October 2005 Archives

Further Details Emerge Regarding NASA's Cancellation of Human and Robotic Technology (H&RT) Research Projects

"NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate has decided to cancel 29 out of 51 Human and Robotic Technology (H&RT) research projects selected in 2004."

NASA Internal Memo: NASA Realigns Research and Technology to Accelerate CEV/CLV (contains detailed budget reduction charts)

"As NASA concentrates the use of the Shuttle on ISS assembly, some ISS utilization will be deferred. As a result, transitional action is being taken now to reduce and/or discontinue approximately 34 contracts and activities previously planned at $344 million in FY 2006. After termination costs and buyouts, these actions will yield $243 million in FY 2006 that will be applied toward accelerating the CEV and CLV."

Editor's note: I love it when people at NASA use the word "deferred" because they don't have the courage to say that something is being "cancelled." With these actions, NASA is walking away from a substantial portion of its ISS research portfolio - a portfolio it has been using to justify the space station itself for decades.

NASA Hazbot III Prototype Mobile Robot: "Hazbot III was used by the JPL Fire Department in simulated reconaissance missions. Its final demonstration mission was carried out in April 1994. Also in 1994, NASA loaned Hazbot III for the Kurt Russell and James Spader film Stargate, which features the robot as the messenger that moves between two worlds. Provenance: Purchased by the vendor at GSA Auctions, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory."

Joe Loftus Has Died

Loftus, 75, former official for NASA, Houston Chronicle

"Joseph P. "Joe" Loftus Jr., who became assistant director of the Johnson Space Center after his dreams of being an astronaut were dashed, died of septicemia Sept. 4 in Bend, Ore. He was 75."

Fact Sheet: President Bush Requests Rescission and Reallocation Packages, White House

"NASA: $269 million to rebuild NASAs Michoud and Stennis centers, among the largest employers in the Gulf area; $132 million for NASA to complete hurricane emergency operations and resume normal space programs."

Paying Twice for Art

Laurie Anderson, Times Herald-Record

"Oh, to be a bug on the wall when multimedia performance artist Laurie Anderson informed the higher-ups at NASA that, as part of her artist-in-residence status at the agency, she was setting out to ... write a poem. "... The end result, "The End of the Moon," is part of a trilogy that began with a piece called "Happiness" (created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks). Anderson performs her piece tonight at the Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie. Tickets: $42.50, $39.50 students/senior citizens, $36.50 members."

Editor's note: If she is getting taxpayer money to write this stuff shouldn't she perform it for free?

NASA's First and Last Artist in Residence?, NASA Watch

NASA JSC Solicitation: Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Space Flight Demonstrations

"The objective of these space flight capability demonstrations is to stimulate commercial enterprises in space and lead to innovative, cost effective access to low-Earth orbit. It is anticipated that upon the successful demonstration of any one of the mission capabilities prior to 2010 timeframe, NASA may issue a request for proposals to competitively procure commercial orbital transportation services to resupply the International Space Station. NASA anticipates that these services will be needed through at least 2015."

Congressmen Kucinich and LaTourette Send Bipartisan Letter In Support Of Higher Funding For Aeronautics In 2006 NASA Budget

"We support funding for Space Life Science at FY 05 levels. The likely primary cause of mission failure in any long-term mission to the Moon or Mars is human failure (either human error or health crisis) and both human and animal research performed in space is needed to mitigate this risk."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin has told some members of the NASA Advisory Council that he no longer wishes to have them serve on the NAC. Griffin cancelled a meeting scheduled for 20 April 2005 and, 6 months later, has yet to announce who is on the new NAC or when it will meet. Griffin sent out the following letter informing NAC members of his decision:

Layoff Update

GESTA News - RIF Information

"To the best of GESTA's knowledge there are no plans at GSFC for a RIF. However, other Centers are not as fortunate! Currently, Local 28 at Glenn has a grievance filed against their Center Management for running "Mock RIFs" without consultation with the union. Additionally it is reported that JPL have started issuing "Layoff" notices and about 200 employees and 100 contractors could face layoffs."

First Iranian satellite launched, BBC

"The Iranian satellite was joined by others from China and Europe Iran launched its first satellite into space from Plesetsk in northern Russia on Thursday, joining a select club of countries."

Mesbah 1 information

"various intelligence sources report that the satellite will also have limited surveillance capabilities and will be used by Iran to gather intelligence information on neighboring countries including American bases in Iraq, the Gulf and Israel."

Editor's note: This evening the House engaged in 40 minutes of floor debate on its own version of S. 1713 and then passed it by a voice vote.

House Floor Debate: Iran Nonproliferation Amendments Act of 2005

Rep. Calvert Applauds Passage of the Iran Nonproliferation Amendments Act

Rep Boehlert's Floor Statement on S. 1713

House Passes Iran Nonproliferation Act Amendment to Help U.S. Space Program

"The bill the House passed tonight would amend the INA to allow the U.S. to continue paying the Russians for services necessary to operate the Space Station until 2012. The Administration had originally sought language that would have, in effect, eliminated all limitations on payments to the Russians. The Senate version of the bill would have prevented payments after 2012, but would have allowed the U.S. to pay before 2012 for services that would be rendered after that date."

