November 2007 Archives

Editor's 3:00 pm EST note: Multiple sources report that CEV Project Manager Skip Hatfield is being replaced by Deputy Constellation Program Manager Mark Geyer. Awaiting PAO confirmation.

Editor's 5:19 pm EST update: In response to an inquiry made by, NASA Public Affairs says that Orion Project Manager Skip Hatfield is going to become the Special Assistant to the Program Manager for Technical Integration in the International Space Station Program. Hatfield will be replaced in his current position by Deputy Constellation Program Manager Mark Geyer. Lawrence (Dale) Thomas will become the new acting Deputy Manager for the Constellation Program.

Campaigns Should Support Space Exploration, Aerospace Industries Association

"Presidential campaigns should publicly express their support of NASA's Constellation Program to ensure America's leadership in space exploration as well as boost education, AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said. The exploration program, which will return astronauts to the moon and explore Mars and beyond, should not be delayed under any circumstances since there is already a manned spaceflight gap looming."

Express Yourself

National Space Society Space Settlement Art Contest

"The National Space Society is sponsoring an art contest in which artists are to create visions of a spacefaring future - a future of space settlement, be they on the Moon, on Mars, on asteroids, or orbiting independently in space. Twelve winning entries will be chosen to illustrate the NSS 2008 Space Settlement Calendar. Judges include space artists Don Davis and David Robinson. Artists may submit multiple works and submissions will be accepted until December 31, 2007."

Honoring Gene Kranz

NASA Honors Legendary Flight Director Gene Kranz

"NASA will honor Eugene Francis "Gene" Kranz with the presentation of an Ambassador of Exploration Award for his involvement in the U.S. space program. Kranz will receive the award during a ceremony at 2 p.m. CST on Dec. 6 at the Central Catholic High School."

HSPD-12 Update

Appeals Court Hearing on Injunction Restricting Background Investigations of JPL Employees

"Attorneys and Plaintiffs will be available for media interviews following the hearing A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Dec. 5, 2007, on an injunction pending appeal in the case of 28 Caltech employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who filed suit to prevent unreasonable personal background checks. The JPL employees -- all of whom work on non-classified space exploration projects -- sued NASA, the Department of Commerce, and their employer, Caltech, to prevent intrusive, open-ended background investigations imposed by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin in support of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12. The background investigations were associated with issuing new identification cards to employees in order for them to access the JPL facility. HSPD12 mandates new identification documents but does not mention background investigations. None of the plaintiffs have security clearances."

Editor's note: Last night a Mars Society member (and Hukabee supporter) managed to get a video question inserted into the Republican Presidential debate. Yet, as of 2:00 pm EST neither Planetary Society, the National Space Society, the Coalition for Space Exploration, the Space Exploration Alliance, or even the Mars Society has any mention whatsoever of this question being asked last night. Gee, I had something online 10-20 minutes after the words were spoken - and I am not especially gifted in regard to web stuff. It is now 14 hours later and there is not a peep from the space advocacy community. I have to ask, why is anyone (campaign staff, voters) going to pay any additional attention to groups that support an issue when they cannot get off of their collective butts to even make note of (and capitalize upon) a potential breakthrough in a national debate?

NASA and Jules Verne

Editor's note: Looks like NASA is going to get a special award at the Jules Verne Festival: "NASA, the 50th Anniversary with spectacular presentation of the Jules Verne Award for Human and Historical Achievement!"

Grading NASA's Solar System Exploration Program: A Midterm Review,Committee on Assessing the Solar System Exploration Program, NRC

"The Committee on Assessing the Solar System Exploration Program has reviewed NASA's progress to date on implementing the recommendations made in the National Research Council's (NRC's) 2003-2013 solar system exploration decadal survey, New Frontiers in the Solar System, and in its Mars architecture report, Assessment of NASA's Mars Architecture 2007-2016."

House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Reacts to GAO Report on NASAs Planned Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle

"GAO's assessment is a mix of good news and not-so-good news," said Gordon. "On the one hand, GAO has concluded that NASA is taking steps to demonstrate that the Ares I project is achievable within the constraints that the project faces. On the other hand, GAO has identified a number of significant challenges that will have to be overcome if the project is to succeed."

NASA - Agency Has Taken Steps Toward Making Sound Investment Decisions for Ares I but Still Faces Challenging Knowledge Gaps, GAO-08-51

"GAO recommends NASA establish a sound business case for Ares I before proceeding beyond preliminary design review (now set for July 2008), and if necessary, delay the preliminary design review until the project's readiness to move forward is demonstrated."

Mr. B's Big Plan, Air & Space

"Having pledged five times that much--more than half his net worth--to build inflatable space habitats using technology pioneered, then abandoned, by NASA, Bigelow, with a company of roughly 125 employees, is aiming even higher. His goal is to send people to a larger, habitable module called Sundancer by 2010. By 2012, he hopes to place a full-size, 330-cubic-meter (11,700-cubic-foot) module, the BA 330, in orbit, with more to follow later."

Entrepreneur of the Year: Elon Musk,

"Yet the kingmakers of innovation--the academics, the investors, the bloggers--tend not to talk about Musk. They dwell on idea people like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old wunderkind whose high-concept notions about social networks have made him the hottest thing in business. Or they talk about prognosticators, people like MIT's Nicholas Negroponte, whose One Laptop per Child program has captured the imaginations of moguls, wonks, and Davos attendees everywhere. Elon Musk isn't a software geek or a self-styled visionary. He's not particularly young or brash or handsome, and he can come off as kind of a jerk. He isn't hawking new technology, and he's quite shy. Yet he just might change the world."

Editor's note: A video (below) from a Mars Society member (complete with logos) managed to get in on the CNN/YouTube debate among Republican presidential candidates. In responding, Gov. Huckabee was rather supportive of space exploration and its benefits to our society and economy. He even wanted to send Hillary Clinton to Mars. Rep. Tom Tancredo said that there is not enough money to spend on a Mars mission (transcript below).

Editor's note: According to a NASA Watch reader, the person who submitted this question, Steve Nielson, has a pro-Huckabee website.

Management Changes at GSFC

NASA GSFC Internal Memo From Ed Weiler: Management Announcements

"A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a Center-wide message announcing that with the pending retirement of Dolly Perkins at the end of the year, Laurie Leshin will be taking on a new role at Goddard as the Deputy Center Director for Science and Technology. Today, I'd like to announce the appointment of Dr. Bernard Seery to a new post in Code 100 as the Assistant Director for Advanced Concepts. I am also pleased to announce that Dr. Peter Hildebrand, Chief, Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, will succeed Bernie as the new Deputy Director for the Sciences and Exploration Directorate."


