March 2010 Archives

Senators Demand Explanation of NASA's Flawed Climate Data, Fox

"Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have written a letter to NASA chief Charles Bolden demanding answers to questions surrounding newly uncovered irregularities in the space agency's climate data. Not everyone is sipping the global warming Kool-Aid. Concerns about the validity of NASA's climate research are being raised following revelations that the space agency admitted its data was less accurate than other weather trackers'. Disturbed by these reports, as well as the growing Climate-gate scandal that has left global-warming theorists reeling, Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have written a letter to space agency chief Charles Bolden demanding answers."

NASA to investigate cause of Toyota problems

"The federal probe into runaway Toyotas has resulted in enough scientific mystery that investigators have asked NASA scientists for help. The nation's auto-safety regulators have tapped nine experts from the space agency to answer questions involving software, hardware and other electronics issues..."

Keith's note: No mention of this (yet) at I wonder who the "NASA engineers" are? Where will the NASA funds come from?

Keith's update: According to Keith Henry at NASA LaRC PAO: "NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), located at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., has been asked to support the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its investigation of unintended acceleration related to Toyota vehicles and, potentially, of other vehicle makes. NASA's NESC has a cadre of engineers with specialized knowledge of electronic systems, and the effects of external interferences to electrical systems who can conduct an unbiased and independent review of the information. A formal (Space Act) agreement was signed Friday between NASA and DOT. The agreement is broad -- details are still being worked out. The agreement calls for DOT to fully reimburse NASA for its work. The testing program that will be suggested by NESC analysis has not been defined, to include location of tests. It is anticipated that the majority of tests will take place at DOT or DOT-related facilities."

Buzz Needs Your Votes

ABC Opens Week on a Winning Note, Media Week

"Hero Buzz Aldrin got the lowest score overall, but could be saved due to the sentimental vote."

Keith's note: Go here to vote for Buzz.

Review of the Constellation Program's Request to Discontinue Using the Metric System of Measurement, NASA OIG

"During our fieldwork, NASA's Chief Engineer told the OIG that he planned to approve the Constellation Program's request for an exception based on the additional costs required to implement the metric system, which Constellation Program officials estimated at $368 million. These implementation costs arise mainly from the reuse of hardware and software from previous NASA programs, including the Space Shuttle, that did not use the metric system, thus requiring revisions to engineering documents, test plans, test equipment, facilities, training, and operations. According to the Chief Engineer and Constellation Program management, the estimated $368 million for metric system implementation would be better spent on mitigating higher priority Program risks."

Posey Highlights Space in Upcoming Local Events

"Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) has announced a schedule of events he will be attending focusing on space related issues. Below is a list of events, with indication of events that are open to the media. In addition to the events listed below, Congressman Posey will meet with the Space Union Leaders to discuss jobs and the issues currently facing the space industry. He will also meet with Colonel Ed Wilson, the new Commander of the 45th Space Wing."

Help 25 of the top high school innovators design the future! On March 29th, the Spirit of Innovation Awards challenges YOU to vote for your favorite teams and help select this year's "Pete Conrad Scholars!" Over the past 6 months, 25 finalist teams have created real products to solve some of the grand challenges facing society. From the depths of the oceans to the edges of space, these students will knock your socks off! Piezo-electric wallpaper, robotic astronaut assistants, advanced water purification systems, and Navajo Solar "Frybread" ovens; these are just a few of the amazing products high school students are designing. To see all of the teams check out, and remember, online voting is open March 29th through April 9th. Winners will be announced April 10th during the 2010 Innovation Summit at NASA Ames Research Center.

NASA chief on new space strategy, Achenblog, Washington Post

"Q. Is Obama going to offer any sweeteners when he goes to central Florida [for April 15 space conference]? The fact that the President is taking time to visit Florida to discuss the future of America's space program demonstrates his commitment to NASA, and our robust exploration vision. I think people will see firsthand what I see - his passionate commitment to a bold future in space which is at the heart of the decision to add an additional $6 billion to NASA's budget."

Unused NASA tower epitomizes brewing fight over space budget, The Hill

"Our greatest accomplishment in human space flight were gained because President Kennedy said we will land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of this decade," Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said in February. "President Kennedy didn't say, 'We're going to spend a few billion dollars on some really unique research and development.'"

Imagination may be casualty of loss of space program, Deseret News

"Five years ago, I wrote in favor of privatizing the space program, mainly because of costs. I was wrong. The race to the moon never was a competition to see whether capitalism or communism was superior. The U.S. space program was just as dependent on the public treasury as was the Soviets'. It was, rather, a matter of pride and national security. Maybe we've lost that vision because our chief enemies these days, fanatical Middle Eastern terrorists, don't have a space program. But the price of becoming "a second-rate space country" is just as unthinkable as it was 40 years ago."

"STS-130 video highlights as compiled by the SE&I imagery team here at JSC from all of the ground, air, ET and SRB assets."

NASA's $500 million launcher missing just one thing: the rocket it was made for, Washington Post

"Anyone need a $500 million, 355-foot steel tower for launching rockets into space? There's one available at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Brand new, never been used. The mobile launcher has been built for a rocket called the Ares 1. The problem is, there is not yet any such thing as an Ares 1 rocket -- and if the Obama administration has its way, there never will be."

3 astronauts, lt. governor to address 'Save Space' rally, Florida Today

"Three astronauts who flew on the space shuttle will be among the featured speakers at a "Save Space" community rally April 11 at the Cocoa Expo Sports Center. During a planning meeting Friday, rally organizer and Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher said astronauts Jon McBride, Winston Scott and Bob Springer have agreed to be speakers. Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp also is expected to speak at the event, along with various elected officials and community leaders."

Cochran and Wicker file bill to stop threat to NASA's Constellation Program, WLOX

"Mississippi Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker Friday cosponsored a measure to prohibit NASA from suspending work on the Constellation Program without justification. The Constellation Program was established in 2004 to be the human space exploration program to replace the Space Shuttle. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County is currently building rocket test stands for the Constellation Engines."

Contractors Preserving Constellation Funds To Pay for Program Closeout, Space News

"While NASA is asking Congress for $2.5 billion to shutter Constellation, agency officials say they do not know whether that money will be enough to pay for the government's closeout costs and still cover the termination expenses NASA contractors would incur as a result of having to cancel orders, vacate leases and pink-slip employees when the program is ordered shutdown. As a result, some contractors -- including Denver-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems -- are preparing to slow or stop work on Constellation in order to set aside program money to cover their own termination expenses when NASA formally issues the shutdown orders."

Dear Colleague Letter: NASA Cuts Threaten National Defense - Invitation to Important Defense Staff Briefing Next Week, Rep. Rob Bishop

"With the industry already reeling from the cumulative impacts of these large SRM program cuts and terminations, NASA has now made an ill-advised and drastic decision to propose total cancellation of the Constellation manned space flight program, which would also include termination of the Ares 1 rocket, leaving our nation without a single large-scale SRM program in full production for the first time in 50 years! That will leave the U.S. to rely solely on the Navy's D-5 missile Life Extension program, with a production rate of only one booster stack per month, as the bedrock in sustaining our nation's ability to produce large scale solid rocket motors. .... This important staff briefing will be conducted by representatives from SRM producer, ATK, as well as their suppliers and aerospace industry teammates, followed by lots of time for Q&A."

Utahns in Congress all against cuts to NASA, Salt Lake Tribune

"Bishop, whose district include Alliant Techsystems, which produces solid rocket motors and employs 3,500 people, said that Obama's budget on NASA doesn't save any money and that it would actually cost $2.5 billion to end the Constellation program. Moreover, Bishop says Obama's move hurts the country's ability to enhance its missile defenses."

Keith's note: I find it to be a little strange that the other major U.S. manufacturer of SRMs, Aerojet, is not being invited to participate in this presentation. If Rep. Bishop truly intended this event to be a discussion about national capabilities, one would assume that he'd try and get a representative set of presentations - not just one company's - the one he represents in Congress. Truth be known, this is really all about ATK and the fear of lost business in Utah - with the arm waving about national issues used as a smoke screen. As for DoD concerns, there is clearly no consensus on this issue - either way. As for the D-5, its first stage stage (a SRM) is 24 feet long whereas Aerojet's SRMs on the Atlas V are 67 feet long - so clearly someone other than ATK can make large SRMs.

Pentagon Not Yet Concerned Over NASA Changes, Aviation Week

"[Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] did mention, however, that he and other defense officials have had longstanding concerns over the space industrial base, much the same way they do for shipbuilding. Like with warships, the admiral said there is consensus that the Defense Department is paying too much for old systems when it comes to space assets."

Sen. Says Solid Rocket Motor Costs Will Double, Navy Disagrees, Defense News

"During a Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing, Rear Adm. Stephen Johnson, said he expects solid rocket motor prices to rise 10 to 20 percent. He assured Vitter that 100 percent price growth is not likely. Johnson heads Navy strategic systems programs."

New NASA Policy = Higher USAF Launch Costs?, earlier post

In Case You Missed It. .. Who is behind the cancellation of the Constellation program?, Rep. Rob Bishop

According to Rep. Bishop's website: "Last night on the Floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) voiced concerns over statements made by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, who is apparently the leading voice in the proposal to cancel the Constellation Program, NASA's tested replacement for the retiring Space Shuttle."

Keith's note: Excuse me Rep. Bishop - but are you suggesting that "NASA's tested replacement" is the Ares 1-X launch last year? You know, the one-off rocket built out of left-over parts, another launch vehicle's guidance system, and dummy upper stages? That's right - the same one that flew a strange profile after staging and had parachute failures. Just checking. I am not certain that this one test flight can be exagerated to imply (as you clearly do) that the Constellation program has been "tested". As for your off the wall conspiracy mongering with regard to Lori Garver's imaginary cabals to undermine human spaceflight until the end of time, I guess there's always one empty seat on the bus to crazy town - right next to Sen. Vitter.

Sen. Vitter Has Been Drinking the Koolaid, earlier post

Keith's note: As is usually the case at times like this rumors abound in and around NASA. Many are of the sort that spread because you hope that they are true. Having the ring of logic helps too. In this case, the rumor or viral meme that I keep encountering is that the President will visit KSC - not just to try and woo people with his prose mixed with logic and compassion - but rather that he will augment his comments with the announcement of a compromise of sorts. He'd announce it after describing the problem and discussing the options he has available to him.