They're Hiring at Stennis

NASA looking for employees, Picayune Item

"CSC is hiring about 450 people for the NASA Shared Services Center but are looking to fill about 200 positions in the next 45 to 60 days, said Mark C. Milleker, vice president of Human Services for CSC."

The debate over ESAS, Space Review (comments delivered 21 Oct 2005)

"Zubrin argued that this complexity is a result of the compromise nature of the Vision, one that puts off development of the heavy-lift launcher until 2011, after the shuttle is retired, as well as use of shuttle-derived components to support the shuttle's existing industrial base. "The policy is irrational because it is a compromise," he said. "In other words, this policy sucks."

NASA Scraps Plan to Wrap Hanger in Panels, AP

"NASA has scrapped plans to wrap a decommissioned hangar in solar panels after a contractor deemed the project impractical. NASA said Monday the panels would not generate enough energy to justify the $40 million cost of installing them."

Editor's note: Oh well. It was an interesting way to make use of this historic structure.

NASA Chief Under Fire For Personal Shuttle Use, The Onion

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has yet to respond to recent allegations that he used NASA space shuttles on as many as one dozen unauthorized outings to such destinations as New York City, the French Riviera, and his vacation home near Ketchum, ID. A report issued Monday by NASA's Oversight Commission indicates a cumulative 1.8 million miles unaccounted for on the Atlantic, Discovery, and Endeavor shuttles. In addition, shuttle pilot James Kelly reported numerous occasions on which he found the pilot seat "adjusted for someone else."

Reader note: "Your comment about NASA history being inaccurate was timely. Just last night I was frustrated by a sloppy NASA history timeline."

ISS Completion in 2006?

Editor's earlier note: That is what NASA's Human Spaceflight website says: "When did assembly start and how long will it take to complete the station?

The constuction [sic] of the International Space Station began with the launch of the first element, the Russian Zarya Control Module, on Nov. 20, 1998. Construction will require 43 space flights with three different types of launch vehicles. Completion is scheduled for approximately 2006."

Editor's update: Wow, another speedy website update - this one only took a few hours! The page now has a useless paragraph with far less information than it did before - even if it was out of date: "The construction of the International Space Station began with the launch of the first element, the Russian Zarya Control Module, on Nov. 20, 1998. In accordance with our Vision for Space Exploration, completion of ISS is scheduled for 2010." In other words, "it will be completed (whatever that means) when we finish it - and we don't know how we are going to do this - yet."

Bad History at NASA

Editor's 24 Oct note: According to this image caption on the LRO website: "Robert Rauschenberg's "Stoned Moon" series created after invited to Apollo 11 launch in 1968.".

It is bad enough that some people don't think that America put astronauts on the lunar surface in 1969. Now, NASA itself can't even get the year straight on a website dedicated to a mission associated with the eventual return of humans to the moon. This error was pointed out (by others) a month ago to the people in charge of this website - but they don't seem to care enough to fix it.

Editor's 25 Oct note: This error has now been fixed. What is annoying is the fact that two individuals have told me that they alerted the NASA people responsible for this website about this specifc error - and received assurances that it would be fixed - a month ago. Alas, nothing happened until I used my bullhorn last night - and then - magically - it was fixed in a few hours. NASA's websites are its public face and they should be fixed when errors are pointed out - regardless of who does the pointing - not just when errors are pointed out in a public, embarassing way, as I have done.

Capabilities to enable Space Exploration, ESMD

"The capabilities that comprise Constellation Systems will evolve over time, based on exploration goals, budgetary priorities, and analyses of cost, benefits, and risks. This evolution will take place in stages or "spirals" that will allow NASA greater flexibility in meeting its exploration objectives."

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."

Editor's 25 Oct note: Gee, that was fast! After languishing unnoticed all these months, the politically incorrect text has been removed and replaced with acceptable verbiage. The following is what was previously on that page:

"As a result of foam loss on STS-114, an ET Tiger Team was chartered by the Headquarters Mission Director for Space Operations (MDSO) and NASA's Chief Officer for Safety and Mission Assurance (COSMA), to review unexpected External Tank (ET) Thermal Protection System (TPS) foam loss."

New Aeronautics AA

NASA Names New Aeronautics Associate Administrator

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin today named veteran scientist Lisa J. Porter as associate administrator for the Aeronautics Mission Directorate. She will lead the agency's aeronautics research efforts and continue to lead NASA's efforts in the development of national aeronautics policy in cooperation with other government agencies."

For a summary of the scrambling that has been going on in Aeronautics have a look at Aeronautics: Hurry Up and Wait, NASA Watch

Editor's note: Please fix your website too. Vic Lebacqz hasn't been the "Assoicate" Administrator for Aeronautics for quite some time.

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #3972

"We have recently discovered a young brown dwarf in the Taurus star-forming region that exhibits several characteristics {very faint for its spectral type, forbidden emission lines, anomalous near-IR colors} that are often observed in stars occulted by edge-on circumstellar disks."

