June 2012 Archives

Pete Rustan

Former NRO Manager Pete Rustan Dies, Space News

"Pedro "Pete" Rustan, a former senior manager at the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and a fixture in space technology circles, died at his home in Woodbridge, Va., June 28 after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. He was 65."

Kennedy Space Center 50th Anniversary Video, NASA KSC

"To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) NASA has released this video montage of highlights. From Kennedy's speech, Glen's Friendship 7 flight, the Apollo years, unmaned launches, the Shuttle era and through to the transformation of KSC for the next era of U.S. human spaceflight, watch it all."

China's Success

China's giant, quiet step in space, Leroy Chiao, CNN

"I have seen China's space technology. It is impressive. What the Chinese lack is operational experience. In that, we are still far ahead. But we in the know hear footsteps. It's time not for another government space race, but for expanded space cooperation and collaboration -- an effort the United States would lead, as it does today with the International Space Station program. Bring China into the international fold. This is how we can retain the leadership position. Otherwise, we risk falling behind."

China Completes First Space Manned Docking Mission

"China is celebrating the safe return of three astronauts, who successfully completed a mission that included the country's first manual docking in space and the first Chinese woman astronaut. Live television images of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft's return were broadcast around China Friday."

NASA rebuts Cuyahoga County GOP claim of pending cuts at Cleveland's Glenn Research Center

"The Republican group's news release also cited former NASA administrator Mike Griffin as a source on the layoffs. "The fact that the Obama administration is seriously considering moving human space flight work out of Glenn is deeply troubling," Griffin is quoted as saying. "To eliminate Glenn's role in human space flight is to call into question its very participation in NASA's future." Griffin declined to expand on that statement when reached by email."

NASA says there are no plans for human spaceflight cutbacks at Cleveland's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The one-page chart given to reporters came from Michael Griffin, who ran NASA during George W. Bush's presidency, and shows that the agency could save $216 million between 2013 and 2016 by eliminating 244 human space flight jobs at Glenn and 825 similar positions at seven other NASA centers. ... Griffin and former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, who also is a Romney space policy advisor, repeated those criticisms Thursday at a news conference organized by the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, saying the potential cutbacks at Glenn showed the lack of a clear, coherent human space flight mission."

Nasa says study open to inspection, Bangkot Post

"After fears were raised that the plan might be a cover for a "spying mission", Hal Maring, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration's lead planner for the project, issued the invitation. He told the Bangkok Post Sunday that Nasa had already explained in detail the aircraft and sensors to be used in the SEAC4RS project."

NASA cancels climate study project after Thailand delays decision to OK use of key air base

"NASA said it canceled the mission Tuesday "due to the absence of necessary approvals by regional authorities in the time frame necessary to support the mission's planned deployment and scientific observation window," according to the project's website."

Keith's note: If you look over at the calendar on the right side of NASA Watch you'll note that the NASA Advisory Council and all of its committees are meeting toward the end of July. NASA has expanded the audience for these public meetings by putting them on Webex and dial-in audio feeds - live. A good use of technology - with one exception: the only committee that will not be available live via Webex or dial-in is the Technology and Innovation Committee which focuses on the NASA Chief Technologist's Office. Go figure.

ATK Liberty Updates

ATK Makes Progress with the Liberty Launch SystemATK Makes Progress with the Liberty Launch System, Commercial Space Watch (With video)

"In a trio of media releases ATK announced today that is has signed a deal with NanoRacks, completed a milestone for its contract with NASA for the Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDev) and that partner EADS Astrium has completed tests on tank structures for the Liberty rocket second stage."

Impacts of Delays and Cost Overruns on Nation's Weather Satellites

"Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA) and Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD) held a hearing yesterday on the status of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) polar-orbiting and geostationary weather satellites. Two Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports on the respective satellite systems were released at the hearing."

- Geostationary Weather Satellites: Design Progress Made, but Schedule Uncertainty Needs to be Addressed

- Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites: Changing Requirements, Technical Issues, and Looming Data Gaps Require Focused Attention

B612 Foundation Announces First Privately Funded Deep Space Mission

"In a press conference at the California Academy of Sciences Thursday morning, the B612 Foundation unveiled its plans to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission - SENTINEL - a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun, ranging up to 170 million miles from Earth, for a mission of discovery and mapping."

CASIS Signs Deal with COBRA PUMA GOLF for Research on ISS

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with COBRA PUMA GOLFTM to carry out materials research projects on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory for use in its sporting goods products line."

CASIS & PGA Hosting STEM Camp This Week

"Combining instruction in the principles of both science and golf, 20 Title I students from St. Lucie County Schools will take part in the first-ever PGA STEM Enrichment Camp at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance this week, June 18-22."

Keith's note: While CASIS is promoting its golf-in-space efforts, it has totally ignored its partner Nanoracks as it makes an announcement - and does so at a conference that CASIS itself co-sponsored. Oh yes, with the exception of two tweets @ISSCASIS was totally mute at the ISS conference in Denver. Indeed, only half a dozen or so people were using Twitter (#ISSRDC) to talk about what was happening at the conference. I have only found 2 articles - from the Huntsville Times - that refer to news from the conference. And nothing was webcast. How CASIS is going to expand visibility of ISS capabilities when it drops the ball like this escapes me. It takes more than a few golf agreements, CASIS.

Golf or Science: What is NASA's Plan for the Space Station?, Earlier post

At least double NASA's annual budget to one penny for every government dollar spent, Petition, We The People, White House

"Tomorrow is gone without NASA. Please at least double NASA's annual budget, and continue to support the most inspirational program in the country."

Doubling and Tripling What We Can Accomplish in Space, OSTP Response

"Thank you for signing this petition. We share your view that NASA is a driver of innovation and economic growth, a creator of high-skilled and high-paying jobs, and a force for inspiration in the American people -- especially our youth. That's why President Obama has set NASA on course for a new and exciting chapter of American space exploration, one that will see more discoveries, scientific breakthroughs, and, ultimately, more Americans in space going to places never before visited."

Penny4NASA.org

Two-Thirds of Americans Think Barack Obama Is Better Suited to Handle an Alien Invasion Than Mitt Romney

"In regards to national security, nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans think Barack Obama would be better suited than fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney to handle an alien invasion. In fact, more than two in three (68%) women say that Obama would be more adept at dealing with an alien invasion than Romney, vs. 61 percent of men. And more younger citizens, ages 18 to 64 years, than those aged 65+ (68% vs. 50%) think Romney would not be as well-suited as Obama to handle an alien invasion."

Searching for ET, But No Evidence Yet, OSTP

"Thank you for signing the petition asking the Obama Administration to acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence here on Earth. The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye. However, that doesn't mean the subject of life outside our planet isn't being discussed or explored."

