NASA Watch

This is not a NASA Website. You might learn something. It's YOUR space agency. Get involved. Take it back. Make it work - for YOU.
nasawatch@spaceref.com | Voice +1.703.787.6567 | RSS Feed | Twitter | Advertising | Important Disclaimer

Who Has More Relevant Capsule Expertise?

By Keith Cowing on February 27, 2015 11:04 AM.

Categories:

The More Space Stations, The Better

By Keith Cowing on February 27, 2015 8:46 AM.

Russia Will Spin-Off ISS Parts for New Space Station, Discovery News

"The Russian space agency Roscosmos says it will support U.S. plans to keep the International Space Station (ISS) operating through 2024, but then wants to split off three still-to-be launched modules to form a new, independent orbital outpost. The announcement this week by a senior planning board reverses previous statements by Russian officials that Russia would end involvement in the 15-nation program in 2020 when current agreements expire. Despite occasional rhetoric, the Russian-U.S. space marriage has been largely left out of growing economic and political tensions stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula last year."

Keith's note: This is not a bad thing. And I am not talking about no longer having to deal with Russia since we'll certainly find a way to find ourselves in a political spat with someone else on Earth after they leave the ISS. Rather, it shows how assets in space can be repurposed, refurbished -- re-imagined. Instead of throwing things away in orbit (Skylab, Salyuts, Mir) we can now build upon these assets and move them around like Lego bricks to form new things as we need them - and then do this again and again. When the government is done with their hardware, it can be used by someone else - just like old military bases can become movie studios and shopping malls. The more orbital capacity that is available, the more customers it can collectively and individually serve. The more valuable these on-orbit assets become for government and non-government uses, the more everyone will want to safeguard that growing capacity (and isolate it from terrestrial squabbles) as has been the case with ISS recently.

Categories: , ,

The Usual Suspects Want Their Government Handout

By Keith Cowing on February 27, 2015 8:44 AM.

New Alliance To Promote Space Development and Settlement Policies, Space News

"Perhaps the most ambitious part of the ASD agenda is a proposed "Cheap Access to Space Act" that would offer $3.5 billion in government prizes for the development of reusable launch vehicles. Those prizes include, in a draft version of the bill provided by ASD, $1 billion to the first fully reusable vehicle that can place at least one metric ton into orbit and fly again a week later."

Keith's note: Yet another space group comprised of the usual suspects. Yet another request by a space group for the government to give them billions in handouts. Sigh. This is getting old. These groups keep proposing the same old same old - under new names each time.

Categories:

Pete Worden is Leaving NASA

By Keith Cowing on February 25, 2015 6:52 PM.

Keith's note: NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden will announce this afternoon that he is leaving NASA at the end of March.

Keith's update: NASA ARC Memo: All Hands Meeting: Pete Worden is Leaving NASA

"On Wednesday, Feb. 25, I informed NASA Administrator Bolden that I have decided to retire from federal service and pursue some long-held dreams in the private sector."

Worden Announces Retirement as NASA Ames Center Director

"Earlier today, Pete Worden notified me of his decision to retire as Director of NASA's Ames Research Center. After more than four decades of dedicated public service, Pete said it was time to pursue other opportunities. He is an innovative leader, and a tireless advocate for change who has well-positioned Ames and its people for the future exploration opportunities facing this agency."

Categories:

OIG Has Doubts About NASA's Humans to Mars Plans

By Keith Cowing on February 25, 2015 10:51 AM.

NASA OIG Testimony, NASA Oversight Hearing

"As we reported in August 2013, even after the SLS and Orion are fully developed and ready to transport crew NASA will continue to face significant challenges concerning the long-term sustainability of its human exploration program. For example, unless NASA begins a program to develop landers and surface systems its astronauts will be limited to orbital missions of Mars. Given the time and money necessary to develop these systems, it is unlikely that NASA would be able to conduct any manned surface exploration missions until the late 2030s at the earliest."

Categories:

Sonja Alexander Maclin

By Keith Cowing on February 24, 2015 10:42 AM.

