April 2013 Archives

Suits in space? A North Las Vegas company is working with NASA to recruit executives for space missions, Vegas Inc.

"Just months after reaching a deal with NASA to build an inflatable space room, local entrepreneur Robert Bigelow is working with agency officials to find ways for business executives to take part in human space missions. His company, Bigelow Aerospace, signed a deal with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration last month to explore how the private sector can contribute to missions beyond the area known as "Low Earth Orbit," about 1,200 miles above sea level. That could include missions to the moon, which is about 240,000 miles away, and Mars, which is at least 33.9 million miles from Earth."

Keith's note: So why won't NASA openly admit that it has signed this Space Act Agreement? Where is the press release? I asked for a copy of ths SAA weeks ago and NASA never sent it to me - despite the fact that these agreements are supposed to be made public and are usually provided by NASA PAO upon request. Alas, I obtained it through other means. Baffling PR tactics at work.

- Full Text of the NASA/Bigelow Space Act Agreement, earlier post
- Is NASA Going to Buy a Moon Base From Bob Bigelow?, earlier post

Letter from Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairmain, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to NSF Director Cora Marrett

"During the course of the hearing, I asked Dr. Holdren about taxpayer funding for social, behavioral and political science studies at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and how we can better prioritize research spending. During that discussion, Dr. Holdren said that there is "room for improvement" in how NSF prioritizes research initiatives based on the potential value to the national interest. Based on my review of NSF-funded studies, I have concerns regarding some grants approved by the Foundation and how closely they adhere to NSF's "intellectual merit" guideline. To better understand how NSF makes decisions to approve and fund grants, it would be helpful to obtain detailed information on specific research projects awarded NSF grants."

Letter from Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to. Rep. Lamar Smith

"Your letter of April 25 to the Acting Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Cora Marrett, has provoked me to write to you. At our hearing on April 17, both Dr. Marrett and the Chairman of the National Science Board (NSB), Dr. Dan Arvizu, offered to engage with the Committee in a meaningful discussion of the mission of NSF and how the agency's merit review process can best be constructed to support that mission. Rather than entering into that dialogue, your letter marks the beginning of an investigative effort, the implications of which are profound. This is the first step on a path that would destroy the merit-based review process at NSF and intrudes political pressure into what is widely viewed as the most effective and creative process for awarding research funds in the world. ... I cannot stand by silently as you continue this political intrusion into one of our Nation's and indeed, one of the world's most important scientific organizations. I ask that you withdraw your letter to Dr. Marrett. I stand ready to work with you to identify a less destructive, but more effective, effort to hold NSF accountable to the requirements laid out in law."

Congress tries to reset science grants, wants every one to be "groundbreaking", Ars Technica

"The other two requirements, however, completely misunderstand both basic research and the role of the National Science Foundation. Basic research is largely about exploring the unknown; by definition, it's almost impossible to tell which areas of research will end up being groundbreaking or have commercial applications. And the NSF is specifically tasked with funding basic research and science education."

U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants, Science Insider

"The new chair of the House of Representatives science committee has drafted a bill that, in effect, would replace peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress. For good measure, it would also set in motion a process to determine whether the same criteria should be adopted by every other federal science agency."

Discussion Draft (via ScienceInsider)

Keith's note: Rest assured, Rep. Smith and his staff will soon start to poke around NASA funding decisions as well looking for things that they have ideological objections to.

Charles Bolden: Launching American Astronauts from U.S. Soil

"Three years ago, the Administration put forward a public-private partnership plan, the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), to ensure that American companies would be launching our astronauts from U.S. soil by 2015. It's a plan that supports the U.S. human spaceflight program, boosts our economy, and helps create good-paying American jobs. If NASA had received the President's requested funding for this plan, we would not have been forced to recently sign a new contract with Roscosmos for Soyuz transportation flights. Because the funding for the President's plan has been significantly reduced, we now won't be able to support American launches until 2017."

NASA Extends Crew Flight Contract With Russian Space Agency

Virgin Galactic Breaks Speed of Sound in First Rocket-powered Flight of SpaceShipTwo (with video)

"Today, Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's aabar Investments PJC, completed the first rocket-powered flight of its space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). The test, conducted by teams from Scaled Composites (Scaled) and Virgin Galactic, officially marks Virgin Galactic's entrance into the final phase of vehicle testing prior to commercial service from Spaceport America in New Mexico."

Keith's note: NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications - Public Outreach Alan Ladwig will be retiring from NASA on 31 May 2013.

Message from the NASA Administrator: Preparing Our Workforce for the Future

"Instead of resting on past achievements, NASA has always been about reaching for the future. As I look ahead, I see a NASA that is a model organization operating even more effectively than today - a seamless organization that applies resources and talents across our agency as needed. I see an agency that is not constrained by stovepipes or traditional boundaries. Agility and versatility are encouraged, and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars while using the best tools to accomplish our bold mission is a part of everything we do."

Keith's note: I find it to be somewhat ironic to hear this from someone who has done more to foster the implementation of stovepipes (and the installation of protective fences around existing stovepipes) than any of his recent predecessors. Much of this resulted from his chronic inability to make tough decisions or stay "on message" with any degree of consistency. After 4 years, and ongoing talk of who his replacement will be, I guess Charlie finally got the message. Or at least he wants you think that he has.

Progress 51 Cargo Craft Docks to Space Station

"The ISS Progress 51 cargo craft completed a two-day journey to the International Space Station when it was captured at the Zvezda service module on Friday at 8:25 a.m. EDT, the cargo craft completed a hard mate when the docking hooks were deployed at 8:34 a.m."

Umanned Russian spaceship suffers mishap on way to ISS, AFP

"An unmanned Progress spaceship racing to the International Space Station with 2.5 tonnes of cargo on board failed Wednesday to deploy a key antenna that helps it dock with the orbiting lab in the latest hitch in Russia's space programme."


Message From The NASA Administrator: New Policies in Response to Sequestration

"In addition, as I have previously stated, at this time, we do not plan to resort to furloughs for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration, and there is currently no change to the Agency's existing hiring policy. Centers may continue to transact hires in all categories as planned in their submitted phased hiring plans up to their FY 2013 FTE ceilings. However, the Congress is currently considering NASA's full-year appropriations levels; and, as the legislative process concludes, we will assess the impact of the new funding levels and whether revisions to our current posture are warranted."

