December 2003 Archives

2003



2 December 2003: NASA Names Crew for New Space Shuttle Mission STS-121, NASA

"Four NASA astronauts have been chosen to fly on the newly created Space Shuttle mission, STS-121. It is the mission following the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight."



1 December 2003: After Columbia, a Picture of Greater Shuttle Vigilance, Washington Post

"Engineers have made scant progress in their struggle to develop a repair technique for the exotic composite heat shielding called reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC), which was the site of the puncture that downed Columbia. Engineering manager Steve Poulos recently said there is only "a fair chance" the team will succeed before flights resume."




25 November 2003: NASA Announces Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC) Contract Award

"NASA has selected COLSA Corporation of Huntsville, Ala., as prime contractor for its Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC) contract. The estimated value of the contract is approximately $125.6 million."



24 November 2003: NASA Sources Sought Notice: Safety and Mission Assurance Support Services Contract, NASA JSC

"This potential contract will require overall S&MA support to the Space Shuttle Program, the ISS Program, the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Program, to all Government-Furnished Equipment (GFE) developed at JSC, to both Space Shuttle and ISS-related Extravehicular Activity (EVA) hardware and operations, and to both Shuttle and ISS payloads."



24 November 2003: NASA Releases First Update to Implementation Plan for Space Shuttle Return to Flight and Beyond

"This revision to NASA's Implementation Plan for Space Shuttle Return to Flight and Beyond includes (1) our initial responses to additional data released by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), (2) preliminary cost estimates for return to flight activities, (3) a description of NASA's Space Shuttle return to flight suggestion process, and (4) updates to selected CAIB and Space Shuttle Program (SSP) actions."




22 November 2003: Space Shuttle Enterprise Has a New Home, SpaceRef

"This past Thursday, after spending exactly 18 years in a non-descript hangar at Dulles International Airport, just outside Washington DC, Space Shuttle Enterprise was moved to its new home. Instead of sitting in dark, unglamorous storage, Enterprise is now in a bright place of honor."





20 November 2003: Moving Day for Enterprise

Editor's note: Space Shuttle Enterprise is being moved from a storage hangar at Dulles International Airport into the new Air and Space Annex adjacent the airport today. NASA is shooting some video which should be aired in the next day or so.




20 November 2003: House Science Committee Chair Boehlert Addresses Space Transportation Association

"We will not, of course, be able to reach any kind of closure on issues related to NASA by the end of January. "The Committee continues to closely monitor the Space Shuttle's return to flight. I think the Shuttle needs to lift off as soon as is safely possible, but I'm skeptical that that can actually happen by September."



18 November 2003: NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Committee Charter

18 November 2003: NASA Names New Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) Members

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced the new NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), which includes nine distinguished members and a new charter. The initial meeting of the new panel is expected soon."




14 November 2003: Leaders Named for New NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC)

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announced the team that will lead the new NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC)."

15 November 2003: Controversial appointment at NASA, Daily Press

"Members of the Senate Commerce Committee complained in September about NASA's selection of Roe as the man to help establish the center at NASA Langley. Roe said Friday that his mistakes, which were detailed in the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report in August, would help him in his new role."



13 November 2003: Space Shuttle Decision Timeline 17 Sep 2003



17 October 2003: Park shuttle, shift gaze to Mars, experts advise NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"The problem is not human spaceflight; the problem is this kind of human spaceflight," said Wesley Huntress, director of the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and a former space-science official at NASA.

"I think the problem is we're spending $7 billion a year on human spaceflight without an adequate return," said Bruce Murray, a professor at the California Institute of Technology and a co-founder of the Planetary Society, a space-exploration advocacy group."



15 October 2003: GAO Report GAO-03-1107: Impact of the Grounding of the Shuttle Fleet (Summary)

"Although the effects of the Columbia accident on the space station are still being explored, it is clear that the station will cost more, take longer to complete, and have further delay in the achievement of key research objectives."





15 October 2003: NASA Releases Updated Return to Flight Implementation Plan

"This revision supercedes the first iteration of our return to flight Implementation Plan released on September 8, 2003, and includes formatting that indicates where changes and updates have been made to show progress since the first Plan was released."



9 October 2003: Sean O'Keefe: Progress Report on Fixing NASA's Shuttle, SpaceRef

"According to O'Keefe, some rather simple solutions to repairing tile damage on-orbit have emerged. To demonstrate for reporters how simple one concept was he pulled a small foam brush from his pocket - the small disposable type one would use for home refinishing projects. Noting that this brush "can be bought at K-Mart" O'Keefe went on to describe a two component system (not unlike commercial epoxy kits) which is mixed together and then applied to the affected area with something as simple as the brush he had in his hand."



