April 2010 Archives

Administrator Bolden Announces Key Leadership Changes

"Administrator Charlie Bolden on Friday announced two changes in his leadership team at Headquarters in Washington. David Radzanowski was selected as the agency's new chief of staff, and James Stofan was named as the acting associate administrator for Education. Radzanowski, who was NASA's deputy associate administrator for Program Integration in the Space Operations Mission Directorate, succeeds George Whitesides, who is returning to private industry. Dr. Joyce Winterton will move to the Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate as a senior advisor developing student flight programs and other education initiatives."

NASA Balloon Suffers Mishap in Australia, NASA

"Upon release, the balloon's payload hit the ground and was dragged approximately 150 yards before hitting a fence and sports utility vehicle. No one was injured. A mishap investigation board is being convened."

NASA balloon crashes on take-off in Australia, destroying telescope, USA Today

"A towering NASA science balloon bearing a gamma-ray telescope crashed on liftoff today in Australia, according to reports from the Outback. The gondola carrying the multimillion-dollar package overturned an SUV and narrowly missed several onlookers. The Nuclear Compton Telescope, which was developed by the University of California, was destroyed. The telescope "came off the launch vehicle badly and hit the ground several times as the abort completed," team member Eric Bellm, a graduate astronomy student at the UC-Berkeley, wrote on the mission's blog [now blocked]."

Prepared Remarks by Charles Bolden at NASA JSC 28 April 2010

"For my friends in the media - and I think you all know that I mean that in all sincerity - our NASA team cannot be successful in telling our incredible story without your cooperation and assistance. I will always attempt to be responsive to your requests for access, within reason. But you are not a friend of the space program when you misrepresent the statements or actions of our dedicated, loyal workforce for the sake of a headline-winning story. Again, please don't take this as an attempt to blame the messenger for NASA's problems. That is not the case nor my intent. Rather, please realize that this is a major change in trajectory for our Nation's space program, and that such change is bound to be turbulent in the formative stages. I know that this Nation's aerospace enterprise is capable of coming together and moving forward as one."

Keith's note: If NASA management were to stop thinking of the media in terms of "friends" or its implied counterpart (enemies) and focused instead upon being responsive to the media when the agency is legitimately questioning NASA's problems (things NASA would prefer to to talk about), then the adversarial relationship would improve. Thinking in "us vs them" terms, as is evidenced in Bolden's remarks, simply perpetuates the problem.

Funding for Orion Launch Abort System To Cease April 30, Space News

"Orbital Sciences Corp. is warning subcontractors supporting development of a launch abort system for NASA's Orion crew capsule that funding for the effort will cease April 30, according to industry sources and documents. In an April 20 letter to Minneapolis-based Alliant TechSystems (ATK), one of two companies developing motors for the Orion Launch Abort System, Orbital said Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver would restrict funding for the effort by the end of April."

NASA TV Provides Coverage Of New Launch Abort System Test

"NASA Television will provide live coverage of the May 6 launch of the Pad Abort 1 flight test. The broadcast will begin at 8:30 a.m. EDT from the launch site at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, N.M."

Keith's note: Hmm ... I wonder how will this test can proceed if contractor funding has been stopped a week prior to the actual test? Stay tuned.

James Cameron lobbies NASA to include 3-D "eyes" on the next-generation Mars rover, Whittier Daily News

"If the next generation rover is able to take high-resolution color movies in 3-D on Mars, it will be thanks to the reigning king of 3-D cinema himself, "Avatar" director James Cameron. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory scaled back its plans in 2007 to mount such a camera atop the rover Curiosity, set to launch in 2011, after that next flagship mission to Mars came in consistently over budget and behind schedule. But Cameron lobbied hard for inclusion of a 3-D camera for the mission, taking his concerns directly to NASA administrator Charles Bolden in a one-on-one meeting in January."

Cameron's Camera, Air & Space

"The camera is looking down at the Mars rover," recalls Mike Ravine, who was in the meeting. "You can see the sample arm off to one side, and we pan up and see Mars in front of us. We're rolling slowly along the surface. We pan back slowly so we see Mars going by, then look back at the tracks of the rover going off to the horizon behind us--in 3-D." As Cameron talked, Ravine looked around at the faces of the gathered NASA officials, "and everybody in the room was nodding, clearly thinking, "Oh, yeah."

Blunt Talk in Houston

Bolden tries to raise spirits at JSC, Houston Chronicle

"But unlike the president's stop in Florida, where he offered to provide the work force there with $40 million in transition aid and made other concessions, Bolden announced no new initiatives that might benefit Johnson Space Center."

Houston Layoffs Not in NASA Plan ... Yet, My Fox Houston

"For you to go to members of Congress, the media and the American public with contradictory information about the road ahead and the need to move beyond the Constellation program isn't helping," said Bolden."

Bolden in Houston to discuss future of NASA, KTRK

"Reasonable people can agree to disagree," Bolden said in his speech, of which a copy was obtained by ABC13. "However, my friends, now is the time that we must pull together."... "If we flounder and lose out on this opportunity, it is unlikely that our nation will have a similar opportunity in our lifetime," Bolden said."

NASA May Stretch out Mars Missions to Save Money

"NASA is considering a plan to get around limited budgets set in Washington by stretching out missions to bring back samples from Mars, a researcher said on Wednesday. It may be possible to break down the complicated and expensive mission into three parts, said Steve Squyres, a Cornell University astronomer who leads the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. "It makes the program more affordable because it strings out the cost over time," Squyres told reporters in a telephone briefing. "It brings down the cost per year of doing such a thing."

'When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war:' US generals given baffling PowerPoint presentation to try to explain Afghanistan mess, The Mail

"Its coloured charts, graphs and bullet-points are supposed to make the most incomprehensible data crystal clear. But even the sharpest military minds in American were left baffled by this PowerPoint slide, a mind-boggling attempt to explain the situation in Afghanistan. 'When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war,' General Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO force commander, remarked wryly when confronted by the sprawling spaghetti diagram in a briefing."

Keith's note: OK Folks, what would the NASA version of this chart look like - especially right now as the space policy food fight is fully engaged? How would you describe and interconnect the various feuding factions? Click to enlarge.

Bolden Update Today

Administrator Bolden to Speak to NASA Workforce from Johnson Space Center

"Please join Administrator Charlie Bolden as he addresses the entire NASA workforce during a brief program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday, April 28, at noon EDT. The administrator's remarks will be carried internally on NASA Television on Headquarters channel 76. The program also will be streamed internally over the Web to NASA Headquarters employees at: http://aquarius.hq.nasa.gov/ramgen/broadcast/hq.rm"

It's time to focus on America's future in space, editorial, Charles Bolden, Houston Chronicle

"To make this dream a reality, we must identify quicker and less costly ways to develop new launch systems. We must speed the acquisition process so it doesn't take a decade to make a new system operational. And we must work diligently with the commercial sector to help them succeed at providing safe, reliable, redundant access to low-Earth orbit while NASA develops futuristic capabilities to reach deep space. These changes will not be easy, but they are by no means impossible."

NASA LaRC Solicitation: Study of Deployable Secondary Structures for Expendable Volumes

"NASA LaRC is seeking an industry partner to study the integration, deployment and packaging of secondary structures within inflation deployed volumes. Secondary structures include any structure that is deployed during or after expansion of the primary volume, such as the floor and work surfaces, but which do not contain pressure loads. ... The ultimate goal of this research is to develop a system applicable to future habitation modules deployed on the lunar surface or in space."

NASA Ames Center Director Receives Arthur C. Clarke Award

"The director of NASA's Ames Research Center, S. Pete Worden, was recognized Tuesday by The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation for his leadership in space exploration. Worden has written or co-written more than 150 scientific technical papers in astrophysics, space sciences and strategic studies. He also served as a scientific co-investigator for two NASA space science missions. Before becoming Ames center director, he was a research professor of astronomy, optical sciences and planetary sciences at the University of Arizona. His primary research was on the development of large space optics for national security and scientific purposes, and near-Earth asteroids."

Astrobiology Update

NASA Announces Wednesday Media Teleconference About Search For Extraterrestrial Life

"NASA will hold a news media teleconference at 1:30 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, April 28, to discuss the status of agency-sponsored astrobiology research, including the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life and the study of how life began on Earth. Topics also will include the quest for evidence of life on Mars, the habitability of other celestial bodies, and future technology research."

Keith's note: I just love it when PAO waits until the last minute to announce something that it could have announced days in advance. And then they wonder why the media doesn't cover things such as this. "Avatar", an Astrobiology-themed movie, has earned more than $2 billion thus far. Clearly the public really digs Astrobiology. As such, NASA's shyness with regard to promoting its Astrobiology research is even more baffling.

Chamber on an Ares mission, Huntsville Times

"At a reception Sunday evening, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby - ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that determines funding for NASA - said he is doing everything he can to save Constellation, in which the government has already invested $9 billion to establish human presence on the moon and beyond. "If (Republicans) were in control of the Senate, I would tell you exactly what we'd be doing to save Constellation," Shelby said Sunday evening. "If Obama's plan goes through, I'm afraid it's a death march for NASA."

NASA plan: 'Cosmic bridge to nowhere', Huntsville Times

"Brian Hendricks is a staffer for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who also has substantial NASA interests in her state. Hendricks said Hutchison and Shelby have worked together to try to save Constellation and prevent other NASA changes, but thus far a fix hasn't been found. He expressed "profound anger" at Obama's decision, and he said the ability of the commercial world to achieve what NASA has achieved is "circumspect." "Spaceflight can't be a faith-based initiative," he said, adding that there is no support in Congress to abandon Constellation, which has "a lot of equity in it."

NASA Solicitation: Enabling Support Equipment and Services for International Space Station As A National Lab

"NASA seeks to increase the utilization of the ISS by other federal entities and the private sector. To facilitate and increase such utilization of the ISS, NASA is providing access to the ISS for the conduct of basic and applied research, technology development and industrial processing (collectively, R&D) to U.S. federal, state and local government entities, and to U.S. private entities (including, but not limited to, commercial firms, non-profit institutions, and academic institutions) as part of the national laboratory."

Administrator Unveils Future Vision and a Renewed Journey of Learning, 12 April 2002

"The new NASA vision for the future is:

To improve life here,
To extend life to there,
To find life beyond

The NASA mission is:

To understand and protect our home planet
To explore the Universe and search for life
To inspire the next generation of explorers . . . as only NASA can"

Keith's note: Do these words still work? If so, could they be re-adopted by NASA? The NASA Advisory Council Education and Public Outreach Subcommittee had a spirited and supportive discussion on this today. What do you think?

