January 2007 Archives

Bad Budget News Ahead

NASA Associate Administrators Discuss Budget Details

NASA Announces FY 08 Budget Press Conference

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin briefs the media about the agency's Fiscal Year 2008 budget at 1 p.m. EST, Monday, Feb. 5. The press briefing is in NASA's main auditorium located at 300 E Street S.W. in Washington."

Democrats File Joint Funding Resolution for FY 2007

(NASA Excerpts) H. J. RES. 20 Making further continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 2007, and for other purposes

''SEC. 20915. Notwithstanding section 101, the level for the following accounts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be as follows: 'Science, Aeronautics and Exploration', $10,075,000,000, of which $5,251,200,000 shall be for science, $890,400,000 shall be for aeronautics research, $3,401,600,000 shall be for exploration systems, and $531,800,000 shall be for cross- agency support programs; 'Exploration Capabilities', $6,140,000,000; and 'Office of Inspector General', $32,000,000.

''SEC. 20939. Notwithstanding section 101, or any other provision of law, no funds shall be used to implement any Reduction in Force or other involuntary separations (except for cause) by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration prior to September 30, 2007.

Weldon: Democrat Leadership Raids NASA Budget

"The raid on NASA's budget has begun in earnest. The cuts announced today by House Democrat leaders, if approved by Congress, would be nearly $400 million less than NASA's current budget," said Weldon."

Sea Launch has a bad day

Sea Launch Experiences Anomaly During NSS-8 Launch

"A Sea Launch Zenit-3SL vehicle, carrying the NSS-8 satellite, experienced an anomaly today during launch operations. All personnel at the launch site are safe and accounted for."

Editor's note: Yea, it certainly had an "anomaly" - the rocket blew up into a whole bunch of little pieces on its floating launch pad.

Watch the YouTube video of the explosion anomaly below:

Editor's note: For those of you who still can't get enough Sean O'Keefe bean counter jokes ...

Editor's note: We all know that the food sucks in orbit. We also know that folks in the MCC can get rather bored at times. Have you ever wondered what sort of behaviors result when these two factors interact?

Editor's update: I posted a link to this video on 26 January. The last time I checked, the view count went from 13 to 2,058 last night. Now the video (someone innocently riding a unicycle at DFRC) has been pulled - no reason given. The activity depicted was perfectly harmless. Indeed, I have seen people riding "official" bicycles at various NASA centers for years. If anyone knows why this was pulled, I'd like to know.

Watchdog agency closes investigation into NASA chief's comments about disgraced former congressman, AP

"A federal watchdog agency has closed its investigation into whether NASA's chief administrator violated the law when he urged an audience to support former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. But the Office of Special Counsel sent a warning letter to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, saying he should have used better judgment, even if he did not break a law against using official authority to influence an election. ... Separately, the agency found that NASA officials did violate the law when they allowed a speech by Sen. John Kerry at the Kennedy Space Center to be broadcast and played over the Internet to workers at the facility. Kerry was running for president at the time, in July 2004."

Griffin (apparently) Flip Flops and Endorses a Political Candidate, earlier post

Griffin Email on Endorsement Issue, earlier post

NASA denies chief made formal DeLay endorsement, Houston Chronicle

"The space program has had no better friend in its entire existence than Tom DeLay," Griffin said Friday of DeLay's legislative support of the agency. "He's still with us and we need to keep him there."

Sens. Voinovich and Brown Voice Concern Over NASA Glenn Funding Levels

"In anticipation of budget cuts, U.S. Senators George V. Voinovich (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today sent a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to provide the funding needed to enable NASA to fulfill its multi-faceted missions. The bipartisan letter expresses concern over proposed funding levels for NASA and the negative impact these funding levels could have on Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center."

Engineers Investigate Issue on One of Hubble's Science Instruments

"NASA engineers are examining a problem related to the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard the agency's Hubble Space Telescope. investigation indicates the camera has stopped functioning, and the input power feed to its Side B electronics package has failed."

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4287

"HST entered Inertial Hold Safemode on 2007/027/12:34:38 GMT (Sat, 01/27/97) following a Total Pressure Sensor (TPS) limit violation. Autonomous safing actions included powering off the FHSTs and the FGS High Voltage and terminating High Gain Antennae (HGA) tracking. Data review following the safemode entry revealed: "Structure Current Safing Test limit was exceeded ~10sec prior to safemode entry, but HST structure current returned within limits before the test could fail." ACS safed due to loss of power."

NASA Seeks To Set the Record Straight on Ares 1 and Orion, SpaceRef

"Last week, NASA's Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD), Scott Horowitz, sat down with reporters to discuss the Ares 1 and Orion programs.

The impetus for this briefing, according to Horowitz, were recent stories - of varying accuracy - regarding weight and performance issues."

New dinosaurs: Spelling, conversation skills, CNet

"The modern wired family is seeing a few mainstays going the way of the dinosaur: landlines, printed dictionaries, maps, newspapers and, of course, the need to remember phone numbers or learn to spell. That's according to a broad new national study, called "The Digital Family," released this week by the No. 1 cable network Nickelodeon. The findings are among the first examinations of technology usage in the home, and they're part of a wider effort among U.S. researchers to understand how rapidly advancing technology is changing the family structure, as well as the way kids communicate and are educated and entertained."

Editor's note: Gee, didn't NASA help invent a lot of this electronic and information technology in the first place? Wow, such pervasive societal spinoffs - and yet NASA doesn't even have a clue how to participate in this next (ongoing) revolution it helped to foment ...

Exhibit One: Lisa Porter, one of NASA's senior managers, says "I don't think that we need to adapt our educational strategies to the short attention span of today's students," stated Dr. Porter. "Rather, I think that we need to teach them discipline and perseverance. We need to coach them not to expect instant gratification, but to recover from failure and keep going - a quality shared by productive aerospace engineers."

Guess what Lisa, you are now obsolete. You need an upgrade.

Heads Up For NASA PAO and Outreach Personnel (You Too, Lisa Porter), Earlier post

Creating The Next Generation of Rocket Scientists, Earlier post

Lisa Porter Has Her Head in the Sand, Earlier post

Editor's note: The Launch Control Center (LCC) at KSC has been upgraded with all the latest gizmos. However, there still seem to be a few flaws in the system whereby pushing a single button can cause big problems. Filmed in the actual LCC.

This Really Sucks

Uncle Sam spoils dream trip to space, AP

"Brian Emmett's childhood fantasy came true when he won a free trip to outer space. But the 31-year-old was crushed when he had to cancel his reservation because of Uncle Sam. .. Then reality hit. After some number-crunching, Emmett realized he would have to report the $138,000 galactic joy ride as income and owe $25,000 in taxes. Unwilling to sink into debt, the software consultant from the San Francisco Bay area gave up his seat. ... That spaceflight will be provided by Space Adventures Ltd., the same company that brokers deals for trips on Russian rockets to the orbiting international space station for a reported $20 million per customer."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin often refers to a multitude of college degrees he has managed to amass over the years. Clearly, based on the sketch below which has been appearing in internal NASA Powerpoint presentations, he clearly doesn't have a degree in Art.

