"NASA's new administrator and Texas Republican Rep. Tom DeLay said Tuesday the space agency will have the necessary funding to implement President Bush's vision to send astronauts back to the moon and to Mars."
May 2005 Archives
Editor's note: Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) is scheduled to visit JSC on Thursday, 2 June.
Editor's note: According to NASA sources, Mike Griffin will speak, and then receive an award from La Confrrie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Burgundy, France on 11 June 2005. According to an internal NASA memo "the Confrrie des Chevaliers du Tastevin celebrates the food and wine of Burgundy, France, in a spirit of hospitality, generosity, and human warmth. They appreciate merit as well as talent and like to honor courage, personal endeavor, scientific intelligence, and fulfillment of human values."
Gee, the last NASA Administrator to get a French cultural honor like this was Dan Goldin.
Editor's note: Representatives of the Embassy of China will tour GSFC and receive a briefing on Friday, 3 June.
Editor's note: Mike Griffin will visit Stennis on Thursday.
Editor's note: Crews of Expedition 7, 8, 9, and 10 will visit with President Bush at the White House today (31 May). [PHOTO] ISS Expedition 7 Commander Ed Lu will also be in Washington from 6-7 June to participate in some post-flight events.
"Dr. Richard R. Fisher, deputy director of NASA's Earth-Sun division, said last week that he was looking to transfer some money from other areas to the extended missions and that an independent review later this year would prioritize which missions should be continued. A final decision will be made next year, he said."
Editor's note: Word has it that Mike Griffin has already decided not to axe Voyager 1 and 2 funding - yet there has been no public word on that decision.
"The United States and Europe, both bruised from a number of high-profile trade battles in recent years, are now preparing for what could be one of the biggest fights yet over government subsidies to commercial airline manufacturers."
"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin will visit NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., June 3. News media are invited to meet the Administrator and participate in a media opportunity."
"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will be available to media at 4:15 p.m. CDT May 31 as Griffin makes his first official visit to the Houston space center since being named Administrator."
Finding Support in the Search for E.T., Washington Post
"Some argue that being cast away by the federal government was the best thing that could have happened to SETI, that it has become stronger and more innovative in the private sector than it ever could have as part of a public bureaucracy."
Editor's note: After nearly a decade of being available online, NASA HQ's web paranoia has led to NASA Heads-up being restricted to NASA employee viewing only. Alas, we will no longer be able to know about blood drives, costume parties, and employee picnics any more. Here's an example of what was once available. This is really silly and echoes the way things were done in the Goldin era.
Editor's update: I have sent Griffin's new strategic communications guru, Joe Davis, a request for an explanation for this action. No reply received - yet.
NASA employee on list for high-paying LSU gig, The Advocate
"The man who handled public relations at NASA for the newly appointed LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe has applied for a similar post at the university of his former boss. A search committee has selected Glenn Mahone and three other candidates out of 115 applicants for vice chancellor of communications and university relations, a recently revived position at LSU."
SpaceX Test Fires Falcon 1 Engine (includes movie)
"SpaceX conducted a successfull test firing of its Falcon 1 rocket on Friday at Vandenberg Air Force Base. While the engines were running for only 5 seconds - this milestone represented a big step for the new rocket maker none the less. The next big step is the launch of the rocket. SpaceX is constrained by DoD customers awaiting launch at VAFB. At a recent Washington appearance at the ISDC, Musk said he expected the launch to be in late July or early August."
Giving the OK, Florida Today
"In case you missed it, NASA's former chief Sean O'Keefe killed the mission in 2004, citing post-Columbia safety concerns. More likely, that was just a cover story to start redirecting money for the agency's moon-Mars plans."
Editor's note: Dear Florida Today: Do you actually have proof that O'Keefe's Hubble decision "was just a cover story to start redirecting money for the agency's moon-Mars plans"? If so, please print it. Source documents would be nice. Otherwise, do your readers a favor - be honest and tell them that you just made this up - sans any actual proof.
Orbital Sciences offices searched by federal agent, Washington Bussines Journal
Orbital's Contracting Procedure, Washington Post
"Rocket maker Orbital Sciences Corp. said today that federal agents executed search warrants yesterday at its Dulles headquarters and its Arizona manufacturing facility near Phoenix."
Paper spacecraft, The Economist
"Frank Sietzen, a journalist and co-author of New Moon Rising, a chronicle of the development of the new NASA vision, has spent the better part of the past six months leafing through these contracts in order to divine the agency's plans. He says that because the CEV must be compatible with other components of the vision, the contracts give details of how NASA is planning to explore the moon and Mars."
Objective, moon, The Economist
"Perhaps, though, whether the vision can be realised or not is beside the point. The actual point is to give a drifting agency some focus, Mr Bush's initial goal. This re-focusing will have profound consequences for the agency's scientific missionwhich some people feel is what it should be concentrating on, and isn't. Admiral Steidle told the meeting that the vision was "first and foremost" about advancing science. That, though, looks like disingenuous spin."
"There may be many problems apparent at NASA and among the U.S. aerospace giants these days, but there also are signs that space exploration is about to undergo a renaissance, with an explosion of creativity unseen in decades."
"The acquaintance and talks between Roskosmos head Anatoly Perminov and new NASA administrator Michael Griffin on the resumption of shuttle flights and prospects for the International Space Station (ISS) will take place in Le Bourget on June 14."
New NASA head sees bright future, Daily News
" Griffin said the job cuts at Dryden and other centers will be done humanely and with intelligence. Griffin said that in his own career, he has been forced out of a job on two occasions. "I know from personal experience what it is like to have your career plans interrupted with the realities of life," Griffin said. "I want to minimize that as much as possible for the folks at NASA."