The question lingering in the minds of folks inside and outside NASA - as well as inside and outside the Beltway is why political strategists in the White House would knowingly send their boss into the proverbial lion's den with nothing but words as a defense. There are a lot of angry people at KSC who will be unemployed through no fault of their own in a short period of time - in a region where there is not another space program to go work for. As such, whether it is an anguished and angry outburst in a town hall meeting or pickets along the road, folks down there have little to lose - and their elected officials are almost as desperate. Opinions will be brutal and frank. Lots of potential YouTube moments.

Keith's note:
According to multiple sources, the chief DIRECT fan boy Stephen Metschan, is still trying to whip up support for his rocket idea - as if it is the one and only solution to every single problem NASA has.It would seem that his big protest rally idea onsite at KSC has evaporated from lack of interest (and permission). Now he issending proposed speeches around to Washington and his pals via messages that incorrectly spell the the first and last name of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Gee Stephen, it sure would help if you get the names of the main players straight before you try and influence White House policy.

Review of NASA's Progress on Retiring the Space Shuttle Program, NASA OIG

"Based on calculations by the Office of Inspector General, historical flight rates, and internal NASA evaluations, NASA is not likely to meet its September 2010 timetable, and it will most likely take until the second quarter of FY 2011 to complete the last of the planned Space Shuttle flights."

NASA Pays Sky-High $66 a Person for Seminar Snacks, AP

"The nation's space agency paid the out-of-this-world price of $66 a person a day for bagels, cookies and juice at a conference, a new report found. The subject of the NASA conference? It was a training session for its procurement officials -- the people who do the buying with taxpayer funds. During the three-day conference, the 317 attendees snacked on "light refreshments" of soda, coffee, fruit, bagels and cookies at a cost of $62,611, according to a NASA Inspector General report. That's $66 a day per person. And that wasn't the only problem. The NASA financial watchdog criticized the financially strapped space agency's spending on conferences in general. The inspector general said NASA didn't price shop to get cheaper locations for conferences and that NASA's spending on food and drinks was "excessive."

Keith's note: Of course, the procurement folks on travel to this meeting also put meals on their travel expenses too, right? Hmm, seeing their travel vouchers for this meeting would be a fascinating FOIA exercise ... "do as I say - not as I do", eh?

Final Memorandum on the Analysis of Fiscal Year 2009 NASA-Sponsored Conferences, NASA OIG

House panel vows to save Constellation, Orlando Sentinel

"To emphasize its doubt, the subcommittee asked Thomas Young, a former Lockheed Martin executive, to testify. He flatly told the committee that the White House plan was untenable and said that NASA should not rely on commercial rockets to transport astronauts. "In my view, this is a risk too high and not a responsible course. The commercial crew option should not be approved," he said, adding that the best policy would continue a longstanding partnership between NASA and the aerospace industry because the U.S. needs NASA's space expertise."

Keith's note: As I Twittered yesterday: "Tom Young has his gaze firmly affixed on the past not the future and thinks of ways of how not to do things rather than how to do them. FAIL"

NASA's Nebula rolls out in the cloud, Federal News Radio

"Nebula is 18 months old and is literally rolling along. Agencies across the federal government are exploring cloud computing, but NASA's work in the area could be become the poster child for its use. Their Nebula Cloud Computing Platform at the Ames Research Center in California is being touted as a possible model for others. Chris Kemp, chief information officer of NASA Ames, explains the benefits of Nebula. "The real thrust of the project was making it easier for NASA to make its data accessible on the Web. NASA started using the Internet long ago, and, as a result, we have thousands of public-facing Web sites, and in today's environment, that's expensive to operate. It's also a large attack surface from a security perspective. We're trying to make it easier and more secure for NASA data to be accessed by our partners and the public."

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, (ASF) will be hosting the Apollo 13 40th anniversary on Apr. 9, 2010. This celebration will be a great opportunity for both space buffs and those with only a passing interest in the topic to meet giants in manned space flight history. Attendees will also be treated to spectacular tours and gourmet meals as NASA's Kennedy Space Center, (KSC) plays host to this historic event.

Keith's note: The NASA-related hearing scheduled for today at 10 a.m. in 192 Dirksen Bldg. Has been postponed. The intent was to discuss the FY 2011 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations. Scheduled witnesses:Charles Bolden; Paul K. Martin, inspector general, NASA; and John Frost, member, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. Word has it that the new target date is 22 April.

Keith's 23 Mar update: I have learned that after the President holds his summit event at the KSC Headquarters area the President will then have a town hall meeting onsite at NASA KSC where he will hear - and take questions from KSC employees. He will also tour a number of KSC facilities (VAB, OPF etc.) It would seem that the concerns of the KSC workforce have managed to trickle up to OSTP. Stay tuned.

Lt. Gov wants Obama to debate; space summit venue hunt is on, Orlando Sentinel

"It remains to be seen what exactly White House plans are for the meeting, which is now being called a "Space Conference." NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver was at Kennedy Space Center last week scoping out possible venues for the meeting. Her choices are the Operations and Checkout (O&C) building that was recently refurbished as a factory to assemble the Orion crew capsule that is now on the Constellation chopping block; the Operations Support Building 2; the Training Auditorium; the Debus Center at the visitor complex; and the Saturn Center ... The location of the meeting isn't the only aspect of the conference taxing officials' minds. Administration insiders are still discussing various formats as well as whom to invite to the event."

Bolden defends decision to cancel Constellation program, SaceflightNow

"The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that NASA is "scrambling" to come up with a new plan to satisfy vocal critics in Congress, but Bolden vigorously defended the strategy outlined in the agency's budget proposal released Feb. 1. "I wish I could say it was a singular problem of funding [affecting Constellation]," Bolden said. "Funding was the principal driver in causing the Constellation program to be unsustainable. But the Constellation program had degraded to a lunar program without a lander. Those decisions, while they had to be made because of insufficient funding, put us in a situation where we almost could not recover."

NASA to Devise New Spending Plan to Placate Congress, Wall Street Journal

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is scrambling to come up with a new budget proposal to placate congressional critics as senior members of the House Appropriations Committee say that White House's plan for the agency won't fly on Capitol Hill. The Obama administration had initially proposed to allocate $6 billion over five years for a program that eventually would outsource manned space missions to private companies. Members of the appropriations subcommittee, including Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, its ranking Republican, have told NASA in recent weeks that they won't support the White House's proposed budget."

A new hope for Obama NASA plan?, Orlando Sentinel

"The most heated exchange came when U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virginia, asked Bolden which country -- the United States or China -- would send humans to the moon next. Bolden started to respond by saying it didn't matter -- because the U.S. already has been there -- when Wolf cut him off. "Well it does to me," he snapped. "It does to me, and I think it matters, with all respect, to a lot of Americans." Bolden then said he thought NASA would "get back first" with Obama's plan. "I think we stand a pretty good chance of getting to the moon much quicker than we would have with the Constellation program," he said, stressing the plan's focus on developing new space technologies."

View From the 9th Floor

Prepared Statement by NASA Administrator Statement of Charles F. Bolden before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations

"Before I discuss the details of the NASA budget request, I would like to talk in general about the President's new course for human exploration of space. With this budget, the United States has positioned itself to continue our space leadership for years."

Remarks by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori B. Garver at the American Astronautical Society's 48th Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium

"The President's budget, should it be approved by Congress, will enable NASA to align with the priorities of the Nation and to more optimally contribute to our Nation's future."

- House Science and Technology Cmte Space and Aeronautics Subcmte Hearing: Proposed Changes to NASA's Exploration Program, 24 March: ESMD AA Douglas Cooke and Tom Young testify at 2 pm EST.

- Hearing Charter
- live webcast
- Presentation by Doug Cooke
- Testimony by Tom Young

- Opening Statement By Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords, Hearing on NASA's FY 2011 Budget Request and Exploration

"Over the past few months we have held many hearings to address safety concerns for human spaceflight, the competition of international space programs, and the impact of NASA's programs on the skilled aerospace workforce and industrial base. We have also heard from the Government Accountability Office and NASA's Inspector General. And just last month NASA Administrator, General Charlie Bolden testified on the FY2011 budget request. Unfortunately, the NASA Administrator was unable to satisfy many of the members of this committee. Today we are going to continue to take a closer look at the elements of the proposed plan and try to get additional information--to the extent that such information exists."

Robert White

Robert M. White dies at 85; pilot made history with 1962 test flight into space, LA Times

"Robert M. White was a 38-year-old U.S. Air Force major and record-setting test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in 1962 when he joined the elite ranks of America's four astronauts. But Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard, Virgil Grissom, John Glenn and Scott Carpenter went into space seated atop ballistic missiles and returned in capsules that parachuted onto the ocean."

Robert White, a pilot in 'The Right Stuff,' dies, SF Chronicle

"After his space flight, he was featured on the cover of Life magazine next to the quote, "Boy, That Was a Ride."

- STA Lunch, 26 March: Gary Payton, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space Programs will speak

- An Update on Space Exploration Policy and Programs, 30 March: ESMD Deputy AA Laurie Leshin will speak

First Captive Carry Flight for Virgin's "Enterprise"

"VSS Enterprise completes her first captive carry... Virgin Galactic announced today that VSS Enterprise has completed her inaugural captive carry flight from Mojave Air and Spaceport."

Branson spacecraft completes test flight, CNN

"British billionaire Richard Branson's dream of space travel that thousands of people can afford took a leap toward reality with the maiden flight of the world's first commercial spacecraft over California's Mojave Desert. Branson's company Virgin Galactic announced Monday that the VSS Enterprise had successfully completed what it called a captive carry flight attached to a carrier plane."

Space Policy Snapshot

Workers Prep For Final NASA Missions At Michoud, WDSU

"Two sets of astronauts will visit NASA's Michoud facility this week, even as the facility's future remains in question. Hundreds of workers have been laid off over the past two years. Lockheed Martin was contracted between 1973 and 2008 to do $10.7 billion in work for the federal government. With federal funding for NASA in question, the 1,426 people who still work there wonder what is next for the agency and for themselves."

Fla. Senator Says Obama 'Restructuring' NASA Plans, WESH

"Florida's senior senator, after talking to the president, said U.S. astronauts could wind up launching in an American-built spacecraft after all. It would mean developing a giant rocket based on space shuttle engines, tanks and boosters to go with a new spacecraft, Billow said, perhaps the very one NASA was designing anyway."

