September 2007 Archives

NASA To Accelerate Space Nuclear Power, Aviation Week & Space Technology

"NASA will accelerate missions featuring space nuclear power, Aviation Week & Space Technology reports in its Oct. 1 issue. The decision marks a major milestone for robotic exploration, but is a controversial move among groups that oppose space nuclear power because of launch safety concerns. NASA's objective will be to use nuclear power much more frequently to open previously isolated areas of the solar system for robotic exploration as early as 2013, Aviation Week reports. NASA is moving quickly to make space nuclear power, and eventually nuclear propulsion, an inherent design element in near term, medium cost planetary missions."

Amendment to the NASA Research Announcement Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences, NASA HQ

"This amendment establishes a new program element in Appendix C.26 of ROSES-2007 entitled "Discovery and Scout Mission Capabilities Expansion." This new program element solicits mission concept proposals for small planetary missions that require a nuclear power source, such as the Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) currently under development by NASA."

Editor's note: This ROSES-2007 amendment only concerns nuclear power generation (electricity etc.) not nuclear propulsion.

Advanced Stirling Technology Development at NASA Glenn Research Center (PDF 5.5 mb)

Presented at the NASA Science Technology Conference, Session D2 Space Power on June 18, 2007 by Richard K. Shaltens Chief, Thermal Energy Conversion Branch and Wayne A. Wong ASC Project Manager.

Editor's note: Matt Bowes, the editor of the blog Space Liberates Us!, was killed in an accident several days ago. Matt was only 19. According to his bio: "Space Liberates Us! was created by Matt Bowes, a younglibertarianwho has been fascinated by the idea of space colonization forever." I had several brief interactions with Matt - and saw his name a lot out in the blogosphere. He often posted the clear, simple things we post when we are young - the things we look back and eventually wish we still believed as we aged. I had a chance to be on a panel with him at the 2007 ISDC. I passed because I was busy. I deeply regret that decision. His obituary and funeral information is online here.

Ad astra, Matt.

Reader note: "First off, I loveNASA Watch and am an avid reader of it. Second, when I saw your post about Matt Bowes it hit home. Matt was afriend of mine and I went to school with him (at the tiny Olin College in Needham, MA). He was one who was never afraid to speak his mind and let his ideas be known. We all wish Matt had his time to shine and wonder what he could have done to change the world since we know it would have been something big.

Thank you for putting something about Matt on there, he's left a large hole that I (and manyothers)only hope someone can fill with the same passion he left.I really think he'd be happy that he left enough of a mark that people are talking about him still, and hopefully thinking about things a little more. If you have any interest, more information about the accident can be found: and has Olin's updates as we get them. Its not always the happiest site in the world though since one other person was killed in the accident that killed Matt.

Thank you again for a great site -"

When Students Become Teachers

Student of Challenger Center Founder To Fly Into Space (with photos)

"The Challenger Center's Founding Chairman, Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, issued the following statement regarding Richard Garriott's upcoming flight: "We at the Challenger Center for Space Science Education were overjoyed to learn of Richard's future mission into space. This is especially exciting for me given that Richard was among the students I taught at Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas while his father and my husband Dick Scobee were astronauts."

Richard Garriott, 1st Second Generation Astronaut, Plans Flight to International Space Station

"Space Adventures, Ltd., the world's leading space experiences company, announced today that famed game developer Richard Garriott, son of former NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, has begun preparations for a "commercially active" mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Mr. Garriott's spaceflight, currently planned for October 2008, will be the first in a series of missions that will accommodate commercial activity aboard the ISS. Involvement from the private sector can include scientific and environmental research and educational outreach programming."

Reader note: A comment about news item "Richard Garriott, 1st Second Generation Astronaut": actually he will become the SECOND second generation astronaut. Sergey Volkov, who is the son of cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov, is scheduled to fly in April 2008 (Soyuz TMA-12). This is half a year before Richard Garriott's flight.

NASA Means Business

NASA Means Business Student Competition 2008 Program Announcement, Texas Space Grant Consortium

"The NASA Means Business Student Competition program invites undergraduate and graduate students to employ their skills to help NASA articulate the contributions of space exploration to everyday life. This year's challenge is: Help NASA to increase the number of corporate researchers, university researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors who utilize the Nation's investment in spaceflight to grow their investments in knowledge and commerce."

Hansen Responds

The Exxon funded swift boating of James Hansen, Deltoid

"James Hansen replies to the deceitful IBD editorial: The latest swift-boating (unless there is a new one among seven unanswered calls on my cell) is the whacko claim that I received $720,000.00 from George Soros. Here is the real deal, with the order of things as well as I can remember without wasting even more time digging into papers and records. ..."

Editor's note: I got this from a reader tonight. I give up. We're talking about a 15 year old spacecraft - one which was destroyed years ago - of which high resolution images are readily available - and have been in the public domain for decades. And the drawings are ITAR-controlled?

Oh yea I forgot - we did attack the planet Jupiter with Galileo in 1997. OK. My bad. I guess that makes it a weapon.

Still, I wonder what would happen if more people made the same FOIA request. Here's where you can do it yourself online.

The following response is the result of a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request sent to NASA JPL several months ago:

Dear Mr. Brotherton:

Your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for release of information from the files of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was received in FOIA processing at the NASA Management Office-Jet Propulsion Laboratory on July 16, 2007. You requested the following:

"...scale outline drawings of the Galileo spacecraft ... ... I would like to get a view from all six axis, X, -X, Y, -Y, Z and -Z.. . "

The records you requested contains International Traffic in Arms regulated information on design parameters, requirements and mission operational information consistent with that described in 22 CFR 120.10(a)(l), and is exempt from release under Title 5, USC, Section 552, Exemptions (b)(2) High and (b)(3) of the FOIA, to wit: Information, other than software as defined in 120.10(4), which is required for the design, development, production, manufacture, assembly... operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of defense articles. This includes information in the form of blueprints. drawings, photographs, plans, instructions and documentation. However, you may access instructions to make a Galileo 1/45th scale model that includes drawings and pictures cleared for public release from the following website:

You may appeal this initial determination to the NASA Administrator...

Editor's note: "Comment from Scott Brotherton: I have recently be told that my name and information was used in a slanted article at your site. The article by Keith Cowing on Thursday, September 27, 2007 named "NASA Blocks Release Of Galileo Jovian Spacecraft Drawings on ITAR Grounds". I would probably not mine my name being used if the article had told the whole truth of the matter. I was granted my request, and did receive the drawings I requested. However, due to Mr. Cowing's blatant half truth of the matter, it looks like NASA is the bad guy. Mr. Cowing has tried to make a story out of nothing, as the premise of his title is not even accurate."

Editor's response: I am pleased, of course, to see that some common sense prevailed at NASA. But yes, Mr. Brotherton, since you phrased it this way, someone at NASA was indeed "the bad guy" for making this nonsensical refusal of your initial request in the first place. Why else did you post this letter, I wonder?

Reader note: I have been reading through your blog, and I love your commitment to science. Perhaps you and your readers might be interested in a new interactive science documentary project - BLAST ( - a film that follows a group of intrepid astrophysicists as they travel to exotic locations all in the name of science.

Second Annual AIAA/NASA 21st Century Explorer Podcast Competition

"In 2008, NASA will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Sometimes, in order to look forward, we must take a step back to study the past. Because of this, we want to ask - What do you think is NASA's greatest exploration achievement in the past 50 years and why? That's the question this competition asks of students ages 11-18. Sponsored by the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and in collaboration with NASA, the second annual 21st Century Explorer Podcast Competition challenges students to create unique audio and video podcasts."

Dawn Is On Its Way

NASA Dawn Mission to Vesta and Ceres Launched

"A four-year, 1.8 billion-mile flight to asteroid Vesta started with the rumble and roar of a Delta II rocket Sept. 27 that hurtled the Dawn spacecraft off a launch pad in Florida and into space."

United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches Dawn Mission for NASA, ULA

"Following a nominal one hour and two minute flight, the rocket deployed the spacecraft on its eight-year mission to study Ceres and Vesta, two asteroids residing in the vast asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter."

Marshall Space Flight Center names deputy chief financial officer, WAFF

"Previously, Brown was executive director of finance operations for ConAgra Food Ingredients of Omaha, Neb., a $1 billion specialty food ingredients business. He was responsible for managing finance, information technology and supply chain initiatives for 34 ConAgra plants nationwide."

Editor's note: On one hand he has zero experience with NASA. Yet on the other hand, he has zero experience with NASA. Perhaps he won't know any better than to do things the right way!

Students Chose HiRISE Camera Targets on Mars, University of Arizona

"Last week, third-grade students from Sunridge Elementary School in Phoenix, Ariz., saw their chosen spot on Mars released to the world in a new image from the High Resolution Imaging Experiment camera, known as the HiRISE camera."

