June 2013 Archives

John Kelly: Private launchers fear new US rules, Florida Today

"Case in point: The U.S. State Department is proposing new rules that would add private manned spacecraft to a Department of Defense list of "munitions" technology that some in the industry fear would all but prevent any use of those vehicles on foreign soil.

... The rule is getting a cold reception from private space startups such as XCOR, a space tourism company that just this week said it plans to start suborbital test flights from Kennedy Space Center by 2015. "

Marc's note: July 8th is the last day for public comment on the proposed new rules. If the proposed rule change is enacted there's no doubt in my mind it will have a negative effect on the industry. As Kelly states; "While there are likely valid concerns about protecting technology from falling into the wrong hands, overdoing it could also hurt the space industry's long-term future."


Space Shuttle Atlantis - World's Most Comprehensive Attraction Devoted to NASA's 30-Year Space Shuttle Program - Opens June 29 at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex , KSC Visitors Complex

"Of the three space-flown orbiters distributed by NASA to science centers and museums throughout the country, only Atlantis is the focal point of a $100 million, 90,000-square-foot attraction containing four multimedia and cinematic productions and more than 60 interactive experiences that invite guests to "be the astronaut" and to celebrate the people, passion and patriotism behind the shuttle program."

NASA Decommissions Its Galaxy Hunter Spacecraft, NASA JPL

"NASA has turned off its Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) after a decade of operations in which the venerable space telescope used its ultraviolet vision to study hundreds of millions of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic time.

"GALEX is a remarkable accomplishment," said Jeff Hayes, NASA's GALEX program executive in Washington. "This small Explorer mission has mapped and studied galaxies in the ultraviolet, light we cannot see with our own eyes, across most of the sky."

UPDATE: Here's a couple of images released yesterday.

- NGC 4565 Galaxy's Pencil-Thin Profile
- NGC 6744 Big Brother to the Milky Way

NASA and Space Florida Begin Partnership Discussions, NASA

"NASA has selected Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency for the state of Florida, for negotiations toward a partnership agreement to maintain and operate the historic Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Robert Cabana, announced the selection during a news conference Friday at Kennedy's Visitor Complex in Florida.

"This agreement will continue to expand Kennedy's viability as a multi-user spaceport and strengthen the economic opportunities for Florida and the nation," Bolden said. "It also continues to demonstrate NASA's commitment and progress in building a strong commercial space industry so that American companies are providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station and other low Earth orbit destinations."

Marc's note: There's been a real push to commercialize parts of KSC since the retirement of the Shuttle which is as it should be. Are we seeing a genuine long-term change? Is KSC to be a dual government and private space facility that can co-exist?

JPL Scores High in DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge [Watch], NASA JPL

"The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected a group from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., as one of the teams entitled to move forward from the Virtual Robotics Challenge, the first event of the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

... The top teams, including JPL, were entitled to funding and an ATLAS robot from DARPA to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials in December 2013 (The agency is also funding several other teams, including JPL, to construct their own robot and compete in the Trials). The Trials are the second of three DARPA Robotics Challenge events, and the first physical competition."

Voyagers in the Heliosheath [Download Larger Version], NASA

"This artist's concept shows NASA's two Voyager spacecraft exploring a turbulent region of space known as the heliosheath, the outer shell of the bubble of charged particles around our sun. After more than 35 years of travel, the two Voyager spacecraft will soon reach interstellar space, which is the space between stars."


NASA Launches Satellite to Study How Sun's Atmosphere is Energized [Watch],NASA

The IRIS launch was successful after a 13-minute ride into orbit aboard a Pegasus XL rocket. The launch was at 7:27:44 p.m. PDT. Although there were a few tense moments at launch time with the fins, the problem was quickly resolved. A loss signal due to a problem on the DC 8 plane was also experienced but NASA's in orbit TDRS satellite picked up telemetry and commands were sent to IRIS successful. At this time everything looks nominal.

"NASA Launch Manager Tim Dunn reports that the mission team has made initial contact with the IRIS spacecraft through the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System and received good data in return. The telescope is right on track and its solar arrays are deploying. "We've got a very happy spacecraft on orbit and a thrilled launch team on the ground," Dunn said."

NASA's IRIS mission will focus a precise telescope on the sun to find out how energy moves and changes from the surface to the corona.

