February 2006 Archives

NASA Shuttle Plans Released

NASA wants to try 3 shuttle flights this year, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA plans to launch three space shuttle flights in 2006 if engineers can solve the ongoing problem of dangerous debris falling from the ship's external fuel tank during liftoff. Shuttle managers plan to meet Thursday to discuss target launch dates of May 10, Aug. 28 and Nov. 16. Before the first mission flies, however, they must convince themselves that six changes made to the 15-story tank since Discovery's liftoff last July are safe."

Golf or Science: What is NASA's Plan for the Space Station?, SpaceRef

"Earlier this month, Element 21 Golf Company, a Canadian golf club manufacturer, revealed publicly that it had an arrangement with Russia whereby a cosmonaut would perform an EVA and hit an instrumented golf ball off of the space station into its own orbit.

Although various sources claim that Russia has studied the issue and is seemingly unperturbed about the prospect of someone standing outside the ISS, swinging a long metal rod and deliberately striking an object such that it departs the ISS without hitting anything, NASA isn't so sure. Rather, NASA hasn't completed the required safety analyses to decide if they are concerned. But, lacking these safety reviews, they allowed - or (more accurately) did not block - the launch of the golf gear."

Another Hubble Stunner

Photo release: Largest ever galaxy portrait - stunning HD image of Pinwheel Galaxy

"This new Hubble image reveals the gigantic Pinwheel galaxy, one of the best known examples of "grand design spirals", and its supergiant star-forming regions in unprecedented detail. The image is the largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy ever released."

Sy Rubenstein Has Died

Biography, Return to Flight Task Group

Editor's note: According to an email from his family "At 2:15am on Sunday February 26, 2006 Seymour Rubenstein passed away peacefully. Sy was surrounded throughout the day on Saturday by close family members and friends."

Details follow below:

NASA Dissing Continues

FEMA's Disaster Preparedeness Changes, The Onion

Editor's note: Note the last item on the list.

Editor's note: (Today) Monday, 27 Feb. 12:30 pm EST: NASA Update. Mike Griffin and Shana Dale will be speaking.

Mike Griffin: "Individuals [at NASA] are free to express their opinions provided that they are so labeled."

"There should never be any retribution for dissenting technical opinion [at NASA]"

On George Deutsch (although not specifically named): "One misguided individual was trying to insert his own religious beliefs ... and perhaps his political views ... into his work."

NASA Flight Assignment Working Group (FAWG) Space Shuttle Planning Manifest 24 Feb 2006

Editor's note: NASA has published its latest update to its internal long range planning forecast for the remaining flights of America's Space Shuttle fleet - the last of which is STS-133 which is planned for launch in 2009.

Atlantis' last flight is shown as being in 2008.

Reader note: "The FAWG Shuttle schedule that you posted is way out of date. For example the earliest STS-115 launch date is August 28th and OV-105 will not fly until the Spring since the TPS workers were used on OV-103 and OV-104. The PRCB this Thursday is scheduled to discuss the next few launch dates."

Lunar Sooner

NASA Internal Charts: ESAS Update: Accelerating Lunar Missions aka "Lunar Sooner"

"NASA's original ESAS focus was to enable both the ISS and lunar missions while enabling extensibility to Mars.

After further analysis, NASA has elected to alter the architectural baseline. The new approach places more emphasis on lunar missions sooner at lower overall risk and cost."

Scientists cite several instances of politics trumping research, SJ Mercury News

"The EPA, NASA and several other federal agencies have been accused recently of interfering with science."

Scientists complain of diminished role in policy under Bush, SJ Mercury News

"NASA climate scientist James Hansen triggered a series of charges last month when he accused Bush's political appointees of interfering with the release of information that conflicted with the administration's skepticism of the link between pollution and climate change."

MSFC wind tunnel crucial to analyzing spacecraft designs, Huntsville Times

"The government has several large wind tunnels around the country, including Arnold Air Force Base near Tullahoma, Tenn., NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia and the Ames Research Center near San Francisco. "We can do for just thousands of dollars on a series of tests what it would take hundreds of thousands or millions on a larger tunnel," Haynes said. "For the government, it's a cost-effective way to gather engineering data."

Editor's note: For many years, retiring at Ames often resulted in a special cartoon by Roger Arno - one which includes a fair likeness of the departing employee - plus intricate puns, pokes, and prods at that person and their career - the challenges they faced, and the successes they helped to achieve. Some of the puns are exceptionally insider in nature and riddled with acronyms. However, if you are in the know, they can be rather hilarious. Scott Hubbard did not manage to escape Rogers pen. Hubbard has accepted the Carl Sagan Chair at the SETI Institute and another position at Stanford University. Click on the image to enlarge - and be certain to cast your gaze to the door on the left hand side of the image.

Editor's note: According to Element 21 Golf Company, a golf club manufacturer, "one of the International Space Station's astronauts" is going to using a gold-plated version of one of their clubs to hit a transmitter-equipped gold ball off of the ISS and into its own orbit. [View the inspirational video].

Element 21 Golf Company's Message Is Out of This World!

"E21 golf equipment is now traveling 300 miles above Earth, and have been onboard the Space Station since September 12, 2005. At 5 miles per second, the E21 Message races through the skies above the planet's 5 continents, 300 million golfers and 6.5 billion people. To date it has already clocked over 63 million miles and will continue the memory of Alan Shepard for more and more millions of miles."

OK, it's a cute idea. Someone would eventually want to do it. Heck, we did it on the Moon. But the timing is just wrong. At a time when all of the U.S. science that was supposed to be done on the ISS (promised for decades) is being cancelled Russia is so desperate for cash that they resort to a stunt like this. What does this say for the true value of the ISS - and the money spent (and still to be spent) to build and maintain it?

Editor's update: As was reported last week, NASA is hiring yet another political appointee at the NASA HQ Public Affairs Office. Joe Pally, a former government PAO official, has now been formally hired. He has been given an email address [jpally at hq.nasa.gov] - with his position listed as "Public Affairs Specialist" and has an assignment: SOMD (not ESMD as was earlier reported).

NASA Solicitation: Innovative Partnerships Program Services

"The Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) at NASA has undergone significant changes and restructuring over the past few years. The purpose of this RFI is to communicate the current structure, elements, mission and products of the IPP in preparation for the issuance of an RFP for services that will replace the prior network which consisted of the Regional Technology Transfer Centers (RTTC), the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and the National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC)."

NASA MSFC Solicitation: Cargo Vehicle Core Stage Engine

"NASA/MSFC has baselined the use of a lower cost version of the Space Shuttle Main Engine as the Core Stage Engine (CSE) for the proposed Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV). At this time, special studies are needed to evaluate and assess the processes and requirements necessary to develop and certify the CSE for the CaLV. The Core Stage Engine will be a highly affordable, expendable engine derived from the current Space Shuttle Main Engine (RS-25)."

Shuttle Update

Uncertainties cloud shuttle schedule, MSNBC

"For now, NASA's top shuttle managers are holding firm to a schedule that would launch the shuttle Discovery on its second "return to flight" test mission as early as May 10. However, several senior NASA officials have told NBC News privately that launching in May was at best an iffy proposition."