Space: The New Frontier For Medical Breakthroughs, US News & World Report

"Deadly bacteria that have spent time in space are already on Earth--but instead of killing humans, they might just save lives. Scientists are using bacteria cultivated on the International Space Station to help develop vaccines that experts say could revolutionize the medical field."

Keith's note: Wow. Actual benefits to people back on Earth from research done in space on the ISS. Deputy Administrator Garver tweeted a link as did the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Neither @ISSCASIS or @ISS_NatLab could be bothered to do so. Alas, neither CASIS or the ISS National Laboratory are mentioned in this article. CASIS and the ISS National Laboratory ignore lots of things like this - including this regular NASA summary (not posted online) of space biology and medicine research done on the ISS. The CASIS and ISS National Lab folks are having their big meeting in Denver right now. I wonder if they are talking about how to make the ISS more relevant to the people who pay for it?

Keith's update: Oh yes: CASIS just released "CASIS Announces First Solicitation for Proposals: Advancing Protein Crystallization in Microgravity". No mention by @ISS_NatLab or at the ISS National Laboratory website. No one bothers to work with anyone, it would seem. [Update: a link was added later in the day - well after the release went out.]

ExxonMobil: "The United States ranks 17th in the world in science. It's time to raise the bar and elevate our academic standards. Let's do what's best for our students by investing in our teachers. Find out more at exxonmobil.com/letssolvethis"

Keith's note: This video is playing as an advertisement on the CNN.com homepage right now. Look at all the other nation's flags on the Moon. This is a more subtle - yet still blunt way to send a message about the importance of education and technological preeminence to America - instead of adopting NASA Astronaut Andy Thomas' earlier clumsy and crude method wherein Chinese astronauts are shown to have trampled the American flag left on the lunar surface as they plant their own.

- NASA Astronaut Andy Thomas is Still Bashing China On The Job, earlier post
- NASA Exploration Ideas - With Added China Bashing, earlier post

Now Everyone Can Build a Satellite Like NASA: Online!

"Make your game choices carefully and you could build a satellite very similar to NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope, the original inspiration for this game. ...Build It Yourself: Satellite" gives everyone a chance to be an engineer and an astronomer by learning about the different instruments that can go on different kinds of space-observing satellites, and seeing what kind of cosmic discoveries they might make. Hopefully it will inspire someone to become a real engineer or a space scientist."

Keith's note: Too bad this game is not totally realistic so as to let people play with schedule and cost. This way they'd REALLY learn how NASA satellites are built (or not built). Another useful feature would be the ability of one game to affect other user's games when costs go up to mimic the ability of Webb to suck money out of other projects. What SMD should have chosen for emulation is one of the Mars Science Rovers - THAT is good spacecraft design - one worthy of use in inspiring the next generation - not the bloated and tardy Webb.

NASA Releases Breakout Videos for the Commercial Crew Program, Commercial Space Watch

"Five of NASA's industry partners participated in the production of breakout videos that highlight the systems they're creating in collaboration with the Commercial Crew Program during Commercial Crew Development Round 2. Included videos come from: ATK, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX and ULA."

Printing The Moon, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project

"As clever as we thought we were, we were not the first team to tackle the issue of generating high resolution imagery. Someone tried to do much of what we were doing today - but did so with technology available in the 1960s. We were recently contacted by someone who had seen our project's Facebook page. His name is Joe Watson and he worked on a project that used computer printers that worked like giant electric typewriters - but using varying sizes of squares instead of letters. With this system and a lot of creativity, Watson and his team created immense high resolution versions of Lunar Orbiter images from which topographic maps were made."

Orion High-altitude Abort Test Faces Budget-driven Delay, SpaceNews

"A high-altitude test of the Orion deep-space capsule's launch abort system could be delayed two years [FY 2018] to accommodate the tighter program budgets anticipated by NASA and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin."

Sen. Hutchison Stresses Importance of Continued Progress on both Commercial and Government Space Launch Vehicles

"I just hope that there will no longer be budget proposals from the President, whoever that will be next year, that will appear to cut back on the future and fund the present because we have an authorization bill that assures both, we support both," Sen. Hutchison said at the hearing."

Prepared statement by Bill Gerstenmaier

"Based on the availability of funding and industry performance, this strategy allows for adjustments in program scope, and enables a domestic capability to transport crewmembers to the ISS likely by 2017, based on the readiness of U.S. commercial providers to achieve NASA certification."

Keith's note: If the Orion abort test doesn't happen until FY 2018, then what does this mean for using Orion to take crews to the ISS? NASA plans for using the ISS now end in CY 2020. If Orion delays continue, commercial crew service providers could reach the ISS well before Orion can. How can Orion provide the "capability to be a backup system for International Space Station cargo and crew delivery" if commercial crew carriers fly well before Orion flies? As such, why is Orion/SLS being designed with the capability of going to the ISS in the first place?

CASIS Unveils New Logo Part of Aggressive Plan to Expand Research Partners

"CASIS is determined to facilitate the development of ground-breaking products and technologies on the ISS for the benefit of people on Earth," said CASIS Interim Executive Director Jim Royston. "Our new logo captures our spirit and mission, and serves as a message to the marketplace that CASIS is a strong partner helping business and researchers harness the power of microgravity and the ISS U.S. National Lab."

Keith's note: This is bordering on the absurd. CASIS continues to drop the ball on all of the tasks it is supposed to be doing so as to further the utilization of the International Space Station and now they think that a new logo will "serve as a message to the marketplace"? Newsflash: actions speak louder than logos, CASIS.

Personally, I think the logo looks like something you'd see on an Adobe software package (same font). If this logo is supposed to show the industry that CASIS is serious about space, they certainly picked the wrong logo to do so. What this logo has to do with evoking an image of utilizing the ISS escapes me.

Maybe they were thinking of this movie space ship and its domes when they came up with this logo. The movie title certainly describes how CASIS has conducted itself since last year.

NASA Space Launch System Core Stage Moves From Concept to Design

"The nation's space exploration program is taking a critical step forward with a successful major technical review of the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS), the rocket that will take astronauts farther into space than ever before."

Boeing Successfully Completes Key Reviews of Space Launch System

"Boeing last week successfully completed its first major technical reviews for the cryogenic stages of the Space Launch System (SLS), bringing the team into the design phase for the nation's next heavy-lift, human-rated rocket."

Keith's note: Alas, NASA has no budget for the payloads that would fly on this rocket, no firm destination(s) identified, and no rationale offered as to how this rocket will be cheaper than using commercial alternatives.