NASA Google+ Hangout Answering Questions about the Asteroid RFI [Watch], NASA

"NASA invites all interested parties to participate in a Google+ Hangout on June 27 at 2 p.m. EDT. During the session, NASA experts will answer your questions about the recently released Asteroid Initiative Request for Information (RFI)."

The Space Frontier Foundation Announces 2013's NewSpace Business Plan Competition Prizes, SpaceRef Business

'With $135,000 in prizes, more industry support than ever before, and a new location and date, the Space Frontier Foundation today announced the details of the largest, richest and most exciting NewSpace Business Plan Competition to date.

- $100,000 Grand prize sponsored by NASA
- $25,000 2nd prize sponsored by ATK
- $5,000 3rd prize sponsored by NASA
- $5,000 Market Sector prize sponsored by ATK'

Marc's note: An excellent opportunity for a start-up to get some initial funding.

Blog Post: Protecting Planet Earth by Charles Bolden, NASA Blog Post

"Having looked back at Earth from outer space, I have seen just how fragile our home planet is - and I'm committed to doing everything I can to help protect it.

Yesterday, President Obama announced an ambitious Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution and put us on a more environmentally sustainable course. At NASA, where one of our primary goals is to improve life for everyone on the planet, I'm pleased to say that we have a number of missions already supporting this important work through our robust Earth Science program."


NASA's Voyager 1 Explores Final Frontier of Our 'Solar Bubble', NASA JPL

"Data from Voyager 1, now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, suggest the spacecraft is closer to becoming the first human-made object to reach interstellar space."

Related (Previous):
- Voyager 1 Has Left Our Solar System
- Has Voyager 1 Left The Solar System?

PayPal Galactic Initiative to Tackle Payments in Space, Paypal Forward

"The time has now come for us to start planning for the future; a future where we aren't just talking about global payments. Today, we are expanding our vision off Earth into space.

What we once deemed to be science fiction has become a reality. Space travel is opening up for "the rest of us" thanks to Virgin Galactic, Space X and a host of other space tourism programs including the Space Hotel that hopes to be in orbit by 2016. The enabling infrastructure pieces are starting to come together, and as we start planning to inhabit other planets, the practical realities of life still need to be addressed."

Marc's update: PayPal Launches PayPal Galactic but We're Not Sure Why [Watch], SpaceRef

"In what can only be described as a bizarre news conference today, PayPal President David Marcus introduced PayPal Galactic. What is PayPal Galactic? According to Marcus, it's a visionary program being spearheaded by PayPal to bring together the leaders in the space industry to work on the "big questions" related to the commercialization of space."

NASA Administrator Media Availability at Kennedy June 28, NASA

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will hold a media availability at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, June 28.

Bolden, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana and officials from the state of Florida will discuss NASA's future spaceflight programs and initiatives.

The event will not be broadcast on NASA Television or online."

Marc's note: The media finally get an opportunity to ask Bolden questions but only if you are there in person. How hard would it have been to broadcast this event on NASA TV? How about taking questions via Social Media though "AskNASA"? For those who can't be there they'll just have to keep tabs on Twitter to see if anyone tweets the Q&A or for articles to come out later.

Bacteria Sent Into Space Behave in Mysterious Ways, NASA

"Colonies of bacteria grown aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis behaved in ways never before observed on Earth, according to a new NASA-funded study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. Recent findings provide important evidence of spaceflight's effect on the behavior of bacterial communities, and represent a key step toward understanding and mitigating the risk these bacteria may pose to astronauts during long-term space missions.

The research team, led by Rensselaer faculty member Cynthia Collins, sent the experiment into orbit aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis missions STS-132 on May 16, 2010 and STS-135 on July 8, 2011. Samples of the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa were cultured for three days in artificial urine. The space-grown communities of bacteria, called biofilms, formed a "column-and-canopy" structure not previously observed on Earth. Additionally, biofilms grown during spaceflight had a greater number of live cells, more biomass, and were thicker than control biofilms grown under normal gravity conditions."

3D Systems and Planetary Resources Announce Investment and Collaboration, SpaceRef Business

"3D Systems and Planetary Resources, Inc. today announced that 3D Systems has joined Planetary Resources' core group of investors and will be a collaborative partner in assisting Planetary Resources to develop and manufacture components of its ARKYD Series of spacecraft using its advanced 3D printing and digital manufacturing solutions."

