May 2010 Archives

Something Old, Something New, and If We do it Right, Maybe Even Something Bold! , Dennis Wingo

"As a long time space advocate, I have found recent events to be extremely disheartening. Before my eyes, I am seeing the battle between the old exploration plan (Constellation), and the new plan put forth recently by NASA and the White House. This is battle is compounded by the fact that it is forcing a Congress unwilling to take on more fights before the election to allow NASA to operate for months under a continuing resolution (CR) for its next budget year.

The effect of this CR will be that NASA will have two zombie programs. By "zombie" I mean programs that were supposed to go away in FY 2011 but will be in a limbo state under a threatened Continuing Resolution - funded with their end dates no longer certain, but unable to truly move forward as they await their fate."

NASA's mission to nowhere: Big, fat, pointless and expensive describes plan to twiddle our fingers, Paul Spudis and Bob Zubrin, Washington Times

"Although we are known for holding different opinions on the order and importance of specific objectives in space, we are united in our concern over this move to turn away from the Vision for Space Exploration (hereafter referred to as Vision). Vision gave NASA's human spaceflight program a clear direction: to reach the moon and Mars. Congressional authorization bills in 2005 (under Republican leadership) and 2008 (under Democratic leadership) endorsed this goal."

In The Cape Week in Review, one chapter in history was closed, while a new one opened. While the space shuttle Atlantis returned home from her final planned mission the private commercial space firm, SpaceX rescheduled the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and the U.S. Air Force launched the first GPS IIF satellite. (With 3 videos)

Keep the shuttle flying, editorial, Houston Chronicle

"The demise of the shuttle is reminiscent of the last time the U.S. space program reached a technological pinnacle with the Apollo spacecraft and its launch rocket, the Saturn V. Having created the mightiest rocket in history, budgetary considerations brought on by the Vietnam War led to the termination of the moon missions, scattering its work force. The Johnson Space Center wound up with a Saturn for public display, much like various facilities are now vying for one of the decommissioned shuttles."

NASA future still a vast unknown, editorial, Huntsville Times

"Hundreds of jobs could be at stake in Huntsville, and many more nationwide, depending on the outcome. Before the administration can proceed along that track, Congress must formally approve scrapping Constellation, for which $9 billion has already been spent in the early development of Constellation's Ares rocket. Alabama's congressional delegation and congressional representatives from other NASA states are fighting to protect Constellation along with pushing for a more focused space policy."

NASA Langley's building plan in doubt, Daiy Press

"NASA Langley Research Center started modernizing its aging campus, but there's no guarantee it'll finish the job. In fact, a retired Langley administrator said the odds are "pretty darn grim" given the recession and political infighting surrounding President Barack Obama's plan to scrap NASA's return mission to the moon. The plan, dubbed New Town, is a 10-year, $200 million building project that would centralize the campus by replacing sprawling World War II-era structures with a cluster of environmentally friendly offices and laboratories."

KSC role in launches not required in draft plan, Florida Today

"Private companies flying astronauts to the International Space Station won't be required to launch from Kennedy Space Center, NASA said Tuesday. "It's basically up to commercial entities to define what makes sense for them," said Doug Cooke, the associate administrator in charge of exploration programs. Unless one of those companies chooses to fly from KSC, the center's traditional role as the launching point for U.S. missions could be dramatically reduced for years after the shuttle program's retirement."

From Obsolete Technology, New Science, NOVA, PBS

"Today, an engineer named Dennis Wingo is working to resurrect that data. He co-leads the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project--which, as the name implies, is working to pry all that old data off of the tapes. So far, he's been successful, thanks to a combination of skill and pure luck. Wingo's team located one of the only NASA computer tape drives left in existence, and carefully restored it to its former glory in order to digitize the old tapes onto modern hard drives."

Not Quite Rocket Science: 2 Week Underwear, Wall Street Journal

"Underwear you can wear up to two weeks at a time without having to worry about the smell? Andy Jordan's Tech Diary looks into the technological feat, how it works, and who is using the underwear. Yes, there's a smell test."

Keith's note: The video focuses on underwear that can be worn for prolonged periods of time without risk of odor, disease, etc. An anti-microbial barrier in the fabric of the underwear kills odor-causing microorganisms. My two cent's worth about NASA spinoffs is at the end of the video. Having been a climber and participated in a number of expeditions to utterly remote and harsh locations for long periods of time (Devon Island, Everest Base Camp) let me tell you, advances such as this are of critical importance. The relevance to expeditions to other worlds is obvious. Not only is life more pleasant (a big deal when you are far away and under lots of risk and stress) but if you can wear clothing longer you cut down on the energy costs of cleaning garments and the logistics (and upmass) of providing additional new garments. This special underwear has already been tested on ISS.

"We took 40 year old data tapes, tape drives that had been in a garage for 30 years, found elderly engineers, and reverse-engineered ancient technology to provide enhanced imagery from the five Lunar Orbiter missions in a fashion - and resolution - inconceivable at the time that the missions were conducted."

"A view from the ground of Masten Space Systems' first in-air engine relight on May 26, 2010. The test was a complete success and is another step forward in our test program."

"Keith Cowing talks about the kind of hacks made famous by the Apollo 13 mission, instances where the crew had to improvise using materials at hand. He discusses the following: Skylab Rescue - the umbrella used to replace solar insulation and boating tools bought at a local marina; Syncom Rescue - tools made out of plastic and duct tape; Apollo 13 CO2 removal, use of LEM engine, etc.; Apollo lunar rover fender repair; STS-120 EVA solar panel repair, and ISS camera tracker made from a power tool. Cowing also talks about some of his own projects including the greenhouse he designed and built on Devon Island (and some serious hacks) near the North Pole. Currently, he's working in partnership with NASA Ames to restore a 1960's era Titan I ICBM & convert it for educational use."

Keith Cowing: Famous Hacks at NASA (Maker Faire video), Huffington Post

More information: moonviews.com, nasahackspace.org

Marc's note: In an effort to help advertisers Google has released a list of their top 1000 sites world wide. The list ranks sites based on category, unique visitors, reach and page views. NASA comes in ranked 604. Interestingly Goddard's web site came out tops for NASA subdomains with JPL a distant second. No other dedicated space site made the list including SpaceRef and NASA Watch, surprisingly ;-)

Based on this ranking if NASA decided to allow some advertising on their sites they would be able to cash in on part of the $6.3 billion revenue advertisers spend on internet sites in 2009. In fact they might even be able to fund a Scout or Discovery Class mission each year or better yet start a major scholarship fund and replenish their workforce with new engineers etc. each year.


NASA Releases First-Ever High-Def Footage Of Shuttle Ice Team, NASA (With video)

"NASA has released the first-ever up close, high-definition video of Kennedy Space Center's Final Inspection Team walkdown in the final hours before a space shuttle launch. The footage was shot on May 14 at Kennedy's Launch Pad 39A during the countdown for shuttle Atlantis' STS-132 mission."

Lockheed weighs layoffs, other cuts for Orion program", Denver Post

"Lockheed Martin officials have begun looking throughout the Orion crew-capsule program for savings that can be used to cover possible contract termination costs. Those savings could include layoffs of some of the 600 to 650 Lockheed employees in Colorado who are working on the NASA spacecraft."

Save the space program, HBJ readers say, Houston Business Journal

"Houstonians are protective of the region's NASA jobs, according to responses to the latest BusinessPulse survey. Houston Business Journal asked readers if it was a waste of time to save the human space flight program, and 73 percent responded "no - we need space exploration/save jobs."

Work starts on jobs plan, Florida Today

"U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez visited Central Florida Thursday as part of his efforts to develop a plan to invest $40 million to help soon-to-be-jobless space workers by bringing in industries that can put them back to work."

Last of space shuttle segments leaves Utah, Desert News

"Even as the space shuttle program is winding down, ATK is building the five-segment first stage of the "next-generation" rocket, the Ares 1, and has all five segments in the test stand for a ground test planned in September. Due to the phasing out of the space shuttle program, ATK announced a fourth round of layoffs involving 247 workers last week. Since last April, a total of 1,500 workers have been let go."

Bishop asks NASA: Will changes be safer for astronauts?, Standard-Examiner

"In a U.S. House hearing on Capitol Hill, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, held a photo of an unidentified Utah worker who lost his job last week at ATK, one of the contractors for the Constellation program. "I hope I can tell him he lost his job because the government was going to save money or come up with a program that was safer for astronauts ... not because we are choosing winners or losers in the free market," said Bishop at a hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology."

Delta IV Launched

Delta 4 Blast Off with Advanced new GPS Satellite Marks 50th Anniversary of Delta Program, Ken Kremer Special to NASA Watch (with video)

"A Delta 4 rocket roared into space on Thursday night (May 27) at 11:00 PM EDT carrying the first in powerful new series of Global Positioning System satellites for the US Air Force. The GPS IIF SV-1 satellite launched from Pad 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and marked the 349th launch in the Delta program's 50 year history."

Inaugural Lunabotics Mining Competition Goes Live With NASA EDGE, NASA

"NASA EDGE, an award-winning agency talk show, will host a live webcast from the Lunabotics Mining Competition at 11 a.m. EDT on May 28 from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's Astronaut Hall of Fame."

Background: "The Lunabotics Mining Competition is a university level competition designed to engage and retain students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). NASA will directly benefit from the competition by encouraging the development of innovative lunar excavation concepts from universities which may result in clever ideas and solutions that could be applied to an actual lunar excavation device or payload."

Marc's note: Count them, 22 universities competing in this National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program event. Not bad.

Marc's update: Folks, it's not about the moon vs Mars vs asteroids, it's about engaging young people in STEM activities to create a new generation of engineers. If you have time why not watch some of today's competition.

LIVE - Delta IV Launch

Marc's note: Tonight we're testing out our new live launch mission status center for the Delta IV launch of the Air Force's Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF SV-1 satellite.

Enter Mission Status Center

NASA Joins Web Consortium to Help Improve Universal Access

"NASA announced Thursday it has joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The consortium is an international organization that develops protocols, standards and guidelines to ensure universal Web access. "Standards will play a key role in making NASA's content more accessible on the Internet and in the implementation of our Open Government plan," said Chris Kemp, chief technology officer for Information Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Additionally, standards nurture technology innovation. We are especially interested in participating in those areas where NASA's ongoing technical requirements overlap with the W3C's standardization efforts."

Internal NASA email from Jeff Hanley

"I've been advised by HQ that my services as Cx PM are no longer required, effective immediately. Dale Thomas will be Acting PM until something more formal is issued from ESMD."

Shelby says NASA trying to 'suppress' Constellation supporters in ranks, Huntsville Times

"Shelby has grown increasingly frustrated with what he and other lawmakers believe is an attempt by NASA brass to kill Constellation even though the law says they can't without congressional approval. Calling NASA's own leadership "a key impediment" to the nation's space program is another sign of that frustration."

NASA ousts outspoken Constellation chief, Orlando Sentinel

"Bolden had little response at the hearing, but said afterward that Hanley lost his job because he was "conflicted" and had become a lightning rod for controversy. For example, one day after president Barack Obama visited Kennedy Space Center to lay out his reasons for cancelling Constellation, Hanley told his team to pour all its efforts into designing a test launch program for Constellation's Ares I rocket."

