June 2005 Archives

From the NSSC News: "Protest Update On June 28, 2005 IBM notified the GAO that it was withdrawing its protest of the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) procurement. The GAO has formally dismissed the IBM protest. NASA still has a protest from the QUESTeam (the Agency Proposal Team). The suspension of contract performance with CSC will continue pending resolution of this protest."

Griffin says Huntsville key to moon, Mars goals (11 May 2005), 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.'"

"I wanted to alert you to an upcoming National Public Radio program that will feature a discussion of the newest Academy study. The Academy study, "United States Space Policy: Challenges and Opportunities," continues to draw media attention. Tomorrow, Friday, July 1st, one of the paper's co-authors, George Abbey, will discuss the Academy study on the nationally broadcast NPR program, "Talk of the Nation: Science Friday."

NASA probe could reveal comet life, scientists claim, Cardiff University

"Cardiff (UK) scientists are playing a major role in a NASA mission, which they believe could reveal living matter in the icy layers beneath the surface of a comet."

Editor's note: Curiously, this university is not listed as being a member of the Deep Impact science team. So I don't quite know how they could be playing a "major role" in this NASA mission. Moreover, Dr. Wickramasinghe, the man behind this group of researchers has made repeated claims that Mad Cow disease, Influenza, and other afflictions come from outer space.

NASA Authorization Bill Passes Subcommittee - Full Committee to Consider the Bill in July

Chairman Ken Calvert's Opening Remarks: Subcommittee Mark-up of H.R. 3070 - NASA Authorization Act of 2005

Democrats Withhold Support from NASA Authorization Bill - Legislation in Its Current Form "Doesn't Get the Job Done"

"At today's subcommittee markup, nearly all Subcommittee Democrats withheld their support from the NASA Authorization bill drafted by the Majority, citing significant concerns with the bill's content as well as with the lack of time they were given to review the legislation."

NASA to Get INA Relief

Editor's note: In testimony before the House Science Committee today Mike Griffin revealed that the White House will release a letter today - also signed by Secretary of State Rice - addressed to the House Science Committee which addresses the Iran Nonproliferation Act. The letter addresses issues related to NASA and the ISS and asks for flexibility in its implementation.

A copy of the letter follows:

"Vice President Dick Cheney swears in NASA AdministratorMichael Griffinashis wife, Rebecca Griffin, holds the Bible during a ceremony in theVice President's Ceremonial Officeat the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office BuildingTuesday, June28, 2005. White House photo byDavid Bohrer"

Editor's note: This event occurred more than 2 months after Griffin was sworn in by Presidential Science Advisor John Marburger. A "formal" swearing in usually happens in a public format - yet no media were present at this private event and this picture just appeared on the NASA website with no fanfare. How weird.

Reader note: "In April [Griffin] has his right hand on the Bible. [In June] he has his left hand on the Bible. What gives? Maybe one swearing-in cancels out the other?!"

Griffin Excerpts

Opening Statement by Michael Griffin at a House Science Committee Hearing on The Future of NASA

"The men and women of NASA appreciate the risks our nation is willing to make for the noble purpose of exploration and science. Meriwether Lewis observed in his journal two hundred years ago on July 4th, 1805: "We all believe that we are now about to enter on the most perilous and difficult part of our voyage, yet I see no one repining; all appear ready to meet those difficulties which wait us with resolution and becoming fortitude."

House Science Committee Hearing "The Future of NASA"(Complete transcript)

"GRIFFIN: You asked, what we will be doing different. First of all, I hope never again to let the words spiral development cross my lips. (LAUGHTER) That is an approach to acquisition for large systems very relevant to DOD acquisition requirements, but I have not seen the relevance to NASA and I have preferred a much more direct approach, and that is what we will be recommending and implementing."

NASA Says Shuttle Should Be Ready on July 13, Washington Post

"NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin said yesterday that the space shuttle should be ready for launch July 13 despite the agency's failure to fully comply with safety recommendations made in the aftermath of the Columbia disaster."

Despite Concerns, NASA Is Planning to Go Ahead With Shuttle Launching, NY Times

"On Capitol Hill yesterday, Dr. Griffin told lawmakers that the board's recommendation were "admirable goals," but that "we have reduced the level of risk due to debris damage to an acceptable level." That is a different tone than had been expressed by Dr. Griffin's predecessor, Sean O'Keefe. Before he retired this year, Mr. O'Keefe repeatedly said NASA would, as he put it in June 2003, "comply fully without any equivocation" with the recommendations."

Mike Griffin Reveals His Commercialization Vision for NASA: Part 2, SpaceRef

"The CAIB recommendations in their full scope are recommendations and they are not all implementable." ... "So, unless someone walks in with the magic recipe some time in the next few days, we're going to have to sign up to launch Discovery and Eileen Collins and her crew without having complied with that recommendation because we can't."

Joseph Bordogna Resigns from the National Science Foundation

"Dr. Kathie L. Olsen, associate director for science for the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, has been nominated to become NSF deputy director, pending confirmation."

Editor's note: Olsen was NASA Chief Scientist from May 1999 to April 2002 and was Acting Associate Administrator for NASA Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications (OLMSA) between July 2000 and March 2002.

White House Personnel Announcement: Ronald M. Sega

"The President intends to nominate Ronald M. Sega, of Colorado, to be Under Secretary of the Air Force. Dr. Sega currently serves as Director of Defense Research and Engineering at the Department of Defense."

Editor's note: Sega left the astronaut corps in 1996. He flew on STS-60 in 1994 and STS-76 in 1996.

Return to Flight Task Group Executive Summary

"The remaining three recommendations were so challenging that NASA could not completely comply with the intent of the CAIB, but conducted extensive study, analyses, hardware modifications, design certifications and made substantive progress. However, the inability to fully comply with all of the CAIB recommendations should not imply that the Space Shuttle is unsafe."

Echoes of Columbia

'Climate of fear' returns to NASA, watchdog says, Washington Times

"The Columbia board said people were afraid to speak out -- in other words -- management problems," Mr. Cowing said. "So what is Griffin doing? Getting rid of people running the Return to Flight program. I see echoes of Columbia, he is re-creating stress on people who are already doing the most stressful jobs of their careers."

Editor's note: A point of slight clarification. Mike Griffin, of course, should be able to modify his staff as he sees fit so as to facilitate his management of the agency. No one - including those reassigned - would argue with that - and these people (SESers) clearly knew the risks when they took the leap. But there is a humane way to reassign people and then there is the approach being taken by Griffin in a number of instances wherein the approach borders upon punitive and is tantamount to firing people in slow motion.

Inaugural SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight Moved to Kwajalein, SpaceX

"... you can expect that our first launch will now be from our islandlaunch complex in the Kwajalein Atoll."

3 safety goals for shuttle missed, Orlando Sentinel

"You can't legislate that people should be smart," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel on Monday. "We have spent a goodly sum of money, many millions of dollars, trying to figure out how to do this, and we've not yet been successful. It's a very difficult technical problem."

Panel: NASA Fails to Meet Safety Test, AP

"A panel overseeing NASA's resumption of shuttle flights concluded Monday that the space agency has failed to meet the toughest safety recommendations put in place after the Columbia disaster."

Panel Says NASA Still Falls Short on Safety Issues, NY Times

"... the findings are an embarrassment for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration after two years of work to correct the problems that led to the loss of the shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven."

Safety panel: NASA failed to fix critical issues with shuttle, USA Today

"A safety panel ruled Monday that NASA has failed to take three steps critical to returning the space shuttle to orbit, despite the space agency's assurances that it would do so. Nevertheless, panel members said they consider the shuttle safe enough to fly again."

Panel Calls Shuttle Ready, Wavers on Safety Moves, Washington Post

"An independent panel of experts declined yesterday to fully endorse new safety measures for the space shuttle but said the orbiter is nevertheless "ready to fly" and praised NASA for its exhaustive efforts to overcome the critical flaws that caused the Columbia disaster."

Editor's note: H.R. 3070, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 was introduced in the House today.The House Science Committee Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will mark up the bill on Wednesday.

- Full Text
- Section-by-Section Analysis
- Short Summary

- House Science Committee Committee- Hearing The Future of NASA
- House Space And Aeronautics Subcommittee on Space Markup of HR 3070

Return to Flight Task Group Plenary and Public Meeting June 27, 2005 - Presentation

Statement From NASA Administrator Griffin on the Final Public Meeting of the Stafford-Covey Task Group

"As an engineer, I know that a vigorous discussion of these complex issues can make us smarter. I anticipate, and expect, a healthy debate in our upcoming Flight Readiness Review for the Space Shuttle Return to Flight mission, STS-114. We appreciate this input."

Editor's note: Richard Covey said that the Task Force will provide an executive summary of their findings to Mike Griffin tomorrow and will make that summary available to the public. As to whether the Task Force thinks that the shuttle should start to fly again, Covey said "the task force will not make a determination as to whether or not it is the right time to fly or not. We will provide advice to the Administrator."

Editor's note: As you may recall, last week, Mike Griffin made a presentation, and answered questions, at a Space Transportation Association breakfast during which he said "I don't do feelings. Just think of me as Spock" [audio clip]. As many of you know, Griffin likes to sit in on technical meetings - lots of them. Indeed, as part of his management overhaul at NASA, he has transformed the 9th floor Administrator's suite into a functional facsimile of a starship bridge.

All of those blinking lights and buttons actually work, folks. Mike doesn't do props.

Oh yes, all the SESers who recently got eviction letters will be required to wear red shirts until they leave. Those of you Trekkies who are old enough will understand.