"We are excited to work very closely with Planetary Resources' engineering team to use advanced 3D printing and manufacturing technologies to increase functionality while decreasing the cost of their ARKYD spacecraft," said Avi Reichental, Chief Executive Officer, 3D Systems. "In success, we will create the smartphone of spacecraft and transform what has been an old-style, labor-intensive process, into something very scalable and affordable that will democratize access to space, the data collected from space and off-Earth resources for scientists and the public. We are delighted to join the Planetary Resources team."

Marc's note: This is a good news for Planetary Resources. They get an undisclosed investment and collaboration with an industry leader.

Joan A. Singer Named Manager of Flight Programs and Partnerships Office at NASA's Marshall Center, NASA

"Joan A. "Jody" Singer, a native of Hartselle, Ala., has been named manager of the Flight Programs and Partnerships Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

In her new position, Singer is responsible for overall management and direction of the office, including an annual budget of $108 million and a combined workforce of more than 500 civil servants and contractors. She oversees the work of the Marshall Center in the areas of human exploration projects and tasks; flight mission programs and projects; and International Space Station hardware integration and operations. The office also is tasked with creating and maintaining value-added partnerships with other government agencies and international and commercial partners that will help achieve NASA's vision. "

Space Station Live: Women in Science and Spaceflight [Watch], NASA

"Dr. Camille Wardrop Alleyne, Assistant ISS Program Scientist, joins NASA Public Affairs Officer Josh Byerly in the International Space Station Flight Control Room for a discussion of women in science and spaceflight. Alleyne also provides an overview of some of her favorite experiments taking place aboard the orbiting laboratory."

NTRS News: The NASA Technical Reports Server has received an update!, NASA

"The update provided:

- A new fresh, clean look for users
- Enhanced record display that shows author affiliations, sponsorship, and document type
- A new Search History display that lists all searches conducted during a search session, and allows users to quickly recall a previous search for display or further refinement
- Ability to search organization names from the advanced search form
- Ability to flag multiple records of interest from a search-results display, and create a new set containing the flagged items
"

"On May 8, 2013, the NTRS was brought back on-line for public access, reloaded with the validated 966,460 documents and metadata records. A small subset of approximately 248,000 documents, largely consisting of older documents, such as National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics materials, remain to be reviewed and will not be restored to public access until a thorough review is completed."

Marc's note: While the site has been updated and as Keith had previously mentioned, there are still approximate 248,000 older records that still need to be brought back online. The June 15th update makes no mention on how the review is progressing. We will update you as soon as we know more.

Planet Labs Reveals First Images from Space, SpaceRef Business

"Planet Labs, a space and analytics company, announced plans to launch the world's largest fleet of Earth imaging satellites to image the changing planet and provide open access to that information. Today, they revealed the first images from their first two satellites.

"Planet Labs will create an entirely new data set, with both humanitarian and commercial value," said Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. "We've become used to having imagery of the entire Earth. What we haven't yet understood is how transformative it will be when that imagery is regularly and frequently updated." Everyone from ecologists to citizen journalists will be able to track frequent changes to any place on the planet -- a frequency and coverage greater than ever seen before."

Chinese Manned Shenzhou-10 Spacecraft Lands Safely in Inner Mongolia [Watch], SpaceRef

"The Chinese Shenzhou-10 landed safely in Inner Mongolia at 8:08 p.m. ET (8:08 a.m. Beijing time) returning the three astronauts to Earth after a 15 day mission. The astronauts were reported to be in good shape and feeling well. Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping performed experiments and did two docking tests with the orbiting Chinese space lab module Tiangong-1, one automatic and the other manual."


The Heliophysics System Observatory [Large version]

"This image shows the Heliophysics System Observatory (HSO). The HSO utilizes the entire fleet of solar, heliospheric, geospace, and planetary spacecraft as a distributed observatory to discover the larger scale and/or coupled processes at work throughout the complex system that makes up our space environment."

Marc's note: This image was released as part of the IRIS science briefing today. All the briefing material can be accessed here.

Launch Update: Due to a power outage at the 30th Space Wing the IRIS mission is delayed 24 hours to 7:27 p.m. PDT Thursday, June 27. (Corrected)

UPDATE: IRIS Mission and Science Briefings [Watch]


CASIS to Fund Unsolicited Proposal From the Department of Veterans Affairs in Anti-Cancer Research, CASIS

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization managing research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, today announced the funding of an unsolicited proposal with the Department of Veterans Affairs for approximately $300,000 to utilize the ISS discovery platform to evaluate known and novel anti-cancer drug therapies."

