June 2009 Archives

Keith's 30 June update: This RFI has been cancelled. Funny how these things happen, eh?

NASA JSC Solicitation: Request for Information on Human Rated Centrifuge Capabilities

"NASA/JSC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for use of human rated centrifuges that can simulate the Orion spacecraft ascent and entry accelertation environment. Specific information solicited is: The accelerations levels that can be achieved and sustained. The change in acceleration levels (jerk) or the rate of acceleration onset that can be achieved. The ability to produce or accommodate vibrations during the runs including magnitude and frequency limitations. This may include a vibration spectrum that the facility is capable of producing; as well as, the vibrations that could be accommodated if the NASA provided seat system were to generate vibrations...."

Keith's 29 June note: Why is JSC putting this notice out in the first place? Are they not aware of the agency's existing capabilities - a prime example being the 20 G centrifuge at NASA ARC? You can find it using Google. Clearly the folks at JSC know where ARC is - they send astronauts there to fly the VMS all the time.

Check the video below and you can even see it spin!

NASA pitches cheaper moon plan, AP

"They are hedging their bets," agreed Keith Cowing, a former NASA engineer who runs the Nasawatch.com web site, which acts as a watchdog on the space agency. "It clearly reflects some doubts among senior agency folks in the overall veracity of their current approach." NASA spokesman Michael Curie said Shannon was encouraged to make the presentation "in the spirit of sharing the options we've studied in the past." But he added: "NASA believes the best plan is to fully fund the current architecture ... This does not indicate a lack of confidence in or support for the current program."

Keith's note: John Shannon's presentation represents more than just what ESAS "studied in the past". If that was the case, then why not just have Shannon use old ESAS charts? Why have people go off and restudy it and make fancy (expensive) new graphics and animations? Shannon's presentation represented a contemporary analysis of the sidemount shuttle option in the light of what progress Ares has made, the problems that it has encountered, and the current funding and political climate NASA finds itself in.

Video: NASA Shuttle-derived Sidemount Heavy Launch Vehicle Concept, previous post

Reader note: LCROSS was recorded in the Santa Cruz Mountains in CA last night with an amateur telescope. The animated gif was just posted on their website, http://lcross.arc.nasa.gov/ or a direct link to the recording is found here http://www.backyardastronomer.com/lcross/LCROSS-20090629-anim2.gif The ephemeris was found using JPL's Horizons web server, available to the public at http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/

NASA places RFI NNH09ZDA010L on hold

"NASA is placing RFI NNH09ZDA010L ("Feasibility of using Constellation Architecture for Servicing Existing and Future Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft") on hold. The August 10 due date for information in the form of a white paper is cancelled; no new due date is announced at this time. The "Workshop I" described in NNH09ZDA010L will not occur in June; a new date has not been established at this time."

NASA RFI: Feasibility of using Constellation Architecture for Servicing Existing and Future Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft, 10 June 2009

Keith's 23 June note: From what I have been able to piece together, there is interest in Congress to get to to confirmation hearings for Charlie Bolden and Lori Garver right after the 4th of July (7 and 8 July are dates in play) with the intent that there will be a confirmation vote before the Apollo 11 anniversary. Stay tuned.

Keith's 30 June note: The Senate confirmation hearing will be held on 8 July.

Keith's note: The ISU/Singularity University opening ceremonies will be webcast live from Mountain View, CA on 29 June from 6:00 to 7:30pm PDT.

Going Beyond The Status Quo In Space, Dennis Wingo, Paul Spudis, and Gordon Woodcock

"Why the Moon? While appearing barren, the Moon has the resources upon which to build a prototype space civilization. It is a power-rich environment, permitting initial steps to be undertaken using proven, inexpensive solar power generation technology. The Moon is readily accessible from Earth at almost any time. This accessibility makes it a practical site for such a pioneering development - one that is convenient enough to Earth so as to enable trade, travel and telepresence operation. In contrast, Mars and the inner solar system asteroids have infrequent travel opportunities and comparatively long trip times. They won't work for first steps towards economic development of the solar system. With experience and technology from developing the Moon in hand, Mars can then be settled and the rest of the inner solar system can be developed in a cost effective manner."

NASA Selects New Astronauts for Future Space Exploration

"After reviewing more than 3500 applications, NASA has selected nine men and women for the 2009 astronaut candidate class. They will begin training at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, in August. "This is a very talented and diverse group we've selected," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations. "They will join our current astronauts and play very important roles for NASA in the future. In addition to flying in space, astronauts participate in every aspect of human spaceflight, sharing their expertise with engineers and managers across the country. We look forward to working with them as we transcend from the shuttle to our future exploration of space, and continue the important engineering and scientific discoveries aboard the International Space Station."

Lessons for the future of human space flight, Wes Huntress, SpaceReview

"Sixth, the rationale for the program must be articulated for the public. A question from the very first public commenter at the Committee's opening meeting hit the mark. "NASA's focus is on engineering and vehicles. There has been no explanation of what we are going to do when we get there. What's the plan and are we going beyond the Moon? You won't get public interest and sustain it until we know these things." NASA has proven itself technically competent but publicly impotent in spite of many studies internal and external that have articulated the imperatives for exploring space. Ironically, the administration's 2004 Vision for Space Exploration did it quite well in very few words. The Committee would serve the nation and its space program well by expressing these imperatives for the public and its representatives in the Congress and the administration."

7 steps towards social media success, Governing People.com

"3. Brace for, and embrace, the unexpected The example of NASA's online contest to name a new module of the International Space Station is cited as an example of how online participation can produce unexpected results. More than 230.000 people suggested the name Colbert as a result of comedian Stephen Colbert, who used his nightly talk-show to rally audience support for this name to be used. NASA did not expect this when they conceived the contest, but it was not necessarily a bad thing. As a result of Colbert's campaign, and the subsequent appearance of a NASA official on his show, NASA received a lot of great publicity. Jeanne Holm, chief knowledge architect at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: "You just have to understand that there will be unexpected 'opportunities' that social media will give you". In the end NASA named the station Tranquility -- in honor of the touchdown site of Apollo 11 -- but gave Colbert's name to an on-station exercise machine."

Keith's note: Jeanne Holm from JPL is representing NASA at the Personal Democracy Forum this week. She is speaking on Day 2 in the session "The Blogging of the Bureaucracy: How to Use Social Media From Inside Government". It would be interesting to hear someone from NASA JPL speaking about this topic when the agency as a whole cannot yet figure out exactly what its policy is with regard to the use of social media - with JSC and ARC at opposite ends of the spectrum on the issue. Perhaps Jeanne will post a transcript of her comments as well as her presentation (hint).

NASA JSC MOD Memo: Policy on Use of Social Media
NASA ARC Internal memo: Message from the Center Director: Social Networking at Ames
NASA Shuttle Commander Tweets, Will Answer Questions from Space
STS-125 Tweetup at NASA HQ

The lost NASA tapes: Restoring lunar images after 40 years in the vault, Computerworld

Keith's note: There are three projects outlined in this story - Lunar Orbiter, Apollo (NASA), and Apollo (someone else):

"The most visible of the archeologists is arguably Dennis Wingo, head of Skycorp Inc., a small aerospace engineering firm in Huntsville, Ala. He's the driving force behind the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, operating out of a decommissioned McDonald's (since dubbed McMoon's) at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. The project's goal is to recover and enhance as many of the original lunar landing images as possible."

"[Richard] Nafzger is currently preparing a report on the results of the search and cannot discuss them until NASA releases the report, the date of which is uncertain. "But since I am not running down the street waving a flag and shouting 'Eureka!' you can draw your own conclusions. The big picture is that there is an explanation for everything," he says."

"Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Karen Person, head of the Renaissance Entertainment & Media Group, is not waiting for Nafzger's results. She says she has acquired one of the original 2-in. NASA recordings of the broadcast video and is using it as the basis of a documentary titled July Moon, which she hopes to have in theaters for the 40th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20. The video has been transferred to MPEG-4 format and parts have been enhanced, she says."

More Ares Woes

Moon rocket test shaky, Orlando Sentinel

"The violent shaking that threatens to destroy the Ares I rocket that NASA hopes will one day return astronauts to the moon is also threatening to delay -- or even cancel -- the first flight of its test version, the Ares I-X. Air Force officials who have safety jurisdiction over all launches from Kennedy Space Center are worried that the rocket's vibrations could knock out the self-destruct mechanism required in case the launch goes awry. If the Ares I-X went out of control during its scheduled launch Aug. 30, and the destruct mechanism failed, the rocket could threaten populated areas along the Space Coast. And the possibility that the $360 million prototype will veer off course is a real risk, according to both the Air Force 45th Space Wing and NASA managers, because the rocket's vibrations could also wreck its steering system, known as the Thrust Vector Control, or TVC."

Everest +30

Preview: Confessions of a Moon Rock Courier

"I have been home from my trip to Mt. Everest in Nepal for a month. That trip lasted for a month and a half. I was gone longer than I have been back. While I have readjusted to my life here, part of me is very much still there. And to be honest, I like that situation. That said, I am still trying to process all that happened at Everest.

I watched a friend prepare and then depart for a trip to the summit of Mt. Everest. I witnessed two incredible avalanches, one of which killed someone. I suffered severe dehydration and food poisoning which put me, at one point, in a rather hazardous situation. I hiked 14,000 feet across difficult terrain. I then lived in a cold tent atop an active glacier with half the oxygen I had spent 53 years breathing, losing 21 pounds in 6 weeks. I watched a steady stream of people try - and turn back from - their attempt at the summit while others were evacuated with severe medical issues. "

Endeavour test date set; knob jammed in Atlantis, SpaceflightNow.com

"While the knurled knob is pressing against the pane in two locations, it's not yet clear whether the glass has suffered any measurable damage. But access is tight and engineers considering removal options must make sure they don't inadvertently damage the glass. Replacing a pressure pane, one official said, could take months because part of the cockpit instrumentation would have to be moved or disconnected to provide clearance."

What Would Wernher Do?

NASA Solicitation: Request for Information Regarding The Weekly Notes of Dr. Wernher Von Braun

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a full collection of Dr. Wernher von Braun's "Weekly Notes," written during the 1960s and 1970s. Dr. Von Braun was the first director of the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), and is considered a key figure in the development of the Saturn V rocket and NASA's Apollo program. These notes were used to track programmatic and institutional issues at MSFC, and are considered by many historians to be a valuable source of historical data."

Keith's note: Have a look at this example: imagine if there was a NASA Watch back then .... not much seems to have changed in the HQ/field center relationship.

Sample document below

Frank's note: I'd suggest readers who are still outraged over Von Braun's Nazi past point their fingers instead at Uncle Sam. The federal government surely knew all about WVB's political activities and did their best to cover it all up while he was of use to the U.S. Army-and then NASA's-rocket development programs. It is true he was a flawed giant-so was Kennedy-but his engineering and management talents made a lunar landing in the 1960s possible. If we accept the good that people do we must also acept their human frailties and ethical lapses, for the two are inseparable. He and only he alone is answerable for the slave labor atrocities and other crimes to which he looked the other way. Celebrating his genius does not ignore his other failings, for all of us in one degree or another are human.

NASA Hosts STS-125 Space Shuttle Crew Tweetup in Washington

"NASA will host a Tweetup with space shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 crew July 21 at the agency's headquarters building in Washington. The astronauts will discuss their recent servicing mission to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. A Tweetup is an informal meeting of people who use the social messaging medium Twitter. This Tweetup is an opportunity to meet and speak with the STS-125 crew and the staff behind the tweets on @NASA. Plus, you'll get to mingle with other space-exploration-minded Tweeps. The event will include a one-hour "meet and greet" session, followed by a presentation and a question and answer period with the astronauts. Scott Altman commanded the STS-125 crew, which included Pilot Gregory C. Johnson and Mission Specialists Megan McArthur, John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Andrew Feustel and Michael Good. Massimino is known as @Astro_Mike to more than 500,000 people who followed the mission on Twitter."

Court filings detail Sea Launch's bankruptcy, Spaceflight Now

"Sea Launch reported assets between $100 million and $500 million and estimated debt of almost $2 billion. The company will explore the potential sale of one or more of its business units during the bankruptcy proceedings, officials said. The company has long been on shaky financial ground and has "struggled to recognize the success envisioned" when it was formed in 1995, according to the filing."

Keith's note: The Expedition 21 poster is now online. You can download Large and Medium versions.

LRO Status 6/23/09 6:35 pm EDT, LRO Team Blog

"About a week and half after reaching the commissioning orbit we will begin activating the remaining instruments and start calibrating them. These have not been turned on yet for a number of reasons. First, the insertion at the moon is a critical and time constrained phase of the mission and the prime focus is safely delivering LRO into the right orbit. Secondly, the instruments (except the radiation instruments which are already on) are not designed to yield very useful or interesting data from anywhere except LRO's planned orbits. The cameras in particular are designed to build their images as the lunar surfaces passes through their FOV at ~1.6 km/s as LRO orbits the moon. They cannot be simply pointed at the moon or earth during our transit to the moon and snap a photo."

Keith's note: What a cogent answer. Too bad these folks did not tell this to EMSD PAO last week. Or did no one think to ask them? I am now told that LROC images will be released in "early" July - in other words, in a few weeks. When I first asked ESMD PAO when the images would be released last week they were not exactly certain and replied that it could be "within the first couple of months". Then they said "a month to a month and a half". PAO often reports exactly what mission managers and PIs tell them to say since they are the experts. I find it rather curious that the story that ESMD PAO was fed (and repeated to me) has suddenly changed and that images are now going to be available much sooner than had originally been stated. Why didn't they just say so in the first place?

When Will NASA Release LRO Imagery?, earlier post
NASA ESMD PAO Statement Regarding Release of LRO Imagery, earlier post

Keith's note: The Augustine Committee hearing held last week is now archived for viewing on USTREAM.