Keith's 22 April note: Furloughs loom across the Federal government. While other agencies openly talk about their furlough plans, NASA is not saying anything. Why is that? It has been a month since Charlie Bolden issued this memo and its mention of how NASA viewed furloughs. Nothing has been issued since then.

Keith's 25 April update: Bolden in a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee today: "If we do not come out of sequester for the 2014 budget then we will start to furlough people."

Keith'snote:The following statement was read by NASA Advisory Council member Lars Perkins, as an individual, at today's NAC meeting. Perkins' term is expiring and new nominees/renominations have not been announced - yet.

"The administration's proposed FY '14 budget contains drastic and unprecedented cuts to NASA's education funding. NASA has been uniquely effective in engaging the public in science and exploration, and to cut these important programs at a time when the nation is facing an unprecedented crisis in in its ability to satisfy the nation's need for engineers and scientists. The entire NASA budget, at approximately $17 billion, constitutes only $.005 per tax dollar, and the education budget prior to the proposed cuts represents only about 1% of that, or one two-hundredth of a penny per tax dollar. To cut these programs now is short-sighted and counterproductive.

Why has NASA been able to so compellingly engage the public's imagination? We are part of a species that looks the sky and wonders, "where did we come from?", "Where are we going?", "what's out there?" A species that - so far - we know only to exist on our blue marble. And we are part of a country that cares enough to ask questions, the answers to which have unknown value. And still we ask, and because we do, because the country, NASA does, everyone who toils day-to-day, driving a cab, flipping a burger, teaching a child, are all explorers. All part of a community, a society, a country that dares to ask questions in the same spirit that a child asks "why is the sky blue?"

Keith's note: When he was asked by Lamar Smith at House Science Committee hearing on NASA's FY 2014 budget why two James Webb Space Telescope instruments were late, Charlie Bolden then tried to push that off as bad news reports. Bolden went on to say that he has been adamant that he takes full responsibility for the progress of Webb. Smith then read from the recent GAO report "NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects" citing this passage:

"... In addition, only two instruments have been delivered for integration with ISIM and the other two instruments will be delivered at least 11 months late."

When Smith asked Bolden again about the two late Webb instrments, Bolden's reponse was: "That's news to me"

GAO Report on Large-Scale NASA Projects, earlier post

House Space Subcommittee Reviews NASA's FY 2014 Budget Request

"Rep. Edwards: We need to take a careful look at how the resources requested match the program content included in the FY 2014 budget request. At the Full Committee hearing last week on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for Science Agencies, the President's Science Adviser, Dr. Holdren, testified that 'NASA has long had the problem of 20 lbs. of missions in a 10 Ib. budget, and they continue to.' I share that concern."

House Space Subcommittee Reviews NASA's FY 2014 Budget Request

Chairman Palazzo: "I am committed to ensuring that our nation has a robust space program that will continue to lead the world for generations. I am concerned however that NASA has neglected Congressional funding priorities and been distracted by new and questionable missions that detract from our ultimate deep space exploration goals. These distractions also take up precious lines in the budget at a time when NASA can least afford it."

Prepared Statements:

Rep. Lamar Smith

"The committee has seen little evidence that a current stated goal for NASA's human spaceflight program--namely, to visit an asteroid by 2025--has been widely accepted as a compelling destination by NASA's own workforce, by the nation as a whole, or by the international community. On the international front there appears to be continued enthusiasm for a mission to the Moon but not for an asteroid mission."

Rep. Steven Palazzo
Rep. Donna Edwards
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Charles Bolden

House Subcommittee on Space Hearing: Overview of the NASA Budget forFY 2014

- 2:00 PM Webcast
- Hearing charter

NASA Advisory Council Meeting (Webex/Dial-in)

1:00 pm EDT: NASA FY 2014 budget (Robinson)
2:00 pm EDT: NASA Plans for Future Human Spaceflight (Gerstenmeier)
3:00 pm EDT: Human Exploration and Operations Committee Report (Kohrs)
4:00 pm EDT: Science Committee Report (Huntress)

Video: Grasshopper 250m Test Flight

"SpaceX's Grasshopper flies 820 feet, tripling its March 7th leap. Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle that SpaceX has designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up in the atmosphere during reentry, SpaceX's rockets are being designed to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing."

President Obama to Host White House Science Fair

"Today, President Obama will host the White House Science Fair and celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President will also announce new steps as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, an all-hands-on-deck effort to get more girls and boys inspired to excel in these key subjects."

Proposed STEM Education Reorganization Contained in the President's FY14 Budget Request, Association of American Universities

"In follow-up to the discussion today at the Energy Sciences Coalition meeting, below is information provided by OSTP on the nature of the reorganization including a listing of the specific STEM education programs that will be eliminated/consolidated across federal agencies, as well as the new STEM education programs that the budget proposes."

Text of the NASA/Bigelow Space Act Agreement

"The purpose of this Agreement is to facilitate and explore, in a manner that meets both national and commercial goals and objectives, joint public/private arrangements that would continue to build the ability for humans to live and work in space through the expansion of exploration capabilities beyond low Earth orbit. By conducting this joint effort, the Parties build on their experience and their mutual recognition of the value of a human presence and exploration development in low Earth orbit, ranging outward from Bigelow Aerospace's existing contract with NASA to conduct a technology demonstration of expandable structures on the International Space Station ("ISS") to significant private sector involvement and operations in beyond low Earth orbit including cislunar space and beyond."

Antares Launch Success

NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Test Launches Antares Rocket

"Corporation Sunday launched its Antares rocket at 05:00 p.m. EDT from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The test flight was the first launch from the pad at Wallops and was the first flight of Antares, which delivered the equivalent mass of a spacecraft, a so-called mass simulated payload, into Earth's orbit."

White House Statement on the Launch of Antares

"Today's successful test flight of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket from the spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, demonstrates an additional private space-launch capability for the United States and lays the groundwork for the first Antares cargo mission to the International Space Station later this year."

International Space Apps Challenge, NASA

"The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in 80 cities around the world (in 42 countries) on the weekend of April 20-21, 2013. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space. NASA is leading this global collaboration along with more then 150 partner organizations."

Join The Movement: International Space Apps Challenge, ESA

"In April, you are invited to join thousands of enthusiasts to invent and create applications to help space exploration and improve life on Earth at the International Space Apps Challenge. During this app-jam, participants are challenged to use freely available data and rework them for new purposes or present them in new ways."

