October 2004 Archives

31 October 2004: NASA's future explorers, The Times and Democrat

"Twenty years from now, when NASA launches its first manned mission to Mars, today's middle school students would be just the right age to make the trip. "There's a place for you at NASA" was the theme of astronaut Lee Archambault's visit to Sandhills Middle School on Wednesday."

26 October 2004: NASA duo give students glimpse into possibilities, The Advocate

"Enthralling students with tales of eating candy in midair and sleeping like a zombie, NASA's top administrator and an astronaut gave 200 Baker students Monday a reason to focus on math and science."

28 October 2004: Students set their sights high, News-Messenger

"The club was created when St. Ann's science teacher Jim Morely and Jaworski, a fourth-grade teacher, found out they received a NASA/Ohio Space Grant for which they applied in the spring. Through the grant, they were able to purchase an eight-inch reflector telescope and a 70-mm refractor telescope. Two additional telescopes were donated."

From the Sea to the Stars

30 October 2004: NASA and U.S. Navy Join to Celebrate Spirit of Exploration

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe acknowledged past acts of discovery and heroism, while challenging future generations to continue the American spirit of exploration. Administrator O'Keefe spoke at a ceremony today on board the historic museum frigate USS Constellation, docked at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md. Constellation Museum Director Chris Rowson joined him in highlighting the connection between the legacy of the USS Constellation's namesake and NASA's Project Constellation, the agency's new family of Crew Exploration Vehicles."

31 October 2004: Bush's bold space policy, Op ed, Washington Times

"The contrasts are stark. A Kerry administration would delay - if not doom - America's reach into space."

30 October 2004: NASA's robotic moon mission spins wheels, Florida Today

"Outside analysts say NASA is hesitant to draft detailed plans for follow-on flights -- missions key to President Bush's plan to return astronauts to the moon -- until the election is over."

A press telecon was held today with NASA Space Operations Mission Directorate Associate Administrator William Readdy, Deputy AA Michael Kostelnik, and Walter Cantrell who is co-chair with Readdy of the Space Flight Leadership Council. No one at NASA said that there was a specific plan in place to dramatically reduce the number of shuttle flights (as has been suggested by some in the Kerry campaign). Many options are being studied. Indeed, some options under study look at the possibility of more than 28 flights - perhaps beyond 2010.

28 October 2004: NASA mulls early retirement for space shuttle, MSNBC

"The senior space policy expert said he had also been told of the studies by a current NASA official and that the studies were showing that NASA could get "a good final configuration with twelve more [space shuttle] flights." In this scenario, according to the expert's source, the shuttle would be used to install all planned pressurized modules but leave off the long trusses and most of the additional solar arrays. Items such as the Centrifuge Accommodation Facility and the much-vaunted Cupola viewing module would get left permanently back on Earth."

29 October 2004: Bush, Kerry differ on space, Florida Today

"Also, Sietzen alleges a Kerry administration would fly "far fewer" shuttle missions than the 28 to 30 NASA says are needed to complete the space station. Garver said Bush backers are stretching something she said in a Washington debate with Sietzen far out of context. Noone knows how many times the shuttle must fly to finish the station or do other jobs such as maybe repairing Hubble Space Telescope, she said. "They're trying to get Florida votes by scaring people," Garver said."

Editor's note: "Far out of context", Lori? I recorded the entire event - here is an excerpt - in context. I guess this means that what you actually say is not what you actually mean.

29 October 2004: Glenn's take on Kerry was way off the mark, Florida Today, Op ed by Reps. Dave Weldon and Tom Feeney

"Exactly where Glenn gets his facts we do not know. The Kerry-Edwards space policy makes no mention of the shuttle or station, dismisses the notion of a return to the moon and makes no commitment to a Mars expedition."

27 October 2004: Kerry's vision for space, Op ed by John Glenn, Florida Today

"There have been false rumors circulated that if my good friend John Kerry is elected president, he will limit future space shuttle flights to 10 or less. Kerry has no such plans. Indeed, it is President Bush who has proposed ending space shuttle flights by 2010 and limiting the use of the International Space Station. And where does that leave us for transportation of U.S. astronauts to the station?"

Bart Gordon Weighs In

28 October 2004: Being Good Stewards of the Nation's Space Program - excerpt from Science and Technology: The Untapped American Resource - Prepared for Rep. Bart Gordon

"An agency that was once managed by some of the most distinguished engineers and scientists in the nation is now becoming a parking place for inexperienced retired admirals and generals because of the hiring decisions of the Administrator."