Painting The Moon

An Astronaut Goes From Walking on the Moon to Painting It, NY Times

"Becoming a painter has been a long slog for Mr. Bean, who describes himself as a slow learner. He has had to give up the hyper-rational way of seeing the world he had learned as a Navy test pilot and engineer. He has trained himself to see things not as they are but as they feel to him, to translate emotions into colors and to resist his scientific urges. "When I left NASA, I made up my mind I was not going to be an astronaut who painted, but an artist who used to be an astronaut," he said. "It takes a while to change the heart."

The Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program Is Closing Down

"Unfortunately, with the current economy and priorities at NASA, the time has come to close out the program and look forward to the next adventure. It is with great pride in the accomplishments of our team that I thank each of you for your support over the years.

In the weeks ahead, we will be collating a portfolio of design documents, historical information, and key references from the program and sharing them online.

It is our hope that some of this work may be picked up by other interested students, faculty, and investigators to support future space investigations."

"NASA Television will broadcast a high-definition tour of the International Space Station recorded by the Expedition 20 crew starting at 10 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 24. Also broadcast in HD will be an explanation of a Canadian experiment on the station that examines how humans perceive up and down without gravity as a reference. The 20-minute tour, which documents the full 167 feet of the space station's pressurized modules, was recorded by NASA Flight Engineer Michael Barratt to show Mission Control how equipment and supplies are arranged and stored, and to provide engineers with a detailed assessment of each module-to-module hatchway."


Ares I-Y Update

NASA ESMD Internal Document: Ares I-Y Change Request

"Dear FTWG Members, The single CR presented at Tuesday's FTWG incorporating the I-Y configuration change and the PMR09 Mark updates was subsequently split into two separate CRs. This CR represents the Ares I-Y configuration changes and the associated FTOs for Ares I-Y and Orion 1. The PMR09 update CR will be published at a later time.

Please review this CR and send any comments back to John Coggeshall by COB Monday (6/8/09). Sorry for the delay in releasing but a number of discussions and updates have been occurring over the last couple of days."

NASA Hosts Welsh Trade Mission June 23, NASA LaRC

"Former astronaut Scott Horowitz will introduce Welsh business and business development representatives to various NASA technologies during a visit of approximately 50 members of the International Business Wales (IBW) group to NASA's Langley Research Center on Tuesday, June 23. Horowitz, an IBW partner, will escort the Welsh delegation as they participate in a series of briefings about NASA Langley partnership, procurement, and current research and development opportunities. The visitors will also explore wind tunnels, structural test facilities and exploration hardware at Langley."

Wales Seeks Business at NASA Langley

"It began about six months ago.Fraser contacted with Scott Horowitz, a former NASA astronaut and now an agency contractor and Welsh consultant. There were Welsh companies doing business with aerospace and defense firms. How could that happen more frequently in the U.S.? "I thought about NASA headquarters," Horowitz said, "and realized that wasn't the answer. And then I thought about Langley. It's close by (Washington). NASA has 10 agencies. Langley is sort of a conglomerate of what they do across NASA."

NASA Budget Update

Twittermail from @KenMonroe: "Now that the FY2010 #NASA Appropriations battle has moved to the Senate, let's discuss an esoteric problem posed in the House-passed version. The House-passed bill seeks to convert NASA's R&D accounts from two-year duration to one-year duration. What does this mean? NASA is the third largest R&D agency in the Federal Government, representing 7.7 percent of total R&D spending in FY2010. Because of the duration and complexity of R&D programs, two-year funding has been a widespread practice in virtually all Federal R&D activities, including those at DoD, NSF, NIST, NOAA, EPA and USGS. NASA has long relied on its two-year funding to write contracts that cross fiscal years (as most things do). This practice permits the best, most efficient use of appropriated funds." [More]

Summary: FY 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee Mark

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - The bill provides $18.68 billion for NASA, $903 million above the Fiscal Year 2009 level and equal to the President's request. The total funding includes $3.16 billion for Space Shuttle operations; $2.27 billion for Space Station operations; $3.5 billion for development of the next generation Crew Launch Vehicle and Crew Exploration Vehicle and Cargo Launch Vehicle; $4.5 billion for science; and $507 million for aeronautics research."

NASA Gets Heat For Ditching Metric System on New Shuttle Replacement, Popular Science

"The commercial spaceflight sector, who had hoped to use the Orion and Ares systems for a variety of missions, is not too happy. "We in the private sector are doing everything possible to create a global market with as much commonality and interoperability as possible. But NASA still can't make the jump to metric." Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace told New Scientist."

NASA Inspector General's Assessment of NASA's Use of the Metric System, G-00-021 (2001)

"As the United States continues its slow transition to the metric system, NASA must decide whether it wants to be a leader or a follower in the transition process. Both roles come with a cost. If NASA chooses to push forward with the Agency's use of the metric system, near-term costs may increase and short-term risk (both to schedule and mission success) may rise to some degree. However, if the Agency follows the aerospace industry's slow transition to SI, the protracted period during which NASA uses mixed metric and English systems may further increase costs and risks for NASA programs."

NASA Finds The Metric System Too Hard To Implement for Constellation, Earlier Post

"NASA claims that it wants to have meaningful international participation in the implementation of VSE/ESAS yet it walks away from the system of weights and measures used by the majority of the people on this planet. Moreover, this decision clearly seems to fly in the face of established NASA - and Federal - policy."

NASA criticised for sticking to imperial units, New Scientist

"NASA recently calculated that converting the relevant drawings, software and documentation to the "International System" of units (SI) would cost a total of $370 million almost half the cost of a 2009 shuttle launch, which costs a total of $759 million. "We found the cost of converting to SI would exceed what we can afford," says Hautaluoma."

Keith's note: That's a goofy answer. Why couldn't ESMD have simply directed that things be done in metric in the first place - in compliance with NASA's own regulations (note the OIG report from 2001 years before Constellation was even started). That way there'd be no "conversion" cost.

Oh yea, interesting how Grey just told us what a shuttle launch "costs".

Buzz Aldrin to NASA: U.S. Space Policy Is on the Wrong Track, Popular Mechanics

"Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin has a problem with NASA's current manned space plan: Namely, the five-year gap between the shuttle's scheduled retirement next year and the debut of the Ares I rocket and the Orion spacecraft, which will take us no further than the moon--a place we've already been. Aldrin thinks NASA can do better. His plan is to scrap Ares I, stretch out the remaining six shuttle flights and fast-track the Orion to fly on a Delta IV or Atlas V. Then, set our sites on colonizing Mars. Here, Buzz challenges NASA to take on his bolder mission."

What To Do About Ares 1

Reinventing NASA's Rocket Reputation, Aviation Week

"Among the more significant challenges the Augustine panel faces is the fate of the Ares 1 launcher. As has been the case with every previous human-rated launch vehicle, Ares 1 has encountered serious performance issues and stability concerns during its development. Critics have been particularly vocal in calling for its replacement with different vehicles, ranging from new designs to versions of the existing expendable fleet. If Augustine's review confirms NASA's current course, the challenge will be for the critics to close ranks and cease their sniping. But if the panel recommends replacement with another launch system, a more complex problem awaits."

President faces a Kennedy decision on space, MSNBC

"President Bush gathered the best minds and experts of the day and told them to get started. "It'll be cheaper to modify an unmanned rocket like the Atlas 5 or Delta 4," said one. "Right," agreed another, but they soon found the Atlas 5 and the Delta 4 didn't have the power. They would have to be beefed up. It was back to the drawing board, and the drawing board kept pointing them back to Apollo, to the kind of system the Russians had been flying successfully for five decades."

Keith's note: Um, when exactly did this meeting happen, Jay? Where? When? Where do I start. You are some confused on some things, dead wrong on others, and you recall things that never actually happened. Get a fact checker next time.

NASA ESMD Internal Memo from Jeff Hanley: 6/20 Cx Update - Moving Forward

"During the public session, we used our time to cover two charts of Cx 'mythbusters' on some topics that need to be clearly described to remedy potential perceptions based on the way they have been reported in some of the media. This went very well, by all reports. ... I will leave the sharing of non-Cx topics for others to discuss, but all in all we left pleased that we had achieved what we had come to achieve. That combined with a fair and balanced report by Aerospace on their EELV vs Ares study and a well-presented Shuttle sidemount talk by John Shannon made for a good day at the end of the public session."

Keith's note: I guess Jeff stepped out of the room while the DIRECT presentation was being made ...

Saving Jobs at KSC

Space Florida and United Launch Alliance Partner to Secure Launch Complex 41

"What: A news briefing discussing the $100 million conduit financing package and partnership between Space Florida and United Launch Alliance which demonstrates Florida's ability to rapidly address the needs of the industry.

Who: Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp and Frank DiBello, Interim President, Space Florida."

Keith's note: I am told that at this event Florida Lt. Governor Kottkamp will announce a $100 Million transaction that will be described as saving 700 or so Florida-based jobs.

NASA Kicks Off 2009 International University Programs

"NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., will welcome more than 500 guests, including an international cadre of students and faculty from nearly 40 countries for the International Space University and Singularity University Opening Ceremony on June 29, 2009. The ceremony will be held in the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and will feature a multimedia celebration of space. Co-hosted by the International Space University (ISU), Strasbourg, France and the Singularity University (SU), Moffett Field, the evening event will feature a musical act, multimedia presentations and speakers to welcome the students of ISU's 22nd annual Space Studies Program and the inaugural class of the SU Graduate Studies Program to NASA, Silicon Valley and California."

A Passion For Space

A Passion For Space, Major Jack Fisher

"Several weeks ago, I saw my first space shuttle launch. STS-125 majestically rose to the heavens with crackling defiance, leaving behind a massive trail of fire and smoke - proof that man had once again slipped the surly bonds and bested Newton's hold. It was a re-awakening for me, and hearkened back to a young boy standing beneath the behemoth Saturn V, filled with post-Apollo euphoria and brimming with an unbridled passion for space. Thirty years later, space exploration is plagued with dated paradigms, abysmal acquisition performance, a growing list of hazards, and a history of administrations buying into the false economy of slashing NASA budgets - cutting the fuel line for the very engine that can drive our future."

Keith's note: this article was suggested to me by my old friend Gil Moore. It was given by Air ForceLt. Col. (Sel.)Jack Fischerpresented in April at the Aerospace Corporation-sponsored Space Power Workshop at Manhattan Beach, CA.

Hansen of NASA Arrested in Coal Country, NY Times

"James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who has become an outspoken campaigner against coal burning, was among 29 protesters arrested as they intentionally crossed onto the property of Massey Energy, the biggest company conducting mountaintop mining in West Virginia."

Daryl Hannah, scientist arrested at W.Va. protest, AP

"Actress Daryl Hannah, NASA scientist James Hansen and more than two dozen other mountaintop removal mining opponents have been arrested during a protest in southern West Virginia. State Police said about 30 people were charged Tuesday afternoon after they blocked State Route 3 near a Massey Energy subsidiary's coal processing plant in Raleigh County."

Keith's note: This video depicting NASA's Shuttle-derived Sidemount Heavy Launch Vehicle concept was shown at the 17 June 2009 meeting of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee in Washington DC by NASA Space Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon.

Video below

The Next Giant Leap, GQ

"You are reading this because you have no idea what NASA is doing. And NASA, tongue-tied by jargon, can't figure out how to tell you. But the agency is engaged in work that can be more enduring and far-reaching than anything else this country is paying for. At NASA's inception the government declared that "activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind," and this is one of the few promises in American history that have been kept. NASA is now fifty. The moonwalk was forty years ago this month. The NASA of yore did the unimaginable in eight years, making good on President Kennedy's assertion that "this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." It succeeded for two reasons: access to a staggering 4.4 percent of the federal budget (now it's half a percent) and, more importantly, perhaps resurgently, a national desire to believe in ourselves--and in something more than ourselves. Since then, NASA, vision flickering, public imagination uncaptured, has stooped to offering belittling practical justifications for spaceflight (GPS, cell phones) that ground and practicalize the sublime, killing its poetry."

Transparency Update

Open Government Directive, Phase III: Drafting

"President Obama issued a Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government in which he called for recommendations on making the government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative.
From the start, the White House Open Government Initiative has approached the crafting of these recommendations in an open fashion. An initial Brainstorming phase in late May asked you to identify topics for the recommendations. In the Discussion phase in early June, you explored those topics in greater depth. Today, we ask you to work together to draft recommendations that translate good ideas and lofty principles into specific actions that can be taken to achieve open government. This Drafting Phase invites you to collaborate on creating recommendations for open government policy using a web-based wiki tool."

Spacebook Update

After bashing on Govbook, here comes SpacebookAndrea DiMaio

"The main limitation of an environment like Spacebook is that it creates artificial boundaries around the individual: users can network only with colleagues, but experiences in social media in all industry sectors show that the value is most likely created at the intersection between corporate, professional and personal networks. The reassuring element in this case, though, is that the Nasa Goddard CIO seems very well aware of all this. She told me: "The bottom line is that collaboration and connections are so important in my opinion to an enterprise, anything that reduces the barriers to entry is good.". NASA already has a presence on external networks: the real question is whether, when and how those two worlds will become one. I'm pretty sure she will be actively looking forward to that."

"Buzz Aldrin is an astronaut, a hero, and a hip hop legend. He hits the studio with Snoop Dogg and Talib Kweli to record his latest track, Rocket Experience. Quincy Jones and Soulja Boy also weigh in on Buzz's lyrical genius and impact on the music world."

Video below

Sea Launch Files Chapter 11 to Address Financial Challenges

"Sea Launch Company L.L.C. and Sea Launch Limited Partnership and subsidiaries ("Sea Launch" or "Company"), a leading provider of launch services to the commercial satellite industry, has filed voluntary petitions to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington. The members of Sea Launch have unanimously determined that Chapter 11 reorganization is in the best interests of the Company, its customers, shareholders, employees and other related parties."

NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Successfully Enters Moon Orbit

"After a four and a half day journey from the Earth, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has successfully entered orbit around the moon. Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., confirmed the spacecraft's lunar orbit insertion at 6:27 a.m. EDT Tuesday. During transit to the moon, engineers performed a mid-course correction to get the spacecraft in the proper position to reach its lunar destination. Since the moon is always moving, the spacecraft shot for a target point ahead of the moon. When close to the moon, LRO used its rocket motor to slow down until the gravity of the moon caught the spacecraft in lunar orbit."

New NASA Missions to Reach Moon Tuesday, Sending Back Live Video

"At 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, the Science Operations Center at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will stream live telemetry-based spacecraft animation and the visible camera images from the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, spacecraft as it swings by the moon before entering into a looping polar Earth orbit. Live video streaming via the Internet will last approximately one hour.

The live video streams of the LCROSS swingby will be available at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/lunarswingby"

Schiff Requests Attorney General to Develop New Security Standards for JPL Employees, American Chronicle

"Rep. Adam Schiff wrote a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that he decline the opportunity to appeal a June 4, 2009 decision by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). In 2007, employees working at JPL sued NASA over background checks ordered pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), which required these employees to provided unnecessary personal information regarding workers health records, mental state, and sexual histories. In the letter, Rep. Schiff requested that the Attorney General develop new national security standards that protect our national security without trampling on the privacy of scientists and engineers."

Keith's note: I received this by email from ESMD PAO Representative Grey Hautaluoma this afternoon. The last sentence really floors me: "Due to the massive amount of data that will be coming down from LRO, we're evaluating how to best present the raw material before the mandatory submission to the Planetary Data System, and I will keep you informed as I have more details." This mission has been under development for over 3 years and this still has not been determined? Someone at ESMD PAO should talk to the Cassini and MER folks - they have been doing this for more than half a decade.

"At the present time the highest priority is to assure safe operation of all LRO spacecraft subsystems, so we do not yet have a detailed schedule for instrument activation.

LRO's lunar orbit insertion is scheduled for Tuesday morning, followed by orbit trimming burns over the next four days. Then we will be in our commissioning orbit, where we spend approximately two months activating and calibrating the instruments and making observations in support of LCROSS. After those tasks are completed we will enter our normal mapping orbit that is circular at about 50 km altitude.

Statement of Administration Policy H.R. 2847 -- Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (NASA Excerpt)

"Administration Priorities: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Administration is concerned with the reduction of $670 million from the President's FY 2010 request for Exploration Systems. This large reduction would likely cause major negative impacts to any options that may emerge from the ongoing blue ribbon review of U.S. human space flight plans. The Administration appreciates the Committee's strong support for the NASA Earth science program, which advances the President's goal of deploying a global climate change research and monitoring system. The Administration is concerned with the elimination of $21 million from the request for NASA innovation, which uses public-private partnerships to advance important technologies and enable access to new sources of innovation through incentive prizes and partnerships. In addition, the Administration is concerned about funding NASA's R&D activities with primarily one-year rather than two-year appropriations. Such an action would increase the cost and complexity of budget execution and would diminish flexibility without improving management."

NASA ARC Internal memo: Message from the Center Director: Social Networking at Ames

"At Ames, I believe it is appropriate for members of our workforce to responsibly use social networking sites, if they so desire, to share with people everywhere our excitement about what NASA does and stands for. By doing so, we are contributing to the dissemination of NASA's news and communicating the Agency's knowledge. We can remind the public about upcoming events and link to other interesting sites. We can communicate more effectively via mobile devices.

However, with any professional activity, some guidance is necessary. It is important to use these sites in an appropriate manner. My own experience with this process has been educational. Just as with e-mail there are times and topics one should avoid and you have an obligation to think about the information and your audience before you post. Please keep in mind all NASA employees are responsible for safeguarding sensitive information, so take care to exercise appropriate privacy options."

Twitter posting from ARC PAO's Dolores Beasley @ddbeasley "LCROSS-sized impacts occur on the moon @ 3-4 times monthly. Our impact won't damage the moon or change its orbit in any way!"

Keith's note: Hmm, LCROSS is an "impactor" - something that will crash into the moon at high speed. As such, it will most certainly do some "damage". That's the whole point. Hopefully it will do enough damage such that a lot of debris will be thrown up in a large plume that can be scrutinized for its composition. As for affecting the moon's orbit - the effect may be small, but all such collisions perturb the moon's orbit - albeit ever so slightly.

But then there is this collosal goofiness at our least illustrious newspaper here in Metro DC, the Washington Examiner "NASA moon bombing violates space law & may cause conflict with lunar ET/UFO civilizations" which states "If the true intent of the LCROSS mission moon bombing is a hostile act by NASA against known extraterrestrial civilizations and settlements on the moon, then NASA and by extension the U.S. government are guilty of aggressive war which is the most serious of war crimes under the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. is subject."

There was a goofy TV show on last night called "Impact" where "a piece of a brown dwarf" hits the moon, makes it twice as heavy as Earth, changes the laws of physics, and sends the uber heavy Moon on a collision course with Earth. Maybe that is what Dolores is referring to. Video below.

Moon Pirates

Moon Missions - 40 Years Apart - But Still Like Minded, LOIRP

"This pirate flag image sits at the bottom of the LRO Mission Team's Blog. At the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) located in an abandoned McDonalds outside the gate at ARC, we adopted a similar motif ... we fly a similar flag in our front window and opened our recent presentation at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference with one as well. We even have t-shirts for sale!"

LRO Blog, Blogspot

"This blog follows the progress of the LRO mission through Integration and Testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and launch site processing at KSC\Astrotech. Its purpose is to enable communication to the entire LRO Team about the status of ongoing activities."

Keith's note: This blog is updated rather frequently with some very interesting information - so I would suggest that you just ignore this NASA HQ LRO site and this NASA GSFC LRO site which have little current information. Strangely, neither of these NASA official websites link to this much more informative blog - one that is updated by the actual mission team.

I have sent repeated emails to NASA ESMD PAO trying to find out when LRO images will be released. Based on the email replies they have sent me, it would seem that no images will be released to the public for several months. Moreover, NASA is apparently only going to highlight selected images when they are eventually released. And yes, I understand that the LROC needs to be tested and calibrated, but many other missions regularly issue preliminary images - even if they are not the best quality.

Indeed, the LCROSS team is going to post live imagery online as LCROSS makes its first pass by the Moon on Tuesday, 23 June. Meanwhile, according to "LRO Mission Status 6/20/2009 11:45 EDT on the the LRO Blog "We have turned on decontamination heaters on the LRO Camera to drive out moisture and any other volatiles before we turn on LROC." So ... when will the LRO send back its first images - and why can't we see them as soon as they arrive on Earth?

Contrast this with the Cassini and MER missions who publish raw images on their websites almost as soon as they arrive on Earth. A search of the LROC website reveals nothing as to when we'll actually see images. They do not seem to be in much of a hurry to let people know what is going since this page says "LROC images are not currently available, because the orbiter is still waiting for launch. Once launched, the orbiter will began taking amazing pictures of the moon."

"Amazing"? Absolutely. I am sure that the images will vastly exceed expectations. But why should LRO be different from other missions when it comes to releasing imagery?

Frank Low

Frank J. Low, Who Helped Drive Field of Infrared Astronomy, Dies at 75, NY Times

"Frank J. Low, who helped astronomers extend their vision beyond visible light into a vast realm of previously invisible colors, revolutionizing the study of the birth of planets, stars and galaxies, died on June 11 in Tucson. He was 75."

Back to the Moon

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard: Space geeks, New Scientst

"So what does excite you?

TH: I want to go back and relive the Apollo 17 mission, when Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan lived on the moon for three days. They drove an electric car and it was a flawless mission. As Schmitt was a geologist, they got so much good science done. Alas, it was the last Apollo mission. Neil and Buzz just walked around for an hour and a half, got back in and took a nap. That's all they did. Don't write that down [laughs] - I just saw Buzz two nights ago. I don't want to rag on what they did. Here's what they did: they proved it was possible. Neil and Buzz did not die and made it back safe. They cheated death!"

Space Talk Program Set to launch on Air and Online June 20

"Space Talk," a new one-hour radio program dedicated to the topic of America's space program, will begin broadcasting June 20 from the studios of WMMBAM on Florida's Space Coast. The live, weekly program will be hosted by veteran aerospace writer and commentator Jim Banke, owner and president of MILA Solutions, LLC. .. Interactivity will be a key feature of the program, which will be streamed live on the Internet and recorded for download as a Podcast - both available at www.wmmbam.com. Audience members from around the nation will be invited to call in to the program at 321-768-1240, send e-mail to spacetalking@aol.com, or interact via Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/spacetalking."

Budget Update

House Committee on Science and Technology Hearing: Subcommittee Examines NASA Budget Challenges

"NASA is at a critical crossroads," said Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). "Decisions made by Congress and the White House this year will have an impact on NASA for years to come--for better or worse--and we need to ensure that they are for the better."

Witnesses Advocate Stable Funding and Adequate Resources For NASA

"I am deeply concerned about the fate of our human space flight program, one of the agency's most recognizable missions," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Pete Olson (R-TX) in prepared remarks. "Though largely hidden from view, NASA is hard at work building ground test facilities, refining designs, testing hardware, and later this summer the agency will launch the Ares 1-X test-flight at the Kennedy Space Center as well as conduct a critical pad abort launch test. Enormous strides are being made."

Kosmas Fights Against Cuts to Human Space Exploration

"Kosmas and a bipartisan group of legislators, including fellow Space Coast representative, Bill Posey (FL-15), took to the House floor this week to speak out against the cuts and to urge for restoration of human spaceflight funding before the bill becomes law. Kosmas and Posey had previously sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee urging them to reverse the cuts and maintain a robust human spaceflight program."

NPOESS Woes Continue

House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee Examines Troubled NPOESS Program

"This Committee has devoted years of oversight to NPOESS," said Subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller (D-NC). "Despite our pressure to get this program under control, we are again facing cost overruns and slipping schedules. At the current pace, we won't see a NPOESS launch until 2039. That is obviously unacceptable. The time has come to reorganize the management of this program to guarantee a successful launch."

Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites: With Costs Increasing and Data Continuity at Risk, Improvements Needed in Tri-agency Decision Making, GAO

"While selected components of the NPOESS program have made progress over the past year, the program is once again over budget and behind schedule. .. Costs could grow by $1 billion over the current $13.95 billion estimate, and the schedules for NPP and the first two NPOESS satellites are expected to be delayed by 7, 14, and 5 months, respectively."

NASA Solicitation: NASA 40th Anniversary "Salute to Apollo: The Kennedy Legacy"

"NASA Headquarters (HQ), Office of Strategic Communications, plans to host the NASA 40th Anniversary of Apollo "Salute to Apollo: The Kennedy Legacy", July 18, 2009, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with the National Symphony Orchestra. The Kennedy Center is renowned worldwide for its unique premiere location for distinctive special events. As the national center for the performing arts, the Kennedy Center honors the memory of President Kennedy and since President Kennedy is largely responsible for the Apollo program and human's first steps on the moon it is crucial for this particular performance to take place at the Kennedy Center. The Center has agreed to host the National Symphony Orchestra to perform a concert of works including Holst's "The Planets", popular, film and television music about space."

The evening event on this date is still listed as TBD at the Kennedy Center

Imagining News

Could NASA Workers Be Sabotaging Shuttles?, WESH

"NASA is taking a new approach to catch any rogue employees in the act of possibly sabotaging space shuttles. No one suspects any intentional damage to the shuttle Endeavour at the launch pad, where workers Wednesday night were just getting access after the morning's scrub. But NASA is investigating whether someone would damage the shuttle's fuel lines on purpose to possibly cause a delay that would, in turn, delay upcoming layoffs. The horror of the Challenger accident shows in the faces in Mission Control. The pieces of Columbia reflect space disaster. NASA has known much tragedy, but none of it is traceable to sabotage."

Keith's note: Gee, what a misleading headline from WESH. The article is about some studies NASA is doing to see if sabotage "might" be an issue using words such as "would", "if" etc. The headline asks if sabotage is happening - with no proof (that I can see) to even hint that such a thing has happened and/or that NASA is investigating actual events as suspected sabotage at this attempt. Alas, word has it that this all arose from a reporter's hypothetical question to Leroy Cain at a post-scrub press event. And now the media is creating a story out of thin air. Watch as other reporters create stories based on other reporter's stories ... And the media wonders why some folks at NASA do not take the press seriously? Stay tuned.

Some Stories are too Good to Check Out..., Miles O'Brien

"We all know every reporter worth his notebook wants to score a scoop - a big "exclusive" that will make him a newsroom hero - but sometimes the pressure to produce will lead a good scribe down a dark alley. This item from WESH-TV in Orlando is a good example of how a rumor mixed with a hunch leads to some pointed, loaded questions, which in turn prompts some unclear, easily-misconstrued answers. Voila - an Action News Sensation! Too bad it is not "sweeps" month..."

Back to the Moon

NASA Returning to the Moon with First Lunar Launch in a Decade

"NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched at 5:32 p.m. EDT Thursday aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellite will relay more information about the lunar environment than any other previous mission to the moon. The orbiter, known as LRO, separated from the Atlas V rocket carrying it and a companion mission, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and immediately began powering up the components necessary to control the spacecraft. The flight operations team established communication with LRO and commanded the successful deployment of the solar array at 7:40 p.m. The operations team continues to check out the spacecraft subsystems and prepare for the first mid-course correction maneuver. NASA scientists expect to establish communications with LCROSS about four hours after launch, at approximately 9:30 p.m."

