February 2011 Archives

2011's Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC-2011), will be held in Orlando, Florida 28 February through 2 March.

"The meeting will also include invited talks by experts in diverse fields that include microgravity sciences, atmospheric science, space life sciences, planetary science, education, and crew training. NSRC-2011 is the place to be to learn how to marry your research, education, or business interests to next-generation suborbital spaceflight. For more information go to http://nsrc.swri.org/"

Space Tourism: One Giant Leap for Researchers, New York Times

"Reflecting the interest in the science community, more than 300 people are registered to attend a conference this week at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, organized by Dr. Stern, to discuss suborbital research. Researchers, Dr. Stern said, "vote with their feet. They go to these meetings."

There will be live updates on NSRC posted on Twitter at @NASAWatch

In Historic First, Three Scientists to Fly on Commercial Spacecraft, CSF

"Three scientists, including a former NASA executive, will become some of the first scientists to fly on a commercial spacecraft -- and they will fly multiple times -- under the terms of two funded agreements announced between the nonprofit Southwest Research Institute and two commercial spacecraft providers, Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace."

Keith's note: Something interesting is happening: XCOR and Virgin Galactic, two different companies with two different approaches to providing crew and cargo access to space on suborbital vehicles are both announcing commercial contracts to fly payloads and private payload specialists. The funding force behind this ground breaking dual lauch provider effort is the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).

Contrary to the dismissive view many have taken with this emerging sector i.e. that it is only suited for well-heeled tourists, these announcements show that there is viable commercial and scientific work to be done on these vehicles as well - work not dependent on government contracts. Moreover, this commitment by SwRI shows that this activity can be conducted wholly within the private sector between research organizations and commercial providers.

In addition, these announcements underscore the growing understanding that there is value to using regimes other than orbital flight, and that other portions of near-Earth space, the so called "Ignoreosphere", have value both as locations to conduct scientific research and education as well as being regions of intrinsic value themselves worthy of future investigation.

SwRI signs contracts to fly eight pioneering missions with SwRI payload specialists aboard reusable suborbital launchers, with options for more flights

"Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced pioneering agreements today to send three scientists as payload specialists aboard eight suborbital flights -- some to altitudes greater than 350,000 feet, above the internationally recognized boundary of space. No other organization has yet concluded contracts to fly its researchers in space aboard next-generation suborbital spacecraft. Also unique is the number of payload specialist researcher seats involved -- eight at a minimum, with options up to 17 high altitude or space flights."

Virgin Galactic to Fly Scientists to Space

"Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, LLC, the world's first commercial spaceline, announced today the first ever commercial contracts to fly scientists into space for the purpose of conducting research experiments. Virgin Galactic's signed contract with the Southwest Research Institute is the first such agreement to fly scientists into space (over 100 kilometers or 328,000 feet above the Earth), enabling valuable microgravity, biology, climate and astronomy research."

Keith's note: Ah, Virgin Galactic is playing up the Von Karman line as the definition of "space" so as to be able to say "first ever commercial contracts to fly scientists into space" in a press release. Oh well, XCOR announced their contract for similar services last week. Then again the NASA uses a lower altitude. Which definition of "space" is "official"?

X-15 Pioneers Honored as Astronauts, NASA (23 August 2005)

" ... NASA pilot Bill Dana, and family members representing deceased pilots John B. McKay and Joseph A. Walker, received civilian astronaut wings acknowledging their flights above 50 miles [62 km] high."

Allure From Afar: 1st Prize Student Essay at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, 2011, Kevin Schillo, University of Central Florida

"We stand at the forefront of what may be a renaissance in suborbital spaceflight. As such, it is paramount that we ask ourselves the most basic and fundamental inquiry regarding this development. Why does it matter, especially when compared to other developments made with space technology? Because the fact remains that even after nearly sixty years, human spaceflight remains an extremely expensive, hazardous, and dangerous undertaking. Only Russia, the United States, and China have been successful in developing and launching their own manned spacecraft. To date, only slightly more than five hundred people have flown in space."

XCOR Announces Global Network of Research and Educational Mission Payload Integrators for Lynx Suborbital Spaceplane

"At the commencement of the 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) being held in Orlando, Florida, XCOR Aerospace announced its initial team of suborbital payload integration specialists who will begin taking orders and facilitating experiment development and integration for commercial, educational and government suborbital research missions aboard XCOR's Lynx reusable suborbital launch vehicle. Capable of up to four flights per day, the Lynx is expected to provide three to four minutes of micro-gravity and/or exposure to the harsh environment of space and the opportunity to investigate largely unknown regions of our upper atmosphere critical to environmental studies."

Make sure watch in HD! More Robonaut-1 mission video and imagery will be released in conjunction with a presentation at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference being held in Orlando 28 Februrary to 2 March.

Co-sponsored by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, this mission is one in a series of flights conducted by Quest for Stars, a California-based non-profit educational organization that uses off-the-shelf hardware and a little ingenuity to allow students to place experiments at the edge of space at exceptionally low cost.

Quest for Stars and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education have now joined together to promote the use of these low cost delivery systems. This mission will be the first of what is hoped to be many future collaborations.

- First Photos: Shuttle Discovery's Trail Into Space As Seen from Over 70,000 Feet in a Balloon
- Robonaut-1 Balloon Mission Live Video and Mission Updates
- Challenger Center and Quest For Stars Chase Attempt to Photograph Discovery At The Edge of Space

First Photo: Shuttle Discovery's Trail Into Space As Seen from Over 70,000 Feet in a Balloon

"This photo was taken from an an altitude of over 70,000 feet (still being determined exactly) at 5:20 pm EST on 24 February 2011. The camera used was the lowest resolution camera on board the Robonaut-1 balloon - a Motorola Droid X smartphone. You can see the plume left by Space Shuttle Discovery as it headed into space. We will be releasing more images of greater resolution and HD video very soon - all of which show Discovery heading into space. Photo credit (mandatory) Quest for Space/Challenger Center."

Keith's update: We've added a video still taken by a GoPro Hero Motorsport that clearly shows Discovery arcing into orbit. The video (we'll post it soon) clearly shows the Discovery climbing into space.

STS-133 Operating On Orbit

NASA STS-133 Report #02 Friday, February 25, 2011 - 6:30 a.m. CST

"The main focus of the day will be the six-hour inspection of Discoverys wing leading edges and nose cap. Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialist Alvin Drew will use the shuttles robotic arm and specialized cameras to downlink the detailed views of the thermal protection system for analysis by specialists on the ground."

NASA STS-133 Report #01 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011

"Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott are scheduled to rendezvous and dock with the station on Saturday. During Discovery's seven days at the station, Bowen and Drew will do two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components."




[Click on image to see flight path]

< Keith's note: The Robonaut-1 balloon has Landed. Updates at @nasawatch

Keith's update: The recovery team found the balloon and payload exactly where they expected it to be (recovery photo). They are heading back to the hotel to start seeing what the cameras and computers captured. We're optimistic that the payload was where we wanted it to be during Discovery's launch.

More information

Up to 250 JPL employees could face layoffs as NASA deals with budget uncertainties, Pasadena Star-News

"NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory plans to lay off an estimated 200 to 250 employees before the end of March as the space agency deals with evolving federal budget constraints, a JPL official said Wednesday. President Obama's budget proposal calling for keeping NASA's budget flat at about $18.7 billion through fiscal year 2012 and beyond would mean delays in several projects now in the pipeline, while ongoing projects would be fully funded. "If we can make a small reduction in work force now we will have enough money to keep going for the remainder of the year," Richard O'Toole, executive manager of JPL's office of legislative affairs, said Wednesday."

Southwest Research Institute SwRI and XCOR Sign First Ever Commercial Reusable Suborbital Vehicle Scientific Flight Contract

"In a first for the reusable suborbital launch vehicle industry, XCOR Aerospace announced today that the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), a commercial entity, has purchased six suborbital flights to carry SwRI experiments as pathfinder missions for other SwRI suborbital clients. This is the first such contract SwRI has issued, and XCOR is proud to be chosen for this opportunity."

twtpoll_vision.jpgWe asked and you answered. The question was do you like NASA's new vision statement? "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."

Of the 649 respondents, overwhelmingly 74% of our readers answered no, you don't like NASA's new vision statement. The question is why? Let us and NASA know, your comments are welcome.

Vision statements for non-Visionaries, Paul Spudis, AIr & Space

"A seemingly trivial event has revealed some schadenfreude about NASA, along with a lot of irritation. Apparently (as is their wont) the fertile minds running our national space agency decided that the time has come (once again) for a new and improved vision statement - out with the old and in with something new. These would be harmless exercises except to the extent that taxpayer money is being spent to no real purpose (but if I got into that, there'd be no end to this post)."

NASA Schedules Next Glory Mission Launch Attempt

"The launch of NASA's Glory spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is currently planned for no earlier than Friday, Feb. 25 at 5:09 a.m. EST. Engineers from NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. continue to troubleshoot a technical issue that arose during Wednesday's initial launch attempt. The target launch date also will ensure personnel get the required rest before entering another countdown."

All I want for Christmas (for NASA), NASA LaRC CTO Rich Antcliff

"My grown up Christmas list for NASA:

- A budget (seriously another three months on last year's budget). It is disappointing that the congress cannot fulfill its duties in a timely fashion.