The debate over ESAS, Space Review

"Zubrin argued that this complexity is a result of the compromise nature of the Vision, one that puts off development of the heavy-lift launcher until 2011, after the shuttle is retired, as well as use of shuttle-derived components to support the shuttle's existing industrial base. "The policy is irrational because it is a compromise," he said. "In other words, this policy sucks."

"The Vision for Space Exploration as currently enacted is a dead end, and some may even call it a ruse" said Foundation co-founder Rick Tumlinson in a talk immediately following Zubrin's at the conference Friday."

Editor's note: The fact that these guys, who often speak from idelogical extremes, don't like the ESAS probably means that NASA has actually chosen a reasonable middle ground upon which to proceed.

FTC Seeks More Info on Proposed Lockheed-Boeing Satellite Venture, AP

"Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Boeing Co. said Monday the Federal Trade Commission has asked for more information in its antitrust review of a proposed joint satellite-launch company."

Full Summons and Complaint by SpaceX against Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation (complete document)

"1. This is an action by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation ("SpaceX") against the Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation for violations of antitrust, unfair competition and racketeering laws. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have engaged in an unlawful conspiracy to eliminate competition in, and utlimately to monopolize, the government space launch business and prevent SpaceX and other potential new entrants from competing in that business."

Boeing, Lockheed Martin Continue Work Toward Launch Alliance Approval

"The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation announced today that they have received a Second Request for information from the Federal Trade Commission relating to their filing pursuant to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Anti-Trust Act regarding the formation of the United Launch Alliance, LLC (ULA)."

Transparent Aluminum!

Air Force testing new transparent armor, Air Force News Service

"Engineers here are testing a new kind of transparent armor - stronger and lighter than traditional materials - that could stop armor-piercing weapons from penetrating vehicle windows. The Air Force Research Laboratory's materials and manufacturing directorate is testing aluminum oxynitride - ALONtm - as a replacement for the traditional multi-layered glass transparencies now used in existing ground and air armored vehicles."

Editor's note: The following charts were part of a recent presentation made to various congressional delegations by NASA HQ staff. These charts document the considerable cuts NASA is contemplating in space station science.

Heads Up KSC

NASA KSC Closed on Monday, Oct. 24 Due to Hurricane Wilma

International Space Station Imagery: Hurricane Wilma

Wilma to Arrive in South Florida Tomorrow, May Be Category 3, Bloomberg

" Hurricane Wilma was 285 miles southwest of the Florida Keys at 11 a.m. local time. Wilma is a Category 2 storm on the five- step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity and could be upgraded to a Category 3, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on its Web site."

NOAA IR satellite image
NOAA Storm Track
NOAA Advisory
NOAA Discussion

Reader comment: "Regarding your article tracking Hurricane Wilma, you should note that the current track takes the storm direclty over the West Palm Beach site of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. SSME turbopumps -- a major contributor tothe VSE architectue -- and the RL10 upper stage engine are manufactured at this site. This site also took two direct hits last year with Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne."

Cut Shuttle - Gut Station

New NASA Plans Would Dramatically Limit Shuttle Flights And Halt Space Station Assembly, SpaceRef

"Two alternate approaches are currently under serious consideration - in real time - at NASA. One, the so-called "Serial Processing" option would reduce the shuttle flight rate to 2 missions per year, cut the workforce, stop building the ISS, and live with the consequences. The other approach would fuse current Space Shuttle, ISS, and Exploration development closely together such that existing capabilities could support emerging ones - all this serving to allow ISS assembly to continue further."

NASA Internal Memo from Michael Griffin to William Gerstenmaier: In-Guide Option for FY 2007 Budget

"1. Assume serial processing of all Shuttle operations as soon as possible in FY06. Provide an estimate for the number of Shuttle flights that can realistically be flown between now and the end of FY2010, assuming serial processing. Specify all operational assumptions necessary to execute the serial processing plan, including required workforce reductions and cost impacts of such."

Editor's note: Among the options currently under consideration in response to this memo is reducing shuttle processing to a single shift (with large layoffs) to support a flight rate of 2 shuttle missions per year. This would, of course, dramatically reduce the number of flights available to build the ISS (7 ISS, 1 Hubble) which would almost certainly result in the inability to place international partner elements on-orbit. Stay tuned.

NASA Internal Memo From Associate Administrator Rex Geveden: Freeze on Center Hiring

"After the Headquarters Institutional Requirements Review and Agency buyouts are completed, I will be reviewing the Center requirements to determine appropriate Center ceilings. Between now and then, any critical hiring exceptions must be forwarded to me for approval."

You Make the Call, NASA Chief Tells Scientists, Science (subscription)

"Researchers say they are willing to make those choices, but they note that NASA has disbanded its own advisory council. The agency has not sought advice yet from the academy panel on how to manage its fiscal crisis and avoid a civil war among disciplines fighting for limited resources."

Mike Griffin to the Rescue

New Staff, New Direction for NASA, Washington Post

"I say this with all humility," Griffin said in an interview. "I don't believe there is someone else who knows the broad span of NASA better than I. . . . When I was offered the job, I showed up at the front door knowing what needed to be done. I did not want to waste any time, nor did I feel I needed to."

Editor's note: I don't make this stuff up, folks.