NASA Ships External Fuel Tank for Next Space Shuttle Mission

"In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, workers at the nearby NASA Michoud Assembly Facility persevered through their own personal hardships to deliver a newly designed external fuel tank for the space shuttle."

A Tale of True Exploration

Next on NOVA: "Arctic Passage"

http://www.pbs.org/nova/arctic: Broadcast: February 28, 2006 at 8 p.m. ET/PT - The greatest geographical prize of its day was the search for the fabled Northwest Passage through the island maze of Arctic Canada. In 1845, Great Britain mounted an all-out assault with a lavishly equipped expedition that was never heard from again. Then in the early 1900s, a little-known Norwegian adventurer set forth in a secondhand fishing boat and succeeded beyond all expectation. This two-hour special answers the riddle of why Sir John Franklin's mission failed and Roald Amundsen's made it.

Editor's note: Once again NASA PAO staff at HQ just can't stand the thought of just one weekly space station status report going out - without having an HQ spin on it - so they take one developed at JSC - change a few paragraph breaks, and then issue a second one from HQ. They do this every week. It would be one thing if they just re-issued the JSC report verbatim, but no, HQ has to fiddle with things - even if the fiddling is utterly pointless and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Gee, if only they were this dilligent with other things - like keeping tabs on politcal appointee behavior...

You can check out this week's silly HQ edit of JSC's report below:

Marcia Smith's New Job

Editor's note: After 31 years of stellar service, Marcia Smith will be leaving the Congressional Research Office. Effective 1 March, she'll be in place at her new job: Director of the Space Studies Board at the National Academies of Science.

NASA OIG on JPL Audits

Lockheed Martin announces partnership with the State of Florida to pursue NASA's new Crew Exploration Vehicle

Florida figures in future of spacecraft, Orlando Sentinel

"The incentives, which still must be approved by the state Legislature, include $35 million to upgrade the Operations and Checkout Building and other facilities, and $10.5 million for work-force training. The same incentives also are available to the Northrop Grumman-Boeing team if it chooses to do final CEV assembly and testing in Florida."

Editor's note: But will LockMart locate its CEV work in Florida if the state of Florida does NOT come through? In other words is this interest in Florida only being announced because of this incentive? And what happens if CEV contractor selection occurs before Florida's state government acts? Does NASA have to review two contingencies in Lockmart's proposal? This strikes me as something Florida should have started to do a year ago.

NASA MEPAG Report: Mars Science Goals, Objectives, Investigations, and Priorities: 2006

"In 2000, the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) was asked by NASA to work with the science community to establish consensus priorities for the future scientific exploration of Mars. Those discussions and analyses resulted in a report entitled Scientific Goals, Objectives, Investigations, and Priorities, which is informally referred to as the "Goals Document" (MEPAG 2001). The initial report proved to be very useful for guiding program implementation decisions. It also has become clear over the past few years that the report requires regular updating in light of dramatic new results from Mars and evolving high-level strategic direction from NASA."

At NASA, smart money takes on new meaning, Daily Press

"Q: There has been a fear expressed by some that science is going to take a back seat to space exploration at budget time. With the proposed Bush administration budget, is that fear being realized?

A: [Lelia Vann] Not really. We (the agency) were only cut to 1.5 percent (an increase in President Bush's 2007 budget), and that's not bad considering everything. I don't blame it on exploration. If you look at it, we've got our own problems in keeping costs down. ... We realize the agency has to have exploration dollars."

Editor's note: Gee, Lelia, you're certainly not paying much attention to the logic of what you are saying. First you say "I don't blame it on exploration" - which is followed by "We realize the agency has to have exploration dollars". Don't you see the contradiction in your own words? And why blame science for these cuts? Mike Griffin hasn't. Indeed, he has openly admitted that he had to take science dollars to pay for exploration.

Space shuttle Atlantis likely to retire first, Orlando Sentinel

"Program manager Wayne Hale told an "all-hands" meeting at Kennedy Space Center on Friday that instead of putting Atlantis through a major overhaul scheduled for 2008, it might make more sense to stop flying the ship. Instead, it could be used to provide parts for Discovery and Endeavour."

NASA and White House Discuss Early Shuttle Fleet Retirement, SpaceRef (July 2005)

"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."

Future Science News

Captain Kirk's clone and the eavesdropper, University of York

"The first experimental demonstration of quantum telecloning has been achieved by scientists at the University of Tokyo, the Japan Science and Technology Agency, and the University of York. The work is reported in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters. Telecloning combines cloning (or copying) with teleportation (i.e., disembodied transport)"

PTO Requests Model of Warp Drive Invention, Patent Law Blog

"The Worsley-Twist warp drive does not depend upon traditional emissions of matter to create thrust. Rather, the drive creates a change in the curvature of the space-time continuum thus allowing travel by warping space-time. Worsley & Twist patent application recently suffered another setback. The Examiner has now requested a working mode."

China's virtual cops pinpoint web dissent, Financial Times

"With their big blue blinking eyes and their quirky personal websites, there is no denying the cuteness of the cartoon cops at the front line of China's battle for control of the internet. But the role played by Jingjing and Chacha, the animated online icons recently introduced by police in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen, is entirely serious."

Reader note: "Roger Mellott's services were held yesterday (Sunday Feb 12, 2006) at his home in Covington Louisiana. Tip Talone, Roselle Hanson, Cheryl McPhillips, and myself were in attendance from the Kennedy Space Center. Kent Rominger, the Chief, Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center presented Roger's wife Catherine a flag that was flow at half-staff over JSC in memory of Roger.

John Hillman Has Died

John Hillman; Astrophysicist and Flag Preserver (obituary), Washington Post

"John J. Hillman, 67, a NASA astrophysicist who did work on the atmospheres of planets, the composition of comets and the preservation of the Star-Spangled Banner, died of ocular melanoma Feb. 12 at his home in Columbia."

Making Sacrifices for VSE

JPL Proposes To Buy Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena Independent

"JPL wants to acquire the street between the current temporary checkpoint for visitors and the lab entrance for increased security purposes. The lab has had the temporary guard station in place since 2002, with the citys permission."

Editor's note: An internal parody is circulating within JPL as to what management really wants to do with this land acquisition and how they are justifying it ...

NASA chief vows openness at agency, Orlando Sentinel

"After Thursday's hearing, Griffin told reporters that NASA was soliciting feedback from throughout the agency to find people who "have a gripe." At the same time, a team of scientists and public-affairs officers is reviewing current policies." ... "It will be done in a few weeks," Griffin said. "Half of our issue has been that people are butting heads who should be working as different parts of an overall team."

NASA to Draft New Rules for Media Office, Washington Post

"Griffin told reporters after yesterday's hearing that he has made it a policy that "technical people within NASA are not only allowed to speak their minds . . . we beg them to speak their minds." He cautioned, however, that the review of public information guidelines is not only about ensuring openness, but also seeks to establish "crisp" criteria for deciding when research is newsworthy. The review is, in part, about "adult supervision over which paper merits a news release," Griffin said. "And this is management 101, not politics."

House Panel Prods NASA for Improvement on Openness, NY Times

"The administrator has it exactly right," Dr. Hansen said. "We live in a free country and work for the taxpayer. We should provide useful information, not propaganda. But based on their recent remarks, public affairs still doesn't get it."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin - as heard on Thursday during a recess on a House Science Committee webcast in front of an open microphone a minute before the hearing resumed:

"We are making this a bigger story by not talking about it. I need to be more open with the media".