"During the Strategic Architecture development effort, a consistent architecting framework and rigorous approach to figures of merit will be needed to allow NASA decision makers to make the best decisions regarding which of the architectures to implement."
"The linkages to the ISS in the Exploration Transportation Systems roadmap include the ways in which the ISS can serve as a testbed for transportation trade studies and technology development. The ISS is not considered as a potential transportation node for the transportation stage from LEO to transfer to a destination."
"Every now and again even the most cynical of us stumble across something so simple - and yet profound - as to take one's breath away - and remind us of why we are so captivated with space exploration's broader ramifications. I was sitting in a session at the International Space Development Conference when Adm. Craig Steidle, Associate Administrator of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate played his organzation's "Reach"public service announcement (PSA)."
"Update on Solid-Fuel Oxygen Generator (SFOG) "candles": As of tonight, since 5/20 a total of 9 candles have been decomposed on board (total attempts: 10 [i.e., 1 dud])."
"The crew burned one SFOG (solid-fuel oxygen generator) "candle" today to increase ppO2 (oxygen partial pressure). An attempt to burn a second candle, however, was unsuccessful. [Russian ECLS specialists have estimated that approximately 20% of the onboard SFOGs will not ignite, which is taken into account in the onboard O2 supplies estimates."
"At 9:20am, John and Sergei configured the TV hardware for an interactive 20-minute TV interview event, starting at 9:40am, with ABC News (Lisa Stark). [This was the first in-flight event utilizing the new NASA Television Digital Satellite System. Due to the signal encoding and decoding required, the new digital satellite system has a 5-second audio delay between ISS and ground reception, and vice versa.]"
NASA's new chief visits JPL, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
"In the last year or so, we, NASA, had frankly taken some money from earth science and from solar physics and space science and other areas and used it to beef up the Mars program," Griffin said. Now NASA is going to re-shift that portfolio, Griffin said. "We will not be building up the Mars budget at quite the rate that had previously been planned."
Editor's note: There is an interesting graphic which accompanies this article - one which one JPLer called "Griffin's "Holy Aura" @ JPL".
Shuttle accident ends dream, Orlando Sentinel
"NASA was close to naming CNN correspondent Miles O'Brien as the first American journalist in space when the Columbia accident occurred in 2003."
Editor's note: Burt Rutan has seats for sale ...
Senator calls for NASA probe, Daily Press
"[Sen. Bill] Nelson told Griffin he didn't know whether the allegations at Langley were true: "But they are disturbing, and I ask that you look into them and take any appropriate action, including considering any necessary changes in the operations of the NASA Office of the Inspector General." A spokesman for Griffin, Doc Mirelson, said Nelson's letter was referred to the inspector general's office for processing. "Griffin does not have investigative oversight over the inspector general," Mirelson said."
"A week or so ago, we briefed the usual line-up of Bill Atkins, Ken Munro, and Kristi Karls on the state of the IFM Program. Though there was another staffer chap (whose name I did not catch, unfortunately) that though he was more like their Andie MacDowell to our Bill Murray - he's on the minority side, so his point of view did not count. Ah well ... and as they say in Punxsutawney, "Tomorrow's another day!"
"In the future, when someone goes to the Hill on a request from Congress, make sure that Code A, the Office of Legislative Affairs, and the Office of Public Affairs know so there is coordination of one NASA message."
Editor's note: Gee, I wonder what NASA Legislative Affairs thinks of this arrogant and dismissive attitude on the part of HQ IFM employees when it comes to their Congressional interactions - that is, of course, assuming that there is anyone left in Code L who knows enough to pay attention to such things. Curiously, one of Mike Griffin's inner circle, Liam Sarsfield, is supposedly working closely with the IFM crowd.
"National Aeronautics and Space Administration is funded at $16.5 billion, $275 million above FY05 and $15 million above the request. Funds the Presidents vision for space exploration at $3.1 billion; restores the aeronautics research program to the enacted level of $906 million, and provides $40 million over the request to partially restore NASAs science programs. Provides full request for the Space Shuttle program. In coordination with the House Science Committee, language is included directing the President to develop a national aeronautics policy."
"During our reviews, performed from September 2003 through May 2005, we identified no significant issues or problems that would indicate an unnacceptable risk for returning the space shuttle to flight that the SSP is not already engaged in solving."
"We are working very closely with our functional owners Rex Geveden, Tom Luedtke, Jeff Sutton, and Gwen Sykes in a series of project reviews with Liam Sarsfield, a consultant reporting directly to the Administrator charged with (amongst other things) taking a hard look at the IFM Program."
Survey on NASA's Full Cost Implementation: "The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) has developed a survey to ascertain how well Full Cost practices have been implemented throughout the agency and how to improve them. OCFO is seeking viewpoints on this issue agency-wide."
"But [Griffin] conceded that despite NASA's proposed $16.5 billion budget for fiscal 2006, the agency "has a very full plate" of planned missions, and "some of the things will have to be deferred -- not eliminated, but deferred."
Reader comment: "Hey Keith, Did you hear about Mike's comments during his talk at Ames yesterday? A person in the crowd said I'm going to shock you, I have something positive to say. After the comment, Mike responded what a pleasure it was to have someone pointing out good things, that NASA Watch was pointing out the 4 things he was doing wrong everyday."
Editor's note: Oh well. I guess Mike Griffin did not see this posting on NASA Watch ...