Keith's note: The "real" Buzz is now on Twitter.

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee - Hearing: External Perspectives on the FY 2010 NASA Budget Request and Related Issues

On Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics
will hear from advisory and other stakeholder bodies on issues relevant to the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Hearing Charter

Live webcast (Real Player)

Augustine Round 1

NASA heads to moon as panel weighs its future, Reuters

"At the meeting, United Launch Alliance, a Boeing and Lockheed Martin joint venture that markets the unmanned Atlas and Delta rockets, pitched an upgraded version of its rockets to replace NASA's planned Ares booster, an option a NASA-backed study found to be less expensive. But the consultancy that prepared the study cautioned that would only be cheaper if NASA dropped plans for a second Ares rocket, a heavy-lifter that could carry cargo to the moon."

Review Panel Hears Rival Plans for New Spaceflights

"In dueling PowerPoint presentations before the 10-member panel, appointed by the Obama administration in April, NASA officials defended their progress in developing the next generation of rockets, while challengers said that they could do the job more quickly and less expensively."

NASA budget 'too small for return to Moon', AFP

"NASA simply can't do the job it's been given - the President's goal of being on the moon by 2020,'' Mr Nelson told the first public meeting of the Review of US Human Space Flight Plans Committee in Washington."

Review panel hears competing proposals to replace space shuttle, Orlando Sentinel

"Elon Musk, who runs the rocket company SpaceX, suggested NASA turn over more work to private business. SpaceX is under contract to build a rocket that can haul cargo - and could take humans - to the space station. "If commercial companies handle low-Earth orbit then NASA [can] handle the stuff beyond low-Earth orbit" such as the moon and Mars, Musk said."

Agenda Released for U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Meeting

"The first public meeting of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 17, at the Carnegie Institute, located at 1530 P Street NW in Washington. The meeting will take place in the auditorium and is open to the public. No pre-registration is required."

Agenda packed for NASA meeting, Huntsville Times

"The committee is headed by aerospace veteran Norman Augustine. It's a lot to cover in one day, said Keith Cowing, who runs the independent Web site NASAWatch.com. "You look at most of these commissions when they are put together, and it is 90 days of this and that in meetings and reviews, and then another two months of formulation," Cowing said Tuesday. "This is indeed a front-loaded review." The report has an August deadline."

@NASA_HSF: "We will be live-tweeting tomorrow's public meeting. Looking forward to interacting with everyone."

Fuel Leak Again Postpones Launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour

"NASA postponed the launch of space shuttle Endeavour's STS-127 mission Wednesday because of a leak associated with the gaseous hydrogen venting system outside the shuttle's external fuel tank. Endeavour's next launch opportunity is July 11. This date comes after the end of an orbital sun-angle condition called a beta angle cut-out, which occurs between June 22 and July 10. The cut-out creates a thermal condition that prohibits shuttle and space station docked operations. The gaseous hydrogen venting system is used to carry excess hydrogen safely away from the launch pad. Wednesday's leak is similar to one that prevented Endeavour's launch on June 13."

@apacheman "Once again, the best thing about launch scrub is left over VIP food. http://twitpic.com/7lzli" [photo]

Budget Update

AIP FYI #77: FY 2010 House NASA Appropriations Bill

"There is important language in the House Appropriations Committee report accompanying the FY 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill on NASA's programs. The House is scheduled to consider this bill today. Tomorrow, Norman Augustine and his colleagues on the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Committee will hold their first public meeting on the space agency's manned programs. Information on this committee, with a link to the all-day meeting (starting at 9:00 A.M.) can be found at http://hsf.nasa.gov"

NASA: Commercial Partners Are Making Progress, but Face Aggressive Schedules to Demonstrate Critical Space Station Cargo Transport Capabilities. GAO-09-618

"During the course of our review, we found NASA's management of the COTS project has generally adhered to critical project management tools and activities and the vast majority of project expenditures were for milestone payments to COTS partners. NASA has established fixed-price, performance-based milestones in its agreements with commercial partners and partners are only paid once the milestone has been successfully completed. NASA has also taken several steps since the beginning of the COTS project to ensure that risks were identified, assessed, and documented, and that mitigation plans were in place to reduce these risks. NASA has communicated regularly with its partners through quarterly and milestone reviews and provided them with technical expertise to assist in their development efforts and to facilitate integration with the space station. As of the end of fiscal year 2008, NASA has spent $290.1 million, with 95 percent of project funding spent on milestone payments to COTS partners."

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) Releases New Image of Apollo 12/Surveyor III Landing Site

"This image LO3-154-H was taken by Lunar Orbiter III on 20 February 1967 and shows the landing site for both Surveyor III (landed 20 April 1967) and Apollo 12 (landed 19 November 1969). Figure 1 shows the region without labels. Figure 2 shows major features plus EVA routes. This image has been recovered in its original high resolution format from original Lunar Orbiter project data tapes using restored tape drive hardware and will eventually be submitted to the PDS (Planetary Data System)."

Rapping Buzz

The Man on the Moon, NY Times

"What sort of music do you like? - I just did a rap session with Snoop Dogg and a rap composition called "Rocket Experience." It's going to be an online video. The Web site is funnyordie.com.

Do you actually sing on the video? - I relate. It's not singing, it's rapping."

Study Finds Human-rated Delta IV Cheaper

"A NASA-funded study found that a human-rated Delta IV heavy rocket could be a cheaper route to the International Space Station than NASA's Ares I crew launch vehicle. But the human-rated United Launch Alliance rocket would be less expensive only if the Ares V heavy-lift moon rocket development is deferred, the Aerospace Corp. study reports. And the Delta IV alternative could add two years or more to the "gap" in U.S. human access to orbit if it starts this year, according to the unreleased study obtained by Aviation Week."

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's Remarks to the Space Transportation Association, January 2008

"Finally, we considered both development and full life cycle costs. I cannot go into the details of this analysis in a speech, and in any case much of it involves proprietary data. We have shared the complete analysis with the DoD, various White House staff offices, CBO, GAO, and our Congressional oversight committees. Our analysis showed that for the combined crew and heavy-lift launch vehicles, the development cost of an EELV-derived architecture is almost 25% higher than that of the Shuttle-derived approach. The recurring cost of the heavy-lift Ares V is substantially less than competing approaches, and the recurring cost of an EELV upgraded to meet CEV requirements is, at best, comparable to that for Ares I. All independent cost analyses have been in agreement with these conclusions."

Keith's note: Word has it that NASA SMD is threatening to take all Mars R&A funds that are not released for
awards by the end of June to use elsewhere inside of SMD. Many are concerned that this action will spread outside of the Mars program. Either way, in the end, science is suffering due to the way that SMD is being run.

In a related noted, I have been compiling a list of mission delays that have happened in the past year under Ed Weiler. These slips are related to cost overruns that SMD is unable and/or unwilling to contain. Please let me know if I have missed any:

SDO: slipped from 2008 to 2009
MSL: slipped from 2009 to 2011
LDCM: slipped from 2011 to 2012
LADEE: slipped from 2011 to 2012
ILN: slipped from 2013 to 2018
JWST: slipped from 2013 to 2014
Solar Probe: slipped from 2015 to 2018
Mars Sample Return: slipped from 2018 to 2022 (or later)

Keith's note: According to a NASA press conference, LRO has given up its 17 June launch date to STS-127. If shuttle scrubs before midnight on 16 June then a 18 June launch is still possible for LRO.

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) Releases New Image of the Moon's South Pole

"This image was taken by Lunar Orbiter IV in May 1967 and shows the south pole of the Moon. Figure 1 shows the region with out labels. The moon's south pole is located near the rim of Shackleton Crater. Adjacent to the south pole is Shoemaker crater named in honor of famed planetary geologist Eugene Shoemaker. The Lunar Prospector spacecraft, carrying some of Shoemaker's ashes, was deliberately crashed in this crater in an attempt to see if any water ice would be thrown up by the impact. The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will be targeted to impact at either the south pole of the moon. As such. the moon's polar regions are of great interest right now."

Army gives soldiers access to Twitter, Facebook, GCN

"An Army order directs network managers across the country to stop blocking soldiers' access to certain Web 2.0 Web sites such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, according to several media reports today. The order issued May 18 jointly by the 93rd and 106th Signal Brigades, permits access to five social media sites within the continental U.S, said Stephen Bullock, strategic communication director for 7th Signal Command, which oversees the brigades. Bullock said the order "wasn't really a reversal of policy," as much as an effort to address inconsistent and often arbitrary decisions that had been made from base to base. "So we gave guidance that made it a consistent set of web filtering standards, resulting in better service for our users," he said. Access should be available to Facebook: Delicious, Flickr, Twitter and Vimeo via the Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network, he said."

A Brief History Review for Sen. Richard Shelby, Commercial Space Gateway

"Sen. Richard Shelby (R. - Ala.) is unhappy because NASA Administrator Christopher Scolese intends to use $150 million of the $400 million NASA received as part of the stimulus package to support the development of commercial space transportation for delivering cargo and personnel to the space station. His rationale reveals an astounding lack of historical perspective. During a May 21st hearing of the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee hearing, the Senator stated, "I believe that manned spaceflight is something that is still in the realm of government, because despite their best efforts, some truly private enterprises have not been able to deliver on plans of launching vehicles." I guess he missed the successful launch of Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) Falcon 1 rocket on Sept. 28, 2008."

Keith's note: It is quite obvious by now that Sen. Shelby is doing his level best to protect MSFC (and jobs in Alabama) from any possible commercial competition for the role of the seemingly doomed Ares 1 rocket and its phantom (and unfunded) sibling the Ares 5. He will clearly stoop to whatever level is required. Stay tuned - he is not done yet.

STS-127 Update

Shuttle Teams Make Leak Repairs, Consider Launch Options

"NASA managers will make a final decision by Monday afternoon about whether to launch space shuttle Endeavour on Wednesday, June 17 or wait until later in the week. ... Managers met Sunday afternoon to evaluate how repairs are going and assess when Endeavour's next launch attempt will be. The earliest the shuttle could be ready for liftoff is June 17, however there is a conflict on that date with the scheduled launch of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter/Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla."

NASA JSC MOD Memo: Policy on Use of Social Media

"Reply to Attn of : DA-09-010
TO: All MOD Personnel
FROM: DA/Director, Mission Operations
SUBJECT: Policy on Use of Social Media

The following is MOD policy for use of "social media" (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.). This policy is consistent with JSC Announcement 08-032 and NASA Policy Directive (NPD) 2540.1F "Policy on Personal Use of Government Office Equipment Including Information Technology."

This policy applies to all MOD employees: NASA, NASA contractor, and subcontractor personnel who are authorized by contract to use Government office equipment.

NASA employees and contractors are permitted limited use of Government office equipment for personal needs if the use does not interfere with official business and involves only minimal additional expense to the Government. Personal use means uses other than for official Government business. Some personal use is considered inappropriate. Specific provisions regarding personal use and activities particularly considered inappropriate are identified in NPD 2540.1F*. More specifically, section e, paragraph 10, defines "Inappropriate Personal Uses" to include: "Use for posting Agency information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authority."

To be compliant, MOD will enforce a policy of not permitting the posting to "social" sites of mission operations information that has not been released by the Public Affairs Office (PAO). This includes, but is not limited to, realtime information. PAO is responsible for posting such information.

Original Signed by:

Paul S. Hill"

* (10) Use for posting Agency information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authority. This includes any use that could create the perception that the communication was made in one's official capacity as a Federal Government employee or uses at odds with NASA's mission or positions. Inappropriate use also includes participating in Chat Rooms, News Groups, or other similar activities where the posting and NASA internet address will be seen by the public. Adding a disclosure statement that the views expressed do not represent those of the Agency is not an acceptable alternative.

Keith's note: Wow. So ... MOD can pre-emptively make decisions that JSC (and NASA) PAO should be making. How dysfunctional. This is certainly in overt conflict with what the White House wants all Federal agencies to be doing so as to be "transparent" and "open". Stay tuned.

Gaseous Hydrogen Leak Postpones Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch

"A gaseous hydrogen leak on a vent line for space shuttle Endeavour is postponing this morning's launch. The official scrub time was 12:26 a.m. EDT. Launch teams began draining Endeavour's external fuel tank of its liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen at 12:06 a.m. Fueling was halted after the leak was detected near the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, which attached to the external tank at its intertank area. The line leads from the GUCP back to the launch pad and to the "flare stack" where vented gaseous hydrogen is burned off. The leak is similar to what happened during the first launch attempt of space shuttle Discovery's STS-119 mission in March."

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Launches Spacebook

"What's next for Spacebook? There are currently pilots at Ames Research Center and Kennedy Space Center on SharePoint so integrating these capabilities may be desirable. The ability to leverage use of widgets and have use mashable apps is something that we want."

Keith's note: "May be desirable"? Yikes, of course it is desirable that they are mutually integrated. Note the title of this post "NASA Goddard launches ... " not "NASA launches ..." It is bad enough that NASA is trying to reinvent the wheel internally with in-house applications. But the thought of NASA having multiple internally-developed social networking sites which are, by definition, much less capable than the ones you find in the real world, is really scary. Yet another example of how this agency is incapable of cooperating internally - the net result being that every center needs to have its own shiny new toy.

What is sadly humorous is how this blog post was written - one that is freely open to the public - yet a link is offered to Spacebook that only works inside the NASA firewall. Why bother putting it there if no one outside can use it? Yet another example of how NASA never stops to ponder the reaction of the rest of the world to what it does inside the gate.

My snarkiness aside, Linda is to be congratulated for jumping into this Brave New World like few other NASA center CIOs have. You have to start somewhere - and she has. Now she and the other forward-thinking CIOs need to make the next big step - to go beyond the mind-numbing cultural confines of their respective field centers and implement NASA-wide solutions.