NASA's Dilemma

Space Exploration: Real Reasons and Acceptable Reasons, Mike Griffin

"We have a very interesting conundrum at NASA, and we have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about it. In national polling, NASA as an American institution enjoys a hugely positive approval rating, broadly in the range of 65-75%, an amazing result for a government agency. But when you ask people why, they are not really sure, or at least cannot express it clearly. When you ask people what we do, beyond the broad category of "space", again they aren't quite sure. And if you ask them what we're planning to do, they're even less sure. But they know that they love NASA. So NASA has what in the marketing discipline would be called very strong brand loyalty, even though people are not familiar in detail with what we do or why they like it."

Why Explore Space?, Mike Griffin

Back to the Future

Incorporating Space into Our Economic Sphere of Influence, Mike Griffin

"Arthur C. Clarke's and Stanley Kubrik's masterpiece of science fiction "2001: A Space Odyssey" projected onto the screen of our collective human consciousness a future for us where, by now, hundreds of people would be living and working in space stations orbiting the Earth and outposts would exist on our moon. We would be journeying to other planets in our solar system, just as our European forbears came to America looking for new beginnings."

NASA has to fight the forgetting, commetary, Jim Oberg, MSNBC

"If we accept the "inevitability" of the disaster, and of the Challenger and Columbia tragedies that followed (and are also memorialized now in a three-for-one NASA observance), and if we congratulate ourselves for "how much the sacrifices taught us," we are ducking a fearsome responsibility. It is this: We should have known already, and people should not have had to die to remind us. The later disasters were not "accidents," random and unavoidable they were consequences of complacency and carelessness."

NASA Solicitation: Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences - 2007

"NNH07ZDA001N, entitled "Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences - 2007 (ROSES-2007)," will be available on or about February 16, 2007. .. this NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics."

NRC Reports Issued

Iran Set to Try Space Launch, Aviation Week

"U.S. agencies believe the launcher to be a derivation of either of two vehicles -- the liquid-propellant, 800-1,000-mi. range Shahab 3 missile, or the 1,800-mi. range, solid propellant Ghadar-110. A Shahab 3 or a Ghadar-110 fired from central Iran could strike anywhere in Israel, Saudi Arabia, the entire Persian Gulf region and as far west as southern Turkey."

Editor's note: ESMD AA Scott Horowitz held a media briefing at NASA HQ today to discuss the Ares 1 and Orion projects.

Topics covered included Ares 1 performance, weight margins, Orion design, possible changes in booster design, and testing of the Orion spacecraft on both the Ares I - and possibly - the study concept vehicle dubbed by some as "Ares IV".

Horowitz presented several charts that illustrate the Ares 1 design process and weight, performance, and programmatic margin status.

NASA and Woods Hole Linkup Connects Space and Sea Explorers

"Two extreme explorers will connect in a unique call Friday, Jan. 26, linking the depths of the ocean with the heights of Earth orbit. NASA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Mass., will host the ultra-long distance call between International Space Station astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams and marine biologist Tim Shank in the Alvin research submersible. The call will take place at 1:45 p.m. CST, and will be broadcast tape-delayed on NASA Television between 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m."

Space Frontier Foundation Supports FAA's NewSpace Preparations

"The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA-AST) is the US Government agency responsible for regulating the safety of the NewSpace industry, and this office is preparing for the day when the inevitable happens.

Nobody wants to think about it, and yet we must be prepared to deal with the consequences. Therefore, the FAA-AST has asked the Space Frontier Foundation to collect ideas (includes an online survey)"

New Job for Alan Ladwig

Alan Ladwig Joins Whitney, Bradley & Brown, Inc. to Lead Space Consultancy

"Whitney, Bradley & Brown, Inc. (WBB) announced today that Alan Ladwig is joining the company and to lead their Space Consultancy business. Alan brings more than 30 years of experience in senior management positions with NASA, commercial space companies, media companies and non-profit organizations."

Not seeing eye to eye on the Vision, The Daily Aztec

"Space exploration does not call for the frills of a propaganda campaign. This sort of fascination taps into nearly every human imagination. So, before you start a committee to find what music will be on your MySpace page, get back to the science. Fire your "message spinners" and stop hiring survey firms. Because the 18- to 25-year-olds will front the bill and provide the expertise in the future, don't think you can convince us of what we want, or worse, shout the same message repeatedly when you know it's what we don't want. "

Editor's note: While I am not an American Idol fan, I have seen it - and have seen some of the less than talented wannabes end up becoming famous - because they are so bad. This video shows someone (Brent Simon) singing "the Space Camp Song" which relates the wonders and joys of going to Space Camp. While Brent's performance is certainly not Grammy material, he seems to have spawned a fan club of sorts - with others producing their own tribute videos in response to his performance. Why feature this? When is the last time you saw a homemade video about the joys of space exploration getting 1,125,101 views (and counting) on YouTube? What does this guy know about popularizing space that NASA is missing?

Prepare to Feast Your Eyes

NASA Cassini Image: The Greatest Saturn Portrait ...Yet

"While cruising around Saturn in early October 2004, Cassini captured a series of images that have been composed into the largest, most detailed, global natural color view of Saturn and its rings ever made."

The Saturn view I've been waiting for, Planetary Society

"Over the weekend, Cassini acquired a set of images that will (I am assuming) eventually be used to produce a glorious portrait of the ringed planet from a point of view that's never been seen before. Cassini has already produced two significant, detailed mosaics of Saturn. The first was taken early in the mission from a fairly familiar perspective, showing most of the globe of Saturn as well as the rings from their sunlit side."

"Used Misc. Watches, Rings, Earrings, Bracelets, Necklaces, Electronics, Tools, etc. (Export Control may be required)" (pictures) (Catalog)

Yawn From Paris

Heads of Agency International Space Station Joint Statement

"PARIS - The heads of the International Space Station partners, space agencies from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States, met at European Space Agency Headquarters in Paris, France, on January 23, 2007, to review ISS cooperation."

Heads of Agency ISS Press Conference (Transcript)

"QUESTIONER: Jessica Mazzeray [ph] from Russia Today. I would just like to know if the time scheduled for completion of the ISS is still the same, and also what do you estimate the final cost of its construction to be?

DR. GRIFFIN: I can't give you a cost number. The completion date will be prior to the end of 2010, with some margin. We will fly our last assembly flight."

