January 2011 Archives

EIAST and Bigelow Aerospace sign agreement to create next-generation commercial human spaceflight programme

"The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) and Bigelow Aerospace LLC, an organisation dedicated to providing affordable options for spaceflight to national space agencies and corporate clients, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to drive joint efforts to usher in a new era in human spaceflight based on innovative technologies, affordability, commercial sustainability, and strong international partnerships. As per the MoU, EIAST and Bigelow Aerospace will explore joint efforts to establish a next-generation commercial human spaceflight programme for Dubai and the UAE, leveraging recent advances in human spaceflight. They will work to create a world-class microgravity research and development programme with a potential focus on advanced biotechnology applications, and a variety of other commercial space-related activities."

Businesses Take Flight, With Help From NASA, NY Times

"The Dream Chaser is one of several new spacecraft that companies are hoping to launch into space with help from the government. Last year, the Obama administration pushed through an ambitious transformation for NASA: canceling the Ares I rocket, which was to be the successor to the current generation of space shuttles, and turning to the commercial sector for astronaut transportation."

Q&A: NASA Tech Chief on 'Sputnik' Moments and Innovation, space.com

"SPACE.com: What is NASA doing today to move technology along in this country?

Braun: We are currently holding meetings with the National Research Council that are open to the public to discuss innovative technological ideas and insights that could influence the future of space exploration. We need help with prioritizing which technology NASA should pursue on a limited budget. We know we can make a difference through tech to reinvigorate the aerospace industry and get NASA back to its roots as a true innovator. But we can only do that if we have a plan. This community-driven activity was called for by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, and so far we are off to a great start."

Keith's note: This article was published online today. I guess Bobby Braun must have a time machine on his agenda of new technologies that NASA will develop so that the public can go back in time and attend the meetings that he and his organization did nothing to publicize in advance (i.e. tell "the public"). No one from his organization has ever explained this odd, after-the-fact approach.

NASA's Stealth Technology Roadmap Meetings, earlier post

Interview with the Challenger Center's Scott Parazynski, Space News

"Some 4 million students have been through the program since 1986, and in recent years the annual average has been about 400,000. Scott Parazynski, a NASA astronaut and medical doctor who took over in November as chairman of the center's board of directors, wants to increase that number to 4 million per year by 2015. ...

Parazynski: "One of the things we're aspiring to do is reduce the barriers to entry. So to help communities that might otherwise not have access to a learning center, we will develop virtual missions led by Challenger Center flight directors remotely, using a school's computer laboratory as an example. Alternatively, we also hope to bring in portable learning centers that we would truck in from a distant location."

MSL Needs More Money

NASA's Overbudget Mars Rover in Need of Another Cash Infusion

"NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission needs an $82 million cash infusion to maintain its late November launch date after development of the $2.47 billion rover exhausted program funding reserves last year, according to agency officials. .... "Our problem right now is MSL," Green told members of the NASA Advisory Council's planetary sciences subcommittee during a public meeting here Jan. 26. "It has virtually no unencumbered reserves left.""

MSL Delay: Add 2 Years and $400 Million (and counting), earlier post from 2009

"In a nutshell: The only specific hardware issue with MSL seems to be the complex motor actuators that allow various systems to operate. The delay will cost $400 million. The money will come from other Mars missions and if that is not enough, from other space science missions. Total cost for MSL could be as much as $2.3 billion - up from an initial cost of $650 million (or $1.6 billion depending on what starting point you favor)."

Mars rover devours budgets, Nature, 2009

"The rover's latest price tag is US$2.286 billion - 40% more than the official $1.63-billion estimate made in 2006. But even that will not be enough. In a 'breach report' due to be handed to the US Congress by the end of July, NASA will report that the troublesome mission, now also called Curiosity, needs $15-115 million more on top of the $2.286-billion estimate."

Shooting The Messenger at NASA, earlier post from 2008

"NASA Watch has learned that the individual personally responsible for the disbanding of the MSL independent "Cost To Go" review team early this year was none other than NASA Associate Administrator Chris Scolese. He did not like the findings they were bringing forth. It seems that in his NASA, when you don't like bad cost news you either move the goal posts until you get the news you want - or you get rid of the messengers - or both."

Earlier posts

Giffords husband to decide on space trip in mid-Feb, Reuters

"The astronaut husband of a U.S. congresswoman seriously wounded when she was shot in head will decide by mid-February whether to join the last NASA shuttle launch as scheduled, the space agency said on Sunday."

Giffords's Husband Faces Decision on Shuttle Flight

"Mark is still the commander," said Peggy A. Whitson, the chief astronaut, but she said that having a backup commander would allow the crew to continue training and Captain Kelly to "focus on his wife's care."

NASA Research Announcement "Ground-Based Studies in Space Radiobiology"

"This NRA solicits ground-based proposals for the Space Radiation Program Element (SRPE) component of the Human Research Program (HRP). Proposals are solicited by the SRPE in the area of Space Radiation Biology utilizing beams of high energy heavy ions simulating space radiation at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL), at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, New York."

Ground-Based Studies in Space Radiobiology NASA Space Radiation Program Element NNJ11ZSA001N

"Studies may include animals, tissues (animal or human), or cells (animal or human), including adult human stem cells. For proposals utilizing animal models, proposals are encouraged to use animals at an age reflective of the ages of astronauts (35-55 y) during space missions."

Earlier posts

Blue Origin Patent Application: Sea Launch of Space Launch Vehicles and Associated Systems and Methods

"Abstract: Launch vehicle systems and methods for landing and recovering a booster stage and/or other portions thereof on a platform at sea or on another body of water are disclosed. In one embodiment, a reusable space launch vehicle is launched from a coastal launch site in a trajectory over water. After booster engine cutoff and upper stage separation, the booster stage reenters the earth's atmosphere in a tail-first orientation. The booster engines are then restarted and the booster stage performs a vertical powered landing on the deck of a pre-positioned sea-going platform. ..."

NASA To Announce New Planetary Discoveries by Kepler

"NASA will host a news briefing at 1 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Feb. 2, to announce the Kepler mission's latest findings about planets outside our solar system. The briefing will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St S.W. in Washington and carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

A Bigelow Module on the ISS?

International Space Station Could Get Private Inflatable Room, Space.com

"The International Space Station could get a new inflatable module supplied by the private American company Bigelow Aerospace, sources say. NASA is apparently in discussions with Bigelow to acquire a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, called BEAM for short, to enhance use of the International Space Station (ISS). Since 1999, the North Las Vegas, Nev., company has been working to create affordable inflatable space habitats for national space agencies and corporate clients."

Scott Parazynski, Chairman of the Challenger Center Board of Directors sitting in the jetstream on the summit of Mt. Everest, May 2009: "I tied off a pair of flags I'd made to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who had perished in the line of duty (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia, Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11), as I could think of no finer place on Earth to hang them. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, like their Tibetan prayer flag counterparts, they will weather under the wind, sun and snow, and slowly lift back up into the heavens." More photos.

NASA Day of Remembrance

NASA Administrator Bolden and Sen. Warner to Visit Challenger Learning Center Location in Richmond, Virginia

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will address students this Friday, January 28, at the MathScience Innovation Center in Richmond, Virginia, home of a Challenger Learning Center. Bolden will be joined at this event by U.S. Senator Mark Warner."

Day of Remembrance

Message from the NASA Administrator: Day of Remembrance

"The legacy of those who have perished is present every day in our work and inspires generations of new space explorers. Every day, with each new challenge we overcome and every discovery we make, we honor these remarkable men and women. Please join me in working to fulfill their dreams for the future."

Day of Remembrance (photo)

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other NASA personnel participate in a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreathes were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration."

Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, Excerpt from "New Moon Rising", by Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing

"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over, "she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space-- that means there will be more."

Keith's note: The other day, at the encouragement of several folks at LaRC PAO, I sent an email to LaRC PAO asking "Can you tell me the total cost of last week's free Constellation breakfast at LaRC, how many attended (how many civil servants and contractors), and who (program, directorate etc.) paid the cost of this breakfast?. Also, some people used a NASA plane to fly to/from JSC. Can you tell me who (names) was on the plane, how much that round trip cost, and who the cost of this trip (program, directorate etc.) was charged to?"

Marny Skora at LaRC PAO declined to answer becuase "The recognition event was held here, but organized by JSC. Kylie Clem will shortly be contacting you." Kylie Cleam promptly replied "The JSC Office of Chief Counsel requested that your inquiry be submitted to the JSC FOIA officer, Stella Luna. She can be reached via email at ..."

In other words both LaRC and NASA JSC PAO are formally refusing to say "yes" or "no" as to whether NASA personnel flew to/from NASA LaRC to participate in the ESMD breakfast or provide any information. Rather, they are forcing me to go though a FOIA process that will take time and cost taxpayers money. So much for openness and transparency at NASA. Clearly someone is afraid to talk about this.

Keith's update: Kylie Clem subsequently replied: "To answer your new question, yes, JSC personnel did fly to LaRC on the plane. That was stated as a fact in your original email, so I did not realize you were requesting confirmation. The additional details you requested, however, should be submitted through FOIA."

Free Breakfast, Courtesy of Constellation, earlier post

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Members Named

"Today the Democratic Caucus of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology met to elect Subcommittee Ranking Members and select Subcommittee assignments. The selections will be official after they are approved by the full Committee at the Organizational Meeting."

Rep. Hall Announces Republican Members of House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-TX), Chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today applauded the appointment of Republican members selected to serve on the Committee in the 112th Congress. Subcommittee chairmen and rosters will be disclosed at a future date."

Rep. Adams Announces Committee and Subcommittee Assignments

"Science, Space and Technology is the primary Committee in Congress that deals with NASA and space related issues. Home of the Kennedy Space Center, Florida's 24th District is one of the main NASA facilities in the country, and an economic driver for the region that helps create thousands of high paying jobs."

Rep. Jerry Costello to Serve on House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee

"U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) today announced that he will serve as Acting Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics in the 112th Congress. Following today's election of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Costello was asked by the committee leadership to serve in her absence as she recovers."

Obama to Declare 'The Rules Have Changed' (text of President's Speech), National Journal

"Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology - an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people."

Keith's note: Alas, the President is talking about what NASA did half a century ago - not what it is doing today or what it is going to do in the years ahead - or whether NASA is even relevant.