High-School Teams Joining Massive Pulsar Search, National Radio Astronomy Observatory

"High school students and teachers will join astronomers on the cutting edge of science under a program to be operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and West Virginia University (WVU), and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The program, called the Pulsar Search Collaboratory, will engage West Virginia students and teachers in a massive search for new pulsars using data from the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT)."

Gloomy News for Arecibo

NSF Dear Colleague on the Senior Review: Arecibo, AAS

"Nonetheless, in order to plan responsibly, and weigh the various options, we have to understand the cost of closure to be weighed against other options. As recommended by the Senior Review, NSF is also engaging an engineering firm to carry out a study of the cost of decommissioning the observatory facility. The study will explore a variety of possible endpoints, ranging from complete deconstruction and restoration of the site to its natural state to securely 'mothballing' the facility. The results of this study will be available in December 2007 and will serve as critical input to our planning for the long-term future of the observatory. This is part of responsible lifecycle costing, and should not be regarded as indicating that any final decisions have been made."

Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee Meeting

"October 11-12, 2007 .. Contact Person: Dr. G. Wayne Van Citters, Director, Division of Astronomical Sciences .... Purpose of Meeting: 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."

Reader note: I sent the following message today, shortly after receiving the AAS message: "Wayne Van Citters -- In your letter to the community, you spent more words (a whole paragraph) discussing the planetary radar capability of Arecibo than in the entire Senior Review (not even one sentence).

It is patently clear that the Senior Review did not even seriously evaluate this jewel in the crown of American astronomy. And the participants in that review process were not knowledgeable about active (as distinct from passive) astronomy. Your statement that NASA "terminated" planetary radar falsely implies that NASA found planetary radar to be unworthy of funding, rather than that the NSF undertook responsibility as part of a complex interagency agreement.

Your continued failure to fairly evaluate this unique facility is doing an awful disservice to science. I hope that you will reconsider and invoke a multi-agency, interdisciplinary review to reconsider this matter that was simply ignored in the Senior Review.- Clark Chapman, Senior Scientist, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder CO"

Sputnik's anniversary raises questions about future of space exploration, USA Today

"There's less interest on the part of Americans in doing bold things," acknowledges Griffin, who nonetheless argues that public support for further human exploration of the solar system remains strong. Griffin sees NASA's $100 billion plan to return to the moon no sooner than a decade from now as an important first step in going to Mars."

Editor's note: With regard to "There's less interest on the part of Americans in doing bold things". Gee, Mike - if this is true, then please explain the surging popularity of extreme sports and other risky activities - and the media attention they draw. I would just love to see the data upon which you make these pronouncements. Conversely, Mike, if Americans are indeed less interested in "doing bold things", then please explain why you think that they would support you spending $100 billion of their money on something they do not support (exploring the solar system is certainly a bold thing) - indeed, on something (trips to the Moon) that we already did more than a generation ago. Talk about a non sequitur.

The Soros Threat To Democracy, Investor's Business Daily

"How many people, for instance, know that James Hansen, a man billed as a lonely "NASA whistleblower" standing up to the mighty U.S. government, was really funded by Soros' Open Society Institute , which gave him "legal and media advice"? That's right, Hansen was packaged for the media by Soros' flagship "philanthropy," by as much as $720,000, most likely under the OSI's "politicization of science" program. That may have meant that Hansen had media flacks help him get on the evening news to push his agenda and lawyers pressuring officials to let him spout his supposedly "censored" spiel for weeks in the name of advancing the global warming agenda."

Editor's note: When asked, NASA PAO told me that they are looking into the issue and declined to comment at this time. Dr. Hansen has yet to respond to an email request.

If this is true, you would think that Dr. Hansen would have at least have had the professional integrity to disclose this information up front - given that he was more than willing to wave his arms around about all the things he claimed others were doing to him and his ability to speak openly about his research. Hopefully, Dr. Hansen - never shy about being quoted - will speak on the record about this issue - and set the record straight - one way or the other.

Editor's update: This 2006 Soros Foundations Network Report, Page 123, states: "Scientist Protests NASA's Censorship Attempts - James E. Hansen, the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, protested attempts to silence him after officials at NASA ordered him to refer press inquiries to the public affairs office and required the presence of a public affairs representative at any interview. The Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection organization and OSI grantee, came to Hansen's defense by providing legal and media advice. The campaign on Hansen's behalf resulted in a decision by NASA to revisit its media policy." However, the report makes no overt mention of funding (at least none that I can find) however the Government Accountability Project is referred to as an OSI "grantee". This "advice" Hansen got was either donated or paid for.

ISS Foodfight

Space station partners bicker over closure date, AFP

"NASA administrator Michael Griffin has told space station partners that the US agency has no plans for "utilisation and exploitation" of the science research lab for more than five years after it is completed, [European Space Agency (ESA) chief Jean-Jacques] Dordain said. "ESA is not prepared to pay NASA's share when NASA has left the space station," Dordain told reporters Tuesday night on the sidelines of the space summit. "If NASA is staying, we are ready to follow," he added. "If NASA is quitting, I shall not propose to ESA to pay part of the cost that NASA is covering today."'

NASA chief stays away from Ram Sethu controversy,

"The chief of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), Michael Griffin, on Tuesday refused to be drawn into the controversy over whether the Adam's Bridge or 'Ram Sethu' was man-made or a natural formation. ... When further probed about the "religious controversy" in India, the NASA chief said "frankly, I am not a religious person and I am not interested in a religious controversy. I have more things to do than engaging in a religious controversy." Logo Design Contest

Editor's note: ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT. On Orbit is holding a logo design contest. We are looking for all designers, from professionals to amateurs, to take their best shot at creating a logo that will be used by On Orbit to brand our website, t-shirts, and anywhere else the On Orbit name might appear.

  • 1st Prize: An Apple TV (160GB model)
  • 2nd Prize: An Apple iPod nano (8GB model)
  • 3rd Prize: An Apple iPod shuffle
  • 4th Prize: An Apple iPod shuffle
  • 5th Prize: An Apple iPod shuffle

NASA ARC Internal Memo: Diversity Assessment Survey

"Ames Research Center has contracted with Westat to develop a Diversity Assessment Survey for civil service staff as part of the Ames Diversity Implementation Plan effort. You will receive subsequent e-mail transmission from Westat to begin the survey process. The purpose of this survey is to assess the current state of diversity awareness at Ames. The survey results will be used to define a diversity awareness baseline for Ames Research Center and to design future activities for the continuing enhancement of Ames' diversity. This Web-based survey will be administered by Westat in the mid-October time frame; individual submissions by Ames participants will be kept strictly confidential by the external administering party."

On 50th Anniversary of Space Age, Students From 9 Countries Will Fly Weightless on Zero G Flight

"On October 6, nine exceptional students from around the world will commemorate the 50th anniversary of space age and experience weightlessness for the first time on a zero-gravity flight from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. This flight will serve to inspire students worldwide to excel in education, demonstrate international cooperation and visibly launch humankind's next 50 years in space. The flight is part of the global celebration of United Nations-declared World Space Week, October 4-10."

Dawn Is Ready To Go

NASA Dawn Spacecraft is a 'Go' for Asteroid Belt

"Launch and flight teams are in final preparations for the planned Sept. 27 liftoff from Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., of NASA's Dawn mission. The Dawn spacecraft will venture into the heart of the asteroid belt, where it will document in exceptional detail the mammoth rocky asteroid Vesta, and then, the even bigger icy dwarf planet Ceres."

Spaceflight shown to alter ability of bacteria to cause disease, Arizona State University

"Space flight has been shown to have a profound impact on human physiology as the body adapts to zero gravity environments. Now, a new study led by researchers from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has shown that the tiniest passengers flown in space--microbes--can be equally affected by space flight, making them more infectious pathogens."

Editor's note: It would seem that these good folks at KSC are a little confused as to which end is which on a space shuttle. Click on the image and you will see why ...


NASA ESMD Lunar Architecture Update

This presentation contains the charts used to present NASA's current Lunar Architecture at AIAA's Space 2007 conference last week.

Introduction to Session - Doug Stanley

Current exploration strategy and status - Doug Cooke

- Lunar Architecture update - Geoff Yoder
- Lunar Science - Laurie Leshin
- Pressurized Rover and EVA concepts - Mike Gernhardt

Editor's note: What I cannot understand is why ESMD presents charts like these IN public but then refuses to release them TO the public. I asked for them last week. Still no official reply from PAO or ESMD. SO ... here they are anyway.

Dawn Launch Slip

Editor's note: According to KSC PAO "Dawn's launch day has been delayed 24 hours to Sept. 27. Weather prevented techinicians from completing the loading of fuel on the Delta rocket's second stage."

New chance for Beagle as Nasa favours mission to the moon, The Guardian

"Nasa has given preliminary approval for a successor to the British-based Beagle 2 space mission that crash-landed on Mars on Christmas Day 2003. The Beagle to the Moon mission would search for water supplies on the surface that could support astronauts living on a future moon base. It would reuse many of the designs for instruments that flew on the ill-fated Mars mission. Nasa has given the go-ahead for a study into adapting Beagle 2 for a moon landing. If it formally approves the mission next year, it could launch in 2012."