Hutchison questions reassignment of Constellation program manager, The Hill

"Emails sent to program officials last week indicate that NASA senior administrators were actively mandating de-prioritizing funding for elements of the program that do not fit within the President's new proposal," said Senator Hutchison. "I will be requesting NASA's Inspector General to conduct a full and thorough investigation."

NASA Gets New Constellation Program Manager, Aviation Week

"Thomas, a systems engineer who has been with NASA for 30 years, has been the deputy Constellation program manager since 2007. He is currently assigned to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., but will divide his time between Marshall and Johnson in Houston, where Constellation is based."

LeMieux joins call for NASA inquiry, Orlando Sentinel

"This is yet another example of NASA taking actions to cancel the Constellation Program, and that is a violation of law," said LeMieux, referencing a provision that Congress passed last year that forbids NASA from killing Constellation in 2010. "This is a very serious issue that affects the future of our nation's space program and thousands of Floridians."

Lawmakers Questioning NASA Manager's Removal, NY Times

"Mr. Rockefeller and Ms. Hutchison asked Paul K. Martin, the NASA inspector general, to "examine whether this or other recent actions by NASA were intended or could reasonably have been expected to foreclose the ability of Congress to consider meaningful alternatives" to the president's proposed policy, which invests heavily in new space technologies and turns the launching of astronauts over to private companies."

NASA's vision gets another battering, MSNBC

"By now you probably have figured out that this committee is not with you," Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., told Bolden. The administrator said he was getting that message."

Armstrong, Cernan challenge plan to scrap moon program, Houston Chronicle

"It was during long flights to the Middle East for goodwill visits to American troops that former astronauts Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan and James Lovell hatched a plan to step out of the pages of history with a mission to change its course once more. The carefully calculated decision in March has brought two of the three marquee space pioneers to the halls of Capitol Hill to publicly -- and politically -- challenge President Barack Obama's plan to scrap the nation's back-to-the-moon program."

Ex-astronauts blast 'nowhere' mission, Huntsville Times

"We (Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and I) have come to the unanimous conclusion that this budget proposal presents no challenges, has no focus and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to 'nowhere,'" Cernan said in his written testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology."

Legendary astronauts outline shortfalls of Obama spaceflight plan, The Hill

"From the very beginning it was clear that NASA's proposal lacked the sufficient detail that Congress would need to determine whether it was a credible plan," Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) said."

NASA Finds New Criticism and Skepticism Before Congress

"So far we have not seen any hard analysis from the administration that would give us confidence that it can be done for the amount budgeted," [Rep. Bart Gordon] said."

EDITORIAL: NASA future still a vast unknown, Huntsville Times

"A story Tuesday by Times aerospace writer Lee Roop said the General Accountability Office has warned NASA headquarters against crossing the legal line of initiating new space policy while Congress continues to debate whether Constellation will end. U.S. Reps. Parker Griffith, R-Huntsville, Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, and 13 other members of Congress requested the GAO investigation to determine whether the new mission planning violated the law against creating new programs, projects or activities."

Utah Lawmakers Unhappy With Obama NASA Plan, Capitol News

"Utah lawmakers are pushing back against President Obama's proposal for NASA and the future of human space flight. Jobs in Utah and nationwide are in jeopardy."

Obama NASA Changes Could Benefit Colorado, Capitol News

"President Obama wants to scrap the so-called Constellation program and focus on new technology for the future. He's also calling for increased reliance on the private sector for manned space flight. Jobs around the country are in jeopardy and many lawmakers, especially Republicans, are vowing to block the President's plan. Not Udall."

A Tribute to Atlantis

3-D Mural Hung in Tribute to Atlantis in Cape's Firing Room, Ken Kremer

"A new 3 D tribute commemorating spectacular highlights from the historic missions of Space Shuttle Atlantis now proudly hangs high inside Firing Room 4 of the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The huge mural was created by the NASA and contractor teams that process Atlantis in preparation for blasting off to the High Frontier. The teams themselves, not outside artists, created the collage from objects and images highlighting significant milestones in the steps to check out and prepare Atlantis for launch and events from her 32 actual missions to space."

Majestic Last Landing for Atlantis, Ken Kremer

"Space Shuttle Atlantis closed out a quarter century of service to the exploration of space with a majestic return from orbit and a spectacular landing this morning (May 26) at 8:48 AM EDT at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Atlantis and her six man crew descended through the atmosphere and were greeted by absolutely clear blue skies for what is likely to be her final touchdown on Earth."

Gov 2.0: NASA Readies Mission-Oriented Cloud Computing, Information Week

"Chris Kemp, former CIO of NASA's Ames Research Center, has been the project leader on Nebula. Kemp was recently named CTO for IT across the space agency, and Cureton says Kemp will bring "focus" to the broader implementation of cloud computing and other emerging technologies across NASA."

House Committee on Science and Technology Reviews, Questions NASA's Proposed Human Spaceflight Plan

"The task before us today is to determine if the Administration's plan actually is doable under the Administration's proposed budget--that it actually is 'executable' and truly puts NASA on a 'sustainable path'. It does no good to cancel a program that the Administration characterizes as 'unexecutable', if that program is simply replaced with a new plan that can't be executed either," stated Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).

Letter from Sen. Nelson to President Obama Regarding An Additional Space Shuttle Mission, (PDF)

"As we begin work on the NASA reauthorization bill for fiscal year 2011, I write to inform you of my intention to include language authorizing an additional space shuttle flight... this new mission. STS-135, would be flown with a minimum crew of four astronauts and would provide critical spare parts and logistics for long-term ISS operations"

GAO report says NASA didn't break law with 'study teams, Huntsville Times

"NASA hasn't broken the law by spending nearly 13,000 hours of staff time planning what comes after the Constellation rocket program, the Government Accountability Office said Monday, but it must be careful not to cross the legal line while Congress continues to debate whether Constellation will end. The GAO investigated NASA's recent activities in response to a March request from U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, R-Huntsville; U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville; and 13 other representatives."

Keith's 25 May update: Members of the Constellation community are saying that they have been told that contract termination letters for Constellation work will be sent out on/around 1 June. Moreover, Jeff Hanley has reportedly been telling his troops not to worry about these contract-related letters since the "Plan B" sorts of work that he has been directing them to do (with Mike Coats' and Charlie Bolden's backing) are really to set the stage for things that "the next Administration" will be doing. Stay tuned.

House Science and Technology Committee Hearing: Review of the Proposed NASA Human Spaceflight Plan

"26 May 2010: Witnesses: Charles Bolden, Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Tom Young"

10 am EDT - Webcast live here

Keith's note: It is becoming increasingly apparent that every hearing on the topic of President Obama's space policy - especially when Charlie Bolden is in the hot seat - is designed to be an ambush announced in advance. The witness panel is usually stacked numerically with opponents. In this case this hearing is a blatant attempt to pick up the food fight where it left off last week on the other side of the Hill. Since it is fair game to repeatedly have Apollo astronauts testify who are publicly against the plan, why not have a few Apollo vets testify who are publicly for it - like Buzz Aldrin and Rusty Schweickart?

And by the way, with all due respect for the accomplishments of all of these who have or will testify, but when is Congress going to call upon people to testify who will actually spend their future career living and working in the space program that is being discussed? Why is it that we only seem to hear from 60-,70-, 80-year olds talking about someone else's future?

CAGW Releases Issue Brief on NASA Constellation Program

"President Obama has taken a step in the right direction by proposing to cancel the unsustainable Constellation Program in favor of looking to increased reliance on the private sector and investment in technologies that can lower the cost of human space exploration," concluded Schatz. "Congress should not interfere with this objective."

Issue Brief on the Constellation program., Citizens Against Government Waste

"According to Citizens Against Government Waste's 2010 Congressional Pig Book database, Sen. Shelby earmarked 60 projects worth $173 million in fiscal year 2010, so it is no surprise that he is abusing the appropriations process by slipping the Constellation program into the emergency spending bill. This is one of many reasons why taxpayers remain outraged over excessive spending in Washington."

Atlantis Lands in Florida, NASA (with video)

"Space shuttle Atlantis and six astronauts ended a 12-day journey of more than 4.8 million miles with an 8:48 a.m. EDT landing Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, this was the last scheduled flight for Atlantis."

Marc's note: Will Atlantis fly again? No one can say for sure at this point. Officially, Atlantis just flew her last flight. Unofficially, there's pressure to keep her ready for at least one more flight.

NASA Nurtures New Ideas for Near Orbit, Tom Kalil, OSTP Deputy Director for Policy

"CRuSR--one of several innovative priorities for NASA's new Chief Technology Officer, Bobby Braun--is building on that momentum. Starting next year, NASA will invest $15 million per year to support a wide range of technology demonstrations, educational experiments, and science payloads on these new vehicles."

"It will also give undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity of a lifetime. They'll help design and build new hardware, work side-by-side with rocket scientists to integrate the experiments into the vehicles, and analyze the data once each experiment has been completed. There may even be opportunities for middle and high school students, who could travel to the nearest spaceport to see their science experiment blast off into space."

Keith's update: Looks like Ed Weiler and other suborbital science opponents have just been given guidance on a new way of thinking (and behaving) by the White House.

By Ken Kremer for NASA Watch

Space Shuttle Atlantis and her crew of six are headed home from the 32nd flight to space after a flawless 12 day and 3 spacewalk mission to the International Space Station.

The final planned touchdown of Atlantis historic career is set for Wednesday, May 26 at 8:48 AM EDT at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, weather permitting. The weather prognosis from NASA is for about a 50/50 chance of favorable conditions. There is a chance of showers within 30 miles of the runway.

Space Shuttle Crew Set To Return To Earth Wednesday, NASA

"Wednesday landing opportunities at Kennedy are at 8:48 a.m. and 10:22 a.m. EDT. If Atlantis is unable to land Wednesday, additional opportunities are available at Kennedy on Thursday at 9:13 a.m. and 10:48 a.m. There are opportunities Friday at Kennedy and backup landing site Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. For recorded updates about landing, call 321-867-2525"

XCOR and Masten Announce Strategic Relationship for NASA Landers Business, SpaceRef

"XCOR Aerospace and Masten Space Systems, two of the leaders in the New Space sector, have announced a strategic business and technology relationship to pursue jointly the anticipated NASA sponsored unmanned lander projects. These automated lander programs are expected to serve as robotic test beds on Earth, on the lunar surface, Mars, near Earth objects and other interplanetary locales, helping NASA push the boundaries of technology and opening the solar system for future human exploration."

Marc's note: Once again the Delta IV launch was scrubbed at the last second due to a technical issue. No new launch date has been set and with Atlantis set to land on Wednesday the Delta IV launch will have to be later in the week.

Marc's Update: The ULA launch of the Delta IV carrying the GPS IIF-01 satellite has been tentatively rescheduled for May 27 according to 45th Space Wing Public Affairs. The launch window for Thursday is 11-11:19 p.m. EDT.

ULA And USAF Scrubbed -- Rescheduled Again!, SatNews

"The next launch attempt has been set for Monday, May 24, with a launch window of 11:13-11:31 p.m. EDT. The weather forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather during the launch window."

Delta 4 Poised to Launch with Next Generation GPS Satellite, Ken Kremer

"The launch of a Delta 4 rocket carrying the first in a new series of next generation GPS satellites has been rescheduled for Sunday night (May 23) at 11:17 PM EDT from Cape Canaveral, Florida after the countdown was halted barely 4 minutes prior to liftoff, shortly before midnight on Friday (May 21). The last minute countdown scrub was called after loss of "the telemetry signal between the GPS and the satellite ground support equipment," according to a statement issued by the Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA)."