- An inspiring vision. I just can't get excited about visiting a NEO. Up until a couple of months ago, I had never heard of one. I know what the moon is and I know what Mars is but a NEO? Seriously?

- A serious challenge. Am I back talking about a NEO again, I'll try to move on.

- Some hard decisions. As long as we continue to make everyone feel good about what NASA is doing for them, we will never do anything bold again. We need some bold leadership in the agency, in the executive office and in the congress. Is this too much to ask?

- Engagement with the international community. NASA arrogance is keeping us from partnering with foreign entities in all but political arrangements. We always have to be king and others (China, etc...) are asking who do you think you are?

- ULA and Charlie Brown's football. They hung it out in front of us just to make us salivate and than quickly took it back when the political pressure warmed up - gutless reaction. This is micromanagement at its worst."

... Plus some cogent comments on NASA IT.

20-Million Milestone for 100-Year Citizen Science Project

"A citizen science project running for over 100 years reached a key milestone this month when an amateur astronomer contributed the 20 millionth observation of a variable star on February 19, 2011. A variable star changes in brightness over time. Records of these changes can be used to uncover the astrophysical processes within evolving star systems. With a database going back over a century, variable star astronomers have access to a data source unparalleled in astronomy."

NASA Picks At Least Seven To Discuss Commercial Crew Proposals, Space News

"As it awaits congressional action on its 2011 budget, NASA is proceeding with plans to award roughly $200 million to companies developing technologies in support of the agency's commercial space transportation goals. NASA contacted at least seven companies in February, inviting Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Blue Origin, Boeing, Orbital Sciences Corp., Sierra Nevada Corp., Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss their proposals for a second round of awards under the agency's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, according to industry sources. NASA hopes to make the awards in March."

STS-133Discovery Poised to Liftoff, SpaceRef

"NASA is poised to launch space shuttle Discovery on her last mission this Thursday at 4:50 p.m. EST. It seems with all recent attempts to get Discovery launched, NASA is working one minor leak issue. However the issue should not cause any delay."

NASA Notice of intent to grant a partially exclusive license: Bigelow Aerospace

"This notice is issued in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 209(c)(1) and 37 CFR 404.7(a)(1)(i). NASA hereby gives notice of its intent to grant a partially exclusive license in the United States to practice the invention described and claimed in United States Patent 7,509,774 (issued March 31, 2009) and NASA Case No. MSC 24201-1, entitled ``Apparatus For Integrating A Rigid Structure Into A Flexible Wall Of An Inflatable Structure'' to Bigelow Aerospace, having its principal place of business in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The fields of use may be limited to expandable spacecraft, vehicles, modules, and the like for operation in exoatmospheric space, including applications, sales, lease, and other commercial uses or applications thereof for research and development, space tourism, and other commercial endeavors. The patent rights in this invention have been assigned to the United States of America as represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

NASA Tamps Down Massive Solar Flare Impact Hype, PC World

"While some of the coverage of the massive Valentine's Day solar flare made it sound like the world was coming to an end, or darn close to it. NASA's website this afternoon played another likely more realistic tune: "The particle cloud produced by the Valentine's Day event appears to be rather weak and is not expected to produce any strong effects at Earth other than perhaps some beautiful aurora in the high northern and southern latitudes on Feb. 17."

Scientists warn of $2,000bn solar 'Katrina', Financial Times

"The sun is waking up from a long quiet spell. Last week it sent out the strongest flare for four years - and scientists are warning that earth should prepare for an intense electromagnetic storm that, in the worst case, could be a "global Katrina" costing the world economy $2,000bn. Senior officials responsible for policy on solar storms - also known as space weather - in the US, UK and Sweden urged more preparedness at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington."

- Videos: Large Solar Flare and CME As Seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, Earlier post
- Follow @SpaceWeather on Twitter

Desperate Nasa seeks space in Isro mission, DNA

"National Aeronautics & Space Administration (Nasa) is trying hard prevent India's first manned space mission, tagged at Rs10,000 crore,from being indigenous. And India does not seem to have a problem. ...DNA has learnt that US' desperation emanates from pressure from within their country to restart its manned space mission, which it suspended in 1972 citing huge costs. This follows a review of Nasa's manned space programme conducted by a 10-member US presidential panel. An Isro scientist told DNA collaboration on India's manned space mission will benefit India and US. "Nasa is struggling for a higher budget to conduct human space exploration," he said."

Keith's 15 Feb note: One of the documents that the ISS National LAB CAN release includes is the ISS Payload Mission Integration Team Execution Plan. SSP 50471 Revision A October 2002. This document claims that it:

"..identifies the activities associated with Payload Mission Integration Team (PMIT) in managing and integrating International Space Station (ISS) payload flight, stage, and increment activities. The contents of this document are consistent with the tasks and products as defined in SSP 50200-01, Station Program Implementation Plan, Volume 1: Station Program Management Plan. This document is under the control of the Payloads Control Board (PCB)."

Yet this 9 year old document is not even complete -- charts that are supposed to be included are simply not there - and they haven't been for 9 years. And yet someone in 2011, developing a proposal to run the ISS National LAB, is supposed to glean usfeul information from pages like this? [Click on image to enlarge]

"13.0 METRICS Figure 13.0-1, Stage-Unique Payload Integration Deliverables, and Figure 13.0-2, Payload Mission Integration Team Deliverable Integration Products, show typical metric charts that the PMIT will use to evaluate and measure the operational activities of the PMIT. These charts will be updated on a monthly basis and posted to the PMIT website."

What charts?

Keith's 16 Feb update: A reader notes: "I'm an engineer @ JSC and I checked the official document electronic depository and, lo and behold, the document is correct - graphic and all. This may be another one of those moments that can truly be blamed on a difference in versions of Adobe, or someone otherwise messed up the document somehow when it was posted."

I guess my question is whether anyone at NASA reads these documents and conducts a sanity check before saying that they are fit for public release and formal use in the procurement process. It would seem that they do not. Will they add this complete version that this reader refers to - and inform everyone that the earlier document was incomplete?

In the coming days I'll discuss this data dump habit NASA has - one wherein documents that are often out of date, incomplete, and/or and hard to understand are simply thrown out at prospective bidders - with no context or explanation whatsoever. Take this stand alone chart by Mark Uhran "Queuing Model: Payloads" as an example. It is simply posted with no associated text explaining what it is, or how bidders need to follow or incorporate it.

Keith's 17 Feb note: The ISS National Lab CAN team seems to not care that a more accurate (complete) version of this document is available in NASA's document library - - the old version with blank figures is still being provided to prospective bidders on the CAN web page.

Amazing Photo: ATV Kepler Launch As Seen From Orbit Aboard the ISS

"This remarkable photo was taken by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli from the ISS on 16 February 2011, just minutes after ATV Johannes Kepler lifted off on board an Ariane 5 from Kourou at 22:50 UTC. It shows the rising exhaust trail of Ariane, still in its initial vertical trajectory. The trail can be seen as a thin streak framed just beneath the Station's remote manipulator arm. Credits: ESA/ NASA"

NASA OIG: Review of NASA's Acquisition of Commercial Launch Services

"We found that NASA's LSP acquired ELVs from 2008 through 2009 that were within costs and timeframes established by the NLS contracts. However, we also found that NASA's published strategy for acquiring medium-class launch vehicles after 2010 may not be the most cost-effective or advantageous to the Government because it did not include as a possible option use of Minotaur, a launch vehicle that uses a U.S. Government-furnished rocket motor from decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles."

Photo from MESSENGER: A Solar System Family Portrait, from the Inside Out

"Comprised of 34 WAC image positions with NAC insets, the majority of this mosaic was obtained on 3 November 2010. However, due to pointing constraints on the spacecraft, the portion of the mosaic near and covering Neptune was acquired a few weeks later on 16 November 2010. All of the planets are visible except for Uranus and Neptune, which at distances of 3.0 and 4.4 billion kilometers were too faint to detect with even the longest camera exposure time of 10 seconds, though their positions are indicated. (The dwarf-planet Pluto, smaller and farther away, would have been even more difficult to observe). Earth's Moon and Jupiter's Galilean satellites (Callisto, Ganymede, Europa, and Io) can be seen in the NAC image insets."

NASA Launching Colorado Solar Experiment February 23

"NASA will launch a University of Colorado experiment to image the sun on a NASA suborbital sounding rocket February 23, from the White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) will support measurements by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite. ... NASA's Sounding Rocket Program is managed at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia."

Keith's note: If you go to the NASA White Sands website, no mention of this launch is made. And there is nothing at the Missile Range website either. Wallops issued this press release, is listed as managing this launch as part of the NASA Sounding Rocket Program, and the NASA PAO contact listed is at Wallops. However, no mention is made of this launch on the Wallops home page, but there is an item listed under "upcoming launches" -- but it is for a flight on 22 January - a month ago. No mention is made at the Code 810 website listed in the press release. The link to the "schedule" page at Wallops gets you this message: "The Wallops Daily Range Schedule is no longer available for public use. Thank you for your patience as the Wallops Flight Facility Public Affairs Office works to create a public schedule, available on the Wallops home page."

Exclusive: Astronaut Love Triangle Victim 'Thought ... She Was Going to Murder Me'

"Shipman was 29 when she met astronaut Bill Oefelein at an Orlando, Fla., house party. Little did she know that the 2006 encounter would do more than just begin an other-worldly relationship. It also would kick-start a chain of events that would land her in the middle of a bizarre astronaut love triangle. For the first time, she is sharing her story of the events with "20/20."