Delta IV Heavy Rocket vs. 2011 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Diesel (with very clever graphic comparison), Pickuptrucks.com

"Think your Ford, GM or Ram heavy-duty pickup truck is the strongest rig around? It can't hold a candle to this candle: a Delta IV Heavy rocket, as you'll see in PUTC's out-of-this-world comparison with a 2011 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty diesel. Heavy-duty pickup trucks are indispensable workhorses for personal use and small businesses. They can tow and haul gross combined truck and trailer setups weighing up to 15 tons or more powerfully and efficiently across the country."

Technoarchaeology: Tiros-1

Technoarchaeology: Where is the True "First" Picture taken by Tiros 1?

"The NASA Goddard Library has a rare and unique collection of 26 bound volumes of TIROS 1 photography prepared by the Navy in 1961 specifically for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This talk will highlight the collection, attempts contemplated to preserve it, and revelations that the "first" image from TIROS, widely distributed around the internet (and even by NOAA and NASA), was not the first photo, nor even taken on the first day of operations!"

Keith's note: This Tweet by @NASA_Technology (NASA office of Chief Technologist) just appeared: "The NRC kicks off review of NASA's space tech roadmaps. Media Advisory: Future Tech for NASA Missions - Mtg Jan. 26 & 28 http://goo.gl/c2HaW"

Wow. Who knew.

No mention was made by NASA until today that this event is happening - and the event is starting tomorrow. You have to wonder why these folks in Bobby Braun's office even go through the effort of releasing this stuff since they seem to do so at the last possible second when people already have their week scheduled. The National Research Council did not bother to alert people until today.

A Tweet by @NASA_Technology over the weekend was the only announcement that these documents are out for review - and no mention was made of these meetings. I Googled and found this page "Space Technology Roadmaps (DRAFT)" and posted its content on my websites at that point - since there is no link to this page from OCT's homepage i.e. it is more or less hidden unless you know to go look for it.

There is no mention of this activty or meetings anywhere on OCT's home page including their "news" page. No mention is made at NASA.gov - no press release or mention of this event is on their calendar.

- NASA Space Technology Roadmaps Available for Public Review and Comment, Earlier post

Keith's update: The NRC tells me that they sent a media advisory out on 20 Jan. I am supposed to be on their mailing list. I doubled checked - I never got this announcement. That said, given the importance to NASA, I still find it baffling with all of the promotion of "new technology" by Bobby Braun, that he has done so little to let people know that this is going on other than a Twitter link put out by his staff on a weekend evening. Hmm ... I wonder how much this roadmapping activity cost NASA ...

For NASA, Longest Countdown Awaits, NY Times

"Two weeks ago, the agency told Congress that it had decided on preferred designs for the rocket and the crew capsule for carrying astronauts, but could yet not fit them into the schedule and constraints. "All our models say 'no,' " said Elizabeth Robinson, NASA's chief financial officer, "even models that have generous affordability considerations." She said NASA was continuing to explore how it might reduce costs. A couple of days after receiving the report, Senator Nelson said he had talked to the NASA administrator, Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., and "told him he has to follow the law, which requires a new rocket by 2016." He added, "And NASA has to do it within the budget the law requires."

NASA Explores Potential New Users For Some Kennedy Facilities

"NASA has released a formal Notice of Availability (NOA) and Request for Information (RFI) to identify interest from industry for space processing and support facilities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The facilities may become available for space-related commercial use following the end of the Space Shuttle Program."

Notice of Availability for Information Seeking Potential Industry Interest and Uses for Some NASA Kennedy Space Center Facilities

Memorials at "Mars on Earth"

Keith's note: Astronaut Leroy Chiao, Matt Reyes, myself, and a bunch of Inuit kids built this inuksuk memorial to the Challenger crew in 2007 on Devon Island. It stands next to one built to honor Columbia's crew in 2003. An inuit boy, Joseph Atchealak, is holding a Challenger Center banner in front of the Challenger inukshuk. Joseph and his family regularly subsist by eating animals that his father kills on the polar ice - yet Joseph surfs the web and knows all about outer space -- Indeed, he kept touching Leroy Chiao as if Leroy was magical because he flew in space. I saw the same reaction by Sherpas in Nepal when they met Scott Parazynski.

What do these people know - and place value in - that we have forgotten or no longer care about?

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal 20 July 2003: Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings

"I asked Joe Amaraulik if anyone had ever figured out how long these structures would last. He said he wasn't sure if they had been dated but that there were some that had been in place for many centuries. As for how long this one, which we had just built, would last, Joe (a man of few, but well-chosen words) said "forever". In other words - the next ice age."

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal - 18 July 2007: Ancient Memorials for Modern Space Explorers

"I placed [Dick Scobee's] card in the container, sealed it up and placed it at the base of the inukshuk. Most of the Inuit kids remembered the loss of Columbia. None of them remembered the loss of Challenger since it had happened a decade or more before their birth. So, I explained each and every item to them - and passed the business card and lapel pin around for them to see."

NASA Haughton-Mars Project Space Shuttle Columbia Inukshuk Memorials

"It is our hope that the Columbia Inukshuks on Devon Island will help bring peace to all those who continue to miss these seven astronauts, and will help inspire and guide future generations of space explorers who will journey to the Moon, Mars and Beyond."

"On January 28, 1986, our nation lost seven heroes as the Challenger Space Shuttle was destroyed shortly after launch. It was a tragic day, etched in the minds of us all and in the history books of our nation. And yet tragedy let to triumph, as the families of the astronauts created an educational program to honor the astronauts and inspire the next generation. They formed the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, with a mission to "inspire, explore and learn". Now with a national network of 48 Challenger Learning Centers, the program takes students on simulated missions to space, reaching 400,000 students every year - over 4,000,000 during our 25 year history. Join us for a year-long series of events, as we honor the legacy of the Challenger 7 heroes - and celebrate the accomplishments of the Challenger Learning Center network."

For more information on the Challenger Center for Space Science Education please go to challenger.org/25

Photos: Fixing Antennas in Space - Today and in a Past Future

Top: Astronaut David Bowman replacing the AE-35 unit on the main antenna of the spacecraft Discovery en route to Jupiter. "2001: A Space Odyssey", 1968.

Bottom: Astronaut Garrett Reisman installs a Ku Band antenna on the ISS in May 2010.

- Photo: In The Cupola, Gazing Down at Earth From Orbit, earlier Post
- Astronauts At The Controls: 2010 Vs 2001, earlier Post

Mistrust stalls U.S.-China space cooperation, Washington Post

"Last fall, when NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. visited China to explore areas where the two countries could cooperate in space, two senior Republican members of Congress - Reps. Frank R. Wolf (Va.) and John Abney Culberson (Tex.) - wrote to Bolden beforehand to protest, saying they had "serious concerns about the nature and goals of China's space program" and warning that "China's intentions for its space program are questionable at best." Since Republicans won control of the House in November's elections, Wolf now chairs the House Appropriations Committee's commerce, justice and science subcommittee, which oversees NASA's budget, and Culberson is a senior subcommittee member."

Challenger Center Board Member Richard Garriott, private space explorer, salutes Challenger Center from the International Space Station.

Solar Sailing

NASA's NanoSail-D Deploys Solar Sail in Low-Earth Orbit

"Friday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. EST, engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed that the NanoSail-D nanosatellite deployed its 100-square-foot polymer sail in low-Earth orbit and is operating as planned. Actual deployment occurred on Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. EST and was confirmed today with beacon packets data received from NanoSail-D and additional ground-based satellite tracking assets. In addition, the NanoSail-D orbital parameter data set shows an appropriate change which is consistent with sail deployment."

NASA Space Technology Roadmaps Available for Public Review and Comment

"Through an open process of community engagement, the NRC will gather input, integrate, and prioritize each Space Technology Area Roadmap, providing NASA with strategic guidance and recommendations that inform the technology investment decisions of NASA's space technology activities. Because it is difficult to predict the wide range of future advances possible in these areas, NASA plans to update the integrated technology roadmap on a regular basis."

NASA gives go-ahead for additional shuttle flight, AP

"NASA doesn't know yet where it will get the money, but on Thursday the space agency officially added another space shuttle launch to its schedule -- the final one for the fleet. The space agency set a target launch date of June 28 for the shuttle Atlantis and started preparations for the 135th and last shuttle flight. The four-member crew will take up supplies to the International Space Station, make one spacewalk, and return a faulty pump that has bedeviled engineers."

Keith's note: Amazing. NASA has now learned how to prepare for a shuttle flight - something that used to cost money - with money it does not have. I hope the MSL and Webb folks stop by for a copy of the secret recipe SOMD is using.

NASA Presses Ahead With STS-135 Preparations Despite Budget Uncertainty, earlier post

Cross Cutting Themes at JSC

NASA JSC Presentation: Cross Cutting Themes January 2011

Improvements are needed in the following for BEO Human Exploration:

* Human Sustainability: much more commonality/ interchangeability of systems for repairs and hardware maintenance. Fewer tools. Dependable systems--better reliability with redundancy.
* Human/Robotic Interaction: Need a robot with human-like dexterity. Desire control like Xbox "Kinect"
* EVA: EVA improved suit, suitport
* Crew/Ground Interface: Need more autonomy as crew and spacecraft will be light-minutes from MCC intervention. (Closer operations philosophy to pre-TDRSS). Still need high-definition video for critical events (dockings, EVAs, telerobotics)
* Working & Living in Space: radiation protection for crew. Crew health. In situ real time training.
* Launch Infrastructure

MacGyver Projects provide opportunities to test new operational concepts

NASA JSC Presentation: Human Spaceflight Affordability: Advanced In-house Development Portfolio January 2011

Center Retreat Discussion
-What are the ideas/innovations we can explore/push forward as we wait for clear direction?

Agency Challenge:
-Coming out of HEFT Steering Committee, and the Administrator
-- "Affordability remains the most significant issue facing the Agency and in particular human spaceflight."
-- "In order to close on affordability, shorten development cycles, and lower operations and sustaining costs, NASA must change its traditional approach to human space systems acquisition and development"

Center Initiative:
-Develop, implement, and demonstrate "world class" practices in delivering spacecraft technologies, systems, operations and services for the Human Spaceflight Enterprise

Goal: To become a "catalyst for change" demonstrating best practices for the Agency With the ultimate goal of building a more sustainable Human Spaceflight Enterprise

Keith's note: I registered to attend the ISS National Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) Public Day event on 10 December 2010. As I did, I was asked for a "point of contact" without any explanation as who that would be. Since I had already posted all of my information (address, email, phone etc.) I was not certain what else to add. At NASA "point of contact" usually refers to someone at NASA. The only "contact" I have per se is PAO, so I listed Bob Jacobs and registered as "NASA Watch".