NASA Announces Posting of Space Exploration Workshop Charts

"Presentation charts for the opening-day briefings of NASA's Exploration Enterprise Workshop in Galveston, Texas, will be posted online at noon EDT, Monday, May 24. The two-day workshop brings together a broad community of space exploration stakeholders from government, industry and academia. The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate's plans for human and robotic space exploration and the administration's fiscal year 2011 budget request for the agency will be discussed."

This week at Cape Canaveral saw the scrubbed launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket with its GPS satellite payload, private space firm SpaceX set a new date for the possible inaugural launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and the Cape marked a number of historic milestones.

Unpaid lobby goes to bat for NASA, Houston Chronicle

"Rice University doctoral candidate Laurie Carrillo flew to Washington, D.C., on her own dime to stump for NASA, one of 152 students and other unpaid citizens who have taken up the call to save space agency programs by knocking on the doors of Capitol Hill. "Maybe 20 percent of the people are still neutral, sort of wait-and-see. But their antenna are up, and I think that's really heartening," said the native of San Antonio who began her distinguished academic career at Rice with a $48,000 scholarship from NASA headquarters."

League City councilman appeals for NASA budget, Galveston Daily News

"Cuts among NASA contractors at the Johnson Space Center would undermine League City's economy should Congress approve President Barack Obama's 2011 NASA budget, Councilman Mike Lee said. Lee traveled to Washington, D.C., with members of the Citizens for Space Exploration, an organization of people from 31 states that urges Congress to support human space missions."

NASA Solicitation: Commercial Crew Transportation Request For Information

"NASA is currently in the conceptual phase of developing requirements for a Commercial Crew Transportation (CCT) capability that would be able to transport NASA astronauts and spaceflight participants safely to and from LEO and the ISS. The purpose of this RFI is to collect information from industry to help NASA plan the overall strategy for the development and demonstration of a CCT capability and to receive comments on NASA human-rating technical requirements that have been drafted as part of this initiative."

Science Education May Not Be Rocket Science, Wieman Tells Senate, Science

"Appearing today before the Senate commerce committee as the nominee for associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Wieman was asked if NASA should play a bigger role in the federal effort to raise student achievement and produce a better-trained workforce. He politely but firmly suggested that NASA stick to what it does best--sending astronauts and scientific instruments into the heavens. "I think the answer to that is unclear," Wieman told Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), who was filling in for the panel's chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). "NASA has a unique role in inspiring people. I wanted to be an astronaut as a child. And there's something really dramatic about rockets blasting into outer space. But at the same time NASA does not bring much expertise to exactly what's critical to achieving learning in science and engineering."

Keith's note: Gee, this guy seems to be a bit at odds with his boss - and his boss's boss. I wonder if Wieman knows about this whole "Summer of Innovation" thing?

Remarks by the President on Space Exploration in the 21st Century

"In the years that have followed, the space race inspired a generation of scientists and innovators, including, I'm sure, many of you. It's contributed to immeasurable technological advances that have improved our health and well-being, from satellite navigation to water purification, from aerospace manufacturing to medical imaging. Although, I have to say, during a meeting right before I came out on stage somebody said, you know, it's more than just Tang -- and I had to point out I actually really like Tang. (Laughter.) I thought that was very cool."

Launching a New Era in Space Exploration, OSTP

"Last, and in many ways most importantly, President Obama wants NASA to inspire more young people to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. NASA's Summer of Innovation, for example, will work with thousands of middle school teachers and students to engage students in stimulating, evidence-based math and science-based education programs."

Holdren Makes Impact (Craters) on National Lab Day, OSTP

"Following the Q&A, Dr. Holdren joined the students in literally getting their hands dirty in an educational activity set up by NASA. Students created a simulated asteroid surface using a mixture of soil, flour, and other ingredients. Then, using golf balls and a protractor, they observed how changes in the angle of a projectile's impact affected the area and volume of the resulting craters."

Go For Launch!, Air and Space

"In this unique time-lapse video created from thousands of individual frames, photographers Scott Andrews, Stan Jirman and Philip Scott Andrews condense six weeks of painstaking work into three minutes, 52 seconds. The action starts in the hangar-like Orbiter Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where Discovery has been outfitted for its STS-131 mission."

Challenger Center Welcomes Communication Professional Gwen Griffin to Its Board of Directors

"William Readdy, chairman of the board for the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, today announced aerospace communications professional Gwen Griffin has been elected to the board of directors. Griffin is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Griffin Communications Group, a full-service communications firm established in 1997 with offices in Houston and Central Florida. The firm is a nationally recognized for its work in branding, advocacy and outreach programs for corporate, academic and not-for-profit clients."

The entire Challenger Center board is listed here.

Atlantis and ISS Transit The Sun

Image of the solar transit of the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle Atlantis 50 minutes before docking, taken from the area of Madrid (Spain) on May 16th 2010 at 13h 28min 55s UT. Image courtesy of Thierry Legault.

Joint Statement by Space Organizations on the FY 2011 NASA Budget

"We the undersigned, a diverse group of organizations with a vital interest in our Nation's space program, make the following statements:

- We strongly support the top line FY2011 NASA budget.
- We believe an important goal of the NASA budget is to accelerate the development of the intellectual capital of the United States by investing in a high-cadence exciting program.
- We are excited by the increases in science, aeronautics and technology initiatives.
- We believe both human exploration and research are important: destination, milestones, engagement and story matter.
- We believe this is an opportunity for NASA to craft the exploration strategy in partnership with science and applied science that includes the International Space Station, safe and cost-effective access to low earth orbit, robotic precursors, and other missions. Heavy lift launch and in-space servicing enable new realms of exploration and science.
- We believe it is critically important that the American people can and must participate and be engaged in the journey of discovery and exploration."

Presentations From The Closed Space Organization Meeting (Update), earlier post
Meeting of Space Organizations, earlier post

NOMAD Outreach: UPDATE #2: AT&T Mobile Device Issue Under Investigation - Thursday, May 20, 2010

"What Is Happening: The AT&T mobile device issue appears to be more widespread than initially thought. In addition to AT&T iPhones in the Ames Research Center (ARC) and Dryden Flight Research Center (DRFC) areas, users at Goddard Flight Research Center (GSFC), Johnson Space Center (JSC) and in the Denver area are also reporting impacts. The AT&T mobile device issue at JSC is not limited to iPhones. Users from other Centers may also be affected."

Draft Broad Agency Announcement Heavy Lift and Propulsion Trade Study

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Marshall Space Flight Center is releasing a "DRAFT" Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) No. NNM10ZDA001J, entitled "Heavy Lift & Propulsion Technology Trade Study" on May 19, 2010. Comments to the "DRAFT" BAA are due on May 26, 2010, by 7:30 p.m. (central time). The "FINAL" BAA (NNM10ZDA001K), entitled, "Heavy Lift & Propulsion Technology Trade Study," will be available on or about June 2, 2010. Proposals to the "FINAL" BAA will be due on or about July 2, 2010."

This Is No Time to Retire Shuttle, OpEd, Mike Snyder, Space News

"I am not a government employee, the CEO of an aerospace company or even senior management. I am an engineer, one of the tens of thousands of people around this nation who work daily on our efforts in space. In six months, the United States will retire the space shuttle, the most robust and capable space vehicle the world has ever seen, simply because our government has decided to do that. We have no vehicle to replace the space shuttle, and we will have no replacement for an unspecified amount of time."

Keith's note: Exactly one year ago I had the profound and life-altering privilege to live at Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 17,500 feet for a month so as to watch - and listen - and report - as my friend Scott Parazynski walked up into the Jet Stream to the summit of Mt. Everest. In the ensuing year, not a week goes by without one of us sending an email to the other noting that we still think about this epic part of our lives every day. Together with our friends Miles O'Brien and Bob Jacobs and the good folks at NASA HQ PAO, we sought to bring this experience to as many people as we possibly could using all manner of Internet, social media, and satellite toys - er tools.

Yes, if you look at the photo closely (larger view) you will see that Scott carried my first NASA badge from 1990 and a picture of astronaut Suni Williams' famous space dog Gorbie to the summit - all held together with authentic NASA duct tape.

The video below captures a moment in time shortly after Scott reached the summit. Our fervent hope in this era of "participatory exploration" and "citizen science" is that we helped to set the standard for how NASA will document and relay its future accomplishments to the world.

FWIW Charlie Bolden, you are not the only person who gets misty-eyed.

More information on the summit bid is online here. For those of you in the Houston area, Scott will be making a presentation on his climb at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Thursday, 20 May. Please try and stop by. No doubt he will continue to spread utter lies about my experiences with the yaks of Nepal.

I carried an Apollo 11 Moon rock with me from America to Nepal and then to Everest Base Camp. Scott then carried it to the summit of Mt. Everest. We're still arguing as to which one of us has a world record for the amount of time that a Moon rock was in intimate proximity to our body. In either case, this year the Moon rock and a piece of the summit of Everest was carried into orbit on STS-130 to the ISS where it resides now.

Multiple historic and exploration resonances abound - just as they should since Neil Armstrong and Edmund Hillary were friends.

Ad astra y'all.

Exclusive Video: Scott Parazynski on Summit of Mt. Everest

Mars Institute "Moon-1" Humvee Rover reaches Devon Island, High Arctic

"An international team of researchers led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee successfully reached Devon Island, High Arctic, on Sunday, 16 May, 2010 after a 13-day, 150 km vehicular journey from Cornwallis Island to Devon Island, along the fabled Northwest Passage."

Driving to Devon Island Across Sea Ice, earlier post

Bolden at odds with Nelson on Ares I tests , Orlando Sentinel

"I can't pay for an Ares I today. It's too expensive," said Bolden, speaking after a meeting of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee. "That's an easy decision for me because it wipes out everything. My friend Sen. Nelson, and he is my friend to be quite honest, we respectfully agree to disagree on this. It is incredibly costly for me to go off and try a series of Ares I tests to support a heavy-lift at the present cost of solid rocket motors. Now, there is an answer. Get the cost down. And ATK (prime contractor for the Ares I) says they can do that. But we're not there right now."

Keith's note: There is another wrinkle to the whole issue of SRBs, Ares, and Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicles - one that has not gotten much attention - yet: OSTP and others in the White House are concerned that these solid rockets are heavy polluters (1.1 million pounds of propellant each) and that it is time to move to something far less dirty to launch things into space.

When we send things into space, does it affect our atmosphere? ozone layer?, Yahoo ANswers

"... 23 tons of harmful particulate matter settle around the launch area each liftoff, and nearly 13 tons of hydrochloric acid kill fish and plants within half a mile of the site ... the environmental cost per launch is the same as that of New York City over a weekend."

Keith's note: Top image: NASA STS-132 astronaut Garrett Reisman is surrounded by windows and computers in the ISS Cupola during flight day five activities. high res (1.1 M) low res (67 K). Bottom: David Bowman piloting an EVA pod outside of the "Discovery" from the film "2001: A Space Odyssey".

NASA Request for Information Synopsis for the Flagship Technology Demonstrations

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is seeking information through this Request for Information (RFI) to identify, improve and/or enhance approaches that will demonstrate the targeted technologies described in this RFI. NASA has defined six (6) targeted technologies that are to be demonstrated via spaceflight in support of the Flagship Technology Demonstration (FTD) effort. Towards this end, four (4) Point of Departure (POD) missions have been identified. While emphasis in the responses should address the existing POD missions, alternate approaches may be suggested in order to more efficiently demonstrate the selected technologies."