Matt Reed: One is a boondoggle, the other ..., Florida Today

"A mars mission remains unfunded and biologically impossible for people. And as Dean pointed out, the Space Launch System rocket will carry an Orion capsule that can't land anywhere."

Marc's note: Context. Read the above statement and what do you think? Now put it in context with the rest of the editorial. Matt Reed is "Florida Today's editorial page editor and politically independent columnist."

The article starts with a rant on Senator Rubio's immigration reform which he says funding could be better used on the Space Coast. He then picks on an article he wrote last week supporting NASA's asteroid mission and it he seems to just casually throw out the statement above as if it was just a fact and hey that's one reason we need to do the asteroid mission. For the casual Florida Today reader with little or no knowledge they might take this "fact" at face value. It's one thing to make a point, it's another to throw out an inaccurate statement and try to pass it as fact. Florida Today should know better.

NASA taps long-time employee to be new CIO, Federal News Radio

"NASA tapped a long-time employee from the field to become its new chief information officer. Government sources confirmed that Larry Sweet is moving to NASA headquarters from the Johnson Space Center.

Sweet replaces Linda Cureton, who retired in April. Richard Keegan, the associate deputy administrator, has been the acting CIO since Cureton retired.

"I think it's absolutely wonderful. Larry is a strategist and understands the culture of the agency as a center CIO," said Cureton, who now is president of Muse Technologies. "He will likely focus on increasing collaboration among the centers. In addition, he will be tough on instilling accountability and performance excellence in the contractor community. Enterprise services will be his high priority."

Related: NASA OIG IT Report Highlights Governance Problems

Ten Thousandth Near-Earth Object Unearthed in Space [Watch], NASA JPL

"More than 10,000 asteroids and comets that can pass near Earth have now been discovered. The 10,000th near-Earth object, asteroid 2013 MZ5, was first detected on the night of June 18, 2013, by the Pan-STARRS-1 telescope, located on the 10,000-foot (convert) summit of the Haleakala crater on Maui. Managed by the University of Hawaii, the PanSTARRS survey receives NASA funding."

Station Crew Members Take a Walk in Space [Watch], NASA

"Outside the International Space Station, Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin conducted a 6 hour, 34 minute spacewalk in Russian Orlan suits outside the Pirs Docking Compartment June 24."

ULA Troubles Continue

Orbital Sues ULA, Seeks RD-180 Engines, $515 Million in Damages, SpaceNews

"Orbital Sciences Corp., which wants to buy Russian-made RD-180 engines for its medium-lift Antares rocket, is suing rocket maker United Launch Alliance (ULA) for blocking any such sale, according to court papers dated June 20.

Orbital of Dulles, Va., claims Denver-based ULA has not only illegally prevented open-market sale of the RD-180, but also has monopolized the launch-services market for certain satellites in violation of U.S. antitrust laws, according to a complaint filed June 20 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria."

Related: FTC Investigating United Launch Alliance

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, violated federal antitrust laws by "monopolizing" or restraining competition through an exclusivity agreement with the maker of the engines used in its rockets, according to a FTC document obtained by Reuters."

Supermoon Images

Supermoon in Washington [Large version], NASA

"A supermoon rises behind the Washington Monument, Sunday, June 23, 2013, in Washington.

This year the supermoon is up to 13.5 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon is. This is a result of the Moon reaching its perigee - the closest that it gets to the Earth during the course of its orbit. During perigee on June 23, the moon was about 221,824 miles away, as compared to the 252,581 miles away that it is at its furthest distance from the Earth (apogee). "

- More Supermoon images on Flickr.

Preview of June 24 Spacewalk [Watch], NASA

"EVA Specialist Devan Bolch narrates this computer animation of the activities planned for today's International Space Station spacewalk."

- Watch the spacewalk.

JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference May 2013, JAXA

"Now, I really perceive that JAXA has graduated from the technological verification phase that has been a goal of JAXA's assignment in the last 10 years, and entered into the next phase as JAXA has successfully performed 19 consecutive launches of H-IIA and H-IIB launch vehicles combined.

That is also backed politically by the government's new "Basic Plan for Space Policy" and also by JAXA's new mid-term plan; therefore, I acknowledge that the technological backbone was confirmed and we can move to the next step."