JPL Open House Suspended

"Due to budget restrictions, plans for a JPL Open House in spring 2013 have been suspended. If budget considerations improve, JPL hopes to host an Open House at a future date, perhaps as early as fall 2013. Please check back here for updates."

2013 Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop Imaging Planets and Disks Cancelled

"It is with regret that the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) announces the cancellation of this year's Sagan Summer Workshop (July 29-Aug 2, 2013) on the topic of "Imaging Planets and Disks". Like numerous other scientific conferences this year, the Sagan Workshop is a victim of the Federal budget sequestration."

Message from the Administrator NASA and the Importance of Risk

"Much of the time, we work in an environment where the consequences of not getting things exactly right are very high. The good news is that our processes and culture are well adapted to doing these things very well. We must not lose that. Human spaceflight and flagship science missions can sometimes be a dangerous business. But, as I have said before, when you do stuff that nobody else has ever done, you have to be willing to accept risk. We have to be willing to do daring things. Put another way, risk intolerance is a guarantee of failure to accomplish anything of significance."

Rep. Schiff and Senator Feinstein Call on NASA to Not Gut Planetary Science

"Today, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden calling on him to keep any operating plan for the fiscal year consistent with the funding levels and allocations directed to it by Congress earlier this year. There have been reports that the FY 2013 NASA Operating Plan will slash funding from the Planetary Science programs. Schiff and Feinstein were joined by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative John Culberson (R-TX) in sending the letter today."

Three winners selected in "Why Space Matters to the Future" national video contest

"The Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) and the NASA Visitor Center Consortium are pleased to announce the winners of the "Why Space Matters to the Future" video contest: Addie Augsburger, Clyzzel Samson, and Elizabeth Paddock. The winning entries were selected for both their creative demonstrations of the importance of space exploration and their unique visions for the future if the boundaries of space continue to expand."

Proposed STEM Education Reorganization Contained in the President's FY14 Budget Request, Association of American Universities

"In follow-up to the discussion today at the Energy Sciences Coalition meeting, below is information provided by OSTP on the nature of the reorganization including a listing of the specific STEM education programs that will be eliminated/consolidated across federal agencies, as well as the new STEM education programs that the budget proposes."

Kepler-62 Has Two Water Worlds Circling in its Habitable Zone

"In our solar system, only one planet is blessed with an ocean: Earth. Our home world is a rare, blue jewel compared to the deserts of Mercury, Venus and Mars. But what if our Sun had not one but two habitable ocean worlds? Astronomers have found such a planetary system orbiting the star Kepler-62."

New Earth-like Planets Found, CIW

"Theoretical modeling of the super-Earth planets, Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f, suggests that both could be solid, either rocky--or rocky with frozen water."

NASA's Kepler Discovers Smallest 'Habitable Zone' Planets to Date, NASA

"The Kepler-62 system has five planets; 62b, 62c, 62d, 62e and 62f. The Kepler-69 system has two planets; 69b and 69c. Kepler-62e, 62f and 69c are the super-Earth-size planets."

Antares Launch Update

Orbital Schedules New Antares Rocket Launch Window

"Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that the next launch attempt for the new Antares rocket will be no earlier than Saturday, April 20, at 5 p.m. The mission management team met this afternoon to evaluate weather forecasts and optimum crew work schedules to provide two back-to-back opportunities for a launch attempt."

Orbital's Antares Rocket Launch Postponed

Graphics: How To See The Antares Launch From The Washington DC and Virginia Area

GAO Report: NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects

"The performance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) portfolio of major projects has improved in the areas of cost and schedule growth since GAO's first assessment in 2009. Average development cost growth and schedule delay for the current portfolio have decreased to about a third of their 2009 levels. These figures exclude the cost and schedule growth of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA's most expensive science project, in part because of its disproportionate effect on the portfolio average. Including the JWST in the calculation would increase the 2013 portfolio's average development cost growth from 3.9 percent to 46.4 percent and would double the average launch delay, from 4 to 8 months and obscure the progress the rest of the portfolio has made toward maintaining cost and schedule baselines."

Apollo 13

"Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17."

Keith's note: This invoice was sent by Grumman Management to North American Rockwell for charges associated with the Grumman LEM towing Rockwell's CSM back to Earth. Larger image

2013 STScI Spring Symposium and Habitable Worlds across Time and Space Cancelled, Space Telescope Science Institute

"We regret to announce that the 2013 STScI Spring Symposium, Habitable Worlds across Time and Space, has been cancelled. Space Telescope Science Institute operates as a NASA contractor. Our contractual obligations include support of workshops and seminars. In response to fiscal impacts resulting from the United States Government sequestration, NASA has temporarily suspended the contract authority and all funding that enables us to host conferences and seminars."

Judge: Chinese NASA contractor to be held till trial, Virginian Pilot

"Prosecutors argued that Jiang is a flight risk, saying he tried to leave the country abruptly after a Virginia congressman publicly identified him in connection with an investigation of NASA security procedures. Jiang worked for the National Institute of Aerospace, a Hampton-based NASA contractor. He was fired in January, two months after taking a NASA-owned laptop computer with him on a visit to China, an alleged violation of the space agency's security regulations. Jiang has admitted taking the laptop but says he had his supervisor's permission. Prosecutors acknowledged there is no evidence that Jiang possessed any sensitive, secret or classified material."

Earlier posts

NASA Hosts Media Briefing to Discuss Kepler Planetary Discovery

"NASA will host a news briefing at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, April 18, to announce new discoveries from the agency's Kepler mission. The briefing will be held in the Syvertson Auditorium, Building N-201, at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency's website."

Keith's note: Not that this has any indiciation of what will be announced but Lisa Kaltenegger's Kepler-related publications all focus on small, habitable extrasolar planets and moons. (search). Thomas Barclay's papers also focus on Kepler and extrasolar planets. (search). These papers (by other authors) "The detectability of habitable exomoons with Kepler" and "Where to Find Habitable "Earths" in Circumbinary Systems" were submitted to astro-ph last week.

Volunteers Line Up For Tito's Mars Flyaround, Aviation Week

"Doug Cooke, a recently retired top NASA manager who spearheaded exploration-systems development for the agency, has joined the private group's board advisors, MacCallum said. ... MacCallum said work has already started on ground facilities to test the life support hardware, which will be largely crew tended for simplicity, but will be designed effectively to give two-fault-tolerant redundancy comparable to NASA safety standards. Eventually some components and subsystems probably will be tested on the International Space Station."

