Editor's note: As some of you may recall I have a habit of prowling through images from the ISS looking for strange things the crew has floating around.
July 2005 Archives
"Counting the containers as payload makes about as much sense as the post office charging you postage for the weight of the mailbox, or an airline assigning the weight of your seat to your baggage allowance. Its probably not a deliberate deception, but the figures do border on the bogus."
"NASA hopes to decide Monday whether to order an unrehearsed spacewalk to make the first exterior "repair" of the space shuttle in orbit. An astronaut would try to eliminate a potential reentry hazard by removing two protruding bits of heat shielding on the belly of the shuttle Discovery."
"NASA may conduct a spacewalk to correct a problem on the underside of the space shuttle Discovery that provoked "strong disagreement" among NASA analysts about whether or not it poses a safety hazard to the spaceship and its crew, the lead flight director for the mission said today."
"The larger question may not be the fate of Discovery but that of the whole fleet. After 2 1/2 years and $1 billion spent on safety upgrades designed to prevent just such a setback, how could things go so wrong again?"
"I believe the gap fillers are similar to what we had seen in previous flights," Discovery commander Eileen Collins said in a news conference from orbit. "It's definitely not a big concern for me now. What we looked at during the inspection looked pretty good us to through the camera lenses," she said.
Thomas questions NASA safety judgment, NineMSN.com
"Was there a sound technical reason why they made that decision or was it subject to cost pressures or schedule pressures?" said Thomas, in a series of TV interviews from space.
Editor's note: Mike Griffin did a very good job today.
"DR. GRIFFIN: Discovery is the cleanest bird we've had on orbit in recent memory. We have--so we think Discovery is safe to bring home, so that's not a decision. We have approximately one-sixth the number of scars on this orbiter by actual count as compared to the average over the last 113 flights before Discovery. So almost everything we did to fix the tank worked. We're working a couple of issues on Discovery right now. But we have--we think we have work-arounds. We think Discovery is safe to bring home."
"WALLACE: So the question is, the president wants to retire the shuttle by 2010 anyway. Should we do it now?
NELSON: No. The space program needs to continue to build and complete the international space station so that it can be used as the experimental laboratory that we designed it for."
NASA outlines plans for moon and Mars, Orlando Sentinel
"Those and other specifics of NASA's ambitious plans for a new era of human space travel are outlined in a set of internal briefing charts on the agency's recent Exploration Systems Architecture Study. A copy of those briefings, parts of which are scheduled to be made public next month, was obtained by the Orlando Sentinel."
"Last Tuesday morning, NASA's contention that it had produced the safest fuel tank in shuttle history was shattered two minutes into the Discovery's mission to the International Space Station."
"The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) is hereby canceling the Technology Transfer Transformation (TTT) Request for Proposal (RFP). An internal Agency review was conducted of the Technology Transfer program. We have concluded that the RFP no longer reflects the Agency's requirements."
"It is guaranteed bigger than Pluto," said Michael E. Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at Caltech, who led the team that made the discovery. "Even if it were 100 percent reflective, it would be larger than Pluto. It can't be more than 100 percent reflective."
"A planet larger than Pluto has been discovered in the outlying regions of the solar system with the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory, California Institute of Technology planetary scientist Mike Brown announced today."
Editor's note: This is a different KBO than the one mentioned below!
Editor's note: The discoverers of this object have a name but they have not released it. If you look at the end of this press release there is a link to a page Caltech. If you follow a link on that page about this discovery it has the name http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~mbrown/planetlila/index.html. So, is the name suggested for this planet "Lila"? Answer: it is the name of Mike Brown's newborn daughter.
[Bob Daugherty] "You never throw away a margin while you're sitting on the ground in comfort. Those things are designed for when you're flying. This is an aging vehicle. Those failures and unknowns are probably there because it's an aging vehicle, and you're crazy to throw away that safety while you're sitting there on the ground."
New world may be double Pluto's size, New Scientist
"An object possibly twice the size of Pluto has been found - hiding in plain sight. The discovery could be the biggest world in the Kuiper belt of rocky objects that orbit the outer reaches of the solar system."
- Near Infrared Spectra from Mauna Kea of the New Brightest Kuiper Belt Object (abstract), 37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
-BrightTrans-Neptunian Object, CSIC
- 2003 EL61, Caltech
The Safest Shuttle Tank Ever, editorial, NY Times
"Leaving the station half-finished would diminish its scientific value and anger some partner nations. But if the next phase of shuttle repairs looked daunting, a half-finished station might look pretty good."
NASA Grounded, editorial, Washington Post
"Before sinking billions of dollars into manned space missions to the moon or Mars, politicians should reflect hard on the price, in dollars and in lives, of what may someday be known as the space shuttle fiasco."
Shuttle will face more scrutiny today, Orlando Sentinel
"A review of more than 90 percent of Discovery's photo, radar and laser images from the first three days in space has so far failed to turn up any significant problems."
"Late Thursday, NASA officials said deeper analysis of camera footage shot during launch showed a small piece of foam may have struck the wing of Discovery's orbiter -- a scenario eerily similar to the accident that doomed its sister ship, Columbia, in February 2003."
Timing of fuel tank foam loss saved Discovery from big hit, SpaceflightNow
"The shuttle Discovery's crew might have dodged a bullet when a piece of foam debris broke away from an aerodynamic ramp on the side of the ship's external fuel tank during launch Tuesday."
"With Commander Eileen Collins and Pilot Jim Kelly at the controls, the 14th shuttle mission lifted off at 9:39 a.m., riding the massive Saturn rocket into the heavens as the crowd gathered at Cape Canaveral cheered and the ground shook."
Editor's note: This is from The Citizen, the local paper for the community surrounding JSC.
Shuttle flaws test NASA's toolbox prowess, Christian Science Monitor
"I could see senators asking, 'If you can't do this, how are you going to go to the moon and Mars?' " asks Keith Cowing of Nasawatch.com."