Dear Space Media Professionals:

I've been following the House Appropriations Commerce Justice Science bill's actions on COTS basically all week. I've even posted a couple times to various blogs in response to correct/incorrect guesses, based on my understanding of what is happening.

In the interests of trying to clarify the questions/concerns, if not calm everyone down, here are some facts and then some hypotheses:

Keith's note: This was emailed by Michael Interbartolo to the members of the open/public Facebook group "Greetings from Mission Control". So much for transparency at Mission Control. Why not give Ellen Engleman Conners (the one who is ultimately responsible for this policy) a call at +1 281 483-8456 or email her at ellen.e.conners@nasa.gov

"I wanted to let you know that per new Mission Operations Directorate Social Media Policy I will no longer be posting any publicly available photos or videos whether it be on my own time or government time. Nor will there be any translation of the publicly released execute packages or the PAO media kit for the general public to better understand what is going on during a mission as it is not considered official PAO sanctioned release of information.

While I am disheartened with this policy and feel it goes against the mission statement of "To inspire the next generation of explorers... as only NASA can." I will comply and there will be no updates during the upcoming STS-127 mission. It is my hope in the future the Agency/Center/Directorate will find a way to harness this and other social media tools and not limit the interaction with the public to those solely in PAO or the Astronaut Office."

Update from Mike Interbartolo: "The policy which was internal to Mission Operations not handed down by PAO has been clarified and as long as myself or anyone else posts information that has already been released to the public (whether it be PAO websites, NASATV, MMT press conference etc) we are okay to engage the public on social media sites on a non-interference basis. Our prime job is still to ensure safe manned spaceflight operations."

Editor's note: JSC PAO is ultimately responsible for all such policies. If it was implemented with their knowledge then shame on them. If it was not, then shame on them.

"So Greetings From Mission Control will continue to post what it has for several missions pictures/videos and other mission ops data that folks could probably find on nasa.gov and elsewhere if they knew where to look or how to understand an execute package."

Editor's note: THAT is great news - but this dysfunctionality vis a vis PAO, MOD and policies needs to be addressed such that everyone knows what can and cannot be done - and why. The fact that there was this much confusion can - and should - be traced directly back to Ellen Engleman Conners.

AP Interview: Ex-NASA head critical of Obama move, AP

"But Griffin doesn't have the same warm feelings about the administration's decision to study NASA's plan for the manned spaceflight program. Critics both outside and inside the agency have questioned NASA's plans for returning to the moon and, eventually, traveling to Mars. "This review is not, in my judgment, necessary from a technical point of view," he said. "But it does seem to be necessary if we are going to quiet some of the criticism of what NASA is doing, and if we are going to get the new administration on board."

Keith's note: Gee Mike, where do I start - how about the rocket you designed (Ares 1) - one that still does not have a workable design after a PDR that is still not complete; cannot launch the Orion vehicle it was supposed to be able to launch (requiring a crew reduction); risks crew injury during use of its launch escape system (as currently designed); and despite misinformation from MSFC to the contrary (as currently designed), still exposes crews to unacceptable vibrations (JSC report on its way to HQ). I'd say there is ample doubt to fuel a re-examination of your plans.

You can catch up with Mike and Becky at GriffinSpace LLC - when they get their website online, that is.

Jack Eddy

Note from Madhulika Guhathakurta (Lika) Guhathakurta, PhD:

Dear Team, It is with great sadness I bring the news that our team member Jack Eddy passed away on June 10th after his three year long battle with cancer. He served on the TR&T SC for as long as I can remember and I have learnt so much from him both professionally and personally. He has been an advisor to LWS program for the last 6 years and I will miss his wisdom as we move forward. Below I have attached information on his memorial service.

A Memorial Service will be held in Tucson on Saturday, June 27th at 11:00 am, with a reception following. The service will be at:

St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church
North Campbell at River Road
(4440 N. Campbell Avenue)

Fiscal Year 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act Terminations & Reductions, House Appropriations Committee

"NASA, commercial crew and cargo: program phase out 2009 enacted: 113,900 2010 Request: 0"

Keith's note: According to some sources this is not a "cut" to COTS - if you read the top of this chart it says "Terminations & Reductions" and the "0" in 2010 therefore means "zero cuts to the 2010 request."

Stay tuned.

Shelby holding up NASA stimulus funding, Space Politics

"Space News reports in its print edition this week that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is holding up the release of "most if not all" of the $1 billion allocated to NASA in the stimulus bill approved earlier this year. The problem is that NASA is planning to spend $150 million of the $400 million appropriated to exploration for ISS commercial resupply activity, including early work to support commercial crew missions to the station."

Industry and Government Leaders to Explore Future of Commercial Space Transportation of Crew and Cargo

"Industry and government leaders will meet on June 18 to explore the promising future of commercial space transportation -- of humans as well as cargo -- in meeting government and private sector needs in low Earth orbit. The special half-day event, "Innovations in Orbit: An Exploration of Commercial Crew and Cargo Transportation," will feature panelists and speakers from NASA, the FAA, and the private sector, discussing a broad array of innovative commercial space transportation concepts. Organized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the discussion is free and open to the public, and takes place on Thursday, June 18, at 1:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Capitol Room A, Lobby Level, 400 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001."

Getting To Know Max

A Closer Look at the Max Launch Abort System, OnOrbit

"The test launch of the Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility has been delayed to no earlier than 20 June due to weather issues. Here's a look at the vehicle itself courtesy of NASA and what it is supposed to accomplish - plus some pictures you have probaby never seen before.

Mission Information: The NASA Constellation Program is developing an astronaut escape system for its Orion spacecraft, designed to carry humans to the International Space Station by 2015 and to the lunar surface by 2020. In a parallel effort, another NASA team, led by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), is preparing to demonstrate an alternate escape system to explore different technological approaches to the same task. The alternate escape system, called Max Launch Abort System (MLAS), is a risk mitigation effort on behalf of Orion. MLAS was named after Maxime (Max) Faget, a Mercury-era pioneer. Faget was the designer of the Project Mercury Capsule and holder of the patent for the "Aerial Capsule Emergency Separation Device," which is commonly known as the escape tower."

NASA's Ares I-X Rocket Achieves Historic Hardware Milestones

"NASA's Constellation Program reached two major processing milestones this week as two new pieces of Ares I-X hardware were transferred for final assembly in preparation for the first flight test of the rocket later this summer at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once stacking operations begin later this month, it will be the first time a new vehicle has been stacked on NASA's Mobile Launch Platform in more than 25 years. The forward assembly, composed of the forward skirt, forward skirt extension and the frustum, was moved Thursday from Kennedy's Assembly Refurbishment Facility, or ARF, to the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking operations."

Frank's note: One of the casualties of the tight budget squeeze at NASA was the closing in 2007 of the agencys Institute for Advanced Concepts, the closest thing for a think tank that the aging bureaucracy has had in its 50 year history. Chartered to think about truly revolutionary, way-out space exploration devices and technologies, Mike Griffin needed to poach the groups paltry $4 million annual budget to help absorb Return-to-Flight cost of the Space Shuttle and funding for Constellation-although $4 million wouldnt cover much in the grand scheme of the Shuttle or Constellation budgets. To my knowledge (readers correct me if Im wrong) no where else within NASA do people get paid to just think very long range ideas. My question: does such a group belong in NASA and should it or something like it be revived? And if you think so, what should its highest priority be? Propulsion? Artificial gravity systems? Space Elevator? Revamping its image? (no, thats too far out) Or when faced with such constrained budgets, should this far-future research be deferred until better times?

Killing NIAC, earlier post

Keith's 2007 note: "Word has it that NASA intends to cancel funding for NIAC the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts. This is just plain stupid. Let me repeat this for clarity's sake, Mike, (whoever made it) this is A STUPID DECISION. Advanced spacesuits that will open the surface of the moon - and then Mars- to meaningful and productive human exploration, tethers and other innovative and upmass-saving technologies, and other in-space techologies."

Frank's update: As of early Friday June 12th the bring-back NIAC posters are in the overwhelming majority, although some want it overhauled or restructured to include inside-NASA ideas, not just from external sources. Id still like to know if you all think its original $4 mil per annum budget was adequate

MLAS Test Delayed

NASA Reschedules Test of Max Launch Abort System

"Because of weather concerns and launch site preparation needs, NASA has rescheduled the test launch of the Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS, to no earlier than June 20 at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. The launch window June 20 extends from approximately 5:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. EDT. The launch had been scheduled previously for June 15. The unpiloted test is part of an effort to design a system for safely propelling future spacecraft and crews away from hazards on the launch pad or during the climb to orbit. This system was developed as an alternative concept to the launch abort system chosen for NASA's Orion crew capsule."


Kaguya's Impact Point On The Moon Has Been Identified

"Japan's lunar explorer "KAGUYA", which was in the extended operational phase, has been carrying out observations of the Moon from lower altitude since February 1, 2009, to continued observations in more detail. The "KAGUYA" was conclude its scientific mission to the Moon through a uncontrolled impact on the lunar surface."

Kaguya Has Crashed into the Moon, Lunar Picture of the Day

NASA Budget Update

NASAstates going ballistic over cash cuts, The Hill

"A bipartisan group of Texas and Florida lawmakers is pressuring House appropriators to restore hundreds of millions of dollars for space travel, warning that cutting NASA's budget next year could hurt the economy and national security. House members from the two states that house NASA's major space centers met Wednesday to discuss ways to restore the funding, while Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) blasted the proposed reductions as "destructive."

Hutchison: Proposed cuts to NASA 'destructive', The Hill

"Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) blasted the House's reductions to President Obama's NASA budget proposal, warning that they could hurt U.S. security and the economy. Hutchison said that the reductions, which total $650.6 million, were "destructive." The biggest proposed reduction made by the House Appropriations Committee is a $566.5 million cut from Obama's request for space exploration funding."

Senator Shelby talks about NASA budget, WAFF

"I will do everything I can to make sure Marshall is properly funded in the scheme of the whole NASA situation. But we have not marked up yet," said Senator Shelby."

Make the most of NASA Glenn visitors center, wherever it may land, opinion, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Moving the visitors center would help meet NASA's requirement that Glenn cut $500,000 a year from its public affairs programs and would put information about what's going on at Glenn where people could see it more easily, in a public setting where security isn't the first priority."

Keith's note: Sources report that Sen. Sherrod Brown is the moving force behind closing the visitor's center at GRC and moving its contents to the Great Lakes Science Center - a project he has been working to build up.

Bolden Makes The Rounds

Bolden, Hutchison meet to discuss NASA, AP

"It appears as though the confirmation process for General Charles Bolden as the head of NASA is headed in the right direction. The former astronaut and ABC 13 space consultant was in Washington today to meet with prominent U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison."

Sen. DeMint meets with NASA nominee, Columbia native, WIS

"Wednesday U.S. Senator Jim DeMint met with Columbia native Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr. to discuss his recent nomination by President Obama to become NASA Administrator."

Sen. Richard Shelby: Obama pick for top NASA job is capable, Huntsville Times

"I look forward to meeting with him and working with him. The confirmation process will have to take place, and I'm not making any predictions or judgments, but (Bolden) certainly is a capable man and has the qualifications. We'll have to see what the Senate thinks and move from there," Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said shortly after a building dedication at Marshall Space Flight Center.

From KenMonroe Let's review some common misconceptions about NASA funding. For those of you quoting NASA's budget as a percentage of the overall federal budget please note that by my calculations it is now down to one-half-of-one-percent of federal outlays. Most people in industry are still quoting 0.7 percent. It was 0.7 percent in 2004, and 0. 6 percent as recently as 2006. Currently, NASA's FY2010 request is $18.686 billion. According to the OMB website total FY10 outlays are $3.591. [More]

From @KenMonroe (House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics staff) "For those of you asking why House Appropriators reduced NASA funding, I recommend you re-read the NASA part of the opening statement of Subcommittee Chairman Mollohan (D-WV) and draw your own conclusions http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/CJS-FY10-06-04-09.pdf Many of our members are not in favor the reductions to Exploration but we are in a democracy and the majority rules. Basically, Obama's NASA budget has fundimentally reprioritized the Agency." [More]

This photo (Frame 133-H2) of the future Apollo 14 landing site was taken by Lunar Orbiter III on 20 February 1967 at an orbital altitude of 46.7 km. The resolution of the image is around 0.8 meters per pixel. The area covered by this image is 4.52167 x 5.77666 km.

Figure 1 shows the image unlabeled. In Figure 2 we have overlaid the EVA route upon this image so as to show where the crew set foot. While the crew were supposed to visit Cone crater they stopped 20 meters short of doing so due to some confusion as to their exact location. That said, they did visit some large rocks located adjacent to Cone crater's rim. The enlargement of this Lunar Orbiter image clearly shows some large rocks poised near the crater's rim. The inset photo shows the largest outcropping as photographed by the crew on the surface.

[images and information at Moonviews]

Feasibility of using Constellation Architecture for Servicing Existing and Future Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft, NASA SMD

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is soliciting information through this Request for Information (RFI) to improve its understanding of using the capabilities of its Constellation System, adaptations of the Constellation System architectures, and/or robotic technologies to service a wide range of notional science observatory-class spacecraft. The NASA-defined notional missions studied will be consistent with NASA's current portfolio of future space science missions and/or conceptual mission ideas that were presented to the National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA's Constellation System during the spring of 2008. These notional missions include observatories designed to operate in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), at Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), and at Earth-Sun Lagrangian points L1 and L2."

Astronomy and the Media: a love story?

"In astronomy as in other scientific or societal fields, communication is an important aspect that no single organisation can overlook. Especially public research organisations should be accountable to the public for the tax money they use. This is only possible if the public is well informed. But this is even more crucial in order to secure additional funding for new projects.