NASA ESMD Managers Information Packet: A New Space Enterprise

"On Feb. 1, 2010, the President released the FY 2011 Budget Request. The budget proposes several exciting new programs that seek to foster a sustainable human space exploration enterprise. Although our philosophy and approach to exploration will change, our fundamental goal remains the same: to send human explorers into the solar system to stay. We invite you to read below about the study teams that have been formed to develop strategies for the proposed new programs. Plans will continue to evolve with the next step of House and Senate appropriations. In addition, the President's speech outlined the addition of an initial Orion build to be used as a crew rescue vehicle at ISS. We are working diligently now to incorporate this exciting news into our plans."

Machinists in Houston Rally to Save Space Program Jobs, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

"It's time to let Congress know that American astronauts deserve better than a heavily outsourced space program that relies on Russian, Japanese and even Chinese contractors to provide transportation to the International Space Station (ISS)," said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. "If NASA and the Obama administration have their way, American astronauts will be reduced to hitchhiking to the ISS." Speaker after speaker called on President Obama to reconsider his plans to terminate the Constellation program and commercialize the shuttle program. More than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in Texas, Florida and other states are associated with the two programs."

Humans on Mars? Forget it, opinion, Simon Ramo, LA Times

"But is this a worthy goal? It appears increasingly doubtful that an astronaut could accomplish something useful on Mars not already being done by robots at far less cost and with little danger to humans."

Proceedings from the NASA Administrator's Symposium: "Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and the Stars", NASA Administrator's Symposium, September 26-29, 2004
Session Three: The Stars (PDF)

Pages 178-179 [Mars Exploration Rover PI Steve Squyres] "I'd like to finish this on a slightly lighter note by telling you a story. We had a lot of discussion yesterday about humans versus robots. And as the robot guy here, I want to tell a story about the experience that I had that really taught me a lot about that particular topic. We were at first trying to figure out how to use a set of rovers on Mars to really do scientific exploration. The technology folks at JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] built a wonderful little vehicle called FIDO. And FIDO was a great test rover - you could take it out in the field and you didn't worry about getting a few scratches in the paint.

We took it out to a place called Silver Lake in the Mojave Desert about 1997. And we went out there and it was the first time I had ever been out in the field. So I went out there with my team - a bunch of really high-priced geologic talent - some serious field geologists. And we got the rover out there and, of course, the rover breaks down. First time I've ever been out in the field, it's dusty, it's dirty, you know, the rover's not working. So okay, what am I going to do with all these bored geologists I've got on my hands? So I said, "Look, let's go on a geology walk. Let's go on a little field trip." So everybody got their boots and their rock hammers and their hand lenses and everything. And I picked up a notebook and a stopwatch. And we walked out to a nearby ridge where I knew there was some interesting geology exposed and we sat down - or rather I sat down - and they went off and they started geologizing.

And I started timing them. You know, how long does it take for Andy Knoll to walk over to that rock? How long does it take Ray Arvidson to pick that thing up and break it open with his rock hammer and look at it with a hand lens? And they were doing a lot of things that our rovers couldn't do, but I focused on the things they were doing that our rovers could do. And, you know, I did it as quantitatively as I could - this was hardly a controlled experiment. And when I looked at the numbers afterwards, what I found was that what our magnifi cent robotic vehicles can do in an entire day on Mars, these guys could do in about 30 - 45 seconds.

We are very far away from being able to build robots - I'm not going to see it in my lifetime - that have anything like the capabilities that humans will have to explore, let alone to inspire. And when I hear people point to Spirit and Opportunity and say that these are examples of why we don't need to send humans to Mars, I get very upset. Because that's not even the right discussion to be having. We must send humans to Mars. We can't do it soon enough for me. You know, I'm a robot guy. I mean, I love Spirit and Opportunity - and I use a word like "love" very advisedly when talking about a hunk of metal.

But I love those machines. I miss them. I do. But they will never, ever have the capabilities that humans will have and I sure hope you send people soon."

Shuttle Mission Delays

Change in Experiment Will Delay Shuttle's End, NY Times

"A $1.5 billion seven-ton cosmic-ray experiment scheduled to be carried aloft July 29 on the space shuttle Endeavour won't be ready until August, according to the experiment's leader, Samuel Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, delaying the end of the 29-year-old shuttle program. NASA officials acknowledged that there would be a delay but said they had not yet decided when the final launching would be. The experiment, known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, was to be installed on the International Space Station as one last scientific errand before the final shuttle launching, of the Discovery, now scheduled for Sept. 16."

SpaceX's Elon Musk, Sen. Richard Shelby spar over Obama space policy, Huntsville Times

"The CEO of a company seeking to carry American astronauts into space says U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, is fighting a new national space plan that would bring billions into North Alabama. "I just don't understand what his beef is," Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Inc. (SpaceX) said in a telephone interview Friday night. "I don't really understand why Sen. Shelby is so opposed to commercial crew," Musk said, "given that Atlas and Delta are right there in Alabama, because no one's going to be a bigger winner in commercial crew than United Launch Alliance." Musk referred to the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture that builds Delta and Atlas rockets in Decatur for NASA, the military and commercial satellite customers. ULA and SpaceX are among the commercial companies wanting NASA contracts to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station if President Obama's space program is approved by Congress. "For ULA it's a certainty," Musk said of winning contracts. "For SpaceX it's much more a question mark."

- Shelby Goes Personal on Bolden
- Shelby: Obama Plan Would Destroy U.S. Space Supremacy
- Shelby: Gov't Spending is Bad - Except for Spending on NASA, earlier post
- Shelby Was For The Private Sector Before He Was Against It, earlier post
- Alabama Political Donations Go National, earlier post

New NASA Logo Designs

Space, the designer's frontier, Boston Globe

"Ideas asked four graphic designers to come up with a new emblem for the 21st-century space agency, to conjure a vision of NASA that fits the present."

Keith's note: I still like my "wormball" logo concept.

Keith's note: The following was circulated by NASA Orion Management recently: "Today, a contracts letter was sent to Lockheed Martin relative to termination liability (TL). This letter, directed through NASA Headquarters, interprets the contract language to require the contractor to account for termination liability in its planning for each year of execution. Termination liability is the estimated value of contractor work required to close out the contract if terminated. This is not a notification of termination, but an interpretation of how the contractor should account for TL projections in the current year. The effect of the interpretation may have implications in how we execute the project. However, there are options available within NASA and Lockheed Martin that will be considered in the coming days to assure that we operate within the law while we attempt to execute the program. It is important that everyone keep in mind the President, the Congress, and the NASA Administrator have all publicly expressed their clear expectation that an Orion vehicle will continue to play a central role in the overall emerging space exploration policy and strategy. We are working closely with Lockheed Martin and NASA management to identify acceptable resolutions to this issue that have the least disruption to our integrated government/industry team and our collective ability to perform our mission."

NASA program: Ares I backers work to save rocket despite White House wishes, Orlando Sentinel

"The day after President Obama visited Kennedy Space Center last week to unveil his new vision for NASA, the manager of the moon program that Obama wants to kill told his team to draw up plans in case Obama fails to win congressional support. In an e-mail sent April 16, NASA's Constellation program manager, Jeff Hanley, instructed his managers to "prioritize" all the resources they have at their disposal under this year's budget to plan for test flights of prototypes of the troubled Ares I rocket that Obama aims to cancel. Hanley also orders them to look at ways to shrink the Constellation program in such a way that it can fit in a tighter rocket-development budget backed by the White House. The move comes as some members of Congress have pledged to stop Obama and save Ares. "This direction," Hanley wrote in the e-mail, "remains consistent with ... policy to continue program execution and planning in the event that the program or parts thereof will continue beyond [this financial] year."

Rogue NASA manager isn't ready to buy into Obama's vision for space, DIVCE

"President Obama has made it pretty clear that he wants NASA to go in a new direction, relying more heavily on the private sector while developing next-gen tech that would take us beyond the original target of the moon to Mars. Jeff Hanley, program manager of the targeted Constellation project, is still holding out hope that congress will be able to block the move, particularly in regard to the order to scrap the Ares rockets."

Letter from IFPTE to Senators Mikulski and Shelby Regarding NASA's Proposed FY 2011 Budget

"The greatest strength of the President's budget is that it is honest and forward-looking; in February, President Obama asked NASA to deliver $19 billion worth of work for $19 billion in funding and invested the necessary attention back into long-term R&T so that America can someday lead a crewed mission into deep space. To those in Congress who argue passionately and cogently that NASA should do more and move faster, we say "show me the money". IFPTE would support an increase in NASA's workload as long as it is linked to an appropriate increase in funding. Never again should NASA be asked to deliver $22 billion worth of work for $19 billion in funds as this is a formula for failure."

Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 20 Years of Discovery

"As the Hubble Space Telescope achieves the major milestone of two decades on orbit, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, or STScI, in Baltimore are celebrating Hubble's journey of exploration with a stunning new picture and several online educational activities. There are also opportunities for people to explore galaxies as armchair scientists and send personal greetings to Hubble for posterity."

Lockheed Martin-Built Hubble Space Telescope Marks 20 Years of Astronomical Discovery

"NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST), built and integrated at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Sunnyvale, was launched 20 years ago aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, on April 24, 1990, ushering in a new golden age of astronomy. HST was released by the crew into Earth orbit the next day and the universe hasn't looked the same since."

Former Secretary of Transportation Mineta Praises Obama's NASA Plan For Jump-Starting Commercial Spaceflight

"Norman Mineta, who served as Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush and as Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton, and who represented Silicon Valley in Congress for more than 20 years, has published an op-ed stating, "With Russia, China and India close on our heels, the only way we can maintain our hard-won leadership in space transportation is by employing America's unique entrepreneurial strength. Obama's new plan for NASA does exactly that."

Obama should rethink NASA's space program, editorial, Washington Post

"... with the cancellation of Ares I, the administration wants to rely on private companies to develop vehicles to get passengers to low-Earth orbit. These "space taxis" would stretch current capabilities, but the private sector could play an important, and potentially cost-effective, role. It is odd for those who accuse this administration of wanting to take over the private sector to blast this initiative."