"Every now and again even the most cynical of us stumble across something so simple - and yet profound - as to take one's breath away - and remind us of why we are so captivated with space exploration's broader ramifications.."
Editor's note: Many people in and around the NASA family have gone through quite an emotional rollercoster in the past few days. Take a moment to look at this video produced under the sponsorship of ESMD while Craig Steidle still ran the place. Given that Mike Griffin is systematically disassembling much of what Steidle and his team built, and scattering it to the wind, this simple little video may well be what people remember them for.
"In terms of the latest announcement, NASA has not made any decision or announced anything about the timing of the next mission. The experts at NASA continue to look at all the facts and all the data. And once they have had the opportunity to do so, then they will come to some conclusions and make decisions about how to proceed."
"Space Shuttle Discovery reached its orbital destination this morning. Discovery docked with the International Space Station at 7:18 a.m. EDT to begin an eight-day stay at the Station. During the approach to the ISS, the Shuttle crew performed a maneuver to allow the Station crewmembers to take more imagery of the Station's heat shield."
Editor's note: "the Station's heat shield"? I did not know it had one.
Despite Efforts, Debris Is Still an Issue, WAshington Post
"NASA may also have bet wrongly in the final months before the launch that external tank ice -- rather than foam insulation -- posed the largest risk to the shuttle. It delayed the launch twice primarily to confront the ice problem, but in the end, it was the foam that vexed the agency again."
"Among the things we are testing are the integrity of the foam insulation and the performance of new camera equipment installed to detect problems. The cameras worked well. The foam did not."
"The effort to fix the foam problem had consumed more than two years and hundreds of millions of dollars. In the end, NASA identified the area on the tank that shed the foam as a risk, but put off redesigning it. "We decided it was safe to fly as is," Mr. Parsons said. "Obviously, we were wrong."
Discovery's fuel tank shed unexpectedly large pieces of foam, Orlando Sentinel
"Space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank shed several pieces of unexpectedly large foam insulation during launch Tuesday in a serious setback for NASA's return to flight efforts. NASA sources told the Orlando Sentinel today that pictures taken by Discovery's astronauts and a camera on the orbiter's belly revealed that a piece of a foam ramp protecting a liquid hydrogen fuel line on the tank broke off about two minutes after launch. The images also showed that several surprisingly big pieces of foam broke off the tank's bipod area where a pair of struts connects the tank to the orbiter."
Foam loss grounds shuttle fleet again, Spaceflight Now
"The largest pieces of foam did not strike Discovery and engineers believe the ship's seven-member crew will be able to safely return to Earth Aug. 7 after a long-awaited mission to deliver supplies and equipment to the space station."
"Clearly, with the event we had, we were wrong. We did not contact the orbiter at all. But it does give us pause to go back and look at what it is. Until it is closed we will not fly again. Might as well let that out now. Until we are ready we will not fly again."
"Space Adventures announced today that American technology entrepreneur Gregory Olsen, Ph.D. has been confirmed to the Soyuz TMA-7 crew which is currently planned for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 1 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan."
Editor's note: With the grounding of the Shuttle fleet it will be interesting to see if this third seat will be used for a sightseer or someone who will actually work aboard the ISS.
President Bush watches Mike Griffin in action at the Launch Control Center (click to enlarge)
"Q And how is the Mars program going?
MR. McCLELLAN: NASA can probably update you on the effort. Again, this is a long-term program, and you can sit there and smirk about it, but the President felt it was important -- (laughter) -- the President felt it was important to outline a clearly defined mission for NASA. And we're all excited about today's launch and we wish the --
Q Will he be speaking about it --"
Editor's note: Check out this page at the Newseum. Looks like Discovery's launch made virtually every front page.
Sensor boom to scan shuttle during inspections today, Spaceflightnow.com
"[Lead flight director Paul Hill] There's been a lot of concern about whether or not we'll over react and that would paralyze us for making all of the right decisions during the flight or maybe jumping the gun and repairing a vehicle when we didn't need to repair the vehicle."
"But all this inspection may be a mixed blessing. The more NASA looks for damage, engineers and other experts say, the more it will find. And the risks of overreaction to signs of damage while the shuttle is in orbit may be just as great as the risks of playing them down."
"NASA successfully launched space shuttle Discovery on Tuesday, but anxiously reviewed video showing debris falling from the craft during liftoff, the same problem that caused the fatal Columbia disaster 2-1/2 years earlier."
"NASA Stennis Space Center Acquisition Management Office is hosting an Industry Day and Small Business Expo on Wednesday, August 17, 2005 at Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis, MS. The purpose of this conference is to provide industry, particularly small businesses, with an opportunity to network and learn about Stennis Space Center, NASA Programs, and to meet with Government and Industry personnel who can assist them in their endeavors to obtain business opportunities at the facility."
"Casino Magic Bay St. Louis offers the Mississippi Gulf Coast's only casino resort with all amenities right on site including 24-hour gaming with the latest in video and reel slots and exciting tables games, plus two hotels, world-class golf, a spa, RV park, meeting space, entertainment nightly and legendary Pete Fountain, plays every Tuesday and Wednesday."
NASA Chooses Jupiter as Next Major Spacecraft Destination, Lockheed Martin
"NASA has announced the second mission in its New Frontiers Program: a mission -- called Juno to fly to Jupiter -- that now will proceed to a preliminary design phase."
CNN Transcript: DOBBS: "... Whether it is orbital space plane, whether it be an extension of the shuttle or perhaps another derivation of the space vehicle."
Editor's note: "Orbital Space Plane?" C'mon Lou. Don't you read your own website?
"Under this acquisition process, NASA has used a phased approach utilizing full and open competition to select two companies, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Northrop-Grumman/Boeing, for phase I contracts for concept development. Phase II will begin after a competitive down select of the phase I effort. Again the purpose of this sources sought is to identify potential sources for small business subcontracting opportunities during phase II performance."
