February 2005 Archives

Cyberspace to Outer Space, Let's Have a Conference and Go There, NY Times

"Nobody's holding a space conference, so I decided to do one," [Esther Dyson] said in an interview. "It's not that there aren't space conferences, but nothing as tacky and commercial as we want to be."

Editor's note: You can sign up for Dyson's pricey course here. Note: one of the participants is Bruce J. Holmes, Director for Strategic Partnerships, Planning and Management, NASA Langley. Hmm, I wonder: is LaRC is looking to get involved in space tourism?

NASA MSFC Memo: Loss of Bank of America Information on NASA Employees

"Investigators have been advised that as many as 21,000 NASA employees could potentially be involved in this matter. Bank of America has begun the process of sending letters to each person affected. Those letters should arrive sometime this week and will provide an update and a special toll free number for cardholders should they have questions or concerns."

Curious Disclaimer

Editor's note: I noticed a rather curious disclaimer at the the bottom of this article this morning on the Space Review: "Dwayne A. Day served as an investigator for the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB). He currently works in the space policy field for an organization in Washington, DC. This article represents the opinions of the author alone." That's fine, but I find it curious that Mr. Day sees fit to identify an organization he no longer works for - but won't name the 'space policy organization' he currently works for.

Progress M-52 Heads for ISS

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 28 February 2005

"Progress M-52 (17P) launched on time (2:09pm EST) with resupply from Baikonur/Kasakhstan. After normal separation of the first, second and third stage of the Soyuz-U rocket, antennas and solar arrays were nominally deployed at orbit insertion (2:18pm). With that, the new cargo ship, of 7200 kg mass, with over 2000 kg of cargo, is on its way to rendezvous with ISS."

AP hits ex-NASA's O'Keefe but then gets hit back, US News & World Report

"Retired NBC reporter Fred Francis, a NASA consultant, says, "After 38 years as a journalist, I wish I had the talent of an AP reporter from Baton Rouge who was able to get four unnamed sources in Washington to trash someone. The story was just flat wrong."

ESMD Industry Day

NASA Exploration Systems Directorate Industry Day

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) will present to industry an overview of upcoming acquisition activities related to the implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration.The objective of this forum is to provide industry with particulars focused on the following: 1. Overview of the Crew Explorations Vehicle (CEV) Request for Proposal (RFP); 2. Overview of the draft Systems Engineering & Integration (SE&I) Request for Proposal (RFP); and 3. Overview of Research and Technology: Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), Centennial Challenges Program and other related topics."

Action-reaction in space: the "gyrodine war" heats up, Jim Oberg, Space Review

"For almost a week there was no public NASA or Russian response to the report February 10 on Alan Boyle's "Cosmic Log" from an internal NASA status report. The "investigation has confirmed that at least one of the international space station's astronauts [and possibly both] roamed into a "keep-out zone" (or KOZ, in NASA-speak) during a spacewalk last month."

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 10 February 2005

"A joint US/Russia investigation of the recent EVA-12 has determined that at least one crewmember inadvertently entered a designated keep-out zone (KOZ) during SM roll thruster activity (for CMG desaturation). Safety procedures are being modified on both sides to ensure future prevention of KOZ violation during spacewalks."

Stennis services center on governor's radar, The Sun Herald

"If Stennis beats out NASA facilities in Huntsville, Ala., and Cleveland, about 500 jobs will initially be created in the $23.7 million shared services building. The average salary for the new NASA employees, who would be providing payroll, human resources, and customer service to more than 20,000 people, will be $55,000."

Mystery Picture from Saturn

NASA Cassini Saturn Image: What is this?, NASA JPL

"W00005078.jpg was taken on February 21, 2005 and received on Earth February 21, 2005. The camera was pointing toward SKY, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2005."

Editor's note: This raw image has been online for a week. It would seem that this image shows Saturn's shadow upon something rather tenuous. NASA JPL has yet to tell us just what it is we are looking at. Perhaps someone from JPL PAO will drop us a line.

Union Protests NASA's Plans to Cut Jobs, Reorganize Research Centers, Washington Post

"NASA plans to cut 2,673 civil service jobs and restructure research center operations over the next 18 months, according to agency briefing papers. The planned downsizing is being protested by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO, which provided reporters with a Feb. 14 briefing paper on what the agency calls "workforce/institutional transformation."

NASA cuts aviation research for space, Orlando Sentinel

"Some NASA managers privately concede that major cuts to aging aeronautics programs are essential to help pay for the White House's costly plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 and head on to Mars. Critics contend many aeronautics projects are thinly veiled government jobs programs doing tasks better suited for the private sector."

The Latest from JP Aerospace

Recent Videos from JP Aerospace

"In addition to launching rockets from balloons as part of a high altitude launch system, JPA uses rockets as a research tool for Airship to Orbit.

Here is a small sample of launches we've conducted.

Most of those in the video are ground launches from suspended gondolas or from gimbaled launch rails."

Federal budget blueprint threatens jobs at NASA/Ames, SJ Mercury News

"NASA/Ames, the premier research center that churns out Mars rover technology and designs supercomputers, faces its biggest transformation in two decades because of pressure from Washington to recast itself into more of ``a Silicon Valley company.''

NASA Langley contractor cuts 125 jobs, Daily Press

"Budget cuts at NASA Langley Research Center caused contractor Jacobs Sverdrup to lay off an additional 47 employees Thursday as part of a painful cost-slicing measure that has reduced its local workforce by about a fourth."