NASA gives Beagle 2 another shot at glory, The Register

"Now it seems the space agency has relented and agreed to give Beagle and Pillinger another chance. It has okayed a feasibility study that would work out how to adapt the lander for lunar exploration. The hope is that Beagle 2 could dig into the lunar surface and find water ice."

Editor's note: According to NASA sources there is no truth to this story.

Beagle 3 on MSL?, earlier post (2004)

Editor's note: Now I have seen everything. For years Colin Pillinger dumped on the U.S. and the way it builds spacecraft. Then he crashes his spacecraft on Mars - most likely because he cut too many corners - and his country loses faith in him. Now he tries to get a ride on a U.S. Mars mission due to lack of enthusiasm back home. What a hypocrite.

Push Back on MSL Cuts

Budget Axe Falls on Mars Science Laboratory -- Science Plans for the Mission Cut, Planetary Society

"The loss to science on MSL seems out of proportion," said Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., former NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and member of the Society's Board of Directors. "The goal of MSL is to conduct science, and to throw out so much of the mission science objectives for less than 4 percent of the mission cost, and for assurance costs that have net yet been realized, seems penny-wise and pound-foolish," he added."

Editor's note: OK Wes: where's the additional money supposed to come from? This is a zero sum game. To write a check for a mission that is out of the cost box means taking something away from another mission that planned ahead. Isn't it about time to instill some cost realism - and responsibility - into this process?

Reader comments - send them to Your comments thus far:

Bringing NuSTAR Back To Life

NASA Restarts Telescope Mission to Detect Black Holes

"NASA has made a decision to restart an astronomy mission that will have greater capability than any existing instrument for detecting black holes in the local universe. The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, will expand our understanding of the origins and destinies of stars and galaxies. NASA had stopped the study effort on the NuSTAR mission in 2006 due to funding pressures within the Science Mission Directorate."

NASA Revises and Updates Its Lunar Architecture, SpaceRef

"NASA has refined its plans for a return of humans to the moon. How it plans to do so is contained in its Lunar Architecture which is currently under development. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) Deputy Associate Administrator Doug Cooke and others gave a preview of several presentations they would be making at an AIAA conference that afternoon. According to Cooke, "this has been an ongoing effort for more than a year starting in June 2006". In so doing, NASA involved a wide range of scientific, international, and commercial interests in these studies."

10 Things You Didn't Know About Space Exploration, US News & World Report

"1. There is no set number of people in an astronaut candidate class; NASA selects its candidates on an as-needed basis. To even apply to be an astronaut, candidates must have completed 1,000 hours of flying time in a jet aircraft."

Editor's note: Not true. At the present time NASA is not requiring that applicants be pilots.

What Rutan Can Teach Griffin

NASA pundits launch debate over space flight, CNET

"Taxpayer-funded NASA should only fund research and not development," Rutan said. "When you spend hundreds of billions of dollars to build a manned spacecraft, you're...dumbing down a generation of new, young engineers (by telling them) "No, you can't take new approaches, you have to use this old technology."

"I think it's absurd they're doing Orion development at all. It should be done commercially," he said, referring to the name of the lunar spacecraft. Rutan and other panelists also question the importance of space flight at a time when environmental concerns are paramount.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin responded to Rutan's vision in a speech following his panel. "Unlike Rutan, I will continue to think space programs are important," Griffin said.

Of course, Rutan has a big stake in commercial development of spacecraft. As founder and president of Scaled Composites, he develops rockets for future commercial space tourism."

Editor's note: Hey Burt - you are a genius when it comes to design - and an inspiration when it comes to bursting through the envelope - but you cashed in and sold your company to Northrop Grumman. Smart move? Yes. They appreciate your talents and potential. But you are part of the very thing you just dumped on since your owner sees business potential in Orion and Ares. Deal with it. Give Mike Griffin a solution to work with - not a complaint.

As for your comments about the next generation - yes, under Mike Griffin, NASA has indeed let them down. A solution in that regard would be most welcome as well.

Editor's note: Doug Cooke and others updated the media regarding NASA's latest interation of its lunar architecture today via telecon. A series of presentations will be made at the AIAA meeting this afternoon. Detailed notes to follow. One notable recommendation: increase the Ares V payload fairing from 8.7 meters to 10 meters so as to allow a wider, shorter lander.

Reader note: "Among the short features being repeated this morning on NASA TV is a brief story about NASA's 50th anniversary logo which incorporates a picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of "a galaxy 12 million miles away." That's a little too close for comfort."

Editor's note: I am sure glad NASA is going to go fix Hubble so we know about more things like this. A galaxy that close - Who knew! Thank you Hubble Space Telescope!

Reader update: "You must be quite a burr under the saddle of NASA. This afternoon's edition of "Video Files" deleted the story of the NASA 50th anniversary logo and its mention of the misplaced "twelve-million-miles-away" galaxy. Keep it up!"

There's A Lot Of Truth In This

Houston, we have an image problem, Orange County Register

"Today most of us don't give much thought to the space shuttle - viewing it as just one of many multibillion-dollar government expenditures offering unknown benefits to the taxpayers. Yet not too long ago the space shuttle was widely considered one of NASA's most remarkable advances, rivaling in popularity other Space Age innovations like the zero gravity toilet and Tang."

Editor's note: If NASA could deal with the perceptions in this article alone, it could shift - and perhaps disipate - a lot of public malaise about space exploration. This guy is (I'll bet, deep inside) itching to be wowed again.

Nowak Update

Ex-astronaut wants evidence tossed, Reuters

"On the witness stand on Wednesday, Nowak disputed the testimony of an Orlando police detective, who said she had given police permission to search her car through nods and mumbles of consent, and said she asked for a lawyer even though there was no evidence of that request in a transcript. "There are pieces that are missing out of this transcript," Nowak told the court."

Love triangle astronaut asks court to throw out key evidence, AFP

"Nowak's lawyer claims that upon her arrest, she was held for three hours before she was interrogated and was then questioned for a further five hours. In the motion to dismiss the statements Nowak made to police, attorney Donald Lykkebak said his client was not properly informed of her constitutional rights, was deprived of sleep and was not permitted a phone call."

NASA to Launch Gammy-Ray Telescope, AP

"A new NASA space telescope will give scientists a peek at some of the most energetic objects and events in the universe..."

Editor's note: "Gammy-Ray"? What's that? Sounds like the nickname a little kid might give to a grandparent ... either that or this is a technical term from the official redneck science dictionary.

Editor's note: It took them 12 hours but they finally fixed their typo.

Help Find Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett Challenges

Steve Fossett Missing: Help find him by searching satellite imagery,

"On Monday, September 3, 2007, Steve Fossett, the first person to fly a plane around the world without refueling and the first person to fly around the world in a balloon went missing in Nevada. An airplane he was flying failed to return. No one has any idea where he is. Through the generous efforts of individuals at several organizations, detailed satellite imagery has been made available for his last known whereabouts."

Peru meteorite crash 'causes mystery illness', The Guardian

"A meteorite has struck a remote part of Peru and carved a large crater that is emitting noxious odours and making villagers ill, according to local press reports. A fireball streaked across the Andean sky late on Saturday night and crashed into a field near Carancas, a sparsely populated highland wilderness near Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia, witnesses said."

Q&A: Do meteors make you ill?, BBC

"So could mass hysteria play a role? Symptoms could well be caused in part by what is known as a Mass Sociogenic Illness (MSI). There are countless examples of this through history and up to the present day."

Hundreds ill after Peru 'toxic meteor crash', Telegraph

"Hundreds of people have suffered headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems after an object from space - believed to be a meteorite - crashed in southern Peru."

OMB Report on NASA Education

OMB NASA Education Program 2007 Assessment (pdf)

Editor's note: This OMB assessment has been widely circulated within NASA. It would seem that NASA fails on program management and on achieving results.

Assessment Rating: Results Not Demonstrated

Assessment Section Scores

Program Purpose & Design - 100%
Strategic Planning - 88%
Program Management - 60%
Program Results/Accountability - 33%

Type - Improvement Plan - Action Taken

Performance - Collecting performance data consistently and annually for all program activities, reporting performance against the program's established metrics and targets, and using results to improve performance. - No action taken

Performance - Conducting independent evaluations to assess the program's effectiveness and efficiency against the program's established metrics and performance goals and applying resources based on the results. - No action taken

Budgetary - Offering opportunities not addressed by other agencies and that are unique in their use of NASA's resources and benefits to NASA's mission and collaborating with other agencies where appropriate. - No action taken

Budgetary - Avoiding duplication with other NASA education programs. - No action taken

Performance - Filling NASA's workforce needs using a stronger effort to consider eligible program participants and facilitate their entry into positions at NASA. - Action taken, but not completed

Performance - Establishing baselines for all performance metrics. - No action taken

Management - Fully execute the new education investment framework, per the framework's implementation plan, to complete the strategic alignment of the Education portfolio that best supports the Agency strategic direction and the Exploration Vision. This action is a continuation of a former follow-on action to develop the investment framework and implementation plan. - Action taken, but not completed

ARC and Speaking to the Media

NASA ARC Internal Memo: All Hands Meeting on NASA's Communications Policy

"Blaine Baggett, executive manager of communications and education at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, will present and discuss the agency's policy on the release of information to news media Tuesday, September 25, at 10 a.m., in the Main Auditorium (N-201). The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer period."