Wayne Hale on "Risk"

26 October 2004: Letter to the NASA Space Shuttle Team From Wayne Hale on Risk

"Everybody knows that there are ultimate risks in space flight. Some among us believe so strongly in the benefits that they put their lives on the line. Others of us believe so strongly that we do something harder to live with: we send our colleagues into danger. Why should we do it? Because the consequences of not taking the risk are unthinkable. The choice of turning back and giving up would affect the rest of history in ways that are immeasurable. Somebody recently said that what we are engaged in is like high stakes poker. That comment trivializes space flight to a parlor game where the only risk is money or pride or career or other cheap consideration. To push back the frontier incurs a price that sometimes must be paid in a currency more dear than mere dollars. It takes courage."

Thank You Brian Berger

Editor's note: Brian Berger from Space News has been busy on the telephone today. He has been calling around Washington DC asking if I have a business relationship with USA or any other aerospace company - or if I am on the Bush campaign payroll (secretly) What an idiotic notion, Brian. As if I would 1. do something like that and then 2. not tell people. The net result, after making all of these calls, is that people now have suspicions about me which have no basis in reality. For the record I have no business relationship with USA or any aerospace company - anywhere. Nor am I seeking one. As for the Bush campaign giving me money, the answer is 'no' to that nonsense as well. Besides, having publicly stated that I am voting for Kerry, where's the logic in that, Brian?

John Kerry and John Edwards on Space and Aeronautics for the 21st Century

"Americans are justifiably proud of this nation's past aeronautics and space accomplishments. John Kerry and John Edwards believe that maintaining and increasing America's leadership in aerospace is more important now than ever.NASA research has led to breakthroughs in a number of fields, far beyond space flight, aeronautics, or the other NASA missions. "

Editor's note: Lori Garver and John Logsdon couldn't even get a statement about the Kerry campaign's position on the future of the space shuttle program in this document. The shuttle must not be a high priority for Kerry. For that matter, the ISS is not mentioned either - and when human spaceflight is mentioned it is located in a sentence where Kerry bashes Bush. This document sounds more like a retreat than a step forward.

26 October 2004: Logsdon comments on Kerry Space Policy, FPSPACE

"The whole point of this statement is to demonstrate that human exploration is not at risk under a Kerry administration."

26 October 2004: NASA Expert Criticizes Bush on Global Warming Policy, NY Times

"A top NASA climate expert who twice briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming plans to criticize the administration's approach to the issue in a lecture at the University of Iowa tonight and say that a senior administration official told him last year not to discuss dangerous consequences of rising temperatures."

24 October 2004: Draft Paper Provides Insight Into NASA Space Policy Options, NASA Watch

"A draft space policy paper circulating around Washington, D.C. provides some insight into what some space watchers - and NASA employees - think NASA should be doing in space - especially when it comes to the risks inherent in NASA's current human space flight systems. Given that a prominent space advisor to the Kerry campaign (John Logsdon) is a key participant in this project, this paper may also provide some insight into policies the Kerry campaign appears to be embracing - the most important of which is getting rid of the space shuttle fleet as soon as possible."

Recent Election 2004 Stories on NASA Watch

Getting Closer ...

24 October 2004: NASA's Cassini Closes in on Titan

"This image was taken on October 23, 2004 and received on Earth October 24, 2004. The camera was pointing toward TITAN at approximately 1,544,962 kilometers away."

Cassini Titan Flyby Mission Description

Where's Lori?

Editor's note: Over the past week or so several items have appeared on NASA Watch detailing Lori Garver's activities on behalf of John Kerry's presidential campaign. Despite the fact that Lori is annoyed with what has appeared here (according to multiple sources) she has yet to ask to address these points on NASA Watch. This could be because she 1. finds me and NASA Watch annoying (understandable - many people do) 2. Ignoring things like this for the next few days will cause them to go away or become moot or 3. what has been posted is accurate and it would be hard to refute.

Expedition 9 Is Home

23 October 2004: Expedition 9 Returns to Earth

Image: Soyuz 8 spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere as seen from the International Space Station.

The Expedition 9 crew - Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke - and Russian Space Forces Test Cosmonaut Yuri Shargin have returned to Earth. Landing occured without incident at 8:35 p.m. EDT (0035 GMT).

Debating Space: A Tale of Two Policies - One Real, One TBD, Keith Cowing

"A day after the last of the Presidential campaign debates, a hundred or so space professionals gathered this morning in Washington, DC to hear a debate between representatives of the Bush and Kerry campaigns on space policy. One campaign talked about what it was doing in space - the other talked about what it might do."

18 October 2004: The great (well, ok) space debate, Jeff Foust (Futron Corp.) The Space Review

"Exploration is exciting, but it isn't the only thing we get from space," Garver said. "Sending a few people to Mars maybe isn't the most inspirational thing that we can be doing."