The unsung astronaut - Robert Lawrence's sacrifice, and why it took so long to be honored, MSNBC

"Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, Americas first black astronaut, had already traveled far by the time he was selected as a military astronaut in 1967. His death later that year in a tragic accident not only cut short a promising career, it led full recognition of his accomplishments and hard-won status to be obscured for decades. Only after his supporters traveled their own difficult journey was Lawrence accorded his proper place in space history."

Morphology of Fresh Outflow Channel Deposits on Mars, Rice,J.W.,Jr.; Parker,T.J.; Russell,A.J.; Knudsen,O., 33rd Annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, March 11-15, 2002, Houston, Texas, abstract no.2026

"Perhaps the most intriguing and debatable landforms in the region are the plates and ridges seen within the channel margins of Athabasca and Marte Valles. The plates can be up to 5 km diameter and have been rafted apart. The plates can be 'jigsaw fitted' back in place. The ridges are sinuous and up to 10 m wide and a few meters high."

Interim Assessment of NASA Culture Change, BST (PDF)

Editor's note: BST just put out another one of its reports about culture change at NASA. You would think that if this document is so full of rich lessons and observations that should be shared, that the document would be designed to allow people to copy important sections and share them with others - and that reporters would be able to easily extract and quote relevant sections. But no. The PDF document is set up such that you cannot cut and copy any text. The only way to extract text from this document is to retype it by hand. Otherwise, you have to forward the entire document to people and tell them what page(s) to read. I am not certain if BST was really thinking clearly when it published this document. Instead of facilitating the dissemination of its results, they have, instead, hampered their dissemination.

Update: A new version of the BST report is online here which allows you to copy text out of the document - the way BST should have presented this document in the first place.

How Not To Impress Students

NASA Presolicitation Notice: Central Intercollegiate Atheletic Association

"This unique event includes registration, booth spaces, advertising of NASA carer opportunites, and other relates services."

Editor's note: Wow, I am sure NASA is making a great impression upon these students with these quasi-literate, typo-laden procurement postings.

Hubble Two Gyro Test Underway

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3803

"ACS & WFPC2 Two-gyro PSF, pointing and dither test: 12 orbits High priority observations {5 orbits} will be observed together at start of two- gyro SMS. Remaining 7 orbits provide further tests and additional experience in two-gyro mode. Goals: PSF, PSF repeatability, pointing and stability within the orbit {requirements 1a, 1c, 2 , 4}"

Gyro sacrifice may extend Hubble's life, New Scientist

"Engineers are testing whether the Hubble Space Telescope should clip its own wings in an attempt to survive as long as possible without a servicing mission. Preliminary results suggest the new, scaled-down operating mode will buy the telescope an extra year of life - possibly until the end of 2008 - without sacrificing too much science."

Mars Rover Self Portraits

NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity used their panoramic cameras to take a series of images which have been combined into a mosaic overhead view of each rover. The downward-looking view omits the mast on which the camera is mounted. Opportunity's solar panels are shown to be relatively dust-free while Spirit's panels have an appreciable amount of dust.

Stunning Images From Saturn

Check out the latest spectacular images from Saturn at Saturn Today.

O'Keefe calls GAO probe routine, AP, Nola.com

"Four NASA officials, insisting on anonymity, have told the Associated Press that the Government Accountability Office is looking at O'Keefe's travel practices, including his use of government planes, as part of a wide-ranging look at the space agency's finances under his tenure."

Editor's note: Either this reporter (Adam Nossiter) is sloppy or he doesn't read the news. In the article below (also on Nola.com but not mentioned by Nossiter) GAO officials have already provided a picture of what they are actually investigating. Yet Nossiter is still pushing his view that this whole thing is focused on O'Keefe's travel practices when GAO says that this is not the focus of their audit.

NASA financial probe targets entire agency - New LSU chancellor isn't primary focus, Times Picayune

"Auditor Geoff Frank said the congressionally requested probe does not target O'Keefe, but is a broad look at the internal controls the space agency used to ensure employee travel was justified. "It certainly doesn't focus on him," said Frank, an assistant director at the Government Accountability Office. "To the extent he was traveling, we could look at that. We're in the very early stages. We haven't concluded anything about Mr. O'Keefe or anyone else."

Opening Statement of House Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert

"So where does that leave me on the current budget proposal? With the same mixed feelings I've had in the past. First, let me blunt, I don't think NASA should be our top budget priority either in this Committee or the Congress. That means in a budget as excruciatingly tight as this one, NASA probably should not get as much as the President has proposed. Moreover, even if NASA received every cent it has requested, it would still be trying to do too much at once - the historic pattern for the Agency, as the Gehman Report noted. So something has to give, and this hearing will be a first step in looking at what that might be."

Editor's note: With regard to the VSE, and space exploration in general, I'd have to put Rep. Boehlert in the column labeled "lukewarm supporters at best" after hearing this comment last week. Indeed, at a time when supporters of space exploration should stand and be counted, those who shy away from supporting the VSE (or pay it faint praise as Boehlert is now doing) could see their lack of enthusiasm serve as an aid to those who would seek to put NASA back on a road of declining budgets and fading fortunes.

Layoffs Begin at LaRC

Contractor layoffs begin at NASA Langley, Daily Press

"About 50 contractors were laid off at NASA Langley Research Center on Thursday, with more expected this week. Jacobs Sverdrup, a Tennessee-based company with 450 employees at Langley, is expected to lay off about a third of its workforce on or before March 1."