Constellation Celebration & Recognition Event at NASA LaRC

"All Constellation team members are invited to join Dale Thomas, our NASA Constellation Program Manager, Thursday, January 20th for a Constellation LaRC Celebration and Recognition Event in honor of the great accomplishments you've made to the program. It will be held in the Reid Center auditorium and starts at 8 am with breakfast (courtesy of the Constellation Program) followed by an All Hands and awards ceremony. A calendar invite will follow shortly."

Keith's note: Well, it would seem that Doug Cooke, Dale Thomas, ESMD, and CxP are putting that Congressionally-created money for the now-cancelled Constellation program to good use by buying breakfast for everyone on the team.

Anonymous senior SOMD reader note: "just read the comments on the article. What people are missing (and you understand) is perception. We used to have snacks, food, coffee, drinks outside all of our FRR's - this was not cheap. When we started laying people off, Gerst called an end to the practice. The message was: we are not going to spend scarce resources on cookies for upper management when we are laying teammembers off to save money. This provides insight into the difference between mission directorate leadership."

U.S. China Statement, White House

"10. The United States and China agreed to take specific actions to deepen dialogue and exchanges in the field of space. The United States invited a Chinese delegation to visit NASA headquarters and other appropriate NASA facilities in 2011 to reciprocate for the productive visit of the U.S. NASA Administrator to China in 2010. The two sides agreed to continue discussions on opportunities for practical future cooperation in the space arena, based on principles of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit."

Keith's note: This is a little confusing. First, Bolden decides that he wants to go to China (and Indonesia and Vietnam) and the White House tries to talk him out of it saying that this is not the best time. Bolden then shortens his trip, and drops the Indonesia and Vietnam stops - but he still goes to China. A few days before his trip John Holdren leads a separate delegation to China (without Bolden). During after his trip, Bolden is absolutely silent about what happens on his trip and the White House continues to downplay it. Now, that trip shows up in this joint statement as a big accomplishment - with no mention of Holdren's trip. Is the White House trying to save face? Bolden still says nothing about his trip other than admitting that he went there. Is this "policy" development we're seeing, or just someone trying to make chaos look like it was planned all along?

Bolden's China Trip: Its His Idea, Not Obama's (Update), earlier post

Earlier China postings

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, co-founder of Challenger Center for Space Science Education, talking to Students on 25th Anniversary of Challenger.

A Worldwide Game of "Telephone" Distorts NASA Meeting, Planetary Society

"Such failures in truth-telling are pernicious and, now that the Internet can spread falsehoods as fast as electrons can travel through wires and electromagnetic signals can travel through the air, they are nearly impossible to stop. This particular falsehood spread like an Internet game of "Telephone," where each time another reporter repeated the misconception, it morphed into something even farther from reality and more damaging."

Keith's note: I asked NASA PAO - more than once - for clarification on this event and no one ever got back to me. No one from PAO reached out to me to try and correct the record or comment on the articles I linked to from NASA Watch. Moreover, I do not see any clarification by JPL PAO here http://blogs.jpl.nasa.gov/ , or here http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/index.cfm

If NASA JPL PAO is as outraged as it would seem that they are, then where's their clarification about this event? I can't find it. Instead of complaining about "bad reporting" JPL PAO needs to get off their posteriors and respond to email inquiries and be a little more proactive. It has been more than 2 weeks since this "story" went viral. If indeed this was all "damaging" as JPL's semi-official cheeleaders at the Planetary Society suggest, then someone should have tried to do something much more prominent, and do so a lot sooner - and not leave it to someone else to do well after the "damage" has been done.

JPL's Bad Movie Pick For 2010: "2012", NASA Watch's earlier contribution to this evil viral damage done to JPL.

Broken PAO at Wallops

Rocket Launch Scheduled January 22 From Wallops Flight Facility

"WALLOPS ISLAND, VA - A Terrier-Oriole suborbital rocket is schedule for launch January 22 for the U.S. Navy from NASA's Launch Range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Based on the approved range schedule, the rocket is set for launch between midnight and 4 a.m. The backup launch days are January 23 - 25. The rocket may be visible to residents on Delmarva. This launch will not be web casted nor will launch status updates be provided once the countdown begins. The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will not be open for viewing the launch."

Keith's note: That's the entire advisory. Its almost as if they were trying to write a 140 character Twitter post. What an odd thing to put out. In other words "Here's less than three day's notice about a rocket launch that will send things into space. You might see it. We are not going to tell you anything else. Don't bother contacting us - we'll be closed - unlike KSC we do not work weekends.".

A night launch. How cool. You can see these things for hundreds of miles if you have an idea where and when to look. It's a Saturday night so the kids can stay up late. These things follow a known trajectory so you could encourage people to take photos, see who is the furthest north, south, west etc. to see it. And then you use the opportunity to a little public education and involvement, explain why this being done, etc. -- and then cross leverage this with the previous day's rocket integration facility ribbon cutting. But no. WFF has got to have the NASA record for the shortest, most infrequent, and often the most useless press releases and advisories that the agency puts out. And as far as PR 101 smarts: none are in evidence.

I can't imagine that people are going to be happy with this terse approach when Orbital and others starts to launch from Wallops. The following article talks about "attracting spectators in numbers previously unseen". Not if NASA WFF PAO is involved.

Wallops helps state industry, Delmarva.com

"The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is one of only four FAA-licensed spaceports in the United States. The report states that NASA's decision to center suborbital rocket launches at Wallops and upcoming launches of Orbital Sciences' 130-foot Taurus II rockets there could increase the value of space tourism in the region and "is expected to attract spectators in numbers previously unseen in the past."

NASA Unveiling New Rocket Integration Facility At Wallops

"NASA will unveil its new rocket integration facility at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 21."

NASA Invites Public To Vote On Optimus Prime Contest Student Videos

"NASA has opened online voting for the agency's OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Award student video contest. The public is invited to vote for its favorite videos, made by students in grades three through eight, developed to help educate America's youth about the benefits of NASA's technologies. NASA is using the correlation between Hasbro's TRANSFORMERS property and commercialized agency "spinoffs" to help students understand how technology developed for space and aeronautics "transforms" into what is used on Earth. More than 190 children from 31 states have submitted creative videos describing their favorite agency technology from NASA's 2009 Spinoff publication. The students also documented why their video should be selected to win the NASA OPTIMUS PRIME trophy."

Astronaut Steve Bowen Named to STS-133 Shuttle Crew

"NASA selected astronaut Steve Bowen as a mission specialist on STS-133, the next space shuttle mission planned for launch on Feb. 24. Bowen replaces astronaut Tim Kopra, who was injured in a bicycle accident over the weekend. The agency will hold a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. CST on Wednesday, Jan. 19, to discuss the change in crew personnel."

Court says NASA background checks can continue, Federal News Radio

"The Supreme Court says background checks of low-risk employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California can continue. The high court on Wednesday overturned a lower court decision that had stopped the space agency's investigations of the contract workers. The workers claimed NASA was invading their privacy by requiring the investigations, which included probes into medical records and questioning of friends about everything from their finances to their sex lives."

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION ET AL. v. NELSON ET AL., Supreme Court

Earlier posts

What is a Galaxy? Cast Your Vote Here

"Our aim here is to promote further discussion of how to define a galaxy and, in particular, what separates it from a star cluster. Like most previous definitions, we adopt the requirement of a gravitationally bound stellar system as a minimum ... we give our favoured criteria, and in the spirit of a 'collective wisdom', invite readers to vote on their preferred definition of a galaxy via a dedicated website. ... In order to capture the thoughts of a wider audience about how to define a galaxy, we invite readers to vote. This 'collective wisdom' or 'crowd-sourcing' will be captured in an online poll. The poll allows one to choose the single best criterion or multiple criteria. Results of the poll will be reported from time to time at future astronomy conferences."

Sony Pictures Adapting Sex on the Moon, Coming Soon

"Sony Pictures has picked up the film rights to Ben Mezrich's "Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History". The Social Network was based on Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires." Scott Rudin, Michael DeLuca and Dana Brunetti, who produced The Social Network, will again produce and Kevin Spacey will again executive produce."

Sex on the Moon, Amazon.com (in bookstores July 2011)

"Thad convinced his girlfriend and another female accomplice, both NASA interns, to break into an impregnable laboratory at NASA's headquarters--past security checkpoints, an electronically locked door with cipher security codes, and camera-lined hallways--and help him steal the most precious objects in the world: the moon rocks."

Keith's note: Yes, I know that NASA Headquarters is in Washington, DC - not Houston, TX. but do the movie producers know this? (Does JSC?)

The Case of the Stolen Moon Rocks, FBI

"What damage did they do? The young thieves did more than just try to sell off a collection of lunar samples worth as much as $21 million. In the process, they also contaminated them, making them virtually useless to the scientific community. They also destroyed three decades worth of handwritten research notes by a NASA scientist that had been locked in the safe."

Q&A with Charles F. Bolden NASA Administrator, The Post and Courier

"Q: The recent elections showed voters' concern about the level of government spending and debt. How will that affect NASA's work?

A: "That's hard to say. I'll be able to answer that question for you better in the middle of February, when we get our budget. It would be premature for me to try to guess. It may be that the Congress decides that they really think exploration is really important ... and we'll find the level of funding is OK."

Keith's note: That's it folks. That's the only actual interview with an actual reporter you'll see in January. Charlie Bolden will now go back into hiding for another month - until the next commencement ceremony or Rotary club breakfast where he'll toss a few lines at a local reporter. And when the budget is released he will not be available to the media nor will he do any of the heavy lifting in public (as did previous Administrators) in explaining what the budget means.

Keith's update: I have been informed that Space News has an interview with Bolden in its 17 Jan issue (I don't get Space News, my bad). I'd like to link to it but it is on the for-fee part of their website. [But its now out in the wild and available for free.] Apparently Bolden "likes his day job". That's nice to hear - I was getting concerned. That said, I can say with utmost certainty that major news organizations i.e. large wire services and networks - have long standing requests for interviews with Bolden that have not been granted. Its not PAO's fault, folks. It's Bolden's - and the way the White House has him on a short leash so as to prevent further gaffs.

Letter from Sen. Nelson and Sen. Hutchison to NASA Administrator Bolden Regarding Space Launch System / Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle

"Finally, we would like to clarify our intent when stating "to the extent practicable" in the Authorization Act, such as the direction to leverage Shuttle and Constellation capabilities "to the extent practicable" in developing the Space Launch System and the multi-purpose crew vehicle. Federal courts have held that the phrase "to the maximum extent practicable" imposes "a clear duty on [an] agency to fulfill the [relevant] statutory command to the extent that it is feasible or possible*' (Fund for Animals v. Babbitt, 903 F. Supp. 96,107 (D.D.C. 1995) (noting that the phrase "does not permit an agency unbridled discretion") ..."