Science and Technology Committee Welcomes Members, Announces Subcommittee Chairs

"Today, House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) officially announced the full committee membership, subcommittee chairmen and subcommittees for the 110th Congress. ... Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics:Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO), Chair. Ranking Member Ken Calvert (R-CA)"

Editor's note: Picture this: a TV commercial featuring a space station orbiting overhead where people speak Russian and laugh at capitalists back on Earth. How scary - or at least that's what the McDonnell Douglas public affairs folks wanted everyone else to think back in 1988. Flash forward nearly 20 years. McDac is gone. And the space station with Russians on board? Well, we're up there with them. And the capitalists who actually use a space station? They speak Russian - and they are still laughing at us back on Earth because we can't commercialize much (if anything) on the ISS.

NASA Internal email: Proposal by NASA Astronaut Marsha Ivins for a TV Special on Project Constellation and Exploration

"History: I have a friend who works for New Line Cinema who is a screen writer, director, producer and huge space buff. I approached him with a thought about making a Discovery Channel or equivalent special, or series, on this new program NASA has to build the first new space vehicles of this generation, return to the moon, be once again great in an exciting and imaginative way. He loved the idea. ... The head of the group said to me the one sentence we would kill to hear any big time production company say - this is not a story that will make money for us but it's a story that MUST be told. When can we start! - A week later my friend said the head of New Line told him that he'd never seen any New Line group so excited and in fact they have moved out quicker on this idea than on any one they've had to date I'm told."

Coalition for Space Exploration Names New Leadership

"The Coalition for Space Exploration's Public Affairs Team today officially announced its new leadership for 2007. Joe Mayer of The Boeing Company has been named the organization's new chairman, and will be serving a one-year term effective January 2007 through December 2007. ... The Coalition also named a deputy chair for 2007. Joan Underwood, Senior Manager of Communications for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, will support Mayer in formulating an annual public outreach plan, supervising project teams and managing operations of the Public Affairs Team."

Editor's note: Hopefully this new team will actually do something useful with all of that money the coalition has gathered from the aerospace industry since 2004. As far as I can tell the only major publication the Coalition has generated is a coloring book aimed at children and members of Congress.

Current Education Updates

Preflight Interview With NASA Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan

NASA Solicitation: KSC Internship

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) Announces New Board Members

Chance for European student to join the NASA 2007 summer academy, ESA

Space Generation Advisory Council Seeks National Points of Contact

AIP FYI #9: Science Education Bills

Gordon Calls on President to Prioritize Science/Math Education, Research, Energy in State of the Union

"Key among those unfulfilled promises: work to insure the U.S. remains a leader in the competitive global marketplace. A year ago, I commended the President's announcement of his American Competitiveness Initiative, but that initiative's misplaced priorities were its failure. The Science and Technology Committee will do our part this Congress to advance the Democrats' Innovation Agenda and I hope the President will work with us to quickly enact legislation that makes a real commitment to bolstering math and science education and invests in basic research."

A Moon Full of Opportunity - NASA gave six reasons for going back to the Moon when only one was needed, Paul Spudis

"From the beginning, there was dissention within NASA and the broader space community about the meaning of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). Was it a call for a permanent moon base? Was it all about sending humans to Mars? Perhaps it was really a stalking horse to terminate human spaceflight completely. The alt-space community whined about it being another big government boondoggle. The Mars Society whined about the focus on the Moon. The scientific community just whined. Much of this confusion stems from preconceived interpretations about the new policy and has been exacerbated by resulting changes to the status quo. This confusion, nurtured by design or misinformation, must be corrected and the Vision's direction clearly understood."

Editor's note: If you've ever seen one of those ancient movies from the 1950's where people fly on rocketships (which always seem to look like German V-2 rockets), you've no doubt seen the horrible grimaces the actors have on their faces as they are subjected to launch acceleration. Truth is, your face does get a bit distorted and pulled back as the G's climb. Indeed, actual footage from current centrifuge training seems to be funnier than B-movie depictions from half a century ago.

A New Look at Apollo

Reaching For the Moon At Sundance, Washington Post

"The film by David Sington, "In the Shadow of the Moon," premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and included footage unearthed from the NASA vaults that has never been widely seen before. Some of it is amazing. Discovery has acquired rights to show the movie on television and is seeking a distributor to put it into theaters. The documentary is different from its genre in that it appears to be about feelings, which is not something the Apollo astronauts are famous for displaying."

A new crop of kids: Generation We, CNet

"Researchers say this kind of environment, in which parents aren't afraid of or are clueless about technology, is fostering a new generation of kids who are naturally adept with technology and comfortable with having virtual access to friends, family and the world at large. They have a much more global outlook at a younger age, and experts from the research firm Iconoculture say that unlike the picture of entitled teens and 20-somethings that many pundits have dubbed the Me Generation, today's kids under the age of 11 are part of what Iconoculture dubs "Generation We."

Reader note: "Perhaps NASA PAO should consult the annually published Beloit College Mindset List. I have always found this to be an interesting read in terms of thinking about how to connect with the younger generation. Especially now that I have my own teenager who thinks I'm the world's nerdiest."

Editor's note: An excerpt: "A rite of autumn is under way with the arrival of first-year students at thousands of colleges and universities for registration. Most 18-year-old students entering the class of 2010 this fall were born in 1988. They grew up with a mouse in one hand and a computer screen as part of their worldview. They learned to surf the internet as they learned to read."

U.S. Tries to Interpret Chinas Silence Over Test, NY Times

"Bush administration officials said that they had been unable to get even the most basic diplomatic response from China after their detection of a successful test to destroy a satellite 10 days ago, and that they were uncertain whether Chinas top leaders, including President Hu Jintao, were fully aware of the test or the reaction it would engender."

US officials cite concerns about China test debris, Reuters

"Trash from China's satellite-killing missile test has spread widely in space, creating a debris cloud that could jeopardize spy satellites and commercial imagery satellites in low orbits around Earth, U.S. officials said on Monday. Even the manned International Space Station is vulnerable to being hit by some of the thousands of pieces of trash created when China slammed a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile into an aging Chinese weather satellite about 537 miles (865 km) above Earth on Jan. 11, the officials said."

Editor's note: Detractors of America's space program often cite the fact that slimy things and bugs often find their way into space aboard satellites and space shuttles. This is, of course, true. However, many people do not fully understand the contribution these little critters have actually made. The following YouTube video "Ants on Rockets" highlights this oft-ignored aspect of space exploration:

Earth Vs The Moon

Blinding Ourselves in Space, opinion, NY Times

"With little new money to carry out these costly tasks, the agency has been forced to rein in other parts of its budget, including earth science studies. Unless Congress gives NASA more funds, the agency should shift money internally to give Earth observations higher priority. Studies that could affect the livability of the planet seem vastly more consequential than completing a space station or returning to the Moon by an arbitrary date."

Where Spirits & Rockets Soar, Homer Hickam, Parade magazine

"The club [Birmingham Rocket Boys], which welcomes the young and old, is under the auspices of the National Association of Rocketry, a group dedicated to teaching the science under safe conditions. Two real rocket scientists from NASA's Marshall Space Flight CenterVince Huegele and Chuck Piercevolunteer their time."

