September 2008 Archives

NASA GSFC Solicitation: Development of a Pilot for a Public Television Show Highlighting the Goddard Space Flight Center

"NASA/GSFC has a requirement for the production and development of a pilot episode for a publicly aired television show highlighting the Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA/GSFC intends to purchase the items/service from Maryland Public Television (MPT), pursuant to FAR 13.106, for the acquisition of supplies or services determined to be reasonably available from only one source. MPT has previous experience with producing segments cooperatively with government agencies, including NASA."

Editor's 25 Sep note: Its amazing how Maryland Public Television is the only source - anywhere - that can do something like this. I wonder what the theme of this GSFC reality show will be? How will they pick the contestants? Will Barbara Mikulski make a guest appearance as a celebrity judge? How about self-promoting NASA Administrator candidate Ed Weiler? Maybe Marsha Ivins could be a creative consultant.

Editor's 30 Sep update: Modification: "This is a modification to the synopsis entitled "Development of a Pilot for a Public Television Show Highlighting the Goddard Space Flight Center" which was posted on 9/25/2008. You are notified that the following changes are made: This solicitation has been cancelled."

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

NASA @50

Has NASA Lost the Right Stuff?, AP

"The signs of a midlife crisis are there: A 50th birthday approaching; a longing for the glory days of youth; a hankering to dump the aging partner of 27 years; and a costly flirtation with a new young thing. This isn't some balding businessman in a sports car. It's NASA. The shuttle has kept NASA going to the same place over and over, circling the Earth 18,449 times since 1981. For much of that time, NASA's mission has been to build the international space station, a place to do research and to learn how to live in space.

NASA Gets Its Waiver

Statement by the President on H.R. 2638, the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009"

"Today I have signed into law H.R. 2638, the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009." The Act, consisting of five divisions, consolidates into a single Act several appropriations bills. It provides through emergency supplemental appropriations additional Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 resources needed for relief and recovery from hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, and other supplemental appropriations."

GAO: NASA Faces Challenges Defining Scope and Costs of Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement

"The total cost of SSP transition and retirement is not transparent in NASA's current budget request and is not expected to be reflected in its fiscal year 2010 budget request. This is due in part to delays in estimating costs, but also to where costs are being reflected. For example, although SSP's direct transition and retirement costs are identified in the SSP budget line, indirect costs related to environmental clean-up and restoration, maintenance of required real property facilities during the gap in human spaceflight, and demolition of excess facilities are not. In addition, NASA plans to offset some transition costs by utilizing an "exchange/sale" authority that allows executive agencies to exchange or sell non-excess, non-surplus personal property and apply the proceeds toward acquiring similar replacement property."

New KSC Center Director

Cabana to Succeed parsons as NASA Kennedy Space Center Director

"NASA announced Tuesday that William Parsons, director of the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is leaving the agency in mid-October to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Parsons will be succeeded by former astronaut Robert Cabana, currently director of NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Gene Goldman, Stennis' deputy director, will become the acting center director."

Space Adventures' Orbital Spaceflight Candidate, Charles Simonyi, Plans Spring 2009 Return Flight to the ISS

"Space Adventures, the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace, announced today that Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., intends to train with the Soyuz TMA-14 crew in preparation for a spring mission to the International Space Station (ISS)."Having a repeat orbital client demonstrates to the world that participating in a space mission is truly a magnificent and awe-inspiring experience. It is also an excellent example that the marketplace is even larger than previously anticipated because of the potential occurrence of clients who fly on multiple occasions," said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures. "We congratulate Charles on his continued commitment to commercial spaceflight. We look forward to assisting him in preparation for the spring 2009 mission."

Jules Verne Returns to Earth

Successful re-entry marks bright future for ATV

"Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Jules Verne successfully completed its six-month ISS logistics mission today with its controlled destructive re-entry over a completely uninhabited area of the South Pacific. Following a final deorbit burn at 14:58 CEST which slowed its velocity by 70 m/s, the ATV entered the upper atmosphere at an altitude of 120 km at 15:31 CEST."

Hubble Space Telescope Problem Delays STS-125 Launch

"Due to the significant Hubble Space Telescope malfunction that occurred over the weekend affecting the storage and transmittal of science data to Earth, NASA will evaluate the investigation results before fully determining the impact to launch of the STS-125 servicing mission. Under consideration is the possibility of flying a back-up replacement system as part of the payload, which could be installed during the servicing mission."

Hundreds Of Workers At NASA's Michoud Get Pink Slips, WDSU

"Hundreds of people received pink slips Monday at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans."

Hubble Issues Delay STS-125

NASA to Discuss Hubble Anomaly and Servicing Mission Launch Delay

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 6 p.m. EDT today to discuss a significant Hubble Space Telescope anomaly that occurred this weekend affecting the storage and transmittal of science data to Earth. Fixing the problem will delay next month's space shuttle Atlantis' Hubble servicing mission.

The malfunctioning system is Hubble's Control Unit/Science Data Formatter - Side A. Shortly after 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, the telescope's spacecraft computer issued commands to safe the payload computer and science instruments when errors were detected within the Science Data Formatter. An attempt to reset the formatter and obtain a dump of the payload computer's memory was unsuccessful."

()on Glory and Outreach

Send Your Name into Orbit with NASA , The Chosun Ilbo

"The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Sunday said the satellite Glory, which will be launched next year, will carry ordinary people's names into space, if they apply by typing in their personal information on the NASA website. They will be stored on the NASA database."

SpaceX Successfully Launches Falcon 1 to Orbit

"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announces that Flight 4 of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle has successfully launched and achieved Earth orbit.

With this key milestone, Falcon 1 becomes the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth. Source: Space Exploration Technologies Corp."

Video below

Shenzhou 7 Lands

China's spacewalk astronauts return as heroes, Reuters

"Three Chinese astronauts landed safely back on earth on Sunday after a 68-hour voyage and space walk that showcased the country's technological mastery and were hailed as a major victory by its leaders. Their Shenzhou ("sacred vessel") spacecraft parachuted down to the steppes of northern Inner Mongolia region at dusk. Doctors rushed to open the capsule and check the men as they readjusted to gravity and recovered from the punishing re-entry."

Congress Update

Congress Puts NASA Bill on Fast Track to the White House

"With unanimous support, the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 6063, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, authorizing programs at NASA for fiscal year 2009 (FY09)."

House Sends NASA Bill to President's Desk, Reaffirms Commitment to Balanced and Robust Space and Aeronautics Program

"The provision should not be construed as a congressional endorsement of extending the life of the Shuttle program beyond the additional flight added by this bill to deliver the AMS to the International Space Station," said Gordon. "Rather, it reflects our common belief that the decision of whether or not to extend the Shuttle past its planned 2010 retirement date should be left to the next President and Congress, especially since both of the Presidential candidates have asked for the flexibility to make that decision."

Two Bills Aim for the Skies, Washington Post

"As it prepares to adjourn, Congress is close to passing and sending to President Bush two bills aimed at keeping American astronauts flying to the international space station during a five-year gap when NASA will have no manned spacecraft of its own capable of reaching the $100 billion orbiting laboratory."

Senate Republicans block economic stimulus bill, AP

"The House plan seems more focused on spending that would have an immediate impact on job creation while the Senate measure contains a wish-list of items long-sought by members of the Appropriations Committee, including money to provide the U.S. Capitol police with new radios, accelerate NASA's development of a new space vehicle and move the Department of Homeland Security to a new headquarters."

Dice-K Sues Space Adventures

Wannabe Space Tourist Wants $21 Million Back Over Scuttled Mission, Wired

"The Japanese internet tycoon who paid $21 million to become the first space tourist to walk outside the International Space Station wants his money back. In a lawsuit, Daisuke Enomoto, 37, claims that Space Adventures, the private firm with connections to the Russian Federal Space Agency, "deceptively and fraudulently" induced him to pay $21 million for a 10-day orbital sojourn that never materialized."

Daisuke Enomoto
Why Dress Silly in Space? He's Rich - Therefore He Can., earlier post
Daisuke Enomoto Grounded, earlier post
Space Tourists Check Out Their Spacecraft, earlier post

Chinese Astronaut Completes EVA

Chinese Astronaut Makes Nation's First Spacewalk, NY Times

"A Chinese astronaut orbiting the earth slipped out of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft Saturday afternoon and performed the nation's first spacewalk, establishing another milestone in China's space program. Zhai Zhigang, a 41-year-old astronaut, pulled himself out of the orbiting module at 4:40 p.m. Beijing time, latched himself to a handrail, and then waved to a national audience during a live broadcast of the country's third manned space mission."

Video below

Editor's 27 Sep note: Mike Griffin has given Dave King 30 days to fix this problem. King has assigned people to fix or remove problems/people ASAP. Heads have already rolled. The phrase "clean house" has been used again and again over the last two days. Meanwhile, X-33 genius and Ares manager Steve Cook mysteriously remains in his current position.

Editor's 24 Sep update: NASA sources report that there are some red faces in Huntsville and that there is the obligatory witch hunt under way at MSFC to find guilty parties and to try and figure out how this information got outside of NASA. Suffice it to say that the way this post-PDR "survey" was done is laughable - and that this witch hunt will simply cause even more embarrassing information to surface. So Steve, instead of searching out the people who spoke the truth to you and wanted the world to hear it as well, perhaps you should take their comments to heart and fix a process that is most certainly dysfunctional.

Curious Timing

Scientist accused of bribery, aiding China, Daily Press

"An internationally recognized scientist based at the Applied Research Center in Newport News has been arrested and charged with violating federal arms controls by illegally exporting launch data to help China's space program."