Back Us On Kickstarter, Planetary Resources

"To offer you a chance to actually get involved, we've been tossing around the idea of adding additional capacity in our production run, and either offering you access to a portion of our of our orbiting spacecraft - or - if there's enough demand, actually build you an additional Space Telescope for your own use. We'd probably do this thru a Kickstarter campaign, but we ONLY if there's enough interest..."

Keith's note: This is bizzare. At the ISDC conference just a few weeks ago Eric Anderson from Planetary Resources was positively bragging about how much money they had. A room full of people heard him say this. Now they are asking for people to fund their ultra low cost telescopes on Kickstarter? What happened? Where did all those billionaires (and their money) go? Given that there is no hardware yet (just press releases), will the Kickstarter funds be used to fund hardware development or just to buy copies?

Keith's update: Clarification: I'm all for crowdfunding and crowdsourcing (I'm actually a big fan) but it is a little strange that this company announces itself with immense fanfare as being well-funded by ultra-rich people and then, before anything is event built or launched, they decide to use crowdfunding. It seems that their business model is a bit confused and is still evolving.

Mystery Billionaire-backed Space Company To Be Announced, earlier post

Keith's note: What's really ridiculous is how these billionaires are charging attendees at their press event $25 each. You have to wonder how much they are putting into this if they charge admission to press conferences ...

Earlier posts

VASIMR and Explorers

The Explorers Club Hosts Plasma Rocket Demo With Astronauts Scott Carpenter and Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz

"The demonstration of the VASIMR rocket engine prototype, called the VX-200 (for VASIMR Experimental at 200 kilowatts), will be hosted at the Ad Astra research facility by The Explorers Club, the international exploration organization, at 2 p.m., Friday, June 22, 2012. Also attending will be legendary astronaut Scott Carpenter who flew in 1962 as part of the Mercury program, and Ad Astra's Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz who has flown to space seven separate times, all aboard the Shuttle."

Keith's note: On 8 June 2012 I got an email update from Planetary Resources. This portion got my attention:

"Here's a quick summary of the highlights:

. Over 70 Million US television viewers
. 5 Billion Unique Monthly visitors with front page headlines on Huffington Post, Drudge Report, Twitter, CNN.com, Yahoo, Washington Post ..."

Hmm. "5 Billion Unique Monthly visitors". That's more traffic than Google gets and represents more than half of the population on Earth. Wow.

Open For Business: NASA Launches New Technology Transfer Portal

"In an effort to accelerate technology transfer from NASA into the hands of American businesses, industry and the public, the agency's new Technology Transfer Portal is open for business. NASA's Technology Transfer Portal provides an Internet-based one-stop front door to the agency's unique intellectual property assets available for technology transfer and infusion into America's new technology and innovation-driven economy."

Keith's note: I have to say this is a substantial improvement over what was online before. Some closer examination is called for. The next step ought to be to eliminate all of the separate field center tech transfer websites (each one is different, none of them interconnect, each one costs money to maintain etc.) and have one truly central portal where everyone has easy access to everything that NASA does.

A quick observation: based on the user interface on this new site I'd never find these three items posted by NASA LaRC the other day unless I already knew to click on the LaRC link that actually takes me to the NASA Technology Gateway Marketplace. Why not call the link by the name of where it sends you?

- NASA Technology Transfer Opportunity Byzantine Fault Tolerant Clock - A Self Stabilizing Synchronization Protocol
- NASA Technology Transfer Opportunity Air Coupled Acoustic Thermography Nondestructive Evaluation and Inspection of Structures
- NASA Technology Transfer Opportunity Adaptive Refinement Tools Software for Realtime of Unstructured Grids in Numerical Analysis

Oh yes: NASA Tech Briefs is linked from this page but NASA Tech Briefs still makes no link or mention of NASA itself. Odd.

- NASA Patent Offices Need to Coordinate Much Better Than They Do, earlier post
- NASA's Technology Transfer Continues To Be Uncoordinated, earlier post
- Uncoordinated Technology Transfer at NASA, earlier post

Ice Found in Shackleton Crater on the Moon, NASA

"NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has returned data that indicate ice may make up as much as 22 percent of the surface material in a crater located on the moon's south pole."

Researchers Find Evidence of Ice Content at the Moon's South Pole, MIT

"If humans are ever to inhabit the Moon, the lunar poles may well be the location of choice: Because of the small tilt of the lunar spin axis, the poles contain regions of near-permanent sunlight, needed for power, and regions of near-permanent darkness containing ice -- both of which would be essential resources for any lunar colony."

Chinese Submarine Breaks Deepest-Dive Record In Mariana Trench

"A Chinese submarine descended to 6,908 meters (22,600 feet) in the Mariana Trench today, breaking the record for the nation's deepest dive a day after astronauts performed China's first manned space docking."

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies: Science and Technology Priorities for the FY 2014 Budget

"This memorandum outlines the Administration's multi-agency science and technology priorities for formulating FY 2014 Budget submissions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These priorities require investments from and cooperation among multiple Federal agencies for success. They build on priorities reflected in this Administration's past budgets and documents, such as the President's Strategy for American Innovation."

Senate Hearing: Risks, Opportunities, and Oversight of Commercial Space

"The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space will hold a hearing on the "Risks, Opportunities, and Oversight of Commercial Space." This hearing will examine the commercial space industry, its role in the nation's space program, and its contribution to U.S. global competitiveness."

Prepared Statements

- William Gerstenmaier, NASA
- Pamela Melroy, FAA
- Gerald Dillingham, GAO
- Michael Gold. Bigelow Aerospace, LLC
- Michael Lopez-Alegria, CSF

NASA Space App Challenge: OpenROV - An Open Source Exploration Vehicle, NASA HackSpace

"This month, NASA engineer Eric Stackpole hiked to a spot in Trinity County, east of California's rough Bigfoot country. Locals whisper the cave's deep pools hold a cache of stolen gold, but Mr. Stackpole isn't here to look for treasure. He had, under his arm, what might appear to be a clunky toy blue submarine about the size of a lunchbox. The machine is the latest prototype of the OpenROV-an open-source, remotely operated vehicle that could map the cave in 3D using software from Autodesk and collect water in places too tight for a diver to go. It could change the future of ocean exploration. ... NEEMO caught the eye of NASA after winning a regional International Space Apps Challenge, where 2000 hacker participants gathered across the internet and worked collaboratively on 71 problems over a 48-hour deadline."

NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge, Previous post

"I think it is inexcusable that NASA has not made more of an effort to promote things such as the International Space Apps Challenge - especially when the White House places such a priority on things like this. There is much risk in this ad hoc and dysfunctional public engagement policy at NASA. Now that the first apps challenge event was such a success, efforts like this could continue - without overt NASA involvement - thus making NASA less - rather than more relevant. If that happens NASA only has itself to blame."