NASA Layoff Update

New Staff, New Direction for NASA - Shake-Up Is Part of Chief's Plan to Reach for the Moon (Again), Washington Post

"The committee called over to NASA, and they tried to be argumentative and to stonewall," the source said. "It could have been handled much more smoothly." This source blamed the misunderstanding on NASA's new chief of staff, Paul Morrell, hired by Griffin from the White House National Security Council. Morrell, according to this source, "is in over his head."

NASA Glenn bleeding jobs; prospects are poor, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"NASA Glenn Research Center, which is bracing for deep budget cuts next year, has already lost more than 550 contractors and civil servants since late last year. That's nearly one in five of those who work at the space lab next to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. These losses are just the beginning. More drastic cuts are expected next year."

CEV Selection Delayed

Editor's note: Contractors were told today by NASA that the CEV selection is being delayed - until late Spring/early summer 2006 - most likely June. Stay tuned.

Successor to Max Ary testifies at his trial, The Hutchinson News

"After museum officials learned the Cosmosphere had garnered no money from the tape's sale, they were able to obtain a sales receipt showing that [former Kansas Cosmosphere President] Ary had sold the tape and dozens of other items owned by the Cosmosphere and NASA through his private auction house account."

Griffin Speaks Before IAC

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin's Remarks for 56th International Astronautical Congress

"...But as much as we can take pride in these accomplishments, the dawn of the true space age lies ahead of us. In a relatively short amount of time, I believe people around the globe will be able to look up at new Moon, and with the aid of a strong telescope, be able to see the glimmering lights of a research station on the lunar surface manned by an international crew."

Layoff Update

JPL Layoffs Have Begun, La Canada Valley Sun

"The first round of reductions to meet that cut will involve layoffs for about 200 regular employees and 100 contractors, according to JPL officials. Total work force at the La Caada facility is about 5,400."

The New Regime, Government Executive

Griffin: "Our plans and our budgets left us with 2,000 civil servants who weren't assigned to a job that NASA was doing. For many years, NASA did not address a growing mismatch between what our civil service skill mix was and what we needed it to be. As we change our emphasis, some skills aren't needed anymore."

ISS Reboost Burn Canceled

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 19 October 2005

"Last night's ISS reboost was aborted when Progress 19 thrusters shut down after only 117 sec into the first of two planned burns.Preliminary indications from Moscow are that the thrusters fired as commanded, but that a subsequent loss of communication ("talk back") in the pressure sensing feedback loop within the Progress thruster system caused the premature shutdown."

NASA's Hubble Looks for Possible Moon Resources

"Hubble's resolution and sensitivity to ultraviolet light have allowed the telescope to search for important oxygen-bearing minerals on the moon. Since the moon does not have a breathable atmosphere, minerals, such as ilmenite (titanium and iron oxide), may be critical for a sustained human lunar presence. Ilmenite is a potential source of oxygen for breathing or to power rockets."

~ 7.5 Earth-Mass Planet Orbiting the Nearby Star, GJ 876

"High precision, high cadence radial velocity monitoring over the past 8 years at the W. M. Keck Observatory reveals evidence for a third planet orbiting the nearby (4.69 pc) dM4 star GJ 876." ... "This inclination yields a mass for companion d of m = 7.53 +- 0.70 Earth masses, making it by far the lowest mass companion yet found around a main sequence star other than our Sun."

NASA's Hubble Reveals Moon's Secrets (with additional background material)

"NASA hosts a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Oct. 19, to discuss new Hubble Space Telescope images of the moon's surface in ultraviolet light. The press conference is in NASA's auditorium, 300 E Street S.W., Washington."

Why Is Hubble Looking at Apollo Landing Sites?, 18 August 2005, NASA Watch

Griffin Seeks to Break Shuttle Blockade of Moon-Mars Exploration, Offical Mars Society Rant by Bob Zubrin

"Set the goal, and go for it: Moon by 2012, Mars by 2016."

Editor's note: Yea right, Bob. Just send money. Even with his well-crafted lunar exploration architecture, Mike Griffin will be lucky if he gets American back to the moon by 2018.

Space Frontier Foundation departs from the Space Exploration Alliance

"... Instead, the SEA has reverted to blind cheerleading for whatever design bureau government-centric approaches the agency has put forward, as tied to the old ways as they may be, as short- sighted as they may be, and as doomed to fail in the quest to open the frontier as they are. In the end, this blindness, if it does not kill the program in its infancy, will result in an inevitable repeat of the dead end of Apollo - except this time on two worlds instead of one - which would be a betrayal to future generations."

Editor's note: Of course, these folks and their "alt.space"companies also want government money and tax breaks - they just don't want Boeing and LockMart to get them too.

Hey, whatever happened to the Coalition for Space Exploration? NASA gave the coalition preferred status. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in aerospace contractor funds were collected (a lot of which went directly into Space Foundation coffers) and the end result was:

"the story of the Vision for Space Exploration. A New Age in Space: The Vision for Space Exploration coloring book is now available online."

NASA ARC Reader note: "Last Friday (October 14th) was the final day on the "back side" of the WARN Act invoked here on the Lockheed Martin contract in August (reported by NASAWATCH earlier). Somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 LM personnel (highly experienced scientists and engineers) were processed and let go."