LaRC Job Fair Update

NASA LaRC Internal Memo: More Job Fair Information

"On Wednesday, February 23, recruiters from six Centers and organizations will be at Langley to recruit civil servants for their job vacancies. Those entities are Johnson Space Center (JSC), Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Goddard Flight Research Center (GFRC), Headquarters (HQ), the NASA Shared Service Center-Inherently Governmental (NSSC-IG) and the NASA Shared Service Center-Most Efficient Organization (NSSC-MEO)."

NASA Watch reader comment: "Please note that there is no such thing as Goddard Flight Research Center (GFRC0. It's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Too bad Langley's Director of the Office of Human Capital Management doesn't know that."

A New NACA To Save Langley?

Bring back the NACA, OpEd, Daily Press

"The aeronautics-and-space agency's bias disfavoring aeronautics is built-in, permanent, shared by the media, worsened by the current budget threats and dangerous to American prospects in world technology competition."

What might a new NACA look like?, OpEd, Daily Press

"For long-view insight, the committee could use a historian like Duke University's Alex Roland, who wrote the definitive NACA history."

Editor's note: If you folks are really going to pursue this notion of a new NACA, the last thing you want to do is embark on this path with a self-imposed chip on your shoulder.

Glenn Alumni Fight Back

A Mars mission requires NASA Glenn expertise, OpEd, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Let's start touting Glenn's critical role in exploration. An aggressive, coordinated, sustained campaign must be mounted by the Ohio congressional delegation, with support from academia and industry and in close consort with Glenn management, in support of Glenn's leadership exploration role. Cut 700 people? Irresponsible. If we want to start exploring the moon and Mars, Glenn needs at least 700 more!"

Evidence from HRSC Mars Express for a Frozen Sea Close to Mars' Equator (PDF abstract), Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVI (2005)

"We have found evidence consistent with a presently-existing frozen body of water, with surface pack-ice, around +5 latitude and 150 east longitude in southern Elysium. It measures about 800 km x 900 km and averages up to 45 m deep: similar in size and depth to the North Sea."

'Pack ice' suggests frozen sea on Mars, New Scientist

"One problem with this proposed frozen sea is that there is very little water vapour in the Martian atmosphere today. [Michael] Carr says that if there had been relatively recent sublimation, as the scientists propose, some traces of water should remain in the atmosphere."

Job cuts at NASA still up in the air, Huntsville Times

"John Pike, a government watchdog and security expert who runs GlobalSecurity.com, said earlier this month the president's space exploration plan "is just a way to kill NASA." ... "Pike said the White House has no love for the space agency and would like to see it "go away."

Editor's note: There are only two words to describe Pike's comments in this article: stupid and unsubstantiated.

Testing facilities at NASA vulnerable, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"NASA Glenn Research Center risks losing crucial testing facilities that laid the foundation of the space lab's work with aircraft."

Picture Imperfect: NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, Sky and Telescope

"NASA officials acknowledge that two of the space agency's premier orbiting telescopes share a common problem: flawed optics. One is the 15-year-old, multibillion-dollar Hubble Space Telescope, which made "spherical aberration" a household term before being rehabilitated in a spectacular rescue mission by Space Shuttle astronauts. The other, overlooked until this week, is the $720 million infrared Spitzer Space Telescope."

Editor's note: A NASA Watch reader has submitted a rough design for a new NASA logo - one that presents current budget cuts at the agency.

Editor's note:Another logo has been submitted for your amusement.

NASA Internal Memo: Buyout/Early-Out at Goddard

"We do not expect to receive approval from Headquarters until late February/early March and employees eligible for the proposed buyout/early-out must be off the Center's rolls by April 3, 2005."

GAO is After O'Keefe

NASA Chief Is Said to Be Under Inquiry, AP

"The investigative office of Congress is examining Sean O'Keefe's work as administrator of NASA, including whether he misused government airplanes and went on too many expensive getaways with subordinates, former and current senior NASA officials have said."

Allegations rile NASA's O'Keefe, Orlando Sentinel

"To the extent there is such a thing [investigation] under way, it will validate and confirm that my entire public service as a financial manager has been responsible," said O'Keefe, who begins a new job as chancellor of Louisiana State University on Monday."

Probe said to target incoming LSU chief, Times Picayune

Bad Aeronautics News Unfolds

Comments? Send them to nasawatch@reston.com

Your comments thus far:

Internal NASA Memo: ARMD Research Center Test Facility Closures Due to FY06 NASA Budget

"The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is likely to close a number of the wind tunnels/other large ground test facilities that fall under our HCE responsibility at the beginning of FY06. So as to not take any unilateral actions that would adversely effect your programs, we ask that you review the list of facilities likely to close as shown below and that you respond back to us by noting those facilities from the list that from your Mission Directorate perspective either cannot or should not close."

NASA Workforce/Institutional Transformation Status as of 14 February 2005

"This is the weekly status from the NASA Associate Administrator, Office of Institutions and Management."

GRC Job Fair Updates

QUESTeam Recruits at NASA Glenn Job Fair

"Positions will include all GS grades and will be located in Huntsville, AL, near the Marshall Space Flight Center. All offers made prior to the NSSC selection will be contingent on the QUESTeam's selection as the NSSC Service Provider."

NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) at Glenn Job Fair

"There are three potential locations in the competition that are on or near a NASA Center, they are: Stennis Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and Glenn Research Center."