"A reminder that the Early Bird Registration Deadline is THIS FRIDAY, Jan 21! The conference [DRAFT program] will be held at University of Central Florida Feb 28 - Mar 2, 2011 in the Student Union, Pegasus Ballroom (located in the center of campus). When making your travel plans, please note that the conference begins at 8 am on Mon Feb 28, and concludes early evening Wed Mar 2."

Photo: Region Around Mt. Everest As Seen From Orbit

Keith's note: This image was aquired by the ISS crew on 6 January 2011. Although the summit if Everest itself is just out of frame, you can see Everest Base Camp where Scott Parazynski lived and most of the lower portion of Scott's climb to the summit. Basecamp is about half a kilometer from the bottom of the Khumbu icefall and is located in the lower right hand portion of this image, to the right of the "e" in "Khumbutse" (where the red dot is).

Bolden Speaks in Charleston

NASA chief to be keynote speaker, Post and Courier

"NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., a Columbia native, will be the featured speaker at this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Business and Professional Breakfast, making him the annual event's second consecutive keynote speaker from the aerospace sector. The breakfast is a major fundraising event for the YWCA of Greater Charleston, and is co-sponsored by the city."

Remarks for NASA Adminstrator Bolden Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Business and Professional Breakfast

"It's a new world all around. What I preside over at NASA would have been science fiction when I was growing up. The International Space Station, an orbiting outpost the size of a football field, circling overhead 250 miles above Earth, with human occupants 24/7 for more than ten years now would have been unthinkable in my college days. In fact, the international partnership that built and operates the ISS would itself have been unthinkable even very recently. That we have a regular presence at Saturn and Mars and will soon have a satellite orbiting Mercury was something we could only conceptualize when I studied at the U.S. Naval Academy."

NASA's Hansen prefers rule by decree to fight 'global warming', Washington Times

"NASA laboratory head James Hansen's anti-democracy rants were published while he was on a November junket in China, but they didn't get much attention until recently. On Jan. 12, the hyperprolific blogger Marc Morano put them on his Climate Depot site, and within hours, the post went viral. In a former life, Mr. Morano was chief global-warming researcher for Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican."

Keith's note: Alas, the global warming deniers continue to villify Hansen (armed with little more than vitriol and arm waving) - and Hansen continues to say whatever he wants where he wants. Yet every time Hansen is quoted the word "NASA" is included - even if he is quoted when not speaking for NASA in an official capacity. No one else at the agency can do that when talking about their day job. I wonder why?

Gabrielle Giffords Earth and Space Leadership Fund: Support future leaders in Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering and Policy.

"To honor the victims of the recent tragedy in Tucson and their families, we have started a fund in Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' name to support future leaders in earth and space sciences, engineering and policy. In her 112th Congress swearing-in speech, Gabby talked about the need for leadership. She also strongly supports earth and space sciences, as well as technology innovations and public policy that benefit our nation. Gabby is to administer the fund, which is intended to help develop America's leadership in these critical areas through a range of activities, sponsorships and support for students."

Analysis: NASA flails as forces pull on it from all directions, Orlando Sentinel

"Our civil space agency has decayed from Kennedy's and Reagan's visions of opening a new frontier to the point where it's just a jobs program in a death spiral of addiction and denial, with thousands of honest innovators trapped inside like flies in bureaucratic amber," said space-policy consultant James Muncy. ... In a letter to Congress last week, NASA all but threw up its hands -- telling lawmakers that it could not build the "heavy-lift" rocket and capsule Congress wants on the budget and schedule it demands."

SpaceX: Commercial Crew Transport To The International Space Station

"With the government acting as a catalyst, the commercial spaceflight industry is already developing into an exciting new driver of technological innovation, job creation and economic growth. A recent industry survey by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation projects that more than 5,000 direct jobs, including jobs in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia, would be created over the next five years if the NASA proposal is approved. Thousands of additional jobs would be created indirectly."

SpaceX Status Report on Falcon 9/Dragon

"While the maximum reliability is designed into our vehicles, there is no substitute for recent, relevant flight experience when it comes to demonstrating flight safety. The Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to fly at least 11 more times and the Falcon 9 launch vehicle is scheduled to fly 17 times before the first Dragon crew flight. Given the extensive manifest of Falcon 9 and Dragon, the SpaceX system will mature before most other systems will be developed."

NASA SMD Memo: Status of Planetary's Research and Analysis (R&A) Program

"In order to maintain our fiscal responsibilities this situation demands that the Planetary Science Division Program Officers not over commit our R&A funds too early in the year. Therefore we will under-select in each of our R&A calls and put many more on notice that they are in the "selectable" range until it is clear what our final budget is and we can meet our obligations. As a reminder, a Principal Investigator who receives a letter that states his or her proposal is in the selectable range could be funded when NASA identifies the funds, which in this case, must wait until a final budget for NASA has been determined. We will also continue to use the technique of "active grants management" that we used last fiscal year for both new and existing awards which will enable PSD to keep the amount of unobligated funding as low as possible as we enter FY12."

Keith's note: Gee, why isn't Ed Weiler sending out this memo to everyone who is funded by SMD? Is he singling out Planetary Science Division for special treatment (punishment)?

Keith's note: Does any one at NASA Langley Research Center (or elsewhere in/around NASA) know where this large reproduction of the Lunar Orbiter 1 "Earthrise" image (or others like it) are currently located? Please drop an email to lunarorbiter-at-spaceref.com - thanks! More information.

Click on Image to enlarge "Cost and Schedule of Shuttle sidemount compared with HEFT alternatives. This is the only HLV option that meets all legal requirements and fits within the budget and schedule assumptions of HEFT. Data derived from SSP Study NSTS 60583, dated June 8, 2010"

HEFT, Lies and Videotape, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"So as Oliver Hardy would say, here's another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into. NASA creates an unaffordable architecture (ESAS) to implement the VSE. The response by the new administration is to cancel the VSE and replace it with promises of more distant goals at some nebulous time in the far future. Congress directs the agency to build an HLV anyway, but the vehicle has no mission, so they pull out the specs of the last HLV America flew. NASA responds by saying they can't do it on the money and schedule specified, even though they themselves have in hand a report that shows how it can be done. Moreover, the agency still claims it doesn't know why anyone would want to go to the Moon, despite having been shown repeatedly that what we do there will create new space faring capability."

Keith's note: During its recent deliberations the HEFT II activity look at a variety of scenarios, reference missions etc. One of them, DM1, actually meets the costs and schedule specified by Congress. DM1 entails creation and use of an in-space propellant depot and refueling capability. It also makes use of EELVs and other commercial launch assets. But forces within NASA ESMD personnel - led by Doug Cooke - have purposefully sat on such ideas and have made certain that they were scrubbed from presentation charts and reports to Congress and other "stakeholders". Charlie Bolden is aware of this tactic.

Videos: Upcoming Indie Space Drama "Love"

Synopsis: "After losing contact with Earth, Astronaut Lee Miller becomes stranded in orbit alone aboard the International Space Station. As time passes and life support systems dwindle, Lee battles to maintain his sanity - and simply stay alive. His world is a claustrophobic and lonely existence, until he makes a strange discovery aboard the ship."

Keith's note: Based on the two trailer videos, someome seems to have spent a lot of time recreating the ISS interior for this film - or they shot inside an actual trainer.

Shuttle Discovery's lead spacewalker hurt in accident, Spaceflight Now

"Space station veteran Timothy Kopra, scheduled for launch Feb. 24 aboard the shuttle Discovery, was injured in a bicycle accident Saturday, a NASA official said. The injury was not life threatening and the NASA official, citing medical privacy issues, provided no additional details. But multiple sources said Kopra may have broken his hip, raising the prospect of a significant impact to the already-delayed mission."

NASA Spinoff App for Android

"The NASA Spinoff App for Android contains a feed of NASA's latest technology news, a searchable database of NASA-derived innovations, a map of spinoff locations, a historical timeline and a database of NASA's available licensing opportunities to inspire the spinoffs of the future."

Chairman Hall Assures Close Oversight og NASA Human Space Flight Program

"The report recently provided to Congress by NASA on its heavy lift development is only the beginning of a long conversation Congress will have with the Agency regarding the future of the human space flight program. It was this Administration that killed the Constellation program, which Congress had repeatedly endorsed. Instead of providing the resources that the Augustine Committee said were necessary to have a program worthy of a great nation, this Administration simply said it was unaffordable, choosing instead to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on other priorities."

NASA OIG Letter Regarding Constellation Program and 2010 NASA Authorization Act

"The Inspector General Act of 1978 directs Federal Inspectors General to, among other things, "review existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to programs and operations" of their agencies and to make recommendations "concerning the impact of such legislation or regulations on the economy and efficiency in the administration of programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment." In addition, Inspectors General are required to keep their agency head and Congress informed about "serious problems, abuses. and deficiencies relating to the administration of programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment, [and] to recommend corrective action concerning such problems."

Keith's note: Any typos are a result of the poor quality of the original letter - parts of which are illegible - released to the media by the NASA OIG - in clear violation of Section 508 requirements, by the way.

NASA inspector general urges Congress to stop wasting money on Constellation rocket program, Huntsville Times

"Constraining NASA's ability to stop spending money on aspects of a rocket program that the administration and Congress have both agreed to cancel while at the same time prohibiting the agency from beginning the follow-on program called for in the 2010 Authorization Act strikes us as a problem ripe for correction," Martin said in the letter to the Senate NASA oversight committee dated Thursday. "Accordingly, we urge Congress to take immediate action," Martin said, "that will enable NASA to reduce or cease funding aspects of the Constellation Program in order to more efficiently redirect these funds to the priorities outlined in the Authorization Act."

ViviSat Launched - New Venture Will Provide Satellite Life Extension Services

"U.S. Space LLC, a U.S.-based creator of dedicated space solutions for government and commercial clients, and ATK, an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company, today announced the creation of ViviSat, a new satellite life extension venture. ViviSat provides geosynchronous satellite operators with flexible, scalable, capital-efficient, and low-risk in-orbit mission extension and protection services that can add several years to the revenue-producing life of a satellite."