IT Reform at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA CIO

"Finally, NASA shifted to a new web services model that uses Amazon Web Services for cloud-based enterprise infrastructure. This cloud-based model supports a wide variety of web applications and sites using an interoperable, standards-based, and secure environment while providing almost a million dollars in cost savings each year.

NASA Drops OpenStack For Amazon Cloud

"Ray O'Brien, acting CIO at NASA Ames, when asked May 30 by InformationWeek about NASA's participation, used diplomatic language to say that NASA still endorsed the project, was proud of its founding role, and might be a user of OpenStack components in the future. "It is very possible that NASA could leverage OpenStack as a customer in the future," he wrote in his email response. ... [NASA CIO Linda] Cureton's reference to "an interoperable, standards-based environment" could have been taken from the OpenStack playbook. Amazon Web Services, to which Cureton was actually referring, uses proprietary Amazon Machine Images as the basis for workloads that run in its Elastic Compute Cloud ... But nowhere in her references to an open environment was there any mention of OpenStack. At the same time, OpenStack has gained the backing of 175 other companies--including IBM, HP, Red Hat, Del,l and Intel--as the primary open source cloud offering."

B612 Foundation to Announce First Privately Funded Deep Space Mission

"Announcement: On June 28, 2012, the B612 Foundation will announce its plans to build, operate and launch the world's first privately funded deep space mission-a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun. We will create the first comprehensive dynamic map of our inner solar system showing the current and future locations and trajectories of Earth-crossing asteroids, paving the way to protect the Earth from future impacts and opening up the Solar System to future exploration."

Comment System Update

Marc's note: Last week we upgraded our comment system to a new version from our provider Disqus, however we've had reports of some users experiencing problems. We've informed Disqus of the issues and have reverted back to the previous version. When they fix the current version we'll do the upgrade.

White House and Agencies Focus on Space Weather Concerns, EOS

"[Tamara Dickinson, a senior policy analyst with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)] said that there has been an increased awareness about space weather in the White House and that President Barack Obama recently has requested briefing memos on the topic. She highlighted several efforts the administration is taking related to space weather, including a forthcoming national Earth observation strategy, which could be released in July and will include an assessment of space weather. She explained that the strategy document will be part of the fiscal year 2014 presidential budget request and that it will be updated every 3 years."

Keith's note: Given our civilization's ever-expanding reliance upon space-based assets, a sprawling terrestrial power and communications grid, and plans for human travel in (and beyond) low Earth orbit, this makes a lot of sense and is long over due.

You can track news and space weather reports on Twitter at @spaceweather

NASA, FAA Advance National Goals in Commercial Human Space Transportation with Landmark Agreement

"The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NASA have signed a historic agreement to coordinate standards for commercial space travel of government and non-government astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS). The two agencies will collaborate to expand efforts that provide a stable framework for the U.S. space industry, avoid conflicting requirements and multiple sets of standards, and advance both public and crew safety."

Keith's note: When questioned by the media, NASA Administrator Bolden said that only NASA missions that go to the ISS will be required to adhere to both NASA safety requirements and FAA requirements. Missions to other locations (even if they use the same spacecraft that visit ISS) will not be subject to NASA scrutiny but will still have to adhere to FAA regs. When asked if there will be a TSA-like entity to handle the surge in people flying into space commercially neither NASA or FAA would "speculate about the future".

Keith's note: During today's NASA/FAA teleconference, Charlie Bolden said that the new commercial crew Space Act Agreements are targeted for July. However, Phil McAlister said that these downselects will not be "downselects" at all but will be open to any bidder. However Rep. Frank Wolf recently issued a press release that said "Additionally, NASA has stated that it will reduce the number of awards anticipated to be made this summer from the 4 awards made under commercial crew development round 2 to not more than 2.5 (two full and one partial) CCiCAP awards. This downselect will reduce taxpayer exposure by concentrating funds on those participants who are most likely to be chosen to eventually provide service to ISS."

Hmm. "reduce the number of awards" and "this downselect will reduce ..." It certainly sounds like Rep. Wolf thinks that he has agreed to a NASA "downselect". Phil might want to check with Rep. Wolf on this.

Chinese Astronauts Dock and Enter Tiangong 1 Mini-Spacelab (with video)

"Following on their successful launch on Saturday the Chinese Shenzhou-9 spacecraft docked today with the Tiangong-1 mini-spacelab and the three taikonauts lef by commander Jing Haipeng,followed by Liu Wang and then later Liu Yang, entered the small spacelab for the first time."

Boeing X-37B Completes 469 Day Orbital Mission (With Video)

"Boeing today announced the successful de-orbit and landing of the second X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) for the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The X-37B landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:48 a.m. Pacific time today, concluding a 469-day experimental test mission. It was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on March 5, 2011."

Keith's note: The agenda for today's Aerospace Industires Association (AIA) Space Council has a 90 minute disucssion with only one campaign represented: "11:30-1:00 p.m. 2012 Election Speaker: Mr. Peter Marquez Romney Space Policy Advisory Group". An earlier draft version of the agenda listed "Dr. Scott Pace, Chairman, Chair of the Romney Space Policy Advisory Group and Peter Marquez, Member, Romney Space Policy Advisory Group".

So where's the Obama campaign representative? Were they invited? Did they decline? Why is Scott Pace not speaking? Scheduling conflict? Is he no longer representing the Romney campaign?

Complete agenda. Agenda memos below.

Teledyne to Develop Space-Based Digital Imaging Capability

"Teledyne Technologies Incorporated announced today that its subsidiary, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc., in Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a Cooperative Agreement by NASA to foster the commercial utilization of the International Space Station. Under the agreement, Teledyne Brown will develop the Multi-User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES), an Earth imaging platform, as part of the company's new commercial space-based digital imaging business. Teledyne expects to provide the first commercial imaging system on board the facility."

Keith's 14 Jun note: There is no mention of CASIS or the ISS National Lab in this press release. No mention is made on the CASIS website. No mention is made at the NASA ISS National Lab website either. I thought this was the sort of thing NASA wanted CASIS to be doing? Guess not. It would seem that one does not have to deal with CASIS in order to use the ISS.

Keith's 15 Jun update: According to Twitter posts provided last night by CASIS employee Justin Kugler (@phalanx) the TBE agreement was done independent of CASIS: "MUSES was created as a National Lab Enabling project. It is not new. TBE registered with CASIS as an implementation partner" and "TBE is an implementation partner and MUSES preceded the transition. And we have been helping them with potential users.". Kugler added that "NASA is retaining the projects they are funding because of legal requirements."