Marc's note: Although scheduled for launch this December, the Russian Nauka (FGB-2) module, also known as the Multi-Purpose Module (MLM), will most likely fly in early 2014. It will replace the PIRS module which will be de-orbited.

With the addition of the Nauka (meaning science) module, yet another piece of the global orbiting laboratory will be in place. But what happens beyond 2020. While some ISS member nations have expressed an interest in using the station beyond 2020, other's are reluctant to consider it, yet.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to expand the membership of the ISS community to include other nations and commercial customers. By that time SpaceX, Boeing or Sierra Nevada will have commercial crew vehicles already flying to the ISS on government contracts. How about letting them send private astronauts working for commercial interests to use this one of a kind laboratory? In this way the ISS can be transitioned from a government sponsored entity to a public private endeavour potentially defraying some costs otherwise paid by the public. After all, the space station is there, it cost a lot, why not keep using it?

Space Exploration Dollars Dwarf Ocean Spending, National Geographic

"In fiscal year 2013 NASA's annual exploration budget was roughly $3.8 billion. That same year, total funding for everything NOAA does--fishery management, weather and climate forecasting, ocean research and management, among many other programs--was about $5 billion, and NOAA's Office of Exploration and Research received just $23.7 million. Something is wrong with this picture. Space travel is certainly expensive. But as Cameron proved with his dive that cost approximately $8 million, deep-sea exploration is pricey as well. And that's not the only similarity between space and ocean travel: Both are dark, cold, and completely inhospitable to human life. ... This imbalance in pop culture is illustrative of what plays out in real life. We rejoiced along with the NASA mission-control room when the Mars rover landed on the red planet late last year. One particularly exuberant scientist, known as "Mohawk Guy" for his audacious hairdo, became a minor celebrity and even fielded his share of spontaneous marriage proposals. But when Cameron bottomed out in the Challenger Deep more than 36,000 feet below the surface of the sea, it was met with resounding indifference from all but the dorkiest of ocean nerds such as myself."

Sylvia Earle: Exploring the World's Oceans, Ensia

"We understand why it's important to reach for the stars, to look at ourselves in perspective of the universe, ask big questions such as where did we come from, how is it that we're here in this blue speck in space, and where are we going? And we've devoted a great amount of time and resources to moving forward, but meanwhile we've neglected understanding how this part of the solar system - our home - our life support system - how this really functions."


UP Aerospace's SpaceLoft 7 Rocket Launches Flight Opportunities Program Payloads [Watch], NASA

"A reusable suborbital rocket launched by UP Aerospace soared aloft from Spaceport America in New Mexico, carrying multiple technology payloads for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate's Flight Opportunities Program. The SpaceLoft 7 suborbital flight June 21 provided about four minutes of micro gravity for testing of seven technology experiments in a space-relevant environment."

ESA's Intermediate Experimental Vehicle Safe Splashdown, ESA

"ESA's experimental reentry vehicle passed its milestone descent and landing test on Wednesday at the Poligono Interforze Salto di Quirra off the east coast of Sardinia in Italy.

The full-scale Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) prototype was released from an altitude of 3000 m by a helicopter, falling to gain speed to mimic a space mission before parachute deployment. The parachute slowed IXV for a safe splashdown in the sea at a speed below 7 m/s."

NASA Sounding Rocket Launch Successful Next Scheduled for June 24, OnOrbit

"Following the successful launch today, June 20, of a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket, launch teams are now preparing for a two-rocket salvo June 24 from the Wallops Flight Facility, Va.

Live coverage of the launch is available via UStream beginning at 8:30 a.m. on launch day."

Stratolaunch Systems New Design Concept [Watch], SpaceRef Business

"Stratolaunch Systems unveils a new design concept for its space transportation system. With a wingspan of 385 feet, greater than the length of a football field and powered by six 747 engines, a mission range of 1,000 nautical miles and with a gross weight of 1.3 million pounds, the Stratolaunch can deliver 13,500 pounds to low earth orbit and into any orbit, any time."

Nelson warns of partisan "chaos" regarding NASA authorization, Space Politics

"Immediately after the House Science Committee's space subcommittee wrapped up its hearing on a draft NASA authorization bill Wednesday morning, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) offered his views on the subject at a Space Transportation Association luncheon on the other side of Capitol Hill. Nelson, chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, said his committee was working on its own version of a NASA authorization bill that would be ready by mid-July or perhaps sooner, in order to support appropriators."