A Call to (Considered) Action, Russell L. Schweickart, Chairman, B612 Foundation
"The purpose of this paper is to call upon the Congress of the United States to initiate, via the National Research Council or other appropriate body, a formal analysis of the circumstances presented by the close encounter between the Earth and asteroid 2004MN4 in April 2029, and the potential for a subsequent collision with Earth in 2036."
"NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered the solar system's final frontier. It is entering a vast, turbulent expanse, where the sun's influence ends and the solar wind crashes into the thin gas between stars."
"... said Executive Director Louis D. Friedman. "It isn't just false economy to pull the plug on Voyager -- it is no economy. The cost savings are a pittance, the potential value is enormous."
Editor's note: Great news!! Just as Voyager 1 reaches this impressive milestone, NASA is preparing to shut it off for lack of funds. At least this way, Voyager will go out at the top of its game....
Fear and rambling at NASA, editorial, Nature (subscription)
"Only a confused space agency would consider shutting down the Voyager spacecraft as they approach the uncharted edge of the Solar System. Or cutting the basic research grants that provide the scientific basis for everything it does."
"Voyager may well outrank others whose time to be turned off really has come. So I'm not making a blanket offer that we're going to reach a particular answer on any one mission or that we will treat them all as a block. But we are going to consider it carefully before we turn anything off."
- NASA To Shut Down Two Interstellar Probes, NASA Watch
- Debate Continues About Shutting Down Interstellar Probes, NASA Watch
"I am pleased to announce today that I have named Mary Kicza as my Special Assistant and asked her to serve as the Acting Director for Business Management in the Science and Exploration Directorate at NASA Goddard. Mary begins her new assignment on Monday, May 23."
Conflict at Space Confab, Wired
"Perhaps space entrepreneur Bob Richards summed up the tenor of the new spaceflight industry best during the ISDC's closing presentation. He likened the squabbling of its participants to the cacophony of an orchestra warming up; once in tune, the noise will turn to music, and space will never be the same."
"Engineers also are investigating part of Discovery's main landing-gear door, after a small crack was found last week in a retract link assembly on the right-hand main landing gear on Orbiter Atlantis in Orbiter Processing Facility bay 1. The Atlantis assembly has been removed and will be replaced with a spare."
Editor's note: Word has it that Mike Griffin will visit JPL on Wednesday, 25 May.
Internal JPL Notice: "Join NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on Wednesday, May 25, as he visits JPL for the first time since being confirmed for the job. Griffin will speak at an all-hands meeting in von Karman Auditorium beginning at 1:20 p.m. During his visit Griffin will attend overviews of a number of JPL projects and programs, including technology, Prometheus, Earth Science, interferometry, Cassini, Mars, outer planets and the Deep Space Network."
"Zero Gravity Corporation is a unique organization that has a FAA certified aircraft to supply 2 reduced Gravity Flights for approximately 2.0 - 3.0 hours per flight. There is no other organization in the Parabolic Flight Services industry that can provide such a unique requirement of reduced Gravity Parabolic Flights."
Editor's note: It is good that NASA is (finally) going to the private sector for such services. However, have a look at the services offered by Atlas Aerospace. Perhaps the procurement notice should have read "no other domestic organization..."
Echoes of Columbia, Orlando Sentinel
"Laurel Clark's husband, Jon, still works for NASA as a neurologist but says he plans to retire to write a revelatory book about the Columbia catastrophe, and the need for a far more dramatic shift in the way NASA operates."
Editor's note: Saturday's planned Hotfire of SpaceX's Falcon 1 has been postponed - pending range availability. A ground facility valve that supplied start helium to the turbopump was closed when it should have been open. As a result, SpaceX had to empty the LOX tank. Unfortunately, the LOX supplier failed to show up that day to refill the LOX supply tanks, causing SpaceX to scrub the day's attempt.
NASA Budget Crisis Threatens Space Telescopes, Sky and Telescope
"Various hurdles seem destined to delay [the James Webb Space Telescope] launch by at least a year, to no earlier than 2012, and threaten to increase the mission's cost by as much as $1 billion, to more than $3 billion. In response, NASA has asked the project to consider whether a 4-meter telescope with fewer scientific instruments could be flown instead."
"The Human Resources (HR) Division has initiated a Center-wide position description (PD) review that will take place during the months of May and June. Supervisors are encouraged to make the PD review a part of the performance planning activity that is happening at this time."
Reader comment: "Mike Griffin was at GRC on Monday for a town hall meeting. I think NASA finally has a leader. Mike was very open, up front, and did not try and sugar-coat anything. If NASA has any chance of returning to the moon, his plan for executing this is appropriate. Also he explained the aeronautic cuts quite well. Unfortunately, much of GRC's work is in areas that are being cut due to current National Policy, subsidizing air transportation."
Reader comment: "Mike Griffin's testimony has sufficiently rattled the scientific community that two very prominent members have started letter writing campaigns":
Letter writing campaign by Dr. Jeremy Kasdin at Princeton: "With the NASA budget scheduled for markup soon, we wanted to take this opportunity to express our strong support for NASA's vision for planet finding."
Letter writing campaign by Dr. Kulkarni at Caltech: "I do not want to be an alarmist but it is now increasingly clear that a diverse and broad program in space astronomy is giving way to a narrow program. Inactivity on our part is tantamount to a tacit agreement of the plan laid out in Dr. Griffin's testimony."
Shuttle test still shows problems with fuel tank, Houston Chronicle
"A launch pad test of shuttle Discovery's fuel tank Friday failed to clear up two problems that led to NASA's recent delay in returning the shuttle to space."
Shuttle Launch Set for Mid-July, Washington Post
"Parsons said Discovery's new tank will have an older, flight-tested diffuser, and the team has no plans to conduct a third tanking test. He said he was aware of dissenters among the engineers but urged them to "look at the data from the second test, understand it, and then make the case."