4 October 2003: NASA's Plans for Shuttles Call for Fall '04 Launching, NY Times

4 October 2003: In the Air Again - NASA Announces Schedule to Return Shuttles to Flight, ABC

4 October 2003: Shuttle flights face further delays, MSNBC

3 October 2003: NASA Moves Planning Date for Next Shuttle Flight to Fall 2004, SpaceRef

"The launch of STS-114 - the so-called "Return to Flight" mission - has been moved to extend from 12 September 2004 to 10 October 2004."



3 October 2003: White House seeks scientists' comments - Deadline approaching for contributions to government streamlining effort, The Scientist

"Research organizations and scientific societies are giving the White House an earful when it comes to their pet peeves about government support for research. The comments were invited by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Many will become part of the agenda for a top-level review of policies and practices for funding research."




2 October 2003: Shuttle's return may wait longer, USA Today

"The space shuttle Atlantis, which was supposed to fly the first shuttle mission after the Columbia accident, may be grounded until late October 2004 because its nose wasn't thoroughly inspected during a recent overhaul, shuttle engineers said Wednesday."

2 October 2003: Nose cap may delay shuttle's return to space, AP

"Senior NASA executives who make up the Spaceflight Leadership Council planned to meet Friday to discuss the extent of the inspections needed on Atlantis' nose cap, possibly pick a new launch date and address other issues involving the space shuttle and space station programs."




1 October 2003: Bush offers encouragement to space station astronauts, AP

"President Bush is offering encouragement to astronauts just back from the International Space Station. In an Oval Office meeting, the president told them to continue the quest to explore the heavens."

Editor's note: The Expedition 6 Crew met with President Bush on Wednesday. At a 45th anniversary reception at the National Air and Space Museum on Wednesday night, Sean O'Keefe read a letter from the President congratulating the agency on its anniversary. I was at the reception - as a former NASA employee (not media) so all I will say is that tonight's event was as smooth as silk, paced just right, and had the desired effect on at least one attendee. A wonderful time was had by all.



16 September 2003: Space shuttles to last into next decade-Boeing, Reuters

"Since the International Space Station was designed to work with the space shuttle and to stay in service until at least 2018, the shuttle should probably stay in service until that date, Mott said. "So if you go to 2018 that becomes very logical because that (the shuttle and the space station) works together as an integrated system," Mott said."




29 September 2003: Marshall redesigning shuttle tank for safety, Huntsville Times

"Planned changes to the space shuttle's 15-story external fuel tank have Marshall Space Flight Center engineers designing a tank that uses existing, but improved, foam technology that won't pose a danger to the shuttle."




15 September 2003: 9 Days in September: NASA Responds to the Columbia Accident Report, SpaceRef

"The process of responding to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report began last week in Washington DC. The outcome of this process will, at a minimum lead to the path required to getting the Space Shuttle fleet flying again. This process may also lead to new directions for America's space program. Then again, it may not."

Editor's note: 14,000 words, 12 parts.


- Ground the Shuttle

- Beyond the Shuttle

- Separating People From Cargo

- Farewell to Faster - Better - Cheaper



- More Money Please

- Schedule

- Risk

- Learning



- Speaking Out

- Visions

- Leadership

- Get With The Program




8 September 2003: "NASA's Implementation Plan for Return to Flight and Beyond", NASA HQ

"This report is the agency's blueprint for acting on the recommendations from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) and safely returning to flight. This document is an initial outline to help guide the Space Shuttle Program."




6 September 2003: NASA Plan Lists Changes to Resume Shuttle Flights, NY Times

"The plan, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times, is a broad blueprint listing actions the agency is pursuing to fulfill those requirements. The agency has also outlined actions it is taking beyond the recommendations, including evaluating the International Space Station as a haven for shuttle crews that might be stranded because of a problem."



18 June 2003: Shuttle Launch Likely in Early 2004, NASA Says, Reuters

"You ask for a gut feeling? We can put this together in the first quarter of '04," Michael Kostelnik, NASA's deputy associate administrator for the shuttle and space station programs, told reporters."

19 June 2003: Overhauls leave NASA 1 shuttle available for goal, Houston Chronicle

"One of the remaining space shuttles is being overhauled and another is about to be, leaving only one orbiter available to meet NASA's timeline for getting the orbiters back in flight by early next year, according to the latest strategy presented to senior space agency officials."