NASA's down-to-earth problem, op ed, Lou Friedman, LA Times

"However the budget proposal is acted on in Congress, it is clear that the nation is not going to go ahead with the Constellation project, which had a primary goal of returning humans to the moon by 2020 -- neither its Ares I rocket, which was to replace the space shuttle in delivering humans into Earth orbit, nor its moon mission. The 2004 Vision for Space Exploration may have been farsighted, but its implementation plan for Constellation was shortsighted: an inadequate goal and inadequate funds to achieve it."

Our Opinion: Saving Constellation is a noble mission, editorial, Tallahassee Democrat

"We salute Florida's temporary U.S. Sen. George LeMieux for working mightily in Washington to stop the de-escalation of America's space programs, most specifically termination of the Constellation Program as submitted in a budget proposal by the president. Mr. LeMieux, offering an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill regarding NASA, knows the importance of space missions to Florida. If diminished, hundreds of jobs will be lost along the Space Coast, but the loss of science, research, technology and space travel aspirations will create a negative ripple effect in myriad ways well beyond our state."

Can commercial space win over Congress?, Space Review

"At last week's Senate hearing ULA president and CEO Michael Gass said his company was interested in and capable of serving the human spaceflight market. "The EELV rockets provide the quickest and safest approach for closing the gap following the retirement of the space shuttle," he said. "We will be working with multiple companies that will compete for crew services, and we plan to provide launch services in support of their proposals."

Mitchel: 'You give up space, you lose', The Bay Area Citizen

"[BAHEP President Bob Mitchell] Think about this: It was no coincidence that it took seven months to appoint a NASA administrator because the transition team of Lori Garver and her three people from OMB put this plan together, and at the end of seven months when we were all wondering what the heck is going on, they were busy hatching their plan to take NASA dollars and spend them with entrepreneurs of commercial space."

Keith's note: Hilarious. Hey Bob: please name the "three people from OMB" on the transition team at NASA. Remember - you claim that they are (were) from "OMB".

Sen. Nelson Floats Alternate Use for NASA Commercial Crew Money, Space News

"As the Senate Commerce Committee begins work on a 2010 NASA authorization bill, science and space subcommittee chairman Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is questioning whether $6 billion the U.S. space agency is seeking for developing a commercial crew taxis might be better spent on a heavy-lift rocket that could take humans beyond low Earth orbit."

Fla. Senator Says Obama 'Restructuring' NASA Plans, WESH

"A new word is creeping into the conversation: spacecraft -- as in, Billow said, a replacement for the shuttle. Florida's senior senator, after talking to the president, said U.S. astronauts could wind up launching in an American-built spacecraft after all. It would mean developing a giant rocket based on space shuttle engines, tanks and boosters to go with a new spacecraft, Billow said, perhaps the very one NASA was designing anyway."

Nelson: Senate will order super-sized rocket, Florida Today

"U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told a space forum co-hosted by FLORIDA TODAY that the Senate also is drafting legislation that would push commercial companies with contracts to fly cargo or crews to the International Space Station to hire people from the Space Coast work force, Nelson said" ... "The president made a mistake," said Nelson, who added that Obama is a strong supporter of the space program. "The president is going to have to prove that when he comes here on April 15 because. . . the perception is that he killed the space program."

How to Devise a Stellar Social Media Policy: NASA's Tips, Network World

"NASA has been exploring social media--a territory still foreign to many businesses--for years now. But back in 2007, as more and more employees began using external social media sites, NASA determined that it was time develop a policy--not just to protect the agency, but to protect their employees as well. ... NASA successfully developed and implemented a set of social media guidelines and added them onto the existing communications policy. Check out Holm's tips and tricks to help make your social media policy rollout go smoothly."

Keith's note: So ... these are tips offered from Jeanne Holm, chief knowledge architect at JPL on how NASA advises people to develop a social media policy (guidelines) yet the agency itself still has not managed to develop a social media policy. I cannot seem to find that policy online despite the claims made in this article that it has been under development since 2007. One would think that such things are online, right? Given that there is some confusion among people at NASA who are supposed to coordinate such things, wouldn't this disconnect as to the status of these guidelines undermine the value of some of this advice from NASA?

FAA, NASA Vie for Authority Over Commercial Space Safety, WS Journal

"Congress hasn't yet voted on White House proposals to outsource manned space flights to private enterprise, but the concept already is prompting a bureaucratic tussle over which federal agency should be responsible for ensuring the safety of such flights. The Federal Aviation Administration believes it should be the agency in charge, while National Aeronautics and Space Administration believes the flights fall under its jurisdiction. The dispute came into public view Thursday during a hearing of a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee. The panel's chairman, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, home to thousands of NASA jobs, indicated that he views the space agency as the final arbiter of astronaut safety."

Mayor Parker urges Obama to save Constellation, KTRK

"Houston Mayor Annise Parker this week invited President Barack Obama to come to Houston during her trip to Washington, D.C. to ask for help and to fight for NASA. ... Mayor Parker did meet with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden during her time in D.C. this week. She asked him to consider a Plan B to keep Constellation alive and, if not that, then some sort of soft landing for Johnson Space Center. That way Houston doesn't lose all those jobs overnight after the last shuttle flight in September."

AL and FL Lawmakers begin push to Stop NASA from canceling Constellation, WAFF

"U.S. Senators George LeMieux (R-FL) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) launched an effort to prohibit the termination of the Constellation Program, NASA's program to replace the soon-to-be-retired space shuttle Thursday. The amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill reiterates federal law prohibiting NASA from using funds in FY2010 to cancel Constellation contracts. Joining LeMieux and Sessions in the effort are Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Bob Bennett (R-UT)."

Where Will Space Summit Be Held?

"I anticipate it will be a very staged and scripted event where protestors will not be on camera," [Chirs] Muro said. "I would assume it would be at the Kennedy Space Center, invite only." According to NASA public affairs at KSC, they haven't been given any direction so far from the White House as to the event on their property."

Old Rocket - New Uses

Moving The Titan 1 to its New Home,

"Asn aging Titan 1 ICBM was moved from its current location at NASA ARC to its new home next to Building 596 on 18 March 2010. This Titan 1 was brought to ARC in 1969 and was used in a variety of tests to study buffeting of launch vehicles during atmospheric ascent. The rocket has been sitting outside since the early 1980s as an exhibit next to the (former) Ames visitor's center."

More information here

Follow progress on Twitter here

Republicans Will Force Vote on Slaughter Rule, Human Events

"Most interesting rumor from the Hill yesterday: Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) who announced his retirement from Congress has been promised the job of NASA administrator in exchange for his vote, and Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), another retiring Democrat, has been promised an appointment as U.S. Ambassador to NATO in exchange for his vote."

Keith's note: White House Press Secretary Gibbs squashed this silly rumor flat.

"Q The Republicans put something out saying that Bart Gordon and John Tanner have been promised cushy government positions in exchange for their votes.

MR. GIBBS: And what were those positions?

Q Those positions are NASA administrator and U.S. ambassador to NATO. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: Well, that's --

Q At some point.

MR. GIBBS: I think those are -- I think those jobs are currently filled, but -- and I'm not sure that anybody would think -- certainly the current occupants -- that those are otherwise cushy jobs. So that's just not true."

Rep. Gordon dismisses rumor he traded healthcare vote for NASA job, The Hill

"If it was offered to me, I would not accept," Gordon told the chamber, praising current NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and stressing his decision to support Democrats' healthcare bill, which he announced Thursday, was his own. But Gordon also took a shot at Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Friday, to whom Gordon sourced the rumor that he had traded his healthcare vote for a NASA sweetener. He repeatedly pressed Chaffetz to explain "why he said what he did and where he got that information."

My Word by Buzz Aldrin: Let shuttle do heavy lifting, Orlando Sentinel

"I have proposed that the heavy-lift rocket, which nearly everyone involved in space policy agrees we will need, be based upon the existing space-shuttle architecture. That means the heavy lifter uses the four-segment solid-fuel boosters, external tank and shuttle main engines, existing shuttle facilities, and, equally as important, the existing shuttle work force. Only the winged orbiter is replaced with a payload canister with the three engines mounted at its base."

NASA Needs a Clear Destination for Space Exploration, Experts Say,

"I think we need to consider the attention span of the public, and the term limit of people in Congress that want to get reelected," said Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon. "We want to keep activity going that is inspirational for the young people, that is something that happens within term limits."

Why We Should Keep Flying the Space Shuttle, Buzz Aldrin, Huffington Post

"America has invested 30 years in the Shuttle system. Instead of retiring it and beginning with a new "clean sheet of paper" approach that will take extra time and money, I propose we follow the Russian example and make the basic Shuttle the foundation of a space program that can take us literally to Mars. Use the boosters, engines and big tank as the backbone of a new heavy lift rocket. Fly that rocket from the same facilities as the current Shuttles use. Keep much of the existing workforce working, because the only thing you will change is older designs and engines, making way for a heavy lift launcher derived from the Shuttle basics and capable of carrying large new spacecraft to the station or destinations beyond."

A Mission to Nowhere

Space: The pull of gravity, Financial Times

"Three elderly American heroes have been touring US military bases in Europe and Asia this month, telling inspiring tales of space adventures that took place before most people in the audience were born. But the Apollo astronauts - Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell - were not just living on past glories. They looked at the future of manned space flight and lamented President Barack Obama's decision last month to cancel the Constellation programme under which Nasa would have taken Americans back to the moon by 2020. "We will go back to the moon, notwithstanding our president and his outlook for the future of space," said Mr Cernan at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The man who in 1972 was the last to walk on the lunar surface added: "Under the president's proposed budget, it is a mission to nowhere."

Looking for Those New Jobs

High-tech training industry says it could absorb many shuttle job losses, Orlando Sentinel

"With thousands of Space Coast workers facing unemployment as the U.S. space-shuttle program winds down, Orlando's high-tech military-training industry says it has jobs for many of those who will be displaced. But work-force officials in Brevard County aren't convinced the region's training-simulation companies will have nearly enough openings for those expected to lose their jobs when shuttle launches end at Kennedy Space Center. Even if such jobs materialize, there is not enough money, so far at least, to retrain space workers to fill them, Brevard officials say. Few shuttle contractors have offered to retrain their employees, fearing it could undermine the shuttle program while there is still hope it might be extended or saved. And NASA hasn't put any money toward retraining, though the space agency says it supports the use of such services where available."

