May 2013 Archives

Boeing Completes New Spacecraft, Rocket Milestones, NASA

"The Boeing Company of Houston, a NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner, recently performed wind tunnel testing of its CST-100 spacecraft and integrated launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket."

"... Boeing now has completed two of eight performance milestones under CCiCap and is on track to complete all 19 of its milestones around mid-2014."

Heads Up Marshall

NASA Image of the Day - Huntsville, Alabama From Space (Large view and downloads), NASA

"The ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System or ISERV - a camera aboard the International Space Station - captures an image of her hometown. ISERV was designed and built at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala."

Russians Propose Space Billiards for Planetary Defense

"The way out just might be to hit dangerous asteroids with other asteroids, Russian scientists say.

Several near-Earth asteroids can be towed into the vicinity of the planet to serve as a cache of celestial projectiles against incoming space threats, said Natan Eismont of the Space Research Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.

'I was skeptical about it myself, until we actually tried to do computer modeling of the situation,' Eismont, one of the project's authors, told RIA Novosti in a recent interview."

Marc's note: Wasn't there a 1950's era movie with this plot? ;-)


NASA Education Express
, NASA

"Guidance for Education and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration

NASA has taken the first steps in addressing the mandatory spending cuts called for in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The law mandates a series of indiscriminate and significant across-the-board spending reductions totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

As a result, NASA has been forced to implement a number of new cost-saving measures, policies, and reviews in order to minimize impacts to the mission-critical activities of the Agency. Guidance regarding conferences, travel, and training that reflect the new fiscal reality in which the agency must operate has been provided.

For specific guidance as it relates to public outreach and engagement activities please reference the following webpage.

http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/about/sequestration-NASA-education-guidance.html

Check out the following NASA opportunities for the education community. Full descriptions are listed below..."

Marc's note: Yup, education gutted, but here's a list of what's left for you.

Keith's note: My postings on NASA Watch are going to be far less frequent for a while. But I will post from time to time. I am taking the Summer off to work on other things and spend as much time possible in the woods or on my deck.

I will be trying to focus on things that do not involve watching the White House and Congress go back and forth on what they do/do not want NASA to do and how much they will/will not fund NASA to do/not do these things. I'll also be spending less time watching Charlie Bolden stumble through his daily tasks while a disinterested White House turns a blind eye to his haphazard management of the agency.

Of course its not all Charlie's fault since management and employees at headquarters and the field centers continue to undermine him while simultaneously erecting stove pipes and barriers to collaboration at every possible opportunity. In all the years I have either been employed by - or "watching" - NASA I have never seen things more screwed up than they are now.

And before you start typing, let's not get into commercial or so-called "new space" solutions to NASA's woes. New space is not really "new". Rather it is often just a bunch of disenfranchised people looking for a handout (many of them are outright charlatans). Despite some recent and undeniably astounding commercial successes America's existing approach to exploring and utilizing space is rotting at its core - and that core is NASA. That core needs fixing - otherwise private sector solutions will not work - indeed they will just make things worse by distracting people from what really needs to be done.

That said, some of the smartest people on Earth are at NASA and they still manage to explore our planet and the cosmos with incredible ingenuity, determination, and passion in spite of bungled and often inept "leadership" from above. What worries me now is how our nation's space agency is undermining what it will leave behind for the next generation.

To be blunt: I am tired of listening to all of you whine while you won't lift a finger to fix the things that you clearly know are in need of fixing. No one wants to compromise or take risks. I am tired of having to chronicle this incessant food fight in and around NASA - a food fight that none of you seem at all interested in ending.

Carry on. Enjoy your cubicles. You won't miss me.

Marc's note: While Keith is away NASA Watch will carry on. Besides getting my input I'll feature some thoughts from some of our loyal readers from time to time on all issues NASA.

NASA's Grail Mission Solves Mystery of Moon's Surface Gravity, NASA

"NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission has uncovered the origin of massive invisible regions that make the moon's gravity uneven, a phenomenon that affects the operations of lunar-orbiting spacecraft."

"Because of GRAIL's findings, spacecraft on missions to other celestial bodies can navigate with greater precision in the future. GRAIL's twin spacecraft studied the internal structure and composition of the moon in unprecedented detail for nine months. They pinpointed the locations of large, dense regions called mass concentrations, or mascons, which are characterized by strong gravitational pull. Mascons lurk beneath the lunar surface and cannot be seen by normal optical cameras."

Southwest Research Institute Team Calculates the Radiation Exposure with a trip to Mars, SwRI

"Energetic protons constitute about 85 percent of the primary galactic cosmic ray flux and easily traverse even the most shielded paths (reds) inside the MSL spacecraft. Heavy ions tend to break up into lighter ions in thick shielding, but can survive traversal of thin shielding (blues) intact."

The Asteroid Set to Make a Close Encounter with the Earth on Friday Has a Moon (Watch), NASA

"New radar data obtained by NASA shows Asteroid 1998 QE2 has a moon. The asteroid will get no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

The new radar data was obtained on May 29th when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth. 1998 QE2 measures approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter."

Space and Art

Heaven and Earth, NASA

"There are patterns of beauty across our Earth and throughout the Universe."

Marc's note: You can watch a large version on SpaceRef's updated OnOrbit site.

Planetary Resources Embarks on First Crowdfunded Space Telescope, Planetary Resources

"Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, has launched a campaign for the world's first crowdfunded space telescope to provide unprecedented public access to space and place the most advanced exploration technology into the hands of students, scientists and a new generation of citizen explorers."

Planetary Resources Falls Back on Kickstarter For Funding, earlier post (2012)

"At the ISDC conference just a few weeks ago Eric Anderson from Planetary Resources was positively bragging about how much money they had."

Keith's note: It seems a little odd for a company like Planetary Resources to brag in public about its financial resources, list its billionaire investors at every given opportunity - and then hype a big announcement which was, in essence, "send us your money". Well, people have responded - in an impressive fashion. Thus far the current tally for a few hours' work is just under $150,000 - over $190,000 $235,000 $321,000 - that's more than 10% nearly 20% 25% 33% of their goal of $1,000,000.

Not bad at all - indeed its rather impressive - especially when you consider that the Golden Spike Company took 70 days to raise only $19,450 out of a planned $240,000. Planetary Resources has raised the entire sum Golden Spike originally sought - and they did so in less than 12 hours. They have 32 days left to reach their goal.

Having helped with the successful Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project and the AIA "We Are the Explorers" crowdfunding campaigns, I can suggest that the answer is simple: fire up people's imagination. Then tell them what you want to do, why it is important, explain how their contribution can help - and offer them something of value in addition to just thanking them for their money. When you get that balanced right, people will respond. However when you don't explain yourself, people won't give you much of anything. Not much of mystery there.

Oh yes - the Planetary Resources people really need to work on their media relations skills. At their first event last year they charged all invitees for their meal - all while promoting the billionaire backing they had. At today's event their webcast had no offsite media interaction (i.e. few questions) and the webcast backfired such that when there actually was a webcast the participants looked like they were doing Max Headroom impressions and sounded like they were stuttering underwater. Its not hard to do this stuff. I did it every day for several weeks from Everest Base Camp.

Henry Hoffman

Keith's note: According to a NASA Watch Reader: "Henry Hoffman passed away last night at 11:30 PM. Henry was a world-famous Attitude Control expert and was portrayed in the Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine as "Satellite Saviour." Henry Hoffman has more than six decades of guidance and control systems experience. He began his career in the early 1940's as an Electrical Technician for the US Navy where he supported Navy missile and airborne electronics development. He joined Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in 1962 as the Head of the Guidance and Control Branch."