NASCAR enters the Space Age, Orlando Sentinel

"If the agency's promotional plan pays off, millions of NASCAR fans will have their eyes glued to the skies next month when space shuttle Atlantis blasts off into orbit -- carrying three Daytona 500 race flags in its cargo bay. The green starter flags are being launched into space to celebrate the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in February, as well as NASA's own upcoming 50th anniversary."

Upcoming NRC Reports

Editor's note: The following reports are tentatively scheduled for release during December.

Review and Critique of NASA's Elementary and Secondary Education Program: NASA offers a broad range of K-12 education programs whose goals are to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and motivate students to pursue careers in these fields. This report evaluates the programs and recommends ways to improve them.

Grading NASA's Solar System Exploration Program: A Midterm Review, National Research Council: Evaluates the degree to which NASA's current solar system exploration program addresses the strategies, goals, and priorities outlined in previous Research Council reports.

Obama Trashing Space Exploration (discussion), Newsvine

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's education policy is causing a stir ... but not all in a good way. Advocates for space exploration are noting with dismay that he'd take billions of dollars from NASA to pay for the educational programs he'd like to expand."

K-12 Students Design Greenhouses for NASA Astronauts, Challenger Centerfor Space Science Education

"Join the Challenger Center for Space Science Education for the NASA K-12 Engineering Design Challenge and design a plant growth chamber for use by future astronauts living and working on the Moon by November 30th. Participating teachers and students will receive space-flown basil seeds returned by Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan, the back up to Christa McAuliffe, the first Teacher in Space, for follow-on experiments with their mini-greenhouses. Classrooms will receive a special certificate for their engineering design along with space-flown and control (non-flown) seeds for conducting scientific experiments."

NASA Inspector General: NASA's Most Serious Management and Performance Challenges

"As required by the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000, these are our views of the most serious management and performance challenges facing NASA. Over the past year, NASA has been working to address these challenges and improve Agency programs and operations through various initiatives and by implementing recommendations made by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and other evaluative bodies, such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO). An overarching challenge concerns how NASA integrates diverse programmatic and institutional functions across geographically dispersed operations. Each of the five challenges listed below, and summarized in the enclosure, is colored by this overarching challenge."

NASA Inspector General: Audit of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Fiscal Year 2007 Financial Statements

"In the Report of Independent Auditors (Enclosure 1), E&Y disclaimed an opinion on NASA's financial statements for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2007 and 2006. The disclaimer resulted from NASA's inability to provide E&Y auditable financial statements and sufficient evidence to support the financial statements throughout the fiscal year and at year-end."

Editor's note: Aerojet will shortly be announcing that it has named Glenn Mahone to be its Executive Director of Strategic Communications in Aerojet's Washington, D.C. office. Mahone recently served as vice president for defense contractor Systems Application and Technologies, Inc. Prior to that he served as the AA for Public Affairs at NASA HQ.

Space Vs. Education, MSNBC

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obamas education policy is causing a stir but not all in a good way. Advocates for space exploration are noting with dismay that hed take billions of dollars from NASA to pay for the educational programs he'd like to expand."

China publishes first moon picture from Chang'e-1, CNSA

"This file photo released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Nov. 26, 2007 shows China's first picture of the moon captured by Chang'e-1, China's first lunar orbiter, marking the full success of its lunar probe project."

China to publish whole lunar 3D image in January,

"China's space experts have predicted that the country will publish the whole lunar 3D image in January next year. Wu Ji, director of the Center of Space Science and Applied Research under CAS, the China Academy of Sciences, explained that the released image is a 2D picture, and researchers are working on the data sent back to formulate a 3D image, hoping to publish the picture as soon as possible."

"I Faked The Moon Landing", by Men From Earth

"I faked the moon landing
Thought the purpose I was serving was much higher
but the consequence was dire
I faked the moon landing
Can't take the world branding me a liar
I need the cleansing fire
Please forgive me"

HSPD-12 Enforcement at GRC

NASA GRC Internal Memo: HSPD-12 Enforcement

"If you are receiving this email, you have been identified as a supervisor of an employee who has failed to comply with a Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 requirement and deadline regarding a background re-investigation. This re-investigation is necessary before a new HSPD 12 compliant NASA badge can be issued. Without the new NASA badge, the employee will be unable to gain access to NASA facilities and Information Systems."

From the Moon to Mars - The Things We Most Need to Learn at the Moon to Support the Subsequent Human Exploration of Mars, PDF, LEAG Workshop on Enabling Exploration: Background of the Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0

Today's Video: ANSMET 2007

Editor's note: Join NASA's Antarctic Search for Meteorites team as they scour the south polar continent for pristine meteorites.

Garriott Gets A Back Up

Space flight dream nears, Herald Sun

"A Thrill-seeking Melbourne multi-millionaire is one small step from being the first Australian private citizen in space. Self-described "thrillionaire" Nik Halik has been named as the back-up crewman for next year's October commercial flight to the International Space Station. While excited by the announcement, Mr Halik said it was just one step towards his real dream - being one of the first to colonise the moon."

North Pole video history: NASA Mike, "our first was in 1999", Explorers Web

"The first live videos from the 90N Pole were done by my NASA team on April 28, 1999 (time and day depending on where we were facing, of course). The first one lasted ~30 minutes. It used the NASA TDRS-F1 satellite, which is geosynchronous and for about two hours it was visible above the horizon at 90N. The maximum elevation was just under 1 degree."

Future Human Spaceflight - Democratic Candidate Launches a Position as Opponents Orbit From a Safe Distance, Washington Post

"The major presidential candidates pummel each other daily on issues ranging from the Iraq war to health care. But when it comes to President Bush's ambitious initiative to send humans back to the moon and on to Mars, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is all but alone in staking out a formal position -- and it's one that lends support to key aspects of the president's effort.

She initially outlined the need for a "robust" human spaceflight program last month during a Washington speech on science policy, despite being broadly critical of the Bush administration's record on scientific issues."

Editor's 21 Nov note: The following is from NASA's X.500 server. I have a request into ESMD PAO asking what Horowitz's job is.

commonName: S HOROWITZ
commonName: S J HOROWITZ
userClass:Organization: NASA ENGINEERING & SAFETY CTR Employer: NASA
uniqueID: LA1102CK
Org-Code: C1
Type-Code: N
Foreign National: US
postalAddress:NASA Langley Research CenterHampton, VA 23681-2199

Editor's 23 Nov note:According to an email from ESMD PAO in response to my inquiry: "Scott Horowitz is serving NASA in a very limited capacity as a special government employee. On occasion, he is called in as a technical advisor reporting to Ralph Roe, who manages the NASA Engineering and Safety Center. From time to time, Horowitz will be asked to review projects and milestones that may or may not be part of NASA's Constellation Program. Horowitz has not taken an office at the Langley Research Center. He continues to live and work in Park City, Utah."