Shuttle backers say space station needs safety net

"[Senator] Hutchison's scenario "says you have to protect against something that's extremely unlikely," said John Logsdon, a space historian and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. "I think it is trying to make an argument in support of a relatively parochial position of keeping the shuttle flying." Retirement of the shuttle fleet would have no impact on crew safety, said former shuttle astronaut John Grunsfeld. "We don't rely on the shuttle as a rescue vehicle in the event of a problem on space station -- that's exactly why we have Soyuz that are docked up there all the time," he said."

NASA: ATK has to shrink to remain competitive, Salt Lake Tribune

"Unfortunately the solid rocket industry has been overcapitalized for many, many years," Bolden told an appropriations subcommittee as part of his push for President Barack Obama's new direction for NASA. "We are carrying 70 percent of an industry for a capability that no one uses but NASA." And NASA isn't sure to what extent it wants to use it any more either. ATK's solid rocket motors have launched the shuttle into orbit for decades and the company has been constructing the Ares rocket as its replacement. But President Barack Obama wants to drop Ares and the overall Constellation program. In its place, Obama would pay for flights on as-yet-unbuilt private space vehicles to reach low-earth orbit, while NASA would focus on creating a completely new deep-space vehicle starting in 2015."

Congress 1; Bolden 0

Obama plan to end much of Constellation program angers Republican senators, Washington Post

"In scrapping large parts of the Constellation program, however, Obama has outraged lawmakers from Gulf Coast states and Utah, where contracts and jobs may be lost. In a meeting Thursday of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) accused Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. and NASA on Thursday of ceding space exploration to the "Russians, the Chinese and even the Indians," and he accused the administration of setting up a "welfare program for commercial space industry."

Lawmakers Question NASA's Plan for Private Rockets, Wall Street Journal

"But it's the panel headed by Sen. Mikulski, who has been wooed by the White House in recent weeks, that could play the leading role in shaping NASA's future. Unbtil Thursday, Sen. Mikulski hadn't expressed her views publicly. At this point, however, many veteran lawmakers predict Congress will adopt a continuing resolution for the agency, which wouldn't resolve the controversial issues this year."

Key Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski reluctant to endorse Obama's NASA plan, Orlando Sentinel

"Right now I feel like a deep-space probe; I'm in reconnaissance," said Mikulski, after a Thursday hearing of the commerce, justice and science appropriations subcommittee. A key issue, she said, was whether commercial companies would be held to the same safety standards as NASA. "We're not sending cases of Tang into space. We're sending our astronauts and the astronauts from other countries that they provide to us," she said. "

NASA has escape plan for space station astronauts, LA Times

"The president's plan has drawn criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers in states with NASA operations. Last week, Obama announced that part of the Constellation program, the Orion capsule, was being revived to provide astronauts an emergency escape from the station and reduce U.S. reliance on Russian Soyuz vehicles when the space shuttle program ends this year."

Obama Touts Connection to Space Program in New National Ad (2008)

"BO: One of my earliest memories going with my grandfather to see some of the astronauts brought back after a splashdown, sitting on his shoulders waving a little American flag. And my grandfather would say you know boy American's we can do anything that we put our minds to."

Feud Over NASA Threatens America's Edge in Space, Wall Street Journal (2010)

"Mr. Obama, who often recounts watching NASA launches as a youngster perched on his grandfather's shoulders, says he hopes to lead the agency through a historic shift."

Keith's note: This is how urban news myths start. A single landing in Hawaii becomes multiple launches (presumably) in Florida. I first posted this a week ago. The WS Journal has not corrected their website. Nor has the author (Andy Pasztor - I sent him an email) apparently paid any attention to my citation of his overt error.

NASA ARC Solicitation: Rodent Habitat Systems for Manned Space Flight Opportunities

"NASA is investigating the availability and feasibility of options for expanding its capability to provide in-space habitation systems for rodents (rats & mice) for scientific research on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA seeks the following information about any existing concepts/designs or hardware for rodent habitat systems for spaceflight: ... Vehicle accommodations - Describe any space transportation and in-space interface capabilities of the design or hardware. (i.e. Shuttle Middeck, ATV, HTV, ISS EXPRESS, DRAGON, etc.)"

Will private spaceships have the right stuff? Commercial orbital taxis won't have to retrace NASA's footsteps, MSNBC

"First of all, the space taxis being created to serve the new policy are being designed for an entirely different mission. Unlike America's previous spaceships, these new taxis will be focused only on delivering passengers from Earth's surface to an existing space facility and back again. There's no need for long periods of independent orbital cruising. There's no need for carrying equipment to be later used for moon flights. The plan to reshape the Orion spaceship as a standby rescue vehicle for station crews has profound implications for the requirements of the commercial taxi and its cost. This strategy means the taxis won't have to last for six months "parked" in space, like Russia's Soyuz spaceships. The simplification of the taxi's mission will allow its hardware to be significantly less expensive to build and to validate."

Faux News Part Deux

Mikulski: U.S. cannot afford new NASA 'every four years', The Hill

"As the White House seeks to cancel most of NASA's manned-space flight program, provoking congressional outrage, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said during an appropriations hearing more investigation and research was needed before she could decide whether that was the correct course of action."

Keith's note: Huh? "As the White House seeks to cancel most of NASA's manned-space flight program"? Where did this reporter get that scoop? George Bush cancelled the Shuttle back in 2004, not Barack Obama. The ISS is getting increased funding and billions are being poured in to support commercial crew access to space.

Senate leaders make move for more NASA money, Houston Chronicle

"Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. unveiled the Democrats' version, a resolution that would increase NASA's current $18.7 billion budget by 5.3 percent to provide uninterrupted testing of the Ares I-X rocket motor. The committee must debate and vote on the proposal before it goes to the Senate floor."

Nelson pushes Ares I tests, Florida Today

"Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Or- lando, requested the funding to continue testing of the solid-rocket motor based on the Ares I rocket, which is cancelled under the White House's latest budget proposal. Nelson said additional testing will be helpful in the development of a much more powerful rocket needed to launch astronauts on missions beyond Earth-orbit. Solid rocket motor development also remains important to the Defense Department's space and missile programs."

Nelson aims to save Ares I testing, Orlando Sentinel

"Instead of the Ares I, Obama wants to use commercial rockets to resupply the space station with crew and cargo. That way, NASA engineers could concentrate their efforts on designing futuristic new technologies that could one day take astronauts to nearby asteroids or Mars. But in an afternoon budget hearing, Nelson argued that NASA still needs the Ares I so that it could test technologies needed to eventually build bigger rockets that could launch the heavier spacecraft needed for missions beyond low-Earth orbit and the space station."

Obama's NASA Blueprint Is Challenged in Congress, NY Times

"But in response to a question from Mr. Shelby about the safety of the different rocket options, General Bolden said, "My gut tells me that Ares would be safer than anything else."

GOP senator warns NASA budget cuts will help China overtake U.S. in space, The Hill

"Shelby then took aim at NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, whose approach Shelby said "only ensures members cannot trust you." He added that Bolden was "creating an atmosphere in which you and your leadership are becoming a major impediment for moving forward." "No matter how many ... press releases and summits you conduct, hope is not a strategy," continued Shelby, whose state houses a key NASA base. "This budget is not a proposal for space exploration worthy of this great nation."

- Shelby: Gov't Spending is Bad - Except for Spending on NASA, earlier post
- Shelby Was For The Private Sector Before He Was Against It, earlier post
- Alabama Political Donations Go National, earlier post

House Appropriations: Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Planetary Society Teleconference

"Today, board members of the Planetary Society will be joined by former NASA astronauts and other space community leaders on a teleconference for the media. This expert panel will provide comments and take questions on President Obama's recent speech at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on April 15, as well as discuss the results of today's hearing chaired by U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski."

Sense of the Senate

Keith's note: What's the sense of the Senate with regard to the President's space policy? Well, according to Jeff Bingham, minority staffer on the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Science and Space posting on nasaspaceflight.com as "Mascot 51D": "In addition, of course, the authorizers--often referred to as "policy and oversight committees" have the power to direct NASA policies and programs, and can point NASA in directions different than those recommended by the President, if they can pass their bills doing so and over-ride any presidential veto. This year, the exercise of that power will be especially interesting to watch, as there is still a considerable difference between many Members of Congress' views on the proposed NASA budget and the new direction proposed by the President."

20 Years Later: Hubble, Humans and the Future of Space Flight, The Atlantic

[Story Musgrave] "[The Space Station] does nothing for nobody and it never has," he says. "The cost of space station is 300 Voyager-class satellites. We could have had multiple Voyagers landed or floating in the atmosphere on every planet and on every moon of every planet. That is what we gave up when we went with a jobs program, which is what the space station is. And that's an ungodly sin. And yes, I'm a human space flight person, but listen to me. That's what we could have offered the public."

Keith's note: Oh well. So much for the notion that a whole bunch of college degrees and lots of trips into outer space automatically makes you enlightened.

Faux News Update

Spaceballs - Fox News article about NASA's future stokes Cold War fears with false experts, Columbia Journalism Review

"Obama's proposal marks a dramatic shift in the U.S. program for space exploration, worthy of debate. It's unfortunate, then, but unfortunately not surprising, that some news outlets have turned questions of serious policy into political spaceballs. One week before Obama's speech, a science reporter at FoxNews.com, who frequently provides a platform for climate change skeptics (examples here, here, here and here), zeroed in on long-standing plans to retire the deteriorating space shuttle this fall, a cost-saving (and perhaps life-saving) move that will force NASA to depend on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for transportation to and from the space station."

And Now A Word From The Lunatic Fringe, Earlier Post

Obama's April 15th Speech at Kennedy Space Center

"Obama started out his day visiting the KSC area by avoiding the workers. Though NASA and United Space Alliance had sent down word that no personal opinions of the employees would be allowed (also no twitter, Facebook, or talking with the media) would be allowed or tolerated, many of the workers, from what I've been told, had left their jobs briefly to line the road and express their "opinion" of Obama's new policy. But Obama the coward took a back route in from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to get to his teleprompter at the Operations and Checkout Building many miles away from the workers."

Just Do It

Words, Words, Words ... NASA, NASA, NASA, Huffington Post

"So, listen up. Develop a sense of urgency and a respect for the benefits we gain from going to space ... without knowing what those benefits will be. Even if he knew precisely what was going to happen, how far would JFK have gotten had he described to Congress a world of cell phones and laptops, YouTube and Google, wireless and texting - for the seeds of all that technology trace directly back to the communications tech required for the Apollo program. Demanding usefulness as a precondition for any NASA budget is wrong-headed thinking; demanding cutting edge innovation, paradigm-shifting scientific, breakthrough technologies - that's the ticket! What will result will no doubt amaze and astound."