Babs in Space

Editor's note: From the October 2005 issue of Washingtonian magazine - interviews with local luminaries. Senator Mikulski's profile includes her admission:

"I'd be a Trekkie in two hot seconds," she says. But she admits a more realistic job would be an astronomer. "While I would love to go up to the distant planets and find new galaxies," she says. "I wouldnt want to be an astronaut. I don't quite see myself in the costume."

Image: Sen. Mikulski using her secret transporter. This should explain why people often think she is in two places at once. Click on image to enlarge.

NASA's first 'A' is still important to U.S. economy , OpEd, The Hill

"I urge conferees to embrace the $906.2 million figure for NASA aeronautics research in the 2006 science, state, justice, commerce and related agencies appropriations bill. "

NASA In Talks With Japanese About Nuclear Reactors on the Moon

"NASA Administrator Mike Griffin made a trip to Japan this week. Topics under discussion include NASA's new exploration architecture and the ISS. Specifically, talks were to focus on how the U.S. wants to change Japan's contribution to the ISS."

Royal Astronomical Society Commission Supports The Scientific Case for Human Space Flight

"In summarising their findings, the Commissioners state: "We find that profound scientific questions relating to the history of the solar system and the existence of life beyond Earth can best - perhaps only - be achieved by human exploration on the Moon or Mars, supported by appropriate automated systems."

Interdisciplinary Scientists Propose Paradigm Shift in Robotic Space Exploration, California Institute of Technology

"Just ask any geologist. If you're studying the history of a planet and the life forms that may have lived on it, the really good places to look are rugged terrains like canyons and other areas where water, igneous activity, wind, and seismic rumblings have left their respective marks. Flat is not so good."

Future Smart Robotic Space Missions Will Be Multi-tiered, Researchers Say, University of Arizona

"Remote-sensing orbiters, probes, landers and rovers are returning astonishing discoveries about our solar system. But some of the most exciting geological and potentially astrobiological places in our family of planets and moons are dangerous and difficult to explore."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin recently had lunch with the President's Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. According to a number of poeple, in his retelling of that lunch, Griffin has told a number of people that the topic of the Space Shuttle came up. As Griffin recounts the conversation to people, Card is purported to have said words to the effect that the President is concerned about the Space Shuttle's safety, that he'd like to see it retired as soon as possible, and that the White House would not be all that upset if it never flew again.

NASA GRC Reader note: "The significant contractor layoffs at GRC have reached a magnitude that is requiring at least one contractor and probably more, to comply with the provision of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("WARN act"): Simply this act requires companies to provide 60 days advance notice prior to a mass layoff if more than 50 employs are being let go and more than 33% of the company is to be terminated."

Fixing NASA's IT Mess

NASA Struggles to Fix Network Security Holes, Baseline

"This past March, an internal audit report from the NASA inspector general's office warned that the agency's decentralized management of information systems and security is making those services "less efficient, cohesive and effective" because of the lack of centralized planning and authority. Identity and account management is one of the prime examples."

Shenzhou 6 Returns

Shenzhou 6 Spacecraft Returns to Earth, SpaceRef

"According to China's official news agency, Xinhua, the Shenzhou 6 reentry module landed at at 4:32 am local time. On board were astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng."

China Keeps Reaching for the Stars, Washington Post

"But China's human spaceflight program is about more than military applications, Johnson-Freese added: "They read the Apollo playbook. They get a lot of prestige from this, and you don't hold parades for robots."

Space crew weathers a scare during re-entry, MSNBC

"As the Soyuz descent module headed back to Earth, instruments indicated that air was leaking out the same kind of failure that killed three cosmonauts in June 1971 on their way home from the worlds first space station, Russia's Salyut 1."

INA Update

Russians help Iran with missile threat to Europe, The Telegraph

"Rice, the US secretary of state, clashed with Russian officials over Iran's nuclear programme during a visit to Moscow yesterday, saying that Teheran must fulfil its obligations under the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty."

Editor's note: As if this is going to make modifying the Iran Nonproliferation Act vis-a-vis buying Soyuz and Progress flights any easier ...

Readdy Departs NASA

Editor's note: Friday was the last day at NASA for former Space Operations Mission Directorate Associate Administrator and astronaut Bill Readdy. While Readdy has not yet announced his future plans, an image emerged this afternoon at a picnic at Fort Hunt Park which gives a possible hint to his next job. Stay tuned.

Foam Damage Cause Announced

NASA Makes Progress Understanding Shuttle Tank Foam Loss

NASA: Shoddy Work Likely Caused Foam Loss, AP

"The investigation team found no evidence of negligence, said Gilbrech, who is deputy director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. Workers followed procedures, "it's just we didn't really have an appreciation for the significance that this handling damage could have."

NASA Makes Progress Understanding Shuttle Tank Foam Loss

"At a news conference today at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, space shuttle managers emphasized they have not set a specific launch date. NASA is using the May 3 to 23, 2006, launch window as a target for work to prepare Discovery for the mission."