"This morning, as I was talking with some of the dedicated men and women at NASA, I reminded them that last Friday, by a 383-15 bipartisan vote, they were given a resounding vote of confidence," Chairman Boehlert added referring to the House's overwhelming passage of H.R. 3070, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005."
"On June 23, Sen. Hutchison passed her NASA reauthorization bill through the full Senate Commerce Committee. The bill authorizes NASA for Fiscal Years 2006 through 2010, provides a legislative framework for a national space exploration policy, requires completion of the International Space Station (ISS) and prohibits a gap in U.S. human space flight capability. The legislation also designates the U.S. segment of the ISS as a national laboratory facility and requires the administrator to outline operations and functions of ISS national laboratory activities."
"Discovery lifted off at 9:39 a.m. central time today following a flawless countdown. Over the next 11 days, Discovery's seven person crew will demonstrate techniques for inspecting and protecting the Shuttle's thermal protection system and continue assembly of the International Space Station. Today's launch was the first for a Shuttle since the loss of Columbia and its crew in February 2003."
Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off on time this morning at 10:39 am EDT after a flawless countdown.
Discovery is now on its way to orbit and eventually to the International Space Station.
Editor's note: According to an internal NASA memo, "A flight of US Air Force F-15 Eagle Jetfighters helped to provide air cover over Kennedy Space Center and the shuttle launch pad against terrorist attacks during yesterday's launch countdown of the Space Shuttle Discovery."
Reader comment: "Just thought you might want to know that the F-15 pictures are not from the pre-launch time frame of the upcomingDiscovery launch. They are post-9/11 photos. One dead giveaway, the pictures of the vehicle on the launch pad are of Pad A, not Pad B where Discovery is located. Theproofof this is in the crawlerway which is curvedjust prior to reaching Pad A and straight just prior to reaching Pad B. It doesn't mean that F-15's weren't patrolling Discovery, just that the photos are old."
"With a new realism born of disaster, NASA says that the risk of catastrophic failure during the space shuttle Discovery's mission is about 1 in 100, more than twice as great as an upbeat estimate issued before the loss of the Columbia in 2003."
"Michael D. Griffin, the agency's administrator, said Sunday that he was "comfortable" with how agency managers were dealing with recent technical problems. The space agency, Mr. Griffin said, is not "brushing away" uncertainty, but dealing with it the way that scientists and engineers do, which is to "balance one type of risk with another type or risk."
Shuttle to Be Launched Today If Weather, Sensors Cooperate, Washington Post
"NASA engineers readied the space shuttle Discovery for a second launch attempt, scheduled for Tuesday, keeping one eye on Florida's capricious summer weather and another on fuel sensors whose mysterious malfunction scrubbed the first try nearly two weeks ago."
Mission Status Center, Spaceflightnow
"At first glance, NASA's decision to possibly launch even if a sensor glitch reappears suggests that the space agency was wrong two weeks ago to postpone the launch. However, the two decisions actually are very different, and indicate how much NASA's safety culture has improved."
"After the postponement on July 13, Michael D. Griffin, the NASA administrator, told reporters at a news conference he wondered "whether I could find a single electronics box in my house that's 25 years old and still works, and I don't think I can."
Editor's note: Gee Mike, I have an electronic clock radio that I bought in 1978 and it still works just fine. I have a transistor radio I got as a kid in the 60's It works fine too. Indeed, I also have a radio that my father used to listen to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadacast in 1938, and it works OK too (original tubes and all). Of course there's Voyagers 1 and 2 which are pushing 30 - and have even been remotely reprogrammed more than once.
Editor's note: There will be a service for Don Bourque at Jack Rowe Funeral Home early this week and a service in Louisianathen burial in Catahoula later this week.
Editor's update: Visitation will be Tuesday 26th from 2 p.m. - 9 p.m. Funeral Services will Wednesday 27th at 2 p.m.
Editor's note: According to CNN, First Lady Laura Bush will be at the shuttle launch tomorrow. She will view the launch at the Banana Creek viewing area and then visit the LCC firing room after the launch.
Editor's note: The graphic shown here is the work of a team of students from the University of Texas at Austin who were enrolled in a jointly listed class for both advertising and radio, television and film students conducted by Professor Neal M. Burns. Part of the course assignment involved participating in the NASA Means Business 2005 effort.
"The document, which was first reported on nasawatch.com., said the wires were coated with an insulator known as Kapton that tended to break down over time, causing short circuits and, potentially, fires."
Shuttle is back, but honestly, I just don't care, commentary, Orlando Sentinel
"Between now and 2020, NASA needs $270 billion to retire the space shuttle, develop its replacement and return to the moon, a trip that will cost more than $60 billion."
Editor's note: A. This guy needs to talk to someone who actually knows what they are talking about.
B. This guy is a sports writer. So, I would guess that he thinks that a bunch of guys running around throwing a ball and making obscene amounts of money for doing nothing of real value is more important than space exploration. Gee, why not just say so?
Editor's note: This chart is from a Powerpoint presentation "Innovative Programs: Instruments and Potential Activities" by Brant Sponberg delivered at the Space Frontier Foundation's "Return to the Moon" conference.
"NASA is completing an internal review that proposes using an expendable launch vehicle derived from space shuttle components to launch and complete the International Space Station following retirement of the shuttle orbiters in 2010, according to senior agency and industry sources."
"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said he supports the decision and even hopes the problem recurs to further pinpoint the source of the trouble. He acknowledged that the public might perceive that the space agency is rushing to launch, but insisted it was the right technical judgment. "These are rather arcane matters, I would admit. They're rather difficult and sometimes they don't always present well," Griffin said. "But in the long run, I think if it's the right thing, we can explain it to you and you want us doing what's right, not what necessarily is obvious or popular."