What we're going to try to mark up is a balanced program," he said, citing progress in both commercial crew development and the Space Launch System and Orion programs, as well as science programs, including the James Webb Space Telescope."

NASA, Deloitte To Bring Space-Age Risk Management To Oil And Gas Industry, NASA JSC

"NASA Johnson Space Center and Deloitte will enter into a strategic alliance offering advanced risk-management services to oil and gas companies. The Space Act Agreement commencement ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Central, Thursday, June 27.

These capabilities include several operational risk-management approaches aimed at companies seeking to minimize the risk of catastrophic failures - the kinds of dramatic mishaps that, while highly unlikely, can occur in remote and harsh environments."

Marc's note: You would think companies in the Oil and Gas industry would already be well versed in this area but perhaps JSC can provide risk-modeling and simulation tools they don't already have.

Goddard Helps Set 2 Guinness World Records, NASA

"Then on March 10, 2013, 526 space enthusiasts gathered to set the record for "Largest Astronomy Lesson" in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest festival. Looking up through hundreds of colored filters and spectral glasses, participants were instructed on the lawn of the Long Center for the Performing Arts."

Mars'c note: For anyone who might be interested the previous record was 458: "The largest astronomy lesson involved 458 participants (all Mexico) at an event organised by Juarez Competitiva, at the Samalayuca Desert in Chihuahua, Mexico, on 14 October 2011."


"In conjunction with the memorial service and tree dedication at NASA's Johnson Space Center on June 20, 2013, the center created this video honoring the legacy of Neil Armstrong. The video takes a look at the accidental legend that Armstrong became, and the history-making flight that he took with his colleagues Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins."

NASA and Italian Space Agency Sign Agreement on Exploration of Mercury, NASA

"At a meeting in Rome Thursday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Italian Space Agency (ASI) President Enrico Saggese signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on the European Space Agency- (ESA) led BepiColombo mission to Mercury, strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation between NASA and ASI in planetary exploration."

Hot-Fire Tests Steering the Future of NASA'S Space Launch System Engines, NASA

"Engineers developing NASA's next-generation rocket closed one chapter of testing with the completion of a J-2X engine test series on the A-2 test stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and will begin a new chapter of full motion testing on test stand A-1.

... The March 7 test, which set the short-lived duration record, was remarkable for another reason in that it marked the first time a 3-D printed part was hot-fire tested on a NASA engine system.

The prime contractor for the liquid engine, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., built a maintenance port cover for the 10002 engine using an advanced manufacturing process called Selective Laser Melting. This construction method uses lasers to fuse metal dust into a specific pattern to build the needed part."

ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone, Planetary Resources

Marc's note: After appearing to stall late last week, the Planetary Resources Kickstarter campaign to raise $1 million for the E/PO ARKYD telescope has achieved its initial goal and was pushed over the top overnight.

Now with 10 days left they will try and reach their stretch goal of $2 million which they'll "invest the additional funds to enhance the ARKYD space telescope technology to enable it to search for alien planets!"

Moon, Mars, or Asteroids, Which is the Best Destination for Solar System Development?, Dennis Wingo

"The Moon!, no Mars!, no Asteroids! Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century and in the NASA, space advocacy, and commercial space worlds one of these three destinations are being touted (largely to the exclusion of others) for their value to science, human exploration, and economic development, but which one of them is the most valuable, the most deserving, of our attention?

This argument is taking place today in the vacuum of space policy that we currently live in without any unifying principles or policy to inform our decisions. Without a guiding policy and sense of purpose that encompasses more than narrow interests and singular destinations it is exceedingly likely that the human exploration and development of the solar system will continue to be an expensive and futile exercise. We must develop a firm moral, technological, and fiscal foundation for this outward move that will attract capital investment, spur technology development, and encourage innovation in a manner that people can understand, believe in, and thus financially support."


Billion-Pixel View of Mars Comes From Curiosity Rover, NASA JPL

"A billion-pixel view from the surface of Mars, from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, offers armchair explorers a way to examine one part of the Red Planet in great detail.

The first NASA-produced view from the surface of Mars larger than one billion pixels stitches together nearly 900 exposures taken by cameras onboard Curiosity and shows details of the landscape along the rover's route."