18 June 2003: Official expects shuttle flight by April, USA Today

"At a meeting last week, NASA chief Sean O'Keefe said the agency is "considering" launch dates as soon as December. But spring of 2004 was more likely, he said. At the same meeting, Michael Greenfield, NASA's associate deputy administrator for technical programs, said NASA had set a launch date of Dec. 18 for planning purposes."




18 June 2003: Letter from NASA Director of Shuttle Processing Regarding Safety and Mission Assurance Advisor

"As a result of the numerous activities associated with Return to Flight, I have asked Bill Higgins to accept a new position as the Safety and Mission Assurance Advisor to the Director of Shuttle Processing."




17 June 2003: NASA Sources Sought Notice: 3-D Imaging Sensors for In-flight Shuttle Inspection, NASA JSC

"NASA/JSC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for proven, flight certifiable sensors that can detect and quantify damage that may occur in-flight to the Space Shuttle Orbiter's thermal protection system (TPS)."




28 May 2003: New Chief Hopes to Steer Shuttle Flight's Revival, Washington Post

"Despite a stint as deputy director at the Houston center, he acknowledged, "there's some in-depth knowledge that I don't have about flight operations." But he said he knows how to delegate responsibility. "I'm very comfortable not knowing everything, and realizing that there are people on my team that have that knowledge and will give me sound advice," he said."




9 May 2003: NASA Selects New Space Shuttle Program Manager

"NASA today announced the selection of William (Bill) W. Parsons as the new manager for the Space Shuttle Program. Parsons, the director of the NASA John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) in south Mississippi, succeeds Ronald D. Dittemore, who announced his resignation April 23."

9 May 2003: Transcript of Press Conference with Bill Parsons and Mike Kostelnik at NASA Headquarters



6 May 2003: Request for Information on the Acquisition Strategy for the Orbital Space Plane, NASA MSFC

"Receipt of pertinent information and questions will foster a better understanding of the OSP System requirements and industry's capabilities for satisfying those requirements."



5 May 2003: Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment (Full text)

"The Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment was a NASA effort commissioned by then Office of Space Flight, Associate Administrator, Fred Gregory, in March 2002, to identify and prioritize the future investments required to safely and effectively fly Shuttle through 2020. At the time the 2020 Assessment was commissioned, the Shuttle service life was planned through 2012. This assessment was viewed as a prudent step to better understand what might be required to extend the planned service life of the Space Shuttle."

25 March 2002: "Reassessing Space Shuttle Upgrades Strategy"; Letter from OSF AA Fred Gregory to JSC Center Director




30 April 2003: ISS Monthly Program Review, Vol. 131, 11 April 2003, NASA JSC

Editor's note: If you really want to know the state of Shuttle and ISS program planning post-Columbia accident, this is the document to read.

30 April 2003: Columbia Impact: Groundrules and Assumptions (Internal ISS program), NASA JSC

"All program metrics are being measured against these groundrules and assumptions as of 4/01/03. The Plans below are for planning purposes within the ISSP only - As they are modified, this page will be changed accordingly."



15 April 2003: Presolicitation Notice: Consolidated Space Operations Contract Extension, NASA JSC

"NASA/JSC plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for an extension to the Consolidated Space Operations Contract (CSOC), currently held by Lockheed Martin Space Operations Company. The extension will provide an additional three-months of effort, through March 31, 2004. An extension of CSOC will ensure a successful transition to the follow-on contracts."



8 April 2003: Space Shuttle Program Launch Manifest 27 Mar 2003, NASA JSC

14 March 2003: Letter from OSF AA Bill Readdy regarding "Space Shuttle Return to Flight", NASA HQ

"As a goal, the SSP shall plan for corrective actions and reviews which support a launch opportunity as early as the Fall of 2003."

Editor's note: In Congressional hearings this morning Sean O'Keefe repeated the agency's goal of Fall 2003 (as outlined in Bill Readdy's memo) as an earliest possible return to flight date for the Shuttle. However, based on this official program schedule, issued a week after Readdy's memo, it would seem that some folks in the agency are even more optimistic and are working towards a launch date for STS-114 NET (No Earlier Than) 21 July 2003.

8 April 2003: Space Shuttle Program Launch Manifest 8 Apr 2003, NASA JSC

Editor's note: I stand corrected. Thanks to an alert NASA Watch reader we now have the subsequent manifest which shows a shift from the previous NET 21 July date to NET 1 October 2003. Still, it is rather interesting that nearly 2 months after the accident that NASA was holding to a mid-summer launch date - until Readdy's correction.