-MarsCam1 - looks at the Mess Tent and the Core building
-MarsCam2 - looks east
-MarsCam3 - inside the new Office Tent
-Greenhouse Webcam 1 - outside view of the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse
-Greenhouse Webcam 2 - inside the greenhouse
-Greenhouse Webcam 3 - inside the greenhouse
Editor's note: NASA doesn't quite have its act together and has decided to delay release of its new exploration architecture and plans for the space shuttle. As such, the earliest that Congress will be briefed will be the first week in September. In addition, details on what type of shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle NASA wants (side mount vs in-line) are once again up in the air. Stay tuned.
Editor's upate: According to attendees at the Return to the Moon Conference in Las Vegas this weekend, Chris Shank said that he was specifically cleared by Mike Griffin to say that NASA does not have enough money to implement the exploration architecture it wants to put into place - unless the private sector lends a hand.
Editor's note:In the 18 July edition of Space News, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director (and former Associate Administrator for Space Science) Ed Weiler says that he did not agree with the way that former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe handled the Hubble Space Telescope issue.
Curiously, Weiler took a totally different stance in late 2003 as O'Keefe was preparing to make his decision about not sending the SM-4 Shuttle Servicing mission to repair and reboost Hubble. Indeed, Weiler was outright supportive of what O'Keefe was thinking of announcing a few months hence - and he put it in writing.
Astronauts endorse NASA's fuel sensor strategy, SpaceflightNow
"In the meantime, NASA managers ordered engineers to swap the wiring used to connect sensors 2 and 4 to the point sensor box. If sensor 4 acts up during fueling Tuesday, troubleshooters will have strong evidence the problem is, in fact, in the wiring and not a generic problem that could affect the other sensors."
Editor's note: There will be a Hubble Space Telescope meeting at NASA HQ next week. Among the items to be discussed is a new solar activity model which some people at NASA think will allow the Hubble to remain safely aloft for quite some time after a reboost from the visiting shuttle.
This way, so the thinking goes, the hope is that a deorbit module i.e. the PDM (Propulsion Deorbit Module) will not need to be included on the SM-4 mission. Apparently, a few weeks ago, when Mike Griffin was briefed on Hubble, an estimated deorbit some time in 2030 was mentioned. According to a participant Griffin said something to the effect of "why are we worrying about it then?".
Deleting the PDM solve some vexing upmass issues. It would also save NASA a large amount of money. Not only would the PDM not need to be developed, but money would not be needed to modify the FSS (the payload carrier that holds Hubble in Shuttle's cargo bay) to accomodate the PDM.
Of course, the issue of bringing Hubble back will have to be addressed someday - but at least it won't have to be dealt with during Mike Griffin's time as Administrator.
NASA scrubs Red Planet craft to save green, Rocky Mountain News
"Belt-tightening at NASA has forced the space agency to cancel a planned $500 million Mars orbiter that was expected to be built by Lockheed Martin in Jefferson County. Negotiations between the aerospace company and NASA had been expected to lead to the award of a design-and-build contract for the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter."
Editor's note: Word has it that Mike Griffin wants to delay the Mars Science Laboratory by 2 to 4 years as well - this would mean a launch as late as 2013.
- DeLay: NASA Prepared to Make Next Giant Leap; House Passes NASA Authorization Bill by Vote of 385-15
- House Overwhelmingly Passes NASA Authorization Bill
- Bipartisan Compromise Yields Positive Results for NASA
"Today's vote is the first time in five years that a NASA authorization bill was considered by the whole House. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 383-15."
"That is why we want to make sure we have that other vehicle ready about the time we shut down the space shuttle so we will have human access to this international space station and reap the benefits, once it is fully constructed, of all the experimentation and the processing of materials we can uniquely do in the microgravity of Earth's orbit."
"NASA GSFC plans to award a cooperative research agreement on a sole source basis to the University of Maryland for research and technology development in the area of dexterous robotic manipulation for space applications. This cooperative agreement will establish a Space Robotics Institute."
NASA/HQ has a requirement for engineering support services in support of the Office of the Administrator. The contractor shall support the Shuttle/Station Configuration Options Team; the Systems Engineering, Integration, and Transition Team for the Space Shuttle, Space Station, and Exploration Systems programs; the Integrated Enterprise Management Program; and, provide support to the Program Analysis and Evaluation Office. NASA/HQ intends to award a purchase order to Mr. Liam P. Sarsfield. The authority is 10 U.S.C.2304(c)(1) "only one responsible source."
Editor's note: I find it absurd that a justification to sole source this work to Liam Sarsfield is done on the basis that there is "only one responsible source." The implication is that there is no one currently working within NASA who is capable of doing this work.
NASA May Cut Shuttle Flights and Reduce Science on Station, Science (subscription)
"But Griffin's job over the next several months will be to satisfy a White House eager to move beyond the station, placate foreign partners frustrated by delays, and convince lawmakers that he isn't ignoring station science. "With a radically reduced [shuttle] flight rate, the change is going to be traumatic," warns one official. "We're in a mess." That mess may well prove more daunting than a successful return to flight aboard Discovery."
Volna Failure Review Board Reports on Loss of Cosmos 1, Planetary Society
"The Planetary Society was not invited to be part of the failure review. We did receive a warning from the U.S. State Department reminding us that, under International Arms Traffic Regulations (ITAR), we are not allowed to participate in a launch failure review without their approval. But even before the failure review, there was a serious lack of communication and coordination with the project and launch vehicle teams."
"Two weeks after suicide attacks on subway stations and a bus, police said explosions occurred at three subway stations and on a double-decker bus Thursday."
"With some work still to go, NASA is moving toward a new launch attempt for the Space Shuttle Discovery Tuesday, July 26, at 10:39 a.m. EDT. Engineers are wrapping up a troubleshooting plan to address a fuel sensor system issue that caused Space Shuttle managers to scrub the first launch attempt for the Return to Flight mission, STS-114."
"When he attended a James Doohan Farewell Star Trek Convention and Tribute last summer, in a wheelchair but alert, one speaker was Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon and a "Star Trek" fan. According to accounts of the event, Mr. Armstrong said he hoped his next command would be a Federation starship and added, "If I get that command, I want a chief engineering officer like Montgomery Scott."