Editor's note: Once again Lori Garver chokes when it comes to making a strong statement rearding the exploration of space - beyond Earth - by humans. Or is this John Kerry speaking - or echos of the Clinton Administration? Hard to tell.

15 October 2004: Bush, Kerry Campaign Reps Debate Space Issues, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

18 October 2004: Space can wait until after Nov. 2, Houston Chronicle

"Space should not be politicized, and we're trying to remind people that space is not the domain of one party," [George Whitesides, executive director of the National Space Society] said. " ... We're all keeping our fingers crossed that no matter who gets elected, NASA is going back out there and exploring the universe."

Editor's note:This is a rather naive position to take. Space has been politicized since Day One, George. Indeed, we only have a space program because of politics. Wake up and read some history.

Extending Human Presence into the Solar System: An Independent Study for The Planetary Society

"Stage 1 features the development of a new crew exploration vehicle (CEV), the completion of the International Space Station (ISS), and an early retirement of the Shuttle Orbiter. Orbiter retirement would be made as soon as the ISS U.S. Core is completed (perhaps only 6 or 7 flights) and the smallest number of additional flights necessary to satisfy our international partners' ISS requirements. Money saved by early Orbiter retirement would be used to accelerate the CEV development schedule to minimize or eliminate any hiatus in U.S. capability to reach and return from LEO."

Editor's note: At last week's debate between Lori Garver and Frank Sietzen, Garver was heard to suggest to a number of aerospace contractor representatives that they block access to NASA Watch from their employees. When pressed as to why she'd make such a request, she eventually admitted that it was because there were some things about her on NASA Watch that she did not like. It would certainly seem that Lori learned the wrong lessons from her time on Dan Goldin's senior staff.

Zoom Me Up Scotty

22 October 2004: Shatner aims for real 'Star Trek', CNN

"William Shatner wants to boldly go where he's only pretended to go so far. The "Star Trek" star is among more than 7,000 people who have told Richard Branson they would gladly pay him $210,000 (115,000) for a trip aboard his planned spacecraft, the entrepreneur said Friday."

Now online: Solar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration, National Research Council

"NASA requested the NRC to review the role solar and space physics should play in support of the new goals. This report presents the results of that review. It considers solar and space physics both as aspects of scientific exploration and in support of enabling future exploration of the solar system. The report provides a series of recommendations about NASAs Sun-Earth Connections program to enable it to meet both of those goals."

New NASA Chief Scientist

21 October 2004: NASA Administrator Names New Chief Scientist

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announced today Chief Scientist and veteran astronaut John Grunsfeld will return to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Administrator O'Keefe appointed Dr. James B. Garvin, chief scientist for NASA's Mars and lunar exploration programs, as the new Chief Scientist, effective immediately."

Editor's note: If you follow the link below you will find larger versions of (former) NASA Chief Scientist John Grunsfeld's "vulcanization". NASA Chief Scientist Jim Garvin and Space Station Science Officer Leroy Chiao are next in line for the same alteration.

Editor's note: Stories continue to circulate around Washington that NASA is planning to limit the number of remaining space shuttle flights to 10 and that it is considering even further cuts to the Shuttle program. The stories can be traced back to representatives of the Kerry campaign - the most notable being Lori Garver from DFI International. Garver is going around town telling people that she has spoken with people inside OMB and NASA and that there is a plan under development by the Bush Administration to limit shuttle flights.

There is one problem with Garver's story: it is not true.

Editor's note: According to a NASA Watch reader who just arrived at work at KSC, today is the day that new badge checking procedures go into effect. While memos and reminders were sent out in advance, many people were caught off guard as they arrived this morning. One aspect of the new procedure is to check both sides of a badge. As such, some people had to pry their badges out of old plastic protective covers, and take off lapel pins or remove other things they have stuck on their badges. Wait times to get in this morning were as long as 40-50 minutes.

20 October 2004: Dittmar Associates' Market Study for the Space Exploration Program

"On the eve of the Presidential election, Americans continue to support human space flight and endorse the Space Exploration plan to return to the Moon and to Mars, but they also question the relationship of NASA to its constituents.

79% of respondents believe that NASA is "marketed" poorly or very poorly."

OK, We're Listening

20 October 2004: Message from NASA HQ - Public Inquiries Management Office, NASA HQ

"As NASA plots new courses to the moon, Mars, and beyond, we must equally plot communications strategies to keep our public and international communities informed of NASA's missions and accomplishments. One strategy is the realignment of the Public Inquiries Management Office (PIMO) within the Office of Public Affairs. This realignment centralizes the agency's management of public inquiries, albeit the medium--paper mail, e-mail, and voice-mail communications. As NASA moves forward, it is paramount that we explain our missions, programs, and activities in such a way that engenders a positive image for the agency."