NASA Mars Program Update From "Follow the Water" to "Seeking Signs of Life"

"The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, DC and NASA's Planetary Science Division welcomes you to a Mars Program Update starting at 10:30AM Eastern this Thursday, January 13, 2011 at NASM. The event will conclude by 12:30PM. It's free and open to the public, and if you're in the area stop by, but if you're not, it will also be carried live on NASA TV and on the web at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv and http://www.livestream.com/mars"

Keith's note: Both @egvick and @AlanMLadwig are Tweeting updates from/about the event.

Keith's note: The event has been archived and can be viewed here.

Preliminary Report Regarding NASA's Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Pursuant to Section 309 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267)

"To date, trade studies performed by the Agency have yet to identify heavy-lift and capsule architectures that would both meet all SLS requirements and these goals. For example, a 2016 first flight of the SLS does not appear to be possible within projected FY 2011 and out year funding levels. ... However, to be clear, neither Reference Vehicle Design currently fits the projected budget profiles nor the schedule goals outlined in the Authorization Act. .... none of the design options studied thus far appeared to be affordable in our present fiscal conditions, based upon existing cost models, historical data, and traditional acquisition approaches. ..."

Senate Commerce Committee Members Respond to NASA Report

"We appreciate NASA's report and look forward to the additional material that was required but not submitted. In the meantime, the production of a heavy-lift rocket and capsule is not optional. It's the law. NASA must use its decades of space know-how and billions of dollars in previous investments to come up with a concept that works. We believe it can be done affordably and efficiently - and, it must be a priority."

Exploration Program Status Presentation to the NASA Advisory Council, Doug Cooke

* Key Auth Act Direction

- The Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and associated contracts
- The initial capability of the core elements, without an upper stage, of lifting payloads weighing between 70 tons and 100 tons into low-Earth orbit
- The capability to lift the multipurpose crew vehicle
- The capability to serve as a backup system for supplying and supporting ISS cargo requirements or crew delivery requirements not otherwise met by available commercial or partner-supplied vehicles

* SLS Reference Vehicle Design

- 27.5' Diameter LOX/LH2 Core Stage
- Five RS25 based engines using Shuttle assets then RS25E expendable derivative
- Two 5-Segment Ares derived SRBs
- Delivers 108.6t to 30x130 nmi

* Evolved System to 130mT

- Upper stage with one or two J-2X upper stage engines (trades pending)
- Draft FY11 CR language dictates concurrent development of upper stage with core vehicle

Human Space Exploration Framework Summary Presentation to the NASA Advisory Council

Strategy: 1-Fixed Initial Conditions: Mission to a NEA when Affordable

Description: A fixed cost and initial milestone-constrained assessment, consistent with the NASA 2010 Authorization for the DRM 4B (NEA mission) only. Manifest changed to incorporate HLLV test flight. Utilized updated design & cost estimates, that include some lean development options

Simple Result Description: Over-constrained. Does not meet all schedule, budget, and performance requirements. Results heavily dependent upon budget availability and phasing.

Space Adventures Concludes Agreement to Offer Commercial Spaceflight Opportunities to the International Space Station

"Space Adventures, the only company that has provided human space mission opportunities to the world marketplace, announced today the conclusion of an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) to commercially offer three seats on the Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS), beginning in 2013. These seats will be made available through the increase of Soyuz production, from four to five spacecraft per year. Each flight will be short duration, approximately 10 days, and will contribute to the increase of launch capacity to the ISS."

NASA - The Frontier is Everywhere Video Goes Viral, But Why?, Marc Boucher, editor, SpaceRef Canada

"Let's remember Gower is Canadian. Why isn't he ranting about the Canadian Space Agency? Ah well, NASA does have much higher profile. Gower says "their media sucks", well ok, sometimes it does, and then he says "None of their brilliant scientists appear to know how to connect with the social media crowd", and this unfortunately is where I disagree with Gower. NASA actually does, in my opinion, do a great job with the social media crowd. In fact among space or science agencies around the world they lead the way. NASA has embraced social media using blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, USTREAM, foursquare, myspace, flickr and Gowalla. They have Twitter accounts for senior management, astronauts and all their missions. They connect! Their scientists use social media to connect as well. But remember they have a job to do and it takes time to be social, but none the less, they do connect."

NASA OIG Small Business Innovation (SBIR) Program Audit Report

"Our review found that while NASA's initial choice of SBIR award recipients appeared objective and merit-based, its oversight and monitoring of awards was deficient. In addition to the estimated $2.7 million in unallowable and unsupportable costs that included travel and equipment expenses, we found that NASA officials lacked adequate procedures to ensure SBIR applicants' past performance had been considered when selecting recipients of approximately $85.7 million in "Phase 2" SBIR funds. Federal acquisition rules require consideration of past performance information in awards of more than $100,000 to ensure the selected proposal represents the best value."

Statement by Sen. Rockefeller Regarding the NASA OIG Audit Report on NASA's SBIR Program

"Government-supported scientific research and innovation is one of the keys to our country's future economic growth. We can't afford to lose any of our precious research and development dollars to waste, fraud or abuse," Chairman Rockefeller said. "I congratulate the NASA Inspector General for taking a clear, hard look at the way NASA awards, administers and tracks SBIR funds. I urge NASA to quickly implement the Inspector General's recommendations and put an end to the problems the IG has identified."

Keith's 12 Jan update: The video has really gone viral (aintitcool, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and Gizmodo) . 1/4 million views in just several days. It would be a shame for NASA not to capitalize on this in some way. At a minimum can't NASA's YouTube channel "favorite" and "share" this video? Not responding sort of makes point initial made by "Damewse" i.e. "I got frustrated with NASA and made this video. NASA is the most fascinating, adventurous, epic institution ever devised by human beings, and their media sucks. Seriously. None of their brilliant scientists appear to know how to connect with the social media crowd, which is now more important than ever. In fact, NASA is an institution whose funding directly depends on how the public views them."

Dear Reddit: Let's become NASA's PR department. Let's make awesome/inspirational space exploration videos!, Reddit

"NASA needs all the help it can get and more people need to be excited about space exploration. I know we as a community have the talent to do this. From the community description: This will be a place we can come together to promote all of the great ideas and institutions that benefit us all (both short term and long term) but could use a little help with their public perception."

"NASA - The Frontier Is Everywhere" - My 2nd attempt at what NASA marketing might look like if they made more social media content., Reddit

Comment by "Fandango1978": "I sent it to Neil Degrasse Tyson yesterday, 1 hour ago he posted your video on Twitter and 3 hours ago on Facebook. NASA now officially knows about your video."

Comment by "rgower" (who apparently is also "Damewse"), Reddit

"Sorry I've been absolutely swamped and overwhelmed with the response. CNBC and Fox news actually want to do interviews with me, believe it or not."

I'd really like to know who "Damewse" is. As best I can tell from his videos he is a 24 year old guy who lives in British Columbia.

Keith's 12 Jan update: One reader informed me that the author of this incredibly popular video is Reid Gower. The photo on this Facebook page looks like the fellow shown in several videos. You can follow him on Twitter at @reidgower

"Damewse": "I got frustrated with NASA and made this video. NASA is the most fascinating, adventurous, epic institution ever devised by human beings, and their media sucks. Seriously. None of their brilliant scientists appear to know how to connect with the social media crowd, which is now more important than ever. In fact, NASA is an institution whose funding directly depends on how the public views them.

In all of their brilliance, NASA seems to have forgotten to share their hopes and dreams in a way the public can relate to, leaving one of humanities grandest projects with terrible PR and massive funding cuts. I have a lot of ideas for a NASA marketing campaign, but I doubt they'd pay me even minimum wage to work for them. I literally have an MSWord document entitled NASAideas.doc full of ideas waiting to share. I thought maybe, just maybe someone might be able to work their magic for me on that. But the primary point of this post is to vent my frustration with NASA. Sure, they've fallen victim to budget cuts but I honestly think cutting media will seal NASA's own fate. Unless they can find a way to relate to the general public, support for their projects will always be minimal, and their funding will follow suit. A social media department would easily pay for itself in government grants because it could rekindle the public interest in the space program."

Keith's 11 Jan update: As "damewse", the guy who created the video that everyone is watching notes, the original video, music etc., which served as his inspiration (and was reused), was created by Michael Marantz. This is his Marantz's original video.

NASA Delivers Heavy Lift Proposal to Congress, Space News

"NASA told U.S. lawmakers Jan. 10 it intends to build a heavy-lift rocket that incorporates the space shuttle's main engines, giant external tank and taller versions of the solid-rocket boosters it jettisons on the way to orbit, according to a senior NASA official. However, neither the rocket nor the crew vehicle it would launch could be completed within the cost and schedule Congress outlined for the project late last year. Congress directed NASA last fall to get started this year on a multipurpose crew exploration vehicle and a heavy-lift rocket initially capable of hauling 70-100 metric tons of payload to orbit."

Keith's note: Hilarious - and typical. NASA is incapable of thinking outside of the box or letting go of old things. Nor can they stay within Congressional budget or schedule limitations. SpaceX has already outlined a way that they could do this for vastly less money - and most likely sooner.

But wait, there's more:

"Cooke said NASA expects to deliver a final report to Congress in the spring pending the results of a slew of heavy-lift launch vehicle study contracts awarded to 13 U.S. companies in November that are expected to yield a gamut of launch vehicle design proposals."

So NASA is telling Congress that it already has a HLV design that it wants to build - but that it cannot afford to build it or do so as Congress has asked. Yet NASA tells Congress anyway. Yet NASA is funding additional HLV studies? Why? It has already told Congress what its HLV is going to look like. Why waste money on these studies if you already have the answer? Shouldn't NASA do trade studies BEFORE picking a design - not after? This is starting to smell like Mike Griffin's ESAS all over again - and the same guy is running the show once again.

Human Exploration Framework Team Presentation Online, earlier post

"This piece contains readings from Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot". I have edited his words to tell this short narrative. The Time lapse images were taken in Mexico and Utah. The piano is self-composed. I hope you enjoy this piece, it has given me hope once again."

Keith's update: As "damewse", the guy who created the video that everyone is watching notes, the original video, music etc., which served as his inspiration, was created by Michael Marantz. This is his video.

Ohio ex-NASA worker charged over military exports, Washington Post

"Authorities say Chun exported infrared focal-plane array detectors and infrared camera engines. They say Chun is a former employee at the NASA Glenn Research Center but is not accused of taking technology from the center."

Former NASA Employee Charged with Illegally Exporting Military Technology to South Korea, FBI

"Chun is a longtime employee at the NASA Glenn Research Center, though he is not accused of taking technology or related materials from the research center."

