July 2012 Archives

Keith's note: There will be a hearing on Wednesday at 2:00 pm EDT titled "Emerging Commercial Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle Market". The hearing was announced several weeks ago. Yet the Commercial Spaceflight Federation has not issued a heads up or media advisory for this hearing. Nor is anything posted on their website. Not only are three of its members testifying, a representative of the CSF's Suborbital Applications Researchers Group is testifying as well. One has to wonder just what it is that the CSF does when it seems to go out of its way to not promote things of obvious importance to its members, the media, and the commercial space industry as a whole.

Suborbital Reusable Vehicles: A 10-Year Forecast of Market Demand Released, Space Florida

"Space Florida - the State of Florida's spaceport authority and aerospace economic development agency - and the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space (FAA-AST) - partnered in November 2011 to commission a study prepared by The Tauri Group, on the forecast 10-year demand for suborbital reusable vehicles."

Keith's update: This report has been issued by Space Florida (a CSF member) and was conducted by a company that will be testifying today. CSF has made no mention of this report.

Take the National Academies' Space Studies Board Survey on NASA's strategic Direction

"In the FY2012 appropriations bill that funds NASA, Congress requested an independent study of NASA's strategic direction. The study is being conducted by a committee of the National Research Council. The Strategic Directions Committee is listening to a wide variety of experts in aeronautics and space science and technology, space policy and programs, and communications strategy, and it wants to hear from other stakeholders, including the public, as well."

NASA'S Space Launch System Passes Major Agency Review, Moves to Preliminary Design

"SLS reached this major milestone less than 10 months after the program's inception. The combination of the two assessments represents a fundamentally different way of conducting NASA program reviews. The SLS team is streamlining processes to provide the nation with a safe, affordable and sustainable heavy-lift launch vehicle capability. The next major program milestone is the preliminary design review, targeted for late next year."

Keith's note: Of course no mention is made by NASA of all the previous work (and considerable expense) that was put into Ares 1 and Ares V - which supposedly supported much of the current SLS design. NASA never mentions these "other" programs - and what they cost - and yet tries to make it sound like they just pulled off a neat low-cost/high speed trick - the same way the advertised "low" cost of Mars Phoenix never took actual Mars Polar Lander development costs into account.

Rocket companies hope to repurpose Saturn 5 engines, Spaceflight Now

"Dynetics and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne announced Wednesday they are teaming up to resurrect the Saturn 5 rocket's mighty F-1 engine to power NASA's planned heavy-lift launch vehicle, saying the Apollo-era engine will offer significantly more performance than solid-fueled boosters currently under development."

NASA Will Explore F-1 Upgrade For Heavy Lifter, Aviation Week

"The powerful rocket engine developed in the 1960s to launch the first men to the Moon could be reprised in the 2020s as the powerplant for strap-on boosters that NASA hopes to use in heavy-lift human missions to Mars."

Department of Commerce BIS Survey: U.S. Space Industry 'Deep Dive'

"The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Office of Technology Evaluation, in coordination with the U.S. Air Force, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Reconnaissance Office is undertaking a survey and assessment of the U.S. space industrial base supply chain network. The principal purpose of this project is to gain an understanding of the complicated network supporting the development, production and sustainment of products and services across the defense, intelligence community, civil and commercial space sectors."

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Markup on Astronaut Artifact Ownership

"The Committee will meet to consider the following measure, or for other purposes: H.R. 4158 - To confirm full ownership rights for certain United States astronauts to artifacts from the astronauts' space missions."

- NASA IG Sends Cops in Flack Vests After 74 Year Old, 4'11" Grandmother, earlier post
- Selling History Or Just Personal Stuff?, earlier post
- NASA OIG Admits The Obvious About Moon Rocks, earlier post
- NASA's Inconsistent Policy Regarding The Sale Of Apollo Era Items, earlier post

Keith's update: This markup has been postponed.

Keith's note: It should be abundantly clear by now that the NASA IG and General Counsel offices have no consistent policy whatsoever when it comes to selling historic Apollo era artifacts. In some cases you can sell pieces of the Moon, and in other cases you cannot. In some cases you can sell items used during Apollo missions, in other cases, you cannot. And of course, it is also acceptable practice to rough up little old ladies and threaten lawsuits against elderly former astronauts.

Maybe this legislation will solve some of this confusion since it refers to some specific items "personal logs, checklists, flight manuals, prototype and proof test articles used in training, and disposable flight hardware salvaged from jettisoned lunar modules" which astronauts can keep and specifically excludes "lunar rocks and other lunar material" which they cannot keep.

GAO: Commercial Space Launches: FAA Should Update How It Assesses Federal Liability Risk

"According to studies, the United States provides less commercial space launch indemnification for third party losses than China, France, and Russia. These countries put no limit on the amount of government indemnification coverage, which in the United States is limited by the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments of 1988 (CSLAA). Governments' commitments to pay have never been tested because there has not been a third party claim that exceeded a private launch company's insurance."

Keith's note: A note titled "NASA Reccomends Discontinuation of Student Rocket Activity" went out to NASA's education mailing lists this afternoon with some urgency. No other detail has been provided by NASA.

"Recently, an air pressurized paper rocket launcher being used by an educator failed. This launcher is described in NASA's Rockets Educator Guide, publications EG-2011-11-223-KSC, pp. 86-90 and EG-2008-05-060-KSC, pp. 86-90. NASA completed an engineering investigation into the failure and determined that the launcher, or design equivalents, should not be used. NASA has removed the launcher design from its website and its education curriculum. Individuals and organizations should immediately discontinue use of the launcher published in the referenced NASA publications. The point of contact for additional information is James Stofan, Deputy Associate Administrator for Education Integration at nasaedpartners@nasa.gov. We request that your organization assist NASA in disseminating this information as widely as possible throughout the education community."

If there is some inherent danger then this is a prudent thing to do. This is the document that NASA has taken offline. It took me 10 seconds to find it. They have managed to scrub it off of NASA's website but similar technology is easily available online via a simple Google search:

- Air Rockets, NASA
- Air Pressure Rocket Launcher
- How-To Tuesday: Compressed air rocket, Make Magazine

DigitalGlobe and Enough Project Formalize Partnership to Monitor Mass Violence in Sudan

"DigitalGlobe (DGI), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, today announced an agreement with the Enough Project to continue providing unrivaled imagery and analysis services to monitor evidence of bombings, razed villages and possible threats to civilians in Sudan in an effort called the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP). In addition to the imagery and analysis provided under the terms of this new agreement, DigitalGlobe will also contribute additional in-kind services."

Note from James Green, Director Planetary Science, NASA on Mars Curiosity Rover Landing

"One week from today, our community will be forever changed, one way or the other, no matter what. The landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover at Gale Crater occurs at 1:31 AM (Eastern Time) and it will be a history event. Curiosity is our latest flagship mission and it demands all of our attention. This feat represents the most difficult entry, descent, and landing (what is known as EDL) of a planetary science rover ever attempted, anywhere. As you may already know, the historical success rate at the planet Mars is only 40%. Although our landing percentage odds are higher (100%), successful landing with an unproven, next generation, landing system...well, that will be a white-knuckle- experience to say the least."