NASA Web Portal Affinity Kit

"The Portal will use cutting-edge technology and thoughtfully created content to put NASA in the best light possible."

Editor's note: so long as NASA is focused on presenting a "positive image for the agency" or "the best light possible" it is going to stumble again and again. Rather, I would suggest, the better tactic for NASA PAO to take would be to present an "accurate" image of the agency - both flaws and strengths - as well as its accomplishments and challenges. When you try to distort reality and spin people's perceptions, they resist being spun. In contrast, when you are straight with people, they take the effort at face value and take the time to listen. THAT is how NASA should format its message.

Officials activate National Security Space Institute

"Air Force Space Command officials stood up a space education and training organization here recently that they said will provide the foundation to creating a new generation of space professionals. Its courses, when coupled with the operational qualifications demanded of space professionals, will secure the U.S advantage in space, said Gen. Lance W. Lord, commander of AFSPC."

Editor's note: Perhaps NASA should do something like this to "inspire the next generation of space explorers." Perhaps they have.

22 September 2004: NASA Cooperative Agreement Notice NASA Explorer Institutes Focus Groups

"NASA Headquarters Office of Education, Informal Education Division, announces a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) to provide funding to members of the informal education community to host NASA Explorer Institutes Focus Groups."

20 October 2004: The First Revelations Of Genesis, Daily Planet, Discovery.ca

"NASA's Genesis space probe came to a crashing halt in the Utah desert. Join us to find out how such a small mistake could lead to such a huge crash. Hey, no one's perfect."

Interview with Keith Cowing, editor of NASA Watch.com Video (Windows Media)

Lecture on NASA Prizes

"Prize Competitions for Innovation in Science, Technology, and Exploration"

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Brant Sponberg, Manager, Centennial Challenges, NASA

19 October 2004: Transcript of a NASAWatch.com Interview with ISS Astronauts Fincke and Chiao

"Fincke: Well Keith, we are 225 miles closer to the stars. We are humanity's only outpost at this time. That is something very special. I made a few remarks the other day in a teleconference to an astronaut reunion. I had this question a little bit in mind saying "people - critics - say that we're not going anywhere." Well sure we are. We're building up a lot of experience - and we can't get this experience anywhere else - experience so that we can really go to places - to the moon and to Mars. And on this expedition we showed it."

Slipping Shuttle Schedules

1 October 2004: NASA PRCB CR: S042013EW Update the Launch Dates, NASA JSC

Editor's note: Wayne Hale signed this CR (Change Request) on 1 October 2004 and forwarded it to the JPRCB which met on 14 October 2004. The JPRCB said they had no authority to approve launch date changes without Space Flight LeadershipCouncil (SFLC) concurrence or prior approval.

Ralph is Late

19 October 2004: Ralph is late for NASA's New Horizons Mission to Pluto, SpaceRef

"One of the instruments slated to fly aboard the New Horizons mission to Pluto is late and threatens to affect the entire mission. Ball Aerospace is responsible for delivering the main New Horizons imaging package, which has been named "Ralph."

Ralph is now months late and deep in the red in terms of cost."

18 October 2004: NASA: Taking the Vision to the Next Step

"NASA is taking the next steps in moving The Vision for Space Exploration from concept to reality. Working with the best in the aerospace industry, the agency is already exploring and refining the concepts that will help America return to the Moon, and ultimately travel to Mars and beyond. Each of the contractors has presented unique ideas about the space transportation systems needed for future journeys. You can explore the presentations yourself, or visit the companies' Web sites, by clicking the links below..."

Editor's Update: Apple Computer representatives contacted me after seeing this posting on NASA Watch. My computer will soon be fixed at no charge to me. My interactions with Apple staff since my unfortunate experiences at their Tyson's Corner store - as well as the emails from other loyal Apple customers - have convinced me that the folks at that store were an isolated anomaly - and that Apple customer service is indeed still the epitome of the old saying " the customer is always right". Ignore all of my earlier comments below.

Heads Up !

17 October 2004: Satellite hits building in China, UPI

"The capsule was part of a satellite that spent 18 days in orbit, the newspaper said. The rest of the satellite will continue orbiting, the Xinhua News Agency said."

15 October 2004: Genesis crash linked to upside-down design, New Scientist

"Sensors to detect deceleration on NASA's Genesis space capsule were installed correctly but had been designed upside down, resulting in the failure to deploy the capsule's parachutes. The design flaw is the prime suspect for why the capsule, carrying precious solar wind ions, crashed in Utah on 8 September, according to a NASA investigation board."