Previous stories

NASA chief Bolden makes call on where shuttles will stay, Florida Today

"[Bolden] said he planned to formally announce "within the next few weeks, if not days" that KSC will be the home of the NASA office that oversees the development and operation of commercial space taxis. NASA's primary launch operations site never has hosted a human spaceflight project office. That work historically has been done at Johnson Space Center in Houston or NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and during Project Mercury, at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va."

NASA to stay put in Southwest D.C. building, Washington Business Journal

"The General Services Administration said Thursday it has signed a 597,253-square-foot lease for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at Piedmont Office Realty Trust Inc.'s 300 E St. SW, opting for the space agency to stay in place at its current headquarters."

NASA, OCC deals cause Southwest D.C. shuffle, Washington Business Journal

"Piedmont will renovate Two Independence Square in phases as part of the NASA deal, swinging some workers into two downtown buildings at 1201 and 1225 Eye St. NW."

$14M to move shuttle to Air Force museum tucked in Obama budget plan, Dayton Daily News

"The Obama administration asked Congress for $14 million to transfer the space shuttle Atlantis to the Air Force Museum here, a strong sign the Dayton region may land one of three orbiters when they are retired this summer. Although NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will make the final decision on where to locate Atlantis, the request -- tucked deep inside the administration's 2012 budget -- suggests that the White House and the Air Force favor the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force as a final destination for Atlantis."

Boeing Announces $5M Donation to Air Force Museum Foundation

"The Boeing Company announced today that it will donate $5 million to the Air Force Museum Foundation in three installments over the next three years. The foundation will deliver the funds to the U.S. Air Force for the benefit of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio."

Hubble Shows New Image of Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841

"NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveals a majestic disk of stars and dust lanes in this view of the spiral galaxy NGC 2841. A bright cusp of starlight marks the galaxy's center. Spiraling outward are dust lanes that are silhouetted against the population of whitish middle-aged stars. Much younger blue stars trace the spiral arms."

Hearing Charter: An Overview of the Administration's Federal Research and Development Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 (NASA Excerpt)

"The FY12 budget request for NASA is $18.7 billion, the same amount requested in FY10. Congress fully funded the agency's request in the FY10 appropriations bill, a level which has continued to this day. For the four-year runout (FY13 - FY16), NASA's budget projection assumes identical funding for each year - $18.7 billion. However, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Blue Book and NASA's own budget request disagree on out-year funding levels; NASA's assumes four years of flat funding at $18.7 billion; OMB's out-year projections indicate budgets that are below the FY12 request."

Republicans Question President's Science Advisor

"While it is true that prudent investments in science and technology will almost certainly yield future economic gains and will allow our knowledge economy to grow, it is also true that these gains can be thwarted by poor decision-making," Chairman Hall said. "Americans expect and deserve better. With our unemployment hovering at over 9 percent, they expect us to reduce or eliminate those programs that are duplicative and wasteful and examine ways to advance real job creation and economic growth, not just spend their hard-earned money on what the government assumes is best for them."

Committee Democrats Contrast President's R&D Budget Request with Damaging House CR Cuts

"We can disagree over some of the specific choices in this budget proposal," said Congresswoman Johnson, "but I share with the president the same goal of maintaining a strong national science and technology enterprise and ensuring that all of our young people are prepared for the technical careers of the future."

Sustaining the Commitment: FY 2012 Request Keeps Budget Doubling on Track for NSF, DOE Science, and NIST Research, AIP

"National Nuclear Security Administration, Weapons Activities: + 19.5 percent
National Nuclear Security Administration, Total: +19.3 percent
National Institute of Standards and Technology: +16.9%
National Science Foundation: +13.0%
NASA, Science: +11.5%
Department of Energy Office of Science: +9.1 percent
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering: +1.8 percent
U.S. Geological Survey: +0.6 percent
NASA: no change
Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs (6.1, 6.2, 6.3): -8.0 percent"

Japan may send chatty humanoid tweet-bot to space, AP

"Japan's space agency JAXA announced this week that it is looking at a plan to send a humanoid robot to the space station in 2013 that could communicate with the ground through Twitter -- primarily feeding photos, rather than original ideas -- and provide astronauts with "comfort and companionship." Following up on NASA's "Robonaut" R-2 program, which is set for launch on the Discovery shuttle next week, the Japanese android would be part of a larger effort to create and refine robots that can be used by the elderly, JAXA said in a statement."

- A Cylon Girlfriend for Robonaut2, earlier post
- KSC Wants To Buy A Cornish Robot To Greet U.S. Visitors, earlier post
- Dryden Seeks Ethnically Diverse Cylons, earlier post

Budget Battle Looming, Again

NASA and CongressFormer NASA Advisor Says Fight Is Brewing Over 2012 Budget, WHNT News 19

"Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel, who has advised presidents, NASA administrators and Congress on space policy, says a fight for NASA's future is about to lift off. "What's gearing up right now is a space policy fight again, just like we had last year," he predicted."

McDaniel says it's irritating for NASA employees to keep changing directions. "It can be frustrating when they have this policy, then you have another policy, and then you have another policy,"

Google Lunar X PRIZE Announces Official Roster of Teams Competing in the $30 Million Race to the Moon (With video), X Prize Foundation

"Today, the X PRIZE Foundation announced the official roster of 29 registered teams competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, an unprecedented competition to send a robot to the Moon that travels at least 500 meters and transmit video, images, and data back to the Earth. This group of teams signifies this new era of exploration's diverse and participatory nature as it includes a huge variety of groups ranging from non-profits to university consortia to billion dollar businesses representing 17 nations on four continents. The global competition, the largest in history, was announced in September 2007, with a winner projected by 2015."


Videos: Large Solar Flare and CME As Seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory

"This clip of the large X2 flare (Feb. 15, 2011) seen by Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in extreme ultraviolet light has been enlarged and superimposed on SOHO's C2 coronagraph for the same period. This was the largest flare in over four years. The coronagraph shows the faint edge of a "halo" coronal mass ejection (CME) as it races away from the Sun and was heading towards Earth. Scientists predict that this CME is likely to catch up with ones from the 13th and 14th, and the whole mass of particles should reach Earth late Thursday or early Friday (UT). They may put on an excellent show of aurora. In the coronagraph the Sun is blocked out by an occulting disk so that the fainter features of the corona are visible. By adding in the SDO video clip, we get the best of both worlds. The video covers about 11 hours."

Keith's note: An amendment Offered to H.R. 1 "Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011" by Rep. Weiner (D-NY) Amendment No. 125. Passed on a vote of 226-204. [NASA Watch Annotations for clarity]

Page 203, line 23, after the dollar amount, insert "(increased by $298,000,00)".

[SEC. 1332. (a) Notwithstanding section 1101, the level for ''Department of Justice, Community Oriented Policing Services (Including Transfers of Funds)'' shall be $290,500,000.]

Page 204 line 8, after the first dollar amount Insert "(increased by $298,000 00)' .

[(Including Transfers of Funds)'' in division B of Public Law 111-117 shall be applied to funds appropriated by this division by substituting--
(1) ''$15,000,000'' for ''40,385,000'';
(2) ''$0'' for ''$25,385,000'';
(3) ''$1,500,000'' for ''$170,223,000'';
(4) ''$0'' for ''$168,723,000''; and
(5) ''$0'' for ''$298,000,000''.]

Page 206, line 10, after the dollar amount, insert ''(reduced by $298,000 000) '.

["(b) The proviso specifying amounts under the heading ''National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Space Operations'' in division B of Public Law 111-117 for operations, production, research, development, and support of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station and for Space and Flight Support shall not apply to funds appropriated by this division. SEC. 1336. (a) Notwithstanding section 1101, the level for ''National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Cross Agency Support'' shall be $3,131,000,000."]

GAO: High-Risk Series - An Update February 2011 (NASA Excerpt)

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to invest billions of dollars in the coming years to explore space, understand Earth's environment, and conduct aeronautics research. GAO has designated NASA's acquisition management as high risk in view of persistent cost growth and schedule slippage in the majority of its major projects. GAO's work has focused on identifying a number of causal factors, including antiquated financial management systems, poor cost major systems."

Applied Knowledge: NASA Aids the Chilean Rescue Effort

"In the summer and fall of 2010, the world followed the story of thirty-three Chilean miners trapped nearly half a mile underground and celebrated their successful rescue in October. A team from NASA that included physicians, a psychologist, and engineers contributed to that success, providing knowledge gained from spaceflight programs to the government and experts dealing with this down-to-earth emergency. Traveling to the mine site in Copiapo, Chile, they developed a cooperative relationship with Chilean officials and specialists that made it possible to share their knowledge effectively."

50 Years Ago Today: The First Spacecraft Launched Into Orbit From Virginia

"Explorer 9 was the first spacecraft placed in orbit by an all-solid rocket and the first spacecraft successfully launched from Wallops Island. It was launched on 16 February 1961. Explorer 9 was the first in a series of 3.66 m inflatable spheres to be successfully placed into orbit solely for the determination of atmospheric densities. It was identical in its objectives and configuration to the earlier unsuccessful launch of Explorer S-56."