Blunt Talk About Hubble

Fade to black, Op Ed, Cooky Oberg, USA Today

"The cavalier and dismissive way NASA has handled the Hubble repair mission issue is a symptom of how poorly the White House and NASA teams have led the space effort in recent years, and how insincere their commitment to science and space exploration really is."

The Truth About Beagle 2

Editorial: Beagle 2, cock-ups and conspiracy, New Scientist

"Kicking and screaming, the UK government and European Space Agency have been forced to publish the results of their inquiry into the failed Mars lander Beagle 2. It is a sad reflection on these organisations that New Scientist had to invoke the UK's new Freedom of Information Act to force the release."

Upcoming Job Fairs

NASA Langley to Host Recruiting Event

"On February 23, the Langley Research Center will be hosting an agency wide recruiting event with recruiters from Johnson Space Center (JSC), Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Headquarters (HQ), NASA Shared Service Center Inherently Governmental (NSSC-IG) and the NASA Shared Service Center Most Efficient Organization (NSSC-MEO)."

Glenn Research Center to Hold NASA Job Fair

"Glenn Research Center will be hosting a NASA Job Fair on Thursday, February 24, 2005, at the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) and the Development Engineering Building (DEB), Building 500, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m."

Editor's note: it would seem that some folks don't like the way I have been running NASA Watch recently. I got this from Derek3B@aol.com today "We're watching you, and we're bigger and stronger and more pervasive than you think. And if you're not careful, the events surrounding your departure from NASA will see the light of day. So far I am not stooping that low."

Editor's note:Earlier this evening word was rushing around Washington, DC, the media, and Capitol Hill that the President would make an announcement Wednesday morning around 10:00 am that he intends to nominate Dan Crippen to be the next Administrator of NASA. Soon, reporters were calling Congressional staffers and staffers were calling reporters to pass on what they heard and to see what they knew about Crippen. Feedback loops soon began to form with people breathing their own fumes.

Update: White House sources now say that there are no current plans to make an announcement about the NASA Administrator nominee tomorrow. Moreover, the traditional pre-announcement briefings on the Hill have not happened yet. It would seem that one reporter from a prominent space publication, citing NASA HQ sources, whipped up this feeding frenzy by calling all over town. Lastly, it would seem that the suggestion that the nominee is Dan Crippen may be somewhat premature.

Stay tuned.

Titan Flyby

NASA Cassini: Titan-3 Flyby Description

"The third targeted flyby of Titan occurs on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 at 6:58 SCET (Ground: 8:06 UTC - 12:06 AM Pacific time). Cassini's closest approach to Saturn's largest satellite is at an altitude of 1577 km (980 miles) above the surface at a speed of 6.1 kilometers per second (14,000 mph). Titan has a diameter of 5150 km (3200 miles), so the spacecraft passes within 1.6 Titan radii."

Editor's note: the senders and recipients have been deleted from this email exchange.

Comment from someone@nasa.gov familiar with this topic with regard to this email exchange: "we are 12 weeks or so from launch and we still do not know how we'll conduct these surveys on-orbit."

Astronomy 101 for the Post

Distant Object Could Hold Secrets to Earth's Past, Washington Post

"All the planets in the solar system orbit the sun in a circle. Not Sedna. All the planets orbit in the same plane. Sedna's orbit is canted 12 degrees."

Editor's note:I have a few problems with this paragraph -as it appears in the Washington Post.

Editor's note: Everyone calm down. We'll all know soon enough - very, very soon, as a matter of fact.

Paper: Panel Won't Seek Criminal Probe, AP

"A Pentagon task force investigating defense contracts that may have been rigged by a former Air Force official imprisoned for favoring Boeing Co. found some "anomalies" but won't seek a criminal probe, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday."

Pentagon to investigate 8 more Druyun contracts, AP

"The Pentagon on Monday said its internal watchdog would investigate eight additional weapons contracts handled by convicted former Air Force acquisitions official Darleen Druyun for possible abuses."

Robotic ball that chases burglars, The Telegraph

"A large black ball, originally designed by Swedish scientists for use on Mars, could be the latest weapon in the war against burglars."

Marshall pulls jobs fair aimed at its own staff, Huntsville Times

"The job fair flip-flop could just be a miscommunication, but it also could be a sign of more cuts than expected in the work force here, said Keith Cowing, who runs the independent Web site NASAWatch. "There are job cuts across the agency," Cowing said. "With the way the (space exploration) vision is shaping up and the current budget, there are likely" to be more job cuts at space centers."

NASA workers decry possible cuts, Daily Press

"[Marie] Lane said Langley managers told her NASA would only reassign workers this year. Now she hears that those workers will be laid off. "We've been lied to," she said."

Ohio's delegation takes aim at NASA cuts, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Aeronautics has "been an integral part of the development of our country, certainly to the development of Ohio," said Sen. Mike DeWine. Members of the Ohio delegation sent a letter to Bush on Thursday urging him to reconsider the budget proposal."

NASA Langley, Op Ed, Daily Press

"Center Director Roy Bridges referred to "transformation" when he told Langley employees about the cuts. Well, yes, when a house falls down, it is transformed. By all appearances, NASA Langley is falling. When this "transformation" is complete, what will be left?"

Legislators unite to fight cuts at yards and Langley, Virginia Pilot

"The National Aeronautics Support Team, formed six years ago by Hampton Roads residents to preserve jobs at Langley, plans to join supporters of Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, another NASA center that focuses on aeronautics, to lobby for funding."