Editor's 13 Oct note: NASA held a PRCB today - the main topic was preparations for STS-121. In order to support a May 2006 launch date for STS-121, KSC needs the External Tank by 17 January 2006. The External Tank folks say that they can deliver it by 7 February 2006. However, that delivery date comes with some complex assumptions. The chance of making that date was estimated to range from 50% by MSFC to "somewhat less than 100%" by the External Tank folks. Wayne Hale is reported to have commented that he agreed to the estimate of less than 100%. At end of meeting, according to a knowledgeable source, Wayne Hale said "We have not set a launch date.I don't care what's in the newspapers this evening. So that we all understand, we have had an assessment. We'll come back on the 27th and MAYBE we'll set a launch date."

HQ Layoff Update

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from a "NASA Headquarters Institutional Requirements Review" memo from Rex Geveden

"I. Workforce Review
9. Identify what activities would not be done if a ceiling reduction of 40% were imposed by placing impacted activities below a bold line.
A. provide an impact statement of a 40% ceiling reduction on an attachment."

Saturn V Sighting - In China

Shenzhou 6 Astronauts Rack up a Day of Firsts for China, CRI Online

"The flight is aimed at demonstrating China's space prowess the country is only the third nation to independently launch a human into orbit and the prestige of its communist government."

Editor's note: Have a look at the special page that CRI Online - a state-owned media outlet - has on the Shenzhou 6 mission. Is that a Saturn-V or a chinese copy? Before you laugh, recall that they have already reverse engineered and supercharged a Russian Soyuz design ...

ARC Layoff Update

Researchers find a potential key to human immune suppression in space

"Researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center have identified a set of key immune-response genes that do not turn on in a weightless environment. The discovery is another clue in the effort to solve an almost 40-year-old mystery: why the human immune system does not function well in the weightlessness of space."

Editor's note: Of course this is exactly the sort of basic research into crew health that NASA's new exploration plans intend to cancel.

NASA Set To Approve New Unpressurized Logistics Carrier for Space Shuttle Fleet

Editor's note: The enclosed CR pitch was presented at today's PICB at JSC. NASA is set to approve development of 5 new unpressurized payload carriers for the Space Shuttle fleet at a total cost of $120 million.

What I don't understand is why this new system is needed - one which won't enter service until 2007 only to become useless when the shuttle fleet stops flying in 2010. Moreover, existing commerical cargo carriers - pressurized and pressurized (Spacehab) exist. Curiously these alternatives seem to be ignored by NASA. Moreover, wasn't Mike Griffin going to put out an RFP for commercial resupply of the ISS this fall? Why not wait and see what the private sector can offer before committing to this new, and short-lived system? Why not come up with a system that is compatible with private launchers and the unpressurized cargo variant of the CEV?

NASA GSFC Solicitation: Leadership Alchemy Program

"Leadership Alchemy adopts an ontological, holistic, and whole-person approach. It is a rigorous program that encompasses individual and team learning in the context of workshops, Learning Team meetings, mentoring, coaching, interviewing, and shadowing." ... "Products utilized by Bridges in Organizations, Inc. include, and are not limited to, Learning Guides, workshop handouts and materials, workshop posters, a Mentor-Protg Conversational Guide, and an Alchemist's Toolkit."

Editor's note: WOW - Harry Potter would love this. Where can I get an "Alchemist's Toolkit"? This sounds like one of those programs designed to give people a charge code so they can avoid going to meetings. I wonder what they mean by "shadowing". Sounds kind of creepy - like stalking. What is the point of funding these things - I thought Mike Griffin was going to do away with all of this stuff since he does not practice it in his own management style ("with regard to feelings: I don't do feelings. Just think of me as Spock.").

CEV Concept Unveiled

Northrop Grumman-Boeing Team Unveils Plans for Crew Exploration Vehicle

"A Northrop Grumman Corporation -The Boeing Company team today unveiled its plans to design and build NASA's proposed Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), a modular space system intended to carry humans to the International Space Station by 2012 and back to the moon by 2018."

Northrop Grumman-Boeing CEV Team Names Deputy Program Manager

"The Northrop Grumman Corporation and The Boeing Company Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) team has named Leonard Nicholson, a former International Space Station executive for Boeing, as its new deputy program manager."

They're Back

Space Station Expedition 11 Crew Returns to Earth

"After traveling 75 million miles during six months on the international space station, Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and NASA ISS Science Officer John Phillips returned to Earth today."

Editor's note: Breaking with tradition, it has now been revealed that a science officer was flown on the ISS who was not a Vulcan. However, John Phillips is apparently quite a Trekkie and managed to be very creative with all of the supplies STS-114 brought up last summer. [larger image]

China Launches Shenzhou-6 With Two Astronauts Onboard, SpaceRef

"The Shenzhou-6 spacecaraft was launched on Wednesday at 9:00 AM Beijing Time from China's satellite launch center in Jiuquan located in northwest China. This is China's second manned mission - and its first mission with two astronauts on board."

- CRS Report: China's Space Program: An Overview, Congressional Research Service

- Recent China Space News, SpaceRef

- Go Taikonauts! - An Unofficial Chinese Space Website (may be offline due to heavy traffic)

Reader comment: "Please keep my name and email anonymous. Thank you. I am a program manager at JPL and am watching the layoffs with shock and awe. I'm writing today to add some facts and observations to your ongoing report."