25 March 2003: Alternate Trajectories Options for Competitive Sourcing of the Space Shuttle Program, December 2002, RAND Corp.

"Today, [the Space Shuttle Program]'s dominant customer is NASA itself, and the primary use of the Shuttle is building and servicing ISS. The broadening of this customer base would greatly improve the prospects for a market-based Shuttle system, fed by revenues beyond NASA's and disciplined by customers beyond NASA. The Task Force examined the potential emergence of other demands for the Shuttle. The results were not encouraging."

10 March 2003: NASA Walks the Gauntlet: Sean O'Keefe Does Brunch With the Press, SpaceRef

"This [RAND] report was based on a premise that there was going to be a substantial market viability for commercial launch services that would make it potentially financially practical for someone (a company or a private concern) to consider ownership and operation of the Shuttle. Well, that market forecast not only didn't materialize, it has kind of gone the other way. So much of the analysis that went into the RAND report made it almost instantly moot."



24 March 2003: Enhancing and Replacing NASA's Space Shuttle: Ideas? Yes. Funds? No., SpaceRef

"NASA is looking at how it could extend the life of the Shuttle for many more years - perhaps to 2022 - and then replace it with more advanced spacecraft. While NASA has no shortage of ideas, it certainly is lacking the funds to make them all happen."




31 March 2003: NASA Releases Large Email Collection Related to Columbia Accident (includes links to all documents)

"The following email collections were released by NASA in response to Freedom of Information Requests made to the agency. Discussion and briefing charts are broken into sections to reduce file size."

1 April 2003: Engineer Disputed NASA on Seeking Image of Shuttle, Washington Post

"William F. Readdy, NASA's associate administrator, disclosed recently that he spurned an opportunity to request a high-priority photograph of the damaged space shuttle during the final days of its mission because he felt the agency had no "extraordinary reason" to request the diversion of the equipment -- described by others as spy satellites -- from their assigned military tasks."

Editor's note: Here we go again, Eric and Guy. We went over the Post's sloppy choice of words (Jeff Smith's) back on 15 March. Readdy did not "spurn" the offer for imagery - he simply did not pursue it. That's what he told you (Eric), the Post's Jeff Smith and Kathy Sawyer, and a room full of reporters on 14 March 2003. Scorn is defined as being "to reject disdainfully or contemptuously." That did not happen and the Post has yet to produce anything to suggest that it did. Continuing to use such an inaccurate misrepresentation of reality in a national newspaper whose stories are reprinted around the world is a disservice to all of your readers.

"It is not known whether Rocha then wrote his draft "bordering on irresponsible" response. What he sent to Shack, however, was a two-line e-mail simply asking, "Can you tell us more on Roe's negative answer?" There was indication yesterday that Shack responded to that message."

Editor's note: Instead of printing provocative, unsubstantiated extrapolation of what you think might have happened, how about actually asking the people involved what happened - and then printing their responses? After all, you now have their email addresses ...

Previous NASA Watch Comments on News Coverage of Columbia Accident (contains an ongoing collection of commentary on the Post's sloppy reporting on the Columbia accident).


25 March 2003: Alternate Trajectories Options for Competitive Sourcing of the Space Shuttle Program, December 2002, RAND Corp.

"Today, [the Space Shuttle Program]'s dominant customer is NASA itself, and the primary use of the Shuttle is building and servicing ISS. The broadening of this customer base would greatly improve the prospects for a market-based Shuttle system, fed by revenues beyond NASA's and disciplined by customers beyond NASA. The Task Force examined the potential emergence of other demands for the Shuttle. The results were not encouraging."

10 March 2003: NASA Walks the Gauntlet: Sean O'Keefe Does Brunch With the Press, SpaceRef

"This [RAND] report was based on a premise that there was going to be a substantial market viability for commercial launch services that would make it potentially financially practical for someone (a company or a private concern) to consider ownership and operation of the Shuttle. Well, that market forecast not only didn't materialize, it has kind of gone the other way. So much of the analysis that went into the RAND report made it almost instantly moot."




13 March 2003: Shuttles unlikely to fly for private companies, Orlando Sentinel

"At this point, I can never see the concept of privatization having any legs at all," said U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Palm Bay. "You may see the opposite. You may see calls for more government involvement, government oversight."