Google+ Hangout: We the Geeks: Asteroids

"This Friday, an asteroid nearly three kilometers wide is going to pass by the Earth-Moon system. The fly-by is harmless -- at its closest, the asteroid will be about 15 times farther from us than the Earth is from the moon -- but to mark the event, the White House will host the second in a series of "We the Geeks" Google+ Hangouts to talk asteroids with Bill Nye the Science Guy, former Astronaut Ed Lu, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, and more."

Keith's 8:00 am EDT note: You would think that NASA, the geekiest of all government agencies, would be really happy about this visibility at a White House sponsored event - one that features its Deputy Administrator, a former astronaut, and a member of the NASA Advisory Council's Education and Public Outreach Committee. Moreover, this education-focused event focuses on the asteroid mission that the White House has tasked NASA to undertake. Despite all the reasons for NASA to want to crow about this event there is no mention on the NASA Education page, on the NASA calendar, on NASA.gov or on the agency's social media page NASA Connect although it is mentioned on NASA's Google+ page.

Keith's 150 pm EDT update: NASA issued this press release a few minutes ago. Still no mention on NASA's calendar, NASA Education page, NASA.gov, etc.

Space Florida Welcomes New Chair, Members of the Board, Space Florida

"Space Florida, the state's aerospace development organization and spaceport authority, has recently welcomed a new interim Board Chair and three new members to its Board of Directors.

Bill Dymond was appointed interim Chairman of the Board at the May 8, 2013 Space Florida Board of Directors meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Dymond is the president, CEO and managing partner of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., a multi-practice law firm with more than 100 attorneys, located in Orlando."

Mars is Hard

The private road to Mars, The Space Review

"Mars is hard.

That's the message that NASA and others in the space community have hammered into the public for years. It is, they argue, difficult enough to send a spacecraft to Mars, and even harder to land one there, a message clearly communicated by the "Seven Minutes of Terror" video released by NASA before the (successful) landing of the rover Curiosity last summer. Try to do the same with people--a task requiring larger spacecraft with life support systems, among other challenges--and the difficultly multiplies exponentially.

That extreme level of difficulty, and corresponding implied extreme expense, has led to the conclusion that only a government, or a coalition of governments, can send humans to Mars. It's also been a long-term goal: President George W. Bush's 2004 Vision for Space Exploration featured human missions to Mars at an unspecified date after a 2020 return to the Moon, while President Barack Obama in 2010 called for a human mission to orbit Mars in the mid-2030s and a landing to follow presumably shortly thereafter."

Soyuz TMA-09M Docks WIth ISS

"Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano docked their Soyuz to the station's Rassvet module at 10:16 p.m. this evening."

New Space Station Residents on Fast Track to Orbital Laboratory (With video), NASA

"Three new Expedition 36 crew members lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:31 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, May 28, (2:31 a.m. Kazakh time, Wednesday, May 29) on a six-hour flight to the International Space Station.""

Walter Murphy

Walter Murphy: "Walter was an Engineering Manager with NASA from 1963 to his retirement in 1997. His career started at Johnson Space Center, extending to Kennedy Space Center with 2 years at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He came to KSC in 1973 to take part in the development of the Launch Processing System."

Caldwell Johnson

Keith's note: NASA Watch readers have reported that Caldwell Johnson died on 27 May.

Caldwell Johnson, NNDB: "Caldwell Johnson grew up within walking distance of Langley Field, then a landing strip for exotic and experimental aircraft, operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. He often loitered at the facility, and after showing some staff members his elaborately constructed model aircraft, he was hired straight out of high school by NACA's Robert R. Gilruth."

"Where, Why and How?" - Concerns of the House Subcommittee on Space, Paul Spudis

"I found that there is confusion and even some anger on the Hill over President Obama's decision to abandon the Moon as the near-term goal of human spaceflight. Additionally, there is widespread puzzlement about the newly minted, asteroid retrieval concept - whether it will accomplish any scientific benefits, if it will prepare us for human missions beyond LEO, and what societal value it may or may not have. The question before the committee was how we might best move forward in space. As the discussion proceeded, it was patently clear that we desperately need a guiding vision with a strategic direction, one that constantly, incrementally and cost effectively creates and extends our space capabilities. It requires a plan with abundant milestones, intermediate in time and money, which will move humans beyond low Earth orbit."

Where Do We Go Next In Space?, Earlier post

NASA Discusses Curiosity Radiation FIndings

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT (18:30 UTC) Thursday, May 30, to present new findings from the Mars Science Laboratory Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) aboard the rover Curiosity."

Diurnal Variations of Energetic Particle Radiation Dose Measured by the Mars Science Laboratory Radiation Assessment Detector, adsabs.harvard.edu

"Further, we show that the variation in the E dose rate is very likely due to the variation of column mass, as measured by the pressure sensor on the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), driven by the thermal tide. While changes in dose were expected from changes in altitude or season, the discovery of a diurnal variation was not anticipated, although it should have been reasonably expected in hindsight."

MSL-RAD Radiation Environment Measurements, adsabs.harvard.edu

"RAD's cruise measurements are a unique data set that provide a reasonable simulation of what might be encountered by a human crew headed for Mars or for some other destination in deep space. RAD successfully operated for 220 days of the 253 day journey to Mars."

The Radiation Environment on the Martian Surface and during MSL's Cruise to Mars, adsabs.harvard.edu

"Even with the level of shielding inside MSL, these solar energetic particle events contributed significantly to the cumulative dose and dose equivalent. Finally, we will present the first-ever measurements of the radiation environment on the surface of Mars."

NASA Asteroid Initiative Call for Ideas

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announces a public forum to provide a status on the agency's asteroid initiative planning and to encourage feedback and ideas from the global community and the public."

Target NEO 2 Workshop

"Explore and address the technical issues regarding the identification and characterization of a target required to support the Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM).

NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG 9) Meeting

"As a consequence of new rules for NASA meeting support, the SBAG9 meeting will be held in Washington, DC, at a location TBD, on July 10-11, immediately following the Target NEO 2 Workshop."

Defending That Whole Go-to-Asteroid Thing, earlier post

Amendment to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations: Revision of U.S. Munitions List Category XV and Definition of "Defense Service"

"Revision of Category XV: Public Law 105-261, the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999, required that space-related items, including all satellites, were to be controlled as defense articles and removed the President's authority to change their jurisdictional status. Section 1248 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Pub. L. 111-84) provided that the Secretaries of Defense and State carry out an assessment of the risks associated with removing satellites and related components from the USML."

Export Administration Regulations (EAR): Control of Spacecraft Systems and Related Items the President Determines No Longer Warrant Control Under the United States Munitions List (USML)

"This proposed rule describes how certain articles the President determines no longer warrant control under United States Munitions List (USML) Category XV--spacecraft and related items--would be controlled on the Commerce Control List (CCL). Such items would be controlled by new Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs) 9A515, 9B515, 9D515, and 9E515 proposed by this rule and existing ECCNs. This is one in a planned series of proposed rules describing how various types of articles the President determines, as part of the Administration's Export Control Reform Initiative, no longer warrant USML control, would be controlled on the CCL and by the EAR. This proposed rule is being published in conjunction with a proposed rule from the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, which would amend the list of articles controlled by USML Category XV. The revisions proposed in this rule are part of Commerce's retrospective regulatory review plan under EO 13563 completed in August 2011."

Little Love for Asteroid Retrieval Mission; Squyres Deeply Worried about SLS Launch Rate, Space Policy Online

"Another concern Squyres stressed is the low flight rate for the Space Launch System (SLS). "I'm deeply worried," he told Edwards, because no other human spaceflight system has had such a low anticipated launch rate. The first SLS launch is expected in 2017, the second in 2021, and then once every two years thereafter. SLS and the Orion spacecraft need to be adequately funded "to be proven out on a pace that really supports ... a safe pathway" to cis-lunar space, Squyres insisted. Cooke agreed. The flight rate is driven "totally" by funding, he said, and "they definitely need more funding ... starting with inflation." NASA's budget is currently projected to be flat, with no adjustment for inflation, which erodes buying power as the years pass."