Keith's 15 Feb note: Thanks to a tip by @NASAHistory. Too bad Wallops PAO is not aware of this anniversary.

Keith's note: This video, "The Sagan Series (Part 2): Life Looks for Life" is the second video by Reid Gower. You may recall that an earlier video of his (the precursor to this one) went uber viral a month or so ago with over 900,000 views on YouTube Alas, NASA was unable to find a way to link to that video then and I doubt that they will find a way to link to this one now. I would very much like to be proven wrong - but I am not holding my breath.

Poignant Video: NASA - The Frontier Is Everywhere (Update), earlier post

Keith's update: To be fair, NASA Is not ignoring videos like this. In fact with Mr. Gower's previous video they did try and find a way to link to it or acknowledge it. This is where NASA's notoriously inconsistent official party poopers, the lawyers, come in. The issue has to do with the sources of imagery and sounds that Mr. Gower has used. This video is a mash-up - a compilation of sampled images, music, and vocals assembled from a variety of sources. Although Mr. Gower has been diligent in listing his sources, NASA's issue is whether he actually has their formal permission to use these materials. The Fair Use Doctrine does enter into this - somewhat - except some works are sampled in great part - like Carl Sagan's voice and the background music. NASA has gotten clearance from the organizations that guard recording artist issues to allow things such wake up songs and other copyright items to be used since NASA is not out to make a profit and uses these works for education purposes.

Life is a montage of other people's stuff - but these are the rules that this one government agency tells itself that it must follow in this fashion. But as culture adapts, NASA needs to adapt too. This is not the first video to appear that NASA should pay attention to and it will not be the last. Instead of just staying silent NASA needs to explain why it cannot link to such things. All that continued silence does is to support the premise made by many (like me) that NASA doesn't "get it". NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Outreach Alan Ladwig has stopped by here to make comments on this topic. Perhaps NASA Watch readers could offer him some solutions to this problem - and some encouragement. He's trying.

NASA Releases Images Of A Human-Made Crater On A Comet

"The data indicate Stardust went through something similar to a B-17 bomber flying through flak in World War II," said Don Brownlee, Stardust-NExT co-investigator from the University of Washington in Seattle. "Instead of having a little stream of uniform particles coming out, they apparently came out in chunks and crumbled."

Keith's note: The title of this press release, as issued by NASA, was "NASA Releases Images Of Man-Made Crater On Comet". I changed the title on my websites. "Man-made"? So much for the women who participated in this flyby - on Valentine's Day (in case you missed NASA's relentless romantic-themed hype of this flyby).

Comet Hunter's First Images on the Ground Comet Hunter's First Images on the Ground

"Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., have begun receiving the first of 72 anticipated images of comet Tempel 1 taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft."

NASA Reschedules Stardust-NExT Comet Flyby News Conference

"NASA has rescheduled a news conference covering images and early data from last night's Stardust-NExT comet flyby for today at 12:30 p.m. PST (3:30 p.m. EST). The news conference was originally scheduled for 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST). The additional time will allow scientists to process and analyze data and images gathered when the spacecraft flew past Comet Tempel 1, with closest approach at a distance of 181 kilometers (112 miles). The mission team had expected the closest-approach images to be sent first. Instead, the images were downlinked in chronological order, starting with the most distant approach views."

NASA Update with the Administrator and Deputy Administrator

"You are invited to join Administrator Charlie Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver for a special NASA Update on Tuesday, February 15, at 2:00 pm EST. During the event, the administrator and deputy administrator will discuss the agency's fiscal year 2012 budget request. The program will be broadcast from the Headquarters auditorium and carried live on internal television at Headquarters and the NASA centers. During the NASA Update, employees will be able to ask questions from Headquarters and participating NASA centers, or you can send e-mail questions to nasaupdate@hq.nasa.gov"

Reader note: "Who is talking to whom. The NASA budget update video presentation to NASA employees which was to be presented at 2 pm this afternoon was postponed until 3pm due to a fire drill at NASA HQ. You would think that this fire drill might have taken place at a different time of day or another day so as not to interfere with this much advertised live video event. If the right hand doesn't talk to the left hand, cut one off."

Keith's note: When I worked at NASA HQ (the old building) we used to joke that the almost-daily fire drills served a purpose since they got you out of meetings you did not want to be in so that you could find people out on the sidewalk who you DID need to talk to ...

Keith's 16 Feb update: I am told that this was a "real" fire drill. I am still waiting for someone at NASA to give me an official explanation since I get nothing but "fire drill" notes from people at HQ and around the agency.


Keith's 14 Feb note: At the ISS National Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) Public Day on 10 December 2010, Mark Uhran said that the CAN would be released on 14 January 2011. According to Uhran letters of intent would be due on 14 February 2011, proposals due 4 March 2011, with an award in May 2011.

The CAN was released on Monday, 14 Feb - one month late. The release date slipped one month but the award date has slipped 2 months. No email notice has been sent out nor notice made on the ISS National Lab website. Notices of Intent are due on 4 March, proposals are due on 1 April, the anticipated selection announcement is 31 May, and the anticipated award date is 1 July. You can find the CAN and associated files here.

In his remarks at the ISS National Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) Public Day, Mark Uhran said that NASA had roped off some of the most interesting stuff (human space physiology and spacecraft testing and engineering) as being off limits to proposers. Anyone proposing to do this will be considered "non-responsive" (his words). Oddly, these are two of the most promising uses of the ISS - the sorts of things that a lot of people would like to use the ISS for. No mention is made in this CAN as to whether Uhran's statement is indeed true or binding on proposers. If it is, one would think that it would be listed in the CAN itself. If it is not, then one would think that NASA would issue a clarification to those people in attendance at the event on 10 December.

Keith's 15 Feb 9:00 am EST update: An email just arrived announcing that the CAN has been released. But there is still no mention made on the ISS National Lab website or at NASA's procurement website. One would think that a press release would be in order as well for those who are not on the mailing list - and for those who know nothing about this due to all of NASA's earlier stealth attempts not to publicize this activity.

Keith's 15 Feb 6:00 pm EST note: The CAN notice showed up on NASA's procurement website this afternoon and on the ISS National Lab site as well - but it took them 24 hours to do this.

Keith's 16 Feb 5:00 pm EST note: On 22 Feb there will be a NASA Teleconference About Nonprofit Management Of Space Station

- Release of ISS National Lab CAN Delayed, earlier post
- The ISS Sales Pitch Is Starting to Get Stale, earlier post
- Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post
- NASA's Slow Motion Reluctance To Truly Open Up The ISS, earlier post (with additional links)

NASA Internal Memo Shared Services Director Richard Arbuthnot Is Leaving

"The past 7 years of my career have been focused on designing, developing, implementing, and stabilizing the NSSC, and I have never worked with a more talented, dedicated group of individuals than the NSSC team."

NASA OIG: "Flawed Data" Data Behind Shared Services Center Projected Savings

"...the OIG found that NASA's claim that creation of the NSSC would save the Agency $121 million over a 10-year period (fiscal years 2006 through 2015) was based on flawed data and is therefore inaccurate. Our analysis determined that cost data supplied by the Centers, which was essential in determining the baseline cost calculations and return-on-investment projections, were not reliable or verifiable."

Obama proposes five-year freeze on NASA budget, AFP

"President Barack Obama on Monday proposed reining in expenses at NASA, sending his 2012 budget blueprint to Congress calling for a five-year freeze on new spending at the US space agency. The president would restrict NASA's budget to last year's levels, $18.7 billion annually through fiscal 2016. The figure represents a 1.6-percent decrease from the spending total the agency had sought for fiscal 2011, which ends in September. "This budget reflects the overall fiscal reality of the US government. There is not a lot of money available," said John Logsdon, a former director of the Space Policy Institute in Washington."

Budget 2012: NASA, Washington Post

"President Obama's proposed budget also makes explicit that the agency is focusing its longer-range planning on traveling to an asteroid, rather than to the moon. It adds funds as well to make use of the International Space Station more available to scientists and their institutions. The $100 billion space station, which has been formally designated as a national laboratory, would be funded through 2020 under the Obama budget. Earlier budgets during the Bush administration gave it funding only through 2015."

NASA budget picks fight with Congress, Orlando Sentinel

"President Barack Obama today released a $18.7-billion budget proposal for NASA that's almost certain to reignite last year's heated battle over the role that commercial companies should play in blasting astronauts into space. Obama's plan would spend $850 million in 2012 to help commercial companies, like SpaceX of California, meet a White House goal of using non-government spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2016. That's $350 million more than what Congress outlined in a heavily-debated NASA policy plan signed into law last year. And Obama would also cut nearly $1 billion from the new heavy-lift rocket that Congress ordered NASA to build by the end of 2016."

NASA FY 2012 Budget Summary (with chart)

"- Provides $18.7 billion, the same amount the agency received in 2010. Funding focuses on areas that will improve the Nation's space capabilities, strengthen our competitive edge, and prepare the next generation of leaders in the field. The Budget also proposes to streamline operations and boost efficiencies at facilities "

NASA Announces Plan To Win The Future With Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

"The NASA budget and supporting information will be available online at 1 p.m., Feb. 14, at: http://www.nasa.gov/budget"

Keith's 1:10 pm update: NASA PAO has changed their mind from what they said last week in this press release. The budget information will not be online at http://www.nasa.gov/budget until 1:30 pm ET according to a new release they just issued.