Editor's note: Curiously, it seems that it is ARC PAO that has the exact opposite problem i.e. announcing important events at their own center and dealing with media inquiries about the Google airplane before the media started to spin things out of control due to lack of ARC responses.

NASA Wants More Astronauts

NASA Opens Applications for New Astronaut Class

"To be considered, a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are required. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet aircraft. Teaching experience, including work at the kindergarten through 12th grade level, is considered qualifying. Educators with the appropriate educational background are encouraged to apply."

Astronaut Search: Pilots Need Not Apply, Discovery News

"NASA posted a recruitment notice for more astronauts on Tuesday, but for the first time in the agency's history there will be no separate hiring for pilots. In one of the most public acknowledgements that change is afoot, NASA's next class of astronauts will be comprised solely of mission specialists and receive training for long-duration missions on the International Space Station. With the shuttle fleet retiring in three years, NASA will have no ships to pilot in space anyway, with astronauts riding as passengers to the station aboard Russian Soyuz vehicles or perhaps on commercially provided space transports."

Mars Moon Attacks Peru

Meteorite crash leaves 66ft-wide crater - and dozens with mystery illness, Daily Mail

"A meteorite that crashed in Peru has made dozens of villagers ill. Witnesses told of a fiery ball falling from the sky and smashing into the desolate Andean plain near the Bolivian border at the weekend. Officials have said it was a meteorite. Jorge Lopez, director of the health department in the state of Puno, said 200 people have suffered headaches, nausea and respiratory problems caused by "toxic" fumes from the resulting crater, which is about 66 feet wide and 16 feet deep."

Editor's note: Gee, I wonder if this newspaper actually sent their own reporter to the scene ... I especially love the graphic which shows Mars' moon Phobos entering Earth's atmosphere. Invading Martians, I suppose.

White House Statement Regarding Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, White House

"Today, the President accepted the recommendation of the Department of Defense to end procurement of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites that have the capability to intentionally degrade the accuracy of civil signals. This decision reflects the United States strong commitment to users of GPS that this free global utility can be counted on to support peaceful civil activities around the world."

NASA Names Astronaut Ellen Ochoa Deputy Director of Johnson

"Veteran astronaut Ellen Ochoa has been named the next deputy director of NASA's Johnson Space Center. Ochoa is a four-time space flier who has served as director of flight crew operations at Johnson. She will succeed Bob Cabana, who was named director of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi."

ULA's Take on COTS

United Launch Alliance Response to Request for Information for Commercial Space Transportation Services

"ULA is working closely with SpaceHab to investigate the compatibility of flying the DreamChaserTM on an Atlas. As a lifting body, the DreamChaserTM provides unique challenges to integrate on an existing launch vehicle, including loads, controllability, and performance, in addition to the human-rating considerations. Our initial studies have leveraged the considerable experience gained during NASA's Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Program that baselined EELVs for launch of numerous OSP configurations, including similar lifting body concepts. This provided an excellent baseline from which we conducted numerous Trade Studies focused on risk reduction and design integration to meet an ILC of 2011. The initial studies have indicated that the risks associated with integrating the DreamChaserTM on an Atlas are manageable and can be accomplished."

Revisting An Incredible Place

Returning to Weightlessness, SpaceRef

"Last week I had a chance to re-enter a world few have visited - a realm only space travelers- astronauts, cosmonauts and the like - normally get a chance to enter. Weightlessness. Zero Gravity. Floating. Astronauts get to live there. My visit was incredibly brief by comparison - no more than knocking on the door - but more than enough to leave an indelible impression on me. This is my second visit to weightlessness - my first having been exactly one year ago. My traveling companions: the same as last year - several dozen science teachers. My sponsor: The Northrop Grumman Foundation. My mode of transport: Zero Gravity Corporation's G Force One."

Weightless Over Cleveland - Part 1: Floating Teachers (2006), SpaceRef

"At a time when NASA's interest in developing the next generation of space explorers seems to have stalled and begun to fade, others have moved in to fill the gap. Northrop Grumman serves as the prime sponsor for the "Weightless Flights of Discovery program". This project utilizes Zero Gravity Corporation's Boeing 727 airplane ("G-Force One") and staff to conduct a flight program for teachers."

Weightless Over Cleveland - Part 2: Learning to Fly (2006), SpaceRef

"After Matt had asked me to visualize a leap up into the rafters, I chuckled and told him that this all reminded me of yet another Star Trek moment. Specifically, a scene from the first episode of "Enterprise". In this episode, everyone was learning to get accustomed to a new ship. The ship's engineer was prowling around and happened upon one chamber where an ensign was sitting upside down - on the ceiling. This was odd given that the ship had artificial gravity (whatever that is)."

The Space Economy - NASA 50th Anniversary Lecture Series - NASA Administrator Michael Griffin

"We're in a very different world today. The military and political competition has largely receded into the background; today we are primarily engaged in an economic competition. We increasingly live in a global economy where rising wealth and living standards also mean ever- heightened levels of competition from places we never before considered. There are now more software engineers in Bangalore, India than in Silicon Valley. Japan, Taiwan and South Korea generate more than one-quarter as many patents as the U.S. does each year - and their percentage is growing rapidly. The products of this innovation are all around us, in what has become a world marketplace. How many of you have a cellphone, television, or car from a U.S. manufacturer?

I don't think I need to spend more time on these points; they are superbly treated in Tom Friedman's The World is Flat, and in the report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm", by the National Academy of Engineering. But I think the bottom line is that we all want our economy to continue to grow. We want better lives for our children. We want to be able to compete in the world. But economic growth and competitive success result primarily from the introduction of new products and services, or from finding more efficient ways to produce existing ones. Economic growth is driven by technological innovation. Societies that foster it lead the pack, while others lag behind."

Mike Griffin (apparently) Has a problem with teachers in space, earier post

"I just don't get it. Once again Mike Griffin went out of his way to diminish the history - and legacy - behind Barbara Morgan's presence on the STS-118 mission. Moments ago, in a post flight press conference, Griffin sought to reduce the media's emphasis on Barbara Morgan's global notoriety as a teacher and educator by saying "Once upon a time she was a teacher" and "Barbara Morgan is not an Educator-Astronaut".

Editor's note: Mike Griffin talks about this crisis we face - one wherein we will need the smartest, best-equipped workforce we can muster in order to compete in a global economy. So, how do you get that smart workforce? Education. So what does Mike Griffin do as Administrator? He cuts educational programs at NASA across the board. He then takes the global visibility represented by Barbara Morgan's flight - that of a teacher in space - and goes out of his way to diminish its importance.

Today, Griffin said that it is "scary" that we do not have "our own folks" (American citizens) in classrooms where so many non-American students can be found. So what does he do? He cuts education programs. Griffin also talked about inspiring kids to become a "zoologists" - about "bringing plants to another worlds" yet he has obliterated NASA's funding for such things. How can kids be inspired by something NASA no longer does?

This is pure hypocrisy from NASA's leader.

NASA's 50th Anniversary Logo

Remarks by NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale - Introduction of 50th Anniversary Logo

"We've prepared a logo for that celebration, which is being unveiled for the first time today. I hope you'll see beyond the "50" in the foreground to the image beyond. The galaxy you see is a composite of several images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It's referred to as the "Grand Plan" galaxy, because its spiral shape is so well and so smoothly defined."

View Full Resolution Image (1.9 MB)

View Animation

Reader Comments

The "50 Years" logo makes no reference to the manned space flight program, which forms the biggest part of NASA's budget. Strange. Did someone use a summer intern from high school with PhotoShop skills to make it? The NASA meatball looks like it was pasted on by accident. Maybe NASA's next inspirational slogan of the month should be: "Unimaginative, pathetic crap from clueless bureaucrats and lame duck political appointees. Get over it."

Simple, Elegant, Beautiful,....and no hint of the first "A" in "NASA". - Anonymous NASA employee.

This must be a contest to see if you can figure out what you're looking at. My guess: a 5 in front of an occulted sun with a coronal mass ejection in the upper right. Playing the animation doesn't do a lot to help .. remnants of a supernova blast?

(groan) Is it supposed to be the big black hole taxpayers are throwing their money into?

Look at the 40th anniversary logo for comparison: One look told you the achievements and accomplishments of the agency. Plus, the "Pionnering the Future." Contrast that now with "NASA explores for answers that power our future." It means we've gone from frontiersmen to batteries. And if that's a blackhole, well, the lights are out.