The larger image below provides additional detail.

No More Outsourcing

NASA Chief Sees Space As Inside Job, Washington Post

"By upgrading NASA's in-house technical competence, Griffin expects to keep project planning and other key strategic and policy functions inside the agency instead of farming them out to civilian contractors. He is bucking a core Republican principle by strengthening government instead of outsourcing it."

Fixing SSME FLaws

Critical Call: Rigorous Quality Control at NASA Isolates Space Shuttle Main Engine Flaws, Aviation Week& Space Technology

"The NASA/Boeing-Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engine project is correcting flaws in critical Honeywell SSME electronic components that could have caused a potentially dangerous launch pad abort. The manufacturing defects, found in Honeywell SSME Block II engine controllers, caused a shuttle engine to shut down in 2004 during ignition on a rocket test stand in Mississippi."

NASA Administrator Appoints Joe Davis Strategic Communications Chief

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has appointed Joe Davis as Chief of Strategic Communications, responsible for the overall communications and outreach strategy for the agency. David will oversee NASA's offices of Public, Legislative and External Affairs, as well as the Office of Education."

NASA Internal Memo: Enterprise Council (EC) ViTS 19 April 2005

"Dr. Griffin introduced the following employees and identified their roles at NASA: Joe Davis is the new AA for Strategic Communications."

Editor's note: It sure took long enough to admit the obvious! Indeed, this is all downright bizzare. What this press release omits to mention is the fact that Joe Davis has been in his position for more than two months - as noted on NASA Watch on 22 April 2005! Indeed, sentences such as " David will oversee..." ought to be corrected to say "David has been overseeing ..."

David R. Mould Named Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs

Editor's note:At least they only waited a week to announce this appointment!

NASA Presolicitation Notice: Independent Review Team Chair

20 June 2005 Solicitation: "NASA/HQ has a requirement for an independent review team chairperson. The chairperson will support the NASA Independent Program Assessment Office (IPAO) in the review of the Prometheus Nuclear Systems and Technology Program (PNSTP)." ... "NASA/HQ intends to award a purchase order to Mr. Theron Bradley Jr."

23 June 2005 Modification: "You are notified that the following changes are made: THE REQUIREMENT IS BEING CANCELLED DUE TO RECENT PROGRAMMATIC CHANGES."

Editor's note: How odd. NASA HQ issues a procurement notice to hire back its former Chief Engineer as a consultant on Monday and then yanks the procurement on Thursday. Meanwhile, in between those two dates, Scott Pace's new office (whose IPAO would have utilized Bradley's services) was announced as was the appointment of Rex Geveden, the new Acting Associate Administrator, who will be "responsible for day-to-day operations and management of the Agency". It would seem like one hand does not know what the other is doing.

Indeed, during a media telecon with Pace on Monday I asked him about this procurement. He was confused by my question as if he were unfamiliar with it, so I repeated my question and read part of the original procurement notice to him. He seemed to not know of Bradley's proposed hiring by his own organization saying "If the IPAO guys thought he'd be helpful to have his input they occassionally hire outside consultants."

Lost in Space, Scientific American

"If NASA limits the number of shuttle flights to the station to six or seven--enough to finish the core assembly--the freed-up funds could bolster both human and robotic exploration. NASA could accelerate the development of the CEV and new heavy-lift rockets intended to launch components for interplanetary missions as well as modules for the space station. A 2004 study commissioned by the Planetary Society advocated exactly this strategy; one of the leaders of the study team, Mike Griffin, became NASA's administrator in April. We urge Griffin to put this plan into effect."

Planetary Society Report

Shuttle Telecon

NASA Shuttle Return to Flight Planning Update

NASA's Shuttle Program Moves One Step Closer to Launch, SpaceRef

"NASA held a media teleconference this afternoon to discuss the status of preparations for the STS -114 mission."

Editor's note: I am listening to this thing on NASA newsaudio. This telecon is so poorly done: open mikes, static, audio crosstalk, people typing loudly on mike, NASA people talking and laughing in the newsroom in the back ground, odd feedback, extreme volume spikes. I can't tell what is being said half the time. And I waited patiently for two hours to listen to this? [Listen]

The Story of Cosmos 1 is Not Over: A Personal Report, Planetary Society

"So right now, I am not thinking about what might have been. What we did is not bad. We built the first solar-sail spacecraft. There is even a chance it got to orbit in working condition and ready for its mission. We created an international partnership with very limited resources. We conducted the first space mission by a privately funded space-interest group. We tested the notion of private funding for space ventures based on the idea that they have exciting stories to tell."

Calculating Risk

Shuttle launch debris risk uncertain but 'acceptable', Spaceflight Now

"The uncertainties in each of those areas are significant," he said. "There are all sorts of numbers that are floating around. We have nine different estimates for ice on tile from one ice location. ... It is a very complex problem."

NASA Confident on Managing Shuttle Ice Problem, NY Times

"The NASA managers declined to release numbers to quantify the risk ice posed by hitting different parts of a shuttle, saying such numbers would confuse the public unless all assumptions behind them were also explained and understood."

A Vision of Stars, Grounded in the Dust of Rural India, NY Times

"Anupam Kumar, 17, is the eldest son of a scooter-rickshaw driver. Anupam is good at math. He has taught himself practically everything he knows, and when he grows up he wants to investigate if there is life in outer space. He says he wants to work at NASA." ..."Moni Kumari Gupta, 17, is one of the rare girls in Mr. Kumar's program. She, too, wants to do space research, also at NASA."

Financial Audit: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Fiscal Year 2004 Management Representation Letter on Its Financial Statements. GAO-05-591R, June 23.

"NASA's fiscal year 2004 management representation letter did not provide all the information necessary to support Treasury and OMB's preparation of the CFS management representation letter. This in turn impacted our ability to rely on the representations in the CFS management representation letter in combination with individual federal agency representation letters."

Approps Update

NASA Excerpts from Senate Report 109-088: Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2006

"The Committee is concerned that NASA will neglect areas that will only tangentially benefit from, or that do not fit within, the proposed vision. Within the fiscal year 2006 budget request, programs and infrastructure are proposed to be deferred or cancelled in such areas. These programs appear to be the sacrifices for the near-term budgetary resources needed to facilitate the implementation of the Moon/Mars vision."

Sen. Allen loses fight for NASA funding, Daily Press

"The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which oversees NASA, said Allen's plan to avoid a 6 percent cut in aeronautics funding next year would undermine President Bush's top priority for NASA: returning man to the moon by 2020 as a stepping stone to Mars."

Senate Commerce Committee Approves National Aeronautics and Space Administration Act of 2005

"INTENDED to be proposed by Mr. STEVENS (for himself, Mr. INOUYE, Mrs. HUTCHISON, and Mr. NELSON of Florida): Within 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall transmit to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House of Representatives Committee on Science an assessment of the feasibility of NASA's planning for exploration of the Moon and Mars, giving special consideration to the long-term cost implications of program archi12 tecture and schedules."

Congressional Record 22 June 2005: "LEAVE OF ABSENCE -- (House of Representatives - June 22, 2005)

Mr. Kucinich (at the request of Ms. Pelosi) for today after 3:00 p.m. in order to save jobs at NASA Glenn and DFAS."

Kucinich Hosts Meeting On Retaining NASA Jobs, News Channel 5

"Rep. Dennis Kucinich is holding another strategy session Monday concerning whether jobs can be retained at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland."

SDLV Finalist

Editor's note: Word has it that Mike Griffin's team has more or less settled on a 120 metric tonne payload, in-line, Shuttle-derived Heavy Launch System.

Editor's update: Mike Griffin has appointed Rex Geveden as Acting Associate Administrator. The position will be competed at a later date. Geveden will be responsible for day-to-day operations and management of the Agency. He will also retain his current position as Chief Engineer. Courtney Stadd will reportedly be leaving the 9th floor very soon - perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Senate Commerce Committee Passes Sen. Hutchison's NASA Authorization Bill

"The NASA Administrator would be required to report to Congress on any changes to the number of shuttle missions planned to assemble and supply the station."

Congressional Record: S. 1281 NASA Authorization FY 2006-2010; Bill Text and Comments by Sen. Hutchison and Sen. Nelson

"NASA has said it cannot afford to continue to provide for all the research that has been planned for years to be accomplished aboard the International Space Station. It has begun the process of narrowing the scope of the use of the space station to those experiments that can contribute directly to the needs of the vision for exploration, and the support of human missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. This legislation states strongly that such a restriction on the range of research disciplines aboard the ISS is not in the best interests of the Nation, or of our partners."

NASA, Entrepreneurs to Develop Biotechnology Plan for Space Station

"NASA scientists and space service providers are meeting on June 21 and June 22 to develop a new entrepreneurial paradigm for the International Space Station (ISS) focusing on biotechnology applications."

15 June 2005 Letter from the Exploration and Medical Sciences (ELMS) Coalition to NASA (PDF)

"We are aware NASA's current path to not cancel space biology programs, but merely to postpone them. Unfortunately, postponment equals cancellation."

Editor's update: This ARC conference would seem to be a waste of time given that Mike Griffin fully intends to gut ISS Science - the very same science used as the underlying justification for building the ISS in the first place - again and again over the past two decades. Then again, Sen. Hutchison seems to have different opinion on this topic. Word has it that Griffin and Hutchison had a 'chat' about this specific topic within the past 24 hours. Stay Tuned.

Received from Jim Oberg: "I sadly pass on what I've just received..."

"Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2005 8:44 AM
Subject: FW: News on Pete & Bobbie Frank

Note from Ed Fendell (Apollo INCO) relayed by Ken Young

I just returned from Memorial Herman Hospital. Pete and Bobbie Frank were in a very bad car accident and were taken by Life Flight to Memorial Herman. They were unable to save Pete, and Bobbie is in Neurological ICU in critical condition. I will keep you all advised of future news."

Report Says Space Program Is Lacking Money and Focus, NY Times

"A House staff member on the Republican side said it was unclear whether the critique would have much impact in Washington. The staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of House rules, said that the academy did not have a high profile in the Capitol and that Dr. Lane and Mr. Abbey, while respected, "have some baggage" as former officials in a Democratic administration."

Report Warns of Challenges to U.S. Leadership in Space

"The U.S. must bolster the competitiveness of its commercial space industry, expand international cooperation, and refocus on basic science in order to hold on to its traditional leadership position in space, according to the authors of a new paper from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences."

United States Space Policy: Challenges and Opportunities (Report)

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Reports FY 2006 CJS Spending Bill (Science Excerpt)

"$16.4 billion for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): $200.0 million above the FY05 level and $60.0 million below the request."

Mikulski Includes $250 Million for Hubble in Federal Spending Bill

"Senator Barbara A. Mikulski announced today that the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill includes $250 million for a Hubble servicing mission. Assuming that the shuttle safely returns to flight and that the NASA Administrator concludes that a shuttle mission is safe, this ensures that there is money in the federal checkbook for a Hubble servicing mission."

Mike Griffin Reveals His Commercialization Vision for NASA: Part 2

"Following his remarks, Griffin took questions from the audience."

Mike Griffin Reveals His Commercialization Vision for NASA: Part 1, SpaceRef

"NASA will start doing business the way the rest of the world does, if Mike Griffin has his way. Griffin addressed a sold out breakfast sponsored by the Space Transportation Association Tuesday morning in Washington, DC. The audience was a typical mixture of commercial representatives, members of Congress and their staff, space media, and NASA personnel."

Editor's note: How Griffin's StratComm/PAO folks can sit by as he rolls out this many juicy - and cogent - policy gems and underlying philosophies - and not have an accompanying press release, talking points, or verbatim transcript - utterly escapes me. Expecting the media to get his message out - intact and in context - is not a wise tactic to take.

Bernard Schriever, Architect of Air Force space and missile programs, dies, AFNS

"Retired Gen. Bernard Adolph Schriever, widely regarded as the father and architect of the Air Force space and ballistic missile programs, died of natural causes at home in Washington on June 20."

Solar Sailing This Week

Planetary Society update: "At 10:30 AM PT on June 22, 2005, The Planetary Society will hold a press briefing on the current known status of the Cosmos 1 solar sail mission. The briefing will be held at our headquarters at 65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA."

Russian Space Agency: Solar Launch Failed, AP

"The world's first solar sail spacecraft crashed back to Earth when its booster rocket failed less than two minutes after Tuesday's takeoff, Russian space officials said Wednesday."

Inside the Beltway, Washington Times

"NASA two years ago tabbed Ms. Anderson to be its first-ever "artist in residence," a position that carried a $20,000 stipend to create and perform a theatrical piece about NASA. ... Last week, continuing his personal battle to rid the federal government of wasteful spending, Rep. Chris Chocola, Indiana Republican, successfully amended the Science, State, Justice and Commerce annual appropriations bill "to prohibit federal funds from being used to employ an 'artist in residence' at NASA."

Congressional Record Excerpt:

Russian Federal Space Agency Considering NASA Invitation to Fly to the Moon, MosNews

"Russian Federal Space Agency is considering U.S. invitation to participate in the Moon flights program, Russian Federal Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov told a Tuesday news conference at the Interfax main office."

Editor's update: At today's STA breakfast, House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee chair Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) said that his subcommittee is marking up a NASA authorization bill on 29 June and that he hopes that it will get to the full Science Committee shortly thereafter. Also, Calvert noted that Mike Griffin will testify before the full House Science Committee next week (28 June). Meanwhile, on the Senate side, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) announced today that she will introduce a NASA Authorization bill (covering FY2007-2010) later today as well.

Sen. Hutchison Introduces NASA Authorization Bill

House Science Committee Committee - Hearing The Future of NASA

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Mark-up: NASA Authorization

Editor's update: At a breakfast sponsored by the Space Transportation Association this morning on Capitol Hill, Mike Griffin's comments focused on commercialization. Among the items he mentioned was a BAA or some other procurement mechanism (they are not certain yet), which he expects to be out in early Fall 2005. This procurement will deal with commerical provders for both cargo and crew transport to and from the ISS. Griffin also spoke of the need for a umanned cargo version of the CEV. More to follow.

15 June 2005 Letter from the Exploration and Medical Sciences (ELMS) Coalition to NASA (PDF)

"We are aware NASA's current path to not cancel space biology programs, but merely to postpone them. Unfortunately, postponment equals cancellation."

Editor's update: I got the following from Tom Finnigan at CAGW in response to my earlier post "Pulling Facts Out Of Thin Air" which dealt with CAGW's press release "Moon, Mars Missions Not a Priority for Taxpayers":

"CAGW considers $1 trillion a reasonable educated guess for the total cost of the initiative in light of: the absence of an official cost estimate"

How anyone can seriously consider a complaint about costs from an organization who openly admits that they just guess - and then bases a press rant release on that guess - utterly escapes me. Alas, read the whole response and you'll see that they are not at all bothered by guessing - even if they then try and hold NASA to a strict accounting of every penny spent. They also have a lot of other political agendas which they decide to air (while they have your attention) as well.

Editor's note: Scott Pace held a telecon today with reporters to discuss the official announcement of NASA's new Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation. This was, of course, a mere formality since Pace's organization has actually been in operation from the moment Mike Griffin arrived (see this 19 April 2005 memo) and has two major evaluation efforts well underway - one of which will report its findings in less than 2 weeks.

This is all part of Mike Griffin's curious communications policy - one where major positions are filled - but no official announcements made (again see this 19 April 2005 memo).

Editor's update: John Dervyshire got some nasty email its seems. Nasty enough to move him to write:

"I had some exchanges with one fellow who took strong exception to my Space Shuttle piece. "It must really suck being you," he asserted. Now, this is pretty lame on a first occurrence; but in our subsequent exchanges he just couldn't think of any way to improve on it. "Like I said, it must really suck being you," he'd close. It dawned on me at last that the guy thinks this is the most crushing, most devastating put-down that has yet been devised from the English language. I weep for these people."

Thanks for another data point, John. Now I am certain that it really sucks to be you.

The Folly of Our Age: The Space Shuttle, National Review Online

"The rest of the president's address on that occasion was, to be blunt about it, insulting to the memories of the astronauts who died, and still more insulting to their grieving spouses, children, parents, and friends. If these astronauts believed that "they had a high and noble purpose in life," they were mistaken, and someone should have set them straight on the point."

Editor's note: I love it when know-it-all pundits - such as John Derbyshire (home page) - hide behind their desks only to pop up long enough to toss out tripe such as this. The biggest risk Derbyshire ever takes is making coffee in the morning. I seriously doubt that this man has ever actually spoken to a real rocket scientist (sorry, Alex Roland doesn't count), an astronaut or any of their families. Nor do I think he'd have the spine to actually say these same words to their faces. How cowardly - and shameful.

Editor's update:I have swapped several emails with Derbyshire. He is unrepentant and stands by his putrid comments about astronauts and their sacrifice. Suffice it to say I told him: "it must really suck to be you".

Nice Touch, Spock

Editor's note: As was mentioned here last week, one of the people at NASA HQ who got a reassignment letter was Karen Poniatowski who was offered a job at ARC. I've now learned that she is pregnant. Not only did Mike Griffin's team offer her a job 3,000 miles away which she would need to start in a matter of weeks - they offered it to someone who is about to have a baby. What a nice, humane touch. Curiously, today at the STA breakfast, when asked about dealing with rumors and speculation, Mike Griffin said "With regard to feelings - I don't do feelings - just think of me as Spock".

So much for at least one of the "NASA Values": "Safety, the NASA Family, Excellence, and Integrity."

Reader comment: "Mike's new core values as espoused in the latest draft rev of the NASA org manual supplanted 'Safety' with Mission Success, and eliminated 'The NASA Family'"

Editor's update: What has truly surprised me is the replies I have gotten to this post. Some people apparently do not like Karen. I do not know her and have never met or interacted with her. What is curious is how people seem to imply that such crappy treatment is OK if you do not like someone. It is not. Employees deserve equal respect and consideration regardless of whether they pick launch vehicles or clean restrooms.

NASA Establishes Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin announced today the establishment of the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E), headed by Dr. Scott Pace."

NASA Presolicitation Notice: Independent Review Team Chair

"NASA/HQ intends to award a purchase order to Mr. Theron Bradley Jr."

Editor's note: On Monday NASA will release information about the new organization being headed out of the 9th floor by Scott Pace. A teleconference with reporters will be held with Pace on Monday afternoon. It is interesting to note that this bio of Scott Pace - with the title Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation quietly appeared on the NASA HQ webpage with the posting date of "06.14.05"

What Pace will be doing in this new position was revealed in an internal staff meeting summary issued only a few days after Mike Griffin arrived at NASA:

7 up has a contest underway - the top prize: "One (1) ticket on one of the first ten commercial seats to sub-orbital space offered by the winner of the ANSARI X PRIZE or its affiliates ("Commercial Operator") at a time and location to be determined by the Commercial Operator. Actual trip details are contingent upon final itinerary established by the Commercial Operator."