Editor's note: let's see - Lockheed Martin doesn't do an English/metric unit conversion and Mars Climate Orbiter hits the planet. Weeks later, Lockheed Martin does not do a full check of all systems and the shock of deploying its landing legs causes the engines to shut down and Mars Polar Lander crashes into Mars. More recently, Lockheed drops NOAA-N-Prime because someone forgot to bolt it down. Now this stupid mistake (which happened a number of years ago). Given the amount of business NASA gives LockMart, you'd think they have started to pay a little more attention to quality control after all these goof-ups.

New Crew Arrives at Space StationNew Crew Arrives at Space Station, NASA

" The Soyuz spacecraft with the 10th International Space Station crew, Astronaut Leroy Chiao and Cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov, docked to the orbiting laboratory at 12:16 a.m. EDT Saturday."

"Sharipov guided the Soyuz to a manual docking after the automated Kurs rendezvous system failed. The crew had trained extensively for manual approach, and the docking proceeded without incident."

14 October 2004: Letter from Sean O'Keefe to Organizers of Washington Space Policy Debate

"Since the announcement of the Vision, I have regularly briefed the President and Vice President on NASAs progress in its implementation. The President has provided the leadership essential to set our Nation on a course for a bold future in space. Now it is up to us in the aerospace community to make this Vision a reality."

13 October 2004: Expedition 10 Launches, Heads to Space Station

"The International Space Station's next crew, Expedition 10 , is on its way. The ISS Soyuz 9 spacecraft carrying Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:06 p.m. CDT Wednesday (0306 GMT Thursday). After a two-day chase, the Soyuz will dock with the Station at 11:25 p.m. CDT Friday (0425 GMT Saturday), beginning Expedition 10's six-month stay at the orbital outpost."

14 October 2004: Debate: The Aerospace Platform of the Presidential Candidates

Representing the Kerry Campaign position: Lori Garver
Representing the Bush Campaign position: Frank Sietzen (co-author with the editor of NASA Watch of "New Moon Rising")

Election 2004 (previous NASA Watch postings)

X Prize Fever Continues

11 October 2004: X Prize group plans new series of contests, C|Net

"The X Prize Foundation , creator of the Ansari X Prize for space tourism, announced the new series of innovation contests this week after awarding its first prize to Paul Allen's Mojave Aerospace Ventures for piercing Earth's atmosphere twice in one week with its privately financed SpaceShipOne craft."

12 October 2004: Space Tourism Seeking Public Investors, AP

"[Walt Anderson, chief executive of the aerospace technology company Orbital Recovery Corp. and founder of the venture capital company Gold & Appel] asserted that those restrictions mean that the best and brightest are no longer coming to the United States to pursue careers in the space industry. "We have to keep in mind that the United States, while we've brought a lot of technology into the world, may no longer be the center of the universe for space forever," he said."

29 September 2004: First X prize flight completed, Nature

"Other experts remain dubious that today's flight will open space to the paying public quite so fast. "It's not gonna happen next week," says John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington DC."

Editor's note: John Logsdon is also an official space policy advisor to John Kerry's presidential campaign.

No Political Humor at JPL

Someone@jpl.nasa.gov notes: "JPL is putting the kibosh on political humor... note we're not federal employees and not covered by the Hatch act. It's just that our management has no sense of humor."

Editor's note: The transcripts and presentations from the recent NASA symposium "Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and the Stars" are now online. In the coming days, NASA will be adding photographs and other multimedia from the event. Replays of the three primary sessions can be seen on NASA TV. In a few days, NASA will replay the other sessions. In all, nearly 15 hours of programming was produced during the three-day symposium.

13 October 2004: Aerospace workers hear congressional candidate, The Citizen

"[Richard] Morrison said the first phase of President Bush's back to the moon and onward to Mars did not get properly funded. Politicians and bureaucrats are putting NASA at risk, said Morrison, adding that six shuttle flights a year until 2010 is "impossible." "That's unsafe and that's not a realistic time schedule," Morrison said. "We must put the scientists and engineers back in control."

10 October 2004: Race doesn't reflect NASA, exploration, Orlando Sentinel

"Jason Furman, an economic-policy director for the Kerry campaign, said the senator is supportive of continued exploration -- and is open to the idea of spending more money on the space program -- but thinks Bush's plan is too expensive and shortchanges some worthwhile NASA programs. "John Kerry believes the space program has made really important contributions, both to our knowledge about the world and the universe and also has been very important to the economy," Furman said. "Space exploration, and NASA in particular, will be very important to him."

From NASA Heads up: "Each week, The NASA Family gets its latest agency news and information from the NASA Web Portal at http://www.nasa.gov. As of Oct. 8, the agency's latest news and discoveries can also be found on NASA Television's new program "This Week@NASA" on Fridays at 10 a.m. on NASA HQ Channel 3. The program features the week's top developments from across the agency. If you miss the Friday broadcast, you can view encore presentations of "ThisWeek@NASA" throughout the week. For times, check the NASA TV schedule available at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv."