Senator: NASA May Have To Consider Having Only 2 Launches

"NASA is getting a stern reality check from one of its biggest supporters. Senator Bill Nelson admitted Monday there may only be two more shuttle missions instead of three. WFTV learned NASA will announce another delay for Discovery on Tuesday and, Nelson says, if engineers can't fix Discovery's external tank they must cancel the Atlantis mission and use that tank, because they aren't making tanks anymore. The plant that makes the tanks in Louisiana has already been shut down, so NASA is really faced with two options: fly with a tank that has had more repair work done than any other tank or scrap an entire shuttle mission."

Comment by Wayne Hale (actual rocket scientist) on an earlier post

"Let me review the situation: until root cause is understood, all the remaining tanks are suspect; going to the next tank in line would likely have the same condition. Understanding the cause and fixing all the remaining tanks is required. Second, this is hardly a hurry up launch fever situation. The shuttle team is methodically working through the problem. They have delayed the launch from early November repeatedly because the solution is not in hand. They are exercising very good judgment and not rushing. Working through difficult engineering problems can be painful to watch, but my observation is that they are doing what is prudent and proper."

Hubble Zooms In on a Space Oddity

"One of the strangest space objects ever seen is being scrutinized by the penetrating vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. A mysterious, glowing, green blob of gas is floating in space near a spiral galaxy. Hubble uncovered delicate filaments of gas and a pocket of young star clusters in the giant object, which is the size of our Milky Way galaxy."

Kepler Mission Discovers its First Rocky Planet

"NASA's Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of its first rocky planet, named Kepler-10b. Measuring 1.4 times the size of Earth, it is the smallest planet ever discovered outside our solar system. The discovery of this so-called exoplanet is based on more than eight months of data collected by the spacecraft from May 2009 to early January 2010."

Granville Paules

Keith's 6 Jan note: Granville Paules has died. Details to follow. Official bio. According to one reader "Mr. Pauls was launch GUIDO for Apollo 11 and 13 among other significant flights, served as a GUIDO throughout the 13 crisis, and was YAW on the white team during Eagle's landing at Tranquillity."

Keith's update: A memorial services is scheduled at Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, MD at 3:00 pm on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011

Welsh donors praised for helping preserve Scott hut, BBC

"In 1910 Scott relied heavily on school children to fund his expedition, with schools sponsoring a sledge dog or set of skis, in return for the honour of having their name transported to the very bottom of the world. A century later and Mr Stuart Smith says youngsters have once again been among the campaign's most generous and enthusiastic supporters, though ecology rather than exploration now seems to be their main motivation. "I think now as then, children can identify with Scott's sense of adventure," he said."

Old Data: New Science

Student Project: New Lunar Crater Search Using LROC-NAC Vs LOIRP Lunar Orbiter Images

"Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) is in possession of 1,478 2" original analog tapes from 3 Deep Space Network ground stations. We have taken hundreds of those analog tapes and converted them to digital form; with the majority of them being from Lunar Orbiter II which took images with .8 to 1 meter resolution. With them in digital form we are able to assemble the framelets in high quality and overlay them with Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Narrow Angle Camera (LROC_NAC), which has a similar resolution of .5 to 1 meter. The overlays enable us to compare the two images looking for change, specifically new craters."

Analysis of Lunar Orbiter Images Recovered From Analog Tape

"Further funding is being sought for this effort. The improvement in dynamic range and image reproduction fully justifies the effort and the resulting images are fully comparable with the LROC NAC image set coming from LRO. Our long range plan is that the LOIRP raw processed data would become the base layer for a future fully interactive Google Moon type scientific visualization system for layers of lunar remote sensing information."

Analyzing Old NASA Apollo Seismometer Data Reveals That The Moon Has An Earth-Like Core

"The researchers used extensive data gathered during the Apollo-era moon missions. The Apollo Passive Seismic Experiment consisted of four seismometers deployed between 1969 and 1972, which recorded continuous lunar seismic activity until late-1977."

Keith's note: NASA held a ISS National Lab Public Day CAN meeting on 10 December 2010. The purpose was to explain the pending Cooperative Agreement Notice and how interested parties should structure their proposals. The main speaker was NASA's Mark Uhran, Assistant Associate Administrator for ISS at NASA SOMD.
At one point Uhran bragged that he had "written 5 papers" on discoveries that had been made on the ISS, but he said that he was not going to tell anyone where to find them - thus challenging the attendees to go dig these papers up themselves. That is certainly an odd stance for a NASA official to take - especially one who is charged with promoting the value of the ISS as a platform for scientific research.

NASA Supplemental Information: Competitive Acquisition of Cooperative Agreement for ISS National Laboratory Management Entity

"One such search led to identification of five specific phenomenological findings of noteworthy significance, along with bibliographic references in peer-reviewed journals. This search has been documented in a review paper scheduled for presentation on January 4, 2011 at the 49th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 25th Symposium on Gravity-Related Phenomena in Space Exploration (GPSE). The paper is titled, "Positioning the International Space Station for the Era of Utilization", and the author is Mark Uhran, Assistant Associate Administrator for the ISS Program. Consistent with established policy, AIAA requests that the author not distribute the paper prior to presentation. Nonetheless, since this is a work of the U.S. government it can be distributed for governmental purposes. Therefore, the paper will be made available in the procurement library following public presentation. Entities interested in competing for this cooperative agreement are encouraged to conduct their own reviews of the open literature and summarize conclusions in their respective proposals."

Keith's note: Uhran's paper is now online: Positioning the International Space Station for the Utilization Era at the NSPIRES website. Yet there is no mention of this paper on the official ISS National Lab homepage. Is Mark Uhran going to post the other "five papers" he mentioned? Or is there only one paper with five discoveries? Once again, wouldn't you think that NASA would bend over backwards and provide every possible resource available to prospective ISS National Lab bidders - and the public as well - instead of dangling references in front of them and then people to go dig them up?

The ISS is an amazing facility - "The Undiscovered Country" - with heretofore untapped potential - potential that could exceed NASA's standard and boring PR. Why withhold this information? NASA should be showering people with results and seeking creative, out-of-the-box ideas in response - not playing hard-to-get. Then again, there are those worn-out Powerpoint slides and papers that barely change from year to year. Maybe the proposers are better off without them.

Earlier posts

Space Program Runs in Congresswoman's Family, NY Times

"Mr. Cabbage said it was too early to say how Mark Kelly's scheduled Endeavour mission would be affected. The Kelly brothers were to have been the first twins to be in space together when Endeavour visited the space station, but the launching of Endeavour has slipped to April, a month after Scott Kelly's scheduled return to Earth."

Tragedy's impact extends to space, MSNBC

"Normal practice in military flying is to ground a pilot who is undergoing severe family crisis, for a reasonable time," NBC News space analyst James Oberg observed in an e-mail. "Add to that -- his wife now faces a long recovery, and his chances of being with her more than a few hours a week are slim to none, if he continues training. He could well request being replaced, perhaps by the commander of the STS-135 [Atlantis] mission that is to follow his flight. They could swap seats. Or he could figure he's had his fair share of flights and just stand down."

Keith's WARNING: Any comments about this tragedy that even hint at politics, motives, perpetrator(s) - in any way - will not be posted. Don't even try.

NASA JSC Solicitation: Open Innovation Support Services for Internal Collaboration Support Platform and Intermediary

"NASA/JSC has a requirement for Open Innovation Support Services for internal collaboration support platform and intermediary to provide the capability for NASA employees to collaborate within and across the NASA organizations promoting internal collaboration and the identification of solutions to internal challenges by internal personnel and expertise. NASA/JSC intends to purchase the items from InnoCentive, Inc. InnoCentive, Inc. has the required infrastructure and personnel required to support the internal based platform and has an experience base that included an internet based ".com" and an internal based platform. Use of any other system would require duplication of work and loss of existing infrastructure that has already been designed for NASA, tested, validated and approved. The loss of infrastructure cannot be recovered through competition without substantial duplication of time, costs and risk to timely and successful implementation."

What Is Open Innovation at JSC?, Previous Post

NASA Innovation Pavilion, Innocentive

Keith's note: Hmm ... a sole cource contract for "open innovation support". Shouldn't there be multiple paths to "open innovation"? Is this a JSC-only product? The solicitation says "NASA/JSC has a requirement ..." yet the "NASA Innovation Pavilion" mentions JSC, GRC, and LaRC (not not other field centers). Additional solicitations also point to NASA/JSC requirements - not the agency as a whole. Confusing.

- NASA JSC Solicitation: Open Innovation Support Services for a Consortium Network Builder Platform Provider
- NASA JSC Solicitation: Open Innovation Support Services for an External Crowd Sourcing Platform

NASA Administrator Charles' Bolden's Statement on the Shooting of Congresswoman Giffords

"We at NASA are deeply shocked and saddened by the senseless shooting of Representative Giffords and others at Saturday's public event in Tucson. As a long-time supporter of NASA, Representative Giffords not only has made lasting contributions to our country, but is a strong advocate for the nation's space program and a member of the NASA family. She also is a personal friend with whom I have had the great honor of working. We at NASA mourn this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to Congresswoman Giffords, her husband Mark Kelly, their family, and the families and friends of all who perished or were injured in this terrible tragedy."

The Coalition for Space Exploration extends its heartfelt wishes to U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords for a full and speedy recovery

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Rep. Giffords and her family as they begin the road to recovery," said Glenn Mahone, chairman of the Coalition. "We also extend our deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones in this tragic occurrence and to the other victims and their families as they deal with the aftermath of this senseless tragedy."

Keith's WARNING: Any comments about this tragedy that even hint at politics, motives, perpetrator(s) - in any way - will not be posted. Don't even try.

Keith's 2:00 pm note: Rep. Giffords' husband is Astronaut Mark Kelly, commander of the STS-134 crew. His brother Scott is on-orbit on the ISS as a member of the Expedition 26 crew. CNN, Fox, and NPR "confirmed" that she has died from her wounds. Now retracted.

Congresswoman, 6 Others, Killed By Gunman, NPR

"Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and six others died after a gunman opened fire at a public event on Saturday, the Pima County, Ariz., sheriff's office confirms."

Keith's update: ABC, WTOP, and MSNBC now report that Rep. Giffords is in surgery despite "confirmed" reports from other news organizations. Stay tuned.

Keith's update: According to someone on Fox Rep. Giffords has been "responding to commands" post surgery. News conference delayed but imminent.