13 March 2003: Lockheed Says NASA Business to Slow, Reuters

"There's a contraction in NASA business and we're likely to see that contraction continue through 2003," Lockheed Martin President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Stevens told investors. He did not give reasons for the slowdown and a company spokesman was not immediately available for comment."



17 February 2003: At NASA, Concerns on Contractors, Washington Post

"In a report to his bosses 17 months ago, space shuttle program manager Ronald D. Dittemore expressed concern that the unconventional public-private partnership entrusted with overseeing shuttle missions was nearing a breaking point."


    28 September 2001: Concept of Privatization of the Space Shuttle Program, NASA JSC (Full report - Adobe Acrobat)

    28 September 2001: Concept of Privatization of the Space Shuttle Program, NASA JSC (Executive Summary)

    "It is the intent of Space Shuttle privatization to expand the business base of the private
    company responsible for Space Shuttle operations to more than just Space Shuttle
    operations. It is envisioned that the private company will be a strong competitor for
    privatized ISS operations. Additionally, because the private company will have a strong
    resident core competency in human space flight operations, it is envisioned that the private
    company will be a strong competitor for future space operations contracts (next generation
    reusable launch vehicles, and Moon, Mars, or other exploration), both human space flight
    and nonhuman ventures."



3 February 2003: Interview with Sen. Bill Nelson, CNN

"But there has been an ignoring and a starving of NASA for funds by the administration, and this isn't a partisan comment. It goes back to the previous administration."

4 February 2003: Sen. Nelson denies politicizing Columbia, UPI

"Nelson was critical of the Bush administration shortly after the Columbia broke apart Saturday, but he has conceded the Clinton administration shares some of the blame in more recent statements."

Editor's note: Although he now admits that the Clinton Adminstration had a hand in cutting NASA's budget, where was Sen. Nelson's outrage WHILE the Clinton Administration cut NASA's budget 7 out of 8 years?



31 January 2003: NASA finalizes contract with United Space Alliance

"NASA has settled negotiations that increase the value of a two-year extension of the Space Flight Operations Contract (SFOC) held by United Space Alliance, LLC, in Houston, by $59.91 million."



4 January 2003: NASA will launch plan to keep shuttles flying

"Faced with flying the highly complex space shuttle almost a decade longer than expected, NASA will start this month pulling together a plan to keep the aging fleet of orbiters launch-ready and safe."




2 January 2003: GAO Report: "Relocating Space Shuttle Modification Work" (full text)

At the request of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) the GAO assessed the NASA's rationale and documentation to support its decision to relocate Space Shuttle Orbiter Major Modification work from Palmdale, California, to Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

December 2003



11 December 2003: Letter to NASA Administrator from NASA OIG Regarding Proposed Options for Implementation of CAIB Recommendations 7.5-1 and 7.5-2

"... While it may be that such organizations could be designed to fulfill the CAIB's intent that NASA have robust and independent engineering and safety offices in connection with space flight operations, we believe the decentralized approach being contemplated is inconsistent with the language of the CAIB report."

30 December 2003: Promise Them The Moon, TomPaine.com

"Our country has always risen to great leadership. We could send another man to the moon. But we'd be better served if President Bush had the vision to send millions of healthy, well-educated children into the future."

Editor's note: This organization is affiliated with candidates with ideological stances similar to those taken by Howard Dean. I guess this is a preview of sorts for what we could expect from a Dean presidency vis-a-vis space policy i.e. talk then retreat - or make statements such as he did in November (below) with a huge (unlikely) caveat attached.

space as a campaign issue?

26 December 2003: Bush Advisers, With Eye on Dean, Formulate '04 Plans, NY Times

"As a result, the White House is considering using the State of the Union address to propose a big new national goal that would not be partisan or ideological and would help rally the country behind Mr. Bush's leadership, an outside adviser to the administration said. The possibilities floated by the White House include a major initiative for the space program or an ambitious health care goal like increasing life expectancies."

21 December 2003: Space must be a global frontier, OpEd, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Twenty years from now we can imagine a team of astronauts planting the flags of many nations on a distant surface, an iconic reflection of Neil Armstrong's giant leap for mankind. We should embrace this prospect."

Clark: no moon fan

15 December 2003: Clark brings anti-war campaign to state, The Tennessean

During his campaign speech, Clark made indirect reference to reports that Bush plans to return U.S. astronauts to the moon. ''I see a country that can produce great scientists and engineers,'' Clark told the crowd. ''We've already been to the moon. We did it.'' Afterward, he told reporters, ''We need to get America pointed into the future on the things that represent the future in this country.''


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