Keith's note: Not that this is a bad idea (its actually a smart one since ISS is a great testbed), but who is going to pay to fly these systems to the ISS? Flying racks of hardware to the ISS is not exactly cheap.

Keith's update: Out of curiosity, I have checked online sites for the State of California and IRS for non-profits - or regular companies named "Inspiration Mars Foundation" or variations thereof. Nothing results from these searchs. One might conclude that the organization does not yet exist despite what is on their website.

Keith's update: Update: Inspiration Mars was incorporated in Delaware on 25 Jan 2013 as a Non-profit corporation - File #5279943 - but still no evidence of its 501(c)(3) status (probably in application phase).

Earlier posts

Editorial: Who Is Minding Planetary Research?, Planetary Exploration Newsletter

"The Administration and both houses of Congress openly support the planetary research programs, as demonstrated by proposed and appropriated budgets. It is PSD management that undermines their intent. Stop treating planetary research as a slush fund."

Tell Congress To Support Planetary Exploration at NASA, Planetary Society

"The White House has doubled down on its efforts to cut Planetary Science at NASA. It's proposing a cut of over $200 million, despite the fact that Congress rejected a similar cut for last year. This will prevent any mission to Europa. It delays for years efforts to send small spacecraft throughout the solar system, and will have long-lasting repercussions on the scientific and engineering community. We know Congress supports planetary exploration, but they need to hear from you."

R/V Sally Ride

Navy Research Vessel Named After Sally Ride

"Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has announced the names of seven ships. Included is an ocean-class auxiliary general oceanographic research (AGOR) ship, the R/V Sally Ride. Mabus named the future R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28), which will be a Neil Armstrong-class AGOR ship, to honor the memory of Sally Ride, a professor, scientist and an innovator at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. Ride was the first woman and also the youngest person in space. She later served as director of NASA's Office of Exploration. Traditionally, AGORs are named for nationally recognized leaders in exploration and science. The R/V Sally Ride is the first academic research ship to be named in honor of a woman."

Keith's note: Obviously the author of this release did not do a full fact check. Sally Ride was not the first woman in space, nor was she the youngest person in space. That said, as the release notes, "the R/V Sally Ride is the first academic research ship to be named in honor of a woman."

SpaceShipTwo Advances Towards Powered Flight

"History continues to be made in the skies above the Mojave Desert. Hot on the heels of last week's nitrous venting and feather test, SpaceShipTwo achieved another successful first today with a spectacular "Cold Flow" flight. The test objectives were successfully met, advancing another important step towards powered flight."

Drinking the SLS Koolaid

Boeing Executive Defends SLS as Only Deep-space Option, Space News

"People that say there are other options, or other ways to get beyond low Earth orbit -- it's just not a fact, it's just not true. There are technologies you could develop that would be years and years in the future ... but SLS gives you the capability to do that much, much quicker." [John] Shannon, who spent 25 years at NASA before joining Boeing in January, pointedly dismissed the idea that NASA has to identify a specific destination and mission for SLS to make the big rocket worthwhile. "This 'SLS doesn't have a mission' is a smokescreen that's been put out there by people who would like to see that [program's] budget go to their own pet projects," Shannon said. "SLS is every mission beyond low Earth orbit. The fact that NASA has not picked one single mission is kind of irrelevant."

Keith's note: If NASA cannot spend the time to figure out what this monster rocket's destination(s) should be, then how can you possibly justify building the rocket in the first place? Don't the people paying for this rocket deserve at least a little preparatory homework on NASA's part? The Space Station suffered from a cohesive mission for decades and we all know how that drove costs out of sight. As for "pet projects" - hmm, let's see: Shuttle Sidemount and L2 Gateway anyone? This notion that John Shannon seems to be suffering from - that only NASA has the technology that can send things beyond low Earth orbit - now - is demonstrable nonsense. Falcon 9 could do it right now - if SpaceX had a customer to pay them to do it.

NASA Internal Memo: Breach of Personally Identifiable Information Update

"As of now, there is no indication that any of the PII on the laptop has been used for fraudulent purposes as a result of this incident. However, we encourage anyone who receives a letter to take advantage of the services NASA is offering through ID Experts. The deadline to enroll in these services has been extended to May 31, 2013. Additionally, if you have registered with ID Experts and have experienced any suspicious activity, be sure to report it to ID Experts so they can help resolve it."

NASA Warp Drive Update

Clarifying NASA's Warp Drive Program

"Few people know this but NASA actually has a warp drive program underway at Johnson Space Center. A recent article on the program created some open-ended questions that needed to be answered. The article seemed to imply that Harold White (who heads the project) had signed non-disclosure agreements such that he could not discuss public-funded research. That's a little unusual for NASA. So I sent a series of questions to Harold White and NASA PAO."

NASA's Super Secret Warp Drive Program, earlier post

NASA's Planetary Doublespeak, Planetary Society

"NASA went on an unusual tweet-binge praising planetary science today, saying that the struggling division "thrives" and highlighting various missions mainly developed in better times. NASA made five tweets in a row about planetary science over the course of two hours. Maybe NASA feels bad for its Planetary Science Division after the release of the 2014 Budget proposal? The budget doubles down on cuts to Planetary Science, crippling the future of the program. The proposed amount, $1,217.5 million, is about $200 million less than Congress approved the previous year."

Satellite shelved after 2000 election to now fly

"Obama proposed Wednesday spending nearly $35 million in his 2014 budget to refurbish a satellite, nicknamed GoreSat by critics, that's been sitting in storage after it was shelved in 2001, months after Bush took office. It cost about $100 million by then with NASA's internal auditors faulting its cost increases."

- Vice President Gore challenges NASA to build a new satellite to provide live images of Earth from outer space, 13 March 1998

"Vice President Gore proposed today that NASA scientists and engineers design, build and operate a satellite that will make available a live image of earth 24 hours a day on the Internet."

- Triana Mission Selected, 27 October 1998

"Triana is a $75 million mission to be launched by December 2000 from the Space Shuttle cargo bay."

George Knapp: To infinity -- and beyond!, Las Vegas City Life

"Business deals don't get much bigger than this one. Have you ever read a contract that gives a governmental green light to a program to "place a base on the surface of the moon?" Ever see an agreement signed by the U.S. government that declares a specific goal "to extend and sustain human activities across the solar system?" Me, either. Yet that is essence of an adventurous deal already reached between NASA and Las Vegas space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow. An official announcement is still a few days away and will likely happen during a news conference at NASA headquarters."