Florida's Space Coast seeks to reinvent itself, CNN

"Today, most of Florida's former shuttle workers have found work, according to a recent survey conducted by Brevard Workforce, which receives state and federal funding to help these highly skilled workers find jobs. Of the 5,690 former shuttle workers who responded to the survey, 57% said they are working, while the remaining 43% are either retired or unemployed. Of the 3,234 who said they have found employment, most of them, 72%, say they are working in Florida. Florida authorities say they've made steps toward transforming the Space Coast into more than just a launch site for shuttles. That, according to the state's Space Coast Economic Development Commission, has helped "put a serious dent" in Brevard County's unemployment rate, which is 9%."

United Space Alliance To Layoff 148 In September, Brevard Times

"NASA Space Shuttle Program contractor United Space Alliance has announced that it will layoff 148 employee on September 28, 2012, according to recent documents filed with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity."

Politics and NASA

For NASA, there's no liftoff from politics, USA Today

"The glass is either half-full or half-empty at NASA," says space policy expert John Logsdon, author of John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon. The agency won approval to proceed with building the SLS last year but faces doubts in Congress over the lack of a long-term vision. "NASA's budget only supports a program that is fragile and doesn't make long-term sense," Logsdon says. As an example, he points to the SLS, which will launch in 2017 and carry astronauts only in 2021, with a less-defined schedule thereafter."

There's still hope for NASA, editorial, Houston Chronicle

"But the going gets tougher in the political arena, where NASA and JSC have taken some serious hits in their budgets and faced even more serious questioning of their mission over the past few years. The results are obvious and troubling. It galls Mike Coats that "we're not a space-faring nation right now" because of the retirement of the space shuttle. Instead, he laments, "we're paying the Russians a lot of money to fly our people up there." He's galled because we're paying a lot of Russian engineers when he'd like to be hiring American engineers."

U.S. National Laboratory on the Space Station: CASIS Continues To Have Problems Meeting Its Milestones

"NASA and CASIS finalized their agreement in September 2011. That's 1 month of operations in FY 2011 and 9 months of operations in FY 2012. If CASIS is following the reference model, then it should be well along the way toward having raised $2,892,000 by now. Yet there was no mention of that by Royston. If CASIS is following this reference as Royston told Congress, then where is the money he's supposed to have raised/generated? If he has not generated it yet, when does he project that this milestone will be reached. If CASIS does not meet this milestone, what will NASA do?"

EELV: DOD Is Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Its New Acquisition Strategy, GAO

"The Department of Defense (DOD) has numerous efforts in progress to address the knowledge gaps and data deficiencies identified in the GAO report. Of the seven recommendations GAO made to the Secretary of Defense, two have been completely addressed. While two of GAO's recommendations have actions underway that are expected to be completed, two recommendations need more action for completion and one has had no action taken."

Felix Baumgartner Makes Parachute Jump From 96,640 feet / 29,455 meters

"Today, July 25, 2012, Felix Baumgartner completed the final milestone remaining before he attempts to achieve his dream of becoming the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall. According to preliminary data, his test jump from a 5.3 million cubic-foot / 150,079 cubic-meter balloon achieved an altitude of over 96,640 feet / 29,455 meters, seeing Baumgartner execute a 3 minute, 48 second freefall jump reaching speeds of 536 mph / 862 kmh."

The International Space Station: A Platform for Research, Collaboration, and Discovery

"The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on "The International Space Station: A Platform for Research, Collaboration, and Discovery." With assembly of the International Space Station complete as of May 2011, the focus has now shifted from construction to full scientific utilization through 2020 and beyond. This hearing will examine research progress, the potential for scientific breakthroughs, and any impediments to maximizing the utilization of this orbiting national laboratory."

Prepared Statements

William Gerstenmaier (and Don Pettit)
James Royston
Thomas Reiter
Sen. Rockefeller
Sen. Hutchison

Keith's note: Sources note that prior to this public hearing a private meeting will be held wherein the teams that bid on the contract that CASIS won - and explain how they would have approached this task. That said, nothing spectacular should be expected from the public hearing. Sen. Nelson has staged all of this behind the scenes - from contract award to providing political protection - so as to send jobs to Florida. Actual performance on the task is of secondary importance. As such, Sen. Nelson is unlikely to allow the status quo to be upset during this hearing - and the ongoing incompetence demonstrated by CASIS will be allowed to continue.

Three weeks after an ISS conference co-sponsored by CASIS, they have only managed to figure out how to post a small fraction of what was presented - 2 NASA presentations and 3 CASIS presentations. The rest of what was presented i.e. the vast majority - is being ignored.

SpaceRef and the Secure World Foundation Enter Agreement on Multimedia Content Distribution, SpaceRef

"SpaceRef Interactive Inc. and the Secure World Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the purpose of disseminating original multimedia content from Secure World Foundation events. The first event to be distributed through SpaceRef's network is the Secure World Foundation release of the 2012 Space Security Index Executive Summary."

NASA Mars Odyssey Repositioned to Relay Mars Science Laboratory Landing Data

"NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted its orbital location to be in a better position to provide prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity rover. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft carrying Curiosity can send limited information directly to Earth as it enters Mars' atmosphere. Before the landing, Earth will set below the Martian horizon from the descending spacecraft's perspective, ending that direct route of communication. Odyssey will help to speed up the indirect communication process."

Sally Ride

NASA Offers Condolences on the Passing of Pioneering Astronaut Sally Ride

"Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism - and literally changed the face of America's space program," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly."

Statement by the President on the Passing of Sally Ride

"She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools. Sally's life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sally's family and friends."

Challenger Center for Space Science Education Statement on the Passing of Sally Ride

"We are deeply saddened to hear of Sally Ride's passing. Her passion brought STEM education to the forefront and for that we will be forever grateful. She will continue to be a great source of inspiration for students around the globe. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones." - Dr. Scott Parazynski, MD, chairman of Challenger Center for Space Science Education

Statement from Nancy Conrad regarding the passing of Sally Ride

"The Conrad Foundation and our students and partners are saddened to hear of Sally Ride's untimely death. Sally was a great physicist, astronaut, educator and American hero. She dedicated her life to bringing the world of science to girls with her Sally Ride Science Academy and Camps. She was a wonderful role model for young women and girls and will be sadly missed. We salute her contribution to our nation and to our future."

Keith's note: Astronaut Sally Ride died hours before Aviator Amelia Earhart's 115th birthday. Ah history - you make such poignant connections.

GenCorp Enters into Definitive Agreement to Acquire Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne from United Technologies Corporation

"GenCorp Inc. (NYSE: GY), headquartered in Sacramento, California, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) from United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX) for $550 million. "We see great strategic value in this transaction for the country, our customers, partner supply base and our shareholders," GenCorp Chief Executive Officer Scott Seymour said. "The combined enterprise will be better positioned to compete in a dynamic, highly competitive marketplace, and provide more affordable products for our customers."

NASA Successfully Tests Hypersonic Inflatable Heat Shield

"A large inflatable heat shield developed by NASA's Space Technology Program has successfully survived a trip through Earth's atmosphere while travelling at hypersonic speeds up to 7,600 mph. The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by sounding rocket at 7:01 a.m. Monday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. The purpose of the IRVE-3 test was to show that a space capsule can use an inflatable outer shell to slow and protect itself as it enters an atmosphere at hypersonic speed during planetary entry and descent, or as it returns to Earth with cargo from the International Space Station."