As one scientist said, perhaps a little bit too provocatively, "the one percent spent on outreach allows one to get the 99 percent to have the project done". This is most likely too strong a statement but the general idea is there. Communication is also important to entertain the necessary excellent relations with the local communities - some of the large astronomical observatories know a lot about this.

Communication is also essential for astronomy to fulfil a fundamental role in modern society: attracting bright youngsters to scientific careers. Although girls and boys are more and more moving away from science, there is a great need for future scientists. And even if the young people won't become scientists, it is important that they are sensitive to science as a whole: as grown-ups, they won't be able to avoid relying on science in their daily life, and they will have to take decisions with a scientific dimension."

Online social networking: The glue that binds people together at NASA, Opennasa.com

"... I tied the process and implementation of the pilot back to the elements of glue. In NASAsphere, an adhesive layer was created by building trust into the network, as well as setting expectations of participation. Mechanisms for bonding were described by NASAsphere participants, when asked "is social networking just for Gen Y, or can anyone do it?" They mentioned "attitude and openness," "willingness to embrace (new things)," "'ageless' attitude," and an "attitude to can overcome fears," amongst other things. Testing the bonds really comes down to the activity level and results of the group of people."

Findings from the NASAsphere Pilot

Keith's note: In all fairness I was not able to see or use the NASAsphere system nor am I allowed to post comments at Opennasa.com. That said, based on the excellent materials in this post and discussions with some actual users, I have to ask what the value is of NASA reinventing the wheel when other social networking tools are already publicly available. Indeed, NASA seems to be working on several competing/duplicative systems with another one at GSFC supposedly about to go online. This is being done at a time when the agency still has no established guidelines as to how social network tools could or should be used at the agency.

More importantly, instead of creating in-house, NASA-branded social network systems and thus perpetuating a closed society that is impenetrable to the outside world, NASA employees should be increasing their interactions with the external (real) world - not avoiding them. NASA needs to use all of these readily available tools to become more transparent - not more opaque.

Oh yes: look at the expensive mess that NASA has gotten into with ODIN, NOMAD etc. Does anyone really expect that an internal NASA social networking system would ever keep pace with the tools that the rest of the world will be using? Imagine what would have resulted if NASA had tried to invent Twitter ...

NASA's CIOs are all meeting in Huntsville. Hopefully they are talking about this issue. The tools are already out there waiting to be used.

Space and Back Coloring Book

"What is Technology Transfer? Many times the tools NASA creates can also help us do things better here on Earth. When NASA sees a way to put a tool that they use in space to use for something in our world, they "transfer" that technology to a company that can use it. This is called "Technology Transfer." Each of NASA's ten Field Centers has people whose job it is to find new uses for the tools their scientists have developed. This coloring book was put together by the people at the Technology Transfer Program office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. With the help of Space Pup, Goddard's technology transfer mascot, we'll show you how we use some of those space technologies here on Earth!"

From "Iowa Mom": I wanted to update your "One Convert At A Time" June 2nd story:

As the mom of one of the "3 Iowa Boys" staying in the Marriott hotel last week, I have to tell you how wonderful everyone from NASA was to these boys. When we put up the "We love NASA" sign we thought that maybe, if we were lucky, someone would put up a sign back to the boys and end of story. To arrive in our hotel room and find a package left by NASA amazed and thrilled my sister, all 3 boys and myself.

Later that day we went to visit NASA's gift shop, only to discover it had closed for the day. An employee, Mike Chambers, saw us standing there and told us to wait there. He came back several minutes later with a few more things for the boys. He also suggested we come back the next day and visit the library. He gave us his name and office phone number in case we had trouble visiting the library.

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) Releases New High Resolution Image of the Ocean of Storms

"The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) has released a newly-retrieved, high resolution image taken of the lunar surface 42 years ago. This image was taken by Lunar Orbiter III (LPI data) in February 1967. This oblique photo shows the region around the crater Galilaei and Planitia Descensus in Oceanus Procellarum (the Sea of Storms). In the upper center of the image you can see the Great Wall of Procellarum."

Report on the Space Economy Symposium Finds Space an Essential Part of Global Economic Infrastructure

"The Space Economy Symposium, an initiative of George Mason University in collaboration with Phillips & Company and the Space Enterprise Council, was held March 13, 2009, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC. The goals of this half-day Symposium were to make space a central part of the national economic policy discussions and to ensure that space is recognized as an essential component of national competitiveness in a global economy. Through presentations, panel discussions, and participant interaction, the Symposium promoted new perspectives and insights about the present and future impacts of space on the economy, the roles of government, industry and entrepreneurs in developing the Space Economy, and trends in commercial space that are driving economic growth."

Nominees for the Space Agency, editorial, NY Times

"Unfortunately, General Bolden lacks deep expertise in space science and engineering and his past ties with the aerospace industry will raise conflict of interest problems."

Blog response to May 28 New York Times Editorial by Coalition Advisory Board Member Fred Gregory, Coalition for Space Exploration

"I was disappointed to see a recent New York Times editorial (May 28, "Nominees for the Space Agency") that questioned President Obama's selection of Charles Bolden, Jr. and Lori Garver as NASA's top leaders. Both Bolden, a former astronaut and retired Marine general, and Garver, a NASA policy specialist, have proven their abilities to lead. The real question is whether they will have the necessary resources to address the tough work of transitioning from the space shuttle to Constellation, the next generation of spaceflight vehicles to the moon and beyond."

Thursday 12 June 2009: noon: "Come hear Dennis Wingo of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) discuss their use of Mac OS X technology to save our Space Race heritage. LOIRP is retrieving, digitizing and publishing high-resolution pictures of the Moon captured by five NASA space probes ahead of the Apollo 11 moon landings in 1969. These tapes - rescued from destruction by a determined NASA archivist - represent some of the highest-resolution pictures ever taken of the Moon's surface and are a priceless piece of history."

More info at http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/sciencemedicine/

"The SETI Institute's Jill Tarter makes her TED Prize wish: to accelerate our search for cosmic company. Using a growing array of radio telescopes, she and her team listen for patterns that may be a sign of intelligence elsewhere in the universe."

Video below

Sen. Richard Shelby: Obama pick for top NASA job is capable, Huntsville Times

"I look forward to meeting with him and working with him. The confirmation process will have to take place, and I'm not making any predictions or judgments, but (Bolden) certainly is a capable man and has the qualifications. We'll have to see what the Senate thinks and move from there," Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said shortly after a building dedication at Marshall Space Flight Center."

Shelby holding up NASA stimulus funding, Space Politics

"Space News reports in its print edition this week that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is holding up the release of "most if not all" of the $1 billion allocated to NASA in the stimulus bill approved earlier this year. The problem is that NASA is planning to spend $150 million of the $400 million appropriated to exploration for ISS commercial resupply activity, including early work to support commercial crew missions to the station."

Jim Walker

Walker, physicist, trainer at NASA, Houston Chronicle

"James L. "Jim" Walker, who trained astronauts and worked in the Mission Control Center for NASA's Gemini missions and for the Skylab Program, died at home in Houston on May 31 after a battle with cancer. He was 69. Walker was born in the rural farming community of Somerset, Pa., on Sept. 22, 1939. His wife, Julie Noble-Walker, described him as a "brilliant physicist and the kindest soul you could ever meet."

LOIRP Releases Lunar Orbiter Ranger 8 Impact Crater Image

"The Lunar Orbiter II-070-H image (Frame 70, High resolution) has a unique feature that is relevant to the LCROSS mission. This image shows the impact site of the Ranger 8 mission. This location was identified decades ago and is discussed in the NASA SP-168. This location was also photographed during the Apollo 16 mission (NASA SP-315 page 29-46) but at a lower resolution of 3-5 meters. The image was taken from an altitude of 45.81 km. The resolution is about 0.4 meters per pixel. The crater from the Ranger impact is not well defined in the existing film database, especially as it appears at the boundary between two framelets."

Data Transparency via Data.gov, White House Blog

"The Administration is committed to moving past these barriers in providing the American public withunprecedented access to useful, unfiltered government data. An important part of that effort is Data.gov, a platform for free access to data generated across all federal agencies. Through Data.gov, we aim to provide an open architecture and to make data available in multiple formats. The goal of Data.gov is to enable better decision-making, drive transparency, and help to power innovation for a stronger America. If you havent yet checked it out, I encourage you to do so. Whether for a school research project, developing a new application, or evaluating a business opportunity, you might just be surprised by what you find."

Keith's note: When you go to Data.gov and select which agencies to search NASA is not listed. Yet NOAA, NSF, etc. are listed.

"Santa Clara University students control a NASA science satellite PharmaSat. It's a graduate program called "Intro To Satellite Operations." Not the first time SCU has served as mission control for a NASA satellite. Students upload commands and downlink science data, and some will later go to work for NASA."

Video below

Keith's note: Check out NASA's Space Your Face feature.

Specifically, this video wherein Chris Scolese busts some moves on the lunar surface. It only took me a few seconds to make this.

Who knew he was such a dancing machine?

Kosmas and Posey Urge House Committee to Restore Human Spaceflight Funding

"Today, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) and Congressman Bill Posey (FL-15) sent a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging their colleagues to restore critical funding for NASA's human spaceflight program. On Thursday, the Appropriations Committee's Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Subcommittee released their draft FY 2010 funding bill, which provides only $3.3 billion for exploration, nearly $700 million less than the President's request. "With so many jobs at risk, we should be working to minimize the gap, not cutting funding for human spaceflight," said Congresswoman Kosmas. "I appreciate the desire to wait for recommendations from the Augustine Panel, but cutting funds in the meantime sends the wrong message and increases the risk of losing a professional workforce that may not be easily reassembled for future programs. Restoring funding and preserving jobs is a bipartisan, economic issue, and I am proud to work with Congressman Posey to express the urgency of the situation to the Appropriations Committee."

Keith's note: On 15 October 2008 H.R.6063 became became Public Law No: 110-422. It has been more than 7 months since enactment - 236 days. Will NASA comply with Congressional direction by the specified 270 day deadline and issue the plan regarding participatory exploration?


(a) In General- The Administrator shall develop a technology plan to enable dissemination of information to the public to allow the public to experience missions to the Moon, Mars, or other bodies within our solar system by leveraging advanced exploration technologies. The plan shall identify opportunities to leverage technologies in NASA's Constellation systems that deliver a rich, multi-media experience to the public, and that facilitate participation by the public, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and international partners. Technologies for collecting high-definition video, 3- dimensional images, and scientific data, along with the means to rapidly deliver this content through extended high bandwidth communications networks, shall be considered as part of this plan. It shall include a review of high bandwidth radio and laser communications, high-definition video, stereo imagery, 3-dimensional scene cameras, and Internet routers in space, from orbit, and on the lunar surface. The plan shall also consider secondary cargo capability for technology validation and science mission opportunities. In addition, the plan shall identify opportunities to develop and demonstrate these technologies on the International Space Station and robotic missions to the Moon, Mars, and other solar system bodies. As part of the technology plan, the Administrator shall examine the feasibility of having NASA enter into contracts and other agreements with appropriate public, private sector, and international partners to broadcast electronically, including via the Internet, images and multimedia records delivered from its missions in space to the public, and shall identify issues associated with such contracts and other agreements. In any such contracts and other agreements, NASA shall adhere to a transparent bidding process to award such contracts and other agreements, pursuant to United States law. As part of this plan, the Administrator shall include estimates of associated costs.

(b) Report- Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit the plan to the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate."

Marshall Institute: Innovation in Aerospace

"During much of the 20th century, the aerospace industry drove innovation in the U.S. economy. Thus, it earned the moniker, "the space age." By the end of the century, however, developments in information technology, biological sciences, and biotechnology seemed to eclipse aerospace as a major driver of innovation in the United States. Indeed, the "information revolution" replaced the "space age" as an off-hand reference to the century. ... The Marshall Institute is holding a workshop to explore the means of promoting greater creativity and innovation in the aerospace industry. In particular, the workshop will examine the challenges, lessons, and applicability of the information technology industry's practices for the aerospace community and the experience that innovative firms have had in working with government agencies."

Give JPL workers their space, opinion, LA Times

"Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. now has 60 days to decide whether to appeal the 9th Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court. As Dan Stormer, one of the lawyers representing the JPL scientists, put it: "This really is a gut check for the Obama administration on privacy issues. No other administration ever has gone as far in invading the privacy of U.S. citizens, and it would be shocking if Holder proceeds with this." Holder already has shown a willingness to disengage from the Bush-Cheney regime's reckless overreaching, as in the case of the trumped-up espionage prosecution of two former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The attorney general needs to do the right thing again and let the men and women of JPL get back to the serious business of exploring the universe."

JPL Employees Win Appeal on HSPD-12, earlier post

NASA Blog: Dual-Plane Isolators Emerge as Most Promising Thrust Oscillation Fix

"Engineers and rocket scientists love data. So no surprise the NASA thrust oscillation mitigation team has been gathering reams of data to best understand how to design an integrated vehicle that avoids thrust oscillation. This week at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. NASA and industry engineers reviewed the latest progress to qualify and validate our understanding of thrust oscillation problems and solutions."

Article says Air Force doubts Orion can escape an Ares I disaster, Orlando Sentinel

"According to Florida Today, the finding was detailed in a May 20 memo from Brig. Gen. Edward Bolton, commander of the 45th Space Wing headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, to NASA's Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley. "Recent Air Force studies have called into question the survivability of the crew module in the fratricide environment from a destructing first-stage solid rocket booster," the paper quoted the memo as saying. However, the article also has Hanley pooh-poohing the Air Force's concerns, saying that "supercomputer analyses" will prove that the Ares I rocket is a fine vehicle and Orion's launch abort system will be able to save the crew in the event disaster strikes."