U.S. man charged with exporting space data to China, Reuters

"A physicist from Virginia was arrested on Wednesday on charges of illegally exporting space launch technical data and services to China and offering bribes to Chinese government officials, the Justice Department said."

Virginia Physicist Arrested for Illegally Exporting Space Launch Data to China and Offering Bribes to Chinese Officials, Department of Justice

Joe Batis

Editor's note: Internal memo: "We are saddened to announce that Joe Batis, KSC USA IT Director, has passed away. Joe was battling cancer for the last several months. We in the IT community have known Joe for several years and will miss working with him. This is a tremendous lost to the USA, KSC and NASA IT communities. We extend our deepest condolences to Joe's family and USA team members."

IFPTE on NASA Appropriations

IFPTE Letter to Sen. Mikulski and Rep. Mollohan Regarding NASA Appropriations

"Over the last few years, NASA has been charged with a dramatic increase in its human spaceflight responsibilities from the President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) without a commensurate increase in its budget. When President Kennedy tasked NASA to build a new set of spacecrafts to get humans to the moon and back safely, he and Congress provided the appropriate resources: the equivalent of a $30 billion dollar annual budget (in inflation corrected dollars) during the years of Apollo design, testing, and development."

Live Space Talk Now Available 24/7 on NASA Web Site

"Conversations between astronauts aboard the International Space Station and flight controllers on the ground now are available for the public to hear live, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on NASA's Web site. The streaming audio of space-to-ground communications includes NASA commentary during specific station mission events and regularly scheduled space station commentary on NASA Television Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. Central time."

Challenger Center Links Students via Radio to the Space Station

"Richard Garriott, the next civilian to fly into space and son of NASA's Skylab Astronaut Owen Garriott, plans to talk to students through live amateur radio downlinks during his October flight to the International Space Station."

NASA Duck Flotilla Deployed

Baffin Island residents watch for rubber ducks in NASA study, CBC

"Fishing crews, pilots and residents of eastern Baffin Island are being asked to watch for rubber duckies -- not bobbing in their bathtubs, but drifting in the Davis Strait as part of a NASA study on climate change. Scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's jet propulsion laboratory have placed 90 rubber ducks in the Jakobshavn Glacier near Ilulissat in western Greenland. The researchers hope to track the toy ducks' journey away from the moving, melting glacier. They're asking for help from Nunavummiut, who they believe will eventually start seeing the ducks floating in Baffin Bay. "Just send us an e-mail with the subject 'Found rubber duck, please contact,' and we'd be very happy to get those," NASA researcher Alberto Behar told CBC News on Wednesday."

Spending Bill Would Resolve a Pressing NASA Concern, NY Times

"A little-noticed provision of a stopgap spending bill passed by the House on Wednesday could resolve one of the most pressing issues for the United States space program. The $630 billion measure, which is known as a continuing resolution, will put off major spending and energy decisions into next year if it is passed by the Senate. It keeps government agencies functioning at current funding levels, and includes additional appropriations for the Pentagon, hurricane relief, veterans health care and other projects."

Editor's note: Much of the lobbying process to get the CR passed was actually done so as to get votes lined up for the $700 billion bailout package. Members were allowed ot insert things with the understanding that they'd be favorable inclined toward the bailout package. So, if the NASA waiver was included in the CR then it was apparently important enough (politically) for at least one member to get it included so as to get their vote on the bail out in exchange. This demonstrates some level of real political importance for space. The question is: who got it inserted into the CR language?

Shenzhou-7 Launched

China's manned spacecraft Shenzhou-7 blasts off on space walk mission, Xinhua

"China launched its third manned spacecraft on Thursday with three astronauts on board to attempt the country's first-ever space walk. The spaceship Shenzhou-7 blasted off on a Long March II-F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern Gansu Province at 9:10 p.m. after a breathtaking countdown to another milestone on China's space journey."

Shenzhou 7 Coverage, ChinaView


Oops, article on China space launch jumps the gun

"An article describing China's long-awaited space mission was launched Thursday hours before astronauts even left the launch pad. The country's official news agency Xinhua posted an article on its Web site Thursday written as if the three astronauts had already been launched into space. The Xinhua article is dated Sept. 27 -- two days from now -- and comes complete with an entire dialogue between the astronauts."

Editor's note: NASA PAO often struggles to keep pace with events. But in China they have found a way to be days ahead of events. Can NASA PAO ever catch up with this latest Chinese accomplishment? Meanwhile, poor right wing Patti at the Examiner clearly has no sense of humor.

And Then There Were Three

Live video of launch (does not seem to work on Macs)

Space Inspires Passion And Practicality in China, Washington Post

"Space experts outside China are generally at a loss to describe how its various space programs -- manned and unmanned, civil and military -- are organized and overseen, except that the vast bulk of its efforts are under the direction of the People's Liberation Army. No official from China's space agencies or government-owned space companies would be interviewed for this article."

NASA wishes China success on launch of Shenzhou-7 mission, Xinhua

"NASA wishes China success on the launch of Shenzhou-7 and the safe return of its crew," a spokesman for the U.S. space agency told Xinhua on the eve of the mission. China has announced that the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft will lift off on Thursday night. This will be the third Chinese manned space mission, but the first time Chinese astronauts perform a spacewalk."

China's 1st Space Walk Mission a Step Toward the Moon?, National Geographic

"We intend to send astronauts to the moon and ultimately to build a lunar outpost," said Zhang Qingwei, who was until recently a leader of China's manned space program.

Wayne Hale does WaPo

NASA at 50 - Wayne Hale Deputy Associate Administrator, NASA, Thursday, September 25, 2008; 11:00 AM

"Wayne Hale, deputy associate administrator for NASA, and Washington Post staff writer Marc Kaufman will be online to discuss the future of NASA, as the U.S. space agency celebrates its 50th anniversary. Submit a question or comment now or during the discussion."

Editor's note: Interesting how NASA keeps saying that this is not a NASA event, yet the webcast was announced as "NASA's 50th Anniversary gala". Then NASM Director Jack Dailey mentioned the fact that "your" event was being held at the location because of the relationship between "NASA and the Smithsonian". No one from the AIAA has spoken yet. Instead, David Mould, NASA AA for Public Affairs is the master of ceremonies. Leon Harris then took the stage and thanked "the men and women of NASA". Still no mention of AIAA. Now a message from the ISS. All about NASA. No thank you to the AIAA.

Ah, now the AIAA finally speaks 10 minutes into the program.

John Glenn: "NASA - Happy Birthday - no one has said that yet tonight." Many of us pre-date NASA from the NACA days. Speaking of the way that NACA became NASA and how investments in basic R&D helped make America a leader in technology.

House Extends INKSNA Waiver

House Extends INKSNA Waiver

"Today, as part of the Continuing Resolution (CR), the U.S. House of Representatives extended the waiver to the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act from January 1, 2012 to July 1, 2016, which will allow NASA to continue to purchase needed ISS-related goods and services from the Russians and ensure that U.S. astronauts will continue to have access to the ISS after the current waiver expires.

The House passed the CR by a vote of 370 to 58."

NASA as Minderbinder? "It Takes a Nation to Build a Rocket", Orlando Sentinel

"The day the "It Takes a Nation to Build a Rocket" notice first went up earlier this month it was accompanied by 22 press releases targeted to different states, trumpeting that there were companies in their towns and cities working on Constellation's Ares I rocket. "It's blatant pandering," said one Washington space advocate when he saw the wave of releases. "Obviously they are worried the next president might not want to continue with the project and want to show that there are already many stakeholders."

NASA PAO Wants Everyone To Know Who Pays The Bills Back Home, earlier post

Security Problems at NASA

NASA OIG Final Report: [A NASA] Center's Security Program Needed Improvement

"The Office of Inspector General conducted this audit in response to a request from the Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, to investigate allegations received by his office of serious security concerns at a NASA Center. Our overall objective was to determine whether security services provided at the Center complied with NASA Security Program requirements, policies, and procedures. Our audit validated the overarching premise of the allegations. We found that the Center's security program was not in compliance with NASA Security Program requirements and that NASA Headquarters was not inspecting the Center's program, as required by NASA policy."

The President of Free Space, Part 3: Hope or Fear, Discovery News

"Silly me. When I embarked on this freelance journalism project to chase down strings of rationality in the race for the U.S. presidency, using the space program as my fishing reel, I made a bad assumption. I thought rationality MATTERED to all people. You know? Fact-gathering, logical reasoning, analysis, verification the processes of science? Please stop chuckling. I know I should have known better. So forget about the LOGICAL thing to do for NASA, let alone the country. I've realized what counts most in our society is a good story. We love drama. If it was our gross domestic product, we'd have so much money Sarah Palin would be writing us checks from the Treasury, just like they do with oil revenue in Alaska."

Editor's 12 Sep note: The organizers of this widely promoted event on 24 Sep. wherein Mike Griffin will be "addressing China's space program" asked me to remove mention of the Congressional Space Power Caucus Breakfast because "these events are limited to Members of Congress, their staff, other US Govt officials and representatives from companies that are either corporate supporters of the Space Foundation or NDIA. These events are not open to the public or media."

How can the NASA Administrator address such an important topic - to an exclusive, hand-picked audience - and have it be off the record? More importantly, how can the organizers schedule - or NASA PAO agree to allow Griffin to participate in - such an event one day before the expected launch of Shenzhou VII and expect no one to be allowed to report what Griffin thinks about China's space program?

Editor's 24 Sep Update: According to NASA AA for Legislative Affairs, Bill Bruner's twitter posting at 10:36 am EDT: "Just listened to NASA official talk about China building capability to exploit cislunar space -- while our lunar capability sits in museums."