Progress Cargo Craft Docks With International Space Station

"The docking was controlled by Station Commander Sergei Kirkalev using the Telerobotically Operated Rendezvous Unit (TORU). The automated Kurs docking system was not used because a problem with a Russian ground station prevented uplinking a command for Progress to begin the final approach."

Editor's note David R. Mould, currently at DOE, will start work at NASA HQ next monday as AA for Public Affairs. Mould is currently listed in the DOE directory as being a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Energy. Mould joins fellow DOE alumni AA for Strategic Communications Joe Davis and Griffin Senior advisor Paul Morell. Mould, like Davis and Morell, was selected for this position by the White House - not Mike Griffin. On the positive side, Mould once served as the Southeast U.S. Bureau Chief for UPI and coordinated Challenger accident and shuttle return to flight coverage (late 1980's) and was known as a space enthusiast. Indeed, he may be the first space reporter to get the NASA PAO job.

NASA Kills Space Academy Procurement (Earlier post)

Editor's note: On 3 June 2005 I sent an email regarding the cancellation of "Plan for Prioritizing Teacher Training, Integrating Existing Math and Engineering Education, and Exploring Options for Creating a Virtual Space Academy" asking "Why was this procurement activity cancelled? Will another one be issued?" I sent my request to Education AA Adena Loston, Acting PAO Chief Dean Acosta, and Joe Davis, AA for Strategic Communications. After 2 weeks I had received nothing and had to ask a second time. This is what I was sent today by Renee Juhans at PAO:

People Vs Buildings

NASA budget skips Marshall complex, Huntsville Times

"NASA did not seek money for the second building of a new three-building complex that will consolidate research and office space located at sites across Marshall. The first building, located at Martin and Rideout roads, is almost complete and should be ready for use later this year. "Last year NASA made a commitment to build this facility," said [Rep. Bud] Cramer, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the NASA funding subcommittee. "Marshall's engineers need this building and they deserve this building."

Editor's note: C'mon, Bud. Think big picture: I wonder how many EXISTING JOBS can be saved with the money that would otherwise be spent on this NEW BUILDING? The bricks and mortar can wait. Its not as if people did not - and do not - already have a place to sit and work at MSFC.

A note from someone@huntsville.al "Keith, It's not just an engineering complex that is being pushed for at Marshall it's a redesign of the entire place. There's a plan to replace the 4200 office complex at MSFC with a "modern" set of buildings and rework the northern half of Marshall's green space so it feels more like a college campus.

Editor's note: Mary Cleave will be replacing Al Diaz as AA at the Science Mission Directorate. Colleen Hartman will be her deputy.

MSFC Offering Buyouts

NASA MSFC Internal Memo: Marshall to offer targeted buyout to eligible civil service employees

"The Marshall Center is offering an opportunity for eligible civil service employees to retire or resign from federal employment and receive a cash bonus worth up to $25,000. The buyout application period opens June 16 and will close July 15. Employees taking the buyout must separate from Federal service no later than September 30, 2005."

NASA puts buyout back on the table for 175 at Marshall, Huntsville Times

"In this round of job buyouts the skills NASA wants to reduce include administrative slots, business specialists, materials science engineers and computer systems engineers, among others, according to a NASA document posted on an internal Marshall Web site."

LaRC Update

NASA LaRC Internal Memo: CD COMM # 2005-7 Langley Status Update

"The Agency is considering options that you have read about - more in-house work, ensuring that center skills and expertise are not lost, that critical facilities remain operational, that the lab structure within NASA is not substantially altered, and that a national aeronautics policy be formulated with input from the Agency."

Purge Update

Editor's note: Reliable sources note that ESMD Deputy Steve Isakowitz got a letter and was reportedly offered a job at GSFC. Karen Poniatowski also got a letter and was reportedly offered a job at ARC. No word yet as to whether they will take the jobs or leave the agency.

Editor's update: Other reliable sources tell me that Steve Isakowitz did not get a reassignment letter - but instead, that he had already expressed an interest in moving into another position at NASA.

Annotated Press Release: CAGW: Moon, Mars Missions Not a Priority for Taxpayers

Editor's note: This press release by CAGW is a classic example of grabbing numbers out of thin air - selectively - and then weaving them together to tell a story - one that is based on a particular point of view. Indeed, if you present enough numbers, and assert that they are true, some people will actually fall for the basic premise you present without questioning the veracity of your data. What really annoys me is groups like this who profess to be looking out for the taxpayer when in fact they are often advancing their own personal political agendas. Moreover, they do so with selective citation of facts.

Editor's note: It has been a week and a half since I posted this comment on 5 June 2005 and requested some background information from NASA. Other than a short phone call from Renee Juhans at PAO (providing no facts) I have received no information whatsoever in response to my request.

Plan for Prioritizing Teacher Training, Integrating Existing Math and Engineering Education, and Exploring Options for Creating a Virtual Space Academy

"This procurement has been canceled."

Editor's note: So much for "inspiring the next generation of space explorers"...I guess NASA is now formally ignoring the Presidentially-chartered Aldridge Commission report which recommended that NASA "explore options to create a university-based "virtual space academy" for training the next generation technical work force."

Report of the Presidents Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy

NASA Chief Says Schedule for Shuttles Is Unrealistic, NY Times

"Dr. Michael D. Griffin, the new administrator of NASA, said Thursday that there was no way the space shuttle fleet would be able to complete the 28 flights now planned before its retirement in 2010. A reduced schedule will lead to significant changes in how the International Space Station is assembled and supplied, he said."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin's plan to shrink the ISS will become clear when he gets the results of his 60 day study on 1 July. The international partners will be informed of the changes - by NASA - but they will not be involved in the process of reviewing the changes before being informed.

Reader comment:"I am a physics/computer science HS teacher, and have been getting students involved directly with NASA scientists and engineers through the NASA Student Involvement Program. The program, which has existed in some form since the days of Skylab, will not be funded next year according to what we the teachers were told."

NASA Internal Memo: Leadership Initiative to Continue at LaRC

"Although the Agency has decided to phase out the involvement of the consultant Behavior Sciences Technology (BST) in NASA leadership development activities, the culture change effort and focus on improving our leadership practices at Langley will continue."

A NASA LaRC Employee notes: "How is it we did not receive this memo from our managers and instead are pointed to it located on SpaceRef.com???? Did Dr. Griffin assume this was going to go out to all employees or was this limited to only high level managers, etc. Good communication still not a way of life inside NASA?"

Statement By NASA Administrator Michael Griffin on the House Floor Vote On NASA's FY 2006 Funding Bill

"I applaud the House of Representative's action today to support fully the President's priorities for NASA. The House of Representatives is now on record strongly supporting the Administration's request for the Vision for Space Exploration and of advancing important research in space science, Earth science and aeronautics.

Roll CallH.R. 2862

DeLay: NASA Funding Fulfills President's Space Vision; House Passes NASA Funding Bill by Vote of 418-7

Space camera flaw traced to earthly mirror, MSNBC

"The optical flaw that blurred the vision of NASAs comet-smashing Deep Impact probe has been tentatively diagnosed as the result of overlooking a simple law of physics, sources familiar with the investigation have told MSNBC.com."

NASA to clear up comet hunter's blurry vision, Rocky Mountain News

"The problem has been traced to a mirror used when the HRI was tested at Ball, the space agency said. While flat at room temperatures, the mirror unexpectedly developed a slight curvature during testing at ultra-cold temperatures. Ball engineers didn't detect the curvature at the time."

Editor's note: Of course, when it comes to performance/award fee time for Deep Impact, NASA probably won't have the courage to ding Ball for this dumb mistake. I wonder (in this era of full cost acocunting) who pays for all the work performed to fix the bad optics with a software workaround.

And why is it that NASA makes no mention of this camera problem in the otherwise highly detailed press release it issued on Deep Impact on 9 June? All the press release says is "A camera and infrared spectrometer, which comprise the High Resolution Instrument, are carried on the flyby spacecraft, along with a Medium Resolution Instrument. A duplicate of the Medium Resolution Instrument on the impactor will record the vehicle's final moments before it is run over by Tempel 1." There is mention, however in the mission's press kit.

Steidle Joins AIA

Steidle Named AIA Vice President of International Affairs

"The Aerospace Industries Association has named Rear Adm. Craig E. Steidle to the position of vice president of international affairs. He joins AIA from NASA where he was the associate administrator for the Office of Exploration Systems, a position created in January 2004 to implement the nation's Vision for Space Exploration."

Finanical Management: Thousands of Civilian Agency Contractors Abuse the Federal System with Little Consequence, GAO

"To demonstrate the effect of payments to contractors using the purchase card, we obtained the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) fiscal year 2004 purchase card transactions and compared the contractors from which NASA purchased goods and services to the IRS unpaid taxes database."

Editor's note Have a look at the hotel page for the 2005 NASA Occupational Health Conference. This page goes overboard with regard to all the fun you can have at this hotel - including gambling: "The largest casino and entertainment venue at The Lake (two Casinos, two showrooms)". It is almost as if all the fun, gamblng, and entertainment was an important factor people should consider when deciding whether to go - instead of focusing on the topics to be discussed at this government workshop - which is the intent of this event in the first place - right?

NASA Successfully Demonstrates Innovative Nanosatellite System

"The Mini AERCam prototype is just 7.5 inches in diameter and weighs only 10 pounds. The tiny free flyer is designed to be operated by on-orbit flight crews or by ground control personnel. Either could command the nanosatellite to fly automatic maneuvers."