Reader note: I have a habit of scouring through NASA procurement notices looking for interesting things - as well as comedic relief. love this one: "NASA SUDENT AMBASSADORS VIRTUAL COMMUNITY" issued on 11 May 2010 with an "original response date" of 14 May 2010. But the text says "Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort in writing, by FAX or E-Mail, to the identified point of contact not later than 11:00 a.m. (EST.) on April 12, 2010."

I guess the only way you can meet this date is if you have a time machine handy.

The solicitation then goes on to say "Such capabilities/qualifications will be evaluated solely for the purpose of determining whether or not to conduct this procurement on a competitive basis. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed effort on a full and open competition basis, based upon responses to this notice, is solely within the discretion of the government." Yet all the solicitation provides is a single little paragraph describing the project. It is rather unlikely that anyone would understand how to perform this task without detailed information much less use this sole paragraph as the basis for justifying their qualifications.

It certainy smells like NASA got caught in the process of using paperwork to justify a procurement decision that they already made and that they have zero interest in actually soliciting or considering input. Oops.

Atlantis and ISS On Orbit One Last Time

"This image features the space shuttle Atlantis's cabin and forward cargo bay and part of the International Space Station while the two spacecraft remain docked, during STS-132's flight day four extravehicular activity of astronauts Garrett Reisman and Steve Bowen (both out of frame). Though three sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) will involve only three astronauts (two on each occasion) who actually leave the shirt leave environments of the two docked spacecraft, all twelve astronauts and cosmonauts on the two combined crews have roles in supporting the EVA work."

NASA chief urges Norway to pull out of Alberta oilsands, CP

"The head of NASA is trying to persuade the prime minister of Norway to order the country's state-owned energy giant to get out of Alberta's oilsands. James Hansen has written an open letter in a Norwegian newspaper asking the government to vote in favour of a motion at Statoil's annual general meeting Wednesday to end the company's oilsands project."

NASA scientist urges Norway to pull out of Alberta's 'destructive' oilsands, CB

"NASA's top scientist wants to persuade the prime minister of Norway to order the country's state-owned energy giant to get out of Alberta's oilsands."

Reader note: "Keith et al: My girlfriend sent me this link to a contest Google is running for student "Google Doodle" submissions. Voting is currently underway for the four finalists, one from each grade group (K-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12).

The 4th through 6th grade submissions have two space exploration doodles. One for a playground in space, and another for space exploration. http://www.google.com/doodle4google/vote.html#grade-4-6 (see region 4 and region 9). The 7th through 9th grade submissions have one with a space component above the G in Google. http://www.google.com/doodle4google/vote.html#grade-7-9 (see region 6).

It seems that the 4th though 6th grade crowd aren't deterred by the debate about the future of NASA, they may just want to be part of it. Maybe with the help of NASAWatch readers there will be a student space doodle on the Google home page. - Mark"

Allocade to Participate in NASA Spinoff Day on the Hill

"Allocade, Inc., the developer of innovative healthcare software technology solutions, today announced that it would participate in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Spinoff Day on the Hill. ... Members of Congress and the NASA administrator, Charlie Bolden, will speak about the importance of bringing NASA technologies out into the public sector. In addition, NASA's new chief technologist, Dr. Bobby Braun and NASA's director of the Innovative Partnerships Program, Doug Comstock, will highlight the selected participating companies."

Keith's note: At a time (once again) when NASA ought to be focusing on what it does for taxpayers, the private sector, Congress etc. you would think that there would be a little more effort put into promoting an event such as this. Yum. All that juicy NASA spinoff goodness just waiting to be shared.

Alas, there is no mention of it on the NASA calendar at the NASA.gov media page. No mention at the NASA IPP webpage either - or at NASA Tech Briefs - or on Twitter at NASA_Spinoff. Nor is there any mention at the House Science and Technology Committee's web page (Rayburn 2325 is one of the hearing rooms they regularly use).

Only 2 working days left to get the word out. And when no one from the media or elsewhere shows up at non-promoted events such as this, NASA scratches its collective head and wonders why. Oh well.

Keith's update: I have learned (from someone@NASA) who saw this posting on NASA Watch that there is a flyer online for this event as a PDF here. The flyer lists Brett Silcox at Code L as the contact. Yet when I check the Code L web page - there is no link.

Zombie Ops in GEO

SES World Skies Readies Orbital Maneuver to Avoid Interference from Troubled Intelsat Satellite

"SES World Skies today announced plans for an intricate set of orbital maneuvers later this month aimed at steering its AMC-11 satellite and its customers clear of interference from Intelsat's troubled Galaxy 15 spacecraft, referred to in recent media coverage as the "Zombie" satellite. As the stray satellite nears AMC-11's orbital location at 131 degrees west, SES WORLD SKIES plans to have AMC-11 match the eastward drift of Galaxy 15 in order to maintain a minimum separation between the two satellites. This synchronized drift is designed to protect AMC-11 services from interference caused by Galaxy 15."

Major NASA Spacebook Upgrades Now Live

"What is Happening: NASA Spacebook (https://nasaspacebook.nasa.gov) has a new look and simplified navigation to make collaboration easier. These latest changes just went live. For those that responded to our email on April 26, thank you. This notice is to inform you of a major upgrade that includes enhancements based on user feedback. We want to hear what you think about these latest enhancements! Please take a moment to fill out this short survey so we can continue to enhance the site to meet your needs: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/nasa_spacebook."

Letter from Apollo Astronaut Russell Schweickart to Sen. Bill Nelson Regarding President Obama's Proposed NASA Budget

"I write this letter, as an Apollo astronaut, to state my strong support for the proposed NASA space program as modified by President Obama in his April 15, 2010 speech in Florida. I, like many of my fellow astronauts, am greatly concerned that our nation's historic leadership in space exploration is eroding to the point where we will shortly lose that title. We Apollo-era people gave the United States everything we had to regain leadership in space from the Soviet Union back in the 60s and we hate like hell to see it drift away from us now.

With what I believe to be the coming loss of US leadership in human space exploration in mind, the question of how best to regain that leadership breaks into two fundamental elements; our current situation and our direction going forward. In terms of relative importance I weigh these at 80% and 20% respectively.

Our current situation is akin to being on a dead end road. Instead of being on a path toward the goal we all seek, i.e. to regain our leadership position in human space exploration, we must recognize that we are (and have been) on a path to nowhere. We are confronted with arguments to ignore the clear signs of this sad situation and even encouraged to accelerate along this futile path.

The alternative to this is support for the President's proposed plan. It recognizes and eliminates the waste of precious resources in the current program and heads us in a productive direction toward our desired destination. In other words, when you recognize you are on a dead end road, stop, turn around, and head in a direction more useful to your goal."

Virgin Galactic appoints its first Chief Executive

"Virgin Galactic, the US based and regulated Space Tourism Company, is delighted to announce the appointment of George T. Whitesides as its first Chief Executive Officer. Virgin Galactic, the US based and regulated Space Tourism Company, is delighted to announce the appointment of George T. Whitesides as its first Chief Executive Officer. In this role, Whitesides will guide the business through its transition from a development project to a commercially operational business."


The Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) area was a hive of activity this week. The space shuttle Atlantis roared off the launch pad on its final mission, STS-132. Over at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex it was announced that the final frontier will beam down in the form of a live stage show. It was also revealed this week that come this September, Brevard County in general and KSC in particular will be playing host to robots in disguise!

Busy Schedule for Rocket Obama Wants Scrapped, NY Times

"Last month, in a speech at the Kennedy Space Center, President Obama modified his proposal, originally unveiled in February, and called for continuing the development of the Orion crew capsule that was to ride on top of the Ares I, but only as a stripped-down lifeboat for the International Space Station. The Ares program would still be canceled. Jeffrey M. Hanley, the Constellation program manager, said in an interview that given the uncertainty of what might emerge in the final budget, "we felt it prudent to continue to operate in the program as if the program were to continue." He described that possibility as "the unlikely case." ... He acknowledged that his efforts were somewhat at cross-purposes with those of his bosses, who are trying to convince Congress that Constellation is unworkable. "I really have to leave it to them to sort out with the national leadership," he said.

Contractors Face Shutdown Costs as NASA Space Program Morphs, Wall Street Journal

"The current clash stems in part from NASA's tradition of giving the Johnson Space Center --where U.S. astronauts are based -- extra latitude in running programs. According to industry and government officials, the Houston center frequently wasn't required to comply strictly with the same accounting and program-management rules that applied to other parts of the agency. That partly explains why many Constellation managers consistently relied on assurances from some NASA managers that the agency would step in and cover liabilities in the unlikely event termination became an issue."

Charlie Bolden's stand on NASA, Constellation and Ares I tests, Orlando Sentinel

"I talk to Jeff quite a bit. As far as I am concerned, Jeff does exactly what I asked him to do, to be quite honest. And Jeff and NASA, we are in a tough situation in that we have to comply with the 2010 provision in law that says we cannot terminate [Constellation], we cannot do this. Everybody knows that the language is and yet we have to be responsive to my desire to move forward."

Shelby adds Constellation-saving measure to emergency war bill, Huntsville Times

"U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, has raised the stakes in the fight over NASA's Constellation program by attaching a measure to protect it to an emergency war funding bill that must pass Congress this year. The amendment "clarifies and reinforces" current law, Shelby's staff said, which already requires congressional approval before ending Constellation."

NASA's Constellation gets big boost in Senate, Houston Chronicle

"The maneuver was pushed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas and proposed by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah. By including the language in a $58.8 billion budget supplemental to underwrite the costs of combat, Hutchison and her allies virtually assured that the restriction will be adopted by the full Senate and House and signed by Obama -- because the costs of the Afghanistan war must be funded."

Mikulski 'Troubled' by Approach to Constellation Termination, Space News

"I am advised that NASA has undertaken a series of steps to direct industry to retain certain funds made available in fiscal year 2010 to cover prospective termination costs so as not to potentially violate the terms of the Antideficiency Act," Mikulski wrote in a May 10 letter to White House budget chief Peter Orszag. Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA spending, gave Orszag until May 25 to review NASA's contract termination liability practices and develop a detailed plan to implement and pay for a new standard "to deal fairly with industry."

Support for space center at dueling rallies, The Daily News

"As the Space Shuttle Atlantis orbited its way for a rendezvous with the International Space Station in what likely will be that orbiter's final mission, two rallies were held in support of NASA's Johnson Space Center in League City on Friday night. The underlying message of saving local jobs was the same, but the ralliers' approaches were very much different. The Galveston County Democratic Party teamed with labor unions for its rally that officials said was focused on positive lobbying in support of the space center. Members of local tea party groups and Republican activists pledged the only way to support manned space flight was to bounce President Barack Obama and Democrats who hold the congressional majority from office."

reader note: "I just got home from the "Support NASA Jobs" rally held in League City, sponsored by the Democratic Party and several labor unions. The overall message was I received was that everyone needs to come together to preserve the jobs at NASA because these are skilled and talented people that do great things for our country. Free food and drinks were available, and there was no campaigning or fundraising."