GSFC Buyout Update

NASA Internal Memo: Goddard's Buyout/Early Out Incentive Plan

"As you are aware, NASA is in the process of a major transformation designed to realign the Agency and implement the Vision for Space Exploration. To achieve this vision, NASA faces many challenges including re-shaping the NASA workforce to successfully meet changing mission requirements. In order to refocus the skill mix of our workforce to become more effectively aligned with current and anticipated funded work requirements, each Directorate has evaluated its workforce requirements and has identified eligible categories of positions that may be experiencing either a workforce surplus or that may be impacted by a possible reduction in work requirements and/or reduced funding in the immediate or near future."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this video depicting an Ares V launch of large monolithic telescope was included on NASA Watch a few weeks ago. The video has since been updated.

Obama plan: reward teachers, lengthen school time, Baltimore Sun

"Barack Obama is planning to unveil an education plan today that would make affordable pre-school programs more widely available and offer pay incentive programs for effective teachers. It would also allow schools to lengthen the teaching day or the school year. The $18 billion annual program would be offset by savings and cuts in federal agencies, including NASA. ... The cost of the early education plan would come partly from delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years ..."

Obama's Education Rollout, MSNBC

"Though Obama called for a renewed investment in math and science education, his plan would actually pull money from the federal government's greatest investments and achievements in math and science. Obama would delay funding for the NASA Constellation program for five years, though he would maintain the $500 million in funding the program would receive for its manufacturing and technology base, in order to help fund his education policy. The campaign did not say how much money delaying the program would provide."

Obama unveils education proposal , The Hill

"A spokesman for the Republican National Committee (RNC) criticized the NASA cut. "It is ironic that Barack Obama's plan to help our children reach for the stars is financed in part by slashing a program that helps us learn about those very same stars," said Danny Diaz, RNC spokesman."

Editor's note: Let's see, the gap between Shuttle retirement and Constellations' first flight is approaching 5 years. Now Obama wants that to be ten years. I guess that means that the only way for America to reach the ISS for a decade will be aboard Russian spacecraft. That is totally unacceptable.


NASA Internal Memo: Message from the Administrator

"How many of us could take a lesson from these folks at MAF and apply it to our own work? Whether we do research, generate spreadsheets, solve equations, interpret the law, write code, do accounting, lay out wiring harnesses, calculate orbits, design structural elements, or whatever it is that we do, how many of us show the dedication to our work, without fanfare or expectation, that is demonstrated by this workforce at Michoud, technicians who spray and shape the foam on our shuttle external tanks? Some of these folks are still living in FEMA trailers, and many cannot rebuild their old homes in an area still devastated two years after Katrina. They are making these personal sacrifices in the midst of lives that are still in turmoil. Yet they keep doing what they do so well. It is incomprehensible and wonderful at the same time."

Reader note: Yes ... nice Thanksgiving note by Mike G. relative to the MAF folks working so hard to keep the ET work going. I read it and wasn't until far down that I see "This is our workforce -- in this case our contractor workforce -- at its very best." Why is it that NASA has such trouble complementing a contractor by name when they do something well? When they screw up that doesn't seem to be a problem.

Prosecutors say Jefferson used CBC position in scheme, The Hill

"Federal prosecutors are accusing Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) of using his position as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to further an additional bribery scheme that was not previously disclosed. Prosecutors allege Jefferson wrote to a NASA administrator on Congressional Black Caucus Foundation letterhead to ask that it consider doing business with a U.S. rocket technology company."

Louisiana Rep. Jefferson Accused Anew, AP

Feds say case against Jefferson lists 2 more bribery schemes, Times Picayune

"Without naming the companies or individuals involved in the two additional alleged schemes, the Justice Department said that Jefferson, after agreeing to write a letter to NASA on behalf of a "Company H," asked that a relative be hired as a consultant and that the relative receive a commission for certain sales and transactions in West Africa and Central Africa. The company was looking to set up satellite communications businesses in Africa, the Justice Department said."

Oleg Georgovitch Gazenko

Editor's note: One of the pioneers of the space medicine, Academician Oleg Georgovitch Gazenko, passed away on 17 November 2007 after a serious illness.

Doing Your Homework On Earth

Using a Planetary Analog To Test a Prototype Inflated Habitat for NASA, SpaceRef

"I had a chance to visit the manufacturing facilities at ILC Dover in Frederica, Delaware last week to see the new inflatable habitat that they have developed. Together, NASA, ILC Dover, and NSF will put this habitat through a one-year test at McMurdo Station in Antarctica starting in January 2008. How this team came to chose this design - and develop it to this point of development - reaches back decades for its inspiration - also uses cutting edge technology to bring it to reality."

I'M Sorry But ...

NASA Ames ready for liftoff - Giant research park at Moffett will include office space, 1,000 housing units, Mountain View Voice

"A 5.6 earthquake was only the second thing to shake City Hall on Tuesday night, after a NASA Ames official announced the agency would be taking bids next year on a massive research park at Moffett Field that will provide homes and office space for private companies, NASA and several colleges. Michael Marlaire, NASA Ames director of partnerships, said the research park would become "a goldmine for the informal meeting" -- in other words, the casual exchange of ideas -- as college students worked and lived next to employees from NASA and companies like Google."

Company floats Zeppelin idea, Mountain View Voice

"After noticing the controversy over the Google founders' jumbo jets last month, Los Gatos-based Airship Ventures is putting out feelers to see what Moffett neighbors would think of up to 1,000 Zeppelin flights a year out of the airfield. The company aims to provide tours of the San Francisco Bay Area for $500 a person in its 264-foot Zeppelin NT airship -- which is slightly longer, but much quieter, than a Boeing 747."

Foothill-De Anza among those eyeing Research Park - Local district joins UC, San Jose State in bid to create 'super campus', Mountain View Voice

"Besides creating a consortium of federal agencies and private high tech firms, the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field will include a strong educational presence and the Foothill-De Anza Community College District hopes to get in on the game."

MPEC 2007-V70: EDITORIAL NOTICE, Minor Planet Electronic Circular

"A posting on the Minor Planet Mailing List by Denis Denisenko suggested that the object designated 2007 VN84 on MPEC 2007-V69 might be the Rosetta spacecraft. Our investigation of this possibility, using information from the Satellite Situation Center, show that this suggestion is indeed correct."

The Moon and Europe - Rosetta OSIRIS images

"As Rosetta closed in on Earth, swung by and then left on its course again, several instruments on the spacecraft were busy taking snaps. As it swung away, the OSIRIS camera also caught glimpses of the Moon."