NASA funding orbits off course (Opinion), Virginia Pilot
"With limited funds and a yawning budget deficit, there simply aren't enough bucks to pay for both space exploration and aeronautics research. Is it wise to do both? Sure, Americans glean some benefit from space exploration. But aeronautics funding is arguably a better, more practical investment for our everyday lives."
Editor's note: The (unknown) author of this OpEd piece doesn't bother to explain why aeronautics funding is "arguably a better, more practical investment for our everyday lives." As such one has to assume that this all comes down to jobs - jobs that will be lost in Hampton.
NASA head offers hope of scaled-back Glenn cuts, Crain's Cleveland
"I expect the projected number will not be as drastic as stated in the past," Dr. Griffin said during a press conference last week at NASA Glenn. He did not specify how many jobs the center might lose under his plan."
"The GRC leadership team is beginning the planning process for a Reduction In Force (RIF) that may be implemented late next year. This is in concert with the Agency's workforce transformation plans announced shortly after the President's FY06 budget was delivered to Congress."
NASA chief: Glenn must learn to adjust, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"But the transition of the work done at Glenn and other NASA facilities is an indication of the centers' health, not decline, Griffin said. "People should welcome that as a sign of continued relevance."
Editor's note: Alas, the employees to be RIFed clearly no longer "continue to be relevant".
Government must redirect its efforts in space, Rutan says, AP
"In an appearance at the National Press Club, Rutan praised new NASA Administrator Michael Griffin as the right person to transform the agency, while questioning whether Griffin will be allowed to do so. NASA has 435 people on its board of directors, all with their own agendas, Rutan said of Congress."
Editor's note: Uh, that's 535 Burt. The Senate has an opinion too ...
"The station is limited in its research potential by the fact that we are not able, on the station, to combine the appropriate radiation spectrum for deep space flight together with the zero G environment. It is those two environments together that are the truly relevant environment and we can't mimic those, but we can at least mimic the zero G portion."
Griffin Names Winners and Losers in Cost Squeeze, Science (subscription)
"Griffin also suggested "alternative configurations" that would allow NASA to complete the space station with fewer than the 28 shuttle flights now planned. "Some of the research [to be done] on the utilization flights could be deferred," he suggested."
"The station is limited in its research potential," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told a Senate panel on space and science. Rarely enthusiastic about the station, Griffin has said NASA will complete construction to satisfy commitments the United States has made to the project's international partners -- the space agencies of Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. But he said he would consider moving some funds from the station's scientific research to the development of the new space vehicle."
Editor's note: Duh. Of course the ISS is "limited in its research potential" - it is not yet complete! With only 2 crew on-orbit and the vast majority of its research hardware either sitting on the ground waiting for launch or in funding limbo, there is only so much science that can be done. Taking even more money away from ISS science than has already been drained to build the ISS will simply further reduce its ability to do what it was supposed to do in the first place. Why is Congress going to support NASA's next big long-term project (VSE) if the agency cannot be depended upon to meet the intent of its current long-term effort (ISS)?
Editor's note: Word has it that Ed Weiler may be returning to NASA HQ from his tour of duty at GSFC soon. Also, it would seem that OSTP will continue its slow motion take over of NASA with the appointment of one of its staffers (or a preferred individual) - as Deputy Administrator to replace Fred Gregory. Courtney Stadd, a favorite of OSTP, apparently cannot make the financial sacrifice that would go with taking the number 2 position as a civil servant.
The folks at OSTP never liked the way that Sean O'Keefe dealt directly with the President and Vice President - especially during the formulation of the VSE - and they are determined to make sure that this situation does not happen again. OSTP will do so by having one of their own as the No. 2 at NASA.
In this regard, it is interesting to note who publicly swore in Mike Griffin (OSTP Director John Marburger - in his outer office) - and who swore in Sean O'Keefe (Vice President Cheney in front of an audience of hundreds at the National Air and Space Museum). The venue/mode of swearing in reflects nothing as to the inherent skills of either man. Rather, since neither Griffin nor O'Keefe were close to being the (initial) top choice for the job, it does illustrate the mode whereby Administration space policy was to be communicated back and forth. You work with the tools that you have at hand: O'Keefe was a self-professed bean counter and a Washington insider. Griffin is a rocket scientist/program manager. O'Keefe's White House interaction mode was direct and done personally. Griffin's will apparently (at least at the onset) be layered and bureaucratic - especialy since he has told senior staff that he has never met with President Bush with regard to NASA.
"Alan Ladwig has been appointed Manager of Washington Operations, Space Systems Business Development to lead and manage this new office for the company's Integrated Systems sector. He brings to the position more than 30 years of experience in senior management positions with NASA, commercial space companies, media companies and non-profit organizations."
"The Air Force, saying it must secure space to protect the nation from attack, is seeking President Bush's approval of a national-security directive that could move the United States closer to fielding offensive and defensive space weapons, according to White House and Air Force officials. The proposed change would be a substantial shift in American policy. It would almost certainly be opposed by many American allies and potential enemies, who have said it may create an arms race in space."
NASA cuts could be trimmed, Crain's Cleveland
"The job cuts at NASA Glenn Research Center might not be as severe as projected because the agency will limit the amount of work awarded to the private sector and will reduce competition for work among the agency's research centers, new NASA administrator Michael Griffin said today."
Editor's note: Wow. That is certainly a reversal of White House policy on competititve sourcing from what it has been for the past 5 years.