Keith's note: Sonja Alexander Maclin has passed away.

Service arrangements below.

Sonja was always the nicest person I talked to at NASA Headquarters - on any topic.

Continue reading: Sonja Alexander Maclin.

Categories:

Is Dava Newman's Nomination In Limbo? (Update)

By Keith Cowing on February 24, 2015 9:59 AM.

Keith's note: Dava Newman was chosen as the nominee for NASA Deputy Administrator 4 months ago in October 2014. We have heard nothing since then. Dava Newman has yet to testify before the Senate (and get their approval) so it is unclear when she will be formally confirmed. With impending food fights in the Republican-led Congress, such routine things as nominations may be stalled - or (worse) may become opportunities to score partisan points agains the Administration - with the nominee taking the brunt of the negative energy. Stay Tuned.

Executive Session Scheduled for 2/26 - Markup of nine bills and nominations for six agencies, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

"The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Thursday, February 26, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. to consider legislation and nominations."

Keith's update: Six significant nominations are on the agenda. No mention of Dava Newman as Deputy Administrator of NASA.

White House Announces Dava Newman Nomination, earlier post

Categories: ,

Fixing ARM So That It Makes (Some) Sense

By Keith Cowing on February 23, 2015 6:02 PM.

Let's Fix the Asteroid Redirect Mission, Marcia Smith Aviation Week

"Fundamentally, ARM is two good ideas kluged together into one bewildering idea that NASA itself seems unable to explain effectively. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden's hand-picked advisers on the NASA Advisory Council have debated the problem in recent meetings. The council's question basically is -- how does moving a rock from one place in the solar system to another get us to Mars? ARM involves developing high-power solar electric propulsion (SEP). Good idea. It has many uses in Earth orbit and deep space, including support of human exploration of Mars. ARM involves sending astronauts to cis-lunar space (between the Earth and the Moon) for up to three weeks at a time. Good idea. Breaking the umbilical cord to Earth is a necessary step to Mars. ARM involves moving an asteroid to lunar orbit. Huh?"

Categories:

Jurczyk To Head Space Technology Mission Directorate

By Keith Cowing on February 23, 2015 3:50 PM.

Steve Jurczyk Named Head of NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named Steve Jurczyk as the agency's Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, effective Monday, March 2. The directorate is responsible for innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use on future NASA missions. Jurczyk has served as Center Director at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, since April of 2014."

Categories: ,

Throwing Shade on Mars One

By Keith Cowing on February 23, 2015 2:04 PM.

Mars Missions Are A Scam, BuzzFeed

"It looks like a scam," John Logsdon, a space policy expert at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., told BuzzFeed News. "They don't have any technology, they don't have any agreements with the space industry. It looks very shaky." The bigger problem? Mars One's flaws too few spaceships, nonexistent life-support technologies, not nearly enough money, and, really, no good reason for going discredit all Mars exploration plans, including NASA's."

Mars One plan to colonise red planet unrealistic, says leading supporter, The Guardian

"Gerard 't Hooft, a Dutch Nobel laureate and ambassador for Mars One, said he did not believe the mission could take off by 2024 as planned. "It will take quite a bit longer and be quite a bit more expensive. When they first asked me to be involved I told them 'you have to put a zero after everything'," he said, implying that a launch date 100 years from now with a budget of tens of billions of dollars would be an achievable goal. But, 't Hooft added, "People don't want something 100 years from now."

No more 'Big Brother' on the red planet, Daily Mail

"Last week Mars One announced a list of 100 people who will train on Earth for a one-way mission to the red planet in 2025. But the venture's accompanying reality TV show - which was to be made by the makers of Big Brother to document their training and new lives on the red planet - has been shelved after the companies were 'unable to reach an agreement on details', MailOnline has learned. Instead, Mars One is working with a new production company to record the colonists' progress."

Categories: ,

Yet Another Space Group: The Space Illuminati

By Keith Cowing on February 23, 2015 1:11 PM.