Keith's note: Something is in the works. Stay tuned. This will be a rather odd turn of events given that just a week ago Charlie Bolden said "NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission ... NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things." Then again, Charlie Bolden first said NASA was going to go to an asteroid. Then he wanted to go to L2. Then he said that you did not have to go all the way to an asteroid to visit one. Then he said he'd bring the asteroid back to Earth (L2). Things change quickly in Charlie Bolden's strategy, it would seem.

Bipartisan Legislation Sets NASA's Focus on the Moon

"U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), John Culberson (R-TX), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Pete Olson (R-TX), Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Ted Poe (R-TX) have once again reintroduced bipartisan legislation directing NASA to develop a plan for returning to the Moon and establishing a human presence there. The RE-asserting American Leadership in Space Act, or REAL Space Act, sets a clear course for NASA toward human space flight while keeping within current budgetary constraints."

Back to the Moon? Not any time soon, says Bolden, Space Politics

"However, [Bolden] made it clear NASA has no plans to lead its own human return to the Moon under his watch. "NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission," he said. "NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things." Instead, he said the focus would remain on human missions to asteroids and to Mars. "We intend to do that, and we think it can be done."

CASIS Media Advisory: Space, Cancer and Personalized Medicine Conference

"A live webcast of the Space, Cancer and Personalized Medicine Conference (8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. EDT) will also be available for interested media and can be viewed via link at www.iss-casis.org.

"**Please note that in order to participate in the live stream, you may be directed to download various applications. Computers with MAC operating systems will not have the ability to view the live stream."

Keith's note: If CASIS had any actual IT smarts they'd use USTREAM, Livestream, or do a Google Hangout for things like this - like everyone else does. All you need is a laptop with a webcam, a microphone, and an Internet connection. Chris Hadfield can tell them how to set this up.

Oh yes: it is really nice of CASIS to give everyone less than 24 hours notice. There is no mention of this event on the ISS National Lab page, NASA's Calendar, or even CASIS' events page Fixed.

Keith's update: This just goofy. Now CASIS tells Mac users "**Please note that in order to participate in the live stream, you may be directed to download a "Scopia" codec. Computers with MAC operating systems: restart your browser after installing the codec and use this link to join the conference: http://us.tryscopia.com/scopia/entry/index.jsp?ID=7658112" Install a codec? Yea right - what a great way to install malware on your computer.

Google Hangout anyone? Is this a taste of things to come with regard to ISS utilization - convoluted instuctions for something as simple and routine as a webcast? More inept public engagement from CASIS - all while Chris Hadfield has managed to use just about every social media platform he can think of - IN ORBIT.

Asteroids and Budgets

NASA Budget Priority: Asteroid Defense, Wall Street Journal

"Once again, NASA likely faces a stiff fight over its desire to ramp up funding to $820 million annually to help subsidize work on private taxis to transport astronauts to the orbiting space station. Congress has kept a lid on such appropriations at around $500 million. While seeking to increase investment in cutting-edge spacecraft propulsion and on-orbit refueling, NASA would lose nearly one-third of its current funding to foster interest and education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The proposed cuts are part of a governmentwide bid by the White House to consolidate so-called STEM education in three other agencies."

NASA mulls asteroid capture mission, eventual manned visits, CBS

"I hope it goes forward," said Rusty Schweickart, a former Apollo astronaut who helped found the B612 Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building and launching a privately funded space telescope to search for threatening asteroids. "Asteroids are a very, very interesting area," he told CBS News in a telephone interview. "They're a hell of a resource, and I think the potential for long-term resource development for use in space is going to be a very big thing. And this is sort of step one. It's a baby step in a way, but it should be very interesting."

NASA Associate Administrator Statements on the Asteroid Initiative in the FY 2014 Budget Request

"The following are statements from the associate administrators of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Science Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate on the administration's budget request for the 2014 fiscal year."

Keith's note: Apparently the observations of Jaiwon Shin, the Associate Administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (about the budget), weren't deemed to be important enough to include. Oddly, NASA CFO Robinson and NASA Adminstrator Bolden made frequent mention of the Boeing 787 today during a budget media telecon.

Private Companies can Play Key Role in Tracking Asteroids

"Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): "Most troubling to me is the fact that of the up to 20,000 asteroids that could be labeled as 'city destroyers,' we have identified only 10 percent. And we are unlikely to have the means to detect 90 percent until 2030."

Committee Democrats Discuss Need to Detect and Prepare for Near-Earth Objects Smaller Than Currently Mandated

"Witnesses and Democratic Members discussed international dialogue, emergency preparedness, communication with the public, and the need for examining potential mitigation approaches. They also expressed concern about the role private entities play in the detection and mitigation of asteroids."

- Prepared Statement by Michael A'Hearn
- Prepared Statement by Donald Yeomans
- Prepared Statement by Ed Lu

Keith's note: This is how the Twitter account @Camilla_SDO describes itself: "I am Camilla SDO, NASA SDO's Mission Mascot. I help with Education & Public Outreach and I train to fly to Space." This twitter account is actualy run by Romeo Durscher, a financial management analyst at Stanford. @Camilla_SDO recently tweeted "@JeriLRyan Have my 1st red carpet event this month. Had a small role in Space Warriors with Josh Lucas. So excited. I'll stick to being me!"

I simply do not understand. First NASA cuts EPO across the agency to meet sequester constraints. Now the FY 2014 budget totally guts EPO at SMD - essentially setting it to $0.00. NASA cuts important education and public outreach projects conducted by education professionals - yet the agency still officially supports and encourages a rubber chicken mascot with a NASA logo to travel to a Hollywood premiere - with a financial analyst? Apparently the rubber chicken and its handler/analyst have a special waiver.

2014 Federal Research & Development Budget Briefing (webcast)

"Officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other Federal departments and agencies with core science missions will discuss President Obama's FY 2014 R&D Budget."

NASA Administrator Discusses 2014 Fiscal Year Budget Proposal (webcast)

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal at 3 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 10, during a media teleconference. NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson will join the administrator."

NASA Administrator Bolden's Statement on the NASA FY 2014 Budget Request

"Today, we unveil President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for NASA -- a $17.7 billion investment in our nation's future. Our budget ensures the United States will remain the world's leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come, while making critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people."