Climate change: On the edge - Greenland ice cap breaking up at twice the rate it was five years ago, says scientist Bush tried to gag, by Jim Hansen, The Independent

"Yet, a few weeks ago, when I - a Nasa climate scientist - tried to talk to the media about these issues following a lecture I had given calling for prompt reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases, the Nasa public affairs team - staffed by political appointees from the Bush administration - tried to stop me doing so. I was not happy with that, and I ignored the restrictions. The first line of Nasa's mission is to understand and protect the planet."

NASA 'folk hero' will speak, Albany Times Union

"The NASA scientist who charged the Bush administration tried to prevent him from speaking out about the dangers of global warming will address the issue of climate change in Albany this spring."

Gordon Appreciates NASA Administrator's Quick Action to Safeguard Scientific Openness House Science Committee, Democratic Membership

NASA's Stated Goals Don't Match Budgetary Realities, House Science Committee, Democratic Membership

House Science Committee Debates NASA Budget, House Science Committee

Statement of NASA Administrator Griffin before the House Committee on Science

"There is no "new money" for NASA topline budget within the budget projections available given our Nation's other pressing issues, so working with the White House, NASA provided sufficient funds for the Space Shuttle and ISS programs to carry out their missions by redirecting funds from the Science and Exploration budgets."

House Science Committee Hearing Charter: NASA's FY 2007 Budget Proposal

"The proposed NASA FY07 budget differs significantly from how NASA projected it would proceed when it released its FY06 budget. There are two reasons for this. First, the FY07 proposed budget is $170 million below the level that NASA was projected to receive in FY07 in last year's budget. Second, and more significantly, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin announced at a Science Committee hearing last year that the FY06 five-year projections for the Space Shuttle were $3-5 billion below the amount actually needed to keep the Shuttle flying through 2010."

NASA Administrator Griffin to Testify on FY07 Budget Request, House Science Committee

Witness List:

- The Honorable Michael Griffin, Administrator, NASA; and
- The Honorable Shana Dale, Deputy Administrator, NASA.

Editor's note: Once again Code L's website is out of date (by several weeks) about which NASA personnel are actually testifying on Thursday.

Editor's note: 4:30 PM - Code L finally got around to updating their website. The previous update was 30 January.

Editor's note: In House Science Committee hearings, Mike Griffin just cited a Gallup poll and the results they got when asking people about NASA's budget. Several days after the budget rollout, Mike Griffin addressed the National Space Club in Washington. He noted that:

Opening Statement by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert

"I am extremely uneasy about this budget, and I am in a quandary at this point about what to do about it. This budget is bad for space science, worse for earth science, perhaps worse still for aeronautics. It basically cuts or deemphasizes every forward looking, truly futuristic program of the agency to fund operational and development programs to enable us to do what we are already doing or have done before."

Opening Statement by Rep. Ken Calvert

"... this leaves us with the Fiscal Year 2007 budget request for NASA. The Agency did receive a 3.2% increase over the FY 2006 -- or a 1.5% increase when including Katrina funding in Fiscal Year 2006 -- it is not enough to fully fund all the sectors of the Agency as everyone on this dais would like to see them budgeted."

Opening Statement by Rep. Bart Gordon

"... the simple fact is that in the two years since the exploration initiative was announced, the Administration has never sent a budget request to Congress equal to what it said NASA would need to carry out the exploration initiative and NASA's other programs."

Opening Statement by Rep. Mark Udall

"The "not-so-good" news is that this budget request contains cuts and cancellations that will do real damage both in the near term and for years to come."

ELMS White Paper: Comment and Endorsement of the NRC "Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station" (entered into the record at the request of Rep. Udall)

"We agree with the NRC that NASA is prematurely abandoning the ISS and that these decisions add significant risk to the Exploration Vision. We understand the pressures for Shuttle replacement, but we also understand the need to balance long-term risks of the Exploration Vision with these short-term needs."

NYT on Openness at NASA

Call for Openness at NASA Adds to Reports of Pressure, NY Times

"David R. Mould, NASA's assistant administrator for public affairs and a political appointee, said none of the appointees had brought a political agenda to the agency. "We've received no marching orders from anyone," Mr. Mould said."

Letter from Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg and SETI Institute CEO Thomas Pierson Regarding Proposed Astrobiology Cuts

"While it is true that the entire NASA science budget is under pressure, this 50% cut to astrobiology is much larger than the 15% across-the-board cuts proposed for FY '07 in the other NASA research programs. Although many of us consider astrobiology to be the primary science of the President's Vision for Space Exploration as detailed on the NASA web site at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/, this is not reflected in the budget proposal."

Editor's note: A common comment heard from SMD AA Mary Cleave with regard to why she is cutting astrobiology is "Dan Goldin isn't here any more" and that the program was "political"

Hubbard Career Update

Outgoing NASA Ames director to be Stanford scholar, SJ Mercury News

"Stanford University announced today that former NASA Ames Research Center Director G. Scott Hubbard has accepted a visiting scholar appointment in the university's electrical engineering department."

Editor's 13 Feb note: As you all know NASA HQ and ESMD have made certain that life sciences at ARC has been all but erased. Have a look at the location of the Ames life sciences website. I don't see anything. Go do a Google search for "life science ames NASA". Check out the top listing the comes back. Note the cached version of what was once there. It is as if NASA is trying to erase an entire research community - one that took decades to create. Next on the list for decimation: the NASA Astrobiology Institute - this time by Mary Cleave at SMD.

Editor's 15 Feb update: Someone at ARC apparently felt that a simple blank white page looked bad - so they tossed a few simple links on the page so that it isn't totally blank - just almost totally blank - but still useless.

Hansen Muzzling Update

Senators quiz NASA on muzzling scientist, UPI

"Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., wrote to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's chief administrator Michael D. Griffin about Jim Hansen, the chief of Goddard Space Flight Center's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hansen recently concluded that 2005 was the warmest year on record, and discussed the effect that had on the rate and volume of atmospheric gases."

Editor's note: Note to UPI, NASA doesn't have a "chief" Administrator.

Pluto Today

Editor's note: SpaceRef is pleased to announce today the launch of the newest addition to the SpaceRef network, Pluto Today.

Pluto Today covers news relating to Pluto, Charon, and other Kuiper Belt Objects including, Sedna, 2003 UB313, as well as asteroids and comets.

Editor's note: See update below.

NASA GRC Award: Cryogenic Oxygen/Methane Reaction Control System (RCS) Engine Assembly (Northrop Grumman)
NASA GRC Award: Cryogenic Oxygen/Methane Reaction Control System (RCS) Engine Assembly (Aerojet)

Editor's note: I'm confused. Just last week, on 6 February 2006, ESMD AA Scott Horowitz was at the FY 2007 budget press conference. At that event he talked about the decision to move away from LOX/Methane systems for the CEV (see transcript below). Now GRC awards $14 million of work on the same type of system for the CEV - one award to Aerojet for $6,270,479 and another to Northrop Grumman for $7,802,351. That's a lot of money to study something that has been "deferred" (as are all those space science missions).