Faster, NASA, Faster, opinion, Ed Lu, NY Times (2009)

"In the 12 years before I left NASA in 2007, we averaged about four space shuttle launchings per year. We had periods when the rate was even lower: in the late '90s, during the early construction phase of the International Space Station, and in 2003, in the wake of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. I saw firsthand the harm that low launching rates do to innovation. With precious few flights, every available opportunity to test new equipment or run scientific investigations was filled for years into the future, and this discouraged engineers from trying out new ideas. Without actual flight test data on, for example, prototypes for new life-support equipment, management was forced to substitute analysis for real engineering experience."

American Astronomical Society Statement: Proposed Elimination of NASA Science Education & Public Outreach

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has issued a statement addressing the potential elimination of the education and public outreach (EPO) activities in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, as called for in President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget proposal. The AAS enthusiastically supports the Administration's goals to increase the impact of federal education investments and to increase the numbers of teachers and graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. But, according to the AAS, the proposed cuts "would dismantle some of the nation's most inspiring and successful STEM education assets."

- NASA EPO Cuts Continue, earlier post
- NAC Committee Is Against NASA EPO Changes, earlier post
- Bolden Is Happy About NASA Education Cuts, earlier post
- Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot defends asteroid mission in Alabama visit, Huntsville Times

"NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot knows about the debate over where America should go next in space while it develops the technologies needed for a Mars landing. Should astronauts go back to the moon and build a base there, visit an asteroid, or simply go somewhere else in the space between Earth and the moon? On a visit to Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center to see Orion space capsule hardware in development, Lightfoot nodded when asked if he was familiar with the debate over destinations held during a congressional hearing Tuesday afternoon."

- Where Do We Go Next In Space?, earlier post
- NASA Asteroid Capture Mission: First Real Step in Utilizing Extraterrestrial Resources, earlier post

How does copyright work in space?, Economist

"The song "Space Oddity" is under copyright protection in most countries, and the rights to it belong to Mr Bowie. But compulsory-licensing rights in many nations mean that any composition that has been released to the public (free or commercially) as an audio recording may be recorded again and sold by others for a statutorily defined fee, although it must be substantively the same music and lyrics as the original. But with the ISS circling the globe, which jurisdiction was Commander Hadfield in when he recorded the song and video?"

- Space Oddity, YouTube (over 14,000,000 views)

Keith's note: The Future In-Space Operations Working Group (FISOWG), overtly run by NASA civil servants, using NASA resources (their paid work time), discusses lots of interesting things. A lot of their stuff is vastly more interesting than the dumbed down drivel PAO often releases. But no one knows that FISO exists - except for an elite few who want to keep things secret - as stealth telecons. As such, the people (many of them NASA employees) who run FISO telecons seem to be clueless as to several important issues - where their websites point, who owns the intellectual content, and who is qualified to listen in on the presentations.

This is the latest presentation from the FISO telecon: "Environmental Control and Life Support Systems: Current Status and Future Development" by Robert Bagdigian & Robyn Carrasquillo NASA MSFC

According to FISO "The content of these FISOWG telecon presentations are considered the intellectual property of the person who gave that presentation." I'm sorry but NASA charts, with NASA.gov on them produced by two people openly identified as NASA employees regarding topics they are paid as civil servants to produce, is in the public domain. To state otherwise is outright deception and is contrary to agency policy. The NASA presenters do not own this material. The taxpayers who paid for it are the ones who own it.

One of the goofiest things that Dan Webster and Harley Thronson at FISO have posted is this: "Presentations, papers, visualizations, and graphics produces by the FISOWG and collaborators were archived here -- http://www.futureinspaceoperations.com/ , when Jack Frassanito ran the site for us. But he's retired as of a few months ago, and he seems to have let the site go. But do go there to help with physical attractiveness! Except it's not our advice anymore. Keith Cowing seems to like it, though ..."

I have to imagine that neither Harley Thronson or Dan Lester have never actually visited this website. Why do they point to it? If you go to http://www.futureinspaceoperations.com/ it redirects to http://futureinspaceoperations.com/ which currently has a top posting "Skin Lightening Options For Those On A Budget" So, Harley and Dan: is skin lightening a FISO topic these days? I see no FISO presentations posted at this website. Are you that lazy - that you can't fix a bad link?

Moreover they state this absurd caveat: "Note: This is NOT a public telecon. You may share this link only with qualified participants." This is just elitist nonsense - the sort of stuff written by people who do not understand who pays the bills. When NASA employees discuss their work it should be made available to anyone who is interested in listening. Everyone is a "qualified participant". Also, if this is not a "pubilc telecon" then why is all the dial-in info available on a publicly accessible website? The FISO policy regarding access to their telecons flies in the face of Open Data and transparency policies established by the White House for all agencies - including NASA.

- Future In-Space Operations (FISO): a working group and community engagement, Space Review
- Stealth Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Telecons, earlier post
- This Week's Stealth Future In-Space Operations Working Group Telecons, earlier post

NASA Announces Global Best in Class Winners for the International Space Apps Challenge

"A panel of international judges from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and other partner organizations has selected five "best in class" solutions as winners of the 2013 International Space Apps Challenge. The challenge, in which participants developed software, hardware, data visualization, and mobile or Web applications that contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth, took place at 83 locations around the world April 20-21."

See also Global Award Winners for the 2013 International Space Apps Challenge for more detail, videos, etc.

WCUI's Psoria-Shield(R) Announces Sales Roll-Out of Psoria-Light(R) to Key Markets

"The device was developed by Mr. Scot Johnson, President and CEO of Psoria-Shield, and his team of engineers who together have developed over 30 FDA-cleared, CE marked devices sold worldwide. The Deep UV LEDs utilized by Psoria-Light were created in parts by DARPA, NASA and the ESA (European Space Agency) for use in space. Psoria-Light's adaptation of them for targeted UV phototherapy has earned it an exclusive distinction from the Space Foundation as a Certified Space Technology (http://www.spacecertification.org/certified-products/psoria-light). The light generated by these LEDs has been demonstrated in previous clinical papers to be both more therapeutic and carry fewer side effects than other conventional UV light sources."

Keith's note: Yet another example of a NASA spinoff that NASA either knows nothing about or (if it does) doesn't seem to be interested in telling anyone about. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into NASA's new space tech directorate and they can't even stay on top of the news? In this case, its old news. I did a search at NASA.gov, Technology.nasa.gov and at NASA Rech Briefs. None of these searches resulted in any results about this product. Yet Space Foundation has certainly been paying attention. This is a baffling behavior pattern at NASA given that this is one case where there are potential benefits to a large number of taxpayers (patients).

- Another NASA Technology Data Dump No One Will Know About

Earlier posts

Kepler Mission Manager Update

"The operations staff at Ball Aerospace did a wonderful job at developing and implementing PRS. As a result, the spacecraft is not in an emergency condition, and work can be conducted at a more deliberate pace. For the next week or so, we will contact the spacecraft on a daily basis to ensure PRS continues to operate as expected."

Subcommittee Examines Next Steps for U.S. Human Space Exploration

"A human mission to Mars is not attainable without significant scientific, technological, and operational progress and preparation. One or more interim destinations have often been suggested as the logical path for developing and demonstrating those capabilities needed in advance of the more distant and risky venture of sending humans to Mars. An interim destination could also serve as an important focal point and organizing mechanism for the human exploration program, as well as providing a vision and inspiring goal for the nation's future in space. Over past Administrations and the current Administration, the goal for an interim destination has changed."

Witnesses Debate Strategic Stepping Stones to Mars
 
"There are several compelling reasons for using the Moon as a training ground to prepare for more complex missions. Landing on the Moon would develop technical capabilities for landing on and launching from a large celestial body, something NASA has not done for more than four decades. Establishing a semi-permanent or permanent presence on the Moon would give astronauts an opportunity to work and live in an environment radically different from Earth."