Keith's note: The White House loves to talk about education. So ... what do they do at NASA? They cut NASA education from $136.9 million in FY 2013 to $94.2 million in FY 2014. This is how they explain it: "In support of the Administration's FY 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education plan, the Agency's education efforts will be fundamentally restructured into a consolidated education program funded through the Office of Education." This is not at all surprising given that OMB actually wants to move all of NASA's education activities to the Department of Education (they did not get their way on that this year). No explanation is offered as to what "restructured" means other than providing less money.

NASA FY 2014 Budget information

Back to the Moon? Not any time soon, says Bolden, Space Politics

"However, [Bolden] made it clear NASA has no plans to lead its own human return to the Moon under his watch. "NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission," he said. "NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things." Instead, he said the focus would remain on human missions to asteroids and to Mars. "We intend to do that, and we think it can be done."

Charlie Bolden Intends To Press President Obama on Mars Mission Mandate for NASA, earlier post

"At one point, Bolden teared up and said that "Mars is the Goal". Bolden claimed that he was intent upon going to the White House, "pounding his shoe on the table", and demanding a commitment from President Obama to direct NASA to send humans to Mars. Bolden said that he needs that commitment to allow him to decide what to do (not do) with regard to extending the ISS."

Keith's note: There is no mention of an Administration committment to a human mission to Mars in the NASA FY 2014 Budget. Either Charlie Bolden never pounded his shoe at the White House - or (more likely) they were not listening when he did.

Warp Factor - A NASA scientist claims to be on the verge of faster-than-light travel: is he for real?, Popular Science

"The device looks like a large red velvet doughnut with wires tightly wound around a core, and it's one of two initiatives Eagleworks is pursuing, along with warp drive. It's also secret. When I ask about it, White tells me he can't disclose anything other than that the technology is further along than warp drive ... Yet when I ask how it would create the negative energy necessary to warp space-time he becomes evasive. "That gets into . . . I can tell you what I can tell you. I can't tell you what I can't tell you," he says. He explains that he has signed nondisclosure agreements that prevent him from revealing the particulars. I ask with whom he has the agreements. He says, "People come in and want to talk about some things. I just can't go into any more detail than that."

Clarifying NASA's Warp Drive Program

NASA Plum Brook vacuum chamber in Sandusky is the largest in the world, despite what NASA folks in Texas claim, Cleveland.com

"The vacuum chamber at Plum Brook, called the Space Power Facility, measures 863,000 cubic feet. To get an idea of its vastness, check out the opening minutes of "The Avengers" movie, filmed inside the chamber. The one at Johnson, called Chamber A, is 400,000 cubic feet."

NASA Invites Media Inside World's Largest Vacuum Chamber, JSC

"The world's largest thermal-vacuum chamber will be open to news media at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston on Thursday, April 4."

Keith's 9 April update: The JSC Vs GRC competition claiming that they both host "the world's largest thermal vacuum chamber" continues despite the fact that GRC's has a volume twice the size of JSC's. According to This week at NASA, 8 April 2013 at 5:20 into the video JSC has "...the world's largets thermal vacuum chamber ..." I guess facts are irrelevant to JSC PAO. Odd that this video still makes this claim when NASA PAO quietly modified its original release to say something else (see below).

NASA Lunar Science Forum 2013 Will be a VIRTUAL Conference With NO "In-Person" Component This Year

"Due to the recent government restrictions on travel, The NASA Lunar Science Institute will broadcast the annual NASA Lunar Science Forum (LSF) as a virtual conference the week of July 15-19, 2013. The conference will be broadcast between the hours of 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. PDT, Monday-Friday, to accommodate a wide spread in time zones. Presentations will be delivered using a combination of Adobe Connect and a telecom line for participation. Adobe Connect can host 500 combined domestic and international logins to the presentations. Any number of individuals can gather at their home institutions and connect as a group, but the total number of individual connections cannot exceed 500."

>NASA OIG: NASA's Management of Energy Savings Contracts

"We found that Johnson mismanaged its $42.7 million energy contract. Specifically, Johnson officials did not require Honeywell to submit annual savings verification reports and accepted a flawed report for the first year, did not consider the effect of renovations to or demolition of facilities on the guaranteed savings rate, and added work to the contract without ensuring that energy savings would cover the additional costs. Based on our interviews and document review, it was apparent that Johnson contracting officials did not effectively administer the energy contract. Moreover, neither Johnson nor NASA had developed sufficient guidance or an effective training program regarding administration of energy contracts. As a result, Johnson may have overpaid Honeywell because it could not verify that the conservation measures installed under the contract resulted in the guaranteed $2 million in annual energy savings."

Orbital Rolls Out Antares Rocket to Launch Pad at Wallops Island For Upcoming Test Flight

"Early this morning, Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) rolled out the first fully integrated Antares(TM) rocket from its assembly building at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in eastern Virginia in preparation for its inaugural flight that is scheduled for April 17 at approximately 5:00 p.m. (EDT)."

Senator: NASA to Lasso Asteroid, Bring it Closer, AP

"The ship would capture the 500-ton, 25-foot asteroid in 2019. Then using an Orion space capsule, a crew of about four astronauts would nuzzle up next to the rock in 2021 for spacewalking exploration, according to a government document obtained by The Associated Press."

NASA Asteroid Capture Mission: First Real Step in Utilizing Extraterrestrial Resources, SpaceRef earlier post

"Charlie Bolden made his cryptic comments at the NAS in December 2012: "when the President announced that an asteroid would be the next destination for NASA's human spaceflight program, he did not say NASA had to fly all the way to an asteroid. What matters is the ability to put humans with an asteroid.". Well, Bolden was referring to this idea which was still in flux as part of the budget process."

Senator: NASA to Lasso Asteorid, Bring it Closer, AP

"George Washington University Space Policy Institute Director Scott Pace, a top NASA official during the George W. Bush administration, was critical of the plan, saying it was a bad idea scientifically and for international cooperation. Instead, NASA and other countries should first join forces for a comprehensive survey of all possible dangerous space rocks, Pace said."

Russia may join asteroid retrieval mission, UPI

"Russia says its Roscosmos space agency may join NASA in an ambitious mission to capture an asteroid and bring it to a lunar orbit for exploration. ... [It is] a very interesting project, which NASA proposes to carry out jointly with Roscosmos specialists," Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin said."

Keith's note: It certainly seems like Russia is interested in this in contrast to what Scott Pace would have you think. Other countries will soon line up as well. Scott Pace should know that there is no technical or political reason not to do this mission and and asteroid survey in parallel i.e. simultaneously. It comes down to money (there seems to be some) and sources report that this mission will also see an enhancement in a variety of activities associated with NEO detection.