"HOROWITZ: The question is about the use of LOX/methane on the CEV. As you know, we started in different design cycles. We've got an architecture define based on the ESAS results, and the recommendation out of there was LOX/methane for the CEV."

Someday the Sun Will Go Out and the World Will End (but Don't Tell Anyone), NY Times

"Last week my colleague Andrew Revkin reported that a 24-year-old NASA political appointee with no scientific background, George C. Deutsch, had told a designer working on a NASA Web project that the Big Bang was "not proven fact; it is opinion," and thus the word "theory" should be used with every mention of Big Bang."

Editor's 13 Feb note: (sigh) It would seem that the New York Times is now going to find a way to mention George Deutsch at least once a week. And if they don't, then the Washington Post will.

Editor's 15 Feb note: True to form, the Post invokes George again.

The Silencing Of Science, OpEd, Anne Applebaum, Washington Post

"One of the benefits of writing newspaper articles is that sometimes, instead of sending anonymous insults, readers call you up and tell you interesting things. Two weeks ago, after news broke that a NASA press officer had resigned amid revelations that he'd tried to muffle the agency's top climate scientist, I got several such calls."

Editor's note: You can email Anne at applebaumanne@yahoo.com or call her at 800.627.1150 or 202.334.6000

NAC Presentations Online

Editor's note: NASA HQ Presentations from the NASA Advisory Council meeting 8-9 Feb 2006 are now online:

- Scott Pace, Associate Administrator, Program Analysis and Evaluation

- Brant Sponberg, Acting Program Executive, Innovative Procurements, Constellation Systems, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate

Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee Notice of Meeting, Federal Register Notice

Editor's note: This meeting notice states that the purpose of this meeting is to "provide advice and recommendations to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on issues within the field of astronomy and astrophysics that are of mutual interest and concern to the agencies."

This 'open' meeting spans two days - yesterday and today - and is being held right now in room MIC-5 at NASA HQ. The meeting notice only appeared in today's (14 February 2006) issue of the Federal Register. The notice was supposedly submitted on 9 February 2006 - far later than the two weeks required by FACA rules - unless exceptional circumstances warrant - with the non-exceptional excuse "Reason for Late Notice: Due to administrative complications and oversight.". Either the paper work got lost or they forgot.

It would seem that the principals involved in this effort don't take this committee's effort seriously enough so as to allow the public, media, and other interested parties to attend this open meeting. No one at NASA, NSF, or DOE took any effort to let people know. Quite the contrary. Given the substantial cuts that NASA is implementing in space science this does not say much for transparency in the formulation of science budget issues among these affected parties. Nor does it demonstrate much concern for the researchers affected by these decisions.

VSE Progress: Then Vs Now

Leader of NASA's space probe study to speak at Bona, The Times Herald

"Dr. [Douglas] Stanley said a large-scale plan for NASA's future was overdue when he came onboard as director of the ESAS in May 2005. More than a year after President George W. Bush released his long-term "Vision for Space Exploration" in January 2004, NASA still had not pushed forward with concrete plans and was in danger of losing federal funds for the project expected to cost around $100 billion. "Up until that point, Bush had made his announcement but nobody had said how we were going to get to the moon or how we were going to get to Mars," Dr. Stanley said. "Thirteen or 14 months had passed ... and they had eight different contractors doing designs and nobody had made a decision."

Editor's note: Hmm, Doug, I don't exactly share your then vs now comparison as being overflowing with progress. Let's see: the "90 day" study took longer than 90 days and the release of ESAS report was delayed from October 2005 until January 2006. The date for CEV contractor selection has been put off several times and is certain to slip yet again by several months while the CEV is being redesigned because the first design (yours) wasn't going to work the way it was supposed to. CEV availability continues to move (back) to the right toward 2014, and the LOX/Methane option has been tossed out. Meanwhile the ESAS report itself is being re-studied and NASA under (Mike Griffin) is actually getting less money now than was originally planned (or asked for). Yes, NASA is moving forward a little faster Doug, with the CEV sucking up every financial resource in sight and draining science in the process, but the difference between pre-Griffin situation and now is more like comparing a slow moving glacier with a faster moving glacier i.e. never fast enough.

Beer on Mars

Heineken on Mars

"Dutch space team is leading an exploration robot on Mars when it suddenly starts transforming."

Editor's note: Too bad NASA PAO can't think this way - they might get the couch potato crowd a little more interested in space.

Online - But Still Broken?

New Grant System Excludes Mac Users - Electronic Forms Compatible Only With Microsoft, Washington Post

"The new "Grants.gov" system, under development at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, aims to replace paper applications with electronic forms. It is being phased in at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies. All 26 grant-giving agencies are supposed to have their application processes fully online by 2007."

Editor's note: NASA opportunities are also present on this system - but the accuracy of the information leaves something to be desired. Have a look at this announcement for the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter which was cancelled last year.

Troubles at CSA?

Head of space agency urged to step down, Globe and Mail

"The president of the Canadian Space Agency, Virendra Jha, is being urged to step down during a police investigation into alleged misappropriation of public funds involving a suspicious multi-million-dollar development contract."

Ambushing SOFIA

NASA leaves jumbo-jet telescope on the runway, New Scientist

"The mission needs another $80 million to pass flight tests in late 2006 and begin regular science flights in 2008, says Black. That is the same amount NASA would have to pay SOFIA's contractors to close the project down, he estimates. "From a purely financial point of view, it makes no sense to do this."

Editor's note: Word has it that Rick Howard and Hashima Hassan, under direction by SMD Associate Administrator Mary Cleave, are preparing some background information regarding SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) in preparation for this week's hearings before the House Science Committee. This information is intended to serve as justification of NASA's proposed abandonment of the SOFIA project - despite the fact that SOFIA has consistently been a top priority of the National Academy of Sciences for more than a decade.

Apparently, the thrust of the presentation is that SOFIA is having money and technical problems and deserves to be cancelled. In making this argument, NASA will apparently not make any reference to another mission with similar albeit larger problems looming on the horizon i.e. the Webb Space Telescope and (cost growth = $1 billion-plus and counting). Word has it that NASA's SOFIA partner, DLR, wont exactly go along quietly on this issue.

And for those of you who may wonder why Webb is getting such special treatment while other projects with far smaller problems are being axed, just read this recent press release - and note the source.

Sen. Mikulski Response to Space Funding in President's NASA Budget

"The budget also provides $443 million for the Webb Telescope, which will follow the Hubble Telescope, scheduled to be launched in 2013. The Webb Telescope will be run by Baltimore's Space Telescope Science Institute and Goddard."

The Hazards of Speaking Out

Editor's note: Word has it that Anne Kinney, Director of the Universe Division at the Science Mission Directorate at NASA HQ, is apparently being banished to GSFC for disagreeing with SMD Associate Administrator Mary Cleave. This is what happens if you question all of the science cuts.

Some grumble of politicization at NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"Public affairs is here to make sure that we put out intelligible, grammatically correct information in a way that is interesting and promotes what we do," spokesman Acosta said. "We do not get involved in any sort of censorship or changing of scientific data." [Senator] Nelson, who is running for re-election, needs more convincing. "You have to question whether or not the agency is starting to go off the rails because of political influence," Nelson said. "I think it's good that all of this has been exposed, and we need to get to the bottom of it. The last thing in the world that needs to be politicized is NASA."