Ares 1 Problems

First Stage Design Problems Arise For NASA's Ares 1 Rocket, SpaceRef

"NASA has run into some problems with the design of its new Ares 1 launch vehicle - problems that could affect its ability (as designed) to safely launch its human cargo into space. According to NASA sources, the Ares 1 first stage, as currently designed, would produce a frequency of 25 Hz at liftoff. The concern is that this oscillation could shake the Ares 1 upper stage and Orion capsule designed to carry human passengers, causing considerable damage and that it could also adversely affect the Guidance, Navigation, and Control avionics in the rocket's Instrumentation Unit."

NASA Plans to Test Lunar Habitat in Extreme Antarctic Environment

"NASA will use the cold, harsh, isolated landscape of Antarctica to test one of its concepts for astronaut housing on the moon. The agency is sending a prototype inflatable habitat to Antarctica to see how it stands up during a year of use. Agency officials viewed the habitat Wednesday at ILC Dover in Frederica, Del., as it was inflated one last time before being packed and shipped to Antarctica's McMurdo Station. NASA is partnering on the project with the National Science Foundation, Arlington, Va., which manages McMurdo Station, and ILC Dover, the company that manufactured the prototype structure. All three organizations will share data from the 13-month test, which runs from January 2008 to February 2009."

Editor's note: I have added a video (below) NASA shot inside this habitat. A full article will be online about this (and other) habitats and planetary analogs on Monday. There is a portion of the video that is sped up showing how this module is inflated from flat to fully operational in just 11 minutes.

I Want my DirecTV

DIRECTV Offers to Install HD in the New International Space Station Module; Ready to Bring HD to the Final Frontier

"Congratulating NASA on the completion of a successful shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and the recent unveiling of a new living space aboard the orbital laboratory, DIRECTV is offering the ISS a complete HD makeover - including its industry-leading line-up of national HD channels, the most advanced HD DVR on the market, a 42" flat screen HDTV and a sturdy velcro-wrapped remote control. "Sure, there's the awe-inspiring view of planet earth from more than 200 miles up, but what do you do for an encore after you've entered your 180th day in space?" said Jon Gieselman, senior vice president, marketing for DIRECTV, Inc."

Editor's note: Looks like Dan was busy tinkering with a TV dish during one of those long EVAs while Scott was busy elsewhere ... click on image to enlarge.


Human Spaceflight: With Risk, We Need Purpose, Planetary Society

"If the NASA connected the work on the ISS to human exploration of other worlds and reaching Mars sometime in the foreseeable future, the adventure of EVA and space station construction would be more publicly engaging. If NASA could declare that Scott Parazynski's work was not just a death-defying feat, but instead was an illustrative and instructive about death-defying work that will be necessary to accomplish Mars missions, then the story would be more compelling." ...

... "I recognize there is no strong consensus for a political and budget commitment to send humans to Mars, but repeatedly we have seen that without progress toward the Mars destination, human spaceflight programs lack purpose and suffer from weak public support."

Editor's note: Spot on, Lou.

Alas, Mike Griffin has stated more than once that he does not like the space station that is being built - and has said much less complementary things about its utility in private. As such, the agency's leader is plodding along checking all the boxes on the ISS assembly plan - all the while wishing he could be doing something else. And it shows. In so doing he tells people to focus not on the ISS, but rather, somewhere else - on yet another hundred billion-plus human spaceflight endeavor.

NASA suffers from chronic, institutional Attention Deficit Disorder. Why should anyone accept NASA's reasons for spending all of this money if its own leader finds himself so easily distracted by the next new shiny program?

Editor's note: At one point in the hearing Mike Griffin lamented "I'm doing the best that I can to chart our course out of it. I did not put us into this position, I'm doing the best I can to get out of it but if you think I like it, you would be wrong."

I beg to differ, Mike. You most certainly did get the agency into the predicament that it is in today. Instead of going off and reinventing the wheel (Ares 1) you could have bought EELVs off the shelf from a ULA catalog and focused only on CEV development. You forced a rigid and recycled architecture upon the agency - one that requires large monolithic launchers - when in fact you could have come up with one that used existing launchers or straightforward derivations thereof.

This happened on your watch, Mike. It is about time that you started to accept the responsibility for it.

NASA: $2 billion to jumpstart Constellation program, Orlando Sentonel

"If NASA is to close the five-year gap between retirement of the space shuttle and the first launch of its successor, the space agency needs $2 billion more in funding over the next three years, NASA officials told a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Thursday. The money would enable NASA to launch its first Constellation mission in September 2013, rather than the current March 2015 projection. But it's uncertain whether NASA allies can find the dollars on Capitol Hill."

Editor's note: The $1 billion that Sens. Mikulski and Hutchison pushed through for Shuttle return to Flight costs has now apparently disappeared. As such, the notion that this White House - one which has already walked away from its financial committment to the VSE - would suddenly spring for this extra money is laughable.

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said he agreed with Nelson, but the agency now was a victim of poor foresight by previous NASA leaders and Congress."

Editor's note: So ... instead of using rockets that already existed to loft the CEV, Griffin spent money on developing a new rocket from scratch - and gutted numerous NASA programs in the process. I wonder how this will be viewed by the person who replaces him in 2009 ...

US Lawmakers Grill Space Agency on Plans for Shuttle Retirement, VOA

"I do not want to leave this hearing or this committee with the impression that we are in a good position," he said. "We are not. The failure to plan for a successor to the space shuttle, and to bring it online in a timely way, was a failure of U.S. strategic planning. We are not in the position I would wish the United States to be in. We are, I think, doing the best that can be done."

Editor's note: Gee Mike, did you happen to mention these concerns to the White House when you interviewed for the job of NASA Administrator? Isn't it a little late in the game to start complaining? Oh yes, you do know that it is your current boss (President Bush) who approved this whole VSE in the first place - including the gap between Shuttle and CEV, right?

House Committee on Science and TechnologyMembers Urge NASA to Speed Release of Air Safety Survey Data

"Committee Members called NASA's refusal "troubling" and "unconvincing." Administrator Griffin announced at the October 31 hearing that NASA would release the NOAMS data, reversing NASA's earlier stance. Now however, NASA is claiming that the data may not be fully released for up to a year from now. In their letter today to Dr. Griffin, Committee leaders noted that, "...we are troubled by NASA's plan to take up to a year to complete the release of the NAOMS data, and we consider such a delay to be totally unacceptable."

NASA and Google at 2

NASA, Google partnership still taking flight, SF Chronicle

"More than two years after forging a partnership that technology insiders hoped would spawn a new era of innovation in Silicon Valley, Google and NASA have few tangible products to show for their collaboration. But that that doesn't faze Google's managers, who say the goal is to get employees brainstorming and promote the space program - not to create flashy products. "Google didn't enter into this partnership saying 'How are we going to change this product and that product?' " said Dan Clancy, engineering director at Google. "The tangible results are that we have a lot more interaction between our staff and their staff."