Keith's update: MSNBC reports the Tucson Deputy Mayoras saying that Rep. Giffords is "expected to survive".

Keith's update: The hospital spokesman says he is "very optimistic" because Rep. Giffords is responding to commands after surgery and that he is "as optimistic as I can get in this situation". She was shot in the head "through and through", the spokesman said. A total of 10 patients are at this hospital. One (a 9 year old child) died. 5 are in surgery, 5 are in critical condition.

Keith's WARNING: Any comments about this tragedy that even hint at politics, motives, perpetrator(s) - in any way - will not be posted. Don't even try.

CertifyingSoyuz, Wayne Hale

"So as new human certification ratings are proposed, they rely heavily on new standards and specifications, requirements for analysis, engineering calculation, computer simulation, piece-part testing and just a little bit on flight demonstration. Of course, the Shuttle and the Soyuz don't comply with those standards; they were built in different times with more primitive standards. But they demonstrate a level of reliability or safety that is apparently acceptable. If someone were to build their own spacecraft and/or launch vehicle; fly it successfully many times, demonstrate its capabilities in actual flight; then I suspect the new human rating requirements would be tossed aside in favor of demonstrated actual flight performance."

- Soyuz Procurement That Falls Short of NASA's Own Commercial Crew Requirements, earlier post
- NASA Releases LEO Commercial Crew Certification Requirements, earlier post

Layoff Updates

Usa Lays Off 143 Ksc Workers Today, Florida Today

"NASA's lead shuttle contractor is cutting staff as retirement of the shuttle fleet approaches later this year. The layoff affects a total of 246 employees across the Houston-based company, including 98 in Texas (updated number) and five in other locations."

MSFC Layoffs, Huntsville Space Professionals

"Rumors are circulating about more MSFC layoffs. Word is that they have been ongoing, but in small enough numbers they have not been released to the media, nor received a lot of attention. Word is also there will be a Jacobs ESTS all hands tomorrow about potential related and their numbers are already down to around 290-300 employees from around a 1000 in the summer. That is Jacobs ESTS alone. Word is also that civil servant layoffs are also in process."

Excalibur Almaz Space Stations Arrive on Isle of Man

"Excalibur Almaz Limited (EA), the international commercial space exploration company, is exporting two partially completed Almaz space stations from Russia to the IOM today. The stations and Excalibur Almaz' reusable return vehicles were developed by EA's Russian associate, JSC MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia. The stations will be initially stored, followed by research, testing and possibly completion and launch to orbit. EA's initial flights to orbit will be in the flight tested Excalibur Almaz Reusable Return Vehicles joined to and supported by service module living and working habitats. The space stations themselves are part of EA's long-term business plan."

NASA chief to be keynote speaker, Post and Courier

"NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., a Columbia native, will be the featured speaker at this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Business and Professional Breakfast, making him the annual event's second consecutive keynote speaker from the aerospace sector. The breakfast is a major fundraising event for the YWCA of Greater Charleston, and is co-sponsored by the city. The 11th annual breakfast will be held on Jan. 18 and is typically one of the largest events surrounding the King holiday weekend."

NASA Administrator Bolden's Comments at the AIAA New Horizons Forum

"As we move toward a true commercial capability for reaching low Earth orbit, it seems people are yearning even more for routine access to space - one of the unfilled promises of the original space transportation system. With greater commercial access to LEO, we're going to open up an entirely new segment of the economy and with this will come new high tech jobs. I hope we can all agree - as a nation, we're ready for that. We know we can do it; in part because of all that we have learned from shuttle, and the fact that we have flown more than 130 missions to space - more than any other NASA human spaceflight program."

STS-133 Delayed Again

Discovery's Early February Launch Opportunity Delayed as Work Continues on External Tank

"The Space Shuttle Program held its weekly Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) meeting today to review progress on the continuing engineering investigation, testing and analysis regarding shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank stringer crack issue. With the work remaining, the potential for additional modifications yet to be defined, and further reviews pending, the decision was made today to allow the teams additional time and delay the next launch opportunity out of the early February launch window, which opened Feb. 3. New potential launch dates for Discovery's STS-133 mission and shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission will be discussed at next Thursday's PRCB meeting."

AIP FYI Number 1: January 6, 2011 Of Note: Selected Quotations from FYI in 2010

"I will never be able to save all the jobs." - NASA Administrator Charles Bolden when commenting on NASA's human space flight proposal

"We were living a hallucination . . . I don't think we would have ever gotten there." - Administrator Bolden when commenting on NASA previous budgets

"We will find a solution to this problem." - NASA Administrator Bolden on the differences between the Administration and Congress over the agency's human space flight proposal

"In short, yes." - OSTP Director John Holdren when asked if the U.S. will return to the Moon and send humans to Mars

"When it comes to the space program, we are a bipartisan group." - Senate Commerce, Justice Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

"Frankly, I think NASA has been starved during several Administrations." - Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)

Looking Inside of Vesta

A Look into Vesta's Interior

"Researchers from the University of North Dakota and from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany have discovered a new kind of asteroid using NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The mineralogical composition of 1999 TA10 suggests that unlike many other asteroids it did not originate from the outer rocky crust of its parent asteroid Vesta, but from deeper layers. Until now, no asteroid with this composition was known. With the help of this new discovery it is now possible to determine the thickness of Vesta's crust and study its internal structure."

Relaunch the U.S. space program, opinion, Rep. Ruppersberger, Baltimore Sun

"The president announced plans to cancel Constellation, the plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. This move jeopardizes an $11.5 billion investment, puts thousands of skilled scientists out of work, and shakes the very heart of the space industrial base."

Keith's note: Rep. Ruppersberger hasn't really been paying attention to recent events. SpaceX Launched a Dragon test vehicle on a Falcon 9 years ahead of any schedule NASA ever imagined for Orion and Ares 1 and did so for a fraction of what NASA spent on Constellation. For that $11.5 billion "investment" in Constellation, NASA produced nothing like Falcon/Dragon that ever came remotely close to flying. NASA "jeopardized" its "investment" all by itself. The White House simply sought to stop throwing good money after bad by cancelling Constellation.

Ruppersberger goes on to lament the fact that commercial crew transport services are being sent to Russia yet seems to be clueless that NASA is going out of its way to levy crew transport requirements on American companies that would hinder their ability to provide the same services that NASA throws at Russia. Russia is not - and will not - be called upon to adhere to these same requirements.

NASA JSC Solicitation: Procurement of Crew Transportation and Rescue Services from Roscosmos

"NASA/JSC has a requirement for crew transportation services including launch, return, and rescue of US or US-designated astronauts and associated services which include the following requirements for primary and ancillary services: ..."

Keith's note: Another commercial procurement of Russian Soyuz crew transport services. Alas, NASA allows these procurements to proceed even though the Soyuz does not (and probably never will) meet the requirements that NASA intends to levy upon domestic commercial space companies.

NASA Releases LEO Commercial Crew Certification Requirements, earlier post

Keith's earlier note: I did a search of this document for the word "Soyuz". The only time the word is used is in connection with accidents or problems with Soyuz. I wonder if Soyuz meets the requirements in this document - I certainly cannot find any evidence that it does. It certainly should meet these requirements since the U.S. has been buying seats on Soyuz for more than a decade - the very same seats you can buy commercially - the same seats NASA will be buying for years to come. Will NASA certify Soyuz according to the requirements in this document?

If Soyuz does not meet these certification requirements, then one has to ask why NASA is willing to waive requirements for a foreign crew transport system - with Americans on board - but levy more stringent requirements on American commercial systems - carrying Americans. It would also be interesting to see if the Ares-1/Orion configuration would have met these requirements as well.

Guest Blog: Views on Space from an (Rare) Informed Public, opinion, Joan Johnson-Freese, Space News

"I think the views of this class are important as they would probably reflect the views of the general public -- if they had any knowledge base for assessing the issues and options. With lots of discussion within NASA and other groups about strategically communicating with the public about space issues, these views might be worth considering. Educating the public on the technical aspects of how space assets work is neither possible nor likely profitable -- few people care about uplinks, the magnetosphere or millinewtons -- but awe and inspiration will likely not garner space the sustained political support needed to achieve future goals either. However, educating the public about what's at stake -- that seems achievable and worthwhile."

Keith's note: I do not disagree with the conclusions drawn by this author (indeed I agree with most of what she says). Nor do I seek to gratuitously dump on her - she's got one heck of a resume. But this opinion piece, however well-intentioned, is yet another example of someone (like me) who has spent decades immersed inside insular space community jumping to conclusions as to what they think the ever-elusive "real people" outside the space community (out in the real world) think about space. The source of these observations, logical as they may seem, is a bunch of students in a space policy class inside the DC beltway.

Keith's correction: My HUGE, sloppy error. The Naval War College is in Newport, Rhode Island - not inside the DC beltway. That said, a space policy class at the Naval War College, whose mission is to "provide professional military education programs that are current, rigorous, relevant, and accessible to the maximum number of qualified U.S. officers and Navy enlisted personnel, civilian employees of the U.S. Government and non-governmental organizations, and international officers." is not the place where you are going to find mainstream public views in abundance. The mainstream public isn't going to go off and spend time studying and researching the topic - rather they are simply going to know/and think what they know based on their every day lives.

NASA is Adrift Once Again

Keith's note: Not everyone is happy with the proposed merger of ESMD (Exploration Systems Mission Directorate) and SOMD (Space Operations Mission Directorate). Sources report that the White House is not sold on the idea and Congress is not exactly keen on it either. One concern is that the merger would make it harder to see how Constellation cancellation is being handled (paid for), how Shuttle is being phased out, how ISS is being operated, and how commercial access to ISS is being brought online.

Photo: Opportunity Rover at Santa Maria Crater As Seen From Mars Orbit

"HiRISE acquired this image of the Opportunity rover on the Southwest rim of Santa Maria Crater on New Year's Eve 2010, or Sol 2466 of the rover's surface mission. Opportunity is imaging the crater interior to better understand the geometry of rock layers as a means of defining the stratigraphy and the impact process. Santa Maria is a relatively young, 90 meter-diameter impact crater (note blocks of ejecta around the crater), but old enough to collect sand dunes in its interior."

US science faces big chill, Nature

"Keith Cowing, editor of NASAWatch.com, says it is hard to see how NASA can finance the shuttle flight while juggling everything else. "It's like trying to take a large truck and do a sudden left turn," he says."

- Keep This In Mind When Ralph Hall Talks About Education and Competitiveness Priorities, earlier post
- Congress Still Funds a Cancelled Rocket, earlier post
- NASA Presses Ahead With STS-135 Preparations Despite Budget Uncertainty, earlier post

More Delays for STS-133?