Former congressman lobbies for commercial space firm while trying to defend NASA manned space flight jobs for Huntsville, Huntsville Times

"Cramer, a veteran Democratic lawmaker who did not run for re-election in 2008, said Tuesday that if Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, wants anything that is detrimental to Huntsville and Marshall Space Flight Center, he will not participate. ... Cramer said he knew when he joined Wexler & Walker in January 2009 that its executive chairman, former Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, was an advocate of commercial space interests. But he warned his firm that his 18-year congressional career looking out for Marshall and the Huntsville region would take precedence."

Keith's note: FYI Cramer's parent firm, Wexler & Walker, is run by Bob Walker - and Walker and Newt Gingrich wrote a very glowing endorsement of Obama's space commericalization plans in February. Despite the gloom and doom that Sen. Shelby et al continue to cast over this, Alabama stands to benefit from increased commercial space activity and a lot of that benefit has direct relationships to NASA expertise resident in Alabama.

Gingrich & Walker: Obama's brave reboot for NASA, Washington Times

"Critics likely will raise the issue of safety and reliability. However, there already are rockets in the American inventory that are trusted by our government to launch billion-dollar satellites and have proved to be quite reliable. Those vehicles can be modified to carry human crews safely. New rockets under development have been designed from the outset with manned missions in mind, and with the assurance of NASA business, necessary large-scale development can be done so they can be added to the commercial inventory. "

"Headed to Oval Office for meeting with the president about America's space program. Lots of folks unhappy with newly released plan for NASA", SenBillNelson on Twitter

Nelson sees NASA gains after talk with Obama, Florida Today

"We'll see the fruits of that conversation when the president visits on April 15," Nelson told journalists after his Oval Office meeting. Nelson, D-Orlando, met with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the space program and, more briefly, health care reform legislation. "Excellent conversation," Nelson said of the talk. But he wouldn't comment on whether Obama supports his push for an extra shuttle flight or for pushing ahead with plans to develop a heavy-lift rocket, saying only, "To be determined."

Remarks by Charles Bolden at the Washington Space Business Roundtable, Satellite 2010 Conference

"Commercial providers have long carried our most valuable payloads to space for the nation and have been integral to every human spaceflight mission since the beginning. My guess is that the American workers who have successfully built and launched the Atlas V 20 times in a row would disagree that US commercial spaceflight is untried or untested."

NASA Chief Bolden Sees Opportunities for Industry, Reuters

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden defended the U.S. space agency's budget on Tuesday and said its focus on commercial space transportation would provide "incredible opportunities" for U.S. companies. "This budget is good for NASA because it sets the agency on a sustainable path that is tightly linked to our nation's interests," Bolden told space industry executives at the Satellite 2010 conference. One of few agencies to get a top-line budget increase, NASA's funding is due to increase by $6 billion over the next five years, Bolden said."

Utahns in Congress all against cuts to NASA, Salt Lake Tribune

"Such a course will come back to haunt us in the future," said Sen. Orrin Hatch. "Canceling the project now, in a time of high unemployment and after our nation has already invested heavily in the technology, is penny wise and pound foolish." Hatch signed the letter to President Barack Obama along with Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson."

NASA: Ending Constellation Will Cost More, Aviation Week

"The $2.5 billion in NASA's Fiscal 2011 budget request to terminate the Constellation Program is probably "oversubscribed," and will not cover all of the expenses expected to grow from shutting down the shuttle-follow-on effort."

Crist, lawmakers wring hands over NASA job losses, Orlando Sentinel

"Gov. Charlie Crist huddled with Florida lawmakers Tuesday to figure out ways the state could stop a White House plan for NASA that cancels the agency's moon rocket program and its future jobs at Kennedy Space Center. But his Capitol Hill tour generated little more than sound bites. The only concrete strategy came from U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, who suggested that Crist work with other governors to create a united resistance to the new NASA plan."

Parker heads to D.C. to talk up NASA, light rail, Houston Chronicle

"Parker is scheduled to meet with senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and members of the local congressional delegation in a two-day blitz. Shortly after she was elected, the administration had invited her to "open dialogue" on certain key issues in Washington, and today's trip marks her first opportunity to take the president up on the offer, Parker said."

Parker to Rally Support for NASA in Washington D.C., Fox Houston

"From a conference room at city hall, Houston Mayor Annise Parker set her sights on Washington D.C. And a recent decision by the Obama administration to cancel funding for a program that could result in nearly 7,000 lost jobs at Johnson Space Center."

NASA readies retired test shuttle Enterprise for one last flight, Collectspace

"Enterprise, NASA's first space shuttle prototype, which in 1985 was delivered to the Smithsonian as a museum piece after proving that a winged spacecraft could land safely as a glider, is now being readied by the space agency for what is planned to be its final ferry flight atop a modified Boeing 747 jetliner."

Space Shuttle Enterprise Has a New Home, 2003

Fly Over The Moon

Videos: New Lunar Images and Data Available to the Public

"The public can follow along with NASA on its journey of lunar discovery. On March 15, the publicly accessible Planetary Data System will release data sets from the seven instruments on board NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter."

Air Force warns of increased launch costs, AIr Force Times

"Gary Payton, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space programs, told members of Congress on Wednesday that the Obama administration had not asked the Air Force to examine the effects of canceling NASA's Constellation program before the Feb. 1 announcement. The military and intelligence community rely on the same manufacturers as NASA to build the rockets that launch their satellites, but the White House plans to turn to commercially owned rockets to launch astronauts following retirement of the shuttle later this year. Early information shows the price of rocket propulsion systems for the military and NRO "might double" as a result, Payton said."

Keith's note: FYI Gary Payton was Mike Griffin's Deputy at SDIO back in the 1990s. It is somewhat strange that someone in a very senior position such as Payton is being this public with their overt criticism of the President's space policy and how it was formulated. Stay tuned ...

Keith's update: Looks like we'll be able to ask Payton all about this on 26 March: STA Lunch with Gary Payton, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space Programs

Sen. Says Solid Rocket Motor Costs Will Double, Navy Disagrees, Defense News

"The Navy, which has studied the matter, says prices will probably rise, but they won't double. During a Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing, Rear Adm. Stephen Johnson, said he expects solid rocket motor prices to rise 10 to 20 percent. He assured Vitter that 100 percent price growth is not likely. Johnson heads Navy strategic systems programs."

Aderholt Asks GAO To Investigate NASA's Constellation Activities for Possible Illegal Activity

"Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) on Friday wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking for an investigation into whether NASA's actions regarding the Constellation program, as well as the extent to which it is working on a new, unauthorized plan, violates law. On February 1, 2010, the President Obama Administration announced its FY2011 Budget, which proposes to eliminate the NASA Constellation program. Since that time, NASA has cancelled or put on hold numerous contracts which were a part of the regular, FY10 work for the Constellation program, despite the fact that Congress must first approve its termination before it becomes final policy."

Keith's note: I have a series of questions to ask NASA Watch readers with regard to Titan 1 ICBMs. I know that thought was given to using Titan 1's to launch a Dynasoar X-20 spacecraft on a suborbital flight, but what could this rocket have placed into Low Earth Orbit had it been used as a launch vehicle?

Stay tuned for more Titan 1 news this week. What's old can be new ...

- Video and Photos: Titan 1 at NASA Ames
- Coming Soon: Rocket Hacking, Previous post

Big Slip for STS-131?

Valve problem threatens to delay April shuttle launch,

"Engineers familiar with the system said the valve cannot be directly serviced at the launch pad. If the problem cannot be resolved by indirect methods or development of an acceptable flight rationale, the only option would be to roll Discovery back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, detach it from its external tank, haul it to its processing hangar and remove the OMS pod for repairs or replacement."

A HotFire for Falcon 9

Photos and Video: SpaceX Completes Test Firing of Falcon 9, OnOrbit

"SpaceX completed a successful static fire today, full 3.5 secs. Official statement below, video/photos to come as available. Today, SpaceX successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 located at Cape Canaveral. Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds."

Bigelow Aerospace Position Opening: Astronaut

"Bigelow Aerospace seeks professional astronauts to fill permanent positions. Qualified applicants need to have completed a training program from their government or recognized space agency and have at least some flight experience on a recognized space mission. Specialized training and/or experience (ie: Medical, Payload Specialist, EVA, Pilot, etc.) is not a pre-requisite, but is definitely a plus."

Shuttle stretch: Congress should provide funding to extend the life of the shuttle program, Houston Chronicle

"We agree with Sen. Hutchison that the nation should not be forced into a false choice between maintaining the shuttle or developing other programs while relying on the Russians or Chinese for access to space. We can -- and must -- do both, and additional short-term funding for the shuttle is the best route to preserving our independent launch capabilities while building a robust manned space program for the future."

Slow new space shuttle, don't kill it, says Bishop, Salt Lake Tribune

"Bishop called Obama's cut "naive" and argues that it will not only cede American space superiority to Russia, India and China, but it will hurt national security. "The kinds of people and the kinds of jobs that build a rocket to put a man on the moon, are the same kinds of jobs and the same kinds of people who build missiles to defend this country," he said."

Lawmakers want another NASA study, Orlando Sentinel

"The lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, want NASA to conduct a 30-day study that would find ways within NASA's proposed $19 billion budget to "ensure uninterrupted, independent U.S. human space flight access," according to a letter outlining their request."

Keith's note: There was a press conference today on Capitol Hill at which a number of members of Congress spoke out in opposition to President Obama's recently announced space policy. For the most part nothing new was said. However, Rep. Gene Green (D-TX-29) made some odd comments.

At [0:53] in this video he says "We have had some discussion on the House floor about English-only in our own country. I do agree that we should have English-only on the moon." Then at 2:57 he says "Every year, we take an astronaut with us and go to middle schools. I have a majority Hispanic district in Houston Texas and east Harris County. And to see those students, middle-school kids, sixth, seventh and eighth-graders, they won't pay attention to me or even Hispanic business folks that go in and talk about what they need to do to be successful. But when you take an astronaut there, whether Hispanic or Anglo and they go in their jumpsuit and they talk about space, they talk about their experiences or their science effort. Those sixth, seventh and eighth-graders, particularly in minority schools, pay attention. I don't want to lose that hope."

First of all, his comment about "English only" on the Moon is just plain silly. Who is he to say who can go to the Moon and what they say when they get there? Secondly, Green is apparently not well versed in how space is explored these days. NASA has prided itself on its international cooperation. The ISS is multi-national and multi-lingual and the very program he seeks to retain, the VSE, openly sought international participation. Lastly, given his overt reference to his large hispanic constituency and education, what sort of message is Green sending to those kids when he says that they won't be allowed to speak the language of their parents and their ancestors on the Moon? I guess Rep. Green never read the Twitter posting by Jose Hernandez from space en Espaol.