Max Faget Has Died

10 October 2004: Legendary NASA Spacecraft Designer Dr. Maxime A. Faget Dies at 83

"The man who designed the original spacecraft for Project Mercury and is credited with contributing to the designs of every U.S. human spacecraft from Mercury to the Space Shuttle has died. Dr. Maxime A. Faget, who in 1958 became part of the Space Task Group that would later evolve into the NASA Johnson Space Center, died Saturday at his home in Houston. He was 83 years old."

Max Faget: Master Builder, Jim Oberg

"The cosmonauts would have perished in the blaze if their capsule had not been hurled clear by an ingenious escape system designed by a NASA engineer named Max Faget. Knowing a good thing when they saw one, the Soviets had copied the system."

11 October 2004: Spacecraft designer Max Faget leaves a huge legacy, Jim Oberg, MSNBC

Can't We All Just Get Along?

11 October 2004: When good legislation goes bad, The Space Review

8 October 2004: House Passes Bill Extending Protection for Satellite Launches

"The indemnification provisions in H.R. 5245 were originally part of a larger bill, H.R. 3752, to make additional changes to the Commercial Space Launch Act. H.R. 3752 would have set up a new regulatory regime for private human space flight. The House and Senate are continuing to negotiate a compromise version of that bill."

7 October 2004: Suborbital legislation suddenly sinks, MSNBC

"Just days after SpaceShipOne's prize-winning flight opened the world's eyes to the prospect for private spaceflight, legislation that might have opened the way for paying passengers to get on board has sunk into a congressional black hole - at the urging of space entrepreneurs who were once its biggest supporters."

HR 3752

6 October 2004: [Staff Working Draft] H.R. 3752, 108TH Congress, 2D Session Purpose: To amend chapter 701 of title 49, United States Code, with respect to suborbital commercial space flight.

Christopher Reeve Has Died

11 October 2004: 'Superman' star Christopher Reeve dies at age 52, AP

26 August 1996: Text of Christopher Reeve's speech at the 1996 Democratic National Convention

"Now, America has a tradition that many nations probably envy. We frequently achieve the impossible. But that's part of our national character. That's what got us from one coast to another. That's what got us the largest economy in the world. That's what got us to the moon. Now, in my room while I was in rehab, there was a picture of the space shuttle blasting off. It was autographed by every astronaut down at NASA. On the top of that picture it says, "We found nothing is impossible."

5 July 2001: The Challenge, Christopher Reeve

"Neil Armstrong never would have walked on the moon without the support of the American people. Similarly, I know that my dream of walking again will not be fulfilled without the help of people like you. And because every day gone by is another day I and millions more live with paralysis, there is no time to waste."

They're Ba-ack

Dan Tam Appointed as Kistler Aerospace Chief Financial Officer

"[Tam] was Deputy Program Manager of the International Space Station Program, where he was responsible for all business requirements and performance. He also served as Assistant to the NASA Administrator, leading the Agency effort to increase and accelerate the commercial uses and applications of high-leveraged and high-priced national assets."

Editor's note: Let us not forget Dan Tam's other notable achievements while at NASA: Dreamtime and multi-billion dollar ISS cost overruns. Meanwhile, word has it that Dan Goldin has also been advising Kistler (and JAXA as well along with Sam Veneri, Dan Mulville, and Jeff Lawrence). This must be a hobby for Mr. Goldin. He certainly doesn't need the money -after Boston University paid him &1.7 million not to show up for work.

8 October 2004: Ames Federal Employees Union complaint: "slandering NASA's civil servant workforce"

"First, NASA does not have a poor-performer problem. Your statement demeans the hard working men and women of this Agency who have dedicated their professional lives to NASA. You owe NASA's rank-and-file workforce an apology. It is outrageous that NASA's Chief Human Capital Officer would imply that poor performance is a major problem at NASA without any evidence to back this up. If you believe that poor performance is such a problem that it should trigger a request for additional legislative relief, why then did you not mention this in your Senate testimony on July 20th about NASA's workforce planning?"

Editor's note: I just have to say that this is getting to be a little silly. The Union folks dump on Vicki Novak for implying "that poor performance is a major problem at NASA without any evidence to back this up" in a paragraph that starts with the equally unsubstantiated statement "First, NASA does not have a poor-performer problem." My question to the union folks: please provide evidence to back up YOUR claim.

4 October 2004: NOAA-N-Prime Satellite Mishap Investigation Report Released

"The Government's inability to identify and correct deficiencies in the TIROS operations and LMSSC oversight processes were due to inadequate resource management, an unhealthy organizational climate, and the lack of effective oversight processes."

Otherwise, armwaving and name calling aside, this letter references problems that continue to plague the agency.

