am EDT note: Kepler is in safe mode again. Studies are under way. While Kepler's main mission may now be at an end, there is still a lot of life left in the spacecraft. Stay tuned.
Kepler has a telescope with 0.95 meter aperture and a wide field of view. It is in an Earth-following, heliocentric orbit. Although its fine pointing ability may no longer be available, the spacecraft still has other potential uses. One obvious use is NEO (asteroid) detection. Ideas?
"NASA will host a news teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT, today, May 15, to discuss the status of the agency's Kepler Space Telescope."
Keith's 1:25 pm EDT update: The Kepler spacecraft has entered Safe Mode yet again. It is unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to resume its original extrasolar planet detection mission. NASA has uploaded Point Rest State software to the spacecraft. The Kepler spacecraft is currenty stable in Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode. In this mode it has several months of fuel available. If the spacecraft can be put into Point Rest State then the spacecraft has several years of remaining fuel. Post-prime mission options for use of the spacecraft are being pursued including NEO detection.
Keith's 4:25 pm EDT update: The New York Times (who claimed credit via Twitter for breaking the story 6 hours after it was broken here on NASA Watch) claims that Kepler is "crippled". When asked if he agreed with this characterization, SMD AA John Grunsfeld called this "odd" and said that he did not agree that Kepler is "crippled" given that there are still options and other science that can be done.
"With the failure of a second reaction wheel, it's unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to return to the high pointing accuracy that enables its high-precision photometry. However, no decision has been made to end data collection."
The sun emitted a third significant solar flare in under 24 hours, peaking at 9:11 p.m. EDT on May 13, 2013. This flare is classified as an X3.2 flare. This is the strongest X-class flare of 2013 so far, surpassing in strength the two X-class flares that occurred earlier in the 24-hour period.
"Solar activity continued on May 14, 2013, as the sun emitted a fourth X-class flare from its upper left limb, peaking at 9:48 p.m. EDT."
NASA Operating Plan for FY 2013 to Target Planetary Overall, Cuts Research and Completed Missions, Planetary Exploration Newsletter
"In his FY13 budget request, President Obama proposed the NASA Planetary budget be cut by more than 20% from its FY12 level (From $1.5B to less than $1.2B). Under the initial Continuing Resolutions covering the first half of the fiscal year, the Administration chose to operate NASA Planetary at this reduced level. Congress restored more than $222M of the President's cut in its FY13 appropriation passed on March 21 and signed into law by the President. Congress's action is now being reversed by NASA and others in the Administration through the preferential application of rescission and sequestration cuts of more than 15% to the NASA Planetary Science budget."
"OpenStack pools compute, storage, and networking equipment together, allowing all of a data center's resources to be managed and provisioned from a single point. Scientists will be able to request whatever amount of CPU, memory, and storage space they need. They will also be able to get a virtual machine with the requested amounts within 15 minutes. CERN runs OpenStack on top of Scientific Linux and uses it in combination with Puppet IT automation software."
"Ray O'Brien, acting CIO at NASA Ames, when asked May 30 by InformationWeek about NASA's participation, used diplomatic language to say that NASA still endorsed the project, was proud of its founding role, and might be a user of OpenStack components in the future. "It is very possible that NASA could leverage OpenStack as a customer in the future," he wrote in his email response. ..."
"The director, a writer and some actors in the film "Star Trek Into Darkness" will join NASA as it hosts a Google+ Hangout from noon to 12:45 p.m. EDT, May 16, about how work aboard the International Space Station is turning science fiction into reality. Google+ Hangouts allow as many as 10 people or groups to chat face-to-face, while thousands more can tune in to watch the conversation live on Google+ or YouTube. The hangout also will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website."
Keith's note: Canada's Chris Hadfield's use of social media and other aspects of education and public outreach while on orbit has been masterful - even transcendent - and sets a new bar for others to strive for on future missions. Oh wait: NASA is eliminating Education and Public Outreach. Nevermind. NASA no longer cares about these things.
And Charlie Bolden agrees with this change in focus and wants to abandon half a century of public engagement. Utterly pathetic. Not what a true leader should do.
There will be no other NASA Watch updates today. Just this.