Hmm, I wonder if this "NASA official" he is talking about is NASA Administrator Mike Griffin speaking at this morning's closed door breakfast briefing on China? Hmm, so is this the strategy, for NASA folks and other attendees to start being clever and "leaking" non-attributable commentary about "government officials" saying things off the record that they are afraid to say on the record? Gee, how Watergate of you, Bill.

Earlier posts:

Editor's note: Oh no, often-wrong Patti Phillips, the resident NASA apologist at the right wing Washington Examiner is all upset with me again.

Soyuz Waiver Update

NASA clears hurdle on Soyuz, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin on Tuesday won the approval of a key Senate committee in his battle to buy Russian spacecraft as a four-year replacement for the space shuttle. But the fight is far from over. And Griffin has less than two weeks to persuade the rest of Congress to allow the use of Soyuz spacecraft to take U.S. astronauts to the international space station after the space shuttle's planned retirement in 2010."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008, Business Meeting

S.3103: A bill to amend the Iran, North Korea, and Syria nonproliferation Act to allow certain extraordinary payments in connection with the International Space Station.

IFPTE on Obama Letter

IFPTE Letter to Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi Regarding Obama Letter on NASA

"The IFPTE greatly appreciates the strong leadership of Chairperson Barbara Mikulski (MD) and Chairman Alan Mollohan (WV) of the House and Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriation sub-committees, who have thoughtfully crafted bills that judiciously increase NASA's fiscal year 2009 (FY09) Appropriations above the inadequate levels in the President's proposed FY09 budget. Both bills enhance NASA's Science and Aeronautics Research programs while keeping NASA's human spaceflight programs on track, and protect and defend NASA's highly-skilled and dedicated technical workforce. Chairperson Mikulski and Chairman Mollohan have both done a terrific job under the challenging constraints imposed by severe fiscal pressures and by a veto-threatening President."

Beating Orion?

Web Entrepreneur Wants NASA to Use His Rockets, Discovery

"With a successful Falcon 1 mission, Musk plans to start lobbying for a follow-on contract to develop the Falcon 9-Dragon to transport space station crews. "We haven't pushed hard yet, even though I think it's like blindingly obvious as the thing to do because we're hoping to get to orbit and then on the back of getting to orbit and push hard ... because otherwise our detractors have too much ammunition," Musk said. "They'd say, 'How can you trust the future of the American space program to a company that hasn't gotten to orbit?' That's the obvious attack. So we hope to get to get to orbit and then they can't use that attack."

Editor's note: If the companies and those they invited really cared about NASA's future - enough to make a personal statement, they'd think twice about who they invite to something extra special like this. Instead, its another excuse for the 50-year-old inside the beltway crowd to have a party in an exclusive location. C'mon - you guys/gals get to do this all the time. Instead of yet another see and be seen event on the social calendar why not think outside the box?

The audience at this event should have been filled with those who made history, those who are making history, and those who will make future history. The number of 60-70 year old attendees should have been balanced with the same number of 5-15 year olds.

And NASA wonders why people cannot connect to it - and vice versa?

Editor's note: And in case you are wondering who the guests of the corporate sponsors of the NASA 50th Anniversary event are, the following is from a database that was used to print out badges for the event. Looks like quite an interesting crowd. But I wonder why NASA would have this information. Oh well, now you do too!

Editor's note: Have a look at the program for this event (below). For an event where NASA supposedly has no sponsorship or endorsement, this thing is bursting at the seams with overt NASA participation - speakers, downlink from space, etc. Look at the folks on NASA's invitation list (also below) who have confirmed that they will attend. All nice people to be certain - but not a single Griffin critic among them. I guess it is "thank you time" for Mike. Oh well. The museum (remember: the code word is "Chantilly") is a truly a spectacular place and everyone will have fun. Too bad NASA PAO cannot webcast the event such that the remaining 99.99% of the taxpaying public can hear and see what is going on.

Editor's update: I stand corrected. This event will be webcast - the media advisory just came out at 11:30 am EDT. This could have been issued some time ago (instead of 24 hrs in advance) - but that would have identified the undisclosed location ("Chantilly") with the risk that taxpayers might have shown up expecting to attend. That said, this is still a NASA-sponsored event no matter what the dislaimers say and attendance via NASA invitation is largely at Mike Griffin's personal discretion.

NASA 50th Anniversary Program Format
National Air and Space Museum
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway
Chantilly, VA 20151

Updated: September 19, 2008

5:30:00 p.m. Musical Rehearsal

7:00:00 p.m. Reception Begins

Obama On NASA Options

Obama Calls on Senate and House Leadership to Renew America's Commitment to NASA

"As Dr. Michael Griffin, the NASA administrator, said recently, "In a rational world, (NASA) would have been allowed to pick a Shuttle retirement date to be consistent with Ares/Orion availability, (NASA) would have been asked to deploy Ares/Orion as early as possible (rather than "not later than 2014") and we would have been provided the necessary budget to make it so" [NASA e-mail, 8/18/08]. Regrettably, the current administration has not behaved rationally and, with the Russian invasion of Georgia, NASA is now left with more limited options, all of them much worse than if the administration and their Republican allies in Congress had thought through the strategic consequences of these decisions five years ago."

SpaceX Falcon Flight Tuesday?

SpaceX Update: Flight 4 of Falcon 1

"As mentioned in my update last month, we do expect to conduct a launch countdown in late September - as scheduled. Having said that, it is still possible that we encounter an issue that needs to be investigated, which would delay launch until the next available window in late October. If preparations go smoothly, we will conduct a static fire on Saturday and launch sometime between Tuesday and Thursday (California time)."

Once More Unto the Breach

Senate to consider NASA request to buy Soyuz, Orlando Sentinel

"On Tuesday, Griffin faces a moment of truth. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is due to weigh his request against sentiment in Congress that Moscow, because of its recent invasion of the neighboring country of Georgia, cannot be trusted. It is very difficult for Congress to understand why we should continue a practice of depending upon agreements with the Russians when they are busy invading another country, Griffin conceded last week after a luncheon on Capitol Hill."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"Chairman: Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr."

Obama: Buy Soyuz if necessary but look at flying shuttle longer, Orlando Sentinel

"Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is now considering stopping NASA from retiring the shuttle in 2010 as well as looking to see if commercial companies can build new rockets to keep America in space independent of foreign countries. ... Obamas Republican rival, Sen. John McCain last month called on the White House to stop NASA from closing any more shuttle contracts just in case the next administration decided it wanted to fly more shuttle missions. Neither candidate appears to like the idea of buying more Soyuz from Moscow and depending on Russia for American access to the international space station."

Former NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Jay Honeycutt Announced As President of Odyssey Moon U.S. Operations

"Veteran U.S. Civil and Commercial Space executive Jay Honeycutt has been named President of Odyssey Moon Ventures LLC, responsible for all Odyssey Moon U.S. programs and commercial launch operations.

Odyssey Moon intends to develop and commercialize innovative technologies to offer frequent, low cost and reliable access to the lunar surface for private and government customers."

USA Vs ATK Ares Update

NASA contractors call truce, try to settle dispute over Ares rockets, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA contractors Alliant Techsystems and United Space Alliance declared a weeklong truce in their contract battle that threatens plans for the Constellation moon-rocket program. The truce means that USA workers will continue working on NASA's next-generation Ares rocket and its Ares I-X test model for seven more days while the companies try to resolve their dispute. "We are going to keep on doing what we have been doing," said USA spokeswoman Tracy Yeats."

Planet Definition Update

Scientists Debate Planet Definition and Agree to Disagree

"Two years ago the International Astronomical Union (IAU) elected to define the term planet, restricting it to the eight largest bodies orbiting the Sun, and deleting Pluto from the list. The demotion of Pluto sparked considerable public controversy. Numerous planetary scientists and astronomers protested the IAU's definition as not useful, while numerous other planetary scientists and astronomers supported the outcome."

Planet Debate Gets Greater, MSNBC

"So just how many planets are there in our solar system anyway? Eight? Nine? Thirteen? Or thousands? Far from settling the question, the "Great Planet Debate" has revealed just how complex and interesting the question is."

NASA Names Agency Security Office Assistant Administrator

"Jack L. Forsythe has been named NASA's assistant administrator of the Office of Security and Program Protection at Headquarters in Washington. He has been serving as the interim chief since earlier this year."

Saleeba Replaced as Head of NASA Security, earlier post

USA stops work on Ares I and Ares I-X rockets, Orlando Sentinel

"In a move that could upset NASA and its plans to hurry the Constellation moon rocket program, United Space Alliance, the main contractor at Kennedy Space Center, told its employees in a letter on Thursday that it will no longer be working on the Ares I rocket or Ares I-X test rocket from Sept 22."

ATK and USA declare a truce over Ares contract, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA contractors Alliant Techsystems, Inc., and United Space Alliance on Friday declared a week-long truce in what has become a nasty contract battle that threatened to upset NASAs plans for its Constellation moon rocket program.
The truce means that USA workers will continue working on NASA's next generation Ares rocket and its Ares I-X test model for seven more days while the companies try to resolve their dispute."

Editor's note: Microsoft is trying to fight back against all of those "I'm a Mac" advertisements on TV and the web. This video is one of those advertisements that just started to air. And look - there is astronaut Bernard Harris - but he is sitting in front of a 70's era shuttle cockpit full of CRT displays and ancient computers. What a fitting backdrop for a Microsoft Windows advertisement ... MS-DOS, anyone?"

My Word: America can do better than relying on Russia for our space program (Dave Weldon), Orlando Sentinel

"Sen. Bill Nelson, the Bush Administration, the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board and most in Congress are ready to do business as usual with the Russians, claiming we have no choice. I don't buy that argument, and I take strong issue when the Sentinel Editorial Board suggests I am not a supporter of the space program because I don't go along. The real difference is I believe America can do better and that the workers at KSC deserve better during this transition."