"This image was taken by Rover Opportunity's Navcam inside Endeavour Crater, Meridiani, Mars on 6 October 2004.

Spirit and Opportunity have been exploring Mars about three times as long as originally scheduled. The more they look, the more evidence of past liquid water on Mars these robots discover."

(Very Rich) Geeks in Space

6 October 2004: Geeks in space C|Net.com

"Whether you blame the Apollo moon landings, Isaac Asimov, "Star Trek" or the sheer giddiness of all that instant money, it's clear that wealthy tech celebrities have the space bug. The list of IT veterans turned space junkies includes Allen, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, PayPal founder Elon Musk and Id Software's John Carmack, to name a few."

6 October 2004: SpaceX Transfers Falcon Rocket to Vandenberg Launch Complex

"SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of access to space by a factor of ten. Located in El Segundo, California, the company was founded by Elon Musk in June 2002"

7 October 2004: House Passes Rohrabacher Resolution Honoring X Prize Recipients, House Science Committee

"By a voice vote, the House of Representatives last night approved a resolution introduced by Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) congratulating Mojave Aerospace Ventures for winning the X Prize and commending the X Prize Foundation for spurring this achievement."

6 October 2004: Spacehab Receives Response from NASA Regarding Claim for Losses on Space Shuttle Mission

"NASA's determination states that its liability is limited to the contractually-stipulated $8.0 million contract provision. The Company is pursuing receipt of the $8.0 million plus interest from NASA in this fiscal quarter." ... "SPACEHAB is evaluating whether it will pursue an appeal. In addition to an appeal, SPACEHAB has other legal recourse it can pursue. Once an assessment of its options is complete, SPACEHAB will make a formal announcement of its decision."

6 October 2004: NASA Award Notice: Hubble Robotic Vehicle Deorbit Module (HRVDM)

"Contract Award Date: Sep 24, 2004 Contract Award Amount: $330,578,914"

5 October 2004: MDA Receives Authorization From NASA To Begin Work On Hubble Rescue

5 October 2004: NASA Awards Contracts for Rescue of Hubble, Washington Post

6 October 2004: Former NASA Inspector Accused of Lying About Shuttle Checks Before and After Columbia Disaster, AP

"Billy T. Thornton falsified records about 83 Discovery inspections over nine days from Oct. 24, 2002, to May 14, 2003, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday. NASA fired him in September 2003. Agents of NASA's Inspector General's Office arrested Thornton at his home late Monday. Arraignment was scheduled for Friday."

Steering Problems on Mars

NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission Status 5 October 2004

"Engineers on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover team are investigating possible causes and remedies for a problem affecting the steering on Spirit.

The relay for steering actuators on Spirit's right-front and left-rear wheels did not operate as commanded on Oct. 1."

NASA TV will carry a live conversation between SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan and the Expedition 9 crew at 4:00 PM EDT. [WATCH]

5 October 2004: Book Review: New Moon Rising, Universe Today

"As the authors say in New Moon Rising , NASA needed and obtained a new space vision to direct its efforts. The authors provide a detailed and broad overview of the very large supporting cast that contributed to the vision that was initiated with President Bush's speech early in the year 2004. Now, in the authors viewpoint, NASA and its new administrator, Sean O'Keefe, have what they need to ensure this vision becomes reality."

4 October 2004: NOAA-N-Prime Satellite Mishap Investigation Report Released, NASA

"-- The LMSSC operations team's lack of discipline in following procedures evolved from complacent attitudes toward routine spacecraft handling, poor communication and coordination among operations team, and poorly written or modified procedures."

"-- The Government's inability to identify and correct deficiencies in the TIROS operations and LMSSC oversight processes were due to inadequate resource management, an unhealthy organizational climate, and the lack of effective oversight processes."

Gordon Cooper Has Died

4 October 2004: NASA Mourns Loss of Original Mercury 7 Astronaut Gordon Cooper

"Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr., (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) [bio] an original Mercury 7 astronaut, died earlier today at his home in Ventura, Calif. He was 77 years old. Cooper piloted the sixth and last flight of the Mercury program and later commanded Gemini V."

4 October 2004: NASA Chief Engineer Announces Retirement

"NASA's Chief Engineer Theron Bradley, Jr., today announced his plan to retire, effective Nov. 1, 2004."

SpaceShipOne Wins X-Prize

Earlier today SpaceShipOne made its second flight in less than two weeks. The vehicle passed 100 km and, at a maximum altitude of 368,000 feet, passed an altitude record set by NASA's X-15 forty years ago. Today's flight was flown by pilot Brian Binnie. Even Google made note of the event (R)

4 October 2004: NASA Congratulates SpaceShipOne's X Prize Win

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today congratulated the SpaceShipOne team on the third successful flight of a private human spacecraft. The team also wins the $10 million X Prize competition."