NASA's retreat from Mars, Opinion, USA Today

"While the Obama administration is the one lowering the priority of Mars exploration, presidents going back to Richard Nixon have all reduced their funding of NASA, relative to other federal programs."

Letter: NASA's Mars program remains strong, John Gunsfled, USA Today

"While we have great respect for Marc Kaufman's expertise as a space journalist, his Wednesday Forum piece, "NASA's retreat from Mars" leaves a false impression. ... Far from retreating, we're advancing our best talents toward exploring the Red Planet with Curiosity and forging the path for future human Mars exploration."

"Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS. I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop. Compiled and arranged in Sony Vegas. Music by John Murphy - Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)." More.

Keith's note: If you want to download a copy of this utterly stunning piece of video artistry try this link. Why NASA.gov does not feature things like this is simply baffling. They launched artists to the space station. Who knew?

AIP FYI #102: Subcommittee Examines NASA Derived Technology Transfer Activities

"Regarding the IG report, Palazzo commented that "the IG found a general lack of awareness among NASA program managers about the technology transfer and commercialization process and that many personnel did not understand the range of technologies that could be considered as technological assets. Furthermore, the report found that the number of patent attorneys and dedicated Innovative Partnership Office staff - and related funding - was insufficient given the technology transfer and commercialization potential."

Marc's note: As of yesterday SpaceRef is now using a new provider, MailChimp, for our mailing lists. With the change we'll better able to respond to the needs of our readers. The upgrade includes a switch from our text based newsletter to an HTML based newsletter although you can opt to receive text only. We'll use a basic design for now, but will upgrade and enhance the newsletter as we go forward. We currently send out a weekday newsletter and breaking news as it happens. Out list is never shared or sold to anyone. You can opt-out at any time. If you're not on our mailing list why not join now?

- Join the SpaceRef network mailing list which includes NASA Watch updates.

- Join the SpaceRef Canada mailing list.

NASA: Notice of Prospective Space Act Agreement and Intent to Transfer Sponsorship of Investigational New Drug Application

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has identified a potential pharmaceutical industry partner named Epiomed Therapeutics, Inc., having its principal place of business in Irvine, California, which is interested in assuming responsibilities for the further development and commercialization of a pharmaceutical dosage form for intranasal administration of scopolamine (INSCOP). NASA has been actively engaged in the clinical development of this agent and is now seeking a Space Act Agreement (SAA) Partner whose role will include production of the formulation under FDA stipulated GMP GUIDELINES for clinical trials."

Keith's note: No mention of CASIS - anywhere. Isn't this the sort of thing CASIS is supposed to be doing?

Comparing Moon Boulders: Lunar Orbiter (1967) Vs LRO (2012)

"[Left] image taken on 11 August 1967 by Lunar Orbiter 5 [Right] Image taken of the same location by LRO in 2012. Lighting angles for both images are almost identical. When looking at higher resolution imagery it is obvious that the dynamic range of the LOIRP-retrieved Lunar Orbiter image is comparable to that presented in the LRO image - especially in bright regions. When comparing LOIRP-retrieved imagery with USGS previously scanned versions of the same image the increase in resolution and dynamic range is even more pronounced."

NASA Administrator Bolden's Remarks from the "Go Curiosity" Video

"We've put together some materials that will help you tell this fascinating story to your family, friends, and neighbors, because no doubt, they'll be asking you as the NASA expert, no matter what your job is with the agency. "It's a pretty straightforward story, and we should all be happy and proud to talk about it. So we've sent your supervisors some materials that you can use to answer questions and relay your excitement about working for NASA."

Keith's note: If Charlie Bolden really trusts all of his employees to honestly and openly convey their exctement about MSL, then why are these materials only sent to supervisors - and not sent directly to all NASA employees? In addition, this website communications.nasa.gov/marstoolkit is mentioned but taxpayers are not allowed to access it. Why is Charlie being less than open about what these materials are?

Solar Science as Art

It's Science and Art, the Solar Data Van Gogh Effect (With video), SpaceRef

"According to NASA it's pure science and not art. But when Nicholeen Viall, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center created a new data visualization technique, the resulting solar images were reminiscent of a Van Gogh painting."

United Tech in talks to sell Rocketdyne to GenCorp, Reuters

"United Technologies Corp (UTX) is in final discussions to sell its Rocketdyne business to GenCorp Inc (GY), a maker of aerospace propulsion systems, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The deal, which may come late this week or early next week according to one of the sources, represents part of the diversified U.S. conglomerate's efforts to divest non-core units and focus on closing its $16.5 billion acquisition of aircraft component maker Goodrich Corp (GR)."

Keith's note: GenCorp is the parent company of Aerojet.

Forrest McCartney

Keith's note: Former Kennedy Space Center Director Forrest McCartney died yesterday after a short battle with cancer.

NASA Mourns Loss of Former Kennedy Director Forrest McCartney

"McCartney served as director of Kennedy under detail from the U. S. Air Force beginning Oct. 1, 1986. He came to NASA from the position of commander, Air Force Space Division and concluded a distinguished 35-year military career on Aug. 31, 1987, with a retirement ceremony at the office of the Secretary of the Air Force in the Pentagon."

Bio at Wikipedia

Put space policy on the presidential to-do list, Jay Barbree, NBC

"Forty-five years later, one of the relative newcomers to the space business, SpaceX, is receiving roughly three-quarters of a billion dollars from NASA -- while one of the shuttle program's longtime contractors, ATK, is still trying to get in on the funding for space station resupply."

Keith's note: It is beyond odd that Jay Barbree focuses on the money spent on SpaceX but ignores the billions that NASA spent on Ares 1's first stage - which is now being used as the first stage of Liberty. Ares 1 was, itself, a derivation of another government-funded research program to develop the Space Shuttle SRBs. Given th ebillions spent on SRB and Ares 1, SpaceX is an incredible bargain by an order of magnitude.

"Most space veterans agree with those goals, Mr. President, but with a cautionary note: Don't prop up t.e newcomers while giving short shrift to America's most experienced aerospace companies. This happened before, when the White House took the contract from the experienced and gave it to the inexperienced. In 1967, the Apollo 1 astronauts paid with their lives in a launch-pad fire."

Keith's note: Contrary to Barbree's ill-informed statement, North American Aviation was far from being "inexperienced". Once again, it is odd how Barbree focuses on one company and a fatal accident but does not bother to mention Morton Thiokol (bought by ATK to form the basis of its solid rocket business) and its involvement in the Challenger accident which resulted from the very same SRBs that from the basis for the basic Ares 1/Liberty design.

Liberty should be allowed to succeed or fail on its own merits. Yet Jay Barbree continues to write this one-sided, badly-researched revisionist history. Indeed, the things he writes are downright misleading and are fraught with inconsistencies and glaring omissions. Does NBC simply not care enough to provide Jay Barbree with a research assistant or fact checker?

- Jay Barbree Needs A Fact Checker, earlier post
- Jay Barbree is Stuck In The Past, earlier post
- A Confused Story and Things That Never Happened, earlier post

NASA's Mars rover may be in for blind landing, Reuters

"NASA's new Mars rover is heading for a risky do-or-die touchdown next month to assess conditions for life on the planet, but the U.S. space agency may not know for hours whether it arrived safely, managers said on Monday."