Under Siege, Washington Post

"An information war is breaking out on multiple fronts, with journalists caught in the crossfire ... A larger example: James Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist, told the New York Times last month that agency officials tried to "censor" him by insisting on reviewing his lectures, papers and interviews, after he called for a reduction in greenhouse gases tied to global warming."

NASA: Cleveland center can't handle major role in moon mission, Akron Beacon Journal

Glenn could get work on shuttle replacement - But management needs improvement, reports say, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Neither Johnson Space Center in Houston nor Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.-- which have extensive space flight programs under way -- has as strong a capacity in-house, the analysis said. However, the assessments of Glenn's capabilities found fault with its senior staff, calling program management weak. The problems include too few highly regarded project managers. The center also lacks a sense of urgency among high-level managers to pursue a role in space exploration. Their efforts were described as unfocused and uncoordinated."

Editor's note: The following excerpts are taken from GSFC's mandatory career management online training required for all GSFC civil servants. Note that NASA's own formal training materials speak of NASA rules that govern employee behavior - rules which are defined/described as being "unwritten". In light of the fuss regarding unwritten (but enforced) NASA policy governing interactions between employees, the Public Affairs Office, and the media, it is little wonder that people are confused about what they should or should not do in this and other situations.

Given that NASA formally accepts the fact that its own rules may actually be unwritten - but must still be adhered to - certainly serves as a recipe for mass confusion to me. The most cynical aspect of this is the following: "When an employee understands and adheres to GSFC's Unwritten Rules we call them politically savvy. Nothing can derail a career more quickly than a lack of political savvy.". Then there is the sub-bullet point: "unwritten rules are not universal". If ever there was a concrete example of what people mean when they suggest that "NASA" really stands for "Never A Straight Answer", then this is it.

George Deutsch Daily Update

Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA, Washington Post

"There is no pressure or mandate, from the Bush administration or elsewhere, to alter or water down scientific data at NASA, period," Deutsch said, adding that after being tasked to work with Hansen, "I quickly learned one thing: Dr. Hansen and his supporters have a very partisan agenda and ties reaching to the top of the Democratic Party."

Ex-Press Aide for NASA Offers Defense, NY Times

"In the radio interview, Mr. Deutsch also criticized others within NASA who supported Dr. Hansen's view that he was being suppressed. Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer who told The Times of several conversations in which Mr. Deutsch said his job was to "make the president look good," said she would not comment on his assertions."

Editor's note: Oh c'mon George. This is getting silly. The only reason you got your job at NASA - and the only qualifications you had - was YOUR political connections to the top of the Republican party i.e. the White House. Waving your arms about someone else's supposed political connections and/or motivations is rather hypocritical to say the least.

Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA, Washington Post

"James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who sparked an uproar last month by accusing the Bush administration of keeping scientific information from reaching the public, said Friday that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also muzzling researchers who study global warming."

NASA Crackberry Update

RIM's workaround revealed, C|Net

"BlackBerry maker Research In Motion on Thursday announced details of how its new software workaround, designed as a backup if U.S. courts impose an injunction later this month, will be released to customers."

NASA Crackberry Addicts Rejoice: DOJ To The Rescue (earlier post)

Editor's note: Video of Lisa Porter's recent Aeronautics presentation is now online at the AIAA website. You'll need to register (for free) to view it.

Life Imitating Art

NASA Image of SuitSat in Space

"Backdropped by the blackness of space and Earth's horizon, a spacesuit-turned-satellite called SuitSat began its orbit around the Earth after it was released by the Expedition 12 crewmembers during a session of extravehicular activity (EVA) on Feb. 3, 2006."

Editor's note: When I first saw the grainy TV imges of SuitSat deployment I was immediately reminded of an iconic image from the film "2001: A Space Odyssey". Now that NASA has posted better images, the comparison is even more obvious. See images below:

Bush Appointee Steps Down from Post at NASA, LA Times

"Acosta denied that Deutsch's resignation was prompted by recent allegations that Bush administration appointees in NASA headquarters were trying to censor agency scientists, in one case by threatening "dire consequences" against an outspoken climate scientist. Acosta said NASA was in the process of "revising our public affairs policies across the agency." "NASA ensures and supports full and open communication," he said. On Friday, NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin issued a memo stating that NASA must not hinder the free flow of scientific information to the public. One NASA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions, said that Deutsch had worked on Bush's reelection campaign before being appointed to NASA headquarters in Washington."

NASA FY 2006 Operating Plan and Transmittal Letter

"The purpose of this letter is to submit to the Committee NASA's Initial FY 2006 Operating Plan in accordance with the agreements between NASA and the Committee, and to provide an update to the FY 2005 Operating Plan."

Space Science Revolt Begins

A Budget With Big Winners and Losers, Science (subscription)

"The raid on science is already meeting strong resistance. Hours before Griffin met with reporters, House Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) said he was "greatly concerned" with the "sharply reduced growth" in space and earth sciences in the NASA request. And Wesley Huntress, a former NASA science chief and president of the Pasadena, California-based Planetary Society, criticized the request for "using money intended for science programs to fund continued operation of the shuttle, ... a program scheduled for termination."

Reader note: "CALL TO ACTION: NASA to cut research by 25% to help pay for shuttle replacement

Greetings Colleagues: We have a very serious matter on our hands now. NASA plans to reduce funding for research programs over FY06 and FY07 by 25% in order to fund the development of the Crewed Exploration Vehicle and Crew Launch Vehicle. This is a disaster to American solar system exploration. Our ability to turn this situation around is going to depend directly upon your communicating with your Representative and Senators. Absolutely every voice will count!

Fossett Breaks Record

Pilot Steve Fossett breaks world flight distance record, landing in England, AP

"Adventurer Steve Fossett completed the longest nonstop flight in aviation history Saturday, flying 26,389 miles in about 76 hours, but he had to land early because of mechanical problems."

Remarks to the National Space Club by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin

"I do think that it is important to note that we are delaying missions, not simply abandoning them. We will still do the Space Interferometry Mission, the Terrestrial Planet Finder, and the Global Precipitation Monitoring mission. We will not do them right now. In making a decision concerning what to delay and what to keep on schedule to the extent possible, I determined that delays in starting SIM, TPF, and GPM would be less harmful to the space program overall than would further delays to the CEV program. I simply believe that further delays to CEV are strategically more damaging to this nation than are delays to other missions. I stand by this view."

George Deutsch Daily Update

An Aggie's big bang at NASA, Houston Chronicle

"It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator," Deutsch lectured the contractor. "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA."

Ex-Press Aide for NASA Offers Defense, NY Times

"We are both Christians, and I was sharing with him my personal opinions on the Big Bang theory versus intelligent design," Mr. Deutsch wrote to The Times. "What I said about intelligent design did not affect the presentation of the Big Bang theory in the subsequent Einstein Web story. This is a very important point, because I have been accused of trying to insert religion into this story, which I was not trying to do."

Editor's note: Let's see, George, you invoked religion in your memo while you were at NASA, then you make note to the NY Times of the fact that you and Hansen are "both Christians". Why are either of your religious beliefs relevant to anything at NASA? You've brought up the topic of religion yet again. And then you take issue with being accused of "trying to insert religion into this story" when indeed you did - and continue to do so.