NASA chief says Congress must act to get Russian craft, USA Today

"The development of the shuttle's successor could be delayed if Congress, as expected, passes stopgap funding legislation for part of 2009 rather than a formal budget, Griffin said. The members of Congress he has spoken to understand the need, he said, but "I cannot predict an outcome." Congress will be in session for less than two weeks before adjourning in advance of the fall elections."

Editor's note: Ouch. These kids were not even born when this movie came out. Take note NASA - as to what inspires Gen Y. What would it take to get them to re-enact the Hubble Servicing Mission - or Scott Parazynski's ISS PV Array repair on STS-120?

Some Old Spacecraft Never Die

NASA's ISEE-3/ICE Spacecraft Is Still Operating After 30 Years in Space

Editor's note: I just got this note from Robert Farquhar: "At 2049 UTC on September 18, 2008, DSS-14 locked onto the carrier signal of the ISEE-3/ICE spacecraft. The remainder of the 3-hour track was then used to gather Doppler data for future use...

... Old spacecraft never die, and so far the former Flight Director has not expired either. Let's return ISEE-3/ICE to the halo orbit, and go on to another comet!"

Editor's note: This video " " ("Shenzhou seven simulation situations") about the upcoming Shenzhou 7 mission appeared on YouTube yesterday. Among other things it shows an animation of the EVA that will be performed. The EVA suits worn by the taikonauts in this video are clearly inspired by Russian Orlan suits.

Scientists to use satellites to count kangaroo rats, AP

"Scientists plan to use satellite photos to count Giant Kangaroo Rats, the first-ever monitoring of an endangered species from outer space. Scientists will examine images taken from the same satellite used by Israeli defense forces to find the circular patches of earth denuded by the rats as they gather food around their burrows."

Cost Estimates Used to Support the FY 2008 Budget Request for NASA's Constellation Program Could Have Been Better Documented

"We found that the CxP project managers' documentation did not include the level of detail called for in either NASA's Handbook or the GAO Cost Guide. With respect to the Handbook, the documentation provided by the CxP project managers did not provide sufficient information to allow an independent analyst to reproduce the estimates. The GAO Cost Guide states that the documentation should include source data and significance, clearly detailed calculations and results, and explanations of why particular methods and references were chosen. The Guide also states that the data in a well- documented cost estimate must be traceable to its source."

This Certainly Won't Help

Russia ratchets up US tensions with arms sales to Iran and Venezuela, Times Online

"Russia snubbed its nose at the United States today by announcing plans to sell military equipment to both Iran and Venezuela. The head of the state arms exporter said that Russia was negotiating to sell new anti-aircraft systems to Iran despite American objections."

JSC Is Reopening

NASA's Johnson Space Center To Reopen Monday After Ike

"NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston is scheduled to reopen Monday, Sept. 22, ending its closure related to Hurricane Ike. Johnson shut down Sept. 11 as Ike approached the Texas coast."

Reader note: "Another tidbit from JPL's Dilbert Institute of Management. See the first and last lines of the forwarded email I received this morning (emphasis is mine):

Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 05:55:42 -0500
Subject: 14 Day Warning Notice (PROD)

Please do not reply to this e-mail. Sender cannot receive e-mail

You initiated a JPL Affiliate Request Form for XXXXXXXXX on 09/04/2008.

14 days have passed and the Affiliate has not responded to the request to complete the Personal Information section of the form. If 14 additional days pass without action, the system will reject the form and you will be required to re-initiate the form after that point. If you have any questions regarding this notice, please contact your Organization Administrator or your Human Resources representative.

User ID:

If this request came to you in error, please reply to this e-mail to let us know

Presidential space debate closed to public, Orlando Sentinel

"The meeting is closed, definitely closed, and that is not going to change," said Alexis Allen, a spokeswoman for Aerospace Industries Association, a trade industry group. "I think there has been a lot of public debate and not every forum has to be a public event."

Editor's note: What is the AIA afraid of? An informed electorate?

Editor's note: A planned email outage due to an impending natural disaster is one thing. But having an email system for an entire government agency designed such that one part - inside one switch - is a single point failure for the whole system is inexcusable.

From: "Nomad-Outreach"
Date: September 17, 2008 10:00:52 AM EDT
Subject: ENMC Activity Affecting NOMAD - Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This notice is being sent to customers with a mailbox located at MSFC. ENMC Activity Affecting NOMAD Replace Defective Part in a Switch

Disruptive Civil Technologies Six Technologies with Potential Impacts on US out to 2025, National Intelligence Council

"To support the development of the National Intelligence Council's Global Trends 2025, SRI Consulting Business Intelligence (SRIC-BI) was asked to identify six potentially disruptive civil or dual use technologies that could emerge in the coming fifteen years (2025). A disruptive technology is defined as a technology with the potential to causes a noticeable-even if temporary- degradation or enhancement in one of the elements of US national power (geopolitical, military, economic, or social cohesion)."

China's Space Station

"God 10" launching space laboratory built (Google translation of article in Chinese)

"Ming Pao - the Jiuquan Satellite Launch CUI Ji-jun, director of the Center recently revealed that this year the launch of manned spacecraft "God 7", "God 8" and "God 9" will be unmanned spacecraft, "God 10" would be a set People spacecraft, launched after the craft and the docking target, after the completion of docking will create space laboratory."

Editor's note: "Shenzhou" translates as "God". This concept of a small modular space station is not exactly new. features a photo of some sort of Chinese space station and a history of its development. It would seem that Shenzhou 7 will leave its free-flying Orbital Module in orbit as has been the case recent flights. Then, over the next several years, two unmanned Shenzhou flights 8 and 9 will be launched and will dock with the Shenzhou 7 orbital module. After that Shenzhou 10 will be launched with a crew and dock with the mini-space station. This would be a human-tended facility - not one with permanent inhabitants.

Report offers advice to McCain, Obama on science and technology appointments, National Academy of Sciences

"The report recommends that the president and Senate accelerate the appointment process for S&T leadership to reduce the personal and financial burdens on nominees and to allow important positions to be filled swiftly. Congress and the Office of Government Ethics should simplify procedures aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest in appointees, which have become unduly complex over the years. And scientific and professional societies should more actively reach out to the president's science adviser and other senior administration leaders to provide input that broadens the pool of candidates for appointments."

We think: Rep. Weldon is hurting the space program by fighting the use of Russian spacecraft, editorial, Orlando Sentinel

"Mr. Weldon will retire from Congress this year after seven terms. Cutting off U.S. access to the space station would be an unfortunate legacy for him."

KSC's New Neighbor

Russia to help Cuba build space center, Reuters

"Moscow is ready to help Cuba develop its own space center, Russia's space agency chief said on Wednesday after talks in Caracas with Venezuelan and Cuban officials, Itar-Tass news agency reported. Russia has stepped up efforts to develop closer links with both countries, which are ideological enemies of Washington, including sending Russian strategic bombers on a mission to Venezuela this month."

Reader note: "I reviewed a presentation given by Professor Nilton O. Renno as part of the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences division at MIT's Department Lecture Series on September 10th. It was called "Physical and Thermodynamical Evidence of Deliquescence and Liquid Water on Mars." During this presentation many students and professors in the room asked Dr. Renno about the long delay for releasing the science data from the Phoenix lander mission. He responded that when NASA found out he was giving this talk they sent him a multitude of warning emails telling him of consequences if he revealed the embarrassing problems the science team have been having ... "

NASA JPL Internal Memo: New Non-productive Effort Requirement

"Recently, NASA requested that JPL track the time that our non-overtime eligible employees are absent from work for less than a full day (non-productive time) when such absences result in the employee working less than their regular weekly schedule. In support of this request, we needed to make a change to our current timekeeping requirements and allow non-overtime eligible employees to allocate their non-productive hours to a separate account. Time that is charged to non-productive effort will not decrement vacation and/or sick leave accruals."

Editor's note: This is defintely Dilbert material. You are asking employees to openly admit and document the amount of time that they were goofing off, daydreaming in the cafeteria, doing something other than what they were supposed to be doing, just not present, or reading NASA Watch. Gee, I wonder how accurate this latest accounting master stroke will be.

Editor's note: According to a confusing article online at the Washington Examiner: "The cooling system was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope during the STS-95 mission in 1998. That mission, flown by Space Shuttle Discovery, is perhaps best remembered as John Glenn's return to space. The NICMOS cooling system upgrade was intended to provide a longer life than the previous dewar cooling system."

There is one small problem with this story (written by a former NASA PAO employee): STS-95 never visited Hubble. As such, I am not certain how John Glenn or anyone else who was aboard for that mission could have performed any upgrades to Hubble.

Editor's update: They fixed the error - this is what it used to say.

Back To Basic Principles

Speech by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin: Seeking the Right Stuff

"I believe it is necessary for us - all of us - to take the time to discuss openly the founding principles that led us our nation to embrace space exploration fifty years ago, when it mattered to the whole nation that we overcome our slow start and become the world's preeminent spacefaring nation. We need to reverse the alarming trends in our nation's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. While the vast majority of our nation's workforce is neither scientists nor engineers, the four percent who are create most of the goods and services, solve real-world problems, and produce new discoveries and insights about our planet and our universe."

Editor's note: Whenever a large government project is in trouble, the agency that depends on its continued funding usually employs a standard set of tricks to remind people how important the project is - while also making it clear that lots of jobs ($$$) are associated with the project as well. A classic aerospace company approach is to make certain that they track every Congressional district wherein a company works on a piece of the program - no matter how small. And when threats appear on the horizon, they remind the folks back home where the bacon (pork) comes from - and how many jobs could be in peril if something were to happen to the program.