Marc's update: It seems folks at JSC can't access NASA's own the Billion-Pixel View of Mars web page due to an automated program which has deemed the page "non-job related" viewing and is blocking access to. Now there's an algorithm that needs updating.

NASA's Space Launch System Program Kicks Off Preliminary Design Review, NASA

"NASA is beginning a preliminary design review for its Space Launch System (SLS). This major program assessment will allow development of the agency's new heavy-lift rocket to move from concept to initial design.

The preliminary design review process includes meticulous, detailed analyses of the entire launch vehicle. Representatives from NASA, its contractor partners and experts from across the aerospace industry validate elements of the rocket to ensure they can be safely and successfully integrated.

... We are on track and meeting all the milestones necessary to fly in 2017."

Subcommittee on Space Hearing - NASA Authorization Act of 2013

Hearing: NASA Authorization Act of 2013
Location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, US
Time: 10:00 a.m. ET

Witnesses and Statements

- Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University

"Three themes run through my testimony today:

- NASA needs a clear and compelling long-term goal. That goal should be to send human explorers to Mars.
- NASA is being asked to do too much with too little. Unless program content can be matched to budget, the result will be wasted effort and delay.
- Our nation's civil space program will be best served by having high-level policy set by the Administration and Congress, and implementation details recommended by NASA engineers, scientists, and managers."

- Mr. A. Thomas Young, Former Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Corporation

"The dominant strategic issue facing the civil space program is human spaceflight. Today, there is a human spaceflight program but no credible human space exploration strategy. There is much discussion about going to the moon, an asteroid, Phobos, Deimos and Mars; however, there is no credible plan or budget. There are human exploration elements such as SLS and Orion."

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)

- Prepared Statement by Rep. Palazzo: The NASA Authorization Act of 2013

"The draft bill includes a topline budget of over $16.8 billion dollars and authorizes the agency for two years."

"The Space Launch System is authorized at over $1.77 billion and the Orion crew capsule at $1.2 billion. The SLS and Orion will take our astronauts deeper into space than ever before. I am committed to the success of these assets and ensuring their continued on-time development and appropriate prioritization moving forward. The Commercial Crew program is authorized at $700 million, but let me be clear; this is not a blank check for the Administration. The bill includes several accountability measures and a flight readiness deadline of December 31, 2017. This deadline is not negotiable. NASA must do whatever is necessary in its acquisition model to meet this deadline, even if that means radically altering their current plans."

Media Invited to View UP Aerospace SpaceLoft 7 Launch for NASA, NASA ARC

"News media representatives are invited to witness the first research flight on a suborbital rocket funded by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program when UP Aerospace Inc.'s SpaceLoft 7 vehicle lifts off June 21, 2013, at Spaceport America near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Liftoff is scheduled to occur between 6 and 9 a.m. PDT.

NASA has funded the flight for seven space-technology experiments to be flown in a space-relevant environment aboard the UP Aerospace sounding rocket. The sub-orbital flight is expected to provide up to four minutes of weightlessness for testing of the experiments. The flight is expected to last about 15 minutes and reach an altitude of 74 miles, with landing targeted about 320 miles downrange on the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range."

House Appropriators Want Deep Cut to FAA Commercial Space Launch Office, Space Policy Online

"The House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) will meet tomorrow to markup the draft FY2014 Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill. As drafted, the bill would reduce AST from its requested level of $16.01 million to $14.16 million."

"Mike Gold, Director of D.C. Operations & Business Growth for Bigelow Aerospace, said "These cuts are ill-advised to say the least. At a time when we're depending so heavily on commercial space transportation to do this to the FAA-AST will have serious consequences, causing delays throughout the industry and even potentially putting lives in danger. It's certainly my hope that all of the AST's funding can be restored."

Mars base added to moon plan Politico

"Republicans in Congress are pushing for major cuts across the federal budget, but so far, they're not willing to sacrifice a plan to build a moon colony."

In fact, Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are eyeing an even more ambitious goal: building a base on Mars, too.

"... The [NASA] Administrator shall establish a program to develop a sustained human presence on the Moon and the surface of Mars," states a recent discussion draft obtained by POLITICO."

Marc's note: Wow, what can I say, go for it! Oh hold on, there's no budget for this "go-as-we-can-afford-to-pay" plan. The rhetoric out of Congress is at an all time high and who can take anything they say seriously anymore. I suppose the only way to make them accountable, is to vote them out.