US lawmakers urge Obama to save NASA moon program, AFP

"I am concerned that the Russians and the Chinese will get ahead of us... that English won't be the dominant language in space," Republican Representative Michael McCaul from Texas told a House hearing."

Video clips of comments by: Rep. Olson, Rep. Wolf, Rep. Bishop , Rep. McCaul , Rep. Culberson, Rep. Posey, and Rep. Green

NASA Dives Into Its Past to Retrieve Vintage Satellite Data, Science (subscription)

"Last month, researchers working out of an abandoned McDonald's restaurant on the grounds of NASA Ames Research Center recovered data collected by NASA's Nimbus II satellite on 23 September 1966. The satellite soared over Earth in a polar orbit every 108 minutes, taking pictures of cloud cover and measuring heat radiated from the planet's surface, and creating a photo mosaic of the globe 43 years ago. The resulting image is the oldest and most detailed from NASA's Earth-observing satellites. It's also the latest success story in what researchers call techno-archaeology: pulling data from archaic storage systems. Once forgotten and largely unreadable with modern equipment, old data tapes are providing researchers with new information on changes in the surfaces of Earth and the moon."

"... They cleaned, rebuilt, and reassembled one drive, then designed and built equipment to convert the analog signals into an exact 16-bit digital copy. "It was like dumpster diving for science," says Cowing, co-team leader at LOIRP. In November 2008, the team recovered their first image: a famous picture of an earthrise taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 on 23 August 1966. The team's new high-resolution version was so crisp and clear that it revealed many previously obscured details, such as a fog bank lying along the coast of Chile."

Daniel In The Lion's Den

Obama facing uprising over new NASA strategy, Reuters

"U.S. President Barack Obama is trying to tamp down an uprising in politically vital Florida against a new strategy for NASA that has rankled space veterans and lawmakers and sparked fears of job losses. ... It is making for a potentially explosive environment when Obama travels to the Cape Canaveral area on April 15 to host a space conference with top officials and leaders in the field. "What reception will they get? Not good," said Keith Cowing, editor of, a website that closely monitors the U.S. space agency. "It's a gutsy move. It's Daniel in the Lion's Den."

Nimbus II and Lunar Orbiter 1 Imagery: A New Look at Earth in 1966, Moonviews

"To date some of the images taken by Nimbus II have been enhanced and mapped into Google Earth. One date in particular was of interest to the LOIRP - 23 August 1966. As the images were enhanced and dropped into Google Earth it became clear that we have imagery that overlapped in time to show the weather on that late August day as evening crept up on Africa and Europe. In New York City, just over the Earth's limb as seen from lunar orbit, the Beatles were preparing to play at Shea Stadium ..."

Obama's plans for NASA changes met with harsh criticism, Washington Post

"Congress must approve NASA's strategic change. Lawmakers in Florida, Alabama and Texas, states rich in space jobs, have sharply criticized the Obama plan as a job-killer. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) says that under Obama's strategy "America's decades-long dominance of space will finally come to an end."

Introduction of S. 3068 by Sen. Hutchison, Congressional Record 3 March 2010

"The legislation I am introducing today would ensure that a final decision on the timing of the space shuttle retirement, or even the number of missions it might still be required to fly, would not be made until the issues involved are fully considered and resolved and we are fully convinced that the shuttle's capability is no longer needed. In particular, we must answer the question of how we support, maintain, and fully utilize the ISS, not just in 5 or more years, when any new commercially-developed vehicle might be available, but right now, as we are about to cut the ribbon on it as a finally completed research facility."

Keith's note: In this post by Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation staffer Jeff Bingham (51D Mascot) on he notes that "The Hutchison Bill, by its very structure, is written so as to be the "core" of a broader NASA Authorization Bill, and it is fully planned and expected, going in, that it will likely be "absorbed" into that larger NASA Authorization Bill, which will likely be reported by the Commerce Committee, once it is satisfied with it, and it goes through the process known as "mark-up" (amendment and endorsement by the Committee) as a new and separate bill."

Kosmas and Posey Introduce Bill to Minimize Human Spaceflight Gap

"Today, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) and Congressman Bill Posey (FL-15) introduced legislation to maintain a robust human spaceflight program, minimize the spaceflight gap, and protect Space Coast jobs. The Human Spaceflight Capability Assurance and Protection Act would extend use of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2020, allow NASA to continue flying the Space Shuttle, and push to accelerate a next-generation NASA-developed space vehicle. A companion bill has been introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in the U.S. Senate."

Obama's plans for NASA changes met with harsh criticism, Washington Post

"They made a mistake when they rolled out their space program, because they gave the perception that they had killed the manned space program," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who disagrees with that perception but wants the Obama plan modified. Nelson said the president should declare during the Florida conference that NASA's goal is to send humans to Mars. Nelson noted that the Interstate 4 corridor through Central Florida is critical for national candidates. "I think it has a lot of repercussions for the president. If a national candidate does not carry the I-4 corridor, they don't win Florida," Nelson said."

Keith's note: The buzz at KSC and among the Florida Congressional delegation is that President Obama will hold a "Town Hall" style meeting on 15 April and that he will use that event to announce that he is authorizing one additional space shuttle mission after the four remaining flights currently on the shuttle manifest. This would stretch out employment for shuttle workers by as much as six months - well into the Summer and early Fall of 2011 - just as the 2012 presidential campaign season is starting to fire up.

The question I have to ask is why do this? In so doing it just opens the door to delaying the shut down of the shuttle program initiated by President Bush. If the White House wants to do one additional launch, then why not do three or six? Adding one launch simply buys you six months or so of workforce retention but the end result is still the same. If the intent is to shut down the shuttle program, then NASA should do so and move on to a new way of getting into space. If, on the other hand, the White House wants to develop a true shuttle-derived launch vehicle like the sidemount, one that purposefully uses existing shuttle infrastructure and workforce, then that is another issue. Alas, no one has yet given me a reason to do this other than to keep people employed. While it may be a humane thing to do now that Constellation won't be there with a safety net, this is not the way to try and shift paradigms. Rather, it is a way to stall that shift.

What's next for NASA?, Mario Livio, Baltimore Sun

"In recent days, some of those criticizing NASA's proposed budget have tried to paint a picture of an agency without a vision. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. NASA's far-reaching ambitions in space science have been, and will continue to be, truly inspiring"

Keith's note: While Livio does make a number of cogent points about space science, I find it a little odd that he can make statements about the agency's overall "vision" while making zero mention of human spaceflight. If some members of Congress have their way, NASA will need to find more money somewhere - and that somewhere may well be space science. Perhaps then he'll take the time to look at the other things that NASA does. I am rather certain that Livio was in the audience last night at the Air and Space Museum for the premiere of Hubble IMAX 3D - a movie that was equally balanced between human and robotic spaceflight. I guess he missed all of those space suited astronauts working on the gem of his institute's research - one of whom works down the hall from him at STScI ...

Keith's note: Any ideas as to what is (soon to be) going on in this image? Have a look here. What is captured in this image? Where is it?

What other projects are already underway here?

Stay tuned on Twitter at nasahackspace and at

Here's a Hint.

Space shuttle can fly beyond 2010, if money is there: NASA, AFP

"The US space shuttle fleet can continue flying beyond NASA's September 30 deadline if the money is made available to keep it going, a US space agency official told reporters Tuesday. "I think the real issue that the agency and the nation has to address is the expense," said Space Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon, noting the shuttle fleet costs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 200 million dollars per month to maintain it in working condition. "Where that money comes from is the big question," he added."

Obama's New Mission for NASA Sets Off Intense Criticism, Fox

"It's amazing that we're headed down a path where we're not going to have any vehicles at all to launch from the Kennedy Space Center for an extended period of time," John Shannon, NASA's space shuttle manager said at a news conference. "And to give up all the lessons learned, the blood, sweat and tears that we have expended to get the space shuttle to the point where it is right now where it is performing so magnificently," he said."

Keith's note: With the popularity of retro TV shows such as "Mad Men" comes a second look at how we used to advertise things in the 1960s - products, ideas, etc. The early space age was an exciting time when we were doing things no one had done before - and we were pretty proud of doing it. Some of the artwork is rather classy and, with a few tweaks, might even work today. If you go to this page at io9 you will some examples of ads from the dawn of space exploration.

Reaching for the Stars When Space Was a Thrill, NY Times

"... Or the American Bosch Arma Corporation showing off, in Fortune, its "Cosmic Butterfly," a solar-powered electrically propelled vehicle to ferry passengers and cargo across the solar system. Most Americans never saw these concoctions, but now they have been collected and dissected by Megan Prelinger, an independent historian and space buff, in a new book, "Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957-1962." It is being published on May 25 by Blast Books."

Former High-Ranking NASA Official Pleads Guilty to Violating Conflict of Interest Law in Scheme to Enrich Himself and Others, Gulf Coast News

"Liam P. Sarsfield, 54, of Deale, Maryland, a former high-ranking NASA official, pled guilty in federal court on November 30, 2009 to a one-count criminal information alleging he committed Acts Affecting a Personal Financial Interest, in violation of Section 208, Title 18, United States Code, U.S. Attorney Donald R. Burkhalter and Inspector General Paul K. Martin of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced today. Sarsfield entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden. Sarsfield faces a maximum imprisonment term of five years and a fine of $250,000. He is scheduled for sentencing on June 24, 2010."

Ex-NASA Official Pleads Guilty in Contracts Case, WS Journal

"A former high-ranking National Aeronautics and Space Administration official pleaded guilty in Mississippi to designing contracts that netted him more than $270,000 in illegal profits. Liam P. Sarsfield is a former chief deputy engineer in Washington, D.C. ... Mr. Sarsfield will be sentenced June 24. He pleaded guilty to one charge of acts affecting a personal financial interest."

Ex-NASA official pleads guilty, AP

"The U.S. Attorney's office would not comment on whether Sarsfield is cooperating with authorities in the case against Stadd. However, Sarsfield was charged in a criminal information, which is filed by prosecutors when the defendant has agreed to waive grand jury indictment and plead guilty. They are often used when a defendant is cooperating."