Conrad Foundation and NanoRacks Team to Fly Student Experiments in Space using American Express Points

"Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, today announced the Foundation has joined forces with NanoRacks LLC, the leading company for low-earth orbit utilization, to launch a new program called DreamUp. The program will assist students in raising money to participate in a unique educational experience - conducting experiments in the microgravity of space. DreamUp is the first program to enable students to use American Express(R) Membership Rewards(R) points to fund student experiments onboard the International Space Station (ISS)."

Keith's note: NASA's Education Office, the NASA ISS National Lab, and CASIS don't seem to think that this cool and innovative ISS education project is worth making note of.

Brattle Group Economists Estimate Value of NASA's Global Solar And Meteorological Data Services To Be Up To $790 M

"A report prepared for the NASA Applied Science Program and authored by economists at The Brattle Group finds that the use of NASA's solar and meteorological data services has greatly contributed to the U.S. and international goals of achieving greater energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources. The study, which was presented today at a workshop hosted by IEEE's Committee on Earth Observation, finds the economic value of the datasets to be between $79 million and $790 million worldwide, with higher ranges possible."

Keith's note: If you go to the NASA Applied Science Program website they make no mention of this report. This rather odd given that they paid for the report - one that has been released and makes some rather important assessments about the value of what NASA does.

The Crazy DIY Spaceflight Project That Just Might Work

"Keith Cowing, editor of NASAWatch.com, said Copenhagen Suborbitals has yet to convince anyone that they've built something safe to fly in. Spine-severing vibration, blackout-inducing acceleration and catastrophic hardware failures could each doom a would-be passenger. "But the fact that I'm not making fun of this and worrying about detailed technical aspects is fascinating. We don't giggle at it anymore," said Cowing, a former biologist who did payload integration for NASA and has completed suborbital scientist astronaut training. "In the past few years, it's no longer considered lunacy to try and build a rocket ship that you or someone could get into and take you to edge of space," he said. "I think we're watching something that may be bigger than we realize it is. Copenhagen Suborbitals is an extreme example."

"NASA is sponsoring a three-day workshop to actively engage the technical and scientific communities in the early stages of a longer-term process of collaboration that bridges the objectives of the sponsoring NASA organizations. This workshop will be held June 12-14, 2012, at the Lunar and Planetary Institute."

Meeting website with Livestream feeds of sessions.

NEEMO 16 Underway

NASA's Undersea Mission Submerges in the Atlantic

"An international crew of aquanauts is settling into its home on the ocean floor, where the team will spend 12 days testing concepts for a potential asteroid mission. The expedition is the 16th excursion of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO)."

Challenger Center to host Exciting Interactive Webcasts with NASA NEEMO

NASA Video: Morpheus Tether Test #16

"The Morpheus vertical test bed successfully executed a 16th tether test on June 11, 2012. This was the first flight after the team integrated ALHAT (Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology) into the vehicle."

CASIS Must Succeed: And It Can if We Make it So, CASIS

"CASIS is now the manager of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. Owing to a slow and unfocused start, tumultuous changes in management after barely six months, and pressure from those who lost the ISS National Lab management contract competition, some have called for CASIS to be removed from the job barely nine months after it was selected. Any move to retire CASIS -- still in its infancy -- and replace it with a still greener successor would be ill advised, I believe. ... I rather doubt that the detractors and would-be successors to CASIS have thought these implications through. But they should. And if they are ISS supporters, they should not only cease their calls to end CASIS and instead support it as it reboots with new leadership and a newfound effectiveness."

Keith's note: (sigh) It's never the fault of CASIS when things go wrong. Oh no. CASIS is the only answer - period. We're stuck with them - no matter what. So get used to it. And if you don't fall in step with whatever CASIS says and does (no matter how much they screw things up) you are a detractor and not a true believer. Yawn.

It is quite clear that CASIS thinks that the choice is to stick with them and their substandard ISS utilization - and not to even think of trying another approach so as to achieve far better utilization of the International Space Station. I vote for "better".

Keith's update: There are some interesting and lengthy comments (below) from someone inside the ISS utilization world that shed some light on issues confronting CASIS.

Nebula, NASA, and OpenStack, Open NASA

"Recently, on May 15, NASA announced a new cloud computing strategy for the Agency at the Uptime Institute's symposium in Santa Clara, CA. Among its facets is a reduction to our OpenStack development efforts in favor of becoming a "smart consumer" of commercial cloud services."

IT Reform at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA CIO Blog

"Improved investment management practices, the use of cloud services when appropriate, and the use of shared services as a provider and consumer are core tenets in our IRM Strategic Plan released in June 2011. To underscore the importance of this shift, I identified a Deputy CIO for IT Reform, Gary Cox, in 2012 to provide an integrated focus on IT innovation and service delivery to ensure that our services are effective and efficient from our customers' perspectives."

Did NASA ditch OpenStack for Amazon?

"What she did not mention was anything about OpenStack, the infrastructure as a service platform that grew out of initial work by NASA and Rackspace. OpenStack is being pushed as an alternative to Amazon Web Services by several tech heavyweights including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Red Hat. This blog piqued my interest because, in late March, another NASA official said publicly that the agency is backing off additional OpenStack development."

Marc's note: The short answer, yes.

NASA Administrator and SpaceX CEO to Address Media at SpaceX Facilities In Texas Wednesday and California Thursday, NASA

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk will participate in a media availability at 11:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, June 13, in the SpaceX facility at 1 Rocket Rd. in McGregor, Texas. Bolden and Musk will be there to view the Dragon spacecraft that returned to Earth May 31 following the first successful mission by a private company to carry supplies to the International Space Station."

Keith's 11 June note: Industry sources report that Chase Bank has led a group that has bought (or is seekng ot buy) venerable rocket engine manufacturer Rocketdyne from Pratt & Whitney and that Mike Griffin will be the new CEO. Stay tuned for more details.

Keith's 12 June update: Industry sources now speak of Rocketdyne as having been bought by Goodrich while others claim it has been bought EADS. Others now say that that Mike Griffin has not been asked to be the CEO. The speculation and claims about Rocketdyne's suitors clearly indicates the value that many in the industry see in its products.

United Tech lowers equity sale to fund Goodrich deal, Reuters

"One source familiar with the matter said the Rocketdyne sale to a private investor is imminent and should be completed by the end of the month. The two sides had hoped to finish negotiations by June 15, but that now appears unlikely. "With any sale, you want to do them as fast as you can because otherwise the company loses momentum," the source said. The source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, did not name the private equity investor and had no details on the selling price for Rocketdyne and the other units. The units were fetching prices "pretty much in line" with what UTC had expected, the source said."

Marc's note: According to a tweet by NASA Spaceflight there was a micrometeoroid strike on the Cupola. According to the tweet it is minor impact and "doesn't look bad." The shutter was closed and impact is being evaluated. Details to follow when available.