Prepared statements: Witnesses: Douglas Cooke, Steven Squyres, Paul Spudis, Louis Friedman

Prepared statements: members: Rep. Steven Palazzo,
Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnsons

FAA Reentry License to Lockheed Martin Corp. for Reentry of Orion MPCV From Earth Orbit to a Location in the Pacific

"In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA; 42 United States Code 4321 et seq.), Council on Environmental Quality NEPA implementing regulations (40 Code of Federal Regulations parts 1500 to 1508), and FAA Order 1050.1E, Change 1, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, the FAA is announcing the availability of the ROD to issue a reentry license to Lockheed Martin Corporation for the reentry of the Orion MPCV from Earth orbit to a location in the Pacific Ocean."

FAA: Human Space Flight Requirements for Crew and Space Flight Participants

"The FAA has established requirements for human space flight of crew and space flight participants as required by the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004. The information collected is used by the FAA, a licensee or permittee, a space flight participant, or a crew member. The FAA uses the information related to public safety to ensure that a launch or reentry operation involving a human on board a vehicle will meet the risk criteria and requirements with regard to ensuring public safety."

Sally Ride National Tribute at Kennedy Center Tonight

"NASA and Sally Ride Science are inviting journalists to tonight's "Sally Ride: A Lifetime of Accomplishment, A Champion of Science Literacy," a national tribute to America's first woman in space. The special event will be held at the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts."

President Obama Announces Sally Ride as a Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

"Today, President Barack Obama announced he will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space. The Medal of Freedom is the Nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

NASA and The White House Pay Tribute to Sally Ride

"The president announced Monday afternoon Ride will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House later this year. The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The PI's Perspective: Encounter Planning Accelerates, JHUAPL

"We've now largely completed that work and presented the results to both an independent, NASA-appointed technical review team, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Keyur Patel, and then to senior executives at NASA Headquarters. Both groups have concurred with our findings..."

Keith's note: I would have posted this news earlier but both SwRI and JHUAPL simply refuse to place me on their media distribution lists (yes, I have asked more than once). In addition, NASA SMD has not issued anything on this either. That is not surprising given their foot dragging in response to my last request on this topic.

NASA Finally Responds To Simple Questions About the New Horizons Mission to Pluto (January 2013) earlier post

"Three months ago I asked the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) some simple questions regarding possible changes to the New Horizons encounter with Pluto based on recent data indicating debris in the region. I was told that I'd get a prompt reply. SMD PAO finally got around to responding to me today after three months of silence. One would think that these answers would be simple to provide - and based on standard mission operating procedures. Guess not."

Will NASA Have To 'Bail Out' On Close Pluto Encounter?, (October 2012)

Keith's note: NASA just loves to tell everyone about its spinoffs, commercial applications, tech transfer, and the ways that the private sector uses things developed at NASA. As such, you'd think that they'd tell people as soon as they learn of yet another spinoff or tech transfer opportunity. Not at all. NASA's Patent Counsel, Office of the Chief Counsel sits on these things and issues them all at once in one big batch via the Federal Register.

Have a look at what they dumped into the Federal Register for 20 May 2013 (below). How long has some of this stuff gathered dust in someone's in box waiting for a stamp of approval? NASA now has hundreds of millions of dollars proposed for the Space Technology Mission Directorate. Maybe they can speed this process up a bit? Is there going to be any mention at their home page? Doubtful. At NASA Tech Briefs Doubtful. I forget: what is it that they do anyway?. Do the Space Tech guys ever tweet about these notices? Send out a newsletter? An email?

Several of these notices make mention of http://technology.nasa.gov/ (NASA Technology Transfer Portal) the vast majority of these notices do not even bother to mention a link to NASA. This portal makes no mention of these Federal Register notices. http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/ doesn't mention things such as these Federal Register notices either. And the Langley -hosted Technology Gateway is totally out of date in addition to making no mention of things like this. Of course, it is also confusing to have so many places at NASA.gov purporting to do the same thing - but that is standard procedure at NASA.

- Uncoordinated Technology Transfer at NASA, earlier post
- Dysfunctional Technology Efforts at Langley (Update), earlier post
- More Stealth NASA Spinoffs (2nd Update), earlier post
- Stealth NASA Spinoff Day on the Hill

Keith's note: Federal Register Notice postings below:

Prepared Statement by Wayne Hale

"Poised on the cusp of these new systems, we run the risk of being penny wise and pound foolish as we make the same mistake that doomed the space shuttle to much higher cost operations: starving a spacecraft development program in the name of saving a few pennies for today's budget bottom line resulting in the compromised systems that, if they fly at all, will not be cheap enough to enable business in space."

- Prepared Statement by Steven Collicott
- Prepared Statement by Patti Grace Smith
- Prepared Statement by Michael Lopez-Alegria

Caltech Faulted for Unfair Labor Practices at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

"National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge William G. Kocol has found the California Institute of Technology engaged in unfair labor practices at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Caltech administers JPL under contract with NASA. In 2011, Caltech issued letters of highest level disciplinary reprimand to five JPL employees because they used JPL's internal email system to discuss the implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling on the working conditions at JPL. The five employees had been plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case."

Full NLRB decision (worth reading by all NASA employees)

"I reject JPL's contention that it had no choice but to comply with NASA's directives. I start by pointing out that HSPD 12 was not specific as to how the Government was to implement the directive. Other departments in the Government, according to the employees, implemented it a manner less invasive of the privacy of their employees. And the NASA badging requirements morphed and evolved, apparently in response to the concerns voiced by 30 the employees. Finally, there is no evidence that JPL itself could not have sought to influence NASA to address some of the concerns of its employees. NASA and JPL chose the manner in which they implemented HSPD 12 and some employees concertedly complained and sought to change it. The employees have a Section 7 right to do so."

"By issuing written warnings to Robert Nelson, Dennis Byrnes, Scott Maxwell, Larry D'Addario, and William Bruce Banerdt because they engaged in protected, concerted activities, the Respondent has engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 8(a)(1) and Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act. Having found that the Respondent has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, I shall order it to cease and desist therefrom and to take certain affirmative action designed to effectuate the policies of the Act."

Keith's note: Of course NASA and JPL will appeal this decision. It would be interesting to see how much they will pay the lawyers (and who pays for those lawyers) who seek to oppose the rights of employees.

Previous postings on HSPD-12

Job Security at NASA

Is NASA about jobs, or actually accomplishing something?, Houston Chronicle

"The diversity of these centers, including sites in populous states like Texas, California, Florida and Ohio, ensures political clout for the agency in both houses of Congress. At the same time, NASA has to continually spread work around all of these centers and keep senators and representatives from the homes of each of the 10 happy. Which is to say, first and foremost, saving jobs."

Federal budget cuts threaten NASA's space travel plans, KTRK

"... All that costs money, and Bolden says NASA's $16.8 billion budget request gets chopped to just $16.1 billion if the seqester is not rectified. "At the $16.1 billion level, there is no way in the world they can continue to operate a center like JSC at the level of employment that we have right now," Bolden said. Bolden laments this would mean cutbacks at all NASA centers, primarily contractors. But furloughs for civil servants, he confides, could also become necessary."

NASA and Star Trek

The Ames Exchange Council: Star Trek Into Darkness

"Boldly go where no one has gone before! The Ames Exchange has bought out an entire theater for the NASA Ames workforce to view the new Star Trek Into Darkness film at AMC Mercado 20 at 4:30 PM on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Hard-badged employees may pick up their complimentary ticket at the Beyond Galileo gift shop starting this Thursday, May 16, 2013, but hurry, tickets are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis."