Student teams tap Rocket City expertise, Huntsville Times

"Officials at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in Huntsville, the contractor for the space shuttle main engines, the Ares I upper-stage engine and the Ares V core-stage engines, decided that students from the Rocket City should be among the nation's student rocketry elite. So the company teamed up with the local rocketry group to help make sure that happens."

Ask the Administrator

Editor's note: This memo is being sent out by each center to its employees. In this case, I hope LaRC PAO's Mike Finneran, producer of the smash hit video on YouTube, suggests that employees also be able to submit their own videos to InsideNASA as well!

To: (All Employees at Langley Research Center) From: "Michael Finneran, Head, PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE" Subject: Ask the Administrator Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 - Ask the Administrator on the InsideNASA Web site

A new "Ask a Question" feature is now available to NASA employees in the "Administrator's Corner" on the InsideNASA Web site at: http://insidenasa.nasa.gov

House Science and Technology Chair Gordon Comments on Reported Chinese ASAT Test

"I am deeply concerned about the reported Chinese anti-satellite test. I believe that it is ill-advised for a number of reasons: it is destabilizing; the debris cloud created as a result of the test increases the risk to civil and commercial satellites; and the test fosters an environment that will make it more difficult to consider potential cooperation with China in civil space activities. I hope that this will be the last such test to occur."

Markey Denounces Chinese Missile Test - Calls on Bush Administration to Strike Agreement to Ban Future Tests

"The Chinese anti-satellite test is terrible news for international stability and security, and could presage the dawn of a new arms race -- this time in space," Rep. Markey said. "American satellites are the soft underbelly of our national security, and it is urgent that President Bush move to guarantee their protection by initiating an international agreement to ban the development, testing, and deployment of space weapons and anti-satellite systems."

Pete Worden 'Ames' for the Moon and Beyond , Science

"On how scientists can help: I'm an advocate of small, fast missions that could do 80% of the capability for 10% of the cost. What would be useful is for the scientific community to prioritize missions within the budget we've got, so we can get more science, better science, by doing more smaller missions and fewer bigger ones."

On exploration versus science: We are faced with a crisis in exploration. The vehicle we have is being phased out for a lot of good reasons, and there's an investment to make. Once the shuttle is phased out, I would anticipate scientific opportunities will go up quickly with a much more flexible system."

AIP FYI #8: Upcoming Deadline: Senate Letter on Full Funding of NSF Request

"We are writing to request that you uphold the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related agencies subcommittee request of $5.99 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) as you complete work on the fiscal year 2007 continuing resolution. This funding is essential because keeping the NSF at its 2006 level under the continuing resolution will jeopardize valuable research that fosters American competitiveness and innovation."

Letter from Members of the House to House Appropriators Regarding NSF FY 2007 Budget issues

"Thank you very much for your leadership in increasing federal funding for basic science research. As supporters of scientific research and education, we respectfully ask that you single out the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a priority in your fiscal year 2007 Continuing Resolution appropriations legislation. Specifically, we request that you fund NSF at the House-passed, President's requested level of $6.02 billion in fiscal year 2007. This is essential, because the flat funding for this agency under the Continuing Resolution will directly inhibit our national competitiveness and jeopardize American innovation."

Editor's note: So ... when can we expect a similar letter of support for NASA's space, aeronautics, and science programs - one organized by the Coalition for Space Exploration and all of those high-paid aerospace lobbyists?

American Competitiveness Initiative: No Room for NASA, earlier post

President Discusses American Competitiveness Initiative, White House

"We saw three really wonderful teachers, people who are dedicated to their profession, who deeply care about the students they teach. And for all of you here who are teaches, thanks for carrying on a really noble profession. We saw two scientists who are here from NASA."

NASA Reference Guide to the International Space Station

"This book is designed to provide a broad overview of the Station's complex configuration, design, and component systems, as well as the sophisticated procedures required in the Station's construction and operation. The ISS is in orbit today, operating with a crew of three. Its assembly will continue through 2010. As the ISS grows, its capabilities will increase, thus requiring a larger crew. Currently, 16 countries are involved in this venture."

Editor's note: This is really a marvelous document - one well worth downloading and reading.

Editor's note: Have a look at this YouTube video taken at "Fish Lips" in Florida in June 2006. Lots of PAO types drinking. NASA HQ PAO's previous political hire (Joe Pally) is featured as is a gratuitous plug for aeronautics from Jonas Dino (ARC). You can hear someone in the background worrying that this is going "to get on the Web". The video was posted by Michael Finneran from LaRC PAO.

Editor's note: You may recall back in the 1980's Wally Schirra demonstrated his legendary independence and became a spokesman for Actifed decongestant - something he and other astronauts had taken during their missions. YouTube now has several of those videos online.

China Has ASAT Weapons

Chinese Test Anti-Satellite Weapon, Aviation Week & Space Technology

"U. S. intelligence agencies believe China performed a successful anti-satellite (asat) weapons test at more than 500 mi. altitude Jan. 11 destroying an aging Chinese weather satellite target with a kinetic kill vehicle launched on board a ballistic missile. The Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, NASA and other government organizations have a full court press underway to obtain data on the alleged test."

Bold move escalates space war debate, MSNBC

"For the first known time in history, a missile launched from the ground destroyed an orbiting satellite. The event is supposed to have occurred about 5:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 11, or 6:30 a.m. Beijing time Jan. 12."

Today's OpEds

To The Moon And Beyond, Opinion , Michael Griffin, Hartford Courant

"The Pilgrims had to learn to survive in a strange new place across a vast ocean. If we are to become a spacefaring nation, the next generation of explorers is going to have to learn how to survive in other forbidding, faraway places across the vastness of space. The moon is a crucially important stepping stone along that path - an alien world, yet one that is only a three-day journey from Earth."

Martian Logic, editorial, Washington Post

"Mr. Moore and his co-chairman, Richard A. Anthes, say that Mr. Bush need only restore earth science research funding at NASA to the levels of late in the Clinton administration and spend reasonably on a discrete set of projects to repair the system, a goal that should be reachable if he reconsiders how to pay for his ambitious space missions. If the president must go to the moon or Mars, he should find the money for it responsibly, not by chopping away at other, more vital programs."

Ares I Upper Stage Update

Ares I Upper Stage Production Presolicitation Conference Charts are online here.

Spacehab Unveils Initiative to Streamline Company, Reduce Costs

"Spacehab today announced plans to restructure corporate functions and reduce staff to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and lower overhead costs. The Company anticipates the 15-20% reduction in workforce, approximately 36 positions out of 220, to result in savings of $3.9 million annually. The reductions eliminate redundant capabilities as SPACEHAB's support of NASA's space shuttle program moves toward completion of the Company's last contracted mission."