Mainstream Media Websites Failing to Adequately Cover end of Shuttle Era, Jason Rhian

"Reviewing where yesterday's launch of space shuttle Atlantis and the crew of STS-132 'placed' in regards to importance on the assorted media outlets websites provides a startling insight as to how we as a nation view manned spaceflight."

Upcoming Raw guest hosts May 17, 2010: Buzz Aldrin The WWE Universe will be over the moon when legendary Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin guest hosts a special two-hour commercial-free Monday Night Raw live from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Aldrin will be appearing under his official WWE name "Rocket Hero."

Atlantis' Last Blast Into Space, Ken Kremer

"Space Shuttle Atlantis thundered to space today, May 14, for her last blast to the High Frontier. The STS 132 flight is Atlantis 32nd and final planned mission. Her journey with a lucky crew of six eager and experienced male astronauts began with a ground shaking rumble at 2:20 PM EDT from Launch Pad 39 A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis Lifts Off to Put Finishing Touches on the International Space Station

"One of the final space shuttle visits to the International Space Station began at 2:20 p.m. Friday with the launch of Atlantis and six astronauts from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

Life and Death - and Life - Outside My Tent Flap

"May 6th 2009 was one of the more remarkable days I have had in many a year - so much so that It took me several days to collect my thoughts on all that transpired. The day began with a friend and his colleagues departing on a personal quest. It was interrupted by an abrupt and brutal reminder of just how deadly this quest could be and how others can die in its pursuit. A life was lost this day. Lives were also saved. In both cases, it was Sherpas who either bore the loss or engaged in selfless heroics. I continue to be amazed and yet humbled by these happy, usually quiet, courteous people. Their strength and skill serve only to underscore their humble, understated nature. Alas, this amazing capacity often goes under appreciated."

Massive Avalanche Over The Lower Khumbu Icefall (photos)

"John P. Holdren, the President's Science Advisor and Director of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy was asked to clarify the Administration's space-science priorities during the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy. The question related in particular to sending humans back to the moon. His response was offered 13 May 2010."

Gorgeous Atlantis Set to Soar, Ken Kremer

"Space Shuttle Atlantis was unveiled for blast off to the heavens above on a sunny late Thursday afternoon (May 13) as the countdown clocks tick down for launch on Friday at 2:20 PM EDT from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

Atlantis GO for Launch as Soyuz Clears Path, Ken Kremer

"NASA Shuttle managers met early this morning and then announced a unanimous "GO" for launch of Atlantis on her last planned flight to space at today's (May 12) press briefing at the Kennedy Space Center. There are no technical issues standing in the way of a launch from pad 39 A on Friday, May 14. "Everything is looking great. The vehicle is in great shape out at the pad," said Mike Moses, chair of the Mission Management Team."

Mars Institute team to complete Arctic sea-ice drive along fabled Northwest Passage to reach "Mars on Earth"

"An international team led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee will depart the Arctic community of Resolute Bay today aboard the Moon-1 Humvee Rover on a sea-ice crossing expedition. The team is headed for the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) on Devon Island, High Arctic, a remote outpost dedicated to space exploration on the world's largest uninhabited island. The Moon-1 is an experimental vehicle simulating future pressurized rovers that will one day allow humans to explore long distances on the Moon and Mars. Last year, the scientists completed a record-setting 494 km drive on sea-ice in the Moon-1 along the fabled Northwest Passage between Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut."

Keith's update: You can follow the Moon-1 Humvee as it traverses the ice between Cornwallis Island and Devon Island here LIVE via SPOT. Status reports are online here. As you can see, they are now on the sea ice.

Keith's note: ARC PAO is deliberately ignoring this activity even though it is coordinated at ARC. Go figure. FAIL.

Going commercial frees NASA for deeper space, Alan Stern, Orlando Sentinel

"The administration's wise commercialization approach echoes an immensely successful path taken by NASA in the past. Consider: At the dawn of the Space Age, all satellites were built and launched by governments. But early on, communications satellites were encouraged to go commercial. The result: a $100 billion-plus spinoff industry that employs thousands of workers to build the satellites, their ground stations, launchers and associated command and control infrastructure. It also launches more satellites annually than any other form of spaceflight. The money saved frees NASA to do other things with its resources."

Reader note:

"For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be."
-Tennyson "

The visions we offer our children shape the future.
It matters what those visions are.
Often they become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Dreams are maps."
-Carl Sagan

NASA's moon program gets a boost from Congress, Orlando Sentinel

"The measure by Republican Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Bob Bennett of Utah would force NASA to keep spending money on the Constellation moon program in 2010, even though President Barack Obama wants to cancel a key component: the Ares rockets that would boost an Apollo-like capsule into orbit."

Shelby: Amendment Protects Constellation Program

"The President's NASA proposal has no clear direction other than to cancel Constellation, at any price, even if it means relinquishing our leadership in space," said Shelby. "NASA is now attempting to undermine current law as it relates to Fiscal Year 2010 Constellation funding by slow rolling contracts and pressuring companies to self-terminate. It is disappointing that the political appointees at NASA have so much trouble following the letter and spirit of law."

Aerospace group spent $215K lobbying in 1Q, AP

"The Aerospace Industries Association of America Inc., which represents aviation and defense companies, spent $215,334 in the first quarter lobbying on funding for space exploration, the military's space budget, missile defense, and other issues, according to a disclosure report."

Raytheon spent $1.6 million on 1Q lobbying efforts, AP

"Raytheon, based in Waltham, Mass., also lobbied on issues including the Federal Aviation Administration's budget, the Department of Homeland Security's budget, NASA's budget, and the Defense Authorization Act., according to a filing on April 20."

Northrop Grumman Spent $4.1M Lobbying in 1Q, AP

"Northrop, based in Los Angeles, lobbied for funding in the defense spending bill on dozens of weapons systems for several branches of the armed forces. It also lobbied on satellite and space-related systems, health care and pension reform proposals."

General Dynamics spends $2.25M on 1Q lobbying, AP

"General Dynamics lobbied the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Joint Chiefs of Staff. It also lobbied NASA on aeronautical and ground-based programs and the departments of labor and health on its medical technology systems."

Hearing Reaction

Armstrong Says Obama 'Poorly Advised' on NASA, Experts Ignored, Bloomberg

"A plan that was invisible to so many was likely contrived by a very small group in secret who persuaded the president that this was a unique opportunity to put his stamp on a new and innovative program," Armstrong said in remarks prepared for a Senate hearing. "I believe the president was poorly advised."

Former Astronauts unhappy with Obama space plan, AP

"Cernan said in his written testimony that he, Armstrong and Apollo 13 Commander James Lovell agreed that the administration's budget for human space exploration "presents no challenges, has no focus, and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to 'nowhere.'" Lovell, while not present at the hearing, issued a statement opposing Obama's NASA budget."

Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan oppose Obama's spaceflight plans, Washington Post

"Obama's plans, which increase NASA's budget at a time when most agencies' budgets are being cut, have irked lawmakers from southern states where most of NASA and its contractors are based. Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) worried that the plans would allow other countries to leapfrog ahead of the United States. "I do not look forward to explaining to my children why the Chinese are putting their flag on the moon over ours," LeMieux said."

Moon Walkers Defend Space Flight at Senate Hearings, Time

"Armstrong had previously urged the continued use of the soon-to-be-retired space shuttles, which Augustine's committee and other review boards have deemed to be on their last legs, and twice stumbled trying to turn on his microphone after almost sitting in the wrong chair. One couldn't help but wonder whether he's more an icon of NASA's past than a voice for its future. "We need a new direction," Rockefeller said at the beginning of the hearing. "The American people deserve the most from their space program. NASA's role cannot stay static."

Eating Dogs in Space

Dog on the menu for Chinese astronauts, Telegraph

"[Yang Liwei] added that the diet had been specially drawn up for the astronauts by Chinese nutritionists and that the food had been purchased from special suppliers in Beijing. Dog is widely eaten in northern China, where it is believed to help battle the winter cold. The menu was still in use last year, when Chinese astronauts conducted their first ever spacewalk. China has plans to land a man on the moon by 2020."

Letter From The Aerospace Corporation to Rep. Giffords Regarding The Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee

"The Aerospace Corporation is pleased to submit responses to questions from the Committee on Science and Technology regarding our support to the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee (the Committee.) Your letter requested responses related to our analyses performed in support of the Committee, and we have answered in that context. In several areas of questioning, the Committee did not task Aerospace. In some areas, Aerospace has previously performed related studies or analyses for NASA. We are always available to discuss these studies with the committee if desired."

Keith's note: According eye witnesses, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan showed up a little early today before their hearing on Capitol Hill. They arrived at the special ante room (waiting room) mentioned by Sen. Rockefeller at one point in the hearings. According to these eye witnesses, Armstrong and Cernan were accompanied by Mike Griffin. This synchs with the widely-held suspicon that not only did Griffin help write Neil Armstrong's prepared comments, but also that Griffin has been spearheading much of the behind the scenes lobbying against the Obama Space policy on Capitol Hill. Gee, I hope he is registered ... Stay tuned.

Keith's note: The witnesses for todays's hearing: Holdren, Bolden, Armstrong, Cernan, and Augustine. ESMD AA Doug Cooke briefed Armstrong and Cernan last week via telecon on the results of NASA's internal exploration working group studies in advance of today's Senate hearing.

Keith's update: Prepared statements: Charles Bolden, John Holdren, Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Norm Augustine

Keith's update: Gene Cernan testified that he had a telecon last week with Bolden and that Bolden said that he was determined to do whatever was required to make the commerical space portion of the new policy successful and that commercial space may need a "bailout like GM/Chrysler" and that it "may be the largest bailout in history".

I find it rather astonishing that Mr. Bolden would say such a thing and then not recall saying it. Either he was freelancing (something that OSTP has had issues with in the past) or he was repeating something that the White House had told him. If indeed the White House has discussed this possibility and assured Bolden that he'd have their backing, then Bolden is all but admitting that he and the Administration are embarking upon a commercial strategy with substantial pitfalls (i.e. Chrysler/GM bailouts of $15-17 billion). Moreover, these pitfalls have, up until this moment, not been divulged in public or (apparently) to Congress.

But wait -- the "largest bailout in history" was AIG - and that was for $180 billion. Is Bolden really suggesting that this is what all of this could cost? I am also confused as to what he means by "bail out" since GM and Chrysler have to pay this money back. Is Bolden suggesting that these companies would pay this money back?

From a staff perspective, someone on Bolden's staff should have flagged this comment of Bolden's when he made it and made certain that he was (at a minimum) prepared to respond and explain - and not be caught off guard in the manner that he was.

Dreaming of space, grounded in town, Times of India

"Six talented students from the Somalwar Nikalas and Ramdaspeth branches and three college students from city who have brought laurels to city by making it to the prestigious 'space settlement design contest' organised annually by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) unfortunately would not be able to visit Chicago, USA, for making presentations in the absence of sponsors. The contest is from May 25 to 31. The students and their parents have not given hope and are looking for corporate as well as state support. It is for the second consecutive year that Somalwar students have been selected for the contest organised by NASA's Ames Space Research Centre and National Space Society."

Keith's note: While we're all fighting with one another about space policy, NASA continues to remain an astonishingly powerful motivator around the world. What is it that they understand about what NASA does that we ignore - or have forgotten?

National Lab Day

National Lab Day, NSF

"National Lab Day is a volunteer initiative to form local communities of support around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers and to connect them with STEM professionals who will share their expertise as well as their excitement and passion for their disciplines."