Was someone paid to come up with a black hole? Because seriously, even a black hole would have been better...

Focusing MSL To Ensure Success

Mars Science Laboratory Project Changes Respond to Cost Increases, Keep Mars Program On Track

"Because the success of MSL is of course of high importance to NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD), SMD, working with the MSL Project and Mars Program at JPL, concluded that the MSL project required some focused and prudent reductions in scope in order to better ensure project success. Furthermore, because all of the funds MSL requested were not available in the Mars Exploration Program reserves pool, and because SMD did not want to impact other current or future science missions to fund these new costs, the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters has been working closely with the MSL project and the science community to identify mission scope reductions to minimize the project's need for funds, while minimizing both technical risk and impacts to the mission's science return."

Weightless With My iPhone

Earth's First (Repeatedly) Weightless iPhone, SpaceRef [See video]

Editor's note: "iPhones experienced weightlessness almost as soon as the first clumsy consumer bought - and dropped - one. The other day I had a chance to take my iPhone aboard a Zero Gravity Corporation weightless flight sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation. My iPhone experienced a dozen weightless episodes - and still works just fine. I decided to play the Apple iTunes TV advertisement featuring U2's "Vertigo" on my iphone." [See video]

I will have something a little more substantive about this experience online in a day or so.

Japan Heads For The moon

Selene Lunar Mission Launched, JAXA

"Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Lunar Orbit Explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE) by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 13 (H-IIA F13) at 10:31:01 a.m. on September 14, 2007 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center."

USRA Feature

NASA ARC Internal Memo; Aircraft Use at NASA Ames Moffett Airfield

"You may have seen stories recently in the news media regarding agreements between NASA Ames and the principals of Google to operate aircraft out of Moffett field. Here are the facts: ..."

Weightless Over Washington

This Joy Ride Brings Out Teachers' Lighter Side, Washington Post

"Instead of teaching science at their Sterling middle school yesterday, Lynn Austin was doing somersaults, suspended in the air. Rhonda Labuhn was flying like Superman. Christopher Souther was playing a game of teacher toss, and he was the one being tossed."

Editor's note: Sorry for the light news coverage yesterday. I got a last minute chance to fly aboard a NorthropGrumman/Zero G weightless flight with a plane full of teachers.

Editor's 14 Sep note: It has been more than 48 hours and it would seem that ARC PAO is utterly uninterested in updated its events page or home page to reflect this upcoming conference. However, someone did send me an invitation after I made this posting. Update several hours later: they finally put a link up. Wow, this website stuff is so hard to do.

Free Evening Lecture: "International Space Station: Your Lab of the Future"

"On Tuesday, October 2, 2007 from 7-9 p.m., the NASA Research Park Exploration Lecture Series will present a lecture and panel discussion featuring Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg, Nobel Laureate; Thomas B. Pickens III, CEO, SPACEHAB; & Dr. Cheryl Nickerson, Assoc. Professor Life Sciences at Arizona State Univ. ..."

Editor's 12 Sep note: Wow. Barry Blumberg - a Nobel Prize winner - and former NASA Astrobiology Institute Director - is speaking about the science value of the International Space Station at Ames. What a perfect heavy hitter to roll out just as the NIH/NASA MOU is signed. Alas, who knew he was even speaking? I only found out about this because I am on some upcoming lecture mailing list. Nothing is mentioned on the ARC events page and nothing is to be found on the main ISS page. NASA has all these great opportunities to enhance the value and relevance of what it does and yet it seems to fumble nearly every one of them.

But wait - there's more. According to the Alliance of Commercial Enterprises and Education for Space there is an ISS National Laboratory Workshop at NASA Ames from 2-4 October 2007. That's in less than 3 weeks folks. Speakers include Baruch Blumberg, William Gerstenmaier, Jeff Bingham, etc. etc. Does NASA ARC - or NASA HQ or SOMD - tell anyone about this? No. No links. No media advisories or press releases. Nothing. I guess they were going to wait until the last minute after airfares had gone up for all of us non-government folks - the same audience that they are trying to court to use the ISS. Go figure. Will someone please tell me where the "strategic communications" is?

NASA's Need to Explain Itself

NASA budget facing squeeze, Huntsville Times

"There are a lot of people that just don't understand what NASA does, and those people pay taxes," said McDaniel, who accompanied Gordon and Cramer at Marshall. "We are fortunate here in North Alabama. We have a NASA center. Not everybody does. Many, many people don't understand what goes on in the space program, and then they think NASA is a waste of money. "Only NASA can fight that, and it needs to do a better job."

Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE to Create a Space Race for a New Generation, X Prize Foundation/Google

"The X PRIZE Foundation and Google Inc. today announced the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the Moon to win a remarkable $30 million prize purse. Private companies from around the world will compete to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth."

Today's X Prize Announcement

NASA Anniversary, Shuttle Crew and Science Highlighted at NextFest

"Deputy Administrator Dale will participate in an announcement regarding the X PRIZE Foundation at the X PRIZE stage at 10:30 a.m. [PDT], Sept. 13."

Editor's note: This announcement will knock your socks off. Indeed, paradigms will shift before your eyes. Check in here after 2:00 pm EDT for updates.

Suicide Prompted NASA Investigation, E-Mails Show, NPR

NASA Sought to Stop Astronaut Meltdowns, AP

"NASA e-mails released Wednesday indicate the space agency was looking for ways to prevent astronaut meltdowns just three months before one-time shuttle flier Lisa Nowak was arrested in a scandalous love triangle. The e-mails from late last year show that space program employees interviewed the former colleagues and the "common-law wife" of ex-astronaut Charles Brady Jr. after he committed suicide in July 2006. It seemed to be an effort to find behavioral clues that could be a tip-off in future cases."

Editor's note: This is starting to get ghoulish.

Another Employee Survey

2007 NASA Culture Survey

Editor's note: Two comments about the attached survey. There is no question number 34. This appears to be an error in the numbering of the survey questions. The survey is adaptive i.e. an answer to a given question may generate differing successor questions. For example, identifying oneself as a line employee, supervisor, or manager will cause different successor questions to be posed to the interviewee. The images that are attached assume that the employee is a line employee. None of the buttons or links work. These are just images taken from the actual survey package online internally at NASA.

You may also find the following surveys taken more than a decde ago to be of comparative interest:

1996 NASA Agencywide Employee & Customer Satisfaction Survey Results

1996 NASA Employee & Customer Satisfaction Survey Results (NASA HQ)

Wanting To Have It Both Ways

NASA gives Google founders a coveted parking place for their private jet, IHT

"How did the two billionaires get such a coveted parking place? Officials at NASA Ames Research Center said the space agency signed an agreement signed last month that allowed it to place instruments and scientists on planes owned by principals of H211, which in addition to the Boeing 767-200 includes two Gulfstream Vs, to collect scientific data on some flights. In exchange, NASA will receive about $1.3 million in annual fees for being host to the plane at Moffett, said Steven Zornetzer, associate director for institutions and research at NASA Ames Research Center. "It was an opportunity for us to defray some of the fixed costs we have to maintain the airfield as well as to have flights of opportunity for our science missions," Zornetzer said. "It seemed like a win-win situation." NASA said it had already run one mission on one of the Gulfstream Vs to observe the Aurigid meteor shower Aug. 31."

Editor's note: Funny how the folks in Mountain View don't complain about free Google WiFi and all of the benefits (taxes, jobs) that come from having Google in their midst. Now Google and NASA (another big employeer) find a way to help defray the costs of keeping a local asset functioning and suddenly that's not good? You can't have it both ways folks.


NASA and NIH Partner for Health Research in Space Related Health Research

"A Sept. 12 signing of a memorandum of understanding marked a key milestone for NASA and the National Institutes of Health in their long partnership to advance scientific discovery. The two agencies entered into an agreement that helps American scientists use the International Space Station to answer questions about human health and diseases. The pact signals to researchers the availability of a remarkable platform on which to conduct experiments."

Memorandum Of Understanding Between The NIH and NASA for Cooperation in Space-Related Health Research

Reader note: "I read your site almost everyday. I am a former NASA employee and enjoy reading the real news about NASA. Well, yesterday here in Cleveland I heard that Glenn Research Center was announcing a massive rebuilding program. The short announcement that I read didn't say which buildings were going to be replaced. Double checked your site and you didn't have any links so I went to the Glenn home page. You would think that getting approval for $150 million would make their news page and they would give as much details as one could possibly want. No, all that is there, even today, is an announcement of the press meeting.

Another example of NASA's inability to use all their resources to communicate with the public.

URL with the brief news that lead me to search for more:

URL of the meeting announcement:

URL of the local paper with far more information:"

Reader note: "I share the reader's compliments on your site, but disagree with his/her complaint about newsworthy items. When building construction becomes newsworthy at NASA, we have a real problem. It's a national space program, not a local jobs and construction program. Drawing the public's attention to the latter takes it away from the former. Two cents from another former NASA employee."