NASA Google Hangout Connects Space Station and Star Trek Crews (video)

Bright Explosion on the Moon, NASA Science News

"The 40 kg meteoroid measuring 0.3 to 0.4 meters wide hit the Moon traveling 56,000 mph.  The resulting explosion1 packed as much punch as 5 tons of TNT."

Keith's note: C'mon guys. Pick one system of measurement and stick with it - or show both systems for all measurements.

Oh yes, then there's this statement: "U.S. Space Exploration Policy eventually calls for extended astronaut stays on the lunar surface."

Huh? Has the author (Tony Phillips) been reading the news lately? NASA is not sending people to the Moon again per White House policy.

Message from the NASA Wallops Director: Noose at a Construction Site

"The IG conducted an independent investigation into the circumstances of how and why the noose was placed at the Bldg. F-5 construction site. The IG's findings corroborated the results of the previous investigations conducted separately by the Office of Protective Services and the contractor. While the incident itself remains disturbing, it's important to note that none of the three investigations found evidence of criminal wrongdoing."

NASA Collaborates with Google and USRA for Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, SpaceRef

"Quantum computing may be the key to solving some of the most challenging computer science problems. This is why Google in collaboration with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association today announced that they will launch the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab."

Keith's note: I'll be a guest on HuffPost Live: What Would A Colony On Mars Look Like? at 2:30 pm EDT

"American astronaut Buzz Aldrin says the U.S. and NASA should focus on establishing a permanent colony on Mars by 2040. How likely is a future that include humans actually living on Mars? Should we be allocating our resources to this endeavor?"

Asteroid 1998 QE2 to Sail Past Earth 9 Times Larger than Cruise Ship

"On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) -- or larger -- radar telescope at their disposal."

Keith's note: NASA PAO just loves to make puns with their press release headlines. The asteroid was not actually named after the QE2. Given that the popular impression of cruise ships these days is that they are disease-ridden floating toilets, I suppose someone will inevitably connect recent news about Earth's water coming from asteroids (meteorites) and a giant cruise ship in space and ...

Internal NASA GSFC memo: "Congress just passed a law that bars NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, and Department of Justice from buying IT systems that have been "produced, manufactured or assembled" by companies "owned, operated or subsidized" in any way by the Chinese. The only exceptions to this rule are for hardware that is deemed to be in the interests of national security, or if the FBI decides that a component's acquisition does not carry any risk of "cyber-espionage or sabotage." While Goddard is working out processes to handle this legislation, the direction from Goddard's Chief Information Officer is that no IT products shall be purchased at this time, via P-card of any other mechanism. This applies to hardware, software and maintenance, and to both civil servant and contractor purchases."

4 agencies get new rules on China IT sourcing, FCW

"Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee's Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, inserted a version of the measure in an appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 drafted last year. It was subsequently added to the Senate's version of the continuing resolution that covered full appropriations for several agencies, including Commerce, Justice, NASA and NSF."

Keith's note: This applies across the agency. There are Lenovo ThinkPad laptops on the ISS. Lenovo is owned by Chinese business interests. And these ThinkPads can't be replaced by Mac laptops or iPads because most (nearly all) of them are assembled in China. Larger image

Homer Hickam Supports High School Student Whose Science Project Got Her Expelled and Arrested

"Homer Hickam, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie October Sky, has joined the ranks of scientists and engineers around the globe in support of Kiera Wilmot - the 16-year-old Florida student who found herself in hot water after her science experiment went awry. Wilmot, who has an outstanding school record and whose mother works in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field, was expelled from school permanently and arrested by police after her science experiment caused a small explosion. Although not authorized by her teacher, no one was hurt in the incident and no damage was caused. Kiera was also charged with possession and discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device: both felonies."

Please support the Kayla Wilmot Space Academy Scholarship

Student Kiera Wilmot's arrest over science experiment explosion sparks outrage on Twitter, other social media, Orlando Sentinel

"The website Southern Fried Science took a turn away from discussions on conservation and endangered species to weigh in on Kiera's case, asking scientists how many "accidentally blew something up in high school doing science?" Many responded by describing their adolescent capers."

State Attorney Jerry Hill: Drop charges against Kiera Wilmot, Change.org

List of multiple petitions online at Change.org

Keith's note: If this over reactive mindset was in place in the early 1980s, then a dozen or so of the Chemistry students I taught while in grad school would have been felons - every semester.

Kiera Wilmot, student who caused small explosion, won't face charges, Orlando Sentinel

"Brian Haas, an assistant state attorney and spokesman for the office, said he could not provide details of the diversion-program agreement reached in a juvenile's case. But he said the teenager and her guardian had signed the agreement. "The pending case has been dismissed. No formal charges will be filed," read the office's statement."

Keith's 10:03 am EDT note: Kepler is in safe mode again. Studies are under way. While Kepler's main mission may now be at an end, there is still a lot of life left in the spacecraft. Stay tuned.

Kepler has a telescope with 0.95 meter aperture and a wide field of view. It is in an Earth-following, heliocentric orbit. Although its fine pointing ability may no longer be available, the spacecraft still has other potential uses. One obvious use is NEO (asteroid) detection. Ideas?

NASA Hosts Kepler Spacecraft Status Teleconference Today

"NASA will host a news teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT, today, May 15, to discuss the status of the agency's Kepler Space Telescope."

Keith's 1:25 pm EDT update: The Kepler spacecraft has entered Safe Mode yet again. It is unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to resume its original extrasolar planet detection mission. NASA has uploaded Point Rest State software to the spacecraft. The Kepler spacecraft is currenty stable in Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode. In this mode it has several months of fuel available. If the spacecraft can be put into Point Rest State then the spacecraft has several years of remaining fuel. Post-prime mission options for use of the spacecraft are being pursued including NEO detection.

Keith's 4:25 pm EDT update: The New York Times (who claimed credit via Twitter for breaking the story 6 hours after it was broken here on NASA Watch) claims that Kepler is "crippled". When asked if he agreed with this characterization, SMD AA John Grunsfeld called this "odd" and said that he did not agree that Kepler is "crippled" given that there are still options and other science that can be done.

NASA Kepler Mission Manager Update 15 May 2013

"With the failure of a second reaction wheel, it's unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to return to the high pointing accuracy that enables its high-precision photometry. However, no decision has been made to end data collection."

Stormy Space Weather

Three X-class Solar Flares in 24 Hours

The sun emitted a third significant solar flare in under 24 hours, peaking at 9:11 p.m. EDT on May 13, 2013. This flare is classified as an X3.2 flare. This is the strongest X-class flare of 2013 so far, surpassing in strength the two X-class flares that occurred earlier in the 24-hour period.

Activity Continues On the Sun

"Solar activity continued on May 14, 2013, as the sun emitted a fourth X-class flare from its upper left limb, peaking at 9:48 p.m. EDT."

NASA Operating Plan for FY 2013 to Target Planetary Overall, Cuts Research and Completed Missions, Planetary Exploration Newsletter

"In his FY13 budget request, President Obama proposed the NASA Planetary budget be cut by more than 20% from its FY12 level (From $1.5B to less than $1.2B). Under the initial Continuing Resolutions covering the first half of the fiscal year, the Administration chose to operate NASA Planetary at this reduced level. Congress restored more than $222M of the President's cut in its FY13 appropriation passed on March 21 and signed into law by the President. Congress's action is now being reversed by NASA and others in the Administration through the preferential application of rescission and sequestration cuts of more than 15% to the NASA Planetary Science budget."

150,000 cloud virtual machines will help solve mysteries of the Universe, Ars Technica

"OpenStack pools compute, storage, and networking equipment together, allowing all of a data center's resources to be managed and provisioned from a single point. Scientists will be able to request whatever amount of CPU, memory, and storage space they need. They will also be able to get a virtual machine with the requested amounts within 15 minutes. CERN runs OpenStack on top of Scientific Linux and uses it in combination with Puppet IT automation software."