NASA's Car-sized Rover Nears Daring Landing on Mars

"Those seven minutes are the most challenging part of this entire mission," said Pete Theisinger, JPL's MSL project manager. "For the landing to succeed, hundreds of events will need to go right, many with split-second timing and all controlled autonomously by the spacecraft. We've done all we can think of to succeed. We expect to get Curiosity safely onto the ground, but there is no guarantee. The risks are real."

Keith's note: Funny how NASA never bothers to include minor details in these press releases such as having a satellite failure impede its ability to monitor the landing of Curiosity. So this whole "7 minutes of terror" campaign that NASA has been mounting for the MSL landing is probably inaccurate and may be much longer than "7 minutes".

Three Weeks Before Curiosity Rover Lands on Mars, SpaceRef (With video of the news conference)

NASA Selects Launch Services Contract for Three Missions

"NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Englewood, Colo., to launch the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) and Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) spacecraft. The spacecraft will launch in October 2014, July 2014 and November 2016, respectively, aboard Delta II rockets from Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California."

NASA Selects Launch Services Contract for Jason-3 Mission

"NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., to launch the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Jason-3 spacecraft in December 2014 aboard a Falcon 9 v1.0 rocket from Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California."


Marc's note: The announcement of who will get selected for the next round of CCiCap could be as early as later this week, though more likely next week. The question is who will get funded. We know that NASA can select up to three companies to fund, two fully, one half funded. NASA does not need to select three companies. But based on previous NASA statements you could argue they will select three companies. One important factor is the funding level available to them. What do you think? Who will get funded? Vote in our poll.

NASA Letter from SARA: China FAQ and New Volunteer Reviewer Form, NASA SMD

"Dear Colleagues, If you collaborate with anyone in China you should read our new FAQ. Our appropriation (Public Law 112-55, SEC. 539) contained a brief statement, the bottom line if which is that NASA funds, including ROSES research grants, cannot be used "...to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China..."

NASA Solicitation: Intepretation Translation, Visa Processing, and Logistical Support, NASA

"Oral interpretation and written translation of official and technical/scientific/engineering documents ... China, Visa processing for ... and China ... Administrative coordination, advance preparation and support of conducting onsite overseas official meetings and high level visits; 8) Overseas logistics support primarily for the Former Soviet states and China, providing administrative, clerical and in-country ground transportation logistic services ..."

Keith's note: If NASA is prohibited by Public Law 112-55, SEC. 539 from interactions with China, why is NASA soliciting contractors to support NASA interactions (visits, translations) with China?

Former NASA Workers Struggle To Find Work A Year After Program's End, AP

"A year after NASA ended the three-decade-long U.S. space shuttle program, thousands of formerly well-paid engineers and other workers around the Kennedy Space Center are still struggling to find jobs to replace the careers that flourished when shuttles blasted off from the Florida "Space Coast."

NASA Announcement for Partnering Opportunities for Delivery of NASA Content To The Public

"In the existing infrastructure without our delivery partners, NASA may have to cap the number of visitors and hours of web streaming coverage or eliminate it entirely for particular peak activities. This would force visitors to seek content from other venues that may or may not cover NASA missions. To avoid this situation, NASA seeks to broaden its ability to reach new audiences and numbers of people through access to multiple venues."

Latest Crew Blasts Off For International Space Station (With video)

"Three new crew members are on their way to the International Space Station. NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams, Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:40 p.m. EDT Saturday, July 14 (8:40 a.m. Baikonur time July 15)."

NASA Internal Memo: Mark Uhran is Retiring From NASA

"Dear Friends and Colleagues, It's been an incredible honor to work with and for you over the past 28 years on space station utilization planning, engineering development and operations. Despite what some thought to be insurmountable obstacles, the global team prevailed to deliver one of the greatest engineering achievements and most capable laboratory complexes in history. It's an icon for the power of relentless pursuit and exemplary of what great nations can do through peaceful cooperation."

Keith's note: I have known Mark for more than 20 years. Indeed, I used to work for him. While I have been critical of Mark and various aspects of space station utilization recently (because I think NASA can and should do better), I have to say that there were dark times when most of NASA really did not care if the space station was ever used - or was useful. During those long periods when budgets, assembly, and ops drove everything, Mark was one of the few who managed to keep the utilization spark alive within NASA. It will be interesting to see what he does with a fusion reactor at his disposal in his new position. Mark attached an interesting paper on space research-related patents with this departure message. I'm certain that it would not occur to CASIS that it would be useful to post it on their site.

Solar storm incoming: Federal agencies provide inconsistent, confusing information, Washington Post

"If NOAA's right, and the ensuing geomagnetic storm is minor, it's no big deal. It means the high latitudes could be treated to some brilliant auroras over the weekend with few, if any, negative effects on earth-orbiting satellites or the power grid. On the other hand, if NASA's right, and the geomagnetic storm is strong to severe, Earth-orbiting satellites could get disoriented and the electrical grid, according to NOAA, could experience "widespread voltage control problems" among other issues. Aurora could be seen as far south as Alabama and northern California."

Keith's note: As for who has more accurate information: Well, NASA has something that NOAA does not: a goofy official mascot for the Solar Dynamics Observatory - a rubberized version of a chicken corpse in a NASA flight suit named "Camilla" (identical to what you see in a slaughterhouse) who often tweets odd things such as:

this: "After two Slurpees I always get sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia - which is actually a fascinating sensation." ; this: "Timmy - how about we go to the Milano Fashion Week together? We'd steal the show!"; This: "Well, real Emmentaler must have holes! The rest of our cheese should not.", and this: "I usually don't take my clothes off until Return of the Jedi... ;-)"

NASA spends money flying this rubber chicken and its handler around - and yet PAO and SMD seem to have little if any contol over what the rubber chicken says. Often times it posts things that NASA PAO or SMD do not post - so a lot of people are getting their NASA space weather news from a dead chicken. Maybe this is why there is some difference between NOAA and NASA. If this is how an official NASA mission mascot spends scarce agency resources then I think I will take my space weather advice from NOAA - they are poultry-free.

Solar activity alerts are available on Twitter via @spaceweather.

NASA Selects Space Launch System Advanced Booster Proposals

"NASA has selected six proposals to improve the affordability, reliability and performance of an advanced booster for the Space Launch System (SLS). The awardees will develop engineering demonstrations and risk reduction concepts for SLS, a heavy-lift rocket that will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit."

Firefighters at Kennedy Space Center protest possible pay cuts, CNN

"Drastic cuts to NASA's budget are threatening pay and benefits for Kennedy Space Center's fire and rescue personnel, workers said Thursday, sparking a union protest outside the space center. "We are here today to send a very poignant message to both the company G4S and NASA to keep their hands off what the fireman have already earned," said Kevin Smith, president of Transport Workers Union Local 525."

Misleading KSC Video

RESOLVE rover short for Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles ExtractionResolve Rover Begins Testing, NASA KSC

Marc's note: With the Shuttle retirement the Kennedy Space Center has been active in promoting itself and what it can offer. That's good and as it should be. However its latest video promoting a rover "NASA is developing" at KSC is misleading in that it does not mention once its partner in the project, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The video makes it sound like it's an all NASA project being worked on at KSC. Most of the video was shot during a media opportunity last month at KSC which included CSA personel, one of which appears in the video. Currently the RESOLVE mission is in Hawaii conducting tests on Mauna Kea through July 20. What is the CSA contributing? Well here's the list:

- The Artemis Junior terrestrial rover will serve as the semi-autonomous mobile platform for payloads, including NASA instruments designed to prospect for water ice and other lunar resources; Destin, a versatile onboard drill and sample transfer system; and Q6 Stack, an avionics suite consisting of a powerful, low-mass and low- power hybrid processors and interface modules, which will control the RESOLVE system.