Future Leaders at AIAA

Space 2007 Events Focus on Next-Generation of Aerospace Leaders, AIAA

"Exciting interactive exhibits, including those from NASA, the U.S. Air Force, Raytheon, and The Boeing Company, will engage local students from public and private schools, grade 3 through high school. Education Alley takes place Sept 18-20, 9:30 am until 1:30 pm. Aimed at college students and recent graduates, the Future Space Leaders Networking Event introduces today's leaders to tomorrow's workforce. College students from local area universities, recent college hires and entry-level managers from government, industry and academia, along with SPACE 2007 registrants, will attend the Tuesday, Sept 18 event at 5:00 pm in the Grand Ballroom. Speakers include Roger Krone of Boeing Network & Space Systems, Debra Facktor-Lepore of Air Launch LLC, Mike Mealing of Masten Space, Alan Ladwig of Whitney, Bradley & Brown, Inc. and Dr. Woodrow Whitlow of NASA Glenn Research Center."

Goddard's New Magazine

NASA GSFC Solicitation: NASA Inspire Magazine: A Mass Media Solution Designed to Reach and Inspire The Next Generation of Space Explorers, NASA GSFC

"This notice is issued by the NASA/GSFC to post an RFI via the internet, soliciting interest from potential parties interested in providing a national children's outreach publication named NASA's INSPIRE magazine. NASA's INSPIRE magazine will be a mass media solution designed to reach and inspire the next generation of explorers. This magazine will reach numerous middle students, their teachers and their families in order to fulfill NASA's future efforts of having the manpower to fulfill our mission to go back to the moon and onto the surface of Mars."

NASA Internal memo: Updated Guidance on NASA Messaging

"This memorandum supersedes my August 1, 2007, memorandum to OICs and Center Directors. Its purpose is to clarify intent and provide guidance on how this messaging material might be used to the best advantage of the Agency.

First, the original guidance was intended to provide some consistency on how we talk about NASA's work with the public. It is not a mandate and should not have been prescriptive.

Second, the Core Message (NASA explores for answers that power our future) is not a slogan or tag line. You are not required to use it, but feel free to include it if you deem it appropriate and helpful for your communications needs.

Third, the Graphic Element (Inspiration+Innovation+Discovery=Future) is a formula for those key themes that illustrate and enhance the Core Message. It should NOT be used as a graphic in Agency materials; however, the three themes can serve as a guide for Agency messaging.

Internal NASA Memo from Robert Hopkins, Chief, Office of Strategic Communications: NASA Messages, earlier post from 1 August 2007

Editor's note: According to NASA sources the Opportunity Mars rover successfully drove in and then out of Victoria Crater. This was accomplished on on Sol 1291. Photos taken by the rover show that it made a 4 meter drive down into Victoria - and then backed out.

Snakes on a plane in MCC

Editor's note: From someone "This coral snake [image below] was captured in the MCC very early this morning. It was inside the stainless steel doors under the ceiling mounted camera housing. Although a baby coral snake it is still extremely venomous. I believe this is a good reminder that living in Texas can be dangerous, and everyone should keep their eyes open."

NASA Ends RpK's COTS Hopes

NASA Cuts Funds for Private Space Venture, Wall Street Journal

"U.S. space officials, after several attempts to help resuscitate a private space venture led by closely held Rocketplane Kistler Inc., have issued a default letter effectively cutting off future federal assistance for the proposed $1 billion reusable rocket project, industry officials said."

RpK's COTS Contract Terminated, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

"NASA has informed Congress it is terminating its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with Rocketplane Kistler (RpK) because the company has failed to meet financial milestones. Aides said that after reviewing the company's performance, the space agency sent RpK formal notification Sept. 7 saying that additional activity under the agreement is "not in the best interest" of NASA."

New SMD AO Released

NASA HQ Announcement of Opportunity for the Explorer Program: Small Explorers and Missions of Opportunity

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is releasing a NASA Announcement of Opportunity (NNH07ZDA003O), for the Explorer Program: Small Explorers (SMEX) and Missions of Opportunity. NASA expects to select up to three SMEX missions to proceed into Phase B and subsequent mission phases."

IEMP Update

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale's Blog: Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP) - Gap Analysis

"Last week and this week, I have been going into a fair amount of detail on subjects that will be fairly dry to many. These issues, though - financial management and IEMP - are some of the very important foundations for NASA."

Amid NASA turbelence, Congress stays on board, Houston Chronicle

"With NASA pushing ahead with plans for exploring the moon and Mars, administrator Michael Griffin acknowledged last week that scandals and reports of astronaut misconduct have "shaken public confidence" in his agency. Congress, however, is standing by NASA, ignoring a veto threat in an attempt to fund space endeavors with more money than President Bush's $17.3 billion request for the 2008 fiscal year."

Editor's note: What does the word "turbelence" mean? I know I make lots of typos - but the Chronicle has a slightly larger staff than I do - one that ought to be able to catch these things.

Google SETI?

Radio Telescope And Its Budget Hang in the Balance, Washington Post

"Driving beneath the giant dish in a rickety Jeep, [Arecibo Director Robert] Kerr is not counting on Congress. So he continues to brainstorm. Don't laugh, he said, but lately he has been thinking about naming rights. "Imagine the word 'Google' painted across that 19-acre dish," Kerr said. "What do you think that would be worth?""

Reader note: From: "M R K" Manitowoc Wisconsin, 45 years ago: "...The hunk had been embedded three inches deep into the asphalt of 8th Street, just off the center line, for an hour before patrolmen Marvin Bauch and Ronald Rusboldt noticed it from their squad car.... They thought that it was a piece of cardboard and ignored it. An hour later they noticed it again, stopped to move it, and found that it was too hot to touch. They then thought that it was a piece of slag from a local foundry that had fallen out of a dump truck. They kicked it to the curb. It wasn't until noon that Bauch and Rusboldt associated what they had seen with the reported breakup of Sputnik. They returned to the spot and found it, still in the gutter, more than seven hours after it had fallen. A check at the fire department with a Geiger counter showed no radioactivity, so the lump was shipped to the Smithsonian...."

Launched on May 15, 1960, and called by the West as "Sputnik 4" it was supposed to be a 4 day flight. Well, the Vostok test capsule had a problem with the IR sensor and thus it's retros fired rearward, pushing the capsule into a higher orbit, where it stayed until 1962. Evidently, it was the metric threads and unusual iron oxides that were caused by the heat of reentry that confirmed its origin, and it was then shipped back to the Russians, but not before 2 replicas were made, both of which are in Manitowoc.

A local shop owner is planning to celebrate this event next year (September 5 & 6 2008). Something tells me that this could be both fun and educational. Hey, does anyone from NASA, DOD or Korolev RSC Energia have any interesting items they may want to display?

Editor's note: Wouldn't it be something if people knew that by sending things like this to NASA that they might get a response ... and that maybe their space agency might spend a moment with them.

People will celebrate NASA's accomplishments without any input from NASA. For that matter they will celebrate space events from all nations in their own way if the urge strikes them to do so.

But NASA ignores little things like this. They focus instead on large media markets and places where they can affect Congressional behavior. To be honest and pragmatic, that may be a wiser and more strategic use of limited funds. But it does serve to further isolate the agency from many of the people who pay for its operations at the same time.

The challenge right now for NASA is how to become part of these events - little as well as big - even if only from a distance - so as to show that the agency is still relevant. Not to do so serves to prove the contrary.

Write and Vote on a Better Slogan for NASA, Wired (Update)

"We were so happily overwhelmed by your initial response to our blogger Loretta Hidalgo Whiteside's call for a new NASA slogan, that we decided to create a proper voting tool."

Can You Write a Better Slogan for NASA?, Wired

"In early August, NASA internally released its latest marketing campaign, designed to show its relevance and value to the American people. Its new slogan? "NASA explores for answers that power our future." The campaign now seems to be aborted, but it did get me thinking, could we do any better? I am no marketing genius, but I think that we could. I mean North Face's has much more zing, "Never Stop Exploring." Even Dow Chemicals did better, "The Human Element." ... For reference, the previous NASA slogan, under the previous Administrator (new Administrator, new slogan) was "Explore, Discover, Understand." Although it seemed a little dry at the time, it now seems light years ahead. It at least it honored the 'under four words' rule (ok there is not really an under four words rule).

Editor's note: I guess I am not the only one who thinks that NASA's Strategic Communications activities need a little more creativity. Please visit this link and read the rest of Loretta's ideas - and enter the Wired slogan contest!

NASA's Strategic Communications Office Just Doesn't Get It, Earlier post
More Confusion From NASA's Office of Strategic Communications, Earlier post

10 Questions for Buzz Aldrin, Time

"Given what happened with Lisa Nowak, should astronauts be held to a higher standard? Chad Miller, COLOGNE, GERMANY

Astronauts are not superhuman. They lead ordinary lives and have varied personalities. I think Nowak should be admired for traveling across the country at night and not getting out of her car to put in gas or go to the restroom. It is not excusable, but it is understandable for an achiever to fall into a trap."