Today I got 21 press releases from MSFC in rapid fire succession. You can see them all here. These releases are virtually identical - except that each one is tailored to an individual state and the specific companies that are working on the Ares 1 program in that state - including the monetary value of the work.

Of course, you want everyone to feel patriotic about what this project does, so you make certain to interject some feel good language such as Steve Cook's line "It takes a nation to build a rocket," Cook added. "And this is the rocket that will inspire our nation." Alas, whether intentional or not, Steve borrowed the first half of the line from the title of Hillary Clinton's book "It Takes a Village" which itself was supposedly inspired by an African proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child".

As for the "rocket inspiring a nation" phrase, I am not certain about that Steve. Given the steady series of delays, engineering problems, and cost overruns it has encountered in its development - and the fact that its delays are fueling a heated political debate about the Shuttle and Russia - I am not certain I'd be holding it up as a source of inspiration. Frustration, perhaps, but it has a long way to go before it can start inspiring people.

NASA Selects Mission to Study Mars Atmosphere

NASA awards $485M Mars project delayed by conflict, AP

"NASA chose a University of Colorado proposal for a $485 million Mars mission on Monday after a nine-month delay caused by a conflict of interest in the selection process. The delay cost the space agency time, money and science. The price of the probe increased by $10 million, its launch was postponed by two years, and the science-gathering mission will be cut in half to one year, an official said."

Astrobiology Update

Leadership change for NASA Astrobiology

"Dr. Mary A. Voytek, a microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, VA, takes charge of NASA's Astrobiology Program effective September 15 as Interim Senior Scientist for Astrobiology in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA HQ."

Mon 9/15 Status IT Services (Jonathan Pettus, CIO)

"Per the Agency contingency plan, the host servers located at JSC, which service JSC, GRC, DFRC and NSSC were taken off line through an orderly shut down on Friday night. Critical users and senior executives were migrated to back up systems, but non-critical users were without e-mail. The full system came back up last night. If that had not been possible, the non-critical users would have gone to the next level of contingency, which would have allowed new e-mails to be sent and received, but no access to past messages. FY09 funding has been set aside to move those servers to a less risky location, as well as to upgrade to a version of Microsoft Outlook that permits easier migration in future."

Editor's note: But Jonathan, why did you allow this situation to happen in the first place? Let's see how many years it will take for the servers to be "moved" given that internal politics prevented this from being done in the first place? But you do not need to "move" servers to solve this problem. You need to be able to back up and/or transfer their functionality to other locations when the need arises - just like companies do in the real world. As such, you might consider hiring a few IT professionals from the real world to advise you on things like this. Then again, this is really about petty NASA politics - and NASA's chronic inability to rise above them.

JSC Remains Closed

NASA's Johnson Space Remains Closed After Hurricane Ike

"NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston remains closed and likely will be limited to recovery operations for the next week. Johnson may not be open for normal operations until the week of Sept. 21."

First Picture of Likely Planet around a Sun-like Star

"Scientists used the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai'i to take images of the young star 1RXS J160929.1-210524 (which lies about 500 light-years from Earth) and a candidate companion of that star.

They also obtained spectra to confirm the nature of the companion, which has a mass about 8 times that of Jupiter, and lies roughly 330 times the Earth-Sun distance away from its star. The parent star is similar in mass to the Sun, but is much younger."

Key Step to Space-Based Solar Power Achieved

"During the week of May 5-9, 2008, a key step on the path to Space-Based Solar Power was achieved: a "first-of-a-kind" long-range demonstration of solar-powered wireless power transmission using a solid-state phased array transmitter located on the U.S. island of Maui (on Haleakala) and receivers located on the island of Hawai'i (Mauna Loa) and airborne. The demonstration, achieved by Managed Energy Technologies LLC of the U.S. and sponsored by Discovery Communications, Inc., involved the transmission of RF energy over a distance of up to 148 kilometers (about 90 miles): almost 100-times further than a major 1970s power transmission performed by NASA in the Mojave Desert in California."

McCain and Obama on Science

McCain, Obama Weigh in on Science

"Entering the debate on several contentious science issues, John McCain today answered the "14 top science questions facing America," according to, the group leading an effort to make science issues a larger part of the election. His answers join those of Barack Obama, who answered the same questions two weeks ago. Recent national polls have shown that 85% of voters would like the see the candidates debate these challenges, and the majority of voters are much more likely to vote for a candidate that has a plan for tackling these issues."

Email Services Restored at Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Date: Sunday, September 14, 2008
Time: 7:45 p.m. Eastern / 6:45 p.m. Central / 4:45 p.m. Pacific
Customers Affected: Customers with email and/or Blackberry accounts hosted at JSC. The specific centers impacted include primarily JSC, NSSC, WSTF, GRC, and DFRC.
Systems Affected: NOMAD

NASA NOMAD: Email Services Being Stopped at Johnson Space Center (JSC)

"Email, Calendaring, and Outlook Web Access (OWA) services will be stopped today in preparation for hurricane IKE for all customers located on the JSC servers. Customers located primarily at the following centers will be not be able to send or receive email messages.

1. Glenn Research Center (GRC)
2. White Sands Test Facility (WSTF)
3. Johnson Space Center (JSC)
4. NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC)
5. Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC)

If you attempt to send messages to impacted customers, located primarily at the above Centers, your message will not be delivered until the email services are restarted."

Editor's note: I had to re-read this message several times to make sure that I understood the sheer idiocy it contains. Whoever designed this IT infrastructure for NASA should be fired. A month ago a power outage at Redstone Arsenal caused a NOMAD shut down. I thought that was a dumb IT set up. Well, now we learn that some genius decided to make the NASA NOMAD email system zero fault tolerant for natural disasters - and place email serves in a hurricane prone location - with no back up.

Here is how it seems to work: a hurricane threatens JSC - so NASA shuts off email and other services to a large chunk of the agency. Why? Because NASA deliberately set the system up such that other NASA centers - some of which are thousands of miles away and poised to offer assistance and keep the rest of the agency operating - have their email and other services routed out of JSC - and only JSC (or so it would seem). A few critical users have some service, but everyone else is out of luck for at least 48 hours. Would any self-respecting, profitable, commercial communications company do something as silly as this? No. They'd never stay in business. Only NASA would come up with such a flawed and stupid plan.

It looks like NASA learned nothing from either Katrina or 9-11.

Patsy Douglass Webb

Patsy Douglass Webb, age 96, widow of James E. Webb, who led NASA during the Apollo Lunar Program of the 1960s, died August 2 at her home in Oakland, CA.

ISS makes Oobject,

Have a look at lego like modular gadgets on the the uber trendy Oobject: A Curative Creation. The #2 item featured is "The ultimate modular gadget, the ISS". The ISS is positioned between #1 the up and coming BUGbase series of modular electronic and computing components and #3 "M-TRAN (Modular Transformer) self configuring robot".

So I guess the Gen Y-ish editors of this website think that the ISS is relevant and hip, yes?

NASA's Star Is Fading, Its Chief Says, Washington Post

"The heavy OMB edits of Griffin's comments on China were made in March after Griffin appeared before the House Science and Technology Committee and was asked to supply additional information. A copy of Griffin's comments with the OMB's changes and deletions, obtained by The Washington Post, shows that the version ultimately sent to Congress lost much of Griffin's sense of urgency, including his assessment of what a Chinese moon landing would mean to perceptions about the United States. ... The senior NASA official said the deleted comments about China's space ambitions would have increased pressure on the administration to speed up and better fund construction of the new spacecraft."

Editor's note: Hmm, maybe that is why Griffin chose this exclusive off the record briefing on China for Congressional folks and those who pay hefty dues to trade organizations (see Mike Griffin's Exclusive Off The Record China Briefing). I wonder if OMB's Paul Shawcross (or one of his staff) will be there?

Why is the White House afraid to let Griffin speak publicly? Why is Griffin afraid/unable to do so? Oh yes, Griffin has often been told by the White House to stay out of the Washington Post, NY Times, etc. But wait: leaked memos, "senior NASA officials" speaking under conditions of anonymity? Hmm, that's the same inside the beltway code language and games that the White House usually uses to float trial balloons and instill a growing sense of dissent - while denying any active participation. Everyone is talking past everyone else. No one takes an open stance any more.

How much more dysfunctional can this whole situation become?

Ike Attacks Houston

NASA's Hurricane pageAdvisory, NOAA
Track, NOAA
JSC Center Status
Twitter feeds to follow: hurricaneike, TrackingIke, chronsciguy, and chronhurricane
Tide Info, NOAA [Tide Levels at Clear Lake]
Map of surge projections - flooded areas, WS Journal
Houston storm damage map, Houston Chronicle
Watch Channel 13 TV live on the web
Damage: Hangars gone for NASA's SuperGuppy (formerly at Ellington) and T-38's (training jets for astronauts), Houston Chronicle
Downed limbs, leaky roofs at NASA, Houston Chronicle

The ISS: Who needs it?, Moscow News

"The United States, which has been skeptical about it, has suddenly developed an interest, especially in how its crews are to be taken to the station after its Space Shuttle program winds up in 2010. Unfortunately, the renewed American interest in the ISS is neither because of concern for the station's future, nor because of the coming anniversary. The cause was provided by the Caucasian crisis. And had it not happened, American participation in the program would have ended quietly, despite all assurances to the contrary."

Weldon Says Russian Waiver Means Pink Slips for KSC

"Today, Congressman Dave Weldon (FL-15) denounced the efforts by Senator Bill Nelson and others to obtain a waiver of the Iran Nonproliferation Act for NASA. This waiver would allow the U.S. to purchase the Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft and force the U.S. to rely on Russia over the next five to seven years to transport American astronauts in space to reach the U.S.-led International Space Station."