PAO also held an embargoed media briefing on the budget last week. They told me and several other reporters that we could only bring a "pencil and paper - no cellphones, laptops etc." I ended up not going. I found out later that other media who attended were allowed to bring in laptops, etc.

Also, the way they have today's briefing set up if you physically attend the event at NASA HQ you will have to miss one or more of the topic-oriented budget teleconferences (telecon only) briefings that start 30 minutes later (you can't physically attend them). So, unless your office is nearby - or you can find a quiet place with your cellphone - for 3 1/2 hours, you are going to miss things.

Keith's 3:45 pm update: Now I hear reporters participating from a NASA HQ location in the Space Operations telecon. Gee, no one at PAO told me that this was an option.

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Welcomes Strong Support for Commercial Crew in New NASA Budget

"The Commercial Spaceflight Federation today welcomed the strong support for commercial spaceflight in the new NASA FY2012 proposed budget. CSF President Bretton Alexander stated, "In this constrained fiscal environment, commercial spaceflight is more important than ever. NASA's Commercial Crew program will result in significant savings to the US taxpayer, and will cut the amount of money the nation has been sending to Russia every year. Leveraging private investment is the only way NASA can make its dollars go farther in these times of belt-tightening."

"To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind"

Keith's note: What a mouthful. Even NASA's CFO stumbled a bit as she tried to read it. I wonder if NASA employees will be able to memorize it and repeat it from memory without making a mistake. Why not just cut out the useless middle verbiage and use this:

"To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown to benefit all humankind"

NASA Wants More For Commercial Crew, Technology, Aviation Week

"The Obama administration's $18.7 billion NASA budget request for fiscal 2012 continues the new policies started in last year's request, with a stronger push into commercial space travel to low Earth orbit (LEO) and modifications to accommodate the three-year NASA authorization enacted in December."

President Obama Freezes NASA's Budget at 2010 Levels, Space.com

"Although the new budget blueprint would roll back overall NASA spending, it does recommend boosts for some NASA sectors, including partnerships with commercial spaceflight companies. The 2012 request allocates $850 million for NASA to partner with American companies to provide astronaut transportation to and from the International Space Station."

Yet according to the Wall Street Journal:

NASA Budget Plan Restricts Spending On Private Rockets

"The Obama Administration's proposed 2012 National Aeronautics and Space Administration budget, expected to total more than $18.5 billion, is scaling back White House funding projections for private rockets and spacecraft intended to take astronauts into orbit, according to government and industry officials."

House continuing resolution would bar NASA from China ties, Politico

"None of the funds made available by this division may be used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this division," the bill's drafters wrote."

House Appropriations Committee Introduces CR Containing Largest Spending Cuts in History (With detailed chart)

"The House Appropriations Committee today introduced a Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1) to fund the federal government for the last seven months of the fiscal year while cutting spending by over $100 billion from the President's fiscal year 2011 request. This CR legislation represents the largest single discretionary spending reduction in the history of Congress. ...

"NASA Budget reduction compared to FY 2010 enacted: $303.0 million. Compared to FY 2011 Request: $578.7 million."

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Oversight Plan for the 112th Congress

"The Committee will continue to provide oversight of NASA's human spaceflight program as it undergoes a period of uncertainty and transition following various Administration proposals. Specific attention will be paid to the feasibility of NASA's plans and priorities relative to their resources and requirements."

House members may come see Discovery launch, Florida Today

"[Rep. Ralph] Hall, one of NASA's most vocal supporters in Congress, said the committee would have to work together to support the agency amid tight budgeting that will force cuts throughout the government. "My goal is to keep our position in space, keep our leadership in space and keep our national and international partners," Hall said. "I'm not urging anybody to go to Mars right now or back to the moon, or any place when people can't go to the grocery store. The economy has to be good. But we've got to continue to work toward it and plan for it."

Lockheed Martin Ships Out First Orion Spacecraft

"The Lockheed Martin Orion team shipped out the first Orion crew module spacecraft structure today from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La. The spacecraft is headed to Lockheed Martin's Denver, Colo. facilities where it will undergo a series of rigorous tests to confirm Orion's ability to safely fly astronauts through all the harsh environments of deep space exploration missions."

ATK moving forward with Liberty rocket, Salt Lake Tribune

"Regardless of whether the government agrees to help fund Alliant Techsystems' rocket that would take astronauts to the International Space Station, the Utah company intends to move forward with its project because it believes there will be no shortage of commercial customers. ATK and a partner on Tuesday unveiled the two-stage Liberty rocket that they want NASA to use as the next launch vehicle for the U.S. space program. And they are hoping the space agency will see fit to award it at least a portion of a $200 million pool of money set aside for promising projects."

Keith's 10 Feb note: Of course U.S. taxpayers have already made a huge down payment on Ares-1 development. I wonder how ATK gets to use the Ares 1 modified transporter, launch pad, VAB, etc - also modified with lots of tax dollars. That won't cost ATK money? Isn't the use of these designs and facilities using NASA money?

Keith's 11 Feb 12:42 pm update: According to ATK's George Torres, who called and left me a voicemail statement: "The ATK spokesperson spoke out of line. What we're really about is to meet goal of CCDev to accelerate commercial program and to try and mature the program and working on the integrate these two systems as part of the deveopment. CCDev funding would accelerate this by 2 years." He said that he'd sent me a statement by email at some point.

Keith's 11 Feb 2:14 pm update: Here is ATK's statement: "These comments were inaccurate and from someone who didn't have full insight into the business model as presented for the CCDev2 acquisition. Specifically, our proposal is focused on the goals of CCDev-2, which are to "further advance commercial Crew Transportation System (CTS) concepts and mature the design and development of elements of the system such as launch vehicles and spacecraft." Overall, it really responds to the main goal of the procurement, which is to "accelerate the development of commercial crew systems." If we do win a CCDev-2 contract we can accelerate our first flight two years from 2015 to 2013. With the payload capabilities of Liberty and its low price, we believe it will be a strong competitor for CCDev-2. As for use of KSC facilities, we are responding to NASA's request on how we would utilize KSC facilities (just like other potential contractors) on a leased basis."

NASA OIG Testimony: Major Challenges Facing NASA in 2011

"At the present time, NASA finds itself in a state of significant uncertainty, particularly with respect to its human space program. The final Space Shuttle flights are scheduled for later this fiscal year and construction of the International Space Station is essentially complete; however, the Agency has not achieved significant momentum on space exploration directives contained in 2010 authorizing legislation because of funding and technical questions.

The most immediate challenge facing NASA's leadership is to manage the Agency's portfolio of space and science missions amid the continuing lack of clarity caused by conflicting legislative directives in the Authorization Act and a holdover provision in NASA's fiscal year (FY) 2010 appropriations law. The latter provision prevents NASA from terminating any aspect of the Constellation Program or from initiating any new program."

From the U to NASA, prison and back again, Daily Utah Chornicle

Convicted moon rock thief Thad Roberts: "(We) came out with a 600-pound safe, (estimated by the government to be worth $7 million to $21 million) sawed it open in a hotel room and sorted all the moon rocks, which included a meteorite from Mars," Roberts said. "I definitely knew at this point that I had the best rock collection in the world." Within a week, rumors spread, inevitably revealing Roberts' and the women's guilt. This resulted in an eight-year sentence for him, and only house arrest for the two women because he took the "leadership position" in the crime."

Keith's note: So Thad - you aren't at all sorry that you stole and damaged these invaluable research specimens? The author of this article doesn't seem to be interested in this obvious aspect of the story - indeed she writes: "In such a short time, Roberts has lived an unimaginable life, but he is continuing to complete his goals and hopes to see success in his future."

More Problems for Sea Launch

Boeing Still Seeking $356M from Sea Launch Partners, SpaceNews

"Boeing has not abandoned its effort to collect $356 million from its former Sea Launch commercial launch service partners in Russia and Ukraine despite an initial setback at a Swedish arbitration panel, saying the companies in question "have the wherewithal to pay," Boeing said Feb. 9."

NASA honors martyred Sally Zahran by putting name on spacecraft, Al-Masry Al-Youm

"This is the least we could provide to Egyptian youth and revolutionaries. This step represents transferring the dreams of Egyptian youth from a small stretch of earth to the enormous expanse of space," said Haji to Al-Mary Al-Youm."

NASA to name space ship after Egyptian martyr, Bikyamasr

"The United States' space agency, NASA, has okayed naming one of its spaceships after Sally Zahran, a young Egyptian woman killed during the first few days of anti-government demonstrations in Egypt. Essam Mohamed Haji, a researcher at NASA, told the Egyptian independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm he had received approval to put the young woman's name on a spaceship heading for Mars."

NASA rocket to bear name of Egyptian woman killed in protests, NDTV

"The paper quoted Essam Mohamed Haji, a young researcher at NASA, as saying Thursday that he had received approval to put the young woman Sally Zahran's name on a spaceship heading for Mars."

Keith's note: I am assuming that this is not true - but it does speak to what people think of NASA around the world - i.e. that being associated with it - and its missions - is something special.

NASA LogoNASA Announces Plan To Win The Future With Fiscal Year 2012 Budget, NASA

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency's fiscal year 2012 budget at 2 p.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 14. The news conference will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E St. S.W., in Washington.

Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson will join Bolden. The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's web site. Questions will be taken from news media representatives at headquarters and NASA field centers."