Reader note: "NASA today issued a news release on its "Innovative Nanosatellite System."I was surprised that it was referring to the "volleyball-sized" Miniature Autonomous Extravehicular Robotic Camera.NASA should know better. A volleyball-sized machine is far from "nano" in scale."

Definitions of Nano on the Web:"A prefix meaning one-billionth."

Another reader notes that there is the set of satellite classifications for satellites listed on David Darling's (fascinating) website including:"nanosatellite: 1-10 Kg"

A note from Noel Hinners: "Keith: "Re the discussion about "confusion" in the usage of the term (prefix) "nano", there ought to be absolutely no confusion., especially in our profession.I've been railing in meetings againstsuch prefix misuse for a couple of years now.

Join Us for the Launch of Cosmos 1 the World's First Solar Sail Spacecraft, Planetary Society

"On June 21, Cosmos 1 - the world's first solar sail spacecraft - is set to launch atop a converted ICBM from a submerged Russian submarine in the Barents Sea"

Editor's note: I am not certain why the Planetary Society makes the claim that they will be launching the "world's first solar sail spacecraft". According to this 2004 JAXA press release (with images), "Japan Deloys Solar Sail Film in Space,"ISAS succeeded in deploying a big thin film for solar sail in space for the first time in the world. ISAS launched a small rocket S-310-34 from Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima, Japan, at 15:15, August 9, 2004."

Comment from Lou Friedman, Planetary Society:

Waivers

NASA Internal Memo From Wayne Hale - Subject:Waivers

"Recently there has been some confusion about the status and processing of waivers in the Space Shuttle Program, and I would appreciate the opportunity to put some of the concerns and confusion to rest."

Editor's note: As I read through the 14 June 2005 issue of the Congressional Record, focusing on the debate yesterday regarding NASA's FY 2006 budget, I came across this:

[Page: H4472] [PDF version]

Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that during further consideration of H.R. 2862 in the Committee of the Whole pursuant to House Resolution 314, no further amendment to the bill may be offered except:

[long list of amendments]

"an amendment by Mrs. Musgrave, regarding NASA Hollywood liaison;"

Urban Myths at NASA

'Space nut' DeLay advises group how to lobby NASA, Houston Chronicle

"NASA has done a whole lot more than invent Tang," said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, who also addressed the gathering. "Many people forget if aren't directly involved in" the space industry."

NASA JSC Reader note: "It's great that NASA has space nuts like Rep. DeLay and Rep. Poe supporting us, but it would be nice if they got their facts straight before advocating for us.NASA didn't invent Tang. We didn't invent Teflon or Velcro either."

Editor's note: Of course it would never occur to Legislative Affairs or PAO to correct these glaring misconceptions that members of Congress seem to suffer from.

Got Space?

NASA Excerpts from House Report 109-118 Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2006

"The Committee directs NASA to engage in a national awareness campaign."

Editor's note: It is not that I don't think NASA should do more to present its value to the taxpayers (they should), but I find it rather curious that Congress is directing NASA to market itself to the American public - and that Congress is doing so after years of chastising NASA for trying to market itself to Congress - directly or indirectly. This is really confusing given that Congress is supposed to represent the public in the first place.

Editor's note: The following memo is making its way around the agency. I find it curious that NASA HQ management seems to be more concerned with how things look - rather than what things say.

Editor's note: Yesterday, after the Obey amendment to gut NASA exploration efforts (so as to restore funding for law enforcement) played out on the floor of the house, I noted: "So much for everyone's hopes that moving NASA from VA HUD to a new subcommittee would stop the NASA Vs veterans arguments. Now its NASA Vs. police." Jim Muncy has some thoughts on the topic:

Thrillionaires: The New Space Capitalists, NY Times

"Many self-professed "space geeks" say the possibility that entrepreneurs like Richard Branson of the Virgin Group may help regular people see the black sky - well, regular rich people, at least - has drawn away much of the excitement that government-financed human space efforts long enjoyed."

Purge Update

NASA changes to run deep, Christian Science Monitor [Also posted online at CBS and ABC]

"For now, NASA says it will not "jump the gun" and make further personnel announcements until they are final, says spokesman Dean Acosta. But few doubt they are coming. And the way Griffin has gone about it has caught some off guard. "He's really not taking time to consider the people involved," says Mr. Cowing of NASA Watch, who estimates that as many as 50 senior managers could be reassigned."

New NASA Chief Changes Top Officers, AP

Personnel changes continue at NASA, Houston Chronicle

t/Space Demonstrates New Air-Launch Technology

"Three weeks of flight tests over the Mojave desert have demonstrated a breakthrough in how to safely launch future passenger-carrying rockets using a carrier aircraft. Transformational Space Corp. (t/Space) and Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites drop-tested dummy boosters from an aircraft using a technique that caused them to rotate towards vertical without requiring wings."

Changes in Aeronautics

NASA Internal Memo From J. Victor Lebacqz Regarding Aeronautics Personnel Changes

"Yesterday I learned that, because of the respect the new people have for all of you as we have been dealing with issues and trying to accomplish new beginnings in Aeronautics, I was not given a directed reassignment. Nonetheless, the Administrator does want to bring in a complete new management team, and that includes Associate Administrator for Aeronautics. It was emphasized to me that this is not in the same category as the directed reassignments. The A suite intends that the transition will be handled carefully and in as transparent a way as possible, and they are committed to working closely with me to ensure this over the next several months. I am also assured that I will not be treated as lame duck but as a fully engaged AA, and I certainly intend to operate that way as we continue to work hard to turn around the situation in NASA aeronautics."

Testifying From Space

UDALL: ISS Program, Research Yields Groundbreaking Knowledge

Opening Statement by Rep. Ken Calvert: Live to Space: International Space Station (ISS)

Statement of Astronaut Peggy Whitson before the House Committee on Science Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

Hearing Charter: House Science Committee Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Hearing: Live from Space: The International Space Station

"This is the first hearing in Congressional history with a witness testifying from space. It is possible because of advanced communications technology on ISS and significant preparation and coordination by NASA and the Committee."

Editor's note: Gee, the on-orbit portion of this hearing was sure pointless - and it was certainly not John Phillip's fault. As soon as the live feed from space came on, everyone on the committee got starry eyed. That's great - but I have to ask: couldn't the committee members have asked questions that were a little more profound than they did? Roscoe Bartlett asked "what kind of an orbit are you in and what can you see?" Another member asked "what kind of food did you miss in space?". Rep. Udall asked if you could "see snow" from space. For the most part, all the members asked questions whose answers are contained in the 6th grade reading level publications that NASA's Education Office puts out. Oh well, at least there were no red faces and finger pointing - and Rep. Rohrabacher did ask a good, direct question about space commercialization. Otherwise, the questions asked of Peggy Whitson and Mike Fincke (on Earth) were, for the most part, good and to the point.

House GOP Defends DeLay, Rejects NASA Cut, AP

"By a 230-196 vote, the House rejected an amendment by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., to transfer $200 million from the space agency to two Clinton-era grant programs that President Bush wants to phase out."

'Space nut' DeLay advises group how to lobby NASA< Houston Chronicle

"The space community still needs every bit and every dollar of help it can get," said DeLay, long an ardent supporter of space exploration who now represents the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, thanks to the congressional redistricting effort of 2003."

Editor's note: H.R. 2862, "making appropriations for Science, the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other purposes" is being debated on the House floor.

Rep. Obey (D-WI) has introduced an amendment to cut $200 million from NASA's exploration budget. Rep. Calvert (R-CA), Rep. Weldon (R-FL), Rep. Wolf (R-VA) and others are fighting this effort. As part of this cut, Obey wants to cut $160 million would come from Project Prometheus to restore funds cut from law enforcement. Rep. Wolf read a letter from Mike Griffin with regard to Obey's amendment. In the letter, Griffin said that he "opposes" Obey's amendment and reiterated his support for fully funding the VSE.

Obey's Amendment failed by voice vote but a final, formal vote has been postponed.

So much for everyone's hopes that moving NASA from VA HUD to a new Subcommittee would stop the NASA Vs Veterans arguments. Now its NASA Vs. Police.

Child Dies On Epcot Ride, Channel 10, Miami

"The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. on the Mission: SPACE ride, according to Disney officials. The ride spins passengers on a multi-armed centrifuge to simulate a launch into space. It exerts more than twice the normal force of gravity on occupants."

NASA Excerpts from House Report 109-118 Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2006

"The Committee is supportive of NASA's new vision and mission for space exploration and the recommendation includes funds for the Administration's priorities for these activities. The Committee is very concerned about the need to maintain the nation's leadership in science and technology. To this end, the Committee has not agreed to the Administration's proposed reductions to the aeronautics research program or science programs, and has fully restored aeronautics to the fiscal year 2005 level and partially restored the proposed reduction to science programs."

A Sunset on Mars

NASA Mars Rover Sunset: A Moment Frozen in Time

"On May 19th, 2005, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured this stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars. This Panoramic Camera mosaic was taken around 6:07 in the evening of the rover's 489th martian day, or sol."

Stealth RIF at LaRC?

NASA LaRC Internal Memo: Clarification on Position Description Exercise

"As you know, there is a Center-wide effort underway for each employee/supervisor to review position descriptions and prepare resumes. I understand that there may be some confusion as to what your role is during this exercise. This email will hopefully explain the action."