Bad News for Spacehab

Spacehab Receives Nasdaq Listing Deficiency Letter

"Spacehab announced receipt of a Nasdaq Staff Deficiency letter on February 8, 2006 indicating that the Company is below the minimum equity requirement of $10.0 million and accordingly does not comply with Marketplace Rule 4450(a)(3)."

Posted February 9, 2006 (via SpaceX):"After analyzing data from the static fire countdown, we decided to postpone the launch. The vehicle is being lowered for further investigation. Once we have thoroughly checked out all systems, I will post an update on what was found and when the next countdown attempt will occur. Based on range availability and logistics constraints, a rough guess would be two to four weeks."

Censoring Truth, Editorial, NY Times

"The Bush administration long ago secured a special place in history for the audacity with which it manipulates science to suit its political ends. But it set a new standard of cynicism when it allowed NASA's leading authority on global warming to be mugged by a 24-year-old presidential appointee who, quite apart from having no training on that issue, had inflated his rsum."

NASA Aide Who Resigned Over Warming Offers Defense, NY Times

"Mr. Deutsch said he resigned of his own volition because he was unhappy with the negative publicity he and NASA were receiving in the news media. "I was just sick of it," he said. "I was being smeared. My integrity and credibility was being questioned. And as a human being, as a human being, I just could not take it anymore."

Reader note: You can hear George say the word "agenda" a zillion times in some online interviews from WTAW radio.

NASA OIG Report on IEMP

Integrated Enterprise Management Program Contract Oversight Needs Improvement, NASA OIG

"The Office of Inspector General conducted an audit of NASA's oversight of its Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP) contracts as part of an overall assessment of NASA's IEMP. The objective of this audit was to determine whether NASA performed sufficient ovrsight of contractor activities to ensure that IEMP products and services were procured in a satisfactory, cost-effective manner."

John Logsdon's World Tour

Editor's note: A few minutes ago, the NASA Advisory Council began a discussion of international participation in lunar exploration. The NAC's Executive Secretary walked over to John Logsdon and handed him a note. A few seconds later Logsdon got up and left the room. NAC chair Harrison Schmitt noted that Logsdon needed to leave the room due to a conflict of interest concern with a study he is conducting. Logsdon returned to the room once that discussion was finished. I am not sure what this accomplished since the NAC did not go into executive session - and anyone (i.e. the general public, media, etc.) in the room could hear, record, and write about the discussion.

NASA seeks partners as budgets tighten, New Scientist

"Logsdon is now in the process of travelling to Europe, Russia, Japan and Canada, on NASA's behalf, to assess which countries are interested in collaborating on such projects."

Editor's 1 Feb note: Word has it that NASA Advisory Council member - and former Kerry presidential campaign space advisor - John Logsdon has been tasked (under contract) by Mike Griffin to do a quick study to complement official NASA studies which look at possible international participation in the VSE. Logsdon is currently in Paris and is expected to make a number of stops around the world in connection with this task in the coming weeks.

The Politics of Science, editorial, Washington Post

"Far more important, several New York Times articles over the past week or so have exposed Mr. Deutsch as one of several White House-appointed public affairs officers at the agency who tried to prevent senior NASA career scientists from speaking and writing freely, especially when their views on the realities of climate change differed from those of the White House."

Bush Appointee Steps Down from Post at NASA, LA Times

"Acosta denied that Deutsch's resignation was prompted by recent allegations that Bush administration appointees in NASA headquarters were trying to censor agency scientists, in one case by threatening "dire consequences" against an outspoken climate scientist."

Editor's update: Uh, then why did he suddenly quit - and do so via an email message - Dean?

Securing the High Ground

Military role in space said set to expand, Reuters

"The military's role in deterring attacks on commercial satellites is set to be strengthened in the first broad overhaul of U.S. space policy in a decade, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. The policy would remove any ambiguity about official responsibility for figuring out who was behind any attack on U.S.-owned commercial satellites, said Air Force Col. Anthony Russo, head of the U.S. Strategic Command's space division."

Editor's note: According to NASA ESMD's Brant Sponberg, in the next 10 days or so, NASA and the X-Prize Foundation will announce a lunar lander analog prize competition - with a prize of $2 million. According to charts presented by Sponberg at the NASA Advisory Council meeting, the goal will be to "demonstrate accurate vertical take-off and landing with lunar Delta-V."

Fossett Begins His Trip

Steve Fossett and the GlobalFlyer Depart From NASA's Kennedy Space Center Runway

"The Virgin Atlantic Airways GlobalFlyer aircraft took off today from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility, Fla., at 7:22 a.m. EST. The effort is an attempt to set a new world record for the longest flight made by any aircraft."

Track Fossett's Progress Live

Pawning NASA's Crown Jewels, Scientific Ameircan

"The most egregious budget lines are the two surviving programs that are being maintained on billions of dollars of life support--the space shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). A question: In NASA's budgetary calculus, is it necessary or logical to maim the successful, scientifically productive and visionary part of the space program to feed the cost overruns of the Shuttle/ISS programs, which are scheduled to be canceled in 2010 anyway?"

NASA Budget Diverts Funds From Science to Spaceships, National Geographic News

"NASA simply cannot afford to do everything that our many constituents would like us to do," NASA administrator Michael Griffin said Monday at a press briefing in Washington, D.C. Griffin said the agency had to take a "couple billion out of science and a billion and a half out of the exploration line" to fund the spaceflight programs. "I wish we hadn't had to do it. I didn't want to, but that's what we needed to do," he added."

NASA's "Bizarre" Cuts, Technology Review

"[Lou Friedman]: We fully support the goal of human space flight. But this "anti-science" budget will basically bring a negative reaction from the science community and reopen that "human versus robot" contentiousness -- which had largely been done away with.

TR: Okay, so what balance should NASA try to strike between space science and manned exploration?

LF: They need to be seen working together. The president's moon-Mars vision seemed to have that. It was going to be a mix of things being done on Mars robotically, with successive steps to set up a human lunar presence that would in turn lead to a Mars mission. It was all seen as leading to sending humans to Mars. Now they seem to be getting lost in the details."

Editor's 8 Feb update: On Tuesday I got my 6 February issue. Today (Wednesday) I got my 30 January issue. Otherwise, my mail delivery is normal. I have called the number Space News lists to call about such things several times since my earlier post and left messages - but no one has ever called me back. Maybe its time not to renew.

Editor's 25 Jan note: A week or two before Christmas I noticed that my copy of Space News was not showing up. After the holidays I noticed that it still had not shown up. I checked my records, and saw that my subscription had not lapsed. Several more weeks went by - still no Space News - and I was about to complain. Then today I went to my Post Office box and there was this week's copy - and copies for the previous two weeks - all nice, crisp, and unread. Curiously, there was nothing in my box yesterday afternoon - and my mail delivery has otherwise been quite normal.

George Deutsch Update

Editor's note: NASA Watch has learned that George Deutsch resigned his position at NASA today. NASA will not be commenting on this personnel issue.