When it comes to Obama space policy and Scott Pace there always seems to be a lingering "what if" bitterness - of the sort often associated with talking about having lost some big game way back in high school. You have to know that if President Romney told Scott Pace to do this mission he'd have been absolutely thrilled at being given the opportunity.

- The Romney Campaign has a Space Policy Etch-A-Sketch, earlier post
- Double Standards and Sour Grapes From the Romney/Griffin Camp

Breakthrough in chemical crystallography, Academy of Finland

"As the SCD analysis is carried out with only one crystal, smaller than 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 mm in size, the required amount of the target molecule can be as low as 80 ng. Fujita's and Rissanen's work reports the structure determination of a scarce marine natural product from only 5 ug of it. Many natural and synthetic compounds for which chemists have almost given up the hope of analysing crystallographically can now be easily and precisely characterised by this method."

Keith's note: For more than 20 years one of the prime scientific uses that NASA has wanted to put the ISS to was the production of large, ultra-pure protein crystals - a staple of every chart or paper NASA has produced to justify the scientific uses and potential of the ISS. The idea being that such large, perfect crystals help improve the efficiency of traditional means of determining biochemical structure via protein crystallography. However it would seem that structural information for biological molecules can now be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples - on Earth. No need for all that expensive outer space stuff. If only NASA could find a way to get things from idea - to hardware - to orbit - and back faster and cheaper, the ISS might have played more of a role in this field of protein crystallography. Instead, while it dragged its feet in orbit progress continued on Earth. That is not to say that there is nothing you can do on the ISS. Quite the contrary. But good intentions aside, unless NASA and its semi-unwanted step child CASIS can speed things up, ISS will simply become less relevant.

- Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post
- Realizing the Research Potential of the ISS Once and for All, earlier post
- While NASA Flies In Circles Technology Advances Back on Earth, earlier post
- One More Reason Not To Use the ISS?, earlier post

International Space Apps Challenge, NASA

"The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in 80 cities around the world (in 42 countries) on the weekend of April 20-21, 2013. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space. NASA is leading this global collaboration along with more then 150 partner organizations."

Join The Movement: International Space Apps Challenge, ESA

"In April, you are invited to join thousands of enthusiasts to invent and create applications to help space exploration and improve life on Earth at the International Space Apps Challenge. During this app-jam, participants are challenged to use freely available data and rework them for new purposes or present them in new ways."

- NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge, earlier post
- NASA Space App Challenge Yields Real Results, earlier post
- NASA Stumbles Again When It Comes To Its Cool Stuff (update), earlier post

Keith's note: It has been a month since NASA Education AA Leland Melvin complained about lack of promotion for the Space Apps challenge yet there is still no mention on NASA's Education website. Its not on the NASA.gov calendar either.

Obama to take pay cut to draw attention to plight of federal workers facing furloughs, Washington Post

"President Obama plans to give up 5 percent of his salary this year to draw attention to the financial sacrifice of more than 1 million federal employees who will be furloughed by automatic spending cuts starting in less than three weeks. ... Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he will return a portion of his salary to share the pain with 750,000 Defense civilians who will lose 14 days of pay this fiscal year. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe decided -- before the president's action became public -- to donate 32 hours of pay to a fund that provides emergency loans, child-care subsidies and other financial help to federal workers. And the Department of Housing and Urban Development disclosed that Secretary Shaun Donovan and eight politically appointed deputies will donate seven days worth of salaries. Their checks will either go back to the Treasury or to a nonprofit housing group that helps low-income Americans."

Keith's note: Is Charlie Bolden going to take a pay cut?

Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free-Return Mission in 2018, Inspiration Mars, Future In-Space Operations (FISO) telecon colloquium

Keith's note: One chart in this presentation lists using SLS as an option. What are these people smoking? They cannot afford to buy one of these launches at $1 billion or more, NASA certainly is not going to give them one for free, and its not certain that SLS will even be ready to launch in time to meet their tight schedule - much less with the reliability NASA is going to require before allowing humans fly to Mars on a trajectory that offers no bail out options.

Inspiration Mars considers NASA's Space Launch System, ULA rockets for 2018 Mars trip, Huntsville Times

"At their [Tito and another executive of his Inspiration Mars non-profit organization] request NASA briefed them on the capabilities of SLS and Orion," Marshall spokeswoman Kim Henry said Wednesday. Asked if SLS could support a Mars mission, Henry said that it could. It was not immediately clear, however, how SLS could meet Tito's deadline for a launch of Jan. 15, 2018. That timing is critical to take advantage of a Mars-Earth alignment that won't occur again before 2031, Tito's organization says."

Inspiration Mars Is Being Pushed by NASA To Consider SLS, earlier post

NASA WFF Internal Memo: Wallops All-Hands Scheduled April 4

"Center Director Chris Scolese will discuss the findings of an investigation into a recent incident where a noose was discovered in a Bldg. F-5 dorm room during an All-Hands meeting for Wallops employees scheduled from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Thursday, April 4, in the Bldg. E-100 auditorium. All Wallops employees are encouraged to attend."

NASA Officials Call Noose Incident a 'Deeply Disturbing' Poor Joke, WNEW

"In a March 29 memo obtained by The Associated Press, Scolese told colleagues that a contractor employee fashioned a piece of rope into a noose and handed it to a co-worker who was in a bad mood. The noose was left behind and was found by a contractor with another company, who reported it. Scolese said the incident was intended as a joke, but was "deeply disturbing." He said the person who tied the noose has been denied access to NASA facilities pending results of the investigation."

Hangman's Noose Found at Wallops (Update), earlier post

NASA JSC Internal Memo: Second JSC Early-out in FY13

"Next week, JSC will begin offering a second window for employees to apply for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority ("early-out"). We are opening another window due to the Center's FTE ceiling being reduced in FY13, 14 and 15. By offering this opportunity to those who have expressed interest in early-outs, we will be able to continue to balance the skills at the Center and ensure we have hiring capability."

AMS-02: Shining light on elusive dark matter, ESA

"The findings hint at a new phenomenon but it is unknown whether the positron ratio comes from dark energy particles colliding with each other or from pulsating stars in our galaxy that produce antimatter."

First Result from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station: Precision Measurement of the Positron Fraction in Primary Cosmic Rays of 0.5-350 GeV, Physical Review Letters

"These observations show the existence of new physical phenomena, whether from a particle physics or an astrophysical origin."