National Lab Day Teams With the White House for National Launch

"Today, National Lab Day (NLD) joined with Obama Administration officials to participate in hands-on discovery activities at schools throughout the Washington Metropolitan area. As a part of National Lab Day's official launch, today's events highlight the wide range of projects and matches between K-12 classes and experts achieved through the NLD website."

Holdren Makes Impact (Craters) on National Lab Day, OSTP

Photo: "Following the Q&A, Dr. Holdren joined the students in literally getting their hands dirty in an educational activity set up by NASA. Students created a simulated asteroid surface using a mixture of soil, flour, and other ingredients. Then, using golf balls and a protractor, they observed how changes in the angle of a projectile's impact affected the area and volume of the resulting craters."


NASA Targeting Educators in National Lab Day Webcasts

"Though slated for May 12, 2010, National Lab Day is more than just a day. It's a nationwide initiative that gets volunteers, university students, scientists and engineers to work together with educators to bring discovery-based science experiments to students in grades K-12."

Keith's note: Oddly enough, when I go to NASA's main education webpage I see absolutely no mention of this event. One would think that with all the serious media exposure given to this event by the White House that this would prompt NASA to pay a little more attention to it. Guess not.

Counting Down to Atlantis' Last Blast Off

"The Historic Countdown has officially begun for the last planned blast off of Space Shuttle Atlantis. The clocks at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) began ticking down at 4 PM EDT today (Tuesday) from the T minus 43 hour mark towards a launch at 2:20 PM on Friday May 14. KSC launch controllers reported to their consoles at 3:30 PM for the formal "call-to-stations" at the Launch Control Center to initiate preparations for liftoff of the STS 132 mission on Atlantis 32rd journey to the high frontier."

Mollohan loses in West Virginia, Politico

"Rep. Alan Mollohan, a 14-term incumbent, has been defeated by state Sen. Mike Oliverio in West Virginia's Democratic primary, according to the Associated Press. With 76 percent of the vote in, Oliverio led Mollohan 56 percent to 44 percent."

Oliverio and Mollohan Duel in 1st District Democrat Race, Wheeling News Register

"In the current Congress, Mollohan is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. The subcommittee funds the departments of Justice and Commerce, as well as NASA and the National Science Foundation, among other agencies."

Obey Won't Run for Re-election, NY Times

"Representative David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the Appropriations Committee and one of the most powerful and longest-serving Democrats in Congress, announced today that he will not seek re-election and will step down after 41 years."

Capabilities for the Future: An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research, NRC

"Approximately 20 percent of all NASA facilities are dedicated to research and development: on average, they are not state of the art: they are merely adequate to meet current needs. Nor are they attractive to prospective hires when compared with other national and international laboratory facilities. Over 80 percent of NASA facilities are more than 40 years old and need significant maintenance and upgrades to preserve the safety and continuity of operations for critical missions. ... The equipment and facilities of NASA's fundamental research laboratories are inferior to those witnessed by committee members at comparable laboratories at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), at top-tier U.S. universities, and at many corporate research institutions and are comparable to laboratories at the Department of Defense (DOD). If its basic research facilities were equipped to make them state of the art, NASA would be in a better position to maintain U.S. leadership in the space, Earth, and aeronautical sciences and to attract the scientists and engineers needed for the future."

NASA'S Outdated Labs Jeopardize Research: Report, Reuters

"The panel found that NASA has systematically neglected research laboratories at six NASA centers -- the Ames Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the Glenn Research Center in Ohio, Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, Langley Research Center in Virginia, and Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama."

NASA Boss Wants Innovation, Technology Review

"But [Bolden] called for a new era of invention at the agency. "We have not done anything in the past decade for basic research," he said. "The frustration for me is that when I go to Congress, all we talk about is Constellation and human spaceflight. We forget that the president's plan is to spend a lot of money on basic research."

NASA Invites Public to Take Virtual Walk On The Moon

"More than 37 years after humans last walked on the moon, planetary scientists are inviting members of the public to return to the lunar surface as "virtual astronauts" to help answer important scientific questions. No spacesuit or rocket ship is required - all visitors need to do is go to www.moonzoo.org and be among the first to see the lunar surface in unprecedented detail. New high-resolution images, taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), offer exciting clues to unveil or reveal the history of the moon and our solar system."

Altantis' Final flight to loft Russian Science Beauty, Ken Kremer

"Space Shuttle Atlantis is slated to blast off on her final scheduled mission to space on Friday, May 14 at 2:20 PM EDT from Launch Pad 39 A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Atlantis is bound for the International Space Station (ISS) on a complex assembly mission to put the "finishing touches" on the massive orbiting outpost. The principal payload nested inside her cargo bay is a stunning Russian Science Beauty named 'Rassvet'. The primary goal of STS 132 is to deliver the Russian built 'Rassvet' module to the ISS. Although 'Rassvet' was constructed entirely in Russia, the module is hitching a ride to space on the American Shuttle Atlantis according to a complex barter agreement to share costs between partner nations of the ISS."

Letter from Lester Lyles, Raymond Colladay, and Len Fisk To Rep. Frank Wolf Regarding NASA FY 2011 Budget

"It makes no more sense to have a NASA with an under-emphasis on human spaceflight than it did to have a NASA with an over-emphasis. The strategic leadership of the United States in a rapidly evolving globalized world, the economic well-being of our people, and the sense in our society that our future is promising, all require a NASA that has breadth in science and technology, and accomplishments in both robotic and human spaceflight. The burden of proof thus now lies with Congress and NASA to define and to develop a human spaceflight program that does not re-inflict damage on the breadth of NASA's activities and that serves the nation well. It is possible to do this."

NASA Managers Push Plan In Congress, Academia, Aviation Week

"So far it does not appear the Obama administration's plan is winning many hearts and minds. A session with a range of space organizations produced a few tidbits, like word that the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate plans to release a bunch of requests for information in the next couple of weeks to get industry input as a Houston-based NASA study panel prepares road maps for human space exploration. Those would replace the Constellation Program, which refuses to lie down and die on Capitol Hill even though President Barack Obama wants to kill it. Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and other agency officials asked a gathering of mostly academic space organizations for help with the plan in Congress, after barring reporters from the meeting. But the groups decided not to form a coalition for that purpose, and as of the end of last week were still hammering out details of a joint statement that will endorse some -- but not all -- of the space policy changes embodied in NASA's Fiscal 2011 budget request."

Keith's note: ESMD AA Doug Cooke briefed Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan today via telecon on the results of NASA's internal exploration working group studies. No word yet as to when the rest of us will learn what Doug told Armstrong and Cernan - perhaps next week a this Senate hearing on 12 May?

Reshaped spaceflight plan gains support, MSNBC

"Nelson has arranged a high-profile Senate hearing on the future of U.S. human spaceflight for May 12, just two days before the shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off on its final trip to the International Space Station. Among those who may testify are Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, the first man and the last man to walk on the moon."

Keith's update: The witnesses for Wedensday's hearing have been announced: Holdren, Bolden, Armstrong, Cernan, and Augustine.

NASA Ames Stimulates Economy with Jobs, Innovation

"NASA's Ames Research Center generated 5,300 jobs and $877 million in total annual economic activity in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area in 2009, according to a new economic benefits study. The study found that nationally, NASA Ames supports more than 8,400 jobs and generates $1.3 billion in annual economic activity. Coordinated by the NASA Research Park Office and prepared by Emeryville-based Bay Area Economics (BAE) in association with Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Management's San Francisco office, the study also reported that NASA Ames produced 5,900 jobs and contributed $932 million to California's economy in 2009. The study also forecast that NASA Ames' total economic impacts will grow significantly as its NASA Research Park (NRP) is completed."

Keith's 5:50 pm EDT note: Weird. ARC PAO sent this out at 3:38 pm EDT and they haven't even bothered to get it on their website. You'd think they'd be crowing about this information.

Keith's 10 May 6:20 pm EDT update: It took more than 2 hours but ARC PAO finally got this important press release online. Alas, still no mention of it on the Ames Research Park website yet even though it is prominently mentioned in the release. No one out in the real world seems to have these PR and web server issues - just NASA.

Keith's 11 May 4:30 pm EDT update: There is a link to the report associated with this news on the Ames Research Park. Someday, perhaps ARC PAO will learn how to coordinate things like this a little better.

NASA Request for Information: Enabling Technology Development and Demonstration Program

"In Fiscal Year 2011, NASA plans to begin the Enabling Technology Development and Demonstrations (ETDD) Program. The primary goal of the ETDD Program is to develop and demonstrate the technologies needed to reduce cost and expand the capability of future space exploration activities. A secondary goal is to create opportunities for engineers and scientists from NASA, private industry, and academia to gain experience in designing, building, and operating new space technologies and spacecraft. A third goal is to develop technologies that can be relevant to non-exploration space activities and life on Earth."

Keith's note: Hmm, didn't Craig Steidle try and set NASA off on this path 6 years ago? Imagine if NASA had followed that path.

This past week at Cape Canaveral saw the passing of a space legend, the build up to one of the final shuttle launches and efforts to stem the flow of highly-technical space jobs away from the area.

It also saw private space company SpaceX striving to meet the launch criteria for its Falcon 9 rocket.

We must remain a nation of spacefarers, opinion, June Scobee Rodgers, Arizona Republic

"So now, there is a great national debate on the future of our space program. Do we go on to asteroids and then Mars, perhaps finding life on that tantalizing world, even if it takes decades to get there? Or do we focus on Earth, using the orbital perspective to see and steward our home planet and its resources? Perhaps we should fuel the creative energies of private space exploration. NASA's new direction certainly embraces that entrepreneurial spirit, including flying student experiments on new types of spacecraft. Perhaps this opens up "space exploration for the rest of us."

Colorado leaders to lobby on Capitol Hill for state projects, Denver Post

"The group will advocate for the Orion crew capsule, left, being developed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems as an emergency escape vehicle for the international space station and foundation for deep-space exploration; growing military assets; a federal investment in medical research; and funding for several interchanges and FasTracks."

Abort Test Photos, Aviation Week

"NASA tested the launch abort system for the Orion crew exploration vehicle for the first time today, with spectacular results. Regardless of the ultimate fate of Orion -- now at the center of a Washington dispute over the future path of U.S. human spaceflight -- the test produced valuable data that can make future crew capsules much safer. William Faulkner, a freelance photographer in Las Cruces, N.M., took these shots of the test at nearby White Sands Missile Range for Aviation Week & Space Technology."

Former NASA chief calls Obama space policy proposals "drivel", Examiner.com

"Former NASA administrator Michael Griffin takes strong exception to most of President Obama's proposed space exploration policy, disagreeing with the major points and calling much of it "drivel." Griffin spoke in Seattle Tuesday evening at the Museum of Flight. .. Griffin also rapped the President's proposal to nix Moon missions, and concentrate on heavy lifting and Mars. "There was considerable other drivel in the president's proposals, which were supposedly based on the Augustine Commission," he said."

NASA Presentations on New Space Plans for FY2011, Planetary Defense

"Lori Garver, Ed Weiler, Bobby Braun, and Laurie Leshin (all from NASA) presented at a meeting in Washington, D.C. on 05 May 2010 aspects of the new NASA plan, specifically those elements involved with the new NASA budget. I have posted these docs to the Google Docs library (General) for this site."