Leading by Example

NASA CIO Conducts A Web Experiment, Information Week

NASA CIO Linda Cureton has conducted an experiment in IT leadership via her blog on the space agency's Web site. Cureton wrote about online reputations, then she responded to every comment made by readers. Her conclusion: "Listening changes the listener." ... For the past two years, she has used her blog to write about leadership, innovation, and IT transformation, among other topics. "One of my reasons for blogging is to use this Web 2.0 capability as a leadership tool," Cureton wrote in her latest post, titled "The Connected CIO."

Experimental X-37B Robot Space Plane to Launch Thursday, Space.com

"The United States Air Force plans to launch its first robotic X-37B space plane Thursday on a mission that is a forerunner of things to come. A second mini-space plane is already under contract and is projected to be launched next year. New details regarding the mini-space plane and its upcoming Thursday liftoff atop an Atlas 5 booster were discussed today during a U.S. Air Force-held media press briefing."

Space Shuttle Discovery Crew Returns to Earth after Fortifying International Space Station Science

"Space shuttle Discovery and seven astronauts ended a 14-day journey of more than 6.2 million miles with a 9:08 a.m. EDT landing Tuesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-131 mission to the International Space Station delivered science racks, new crew sleeping quarters, equipment and supplies. During three spacewalks, the crew installed a new ammonia storage tank for the station's cooling system, replaced a gyroscope for the station's navigation system and retrieved a Japanese experiment from outside the Kibo laboratory for examination on Earth."

Space Watchers Critique President Obama's Proposal for NASA's Future, PBS NewsHour

"Keith Cowing, editor, NASA Watch: It's a paradigm-shifting proposal. It has matured a little over the past few months and will continue to mature. But what it does overall is challenge the status quo as to how America explores space. And that involves making some difficult decisions. It's changing the policy begun by President Bush with the Constellation program, and it says we want to go further in terms of using private sector than ever before.

Tom Young, former Lockheed Martin executive vice president and former NASA official: I think it's a significant mistake. Not because I don't think the aerospace industry is enormously capable, but I think it's not capable of doing something as challenging as humans in space by itself. I think the probability of it being unsuccessful is very high."

Americans Back Space Exploration, Know Little About Proposed Policy Changes, Everett Group 'Space Poll' Finds

"As Pres. Barack Obama vows continued commitment to space exploration, including increased funding to explore the solar system and the ultimate goal of landing astronauts on Mars, he finds support from many Americans. Most Americans have a positive image of NASA, the country's space agency, and one-third say it's very important to them that the U.S. continue to explore the solar system (with one-third more saying it's somewhat important to them)."

Keith's note: Yawn - yet another space poll with the same results as the last dozen space polls. I am not certain why people keep paying to do these polls. The polls always come up with the same answers - yet government, private sector, and the general public do not care about the results enough to do anything to change the situation. Until someone, somewhere gets off their ass, nothing is going to change.

For half a decade Americans were told by the White House and NASA, with great excitement, that we were going back to the Moon. Then the next President suddenly tells everyone "Why go to the Moon?, we've already done that". Its as if we walked away from Apollo in 1967. These back and forth policy changes leave everyone with a case of intellectual whiplash. Why should anyone understand (or care) about policy changes when they end up meaning little in the end.

Consumers spent billions to see a space-themed film like "Avatar" and yet NASA was incapable of seizing the opportunity to capitalize on this interest before, during, or after the film's release. And then there is the "Summer of Innovation" that NASA has the lead on from the White House. Summer is only a matter of weeks away. Has anyone heard anything about what this project is going to do? Finally, there was the Space Summit/Conference last week with the President. NASA/OSTP waited until only hours before the event to tell people what was actually going to happen at this event. As for follow-up, how will all Americans learn of the event's results?

Don't hold your breath. If NASA does not care enough to reach out and inform the taxpayers who fund its activities, why should it get upset when people's interest in what the agency does is not all that it could be?

Congress takes another stride toward public access to research: Federal Research Public Access Act introduced in the House of Representatives, Alliance for Taxpayer Access

"Like the Senate bill introduced in 2009 by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX), H.R. 5037 would unlock unclassified research funded by agencies including: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation."

FOIA Request Response: 6 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Audit Reports, 1996-1998, Government Attic

"The following reports could not be located:

- A-GO-96-006, Survey of NASA Space Operations Consolidation;
- JS-96-007, Russian Involvement in the ISS Program;
- AKE-96-001, Orbiter Valuation;
- G98-0I8, Modifications to NASA's Safety Reporting System;
- IGMEMO 11, (sic); and
- an unredacted version of IG-99-036, X-38/Crew Return Vehicle Operational
Testing."

Aerospace Must Adapt

Study concludes aerospace industry must evolve new ways to recruit and retain future engineers

"Aerospace companies must consider offering newly recruited workers flexible job assignments and a variety of projects to remain competitive with other scientific fields of employment. This was among the conclusions of the "2009 Survey of Aerospace Student Attitudes" discussed at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Joint Societies Capitol Hill Reception, April 13, on Capitol Hill."

Nervous in Florida

What's next for NASA?, opinion, Fran DiBello

"There are still many political battles to be discussed and fought nationwide. The looming dread of entire regions that stand to lose not just jobs but also valuable talent assets in the shuttle workforce, and now the Constellation teams too, hangs heavy over November elections. Florida's central region from Cape Canaveral to Tampa, known as its high-tech corridor, is a key voting block, and these policies will certainly sway voters as the potential loss of more than 23,000 direct and indirect jobs will grab headlines and the hearts of voters."

Obama's space plan adds insult to injury, opinion, Douglas Ma"cKinnon, Orlando Sentinel

"With all due respect to President Obama, regarding his speech in Florida on "Space Exploration in the 21st Century," I simply have to ask, "Are you kidding me?" As one who has consulted on and written extensively about our space program, worked in the White House and drafted a speech or two, I know shameless pandering filler when I read it."

Space politics: Obama must do more to ensure that all NASA centers receive transition assistance, editorial, Houston Chronicle

"What about us? That was the common refrain from Houston-area elected officials after President Barack Obama's speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week outlining measures to soften the blow to thousands of NASA employees who will be laid off with the cancellation of the Constellation program. In attempting to placate congressional critics of his new NASA road map, Obama explicitly set a goal of a manned landing on Mars in the 2030s, a revival of the Orion manned capsule as a lifeboat at the International Space Station and development of a powerful rocket with the capability to send astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit."

Texans team up against Obama space vision, Houston Chronicle

"Texas' congressional delegation presented a united, bipartisan front on Friday, saying President Barack Obama's compromise on his space budget doesn't go far enough and calling upon him to visit Johnson Space Center. Meeting with the media in the shadow of a massive Saturn V rocket like those that blasted Apollo astronauts to the moon, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and four Houston-area representatives said America must not lose its capability of launching U.S. astronauts into space."

Human spaceflight: diversify the portfolio, Alan Stern, Space Review

"The American people expect big things from our nation's human space flight enterprise. Tragically, however, for the past 20+ years, our country's civil human spaceflight effort hasn't been able to deliver big things, such as historic exploration milestones at far away destinations, or advancing the cause of easy human access to near-space locales. What we need now is more than just a flexible path. We need parallel paths. Instead, human spaceflight in the United States has struggled just to keep its sole domestic transportation system, the Space Shuttle, flying a few times per year, and to complete the assembly of its sole destination--the International Space Station."

David Simons

David Simons, Who Flew High on Eve of Space Age, Dies at 87, NY Times

"David G. Simons, whose ascent more than 19 miles above the Earth in an aluminum capsule suspended from a helium balloon set an altitude record in 1957 and helped put the United States on the road to manned space flight, died April 5 at his home in Covington, Ga. He was 87."

Colbert coming to Houston for astronaut training (with video), Houston Chronicle

"Stephen Colbert's mission to save the space program has earned him an invitation from NASA to undergo astronaut training. And he has accepted. Colbert told his audience: "I never in a million years thought I would see the day when I would want to go to Houston. NASA, I accept!" Colbert says he will be in Houston in May. Get ready to blast off, NASA."

Earth Day Activities

Challenger Center and Green Trail Energy Bring Power to Washington (updated with new photos)

"This week in Washington, DC thousands of people will descend on the National Mall to see a variety of clean energy ideas as part of Earth Day. One of the pieces of technology on display is co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Formally known as the GSW-7000 this device is a self-contained trailer that is capable of generating up to 4.4 kilowatts of power from the sun and 2.4 kilowatts of power from wind energy."

NASA Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Earth Day Nationwide

"NASA centers across the nation invite journalists and the public to see and hear about the agency's contributions to exploring and protecting our home planet during this year's Earth Day celebrations. A highlight of this year's activities is a weeklong series of exhibits and talks on the National Mall in Washington."

Congressional Reaction

Sen. Nelson - Obama's KSC trip, speech show President listening and backs robust space program

"Based on information released this week by the White House, Nelson said the president is moving in the right direction. But, "as with most presidential proposals, Congress will not just rubber stamp it," he said. "So we'll take what he's saying to our committee, and then we'll change some things."

Chairman Rockefeller's Statement on President Obama's Space Policy Address

"For me, one thing is clear: science-based innovation drives economic growth and helps America compete in the global economy. Past exploration has greatly contributed to America's economic strength and competitiveness. I am pleased the president's plan retains its focus on innovation, research and technology development - the drivers of our economy."

Rep. Hall Remains Skeptical of Obama Space Flight plan

"I agree with Neil Armstrong, Apollo astronauts and many other supporters of our space program who believe that the President's proposal would be devastating for the future of NASA. Our space program is a national priority and source of pride. More than 30,000 jobs are at stake all across the nation, and we are on the brink of losing a highly skilled workforce."

Olson Statement on President Obama NASA Speech

"Our nation does not lack the resources, the capabilities, the infrastructure, or the workforce to maintain a robust space program to reach destinations in space. What we lack is a commitment to get there. "Today's announced proposals continue that trend. The Administration has downgraded the Orion capsule, failing to realize its true potential if fully utilized as designed."

Rep. Rohrabacher Supports Obama's New Space Plan, Agrees with Ending Constellation Program

"President Obama reiterated the nation's long-term space goal - America, and American astronauts, exploring the solar system. This remains the right goal," said Rohrabacher. "We as a nation must remain committed to the goal - not just on particular methods to get there."