Editor's 11 Sep note: I guess this guy is about to lose his job at KSC. Too bad - he clearly loves it and he seems to do excellent work. This is a truly novel approach to try and save one's job. I would urge others to follow.

NASA and Congressional leaders might be a little more reluctant to fire people if they had to look into their eyes and hear their story.

Editor's update: When I posted this item 21 hours ago the video had been viewed 215 times. At this moment that count is up to 1,398. Y'all need to start making more videos. The more voices that are heard, the stronger the collective message will be.

Editor's update: After 24 hours it is now up to 1,797 views.

Video below.

Why NASA Needs Soyuz

NASA Talking Points: The Urgency of NASA's Need for Legislation to Continue to Purchase Soyuz Crew Vehicles From Russia (Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel)

"NASA needs Congress to provide legislative extension allowing purchase of Russian Soyuz crew vehicles to support astronauts on the International Space Station by October 2008 or else NASA will have no choice but to de-crew all U.S. astronauts from the International Space Station in 2012. ...

... If Congress does not extend NASA's legislative exemption to allow the purchase of Russian Soyuz crew services, the result will be to damage the United States' collaboration with our international partners on the International Space Station, effectively ceding control of this $50 Billion investment (cost through 2010) to Russia..."

NASA: Shuttle won't solve space station problem, Russia will, Orlando Sentinel

"Even before NASA finishes its study into the possibility of flying the space shuttle beyond its scheduled retirement in 2010, top agency officials have concluded that extending the life of the orbiter fleet wont solve the problem of keeping the international space station operable for U.S. astronauts."

Ike Affects ISS Ops

International Space Station Imagery: Hurricane Ike

"This picture of Hurricane Ike from earlier today was downlinked by the crew of the International Space Station, flying 220 statute miles above Earth."

Hurricane Ike Impact Felt In Space

"Hurricane Ike has delayed the scheduled Friday arrival of a Russian Progress cargo ship at the International Space Station 220 miles above Earth."

NASA Internal Email: NOMAD Outage Caused by IdMAX Processing

"The Agency NASA Operational Messaging and Directory Service (NOMAD) experienced a problem as a result of a data update to Active Directory (structure used to construct the address book) caused by IdMAX processing. The address was removed from the Active Directory for approximately 3,400 NOMAD user accounts. During this outage, the 3,400 impacted users did not have access to their email client, Outlook Web Access (OWA), Instant Messaging, and their handheld mobile device (BlackBerry, Treo and Windows Mobile Devices)."

The Best Places to Launch a Career, Business Week

"To lure and keep young talent when cash is tight, companies of all stripes are appealing to Gen Yers' ambitions for speedy advancement - and their desire to do good while doing well."

Best Places to Launch a Career 2008, Business Week


GAO: NASA Workforce: Briefing on National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Use of Term Appointments

"Since receiving its expanded human capital flexibilities, NASA has steadily increased its use of term appointments when hiring new employees. Subsequently, NASA has increased the number of conversions from term to career or career-conditional appointments. From 2003 through 2007, the majority of employees who separated from NASA voluntarily retired. Less than 1 percent separated because the employee's appointment expired. NASA's goal is to evolve to a science and engineering workforce that at a minimum is comprised of 15 percent term/temporary appointments by 2013. However, NASA centers are given the option to use term appointments for other positions."

11 September 2001: Bad news from Earth, SpaceRef

"The news from Earth that morning wasn't good. Frank Culbertson would soon find that some of the day's pre-planned routine would be altered.

As soon as he was told of the attacks, Culbertson checked to see when they would be passing over the east coast of the U.S. Discovering that this was only some minutes away, Culbertson grabbed a camera. The window in Mikhail Tyurin's cabin turned out to be the one with the best view."

Larger image of Ground Zero from the ISS

Beyond The Pole

"The first carbon neutral, organic - and vegetarian expedition ever to attempt the North Pole ...."


Ares PDR Telecon Notes

Ares I PDR Board Pre-Board Findings September 10, 2008

Editor's note: Steve Cook stated that dealing with thrust oscillation would be handled by Ares side of the interface and that Orion would not be asked to isolate crew couches from vibration. However, Cook said that this crew couch isolation option would still be held as a "back-up to a back-up" in case it needed to be considered at a later date. When asked what sort of manager's weight reserve was being held against Orion in case seat isolation was required, Jeff Hanley said it was on the order of 2,000 - 3,000 pounds of performance. However, Steve Cook said that Ares was bookeeping a weight impact for crew couch isolation of only several hundred pounds.

When I asked a clarification follow-up about the differing weights, Steve Cook said "If we had to put in seat isolation we'd have to use several hundred pounds of that 2,000 - 3,000 performance reserve that Jeff is holding to put the additional weight into orbit."

Dodd Calls for Fairness in New NASA Space Suit Competition

"Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) recently sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Michael Griffin expressing concern about how the recent competition for the new Constellation Space Suit System was executed. The competition resulted in NASA awarding the new contract to Oceaneering International, a firm that specializes in deep sea diving suits, instead of Connecticut-based Hamilton Sundstrand, the company that has manufactured America's space suits for more than 40 years. This decision has since been withdrawn by NASA due to concerns voiced by the NASA Inspector General and a protest filed by Hamilton Sundstrand with the Government Accountability Office (GAO)."

Interesting Hubble Discovery

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4691

NICMOS Confirmation of an Extrasolar Panet Candidate Directly Detected with ACS

With ACS/HRC coronagraphy, we have achieved the direct detection of a planet candidate in F606W and F814W around a bright nearby star with a debris belt. The planet candidate lies 18 astronomical units interior to the dust belt and we detect counterclockwise orbital motion in observations separated by 1.75 years. The candidate has mass no greater than three Jupiter masses based on an analysis of its luminosity and the dynamical argument that a significantly more massive object would disrupt the dust belt.

Ares PDR Update

Ares I PDR Board Pre-Board Findings September 10, 2008

"Pre Board Recommendation: The Ares I Project has demonstrated readiness to proceed to detailed design*

* Upon completion of delta PDR and assigned actions"

NASA To Brief Media About Completion Of Ares I Rocket Design Review

"NASA will host a teleconference Wednesday, Sept. 10, no earlier than 6 p.m. EDT, to discuss the conclusion of the Ares I rocket preliminary design review. The review, conducted at NASA's Marshall Center Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., examines the current design for the Ares I rocket to ensure the planned technical approach will meet NASA's requirements for the fully integrated vehicle. The Ares I rocket will launch the Orion crew exploration vehicle and its crew of astronauts to the International Space Station and on missions to explore the moon and beyond in coming decades."

Editor's 8 Sep note: Word has it that the preferred option to deal with Thrust Oscillation issues is "Option 2" which would use an isolation plane at FS/US, passive TMAs in the aft skirt, and crew seat isolation from vibrations. However, the crew seat isolation will not be incorporated into the design of Ares at this point. This decision was made so as to allow the Ares PDR to be completed with full knowledge of the potential impacts to Orion and Ares. Once a solution to the crew isolation issue is decided it will be added via a Change Request and its impact upon Ares design will be worked via a Delta-PDR.

Space-Based Solar Power Breakthrough to Be Announced

"Space solar power could be a clean, renewable solution to America's long-term energy needs. John C. Mankins, former manager of NASA's Exploration Systems Research and Technology Program, and one of the foremost experts on space solar power, will announce on Friday a milestone demonstration of the critical technology enabling SSP: long-distance, solar-powered wireless power transmission. The project demonstrated wireless power transmission between two Hawaiian islands 148 kilometers apart, more than the distance from the surface of Earth to the boundary of space."

SpaceX Gets USAF License

SpaceX Receives USAF Operational License for Cape Canaveral Launch Site

"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has been granted an Operational License by the US Air Force for the use of Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Florida coast. Receipt of the license, in conjunction with the approved Site Plan, paves the way for SpaceX to initiate Falcon 9 launch operations later this year. "We are developing Falcon 9 to be a valuable asset to the American space launch fleet," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "The support we received from General Helms and the US Air Force has been immensely helpful in developing the pathfinder processes necessary for SpaceX to realize commercial space flights from the Cape."

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards Launch Nationwide

"The Conrad Foundation announces the launch of their 2008 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards. Teams of high school students across the nation are invited to compete in this innovative program. The competition engages high school students in creating commercial products using science and technology. Students design products in personal space flight, lunar exploration and renewable energy. NASA's call for a human return to the moon and the increased interest in space transportation are the foundation of this year's Conrad Award aerospace challenges. In addition, students will answer Al Gore's energy challenge to America, by using renewable energy to change everyday life."

Editor's note: According to the NASA TV schedule: "September 12, Friday: 11 a.m. - NASA Update with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin - HQ (Public Channel)"

Editor's update: "NASA Update with the Administrator - Friday, Sept. 12

Administrator Michael Griffin will host a NASA Update on Friday, Sept. 12, at 11 a.m. EDT. The program will be broadcast live from the NASA Headquarters auditorium. NASA employees are invited to view the broadcast on NASA TV or the Web.

During the program, employees will be able to ask questions from NASA Headquarters and participating NASA centers. If you cannot ask your question during the program, you may send it by e-mail to

Please join the administrator for this important NASA Update on Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. EDT."

Griffin claims there is a 'jihad' against the Space Shuttle, Nature

"In other words: stopping flying the Shuttle before its replacement is ready is a bonehead move. Griffin even goes on to claim that "retiring the Shuttle is a jihad rather than an engineering and program management decision" for the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget. If he was that angry before the email leaked he must be apoplectic now his private thoughts are all over the internet..."