Keith's note: The Google Docs server where these presentations were originally posted does not seem to be cooperating, so A.C. Charania has provided me with copies of the presentations - here they are: Robert Braun,
Laurie Leshin, and Ed Weiler

Open source is NASA's next frontier, FCW

"The challenges to government's adoption and participation in open-source communities is often thought to be a simpe culture clash, but in reality it goes deeper than that, accordning to NASA's newly-appointed chief technology officer. "The issues that we need to tackle are not only cuture, but beyond culture," said Chris Kemp, formerly chief information officer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "And I think we need new policy and support from the administration and Congress to help us tackle" them."

NASA Names Chief Technology Officer for IT

"NASA Chief Information Officer Linda Cureton announced Chris C. Kemp as the first NASA Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, for Information Technology, a new position established to lead IT innovation at the space agency."

Bigelow Marketing Inflatable Space Stations, Aviation Week

"Bigelow envisions governments and corporations making up the bulk of his company's customers. Prices will range from $200 million-$400 million, depending on the number of "seats" that are purchased. He is pitching Bigelow Aerospace's space station as an "affordable alternative" to the International Space Station, which "is controlled by the Russians and the U.S., with another 14 or so countries along for the ride."

US must remain the global leader in exploring space, Rep. Pete Olson, The Hill

"The president does not outline any path for the United States to get out of low earth orbit. A major component, the revised "Orion-lite" proposal, is little more than an opportunity to delay the inevitable layoffs of highly skilled workers across America and does not further our ability as a nation to explore the heavens or get us to the moon, Mars and beyond. It has also been reported as a mechanism to prevent the government from having to pay out costly Constellation cancellation contracts. This is not a strategy for success in human space flight. It turns the capsule designed to be our spacecraft for journeys to the moon into a lifeboat on the International Space Station."

Crisis of purpose for America's space program, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, The Hill

"As conscientious stewards of the American taxpayers dollars, Congress demanded more. In response, the president took the stage last month at Kennedy Space Center and, showing a clear passion for space and a will to compromise, unveiled a new plan. Unfortunately this new plan creates more questions than answers and seems unworkable within the budget without crippling NASAs other missions. We cannot continue to argue between the president's plan and the status quo. There must be a third way."

Alliant Sees NASA Revamp Easing, WS Journal

"Alliant Techsystems Inc., potentially the biggest corporate loser in White House proposals to outsource large chunks of U.S. manned space exploration, Thursday sought to signal Wall Street that most of the programs are likely to survive the revamping. Alliant's share of NASA's Constellation program, which accounts for about $400 million of the company's $4.80 billion in fiscal 2010 revenue, will stay at roughly the same level through next March, company officials said. The forecast is surprising given White House's proposal to ax nearly all the program."

ATK Reports Strong FY10 Year-End and Fourth-Quarter Operating Results

"Forward-looking information is subject to certain risks, trends, and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Among these factors are: assumptions related to the Ares I and Ares V programs for NASA."

Keith's note: Several Three Four Five NASA Watch readers sent this email to me today. Looks like someone in Sen. Feinstein's office needs to learn how to use their word processing software a little better. Click on image to enlarge.

Two Three Four of the people who sent me this email said that they never contacted Sen. Feinstein - in any way - about NASA - or anything else. Looks like GoBoldly's fake emails are still echoing around. The annoying thing about this is that the director of GoBoldly admitted to me that this happened but the organization has not publicly apologized.

Fake Emails - Not A Good Sign (update), earlier post.

2 dead after explosion at Ala. Army base, AP

"Two contract workers died after being injured in an explosion while removing a propellant from rockets at Redstone Arsenal, where the Army conducts missile and weapons research. The public affairs office at the post in Huntsville said the two died Wednesday night after being flown to the burn unit at UAB Hospital in Birmingham. Base officials said Thursday the names of the workers would be released later. Both worked for a Redstone contractor, Amtech Corp., and were injured in an explosion at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday while removing ammonium perchlorate from rockets at a test site. The Army described the chemical as an oxidizer used in solid rocket propellant."

Obama's NASA plans in peril?, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA itself also appears to be hedging its bets that the president's vision might not pass muster with Congress. KSC officials and contractors, under direction from Johnson Space Center and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, are pressing ahead with plans for test flights of a multibillion-dollar Ares I rocket that Obama wants to cancel. Meanwhile, big aerospace contractors are trying to sell members of Congress on a new $8 billion rocket that could be fashioned from pieces of the space shuttle, which is supposed to be retired later this year. Last week, a group of contractors led by aerospace giant Boeing Co. met Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., to push the new rocket idea. Nelson previously has backed more Ares test flights."

Unanimous Support by Florida Legislature Facilitates Competitive Space Industry in Florida

"Florida's space industry remained a forefront issue for legislators throughout the 2010 legislative session, which concluded on April 30. Faced with the impending Shuttle retirement (expected to result in 23,000 direct and indirect job losses, contributing to significant economic impact across the state), the legislature voted to unanimously support critical legislation designed to stimulate economic development and promote aerospace industry jobs."

"NASA successfully tested the pad abort system for the Launch Abort System developed for the Orion crew exploration vehicle at 9 a.m. EDT. The 97-second flight test is called the Pad Abort 1 test, or PA1. It is the first fully integrated test of the Launch Abort System developed for Orion. The test took place at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, N.M."

"A Trajectory to Nowhere" by Scott "Doc" Horowitz

"The current debate has nothing to do with technical/programmatic issues, it is completely politically motivated and being driven by a few people in the current administration, e.g., Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator, Jim Kohlenberger, Office of Science and Technology Policy Chief of Staff, and Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the Office of Management and Budget. Their objective is to cancel the "Bush" program and punish the states (Alabama, Texas) that "didn't vote for us anyway".

Keith's note: Of course, Scott Horowitz, who certainly seems to enjoy the breeze of that revolving door, is utterly hypocriticial when it comes to deriding decisions as being "political" in Washington DC (ohmygosh, politics in Washington. I wonder who knew this was going on!?) given that he is still a registered lobbyist for ATK (paid $30K in 2008 and 2009, and $10K thus far in 2010), and has been interacting with NASA in that capacity. Does he bother to disclose this when he posts these little one-sided missives? Of course not. Pot, kettle, black, Scott.

Meanwhile, back in our universe ...

Constellation Program Cost and Schedule Will Remain Uncertain Until a Sound Business Case Is Established, GAO, August 2009

"The Constellation program has not yet developed all of the elements of a sound business case needed to justify entry into implementation. Progress has been made; however, technical and design challenges are still significant and until they are resolved NASA will not be able to reliably estimate the time and money needed to execute the program. In addition, cost issues and a poorly phased funding plan continue to hamper the program. Consequently, NASA is changing the acquisition strategy for the Orion project as the agency attempts to increase confidence in its ability to meet a March 2015 first crewed launch. However, technical design and other challenges facing the program are not likely to be overcome in time to meet the 2015 date, even with changes to scope and requirements."

Keith's note: NASA civil servant Nick Skytland is one of the Education and Public Outreach Officers for NEEMO-14. He is overtly using his Twitter account for the performance of his official duties - yet he still blocks specific taxpayers from following his postings. I have to wonder when NASA CIO Linda Cureton will finally put a social media policy in place at NASA that deals with such flagrant abuses of one's position as a NASA employee.

NEEMO 14

How space exploration helps us on Earth

"The international space station's research capabilities are now available after years of construction and $100 billion of investment. It offers opportunities to conduct research in an environment unavailable on Earth and it must be sustained, but not just for the sake of science. One problem in the president's proposal is that it does not address the risk to the station that will result from retiring the space shuttle and canceling the Constellation replacement program at the same time. A healthy and viable space station is critical to the emergence of the commercial space industry that the president's proposal relies on. If the space station is lost, the primary reason to send humans into space in the next decade will be lost."

Bipartisanship key for the future of space program

"While we are encouraged the president showed a willingness to make some changes to his proposal for NASA during his visit to Florida, members of Congress from both parties still have concerns. These concerns include the readiness of the commercial space industry to fill the role the president envisions, and how to minimize the risk to the International Space Station, which after more than a decade of construction and $100 billion in investment is about to realize its full research potential."

2 severely burned in Redstone Arsenal explosion, WALB

"Emergency management officials said two people were injured in an explosion at Redstone Arsenal. A Redstone spokesperson said it happened at 8:45 Wednesday morning at Aviation Missile Research Development and Engineering Center test area 10."

2 severely burned in Redstone Arsenal explosion, WAFF

"One responder said the area where the explosion happened is a heavy demolition site. They have been testing there for days. They are still not sure what went wrong. One HEMSI paramedic described the scene as "horrific."

Keith's note: The following was distirbuted inside NASA by Brett Silcox, Legislative & Industrial Affairs Specialist: "All: In conjunction with AIAA, NASA will host an Exploration Enterprise Workshop on May 25-26, 2010 at the Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention Center in Galveston, Texas. The workshop will bring together a broad community of stakeholders from industry, academia, and the Federal Government to engage in discussions related to strategy building, development, and the implementation of the new plans for human and robotic exploration in space.

The workshop will focus on the President's FY11 budget request for NASA Exploration. The Agency has completed the initial phase of planning for the new technology and robotic programs and will provide insight into progress to date. The objectives of the workshop are to:

- Convey progress in planning toward the new programs
- Discuss NASA Center proposed Program assignments
- Solicit feedback, ideas and suggestions from interested parties
- Prepare for the next steps once the new programs are implemented

I will be sending out additional information as it becomes available.

This event is less than 3 weeks away. NASA expects hundreds of people to show up - but they have not even formally announced it yet. This event ends (in Texas) on 26 May. The next day the ISDC starts in Chicago, Illinois. Charlie Bolden and Lori Garver will be speaking there. Many people already have travel plans made for ISDC so they'll skip this Texas event - or they'll have to decide between one or the other. It baffles me why NASA never stops and thinks before they do things like this.

Keith's update: Registration is now open

NASA CIO Blog - The Bossy CIO, Linda Cureton

"Everyone is asking me about the latest reorganization in NASA. In particular, the Center CIOs now report to me. They ask, so it must be great that all the Center CIOs all belong to you. The reality is that there's not much truth to that. The reality is that I now belong to all of THEM."

Keith's note: How cute. Instead of all of the personal philosophy, folksy stories, and other extraneous stuff posted on this NASA.gov blog by NASA's CIO, perhaps she can start posting detailed progress reports, future plans, budgets, white papers etc. that will inform the NASA workforce and taxpayers what she plans to do to make the agency's IT technology what it needs to be. And where is NASA's social media policy? You'd think with all of the blog posting and Twittering by the CIO that she'd see some urgency in establishing guidelines such that the remainder of NASA's civil servant and contractor workforce knows what they can and cannot do - and how to do it.

Open Government Advocates Grade Federal Agency Openness Plans, OMB Watch

"Overall, most agencies scored at 70 percent of total points or higher. Fewer than half of all agencies received 80 percent or higher. The top three agencies, which scored above 100 percent, were the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It should be noted that no agency achieved 100 percent compliance with the OGD criteria, as can be seen in the agencies' basic scores (scores that did not include any bonus points). Those agencies that scored over 100 percent overcame minor point deductions by earning bonus points."

Open Government Plans Evaluations Available -- Find Wide Variations in Plans, OpenThe Government

"No plan fulfilled all of the requirements of the OGD, but eight agencies created plans that stand out for their overall strength: NASA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Department of Labor(DOL). Of the top tier plans, NASA, HUD and EPA stand out for presenting model plans."