Another Reader comment: "Someone needs to tell Dr. gRIFfin that there is no humane way to do what is being done right now. Just because he smiles and says he understands does not make it humane. Current management has already taken things beyond where Goldin had it. A bar that I thought would never be crossed."

President Bush's great white whale (editorial), Washington Examiner

"Human space travel - however romantic - is astoundingly dangerous, expensive and inefficient, and each objective can be done more safely, cheaply and efficiently with robots. Space travel is a worthwhile endeavor, but it has to be done correctly and at the right time. There is no reason to believe that now is that time or that NASA has proven itself completely up to the task."

Editor's note: Gee, I wonder if Ebenezer Scrooge Bob Park is writing for the Examiner?

Should the Space Shuttle Fly Again?, Planetary Society

"The cost estimates for returning the shuttle to regular flights are also soaring an internal NASA memorandum has suggested that more than one billion dollars extra per year will be needed to meet the shuttles demands. With growing budget deficits, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and massive post-Katrina expenses, it is hard to see how that could happen. NASA may have to choose among continuing to fly the shuttle, getting started on space exploration, or cutting other elements of its program."

JPL Layoff Update

Reader comment: "As you have already published earlier in your RIF Watch, JPL is hemorraging. Aside from the 300+ contractors, folks deemed non-essential have also been given their walking papers. In this time of crisis, and, one would think, increased communication, the Internal Communications Manager has been let go. Go figure."

Elachi details lab cuts - Layoffs needed to offset reduction in NASA funding, Pasadena Star-News

"Between 5 percent and 8 percent of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's work force will be laid off in coming weeks, a move intended to help offset JPL's smaller than expected slice of the 2006 NASA budgetary pie, according to an announcement made Monday."

A Closer Look at NASA's New Exploration Architecture, SpaceRef

"A group of NASA officials briefed a panel at the National Academy of Sciences last week on Administrator Mike Griffin's revamped exploration plans. The panel being briefed was part of the Academy's Space Studies Board - one organized to review NASA's plans for the International Space Station. Some aspects of the presentations, such as the broad outlines of how NASA wants to go back to the moon, were straightforward. Other presentations - on the International Space Station and what it is now to be used for - the ones that were most relevant to the committee's purview - were far less cogent."

Orbital Recovery Group Signs a Reservation for the First Satellite Servicing Mission Using its CX-OLEV "Space Tug"

"The Orbital Recovery life extension mission reserved by the Memorandum of Agreement would be performed in 2009. It will use the CX-OLEV "space tug" to provide propulsion, navigation and guidance to maintain the telecommunication operator's satellite in the proper orbital slot for a minimum of five additional years."

DART Mission: Partial Success/Partial Failure

NASA Announces DART Mishap Investigation Board Members

"NASA selected the mishap investigation board to determine why the Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) spacecraft did not complete its mission on April 15."

Editor's note: It has been 6 months. Why hasn't there been any word as to when the DART Mishap Investigation Board will issue its findings?

Editor's note: This short note appeared on the GSFC Sciences and Exploration Directorate website dated 28 Sept 2005: "Meet Goddard's new Chief Scientist Dr. James Garvin returns to Goddard as the Center's new Chief Scientist. Welcome back Jim!"

Of course, since Mike Griffin has told people "just call me Spock", it is logical that he'd take the Chief Scientist role on himself (see "Scotty: I Need That CEV in 2010 Or We're All Going to Die!"). Curiously, HQ still lists Jim Garvin as the agency's Chief Scientist.

Science Adviser to President Bush visits LSU, discusses science and technology policy with faculty, students (with Powerpoint presentation), Louisiana State University

"Marburger's appearance was part of the Chancellor's Distinguished Lectureship Series. His presentation, titled "Science and Technology Policy in the Real World," addressed the federal government's role in funding and support for science and technology, as well as how funding decisions are made."

- NASA Buying Microgravity Flights From Zero-G
- NASA and Zero-G Test Space Shuttle Runway Program

- NASA Solicitation: Parabolic Flight Services (Zero Gravity Corporation)

"NASA/HQ plan to issue a Sole Source Procurement for Parabolic Flight Services to Zero Gravity Corporation."

- Weightless Flights, Central Florida News

"NASA has also contracted with ZERO-G to fly some NASA training missions out of Johnson Space Center in Houston next week."

NASA GSFC Modification to a Previous Notice - Institute for Space Robotics

"On September 1, 2005, NASA/GSFC released a Cooperative Agreement Notice for the Institute for Space Robotics. NASA has decided not to proceed with the Cooperative Agreement and it is hereby cancelled."

NASA GSFC Solicitation: Institute for Space Robotics

"The estimated value of this agreement is approximately $45M not to exceed 5 years."

Reorganization at KSC Aligns Center With NASA Exploration

"NASA's Kennedy Space Center has created four new offices in response to the Exploration Systems Architecture Study, which aims to implement the nation's vision for space exploration."

TFOME Layoffs at GRC

Editor's note: The following memo was sent out on Monday alerting GRC contractor employees of imminent layoffs:

New JSC Center Director

Editor's note: The name circulating around the agency as the new center director for JSC is former astronaut Michael Coats currently vice president and deputy for space exploration at Lockheed Martin.