Keith's note: Wow, the space advocacy community has been rather fertile this past week spawning not one but two new organizations - all of this on the heels of a anonymous meeting of the usual space advocacy suspects. This newest anonymous group is called "Pioneering Space Declaration" (spacedeclaration.org). No press release has been issued. Instead this group just appeared out of nowhere. It seems to have been spawned by Rick Tumilinson's Pioneering Space Summit last week and has a nifty Illuminati-style logo. They want you to sign their two sentence "declaration" but they do not list a single human name to signify who is actually behind this latest organization. Nor do they tell you what they will do with your name and contact information.

But they do show lots of logos. Most are familiar - but some are mysteriously unfamiliar. But they then post this: "Disclaimer - These companies and organizations supported the Pioneering Space National Summit at which this statement was drafted and approved. Their appearance here does not infer official endorsement of the declaration. At this time they may or may not be involved in future activities or actions in regard to the declaration." So ... these groups do/do not endorse this declaration - and they "may or may not be involved" in what is happening now or in the future - but we won't tell you - or maybe we will - or maybe we just did. Now THAT is illuminati-speak!

They do state that they are "a diverse group of over 100 space leaders" albeit anonymous space leaders - in keeping with the whole illuminati meme. They also want you to give them money via PayPal to yet another mysterious group: the EarthLight Foundation (earthlightfoundation.org) which has no individual names affixed to it either although Tumlinson has mentioned an affiliation with it. As you will see in the comments section below this organization's 501(c)(3) status has been revoked by the IRS.

Keith's update: The donation link for the Earthlight Foundation has been removed - this is a screen grab of the page it used to send you to.

The week is still young. Will we see more space advocacy organizations popping up? Stay tuned. This is starting to sound like a Dan Brown novel.

Keith's update: The Space Frontier Foundation just issued a press release titled "Historic Consensus Achieved at Pioneering Space Summit 2015". "Historic"? Really? How so? Half of the space advocacy community was left out in the cold during this closed session - and no mention is made of planetary and space science in the final summary statement. Baffling.

Categories:

Alliance for Space Development Revealed (Yawn)

By Keith Cowing on February 23, 2015 9:17 AM.

Space Frontier Foundation and National Space Society Announce the Formation of the Alliance for Space Development

"At press time, the LifeBoat Foundation, The Mars Society, The Mars Foundation, The Space Development Steering Committee, The Space Tourism Society, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, Students on Capitol Hill, Tea Party in Space, and the Texas Space Alliance have joined the ASD."

Keith's note: Truly an alliance of the giants. Yawn.

Oddly, I got the SFF release first which said "for immediate release". So I posted it and distributed it. Then, after I did that, the NSS version shows up saying to wait until 25 February to release. Clearly the whole coordination thing is a skill they have yet to master.

- Alliance for Space Development: Yawn - Yet Another Space Group, earlier post

Categories:

Commercial Space Hearings This Week

By Marc Boucher on February 23, 2015 7:53 AM.

Congressional Hearings this Week to Focus on Commercial Space, SpaceRef

"There will be two important congressional hearings this week on Commercial Space.

First up on Tuesday, February 24th is the U.S. Human Exploration Goals and Commercial Space Competitiveness Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness hearing chaired by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Next up on Friday, February 27th is the House Subcommittee on Space Hearing; The Commercial Crew Program: Challenges and Opportunities chaired by Lamar Smith (R-Texas). The hearing will take place at 2318 Rayburn House Office Building at 9:00 a.m. EST."

Continue reading: Commercial Space Hearings This Week.

Categories: ,

Recent Space Poll: The Public is Not Always in Synch With Space Advocates

By Keith Cowing on February 22, 2015 4:55 PM.