NASA LaRC Reader Comment: "Up until now we were told that we needed to have a revised position description and a resume on file. Not until today were these described as RIF PDs or RIF Resumes! With 14% of our branch has left and when told, Roy Bridges made the comment that he didn't understand why people were jumping ship so soon. Well, to Roy Bridges .....DUH!"

NASA Selects Contractors for Crew Exploration Vehicle Work

"NASA today announced the selection of Lockheed Martin Corp. and the team of Northrop Grumman Corp. and The Boeing Co. that will lead to an award to build the agency's Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). The selection is part of NASA's plan to have two contractors compete in the design and production process for the Space Shuttle's replacement."

NASA Exploration Systems Associate Administrator Craig Steidle Officially Resigns

"Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Craig E. Steidle officially announced his resignation, effective June 24."

- Craig Steidle Is Leaving NASA
- Steidle Says Farewell

Purge Update

Editor's note: It's 'Black Monday': Reassignment notification letters are now being distributed to selected employees at NASA Headquarters.

Small, Rocky Planet Discovered Circling Another Star, SpaceRef

"Researchers speaking today at the National Science Foundation announced the discovery of the smallest extrasolar planet yet found - one that resembles our own planet much more than any other yet discovered. The planet is between 6 to 9 times the mass of Earth and orbits its host star once every 1.9 days at a distance of 2 million miles."

- Observed Properties of Exoplanets: Masses, Orbits, and Metallicities

- The GJ 876 Planetary System -- A Progress Report

"I can only hope there is a special place in Dante's inferno for the self-centered leakers."

Full memo below.

NASA Internal Memo From Al Diaz: My Future

"Undoubtedly, many of you read an article in Saturday's Washington Post about upcoming leadership changes in NASA. For my part, I read it late on Saturday night on my return from two weeks of vacation. I was surprised to see the announcement of my pending departure and dismayed at the context surrounding that event."

NASA Internal Memo From Bill Readdy to the Human Space Flight Community

"The President's Vision for Space Exploration is truly a bold project, most worthy of our efforts. As the new plans and systems begin to take shape for its implementation, new leaders will be asked to step forward to begin this transition."

Statue honors fallen hero (photo), Spokesman Review

"Spokane astronaut Michael P. Anderson has been eulogized as a humble, deeply religious and inspirational man who lived out his dream. For the past year, local artist Dorothy Fowler has used those descriptions to help her create an 8-foot-high, 600-pound bronze statue of Anderson."

Optimism as NASA Chief Charts New Course, LA Times

"When Griffin, a physicist and engineer, took over, he placed many O'Keefe initiatives on hold, including plans to outsource much of NASA's research to industry. Griffin hasn't promised that there won't be layoffs ahead. But as recently as last week he reassured the staff by e-mail that he values the centers as the repositories of the agency's "core intellectual capability." Many staffers take this as a sign that he doesn't share O'Keefe's enthusiasm for outsourcing. That impression was presumably enhanced by news reports over the weekend that Griffin is planning a major housecleaning at NASA headquarters, aimed at reorienting the agency from a politically-minded bureaucracy to a scientific research establishment."

Editor's note: OK, Mike (you asked people to call you by your first name, so don't complain to your staff when I do so as well): Watching NASA's expertise evaporate is indeed troubling. As such, seeking to restore NASA's "core intellectual capability." is indeed a worthy goal and I certainly applaud your intent. Make a difference. Draw a line in the sand. Put your money where your mouth is. Alas, in so doing, please note that Sean O'Keefe was taking direction from the very same White House that you now serve.

Editor's note: I always find it interesting how NASA's inner political problems interest people around the world - yet raise little interest in publications devoted to covering the agency here in the U.S. Take the Washington Post story "NASA Chief to Oust 20 on Saturday". In addition to syndication in dozens of small newspapers around the U.S., it also spawned a number of stories around the world. For example:

- NASA chief plans to replace about 20 senior officials in shakeup-report, Kashar News (Pakistan)
- Michael Griffin starts taking hard decisions at NASA, TechWHack (India)
- NASA chief to oust 20: report, ABC Online (Australia)
- NASA chief to oust 20 officials in shakeup-report, Reuters UK
- NASA Chief Will Oust 20 Officials, P2P Reactor (Poland)

Meanwhile, Space.com has posted nothing at all on Adm. Steidle's departure or the pending involuntary reassignments at NASA this coming week. A curious inverse of the old inside the beltway mindset.

Hampton Update

NASA wind tunnel fees under review, Daily Press

"NASA Headquarters is working on taking the bite out of an accounting measure that has caused Langley Research Center wind tunnel rates to increase in recent years."

NASA redoing job reviews, Daily Press

"Rerunning the process could improve job offers for some and give others a second chance at employment, Langley spokeswoman Marny Skora said. But the fear is that NASA might retract job offers made to some workers in April, said Marie Lane, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees."

Russia ready to take lead on space station, MSNBC

"Russia is prepared to take over if the United States decides to scale back its support of the international space station, a Russian space official said this week."

Editor's note: Show me the Rubles.

A "Message From Mike"

NASA Internal Memo: Message from Mike

"As I have visited most of NASA'sFieldCenters over the past few weeks, I thought that now would be a good opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you. During these visits, I learned to appreciate even more acutely the vital and unique role each NASACenter plays."... "While I attempted to answer the questions and concerns raised at each of theCenters, perhaps it would be best to address them here in a widely disseminated e-mail. Hopefully, this will be helpful to you and not considered to be more spam from NASAHeadquarters."

Purge Update

U.S. Congress Reorganizes Committees to Consider NASA Budget, Lori Garver, Planetary Society

"The current head of the Exploration Office has already resigned, Rear Admiral Craig Steidle, after being "re-assigned" to a new position. More than 50 additional NASA senior managers will be "re-assigned" in the coming weeks. Many of those will likely choose to resign, opening up key positions to a new team of NASA leaders."

NASA Chief to Oust 20 - Shake-Up Linked to Mars Initiative, Washington Post

"At the same time, the sources said, Griffin wants to restore NASA's glamour, reasserting the engineering and science leadership that has been eroding since the Apollo era. To this end, the sources said, he is willing to oust as many as 50 senior managers in a housecleaning rivaling the purge after the 1986 Challenger explosion."

Slashdot Discussion

NASA Administrator Griffin to Attend Paris Air Show

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin will attend France's Paris Air Show, which begins Monday in the suburb of Le Bourget. Griffin will participate in the opening of the U.S. Pavilion and other U.S. government-sponsored events during the first two days of the air show."

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." Reliable sources report that well known haute cuisine space bon vivant John Logsdon will accompany Griffin to the festivities. I'll try to post pictures from the event.

A NASA Watch reader (with some personal arctic experience) notes: "As an indicator of how essential the French consider wine to be with respect to exploration crew morale, the first winter-over crew at the new European base in the Antarctic has been supplied with about 1000 [sic] - now frozen [sigh] - bottles."

Check "The first winter-over at Concordia" "Then catastrophe strikes. We find the two crates of wine not in their expected position in the +4C container but in the back of a frozen one. An error of labeling they call it. We call it a pretty major **ck up. About one thousand bottles of good wine: Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Alsace, Provence... "

Steidle Says Farewell

NASA Internal Memo: Message to ESMD Employees from Craig Steidle

"Yesterday, I was offered a reassignment to another job within NASA at one of our Centers, which I declined. Declining the reassignment means that I will be leaving NASA at the end of the month."

NASA Chief to Oust 20, Washington Post

"The independent Web site Nasawatch.com reported last week that Steidle had resigned, and Steidle confirmed his departure in a June 8 letter to Exploration Systems employees posted on the directorate Web site."

NASA boss purges senior managers, Nature (subscription)

"The e-mail was leaked on the website NASAwatch.com, run by former NASA employee Keith Cowing, who says that more than 50 senior managers are also being offered reassignments or resignation."

In Start of Expected Shake-Up, an Official at NASA Resigns, NY Times

"In recent days, NASA headquarters has sent out dozens of letters to officials letting them know that they will be reassigned or will have to leave the agency, and has canceled a closely watched contract with a company that had been brought in to improve the agency's much-criticized safety culture." ... " The letters were first disclosed by NASAwatch.com, an independent Web site."

How To Avoid Bad News

NASA cancels $10 million culture change contract, Government Executive

"The culture change initiative was prompted by the Columbia accident investigation. An official report on the accident, released in August 2003, decried NASA management's unwillingness to hear bad news and said a lack of upward communication contributed to the orbiter crash."

Editor's note: One quick way to avoid hearing bads news about internal NASA processes is to cancel the contract of a company which may be relaying the bad news in the first place. When NASA starts to rely on its own internal, self-managed mechanisms to gauge how things are going in terms of employee attitudes, management culture, etc. - well ... we all know what inevitably happens. Its like breathing your own exhaust.

Then again, NASA went to the moon in the 1960's without any of this external socio/psychoanalysis. Stay tuned.

Are we there yet? No. But we could be, with the right investments (Opinion), Daily Press

"The SATS show marks the culmination of a five-year partnership of NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and an industry group called the National Consortium for Aviation Mobility. It was headquartered at our own NASA Langley Research Center. The point of the program was to prove the system will work. It will."

Aviation experts remain optimistic about small aircraft technology, Daily Press

"Will NASA's declining aeronautics budget support future work in the Small Aircraft Transportation System, or will it fall off the agency's radar screen?"

NAS SSB Report Online

Why Beagle 2 Failed

Report: The United Kingdom's civil space activities

"The loss of Beagle 2, which was due to land on Mars in December 2003, was associated with poor risk management that left it with no real prospect of success. The project suffered from an over ambitious time schedule, punishing weight constraints, poor management and uncertain funding."