Message from the NASA Administrator Regarding Space Station and Space Shuttle Comments

"I'm sure you've seen the press coverage concerning my supposed comments on the space shuttle and International Space Station, beginning last Wednesday. I've been in Russia since the day the article came out, and have therefore missed most of the reaction to it, but I've received enough e-mail to realize that I didn't handle the situation well and have left some hurt feelings behind. So, I thought I should make the effort to clarify the situation, and this e-mail to all of you is the best way I know to do it."

Why the U.S. should return to the moon and venture on to Mars, (edited transcript), USA Today

"Q: In retrospect, was the shuttle program a mistake?
A: My opinion is that it was.

Q: Was the space station a mistake?
A: I would not have built the space station. We are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can."

More Foam Bad News

Space shuttle manager says workers may have damaged foam, AP

"Workers may have accidentally cut or crushed the section of foam that broke off Discovery's fuel tank during its launch two months ago a mishap that threatened the safety of the astronauts and grounded the shuttle fleet."

9 Planets? 12? What's a Planet, Anyway?, NY Times

"The solar system is much more complicated now, astronomers say, than in 1930 when Clyde Tombaugh added Pluto to the inventory of wandering lights circling the Sun. In addition to Earth, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto, schoolchildren now learn that there are also comets and asteroids bumping about in the night. But there are also the Oort cloud, a hypothesized halo of cometary bits hibernating in deep, deep space, and the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune's orbit. Not mention the dozens of moons circling the planets."

Jeffrey Jezierski Named NASA's Deputy Chief of Staff

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin today named Jeffrey T. Jezierski, deputy chief of staff for the agency. This new role is in addition to his duties as White House liaison."

Editor's note: NASA management has decided to terminate the Space Environments and Effects (SEE) Program. An email was sent to a large distribution list informing people of the decision.

Howell is Out at JSC

Howell Leaving NASA's Johnson Space Center

"Jefferson Davis Howell, Jr., is leaving his position as director of NASA's Johnson Space Center to join the University of Texas, Austin. NASA has initiated a search for a successor, and Howell will stay on until a replacement is named."

Editor's note: Word has it that Fred Gregory's last day as Deputy Administrator will be this coming Friday. You may see him in the hallways for a while as he burns some unused annual leave. Fred has told people that he currently has no specific plans after leaving NASA. Meanwhile, Deputy Administrator nominee Shana Dale is supposed to be on the job by mid-October. As such, you can expect her confirmation hearing to be announced soon.

NAS Review of NASA Strategic Roadmaps: Space Station Panel meeting

Editor's note: One of the more interesting presentations at this meeting will be by Peter Ahlf, Deputy Director, Requirements Division, ESMD - someone whom multiple NASA sources cite as one of the key people who shamelessly gutted ISS user (research) requirements - i.e. the underlying premise for the ISS. It will be interesting to learn what was cut - and why.

Photo Report: Orbital Module of the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle transported to the Launch Vehicle Assembly and Testing Facility, RSC Energia

Editor's note: I find it rather indicative of the true nature of the US/Russian relationship with regard to the ISS that the only time an American flag appears on a Russian launch vehicle carrying an American to the ISS is when one of the Americans on board is a paying (commercial) passenger. When Europeans fly (i.e. pay), their nation's flag appears on the launch vehicle. When a NASA/ESA/Russia barter deal (to circumvent INA) gets an American on board - no flag. Curious.

Russia May Refuse to Return U.S. Astronaut to Earth Free of Charge

"Beginning from the next space expedition Russia will deliver U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station only on commercial basis. William McArthur who has just left for ISS can stay in orbit until the American side pays for his return, RIA Novosti reported."

NASA Memo: Griffin Point Paper on USA Today Article, 9/28/05

"NASA and Russia confirmed at the Flight Readiness Review meeting for the next crew for the international space station on Sept. 19 that NASA Astronaut and Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur will have a ride back to Earth next April on the same Soyuz that will bring him to the station this October."

Ground This Mission, editorial, Washington Post

"Now, as the country faces another great expense in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, NASA has unveiled its proposal for making Mr. Bush's vision a reality. Both the moment for embarking on this endeavor and the justifications for it seem odder than ever."

NASA leader ready for liftoff, editorial, Palm Beach Post

"Can a nation with massive hurricane damage, surging budget deficits and a war to fight in Iraq really afford the high cost of manned space flights when robot missions might advance research about as much? Is a return to the moon something that will capture the imagination of Americans? We've been there six times, so who's excited about No. 7?"

Shuttle Launch Date Slip

Insulation problem probably will delay next shuttle, Reuters

"NASA plans to push back its target for launching the next space shuttle from March to May as it tries to fix a problem with insulating foam that falls off the spacecraft's fuel tank, officials said on Friday."

Soyuz TMA-7 Launches

Expedition 12 Crew Begins Trip to Space Station

"Commander William McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev, the 12th space station crew, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan tonight to begin a 182-day stay in space. With them is American Greg Olsen, the third private citizen in space, flying under a contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency."

- NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 September 2005
- NASA Space Station Status Report 30 September 2005



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