Whoever wrote the script at KSC PAO has some explaining to do.

Earlier press releases:

- Rover's Exploration May Lead to Deep Space, NASA
- The Canadian Space Agency and NASA Test Lunar Technologies, Canadian Space Agency

GoreSat Is Back

Once-derided climate-change satellite may launch with new goal

"An Earth observation satellite conceived by former Vice President Al Gore -- but banished to a Maryland warehouse by foes of climate change after George W. Bush beat Gore for the presidency -- could get a ride into space as early as 2014. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants about $23 million next year to continue a quiet reboot of the satellite, and spending bills circulating in Congress show that lawmakers -- so far -- are willing go along with it."

Keith's note: First it was called "Triana". NASAWatch called it "GoreSat". Then it was "Deep Space Climate Observatory" (DSCOVR). If this spacecraft is eventually launched, you can be absolutely certain that NASA (or NOAA) will not be able to figure out what Triana has cost since its inception in 1998 and various reincarnations since then. Try and get a consistent cost number out of NASA for Mars Phoenix, for example.

Earlier Goresat postings

"The purpose of this hearing will be to examine the direct economic and societal benefits that investments in NASA have generated and highlight those areas where continued investments could help stimulate the pipeline for future economic growth."

- Democrats Highlight Importance of the Nation's Investments in NASA that Strengthen the American Economy, and Improve Our Daily Lives
- Beyond Tang and Teflon: Witnesses Highlight NASA-Derived Technologies that Save Lives and Fuel Economic Growth
- Hearing Charter
- S&A Subcommitte Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS)
- Mason Peck, Chief Technologist, NASA
- George Beck, Impact Instrumentation, Inc.
- Brian Russell, Zephyr Technology
- John Vilja, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne
- Richard Aubrecht, Moog Inc.

Everest, Apollo, Soyuz, NEEMO, and Space Station Resonances, OnOrbit

"When my friend, astronaut Scott Parazynski and I went to Nepal in 2009, Suni sent a picture of Gorbie to us. This picture flew with her on the ISS. That picture of Gorbie plus my old NASA badge from 1990 made it to the summit of Mt. Everest (the picture Gwen is holding) with an Apollo 11 moon rock I carried into Nepal. That moon rock (which Scott carried to the summit of Everest) plus a piece of the summit of Mt. Everest eventually made their way to the ISS via STS-130 shuttle mission. Both rocks now reside in the ISS observation cupola. I am told that a copy of this picture will find its way to the ISS for a reunion with the Everest and Apollo Moon rocks."

Updated: NASA research alliance with Ireland: no announcement due this week, Silicon Republic

"While reports had been circulating in the media today claiming that space agency NASA had selected Ireland as its first international research partner, it appears that NASA is not set to make an official announcement on this scientific alliance this week."

US space agency Nasa selects Republic as first international research partner, Irish Times

"Following two years of negotiations, the initiative will be officially announced tomorrow at Trinity College by Nasa administrator Gen Charles Bolden. Tim Quigley, a retired naval officer and former commander of Moffet Airfield at the Ames base in California, was the go-between who pushed to ensure that this State leads the project."

U.S. Embassy in Dublin Tweets: #AskCharlie A Question, earlier post

"NASA PAO says that Bolden is "in the UK now for Farnborough and is going [to Ireland] tomorrow."

Keith's note: Early this morning the @NewHorizons twitter posted "RT @AlanStern: Just announced: Pluto has new company-- We've discovered a 5th moon using the Hubble Space Telescope!". Why did the New Horizons PI get totally out ahead of everyone - his own team, NASA, STScI, even the IAU?

A NASA spacecraft, operated using NASA funds, was used to observe the target for another NASA mission, and discovered a new moon billions of miles away. Yet when I asked for the official press release early this morning, NASA PAO was unaware of this discovery. No press release has yet to be issued by NASA, STScI, JHU, or SwRI (I sent a request to all of them hours ago). Apparently NASA-funded discoveries can now be announced by anyone - in any fashion they so desire - without giving NASA a heads-up. Yet another example as to how NASA SMD PAO is in need of a tune up.

Keith's 12:00 pm update: Scientists at SwRI even gave one publication advance notice of the discovery even though SwRI refuses to respond to a media request for a press release sent hours ago. Meanwhile, STScI posted a release at 11:30 am but have not even bothered to send it out to the media - posting at NASA.gov only occurred a short while ago - again with no media notice.

According to an email from J.D. Harrington at NASA PAO: "The Institute posted a news release, Goddard posted a web feature, and HQ put it on the NASA home page promptly at 11:30 a.m. after confirming the IAU circular announcing the finding was published. We didn't want to get out in front of them. It's also been heavily promoted on our social media forums..." The initial Tweet was posted at 3:39 am - but not by NASA. NASA waited 6 hours. Isn't this just a just a little odd - that NASA has to go use an IAU circular to confirm things discovered with its own spacecraft? Who informed the IAU? Aren't the people who make these discoveries using NASA hardware required to inform the agency of things like this? Guess not.

And of course if you try to actually read the IAU circular (IAUC 9253) about this discovery made using NASA funds - you can't - at least not without a user name or password.

Virgin Galactic Reveals Privately Funded Satellite Launcher and Confirms SpaceShipTwo Poised for Powered Flight

"Today during the Farnborough International Air Show 2012, Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, announced "LauncherOne", a new air-launched rocket specifically designed to deliver small satellites intoorbit. With substantial funding already raised from Virgin Galactic's partner aabar Investments PJS, and with commercial flights of this new orbital launch vehicle expected to begin by 2016, Virgin Galactic aims to offerfrequent and dedicated launches at the world's lowest prices."

New York City plans to pay NASA $13 million to see if it can fix the city's troubled emergency communication system, New York Daily News

"NASA's independent Verification and Validation office, which usually tests systems for the space program, will be reviewing the revamped 911-system, the Department of Information and Technology confirmed. NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey said the agency would act as "a second set of eyes...to ensure that what's being built is going to function properly." "Let's say you have a satellite that's supposed to look at the sun," Dickey said. "What IV&V does is make sure that the satellite is actually going to be able to do that -- that the software on board will make the satellite do what it's supposed to do."

Keith's note: Yet another example of NASA technology (i.e. a spinoff of sorts) having use outside of traditonal space-oriented applications. Something for NASA to make note of. But has NASA PAO or CTO bothered to issue a press release on this? No, of course not. No mention at IV&V either.

Dark Galaxies of Early Universe Spotted for The First Time, ESO

"For the first time, dark galaxies -- an early phase of galaxy formation, predicted by theory but unobserved until now -- may have been spotted. These objects are essentially gas-rich galaxies without stars. Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, an international team thinks they have detected these elusive objects by observing them glowing as they are illuminated by a quasar."