Nelson, Griffin to huddle Thursday, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin is set to pow-wow with one of his biggest congressional allies on Thursday, but U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., likely has little good news to share. Griffin and NASA need Congress to pass two measures this fall to help the agency, but Congress likely does not have the time to aid NASA -- as congressional leaders do not expect to be in session longer than a few weeks so that members can return to the campaign trail."

NASA chief says he backs 2010 shuttle retirement, Houston Chornicle

"In a brief statement on Sunday, Griffin did not refute the newspaper's account, and chief NASA spokesman David Mould authenticated the e-mail. However, Griffin complained the reporting failed to "provide the contextual framework for my remarks," which was an internal agency discussion over the implications of the Russian military's invasion of neighboring Georgia."

NASA To Hold Briefing About Lunar Exploration Concepts And Plans

Editor's note: I followed the weblink in this press release and registered for this event to make certain that I would get a seat. To my surprise I got the following confirmation email (below). I never asked for access to theLunar Design Analysis Cycle data! I just registered for a meeting - or so I thought. Nor does the press release or the website make any mention of citizenship or export issues - yet apparently that is an issue - otherwise why would they be checking to see if I am a U.S. citizen? And when I try to go to the web link they sent me for export control issues, I discover that it is behind a firewall and I cannot get in.

"Last week New Horizons kicked off its annual checkout, a busy three monthsthat will include system checks, instrument workouts, software uploads and other activities. Follow the progress of the "ACO" on the New HorizonsTwitter site."

New NASA Space Experiment Rack To Undergo Flight Tests

"A new space experiment rack under development by NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and Space Florida will undergo initial tests this week. The rack will fly aboard NASA's first commercially-provided research flights on Zero Gravity Corporation's reduced gravity aircraft.

Flight testing of the FASTRACK Space Experiment Platform will be performed on four consecutive days between September 9-12 from Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston."

Editor's note: Some of you may recall my posting on 11 March 2005 that Mike Griffin was going to be the next Administrator of NASA. In that posting I recalled an action taken by Griffin during the Space Station Freedom redesign activity - one I described as having "demonstrated personal integrity - and did so in a public way that was rather career adverse." At the time, a common NASA phrase for such an action was to say that someone "fell on their sword".

For the first time on NASA Watch, here is the letter that Griffin wrote that more or less encapsulated that action - and also sank his immediate future at NASA at the same time.

To his credit, Mike Griffin has taken rather bold and blunt stances before. Motives aside, is he doing that again? And if so, isn't it curious that both actions were due to threats to the space station - something that is not Mike Griffin's favorite NASA project?

Editor's note: Alas, the gathering consensus amongst the cyberpundits (with absolutely no data whatsoever to base this on, mind you) is that Mike Griffin either leaked this memo - or (much more likely) looked the other way as it "found" its way to a much broader, more receptive distribution. The thought being that he knows that his days at NASA may well be numbered and that he has nothing to lose except his own credibility and that he needs to look out for the agency's future.

There is a bit of logic to this gossip. Look at the initial distribution list of this memo. Everyone on that list is a solid professional and they are pretty tight with Mike Griffin. As such, I really doubt that something so easily traceable back to such a very small group would get out - unless Griffin wanted it to.

If this is indeed what is going on (again, I have zero proof) then it is a bit of a departure for Griffin since he tends to try and keep things like this inside the family. Given that Griffin self-described himself as "Spock" early in his tenure, I started wondering about his motives now. What will Spock do? Hmmm ... what would Jim Kirk do? Have a look at this iconic video [below] from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

Is Mike Griffin trying to change the rules?

Statement of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin on Aug. 18 Email

Internal NASA email from NASA Administrator Griffin regarding Space Shuttle, ISS, Russia, Ares, Orion, OSTP, OMB and Budgetary Issues

"Exactly as I predicted, events have unfolded in a way that makes it clear how unwise it was for he US to adopt a policy of deliberate dependance upon another power for access to ISS. In a rational world, we would have been allowed to pick a Shuttle retirement date to be consistent with Ares/Orion availability, we would have been asked to deploy Ares/Orion as early as possible (rather than "not later than 2014") and we would have been provided the necessary budget to make it so. I realize that no one on this distribution disagrees with me on this point, I'm just saying it again, that's all.

The rational approach didn't happen, primarily because for OSTP and OMB, retiring the Shuttle is a jihad rather than an engineering and program management decision. Further, they actively do not want the ISS to be sustained, and have done everything possible to ensure that it would not be. They were always "okay" with buying Soyuz/Progress, and if it didn't happen, well, that was okay too. You will recall they didn't want us to brink up the need for another INKSNA exemption during budget hearings this year. I disobeyed their wishes in doing so, because we knew that we needed to get this on the table in '08."

Frustrated NASA chief vents about agency's fate, Orlando Sentinel

"In a remarkably candid internal e-mail to top advisers obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, Griffin lashed out last month at the White House for what he called a "jihad" to shut down the space shuttle, expressed frustration at the lack of funding for a new moon rocket - and despaired about the future of America's human space flight program."

View Griffin's email, Orlando Sentinel

Editor's note: Gee Mike, you are just figuring this out -- only now?

In the past few days PAO has been selectively picking out some reporters - but not others (guess who) so as to allow Griffin to be able to respond with provocative answers - if the reporters just happen to ask the right provocative questions. It would seem that word has finally gotten to Griffin that neither the Obama or McCain camps are at all interested in keeping him on after the election - other than to keep the seat warm for a few months.

According to NASA sources, in these email missives Griffin is blaming OSTP and OMB for their campaign ("jihad") against the shuttle and the ISS so as to force his hand in cutting ISS capability off by not delivering things such as AMS, Node 3, and needed logistics and utilization flights. Griffin sees this pressure as being focused upon meeting what he now sees as an artificially imposed 2010 retirement date.

When the VSE was announced in early 2004, before the shuttle had returned to flight, no one new how long that gap would be. 2010 was a best guess as to when the ISS would be finished once the shuttle resumed flying. ISS completion drove the 2010 guesstimate date - not the other way around. When Sean O'Keefe left NASA, and OMB/OSTP staffers re-asserted themeselves (OMB's career civil servant employee Paul Shawcross being the prime Shuttle-hater) 2010 went from being a best guess to an absolute line drawn in the sand.

In these emails, Griffin also goes on to say that he predicted the mess that Russia has now created (Georgia, INKSA etc.) but that OSTP and OMB ignored him when he raised this possibility.

KSC Folks: Call Paul Shawcross, earlier post

White House Memo Calls For Slashing Remaining Space Shuttle Flights, earlier post

New WiFi System on ISS

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 6 September 2008

"After transitioning the JSL (Joint Station LAN) network to the new Netgear wireless APs (Access Points, WAPs) which provide the ISS with WiFi (wireless+Ethernet) connectivity, Gregory today repeated functionality tests, abandoned earlier this week, in three Kibo JPM (JEM Pressurized Module) locations from the wireless SSC -11 laptop, and later also in the COL (Columbus Orbital Laboratory). Afterwards switching to "Proxim" APs, the new WiFi "Dolphin" BCRs (Barcode Readers) were also tested."

NASA OIG: Final Memorandum on the Review of Rocket Segment Handling

"The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review of the reporting procedures used by Alliant Techsystems, Inc. (ATK) for a rocket segment handling incident. We initiated this review in response to a complaint alleging that personnel at ATK did not follow proper reporting procedures subsequent to an incident involving the handling and movement of a rocket segment at ATK's Component Refurbishment Center in Clearfield, Utah. Specifically, the complainant alleged that ..."

Use Google Earth To Track All Satellites, On Orbit

According to a post on Slashdot: USSTRATCOM tracks and publishes a list of over 13,000 objects that they currently monitor, including active/retired satellites and debris.

This data is meaningless to most people, but thanks to Analytical Graphics, it has now been made accessible free of charge to anyone with a copy of Google Earth.

NASA may extend shuttle use to 2015, Houston Chronicle

"Q: You recently asked for a study looking at how to extend the shuttle program. Why?

A: First, let me correct your assumption. I am not looking to extend flying the shuttle. I am looking at what it would take if we were asked to keep flying to support the space station. ... About five minutes after I heard the news of the Russian invasion of Georgia, I became concerned that our policy of depending upon them for crew transport might be in jeopardy."

Editor's note: This answer from Mike Griffin really confuses me. If Griffin says "I am not looking to extend flying the space shuttle" and then says "I am looking at what it would take if we were asked to keep flying to support the space station."

How is "keep flying" not the same as "extend flying"? And either way, doesn't this require shuttle flights after 2010 - i.e. to "extend" its operations past the White House direction that flights stop in 2010? Also, the cost of maintaining the standing army (workforce) needed for 1 or 2 or 3 - or 4 shuttle flights is not that different. But it does mean billions of dollars that will need to be spent - billions NASA does not have in its budget if it is also going to be expected to fix/build Ares and Orion. Either way the distinction between these two phrases is all but moot.

Challenger Center launches Christa McAuliffe's Lost Lessons from Space

"Challenger Center for Space Science Education is pleased to announce that Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe's original lessons are now available for teachers on the Challenger Center website. The lessons feature links to videos of Christa McAuliffe and her back-up NASA Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan performing them on Earth and in ZeroG, and include step-by-step instructions for teachers to use the activities in the classroom with students. Using these activities, teachers can replicate that which Christa would have shared from orbit."