SpaceX DemoFlight 2 Launch Update

"Going forward, a static fire is planned Thursday, January 18 (California time). We have a launch window on January 21 and 22 (California time) and are working with the range to secure a couple of additional days as contingency. Should we go beyond that, which is still a good possibility as we work with the upgraded vehicle, pad, and procedures, the next available launch window is mid February. There will be a live webcast and a media call in line for the launch. Details will be provided shortly."

NASA-Ames After Hours by "flightsuit", YouTube

"Trip out on the unusual industrial landscape that is NASA-Ames' Moffet Field facility, as I drive too fast, trying to find the night-time exit and/or stuff that looks kewl and futuristic."

Future Workforce Must Be Cultivated Now to Maintain U.S. Aerospace Leadership, AIAA

"I don't think that we need to adapt our educational strategies to the short attention span of today's students," stated Dr. Porter. "Rather, I think that we need to teach them discipline and perseverance. We need to coach them not to expect instant gratification, but to recover from failure and keep going - a quality shared by productive aerospace engineers."

Editor's note: As is the case with every generation, today's young people are different than the one the generation they follow. That's just the way it is. The current generation grew up in a world totally different than the one you grew up in, Lisa. Ignoring the way that they - and their world works - is simply foolish, to say the least. Why not make them use slide rules and write equations on a chalkboard, eh Lisa? After all, this system worked for Werner von Braun and his team, right?

Did it ever occur to you that this perceived "short attention span" may have to do with the speed at which the younger generation generates - and receives - information? If you don't adapt your message to meet their "short attention spans", Lisa, they simply will not get your message.

Lisa Porter's naivete and total ignorance when it comes to modern education - and those who currently seek to be educated - serves as a perfect illustration of just how out of touch NASA's senior leadership is with regard to the generation that represents NASA's future. The future will be different than the present and these young people will decide how things work, not Lisa Porter. Indeed, they have already made that decision.

Reader note: "Other people have had similar encounters with Lisa Porter. Some communications people made a presentation to Lisa Porter in front of an industry group of 25. At the end of presentation she said "I knew all that." Some of the people in the room remarked that they had been in the business for 25 years and didn't know the information presented. Her next statement floored everyone in the room, "Why would I talk to the American people? They are the people that watch Survivor; I am not interested in what they think or want."

Comments? Send them to nasawatch@reston.com Your comments thus far:

Bleak outlook for Russian-U.S. space cooperation, RIA-Novosti

"The fact that Washington has stopped mentioning the ISS conforms with the logic and nature of U.S. statements. [Russian Federal Space Agency director Anatoly] Perminov said the United States is no longer setting forth any specific manned-mission directives. Russia would be unable to operate the ISS on its own, even with active EU assistance. The United States plans to scrap its shuttle fleet in 2010 and forget all about the ISS program. The Russian Federal Space Agency and NASA were expected to sign a contract on the sale of Russia's Soyuz and Progress spacecraft in the near future. This would have guaranteed subsequent U.S. involvement in the ISS program. It turns out, however, that this contract will not be inked anytime soon."

Talking With An Astronaut

A Student Astronaut talks with a Space Station astronaut, Planetary Society

"Former Student Astronaut Vignan Pattamatta just had the opportunity to join a live conversation with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, specifically Sunita Williams, who is the second Indian-American woman to go to space."

Editor's note: Have a look at this new NASA Video - posted on YouTube. It shows the launch and deployment of the five THEMIS (Time History of Events and Microscale Interactions during Substorms) spacecraft. Whereas NASA videos always tend to be sedate as far as music is concerned, this one has an interesting upbeat soundtrack. If you have a subwoofer on your computer's sound system, by all means turn up the volume! Raw footage can be viewed here and a HiDef version of the footage can be viewed here as well. The deployment sequence is rather well done - and the image of Earth and the aurora borealisis rather stunning.

Researchers lay out wish list for Earth-observing satellites, Natuire

"The number of earth-observing missions could drop by a third between 2006 and 2010, if funding continues at expected levels. The loss of existing capabilities would leave scientists without data to feed models of climate change perhaps leaving us unprepared to face future climate shifts."

House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Reacts to National Academies' Earth Science and Applications Assessment

"At a time when accurate weather forecasting and climate research is becoming increasingly important to the well-being of our citizens, this distinguished panel of experts is warning in no uncertain terms that 'the United States' extraordinary foundation of global observations is at great risk.'"

Report Calls for Renewed National Commitment to Space-Based Earth, NAS

Scientists Warn of Fewer Studies From Space, NY Times

"The nation's ability to track retreating polar ice and shifting patterns of drought, rainfall and other environmental changes is being put "at great risk" by faltering efforts to replace aging satellite-borne sensors, a panel convened by the country's leading scientific advisory group said."

NOAA satellites help save 272 people in 2006, NOAA

"NOAA satellites helped save 272 people from potentially life-jeopardizing emergencies throughout the United States and its surrounding waters in 2006 -- up from 222 the previous year."

Editor's note: Just when you thought the White House doesn't have anyone on staff with any space smarts Rep. David Wu (D-OR) drops this bombshell: "There are Klingons in the White House." Wu then goes on to note that these are actually "faux Klingons". I guess he is refering to the Klingons we saw in the original Star Trek series - you know, the ones without all the bumps on their heads. Wu then laments the lack of Vulcans in the White House. Of course we all know that the only Vulcan working on space in Washington is Mike Griffin. Rep. Wu has been on the House Science Committee for a number of years. Let's see if he raises this issue with Spock Mike Griffin and Shana Dale (she used to work there) when hearings commence in a month or so.

Watch, C-SPAN (via YouTube)
Scotty: I need that CEV in 2010 or we're all going to die!, earlier post
Shana Goes Native, earlier post

Budget Cuts Loom

Budget crunch may dim vision for NASA, Houston Chronicle

"Hutchison said her biggest concern is that Griffin will have to slash scientific research to keep the agency on course to complete construction of the international space station, retire the shuttle fleet and develop new spacecraft to return to the moon. "The core focus, I think, is correct," Hutchison said. "The (new spacecraft), getting that up and running, and the shuttle, getting the space station finished so that we can retire the shuttles. That is the right priority because it's a safety issue for the astronauts. "But when we have this cut, he's got to find the places that are on the margins, and I fear he's going to be looking at things like scientific research."

Budget bungle costs NASA half a billion dollars, New Scientist

"According to NASAwatch.com, Doug McCuistion, head of NASA's Mars programme, said this week that his project's reserves will dip from 5% to 2% because of the budget difficulties. They have also had to do some budget shuffling to avoid mission delays he says, in particular keeping the 2011 Mars Scout on schedule."

Spysat Has Gone Dark

Expensive new U.S. spy satellite not working: sources, Reuters

"U.S. officials are unable to communicate with an expensive experimental U.S. spy satellite launched last year by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), a defense official and another source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday."