"I believe in 'just trying your best' no matter if you win or lose, succeed or fail the truth will always prevail and so Satyameva Jayte is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning just that. If we do good things then good things will happen to us and vice versa. So if we look after our world then it will be a better place for all of us, if we neglect or damage it then the outcome and truth will not be very good especially for our future generations, our actions dictate our future ... The time lapse sequences of photographs were taken by the crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS), I downloaded over 20k+ images and ..." More.

Keith's note: While the demonstrably inept staff at CASIS struggle to figure how to post a few Powerpoint files online - or write/post a simple travel report about the recent International Space Station utilization meeting - this videographer - with zero NASA funding - has managed to produce this astonishing video which, in and of itself, effusively exudes vastly more raw inspiration as to the intrinsic value of the ISS than anything CASIS has done to date - or is likely to do anytime soon.

I think NASA has the implementation process for ISS absolutely backward. There is wisdom in the masses - especially given that the space insiders - with all their expertise - have so obviously dropped the ball.

AIAA to Hold Capitol Hill Dialogue on Deep Space Exploration

"The panel ... will be moderated by Dr. Scott Pace, director, Space Policy Institute, The George Washington University. ... " AIAA President Mike Griffin stated, "Human history is the story of societies expanding the frontiers of their time, exploiting and consolidating their gains on those frontiers, and moving on again. That history is not written by or about the people who stayed home ..." ... blah blah blah ... (Apollo on Steroids, etc).

Keith's note: Once again Mike Griffin and Scott Pace are using a third party forum to (1) whine about the big game they lost in high school and (2) advance their personal views - views that may or may not represent the Romney campaign - which is (3) an organization that they may or may not represent depending on how they (4) want the media to report what they say or did not say so as to (5) stay in the news so that (6) one of them gets to run NASA (again).

NASA Solicitation: Intepretation Translation, Visa Processing, and Logistical Support

"Oral interpretation and written translation of official and technical/scientific/engineering documents ... Former Soviet States (Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan), Russian Federation, and China, Visa processing for ... and China ... Administrative coordination, advance preparation and support of conducting onsite overseas official meetings and high level visits; 8) Overseas logistics support primarily for the Former Soviet states and China, providing administrative, clerical and in-country ground transportation logistic services ..."

Keith's note:With regard to mention of "China", I thought NASA was supposed to NOT be working with China on any space matters. As such, why is "China" and "onsite overseas official meetings and high level visits" mentioned in this (or any) NASA procurement?

Keith's note: Here's today's excuse from CASIS as to why nothing is online at the CASIS website regarding the recent ISS Utilization conference in Denver. This was posted by CASIS employee Justin Kugler (@Phalanx): "@NASAWatch AAS was taken out for 2 weeks by the outage in the Northeast and we had to coordinate with them. It's coming. Be patient." Hmm. The storm in the northeast was less than "2 weeks" ago. Of course this begs the question as to why none of the CASIS staff in attendance in Colorado (many of whom live in Texas and Florida) were able to write a summary of what happened at the event, post their own presentations, or put something online that documented what all of these hundreds of people heard and said at this meeting. Amazingly, NASA JSC's Liz Warren managed to get something online - yet CASIS is unable to even link to this lone summary. Utterly baffling. Is this inept performance by CASIS what U.S. taxpayers can expect from their ISS investment? CASIS continues to underwhelm and disappoint on a daily basis.

NASA and CASIS Hold Stealth ISS Conference, earlier post

Why is Money Stuck to the Wall of the International Space Station? (2003) SpaceRef

Evolving Traditions Aboard the International Space Station (2003) SpaceRef

Ed Lu: "I'd like to tell the team in Houston a little bit of story if you are ready to hear. I got an email today pointing out that Keith Cowing, the author - or the editor of NASA Watch introduced a story entitled "Why is there money on the International Space Station?".

SXC and Anton Kreil - "The First Trade in Space" via FInancial Times

"In an interview in the latest edition of the London-based publication Square Mile Magazine, Kreil has announced that he will be attempting to become the first person in history to make a financial markets transaction in Space, when he hops aboard the XCOR Lynx MKII shuttle with SXC in 2014."

Keith's note: You're a little late, Mr. Kreil. ISS residents have been exchanging various currencies in space in exchange for services for over a decade. Also, without getting into specifics, every ISS crew member has regular private conversations with their families back home and I know that these conversations have included financial matters. Enjoy your flight - and let me suggest that you do something of far greater value: look out the window.

Simulated Space 'Terror' Offers NASA an Online Following, New York Times

"As part of the educational program for the James Webb Space Telescope, the planned successor to Hubble that has been troubled by delays and cost overruns, NASA created a game in which players create their own space telescope, but to underwhelming reviews. "Too bad this game is not totally realistic so as to let people play with schedule and cost," wrote Keith Cowing, a frequent critic of the space agency, on his Web site NASAWatch.com. "This way they'd REALLY learn how NASA satellites are built (or not built)."

Build It Yourself: Satellite! Game, NASA

Keith's 28 June 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.

Keith's 10 July update: The Federal Register notice for this meeting has been modified to include Webex and dial-in information. It took them 2 weeks to do so.

Keith's note: The U.S. Embassy Dublin @usembassydublin recently tweeted "Some weird and wonderful #AskCharlie questions still coming in! Its your opportunity to quiz the head of NASA! pic.twitter.com/n45uZxox" Here is what people have asked thus far.

So ... I guess Charlie Bolden is going to be visiting Ireland, right? Otherwise, why do this? What is curious is why NASA PAO has said nothing about this official government contest such that people can participate. Larger image.

Keith's update: NASA PAO says that Bolden is "in the UK now for Farnborough and is going [to Ireland] tomorrow."

Keith's 9 Jul note: It has been two weeks since the CASIS-co-sponsored First Annual International Space Station R&D Conference. The event itself received little media attention. None of the sessions were webcast. With the exception of one CASIS employee who tweeted a few times, virtually nothing was sent out via Twitter or other social media platforms. This is baffling given the hundreds of people who reportedly attended the event and the supposed mission of CASIS to popularize the ISS and its capabilities. Now, two weeks later a visit to the CASIS website shows that nothing from this conference has been posted online. No presentations. No videos. No summaries. Nothing.

And its not just CASIS that has dropped the ball - there is absolutely nothing posted at the NASA ISS National Laboratory website either. As such, it would seem that only the several hundred people in Denver at the event will ever know what happened. The remaining 300 million of us will have to accept silence.

I am not certain whether to ascribe this lack of follow-up by NASA and CASIS to laziness or incompetence. Or maybe NASA and CASIS simply do not care any more. And if they cannot be bothered to explain what the people who actually use the International Space Station are doing, why should they have any expectation that taxpayers are going to care what happens to the agency's budget?

Keith's 10 Jul update: The NASA ISS National Lab website put a link up to a summary written about the workshop. Yet CASIS can't even be bothered to link to this summary.

Absence of Detectable Arsenate in DNA from Arsenate-Grown GFAJ-1 Cells, Science

GFAJ-1 Is an Arsenate-Resistant, Phosphate-Dependent Organism, Science

Discovery of an arsenic-friendly microbe refuted, USA Today

"The discovery of an arsenic-loving microbe that NASA said would rewrite biology textbooks and offered hope of life on other planets now looks like a case study in how science corrects its mistakes, researchers report. In findings released Sunday by the journal Science, two research teams take aim at the "arseniclife" bacteria. The microbe was announced by the journal in 2010 at a NASA news briefing as "the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic." The new findings show that was not the case."