Griffin on Shuttle and ISS

Testimony by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin: The Space Program after The Shuttle is retired

"Retirement of the Space Shuttle is on schedule for 2010 and critical to future Exploration plans. As we approach this date, we are hopeful that we can complete the ten remaining Space Station assembly flights, the servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, and the two contingency Shuttle missions to the ISS within this timeframe. If it becomes clear that we will not complete the flight manifest by 2010, NASA will evaluate options and make adjustments consistent with not flying any flights beyond 2010. Continuing to fly the Shuttle beyond 2010 does not enhance U.S. human spaceflight capability, but rather delays the time until a new capability exists and increases the total life cycle cost to bring the new capability on line."

New JSC HSPD-12 website

Editor's note: A new JSC HSPD-12 website is online here.

Senate Shuttle Hearing Today

Senate Hearing: Issues Facing the U.S. Space Program after Retirement of the Space Shuttle

10:00 AM - Live webcast

Editor's note: With regard to returning the shuttle and relying upon Russia for Soyuz flights to the ISS, Mike Griffin just said "I think it is unseemly in the extreme for the United States to depend on another country for access to space. I did not get us into this postion but I am trying to get us out of it."

Space Adventures Offers Unique Opportunity to Participate in Richard Garriott's Orbital Spaceflight Mission as Back-up Crew Member

"Today, Space Adventures, Ltd., the world's leading space experiences company, announced that for the first time the coveted opportunity to train as a private space explorer alongside one of its orbital spaceflight candidates, and among professional astronauts, is now available to the public."

Today's Video: Space Diving

"First Man in Space - Skydiving From The Edge Of The World (Extended Version) // On August 16, 1960, Joseph Kittinger jumped his last ... all " Excelsior jump, doing so from an air-thin height of 102,800 feet (31,334 meters). From that nearly 20 miles altitude, his tumble toward terra firma took some 4 minutes and 36 seconds."

NASA GRC Solicitation: Design Fabrication and Testing of a Full Scale Power Conversion Unit PCU for Fission Surface Power

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center (GRC) at Lewis Field is planning the development of a Technology Demonstration Unit (TDU) for Fission Surface Power (FSP). The goal of the TDU is to assemble the major components (heat source, power conversion, heat rejection, power management and distribution) of a FSP system with a simulated nuclear heat source and conduct integrated system testing in thermal-vacuum to evaluate overall performance. FSP systems provide a potential option to support future human exploration missions on the Moon and Mars."

Editor's note: This video "Space Playground" was featured on the uber-influential website Gizmodo today.

Ron Paul: Trouble back home, The Hill

"When told that "Ron Paul consistently opposes taxpayer funding for NASA and wants to eliminate the agency," 61 percent of Republican primary voters said this information would make them less likely to vote for Paul's reelection."

EMU Update

Spacesuit smoke alarm threatens NASA plans, MSNBC

"NASA's already-tight schedule for assembly of the international space station is under new threat, this time because a trainee smelled smoke inside his spacesuit during a pressure-chamber test here on Earth. Until the event can be explained, plans for two critical spacewalks at the space station are on hold. And without those spacewalks, NASA would have to delay next month's shuttle mission to deliver Europe's long-awaited Columbus space lab. Such a delay could ripple down next year's tight launch schedule and complicate NASA's plans to finish construction of the space station by the end of 2010."

Kaguya (Selene) Images of Earth-Rise Over the Moon, JAXA (still images and movies)

"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) have successfully performed the world's first high-definition image taking of an Earth-rise* by the lunar explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE,) which was injected into a lunar orbit at an altitude of about 100 km on October 18, 2007 (Japan Standard Time. Following times and dates are all JST.)"

Life After The Shuttle

Senate Hearing: Issues Facing the U.S. Space Program after Retirement of the Space Shuttle

"The Subcommittee hearing will address issues related to the retirement of the Space Shuttle, its remaining missions, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) plans to compensate should they not fulfill all mission requirements on schedule, and other issues facing NASA when the Space Shuttle is retired."

Sustaining exploration: communications, relevance, and value, Space Review

"Another example of being stuck on tactics can be found in the occasionally vitriolic criticism of the media and messages put forth by NASA's Office of Strategic Communications and by other space advocacy organizations. While thoughtful, constructive criticism can be helpful, the critique that has appeared in print, at conferences, and on blogs or elsewhere online generally reflects an overemphasis on tactics both when attacking various approaches and prescribing new ones. The net effect has been singularly unhelpful, acting to further mire the debate about communications, relevance, and value."

Editor's note: While this article raises some interesting points, Mary Lynne Dittmar seems to be rather uninformed as to what her own research purports to show. She also seems to have an incomplete understanding as to how the world of marketing and message conveyance i.e. the tactics of communicating a message to an audience - actually works in the 21st Century. In the end, it does not matter how well-crafted and focused your messages are if no one hears them.

message + no tactics = no message

ISS EMUs "Grounded"

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 12 November 2007

"EMU Spacesuit Troubleshooting: During a SSATA (Space Station Airlock Test Article) chamber run on the ground this past Friday, a crew member reported the smell of smoke inside the EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit). The run was terminated, and the crew member extracted without incident. A mishap investigation board was formed and has recommended that all life support system operations (power, O2 ops, etc.) for the on-orbit EMUs be terminated until a root cause can be determined. Thus, the on-orbit EMUs are No Go. All other ops, such as suit resizing, can be performed."

Another voice: NASA's 'wow' factor, editorial, Houston Chronicle

"Even by past, lofty standards, the shuttle mission that ended Wednesday with the return of Discovery and its seven-member crew took the "wow" factor to new heights."

Two Instruments Restored to the Mars Science Laboratory, Planetary Society

"This is a victory for space science and Mars exploration -- The Planetary Society had protested the decision to cut these instruments from the project. We congratulate and thank Alan Stern for overturning this earlier decision."

Editor's note: There is an important distinction to make here. This Planetary Society memo gives a somewhat erroneous impression - as if opponents to this decision somehow prevailed and that NASA somehow relented - i.e. that a victory was won. That did not happen. Rather, Alan Stern and SMD prevailed. Stern did not "overturn his earlier decision". SMD's position on cost over runs has not changed. Instead, the initial problem that caused Stern to make the decision has been changed, rendering part of his initial decision moot.Reading the memo carefully, one can see that Stern said "Malin Space Science Systems has agreed that there will be no additional costs to NASA for the completion of the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). Furthermore, funds returned to the Mars Exploration Program from the unfortunate elimination of MARDI operations on Phoenix will be used to support MARDI integration on MSL." and also that "In the case of ChemCam, LANL, the French Space Agency (CNES), and even other MSL instrument team members have developed a series of descopes and support arrangements to allow instrument completion, reducing the development cost-to-go by a little over 80%--i.e." In other words, instrument developers cut back so as to accommodate Stern's initial concerns.