Japan recommends scrapping moon mission, AP

"Japan's space agency has recommended scrapping its first moon mission after more than a decade of delays, a spokeswoman said Monday, in the latest blow to the country's beleaguered space program. The Lunar-A probe was envisioned as planting two seismic sensors on the lunar surface to gather information about the moon's core and learn more about the origins of the Earth's only natural satellite."

Space travel - Sealing wax and string, The Economist

"When George Bush redirected America's space agency, NASA, away from scientific research and towards manned space exploration in 2004, many were disappointed. Human spaceflight is expensive and, since the end of the Apollo programme in 1972, has yielded little or nothing in the way of science. Robotic missions, by contrast, have visited every planet in the solar system, many moons, several asteroids and even the odd comet. This week plans were unveiled to mitigate the disaster. Scientists from three continents, having accepted the inevitable, have been working quietly on plans to rescue something useful from it. Intriguingly, their chosen forum has been not NASA, but the European Space Agency, ESA."

FEMA deputy during Katrina now at NASA, AP

"The hiring of Rhode, a former television reporter who was an advance man for the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign, was made by the White House and Griffin together, [NASA spokesman David] Mould said. ... Rhode, whose appointment was first reported on the Web site NASA Watch, could not be reached for comment by phone or e-mail."

Bush Administration Incompetence to Expand Scope Past Atmosphere, Wonkette

"Remember Patrick Rhode? He was the former TV reporter who leveraged a job as deputy advance guy for Bush in 2000 (deputy to the guy who makes sure there's bottled water behind the podium!) into a gig as deputy director of FEMA. Then New Orleans drowned, and Rhode called FEMA's response "probably one of the most efficient and effective responses in the country's history." Thankfully, he's no longer with FEMA. Nope, instead he's going to strand all of our astronauts in space."

Griffin Says NASA Will Protect CEV, Station Against Flat-Budget Squeeze, Aviation Now

"We will find what we believe are the lowest priority half-billion dollars in content, and we'll extract it, across the agency," he says, stressing that does not mean programs at the core of the redirected U.S. space program as defined by President Bush almost three years ago. "I will do everything I can to keep Orion and Ares I on schedule," he says. "That will be right behind keeping shuttle and station on track, and then after that we'll fill up the bucket with our other priorities."

Hubble mission now last flight for Atlantis, Huntsville Times

"Cowing said the date also should be a reasonable indicator of when shuttle workers might "start being either shifted to other work, retired or possibly laid off. "One would suspect that the last mission for Atlantis would be a red light for layoffs."

"From the time he was a child, Charles Farmer (BILLY BOB THORNTON) had only one goal: to be an astronaut. Earning his degree in aerospace engineering and joining the Air Force as a pilot, Farmer was a natural for NASA's astronaut training program and was well on his way when a family situation forced him to drop out and return home - effectively ending his career. In Theatres: February 23rd, 2007"


Official website

Editor's note: NASA Headquarters has a new political appointee in its employ: Patrick Rhode. He'll be working on the 9th floor.

For those of you who followed the post-Katrina management fiasco at FEMA you may recall hearing his name. Rhode served as FEMA Director Michael Brown's Chief of Staff and later, as Acting Deputy Director of FEMA. I am sure the folks at Stennis and Michoud will be thrilled to learn this.

Editor's update: Patrick Rhode is now listed in NASA's online phonebook as a "senior advisor" to "Organization: A" (Office of the Administrator)

What follows are a few media excerpts from that time:

Griffin Speaks to the STA

Prepared Comments by Michael Griffin before the Space Transportation Association

"I hope that NASA is not in the business of reinventing the wheel or ensuring "big government" solutions to space exploration. If you think that I'm wrong, please tell me; believe me, we'll pay attention. We are tasked by our Federal government's elected leadership to develop certain capabilities for aeronautics, space exploration and scientific discovery. I hugely admire the achievement of Burt Rutan and his team with the SpaceShipOne suborbital flights in 2004, and I certainly consider Burt to be a friend. But I think that it is difficult to extrapolate the success of SpaceShipOne to NASA endeavors."

Editor's note: This morning, at a breakfast sponsored by the Space Transportation Association, I asked Mike Griffin if NASA was working on any designs or plans for an alternate way to get Orion - and humans into orbit. Specifically, I asked if NASA was working on an alternative to the Ares I. Griffin said, rather emphatically, "No". Griffin's answer seems to contradict a variety of supposedly authoritative rumors suggesting that NASA is indeed seeking alternatives. Stay tuned.

NASA Internal Memo: Hubble Space Telescope SM4 Mission Scheduled for 11 September 2008

"We have been informed by the JSC SM4 Mission Director that the space shuttle Flight Assignment Working Group (FAWG) has assigned the HST SM4 mission a launch readiness date of September 11, 2008 on space shuttle Atlantis (OV-104). This flight is designated STS-125. Please see the attachment for the latest FAWG manifest."

Download complete 2 January 2007 FAWG manifest

NASA Schedules Flight to Update Space Telescope, NY Times

"The Hubble Space Telescope has a new, resonant date with destiny. NASA has set Sept. 11, 2008, as the target date for launching a mission intended to revitalize the telescope and keep it spaceworthy into the next decade, according to a planning document made public by nasawatch.com, an independent Web site."

Bad Software Doomed MGS

NASA Decides That A Software Error Doomed The Mars Global Surveyor Spacecraft, SpaceRef

"During a meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group Meeting in Washington DC, yesterday, NASA's John McNamee, Mars Exploration Program addressed the issue of the recent failure of the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft.

Apparently incorrect software doomed the spacecraft."

NASA Panel Will Study Mars Global Surveyor Events

"Mars Global Surveyor launched in 1996 on a mission designed to study Mars from orbit for two years. It accomplished many important discoveries during nine years in orbit. On Nov. 2, the spacecraft transmitted information that one of its arrays was not pivoting as commanded. Loss of signal from the orbiter began on the following orbit."

Editor's note: Isn't it just a little odd that NASA PAO declines to mention in print what one of its own senior managers stated in a public meeting yesterday in front of hundreds of people - and the media - that flawed software which had been sent to the MGS was likely to blame for the spacecraft's failure?

New Leader at KSC

Parsons meets the press, Orlando Sentinel

"Predictably, most of the questions to Parsons were related to possible job cuts at KSC as NASA moves closer to the shuttle's 2010 retirement date and transitions to the Constellation program that eventually will send flights to the moon."

Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group Meeting

The meeting will get underway at 8:00 am EST. Ongoing live commentary will be posted below.

Space Generation Advisory Council Survey: Key Events in the Next 50 Years of Space

Editor's note: The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) is organizing a survey to find out what visions for the next 50 years of space are shared by the world's youth: "The input sought at this time are key events and timing that are thought to be important for space activities over the next 50 years. We hope to capture the input in a publication tentatively titled: "Looking Back, Looking Forward: The Next Generation's 50-Year Vision for Space"

Advertise Above The Sky

Space ads taken to the next level, JP Aerospace

"YouTube and Google Video have become the new advertising hot spots. Space, as in outer space, is becoming the final frontier for marketing.