Rep. Posey's Statement on the President's Space Speech at KSC

"I am very concerned about the impact this plan will have not just on the workforce at KSC, but also the adverse impact on our nation's military industrial base and America's economic competitiveness. Let's remember the benefits of space extend far beyond the direct actions related to launching rockets."

Kosmas' Statement on President Obama's NASA Address

"However, as I have said all along, without working towards a specific vehicle and without having American access to the International Space Station, we risk losing our supremacy in space. I have introduced legislation that would maintain a robust NASA-led human spaceflight program by allowing for Shuttle extension and by establishing a next-generation NASA-led vehicle, and I will continue fighting to make sure these ideas are fully explored."

Utah lawmakers oppose NASA plan, Salt Lake Tribune

"I would say the administration's plan is laughable, but I can't find much humor in it when the consequences to space exploration and American workers during tough economic times are so dire," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Colo. officials happy that space capsule is spared, Business Week

Colorado senators and congressmen welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to save a version of the Orion space capsule being developed in Colorado.

"The president's announcement is terrific news for Colorado, for all the workers on Orion," said Democratic Sen. Mark Udall."

Missouri Congressman Mistakenly Refers To 'Soviet Union' In Anti-Obama Space Policy Press Release, Huffngton Post

"In a statement the Missouri Republican said the move would leave the United States "reliant upon the Soviet Union" for future low-earth orbit access."

Buzz Aldrin Explains Importance of Obama's Mars Mission, CBS

"Aldrin said the key to the space program in the future is sustainable colonies on celestial bodies, rather than on orbiting space stations. Aldrin said he wanted to see "permanence on Mars within 15 years," and that Mars' moon Phobos may be the best spot for a permanent settlement. "This moon is the key to permanence of human beings from Earth on another planet in the solar system," said Aldrin."

Has Obama's NASA Strategy Fizzled at Launch?, Time

"Never mind the tropical sun. Visit Florida and dis the space program, and the reception you'll get is going to be awfully cool. Nobody knew that better than President Obama on Thursday, when he toured the Kennedy Space Center and then spoke to a roomful of 200 VIPs about his plans for NASA after the shuttle program ends later this year. The President had to know that more than the agency's future could be on the line. In Florida -- the ultimate presidential swing state -- his could be too. So how was the temperature in the room? Chilly -- and not without reason."

NASA and Obama's budget: the politics and ideals of human space exploration, CS Monitor

"... public reaction pushed the president on Thursday to set a timetable for the first Mars trip - by the mid-2030s - as well as a schedule to land on an asteroid (near 2025). He also had to set 2015 for starting construction of a heavy-lift launcher based on new innovative technology. But Obama only partially backed down on his proposal to cancel a Bush-era program called Constellation."

Not Your Grandfather's Space Program, US News & World Report

"Space-policy analyst Howard McCurdy of American University in Washington, D.C., says he doesn't see much difference in adherence to timetables and goals between Bush's plan and that of Obama's. But he says he's intrigued by Obama's willingness to "leapfrog" over smaller goals."

Obama's Hollow Promise On Space, Opinion, Tim Jones, Fox

"Last year the U.S. had a proven spacecraft in the shuttle, and a well-defined plan for sending American astronauts to deep space. Next year we will have no spacecraft, and no credible plan to develop our own deep space craft for a decade or more. Our experienced NASA team will have left for jobs elsewhere--if they can find them. Our claims for space leadership will be believed only by the president's speechwriters."

More Reaction

NSS Applauds Presidents Commitment to the Mission of NASA and the role of space in providing for the Future

"The President stressed the importance of a transformative agenda for NASA, and the critical role of breakthrough technologies in enabling NASA and our nation to create the future we wish to see come to pass. The Society congratulates the president for refining his vision to include such incremental goals as the design of a Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle by 2015, and a preliminary timetable for human exploration destinations."

AIAA President David Thompson Praises President Obama's Vision and Support for Future Space Endeavors

"As with President Kennedy's speech in 1961, President Obama set out goals that will test our ability to advance technology, field revolutionary new systems, and sustain commitment over many years, ensuring the United States will maintain its leadership role in space in the 21st century as we were in the 20th."

Space Frontier Foundation Urges Support for New NASA Space Plan

"The Foundation, often a critic of NASA programs and plans as wasteful or counter productive to US space ambitions, finds itself strongly supporting many of the new changes. It says this is the first administration that has truly committed to the revolutionary changes needed to what has been a moribund space program that was going nowhere at great cost."


Commercial Spaceflight Federation Hails President's Space Plan As Creating "More Spacecraft, More Astronaut Flights, and More Jobs"

"The President's plan increases NASA's budget by $6 billion over 5 years and includes new investments in exploration to Mars and other destinations, new technologies, and commercial spaceflight. The President stated, "I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future," and added, "We will work with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable."

Space Exploration in the 21st Century, Coalition for Space Exploration

"While the steps outlined by President Obama are encouraging, many key issues and concerns remain with regard to the transition from the current programs to the proposed new exploration agenda and the impact that it will have on our nation's space industrial base and global leadership. Delaying a decision until 2015 on the design of a heavy-lift vehicle, the establishment of its first human exploration mission for no earlier than 2025, as a precursor to a Mars expedition in 2030, threatens to sacrifice a generation of experience and expertise in our nation's human space flight workforce."

Remarks of President Barack Obama Space Exploration in the 21st Century

"I know there have been a number of questions raised about my administration's plan for space exploration, especially in this part of Florida where so many rely on NASA as a source of income as well as a source of pride and community. And these questions come at a time of transition, as the Space Shuttle nears its scheduled retirement after almost thirty years of service. This adds to the worry of folks concerned not only about their own futures, but about the future of a space program to which they have devoted their lives."

Keith's note: My earlier characterization of the event at KSC as being a "flyby" was due in great part to the nearth total blackout in terms of what would be happening. PAO knew nothing and therefore shared nothing. Internal plans were constantly shifting around. Up until the other day, all that was known publicly was landing, departure, and speech time. Nothing else. Now we see that there was a lot more to this event. So I hereby rescind my "flyby" moniker. As far as what the agenda and intent of this series of events were supposed to be, at first OSTP held NASA back and then it started to leak stuff ahead of NASA. In the future, America's space program would be better served by making the nature of such events much more open that there be better coordination - by and from - the White House.

Marc's note: Today we're starting a new trial feature called The Cape Insider with Jason Rhian reporting from the cape. We encourage you to interact with Jason. Your feedback is important to us. His first story is:

Obama Visits Kennedy Space Center to Push NASA Vision - The Cape Insider, SpaceRef

"His remarks added further detail to plan and corrected rumors that were flying about in that there will be no more shuttle flights after the three currently planned. A date for manned missions beyond the moon was announced as taking place by 2025 with an initial mission to an asteroid."

Aldrin Is Buzzing Today

Mr. President, here's my NASA to-do list, Buzz Aldrin, USA Today

"Other astronauts might have different views, and I respect them, but I believe that working with this president toward a consensus on how America can lead human exploration, commercialize that effort in a timely way as possible, and set our collective sites on Mars is more likely to create the kind of sustained effort, commitment and legacy that we all want to see. This seems more productive than simply opposing a change of course."

Buzz Aldrin gets ride on Air Force One, CNN

"Buzz Aldrin is used to traveling on high-profile missions. His 240,000-mile trip to the moon on July 20, 1969, set the precedent. On Thursday, Aldrin is hitching a ride aboard Air Force One to Cape Canaveral's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at the invitation of President Obama, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said. It appears to be just one of the perks for being on Obama's side of the controversy over the president's new space program, which cancels former President George W. Bush's plan to return U.S. astronauts to the moon by 2020."

Keith's note:NASA TV has "special coverage" of todays events in Florida here at 2:40 p.m. when President Barack Obama speaks.

NASA Announces Conference on the American Space Program for the 21st Century

"Following the President's remarks, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will host a conference overview, beginning at 3:45 p.m. EDT, with Norm Augustine, chair, Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee and John Holdren, assistant to the President for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The conference overview and the four concurrent conference sessions, beginning at 4:25 p.m., will take place in both the Operations and Checkout Building and in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will host a conference wrap-up with the four panel moderators at 5:40 p.m. in the visitor complex's Astronaut Encounter Theater."
Feud Over NASA Threatens America's Edge in Space, Wall Street Journal

"Even the Florida summit sparked friction. White House aides initially encouraged lawmakers to organize the event, but then decided to do it themselves. Aides to Mr. Obama then promised to reserve tickets for any members of Congress who wanted to attend, according to legislators and staffers. But invitations were later limited, according to a White House email this week that blamed Democratic Congressional leaders and apologized for "any misunderstanding."

Keith's note: Apparently all manner of space advocacy groups have mananged to get tickets - and are bragging about that fact - yet rank and file KSC employees are not as lucky.

Buzz Aldrin gets ride on Air Force One, CNN

"Buzz Aldrin is used to traveling on high-profile missions. His 240,000-mile trip to the moon on July 20, 1969, set the precedent. On Thursday, Aldrin is hitching a ride aboard Air Force One to Cape Canaveral's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at the invitation of President Obama, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said. It appears to be just one of the perks for being on Obama's side of the controversy over the president's new space program, which cancels former President George W. Bush's plan to return U.S. astronauts to the moon by 2020."


Elon Musk: At Long Last, an Inspiring Future for Space Exploration

"Today, the President will articulate an ambitious and exciting new plan that will alter our destiny as a species. I believe this address could be as important as President Kennedy's 1962 speech at Rice University. For the first time since Apollo, our country will have a plan for space exploration that inspires and excites all who look to the stars. Even more important, it will work."

Today's Contrasting Views

White House Defends NASA Plans, ABC News

"Critics say NASA is being dramatically scaled back and tens of thousands of jobs are expected to be lost. The administration insists that this plan is actually going to create 2,500 more jobs in the Florida Space Coast by 2012 and 10,000 over the next decade. The new jobs will come from the development of the commercial space industry and a plan to modernize the Kennedy Space Center."

Obama tries to get support of space plan off ground, USA Today

"While the administration may have finally realized that its initial budget request was a complete disaster, the new plan, from the same team, still ends human spaceflight," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who sits on the subcommittee that decides how much to spend on NASA. "The president has replaced one visionless plan with another."