"The Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) will be held February 28 - March 2, 2011, at The University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida. A new generation of space vehicles capable of economically delivering payloads and researchers is coming on line. These vehicles will revolutionize space access by providing frequent, low-cost access to space and the capability to carry research and education crew members. They will also carry experiments for technology demonstrations, for scientist in-the-loop research, and for educational/public outreach demonstrations."

More information nsrc.swri.org

NASA Flight Opportunities Workshop at Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference

Keith's note: Electronic registration closes on Friday (<2 days left)

Keith's note: I will be sitting through the NASA Advisory Council Meeting [agenda] at NASA HQ today and posting updates here and on Twitter at @NASAWatch

Keith's note: As much as I loathe the overuse of the word "awesome" by Gen Y, the NASA Advisory Council took an informal vote during lunch break and asked me to post this video. Tip of the hat to NASA PAO. Direct link for those of you that have YouTube blocked by NASA.

Keith's update: A Carnegie astronomer notes: "While brimming with enthusiasm, this video makes a major error by claiming that JWST will be able "to see the Earth" if it was 25 light-years away. Sadly, this is not true. Here is what the JWST web page states is the true capability of JWST: "Webb can only see large planets orbiting at relatively large distances from the parent star. To see small Earth-like planets, which are billions of time fainter than their parent star, a space telescope capable of seeing at even higher angular resolution will be required. NASA is studying such a space mission, the Terrestrial Planet Finder." This quote is from the JWST web page located at: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/faq.html#basic JWST will do fantastic science, but if someone says that it will do things that are impossible for it to do, the entire project is likely to suffer.

It's oversight season: 'Hundreds' of hearings to tackle funding cuts, The Hill

"House appropriations oversight season starts in earnest this week as subcommittees hold the first of "hundreds" of oversight hearings to trim funding for federal agencies and programs. On Wednesday, two of the 12 appropriations subcommittees are set to review budget numbers with key officials from the Justice Department, Commerce Department, NASA and Securities and Exchange Commission."

House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Hearing: Oversight of the National Science Foundation and NASA

The Conrad Foundation announces finalists for the 2011 Spirit of Innovation

"Officials with The Conrad Foundation today announced 27 high school teams will compete in the finals for the 2011 Spirit of Innovation Awards. The annual competition, presented by Lockheed Martin Corporation, challenges students to solve real-world problems by creating science and technology based products that can be introduced to the marketplace. This year's competition challenges students to develop new ideas in the areas of aerospace exploration, clean energy and cyber security. The finalist teams in each category include: ..."

A budgetary haircut ahead for NASA?, Orlando Sentinel

"Here's where the math gets tricky. The cuts announced by the appropriations committee call for a $379 million reduction to NASA's budget. A sizable sum if true. But it's another example of what happens when politicians start doing math. Here's why. The $379 million doesn't use the 2010 budget as a baseline. It uses President Barack Obama's proposed 2011 budget as a baseline, which was gave $19 billion to NASA. But that budget never passed."

CR Spending Cuts to Go Deep, House Committee on Appropriations

"House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today announced a partial list of 70 spending cuts that will be included in an upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR) bill. The CR legislation will fund the federal government for the seven months remaining in the fiscal year and prevent a government wide shut-down, while significantly reducing the massive increases in discretionary spending enacted in the last several years by a Democrat majority. A full list of program cuts will be released when the bill is formally introduced."

Brown Fights to Preserve Mission of NASA Glenn, Kills Effort to Move Aeronautic Research Away from NASA

"Existing language ( "Section 605" ) of the FAA reauthorization bill would have established an Advisory Committee on the Future of Aeronautics to, among other purposes, consider transferring the responsibility for civil aeronautics research and development--a key mission of NASA Glenn--from NASA to other existing departments or agencies of the federal government, to an academic consortia, or to a non-profit. Brown's amendment, which passed 96-1, stripped this language from the FAA bill and ensured that civil aeronautics research and development would remain a central mission at NASA."

NASA Participates in United Nations Outreach Seminar on the International Space Station

"This was an opportunity for NASA and our international partners to share the capabilities of the space station with the international community," said International Space Station Program Scientist Julie Robinson, who presented at the seminar. "Now that the station has shifted from construction to research and technology development, we are working as a partnership to optimize its use as a laboratory."

Keith's note: Despite the happy press release, no mention is made of this event on the NASA ISS link provided in this press release or the NASA ISS National Lab page. On this U.N. page regarding the event all that is provided is are links to short, two sentence summaries of Robinson's talks. No presentations are posted at the U.N. or at NASA - not that the presentations ever vary much from one venue to another. That said, the ability of the ISS team to do the outreach that they love to brag about is clearly lacking. If the sales pitch never changes, the product gets stale in people's minds after a while.

Stale does not sell.

Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post

Keith's update: These presentations have now been placed online:

- International Space StationNASA Research (PDF, 1.1 MB)
- International Space Station Research Accomplishments Overview (PDF, 8.7 MB)
- International Space Station-enabled Educational Opportunities (PDF, 3 MB)

ATK pitching Liberty rocket program to NASA; could mean hundreds of Utah jobs, Deseret News

"The Liberty rocket would be crowned with a space-plane or capsule that astronauts would ride into space. "There are about a half a dozen companies out there with capsule designs or small space-planes," Rominger said. "We can lift all of them." ... We at ATK are going to sell them a service," Rominger said. "We own the vehicle, NASA does not. They're merely buying the service from us. They're not buying the vehicle."

Charlie Precourt: ATK's astronaut fights Obama space plan, Orlando Sentinel

ATK's Charles Precourt in 2010: "Specifically, the budget calls for the outsourcing of all human spaceflight services to an unproven private sector. What this means to our space program is deeply disturbing. ... Prior to this budget NASA was investing $4B to stimulate private sector space activities. With this budget proposal, NASA's own Constellation Program and its promising future will be canceled to underwrite an additional $6B to this undefined private sector activity."

Reps Posey, Adams and Bishop Join Colleagues in Calling on House Leaders to Reprioritize NASA for Human Space Flight Missions, Drop Climate Change

"We write today to assert the importance of maintaining our nation's human spaceflight program. Our constituents spoke loudly and clearly in the last election and sent a wave of new and reelected Members with a mandate to reduce federal spending. Moreover, each of us understands that our nation is on an untenable economic path and spending must be reduced. In getting our fiscal house in order, however, we must focus carefully on ensuring that we preserve critical capabilities and guarantee that agencies are focused on their primary mission. For NASA, that mission is human space exploration, and we ask that NASA funding be allocated in a way that refocuses NASA on this core mission."

Keith's note: As one reader notes: From the NASA Act of 1958 sec 102(d):

"The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

(1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space; ... (3) The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space"

Note that the FIRST item in the act is studying the Earth, atmosphere, and related space phenomena (such as space weather). Human spaceflight is a subset of the THIRD item. Earth Science, broadly defined, is not a new or strange activity for NASA."

Nickname for Liberty

Keith's note: Ares 1 was nicknamed the "Stick".

I guess we need a new nickname for Liberty. That slick first stage paint scheme (much better than Ares 1-X white or Ares -1 foam-orange) brings some names to mind - "Candy Cane" and "Barber Pole" for example.

Thoughts?

Conservative, Free-Market Leaders Call for Competitive Market in U.S. Spaceflight

Keith's note: I have been (attempting) to listen to the media dial-in for this event today but it is mostly mumbling (bad audio). Only Bob Walker was clear (and making sense). They also showed a video by a Tea Party evangelist (link in the press release). The Tea Party was mentioned frequently by speakers. The only PR for this event was done last night so it did not get much media attention. Indeed, the event's chairman and moderator can't even manage to get a heads up posted on his website. I asked the moderator (Rand Simberg) if the thinks that the President is telling the truth when he says he supports commercial space when he has accused the President of lying on his blog. Simberg replied (he was a little hard to understand on the phone link) that he did not think that the President cared either way about space commercialization. I asked the CAGW how they can reconcile statements in in support of commercial transport to the ISS when they have derided the ISS as a boondoggle for more than a decade. They said that they saw no contradiction.

There is a compelling conservative case to be made in support of space commercialization - and transitioning from government-mandated operations to private sector initiatives. The organizers should have limited commentary to Bob Walker (or added Newt Gingrich or Dana Rohrabacher) and that would have been much clearer.

ATK and Astrium Unveil the Liberty(TM) Launch Vehicle Initiative for NASA's CCDev-2 Competition

"ATK and Astrium (an EADS Company) are working together in response to NASA's Commercial Crew Development-2 (CCDev-2) procurement. The team is offering NASA launch services with the Liberty(TM) rocket. This new launch vehicle combines two of the world's most reliable propulsion systems, with a collective heritage of nearly 150 successful flights. ATK would supply the human-rated first stage, which it developed under NASA's Space Exploration Program. The five-segment solid rocket first stage is derived from the Space Shuttle's four-segment solid rocket boosters (SRBs) which are built by ATK and have flown 107 successful missions since 1988 (encompassing 214 SRBs). Astrium, the developer and manufacturer of the Ariane 5 launcher, working with Snecma (Safran Group), Europe's leading propulsion company, is providing Liberty's second stage based on the liquid-fueled cryogenic core of the Ariane 5 vehicle powered by the Vulcain2."