CosmoCam Flight Completed

"CosmoCam recently flew on a NASA strato-balloon. The payload is the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) out of Louisiana State University. The flight was launched from Ft. Sumner, New Mexico).HASP Flight #2 has ended. It will take a few days to get the flight video posted (lots of video!). The live video (and controls) and archived video are online at"

NASA Partners With Discovery Communications for 50th Anniversary

"The partnership will encompass on-air and online components as well as grassroots activities throughout 2008, including educational workshops and local screenings. Special programming on Discovery in the spring and summer of 2008 will celebrate NASA with never-before-seen archival footage. Podcasts and interactive features at Discovery's Web site will enable viewers and users to take a closer look at NASA's history and its plans for the future."

Joint Dark Energy Mission A Top Priority for NASA, Says NRC

"The National Research Council's Beyond Einstein Program Assessment Committee has recommended that the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM), jointly supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Energy, be the first of NASA's Beyond Einstein cosmology missions to be developed and launched."

Why Be Accurate?

Students Go for Launch

"A group of high school students from Wendover, Utah, is learning that life presents more opportunities than any of them ever thought possible. The students are members of the NASA Club at Wendover High School, a NASA Explorer Schools team since 2004. The NES project and the NASA Club have opened many doors for Wendover students, including seeing science experiments they designed launch into space on rockets."

Editor's note: Nice article. Alas, NASA has ignored the fact that these students only attended this event due to generosity of NASA Watch readers - most notably the IFPTE. The impression you are left from reading this NASA version of events is that NASA paid for the trip. Oh well. Why be accurate? I think it says a lot about the space community and NASA employees that they chipped in to pay for a trip for a bunch of kids none of them had ever met.

Help These Students See Their Experiment Launched

"Dear NASA Watch, My name is Carolyn Bushman. I teach at Wendover High School, Utah's only NASA Explorer School. ... this year I'm facing a similar dilemma Due to cut backs the sub-sem is no longer happening, but the NES brought my attention to a new opportunity of having an experiment flown out of New Mexico. My students submitted an experiment and got it accepted. ... I petitioned to the district to allow the trip to happen. On Tuesday, I received word that the trip can happen if I raise the money."

Trip Report: Miss Bushman's Class Has A NASA Rocket Adventure in New Mexico

"I just want to thank you for giving us money. Without you this trip wouldn't be possible. I think we will do a fine job telling people about our experiences at the NASA Family night in our school. We just hope we inspire students to stay in school and become something in life. I am going to personally tell people to join the NASA Club so they can one day go on a trip like I did and see how fun it is to go on this adventures that you may only see one for the rest of your life. Thank you so much for what you have done. I hope you enjoy reading my story that I just typed. I hope that students will become more interested in these kinds of trips."

Letter: IFPTE makes Donation To Utah School For Student Trip to White Sands

Stunning Image: Roving Again

(Originally published in the 3 Sept 2007 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology. Reprinted with permission):

"The NASA/JPL Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are driving again on Mars after surviving electrical power shortages, caused by global dust storms that have swept the planet since July. Opportunity drove dozens of feet back to the rim of Victoria crater last week. The rover took this false color mosaic that preserves details, but sharply distorts elevation to make it falsely appear that the rover is on a hill. The mosaic [Below], prepared exclusively for Aviation Week & Space Technology, was taken by a front black-and- white hazard camera and colorized using earlier Pancam data."

Opening Statement By Chairman Mark Udall - Hearing on Health Care of NASA Astronaut Corps

"Whatever the merits of focusing the agency's attention on trying to get employees to publicly verify or refute reports of alcohol use that those employees had provided in confidence to the independent review committee, I think it runs the risk of unintentionally worsening a communications environment at NASA in which, to quote the independent review committee: "Peers and staff fear ostracism if they identify their own or other's problems." Instead, it may be more appropriate to take the "disconnect" between what is being said in private and what is being said in public by NASA personnel as another indicator that the broader issues raised by the independent review committee warrant close and sustained attention."

Opening Statement By Committee Chairman Bart Gordon - Hearing on Health Care of NASA Astronaut Corps

"To my way of thinking - and with all due respect to Administrator Griffin - disparaging a finding in the independent review panel's report as an "urban legend" doesn't do much to encourage that needed openness...especially when the chair of that same independent panel is prepared to testify that the finding is based on voluntary interviews with eyewitnesses to the incidents."

NASA Accused of Deriding Drinking Report, AP

NASA Accused of Deriding Drinking Report, AP

"NASA's boss, Michael Griffin, went so far last week as to call the claims of prelaunch astronaut drunkenness an urban legend, likening it to alarming but false reports of deliberately poisoned Halloween candy."

Editor's note: Hearings are being held right now regarding the Astronaut Health Report issued in July by the NASA Astronaut Health Care System Review Committee. According to its chair, Col. Richard Bachmann, Jr., the allegation about astronaut drinking was only made by one NASA individual - and made only to one member of Bachmann's committee. It would seem that Bachmann's committee never tried to corroborate this information by finding other sources. Instead, they just published it as fact. So much for being thorough.

Statement by NASA Administrator Griffin Before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Committee on Science and Technology on 6 September 2007

"Today you have heard Mr. O'Connor provide details of his investigation and findings. After reviewing 20 years' worth of records and interviewing scores of NASA personnel who are personally involved in, or witness to, the critical path for astronaut flight safety in the hours before launch, Mr. O'Connor was unable to find any evidence to support the claims that astronauts were ever impaired by alcohol at launch time. In fact, NASA's flight surgeons have placed their names on a communication saying that they have no evidence of alcohol impairment by astronauts on flight day, or any instances of their concerns to management being disregarded."

Hearing Charter - Health Care of NASA Astronaut Corps
Opening Statement By Richard Bachmann
Opening Statement By Bryan O'Connor
Opening Statement By Ellen Ochoa
Opening Statement By Richard Williams

Mega Space Prize

Largest Space Prize Ever to Be Announced at Wired's NextFest September 13th, Wired

"The X Prize Foundation (the people who brought you the $10 million dollar Ansari X Prize for the first private sub-orbital flights won by Scaled Composites' Burt Rutan) just sent out an invitation to the September 13th, 2007 announcement of their next, and largest ever, space prize. Did I say space prize? I did."

The following teaser video is on YouTube:

ILS Proton Fails

Proton Fails Just After Liftoff,

"Two minutes after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan tonight, a Russian heavy-lifting Proton rocket suffered a malfunction of its second stage, leading to apparent destruction of a Japanese satellite payload riding aboard the booster."

NASA and Mad Science Partner to Promote Science Education

"NASA and the Mad Science Group of Montreal, Canada, have teamed in an effort to spark the imagination of children, encouraging more youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The two organizations recently signed a Space Act Agreement, officially launching the development of the Academy of Future Space Explorers."

Editor's note: If you have read NASA Watch recently you will note that I have been hammering NASA over its lack of focus on education of the next generation of space explorers. As such, such an announcement is most welcome and further such agreements should be encouraged. That said - and couched in the context that 1.) my SpaceRef business partner is Canadian, 2.) that I support and participate in a research project located in Canada, and 3.) that I fervently believe in taking a global approach to space exploration, I still have to wonder why it is that NASA felt the need to go outside the borders of the United States to utilize a company to accomplish such a task as is outlined in this press release. Why did they do so when so much latent and untapped capability resides here within the U.S? Especially when so many Congressional earmarks often call for the same sort of tasks to be accomplished. Maybe someone will explain this to me.

Reader note: "Here is my response: Mad Science Group is made up of 220 franchisees, most of them (75%) are in United States. We are the ONLY science organization in United States that has daily contact with about 5 million children in venues such as public and private schools, libraries and recreation centers. We are the ONLY science company that make science fun, and that is exactly why NASA has chosen Mad Science. My company, my franchise: Mad Science of Long Island is American, not Canadian. - Claudio Superville, Mad Science of Long Island,"

Editor's note: I stand (partially corrected) on the U.S. Vs Canadian issue. Yet, with regard to Mr. Superville's claim: "We are the ONLY science company that make science fun, and that is exactly why NASA has chosen Mad Science" , this has to be the most absurd, unsubtantiated, and arrogant claim I have heard anyone make this week! I would certainly hope that this company's other franchise holders are a little more humble - and less prone to bragging - especially when the claims cannot be proven (not the best lesson to be teaching).

Hubble Trouble

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4439

FLASH REPORT: Zero Gyro Software Sunpoint entry

At 243/23:01:54 UTC Gyro 2 disparity counts exceeded limits during an LOS period and HST entered Zero Gyro Software Sun Point. The vehicle was in M2G mode in orbit night with a vehicle slew in progress when this occurred. Gyro 2's motor current and digital data were zero after telemetry was reestablished.