Americans in Space: A Dream of the Past?, Opinion, Houston Chronicle

"Today the United States manned space program lies in deep peril as our ability to reach destinations such as the moon, Mars and beyond continues to slip to indefinite timetables. If Congress accepts the president's budget proposal on NASA's Constellation program -- a program that enjoys bipartisan support -- Constellation will be eliminated from the federal budget, effectively ending the era of American leadership in space."

In space, no one hears you flip-flop, opinion, Eric Sterner, Washington Times

"There is no truly free commercial market for human spaceflight to low-Earth orbit. The current supply-and-demand curves do not intersect without massive government intervention. So-called space tourism to the International Space Station existed only because the Russian Space Agency was willing to sell government capacity to wealthy elites at the margins. (The same cannot be said for suborbital space, which is experiencing truly revolutionary developments in technology and free-market economics.)"

Keith's note: Oh, so let's just throw up our hands in defeat and walk away simply becuase of the way things are right now, eh? How about shifting the government-only monopoly to transport of crew and cargo to the ISS to one that is open to the private sector where market forces of supply, demand, competition, and innovation can work their magic? I continue to be baffled by how many Republicans, including my very good friend Eric Sterner, seem to have zero faith or interest - in seeing the private sector earn a role in the exploration and utilization of space - as it has had in virtually every other aspect of our society over the past several centuries.

Republicans have tried to spur economic development in space - and have met with only partial success. But they tried, to their credit. Yet, when a Democrat tries, they seek to stop him before he even has a chance to try. Go figure. At least Eric sees that another region of space i.e. "suborbital" is a place where market forces can create excitement and value. Hmm, why is that, Eric? People used to call this the "ignorosphere".

Obama to offer hope to local space workers during KSC visit, Orlando Sentinel

"Senior administration officials have told members of the Florida congressional delegation that their efforts could bring as many to 5,000 jobs to KSC by 2012, twice the number that Constellation would have generated. And though how they arrived at those figures is unclear -- one of the many unknowns in the new NASA plan - they've gotten the attention of the local aerospace community."

Keith's note: According to Washington sources the Administration is prepared to support one additional year of shuttle operations with the addition of two flights to the existing manifest. They are reluctant at this point to go further due in great part to resistance on the part of Charlie Bolden. Bolden is still holding out for the continuation of Constellation - beyond the Orion "Lite" proposal currently being offered. Stay tuned.

Statement from Buzz Aldrin On The White House Space Policy

"The President's program will help us be in this endeavor for the long haul and will allow us to again push our boundaries to achieve new and challenging things beyond Earth. I believe that this is the right program at the right time, and I hope that NASA and our dedicated space community will embrace this new direction as much as I do. By so doing we can together continue to use space exploration to help drive prosperity and innovation right here on Earth."

Put NASA on a Diet?! Them's Fightin' Words, Mr. President

"... reaction ranged from mild (Buzz Aldrin endorsed Obama's original plan) to downright irate: moon veterans like Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell slammed the cuts as effectively dismembering the U.S. space program, saying it "destines our nation to become one of second- or even third-rate stature."

Keith's note: One thing that is really starting to annoy me: all of the complaining about - or campaigning for - this new policy does is being done by people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s - most of whom had their shot in the sun a generation or more ago. Where are the voices of the people who will inherit this space program and actually go to these new places? I do not see them being interviewed. And who will be at the Space Conference/Summit/Flyby event at KSC? The usual hand-picked suspects, I suppose - all fighting over table scraps of an old way of doing things.

OSTP Fact Sheet on the President's April 15th Address in Florida: A Bold Approach for Space Exploration and Discovery

"On Thursday, April 15, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the President will outline a bold strategy for human spaceflight that increases the NASA budget by $6 billion over the next five years. His plan represents an ambitious effort to foster the development of path-breaking technologies; increase the number, scope, and pace of manned and unmanned space missions; make human spaceflight safer and more efficient; and help create thousands of jobs."

To do the heavy lifting, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"I'm confused. If a heavy lift launch vehicle (HLLV) is not needed for future human missions beyond LEO, why are we spending billions of dollars researching aspects of it in order to make a design decision five years hence? If a heavy lift launch vehicle is needed for such missions, why are we waiting five years to make that decision when we have the parts and workforce needed to make the vehicle now?"

Obama revives capsule from canceled moon program, AP

"President Barack Obama is reviving the NASA crew capsule concept that he had canceled with the rest of the moon program earlier this year, in a move that will mean more jobs and less reliance on the Russians, officials said Tuesday. The space capsule, called Orion, still won't go to the moon. It will go unmanned to the International Space Station to standby as an emergency vehicle to return astronauts home, officials said. Administration officials also said NASA will speed up development of a massive rocket. It would have the power to blast crew and cargo far from Earth, although no destination has been chosen yet. The rocket would be ready to launch several years earlier than under the old moon plan."

Is A Human Space Flight Compromise Emerging?, NASA Watch, earlier post

"This is the consensus that seems to forming in and among NASA, OSTP, and NSC: Ares 1 and 5 remain cancelled. Orion is continued - but in a "Lite" variant designed to ferry people to and from ISS. This "Orion Lite" would fly on human-rated EELVs and would be, in essence, a government competitor to what NASA is also encouraging the so-called "Merchant 7" (SpaceX, Orbital et al) to develop. The commercial activities would remain unchanged from what was announced in February. Meanwhile, NASA will continue to fly the Space Shuttle albeit at a stretched out rate (2 or so flights/year) while ET production is restarted."

Recipe for the Future: Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards Program Combines Entrepreneurship, Imagination and High-School Innovators

"All winners were chosen from the 21 finalist teams that assembled for the annual Spirit of Innovation Awards' Innovation Summit at the NASA Ames Conference Center in Moffett Field, Calif., from April 8 to 10, 2010. The teams were joined by notable leaders such as Lori Garver, deputy administrator of NASA; Miles O'Brien, chairman of the NASA Advisory Council for Education and Public Outreach; Steve Westly of the Westly Group; Chairman Jon Wellinghoff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and entrepreneurs Rafe Furst, John Gage, Fred Nazem and Ari Meisel."

Thousands Turn Out for Yuri's Night Celebration at NASA Ames

"NASA's Ames Research Center hosted a mega Yuri's Night celebration on two days: April 9 and April 10, 2010. A 40-foot futuristic rocket ship, air show and top music acts, including Common and N.E.R.D. were among the highlights."

Keith's note: What utterly baffles me is how ARC PAO all but ignored the Conrad Awards event. They streamed a small portion of the events (and charged an outrageous sum to do so) but other than they seemed to be uninterested in having their staff cover the event or make any mention of the event in this press release as part of their overall education activities - this, despite the fact that the Deputy Administrator of NASA spent a considerable amount of time there as did members of the NASA Advisory Council, billionaire investors, etc. According to one ARC PAO staff it apparently had to do with the fact that one event had thousands of students while the Conrad event had a hundred or so.

Obama's NASA policy: The White House vs. Neil Armstrong, USA Today

"It's not easy to go up against a living legend, but that's what President Obama will be doing Thursday when he gives a speech on new NASA policies that are being blasted by Neil Armstrong."

Star Wars: Neil Armstrong, Obama Spar Over NASA's Future, Fox

"The first man to walk on the moon has blasted off at the Obama administration's stripped-down space plans, describing the president's proposals as "devastating." But supporters of the president's latest plan, which will be unveiled on Thursday, insist all systems are go for an accelerated rocket program that sets new goals for the American effort in outer space."

KSC employee note: "I guess Obama doesn't want to see any employees during his visit. The O&C, where he will speak has been closed to all employees on Thursday. Security Bulletin text included below. Not clear yet whether employees will be told to stay home or just hang out somewhere else. I'm guessing about 1000 employees are affected by this closure, including many of the technology development laboratories."

"SECURITY FLASH - O & C CLOSURE: The O&C Facility will be closed to all personnel on Thursday, April 15, from 7:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m., to accommodate President Obama's visit. All services within the building, to include but not limited to, fitness center, Rehabworks, massage, cafeteria, sundry store, etc., will be closed. No access will be permitted unless previously authorized and included on an approved entry authorization list. Parking will not be permitted in the O&C east parking lot or the front curb parking area. All vehicles, including GSA vehicles, must be removed from these areas no later than 7 a.m. on Thursday, April 15th. The O&C west parking lot will be partially closed. All vehicles, including GSA vehicles, must relocate to the western-most portion of this parking lot (closer to the Training Auditorium)."

Open Letter to President Obama Regarding Space Policy

"Too many men and women have worked too hard and sacrificed too much to achieve America's preeminence in space, only to see that effort needlessly thrown away. We urge you to demonstrate the vision and determination necessary to keep our nation at the forefront of human space exploration with ambitious goals and the proper resources to see them through. This is not the time to abandon the promise of the space frontier for a lack of will or an unwillingness to pay the price."

Keith's note: One of the oddest things I have learned in the past week or two is that Mike Griffin has been telling people that the 9th floor at NASA HQ has been purposefully leaking things to me for posting on NASA Watch so as to advance their cause. If that is the case, then they are not having much success, are they Mike? Just have a look at what I have been posting - and then think about what I was posting long before this crowd arrived to clean up the mess you left behind. I really don't need anyone to do my thinking for me. The next time you think about circulating a rumor like this, start using the logic lobe of that mega brain of yours to do a sanity check before you engage your speech center.

President Obama to Deliver Remarks at Kennedy Space Center

"On the afternoon of Thursday, April 15 President Barack Obama will visit Cape Canaveral, Florida and deliver remarks on the bold new course the Administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human space flight. ... The breakout sessions in between will be closed press ... media can only cover either the arrival/departure of Air Force One or the President's remarks. It will not be logistically possible to cover more than one event. Media credentialing and logistic details, for planning purposes only, can be found below."

Keith's note: This last minute stuff is a function of White House rules - not NASA PAO. This is all rather pointless since you either get to take pictures (nothing else) or you can watch the actual events from afar outside the presidential bubble with zero Q&A interaction. In other words, there will be no real media access, no interaction whatsoever with rank and file NASA KSC employees, no possible compromises offered - just staged political theater where the President tries to convince everyone how great his policy is.

Obama To Arrive At KSC At 1:45 P.M. April 15, Florida Today

"President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive at Kennedy Space Center at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 15. He'll make live remarks at 3 p.m. and depart at 3:45 p.m., the White House said."

Keith's note: As it stands now, the session preceding the public statement will be closed and invitation only. About 200 attendees are expected. Plans now seem to include televising it. Despite earlier plans (and hopes), the President will not meet with the rank and file workforce at KSC - the ones who are going to be laid off. It would seem that the President spends more time engaged in a political fundraiser later that day in southern Florida than he does focusing on America's space program.