Again, SMD's position on costs did not change. Note the original memo's mention of a "change from a rock grinding tool to a rock brushing tool". This decision still stands. Stern did not budge. Neither did SMD. Rather, instrument developers got the message - and SMD prevailed. An equally strong stance has been taken with regard to costs issues on Kepler, SDO, and other projects. MSL is not an isolated instance. Stay tuned.

Mars Science Laboratory Instrumentation Announcement from Alan Stern and Jim Green, NASA Headquarters

Push back on MSL cuts, earlier post

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

Two NASA Pilots Have Died

Editor's note: According to a NASA Watch Reader on Saturday "Two longtime, national level leaders in Civil Air Patrol died when their CAP plane crashed last night on Mt. Potosi just west of Las Vegas, Nevada. Colonel Ed Lewis, former Pacific Region commander and Colonel Dion DeCamp, current Nevada wing commander, were on board the aircraft. A Las Vegas Metro PD helo crew reportedly spotted an explosion on Mt. Potosi and upon investigation found the crash site. The two were enroute to California where the California Wing Conference begins today. Between them, Colonels Lewis and DeCamp had almost 60,000 flying hours as military, commercial, CAP and civilian pilots and the Cessna 182T they were flying was less than a year old. Col. Lewis was also a research pilot for NASA. NOTE: Ed flew the DC-8 flying laboratory and several other NASA science aircraft. He resided at Rosamond Sky Park in California where he kept a Cessna Skylane and a Harmon Rocket. He was the aviation safety officer at Dryden and an instructor pilot for several of their aircraft."

NASA "Party" Expenses

NASA'S Luxury, At Your Expense, CBS

"And most of the honorees? They're not NASA employees. They're from Boeing and other billion-dollar contractors that aren't picking up the tab. Bryan O'Connor is a NASA spokesman. What does he say to the criticism that these events are frivolous or extravagant? "I think what I would do is ask the people who we have honored to give me an idea if they think this thing was reasonable, if they felt they were honored properly," he said. [CBS News correspondent Sharyl] Attkisson said: "I wouldn't ask the honorees, I would ask the people who pay for it: taxpayers."

NASA Knows How To Party Slashdot

Editor's note: Gee, I wonder what could be done if NASA had CBS News Anchor Katie Couric's $60 million 5 year salary package to spend on things like this?

Today's Video: Virtual NASA

NASA Plays Games, O'Reilly Radar

"NASA is interested in immersive synthetic environments (ISEs) because they have the capacity of providing greatly enriched educational opportunities and outreach. The organization maintains an Immersive Synthetic Environment Research (NISER) team that has members from NASA sites across the country; it meets monthly. NASA uses SecondLife for much of its internal collaboration; as Dan notes, there were virtual environments others before SL, and others will follow, but right now Second Life is the best commercial, widely available ISE for education, training and collaboration."

Mars Science Laboratory Instrumentation Announcement from Alan Stern and Jim Green, NASA Headquarters

"Dear Colleagues: We are very happy to announce that MARDI and ChemCam's cost issues have been solved and both instruments are going forward to launch on MSL. Malin Space Science Systems has agreed that there will be no additional costs to NASA for the completion of the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). Furthermore, funds returned to the Mars Exploration Program from the unfortunate elimination of MARDI operations on Phoenix will be used to support MARDI integration on MSL."

NEO Hearing

Hearing: Near-Earth Objects - Status of the Survey Program and Review of NASA's Report to Congress

Hearing Charter: Near-Earth Objects: Status of the Survey Program and Review of NASA's 2007 Report to Congress

"On Thursday, November 8, 2007 at 10:00 a.m., the House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will hold a hearing to examine the status of NASA's Near-Earth Object survey program, review the findings and recommendations of NASA's report to Congress, Near-Earth Object Survey and Deflection Analysis of Alternatives, and to assess NASA's plans for complying with the requirements of Section 321 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005."

Testimony of Russell Schweickart
Testimony of J. Anthony Tyson
Testimony of Donald Campbell
Testimony of Donald Yeomans
Testimony of Scott Pace
Testimony of James Green
Testimony of Rep. Luis G. Fortuo
Testimony of Chairman Mark Udall

Internal NASA memo: New NASA Web Site Design Coming!

"You are invited to preview the redesigned Web site, scheduled to go live Nov. 30. To access the new design, 5.0, visit: More than a graphic facelift, 5.0 will offer users a new level of interactivity: the opportunity to comment on selected agency stories, for example, or to create a personal play list of favorite NASA videos, or to share NASA content with others via social book marking sites such as Digg and ..."

Ingenuity in Space, Editorial, NY Times

"It was an impressive feat of improvisation that kept plans for completing the station on schedule. Yet the patchwork repair was a reminder that space ventures can encounter problems that threaten a mission and that the stakes will rise as humans try to plant outposts on the Moon and on Mars."

Editor's note: ... and that's part of the value of having the ISS.

Small Fire During Demolition Work at Space Launch Complex 40, SpaceX

"Cape Canaveral, Florida - November 7, 2007 - At 10:45 AM, a fire began during demolition activities at SpaceX's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40). The Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Fire Department arrived 9 minutes later and promptly extinguished the flames. There were no injuries to personnel or smoke inhalation, and no damage to surrounding property."

NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition, NASA IPP

"The Innovative Partnerships Program at NASA Headquarters, in conjunction with the Office of Education, announces the NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition for middle and junior high school students during the 2007-2008 academic year. The essay competition consists of two separate topics each with a limit of 500 words. The first topic challenges students to describe how they benefit in their everyday lives from aerospace technologies built by NASA over the last 50 years. The second topic requires students to imagine how their everyday lives will have changed because of NASA aerospace technology years into the future."

Editor's note: Wonderful idea. Too bad NASA IPP did not expend a lot of energy to tell everyone. Yes, this is mentioned on NASA's Education homepage and on IPP's homepage, but no press release was ever issued as far as I can tell. It does seem that a message was sent out to the NASA Education EXPRESS list too. As such only those folks who happened to visit these web pages - or are on the mailing list - would ever know this was going on. To be certain this is not a complete secret, but a little effort on IPP's part and the audience of potential participants could have been much, much larger. Why tell the news media, eh?

Editor's note: According to NASA ESMD PAO:

"the Ares I first stage PDR has been moved to late summer or early fall of 2008 in order to better synchronize first stage activities with those at the vehicle system level and Constellation Program schedules, but this change is not expected to affect any test flight dates."