To Infinity and Beyond, Washington Post
"The Vision emerged from the wreckage of Columbia. After seven astronauts died aboard the burning, disintegrating shuttle in February 2003, the accident investigation board said NASA not only had institutional flaws, but lacked any real vision. Meanwhile, a handful of White House staffers tried to figure out what the space program should do with itself. After nearly a year of effort (the definitive account of which can be found in New Moon Rising, by Frank Sietzen Jr. and Keith Cowing), they produced the Vision."
"Wednesday, May 18, 10:30 a.m., Rm. 252, Russell Senate Office Building The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's Science and Space Subcommittee will hold a hearing on NASA's plans for transition of the Space Shuttle program and preserving the industrial base. NASA Administrator Mike Griffin will testify. The hearing will be broadcast live on NASA HQ Channel 3 and on http://www.nasa.gov/ntv"
Reader comment: "Recently you ran a story about Marshall's budget being so bad that we could not afford to cut the grass. Actually we have enough money. We have so much money that we are in the design phase of a $500,000 conference room remodeling job. That's right one half million dollar remodeling job of a conference room!"
Reader comment: "I just wanted to let you know of the passing of a former NASA employee. I had the pleasure to meet him 2 times in his last year, and think he is worthy of some recognition. His name is John William Kiker, and he is the man who came up with and proved the idea of using a 747 to carry the Space Shuttle back to Florida when it landed in California or New Mexico. Here are some links to information about him and his death."
NASA boss has hope for Langley, Daily Press
"Griffin said he's received no directive from Bush to carry out the recommendation of last year's Aldridge Commission, which suggested turning NASA research centers into privately run institutions like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California."I'm not wasting five seconds on that thought," Griffin said. "I think we're getting at the point of being a little silly about this."
Editor's note: Who cares what that Presidential commission recommended, eh Mike?
" Griffin told the senators that the concerns of the science community had been heard, and NASA was reexamining its portfolio. Regarding science spending generally, Griffin declared that NASA "would not cut science to fund manned space flight," and that needed money would have to come from within the manned space flight program."
"Identifying offsets needed to fund these items has created some difficult choices for the Agency. Given a choice, I generally favor eliminating lower-priority programs rather than reducing all programs in the face of budget difficulties, because this allows for the more efficient execution of the programs which remain. Thus, we must set clear priorities to remain within the budget which has been allocated."
"Additional money could be saved by putting off research at the international space station _ such as experiments geared toward long-term moon stays or Mars habitation _ and possibly eliminating the handful of shuttle flights needed to fly that equipment, Griffin said. Eighteen shuttle missions are currently on the books to finish building the space station, along with 10 supply runs for a grand total of 28."
"NASA cannot afford everything that's on its plate today," Dr. Griffin said at a hearing of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. "We cannot afford to do everything at once."
Editor's note: That is why the VSE, as originally presented, spread things out such that you could continue with all of NASA's portfolio - instead of the wholesale gutting of things which seems to be where is Griffin now headed.
Chief tells NASA workers that aeronautics isn't a priority now, Times Dispatch
"In his first visit to Langley Research Center since taking the helm at NASA, Michael Griffin told employees that their aeronautics expertise has fallen off the national priority list."
NASA leader ''blunt'' but hopeful in Langley talk, Pilot Online
"With budget cuts and as many as 1,000 layoffs looming, NASA's new administrator didn't try to put a positive spin on the road ahead for Langley Research Center."
"No one in the chain of command testified how a NASA QAS (quality-assurance specialist) is supposed to do his job," Presnell said on the trial's fourth day. Closing arguments were set for Friday."
Editor's note: The NASA Aeronautical Technologies Strategic Roadmap Committee Meeting has been formally cancelled. No explanation given.
"The machine's failure "is definitely not a safety issue at all, because we've got oxygen in three different supply areas," Beutel said. He could not specify the number of days of oxygen on board the station".
Editor's note: Uh, NASA does indeed specify the supply days below - as posted before USA Today's article was published
"Update on Elektron: The oxygen generator is off and considered failed. According to RSC-Energia specialists, an electronics box of its control system needs to be replaced for its restoration to service, and a new spare box will probably fly on Progress 18 next month. Until then, the station residents will use O2 from Progress 17P storage, which lasts until May 22 or 23, and SFOG (solid-fuel oxygen generator) "candles" afterwards. [There are currently 84 candles available on board, and with a two-person crew two of them are required each day. 18P will also deliver hardware for firing SFOGs electrically, as opposed to using the previous squib-type igniters.]"
"GRC reported on a return to flight activity. Several segments of a grease bead, which is used as a moister barrier on the Shuttle Rocket Booster, had fallen off on the Launch Pad. The Shuttle Debris Transport Team is assessing the risk of impact grease on both surface penetration and corrosion."
Editor's update: NASA HQ is trying to restrict the distribution of these meeting minutes. Apparently they have something to hide.
"Today, Rep. Udall introduced legislation aimed at reinvigorating U.S. aeronautics research. The Aeronautics Research and Development Revitalization Act of 2005 intends to reverse the decline in NASA's aeronautics program and set it on a productive course for the future."
"NASA has selected Northrop Grumman Information Technology, Falls Church, Va., and Titan Corporation, Reston, Va. for the Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) of Software Services."
Griffin says Huntsville key to moon, Mars goals, Huntsville Times
"The evaluation was made on a strictly numbers basis," Griffin said, "and the numbers were not close. All I can say is, 'May the best man win and better luck next time.' "
NASA plans no layoffs with move, Huntsville Times
"NASA financial employees at Marshall Space Flight Center may not have to leave Huntsville, even though the space agency's new accounting center will be in Mississippi."