Legislators: We'll work to prevent Langley cuts, Daily Press

"Congresswoman JoAnn Davis, Congressman Bobby Scott and other political leaders say they plan to do the utmost to restore money to the proposed 2006 federal budget to prevent the loss of 1,000 jobs at NASA Langley Research Center and cuts in aeronautics funding."

Hot Potato

He lands on feet in post at NASA, Lancaster Online

Going From Jail to Mars, and Beyond, Washington Post

"The second Bush administration has been much kinder to Thomas P. Jasin than the first. In this administration, he's just been named director of NASA's Robotic Lunar Exploration Program, preparing the way for future manned missions. In the first, he found himself doing a stretch in the federal slammer after being found guilty of conspiring to evade the international arms embargo against South Africa in a deal involving Stryker anti-tank missiles."

Editor's note: As was seen at today's farewell for Sean O'Keefe on NASA TV, it would seem that O'Keefe really got carried away when he redecorated his office at NASA Headquarters recently.

Click on image to enlarge

SOK in Departure Mode

Administrator O'Keefe to Deliver Farewell Remarks and Host Open House

"You are invited to hear Administrator Sean O'Keefe deliver farewell remarks to the NASA Family live from the Headquarters auditorium at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, and to attend a reception afterwards in the Administrator's suite on the 9th floor. The Administrator's remarks will also be broadcast live on NASA TV (HQ Channel 3) and on the Web at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv. Please join us for this special occasion."

LaRC Buyout Targets

NASA LaRC Buyout Target Pool: Non-Engineering and Engineering Positions

Total Non-Engineering and Engineering Positions 513+441 = 954

Latest Job Loss Impact News

- Cuts at NASA may lead to cuts in city budgets, Cleveland Sun Newspapers
- Plum Brook likely won't feel NASA cuts, chief says, The Morning Journal
- Bush budget shakes up region, Cleveland Plain Dealer
- Dryden losing jobs, funds, Los Angeles Daily News

NASA MSFC Internal Memo: Marshall to host KSC/JSC Recruiting Event

"On February 16 and 17, 2005, the Marshall Space Flight Center will be hosting a joint recruiting event involving recruiters from both the Kennedy Space Center and the Johnson Space Center."

Editor's update: Sources now suggest that this memo was sent out prematurely and that this job fair won't be happening after all. MSFC employees report that they are getting conflicting messages from management (starting with Dave King), that the websites they are supposed to get information from do not work, and that some of their upper management have discouraged them from applying for these jobs suggesting that MSFC employees won't be able to get jobs at other centers.

Update: this memo (below) has been sent to MSFC personnel. It would seem that the Human Resources Office at MSFC is not ready for prime time. Indeed, this is hardly the sort message for MSFC management to be sending to their employees right now when people need to be reassured that their management is looking out for them - not dropping the ball.

NASA MSFC Activity Notice: Personnel Realignment Activity For February 16-17 Canceled

Close Call During ISS EVA

Spacewalk thruster incident alarms NASA, MSNBC

"Behind closed doors, the origin of what one source called a "major close-call incident" and NASA's reaction to it are the subject of concern within the space agency and between the space station's U.S. and Russian partners."

Spacewalk on the wild side, MSNBC

"After a round of denials from Moscow, a U.S.-Russian investigation has confirmed that at least one of the international space station's astronauts roamed into a "keep-out zone" (or KOZ, in NASA-speak) during a spacewalk last month. In a worst-case scenario, the spacewalkers' Russian-made Orlan-M suits could have become contaminated with toxic fuel from the station's thrusters. The internal NASA memo confirms James Oberg's report for MSNBC.com that the mistake raised concerns at the U.S. space agency, even though the Russians said "nyet problema" at the time."

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 27 January 2005

"During the EVA, attitude control momentum again was observed to build up in the U.S. CMGs (Control Moment Gyros) from reacting to external torques, requiring control authority transfer to SM thrusters to permit gyro desaturation. Attitude control then returned to the CMGs."

This just makes me sick

Editor's note:Bruce Moomaw [ rmoomaw@sbcglobal.net ], a regular contributor to SpaceDaily.com and occassional writer for Astronomy Magazine has speculated on why the White House has yet to name a NASA Administrator - and why Fred Gregory has been appointed Acting Administrator. Moomaw posted the following on two widely-read Yahoo Groups [here and here] with hundreds of members including many prominent space scientists:

"Of course, there may be another reason for this move -- Fred Gregory is black, and this administration (as we know by now) is very fond of utilizing a thin facade composed of the very small coterie of nonwhites who support it, in order to cover up its Simon Legree-ish actual policies."

To publicly assert such motives on the part of the White House or to imply that Fred Gregory would be a willing participant is utterly reprehensible. If Mr. Moomaw has a shred of decency he will apologize - immediately.

15 Feb 2005: I got a long message on my voicemail from Simon Mansfield, the editor of Space Daily.com this afternoon. In among a long slew of insults and repeated suggestions that I was not professional (certainly a curious way to make that point), was his assertion that neither he or his website has anything to do with Mr. Moomaw's comments.

For the record let me state that I have no evidence that his assertion is incorrect. Simon is not that kind of person. Anyone who draws such an inference from my original post would be incorrect in so doing. However, for purposes of identifying what Mr. Moomaw does for a living as an author, it is certainly true to say that Mr. Moomaw is "a regular contributor to SpaceDaily.com and occassional writer for Astronomy Magazine."