NASA CIO Dumps NASA-Developed Open Stack

"Ray O'Brien, acting CIO at NASA Ames, when asked May 30 by InformationWeek about NASA's participation, used diplomatic language to say that NASA still endorsed the project, was proud of its founding role, and might be a user of OpenStack components in the future. "It is very possible that NASA could leverage OpenStack as a customer in the future," he wrote in his email response. ..."

NASA's Google+ Hangout Connects Space Station, "Star Trek Into Darkness" Crews

"The director, a writer and some actors in the film "Star Trek Into Darkness" will join NASA as it hosts a Google+ Hangout from noon to 12:45 p.m. EDT, May 16, about how work aboard the International Space Station is turning science fiction into reality. Google+ Hangouts allow as many as 10 people or groups to chat face-to-face, while thousands more can tune in to watch the conversation live on Google+ or YouTube. The hangout also will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Keith's note: Canada's Chris Hadfield's use of social media and other aspects of education and public outreach while on orbit has been masterful - even transcendent - and sets a new bar for others to strive for on future missions. Oh wait: NASA is eliminating Education and Public Outreach. Nevermind. NASA no longer cares about these things.

And Charlie Bolden agrees with this change in focus and wants to abandon half a century of public engagement. Utterly pathetic. Not what a true leader should do.

There will be no other NASA Watch updates today. Just this.

Watch it.

Space Station Expedition 35 Astronauts Land

"Three members of the International Space Station Expedition 35 crew undocked from the orbiting laboratory and returned safely to Earth Monday, May 13, wrapping up a mission lasting almost five months. The departure marks the beginning of Expedition 36."

ROSES-13 Amendment 13: Education and Public Outreach removed from Appendix A.34, New (Early Career) Investigator Program in Earth Science

"The New Investigator Program (NIP) in Earth Science is designed to support outstanding scientific research and career development of scientists and engineers at the early stage of their professional careers. ... NIP will not accept Education and Public Outreach Plans in 2013."

- NAC Committee Is Against NASA EPO Changes, earlier post
- Bolden Is Happy About NASA Education Cuts, earlier post
- Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

USAF, SpaceX Close To Agreement On Launch Certification Plan, Aviation Week

"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and the U.S. Air Force are "days away" from agreeing on the details of a certification plan that would enable the private company to compete for national security payload launch contracts with the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy."

NASA to Mark 40th Anniversary of Skylab and Life Off Earth

"NASA will commemorate the 40th anniversary of America's first space station Monday, May 13, with a televised roundtable discussion featuring Skylab astronauts, a current astronaut and agency managers planning future space missions."

Participants will include:

- Owen Garriott, science pilot, Skylab 3
- Gerald Carr, commander, Skylab 4
- Kevin Ford, commander, International Space Station Expedition 34
- D. Marshall Porterfield, director, Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division, NASA Headquarters
- Jason Crusan, director, Advanced Exploration Systems, NASA Headquarters

Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Keith's note: The gutting of the NTRS continues. This report used to be on NTRS: "Distribution of pressure over model of the upper wing and aileron of a Fokker D-VII airplane, Fairbanks", A J, NACA, 1927: "This report describes tests made for the purpose of determining the distribution of pressure over a model of the tapered portion of the upper wing and the aileron of a Fokker D-VII Airplane. Normal pressures were measured simultaneously at 74 points distributed over the wing and aileron."

Thanks to Google, there is a cached version of its previous existence on NTRS. (larger screengrab). But when you click on the PDF link you get an error "This PDF file is no longer available from NTRS." This document is freely available here at the University of North Texas Digital Library, here at Cranfield University in the UK, here at the University of Delft, Netherlands, etc.

What purpose could possibly be served by Charlie Bolden and Frank Wolf in keeping this 86 year old document about World War I biplanes off of NTRS? It is utterly harmless (unless your air force still flies Fokker D-VII aircraft - or is threatened by them) and it is readily available (as is all NTRS stuff) around the world. This gutting of NTRS is tantamount to vandalism - and these actions are fueled by partisan paranoia on Wolf's part and lack of a backbone on Charlie Bolden's part. Moreover, these actions are in direct contradiction of what the agency is chartered to do:

The National Aeronautics and Space Act Pub. L. No. 111-314 124 Stat. 3328 (Dec. 18, 2010)

"Sec. 20112. Functions of the Administration (a) Planning, Directing, and Conducting Aeronautical and Space Activities.--The Administration, in order to carry out the purpose of this chapter, shall-- ... (3) provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof;"

- Charlie Bolden is Erasing NASA's History, earlier post
- Charlie Bolden's Gutted Version of NTRS is Back Online, earlier post

Will competing plans hurt nation's future in space?, Florida Today

"But Commercial Crew has been a tough sell, politically. Lawmakers reluctantly have provided enough money for it to limp along, but not nearly enough to meet some of the ambitious deadlines the Obama administration originally set. And they question whether aerospace companies are being given too much flexibility in developing a new vehicle to carry U.S. astronauts to the space station."

Apollo Moonwalkers Sell Right Stuff in $1 Million Space Auction, Bloomberg

"Owning something flown on the Apollo lunar missions has always been challenging. However since last September, when the U.S. house passed a resolution granting astronauts clear title to the items they carried into space, it has become a lot easier."

Auction dates: May 16 to May 23

Previous: NASA's Inconsistent Policy Regarding The Sale Of Apollo Era Items

ISS Crew Preparing for Possible Spacewalk Saturday to Fix Ammonia Leak

"Following Thursday's identification of an ammonia coolant leak outside the International Space Station, the Expedition 35 crew Friday began preparing for a possible spacewalk Saturday. Mission managers are discussing the information that was gathered overnight about the leak on the far left-side of the station's truss structure, called the P6 with P standing for port. A final decision on whether to go forward with a spacewalk is not expected until late tonight."

NASA Sets TV Briefing Today to Discuss Space Station Status

"NASA managers will discuss the status of the International Space Station, including the latest on an external cooling loop leak that developed Thursday, during a televised briefing today at 3 p.m. CDT (4 p.m. EDT)."

International Space Station Ammonia Leak Briefing (video)

Reader note: "Today JSC started their new "9/80 flex Friday" work plan. They basically work 80 hours in 9 days, then take off every other Friday, BUT, completely out of sync with all the other NASA Centers that already had flex Fridays happening on the opposite Fridays. As a result, some folks at all Centers will have to continue to work on their scheduled flex Fridays. A little coordination on this between CD's would have made sense ..."

AIP FYI: Eighteen Former NSF Assistant Directors Criticize House Science Committee Bill and Inquiry

"The draft bill mandates a certification process for NSF awards that frankly requires the Director to accurately predict the future. The history of scientific discovery suggests this is just not feasible and we, as former federal science and technology executives, would suggest many basic research projects in every field supported by the NSF would likely not qualify for certification under this bill. This would be shortsighted, in our opinion since some of our greatest discoveries and innovations were unexpectedly born from basic research."

Injecting Partisan Politics into Scientific Peer Review, earlier post

Lawmakers urge NASA to be mindful of budget constraints, The Hill

"Lawmakers on Thursday urged NASA to be more realistic about developing space technology in light of budget constraints. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) chided NASA for not making the cost of projects clear to Congress and warned the agency that it risked having them axed entirely. Noting the recent exoplanet discoveries by NASA's $591 million Kepler telescope, Rohrabacher noted that Congress nearly shut down a similar telescope due to a lack of funding. "The [National Science Foundation's] Arecibo telescope was actually the first observatory to find evidence of this exoplanet, and we almost closed that down due to lack of funds. And that telescope remains a very important part of the projects that we are talking about," Rohrabacher said."