Keith's 8 Jul note: Now that Science magazine has published two papers that refute NASA's big announcement several years ago, I wonder if NASA SMD PAO will reference these papers and admit that the claims made in earlier NASA statements were indeed wrong. I'm not holding my breath. It will also be interesting to see how Science magazine handles this issue since these two new papers in Science refute the original paper - which was also published in Science.

Keith's 9 Jul update: Still no response from NASA despite several requests. All they've said is that they are working on a response.

Keith's 9 Jul further update: After ignoring the first request from NASAWatch made first thing this morning, a second request this evening elicited this response - one that was sent earlier today to other media outlets from Michael H. New, astrobiology discipline scientist in NASA's Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters:

"NASA supports robust and continuous peer review of any scientific finding, especially discoveries with wide-ranging implications. It was expected that the 2010 Wolfe-Simon et al. Science paper would not be exempt from such standard scientific practices, and in fact, was anticipated to generate significant scientific attention given the surprising results in that paper. The two new papers published in Science on the micro-organism GFAJ-1 exemplify this process and provide important new insights. Though these new papers challenge some of the conclusions of the original paper, neither paper invalidates the 2010 observations of a remarkable micro-organism that can survive in a highly phosphate-poor and arsenic-rich environment toxic to many other micro-organisms. What has emerged from these three papers is an as yet incomplete picture of GFAJ-1 that clearly calls for additional research."

Funny how Dr. New won't address this earlier official NASA SMD PAO hype - often bordering on outlandish - that accompanied the original paper's publication. No doubt whatsoever with the findings was voiced - nor was there any hint that this paper was an "incomplete picture":

"Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components. "The definition of life has just expanded," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it." This finding of an alternative biochemistry makeup will alter biology textbooks and expand the scope of the search for life beyond Earth."

Bell Labs Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Telstar and Birth of Modern Communications

"Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent will celebrate one of its great historical achievements with the 50th anniversary of the launch of Telstar I, the world's first active communications satellite. The launch on July 10, 1962, in partnership with NASA, ushered in the era of modern communications including real-time global telephone service, data communications and TV broadcasting. Telstar I, a sphere roughly a yard in diameter and weighing about 170 pounds, was a technology 'tour de force,' incorporating dozens of innovations from Bell Labs, including the transistor and solar panels, and was powered by 3,600 solar cells also invented by Bell Labs in 1954. The satellite could carry 600 voice calls and one black-and-white TV channel."

XCOR Aerospace and Midland Development Corporation announce establishment of XCOR's new commercial spaceflight R&D center headquarters

"The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) and XCOR Aerospace jointly announced today the establishment of XCOR's new Commercial Space Research and Development Center Headquarters that will be created over the next eighteen (18) months. XCOR manufactures reusable rocket engines for major aerospace prime contractors and is the designer, manufacturer and operator of the Lynx, a winged fully reusable, high performance suborbital space vehicle that is designed to safely carry two persons or scientific experiments to the edge of space and back up to four times per day."

Keith's update: There will be a media telecon at 3:00 pm EDT today. Live tweeting at @NASAWatch

Goldman to Retire as Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

"Robin Henderson, Marshall's associate director, will serve as acting center director following his departure."

Aerojet Names Gene Goldman Southeast Space Ops Lead

"Aerojet announced today that on Aug. 6, 2012, Gene Goldman will join Aerojet to lead the company's Southeast Space Operations. Goldman has been the acting center director at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala. since March 2012, when Robert Lightfoot began his assignment as NASA acting administrator at NASA Headquarters."

Arthur E. 'Gene' Goldman Named Acting Director of NASA's Marshall Center (6 April 2012)

"Arthur E. "Gene" Goldman, a native of Russell, Miss., recently was appointed acting director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala."

NASA GSFC Internal Memo: Buyout/Early Out Announcement

"NASA faces many challenges including re-shaping the NASA workforce to successfully meet changing mission requirements. In order to refocus the skill mix of our workforce to become more effectively aligned with current and anticipated funded work requirements, each Directorate has evaluated its workforce requirements and has identified eligible categories of positions that may be experiencing either a workforce surplus or that may be impacted by a possible reduction in work requirements and/or reduced funding in the immediate or near future. The eligible categories of positions are based entirely upon a combination of factors such as position competencies, position titles, geographic location, and/or grade levels. Goddard's Buyout/Early Out Incentive Plan has been approved."

Raytheon Marks 90 Years of Customer Focus, Technology and Innovation Leadership, Raytheon

"This month, Raytheon Company celebrates its 90th anniversary as a technology and innovation leader. Founded July 7, 1922, as the American Appliance Company in Cambridge, Mass., Raytheon through the generations has developed solutions for some of the most challenging requirements by tapping into a spirit of perpetual innovation and dedication to core values and customer success."

"A Raytheon-MIT guidance computer enabled Apollo 11 in its journey, and its on-board microwave tube transmitted radio and TV signals to Earth, enabling millions to witness history live when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Colonel Edwin Aldrin stepped onto the moon."

Marc's note: There is a rumour circulating that SpaceX had pulled itself out of the running for CCiCap funding. I have confirmed with SpaceX that this rumour is false.

U.S. Experts on China's Space Program Agree There Is No Race, Space Policy Online

"China's successful Shenzhou-9 mission seems to have stirred interest in what impact, if any, China's space program should have on the U.S. space program. Several experts on Chinese space activities have spoken at public meetings or published op-ed pieces in the past two weeks weighing in on the topic. One issue on which they all agree is that there is no U.S.-China space race."

NASA and Excalibur Almaz Inc. Complete Space Act Agreement, NASA

"During this unfunded Space Act Agreement with EAI, NASA learned valuable information about how the company plans to upgrade the existing capsule with modern flight capabilities," CCP Manager Ed Mango said. "We commend the EAI team for completing all of their established milestones during this partnership."

Marc's note: What happens now that Excalibur Almaz has completed its unfunded CCDev2 contract? Based on previous selections in the commercial crew program, and knowing only 2 1/2 proposals will be selected in the next round, it seems unlikely Excalibur Almaz will get funded. So it would seem Art Dula and co. will have to continue self-funding the project.

TEDxISU Today

TEDxISU Live webcast today from 8:30 am - 12:30 pm EDT. Agenda.

Space, the Missing Frontier, opinion, NY Times

"During the transition period after he defeated John McCain, Obama contemplated combining the best of the space programs at the Pentagon and NASA to compete with the rapidly accelerating Chinese space program. For whatever reasons, he declined to follow through on that plan when he became president. The president should dust off those plans. Given the fact that during the height of the war in Iraq, our government was spending nearly a billion dollars a day, I suspect the American people would support spending a month's worth of that budget every year to ensure that our assets in space and our future on earth are more secure. But to support it, they first need to be convinced of its importance. So do our leaders."

China's space challenge to America, Opinion, Washington Times

"Beijing has used its space program, including its manned space efforts, to highlight its technological prowess and to build diplomatic bridges. But the program also serves to signal the PRC's growing military capabilities, and to raise its stature as a great power. Compared to China, the United States enjoys a far wider array of space capabilities, but Washington seems to employ them less effectively. Here are some things the U.S. can do to get the most out of its space programs."