"Three members of the International Space Station Expedition 35 crew undocked from the orbiting laboratory and returned safely to Earth Monday, May 13, wrapping up a mission lasting almost five months. The departure marks the beginning of Expedition 36."
ROSES-13 Amendment 13: Education and Public Outreach removed from Appendix A.34, New (Early Career) Investigator Program in Earth Science
"The New Investigator Program (NIP) in Earth Science is designed to support outstanding scientific research and career development of scientists and engineers at the early stage of their professional careers. ... NIP will not accept Education and Public Outreach Plans in 2013."
USAF, SpaceX Close To Agreement On Launch Certification Plan, Aviation Week
"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and the U.S. Air Force are "days away" from agreeing on the details of a certification plan that would enable the private company to compete for national security payload launch contracts with the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy."
"NASA will commemorate the 40th anniversary of America's first space station Monday, May 13, with a televised roundtable discussion featuring Skylab astronauts, a current astronaut and agency managers planning future space missions."
Participants will include:
- Owen Garriott, science pilot, Skylab 3
- Gerald Carr, commander, Skylab 4
- Kevin Ford, commander, International Space Station Expedition 34
- D. Marshall Porterfield, director, Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division, NASA Headquarters
- Jason Crusan, director, Advanced Exploration Systems, NASA Headquarters
Keith's note: The gutting of the NTRS continues. This report used to be on NTRS: "Distribution of pressure over model of the upper wing and aileron of a Fokker D-VII airplane, Fairbanks", A J, NACA, 1927: "This report describes tests made for the purpose of determining the distribution of pressure over a model of the tapered portion of the upper wing and the aileron of a Fokker D-VII Airplane. Normal pressures were measured simultaneously at 74 points distributed over the wing and aileron."
Thanks to Google, there is a cached version of its previous existence on NTRS. (larger screengrab). But when you click on the PDF link you get an error "This PDF file is no longer available from NTRS." This document is freely available here at the University of North Texas Digital Library, here at Cranfield University in the UK, here at the University of Delft, Netherlands, etc.
What purpose could possibly be served by Charlie Bolden and Frank Wolf in keeping this 86 year old document about World War I biplanes off of NTRS? It is utterly harmless (unless your air force still flies Fokker D-VII aircraft - or is threatened by them) and it is readily available (as is all NTRS stuff) around the world. This gutting of NTRS is tantamount to vandalism - and these actions are fueled by partisan paranoia on Wolf's part and lack of a backbone on Charlie Bolden's part. Moreover, these actions are in direct contradiction of what the agency is chartered to do:
The National Aeronautics and Space Act Pub. L. No. 111-314 124 Stat. 3328 (Dec. 18, 2010)
"Sec. 20112. Functions of the Administration (a) Planning, Directing, and Conducting Aeronautical and Space Activities.--The Administration, in order to carry out the purpose of this chapter, shall-- ... (3) provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof;"
- Charlie Bolden is Erasing NASA's History, earlier post
- Charlie Bolden's Gutted Version of NTRS is Back Online, earlier post
Will competing plans hurt nation's future in space?, Florida Today
"But Commercial Crew has been a tough sell, politically. Lawmakers reluctantly have provided enough money for it to limp along, but not nearly enough to meet some of the ambitious deadlines the Obama administration originally set. And they question whether aerospace companies are being given too much flexibility in developing a new vehicle to carry U.S. astronauts to the space station."
"Owning something flown on the Apollo lunar missions has always been challenging. However since last September, when the U.S. house passed a resolution granting astronauts clear title to the items they carried into space, it has become a lot easier."
Auction dates: May 16 to May 23
- 20 May: NASA Honors Sally Ride with a National Tribute at Kennedy Center
- 20 May: The Hadean Earth-Moon System - Workshop Without Walls
- 21 May: Space Technology Expo
- 21 May: Small Business Event Quarterly Meeting of the Stennis Business Consortium
- 21 May: NASA Advisory Council Aeronautics Committee; Unmanned Aircraft Systems Subcommittee Meeting
- 21 May: Hearing Next Steps in Human Exploration to Mars and Beyond
- 22 May: NASA Space Station SOcial
- 22 May: NASA Advisory Council Audit Finance and Analysis Committee Meeting
- 23 May: 2013 International Space Development Conference
- 24 May: Spacefest V
- 25 May: MARS2013 Science Workshop
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