George Deutsch, Up and Coming PAO Politico (earlier post)

George Deutsch Did Not Graduate From Texas A & M University, The Scientific Activist

- Bush man resigns NASA post in scandal, UPI
- NASA Public-Affairs Appointee Resigns in Disgrace, Slashdot
- Bush appointee at NASA resigns over censorship, The Independent
- Accused of censoring scientists, NASA vows reform, Reuters

"NASA, accused of censoring its scientists on global warming and the origin of the universe, pledged on Wednesday to reform its policies to ensure "open and full communications."

A Young Bush Appointee Resigns His Post at NASA, NY Times

"Mr. Deutsch's resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his rsum on file at the agency asserted."

A Tragic Death

Crash kills cyclist on training ride, Houston Chronicle

"A 39-year-old NASA engineer was killed Saturday while leading members of the Pearland Cycling Club on a training ride for the MS 150 charity fundraiser. Aerospace engineer Tony Dao was involved in a collision with a Chevrolet Trailblazer while riding eastbound on County Road 190 near Alvin."

Editor's note: You can visit this site to make a donation to the Tony Dao Memorial Fund

NASA's Real Right Stuff

NASA's Real Right Stuff - A Review of "Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut" by Mike Mullane, SpaceRef

"I can't say that I have read every astronaut biography - but I've read a number of them. While many of these books are well crafted - with vibrant, riveting descriptions of life off world, Mullane's book distinguishes itself in this genre by focusing on all aspects of being an astronaut. Let me make that clear - ALL aspects."

SpaceX Launch Status

Falcon 1 Maiden Flight Update: February 6, 2006

"If no flight critical anomalies are detected,launch will take place on Friday, February 10.The launch window on Friday is 1- 7 p.m. (California time)."

JPL Personnel Update

Reader note: "In his "All Hands" meeting today, Dr. Elachi told us that the number of employees had declined from 5,400 to 4,975 as a result of the RIF. There was no mention of the contractor workforce numbers, or whether or not any contractors were included in the 4,975. He stated his intention to keep employment at approximately 5,000."

NASA Glenn to lose 300 jobs by the end of 2007, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Glenn's work force, packed with highly educated scientists and engineers, would slip to about 1,700 by the end of this year and to 1,562 by the end of 2007, NASA Glenn's new director Woodrow Whitlow said."

Ames faces more deep cuts, SJ Mercury News

"It was not clear what the cuts might mean in terms of jobs. Since 2004, the center has seen its budget drop from more than $800 million to $603 million, and its workforce shrink by nearly a third to 2,100."

Michoud's orders fewer, but enough to avoid cuts, Times Picayune

"NASA's spacecraft plant in eastern New Orleans will build 17 more fuel tanks for the space shuttle, fewer than half the number that had been planned prior to the Columbia shuttle accident -- but still enough to keep the factory's 2,000 workers busy for several more years."

Budget, job news better than last year's, Daily News

"NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, one of the region's major employers, will keep its work-force numbers steady despite agency plans to cut aeronautics research funding by 18 percent."

Budget plan allays anxiety at Langley, Virginian-Pilot

"Jobs should be stable. The center was able to trim its civil service work force by 300 over the past two years by offering buyout packages and early retirements. It also cut 300 contractors, she said. She is not planning for any layoffs in the next year, and the work force should hold steady at 3,600 2,000 civil service workers and 1,600 contractors."

Marshall spared cuts but money still tight, Huntsville Times

"This is a good budget for Marshall. This is a very stable budget and it provides for a very stable work force," King told reporters Monday. "It keeps in place our 2,600 civil servants."

Request for National Science Foundation Fiscal Year 2007 Is $6.02 Billion, NSF

"The President's budget for fiscal year 2007 requests $6.02 billion for the National Science Foundation--an increase of $439 million or 7.9 percent over fiscal year 2006. The increase reflects a 10-year budget-doubling effort for NSF and other agencies as part of the American Competitiveness Initiative that President Bush announced in the State of the Union address last week."

Canceling NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder: The White House's Increasingly Nearsighted "Vision" For Space Exploration, SpaceRef

Editor's note: According to NASA's FY 2007 budget documentation "The Terrestrial Planet Finding project (TPF) has been deferred indefinitely." In other words, it is dead. NASA is just afraid to say so.

In a document titled "A Renewed Spirit of Discovery" released on the same day that President Bush announced his Vision for Space Exploration in January 2004, the White House directed NASA, as part of the new "Vison for Space Exploration" to "Conduct advanced telescope searches for Earth-like planets and habitable environments around other stars".

The Cheerleaders Chime In

NASA budget: Right vector, time for more thrust, Space Foundation

"The Vision for Space Exploration and the President's budget proposal have NASA headed in the right direction. This is the right vector, but it is time for more thrust."

NASA'S FY 2007 Budget Request Good for Vision, Coalition for Space Exploration

"The nation's Vision for Space Exploration will be able to continue on course with its bold plan of expanding the space frontier thanks to the solid fiscal support of the White House, as shown in the FY 2007 budget request released Monday."

Planetary Society Charges Administration with Blurring its Vision for Space Exploration

"The NASA Budget released today shortchanges space science in order to fund 17 projected space shuttle flights. Despite recent spectacular results from NASA's science programs, this budget puts the brakes on their growth within the agency. It seriously damages the hugely productive and successful robotic exploration of our solar system and beyond."

NASA Budget Betrays Vision for Space Exploration, IFPTE

"The stop-gap approach of devouring everything else at the Agency, while holding out for some future financial miracle, is irresponsible. This course of action is destroying NASA's key infrastructure and capabilities, and the hundreds of millions recouped cannot make up the multi-billion dollar Shuttle shortfall."

Rep. Boehlert Comments on President's Budget

"I am greatly concerned about the proposed budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). We have to be sure that we are not demonstrating that science is a 'crown jewel' of NASA by seeing how much we can get for it at the pawnshop. I believe the most important planet in the Universe is the one we live on."

ARC Transtion Update

Newsmakers, Science

"[NASA Administrator] Michael Griffin and I talked before the holidays and agreed that he should have the ability to pick a center director of his own choosing," says Hubbard, whose replacement at Ames will reportedly be astronomer and retired Air Force Brigadier General Simon P. Worden. Wesley Huntress, director of the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., says that Ames "blossomed" under Hubbard's 3-year directorship: "NASA loses a very good man."

NASA budget emphasizes space exploration, C|Net

"We believe Ames is healthy," Christensen said. "We have direction and momentum...but we're not out of the woods yet. "We've been restructuring our organization to try to align with missions out of NASA, but it's not simple because we have been a research center."

Red Planet Capital

NASA Request for Information: Venture Capital Project ("Red Planet Capital")

"... Several federal agencies have already established programs that address these challenges through venture funds. For example, the CIA and Army/SoCom respectively created the In-Q-Tel and OnPoint Funds. In order for NASA to specifically focus on entrepreneurial innovation in support of its mission objectives, the Agency has laid the foundation for a private equity investment vehicle (working name "Red Planet Capital") aimed at early-stage companies."

Innovative Partnerships Program, Lisa Lockyer, Acting Deputy Director, Innovative Partnerships, October 20, 2005 (PDF)

The NASA FY 2007 Budget

NASA's New Budget: Treading Water, SpaceRef

"Today, NASA will unveil the Fiscal Year 2007 budget request that the White House will be submitting to Congress. While NASA will get an increase over the FY 2006 budget - the increase is only 1%. In an overall sense, NASA's budget does not keep up with inflation - thus leaving the agency barely able to tread water. Moreover, NASA is getting far less than NASA had originally hoped for - and much less than the White House had planned just two short years ago."