- China's Success, earlier post
- NASA Astronaut Andy Thomas is Still Bashing China On The Job, earlier post
- NASA Exploration Ideas - With Added China Bashing, earlier post
- Other China postings

Fledgling NASA Nonprofit Starts To Liftoff, NPR (Morning Edition)

"At a hearing later in March, Congressman Frank Wolf, R-Va., asked the head of NASA, Charles Bolden, what grade he would give CASIS on its progress so far. Bolden said it was too soon to tell. "I'd give them a D-plus overall," says Keith Cowing, who runs the website NASAwatch.com. He worked for the agency in the early days of the space station program, and has been a persistent critic of CASIS. "They're making incremental progress, but I just don't think they're going fast enough," he says. "I don't think that they've engaged the people who have decades of experience in doing research in space. And I'm a little frustrated that they haven't gotten that message."

- More Whining From CASIS: Its Not Our Fault, earlier post
- CASIS: It Takes More Than Golf to Utilize the ISS, earlier post
- CASIS & ISS National Lab: Still Ignoring Their Own Stuff, earlier post
- Wake The Kids: CASIS Has A New Logo, earlier post

Other CASIS posts

Keith's note: It has been a week since the CASIS-cosponsored ISS utilization conference in Denver. Nothing has been put online by CASIS in terms of presentations, videos, written summaries. Nothing. Alas, in this interview, CASIS representatives once again proclaim that "CASIS has to succeed" yet they seem to be going out of their way to help it fail by continuing to avoid explaining what it does outside of a very small constituency.

Astronauts support expansion of space station crew size, Houston Chronicle

"Astronauts aboard the International Space Station said this week they would welcome NASA's proposals to expand the lab's crew size from six to seven. "It would certainly help," said Don Pettit, a flight engineer and one of three crew members working in the U.S. half of the station. NASA senior leaders have begun talking about expanding the lab's crew size to seven when vehicles built by private contractors, such as SpaceX, come online as expected later this decade."

Stunning Photos of Soyuz TMA-03M Returning to Earth

"Soyuz TMA-03M is seen as it lands with Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko, Flight Don Pettit, and Andre Kuipers in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, July 1, 2012. Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers returned from more than six months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 30 and 31 crews. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)"

Failure to Launch, Failure to Lead, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"Two Presidential announcements on space In the aftermath of a major Space Shuttle accident, an incumbent President decides that our civil space program needs a bold new strategic direction. In a major public speech, he outlines a path to return to the Moon and go to Mars. The space agency responds with full-color sales brochures, committee meetings, community workshops, and a thousand charts outlining the steps they will take to carry out the new direction. A couple of years pass, a new President takes office, and then - promptly cancels the initiative of the previous administration. Sound familiar? This has happened in our space history - twice."

NASA's problem with farmers, the committee, and Tinkerbells, Space Politics

These constituencies are entrenched within NASA and have to become overcome in order to enable real change for the agency. "The longer it goes, the harder it's going to get because those groups--and there are probably more--get stronger and stronger and stronger." It was those constituencies, [Mark Albrecht] suggested, that stymied the Bush Administration's attempts to focus NASA on the Space Exploration Initiative over 20 years ago. "If it didn't work in 1989, it is going to be much, much harder to do that in 2012 or 2013."

Marc's note: Last Friday SpaceRef upgraded its site search engine which is now available on NASA Watch, SpaceRef, Commercial Space Watch and SpaceRef Canada.

The new site search includes content from these SpaceRef web sites: NASA Watch, SpaceRef, SpaceRef Canada, Commercial Space Watch, OnOrbit, The Astrobiology Web and NASA Hack Space. I think you'll find the search very responsive and accurate and is updated continually.

Alan Poindexter

@Astro_Box: Alan Poindexter "Dex" passed away today in a jet ski accident. He was a talented, courageous Navy veteran with gifts...

@Astro_Box: Dex was a lovable guy with a strong work ethic. He was selected to command a space shuttle on his 2nd flight: STS-131.

Retired astronaut killed in jet ski crash, AP

"Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say 51-year-old Capt. Alan G. Poindexter was riding on a jet ski with his 22-year-old son Sunday afternoon when his 26-year-old son crashed into them with another jet ski."

NASA Extends Sympathy to Poindexter Family on Death of Former Astronaut

"We in the astronaut family have lost not only a dear friend, but also a patriot of the United States," said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "He proudly served his country for 26 years as a fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut and commander of a space shuttle. I am proud to have both flown in space and worked with him for so many years. Dex will be deeply missed by those of us at Johnson and the entire NASA family."

Federal Government Operating Status Washington, DC, Area, OPM

"Federal agencies in the Washington, DC, area are OPEN and employees have the OPTION for UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK."

Marc's update: NASA Goddard is now under Code Blue.

NASA Review Committee Mulls Field Center Consolidation, Space News

"NASA says its 10 field centers employ about 18,000 civil servants and four times as many contractors. These centers, some of which predate the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act that created NASA, house a variety of specialized scientific and engineering facilities, many of which are underutilized today. "I would be less than honest if I told you we need everything we have," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the Committee to Review NASA's Strategic Direction June 27. "We don't."

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

"[NASA press secretary Lauren] Worley provided numbers showing that Glenn's workforce had declined by 214 positions between 2005 and 2009, the years during which Griffin served as NASA's administrator."

Mal Peterson: the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing, 28 March 1996 (the posting that began NASAWatch - then known as "NASA RIF Watch")

"Mal Peterson (NASA HQ Comptroller's Office) personally briefed NASA program managers (Centers and HQ) yesterday (27 March) and gave instructions for planning and implementing a RIF by Summer 1997, the reduction to be completed by October 1998, to a total complement level of 17,500, as called for by the President for the year 2000, to be completed by 1998. Vugraphs were shown concerning "the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing." (That is a direct quote)."

SETI Undeterred

Why I'm not giving up on the search for extraterrestrial life, Jill Tarter, Washington Post

"Our 50 years of searching is equivalent to scooping a single glass of water from the Earth's oceans to examine it for fish. It is an experiment that could work -- but if it fails, the correct conclusion is that there was inadequate sampling, not that the oceans are devoid of fish. Today, our searches are getting exponentially better. If we are looking for the right thing, it will take only a few decades to conduct a search that is comprehensive enough to be successful or to yield conclusive negative results."

Going Off Source: Time away with SETI in West Virginia (1997), SpaceRef

"As you approach the 140 foot dish, you are confronted with a weather-beaten behemoth. It is old and dirty - not unlike the bridge of one of those aircraft carriers often used as a nautical museum. The structure is designed not only to bear the weight of the immense dish, but also to withstand the strong winds which bear upon it. The word "monument" seems to be more fitting than "radio telescope"."

Expedition 31 Lands

ISS Expedition 31 Crew Lands Safely, NASA (With landing video.)

"Three members of the Expedition 31 crew undocked from the International Space Station and returned safely to Earth Sunday, July 1, wrapping up a mission that lasted six-and-a-half months."

"Russian Commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers landed their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 3:14 a.m. CDT (2:14 p.m. local time) after undocking from the space station's Rassvet module at 11:47 p.m. June 30. The trio, which arrived at the station Dec. 23, 2011, spent a total of 193 days in space, 191 of which were aboard the station."


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