JP Aerospace, a California company, has joined these trends by offering video ads twenty miles up. It hopes to sell to companies looking for dramatic and uplifting video for their marketing campaigns."

Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group Meeting

The meeting is now underway. Ongoing live commentary is posted below.

Editor's note: Allan Miller, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the National Science Foundation - and a NASA Educator Astronaut finalist - has returned from a tour of duty in and around Antarctica. His journals can be read online at http://www.polartrec.com/allanmillerjournal. Miller was part of an expedition - the first of at least 30 - which will allow classroom teachers to travel to field research sites in the Arctic and Antarctic and work with scientists engaged in many different types of polar research throughout the upcoming International Polar Year (IPY - 2007-2009).

Editor's note: Update from the Sklab Restoration Project: "We received a request for data about the Multiple Docking Adapter (MDA) docking ports from the Orion project at JSC. The MDA docking port may serve as a guide or model (even a good starting point) for Orion's passive docking capability. Skylab's grid decking is servicing as a guide for a new way to mount avionics for Ares 1. It's good to see the Constellation program is drawing on Skylab."

NASA Extends Ares I Development Contract, NASA MSFC

"This Ares I first stage contract action will increase a first stage task under an existing shuttle contract by $48 million for a total work effort valued at $111 million. These activities are a preparatory effort leading up to the Ares I first stage prime contract, which will be awarded in the February 2007 timeframe."

Editor's note: usually when you "extend" a contract it involves adding more time to the time period under which work is performed - as well as more money to pay for that work. NASA only mentions the addition of money in this press release thus giving the impression that this is simply cost coverage - not contract extension.

NASA Invites Academia and Industry to Lunar Dust Workshop, NESC/LaRC

"The NASA Engineering and Safety Center will sponsor a Lunar Dust Workshop Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. The three-day workshop will focus on the effects of lunar dust for human and robotic missions to the moon, as well as procedures and technologies to protect astronauts and vehicles."

Editor's note: This meeting will have 150 attendees from NASA, academia, and industry - a rather high profile event for ARC. And how does ARC PAO tell people about it? They don't. There is no mention on the ARC home page, the events page, or the news page. Nor did they bother to issue a press release.

Editor's note: On page 9 of an 11 December 2006 Industry Day briefing given about the Landsat Data Continuity Mission Operational Land Imager by LDCM Project Manager Bill Ochs it is stated that an RFP will be released on "1/3/07". The last posting with regard to this procurement was on 29 December 2006. Editor's 9 Jan update: The solicitation has now been released.

"Plutoed" chosen 2006 word of the year by dialect society, AP

"To "pluto" is "to demote or devalue someone or something" much like what happened to the former planet last year when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto didn't meet its definition of a planet."

Major Astronomy Result to be Published in Nature Online / ESA TV Exchanges / 08-01-2007, ESA

"The online edition of Nature will publish, on 8 January 2007, a major scientific achievement in astronomy, in which European astronomers have participated, using a space telescope with ESA participation."

Editor's 5 Jan update: If you go to this ESA link it says "Hubble unfolds the universis of dark metal"

Editor's 7 Jan update: Hubble Maps the Cosmic Web of "Clumpy" Dark Matter in 3-D

Astronaut Don Pettit: Greetings From the Bottom of the World

"In May 2003, astronaut Don Pettit returned home from his five-month stay aboard the International Space Station. Living in isolated conditions in an extreme environment, he spent much of his time conducting scientific research. Now, he's doing it again, but this time he's not leaving the planet. Pettit is currently in Antarctica on a scientific expedition to look for meteorites."

Don Pettit's Space Chronicles on Ice:

Editor's 11:38 am note note: Have a look at this membership page for the NASA Knowledge Management Team - whose motto is "Delivering Information for Action". This page was last updated almost three years ago. As such, old mail codes are used - and - it seems, no one from the space science community is (was) included. And be certain to check out the links at the bottom of the page. "Freedom to Manage" has been offline for some time. The "News" page hasn't been touched in more than 2 years

Talk about being out of touch with what passes for current information. Will someone wake up the team's webmaster, please.

Editor's 7:00 pm update: The membership page has been mysteriously updated. Yet the news page is still years out of date. Yet another example of what often motivates NASA website updates: embarassment after getting mentioned on NASA Watch. Otherwise, stale webpages seem to be OK at NASA.

IFPTE Calls for Balanced and Transparent NASA Budget Preserving Science & Aero, Core Technical Capabilities Achievable Within FY06 baseline

IFPTE Letter To House and Senate Democratic Appropriators Regarding NASA FY 2007 Budget

"The Vision for Space Exploration is deeply embedded in the American psyche and cannot be dismissed as a mere political ploy or passing fancy. Administrator Griffin has performed a masterful job of moving this Vision towards reality and deserves high praise for the successes thus far in the Return-to-Flight of the Shuttle and in the Preparation-for- Flight of the new Exploration Vehicles. Although the budgets, schedule, and contracts of the Vision will need to be carefully scrutinized as we move into FY08, Dr. Griffin and NASA have earned the small budgetary increase needed in FY07 to keep the Constellation program moving forward at a reasonable pace and thus to minimize the gap between Shuttle retirement and the first manned launch of NASA's next space vehicle."

NASA workers fight layoffs, seek spaceship aid, Government Executive

"In terms of layoffs, Mikulski said, "I do not want any RIFs [reductions in force] at NASA this year or any other year." NASA officials declined to comment on the budget until it is signed into law. NASA headquarters spokesman David Steitz said, "Regardless of budget deliberations, RIFs are not anticipated."

Analysis of New National Aeronautics R&D Policy and Next-Gen Aerospace Work Force Needs, AIAA

"On Wednesday, January 10, Richard Russell, assistant director for technology from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will provide an analysis of the new National Aeronautics R&D Policy. This national roadmap provides institutional support for robust, sustainable aeronautics research investment and requires federal agencies to set definable milestones for achievement."

-Aeronautics Policy Released While Everyone is On Vacation
-Workforce Session at AIAA Reno Meeting

House Science Committee Begins 110th Congress With New Name, Website And Ambitious Agenda

"The House Rules Package (H.Res. 6) passed today changes the Committee's name from The Committee on Science to The Committee on Science and Technology."

Bart Gordon Profile: New Chair of House Science Panel Takes Extreme Route to Moderation, Science (subscription)

"Within the NASA budget, I suspect that whatever we do, there won't be adequate funds to do everything that NASA has been charged with doing."

Three Years Later Mars Rovers Keep Going, VOA

"The twin rovers' major findings came within the first 90 days. Opportunity found chemical evidence in bedrock that a shallow salt water sea existed at some time in Mars' past. The editor of the Internet website Marstoday.com, Keith Cowing, says those discoveries alone justified the mission. "If they had both done that, or even if one of them had landed and still done that, it would have been considered a resounding success," said Keith Cowing. "But these amazing little robots are still going."