An Analysis of the Precursor Measurements of Mars Needed to Reduce the Risk of the First Human Mission to Mars, MEPAG

"The Mars Human Precursor Science Steering Group was chartered by MEPAG in June 2004 to analyze the priorities for precursor investigations, measurements, and technology/infrastructure demonstrations that would have a significant effect on the cost and risk of the first human mission to Mars."

Look at This

NASA'S Spitzer Captures Echo of Dead Star's Rumblings

"An enormous light echo etched in the sky by a fitful dead star was spotted by the infrared eyes of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The surprising finding indicates Cassiopeia A, the remnant of a star that died in a supernova explosion 325 years ago, is not resting peacefully. Instead, this dead star likely shot out at least one burst of energy as recently as 50 years ago."

CRS Report: U.S. Space Programs: Civilian, Military, and Commercial

"The Vision has broad implications for the agency, especially since most of the money to implement it is expected to come from other NASA activities. Consequently, NASA would need to shift funds away from aeronautics, space science, and earth science programs. It plans to reduce its workforce by over 2,500 people by FY2007."

House panel restores funds for aeronautics, Daily Press

"Among other things, the bill would cut $10 million from the International Space Station and $10 million from launch services for the space shuttle. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who heads a Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA, has said she would oppose any effort to divert money from the space station to aeronautics."

NASA Hacker Nabbed

London man arrested for 2001 NASA hacking, ComputerWorld

"Police in London arrested an unemployed computer systems administrator yesterday, more than two years after U.S. authorities said they would request his extradition to answer charges of hacking U.S. government computer systems."

NASA OIG: Synopsis of Management Issues Associated with NASA's Integrated Financial Management Program

"In my view, the attached synopsis reflects the most significant problems in financial management at NASA: financial management is decentralized, with Center Chief Financial Officers more responsive to Center operational needs than to enterprise solutions for the Agency, and Agency-wide business processes suitable for an integrated approach have not been established. Proceeding with enterprise solutions under these circumstances is untenable."

Return to Flight Task Group Meeting Presentation

"The Return to Flight Task Group held a meeting today in Houston. NASA chartered the Task Group to perform an independent assessment of NASA's implementation of the 15 Return to Flight recommendations made by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board."

NASA Near to Meeting Safety Requirements for Launching in July, NY Times

"In a news conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, panel members said they saw no "show stoppers" that would prevent a liftoff in July."

Panel sees no roadblocks to space shuttle launch, Reuters

"The optimistic outlook came despite the fact that three of 15 recommendations made by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, or CAIB, have not yet been met."

BST Contract

Editor's note: The contract that NASA has with Behavioral Sciences Technology (BST) to monitor NASA culture - and recommend changes - is being terminated effective the end of June 2005.

Editor's note: Mike Griffin is scheduled to speak at a Space Club event in Pentagon City midday tomorrow. What he - and many other local residents - do not know is that all hell is going to break loose midday as the Pentagon holds a surprise simulated chem/bio attack. Stay tuned.

Pentagon to Conduct 'Full-Scale' Emergency Drills, Washington Post

Editor's note: ESMD AA Craig Steidle has tendered his resignation effective 24 June.

Well done, Craig. You (and your staff) have done a great job.

Editor's note: More than 50 letters have either been sent out or are being sent out notifying individuals of pending reassignments Changes will occur across all of the agency's activities - except human space flight - those changes come later.

Editor's earlier note: Some senior managers at NASA HQ and elsewhere are expecting to receive official notices on/around 12/13 June. These notices are the ones that employees are entitled to get before they can be transferred involuntarily. These notices can be sent out 60 days after a new Agency head takes over. The actual job changes have to wait until 120 days have passed. Mike Griffin is expected to make a large number of senior management changes as soon as he is able to do so legally. Any substantial changes to human spaceflight management would only be made after both the STS-114 and STS-121 missions have been completed. Griffin's internal 60 day study on how to reorient NASA's exploration plans is due to be completed by the beginning of July. As such, it is exected that the first major management changes will be at ESMD - starting at NASA HQ.

House Appropriations Committee Reports FY06 Science, State, Justice Appropriations Bill

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration is funded at $16.5 billion, $275 million above FY05 and $15 million above the request.Funds the President's 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 NASA's 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."

Revised Reduction in Force (RIF) for the Metallic Test Article and General and Precision Machining (MTAGPM) A-76 Competition, LaRC

"During most Reductions in Force (RIFs), circumstances occur that require a re-running of the RIF, thereby changing the offers made to employees. An example of this is when employees leave and create additional vacancies for placement. The current RIF action to implement the MTAGPM A-76 competition needs to be re-run due to this type of circumstance."

NASA Announces Update to Shuttle Implementation Plan

"The latest version of "NASA's Implementation Plan for Space Shuttle Return to Flight and Beyond" will be available at 9 a.m. EDT, Thursday, June 9, 2005."

NASA: Earth and Space Sciences at Risk, AGU

"On 27 May 2005, the AGU Council adopted the position statement, "NASA: Earth and Space Sciences at Risk." The statement describes the impact of NASA's strategic plan, "A New Age of Exploration: NASA's Direction for 2005 and Beyond," on Earth and space science research at the agency. The cuts proposed to science programs at NASA in the Administration's Fiscal Year 2006 budget will severely affect our ability to understand natural hazards, map changes in Earth's surface, forecast space weather, understand Earth-Sun connections, and explore the solar system."

E-Mails Detail Air Force Push for Boeing Deal, Washington Post

"After interviewing 88 people and reading hundreds of thousands of pages of e-mails, the inspector general's office concluded that four top Air Force officials and one of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's former top aides, Undersecretary of Defense Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge, violated Pentagon and government-wide procurement rules, failed to use "best business practices," ignored a legal requirement for weapons testing and failed to ensure that the tankers would meet the military's requirements."

Got Vision?

NASA looks at insourcing, FCW.com

"[Griffin] also indicated a willingness to reverse his predecessor's emphasis on outsourcing. When asked about his strategy by Ames employees, who have been hit by recent buyout offers, Griffin said he wants to offer fewer opportunities for businesses to get a piece of NASA research. "There will be fewer of those opportunities rather than more, and they will largely be directed by NASA rather than merely be put up for grabs by industry," he said. "I don't have a percentage, but there is a change."

Editor's note: Interesting. To be certain, NASA's skill base has been eroding at an alarming (some would say dangerous) rate - and this effort by Griffin would result in staunching some of that erosion.

However, I don't recall hearing that the White House issued a reversal of the stance it took within the President's Management Agenda (PDF) issued in 2001 - as it relates to the outsourcing/competitive sourcing it directed Sean O'Keefe to implement. It is also interesting to hear Mike Griffin refer to things put up for sourcing to the private sector in a less than rosy light as being "put up for grabs by industry" - especially given that this White House is so unabashedly pro-business. Stay tuned.

Editor's note: On 27 May I posted a note regarding the fact that NASA HQ Heads Up is no longer available to the public after nearly a decade of being accessible online. After posting that note I sent an email to Joe Davis, NASA's Strategic Communications Director as why this action had been taken . No response. I sent a second request today to Davis and this time cc:ed Dean Acosta, Acting PAO AA. I got a prompt reply back from Dean a few hours later:

"Keith, I'm sorry. I thought this question was already answered for you. NASA is migrating to an intranet infrastructure and will be moving many internal communication documents -- which are designed for use by agency employees -- from public web sites to the internal web services. Keeping internal communications internal is not exclusive to NASA and creates other opportunities for more effective internal sharing of data. Most agencies and private industry do not open internal communications to the general public. I hope this answers your question."

Earlier post: NASA Web Paranoia

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 June 2005

"Update on Elektron: The onboard testing on Liquid Unit #5 (BZh-5) over the weekend has confirmed that the unit is indeed leaking nitrogen (N2) pressurization gas, and it has been declared no longer usable. TsUP is planning to have the crew perform more work on the remaining BZh-7 this week (6/9-10) before it can be retested. If the troubleshooting is successful, Elektron reactivation will be attempted after arrival of 18P (6/18), which is expected to deliver new filters for the Elektron's gas lines, but BZh-7 installation and electrolyte servicing will be done pre- 18P."

Israeli forensic expert solves mystery of Ilan Ramon's diary, Israel21C

"Little did [Sharon] Brown, a superintendent in the Israel Police Division of Identification and Forensic Science, realize that a year later, she would play an integral role in reconstructing the last days of Ramon's life aboard the shuttle."

NASA's Congressional Interactions This Week, SpaceRef

"NASA Adminstrator Mike Griffin will also be meeting with a number of politicians this week regarding the VSE. On Wednesday, 8 June, Griffin meets with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). On Thursday, 9 June, Griffin is scheduled to meet and discuss the VSE with Gov Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)."

House Approriations Committee Meeting; FY 06 Budget

Editor's note: The full House Appropriations Committee markup several bills - including the FY 2006 Science, State, Justice, and Commerce Appropriations bill.

NASA chief: Marshall has 'brightest future', Huntsville Times

"The Saturn V was a wonderful vehicle, but it could only put something like (200,000 pounds) into low Earth orbit, and that only got two people on the surface of the moon for a few days," Griffin said."