- Live International Space Station video feed

Update: Cupola hit by minor MMOD strike, shutter closed for evaluations, NASA Spaceflight

"Window 2 on the Cupola module has been hit by a minor MicroMeteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) strike. With the window's protective shutter closed, per flight rules, ISS managers are evaluating photos of the damage - downlinked from the International Space Station (ISS) - before they are expected to give the crew clearance to reopen the shutter."

NextGen Mars Rovers

Next Generation MERs for Mars?, Future Planetary Exploration Blog

Marc's note: Van Kane, the author of the post has for several years posted interesting observations of various exploration missions. As someone not affiliated with the space program, but speaking strictly as an enthusiast, his comments are at times worth reading including this post which deals with NASA's Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration conference this week. BTW parts of the conference are being streamed live starting at 9:00 a.m. EDT.

"Example of proposed upgrades to the basic Mars Exploration Rover design for missions to Mars in 2018 and beyond. This particular upgrade would enhance the rover with next generation instruments and add capabilities to collect and cache samples for eventual return to Earth. "

For NASA's Huge Mars Rover, Stakes High for Landing Success, Space.com

"There's no doubt that the MSL rover is a high-stakes Mars mission. As one high-ranking NASA Mars mission leader recently said: "We know it will land ... but the only question is how fast will it be going?"

NASA MSL Teleconference

"NASA will host a media teleconference at noon EDT, June 11, to provide a status update on the Aug. 5, 2012, landing of the most advanced rover ever to be sent to Mars."

Keith's note: MSL has been in the development pipeline for a long time. Indeed it was supposed to have flown 2 years ago but cost overruns/delays forced a postponemnt. In other words, NASA Has had a lot of time to think ahead beyond MSL - and what to do if something goes wrong. When I asked NASA SMD a few months back if they had a plan for what to do if MSL does not make a sucessful landing, the answer was "there is no plan". No back up. No Plan B.

Keith's update: Contrary to what SMD has told me before, Dave Lavery says that a contingency plan is being put in place for a variety of scenarios that MSL might have to encounter- including mission failure. PAO says that they will try and release some of that plan. It a little odd that they are still working on this plan will MSL is en route to Mars given how close they were to launching MSL several years ago. Also, Michael Meyer said that if MSL is lost that "certainly a second MSL (maybe not identical) should be built an flown since having a mobile laboratory on the surface of Mars is very important" to future missions including sample return.

- NASA's Out of Date Search for Life on Mars, earlier post
- MSL Was Launched WIth Incomplete and Flawed Software, earlier post
- JPL's Overruns and Gutting Mars Exploration, earlier post

Is There a Future for Space-Based Solar Power?, Space Quarterly Magazine

The following article is a free sample from the current issue of Space Quarterly Magazine. It is our hope that if you enjoy this article you will consider subscribing to the magazine.

"Space-based solar energy production systems, commonly known as 'Solar Power Satellites' or SPS's, offer the prospect of effective, environmentally friendly electrical power.

However, experts involved in designing SPS systems agree that it will take at least ten years - but more likely decades - to develop SPS's capable of feeding the grid back on earth, as launch costs, unclear economic viability, and limited research funding slow the development of this potentially ground-changing energy technology."

Next Up: Cygnus

Veteran Space Company Orbital Sciences Ready for ISS, Wired

"With a few decades of space launch experience already under its belt, the Orbital Sciences Corporation is next up to demonstrate cargo delivery capabilities to the International Space Station. With so much attention focused on SpaceX's successful demonstration flight last month, it might be easy to forget Elon Musk's company is just one of two receiving investments from NASA as part of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to deliver cargo to the ISS. And unlike upstart SpaceX, the other company in the COTS program is a veteran of the commercial space industry."

Floridians Continue Waiting For Answers From Mitt Romney On Future Of Commercial Space, Obama Florida Press Office

"This week, Mitt Romney's Republican allies in Congress finally dropped their effort to eliminate the competition among the private space industry after the successful launch of SpaceX's Dragon. While this is a step in the right direction, Floridians still deserve to know where Mitt Romney stands on space issues. While the world watched the historic first commercial spacecraft dock with the International Space Station, Romney's campaign refused to say if he supported President Obama's efforts to support and grow America's commercial space industry. Despite his promise to fire anyone who suggested spending billions of dollars on building a colony on the Moon, after Romney's Space Advisor Mike Griffin called for just that, Romney still refuses to say if he kept his promise to fire Griffin."

Obama to Romney: Will You Fire Mike Griffin?, earlier post

Keith's note: This email/memo was sent from Christopher Strickland's official NASA email account at 10:57 am EDT today to more than 30 individuals - all at their official NASA email addresses. No request for anonymity was requested of me. Nor did I solicit this memo. As far as I am concerned Mr. Strickland made this memo public. I cannot vouch for anything that is contained in the email but he has gone out of his way - in his official capacity at NASA - to tell people about this issue - and does so in a rather cogent fashion. Here is the memo, verbatim.

"To Whom It May Concern:

Due to the culmination of abusive behavior by the Mission Systems Engineer over the past year, including hostile treatment in front of project and division management during a review, and continued assault in the parking lot later that same day; I resign my position as Lead of the High Gain Antenna System for the Global Precipitation Measurement satellite at Goddard Space Flight Center effective immediately.

Keith's note: John's Funeral Mass is scheduled for June 28th at 11:00 AM . It will be held at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church: 18825 Fuller Heights Road, Triangle, VA, 22172. Phone: 703-221-4044. It is located right off of Hwy. 95 South, Triangle exit. Crossing Rt. 1, get into the left lane immediately for the first left turn in front of Quantico Marine Base gates. The street runs parallel to the gates, and the church will be found on the left hand side of Fuller Heights Rd.

GEMS Team Appeals NASA Cancellation Decision, Space News

"The GEMS team appealed the cancellation of their mission June 5 at NASA headquarters and was expecting a decision as soon as June 6, GEMS principal investigator Jean Swank said. NASA decided last month to pull the plug on GEMS after independent cost estimates showed that the project was likely to bust a revised $135 million cost cap the agency imposed on spacecraft development in January."

Marc's note: A media teleconference is scheduled at noon EDT today by NASA to brief the media on their decision to cancel the agency's Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer project. The panelist for the briefing is Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysic's Division Director.

Is Space Getting Too Politicized?, Wired

"Now that the 2012 Presidential field is officially set, the candidates can finally focus on the question that is on everyone's mind: what would you, as President, do with NASA? How would you guide the American space program? Ok, so space exploration isn't exactly a high salience issue for most of the country, but it does loom large for several swing state constituencies, most notably the Space Coast of Florida. A couple of excellent articles in the current edition of Space Quarterly Magazine, excerpted on NasaWatch, contemplate the role space policy may have in the 2012 election."