Editor's note: Once again the ISS Science Officer has undergone a strange transformation on-orbit.


Click on image to enlarge


 

House Transportation Committee Hearing on Commercial Space Transportation: Beyond The X Prize [contains links to prepared testimony]

"The purpose of this hearing is to discuss the status and future of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry and the role of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in providing safety oversight of the industry."

Rep. Calvert Addresses Commercial Space Transportation Conference

"In 2010 the Shuttle will be retired. So there is right now a need to move people into space quickly, safely and reliably. I believe that need could be met in large part by the private sector and that the people in this room will play a key role in making it happen. The job of Congress is to pass legislation and exercise its oversight functions in such a way that will enable this industry to succeed"

Comments on the House Floor upon Introducing a Bill to Enhance the Safety of Commercial Space Flight by Rep. James Oberstar

"Mr. Speaker, I support commercial space exploration and the commercial space industry, but not at the expense of totally ignoring safety. The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, P.L. 108-492, prohibits the Secretary of Transportation from issuing safety design and operating regulations or even minimal safety requirements for individual licenses for the next eight years unless there is a potentially catastrophic incident."

GRC All Hands

Mars Doesn't Need Women !?

Men Will Be the First to Go To Mars, RIA Novosti

"There would be probably no women on the first flight to Mars, Director of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems (IMBP), academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Presidential Council on Sciences and Education Anatoly Grigoryev announced after his speech in front of the students of the Moscow International University. "After all, women are fragile and delicate creatures; that is why men should lead the way to distant planets and carry women there in their strong hands," the head of IMBP said with a smile."

Editor's note: I see that there are still a few Neanderthals at the IMBP.

GRC Job Fair

Glenn Research Center to Host NASA Job Fair

"Glenn Research Center will be hosting a NASA Job Fair on Thursday, February 24, 2005, at the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI), from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The following Centers will be participating: Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, in addition to NASA Headquarters."

ARC All Hands Presentation

Speakers' presentations from the 1st Space Exploration Conference, held Jan. 30 - Feb. 1 in Orlando, Fla., are now available online at http://exploration.nasa.gov/documents/1stexplorationconference.html The site also includes a transcript of James Cameron's closing keynote speech.

Approps Changes In The Air

House Gives Senate Final Approps Plan, Roll Call (Subscription Req'd)

"Rather than putting funds for the NASA in the Energy and water subcommittee as originally planned, the House would give control over NASA to the former Commerce-Justice-State panel. That subcommittee would also oversee the National Science Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. All three were previously in the VA-HUD subcommittees jurisdiction."

Chairman Lewis Announces Major Reorganization of the House Appropriations Committee and Slate of Subcommittee Chairmen

"Science, State, Justice and Commerce: The subcommittee will absorb the following programs from VA-HUD:

1. NASA
2. National Science Foundation
3. Office of Science and Technology Policy"

Science Democrats Select 109th Subcommittee Ranking Members

"U.S. House Science Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) announced the Democratic Subcommittee leadership slate for the 109th Congress, as selected today by the Science Committee Democratic Caucus."

Sen. Hutchison to Chair Science and Space Subcommittee

"Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will have an expanded role in overseeing the nation's space exploration program as chair of the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the 109th Congress, it was announced today."

House Science Committee Hearing: NASA's Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Proposal

"Witness: The Honorable Fred Gregory, Acting Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration."


Editor's note:Since this hearing is after Sean O'Keefe will have said his goodbyes, Fred Gregory is the Acting Administrator by virtue of his current position as Deputy. Gregory will continue to act in that capacity even after a nominee is announced. Given the pace of scheduling confirmation hearings, he will likely be in this position for a number of weeks - perhaps longer. As such, there is really not too much to read into the title of "Acting" Administrator. A name could be announced in days - or weeks - and yet Gregory would still serve in this capacity.

Space Entrepreneurs Resolve To Create Industry Group to Promote Safety Standards and Growth of the Personal Spaceflight Industry

"Leaders from the newly emerging Personal Spaceflight Industry today announced their intent to organize an industry federation to design and uphold the standards and processes necessary to ensure public safety and promote growth of the personal spaceflight industry."

House Science Committee Chair Boehlert's Testimony on New Commercial Space Law

"This is an infant industry; it is not the equivalent of today's airline industry. The law fully protects uninvolved third parties and requires extraordinary disclosures to immediate participants, and it sets the industry on a path toward greater regulation as it develops. That's the right balance and it passed muster with Members who are not exactly in the anti-regulatory camp in both chambers of Congress. The final wording was worked out between my staff and Senator Hollings' staff."

INCOMING !!!

Bush Orders Army to Shoot Down NASAs Hubble Telescope. "Hooah!", The Spoof

"FORT SILL, OK (STARS & STRIPES) Within moments of the Bush Administration's failure to fund repairs to the NASA Hubble Space Telescope, an order was given to the US Army 30th Field Artillery Regiment to shoot down the aging telescope from its orbit around the earth."

Hubble Decision a Blow To Goddard Engineers, Washington Post

"The decision to deny Goddard Space Flight Center engineers a chance to roll out their plan prompted incredulity even among those most skeptical about the feasibility of robotic servicing. It also promises to reignite debate over the fate of the telescope, an international icon for most of the 15 years it has been aloft."