"Monte Marlin, a spokeswoman for the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, whose computers Stakkato also claimed to have breached, confirmed Monday that there had been "unauthorized access" but said, "The only information obtained was weather forecast information." The messages also claimed an intrusion into seven computers serving NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A computer security expert investigating the case confirmed that computers at several NASA sites, including the propulsion laboratory, had been breached. A spokesman said the laboratory did not comment on computer breaches."
"NASA announced selection today of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) of Falls Church, Va., as the prime contractor to support the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC). CSC selected the Stennis Space Center, Miss., as the location for the NSSC. The total value of the contract, including all options, is approximately $230 million over the 10-year performance period."
- Special Notice: NASA Shared Services Center, NASA HQ
- NASA picks Stennis for project, Huntsville Times
- Stennis scores NASA project, The Advocate
- Ohio loses out to Mississippi for new NASA center, AP
- Brook Park's NASA Glenn Research Center has been passed over, Ahron Beacon Journal
- Stennis selected as site for NASA service center, AP
- CSC To Support New NASA Center, News Factor
- Stennis lands NASA shared services center, Sun Herald
- Shared Services Center Goes Elsewhere, WAFF
NASA Chief Speeds Plan For Spacecraft, Washington Post
"Barely two weeks later, Griffin trumped the Steidle plan with a new formulation. Instead of allowing two contractors to compete until 2008 to win the final contract, an internal NASA memo on April 29 said the two finalists would be named by the end of July and the winner would be chosen early next year. Several sources described Griffin's meetings with Steidle during this period as "stormy," but Steidle characterized them simply as "very professional dialogues."
Editor's note:Its always a pleasure to see that the Washington Post uses NASA Watch as a resource - even if Guy Gugliotta or his editors can't bring themselves to mention that fact - days after the story broke here on NASA Watch. Oh well.
Secret Imaging of NASA Shuttle Discovery During STS-114 Mission, Aviation Week & Space Technology/AviationNow.com
"Safety-and engineering-related pictures of the shuttle Discovery in orbit will include imagery by secret U. S. Defense Dept. ground-based high-resolution systems and, where possible, one or more U. S. Air Force/National Reconnaissance Office imaging reconnaissance satellites already in orbit."
Editor's note: Have a look at Guillaume Dargaud's web journal in which he chronicles his participation in the first winter-over at Condordia Station now underway at Dome C on the Antarctic plateau. According to the bases' website: "The Italo-French winter group is made up of 9 technicians and 4 researchers that will begin in this first season the programs in the fields of the astronomy, glaciology, chemistry of the atmosphere, the earth's sciences, microbiology and medicine in confined environments."
You might also have a look at Kevin Hand's Antarctic Journals (2005), Dale Andersen's images from his 1997 trip to Antarctica, and my journals from two trips to Devon Island in the Canadian high arctic (2002) (2003)
NASA yet to decide on center, Huntsville Times
"Two of the four proposals NASA is considering, one from IBM and another from the federal government, would place the center in Huntsville. Another bidder proposed Stennis and another a site near Glenn, said Mike Ward, governmental affairs liaison with the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce."
Boeing, Lockheed hoping review done by year's end, Huntsville Times
"Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee and editor of the space agency watchdog Web site, nasawatch.com, said he doesn't see how continuing to build two rocket lines will save the government any money or be more efficient. "How many billions did the government put in to develop these launch vehicles to begin with?" Cowing asked. "And how will it save money, if they eliminate the whole spark of competition? It defies logic. "If there was true competition one of these companies would go out of business."
"This team will be led by Dr. Douglas Stanley and will operate fom NASA Headquarters. Dr. Stanley, or other members of my staff, will select and contact a small number of core team members to be co-located at Headquarters in the next few days. The team will need to draw on resources located at Headquarters and the Centers to efectively accomplish its mission."
Editor's note: This information was sent to the Hill today by NASA Legislative Affairs:
"NASA has initiated the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) in an effort to minimize the gap between the final Space Shuttle mission and the maiden flight of an operational Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). Attached is the NASA Memorandum signed on April 29, 2005 by Administrator Griffin which initiated the ESAS."
"I am pleased to see Administrator Griffin is taking aggressive action to address the concerns many of us have about a future gap in U.S. human launch capability," Sen. Hutchison said. "I will work to eliminate any gap between Space Shuttle retirement and a replacement vehicle. I look forward to seeing the initial results of this study in July."
"Recently we have been made aware of a silicone problem associated with the "Return to Flight" wristbands. These wristbands are contaminated with silicone." ... "Please do not wear these in our facilities and keep your eyes open for others that do not get this message."
Editor's note: Word has it that one of the things being pursued by NASA MSFC's DART Mishap Investigation Board in its investigation of what went wrong with DART is a software change that NASA MSFC managers forced on the mission's contractors just 2 weeks before launch. The change supposedly had to do with the software that recalculates cold gas depletion based on usage during the mission. It would seem that when DART's computer thought there was not enough gas left it actually still 30%. Stay Tuned.
"A comprehensive report on U.S. aeronautics research and development is a stark signal that elected officials must invest more money in technical advancements, AIA President and CEO John Douglass said.The alternative is conceding dominance in aerospace to Europe and the rest of the world, a choice the U.S. cannot afford for national defense reasons as well as economics, Douglass said."
Aeronautics ..., Opinion, Daily Press
"It will take considerable will for Congress to reverse the now presidential-fueled juggernaut that threatens to dismantle this nation's capacity for aeronautical innovation and domination. There is no doubt that to George Bush and his new NASA administrator, aeronautics is not a priority and will be sacrificed to make room in the budget for Bush's manned space odyssey."