Mt. St. Helens Erupting

Mt. St. Helens experienced another small eruption today. The volcano released a large plume composed mostly of steam - and only a small amount of ash. A Level Three alert continues with geologists predicting a 70% chance that there will be a major eruption very soon.

- Mt. St. Helens Satellite Imagery, NOAA
- Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam, USGS
- Mount St. Helens Seismicity Information, PNSN
- Mount St. Helens, Washington, USGS
- Cascade Range Current Update, USGS

Today in History

"On October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I.

The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball, weighed only 183 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path."


3 October 2004: 2nd SpaceShipOne Launch is GO for October 4th

"The X PRIZE has just received official notice from Burt Rutan that SpaceShipOne's second flight (X2) will take place Monday morning, October 4th."

3 October 2004: Can Do Private Space Companies Set Tone for Future Spaceflight, SpaceRef

"In a time where America finds itself rebuilding its public manned space program after the Columbia tragedy and trying to build on the presidents new vision for space exploration, can do private space companies are helping to set the tone for future spaceflight."

3 October 2004: Burt provides some preliminary information about the rolling motions seen on the First X-Prize Flight

3 October 2004: Canadian Ansari X PRIZE Team Receives Government Approval to launch into Space

"The Golden Palace.com Space Program Powered by the da Vinci Project announced today that it has received full authorization approval from the Canadian government to launch its manned flights to space." "This is a major step toward our upcoming flights. Our team and Canada is on the forefront of putting the 2nd private manned spacecraft in the world into space", said Brian Feeney. The manned launch approval is for planned flights to space that will be conducted from Kindersley, Saskatchewan."

24 September 2004: NASA OIG: NASA's Travel Module Lacks Management Control Structure and Compliance With Federal Requirements (IG-04-027)

"... because of the reporting and integration limitations, it was impossible to determine whether, in accordance with Federal Travel Regulations, NASA travelers were reimbursed within 30 days or whether interest was paid when reimbursements were late. In other words, no mechanized insight existed for determining if the system was working properly."

28 September 2004: NASA OIG: Final Memorandum on Government Mandatory Inspections for Solid Rocket Booster Bolt Catchers Assignment Number A-04-003-00 Number IG-04-024

"We found that the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) did not perform mandatory hardware inspections on bolt catchers used in Space Shuttle operations. Specifically, we found that DCMA Quality Assurance Representatives (QAR) either (a) removed the requirement for mandatory inspections without obtaining NASAs authorization or approval, or (b) gave final approval for manufactured bolt catchers although not all inspections required throughout the bolt catcher manufacturing process were performed."

3 October 2004: STS-300 Flight Requirements Document

"This document defines explicitly, or by reference, the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) authorized requirements to be implemented on the STS-300 Launch on Need (LON) Crew Rescue flight. Products generated to satisfy these requirements shall meet the schedules defined in the Flight Definition and Requirements Directive (FDRD), NSTS 07700 Volume III, and in the appropriate Integration Plans (IP's)."

1 October 2004: NASA Ames Centerwide Memo: Organizational Changes at Ames

"In an effort to begin orienting Ames Research Center more closely with NASA Headquarters and the NASA transformation, the following organizational title changes are effective immediately."

The Candidates on Space

23 September 2004:Presidential Campaign Representatives Voice Support for Space, California Space Authority

"Representatives of the campaigns for both President George Bush and Senator John Kerry voiced their support for civil space program this week at an invitation-only event held in Washington, D.C."

14 October 2004: The Aerospace Platform of the Presidential Candidates" co-sponsored WSBR and WIA

"Women In Aerospace & Washington Space Business Roundtable invite you to attend The Aerospace Platforms of the Presidential Candidates - A Debate Between Representatives of the Bush-Cheney & Kerry-Edwards Campaigns"

Editor's note: Earlier this week I was in Monterey sitting in the audience of the at the NASA Administrator's Symposium "Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and the Stars". In the front of the auditorium was a 17" Mac Powerbook used to run the event's multimedia. When the machine was not in use a screensaver came on. Each time it did I was totally distracted and captivated - as were many others. I saw satellites cavorting across the Earth as the planet swam through space . I learned that the application responsible for this addictive eye candy is "Freefall'. If you are at all interested in space - and own a Mac - then you simply must own this software. It is mesmerizing. I now have it on my new 17" Powerbook and I am not getting any "real" work done.

Download demo and info on purchase

1 October 2004: Bush and Kerry Offer Their Views on Science, [subscription] Science

SPACE POLICY - Science: Can we afford to send astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars? Should that be the cornerstone of U.S. space policy? If so, what parts of the current program should be scaled back or eliminated to make room for it?



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