Keith's note: NASA SP-125 "Design of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines" was online for decades at NTRS. Not any more. (we have it online here) It was declassified on 30 Nov 1969. Here is an excerpt from the book's preface:

"This book intends to build a bridge for the student and the young engineer: to link the rocket propulsion fundamentals and elements (which are well covered in the literature) with the actual rocket engine design and development work as it is carried out in industry (which is very little, if at all covered in literature). The book attempts to further the understanding of the realistic application of liquid rocket propulsion theories, and to help avoid or at least reduce time and money consuming errors and disappointments. In so doing, it also attempts to digest and consolidate numerous closely related subjects, hitherto often treated as separate, bringing them up to date at the same time."

Oh yes, in the foreword, Wernher von Braun said: "As man ventures deeper into space to explore the planets, the search for perfection in the design of propulsion systems will continue. This book will aid materially in achieving that goal."

Not any more. Charlie Bolden took this half-century old book offline because Frank Wolf scared him into doing so.

- Charlie Bolden's Gutted Version of NTRS is Back Online, earlier post
- NASA Technical Reports Server Mysteriously Taken Offline, earlier post

Keith's note: As previously noted the producers of this movie did not want any NASA help and they made that very clear to NASA.

Planetary Scientists Casting Doubt on Feasibility of Plan to Corral Asteroid, Science (paywall - sorry)

"Asteroid scientists are also a bit miffed that NASA left them out of its planning. They had heard presentations on the concept, but "we just couldn't take it seriously," [Mark] Sykes says. By early February, after realizing that NASA was indeed taking it seriously, he offered headquarters the services of its Small Bodies Assessment Group to help evaluate the idea. He got no response. NASA's Green says that "this is just the start. We will get them more involved." Although it falls outside their expertise, asteroid scientists have one more complaint about NASA's latest plan. The whole point of astronauts going to an asteroid had been to gain experience for long-duration missions far from home, such as a trip to Mars. But "if you bring the asteroid to the astronauts instead of the other way around," Harris says, "you really aren't sending humans into deep space, or for that matter cutting any new ground over ... circling the Earth in the [International Space Station]." So other missions would be needed to gain the necessary deep-space expertise."

NASA Advisory Council Astrophysics Subcommittee Letter 1 May 2013

Issue: Removal of EPO Functions from SMD: "Finding: The result of this long-term dedication to education and public outreach is an extremely efficient process where scientists and educators routinely collaborate on developing high-impact content for education and public engagement. In contrast, the proposed realignment shifts all education and outreach efforts far from the actual science being communicated. The end result may appear to improve the process by removal of functional redundancies, but actually separates the content providers at NASA from the agencies tasked with providing EPO programs. This will likely necessitate new layers of personnel to interface between NASA scientists and educational professionals in the Department of Education, NSF, and the Smithsonian. Furthermore, the new implementation effectively counteracts the astrophysics community's long-standing dedication to outreach and education, by clearly making these activities "somebody else's job."

NASA Celebrity Watch

Broadway Meets NASA: 'Matilda' Cast Chats With Astronauts Via Satellite, Huffington Post

"The cast members of the Tony Award-nominated "Matilda" are arguably all stars. This week, they chatted with a man closer to the actual cosmic ones. About three dozen cast members - including many children - packed a small room near Times Square on Tuesday to speak to an astronaut aboard the International Space Station via a 30-minute live satellite hookup provided by NASA."

Skrillex's Job Is Better Than Yours: NASA Edition, Spin

"If you follow the Twitter feed of NASA's Johnson Space Center, you'll know that Skrillex has been spending the afternoon at the space agency's facilities in Houston, Texas. What has he been doing there?"

Boeing Buyouts

Boeing offers voluntary buyouts to employees in its space division, LA Times

"Boeing Co.'s sprawling satellite-making operation in Southern California has just concluded a round of voluntary buyouts in an effort to slash its workforce by 250 to 300 employees. The Chicago-based company said the reduction in its 5,500-employee workforce is necessary because of changes in the way it designs and builds satellites -- not because of a lack of orders or cutbacks in federal spending."

Continued Sequestration Will Short-Circuit SLS, Aviation Week

"Mikulski and Shelby consider that budget request inadequate, particularly in the funding for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) that is intended to take humans beyond low Earth orbit. NASA wants $820 million to keep at least two competitors in the running for a commercial route to the International Space Station, but many lawmakers would like to see $300 million of that transferred into the $1.385 billion SLS request for fiscal 2014."

Hearing charter

"The purpose of the hearing is to review the recent discovery of three super-Earth sized planets by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Kepler space telescope. The hearing will also assess the state of exoplanet surveying, characterization, and research; NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program; National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Astronomical Science; as well as coordination within the government and with external partners. NASA and NSF both contribute to the search for exoplanets."

Prepared Statements

- James Ulvestad, NSF
- John Grunsfeld, NASA
- Laurance Doyle, SETI Institute
- Rep. Steven Palazzo
- Rep. Larry Bucshon
- Rep. Lamar Smith

NASA Awards Contract to Modify Mobile Launcher

"NASA has awarded a contract to J.P. Donovan Construction Inc. of Rockledge, Fla., to modify the mobile launcher that will enable the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket to send humans to an asteroid, Mars and other new destinations in the solar system. The work under this firm fixed-price $20.7 million contract will begin in June and be completed in 18 months."

- NASA KSC Solicitation: Construction of Constellation Crew Launch Vehicle Mobile Launcher (2007)
- NASA Awards Contract for Ares I Mobile Launcher (2008)
- Space Shuttle Program Hands over Launch Platform to Constellation (2009)
- NASA OIG: NASA's Plans to Modify the Ares I Mobile Launcher in Support of the Space Launch System (2012)

Keith's note: Have a look at the Aerospace Research Information Center in South Korea. Do a few searches and you will see all sorts of NTRS material is hosted there. This makes things much easier for the folks in North Korea to access, one would assume. It has been there while NTRS was offline.

Meanwhile NTRS is apparently back online - for now. According to NASA sources, based on an analysis of the NTRS collection before it was taken offline and now brought back online, it is apparent that over a quarter of a million full-text NASA reports are no longer in NTRS. This missing set of data represents a full 85% of the NASA full-text reports. In addition, only 7% of the historical (but still technically relevant) NACA collection remains online (only about 1,000 of the roughly 14,000 that comprise the NACA collection).

Of course, NASA's response to all of this is to gut the staff of CASI, the contractor responsible for maintaining NTRS. Can NASA review and reload the missing quarter million reports? Will NASA be able to add new reports into the NTRS (and NA&SD) collections?

Having used NTRS for our Lunar Orbiter work at LOIRP I just did a quick check to see if some of the 45 year old documents I have downloaded from NTRS are still online. Guess what: these documents are no longer online. You can buy hard copies on eBay (as I have done) I wonder what sort of security risk these documents pose such that Charlie Bolden has taken them offline?

- Atlas and Gazetteer of the Near Side of the Moon, NASA SP-241
- Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon, NASA SP-206
- The Moon as Viewed by Lunar Orbiter, SP-200
- Guide to Lunar Orbiter Photographs, SP-242

NASA Technical Reports Server Mysteriously Taken Offline, earlier post

Governor Martinez Announces New Spaceport America Tenant SpaceX to Flight Test Reusable Rocket "Grasshopper"

"Governor Susana Martinez today announced that Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, has signed a three-year agreement to lease land and facilities at Spaceport America to conduct the next phase of flight testing for its reusable rocket program. The company will be a new tenant at Spaceport America, the state-owned commercial launch site located in southern New Mexico."

Elon Musk's SpaceX signs lease at NM spaceport, AP

"Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson said the Grasshopper project is moving from McGregor, Texas, to New Mexico because the rocket needs to be tested at higher altitudes. The reusable rocket could revolutionize the commercial space industry by greatly reducing costs, she said. Traditional rockets burn up on re-entry."