Ray Bradbury

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, iO9

"Ray Bradbury - author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and many more literary classics - died this morning in Los Angeles, at the age of 91."

Ray Bradbury hates big government: 'Our country is in need of a revolution, LA Times

"Ray Bradbury is mad at President Obama, but it's not about the economy, the war or the plan to a construct a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. "He should be announcing that we should go back to the moon," says the iconic author .... "We should never have left there. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever."

Wolf Statement On Future Of Commercial Crew Program

"As part of this understanding, NASA and the committee have affirmed that the primary objective of the commercial crew program is achieving the fastest, safest and most cost-effective means of domestic access to the ISS, not the creation of a commercial crew industry. Additionally, NASA has stated that it will reduce the number of awards anticipated to be made this summer from the 4 awards made under commercial crew development round 2 to not more than 2.5 (two full and one partial) CCiCAP awards. This downselect will reduce taxpayer exposure by concentrating funds on those participants who are most likely to be chosen to eventually provide service to ISS."

NRO Gifts NASA Two Leftover Space Telescopes, SpacePolicyOnline

"The CAA's response to the newswas rather muted. The reaction was surprisingly flat for a community that received a fairly valuable gift. At a media teleconference later in the day, NASA's Michael Moore, deputy astrophysics division director,estimated thatabout $250 million in mission costs could be avoided by using one ofthe NRO telescopes. He added that the telescopes cost about $75,000-$100,000 to storeat the manfacturer's (ITT Excelis) facilities in Rochester, NY. In response to a question atthe media teleconference, Hertz said he thought CAA members were "excited at the possibilities," while Dressler acknowledged that some people "need to have a lot more time" to consider the situation. This is a "sharp right turn," he added, compared to what was recommended in NWNH."

'Free' spy telescopes come to NASA with a cost, Nature

"But on Tuesday, NASA was still keeping relatively quiet about the apparent windfall. "We're not pushing this information like we normally do," said Michael Moore, NASA's acting deputy director for astrophysics."

Keith's note: OK. So the status quo seems to be grumpy, cautious, etc. about another means to accomplish THEIR expensive long term astronomy plan without any sudden "right turns". Are there not other uses that this hardware could be put to - ones that have minimal involvement with these stuffy folks who are all set in their high-cost way of doing business? Every time I have tried to engage NASA's representatives about out-of-the-box thinking about alternate ways to use these telescopes from NRO they quickly retreat into their shells saying "its too early to discuss this". Well gee, they have had a chance to talk about this among themselves for a year and a half! If this behavior persists I am afraid that NASA will simply be spending the equivalent of someone's college education every year storing the stuff in Rochester, New York. Remember Triana aka 'Goresat'? Where is it now?

Its interesting how NASA's human exploration programs all seek a "flexible path" as they structure their programs and missions, yet NASA's space science programs seem to lack that capability - or any interest in emulating it.

Spy agency gives NASA two spare Hubbles, Washington Post

"I'm told by a government engineer with knowledge of the new instruments that they're "a successful part of an otherwise failed program on the NRO side."

NASA has a mission for grounded spy telescopes, SpaceflightNow

"But the 94-inch aperture on the NRO optical system will permit Hubble-class resolution over a wide field-of-view - imaging a swath of the sky 100 times larger than Hubble can see in a single exposure."

U.S. Launches Costly Overhaul of Spy Satellites, LA Times (1995)

"It's like looking at the world through a soda straw," said one defense industry consultant of the existing spy satellites. The 8X program would redress that shortcoming by covering roughly 800 to 1,000 square miles in each photograph, with roughly the same resolution as the existing satellites..."

In Death of Spy Satellite Program, Lofty Plans and Unrealistic Bids, NY Times (2007)

"The panel reported that the project, called Future Imagery Architecture, was far behind schedule and would most likely cost $2 billion to $3 billion more than planned, according to records from the satellite agency, the National Reconnaissance Office. ... It took two more years, several more review panels and billions more dollars before the government finally killed the project -- perhaps the most spectacular and expensive failure in the 50-year history of American spy satellite projects. The story behind that failure has remained largely hidden, like much of the workings of the nation's intelligence establishment. ... The team also wanted an optical system that could take wide-angle images, showing large areas on the ground, as well as tightly focused, detailed pictures of small objects. The goal, to use an oversimplified analogy, was a revolutionary zoom lens. "

8 June Update

Donated Space Telescopes are Remnants of Failed NRO Program, Space News

"Among Boeing's subcontractors on the canceled program was a division of Eastman Kodak of Rochester, which for years had built the mirror assemblies for the nation's spy satellites. That division was sold to ITT Exelis in 2004. In an email, ITT Exelis spokeswoman Irene Lockwood confirmed that her company built the hardware. "Since developing and building the two partial telescope assemblies in the late 1990s-early 2000s, ITT Exelis has stored the hardware in one of our Rochester facilities. As the future space missions for the telescopes evolve, ITT Exelis will work with NASA to determine how best they can be used."

NASA's Stubby Hubbles and Fumbled PR

"Moore said that the hardware had been "declassified" so that NASA could use it. So, I asked, since it was "declassified", what the names of these telescopes were and if we could have photos of the hardware. Moore declined to provide the names of the telescopes - or of anything NRO was providing, said that we could not have photos (because things were classified), and that we should go talk to the NRO's public relations office. For starters, telling someone to talk to the NRO public affairs office is like suggesting that I find the nearest brick wall to talk to. What had me a bit baffled was why NASA could not provide photos of declassified hardware - suggesting that it was not really declassified at all. So which is it - declassified or not?"

Keith's note: But wait. This image was posted on MSNBC captioned "A redacted photo shows one of the telescopes transferred from the National Reconnaissance Office to NASA." and the source is "A. Dressler via National Academies". NASA refuses to issue images to the media but they give the same imagery to the NAS and they release it to the media? But NASA can't?

Keith's update: J.D. Harrington at NASA PAO tells me "I'm told that this is an old picture of the Hubble Space Telescope in its ground handling fixture being moved in the clean room during integrated testing and is not related toany classified hardware. It was included by the author of the CAA presentation yesterday to provide some levity to his somewhat dry science discussion." Dressler was on the media telecon yesterday when NASA refused to provide photos. So.... a senior representative of the National Academies of Science (Dressler) is issuing photos that they either claim are authentic and/or know are not authentic - and do so after hearing that NASA cannot/will not release them.

NASA is holding a semi-stealth media telecon - but only for selected media - and I got 13 minutes advanced notice. Alas, NASA claims that they are not holding "media telecons" about the NRO telescopes and they tell this to media during a "media telecon". Goofy.