Keith's note: word has it that the meeting at Ames did not go well for Steve Cook and that it ended early as a result. Seems that Steve was not interested in any opinions that wandered away from the official party line.

Steve Cook Wants to Be The Next Deputy Center Director at Marshall, earlier post

Ares PDR Was Not As Smooth As NASA Says It Was, earlier post

Keith's note: You know, after 3 stints on Devon Island - two of which were for a month on site, I have gotten to be very good at doing the mental adjustment to expeditionary life. I just fall into it and go with the flow. Life in a tent, working with electronics and frozen fingers in a tent, eating awful food in a tent, separation from my wife ... been there, done that.

[Image: outside my tent packing my bags for the trip down to Kathmandu collecting some rocks for the folks back home enlarge]

But .... so much happened so fast at Everest that I just surfed over it - with the focus on getting the tasks at hand accomplished. When I got sick with food poisoning down at Periche, I focused like a laser beam upon dragging my dehydrated body back to Everest Base Camp - undaunted - to complete my "mission".

And then Scott summited and a day later we were gone.

Now things are flooding back ... my physical summit was Kala Pattar - 18,600 feet - but my emotional summit is still in formulation.

All very strange - but enjoyably strange - its uncharted territory for me.

I need to write the story "Confessions of a Moon Rock Courier" this week. The impression that Sherpas have of holding a moon rock in their hands is ... humbling - and instructive. If only we Westerners could be so simple and pure in our appreciation as to what these moon rocks represent.

Red tape in orbit, Economist

"A small company has won an important legal challenge to America's space-technology export-control regime ... In December 2007, a company called Bigelow Aerospace, filed the first legal challenge to America's rules for exporting space technology. It disputed the government's claim that foreign passengers travelling on a spaceship or space station were involved in a transfer of technology. The outcome suggests that there may be a chink in the armour of the export-control regime."

Under the existing rules, any non-American passengers on its space stations would have to comply with onerous export-control rules. These take months to satisfy and could plausibly even require government monitors to be present whenever the foreigner was near American space technology. Even training on the ground in a mock-up module is deemed a transfer of technology and therefore subject to controls."

Dot Mars, Economist

"Cyberspace is noisy, chatty and well-connected. Space, by contrast, is not. Communication between Earth and spacecraft is clunky and reminiscent of the days when switchboard operators had to plug in telephone lines by hand to connect the people at either end. But that is now about to change. America's space agency, NASA, has been researching what it calls the delay- (or disruption-) tolerant network protocol, or DTN. The idea is to introduce to space the automated protocols that enable seamless communication on the terrestrial internet."

Clueless on Mars

Keith's note: Based on this message being circulated by Washington DC area Mars Society members, it would seem that the organization needs to provide some better information to its membership. The author asks "Who is Mr Augustine anyway, and why was the fellow considered a good lead for this effort?". Perhaps NASA Watch readers can fill them in on Mr. Augustine's background.

Full message below

Frank's note: There was a time-back in the day when NASA funded research programs designed to develop advanced space launch technologies, which in part were to reduce the cost of space transportation. The Next Generation Launch Technology (NGLT) program and the Space Launch Initiative (SLI) funded a series of innovative designs in liquid rocket engines, propulsion systems, materials and structures. SLI gave rise to the X-33 and X-34 technology demonstrator programs. When the X-33 developed technical problems that absorbed its limited budget, it-and the X-34-were canceled. The promising Clipper Graham DC-X program, inherited by NASA from DoDs SDIO, was abandoned when the single flight test article was destroyed in a landing accident. All of the engine design programs-such as COBRA, STME-were also dead-ends.

Today, single stage launch vehicles fly only in the pages of science fiction. While the present Orion-Ares 1 architecture may well be the safe, simple, soonest launch solution promised by ESMD, notice nobody is claiming an Orion-Ares 1 stack will be cheaper than a Shuttle flight. My question to readers: what is the governments role and responsibility in reducing the cost of access to space? Would you bring back NGLT-or a revamped version of the SLI minus specific vehicle test beds such as the X-33/X-34? How would you revitalize spaceplane research? And would any of you remove funding from existing NASA programs such as exploration to fund research in advanced launch technologies? Or has that ship sailed?

NASA Launches Human Space Flight Review Web Site for Public Use

"NASA is inviting the public to make its voice heard as a panel of experts undertakes an independent review of planned U.S. human space flight activities. NASA has created a Web site for the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee to facilitate a two-way conversation with the public about the future direction of the agency's space flight programs. In addition to providing documents and information, the site will allow the public to track committee activities, receive regular updates and provide input through Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter, Flickr, user-submitted questions, polls and RSS feeds. Additional features and content may be added as the committee's activities continue."

A note from Mary Elizabeth Sisk on behalf of U.S. Army Accessions Command: "As you may know, space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to launch on June 13, 2009. On board, U.S. Army Astronaut Colonel Timothy Kopra will travel to the International Space Station for his first mission, scheduled to join Expedition 20 as flight engineer after launching to the ISS with the STS-127 crew. Throughout his mission, Col. Kopra will be sharing his story about what it's like to be a U.S. Army Soldier aboard the ISS. I'd like to share the opportunity for you and your readers to send questions to Col. Kopra at http://www.goarmy.com/space. You'll be able to submit questions starting today, leading up to the Endeavour launch and throughout the Expedition 20 mission, and Col. Kopra will be answering submitted questions from space throughout his stay at the ISS. As part of the U.S. Army's NASA detachment, Col. Kopra is currently one of four active duty Soldier astronauts. Facebook users can become a "fan" or learn more about the U.S. Army Astronauts here: http://www.facebook.com/usarmyastronauts."

NASA Solicitation: Purchase of Billboard Advertising Space

"NASA/GRC has a requirement for the purchase of advertising space on billboard #222 located at Rt. 237 n/o Snow Road, Cleveland, OH. The advertising is scheduled to start the week of May 18, 2009 and will remain on display for one (1) year. NASA/GRC intends to purchase this item from Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc. 12222 Plaza Dr, Cleveland, OH. This company owns the billboard and any advertising space must be purchased from them."

Group favors moving museum from NASA center to downtown, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The Greater Cleveland Partnership's support of the move is important because it has been an ardent backer of NASA Glenn programs. Not enough folks know what goes on at NASA Glenn and its Plum Brook testing facility near Sandusky, Roman said. Bringing the NASA brand and attractions downtown would be a boon to the space agency and the science center, he said."

Keith's note: Hey wait a minute: what ever happened to all of those scary warnings that NASA is not allowed to advertise? Releasing a formal government solicitation notice seeking to purchase advertising on a large billboard would seem to fly in the face of that (supposed) advertising prohibition.

FDA Transparency Blog

"Providing information to the public in a user-friendly and timely manner is critically important to the work of the agency and its credibility with the public. I have formed a Transparency Task Force, chaired by Principal Deputy Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, to provide me with recommendations about how to make FDA and its processes more transparent to the public. If you have a suggestion about how to improve transparency at the agency, I encourage you to let the Task Force know by submitting or responding to a comment in the blog provided below. In addition to this blog you can also submit electronic comments to the federal register at www.regulations.gov, submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management, or attend a public meeting on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 in downtown DC with some members of the Task Force. Additional details about how you can engage with the Task Force can be found here. The first blog post is to inform you of this process and our policy. Thereafter, we will be asking for you feedback on specific topics."

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of JPL Employees Regarding Intrusive Background Investigations

"Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the federal government and in favor of employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the matter of Homeland Security Presidential Directive #12 (Nelson et al. vs NASA). Today's ruling denied a motion from the Department of Justice for an en banc hearing (a hearing before a large panel of the Ninth Circuit) on the question of overturning an injunction issued last year against NASA and the California Institute of Technology by a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit. The earlier ruling was unanimous in favor of the JPL employees. Today's vote of all the judges of the Ninth Circuit, in denying this appeal, was described as "not close"."

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Rebooting Resembles February Event

"NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in safe mode and in communications with Earth after an unexpected rebooting of its computer Wednesday evening, June 3. The spontaneous reboot resembles a Feb. 23 event on the spacecraft. Engineers concluded the most likely cause for that event was a cosmic ray or solar particle hitting electronics and causing an erroneous voltage reading. The reboot occurred at approximately 6:10 p.m. PDT (9:10 p.m. EDT) on June 3. This is the sixth time since the spacecraft's August 2005 launch that it has entered safe mode, which is its programmed precaution when it senses a condition for which it does not know a more specific response."

NASA Solicitation: Design and Usage of Massively Multiplayer Online Games and Persistent Immersive Synthetic Environments

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center's Learning Technologies Project Office (LTPO) is releasing a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) to conduct research and evaluation on the design and usage of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) and Persistent Immersive Synthetic Environments (Virtual Worlds) for NASA Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education and Training. It is anticipated that one award of up to $350,000 annually will be made to partner with LTPO and the MMOG developer to infuse educational content and design into the NASA MMOG for up to three years."

NASA Develops Rehydration Beverage

"To help keep astronauts at peak performance during missions, NASA researched, qualified and patented a highly effective electrolyte concentrate formula that maintains and restores optimal body hydration levels quickly and conveniently. Developed as a remedy for dehydration, it helps prevent the loss of body fluids during heavy exercise, heat exposure and illness. It also can be used to treat and prevent dehydration caused by altitude sickness and jetlag."

Marc's note: At today's House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies Appropriations Bill meeting NASA's exploration budget request saw a reduction of $212.3 million. The committee called a "time-out" with respect to the exploration budget. As well a new item with no definition was added for "Construction and environment compliance" to the tune of $441.7 million. There were 23 earmarks added to the NASA budget totaling $14.55 million.

Constellation is behind schedule and over budget as it is, this "time-out" won't help.

Mollohan Statement: FY2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee Markup

"For NASA, the bill provides a total of $18.2 billion, an increase of $421 million over last years level. Investments have been made in Earth science to further the decadal surveys. The recommendation, however, acknowledges that the Administration has established a blue ribbon panel, led by Dr. Norm Augustine, to review the current vision for human space flight. Funds are provided in the bill to continue investments in human space flight at the same level as provided in fiscal year 2009. Reductions from the budget request should not be viewed as a diminution of my support or that of the Subcommittee in NASAs human space flight activities. Rather, the deferral is taken without prejudice; it is a pause, a time-out, to allow the President to establish his vision for human space exploration and to commit to realistic future funding levels to realize this vision."

AIP FYI #70: House, Senate Committees Consider FY 2010 NASA Budget Request

"House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) stated it well: "Either the nation is going to have to give NASA enough funding to meet the dual challenges of carrying out its current and planned missions and of revitalizing the agency's human and physical capital, or the nation is going to have to agree on what it wants NASA to cut."

- Summary Table (PDF)
- Earmark List (PDF)

Ares Troubles Mount

NASA falling further behind, Orlando Sentinel

"With a White House-ordered review of its next-generation Constellation rocket program just weeks away, NASA faces some unwelcome news: Key milestones for the agency's Ares I rocket and Orion crew capsule are falling further behind schedule because of design flaws and technical challenges. An important test of the Orion's emergency escape system that was supposed to happen last year will not come off before November and could slip further. A review of the proposed fixes for the violent shaking at liftoff that has plagued development of the Ares I has been delayed from this summer to December. Even the first test flight of the Ares design - a mock-up rocket called the Ares I-X - has been moved from April to July to August and now possibly September."

Keith's note: Ken Davidian is Twittering notes and updates from the Space Business Forum currently underway in New York City at @cswiki.

"The Canadian and Russian space agencies will host a simulcast press conference from Montreal, in Canada and Moscow, in Russia to announce that Guy Lalibert - Founder of Cirque du Soleil and the ONE DROP Foundation - has begun training for a groundbreaking voyage to the International Space Station (ISS): a Poetic Social Mission in Space on behalf of the ONE DROP Foundation and its dream of "Water for all, all for water."

Keith's note: You can watch the press event live here

Space Adventures Announces Founder of Cirque du Soleil as 1st Canadian Private Space Explorer

Keith's update: Unsubstantiated Space Adventures hype via Twitter: ec_anderson "Guy Laliberte would be first Artist in Space, will be developing an artistic, poetic, project that will entertain and delight all!". I beg to differ. Alan Bean, an artist in his own right, flew in space 40 years ago. And of course, there are other artists who have flown in space. Richard Garriott (another Space Adventures customer) created works of art while aboard ISS. Ed Lu played the piano, etc.

Keith's note: Reminder: Eilene Galloway Public Memorial Service, June 6, 10:00-12:00, Cosmos Club, Washington DC - info at Marcia Smith's new SpacePolicyOnline.com website (please visit).

Keith's 2 June 5:48 am note: Multiple sources report that the mystery Canadian entrepreneur who will fly aboard Soyuz TMA-16 crew this September is Guy Lalibert, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Cirque du Soleil.

Guy Lalibert, WIkipedia
#562 Guy Laliberte, Forbes: Net Worth: $1.4 Billion

3 June Updates:

Cirque du soleil confirms founder Guy Laliberte space-bound in September, CP

"The Cirque du soleil has confirmed that founder Guy Laliberte will become Canada's first space tourist when he blasts off on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in September. The 49-year-old Laliberte, who is already in Moscow for Thursday's official announcement, will also become the third Canadian to visit the International Space Station this year."

Cirque du soleil founder going into space: report, CTV

"A website that covers NASA is reporting that Guy Laliberte, the founder of the Cirque du soleil, will visit the International Space Station this September. "NASA Watch," which has no official links with the American space agency, says it has learned from multiple sources that Laliberte will fly into orbit aboard a Soyuz spacecraft."

From stilt-walker to spacewalker, Toronto Star

"Multiple sources report that the mystery Canadian entrepreneur who will fly aboard Soyuz TMA-16 crew this September is Guy Laliberte," wrote space journalist Keith Cowing on his closely followed blog, NASA Watch.