View larger version

Ares Reference Configuration A-103 Rev A (Graphic)

Zooming Over The Moon

KAGUYA (SELENE) World's First Image Taken of the Moon by HDTV, JAXA

"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) have successfully performed the world's first high-definition image taking by the lunar explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE,) which was injected into a lunar orbit at an altitude of about 100 km on October 18, 2007, (Japan Standard Time. Following times and dates are all JST.)"

Movie flying over the lunar surface (very cool)

NASA blows millions on flawed airline safety survey, New Scientist

"Has NASA wasted $11.3 million on a flawed survey of airline safety? likely. The agency commissioned a telephone pollster to ask 29,000 pilots about their near misses, runway collisions and technical problems. At first, the poll seemed to show that these events had previously been alarmingly under-reported. Engine failures, for instance, were cited in NASA's survey at four times the rate recorded in the Federal Aviation Administration's incident records."

Discovery Is Home

Space Shuttle Discovery Lands at Kennedy Space Center

"STS-120 Commander Pam Melroy and Pilot George Zamka fired Space Shuttle Discoverys jets at 11:59 a.m. EST to begin the descent to Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Discovery touched down at Kennedy at 1:01 p.m. ending its mission to the International Space Station. Discovery arrived at the station on Oct. 25 with the seven STS-120 astronauts quickly beginning joint operations with the ISS."

Germany's Moon Mission

Germany plans unmanned lunar orbit, Reuters

"Germany hopes to put an unmanned space craft into the moon's orbit in the early part of the next decade, a senior German official said on Wednesday."

NASA Honors Apollo Astronaut Scott Carpenter, NASA

Editor's note: "Apollo" astronaut Scott Carpenter? I don't think so.

Stopping Fights In Space

Columbus launch puts space law to the test, European Science Foundation

"Whose law will apply when Europe's Columbus space laboratory joins the US-led International Space Station in December? And what happens if astronauts from different countries get into a fight? Those were two of the questions posed at a meeting in Vienna last month to examine the contributions made by the humanities to the exploration of space. Columbus is due to be launched into orbit aboard the US space shuttle Atlantis on December 6. It will become part of the International Space Station (ISS) and the most important module supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA)."

Stunning ISS Photos

Space Shuttle Discovery's Stunning Departure Photos of the International Space Station

"Backdropped by a colorful Earth, the International Space Station is seen from Space Shuttle Discovery as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation. Earlier the STS-120 and Expedition 16 crews concluded 11 days of cooperative work onboard the shuttle and station. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 4:32 a.m. (CST) on Nov. 5, 2007."

Spandex Space Suit, The Best Inventions Of The Year, Time

"With manned space exploration in the doldrums, maybe what NASA needs is a new outfit for its astronauts. Enter Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics at MIT, who is developing the Bio-Suit. It's a formfitting space suit made of elastic polymers that improve mobility."

Editor's note: Alas, Time magazine has honored a project of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts. Earlier this year Mike Griffin made a stupid decision and killed NIAC - and work on all these advanced concepts came to a halt.

Killing NIAC, earlier post

Rocket Science, The Best Inventions Of The Year, Time

"It's hard to find a filling station in space, but it's easy to find methane, abundant on many planets and moons. NASA is taking advantage of that with a methane-fueled [XCOR] rocket (above and in tests at right). Future probes could save weight by carrying a little fuel, then gassing up en route just like any long-distance traveler."

China's first lunar probe enters moon's orbit, Xinhua

"China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, successfully completed its first braking at perilune and entered the moon's orbit Monday morning, becoming China's first circumlunar satellite. Chang'e-1, following the instructions of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), started braking at 11:15 a.m. at a position around 300 km away from the moon and entered the moon's orbit at around 11:37 a.m. after completing the braking, according to the BACC."

Space Exploration: A Measure of American Competitiveness - Speech by NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin

"It is my goal to get these critics to recognize that the development of space is a strategic capability for our nation, a view completely in keeping with the founding principles of the American nation - pushing back the frontier. There was a time when the land upon which we stand here in Chicago lay far beyond our western frontier. Today, that frontier lies in space. We've sent out the first few explorers, and they returned with wondrous tales. In President Kennedy's famous words, "Now is the time to take longer strides". The geography of our solar system dictates that these next strides will again be to Earth's moon - three days journey away. But this time, a lunar outpost will follow soon afterward, allowing us to exploit its resources and its vantage point."

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale's Blog: NASA and Small Business

"NASA's OSBP is working to provide small businesses with enhanced access to NASA and with more opportunities to do business with the Agency. At Business Opportunity Expos, small businesses have the opportunity to present their capabilities to NASA small business specialists and procurement and technical personnel from throughout the Agency and communicate with large businesses that support NASA. The 17th annual NASA Business Opportunities Expo was held on October 16 near Kennedy Space Center and was attended by approximately 900 people and featured 175 exhibitors. These expos also are a means for small businesses to network with each other and develop long lasting business relationships."

HSPD-12 Update

Appeals court stops some NASA HSPD-12 background checks, FCW.COM

"As project scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, William Banerdt is one of the top scientists at the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he has worked for 24 years. He's also a plaintiff with 27 of his JPL colleagues in a lawsuit against NASA, which has underwritten the lab since 1959 through a contract with Caltech. In their lawsuit, Banerdt and the other JPL scientists say background Investigations required under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 violate their constitutional right to privacy."

Space Shuttle Discovery Leaves Newly Configured International Space Station

Discovery undocked from the International Space Station at 5:32 a.m. today. The shuttle and station crews ended joint operations when the hatches closed at 3:03 p.m. EST Sunday. STS-120s stay at the station began Oct. 25 and featured four spacewalks to continue the on-orbit construction of the station. Discovery also carried the Harmony Node 2 module and a new crew member, Daniel Tani, to the station.

NASA STS-120 Report #27 2:45 a.m. CST Monday, Nov. 5, 2007
NASA STS-120 Execute Package FD 13
NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 4 November 2007

Additional ISS/Shuttle News

NASA STS-120 Execute Package FD 13

"It was absolutely a tremendous day! The entire team was awed by the outstanding work that you performed to make EVA 4 a great success. The extended team, both on-orbit and on the ground, deserves congratulations and it is a good day to be a part of the extended NASA family."

Editor's note: I am guessing that the Mission Control folks may be a little on the young side when it comes to SNL alumni. I am not certain that putting Mr. Bill in a document called an "Execute Package" is a wise PR move ...

USA Strike Ends

NASA workers' strike ends with contract, Orlando Sentinel

"The nearly five-month strike of about 500 workers involved in space-shuttle launch operations at Kennedy Space Center ended today with ratification of a new contract, according to a news release from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2061. The workers include machinists, electrical technicians, crane operators and people who drive the giant crawler that gets the shuttle to the launch pad."