Do Budget Cuts Mean an End to Flagship Programs?, Space Quarterly Magazine by Marcia S. Smith

The following article is a free sample from the current issue of Space Quarterly Magazine. It is our hope that if you enjoy this article you will consider subscribing to the magazine.

"The Obama Administration's decision to cut NASA's planetary exploration budget for FY2013 and beyond generated howls of protest. The action forced the United States to shelve planned cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) on two Mars probes in 2016 and 2018 that were the beginning of a string of missions to fulfill the holy grail of Mars scientists - returning a sample of Mars to Earth for analysis."

Space shuttle sails through New York Harbor, CNN

"The space shuttle Enterprise took a journey more akin to those of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise than its orbital sister ships on Sunday. The prototype shuttle floated on a barge through New York Harbor, from John F. Kennedy Airport en route to Bayonne, New Jersey."

Keith's note: What no one seems to be mentioning is that the guys driving/pulling the barge carrying Enterprise managed to smash the right wing of Enterprise into a dock. Larger image

Keith's note: On 26 May 2012 I posted "NASA LaRC now has its official cold fusion video online titled "Abundant Clean/Green Energy" which refers to a new form of "nuclear energy". How do NASA's Chief Technologist and Chief Scientist allow this stuff to be funded with taxpayer dollars without going through any of the agency's standard peer review processes? Or do Rich Antcliff and Lesa Roe just fund this stuff with local center director's discretionary slush funds and not tell HQ what they are doing?" I submitted a number of questions to LaRC regarding this research. I received a reply from LaRC yesterday and it is posted below.

Keith's update: These are the most troubling parts of the LaRC response - apparently there are no publications related to this taxpayer-funded research. I asked. This is all they would tell me about: only a patent application is listed. FYI, anyone can file a patent application - about anything. People do it all the time. That said, after 3.5 years no one from NASA LaRC has published anything about this research - anywhere?

"2. How much has been spent to date on this LENR research and how much will be spent?: The average yearly cost for the approximately 3.5 years of the research thus far is about $222,000 for a total of about $778,000. The research is ongoing, and another $212,000 is budgeted for the remainder of FY 2012.

9. What publications have resulted from this NASA-funded research? (references/links
requested): A patent application has been published. Reference U.S. Patent Publication Number 2011/0255645."

Full (official) LaRC response below

NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy, Washington Post

"The U.S. government's secret space program has decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope. Designed for surveillance, the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office were no longer needed for spy missions and can now be used to study the heavens. They have 2.4-meter (7.9 feet) mirrors, just like the Hubble. They also have an additional feature that the civilian space telescopes lack: A maneuverable secondary mirror that makes it possible to obtain more focused images. These telescopes will have 100 times the field of view of the Hubble, according to David Spergel, a Princeton astrophysicist and co-chair of the National Academies advisory panel on astronomy and astrophysics."

Space Quarterly Magazine June 2012 Issue

Marc's note: The current edition of Space Quarterly magazine has a couple of articles dealing with the election and space. One discusses the Democratic perspective and the other the Republican perspective. Below you'll find excerpts from each. To read the full versions please subscribe to the magazine. A single digital issue is $5.95 while a 1 year digital subscription is $19.

Jed Pearson

"His last assignment in the Marine Corps was as Head of America's Manned Space Flight program at NASA. He supervised 19 successful Space Shuttle missions including the first Hubble Space Telescope repair mission. His responsibilities included operations, safety, personnel, logistics and budgeting for all matters related to the manned space flight program. After retirement from the Marine Corps, General Pearson remained as the Head of Manned Space Flight for three years, and for his service in this assignment he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal."

Government and Space: Lead, Follow, and Get Out of the Way, Rick Tumlinson, Huffington Post

"2012 will see those committed to settling space (O'Neillians) begin orbital delivery operations, private microgravity experiments on the space station, and sub-orbital, commercial, human space-flight tests. Recently, the revolution jumped another level, as a commercial space-station company announced it is partnering with a commercial spaceflight firm, thus completely eliminating the government from the equation. And yet, even as some of today's savviest and wealthiest business leaders begin to dive into this new ocean of possibility, many of yesterday's space heroes, our government and political class, don't get it. The irony should not be lost that this same year, a presidential candidate got laughed off the campaign stage for suggesting a human colony on the Moon -- just days before a group of American entrepreneurs worth tens of billions of dollars announced plans to mine asteroids."

Keith's note: Not to single you out, Rick, but people are out of work. They do not want moon bases or asteroid mines, they want jobs. And people do not really get to worried about whether or not the government is involved in things or not. They do not really waste a whole lot of time on the "D" or "R". They just want whatever is broken to be fixed i.e. they want results. They are going to vote for the politicians who they think will accomplish that task. The fact that the current Democratic Administration is pro-space business and Congressional Republicans are often adamantly opposed to the support of space commerce by NASA just confuses this discussion further.

Space cadets unite! Otherwise we're irrelevant, Jim Banke, Orbital Inclinations

"While I often bristle at Cowing's blunt style, I completely agree with the substance of his response to The Moon Society's president. And believe me, I wish it weren't the case because actually moving the needle on space policy is really the key challenge we face in the space advocacy community. We have yet to find a way to turn all that outstanding public outreach into viable political currency such that every Senator, every member of the House of Representatives, and each occupant of the White House - no matter what party they represent - will support a robust national space policy."

SpaceRef Space Quarterly Magazine June Issue Released, Space Quarterly

"The latest edition of Space Quarterly magazine is now available. Highlights of our U.S. edition include a look at the Democratic and Republican space polices leading up to the election along with what budget cuts mean for NASA's flagship programs. We also get an update on European space policy and French and U.K. space programs along with other emerging European space programs. "

- See the complete list of articles
- Subscribe now: $19 per year, digital edition

NASA Joins Community in Shuttlebration Weekend Celebration

"Houston has been with NASA's Space Shuttle Program for 30 years and 135 missions, and this weekend, Houston and NASA will celebrate together as a souvenir of the program arrives in Clear Lake."

Space Center Houston's full-size Space Shuttle replica to arrive June 1 "Shuttlebration Weekend"

"On Sunday, June 3, the replica will make an estimated three-hour trek down NASA Parkway from the Hilton to its permanent home at Space Center Houston. Once on Space Center Houston property, the replica will be welcomed by JSC's prototype planetary rovers for future solar system exploration, local scout troops and marching bands as it is rolled to its location."

Keith's note: Photo by Gwen Griffin, representing Griffin Communications and Space Center Houston, who is currently onboard the Kirby Corp's barge along side. Larger photos


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