NASA Presolicitation Notice: Engineering Services: Liam P. Sarsfield, earlier post from July 21, 2005

"NASA/HQ intends to award a purchase order to Mr. Liam P. Sarsfield. The authority is 10 U.S.C.2304(c)(1) "only one responsible source."

Obama Plans Florida Forum to Discuss NASA's Future, NY Times

"Joseph R. Fragola, a safety consultant, said the review had found no critical flaws for Constellation. "Money is the problem," he said. "It's not technical."

- More Inconsistencies From the Ares 1 Risk Guru, earlier post
- Hanley Changes His Story On Ares 1 Safety - Again, earlier post

Which track for NASA?, Huntsville Times

"President Barack Obama plans to affirm his administration's commitment to space exploration and NASA next month in Florida, the White House said Monday, but the space agency plan cancels the 5-year-old Marshall Space Flight Center-managed Ares rocket program. And Obama's plans are at odds with Alabama's senior senator on Capitol Hill - Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa."

Analysts point to politics over Obama's NASA conference, Houston Chronicle

"Nelson took to the Senate floor late Monday to welcome Obama's April 15 visit and praise his plans to seize leadership of the space program, even as he went on to excoriate unnamed presidential aides and "the budget boys from OMB" for allowing the chief executive to create "the perception that the president had killed the manned space program." Nelson added pointedly: "There is outright hostility (in Florida) toward President Obama and his proposals for the nation's human space program."

Nelson hopes Obama clarifies space vision, Florida Today

"Despite a commitment to extend the life of the International Space Station to 2020 and increase NASA funding by $6 billion over five years, Nelson said last month's poor rollout of the administration's new direction for NASA allowed critics to frame it as the end of U.S. human spaceflight. "He's got to clear that up," Nelson said. "That is one of the misconceptions that the president is going to have to correct."

Obama Plans Florida Forum to Discuss NASA's Future, NY Times

"The president's upcoming space meeting here in Florida provides a chance for meaningful progress," said Representative Suzanne M. Kosmas, whose district includes the Kennedy Space Center. She requested a meeting when she and others in the state Congressional delegation met last month with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, and John P. Holdren, Mr. Obama's science adviser."

Making NASA "Open"

NASA Idea Brainstorming Tool, Open Government at NASA

"NASA is seeking input on the creation of the NASA Open Government Plan. As outlined in the Open Government Directive, this brainstorming tool is a mechanism gain input on how to make the key principle of openness a meaningful pillar of NASA's mission, and how to implement participation, transparency and collaboration activities such that NASA becomes more relevant, efficient, and accountable. Key ideas and suggestions developed through this process will be prioritized in the NASA Open Government Plan."

NASA rethinks $1.5B enterprise data center contract, Washington Technology

"NASA has announced it's reworking its strategy for acquiring an enterprise data center, and has postponed the release of a final request for proposals for what could have been a $1.5 billion contract. NASA said its plans for the NASA Enterprise Data Center (NEDC) program didn't meet its enterprise needs. The agency said it made the decision after a reassessment in light of leadership changes and new requirements from the Office of Management and Budget regarding cloud computing, greening information technology, virtualization, and federal data center guidance."

NASA Reworks $1.5B Enterprise Data Center Plans, Web Host Industry Review

"NASA said it is looking to develop a data center plan that will consolidate all data centers, systems, applications, as well as include a data center architecture and full enterprise assessment. This would give the agency the chance to design an infrastructure strategy according to its business requirements and use technologies like cloud computing to cut energy costs."

Obama plans Florida space summit to defend his vision for NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"In the latest sign that his NASA vision is in peril, President Barack Obama will announce today his plans to host a space summit in Florida on April 15. The move follows weeks of criticism from Congress about his proposal to cancel NASA's Constellation moon-rocket program in favor of an approach that would push NASA engineers to develop new technologies while using commercial rocket companies for future astronaut missions."

President Obama to Host Space Conference in Florida in April, White House

"The President, along with top officials and other space leaders, will discuss the new course the Administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human space flight. Specifically, the conference will focus on the goals and strategies in this new vision, the next steps, and the new technologies, new jobs, and new industries it will create. Conference topics will include the implications of the new strategy for Florida, the nation, and our ultimate activities in space."

Keith's note: This is not good news for the annual backslapping fest in Colorado Springs (the National Space Symposium). Charlie Bolden is supposed to be speaking on the last day - i.e. 15 April. I would guess that he will now be in Florida on this date - along with most of the news media. Oh well, Spock speaks on the evening of the 15th.

Sen. Nelson urges Obama to set NASA agenda, WDBO

"Part of that would be saving the workforce at Kennedy Space Center that otherwise in large part would be laid off in the cancellation of the Constellation program," Nelson said. "There's only one person that can lead the space program and that's the president. If he'll clearly set the goal, if he'll clearly say we're going to mars within a defined time frame, then we can get this space program back on track," he said."

Keith's update: Jay Costello is reporting on MSNBC that NASA has been urging the President not to travel to KSC for this summit. My sources at NASA Headquarters tell me that this is not the case.

Either way, it should be clear that this summit was not a NASA idea. Announcing something like this on a Sunday afternoon - with no NASA follow up is weird enough. In addition, the choice of a date is weird. Not only does it chop the end off of a large annual event that many space people attend, but it also brings the need for enhanced security during a shuttle mission - one whose launch could slip at a moment's notice. In addition, there is a question of cost. Given that the focus is on human space flight, and by its location, on Florida, one would expect that the entire KSC work force will want to try and attend or listen in. Given the logistics involved, this could amount to loss of perhaps half a work day. Multiply this by the tens of thousands of people affected. This time not only needs to be charged to something, it also puts a crimp in preparations for subsequent shuttle missions.

While the President is almost certain to walk into a buzz saw of public outrage over the new space policy, there is something to be said about this trip. Not unlike Daniel in the lion's den, instead of relying on staff or surrogates to push this new policy, he's going to take the message there personally. Given the reaction to this space policy across the state of Florida this may not be the smartest thing to do politically, but given that it is "his" policy, it is probably the right thing to do from a personal perspective.

That said, he is going to get an earful. Telling people about how cool his new policy is or reminiscing about sitting on his grandfather's shoulders as an Apollo lunar crew passed by won't go far with this crowd. They live and breathe space exploration 365 days a year - and have done so for decades - and now they are going to be unemployed.

Texas' NASA fight soars even as state's clout fades, Houston Chronicle

"And although thousands of Houston-area jobs are at stake, Texans in 2008 did nothing to help usher Barack Obama into the White House. Furthermore, history shows previous lobbying efforts to salvage massive NASA projects have never succeeded. "There's not a single case where a major cancellation in the space program has been overturned by external lobbying," says space historian John Logsdon, former director of George Washington University's Space Policy Institute. "Congress defers to presidents on space because you can't run a space program from Capitol Hill."

Preserving space jobs big focus for Shelby, Huntsville Times

"Shelby has accused the Obama administration of beginning "the death march for NASA" and has told Bolden he is "out of step with Congress." Shelby described last Thursday's meeting with Bolden as "to the point." "I believe some of us have fundamental disagreements on how the administration wants to go," Shelby said. Shelby has vowed to fight the changes, he said."

HSPD-12 Update

Court to consider NASA employee background checks, Reuters

"The high court agreed to rule on the legal challenge by the longtime employees, who had been classified as "low risk," to the in-depth checks for information on medical treatment or counseling for drug use or any other "adverse" information, including private sexual matters."

Previous HSPD-12 posts

Top of the Ticket, LA Times

"OK. "Boldest aspirations in space." "New journey of innovation and discovery." "Forward thinking." "Foundational element." "Targeted set of inter-related technologies and capabilities." In English this translates to Obama's new budget would cancel for now the return of NASA astronauts to the moon to explore and possibly colonize. The ex-senator wants new space directions with emphasis on milking more years out of the International Space Station and developing technologies to go somewhere else maybe someday who knows. And to accomplish that he's prepared over the next five years to spend an additional $6 billion. To put that once-enormous sum in perspective, "Avatar" fans have already spent a third as much on movie tickets to watch blue creatures. Not to mention money the patrons dished out for overpriced popcorn and Twizzlers. All of which makes this space reform seem less like bold aspirations and more like a cheap short subject."

Keith's note: While commentary over the past few weeks has been spirited, it has been more or less civil. However, in the past few days I have had readers try to post comments with "Uncle Tom" and "Charlie Bolden" in the same sentence, make comparisons of President Obama and Hitler, and post pointless crude comments about Lori Garver as a woman. Such comments will not be tolerated and people who attempt to post such things will simply be banned - without warning. If I see too much more of this I will simply shut comments on NASA Watch off. I know its hard times right now. I went through this during Space Station Freedom. Been there, done that. Losing a job you love sucks big time - I know. I really loved my job - and it was taken away from me for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with me or how I did my job. As such, as you comment, try and be constructive folks. But if you are going to go straight for the gutter, I will close the party down. Look at the pretty picture. Think about how we get there from here.

Its space jobs in jeopardy, Ala. comes a-courtin', Baltimore Sun

"From the Alabama space community, Mikulski received $14,400 from Francisco J. Collazo of COLSA Corp., a contractor on NASA's moon rocket program, and five members of his family, FEC records show. Collazo has also contributed more than $400,000 to Shelby campaigns and committees over the years, Bloomberg News reported in a 2006 article that said Shelby had steered at least $50 million in government earmarks to COLSA. Four members of the 25-member Huntsville task force personally directed $7,300 in contributions to Mikulski's re-election. Three others work for aerospace contractors that have given $14,000 through their political action committees, records show."

Mikulski fundraising shows bipartisan sleaze, Baltimore Sun

"In an excellent expose of how Washington really works, West reveals how President Obama's desire to shut down NASA's program to revisit the moon has turned into a fund-raising bonanza for Maryland's senior senator -- with Republican help."

2010 contributions for Sen. Mikulski,

Keith's note: Hmmm - have a look at this map. After Maryland, ($475,650) the next largest contributor to Mikulski's campaign in 2010 (so far) is Alabama. ($78,610). This places Huntsville as the 4th ranking metropolitan area after Baltimore, Washington, and New York - and ahead of Chicago.

A Closer Look at Sen. Shelby, Money, NASA MSFC, and Lobbyists, earlier post

"Collazo Enterprises is a registered Lobbyist in Washington, spending lots of money to influence Congress, yet it apparently has no employees in Huntsville and is owned entirely by Mr. Collazo. Collazo Enterprises owns Colsa. Colsa Corp is Shelby's 16th ranked donor and contributed $21,300 between 2005 and 2010. Collazo Enterprises is ranked #9 among Shelby's donors and made a total of $26,100 in contributions during the same time period. That's a total of $47,400. A number of Colsa employees made a contribution to Shelby on 11 March 2009 as did other spouses, relatives, etc. and lots of people with the last name "Collazo."