Saturn V Facts, National Air & Space Museum

"Payload to orbit: 129,300 kg (285,000 lb); Payload to Moon: 48,500 kg (107,000 lb)"

NASA Has a Problem Calculating - and Admitting - What Space Missions Really Cost, SpaceRef

Editor's note: NASA issued a press release [Thursday] regarding the Mars Phoenix Lander mission. I had some serious issues with what was - and what was not included in the press release with regard to the actual cost of the mission.
So, instead of just shooting my mouth off, I sent a formal query to Dolores Beasley and Guy Webster, the NASA PAO officials listed as contacts, and waited for their reply before posting anything. I got a reply [Friday] afternoon from Dolores Beasley - to which I have added some comments.

Sean O'Keefe Elected to Battelle's Board of Directors

Sean O'Keefe Elected to DuPont Board of Directors

O'Keefe gets third board post, The Advocate

"LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe has secured his third spot on a corporate board of directors -- this time with a multibillion-dollar multinational that will provide great contacts for the school and $235,000 to its leader."

Rabalais: O'Keefe awaits football, The Advocate

"After 3 1/2 sometimes rocky years at NASA, where he presided during the Columbia shuttle disaster and controversial budget cuts, O'Keefe was asked which he was looking forward to most of all: seeing a space shuttle fly again or Saturday night in Tiger Stadium? O'Keefe smiled broadly and said, "Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Smart guy. Obviously someone who knows the importance of LSU athletics. And that it's important he's in Tiger Stadium on Sept. 3."

UCLA Conference Brings Together World-Renowned Scientists to Address 'Astrobiology: Life Among the Stars'

"Daniel S. Goldin holds the distinction of being NASA's longest-serving administrator, an appointee of three U.S. presidents. He initiated NASA's Origin Program to study how our solar system formed, how life on Earth began and to explore whether life exists elsewhere in the universe."

Educational crisis looms when the 'Space Cowboys' retire, Enterprise Netwroks and Servers

"In the next five to 10 years the Cold Warriors and the people who worked on Apollo are going to retire," said NASA Administrator Dan Goldin. "We have five to 10 years of that overlap between those who know how to do things and those who come in with brilliant new ideas."

BU names MIT provost as its new president, Boston Herald

"After clashing with trustees and longtime President and Chancellor John Silber, Goldin was reportedly paid a severance package of $1.8 million without serving a single day as president of BU."

NASA frees rover from Martian sand trap, MSNBC

"NASA's Opportunity rover has broken free from the Martian sand dune where it had been stuck for more than a month, the mission's top scientist announced Saturday. "We're out!" Cornell astronomer Steve Squyres, principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers, reported in a mission update. Squyres said data from the previous day's activities at Meridiani Planum indicated that "all six wheels are on top of the soil."

Editor's note: According to NASA sources, the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate has recommended (internally) that NASA pursue development of a heavy lift launch system based, in part, on the current Space Shuttle. Such a Shuttle-derived Launch Vehicle (SDLV) would be capable of placing 80-100 metric tons of payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). NASA is expected to formally reveal its SDLV plans in the first week of July.

NASA chief: Marshall has 'brightest future', Huntsville Times

"Griffin said an attractive option would be to use the shuttle propulsion elements with a new cargo-carrying vehicle hung on the massive 15-story external fuel tank. This would keep shuttle production lines going - a cost saving measure - and experienced shuttle propulsion workers in their jobs. A final decision on NASA's next heavy-lift vehicle could come within the next few weeks, Griffin said."

NASA chief boosts Michoud spirits, Times Picayune

"Griffin said that fulfilling President Bush's directive to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 will require not only a new vehicle for astronauts, but a heavy-lift cargo spaceship as well. The new cargo vehicle will require "assets that only the Michoud plant can deliver," he said."

NASA, SpaceX To Collaborate on Strategies for Spaceflight Systems

"NASA and California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) have signed a two-year agreement to research strategies for future human spaceflight systems for exploration missions and commercial space access."

Spacehab Announces Dismissal of Lloyds of London Complaint

"Spacehab today announced that Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London have agreed to drop their complaint against the Company and join with Spacehab in pursuit of its claims with NASA for reimbursement of loss for its Research Double Module in the STS-107 Space Shuttle Columbia accident."

- Spacehab Appeals Decision for Losses on Space Shuttle Mission
- Spacehab Files Tort Claim For Losses on Space Shuttle Mission
- Spacehab Receives Response from NASA Regarding Claim for Losses on Space Shuttle Mission
- Spacehab Files Claim for Research Double Module Lost on STS-107 Space Shuttle Mission

Intern Opportunity

The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) Mid-Atlantic Chapter Introduces Annual Internship Stipend Program

"The SSPI's Mid-Atlantic Chapter announced today that it will award a $500 - $1,000 stipend to one or more college students interning in a satellite or aerospace organization this year. The financial support is a tangible reflection of the SSPI's mission to "enhance knowledge and career development" among current and future industry professionals."

Lots of Guns at KSC

NASA Award Notice: Glock 17 Holsters, NASA KSC

"Contract Award Amount: $32,501.40"

Editor's update: There are approximately contractor 400 security personnel covering Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). When NASA took over responsibility for CCAFS security several years ago no effort was made to replace/upgrade existing firearms. CCAFS personnel were issued USAF Berettas which one source says were now "falling apart". As such, NASA went out to upgrade all sidearms to new hardware - hence the order for 380 Glocks and associated holsters.

Fourteen mile high billboard, JP Aerospace

"On May 21st, a high altitude balloon platform was flown to the edge of space. This mission, named Away 26, was flown by JP Aerospace of Rancho Cordova, California. In addition to it's scientific and research duties, Away 26 served as a billboard at the edge of space. "Some companies like to advertise on race cars, I like to use the planet Earth". Says John Powell, President of JP Aerospace."

NASA Universe Strategic Roadmap Commitee Draft minutes: March 21, 2005

"The original intent had been to seek science that could be done in the $600-700 million range; most of these fell in the $1 billion range. Sterl Phinney said the way to get $600 million missions was to ask for $300 million proposals."

Leading theories of cosmic explosions contradicted, University of Chicago

"The question could probably be settled within the next few years with more burst observations conducted jointly between the Swift and HETE-2 satellites, which measure slightly different properties of the phenomena. But NASA plans to discontinue the HETE-2 mission this September."

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 1 June 2005

"Update on Solid-Fuel Oxygen Generator (SFOG) candles: Two more SFOGs (Russian: TGK) were used today, both successfully. As of tonight, a total of 19 candles of the old set have been decomposed on board since 5/20 (total attempts: 29 [i.e., 10 failures = 34.5% failure rate, instead of expected 20%]). With the actual failure rate, TGKs currently on board last for 25 days. Progress 18 (arrival 6/18) is manifested to deliver 42 "new" SFOGs (zero failure rate) plus 110 kg (242 lbs) of O2."

- Industry Presentation - 9 May 2005
- Draft RFP Released - 7 June 2005
- Draft RFP Comments Due - 17 June 2005
- Final RFP Released - 24 June 2005
- Past Performance Received - 15 July 2005
- Proposals Received - 4 Aug 2005
- Contract Award - 22 Nov 2005

Neil Armstrong threatens to sue barbershop over hair clippings, AP

"Apollo moon mission astronaut Neil Armstrong has threatened to sue a barbershop owner who collected Armstrong's hair after a trim and sold it for $3,000."

- NASA Presolicitation Notice: Mini-Aercam Cold Gas Thruster Valve
- NASA Presolicitation Notice: Mini-Aercam Pressure Tank
- NASA Presolicitation Notice: Mini-Aercam Communications Antenna

"The Aercam is a Return to Flight item and is on a very tight schedule. Due to the current tight scheduling for AERCam, the fact that AERCam is Return to Flight, and the subsequent runs required for this design, there cannot be any delays to the schedule or duplicative costs."

Editor's note: When did Mini-Aercam become an RTF Item? RTF (STS-114) is now planned for NET 13 July 2005. That's 45 days from today. It was originally planned for the third week in May. A check of recent NASA procurement notices show none issued for Aercam work in 2005. Why wasn't this series of procurement notices issued in, say, early April 2005, a similar period of time before the original RTF date? Did NASA suddenly find a problem with Mini-Aercam - or was Aercam added as a RTF item in the past few weeks? In a press event a year or so ago, I asked a JSC official specifically why this (very cool) system was not being used for RTF. They said that it was not being funded for RTF, but could not provide a reason why.

Editor's update: I got a call from NASA HQ PAO. Even though this officially released and published procurement notice clearly states "The Aercam is a Return to Flight item", etc., the Mini-aercam is NOT a "Return to Flight" item in the sense that the agency generally uses the phrase "Return to Flight" i.e. STS-114, -121, etc. Moreover, according to PAO, this project is not being funded as a "Return to Flight" activity. Curiously, JSC has yet to yank - or modify this procurement notice.

Editor's 3 June Update: JSC has clarified the issue.

Modification to a Previous NASA Notice: Mini-Aercam Communications Antenna

"The purpose of this modification is to clarify that the project need date for the Mini AERCam is not based on the near-term return to flight schedule, i.e. July 2005."

GAO Report: NASA - More Knowledge Needed to Determine Best Alternatives to Provide Space Station Logistics Support

"NASA's 2004 assessment identified significant challenges associated with using alternative launch vehicles for space station assembly and operation. According to previous studies and our discussions with industry representatives, these challenges would likely preclude using alternative vehicles for assembly missions. However, NASA's assessment was insufficient to conclude that the shuttle was the best option for logistics support missions prior to the proposed retirement of the space shuttle in 2010."

Sen. Brownback Comments on GAO Report on NASA and Space Shuttle

"It's now clear that NASA had not done its homework on vetting space shuttle alternatives," Brownback said."


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