NASA Solicitation: Armstrong Oil Painting

"[SPECIFICATIONS] The specifications are: (1) One (1) each: The artist will prepare a prototype study/concept sketch for approval of content and concept prior to executing the large oil painting. (2) One (1) each: The artist will deliver one large oil painting on canvas, approx. 5ft in height and 6 ft in width of Neil Armstrong. [SOLE SOURCE EXPLANATION] NASA/DFRC intends to purchase the item from Dr. Robert T. McCall. Dr. McCall has the unique expertise as a renowned artist and is a pre-eminent expert in communicating NASA Agency themes. He has been chosen as an artist for NASA, documenting the progress of American space history. Dr. McCall has done several other large paintings that are currently on display at this center, the Pentagon, the National Air and Space Museum, Johnson Space Center, and many others. He has technical familiarity with the subject matter and it establishes visual continuity with present works at NASA-DFRC."

Food and Drug Administration Transparency Task Force; Public Meeting, FDA

SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public meeting to solicit recommendations from interested persons on ways in which FDA can make useful and understandable information about FDA activities and decisionmaking more readily available to the public. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information to the public about government activities and initiatives. For FDA, providing information to the public in a timely, user-friendly manner is important to enhance the work of the agency."

Government transparency and accountability is a priority for the Obama Administration. On January 21, 2009, President Obama issued two memoranda to the heads of executive departments and agencies regarding openness in government. In the memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (``Transparency and Open Government memorandum''), the Administration has pledged to take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information to the public rapidly, and in a form that is easily accessible and user friendly. Executive departments and agencies have been charged with harnessing new technologies to make information about agency operations and decisions available online and readily available to the public. Further, executive departments and agencies have been instructed to solicit public input to identify information of greatest use to the public."

Keith's note: NASA is going to have to comply with this Administration directive at some point. The complete FDA Notice is below. How much of the FDA approach could be repurposed for use by NASA? What additional things would be needed? Thoughts?

Badge Update

NASA's PIV project didn't meet fed rules

"NASA's Office of Inspector General released a report stating that the agency didn't fully comply with federal regulations for the issuance of PIV credentials. As of January, NASA had issued more than 70,000 credentials to staff and contractors, more than 98% of the PIV cards NASA planned to issue. The problem is the credential issuer had not been accredited because NASA did not fully comply with federal guidance. If NASA's PIV issuer reveals that the problems still exits the agency could be required to stop issuing credentials and reissue other cards at a minimum of a $1 million cost."

NASA's Processes for Providing Personal Identity Verification Cards Were Not Completely Effective in Meeting Federal Requirements, NASA OIG

"As of January 9, 2009, NASA had issued more than 70,000 PIV cards to staff and contractors, more than 98 percent of the PIV cards NASA planned to issue, from a PIV card issuer that had not been accredited because NASA did not fully comply with Federal guidance."

Earlier HSPD-12 stories
Earlier security badge stories
HQ Security Fumbles Again
WARNING: NASA Badges Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Star Trek Designer to Receive NASA Public Service Medal, Wired

"A long-time Star Trek designer is being recognized by NASA for his longtime contributions to the look of the U.S. space program. Michael Okuda will receive the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal for his work on multiple exploration missions. According to the space program, the medal recognizes "exceptional contributions to the mission of NASA." ... Over the years, Okuda did design work for Johnson Space Center, the Kennedy Space Center and the NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. He also worked with Ground Control officer Bill Foster to design designed the "Spaceflight Memorial Patch," honoring the fallen astronauts of Apollo 1 and the lost Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews. Okuda will receive the medal at a ceremony July 9 at Houston's Johnson Space Center."

Keith's note: As some of you may know, Mike has been a silent contributor to NASA Watch for years - often as the source of "vulcanized" science officers on the ISS. But he has had a much more overt role over the years as the designer of many of NASA's iconic logos. Indeed, Scott Parazynski and I were pleased to be able to put an autogaphed version of the Spaceflight Memorial Patch that Mike and Bill Foster designed on Scott's summit suit. In addition, another copy of that patch went to the summit of Mt. Everest on 20 May 2009.

The image below shows the patch prior to packing into Scott's "summit bling" kit.

Keith's note: Visitors across the street from NASA Headquarters thought enough to say hello to their temporary neighbors today. According to someone@nasa.gov "The view of the Marriott across the street from HQ. We took the family some NASA patches, pins, books, etc. They put up a "thanks" note later. Novel approach. It worked! :-)"

As Sean O'Keefe often used to muse in such situations, paraphrasing his Jesuit schooling: "one convert at a time".

Hey "Iowa". That's where James T. Kirk is (will be) from ....

Click for larger image.

Marc's note: In our poll last week on the new name of the Mars Science Laboratory rover we asked "Do you approve of the new name, Curiosity, for the Mars Science Laboratory rover?" 372 NASA Watch readers voted and the majority, 55%, were not in favor of the new name. I think of all the comments we received the one that resonates the most with me if that whatever the name of the rover, let's just hope it lands safely and can do its mission.

NASA plans invite-only launch access for Twittering, blogging media, FreeSpace

"NASA, which has tiptoed into the new world of social media with Twittering astronauts and Facebooking rovers, is taking the next step with an invitation-only outreach to "the twedia" to cover a space shuttle launch. There are so many details to work out that the so-called TweetUp, originally planned for next week's launch of space shuttle Endeavour, has been rescheduled for the August flight of shuttle Discovery, said Michael Cabbage, a spokesman for the U.S. space agency."

Keith's note: Twitter note from Augustine Commission member Leroy Chiao (AstroDude) "In what direction should US NASA human spaceflight proceed? Let me know at: leroychiao.blogspot.com"

NASA: Thoughts on New Beginnings, Beth Beck

"With former Astronaut Charlie Bolden poised to take the helm at NASA, and Lori Garver as Deputy, I dusted off a letter of mine published in SpaceNews, January 21, 2002. Much of it still applies. I offer a partial reprint:

NASA exists as a paradox, a quandary, a political dilemma.

Unparalleled in the federal government, NASA's mission is bounded only by the expanses of the heavens and limited only by the human imagination. Our inability to consistently communicate the wonder and magic of space to decision-makers who hold our purse strings stifles our progress. NASA personifies the innate, never-say-die human spirit that conquers barriers and pushes beyond limitations. NASA ignites the spark that flames the human desire to improve, to learn, to grow. NASA embodies the pursuit of knowledge in unexplored regions of the universe, as well as the universe of the mind."

NASA Announces Members of Human Space Flight Review Committee

"NASA announced Monday the members of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee. They are:

- Norman Augustine (chair), retired chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corp., and former member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
- Dr. Wanda Austin, president and CEO, The Aerospace Corp.
- Bohdan Bejmuk, chair, Constellation program Standing Review Board, and former manager of the Boeing Space Shuttle and Sea Launch programs
- Dr. Leroy Chiao, former astronaut, former International Space Station commander and engineering consultant
- Dr. Christopher Chyba, professor of Astrophysical Sciences and International Affairs, Princeton University, and member, President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
- Dr. Edward Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT and co-chair, NASA Exploration Technology Development Program Review Committee
- Jeffrey Greason, co-founder and CEO, XCOR Aerospace, and vice-chair, Personal Spaceflight Federation
- Dr. Charles Kennel, chair, National Academies Space Studies Board, and director and professor
emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
- Retired Air Force Gen. Lester Lyles, chair, National Academies Committee on the Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program, former Air Force vice chief of staff and former commander of the Air Force Materiel Command
- Dr. Sally Ride, former astronaut, first American woman in space, CEO of Sally Ride Science and professor emerita at the University of California, San Diego"

Press Conference: Space Adventures Announces Spaceflight Intention of Canadian Entrepreneur

"Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace, invites members of the media to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Montreal and to the Press Hall of The Expocentre (International Exhibitions and Conventions Center) in Moscow as they announce the identity of a Canadian entrepreneur who is slated to launch with Soyuz TMA-16 crew this September. The announcement will take place on Thurs., June 4th 2009 at 9:30 a.m. EDT."

Keith's note: Hmm, I wonder who this might be? OK - I'll guess: Bob Richards - he's certainly a "Canadian entrepreneur". Anyone care to speculate?

(P.S. Bob is flattered, but sadly says "it's not me".)

New Vuitton Ad Campaign: The Right Stuff?, WS Journal

"The French luxury brand Louis Vuitton plans to announce today a high-profile new ad campaign featuring 79-year-old astronaut Buzz Aldrin and fellow space travellers Sally Ride and Jim Lovell. Aldrin walked on the moon in 1969. Now he and the others will appear in photos shot by Annie Leibovitz, sitting on the hood of a battered pickup truck, gazing wistfully at the stars as the wind blows through their hair. In a video, they are sitting in the California desert, talking about how space changed their lives."

Waiting for Augustine, Space Review

"In an interview after his speech, Zubrin said that he expected the Augustine panel to look at broader goals for human spaceflight rather than tackle a detailed technical analysis of Constellation and competing architectures, given the names associated with the panel to date. "Either they say going to the Moon is stupid and we should keep going up and down to the space station, or going to the Moon is stupid and we should set ourselves a real goal, and that is to aim for Mars," he said."

Yes, I'm Back

Keith's note: I got back from Nepal a few days ago. After 6 weeks in the Himalayas, I am deeply tanned from the neck up (and wrists out) and I am 21 pounds lighter. I am still adjusting to the thick atmosphere you folks enjoy at sea level (my lungs are a little clogged right now). I am also readjusting to the concept of walking on flat ground in something other than high end mountaineering boots. Of course, there is also all of the non-Nepali, non-Everest Base Camp cuisine to which I am getting reacquainted ...

As for what the whole experience was like: suffice it to say: it was extraordinary - and life altering. Curiously, as my friend Scott was making his summit bid - his moon walk, if you will - only a few miles away from me, I felt like Mike Collins must have felt during Apollo 11: so very close - yet (still) so far. But I certainly had the best seat in the solar system!

"But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why thirty five years ago fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win."

This is the anniversary -- you know I'm big on anniversaries -- of the first ascent of Mt. Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. Even JFK compared going into space with climbing the highest mountain. Since a good friend and college, Scott Parazynski, just completed his personal conquest of that mountain, it seems timely to review the comparison."

Draft NASA Constellation Program Management Directive Regarding Use of English Units of Measure

"3. RATIONALE: This directive defines and communicates a consistent approach to the use of engineering units throughout CxP. The program conducted an extensive and detailed effort to implement a primary SI units based system for design, analysis, test and operations while allowing English units for most of the hardware. This effort looked at various implementation strategies and worked the implementation details to the point of having workable implementation plans in all the projects. However, the cost estimates to achieve these plans significantly exceeded the resources that could be made available in the critical years. Therefore, given budget constraints and the need for consistent practice of units throughout the CxP lifecycle to minimize risks and to achieve mission success, the program is revising its previous management directive to a primarily English units based program with limited usage of SI as defined in the MD. This MD constitutes the basis for the waiver to NASA policy directing the usage of SI."

NASA OIG Assessment of NASA's Use of the Metric System, G-00-021

"Following the loss of the Mars Climate Observer, the NASA Office of Inspector General initiated a review of the Agency's use of the metric system. By law and policy, the metric system is the preferred system of measurement within NASA. However, our review found that use of the metric system is inconsistent across the Agency. A waiver system, which was required by law and put into effect to track metric usage and encourage conversion, is no longer in use. In addition, NASA employees are given little guidance on the Agency's policy and procedures regarding use of the metric system."

NPD 8010.2E Subject: Use of the SI (Metric) System of Measurement in NASA Programs

"b. All new programs and projects covered by NPR 7120.5 shall use the SI system of measurement for design, development and operations, in preference to customary U.S. measurement units, for all internal activities, related NASA procurements, grants, and business activities. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted by the NASA Chief Engineer based on program/project recommendations by the responsible Mission Directorate Associate Administrator where use of SI units is demonstrated to be impractical, adds unacceptable risk, or is likely to cause significant inefficiencies or loss of markets to U.S. firms. Special emphasis shall be placed on maximum use of SI units in cooperative programs with international partners."

Keith's note: NASA claims that it wants to have meaningful international participation in the implementation of VSE/ESAS yet it walks away from the system of weights and measures used by the majority of the people on this planet. Moreover, this decision clearly seems to fly in the face of established NASA - and Federal - policy.

NASA Notice (09-045) Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee; Meeting, NASA

"DATES: Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.."

Editor's note: We don't have the official list of panel members but we do have the first meeting date set and the meeting will be open to the public.

"Our ancestors observed the heavens for religious and secular reasons, with astronomy and astrology largely indistinguishable. Observations of stars, planets and constellations were used to create calendars that provided agricultural societies with valuable information for the seasonal planting and harvesting of crops, as well as to predict future events or to discern divine messages from the cosmos. Given the importance of such activities to the cultural identity and even physical survival of ancient people, it is not surprising that sky watchers had prominent roles in their societies. An abundance of archaeological evidence from around the world attests to the importance of the ancient astronomer. In modern times, however, public perception of astronomers began to change as astronomy evolved from an applied to a pure science. With less prominent roles in their societies, astronomers were forced to seek new forms of financial support for their scholarly activities from governments or wealthy benefactors and to justify their continued value to their fellow citizens. Although we live today in a time of remarkable astronomical discoveries, as many politicians and businesses know the public's collective memory can be short, and hence astronomers cannot afford to be complacent about our public image."

"Public Perception of Astronomers: Revered, Reviled and Ridiculed", by Michael J. West, European Southern Observatory, Invited review to appear in The Role of Astronomy in Society and Culture: Proceedings of IAU Symposium No. 260, 2009. [Full paper] [More information at astro-ph]



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