Houston mayor plans visit with NASA chief, Bay Area Citizen

"Houston Mayor Annise Parker will take the community's fight to save the Constellation program straight to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden next week, while a group of Clear Lake area businessmen will make a similar trip to Washington March 22. Parker's trip to the nation's capital comes as Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell, who will head the Clear Lake delegation, works to rally Texans to save America's manned space flight program."

'NASA-enabled' is new mantra, Huntsville Times

"Late last week, reports said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was working on a "Plan B" in the face of bipartisan congressional opposition to the Obama plan, but Bolden denied it. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, has introduced legislation that would keep the space shuttle flying to 2015 and keep parts of Constellation, specifically the Orion crew module and the heavy-lift rocket needed for exploration beyond Earth orbit."

Following criticism, Obama to host NASA forum on 'next steps', The Hill

"While the White House did propose an additional $8 billion for NASA as part of its new budget, some lawmakers are apoplectic that the boost comes at the expense of NASA's Constellation program -- a project commissioned in 2005 by former President George W. Bush, who tasked the agency with plotting a second trip to the Moon."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Keith's note: Apparently no one does fact checking for NBC's Jay Barbree any more. In this video he says that NASA has spent "$10 billion" on the Constellation program and that NASA Is "close to completing it". He also claims that it would cost "$5 to 6 Billion to shut this program down" and that "70 to 100,000" NASA and contractor jobs would be lost. He also claims that "Mission Control would go dark in Houston at the Manned Spacecraft Center ... as well as installations in California and Utah." He then says "America will be going to third, fourth, and fifth place" in space. As for where the policy came from he says "I cannot find anybody to tell me that President Obama's fingerprints are on this [plan] ... the only fingerprints that I know are on this plan are from lower level bureaucrats." In closing he says "We need to get to the bottom of this because pretty soon we could be killing a lot of astronauts".

After 50 years of NASA, we must not leave space, Sen Hutchison

"If President Obama has his way, the U.S. will retire the space shuttle program later this year, just as the International Space Station is finally complete and without a viable alternative to take its place. America has spent billions of dollars building and maintaining the space station. Now that it is complete, the Obama budget plan ensures that we will no longer have easy access to it."

NASA's plan B(olden), Nature

"America's space agency seems to be in a right old state at the moment. NASA was already on the back foot after President Obama announced the cancellation of its planned replacement for the Space Shuttle (which should normally be prefixed with the word 'aging' or 'antiquated'). Now it seems to be putting out mixed messages about using private companies to get American's into space instead."

NASA's varied missions worthy of full budget support, William S. Smith Jr, Washington Post

"The goals of NASA's space science program are unequivocal and far-reaching. These missions rewrite textbooks regularly. NASA deserves great credit for its sustained commitment to space science. While there are a handful of celestial bodies accessible to human visitation, our scientific horizons are limitless. NASA's budget request for fiscal 2011 should be strongly supported."

Building a technology showcase, interview with Wallace Wood, National Space & Technology Association, Houston Chronicle

"What I'm looking to do is to hold a world-class conference that includes the public. That goes beyond just mere businesses coming together. I want to bring the public into it. In my mind you have this industry that's designing the future. At the end of the day, we're all consumers. That industry needs the consumer to keep it viable and strong. I think that a public that is included and informed in the process makes for an accountable industry."

Show Us The Money

Garver: Battle Over Obama Plan Imperils NASABudget Growth, Space News

"Think of it this way: If you are focused on getting the Constellation budget continued in the future -- and I harbor no ill will against those of you who do ... but if Constellation is put back in the budget without that $5 billion-a-year increase, where will we cut the budget?" she asked."

Maintaining America's lead role in space (Rep. Bill Posey), The Hill

"Providing sufficient funding for Constellation will ensure that we do not abandon the investments already made. To that end, we should work to see that America's lead role in human space exploration is maintained, not surrendered to Russia and China."

Sen. Hutchison pitches sizable expansion to proposed NASA budget, The Hill

"The space program's proposed 2011 budget would see a $1.3-billion boost under a new bill proposed by Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R). Her legislation, unveiled Thursday, would also postpone indefinitely the retirement of NASA's manned-spaceflight program, and establish an independent commission to assess the agency's shuttle system."

NASA Internal memo: Message from the Administrator - March 5, 2010

"During a Strategic Management Council meeting on Tuesday, I asked JSC Director Mike Coats and MSFC Director Robert Lightfoot to put together a very small team to help me develop an accelerated plan for research and development on a heavy lift launch vehicle for future exploration, in support of that element of the President's FY11 NASA budget. Regrettably, this was subsequently reported by the news media as a request for a "Plan B" alternative to the President's budget."

Changes at USA

Keith's note: Sources report that Dick Covey announced his retirement as the head of United Space Alliance this morning.

Shelby has frank discussion with NASA Administrator, WAFF

"A frank discussion took place on Capitol Hill Thursday between Senator Richard Shelby and NASA administrator Charlie Bolden. It took place behind closed doors in Senator Shelby's office. Bolden and Shelby are very far apart on NASA's vision and therefore NASA's budget. In fact, many in Congress don't even see a vision for the space agency if there is no government owned and operated human space flight program , namely Constellation, once the shuttle retires."

A Strategic Retreat From Leadership, Rep. Mike Coffman, Huffington Post

"Seeking to put his stamp on America's storied adventures in rocketry and robotics, the president could have gone boldly in new directions, using past achievements as a springboard to new destinations. But his proposed budget for space exploration describes an approach that is both reckless and nave."

New NASA plans developing in Congress and, reportedly, inside NASA itself, Huntsville Times

"Bolden said in a statement later Thursday that NASA isn't undercutting the White House plan. "The president's budget for NASA is my budget. I strongly support the priorities and the direction for NASA that he has put forward," Bolden said. "I'm open to hearing ideas from any member of the NASA team, but I did not ask anybody for an alternative to the president's plan and budget."

Aderholt "Extremely Pleased" NASA May Be Planning Alternatives To Ending Constellation

"I am extremely pleased that NASA may be considering a Plan B option to the President's proposal to cancel human space flight. Since the President announced his Budget last month, I and many of my Republican and Democrat colleagues have expressed our disapproval of the plan, along with our desire in continuing with Constellation. But the fight is not over. I will continue to work on this because I believe that human spaceflight and exploration beyond earth is the very reason for NASA's existence."

Massive Fight Under Way To Keep Shuttle Program, WESH

"On Thursday, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said he still supports the president's plan to end U.S. human spaceflight. However, when he meets with members of Congress, he is expected to at least discuss Plan B."

New hope for Ares, ATK / NASA may be considering compromise,

"Bishop, R-Utah, cited a news story in the Wall Street Journal that says a memo by a member of Bolden's staff is telling NASA officials to plan out "what a potential compromise might look like" to satisfy Obama administration critics of the Constellation program. Bishop said Thursday that congressional delegations from Utah, Alabama, Florida and Texas are joining forces to work with NASA to keep Constellation alive. He said the memo is a hint that NASA is starting to listen."

NASA Administrator Reaffirms Support for 2011 Budget, NASA

"I'm open to hearing ideas from any member of the NASA team, but I did not ask anybody for an alternative to the President's plan and budget."

Keith's 3 March note: AA for Public Affairs Morrie Goodman has been reassigned to be a special assistant to the administrator of NASA. Bob Jacobs is the acting AA for Public Affairs.

Florida Fires Back

Florida legislators blast new NASA plan, Orlando Sentinel

"Aides to U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, the Rockledge Republican who organized the letter campaign, said every Florida lawmaker now has agreed to sign it."

Florida Congressional Delegation Letter to President Obama Regarding NASA FY 2011 Budget

"Dear Mr. President: As members of the Florida congressional delegation, we write to express deep concerns with the Administration's FY 2011 budget request as it relates to the future of America's space program. While the budget request was presented to Members of Congress and staff as a game-changing strategy to move America's human space program beyond activities in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) serious questions remain regarding its goals, milestones, inherent cost and schedule risks, and severe disruptions to the workforce at our nation's premier spaceport."

NASA JSC Memo: Commercial-Crew Vehicle Transition Concepts 1 March 2010

"The President's 201 1 Budget Proposal which was unveiled on February 8, 2010, places an emphasis on commercial vehicles "to provide astronaut transportation to the International Space Station (ISS), reducing the sole reliance on foreign crew transports and catalyzing new businesses and significant new jobs." The following paper provides recommendations for the transition to a commercial-crew vehicle to the ISS which leverages the experience gained in the operation of the Space Shuttle, the ISS, and in the design of Constellation."

NASA Chief Bolden Seeks 'Plan B' for the Space Agency, Wall Street Journal

"NASA chief Charles Bolden has asked senior managers to draw up an alternate plan for the space agency after members of Congress indicated they wanted to reject a White House proposal to hire private companies to ferry U.S. astronauts into orbit and beyond. In an internal National Aeronautics and Space Administration memo viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bolden ordered officials to map out "what a potential compromise might look like" to satisfy critics on Capitol Hill. By calling for an alternative plan, Mr. Bolden threatened to undercut White House efforts to get its proposed NASA budget through Congress."

Johnson Space Center Prepares 'Plan B' at Bolden's Request, Space News

"Bolden, however, said March 4 that he did not request NASA human spaceflight officials to come up with an alternative to Obama's plan. "The President's Budget for NASA is my budget. I strongly support the priorities and the direction for NASA that he has put forward," Bolden said in a written statement. "I'm open to hearing ideas from any member of the NASA team, but I did not ask anybody for an alternative to the President's plan and budget. We have to be forward thinking and aggressive in our pursuit of new technologies to take us beyond low-Earth orbit, and the President's plan does this. After years of underinvestment in new technology and unrealistic budgeting, we finally have an ambitious plan for NASA that sets the agency on a reinvigorated path of space exploration."