Editor's note: According to ABC News, Doohan's family "intends to send his ashes into space."
"Welcome to Google Moon - In honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we've added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor."
Editor's note: Be certain to zoom all the way in.
Futuristic design wins competition for new Antarctic Research Station, British Antarctic Survey
"The new modular station, elevated on ski-based jackable legs to avoid burial by snow, can be towed across the ice. The modules are simple to construct and can be re-arranged or relocated inland periodically as the ice shelf flows towards the sea."
"When NASA elects to bypass its risk management requirements it is turning away from the safety and management principles built into the policy and is engaging in "decision making processes that operate outside the organization's rules," which was cited in the CAIB report's executive summary."
"PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PWC) has agreed to pay $41.9 million to settle allegations that it made false claims to the United States in connection with claims it made to federal agencies for travel reimbursement. ... The settlement resulted from an investigation by the Justice Department's Civil Division ... and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ..."
"In a scathing report on NASA's Sept. 30, 2003, financial statement which got scant attention at its release but was detailed in a cover story in the May issue of CFO Magazine [PriceWaterhouseCoopers] accused the space agency of one of the cardinal sins of the accounting world: failing to record its own costs properly."
NASA ponders launch next week, Orlando Sentinel
"NASA managers are trying to keep all their options open and get Discovery off the ground before the current launch window ends July 31. "Hopefully, in the next 24 to 48 hours, we will find the glitch that has us all confused or frustrated or pick your adjective," said Wayne Hale, NASA's shuttle-program deputy manager."
NASA mulls launch options, SpaceflightNow
"NASA managers today told the shuttle launch team to gear up for a possible attempt to launch Discovery next Tuesday if troubleshooters can either fix the fuel sensor problem that grounded the ship last week or gather enough data to prove it won't affect other sensors this time around."
NASA Is Pushing for a Shuttle Liftoff, NY Times
"But so far, a eureka moment has eluded NASA, and officials are looking for ways to return to flight before the current launching window closes on July 31. If they are unable to launch by then, the next window opens on Sept. 9."
Specifically, the memo says "The Administration is convinced that 28 Shuttle flights are not required to assemble a Space Station that meets the goals of the Vision and that this number of flights is not achievable by 2010. The projected increases to the Shuttle's lifetime budget could put the Vision in jeopardy ... To ensure that the Shuttle can be retired safely by the end of the decade at close to its planned lifetime budget, and without undue schedule pressure, Passback assumes that the Space Shuttle program is limited to a total of 15 additional flights to complete the assembly of the Space Station."
Earlier story: NASA and White House Discuss Early Shuttle Fleet Retirement, SpaceRef
Winging it, The Economist
"To what extent NASA is able to please everyone will depend on how many more shuttle flights there are. Even if the next few go ahead as planned, NASA will almost certainly fly fewer missions than the 28 it had once hoped for. Current speculation ranges from as few as 12 to as many as 20 flights."
"NASA is now looking to fly 20 missions to the station at best, and more likely about 15, said NASA administrator Michael Griffin."
"If I have any worries at all, it's a few years from now, down the road, when the hardware gets older," said Bob Sieck, a former shuttle launch director and NASA safety adviser.
"This proposal would redirect $168 million to the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account from the Exploration Capabilities account. This would result from a reallocation of $168 million for ISS Crew/Cargo Services from the Space Operations Mission Directorate in the Exploration Capabilities account to the Constellation Systems Theme of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. In addition, $135 million would be realigned within the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account. This would result from a reallocation of $135 million for the Lunar Robotic Exploration Program from the Science Mission Directorate to the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Both changes would be made in order to better align budget and management responsibility."
Editor's note: Mike Griffin seems to have chosen Chris Shank as his ambassador to space advocacy groups. Shank is listed as the "keynote speaker" at the Space Frontier Foundation's Return to the Moon conference on 21 July and has an hour to provide an "Overview of NASA" on 13 August at the Mars Society Convention.
Wayne Hale: "The simple things we did last night did not provide us with any resolution to the problem"... "We are going forward on a day-by-day basis. As soon as we find the problem we will fix it then we will be 4 days from launch. What will that date be? I don't know."... "We are not becoming pessimistic about making the July window. We are here for the duration and will give it the old college try."
"Space Shuttle managers will brief reporters this afternoon about NASA's Space Shuttle Return to Flight mission (STS-114). The news conference starts no earlier than 5:30 p.m. EDT, and it will be carried live on NASA TV from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla."
Discovery launch pushed back more, SpaceflightNow
"NASA said on Friday that the earliest it could launch the space shuttle Discovery on the first shuttle mission since the 2003 Columbia accident would be late next week, after liftoff was postponed two days ago because of a technical problem."
Editor's note: NASA does everything by committee even paragraphs and sentences within official letters. A probable example can be seen in this letter (unless no one really proofed it before sending):
"Last night, NASA received an amendment in the nature of a substitute that the Committee plans to consider at today's Full Committee markup of H.R. 3070."
Then, just two sentences later, the letter changes the way it capitalizes/spells a name and an event:
"However, I would like to re-iterate a high-priority request for you to consider at today's full Committee mark-up."
"Logistical and research activities at the HMP Research Station are moving ahead smoothly. Pascal Lee, Project Lead, remains in Resolute Bay to coordinate key logistics and research payload forwarding for the 2005 field campaign."
Editor's note: A series of live webcams sponsored by SpaceRef Interactive will be online on Devon Island in the next week or so.
Sunday launch odds are low, Orlando Sentinel
"The best-case scenario would give NASA another launch attempt at 2:14 p.m. Sunday. The chance of that happening, however, is virtually zero."
"NASA announced the earliest the Return to Flight Space Shuttle mission (STS-114) could launch is 2:14 p.m. EDT, Sunday, July 17. Mission Management Team and engineering meetings took place last night and today at NASA's Kennedy Space Center."