"Worries over undesired thrashing or fouling of the booms had put off ESA's original plans to unfold them in April 2004, shortly after the probe reached its final orbit around Mars. Officials at ESA were so concerned about this month's planned deployment that they indicated no information would be released about its status until all three booms were out and verified as functional. In the wake of the BBC report, public affairs officials at ESA did not respond to e-mail requests for updates."
Editor's note: It seems that the ESA PAO crowd is still not ready for prime time - and that they did not learn any lessons from the public reaction to their reluctance to release images from Huygens' landing on Titan until, of course, it was 'safe' to do so.
"After today s major Elektron repair work, the O2 generator continues to be off. Presently (~1:00pm EDT) the O2 partial pressure (ppO2) is 157.6 mmHg. Total cabin air pressure is 753 mmHg. [As per plan, the crew worked for several hours this morning, performing major R&R (removal & replacement) on the electrolyzer by disconnecting the machine s Liquid Unit #5 (BZh-5) and installing instead the previously used BZh-6 (which had been checked out functionally on 4/6 & 4/8 by FE Sharipov and was found acceptable as a good spare)."
"NASA has been issued over 6,300 patents; nearly one in a thousand of all patents ever issued by the U.S. Patent Office (since 1790). NASA's programs have also resulted in at least 1400 commercial products, which have benefited the nation's economy.Thousands of lives have been saved through NASA's programs, e.g. search and rescue, or the quality of life of individuals has been significantly improved (e.g. cool suits)."
Editor's note: I'll bet that this true NASA spinoff and commercial application was unknown to the people who released the ESMD solicitation ...
"Regenetech Inc., a Houston-based, adult-stem-cell company, said today recent scientific studies of adult stem cells expanded with its NASA-created techniques indicate the cells do not turn cancerous."
Editor's note: I'll bet they did not know about this either: NASA NANO 2005 Conference.
Earlier post: Stale Spinoffs: Tang and Teflon Anyone?
"Classification Code: 73 -- Food preparation and serving equipment
Naics Code: 326199 -- All Other Plastics Product Manufacturing
Contract Award Amount: 3831818"
Editor's note: $3,831,818 for SFA (Space Flight Awareness) "Food preparation and serving equipment" !?
Editor's update: According to a reply from the procurement official listed on this notice: "The Post Award Synopsis is being revised today to correct the amount of the award, $38,318.18. The award was for miscellaneous Space Flight Awareness promotional items, Classification code 9999. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.". In addition to this correction for the SFA item, there were four notices with incorrect dollar amounts posted which had to be corrected by JSC Procurement today [1, 2, 3, 4]. You'd think that a little more care would lavished on such things in the first place - not after the fact.
Fear and rambling at NASA, editorial, Nature (subscription)
"Only a confused space agency would consider shutting down the Voyager spacecraft as they approach the uncharted edge of the Solar System. Or cutting the basic research grants that provide the scientific basis for everything it does. Or cancelling satellites that make critical measurements of global climate change. Last week a US National Academy of Sciences panel said that enough is enough, and called on NASA to reinstate some of its cancelled Earth-science projects."
... and more, opinion, Daily Press
"Aeronautics isn't the only NASA program feeling the squeeze from the manned space program and shifting agency priorities. At an agency where most eyes are looking into space, those that look back at Earth are finding themselves vulnerable."
MSFC's Link to NASA, WAFF
"I think we may have rounded a corner in a more positive way but the jury's still out." Those words from Representative Bud Cramer Monday morning. The jury still out on Marshall Space Flight Center's future more than a year after NASA announced its future plans. For Representative Cramer and local contractors the uncertainty has been cause for concern."
City to learn soon if it will land 700 new NASA jobs, Huntsville Times
"NASA should decide this week whether to bring a financial management center - along with up to 700 jobs - to Huntsville or the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer said Monday."
Editor's note: Hmm ... are other proposals out of contention? Did someone at NASA leak advance information on the NSSC selection process to Cramer such that he could speak publicly about a possible down select?
"NASA Administrator Mike Griffin made his first public appearance outside of NASA on Monday. The forum he chose was a breakfast hosted on Capitol Hill by Women in Aerospace (WIA). While founded 20 years ago with the impetus of helping women network within the aerospace community, WIA has a long tradition of being a facilitator of networking for both genders within the Washington D.C. aerospace community."
Lampson expects 'ugly' race, Daily News
"Former Congressman Nick Lampson, whose district for eight years included almost all of Galveston County and portions of the NASA community of South Houston, will officially enter the race against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay today."
Volunteer worries about NASA's future, Daily Press
"Anna McNider runs a lobbying business and works for a telemarketing company, but her volunteer job with the NASA Aeronautics Support Team (NAST) has landed her in the news a lot of late."
Survey: NASA can't afford to fall behind in aeronautics, Virginia Pilot
"I think it's a study that's been needed for a long time," said Roy Harris, former director of aeronautics at Langley and a consultant on the study.The study will be circulated on Capitol Hill during the next several weeks, as members of Congress work on their budget proposals."