Something To Fall Back On

Two bits, four bits, six bits, inertia - No joke: This Texans cheerleader works with NASA, Sports Illustrated

"Summer Williams is a Houston Texans cheerleader. She's also a rocket scientist. This is a true story. "Well," Williams said, "I don't actually use the term 'rocket scientist.' "

NASA MSFC Solicitation: Ares I Upper Stage Production

"This pre-solicitation notice coincides with the release of a Draft RFP issued for Industry comments. The response due date identified in this synopsis is for the comments to the Draft RFP. Detailed information on the process to submit comments are contained in the attached DRFP cover letter. The anticipated release date of the final RFP is on or about Feb 23, 2007 with an anticipated proposal due date in accordance with the information provided in the Draft RFP."

"Ares I Launch - June 2011
Orion 3 (First Human Flight) Launch - October 2013"

NASA Completes Review Milestone for Ares I Launch Vehicle

"The review process also identifies technical and management challenges, and addresses ways to reduce potential risks as the project goes forward."

Orion On Track But Overweight; Funding Crunch Could Hit In '07, Aerospace Daily

"NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle remains on schedule to carry humans to the International Space Station no later than 2014, and possibly earlier, but it will need to go on a New Year's diet to lose about 3,000 pounds of excess weight."

Big Problems With the Stick, NASA Watch

"Sources inside the development of the Ares 1 launch vehicle (aka Crew Launch Vehicle or "The Stick") have reported that the current design is underpowered to the tune of a metric ton or more. As currently designed, Ares 1 would not be able to put the present Orion spacecraft design (Crew Exploration Vehicle) into the orbit NASA desires for missions to the ISS."

Russian Rocket Comes Down Over Wyo., AP

"A spent Russian booster rocket re-entered the atmosphere Thursday over Colorado and Wyoming, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said."

Space Debris Breaks Up on LIVE TV, Fox 31 News (video)

"Space debris disintegrated and lit up the predawn sky Thursday morning. SkyFOX was in the air and captured video of it as it happened."

Editor's note: Just after Christmas, an AP article describing NASA's lack of success in reaching a broader, younger generation went online. The article soon found its way into hundreds of newspapers and websites around the world. Around that same time I stumbled across a silly item on a NASA web page touting story ideas - including a suggestion that reporters might want to interview ESMD Deputy AA Doug Cooke about his sailing hobby.


Yesterday, I was reminded of a new PBS series that aired Wednesday evening - one aimed at the younger, techno-savvy sector of our society - the one NASA has problems connecting with. Among the stories was a nicely done piece on NASA's NEEMO project. True to form, NASA PAO did absolutely nothing to promote this upcoming segment - even though a PBS press release specifically mentioned the air date in its title back on 18 December. Of course, neither SOMO or ESMD make any mention of this on their websites.

I suppose one could blame this on the impending holidays - except that this is a common occurrence at NASA these days. NASA constantly complains that people do not know what value it provides - yet they continually stumble over obvious chances to promote things the agency does that can effectively convey that message. And when they are not passing up opportunities, they are wasting them by suggesting to reporters that stories about employee's unrelated off hours hobbies might be more interesting than what NASA does during the day.

And then there is this blog I stumbled across yesterday evening. The enthusiasm this young woman exudes for her new job at NASA is utterly infectious. She describes things at KSC better than many reporters - and certainly better than PAO. Her career aim is unabashed and direct: she intends to become an astronaut - and she is going to tell all of us how she is going to make that happen - in real time. This is the sort of activity - and the sort of people - NASA needs to put forward as its public face.

So long as NASA PAO - and the associated organizations responsible for outreach and public relations - continue to screw up things that colleges teach in Public Relations 101, the more the agency is going to continue to slide down a slippery slope toward increasing irrelevancy. And in so doing, it has no one to blame but itself.

How I am becoming an astronaut, by Damaris Sarria

"I started this blog to document the actions I am taking in trying to become an astronaut.

It's my ultimate goal, my dream.

Every week or so I post a new update to recap the week or add interesting pictures.

I hope you enjoy the site and remember to follow your dreams no matter what others may think of them."

Ignoring NEEMO (Again)

Finding NEEMO, Wired Science, PBS

"Pulitzer Prize winner Dan Neil dives underwater to find NEEMO, NASA's Extreme Environment Mission Operations program, and talks with crewmembers from the underwater lab Aquarius. Aquarius serves as an analog to the International Space Station, as NEEMO crewmembers experience some of the same challenges underwater as they would in space."

Watch: Quicktime | Windows

Editor's note: Once again NASA JSC PAO seems to have no interest whatsoever in promoting NEEMO - including this high visibility PBS production. PBS issued a press release announcing this show back on 18 December 2006 - so its not as if JSC did not know the air date. What has me baffled is why JSC PAO went to all the logistical expense of allowing a reporter visit NEEMO - and then ignored the airing of the report that he prepared - a report that is 100% positive PR for NASA!

On the other hand, HQ PAO does have a link to another PBS Discovery Channel program on this evening which features ISS HDTV footage.

Editor's 4 Jan update: A link to the NEEMO segment suddenly appeared at nasa.gov a few minutes ago ...

45th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, 8-11 January

Thursday, 11-Jan-2007: The Public Policy Committee will continue its Excellence in Aerospace Discourse Series at the Aerospace Sciences Meeting with a discussion on the next generation of aerospace professionals. Speakers include:

  • Dr. Paul Nielsen, President-Elect for AIAA and Director of Carnegie Mellon Universitys Software Engineering Institute
  • Dr. Lisa Porter, Associate Administrator for Aeronautics at NASA
  • Dr. Annalisa Weigel, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics and Engineering Systems at MIT
  • Dr. Robert Walters, President-Elect for the Aerospace Department Chairman's Association and Chairman of Virginia Tech's Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering.

Home Movies of Amazon.Com Founder's Spaceship Are Now Online, SpaceRef

"Images and video of a test launch of the private space launch test vehicle named "Goddard" Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has been building have been posted online.

The first flight took place on 13 November 2006.

One video shows a close up shot of the first launch which reached a maximum altitude of "about 285 feet". Another shot shows video taken through a fisheye lens."

Editor's note: Joe Pouliot, Communications Director for the House Science Committee leaving to join the CJR Group as a Vice President. David Goldston, House Science Committee Chief of Staff, is also leaving to teach a course on public policy at Princeton University and will also be writing a regular column for Nature magazine.


All the way to the Moon, Mars and beyond, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Mid County Chronicle

"We are entering an exciting time for our space program. The enactment of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, which I drafted, allows for the initial testing of the launch systems to replace the space shuttle as the principal means of sending humans and cargo into space."

John McLeaish Has Died

John McLeaish, former Space Center spokesman, dead at 77, AP

"Former Johnson Space Center spokesman John E. McLeaish has died in San Antonio. He was 77."



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