"Forty-four members of Congress flew to Cape Canaveral for the scrubbed launch of space shuttle Discovery at a cost of more than $73,000, according to figures provided to The Associated Press on Thursday. Some lawmakers would be willing to try again once NASA sets a new launch date, but it depends on the congressional schedule."
"I am pleased that this bill enables us to move forward in the area of exploration and also provides funding for other activities such as scientific research and aeronautics," concluded Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA). "I support the provision that calls for honoring our existing international partnerships on the ISS, particularly those partnerships involving life science research using the centrifuge."
"Also, by remaining silent on the Shuttle program's length of operation, the bill provides the Administrator the flexibility to move forward with his plan to retire the Shuttle program in 2010."
"Unlike H.R. 3250, the Substitute: Drops language that prevents Shuttle retirement until the Crew Exploration Vehicle is in operation"
Note from someone@Nasa.gov: "The level sensor itself is a platinum wire. The wet/dry situation is a measure of resistance. After the tank was drained, one sensor showed wet but 3 hours later showed dry. In a later test the sensor again disagreed with the others but 5 minutes later agreed. Current thinking is that the vast time difference in the reading returning to nominal indicates that this is a mechanical problem where vibration (wind gusts, etc.) that can produce instant effects would be causal, rather than electrical where environmental (temperature, humidity) changes that are slow to build and slow to dissipate would be the culprit."
Reader comment: "This message has been coming at KSC employees from every direction...e-mails, the daily electronic newsletter, etc.... It's a great way to build morale and generate that OneNASA, one family environment that we all desire. Not.
Viewing launches has long been an important perk at KSC. Neither the previous RTF nor Glenn's flight warranted this kind of response. In fact, this is the first time the majority of personnel have been made aware of this "regulation". This sounds a bit "bush league" to me. No pun intended.
Please maintain my privacy concerning this message."
Launch on hold for troubleshooting, Spaceflight Now
"Shuttle engineers are trying pinpoint why one of four critical hydrogen fuel sensors failed a test late in the shuttle Discovery's countdown Wednesday, forcing NASA managers to scrub the agency's long-awaited return to flight."
Part fails, delaying Discovery launch, Orlando Sentinel
"Two of the sensors malfunctioned April 14 during a test in which engineers fueled Discovery's tank. However, the sensors worked properly during a second test of the same tank May 20."
"Q Scott, is the President going to watch the Shuttle launch? And has he shelved his Mars proposal?"
Fear of Flying, OpEd, NY Times
"As NASA prepares for its first space shuttle launching since the Columbia disaster, the question on everyone's lips is this one: Is the shuttle safe? My answer, as the former chairman of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, is that there is no such thing as safety. Spaceflight will always be risky. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it."
Editor's note: Word has it that George Washington University professor and former Kerry presidential campaign space advisor John Logsdon is now advising NASA Administrator Mike Griffin in a formal role. Logsdon is part of a group Mike Griffin has assembled - one which reportedly includes Charles Bolden, Pete Worden, and Marcia Smith - whose task is reviewing the results of Griffin's 60 day study.
"NASA is considering retiring a Space Shuttle orbiter in 2007 and beginning modifications to one shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center under a plan now being reviewed at NASA headquarters, according to senior agency sources. No final decision has been made but discussions continued as Discovery was being prepared for launch."
Editor's note: Today's launch of the space shuttle Discovery has been scrubbed due to a low level fuel cut off sensor problem. No new launch date has been set yet. The crew is preparing to disembark the shuttle at this time.
Editor's note: The rain has let up, the power (and air conditioning) are back on, and the crew is climbing into Discovery.
Editor's note: Dark clouds are gathering over KSC - and they do not seem to be moving very fast. It is raining and loud thunder can be heard nearby. Meanwhile, due to heavy power usage, the main generator here at the press site just went out leaving much of the immense media swarm without some of their systems. A stage 1 lightning alert is in effect and people have just been told to take cover. So far the WiFi is still working.
"Tuesday evening, House Science Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) and the entire Democratic Caucus of the Committee introduced The NASA Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R. 3250) - their alternative to H.R. 3070, NASA Reauthorization legislation introduced by Science Committee Republicans."
"This afternoon, the eyes of the world will be on NASA and our effort to launch the Space Shuttle Discovery and its brave crew. The launch of STS-114 will culminate two and a half years of dedicated work to make the Space Shuttle program, and NASA as a whole, stronger and safer. I want to thank each and every member of the NASA team for your hard work and commitment to excellence."
Editor's note: 13 July 2005: 9:36 am EDT: I just walked past Courtney Stadd here at the KSC press site. Stadd is a Bigelow Aerospace consultant and recently left his short term consultant's position as an advisor to Mike Griffin. Alas, despite not having been a NASA civil servant for a number of years, Stadd was sporting a NASA civil servant badge and no discernible media credentials.
"At about 5 p.m. today during routine closeouts at the launch pad, the cover of Discovery's window number seven, one of the overhead crew cabin windows, fell about 65 feet and hit a carrier panel on the left Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod, damaging several tiles. The tiles were on a single carrier panel, which fits over the area. A spare carrier panel was taken to the pad and used to replace the damaged panel. The replacement procedure took about an hour to complete".
"Americans strongly support the space shuttle program, but just more than half of those polled think highly of NASA's performance, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken weeks before the intended launch of the first shuttle flight in 2 years."
UK's Nasa hacker breaks his silence, Silicon.com
"McKinnon, however, said he can't remember much about the project as he had been "smoking a lot of dope at the time". The hacker has also denied that he had made Washington's computer system inoperable, although he did admit he may have deleted some government files by accidentally pressing the wrong key."
Ready for liftoff, CNN
"But after Columbia, some say, the agency may have finally started listening.Maybe the point wasn't driven completely home with Challenger, but it certainly was with Columbia," said Keith Cowing, a former NASA scientist who now runs the independent watchdog publication nasawatch.com. "It certainly seems that the senior management gets it. Whether it has filtered down to everyone involved ... it's a bureaucracy, and it probably never will, but there are some changes."