Shuttle Launch Dates Slipped

NASA Changes 2008 Shuttle Target Launch Dates, Schedules TCDT

"NASA has adjusted the target launch dates for the two remaining space shuttle missions in 2008. Shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope is targeted for Oct. 10, while Endeavour's STS-126 supply mission to the International Space Station has moved to Nov. 12. Shuttle managers made the decision after Atlantis was rolled to the launch pad and the effects of Tropical Storm Hanna were beyond NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That allowed managers to more accurately assess the impacts of recent tropical systems on the launch schedule."

Griffin not optimistic about new deal to buy Soyuz rides, Spaceflightnow

"My own guess is at this point we're going to have some period in 2012 where there's no American or international partner crew on station, that there's only the Russians there," he said. "That period always ends three years from when we have a contract with the Russians. So if we can get through all this by June of next year and have a contract with the Russians, then in the latter part of 2012 we can fly a Soyuz flight and restore things to normal."

NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture Study -- Final Report, Nov. 2005, Executive Summary, section 1.1.1

"Dr. Michael Griffin was named the new NASA Administrator in April 2005. With concurrence from Congress, he immediately set out to restructure NASA's Exploration Program by making its priority to accelerate the development of the CEV to reduce or eliminate the planned gap in U.S. human access to space. He established a goal for the CEV to begin operation in 2011 and to be capable of ferrying crew and cargo to and from the ISS."

NASA OIG: Glenn Research Center Needs to Better Define Roles and Responsibilities for Emergency Response

"The lack of clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and lines of authority for Glenn responders, along with the absence of memorandums of understanding (MOU) with off- site responding organizations, has negatively affected the Center's ability to implement ICS and respond effectively to emergencies. When ICS is not properly implemented during an emergency, the chain of command and lines of communication can become confused, increasing the risk of injury for responders and other personnel, as well as increasing the risk of damage to NASA assets. For at least two of the emergencies that we reviewed, that confusion could have resulted in serious injury to the responders and further damage to Glenn assets."

Rosetta Steins fly-by timeline

"The Rosetta spacecraft control room is buzzing with anticipation as Rosetta closes in on asteroid 2867 Steins. The fly-by timeline includes a series of critical events, culminating with closest approach - expected at 20:58 CEST, 5 September 2008. At the time of closest approach, Rosetta is planned to be 800 km from the asteroid, passing by at a speed of 8.6 km/s relative to Steins. Both Rosetta and Steins will be illuminated by the Sun, providing an excellent opportunity for science observations."

Wayne Hale's Blog: Answering the mail

"To all those folks who love the shuttle as I do and have written in to say keep flying the old bird: my heart is with you but my mind says otherwise. If I had a magic wand I would wish to keep flying an upgraded, safer shuttle at the same time we build the moon rocket, and hand out multiple incentives to private industry to develop a robust, economical, and efficient space transportation system. But I don't have that magic wand and don't know anybody that does. (I also have a personal plan to put my big lottery prize to work; but I am not counting on winning as a realistic strategy)."

Closeout Inquiry of $39.5 Million Contract Modification Award to Lockheed Martin Space Systems, New Orleans, NASA OIG

"The following business and technical factors were considered in NASA's decision to provide incentives to retain the contractor's External Tank workforce: a) increasing attrition data; b) significant local employment opportunities available; c) past lessons learned from United States Air Force/Lockheed Martin Titan Program efforts to retain critical skills; and d) risk of mission failure."

UK Hacker Hires ET Lawyer

Hacker appeals to home secretary, BBC

"Glasgow-born Gary McKinnon, 42, who last month lost his appeal against extradition, could face life in jail if convicted of accessing 97 computers. His lawyer Karen Todner said his human rights would be breached if he did not return to the UK after a trial."

UFO hacker is broken man, says family, The Scotsman

"McKinnon, an unemployed systems analyst from north London, admits accessing 97 US military and Pentagon computers, but claimed he was looking for UFO files. The US government accuses him of stealing passwords and deleting files. McKinnon faces up to 70 years in prison if he is found guilty."

Editor's note: I am not certain why this guy is worried. If he is found guilty of attacking American government computers, his alien lawyers can just beam him out of the courtroom up to the Mothership - which the Shuttle will soon be unable to reach. He'll be at home anyway - since it seems that all of the aliens I see on TV have British accents.

50% Substance, 50% Ego

Nasa scientist appears in court to fan the flames of coal power station row, Independent

"The Nasa scientist who first drew attention to global warming 20 years ago appeared in a British court yesterday as a key witness in support of climate change activists charged with damaging a power station. Professor James Hansen gave evidence at Maidstone Crown Court in the case of six Greenpeace members who scaled a 630ft chimney at the Kingsnorth plant in Hoo, Kent, last October in protest against plans to build new coal-fired units there."

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 3 September 2008

"The FE-1 loaded the Russian laptops RSK1, RSK2, RSE-med, RSS1 and RSE1 with new antivirus software from DVD, scanned the hard disks, taking documentary Nikon photos of the resulting message displays, and consulted with ground specialists via S-band tagup."

NASA Discovers Computer Virus Aboard the International Space Station, earlier post

"- W32.Gammima.AG worm. This is a level 0 gaming virus intended to gather personal information.
- Virus was never a threat to any of the computers used for cmd and cntl and no adverse effect on ISS Ops."

NASA's Carl Sagan Fellows to Study Extraterrestrial Worlds

"NASA announced Wednesday the new Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships in Exoplanet Exploration, created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around other stars. NASA's new Sagan fellowships will allow talented young scientists to tread the path laid out by Sagan. The program will award stipends of approximately $60,000 per year, for a period of up to three years, to selected postdoctoral scientists. Topics can range from techniques for detecting the glow of a dim planet in the blinding glare of its host star, to searching for the crucial ingredients of life in other planetary systems."

Sports and Space

Former NFL Player Ken Harvey Taking Sports to New Astronomical Heights

"Many people have heard of Space Tourism, Space Commercialization and Space industrialization, but now there's Space Sportilization - the intersection of space, sports and entertainment. Ken Harvey a former four times NFL Pro Bowl Linebacker, with the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins, and Allen Herbert, an Aerospace Engineer, have coined the term Space Sportilization as part of their company's offering. Their company, JAKA Consulting Group, uses sports as an entrance way into out- of- the- box thinking."

Shuttle Vs Soyuz OpEds Appear

We think: Congress needs to maintain U.S. access to the international space station, editorial, Orlando Sentinel

"Lawmakers have little choice but to hold their noses and grant the waiver, so the United States can maintain its access to the space station and protect its huge investment. They need to look for other, better ways to underscore their anger with Russia. Lawmakers also need to find the $2 billion, called for in House-passed legislation, that could speed up the development of NASA's next vehicle by a couple of years. That would make the period that the U.S. astronauts are forced to depend on Mr. Putin's taxi service as short as possible."

The President of Free Space -- Legacy of George Bush, Discovery News

"The inertia that defines the George Bush presidency may be a blessing for the space program. I'm not saying that facetiously. ... I refer to presidential candidate John McCain's request for Bush to suspend the shutdown of the space shuttle program, pending further study (post election.) McCain is listening to folks who are 1) scared of losing their jobs; and/or 2) outraged that America, the leader of the free world, the king of off-planet pursuits, will soon be in the unseemly position of depending on foreigners for rides to space."

NASA Hurricane Status

NASA's Stennis Remains Closed After Gustav, Will Reopen Thursday

"Because of Hurricane Gustav's impact on employees who live in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast in south Mississippi, NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center will remain closed Wednesday, Sept. 3. The center will reopen for normal business hours Thursday, Sept. 4."

Shuttle Atlantis' Move To Pad On Standby For Hanna

"Managers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., will closely follow Tropical Storm Hanna to determine when would be the best time this week to move space shuttle Atlantis to its launch pad."

MAF Status

"MAF will remain closed until further notice. NASA will make the determination of when to open the facility once a full assessment of the facility and the outlying community is obtained."

Challenger Center for Space Science Education Welcomes New Board Member Alan Stern

"On August 27, 2008 Challenger Center for Space Science Education's Board of Directors welcomed a new member to its ranks: Dr. S. Alan Stern. Challenger Center's Board Chairman, former astronaut and NASA Associate Administrator William Readdy, notes; "We are indeed fortunate to welcome someone of Dr. Stern's professional and scientific stature to join our board of directors. He brings with him not only a broad and impressive record of professional and scientific achievement, he also brings with him a passion for STEM education and inspiring the 'next generation of explorers' that is embodied in our Challenger Center for Space Science Education mission."

Shenzhou VII in Two Weeks?

China to launch third manned space flight in September: report, AFP

"China has brought forward the launch date of its third manned space flight to late September, a report said Tuesday. The launch of Shenzhou VII is now expected to take place between September 17 -- the end of the Beijing Paralympics -- and China's National Day on October 1, Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po said, citing unnamed sources."

Orion PDR Slips To Mid-2009

Editor's note: NASA sources report that the Orion PDR (Preliminary Design Review), which was originally planned for September 2008 and then slipped to November, will be delayed much further - perhaps as far as mid-Summer 2009.

Orion PDR Slip, Earlier post
Constellation Update, Earlier post
NASA Internal Memo: Orion DAC2 Architecture Closure Plan Rev E, 2/19/08, Earlier post

Chart from NASA Internal Presentation: CxMPR, Orion Project Office, 2 July 2008

2008 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner: Exploring Earth from Above

"The 2008 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner: "Exploring Earth from Above" will be held on Thursday, October 16, 2008 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Sponsored by the Explorers Club, the Lowell Thomas Award is presented by Rolex and the President of the Explorers Club to groups of explorers who have distinguished themselves in various fields of exploration. The 2008 honorees are: William A. Anders, Leroy Chiao, Martha King, Scott E. Parazynski, Dick H. Smith, and Brig. Gen Charles E. Yeager."



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