New Buyout at LaRC

NASA LaRC Memo: CD COMM #2005-2 Buyout Opportunity

"In light of the Center's FY06 budget situation and the accompanying civil service workforce reductions, I have decided to announce an immediate buyout opportunity for the same skills that were included in the buyout that opened in December. While our original plans did not include another buyout opportunity this year, the A-76 decision and the magnitude of the FY06 budget reductions have required us to adjust our workforce planning scenarios."

Budget cuts might cause blip here, Daily Press

"Two sailors basically support one civilian job because sailors have to get haircuts, furnish their homes, and lead lives outside of work. Highly paid NASA engineers support even more workers, because they have more money to spend, Whaley said."

Kevin Hand's Antarctic Journal 8 February 2005

"Ok, well, I'm back at McMurdo Station. All went very well in the field - our instruments worked great, we collected lots of data, and had an amazing time exploring a phenomenally interesting and unique little nook on planet Earth. Now for the background on what exactly we're doing."

Kevin Hand's Antarctic Journal 20 January 2005

Editor's note: Kevin is a graduate of the NASA Astrobiology Academy at ARC and is also one of the stars of James Cameron's new IMAX epic "Aliens of the Deep"

To Close or Not to Close

New NASA budget plan to study closures, Florida Today

"While Kennedy Space Center is not in danger, the agency also says it will start this year to study whether any of its 10 field centers could be closed down to save money."

NASA centers set to vie for work, Huntsville Times

"O'Keefe said the new work competition program does not mean there is a task force within NASA looking to shut down field centers. "Nothing I have seen suggests any individual (field centers) would be discontinued or closed," O'Keefe said."

Editor's note: Either NASA is - or is not looking - to study whether field centers should be closed. Both stories can't be correct - unless NASA itself is not certain.

Science Committee Democrats: Failure to Effectively Fund - Science and Technology Harms U.S. Competitive Edge

"NASA: NASA's budget would increase relative to FY2005, but the Administration is seeking $546 million less than it said would be necessary for its programs in FY2006. In fact, the Administration is cutting last year's budgetary plan for NASA through FY 2009 by a total of more than $1.7 billion. Funding for servicing the highly productive Hubble Space Telescope is eliminated. Funding for aeronautics R&D is cut again and will continue to decline throughout the remainder of the decade."

House Science Committee Chair Boehlert Comments on R&D Budget

"As for NASA, the budget appears to be reasonable and balanced overall. But we must review the details of the budget and also think carefully about how NASA should fare relative to other science agencies. Concerning the Hubble Space Telescope, I am still thinking through the testimony we received last week. As I said then, I would love to save the Hubble, but the decision needs to be made in the context of the overall NASA budget."

Shuttle Preparation Tidbits

- STS-116: The Compability Review will be held on 22 February.
- STS-117: Manifesting of FDRD will slip by 2 weeks to 31 March, but the Compatibility and Cargo Integration Reviews will only slip by1 week.
- STS-118: There are some problems with ESP-3:the Interface Control Document normally takes7 months totranslate payloadrequirementsinto orbiter interfaces to support payload requirements. An attempt will be made to try to do it in 5 months.

- NASA Gets Increased Funding to Explore the Moon, Mars, Washington Post
- Wanted the Moon, Got a Little Less, NY Times
- NASA Langley to cut 1,000 jobs, Daily Press
- NASA Eliminating 700 Jobs In Cleveland, AP
- NASA Budget to Bring Down 'Dying' Hubble Telescope, Reuters
- Budget Hike Not Enough to Save Hubble, AP
- Proposed NASA budget would keep projects moving forward, Orlando Sentinel

- FY 2006 Budget Information (OMB)
- FY 2006 Budget Information (NASA)
- Detailed FY 2006 NASA Budget Information (OMB)
- White House FY 2006 Budget Overview: Budget Overview: National Science Foundation and Space Exploration (OMB)

The President is requesting a FY 2006 NASA budget of $16,456 million, an increase of 2.4% over the amount requested for FY 2005. See table with budget comparisions, and out year projections (below) for additional detail.

Cramer could lose NASA voice, Huntsville Times

""Clearly some people will lose clout when they do this. There is no way around that when you're talking about slashing the number of subcommittees," Cowing said. "Who will (lose clout) remains to be seen." Cowing predicted the funding process will change if NASA is lumped together with similar science-type agencies. "They'll have to show some results and actually answer questions to knowledgeable people then," he said, "instead of relying on emotion to carry the day when it comes to a budget and accountability."

Editor's note:To clarify: if budget deliberations for NASA are lumped in together with those for DOE, NSF, NIST etc. then the arguments of relative merit for tax dollars will now be conducted on an 'apples to apples' basis - one wherein similar metrics are used. Indeed, one would expect that these metrics would be much more logical and less emotional - as opposed to the total mismatch that currently drives discussions wherein space exploration is pitted against Veteran's benefits and other unrelated items. This new committee structure may not necessarily be beneficial to NASA - only time will tell.

RTF Roadblocks?

Critics Question NASA on Safety of the Shuttles, NY Times

"The documents were provided by workers at NASA who refused to be quoted by name, saying they feared retribution. A copy of a July 15 PowerPoint presentation by a team working through the tile issues described numerous problems with the putty, which is made of two compounds taken to space and blended by the "goo gun" before application."

Editor's note:The past few weeks have been relatively quiet with regard to the effort to replace Sean O'Keefe. Nothing has leaked out of the White House (with any veracity that is) as to names actually under consideration other than the fact that Michael P. Jackson was under serious consideration for the job until he took the number two position at Homeland Security. Weeks ago, a number of people were making it known that they would be interested in the job of NASA Administrator - if offered. Others went further and tried to circulate their names such that the White House would take notice of their interest - and perhaps act on it.