Meanwhile, the tug of war continues between OSTP and NASA as to who says what and when while the President is onsite at KSC. Word has it that the President will simply try and sell his policy and budget - as originally presented. No compromise will be discussed at this time. Again, this will all change again before the Space Summit/Conference/Flyby starts.

Media that have contacted KSC PAO looking for information as to how to cover this event have been told to contact the White House Press Office. So ... don't expect news stories with any meaningful insight from the traveling press corps. As was the case with the initial roll out of the budget and policy, it looks like NASA PAO has their hands tied on this space policy flyby as well. So folks, lets not blame them for this paucity of information.

Stay tuned.

Emilio and Gloria Estefan to host President Obama, Miami Herald

"The $30,400-a-couple cocktail reception is the Estefans' first political fundraiser, said Democratic consultant Freddy Balsera, who advised Obama's campaign on Hispanic issues and is close to the couple. ... will also attend a fundraiser at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami that same day. Tickets for that event start at $250 and $1,250."

Flip Flopping in TX-7

Culberson: NASA Decision A "Surrender", Hotline OnCall

"The Constellation program is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. Obama's proposed budget, released in Feb., would cancel funding for the program. Without it, Culberson said, the U.S. will have no manned space flight capabilities in the future. "He's shut down the whole thing. He's proposing to cancel America's manned space program, which is typical of this administration's pattern of apologizing for America's success, kowtowing to our enemies, bowing to foreign dictators and their obsession with trying to make terrorists like us," Culberson said."

Keith's note: This has got to be one of the most inherently contradictory positions I have yet to see any member of Congress take. For years Rep. Culbertson has railed away at every possible form of government spending as being inherently bad. But in the case of the Obama proposal to stop a program that has been wasting those precious taxpayer dollars and, instead, enhance private sector participation, well ... Rep. Culbertson promptly flips the polarity on his long-standing views because all of the rules are different inside his congressional district.

As for the gratuitous arm waving about "dictators and terrorists", hoping on the off-topic train to crazy town is also a trademark tactic.

No Vision = Perish

Blakey Calls for a U.S. Space Strategy

"In 1962, President Kennedy didn't say we'd go to the moon today; he said, this decade," Blakey said at a meeting of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla. "Despite the financial troubles that lapped at his feet, President Kennedy stepped up to the challenge and urged us forward, with a goal and a vision and a plan. Today, a lack of urgency and specificity will not sustain the vision and, as we know, where there's no vision, the programs -- and the skills and workforce that go with them -- perish."

Udall, Bennet Ask President to Explain, Re-evaluate Cut of Constellation Program

"For Colorado - where the Orion capsule is being developed - this move would lead directly to the loss of over 1,000 jobs and indirectly to thousands more. More broadly, we are concerned that a reliance on unproven commercial providers for U.S. access to low Earth orbit (LEO) compromises America's leadership position in space. It is also unclear what, if anything, will become of the significant investment in Constellation to date."

NASTAR Center Awarded First FAA Safety Approval from Office of Commercial Space Transportation

"Environmental Tectonics Corporation's NASTAR Center announced today that it is the first entity to receive a Safety Approval from the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation. This approval, granted April 7, 2010, allows NASTAR Center to offer prospective space launch operators seeking a launch license, its pre-approved, NASTAR Space Training Programs using the Space Training Simulator to satisfy the Crew Qualification and Training Requirements outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations require crew members to complete training on how to carry out his or her role on board or on the ground and to demonstrate the ability to withstand the stresses of space flight, which may include high acceleration or deceleration, microgravity, and vibration."

Aerospace Business Has Its Doubts About Plans to Revamp NASA, NY Times

"Michael C. Gass, president and chief executive of United Launch Alliance, has said that upgrading the low-end version of the Atlas V for astronauts -- adding a monitoring system to alert controllers of problems with the rocket and modifying the launching pad to handle astronauts -- would cost $400 million. "When you start getting into a heavier crew transfer vehicle and a dedicated launch facility, it's over a billion dollars, but less than two," Mr. Gass said. Those improvements "should be funded by the U.S. government" without additional investment from Boeing and Lockheed, he said."

NASA Glenn would stabilize, see more business under Obama budget proposal, center director

"NASA Glenn Research Center would take greater control of its future and potentially attract more business under new tasks proposed by President Barack Obama, the center's acting director said Friday. The center would take the lead on two programs projected to cost $2.1 billion over the next five years, Ramon "Ray" Lugo said at a news conference at the Brook Park campus."

Marshall Space Flight Center gets four new program offices, will lead $3.1 billion heavy lift rocket research, Huntsville Times

"Marshall Space Flight Center will get four new program offices in a NASA reorganization announced today."

KSC to get commercial office under new NASA plan, Orlando Sentinel

"The White House has taken heat for its plan, as lawmakers -- many with Constellation contracts back in their districts -- have complained that the new NASA proposal lacks detail. Today's announcement, which will unveil work assignments nationwide, is aimed at blunting some of that criticism before Obama's visit."

Lost in Space, Fox News

"The U.S. has surrendered its advantage in space, conceding the high ground to others who are probably our enemies," said Jane Orient, a science policy expert and professor at the University of Arizona. "We are apparently leaving seven astronauts in space as hostages. Their loss would be a tragedy, but only a small part of the total disaster. It would symbolize the lack of respect that America has for its pioneers."

Keith's note: Huh? who is being left in space as a "hostage"? Who is "Jane Orient"? This whole article reads like a spoof that you'd expect to see on The Onion. Oh wait - its Fox News. Nevermind.

Keith's note: I am having a wonderful time at the Conrad Foundation's Spirit of Innovation Awards. NASA ARC has been a wonderful host for this event plus a number of other events this week with the support of NASA IPP and a wide array of public sector sponsors (including my company). Alas, as far as the Conrad Foundation's events are concerned - an event where students are encouraged to think outside the box and innovate - NASA's Education Office seems to be totally uninterested - there is no mention whatsoever on their website for example. Yet they (reluctantly) put $10K in to support this event. Oh well "and the children shall lead", I suppose.

JSC leader fears tough transition, Houston Chronicle

"As NASA released more details Thursday about its restructuring under President Barack Obama's space proposal, the director of Johnson Space Center expressed optimism and concern. Though he welcomed the proposed addition of a five-year, $6 billion technology development program at the Clear Lake-area space center, director Mike Coats said he is concerned about job losses and not having a space vehicle to fly. "We have some challenges to confront here," Coats said. One of the big ones: Even contractors who will get jobs in the restructuring might find themselves out of work for up to a year as the new plans are being formulated."

NASA Announces Programs and Costs for Next 5 Years

"With all due respect to everybody," the general replied, "a serious and real concern for everyone is the jobs." As technology advances, there are fewer and "fewer manual-type jobs," he explained. Even with Constellation, several thousand jobs were going to be lost. "I think that is a significant issue for people," he said."

NASA to oversee space taxi development, USA today

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, "In terms of NASA planning, Constellation as a program is dead." Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, whose district includes Johnson Space Center, said Bolden's plans don't "change the fact that the president seems willing to hand off American dominance in human spaceflight to nations like Russia and China." "The president has a say in the budget process but by no means the last word," Olson said in a statement. "Opposition to killing Constellation, the program of record, is growing by the day."

Kosmas added to 'Save Space' rally

"U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas has been added to the roster of speakers for Sunday's "Save Space" community rally at the Cocoa Expo Sports Center. The rally is designed to emphasize that human space exploration should be the critical aspect of NASA policy."

Kosmas and Posey to Participate in Florida Today Space Forum

"Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) will participate in the Florida Today Space Forum at the Simpkins Fine Arts Center on the Brevard Community College Cocoa campus. Kosmas, along with Congressman Bill Posey (FL-15), will answer questions on the future of the space industry in Florida and its impact on Space Coast communities."

Details of Workforce Breakdown Under NASA FY 2011 Budget

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver briefed reporters on Thursday, April 8, about the next steps in implementing the agency's new exploration initiatives outlined in the new fiscal year 2011 budget."

"Open" NASA

Space Available: NASA Embraces Open Government Initiative

"Through a new policy initiative, NASA is working to make open source software development more collaborative to benefit the agency and public. NASA technology has created "Nebula," the U.S. government's only cloud computing platform, which offers an easier way for NASA scientists and researchers to share large, complex data sets with external partners and the public. The creation of a new NASA Participatory Exploration Office will infuse more public participation into NASA's mission as part of a culture change to directly engage people in exploration."

NASA Internal memo: "You are invited to join Administrator Charlie Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at Headquarters for a special NASA Update today at 1 p.m. EDT. The program will be carried internally on NASA Television on Headquarters channel 76. The program also will be streamed internally over the Web to NASA Headquarters employees at: http://aquarius.hq.nasa.gov/ramgen/broadcast/hq.rm

Administrator Bolden and Deputy Administrator Garver will outline the next steps in implementing the new exploration strategy outlined in the 2011 fiscal year budget proposal. Please join them for this important announcement."

NASA Work Assignments Topic of Media Telecon on Thursday, April 8

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will brief reporters on Thursday, April 8, about the next steps in implementing the agency's new exploration initiatives outlined in the new fiscal year 2011 budget."

Information is now online here.

- NASA Johnson Space Center Director Michael Coats Avaialable Thursday to Discuss Center's Roles in 2011
- NASA Kennedy Center Director Holds Media Briefing on April 8
- NASA to Hold New Exploration Strategy Briefing; Marshall Center Director Robert Lightfoot to Speak with Media
- Media Invited to Dial In for NASA Langley Assignment News

Keith's note: Relibable sources also note that a conference call is being arranged for today between the Vice President's office and key members of Congress involved in the space policy and budget debate.

NASA Contractors: abandoning the Constellation moon program? , Orlando Sentinel

"Recently rocket engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne have told other contractors -- namely Lockheed Martin, Boeing, ATK and the United Space Alliance -- that it will no longer support their lobbying efforts to keep Constellation alive.Their departure from the elite lobbying effort -- confirmed by very reliable sources and PWR officials -- is a blow to the effort to keep the moon program going over the objections of the President."

Rep. Kosmas on future of NASA, Fox Orlando

"We have made some propositions and proposals that we are hoping that the President will use to fill in the blanks that we thought were missing from his budget proposal. So I'm hoping, um, that it won't be a sales pitch and that it will actually be an opportunity for us to come together and find some common ground that will help us to mitigate job loss on the space coast."