'Space Curry' for astronauts to be sold in Japan, Daily Mainichi

"The "Space Curry" that House Foods Corp. will start selling on Monday. A curry recognized by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as a Japanese space food product is set to go on sale in Japan, it has been learned. House Foods Corp. will start selling "Space Curry," which is packaged in a retort pouch, on Monday."

Official Japanese space menu, Pink Tentacle

Buy it here (Japanese)

Press release (Japanese) [English]

Video below

A reality check on dreams for space: the repairs, Christian Science Monitor

"The farther from Earth astronauts travel, the more acute maintenance challenges become, notes Larry Bell of the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture at the University of Houston. Planners try to build redundancy into critical systems and to provide the tools and materials for making some repairs. Indeed, one tool Parazynski used to handle the undulating solar array took shape from a sheet of Teflon and some insulating tape in the space station's workshop. But mission planners always face a trade-off between trying to plan for maintenance needs and keeping materials within the weight limits during launch. Especially when talking about trips to the moon or Mars, "it's a long way back to the hardware store," Dr. Bell says."

50 Years On Orbit

Vanguard Approaches Half A Century In Space, SpaceRef

Editor's note: I received this note the other day from someone at the NASA Alumni League: "Calling all Vanguardians: On March 17, 2008, the Vanguard One satellite, the oldest object in space from Planet Earth, will complete its 50th year in Earth orbit. A small group of former NRL and NASA folks has been in communication, and a number of government agencies have been asked to commemorate the event."

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 3 November 2007

"Day 149 for Clayton Anderson. Flight Day 12 for STS-120/10A; Day 10 of Joint Ops. "It's been a great day!" (MS1 Scott Parazynski).....and thank God for the Canadian MSS!"

Crews Complete Fourth Spacewalk Outside of International Space Station

"The crews completed the fourth spacewalk of the mission at 1:22 p.m. EDT. The main objective of the spacewalk was the repair of a torn solar array. After successfully repairing the array, the crews fully deployed it."

Additional ISS/Shuttle News

SpaceX Breaks Ground at Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 40

"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) held official ground breaking ceremonies today at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, opening a new era in commercial space operations. SLC-40 will be the primary launch site for SpaceX's new Falcon 9 launch vehicle, with operations beginning in late 2008."

Airline Survey Update

Two Months Before Release of NASA Pilot Survey Data, Aviation Week

"It started out as a program to identify emerging aviation safety problems. But six years and $11.3 million later, it has mushroomed into a public relations headache for NASA Administrator Michael Griffin that's hurting his credibility with Congress. Now Griffin is working to mollify incensed lawmakers and calm a media frenzy without violating the confidentiality of the 24,000 commercial airline and 5,000 general aviation pilots that participated in the study."

Report: Pilots slept on overnight flight, AP

"Two commercial pilots allegedly fell asleep on a flight between Baltimore and Denver, with one pilot waking up to "frantic" calls from air traffic controllers warning them they were approaching the airport at twice the speed allowed. The March 2004 event, which was discussed during a Congressional hearing Wednesday, was reported by the captain on the flight on NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System, which allows crew members to anonymously document incidents. Details of the "red eye," or late night/early morning flight, including the airline, flight number, or number of passengers aboard are not included in the reporting system. It did note the type of airplane, an Airbus A319, which are flown by Frontier Airlines and United Airlines."

NASA's winking apology - Releasing flying-safety survey by discrediting it?, Opinion, Daytona Beach News-Journal

"It's good to note that the current presidential administration's apparent ban on admitting to mistakes, apologizing and reversing course doesn't apply to all federal government agencies."

Nowak Update

Evidence Against Former Astronaut Tossed, AP

"A judge agreed Friday to toss much of the evidence against Nowak, a former astronaut accused of making a diaper-assisted, 1,000-mile drive to confront a woman vying for the affections of the same space shuttle pilot."

NASA HQ Solicitation: Global Forum on Space Economics

"NASA Headquarters (HQ), Office of Communications Planning, is planning to procure a membership to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on Space Economics. The OECD provides a unique forum whereby governments of up to approximately 30 democracies, other non-governmental organization (NGOs), and the private sector work together to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of globalization."

Global Forum on Space Economics, OECD

Challenging EVA Ahead

NASA: Spacewalk will have 'higher risk than usual', USA Today

"Astronaut Scott Parazynski, one of NASA's most experienced spacewalkers, will face grave risks and nerve-wracking challenges Saturday when he is scheduled to fix a damaged solar panel on the International Space Station. Among the dangers Parazynski could encounter: potential electrical shock, sharp objects that could puncture his spacesuit and a long journey back to the safety of the station."

NASA Scrambles to Plan Spacewalk, AP

"NASA worked furiously Thursday to plan a spacewalk to fix the ripped solar wing at the international space station, hoping to solve the problem before the shuttle Discovery undocks. The agency wanted spacewalking astronauts to tackle the job Friday but had to push back the outing to Saturday to give officials on the ground more time to fine-tune the repair plan."

Smile for the Camera, Mike

NASA NSSC Solicitation: The Executive and the Media

"NASA/NSSC has a requirement for a training course entitled "The Executive and the Media". The objective of the training is to improve the ability of senior executives at the Kennedy Space Center to communicate critical messages via electronic and print media. The course shall include on camera training, simulated media interview sessions, role play or scenarios, coaching and feedback. The vendor shall be responsible for providing all training materials to include all required camera equipment, video taping devices, video tapes and cabling. The vendor shall conduct two, 2-day sessions for 12 students each. Training shall be held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on March 18-19 and March 20-21, 2008."

Editor's note: Too bad they don't do this at NASA HQ - starting with the 9th floor... Maybe Mike Griffin would wipe that grumpy frown off his face more often.

ISS Tasks Ahead

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 31 October 2007

"The IMMT (ISS Mission Management Team) this morning deferred EVA-4 from tomorrow to Friday (11/2). Top priority on board & ground has been re-directed from inspecting the Stbd SARJ (Solar Alpha Rotary Joint) to fixing the ripped P6 4B Solar Array Wing (SAW) blanket as best as can be done, as long as the Discovery crews are on ISS. EVA-5 (Whitson/Malenchenko) may become a Stage EVA. Four special teams (Damage/root cause, EVA Assessment, Solar array constraints, Stage ops assessment) have been designated to study the situation and develop a new EVA-4 timeline for alleviating the current structurally unsound SAW condition. Stbd SARJ meanwhile remains in Directed (fixed) Position, out of Autotrack." sneak Preview

Editor's note: The following is a sneak preview of the video channel. We are planning to debut in the next week or so for alpha testing. Stay tuned.



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