Keith's note: So, let me get this straight: NASA pours billions into ATK to develop the 5-segment SRB first stage of Ares 1. It has never been flown. Massive cost overruns, technical problems, and multi-year schedule delays force its cancellation. Now, ATK takes that multi-billion dollar taxpayer investment, paints a fancy logo on it, and tries to sell it back to the taxpayers as a commercial product?

Oh yes, this rocket will deliver "44,500 pounds to the International Space Station orbit". Hmm, that's less than NASA's advertised Ares 1 capability i.e. "25-ton payload capacity to deliver resources and supplies to the International Space Station".

Ares 1-X in The Movies

Reader note: "I watched the movie "Monsters" last week. "After a NASA deep-space probe crash landed in Mexico..." The 'deep-space probe crash' video is actually the real video of Ares 1-x flight "staging" (i.e. burn-out)."

Reid to Obama on NASA Budget

Letter From Sen. Harry Reid to President Obama Regarding the U.S. Space Program

"Based on this bipartisan vision, I strongly urge you to support the space program in your budget request for FY 2012. Any digression from the hard fought compromise would likely result in another year of turmoil for an already battered community. Thousands of highly skilled individuals have already lost their jobs, and additional job losses are expected as the agency transitions to the next generation space vehicle. Florida has been particularly hard hit with projected job losses over the next year and a half at more than 7000 - a state with an unemploynlent rate that already hovers near 12%. While many of these jobs are being lost with the Shuttle's retirement, we can reduce these job reductions by properly implementing the NASA Authorization Act."

Keith's 25 Jan note: At the ISS National Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) Public Day on 10 December 2010, Mark Uhran said that the CAN would be released on 14 January 2011. According to Uhran letters of Intent would be due on 14 February 2011, proposals due 4 March 2011, with an award in May 2011.

If you go to the NSPIRES page you see that this CAN will now be released on 14 Feruary 2011. No notices have been sent out to interested parties or Public Day attendees informing them of this delay. In addition, no mention is made on the ISS National Lab webpage.

Related posts

Keith's 26 Jan update: By coincidence, NASA's ISS National Lab team Sent this email out today "NASA currently expects the final release of the Cooperative Agreement Notice for the ISS National Lab Management Entity in early February. Answers to remaining questions that have been asked will be posted when the CAN is released." However NSPIRES still says that it will be released on 14 Feb 2011.

Town Hall Dinner Meeting with Dr. Charles Elachi

Keith's note: Text sent by someone@jpl: "NASA leaders will discuss the resurgence of techonology at NASA, collaborating with an international community, and the role of industry.

Speakers include:

Dr. Charles Elachi, Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Dr. Simon Worden, Director, Ames Research Center
Dr. Bobby Braun, Chief Technologist, NASA
Mr. Bob Dickman, Executive Director, AIAA

Respectfully, attendance is limited to senior management level positions."

Interesting. JPL hosts a "Town Hall Meeting" but apparently the town residents can't attend - only a few hand-picked civic leaders. Gee, how inclusive.

Keith's note: According to this NASA JSC Mission Management Flight Request, this flight was charted for passengers to "attend and participate in the Constellation SFA Recognition Event activities". It took off with 11 people who went from JSC to GRC, dropped off 4, and the remaining 7 people flew from GRC to LaRC, had breakfast and then flew back to JSC. Those making the ESMD breakfast run: Dale Thomas, Charlie Stegemoeller, Mark Kirasich, Brenda Ward, Barbara Zelon, Stephanie Castillo, and Sonia Vasquez.

Keith's note: With the research results presented in these two papers, it would seem that structural information for biological molecules can now be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples - so called "nanocrystals" using a hard X-ray laser - on Earth - no space station required.

So much for the official story NASA has told for 20 years that the ISS is crucial for such work.

Full story below

National Security Space Strategy Unclassified Summary

"In executing the National Space Policy, our National Security Space Strategy seeks to maintain and enhance the national security benefits we derive from our activities and capabilities in space while addressing and shaping the strategic environment and strengthening the foundations of our enterprise. The U.S. defense and intelligence communities will continue to rely on space systems for military operations, intelligence collection, and related activities; access to these capabilities must be assured. We must address the growing challenges of the congested, contested, and competitive space environment while continuing our leadership in the space domain."

White House Blog: Charles Bolden's Story: "From the Segregated South to Low Earth Orbit"

"It's a long way from the segregated south to low Earth orbit. But I am fortunate to have made the journey and to have had many opportunities to serve my nation in a 34-year career with the U.S. Marine Corps and in many roles at NASA, currently as head of the nation's space program. When I was a young man, my service as NASA's first African American Administrator under the Nation's first Black president would have been nearly unthinkable. But through the efforts of many people of all races, our nation has changed. And, thanks to the Space Shuttle Program, and NASA's cross-disciplinary exploration missions, African Americans and many others have had access to space and also to science and technological careers. The shuttle was really instrumental in breaking the color barrier for African Americans in space, and it all happened without a single law being passed."

NASA Deputy Administrator Visits Nevada Innovation Sites

"NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver visited Las Vegas Friday to meet with Nevada entrepreneurs and discuss innovations in space exploration and technology development critical to America's future in space. Garver toured the facilities of Bigelow Aerospace, a company that has been developing expandable space habitats. NASA is evaluating Bigelow's concept for an expandable module for the International Space Station. If approved, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, could be launched to the station using a commercial cargo flight and robotically attached to the orbiting laboratory."

NASA Deputy Administrator Visits Colorado Innovation Sites

"Garver toured the facilities of Sierra Nevada Corporation, a company with wide involvement in developing technologies for space exploration. The company's Dream Chaser vehicle is under development with support from NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Program to provide crew transportation to and from low Earth orbit."

Astrobotic Technology Inc. Announces Falcon 9 contract For Lunar Mission

"Astrobotic Technology Inc. today announced it has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Astrobotic's robotic payload to the Moon on a Falcon 9. The expedition will search for water and deliver payloads, with the robot narrating its adventure while sending 3D video. The mission could launch as soon as December 2013."

Keith's 6 Feb 11:00 am EST update: Have a look at the "complete" STEREO image of the sun. See that black stripe with no data - an the large blurry region? How can this image mesh with NASA's media advisory touting a "complete" image to be released today? NASA even admits it is not "complete" even though they say it is the "entire" sun:

"Latest image of the far side of the Sun based on high resolution STEREO data, taken on February 6, 2011 at 23:56 UT when there was still a small gap between the STEREO Ahead and Behind data. This gap will start to close on February 6, 2011, when the spacecraft achieve 180 degree separation, and will completely close over the next several days. Credit: NASA"

Why not wait until the image is complete in a week or so and then release it? Again, only Ed Weiler knows. Everyone else in his organization is scratching their head. According to the STEREO Facebook page "NASA will be holding a press conference concerning this event on February 9 at 2:00 PM US Eastern Standard Time." Ed won't be there though.

Earlier posts below

Multi-Association Letter Urging Defense Appropriations Bill, AIA et al

"We have additional concerns how a year-long CR would affect other critical Federal agencies, including NASA, GSA, FHWA and the FAA as they would face similar challenges under a continuing resolution. Operations vital to our national security and economic prosperity could suffer without full appropriations for these agencies."

Gabrielle Giffords's husband Mark Kelly will command final shuttle flight, Politico

"Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will fly the space shuttle Endeavour's final mission in April, according to a source familiar with the decision."

NASA Astronaut Mark Kelly Resumes Training For STS-134 Mission

"NASA astronaut Mark Kelly will resume training as commander of the STS-134 space shuttle mission on Monday, Feb. 7. With the exception of some proficiency training, Kelly has been on personal leave since Jan. 8 to care for his wife, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in a Tucson, Ariz. shooting."

Obama calls his Christian faith 'a sustaining force' in prayer breakfast speech, Washington Post

"NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), seriously injured during the Tucson shooting rampage last month, also spoke briefly at the breakfast and gave the closing prayer."

Outpouring of Support for Challenger Learning Centers

Leland D. Melvin, NASA Associate Administrator for Education: "As an astronaut, I have a deep connection to the honor and legacy that the Challenger Center for Space Education represents. A theme is evident in both the Challenger Center's mission and the President's Day of Remembrance remarks: triumph from tragedy. These words exemplify the resilience, purpose, and optimism that led to the creation of the Challenger Centers. The Challenger Centers and NASA also have similar values in terms of education, and these goals align with my own personal commitment."

New USA Layoffs

Usa Informs Employees Of Layoff, Florida Today

"United Space Alliance by Friday will notify 548 Kennedy Space Center employees that they will be laid off on April 8. Some 697 USA employees companywide will be laid off, including 145 in Houston and four in Huntsville, Ala."

Alabama space museum reducing workforce again, WHNT

"Alabama's space museum is cutting more than 10 percent of its work force to reduce costs. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville is slashing its full-time payroll from 129 to 113 people at the end of this month. The new CEO of the state-owned attraction, Deborah Barnhart, announced the job cuts to managers on Thursday."

Employee cuts at U.S. Space and Rocket Center have historian concerned about future of 'exceptional' archives, Huntsville Times

"Irene Wilhite, longtime curator of the archives, and her assistant, her son Jamie, learned Thursday they are among 16 full-time Space Center employees being dropped from the payroll."