Florida State Senate Moves Rapidly to Pass Jobs Bill

"Floridians have kept our nation on the cutting edge of space exploration and development, and the loss of any Florida space jobs will create overwhelming challenges for the Space Coast and our state's entire economy," Governor Crist said. "I applaud Senators Gaetz, Haridopolos and Altman, as well as Representatives Steve Crisafulli and Ritch Workman, for their commitment to preserving and retaining our leadership in the global space arena."

Brevard group takes space-industry fight to D.C., Florida Today

"With a heightened sense of urgency in the face of thousands of pending job losses in Brevard County, Cocoa Beach Chamber of Commerce officials are working to gather a group of citizens for a trip to Washington D.C., to plead with lawmakers to support the space industry before it evaporates."

Keith's note: Only a week and a half remain before the much-anticipated Space Summit at NASA KSC on 15 April. While no public mention has been made as to venue, agenda, participants, audience etc., there does seem to be a general consensus forming behind the scenes as to what sort of rethinking might be acceptable to all parties with regard to where NASA human spaceflight is going.

Small Glimmer of Hope for NASA in Houston, myFox

"Many will admit NASA has done a poor job proving its value to the American public. Some are asking what has the agency done to deserve nearly $20 billion in funding every year? "From the medical devices, fetal monitors for babies, to Lasik surgeries, MRI's, cell phones, the gps," says Mitchell."

Houston, we have a real problem, Opinion by Ed Perlmutter and Pete Olson, Denver Post

"The economic, scientific and technological returns far exceeded our investment. Observations from space have provided GPS, meteorological forecasts, predictions and management of hurricanes and other natural disasters, as well as surveillance and intelligence. Royalties on NASA patents and licenses go directly to the U.S. Treasury. NASA has been a solid investment because it does so much with so little."

Keith's note: I have to guess that the royalties paid on NASA patents are miniscule in comparison to what taxpayers have spent on NASA. Indeed, I suspect that if you were to put this to people who invest in new technologies in the private sector, that they'd tell you that NASA is a rather inefficient way to drive things from R&D to market. As for the NASA spinoffs that people often cite, no one ever runs a sanity check - GPS was "invented" and developed by DoD. As for "fetal monitors for babies, to Lasik surgeries, MRI's, cell phones" NASA was a bit player - at best - in pushing technologies that contributed to - but certainly did not create these and many other things. One would think that NASA would attempt to clarify such things when they appear in the news. There is some progress however: at least we don't hear about NASA inventing Teflon, Velcro, and Tang any more.

Previous NASA spinoff stories.

NASA'S Shuttle Discovery Heads to Station After Predawn Launch

"Space shuttle Discovery lit up Florida's Space Coast sky about 45 minutes before sunrise Monday with a 6:21 a.m. EDT launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The launch began a 13-day flight to the International Space Station and the second of five shuttle missions planned for 2010. Discovery is scheduled to dock to the space station at 3:44 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7."

Keith's note: Lori Garver is now on Twitter at lori_garver and has a fan page on Facebook.

Keith's note: This video shows Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking at the University at Buffalo making an impassioned plea for NASA and the value it has to all Americans. In my experience, no one has ever managed to capture this in such a cogent response. Tyson is the sort of people who should be speaking at the OSTP space summit. But no. Politics preside. Instead, its OSTP Vs NSC and OSTP/NSC Vs NASA and a food fight over who gets to say what NASA needs to do at the Summit. What a colossal missed opportunity.

Obama's Space Summit Coming Amid Discovery's Mission, 13 News

"Even if the shuttle program were extended today, there would still be some a gap. "The real issue we would have is just in manufacturing," [space shuttle program manager John] Shannon explained. "While you have a supply chain, while you can get a workforce back to build things like external tanks, there would be some type of a gap -- and right now, we estimate that gap would be about two years, from when we're told to when we would have the first external fuel tank rolling off the assembly line."

If shuttles kept flying, what would mission be?, Orlando Sentinel

"In response, NASA has reached out to shuttle suppliers and vendors to check whether there would be any issues, beyond the cost of restarting production lines, should NASA keep flying the orbiter fleet. The agency is also examining whether there will be enough spares on the station to continue operations until 2020."

Without Shuttles, Astronauts' Careers May Stall, NPR

"NASA administrator and former astronaut Charlie Bolden talked about that prospect when he visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this year, saying it would be a different approach for NASA to rent not just the space vehicle, but also a private crew of astronauts to go with it. "We need to have the discussion of how important is it to have a career astronaut contingent, as opposed to none," Bolden said. He said that NASA's international partners like the idea of an elite corps, and that he doubted some random person could quickly be trained to perform at the same level as NASA astronauts, who have devoted their lives to preparing for work in space. "We need to have the discussion of what the future -- the next generation of astronauts -- will be like," Bolden said."

NASA Lost its Way, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"Although the purpose of the VSE was clear to the White House and the Congress, it became increasingly clear over time that NASA was having difficulty understanding the mission. They eventually embarked on a multi-year study to define exactly why they had been tasked to go to the Moon and to understand what they might do once they got there. The mission to understand their mission involved lots of meetings, workshops and conferences, whereby all the "stakeholders" had an opportunity to give their input. All this "input" was distilled into a series of documents containing six themes and 181 different specific objectives. No one at NASA could state the mission of the VSE in a single sentence."

Mike Griffin Update

Goodnight Moon: Michael Griffin on the future of NASA, Ars Technica

"... is there a value for a government-led human space flight program? See, what's being missed here is that NASA is being taken out of the business of conducting human space flight, and I think that's wrong. Those are the larger issues, and we are being diverted by the details of this vehicle or that vehicle, and I would say that the diversion is not productive. We need to focus on the larger issues: should NASA... should the US government be leading the human space flight program or not, and what are the goals? I am unsatisfied with the President's answers to those questions."

Keith's note: Mike Griffin will be speaking at an AIAA meeting on 5 April at the University of Alabama, Tuscalosa. 1:00 pm in Hardway room 252.

History for Sale

The Manual Pages That Saved Apollo 13, Gizmodo

"On April 13, 1970--321,860 kilometers into its Moon trip--an oxygen tank exploded in the Odyssey's Service Module. James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise had a really big problem. These pages saved their lives. The pages--with notes from Lovell--will be up for auction April 13 at Bonhams in New York."

Letter from Rep. Posey to President Obama Regarding The Space Summit

"I understand you will visit Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010, presumably to provide details on your vision and plan for America's human space flight program. My office has not yet received an invitation, agenda, or any other preliminary information on this event. I write to inform you that I would very much appreciate the opportunity to participate in the event with you."

Keith's note: Lets see, things are already rather raw down in Florida as a result of the proposed FY 2011 NASA budget. So ... what does OSTP do? Why, they just make things worse by continuing to ignore the very people most affected by the new space policy.

But the fact that Rep. Posey is being kept in the dark should not be at all surprising. You see, no one knows exactly what this Space Summit/Conference is or is not going to be. There is currently a three-way tug of war between OSTP, NSC, and NASA over topics, content, agenda, expected outcome, attendees, and participants. With 2 weeks to go, and the course of NASA's future direction at stake, to say nothing of thousands of jobs, one would hope that all of the actors in this drama start to quickly figure out what is going to be happening.

Buzz is Now an App

Buzz Aldrin App Now Available for the iPhone

"The APP Company announced the release of the Buzz Aldrin Portal To Science and Space Exploration iPhone App. Available for $1.99 on the Apple iTunes and App Stores, this iPhone app launched by the pioneering Apollo astronaut and moonwalker Buzz Aldrin takes the user on a journey through the world of everything that is Space Exploration."

Gov. Paterson launches NASA call in attempt to help New York's quest to land space shuttle, NY Daily News

"Paterson phoned NASA Administrator William Holden this week to plug the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum's bid to win one of the soon-to-be-retired shuttles - Discovery, Atlantis or Endeavour."

Keith's note: "NASA Administrator William Holden"? Oh well, its April Fool's day.

Obama's plan to transform NASA in spotlight as Florida trip looms, Orlando Sentinel

"Lawmakers are threatening to file a congressional resolution in favor of Constellation, and several senators --- including George LeMieux, R-Fla. -- filed a bill last week aimed at preventing Obama from shutting down the program. While congressional critics have issues with the entire plan, it's the $429 million requested for KSC in 2011 that appears to be especially vulnerable. Members of Congress privately complain that nobody at NASA or in the White House has been able to explain to them exactly what the money will be used for. KSC Director Bob Cabana has said repeatedly that Kennedy is a 1960s facility badly in need of modernization. But he has also said that NASA is still studying what a 21st-century launch center should look like and how to coordinate changes with the Air Force, which now runs commercial launches at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station outside the gates of KSC. That, he said, takes time. Lawmakers are unimpressed, with some claiming that the funds are nothing but a political payoff to Florida in an election year. They have been telling members of the aerospace industry in Florida not to hold out hopes for the money."

Posey's Fight To Save Space Jobs Continues, cfnews13.com

"Posey points back to when Obama was a presidential candidate and the promise he made during a campaign speech in Titusville in the fall of 2008. "You said you would close the gap between the space shuttle and Constellation," Posey said. "And you would assure America would stay first in space. Right now he's doing neither, and I'm hoping that's going to change soon." Posey said he will be at the April 15 summit whether he's invited or not. "We have not received any notice at all from the president about the meeting," Posey said. "We've written him. We've asked to be invited."

Keith's 31 March update: Someone sent another fraudulent email under my name to my Congressman, Rep. Moran (apparently and incorrectly) expressing my supposed disagreement with the new space policy. One NASA Watch reader noted today that

"[Rep.] Anna Eshoo has been getting about 1 email per week "from me" and when I got them to send me the text of the email, I Googled it and found it to be from Go Boldly, but it was from a Facebook page attributed to them."

Sending emails out under someone else's name without their permission is actionable fraud, plain and simple. What goes around comes around, folks. These tactics are bound to backfire. It certainly looks like the JSC pro-Constellation/Anti-Obama Space policy Go Boldy folks have a broken system in place. They need to fix this ASAP.

The domain for this organization is registered to Gary McNeel. According to this video and a phone call to me, Nick Gardner is one of the leaders of this effort.

I *DO NOT* like people sending emails using my name - and I will respond accordingly.

Earlier posts and text of the emails I have gotten are below.


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