"The President's initiative for the civilian space program places emphasis on exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond by humans and robots. Science is exploration, whether it involves directly sampling the surface of Mars, or gathering in the faint and ancient light of distant galaxies. Exploration without science is tourism."
Editor's update: Now it looks like the release may be slipped back until after the landing of Discovery. This is due to the feedback received after last week's briefings and the need for NASA to firm up its story.
Editor's note: Sources indicate that Mike Griffin will release the Exploration Architecture Study at a NASA HQ briefing Monday afternoon, 18 July.
Editor's note: As reported here last week, briefings regarding Mike Griffin's 60 day study have been underway for congressional and industry representatives in Washington. Not everyone gets the same briefing however. Reports from these briefings speak of lack of budget data, lack of a firm or final design for the heavy launch vehicle, and a general feel of disorganization within the presentations. External reviewers are citing a number of problems with they have been presented. Contractors are miffed because they don't think things have been thought through thoroughly - and that some very simple questions cannot be answered. The ISS partner nations are not happy campers either.
Among those briefed this week at NASA HQ were former astronaut (and O'Keefe choice for Deputy Administrator) Charles Bolden, GWU professor and Kerry presidential campaign space advisor John Logsdon, Marcia Smith from CRS, and Pete Worden. More to follow.
Griffin Wants Inline SDLV and 5 Segment SRB/CEV (earlier post)
Editor's update: From the NASA History Office: "To mark the 30th anniversary of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, the NASA History Division is pleased to announce a new Web site at http://history.nasa.gov/30thastp/index.html online. The two spacecraft launched separately on July 15, 1975 and joined in space two days later. This site contains biographical information, timelines, audiovisual clips, and much more. Special thanks to Giny Cheong, Liz Suckow, and Todd Messer for their help with this informative and attractive site."
Roaring Comeback, Aviation Week & Space Technology
"Discovery's zero-to-Mach 25 launch to orbit will be propelled by Space Shuttle Main Engines and Solid Rocket Boosters that have undergone substantially increased testing and rigorous quality oversight in the two years since the Columbia accident."
Flight of the Phoenix, Aviation Week & Space Technology
"Crew safety is paramount, but the immediate fate of thousands of shuttle related aerospace jobs across the U.S. is also quite literally riding on the success or failure of Discovery's return to flight and subsequent shuttle missions."
Calm and steady, launch director ready for liftoff, Orlando Sentinel
"I am a fan of ordinary people doing something extraordinary, and, for the most part, that describes our presidents," [Mike] Leinbach said. He turned and gestured through a giant window in his office toward the launchpad where space shuttle Discovery awaits liftoff Wednesday. "We have 14,000 people doing extraordinary things out here."
Editor's note: Right now, if you ask where Mike Griffin is, the response you get is that he is "out of the office". In reality, he is on vacation in South Carolina. Rest assured, he will be at KSC for the launch and has already picked out a prime seat for himself in the Firing Room. While at KSC, Griffin will participate in what is being touted as a "NASA Administrator's Q&A" at 2:00 pm EDT on 12 July. Once the launch has been accomplished, he will also participate in a "+ 1 hour Post-launch Press Conference" with Bill Readdy, Bill Parsons, and Mike Leinbach. After that, Griffin is expected to be "out of the office" again for a few days in South Carolina.
"This is a notice of our intent to award a contract on a noncompetitve basis to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) for the following services." ... "b) Systems Engineering and Analysis - Systems engineering activities essential to defining problems and requirements, assessing or devising technical approaches and concepts, and developing baselines (e.g., models, architectures, specifications) useful for continued development and/or integration. This includes performing bench marking and evaluation activities such as critical experiments, analyses, simulations, trade studies, and tests." ... "These services are not available elsewhere in a UARC or Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) environment in their entirety and, while not quantifiable, could not be duplicated without substantial investment of effort and other resources over a period of years."
Editor's note: According to a NASA source, this procurement is the result of H.Rpt. 108-792 - Making Appropriations for Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2005, and for Other Purposes which says "The conferees agree to provide $2,000,000 for establishment of a NASA program office at the Applied Physics Laboratory [APL] for the purpose of administering all existing contracts between NASA and APL, including those under the LWS Program. The APL program office will report directly to the Associate Administrator for Science."
No mention is made within this procurement notice of this Congressional direction as the real reason for this procurement, nor of the amount of funding involved. In addition, the tasks described in this procurement notice seem to be much more expansive than the simple two sentence description provided by Congress. Also, if this is simply meeting a congressional earmark, then why does NASA include all of the information needed for others to show their qualifications to do the job - so as to allow a decision to be made whether or not to compete this? If NASA intends to award this to JHU anyway, isn't this all just a charade?
"A 90-Day Report, requested by the Administrator, was compiled for the first time June 15, 2005. The report will be updated monthly and will include noteworthy Agency, Center, and program milestones, events and activities, press conferences and interviews, upcoming reports, deadlines and legislative activities, and key decision dates. (A special emphasis should be placed on information that would be needed by or of interest to the Administrator and the Deputy Administrator.)"
"Deep Impact needs a trajectory change soon if it is to have enough propellant for a new mission. That change remained forbidden by NASA Headquarters as the spacecraft team celebrated their hard-won success on July 4, a sign of money troubles and uncertainty about directions at the agency. Clear heads prevailed on July 5 and the course change was approved--but not the extended mission."
Editor's note 7 July 7:00 AM EDT: Despite 3 requests all I have gotten back from PAO is one of the recipent's replies that she was out of email communication the day after I sent the first email request.
"Due to the expected arrival of Hurricane Dennis in the Gulf Coast, the crew of STS-114 will now arrive at KSC a day early."
"NASA is considering adopting policies and developing plans and procedures to expand access to and use of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at John F. Kennedy Space Center by other government agencies and their contractors, university research and technology programs, and commercial users as outlined in this request."