On Saturday, September 1st at 9am EST a Zero Gyro Entry (Gyro 2 failure) Status Briefing was held with the Mission Operations Team, Science Institute and HST Project. Status of each subsystem was provided. PCS confirmed Gyro 2 failure and that Gyro 6 was powered on at 244/0554 GMT. Other subsystems are performing nominally and as expected. TCS did change yellow limits on the OTA Baffle temperature to the SM limits (w/AD closed). EPS reported a change in the structure current profile following the anomaly. An Ops Note was issued to increase structure current ground limits by 0.4 amps (5.4 to 5.8A). There was an increase of up to 1.5 amps in the structure current profile which EPS is monitoring.

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4440

HSTARS: 10983 Loss of Lock - Without Acquisition Failure @ 247/2041z GSAcq (1,2,1) at 247/19:45z was successful. At 247/20:13:57z began flagging in and out of Gyro Control (RGA Only / FGS/RGA). Additionally, Mnemonics FSUBLOL, FGSLOL, FGS_STAT began flagging in and out indicating a possible Loss of Lock. At 247/20:41:56z TERM EXP as scheduled. During this time FGS's maintained SCI INIT / LATCH on acquisition.

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale's Blog: Financial Management

"2002 was the last year in which NASA's auditors were able to provide a "clean" opinion of the Agency's financial statements. 2003 was the year NASA implemented its integrated financial management system, and the process and data issues uncovered during that implementation resulted in the auditors' inability to provide subsequent opinions on NASA's financial statements. NASA has made considerable progress toward improved financial health and reporting since that time, as evidenced by improved scores on the Financial Management Improvement component of the President's Management Agenda scorecard. The Agency is currently "green" on progress based on the successful accomplishment of its corrective action plan milestones."

NASA OIG Final Memorandum on Audit of NASA's Compliance with Federal Internal Control Reporting Requirements

Business Modernization: NASA Must Consider Agencywide Needs to Reap the Full Benefits of Its Enterprise Management System Modernization Effort, GAO

Steve Fossett Is Missing

Branson hopes to trace Fossett with Google images, Reuters

"I'm talking with friends at Google about seeing whether we can look at satellite images over the last four days to see whether they can see which direction he might have been flying and whether they can see any disturbances anywhere that they can pin from space," he said from Barcelona, Spain.

Fossett's latest adventure was attempt to break land speed record, AP

"Adventurer Steve Fossett has had a lifetime of daring achievements, most of them at high altitude. His latest record-setting dream brought him back to terra firma. Fossett's small plane disappeared Monday as he was scouting dry lake beds in western Nevada, apparently searching for an optimum spot to set a world land speed record."

South Korean to Visit ISS

S. Korea picks its first astronaut, Yonhap

"South Korea on Wednesday chose a 30-year-old computer vision engineer to become its first astronaut who will make a trip to the International Space Station on a Russian spacecraft early next year. Ko san, a researcher at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), was selected over Yi So-yeon because he received higher marks in the extensive training program undertaken in South Korea and Russia since early this year, the Ministry of Science and Technology said. It said there was very little difference in the scores of the two candidates, which were tallied by a seven-person astronaut selection committee headed by KARI president Paik Hong-yul."

JPL HSPD 12 lawsuit Update

NASA researchers balk at background checks, Government Executive

"Several lawmakers have voiced displeasure to senior Bush administration officials about a new policy on background checks that has prompted nearly 30 scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to sue NASA. The employees, all of whom work for the California Institute of Technology, risk losing their jobs if they fail to comply with the investigations."

NASA MSFC Solicitation: P-POD Microsatellite Launcher With Supporting Technical Assistance

"NASA/MSFC has a requirement for spacecraft deployment and launch vehicle integration support. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is proposing to purchase a Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD). In order to accomplish CubeSail Mission level activities, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center intends to build and fly a 3U CubeSat called the CubeSail, on a USAF-STP Minotaur IV launch that is tentatively schedule for the third quarter of FY09."

Editor's note: Since when does MSFC do smallsats? Or are they just trying to take yet another project away from ARC? Who is paying for this?

Rovers begin new observations on changing Martian atmosphere, University of Chicago

Spirit Slowly Emerges from Blanket of Dust

"Spirit remains healthy as the rover slowly picks up more solar energy. The dust storms appear to be over, at least for now, and the skies are slowly clearing. Unfortunately, what energy Spirit has gained from cleaner skies has been offset by losses to dustier solar arrays. Still, Spirit has the energy, about 325 watt-hours, to finally be roving again."

Are We There Yet?

Kirby: Road trip proves NASA has it wrong, The Salt Lake Tribune

"Last week, I took a road trip to the Oregon coast with six friends. We traveled more than 1,000 miles together in a van and proved that NASA is lying.NASA claims that it can stuff human beings into an expensive International Space Station and spin them around the Earth for months with no ill effects other than those normally associated with a prolonged ride in a clothes dryer. Thanks to our road trip, we now know this is not true. Human beings are not meant to be treated like pressed ham. Not without a lot of drugs and deodorant we're not."

Hire This Kid

$1256 Microwulf Supercomputer Smaller Than Bread Box, Runs At 26.25 Gigaflops, Oh Gizmo!

"Do you ever suffer from computer-related performance anxiety? If so, youre definitely not alone, and Calvin College student Tim Brom has the cure: a built-from-scratch 26.25 gigaflops supercomputer that runs off one standard wall outlet, will fit on your desk, and cost less than $2500 to build in 2006 (building a copy today would cost only $1256)."

Google Flight Simulator

Google Flight Simulator Lets You Fly Big G Style, Gizmodo

"If you were thinking, "Those guys at Google are going to pack in a secret flight simulator into the new edition of Google Earth," pat yourself on the back, as that is exactly what they have done. Users have the choice of commanding either an F-16 jet fighter or a Cirrus SR22 prop plane."

Virgin Galactic Astronauts to Start Centrifuge Training, Wired

"The first 100 people to fly on Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital space flights will be headed to Philadelphia to get their first taste of the G-forces of space launch and re-entry. The first Founder Astronauts will begin their two day experience, hosted at the National Training and Aerospace Research Center (NASTAR) center, in September and Virgin Galactic expects to accommodate all of the participating Founders by mid-October."

Star Trek medical device uses ultrasound to seal punctured lungs, University of Washington

"Engineers at the University of Washington are working with Harborview doctors to create new emergency treatments right out of Star Trek: a tricorder type device using high-intensity focused ultrasound rays. This summer, researchers published the first experiment using ultrasound to seal punctured lungs. ... The research was funded the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute."

Spinoff Fact Checking Needed at StratComm, earlier post

"SMC Decision: The Administrator directed that the Office of Communications Planning thoroughly vet NASA claims that the Agency was responsible for the research that enabled technologies ultimately used by the general public (e.g., smoke detectors) with in-house experts before it can be included in Agency messages.

SMC Action: The Office of Communications Planning is to vet the current list of NASA "spinoff" technologies being used in the Office's message testing with in house experts, specifically the Innovative Partnership Program Director Doug Comstock, Howard Ross of PA&E, and, with specific regard to smoke detector technology, Aeronautics Research Associate Administrator Lisa Porter, due by the next meeting."

Editor's note: It would seem that while NASA StratComm staff are off checking to see if their unsubstantiated and antiquated claims about the proverbial "spinoffs" the agency seems to fling off (so they would suggest) at a furious pace, they missed this real spinoff alltogether - one that is indeed right out of Star Trek and funded by NASA's own NSBRI! The "communications" within NASA's "Strategic Communications" would seem to need an upgrade.

Photo Release -- New Orleans and Mississippi Teachers Get a Lesson in Weightlessness as Part of Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery

Photo Release -- Texas Teachers Get a Lesson in Weightlessness as Part of Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery

Science Teachers Take Flight in Zero-Gravity as Part of Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery

"The Northrop Grumman Foundation kicked off the second year of its Weightless Flights of Discovery Program today, flying 57 teachers in Dallas, with another 58 scheduled to fly in New Orleans on Aug. 30. These are the first of the flights in eight cities planned as part of the company's program to inspire the next generation of scientists, mathematicians and engineers -- critical areas where the U.S. has fallen behind globally."

ISS Shut Down in 2015-2016?

Russia to send manned mission to the Moon by 2025 - space agency, Novosti

"The agency chief said that in 2016-25, after the ISS is put out of operation, Russia plans to deploy a platform in a low-earth orbit to assemble spacecraft. The United States has said the station should be scrapped in 2015, while Russia has proposed using the Russian segment until 2020. Perminov said: "The ISS will be transformed into a laboratory complex where research will be conducted."

Editor's note: Let's see: NASA spends 1984-1998 designing and then building the ISS; 1998-2010 deploying and completing it (that's 26 years) and then only 5-6 years using it in its completed configuration? Sadly, this is more than just bad translation and Russian arm waving. And NASA wonders why some in Congress question NASA's current plan to implement the VSE?



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