Shuttle engineers consider beefing up all tank 'stringers', Spaceflight Now

"If that decision is made, it is unlikely NASA could complete the work, repair the tank's foam insulation and get Discovery back out to the launch pad in time to support a launch attempt during the next available window, which opens Feb. 3 and closes Feb. 10. Work to beef up all 108 stringers at the top of the intertank almost certainly would delay Discovery's launch on a space station resupply mission to the next available window, which opens Feb. 27 and closes in early March."

Keith's note: Someone in charge of the automatic email distribution list for NASA NSPIRES needs to fix the settings such that everyone cannot send email to everyone else complaining about the email that everyone is sending to everyone else.

Update from NSPIRES: "This morning, we encountered an issue where an individual replied back to an email notice about a 2011 EPSCoR Research Announcement. Unfortunately, all individuals on the mail list were able to see this person's reply. Please be advised that the technical issue that allowed this email response to occur has been addressed and no further 'mass replies' should occur. This situation has caused confusion and concern among many of the recipients of this email, and for that, the NSPIRES group extends its apologies to all."

Special Aerospace Services Announces Inaugural Commercial Human Spaceflight Technical Forum

"The forum is being held in Boulder, Colorado from 12-14 January 2011, and will present a focused and concentrated technical agenda created for Commercial Human Spaceflight providers and NASA. Attendees will gain insight to techniques that will be required to successfully achieve the NASA human rating certification and FAA commercial spaceflight licensing. The forum will host recognized and sought-after subject matter experts, including N. Wayne Hale Jr., Jeffrey Ashby, Timothy Bulk and Dr. Alan Stern."

Hiding Astronauts

Keith's note: According to the official @NASA Twitter: "@Armo15 Astronauts' e-mail addresses aren't public, but you can send mail to them. Mailing address at: http://go.nasa.gov/dUQDby"

Once upon a time you could go to people.nasa.gov and find the email addresses of all NASA civil servants. Now, it would seem, some of these civil servants are suddenly not as accessible to the public as are others. No reason given. Alas, they have not totally purged their database of all astronauts ...

Quest for Dark Energy May Fade to Black, NY Times

"An ambitious $1.6 billion spacecraft that would investigate the mysterious force that is apparently accelerating the expansion of the universe -- and search out planets around other stars, to boot -- might have to be postponed for a decade, NASA says, because of cost overruns and mismanagement on a separate project, the James Webb Space Telescope. The news has dismayed many American astronomers, who worry they will wind up playing second fiddle to their European counterparts in what they say is the deepest mystery in the universe."

Apollo 18

"Apollo 18 Viral: New Classified Document Breaks Down Missions, MovieViral

"When we last left off on the viral for Dimension Films' Apollo 18, the Cosmonauts page of the film's official website had a single image of classified (and heavily redacted) document. Now we have a new document on the site that you can see ..."

Apollo 18 official site

Keith's note: I am certain NASA PAO dreads the release of "Apollo 18" and the inquiries they'll get when seemingly authentic (but obviously fake) "historial" documents like this start to go viral. Oops, I guess I just helped that happen. Then again, NASA has openly supported the upcoming film "Transformers 3" (see Trailer) wherein Neil and Buzz find a monster spaceship on the Moon with giant robots inside. Oops. I did it again ...

Video: Ke$ha "We R Who We R" parody - "Astrobiology

"Are we alone in the universe? Find out all about the search for extraterrestrial life in this educational parody of Ke$ha's hit song, "We R Who We R."

Keith's note: I suppose your reaction to this depends upon your taste in music, your age, etc. That said, I happen to think that this video is clever. It's also rather contemporary and even has lyrics about NASA SMD's self-hyped Arsenic/E.T. story ...

Analysis: Space: a frontier too far for U.S.-China cooperation, Reuters

"The statement, marking a visit by Obama to China, also called for reciprocal visits in 2010 of NASA's chief and "the appropriate Chinese counterpart." Bolden, who went to China as head of a small team, said discussions there "did not include consideration of any specific proposals for future cooperation" -- a statement apparently designed to placate Wolf, who will have a big say in NASA's budget. The Chinese visit to NASA did not materialize in 2010 for reasons that have not been explained. NASA representatives did not reply to questions but a Chinese embassy spokesman, Wang Baodong, said he suspected it was "mainly a scheduling issue."

Related posts

Commercial Crew Transportation System Certification Requirements for NASA Low Earth Orbit Missions

"This document defines the requirements, standards and certification package contents that will be used to certify a CCTS for LEO Missions. It will be the responsibility of the NASA Program Manager and Technical Authorities to determine the applicability of individual requirements and standards based on the DRM being certified and apply the Agency risk posture (for the DRM) to arrive at the final set of requirements and standards for certification. The Program Manager will then request Certification from NASA HQ per Agency policy."

Keith's note: I did a search of this document for the word "Soyuz". The only time the word is used is in connection with accidents or problems with Soyuz. I wonder if Soyuz meets the requirements in this document - I certainly cannot find any evidence that it does. It certainly should meet these requirements since the U.S. has been buying seats on Soyuz for more than a decade - the very same seats you can buy commercially - the same seats NASA will be buying for years to come. Will NASA certify Soyuz according to the requirements in this document?

If Soyuz does not meet these certification requirements, then one has to ask why NASA is willing to waive requirements for a foreign crew transport system - with Americans on board - but levy more stringent requirements on American commercial systems - carrying Americans. It would also be interesting to see if the Ares-1/Orion configuration would have met these requirements as well.

Inconsistencies abound in this document - both in its intent - and its application (thus far).

NASA Names "2012" The Most Absurd Sci-Fi Film, Worst Previews

"NASA held a private meet at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to discuss the movies Hollywood has been releasing and to plead for filmmakers to stick to more rational plots."

Apocalyptic blockbuster absurd, say NASA scientists, The Australian

"Experts at NASA have named 2012, an apocalyptic blockbuster starring John Cusack, as the most absurd science-fiction film. The US space agency singled out the movie as the most scientifically flawed of its genre at a conference in which it pleaded with Hollywood bigwigs for more rational plots. At the day-long private meeting at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, some of the film industry's most popular sci-fi movies were mocked -- and in some cases praised."

2012 named most absurd science fiction film by Nasa, metro.co.uk

"Roland Emmerich's disaster movie proved to be a smash hit, taking more than #490 million at the box office - but it was less popular at the US space agency. A panel of Nasa experts concluded 2012 was the most scientifically flawed blockbuster ever made."

NASA Nasa names most absurd sci-fi film, The Sun

"NASA praised Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Gattaca starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman as the most realistic."

Keith's note: I am certain that this "news" will cause a surge in DVD rentals and downloads for this movie (the "banned in Boston" effect). Meanwhile, despite this private film review at JPL, NASA continues to support other less-than-accurate movies ("Transformers 3", "Armageddon", etc.). Indeed, JPL starred in - and allowed shooting onsite - for the goofy 1996 alien invasion flick "The Arrival". Sigh, so much for consistency amongst the high brow movie critics at JPL.

Why don't you NASA folks just back and enjoy the flick? Maybe you can distill just what it is that non-NASA geeky people see in these movies and apply it to how you communicate what the agency does and does not do to the public at large. Oh yes, James Cameron made enough money from Avatar to send a mission to Mars. George Lucas could send several missions. What's their secret?

Keith's note: We have used up 10% of the 21st Century.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, this was supposed to be a magical time - one where all manner of incredible things would be possible - even routine - in "outer space". In some ways NASA has been wildly successful: witness the extrasolar planet discoveries of late. Yet in other areas, NASA still flies a space shuttle that was designed more than a generation ago - and is now struggling to replace it - or to find alternate, non-NASA ways to put Americans into space.

With regard to space exploration and utilization, have we wasted this decade? What has been done right? What has been done wrong? While NASA is not (and should not be) the only game in town when it comes to space, what should the President and Congress direct NASA to do in the decade ahead? Moreover, what should they direct NASA *NOT* to do? (Note: this post first appeared on NASA Watch last year).

Video: "Man Conquers Space" Sizzle Reel - Werner von Braun's Alternate Space Program

Keith's note: What would have happened if Werhner von Braun's spacecraft designs - as popularized in Disney films, Colliers magazine, and other publications - were actually built ...

Prepared Statement by Michael Griffin 8 May 2003 (part 2)

"The base reliability of unmanned expendable vehicles seems to arouse concerns where that of the manned Shuttle system inexplicably does not. Many, if not most, unmanned payloads are of very high value, both for the importance of their mission, as well as in simple economic terms. The relevant question may be posed quite simplistically: What, precisely, are the precautions that we would take to safeguard a human crew that we would deliberately omit when launching, say, a billion-dollar Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission? The answer is, of course, "none". While we appropriately value human life very highly, the investment we make in most unmanned missions is quite sufficient to capture our full attention."

Testimony of Dr. Michael Griffin before the House Committee on Science, 27 October 1999

"We envision this Space Taxi to be industry owned and operated; however, the cost of development, production, and operation of the Space Taxi System would be paid for predominantly out of government funds because it satisfies unique NASA needs that are not currently aligned with those of commercial industry. The launching of this Space Taxi System, however, could be competed among commercial RLV or EELV suppliers that meet the cost and safety requirements. These future RLVs would be commercially developed with private capital and would be commercially owned and operated. Their development will be enabled by NASA's current and planned future investments in RLV technologies and could be enhanced by government-backed financial incentives, such as tax credits, loan guarantees or advanced purchase agreements. Once a truly commercial Space Station becomes operational or the current Space Station becomes sufficiently commercialized, NASA and industry launch needs will be in almost complete alignment, and a completely commercial Space Taxi may become a viable business opportunity. We strongly believe that industry ownership of the Space Taxi from initial operation is critical to enable the eventual development of such a commercial Space Station."

US science funding boost faces uncertain future, Wired via Ars Technica

"During its crafting in Congressional committee last spring, America COMPETES received bipartisan support. It was held up, however, by Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX), formerly the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Hall's objections failed to stop the Act, but he is now the science committee's incoming chair."

GOP Kills Science Jobs Bill By Forcing Dems To Vote For Porn, TPM (May 2010)

"In an example of Republican obstructionism rendered beautiful by its simplicity, the GOP yesterday killed a House bill that would increase funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the ranking member of the House science committee, introduced a motion to recommit, a last-ditch effort to change a bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions. In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who've been disciplined for viewing pornography at work."


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