At the present time, however, the name of only one individual who openly expresses interest (and is also seeking) the job is circulating: Michael Griffin. Griffin has made his interest in the job of NASA Administrator known in Washington area and, more recently, at the AIAA Space Exploration Conference in Orlando. Griffin, of course, is no stranger to exploration and has offered many interesting and innovative ideas on the topic over the years. As to what names are (or were) on the actual list with which the Administration has been using to make its decision, only an exceptionally small number of people truly know. Indeed, many people in and around the White House who think they know who is on the list - actually don't know - or the list they are looking at is not the real list.

We'll all know soon enough, now won't we - and word of a choice may still surprise people. Just remember: the last time a NASA Adminstrator was chosen by this President it was an out of left field, last-minute choice: Sean O'Keefe.

It ain't over 'til it is over, folks.

Win A trip Into Space

Volvo and Virgin Galactic Team Up in Space

"Volvo Cars of North America on Sunday will make history during its first-ever Super Bowl advertisement by announcing it will give away a chance to win a seat on Virgin Galactic's commercial passenger-carrying spaceship."

Reader comment from someone@nasa.gov who has been in space multiple times: "I found it interesting in the Virgin Space advertisement piece that they say would-be astronauts will see stars. Actually, if you launch into daylight, there will be no stars visible. The contrast between anything that is lit (inside of the cabin, the earth, windowframe etc.) will prevent the eyes from dark adaptation enough so as to allow the crew to see any stars. Now, if the windows were blocked out to see only dark space - and the time were at least a couple of minutes - one could see stars. But since they will only get a couple of minutes of free-fall and little to no attitude control in free flight, I don't think they will see stars. Besides, the view of the stars (when you can see them on orbit) is about as good as we've seen in the mountains. The earth is the real treat to see from space."

NASA LaRC Memo: Informational Notice of Reduction in Force (RIF) - LaRC Machine Shop

"On behalf of the Center Director, I am providing you with an informational notice of a Center-wide RIF Affecting GS-13 positions and below. While the outcome of this RIF is not known at this time, this notice is intended to alert you of possible impact. The RIF will be conducted pursuant to the regulations of 5 C.F.R. Part 351 . RIF Procedures are necessary to implement the competitive sourcing decision that resulted in the Government's Most Efficient Organization (MEO) being selected to perform the Metallic Test Articles and General and Precision Machining function."

NASA LaRC CD COMM # 2005-1 FY05 Procurement Reductions

"The Headquarters Mission Directorates and we are in the process of examining and understanding the FY05 budget as passed by the Congress as part of the Omnibus Budget Act. Thus far, our analysis shows significant changes between the President's submittal and the final budget. These changes arise primarily from congressionally directed activities ("earmarks"), budget rescissions and other institutional factors, including a reduced buyout and higher than anticipated utility costs. We have to free up procurement dollars to fund these "unfunded" mandates."

Budget Preview

Editor's note: The FY 2006 NASA budget to be released on Monday contains some bad news for Earth Science and Aeronautics programs which will face severe cuts. Field Centers - especially LaRC - will also be hit hard. In addition, JIMO's funding will be delayed - effectively killing the mission, however, Project Prometheus will continue to develop nuclear systems for in-space power production.

Last Minute Smear Campaign

Editor's note: According to various NASA JSC sources, a former JSC Deputy Director doesn't like one particular possible candidate for NASA Administrator and is mounting a campaign against this person including encouraging arm waving phone calls to the White House.

Knock it off.

Son of Hubble

Astronomers Urge Congress to Continue Hubble Science - Johns Hopkins-led team presents new option

"The world faces a dilemma: how to keep the flow of science and discovery from the ailing Hubble Space Telescope alive. According to an international team led by Johns Hopkins University astronomers, the best answer may lie not in a robot-led or manned repair mission, but through the launch of a brand new, free-flying telescope called the "Hubble Origins Probe."

Hubble Hearing

NASA Watch has learned that the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) mission will be delayed. Details will be announced Monday, February 7th during the roll out of the FY06 NASA budget submission.

Orbital Joins Lockheed Martin-Led Crew Exploration Vehicle Team

Lockheed Martin Crew Exploration Vehicle team includes top industry innovators

"The depth and breadth of expertise and experience that Orbital Sciences, EADS SPACE Transportation, United Space Alliance, Hamilton Sundstrand and Honeywell bring to our CEV team is unparalleled, exciting and highly focused on meeting NASA's needs for the future," said Michael Gass, vice president and general manager of Space Transportation for Lockheed Martin Space Systems."

Columbia Memorial Service

Date/Time: Tuesday, Feb. 1, 10:30 - 11 a.m.

Location: St. Dominic Catholic Church, 630 E Street, S.W.

All members of the NASA Family are invited to attend a non-denominational memorial service for the crew of STS-107 on Feb. 1, the second anniversary of the Columbia accident. The service will take place Tuesday from 10:30 to 11 a.m. at St. Dominic Catholic Church, 630 E Street, S.W., Washington.

Outpost, a longtime NASA tavern, damaged by fire, Houston Chronicle

"An electrical short in a neon sign is being blamed for an early morning blaze today that caused $15,000 worth of damage to a popular bar and grill frequented by NASA employees."


Reader Update: "This is an update on the Outpost Tavern fire story you posted Friday. . ."


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