Poll: Space Travel in the 21st Century: American Public Sees Benefits But Balks at Cost, Monmouth University

"This week marks the 53rd anniversary of John Glenn's first manned orbital space flight. The Monmouth University Poll finds that most Americans feel the nation's 1960s space program gave us long-lasting benefits and many say increased spending on the space program today would be a good investment. However, less than half the public supports spending billions of dollars specifically to send astronauts back to the moon or to other planets - a program that is currently in the works at NASA. Interestingly, this reluctance is similar to the public mood in the 1960s. A majority of Americans do support private space exploration, though. ... The future of space travel may now lie in private ventures, which most Americans do support."

Keith's note: Interesting how this poll of actual regular American citizens shows them to be far less bubbly in their support of NASA's human space flight programs than what the space advocacy crowd would have you think. I am not certain how well the overt "settlement" aspect of Rick Tumlinson's recent closed space summit is going to resonate with popular sentiments when even the precursor missions are not supported by a majority of those polled. However, the commercial space aspect of this poll is interesting as are the societal benefits. Yet no one from Blue Origin, SpaceX, or Virgin Galactic - or the non-space public seems to have had any role in this closed door meeting. Or did they? I guess we'll never know since nothing about this event's participants is being released.

The study also notes "Just over 4-in-10 (42%) Americans are in favor of the U.S. government spending billions of dollars to send astronauts to places like the moon, Mars, and asteroids, while half (50%) oppose such an expenditure. There are no partisan differences in this opinion, although men (50%) are more supportive than women (36%) of funding this new program." I wonder what the demographics were for Tumlinson's space summit. If this conclave of the usual suspects followed old habits then the participants would have been overwhelmingly male and middle aged (and older).

If people get together with the aim of developing a broad-based policy (on any topic) for the entire country then they should, at a minimum, seek to pay some attention to the demographics of the group of people whom they purport to represent as well as what these people have to say on the topic. Moreover these would-be policy developers should seek to develop a policy that serves the real world interests of the population as a whole - not a policy that only serves the people who happen to be in the room arguing arcane philosophical and self-serving points.

If space advocates have all of the impact that they claim to have had over the past several decades then they need to share the blame for the dysfunctional way that this nation's space policy (such that there is one) has been formulated and implemented. If the space advocates shun responsibility for this train weck then they are admitting that they actually have little or no impact after all. Either way, given how screwed up America's space policy is, one would have to come to the conclusion that space advocates are part of the problem - not the solution.

Continue reading: Recent Space Poll: The Public is Not Always in Synch With Space Advocates.

Categories: ,

Pioneering Space National Summit Details Emerge

By Keith Cowing on February 21, 2015 6:50 PM.

Keith's note: Something has emerged from the Pioneering Space National Summit held last week in Washington DC on Facebook (larger view) The event barred press coverage and did not include a number of space advocacy organizations - including the Planetary Society. The organizers are now playing favorites with some media outlets but not others. At one point, the leader of this activity, Rick Tumlinson, posted the following on his Facebook page: "Keith...please get a life. Then perhaps you wont have to spend your time condemning those lived by others". He then deleted the comment and blocked me from seeing his Facebook page. Oh well. I probably do need to get a life - but this is how the leader of this new space advocacy effort responds to criticism. Not a good sign.

Tumlinson and Mary Lynne Dittmar made some additional Facebook postings (below). Note that Dittmar says that attendees are from the "human spaceflight community". The preliminary findings state: "The long term goal of the human spaceflight and exploration program of the United States ..." Apparently the space and planetary science community is not part of their proposed national space policy. Here we go again: yet another fractionated space policy - one derived behind closed doors by a subset of the larger space advocacy community - being touted as a national space policy.

Continue reading: Pioneering Space National Summit Details Emerge.

Categories:

More stories for February.

Subscribe to NASA Watch

SpringHill Suites Houston NASA/Webster
Advertise on SpaceRef starting at $75/month
53rd Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium
Loading


Monthly Archives




NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 26 February 2015

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 26 February 2015 Video in Story

Today: Post Extravehicular Activity (EVA) 30 Activities: All 3 USOS crew members participated in an EVA debrief to discuss yesterday's EVA. Wilmore and Virts completed routine post EVA medical exams.

More updates...

Spacewire