Editor's note: Yesterday morning, as I listened, half asleep, to the names of the London Underground stations that were hit by the terrorist attack, I suddenly froze when they named one station in particular: Aldgate East. Two years ago, when I was in London, I got off at that station and wandered around the immediate neighborhood. I was trying to locate any remaining indications (alas, none found) of the site of a V-2 impact in spring 1945. You see, my father was billeted nearby when the rocket hit.
To explore is human, editorial, Mike Griffin, USA Today
"If history demonstrates anything, it is that those nations that make a commitment to exploration invariably benefit. Because of Britain's centuries-long primacy in the maritime arts, variations on British systems of culture and government thrive across the globe."
"Glenn Medeiros, well known for his smooth rendition of "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" and the #1 MTV hit recorded with Bobby Brown, "She Ain't Worth It" has written a tribute song to the fallen astronauts of the past and an inspiration to future flights and space exploration."
Ready For Liftoff, US News
"Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of the journal Science, fears that the effect will be a transfer of money from universities--whose professors handle much of NASA's scientific planning and analysis--to big industrial contractors who build vehicles and hardware."Can Congress Save NASA Science?, Science (subscription)
"One likely victim, Griffin told Congress, is the centrifuge, once the central facility for station research. Life scientists will need to "go elsewhere," he says. "I cannot put microbiology and fundamental life sciences higher than" the need for a new launch vehicle for astronauts. In contrast, preserving science aboard the station is one of the goals of a bill introduced last week to reauthorize NASA programs."
"NASA anticipates amending this RFP by no later than the end of July 2005. Pending issuance of that amendment, the due date for all proposals is delayed indefinitely."
Deep impact on policy, opinion, Times Tribune
"New NASA administrator Michael Griffin seems to have a strong sense of the value, rather than the cost alone, of productive science missions. He is trying, for example, to restore funding for a final repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, which otherwise would be abandoned."
Editor's note: The author seems to have a narrow view of what is actually happening at NASA. Despite Griffin's clear interest in science, right now, human exploration is the prime concern of this Administrator. In hearings last week before the House Science Committee Griffin said "... but I cannot responsibly prioritize microbiology and fundamental life science research higher than the need for the United States to have its own strategic access to space."
US willing to pay for Russia's help in space, Nature (subscription required)
"[University of Maryland physicist and former Russian space official Roald] Sagdeev says Griffin's view of Russia as a competitor is misguided, given that country's "miserable space budget". But he adds that cooperation with Europe is now a higher priority for the Russian space programme than cooperation with the United States."
Reader comment: "I think I have found out why people keep coming up with claims that the VSE will cost $1 trillion. Check out this AFP story up on Yahoo today. In particular the line which reads, "Despite the uncertainties surrounding the safety of manned flights, President George W. Bush has set out an ambitious agenda for intergalactic exploration." Is NASA putting together any RFPs for Warp Drive development that you've heard of?"
"Russia's space agency has signed a contract with Gregory Olsen, a spokesman said Wednesday, in a deal that would make the U.S. millionaire scientist only the third tourist to visit the international space station."
"Today, Women in Aerospace (WIA) announced the opening of and requested nominations for their 20th Annual Awards Competition. This signature program furthers the WIA mission to expand women's opportunities for leadership and increase their visibility in the aerospace community."
"This note provides updated information on the Langley Research Center's current financial and human capital status. Last Friday, during my visit to NASA Headquarters, I learned that there will be no civil service (CS) reduction-in-force (RIF) during Fiscal Year (FY) 2006."
"According to a new NASA study, when America goes back to the moon and on to Mars it will do so with hardware that looks very familiar. NASA has decided to build two new launch systems - both of which will draw upon existing Space Shuttle hardware. One vehicle will be a cargo-only heavy lifter, the other will be used to launch the Crew Exploration Vehicle."
"NASA will present The Comets performing a special concert for the "Deep Impact" team. It takes place at 12 p.m. TODAY (Tuesday July 5th) at the NASA/JPL's Pasadena facility."
Moscow astrologist takes NASA to court, RIA Novosti
"The trial has been postponed, as a NASA official failed to turn up at court," said Alexander Molokhov."
"Bai demanded that NASA pay about nine billion roubles (about 316 million U.S. dollars) as compensation for moral damage caused by the collision of unmanned probe with the comet Tempel-1"
"After 172 days and 431 million kilometers (268 million miles) of deep space stalking, Deep Impact successfully reached out and touched comet Tempel 1. The collision between the coffee table-sized impactor and city-sized comet occurred at 1:52 a.m. EDT."
Robbins Hopes War of the Worlds Doesn't Spark Space Race, Contact Music
"I don't see spending billions of dollars to see if there's life somewhere else as a good use of money. Better to use that money to make the quality of life better here on earth."
Editor's note: Gee Tim, this all sounds a little hypocritical to me. In addition to appearing in a movie such as "War of the Worlds" which draws upon the interest in space among some people (and not for free I am sure), I guess its OK for people to pay money (and improve your "quality of life") to see you pretend to be in space - as you did when acting in a truly horrible movie a few years back about finding life on Mars? Do as I say - not as I do, eh? Hey, wasn't that your wife starring in the second Dune miniseries on the SciFi channel - which dealt with life on other planets?
Oh wait. You're just an actor spouting lines. Nevermind.
Griffin: "We're Go for launch on July 13th."
NASA says Discovery is a 'go', Orlando Sentinel
"A standing ovation erupted in the meeting room after the traditional polling of managers for whether they were "go" or "no go." "I had a lump in my throat," said Bill Parsons, NASA's shuttle-program manager. "For us to get the 'go' to proceed from this point on was a big step, and we're pretty proud of what we've accomplished."
"I am pleased NASA has approved a return to flight date and I look forward to attending the launch that will mark an important milestone in space exploration for the United States," Chairman Hutchison said. "It took a great deal of hard work and dedication by NASA to get us safely back in flight and leading the world in exploration."