Contract Award Amount: $4,298,235
Editor's note: The following Change request is working its way through the system: S042013FB - Update Launch Dates: Changes NSTS 07700, Volume III, Table 4.1 as described below:
|STS-114 / LF1||Launch||7/13/05||5/22/05|
|STS-300 / None||Launch||8/11/05||6/14/05|
|STS-121 / ULF1.1||Launch||NET 9/09/05||NET 7/12/05|
|STS-301 / None||Launch||NET 11/3/05||NET 9/6/05|
|STS-115 / 12A||Launch||NET 2/16/06||NET 12/8/05|
|STS-116 / 12A.1||Launch||NET 4/23/06||NET 2/9/06|
|STS-117 / 13A||Launch||NET 7/13/06||NET 5/18/06|
"The full 1000+ page report provides detailed investment plans, budgets, and needs assessments for seven aeronautics sectors. The sectors addressed are airspace systems, aviation safety and security, subsonic aircraft, supersonic aircraft, hypersonic technologies, rotorcraft, and workforce and education. The milestones within each sector establish how the budget augmentations will affect our national needs. The full report details how an increase in each sector will benefit our aeronautics research as a whole and provides details of the team's proposed NASA five-year budget plan."
The Future of Flight?, Popular Mechanics
"When NASA requested designs for a Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), two major teams--one headed by Lockheed Martin and one by Northrop Grumman and Boeing--took on the challenge. The winning concept will be chosen in 2008, and the manned vehicle flown in 2014."
Editor's note: This link includes a sneak peek at a drawing of LockMart's CEV concept.
"The senior leaders don't like to listen. They've surrounded themselves with compliant people up and down throughout the organization. Subordinates, in an effort to please bosses, are just doing the best they can to deliver sunshine reports, and so most of the people at the top think nothing's wrong," Wetherbee said.
"James D. Wetherbee, a former shuttle commander who retired this year and who has become a vocal outside critic of the agency, said the decision "indicates a healthy change for the better in the culture."
Editor's note: Once again, no one - either Wetherbee - or the reporters who quote him - makes note that after his departure from NASA Wetherbee (often known as 'Wxb') was paid as a NASA consultant - and that he was hired to help JSC and NASA improve the agency's "culture". What is also omitted by Wetherbee is the fact that he was Flight Crew Operations Director and JSC Deputy Center Director under George Abbey at at time when some of NASA's 'culture' problems were at their worst. I wonder why he never addressed these issues - with full attribution as he now does - while he held those positions? Pot-kettle-black?
"NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) budget for FY 2005 has come under intense pressure with required reductions of several hundred million dollars arising from costs of returning the shuttle fleet to flight, unplanned expenses associated with the Hubble Space Telescope, and a record level of unfunded congressional earmarks. As a result, NASA has announced a series of terminations of new mission opportunities, as well as cutbacks in key R&A programs for the coming year."
"Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has been awarded a $100 million IDIQ contract by the U.S. Air Force/Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC Detachment 12) for Responsive Small Spacelift (RSS) launch services."
"Both of our companies have developed versions of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) in collaboration with the Air Force and have flown them successfully," said Boeing President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer James A. Bell. "By joining together we are convinced that we can provide the customer with assured access to space at the lowest possible cost while ensuring enhanced reliability by eliminating duplicate infrastructure and bringing experts from both companies to focus on mission assurance."
Editor's note:Wasn't at least part of whole idea in having TWO companies providing EELVs to foster some competition - and therefore cost savings for the prime customer (U.S. government) who also paid a hefty portion of what it cost to develop both companies' rockets?
"The new enterprise, to be called United Launch Alliance (ULA), brings together Lockheed Martin's Atlas and Boeing's Delta programs, combining all of the production, engineering, test and launch operations associated with these systems. This agreement, upon closing, is also structured to bring an end to the pending civil litigation between the two companies."
Editor's note:Certainly sounds like a monopoly in the making to me.
"The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) has decided to defer indefinitely the previously planned FY2005 Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Exploration Systems Research and Technology (ESR&T) and Human Systems Research & Technology (HSRT) programs."
U.S. Rocket Over Canada Sets Off Politician, OhMyNews, (South Korea)
"[ Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams] finally got his certainty when NASA officials told him they could make the rocket self-destruct by pressing a button on the first sign of trouble. How the thought of a whole Titan rocket, rather than just a piece of its second stage booster, showering in fiery bits over the Grand Banks made Premier Williams feel safer than he had before is a mystery known only to him. What counts is that the promise of a panic button calmed him right down."
Editor's note: The Space Shuttle Program is currently working to generate a change request to establish the following new target launch dates:
STS-114-- 13 Jul 05
STS-121-- 09 Sep 05
STS-115-- 16 Feb 06
STS-117-- 13 Jul 06
Editor's note: This presentation was not discussed during yesterday's STS-114 deliberations. Meanwhile, in a telecon this morning with KSC, USA/Houston, Boeing/Houston, KSC representatives noted that they had 3,000 open items for STS-121 and, ifthis slip hadn't happened, that theywouldn't have made the STS-121 July launch date
Editor's update: Another NASA source says that the KSC report forwarded to NASA HQ last week showed that Atlantis processing was actually below 1,000 open items and that this number was declining rapidly. At most, KSC estimated that they were 5 to 7 days behind and that this was not an issue were they to have tried to make the July launch window.
Nostalgic for NASA of old, Daily Press
"Reminiscing sometimes paints a dream that things were not only better than today but better than they actually were. Listening to reflections and concerns from NASA Langley retirees can convince you that their reality was both. Things they remember: Teamwork, instead of animosity among departments. Bosses who mentored and gave subordinates plenty of space to do their jobs. Looking forward to going to the office every day."
At Los Alamos, Blogging Their Discontent, NY Times
"A blog rebellion among scientists and engineers at Los Alamos, the federal government's premier nuclear weapons laboratory, is threatening to end the tenure of its director, G. Peter Nanos. Four months of jeers, denunciations and defenses of Dr. Nanos's management recently culminated in dozens of signed and anonymous messages concluding that his days were numbered. The postings to a public Web log conveyed a mood of self-congratulation tempered with sober discussion of what comes next."
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