Previous stories

Space Florida and Bigelow Sign Memorandum of Understanding

"Yesterday, Space Florida President Frank DiBello and Robert Bigelow, president of Bigelow Aerospace, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to work together to pursue and identify foreign and domestic companies that could benefit from utilization of Bigelow's expandable, orbital space complexes. Bigelow currently has two pathfinder expandable systems successfully orbiting the Earth, and plans to build the first of multiple fully-functioning stations by 2015."

NASA weighs plan to keep space shuttle until 2017, MSNBC

"NASA is considering a plan to keep the space shuttle Endeavour in flight-like condition after its last scheduled mission, a move that could lead to its transformation into a privatized spaceship rather than a museum piece."

Keith's note: The author has jumped the gun on this and provides a false impression with regard to levela nd nature of any internal sentiment about not rushing to retire the shuttle fleet. This is only a study - if it is done. As such there is no "plan" to "consider". NASA is not "considering" or "weighing" anything other than whether or not they want to pay someone to do a study that challenges a decision the agency has already committed to. NASA is planning to retire the shuttle and has always preserved an option to keep one or more shuttles in good (flight) shape for tests, documentation, etc. before handing them off to museums. If the study is done it will almost certainly use several earlier NASA shuttle commercialization studies from the 80's and 90's that looked at similar things.

Indeed, if the study is done, it will likely be delivered after the last shuttle flight when the retirement process has formally begun. The parts and contracts needed to fly the shuttle are already going away and cannot be kept in place forever. To do so costs more money and this core of this notion is reducing costs. The only possible logic to such a proposal would be if the shuttle sidemount HLV was approved. Alas, NASA made certain to surgically scrub any mention of it from what it has presented to the White House and Congress.

Former NASA Official Bound for W. Va. Prison, Space News

"Stadd, 55, of Bethesda, Md., was convicted in federal court last August and sentenced in November for conspiring with Liam Sarsfield, then NASA's deputy engineer of programs, to steer money to his consulting firm and submitting false invoices. Sarsfield was separately convicted on a conflict of interest charge and sentenced last September to three years probation."

Former shuttle worker investigated in theft of shuttle tiles for resale, Florida Today

"Brevard County Sheriff's Office Sgt. David Marich said the homeowner, David Abbey, is a suspect in the case, but has not been charged. Abbey at one time had access to tiles in his previous job with shuttle contractor United Space Alliance. Marich said Abbey allegedly took tiles destined for disposal off KSC property and advertised them for sale on eBay, with prices reaching as high as $880 per tile."

Super Bowl Robonaut

Robonaut 2 to Appear on Fox's Super Bowl XLV Pregame

"Robonaut 2, the muscular humanoid robot created by General Motors and NASA, will make a guest appearance with Fox Sports analyst Howie Long during the Fox Network pre-game show before Super Bowl XLV on Sunday. R2 and Howie taped a meeting Jan. 31."

NASA Deputy Administrator Meets With Commercial Space Innovators

"NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will travel to Las Vegas and Boulder, Colo., this week to meet with leaders of two commercial space companies, Bigelow Aerospace and Sierra Nevada Corp., and tour their facilities. NASA is partnering with the commercial sector to develop innovative technologies to ensure that the U.S. remains competitive in future space endeavors."

What Do Kepler's Worlds Look Like - From The Surface? What might the sky look like on one of these worlds that Kepler has discovered?

Planetary scientist and space artist Dan Durda has a bunch of ideas. This is one notion - a piece called "Snowy Mountains".

Keith's note: Ellen Engelman Conners has been replaced as Director of External Relations at JSC. Connors got the civil service job back in 2008 through her political connections with the Bush Administration. Conners came to NASA willl no formal PAO experience and was previously employed at the FCC after declining to be reappointed to the NTSB. According to various news reports, her tenure at NTSB was somewhat contentious and uncomfortable - which is how people at NASA have described her tenure at JSC.

Earlier stories

Keith's note: Michael Kinkaid has been named Acting Director of JSC External Relations effective today.

NASA Finds Earth-size Planet Candidates in the Habitable Zone

"The findings increase the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter. Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size -- up to twice the size of Earth -- to larger than Jupiter. The findings are based on the results of observations conducted May 12 to Sept. 17, 2009 of more than 156,000 stars in Kepler's field of view, which covers approximately 1/400 of the sky."

Six Small Planets Orbiting a Sun-like Star Amaze Astronomers, UCSC

"A remarkable planetary system discovered by NASA's Kepler mission has six planets around a Sun-like star, including five small planets in tightly packed orbits. Astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and their coauthors analyzed the orbital dynamics of the system, determined the sizes and masses of the planets, and figured out their likely compositions -- all based on Kepler's measurements of the changing brightness of the host star (called Kepler-11) as the planets passed in front of it."

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Discovers Extraordinary New Planetary System

"Few stars are known to have more than one transiting planet, and Kepler-11 is the first known star to have more than three," said Lissauer. "So we know that systems like this are not common. There's certainly far fewer than one percent of stars that have systems like Kepler-11. But whether it's one in a thousand, one in ten thousand or one in a million, that we don't know, because we only have observed one of them."

Students Discover A Pulsar

Students Excited by Stellar Discovery , NRAO

"In the constellation of Ophiuchus, above the disk of our Milky Way Galaxy, there lurks a stellar corpse spinning 30 times per second -- an exotic star known as a radio pulsar. This object was unknown until it was discovered last week by three high school students. These students are part of the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC) project, run by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, WV, and West Virginia University (WVU)."

E.P.A. Plans First Rules Ever on Perchlorate in Drinking Water

"The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it planned to regulate toxic substances in drinking water more strictly and would issue the first limits ever on perchlorate, a dangerous chemical found in rocket fuel that has seeped into groundwater in at least 400 locations."

PERCHLORATE: Occurrence Is Widespread but at Varying Levels; Federal Agencies Have Taken Some Actions to Respond to and Lessen Releases, GAO

"According to NASA officials, the agency has detected perchlorate at four of the seven facilities where sampling occurred based on the historical use of perchlorate. NASA has undertaken a major perchlorate cleanup effort at one facility--the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where NASA detected a groundwater plume that had contaminated local drinking water supplies."

@NASA_Spinoff's Terse Tweet

@NASA_Spinoff tweet: NASA water recycling system makes pee potable: http://bit.ly/fmJl1E

Keith's note: There were 73 characters left out of 140 available - so the author of this tweet could have chosen slightly more appropriate terms such as "waste", "urine", etc. Oh well. It certainly gets the mesaage across. Yes, its a slow news day thus far - until the Kepler announcement in a few hours. Of course, one of my favorite NASA PAO release titles - from 2003 is ''Fun With Urine' Pkg. TRT 1:49: "(Narration :09) UNOFFICIALLY CALLED 'MORE FUN WITH URINE,' THIS SHUTTLE EXPERIMENT COULD HELP FUTURE ASTRONAUTS FIGHT OFF DEPRESSION BY CREATING ART IN SPACE."

Photo: Monster Winter Storm Affecting 30 States

NASA image release January 31, 2011. This visible image was captured by the GOES-13 satellite and shows the low pressure area bringing snowfall to the Midwest Jan. 31, 2011. Heavy snow is expected today in portions of northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Snowfall from the system extends from Michigan west to Montana, Idaho, Utah and Arizona. A mix of rain and snow also stretches into the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, and it is all moving east. This system appears to be as large as 1/3rd of the Continental U.S. The image was created on Jan. 31 at 12:45 p.m. EST (1745 UTC)

NASA OIG Review of NASA's Shared Services Center

"... Moreover, although NASA originally expected that approximately 200 civil service positions would be freed up from performing institutional support services and reassigned to "critical mission-related activities" as a result of the transfer of services to the NSSC, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that these employees were often placed in new positions or assigned to backfill positions in the same functional areas from which services had been transferred.

Finally, the OIG found that NASA's claim that creation of the NSSC would save the Agency $121 million over a 10-year period (fiscal years 2006 through 2015) was based on flawed data and is therefore inaccurate. Our analysis determined that cost data supplied by the Centers, which was essential in determining the baseline cost calculations and return-on-investment projections, were not reliable or verifiable."

More Will Follow

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."

Names for seven craters in the Apollo basin on the Moon have been provisionally approved by the International Astronomical Union to honor the seven Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts. The names can be seen in the list of lunar crater names in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. The names are: Husband, McCool, Chawla, L. Clark, M. Anderson, D. Brown, Ramon. Note that first initials have been used for Anderson, Brown, and Clark to distingiush them from other crater names on the Moon which honor persons with the same surnames. [Larger image] (source: USGS Astrogeology Center)

Related links

Twin inukshuks on Devon Island. On the left is the Challenger Inukshuk on the right is the memorial to a member of the Columbia crew.

NASA Haughton-Mars Project Space Shuttle Columbia Inukshuk Memorials

"To honor the memory of the seven astronauts of Space Shuttle Columbia's last flight, and at the suggestion of our colleague Keith Cowing of SpaceRef, the NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) has established seven astronaut memorial sites on Devon Island, in the Canadian High Arctic, during the summer field seasons of 2003 and 2004. Each site was chosen for its special significance in the NASA HMP's analog exploration program near Haughton Crater, and is marked by an Inukshuk, a traditional Inuit "Stone Person". The Inuit erect Inukshuks to mark land and to guide and comfort travelers on perilous journeys across the Arctic."

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."


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