NASA FY 2007 Budget information (overview), OMB

Detailed FY 2007 NASA budget information, OMB (PDF)

NASA FY 2007 Budget Information

NASA Administrator Statement About FY 2007 Budget, NASA

Kicking The Launch Paradigm

A Bold Plan to Go Where Men Have Gone Before, NY Times

"Ask Elon Musk what he wants to do with his life after having amassed a $300 million fortune from the Internet and the answer is surprising. At 34, he says he is too young to retire. Philanthropy is a bit staid."

Editor's note: Once again, like clockwork, NASA has issued two ever-so-slightly different versions of the same space station status report. This week all Harrington and Hartsfield did to warrant a separate release was to insert a single paragraph break into otherwise unaltered text prepared earlier by someone else. Apparently they just can't fight the urge to make pointless edits and send out duplicative status reports (see earlier posts here and here).

NASA Chief Backs Agency Openness, NY Times

"In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times."

"... The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose rsum says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements."

"... The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator." It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."

Editor's note: George Deutsch got his job at NASA was a reward for being a loyal young republican. Otherwise, based on his reported comments in this and other articles - and I'm just guessing folks - but it would seem that he did not take very many science classes in college - political science perhaps. Not exactly the ideal background for someone whose job it is to communicate science. Perhaps we can get George to detail his background for us - and why he thinks that he knows more about the topic than the people who actually do the research.

SpaceHab Sues NASA

Spacehab Files Court Complaint for Losses On Space Shuttle Mission

"Spacehab announced today that it is filing a civil complaint against NASA with the United States District Court in Houston, Texas for loss and damages suffered during the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy in February 2003."

Has NASA's press office gone too far?, Nature

NASA Internal Memo: Message From the Administrator - Scientific Openness

"I want to make sure that NASA employees hear directly from me on how I view the issue of scientific openness and the role of public affairs within the agency. First, NASA has always been, is, and will continue to be committed to open scientific and technical inquiry and dialogue with the public. The basis for this principle is codified in the Space Act of 1958, which requires NASA to "provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof."

Editor's note: It is good that Mike Griffin sent this out. I am, however, utterly confused as to why it was not released to the media and general public - where the NASA credibility issue remains unaddressed.

Editor's note: 4 Feb Update: NASA has now posted Griffin's message on its main website.

Internal NASA Memo Regarding Administrative Investigation of NASA Inspector General

"The Integrity Committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency notified me that they have requested that the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conduct an administrative investigation into allegations against me as the NASA Inspector General. According to the Integrity Committee's letter, the allegations are that I "failed to investigate violations of safety concerns and retaliation by whistle-blowers."

Investigator at NASA Faces Inquiry Over Safety, NY Times

"According to the Integrity Committee's letter, the allegations are that I 'failed to investigate violations of safety concerns and retaliation by whistle-blowers,' " he said in the e-mail message, first posted on the SpaceRef.com Web site. He went on to urge his staff to cooperate fully."

NASA's Inspector General Probed - Failure to Investigate Safety Violations Is Among the Charges, Washington Post

"An FBI-led watchdog agency has opened an investigation into multiple complaints accusing NASA Inspector General Robert W. Cobb of failing to investigate safety violations and retaliating against whistle-blowers. Most of the complaints were filed by current and former employees of his own office."

Editor's note: Between 2:45 AM and 5:30 AM EST Saturday we'll be offline due to ISP upgrades. We're having a small nuclear reactor installed so as to ensure that we are never offline.

Shana Goes Native

Editor's note: As many of you will recall, last summer, Mike Griffin responded [audio] to a question about how he deals with people by saying "I don't do feelings. Just think of me as Spock". Of course, as many starship captains have learned, you often need someone who is more sensitive to people's feelings to help smooth off the rough edges as you command. Hence the position of ship's counselor was created. A few months back Shana Dale, who worked at OSTP for the President's science advisor, joined NASA as its Deputy Administrator. Shana is also rather adept in Washington politics (another weak portion of Griffin's skill set). Alas, one thing many people fear when they learn that a co-worker is going to move to NASA is that they will "go native" after a few months at NASA. Well, based on this recent official portrait of Shana Dale, she has indeed "gone NASA". Click on image to enlarge.

Scotty: I Need That CEV in 2010 Or We're All Going to Die! (earlier post)

New TV Series to Feature JPL

Fox Green-Lights Beyond, SciFi Wire

"Fox on Feb. 1 gave a green light to the SF drama pilot Beyond, from writer David Self (Road To Perdition), Variety reported. Twentieth Century Fox TV and Imagine TV are behind the thriller, which takes place at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A global crisis helps launch a new race to space as the show opens, the trade paper reported."

Editor's note: Gee, JPL certainly has uped the ante. Just watch as APL goes out and gets their own TV series. Alas, JPL certainly could have chosen better - Fox is the producer of the infamous "Moon Hoax" TV special that has rotted far too many minds.

Air Force One Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, John Marburger, and Claude Allen (NASA Excerpts)

"Q Scott, the President's moon/Mars mission, plan -- I mean, what's going to come of that? There's a lot of concern about the gap when the shuttle is retired and the new vehicle hasn't come into play yet.

DR. MARBURGER: There's lots of other science that's important, and there are lots of other initiatives in other agencies that are important for our country. This initiative focuses on things that we think have especially high leverage for future innovation. And that's what this is focused on. Space exploration is another issue, it's another important area for the country, but it's not part of this initiative.

Q Does this indicate any shifting of priorities away from that as a top priority?

DR. MARBURGER: No, there's no shift of priorities for the other areas."

U.S. to judge: Hold off on BlackBerry shutdown, Reuters

"The U.S. Justice Department urged a federal judge on Wednesday to refrain from any plans to shut the BlackBerry portable e-mail service over patent infringement until the government gets more assurances its users will be exempted."

NASA ARC Internal Memo: Message from the Director - Transition

"Mr. Marvin "Chris" Christensen will be the Acting Center Director after I leave and has, in fact, begun the transition into this role. One of his first duties will be to lead the budget roll-out activities for Ames. Chris has been supporting me in a number of endeavors vital to the future of the center; he has the confidence of the Administrator, and I know he will lead you ably while the search for the new center director is conducted."

Remembrance

7 hills in Negev, Mitzpe Ramon, named after fallen Columbia astronauts, Israel Insider

"At the ceremony at the residence of Israeli President Moshe Katsav, seven hills in the Negev desert were named for the astronauts who died Feb. 1, 2003, when the Columbia broke apart during re-entry to Earth's atmosphere, killing all aboard."

Apollo, Challenger, Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead

"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over, "she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space that means there will be more."

- NASA Memorializes Space Shuttle Columbia Crew on Mars
- Remarks by Sean O'Keefe - Columbia Point Naming Ceremony
- Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal 20 July 2003: Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings
- NASA Haughton-Mars Project Space Shuttle Columbia Inukshuk Memorials

Columbia: Three Years Later, Orlando Sentinel

"I was surprised this morning at the dearth of news coverage on todays third anniversary of the Columbia accident."


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