Keith's note: According to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee staffer Jeff Bingham, posting as "51D Mascot" at regarding Sen. Hutchison's recent proposal:

"Absolutely right, but the point here is timing. At this stage you have "camps" at the extreme edges of "PoR" or bust and "Bold New Idea" with many of the influential folks and key players taking those positions--now. But when it becomes clear, as I believe it will, that neither of those are going to be sustainable, then a mddle ground will be sought. But it has to be articulated as an option, and THAT is the true purpose of this bill. Thus, an attempt to line up all those players prior to introduction would have been counterproductive. The hope is that having a reasonably cohesive, credible alternative "on the table" can provide an eventual rallying point for a path forward, or at the very least a focal point for the serious discussion of what that path should entail."

Bingham also notes here that "The Ares 1 references are, first, "suggestive" as options to be reviewed as part of HLV development. The notion is that an evolvable shuttle-derived HLV could begin with a core that might be an in-line configuration of 4-segment SSRBs, coupled to an ET-sized core segment (strengthened and with a boat-tail at the bottom holding SSMEs, and a payload attachment/inter-stage carrying an accelerated Orion with LAS attached) which would become the "government-operated" LEO/ISS support capability, with a target IOC of 2013."

To Boldly Go Where Ever - If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there, Elliott Pulham, Space Foundation

"As of yet, there are no commercial systems that can take crew and cargo to orbit and dock with the ISS. There are, of course, several such systems in development. A SpaceX Dragon crew capsule prototype was on display at the 25th National Space Symposium, and we look forward to seeing what commercial solutions are on exhibit at the upcoming 26th National Space Symposium. But financing, testing, regulating, and human-rating such systems will not be easy or inexpensive. Given the scale of investment required, and financial and technical risk that must be assumed, the markets for these systems need to be global, as they are with the commercial aircraft industry, to enable a reasonable return on investment. Yet we're no closer to meaningful ITAR reform that would open those markets."

Keith's note: Thus sayeth the dinosaur. With this kind of defeatist thinking coming out of a major aerospace business organization, one might conclude that American business is no longer up to the challenge of space. Elliott certainly seems to think so. Indeed, he clearly seems to think that the only solution is to have the government run everything, call all the shots, etc. One look at Constellation's technical and funding woes speaks to the inadvisability of this. Which is better, one monolithic approach ("on steroids") with no Plan B, or one that utilizes a variety of approaches, from multiple sources in a synergistic, flexible, adaptable arena?

Florida Space Day

Florida Space Day in Tallahassee March 3, 2010

"Key representatives from Florida's space industry will visit Tallahassee to participate in Florida Space Day and share the challenges the industry faces in ensuring Florida remains at the forefront of the nation's space program. Florida Space Day is a milestone event that presents an opportunity to educate and bring awareness to Florida legislators on the significance of the aerospace industry and its impact on Florida's economy."

Our views: Stand and deliver on space (March 3), Florida Today

"This year, there must be more than unmet promises, with catastrophic job losses coming soon because President Obama is calling for a major shift in NASA's direction, using private industry to send astronauts into orbit. Some 9,000 workers from Kennedy Space Center will get the ax with the shuttle program's end and cancellation of the Constellation moon project, with 14,000 indirect jobs that rely on NASA paychecks also lost."

Space Coast lobbyists told bleak economy will limit state aid, Orlando Sentinel

"With just four space shuttle missions left and 23,000 job losses looming when the orbiters stop flying, Gov. Charlie Crist is making a big push to help the state's struggling space sector in this year's legislative session. But Florida's dismal economic realities are threatening to derail his efforts."

Hutchison Introduces Bill to Close Gap in U.S. Spaceflight

"Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today introduced legislation to close the gap in U.S. human space flight that will occur if the space shuttle is retired before the next generation of space vehicle is developed. Senator Hutchison's bill would allow the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to extend the shuttle's service as work continues on the next generation of American space vehicle. Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives next week by Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Florida) and Bill Posey (R-Florida)."

Kosmas Presses Budget Committee to Continue Shuttle Funding

"There is only one existing vehicle with the capability to deliver certain pieces of hardware that will enable a longer lifespan of the ISS, maintain continued U.S. independent access to space, and ensure the station's research mission is maximized to fullest extent possible - and that is the Space Shuttle," Congresswoman Kosmas said to the committee. "I believe that as we debate long-term future of our human space program, it is prudent to take steps to ensure the Space Shuttles can continue to operate in order to fully support and service the ISS."

- Shuttle flights would continue under new proposal, Orlando Sentinel
- Reprieve Sought for Space Shuttles, NY Times

Orion Under Siege

Lies, damned lies and timetables: NASA's Orion fights for its life , Orlando Sentinel

"The project believes it is extremely important to continue to show progress and professionalism. Stay with the guiding principles and work safe. Key milestones continue to be met. Some examples were PA-1 will launch in late April or early May. GSE test articles are being delivered to Michoud. Orion has a PDR design and is "very close" to completion. Heat shield installation tool due to be delivered to KSC in early March. CEV work station to arrive in April and the super station sometime this summer."

Keith's note: Word has it that one possible option under consideration is to reduce the Orion crew from 4 to 3 - just like Apollo. Also, I wonder if this push "to show progress and professionalism" is why no one at ESMD PAO ever released information about the recent parachute test failure.

Opinion: Mars Is Within Our Reach -- Here's How, Buzz Aldrin, AOL

"Many in Congress and elsewhere have expressed their concern that under the Obama plan, NASA will no longer be in the human spaceflight business, having turned over space transportation services to commercial firms. Under my plan, commercial carriers would fly our astronauts and cargo up to the space station, but NASA would stay in the human spaceflight business by designing and building the Exploration Module, or XM."

Is NASA's New Space Plan Really That Radical?,

"['Radical'] might be a little bit dramatic, but it's certainly a big shift," said Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut and a member of the blue-ribbon panel President Obama commissioned to review NASA's plans before designing the new proposal. "I would say it's unprecedented." He said he thought it made sense to look to commercial industry to provide transport to low-Earth orbit, but that NASA should also stay in the business of building spacecraft. "NASA's job should be focused on exploration, going beyond low-Earth orbit," he said. Even though it may be a significant change, Chiao said it might be for the best. "Transitions are difficult but sometimes you need some kind of a dramatic change in order to get that improvement," he said."

"I have been reading books about space since, well, since I learned how to read. Indeed this is how I learned to really read a book - since the books I had to read in school were lame. Nearly half a century later, I have read an unknown number of books that chronicle the life stories of those who have come to be involved with the exploration of space. Every book is different yet every book is the same since the paths that people took were similar and overlapping. Some came from Nazi Germany, others from small towns in America or Russia.

But until now I had not read a story of someone who aspired to touch the stars from the midst of revolution-racked Iran."


Moon and Everest Rocks At Home in Space

"Photo: NASA astronaut Robert Behnken, STS-130 mission specialist, poses for a photo near the windows in the Cupola of the International Space Station while space shuttle Endeavour remains docked with the station. Next to him is the plaque containing Apollo 11 Moon rocks and a piece of the summit of Mt. Everest."

Keith's note: With regard to all of this chatter about getting the public more involved in what NASA does: NASA talks a lot about something they like to call "Participatory Exploration" OK, I'm certainly cool with all of that. This video below of a live interview I did at Everest Base Camp (4:00 am, -10F) with Miles O'Brien as Scott Parazynski stood atop Mt. Everest. This is a rather raw example that they should try and emulate. Its not always pretty, but its very real.

Dancing with the Stars Season 10 Cast Lineup Annoucements, Buzzy Bloggers

"The Dancing with the Stars' Season 10 Cast includes Pamela Anderson, Chad Ochocinco, Aiden Turner, Erin Andrews, Shannen Doherty, Buzz Aldrin, Niecy Nash, Nicole Scherzinger,Evan Lysacek, Kate Gosselin."

More Water on the Moon

NASA Radar Finds Ice Deposits at Moon's North Pole; Additional Evidence of Water Activity on Moon

"Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near the moon's north pole. NASA's Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters with water ice. The craters range in size from 1 to 9 miles (2 to15 km) in diameter. Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness in each crater, it's estimated there could be at least 1.3 million pounds (600 million metric tons) of water ice."

NASA Announces Agency Center Management Changes

"Arthur E. "Gene" Goldman, who has been the director of Stennis since November 2008, has been named deputy director of Marshall. Patrick Scheuermann, the deputy director at Stennis will take over as the Stennis director. Stennis houses many of NASA's rocket propulsion test capabilities and applied science programs. Marshall's work includes propulsion systems, engineering, science, space operations and other work in support of NASA missions. As previously announced, Woodrow Whitlow, Jr., the Glenn center director, has been named the associate administrator for Mission Support at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Ray Lugo, the deputy director at Glenn, has been named acting director."

Reader note: A few days ago I again saw the "Step Forward" commercial that was run a lot after Obama was elected with its notable quote "Where's my moon" on TV. The commercial indicates we are to go to I did so in hopes of obtaining some inspiration. I wound up at I could only laugh! Try it for yourself.

Robert McCall

Famed space artist Robert McCall, 90, dies, Collectspace

"An artist whose visions of the past, present, and future of space exploration have graced U.S. postage stamps, NASA mission patches, and the walls of the Smithsonian, Robert McCall died on Friday of a heart attack in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 90."

The late, great Robert McCall, Miles O'Brien

"When the congregation decided to add a small, chapel-in-the-round for smaller ceremonies a few years ago, they called upon this artistic pair in their midst to design the stained-glass windows. ... Not long after it was finished, and not long after the Challenger disaster, the widow of the commander of the doomed flight, June Scobee visited here. After gazing into the glass and reflecting, she told the McCall's she knew where her husband was. The McCalls' eyes glisten as they recount the story."

Challenger Center Mourns the Death of Space Artist Robert T. McCall, Challenger Center

"Bob's artistic talent and imagination helped us to create the concept and design for Challenger Center, and he remained a close friend and supporter. My heart goes out to his wife Louise and his entire family," said June Scobee Rodgers, Challenger Center's Founding Chairman. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in McCall's honor to the Challenger Space Center of Arizona, 21170 North 83rd Ave, Peoria, AZ 85382,"


Canadian Space AgencyShrinking Budget and No Space Plan puts the Canadian Space Agency in a Bind, SpaceRef Canada

"While the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is not expected to see a significant change in its budget this coming year, it is possible that cuts are forthcoming in future budgets which were already scheduled to decline as the government reigns in spending."

Marc's note: As you'll read in the article the Canadian government appears to have delayed releasing Canada's Long-Term Space Plan for a year as it waits out what NASA was going to do as. FYI your login with NASA Watch will work on SpaceRef Canada if you choose to leave comments there.



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