New White House task force on NASA to focus on job loss, The Hill

"President Barack Obama is commissioning a new task force to address any job loss caused by the White House's proposed end to NASA's manned space-flight program. In a memo released late Monday, the president appointed Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden as co-chairs of the Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development."

Rep. Posey's Statement on Space Workforce Transition Memo

"In his memo, the President blames the previous Administration for eliminating thousands of high skilled jobs and outsourcing them to Russia, but makes no mention of his decision to cancel Constellation after $9 billion in investments and a successful test launch. At some point the President needs to take responsibility for his own Administration's decision to widen the space gap and cede America's leadership in space, which is the modern day military high ground. I am disappointed to see the memo repeat the disingenuous claim we keep hearing that NASA will get a $6 billion increase, when in reality the Administration's own budget numbers would gut the Exploration account by $5.7 billion, which is where the money needs to be spent for human space flight."

NASA Heavy Lift Launch System and Propulsion Technology Request for Information

"On May 3, 2010, NASA will issue a Request for Information (RFI) seeking general information regarding potential launch or space transportation architectures (expendable, reusable, or a hybrid system) that could be utilized by multiple customers (e.g. NASA, commercial and other Government agencies). The RFI also will solicit information regarding propulsion system characteristics; technology challenges related to liquid chemical propulsion systems; as well as innovative methods to manage a heavy-lift development program to include effective and affordable business practices. The RFI will be open to the broad space community, including commercial, other Government agencies and academia. Information obtained from the RFI will be used for planning and acquisition-strategy development for current heavylift planning activities, as outlined in the Conference Report to FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-117)."

Obama Proposal Likely Unresolved This Year, Aviation Week

"Continuing opposition in Congress to the "game-changing" policy shift is making it more likely that NASA funding will be handled as a "continuing resolution" this year, instead of an appropriations bill reflecting the changes Obama wants. That would add to the confusion, because it would leave NASA to continue working on the Constellation Program that is killed in the agency's Fiscal 2011 budget request."

Pitching for NASA, Hutchison back in the game, Houston Chronicle

"Legislation crafted by Hutchison in the Senate and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, a Florida Democrat in the House, would require NASA to identify and make specific delivery arrangements for supplies and equipment needed by the orbiting space laboratory before steps are taken to end shuttle operations this year."

Keith's note: According to comments made by Jeff Bingham, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation Science and Space Subcommittee staffer, posting as "51D Mascot": "Under a CR with everything at FY 2010 levels, shuttle funding would be retained at a level sufficient to enable continuing operations. There is nothing anywhere in statute requiring shuttle termination (anything written in recent statutes has pushed AGAINST that termination, actually, while not actually requiring continuation). The issue would be whether the agency could "reprogram" those funds to other uses consistent with the FY 2011 request as an administrative action. That's technically "possible" but it will depend on whether the appropriators would find that acceptable. (no reason right now to think they wouldn't but the debate on these major issues is really just beginning to gather steam within the Congress, so who knows?)"

and here

"Since NASA appears to be taking actions this year that are, or may be, in violation of the clause in the Omnibus bill, don't be surprised to learn of legislative action in days and weeks to come to "fine tune" that language in some "appropriate" piece of legislation moving through the process at any time."

NASTAR Center Appoints Former NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator as Advisor for Space and Research

"Environmental Tectonics Corporation's The National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR(R)) Center announced today that it has retained Dr. Alan Stern as an advisor for space and research related business including the Suborbital Scientist Training Program, which provides researchers and educators with training to perform experiments aboard suborbital vehicles."

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) Joins the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

"Mark Sirangelo, Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, commented, "On behalf of the member companies of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, we are proud to welcome Southwest Research Institute as an Executive Member. Dr. Stern has done a tremendous job in pushing forward the nascent field of commercial suborbital science. We look forward to continue working with SwRI to further CSF's goals of promoting the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursuing ever higher levels of safety, and sharing best practices and expertise throughout the industry."

TEDxNASA 2010

Keith's note: According to a Twitter posting by the TEDxNASA folks at LaRC: "THIS JUST IN! Save the date... TEDxNASA 2011 coming November 4, 2010! http://bit.ly/9mHzSl". I certainly hope the organizers have some adult supervision this time as they assemble the agenda. As I noted in my comments from the first event last year, a substantial portion of what was presented had little if anything to do with NASA or exploration. Yes, some of it was interesting and out of the box (and NASA certainly needs some of this right now!) but for an event trumpeted as being relevant to NASA, TEDxNASA failed in many ways.

Yes, a lot of it was done by volunteers whose dedication is noteworthy, but just because the volunteers worked hard and the stagecraft was flawless does not mean that the content was appropriate. Specifically, some of the presenters were outright inappropriate for a NASA-sanctioned event - most notably, Sue Morter. Have a look at a video of her presentation. It is riddled with pseudoscientifc mumbo jumble and nonsensical new age babble. Please tell me that this is NOT what is going to be done again at an event that has a deliberate and overt connection and endorsement by NASA.

- TEDxNASA Live Coverage
- Previous TEDxNASA postings
- TEDxNASA Facebook page Curiously, when I am not logged in to Facebook a "comment" option appears on this page. But when I log in, that disappears. NASA LaRC has been blocking my ability to comment since last Fall. Oh well.

Keith's update: Magically, my ability to comment on the TEDxNASA Facebook was restablished a few minutes ago after I was blocked for 6 months. Funny thing: I did absolutely nothing to cause that to happen. I changed nothing on Facebook (because there was nothing for me to change). What a coincidence -- just as I started to complain about being blocked. Yet people at LaRC claim that no one had blocked me. Again, hhat a coincidence.

According to the TEDxNASA website: "A nationally known speaker, teacher and trainer, Dr. Sue Morter has been called one of todays messengers with tomorrows message. Her Intentional Living Seminar has been lauded by participants as a life-changing event. By understanding the relationship between human energy fields, conscious thoughts and subconscious memory, she will explain how we can become who we really are." I guess NASA is now openly endorsing New Age pseudoscience. Watch the video and you'll see. I certainly never heard any of Morter's outlandish ideas in physics class.



No Hot Meals at GSFC

Keith's note: The following is being circulated internally at GSFC: "The cafeterias in buildings 1 and 21, as well as the Cafe in building 34, are closed until further notice. These closings are based on the cafeteria contractors failure to pass their most recent food safety inspections. If you have any questions, please contact GSFC's Industrial Hygiene Office on 6-2498. Every effort will be made to address the necessary actions quickly in order that the cafeterias can be re-opened, but only after they pass the necessary safety inspections. Center management is taking this situation very seriously and will not consider reopening the cafeterias until they are confident that all of the issues have been addressed, actions have been completed and a re-inspection confirms that the facilities are ready to safely operate. In addition, both near and long-term enhancements to the operation of these facilities are being explored.Updates on the status of the facilities will be provided as soon they become available."

Guenter Wendt

Guenter Wendt, 85, 'Pad Leader' for NASA's moon missions, dies, Collectspace

"Guenter Wendt, the original pad leader for NASA's manned space program who was the last man the Apollo astronauts saw before launching to the moon, died at his home in Merritt Island, Fla., early Monday morning after being hospitalized for congestive heart failure and then suffering a stroke. He was 85."

Launch could be first test of rocket and Obama space plan, USA Today

"For company founder Elon Musk, it's showtime. "We're super excited to be launching from Cape Canaveral," Musk said. "It's like opening on Broadway." For others, the flight will be a measure of President Obama's plan to kill NASA's moon program, dubbed Project Constellation, and instead invest in developing commercial "space taxis" for astronauts traveling to and from low Earth orbit. The plan has encountered opposition in Congress. The odds of success on the first launch of any new rocket are about 50-50. "I hope people don't use us as a bellwether for commercial space," Musk said."

Meeting of Space Organizations, 5 May 2010

"This meeting will enable private organizations and associations with a stake in the outcome of this discussion to better understand the current NASA program and its implications for science and technology, and to exchange views on the value of establishing an ongoing coalition of space related organizations."

Challenges and Opportunities at the Dawn of a New Decade, 18 May 2010

"Conference attendees will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and participate in educational sessions including "The Vital Role of Aerospace Assets in National Security," "The Future of Human Space Flight," and "Air Transportation Modernization."

Keith's note: Given the immense interest in NASA's new policy directions, and the tens of thousands of jobs directly (and adversely) affected, one would hope that these discussions would be streamed live. All it takes to do this is a laptop and a USTREAM.TV account. Otherwise, the only folks who'll be participating (or benefiting) from these discussions will be the usual suspects and space policy wonks known to frequent Washington, DC

Bolden, Griffin Display Space Policy Differences, Aviation Week

"It has become much to fashion lately to compare Constellation to Apollo, with the thought of course that we don't want to do anything that might look at all like Apollo," said Griffin. "I wonder about that sometimes because Apollo made me pretty proud to be an American. That drive has sustained a couple of generations of space professionals. So, today we have a space policy choice confronting us. Do we want to do innovative, game-changing technologies? Or, do we want to do something that might look a little bit like Apollo?'

The Four Flavors of Lunar Water, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"New studies of lunar samples, along with results from several missions in recent years, have given us a revolutionary new picture of water on the Moon. Study of volcanic glass from the Apollo 15 landing site in 2008 demonstrated that tiny amounts of water (about 50 parts per million) are present in the interiors of these glasses, suggesting that the lunar mantle (whence they came) contains about ten times this amount. This was a startling result, considering the extreme dryness of other lunar samples."

Scientists Say Ice Lurks in Asteroid's Cold Heart, NASA

"Scientists using a NASA funded telescope have detected water-ice and carbon-based organic compounds on the surface of an asteroid. The cold hard facts of the discovery of the frosty mixture on one of the asteroid belt's largest occupants, suggests that some asteroids, along with their celestial brethren, comets, were the water carriers for a primordial Earth."

NASA Chief Draws Fire for Rich Benefits Plan, WS Journal

"In last week's statement, NASA said Mr. Bolden was responding to recommendations first made several years ago by various NASA officials and reiterated recently by the agency's top medical officer. Currently, only about 70% of former astronauts are part of NASA's long-term health project. NASA says the legislation aims to increase that level of participation by offering former astronauts more incentives to provide data and giving the agency more opportunities to directly monitor health changes. "If enacted, the legislative proposal would apply to [Mr. Bolden] and his family," according to NASA. "The office of the general counsel has reviewed [the matter] and did not identify ethical or conflict-of-interest issues," NASA said."

Charlie Bolden's stand on NASA, Constellation and Ares I tests, Orlando Sentinel

"Bolden: Who? Jeff Hanley? I talk to Jeff quite a bit. As far as I am concerned, Jeff does exactly what I asked him to do, to be quite honest. And Jeff and NASA, we are in a tough situation in that we have to comply with the 2010 provision in law that says we cannot terminate [Constellation], we cannot do this. Everybody knows that the language is and yet we have to be responsive to my desire to move forward. You know my challenge for you is to work with Congress and get them to understand that the vision that we have is good for the nation and is the right way to get us beyond low Earth orbit. So we are constantly walking this tightrope of not offending anyone or breaking the law and yet being very responsive to what the president wants us to do and aggressively going forward."

Jeff Hanley Openly Defies White House Policy, earlier post

Other Jeff Hanley news


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