Meet the thousands of people ready to die on Mars, Ars Technica

"By now, Mars One has proven that there are sufficient number of people who don't need to know any technical details for about the potential chance to live on Mars. Tens of thousands have plunked down cash to throw their would-be astronaut helmets into the ring without needing virtually any concrete information. But should space travel push come to reality entertainment shove, aren't applicants at least a little afraid of--how to put this delicately--either a fiery space death or a frigid Martian death?"

78,000 sign up for one-way mission to Mars

"Just two weeks into the nineteen week application period, more than seventy-eight thousand people have applied to the Mars One astronaut selection program in the hope of becoming a Mars settler in 2023. Mars One has received applications from over 120 countries. Most applications come from USA (17324), followed by China (10241), United Kingdom (3581), Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Argentina and India."

Keith's note: Looks like Mars One has eclipsed both Golden Spike and Inspiration Mars in terms of fundraising: 78,000 applications - ~$2 million in application fees.

Humans to Mars Summit (H2M)

"How can we land humans on Mars by 2030? Join us at the Humans to Mars Summit (H2M) to learn ways in which this can happen. Co-sponsored by Explore Mars and the George Washington University Space Policy Institute, H2M will be held on May 6-8, 2013 at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University in Washington, DC. H2M will be a comprehensive Mars exploration conference to address the major technical, scientific, and policy related challenges that need to be overcome to send humans to Mars by 2030."

Agenda

Watch H2M live at Mars.TV

Exploring a possible mission to Mars, Washington post

"The Obama administration's 2010 "National Space Policy of the United States of America" requires the NASA administrator to set "far-reaching exploration milestones," including: "By 2025, begin crewed missions beyond the moon, including sending humans to an asteroid. By the mid-2030s, send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth." So, taken literally, the policy does not call for NASA to put astronauts on the surface of the fourth rock from the sun. They'd go to Mars, take a close look from orbit, perhaps rendezvous with one of the small Martian moons, and come zooming home."

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."

Is Charlie Bolden's Shoe Pounding Moment Approaching? (Update)

"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."

Mars Revealed: Evolving Technology, Advancing Science

"The application period for the Mars Revealed teacher training is currently on hold pending NASA Headquarter reviews of NASA education programs. Please check back frequently. Updates will be posted as they become available."

- Another Meeting Cancelled Due to Sequestration, earlier post
- More Meetings Cancelled Due to Sequestration, earlier post
- Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

Boeing X-51A WaveRider Sets Record with Successful 4th Flight

"A Boeing X-51A WaveRider unmanned hypersonic vehicle achieved the longest air-breathing, scramjet-powered hypersonic flight in history May 1, flying for three and a half minutes on scramjet power at a top speed of Mach 5.1. The vehicle flew for a total time of more than six minutes. The flight was the fourth X-51A test flight completed for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. It exceeded the previous record set by the program in 2010."

Keith's note: You might want to listen to this audio file from today's STA luncheon where Charlie Bolden answers a question about huge cuts to NASA education. Bolden doesn't seem to have any problems with the huge cuts that are being made in NASA's education and public outrach budgets in the proposed FY2014 budget. Indeed, he seems to think this is just wonderful. So, all of you NASA educators, you might as well give up and find other areas to channel your energies. Charlie Bolden thinks that you need less money.

Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

U.S. Finds Porn Not Secrets on Suspected China Spy's Laptop, Business Week

"Bo Jiang, who was indicted March 20 for allegedly making false statements to the U.S., was charged yesterday in a separate criminal information in federal court in Newport News, Virginia. Jiang unlawfully downloaded copyrighted movies and sexually explicit films onto his NASA laptop, according to the court filing. A plea hearing is set for tomorrow."

NIA Statement On The Release Of Dr. Bo Jiang

"Dr. Douglas Stanley, president and executive director of NIA remarked, "From the beginning of this investigation, we have cooperated with federal authorities to ensure the facts came to light." He added, "We are very pleased that Dr. Jiang was exonerated on all charges and implications of export control violations, espionage and lying to federal officials. We were confident in his innocence and happy to see that our judicial system eventually reached the correct conclusion."

Chinese Spy Suspect Pleads Guilty to Violating NASA Rules

"None of the computer media that Jiang attempted to bring to the PRC on March 16, 2013, contained classified information, export controlled information, or NASA proprietary information," according to the statement of facts filed in Jiang's case. As part of the agreement, prosecutors dismissed the indictment and Jiang was ordered to leave the country within 48 hours."...

... "I remain concerned that neither the prosecutors nor NASA have addressed the original question of why a NASA laptop was inappropriately provided to a restricted foreign national associated with 'an entity of concern' and why he was allowed to take the laptop and all of its information back to China last December," Wolf said in an e-mailed statement."

Chinese "spy" caught with NASA laptop full of porn, not secrets, Ars Technica

"A press release issued by Wolf after the arrest and copy of Jiang's arrest warrant have since disappeared off the the congressman's website. In the release (cached by Google here), Wolf had said, "I am particularly concerned that (the) information (on Jiang's laptop) may pertain to the source code for high-tech imaging technology that Jiang has been working on with NASA. This information could have significant military applications for the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army."

Keith's note: Here is the press release Frank Wolf wants you to forget he never actually released. What sort of "imaging technology" was he referring to? Newsflash: you cannot make things disappear from the Internet by deleting them. What did we learn from this? Porn is being exported to China on a NASA laptop by some guy who got fired from NASA. Apparently the porn in question was unclassified. Frank Wolf now wants us to forget that he was ever concerned about this - for now.

Wolf Addresses Arrest at Dulles Airport of Chinese National Potentially Involved in NASA Langely Security Violations

Earlier posts

Keith's note: After a month and a half NTRS is apparently no closer to being online. But the paranoia is spreading. Now, when you go to the NASA Image Exchange, you get the same notice that greets frustrated NTRS users:

"The NASA technical reports server will be unavailable for public access while the agency conducts a review of the site's content to ensure that it does not contain technical information that is subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations and that the appropriate reviews were performed. The site will return to service when the review is complete. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Given the unclassified porn that was on Bo Jiang's laptop I guess NASA is now looking to see if there is porn - especially the classified and ITAR-sensitive variety - on their servers. Yes, I am being silly. But this makes no sense. Why is NASA taking servers with old NASA PAO photos offline in response to Jiang's laptop contents? NASA has known what was (and was not) on Bo Jiang's laptop for quite some time - well before this image server was taken offline. To be certain, using government computers to download porn is wrong and violators need to be dealt with. Were large NASA servers taken offline when previous cases arose concerning NASA personnel? No. Why now?

- NASA Technical Reports Server Mysteriously Taken Offline, earlier post
- NASA Blocks Everyone From Access To Everything on NTRS, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA has cancelled the Second Kepler Science Conference, which was to be held at NASA Ames on November 4-8, 2013. This cancellation is now posted on the Kepler Mission web site I am told that the organizers hope to postpone this meeting and hold it again at NASA Ames, perhaps one year later, i.e., November 2014, assuming that the sequestration restrictions on NASA will have been lifted by then.

American Astronomical Society Statement on President Obama's Proposed FY 2014 Budget

"The AAS is deeply concerned about the Administration's renewed proposal to cut NASA's Planetary Science Division, this time by $200 million compared to the 2013 level enacted by Congress and signed by the President last month. At this level, the budget precludes a major mission to any planet other than Mars after 2017, and precludes exploration of Europa, a high priority for the planetary science community. The request also threatens the cadence of Discovery and New Frontiers missions, which are a cornerstone of the Planetary Sciences Decadal Survey to ensure balance among mission classes. The U.S. planetary exploration program has a storied history and a compelling plan for the future. The AAS urges the Administration and the Congress to find a path forward that maintains U.S. leadership in planetary science, rather than ceding future exploration of our solar system to other nations."


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