Keith's note: As you have probably noticed by now I have been helping the AIA folks get the word out about their crowd funding campaign. Now the Challenger Center for Space Science Education has joined the effort. This is a chance for all NASA Watch readers to put their money where their mouths are so as to put a simple message about space in front of a movie audience inclined to be interested - and then offer them a suggestion as to what to do with that interest. No donation is too small. Every tweet or Facebook post helps. Indeed, more than half of the ~1,400 donors to date have given $10 - and the tally already stands at $44,000. What you see below is just the beginning of the media's interest in this project.

What NASA is unable to do due to silly government restrictions taxpayers are trying to circumvent - with their wallets. Its gone "viral" folks. It deserves your support.

WE ARE THE EXPLORERS: A movie trailer for our space program

"Now for the next "giant leap." With still weeks to go, we can expand our reach to the whole country. If we raise $94,000, our space program trailer will appear in at least one theater in every state in America. This new goal will expand our reach from 59 movie theater screens to 750 screens! If we raise more than the $94,000 goal, those additional proceeds will be used to enhance and grow Challenger Center's programs (see below) for space science education."

NASA Marketing Video to Run Before New 'Star Trek' Film, Bloomberg Business Week

"Crowdfunding campaigns are becoming increasingly popular in the space community," says AIA Director of Space Systems Dan Hendrickson, pointing to a recent fundraising effort to recover Lunar Orbiter mission data. "The original idea behind this campaign wasn't a response to budget cuts," he insists. "This is a campaign to highlight to our students and young people that human spaceflight is alive and well in the United States in the post-Space Shuttle era." Citing "immediate and overwhelming financial support," Hendrickson considers the experiment a success.

NASA Establishes a Sustainability Base on Earth, Next.gov

"It was inconceivable to me that in the 21st century, in the heart of Silicon Valley, NASA would be building a building that could have been built 25 years ago," [Ames Associate Director Steve Zornetzer] said. "NASA had to build the highest-performing building in the federal government, embed NASA technology inside and make a statement to the public that NASA was giving back to the people of planet Earth what it had developed for advanced aerospace applications," he said."

Keith's note: Alas, this building is inside the NASA security barrier so 99.99% of taxpayers i.e. the "public" will never see it or be able to learn from its design. But you can look at this pretty website. Your green tax dollars at work. FWIW it would be really easy to move the fence.

NASA Ames Internal Memo: NTRS Offline - Use NASA Aeronautics and Space Database (NA&SD)

"Employees who are used to relying on NTRS (which is currently unavailable) may want to obtain access to NA&SD where they can find all of the information contained within NTRS, plus quite a bit more. The tradeoff is that the access to the additional content in NA&SD comes with limitations on how the information can be used and shared, consistent with existing export control regulations and laws."

- NTRS Is Online Again - Sort Of, earlier post
- NASA Blocks Everyone From Access To Everything on NTRS, earlier post

Climate Maverick to Quit NASA

"Dr. Hansen had already become an activist in recent years, taking vacation time from NASA to appear at climate protests and allowing himself to be arrested or cited a half-dozen times. But those activities, going well beyond the usual role of government scientists, had raised eyebrows at NASA headquarters in Washington. "It was becoming clear that there were people in NASA who would be much happier if the 'sideshow' would exit," Dr. Hansen said in an e-mail."

- Why Does NASA Treat James Hansen Differently Than Other Employees?, earlier post
- Jim Hansen Arrested For Yelling or Something (Again), earlier post

Earlier posts


Keith's note: A note for all of the "citizen journalists" , NASA Social participants, etc. Today is the 17th anniversary of the debut of NASA Watch (then known as NASA RIF Watch) online. There is a long road - one traveled by others before you to where you will be - and it started more than 10 years ago, before "blogging" was even a word, when there were no Tweetups, and the first "citizen" journalists dared to claim that they were legitimate media and demanded access to their government. As such, for those of us who helped pave the way (inside and outside of NASA), do us proud. Don't waste the opportunities as they continue to be made available. Be useful. The late Brian Welch would find this all to be rather fascinating. You see, back in the day, he had his hands full just dealing with only me ...

Letter from the NASA Inspector General to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, 4 February 2000. Topic: NASA Watch's application for press accreditation. Note: by this point NASA "RIF" Watch had been online for more than 3 years.

"The editor of NASA Watch has twice applied for press accreditation from NASA and was rejected both times. The first application was a verbal request to NASA Headquarters PAO for credentials to attend the launch of the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft in June 1997. That request was verbally rejected on the grounds that NASA Watch was not legitimate press but rather was closer to a "vanity press." The editor of NASA Watch again applied (via email) for press credentials to NASA Headquarters PAO in July 1999 (see Appendix B) and was again rejected (see Appendix C) on the grounds that NASA Watch did not meet the PAO's new policy for press accreditation (see Appendix D). NASA has no formal process for appealing rejection of press credentials."

Rogue Webmasters, Government Executive, October 1996

"Donald Teague, president of the NASA Headquarters Professional Association, says the RIF Watch site provides invaluable information. "You have to turn it on each morning to see what's going on," he says. A committee of headquarters employees nominated Cowing for an agency award for running the RIF Watch site. But NASA Associate Administrator for Headquarters Operations Michael Christensen, rejected the idea. "The tone of the page is unacceptable," says Christensen. "None of us dispute his right to run the Web site. My own personal decision was that it would be inappropriate to honor him for it."

Keith's note: During a press conference Monday morning, NASA Administrator Bolden and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) will announce what they characterize as a "a bold, ambitious effort" to take two seemingly improbable launch systems and combine them into one even more improbable system. The Strato-SLS (SSLS) will enable even bigger payloads into orbit, as the 5 SSMEs and twin advanced boosters won't ignite until the Stratolaunch plane brings the rocket to an altitude of nearly 70,000 feet. This architecture will not just boost the SLS's initial capability from 70 mT to 200 mT, but will ensure a rapidly reusable system that can launch every month for under $100 million. Sen. Shelby, along with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Administrator Bolden have volunteered to ride the first crewed launch of the SSLS in 2017. "We can save the taxpayers money on training since 2 out of the 3 crew have already been trained and have flown together" Bolden is prepared to state. OMB sources who declined to be identified eagerly assured NASAWatch that countless taxpayer dollars will be fully wasted on this national strategic need. Indeed, OMB has already taken to calling the SSLS the "Space Goose". Larger image


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