J-2X Update

LEO Progress: J-2X to Test Stand A1, NASA Blog (Liquid Rocket Engines)

"Recently, J-2X development engine 10002 was on the road. If you remember, E10002 went through a six-test series on test stand A2 that began in February and finished up in April. The next planned phase of E10002 testing is on test stand A1. In between these series, the engine was back in the assembly area of NASA Stennis Space Center Building 9101.

This respite between test series allowed for a complete series of inspections of the engine hardware. This is vital piece of the learning process for engine development. The basic truth is that a rocket engine is just darn tough on itself when it fires. The reason that we test and test and test is to make sure that our design can stand up to the recurring brutal conditions. The chance to look for the effects of that testing through detailed inspections away from the test stand is an opportunity to collect a great deal of useful information. "

Draft House NASA Authorization Bill Would Create 6-Year Term for NASA Administrator, No Funds for ARM, Space Policy Online

"The draft NASA Authorization Act of 2013 penned by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee would make the NASA Administrator a 6-year term appointment and authorize no funds for the proposed Asteroid Return Mission (ARM). A hearing on the draft bill is scheduled for Wednesday.

- Authorizes $16,825,200,000, which is "consistent with the Budget Control Act and FY2013 appropriations." If Congress replaces or repeals the Budget Control Act (which created the sequester) then funding would be added for the International Space Station (ISS), Space Launch System (SLS), and Commercial Crew.

Human Spaceflight - Makes clear that missions to lunar orbit, the surface of the Moon, and Mars are NASA's human spaceflight goals.

- No funding for the Asteroid Rendezvous Mission [alternately called the Asteroid Return Mission or Asteroid Retrieval Mission]
- NASA to study feasibility of extending ISS beyond 2020
- OSTP to lead a strategic plan for ISS utilization by "all science agencies"
- Continued commitment to SLS/Orion; reiterates that Orion is a backup to commercial crew for ISS
"

Marc's note: This is a draft only. NASA is moving forward with the Asteroid Initiative at the direction of the White House. The final bill will assuredly look different.

NLRB CWA Media Call

CWA President Larry Cohen, NASA Scientist and Activist to Discuss How the NLRB Crisis Hurts Californians, hspd12jpl.org

"The all-out assault on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is threatening vital on-the-job protections for millions of California workers.

The NLRB is the sole agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law and protecting the rights of 80 million private sector employees nationwide. It's been under attack by both conservative courts and House Republicans seeking to freeze all agency actions. Now, unless the Senate majority acts to confirm all five nominations to the NLRB before the August recess, the right to organize and bargain, the right to labor law protections, and the right to free speech in the workplace will all be in jeopardy."

Quote and audio from the call on the next page.

NASA Announces Asteroid Grand Challenge, NASA

"NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them. The challenge is a large-scale effort that will use multi-disciplinary collaborations and a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia, and citizen scientists. It complements NASA's recently announced mission to redirect an asteroid and send humans to study it."

"NASA also released a request for information (RFI) that invites industry and potential partners to offer ideas on accomplishing NASA's goal to locate, redirect, and explore an asteroid, as well as find and plan for asteroid threats. The RFI is open for 30 days, and responses will be used to help develop public engagement opportunities and a September industry workshop."

- Statement by Ed Lu - CEO, B612 Foundation

Live on SpaceRef Business - NASA's Asteroid Initiative Industry & Partner Day

Event: NASA's Asteroid Initiative Industry & Partner Day
Time: 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. EDT

This morning "NASA will host an event in which experts will provide details about NASA's asteroid initiative, including the observation campaign, the orbital tracking, robotic components, the human elements, and enhanced focus on planetary defense. We will describe our upcoming planning timeline and clearly identify opportunities and processes for providing input into our planning. During this public forum, NASA will also release a Request for Information (RFI) to seek new ideas for mission elements and describe the process for submitting your ideas to NASA so that NASA teams may consider your innovative solutions and/or participation."

Marc's note: We'll be broadcasting this event on SpaceRef Business starting at 9:30 with video feed courtesy NASA. Some in Congress would like to see the Asteroid initiative shelved. This is your chance to see what NASA has planned and how industry will be involved. As well, tomorrow is the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 hearing of the Subcommittee on Space. This should be an interesting few days.

- NASA Asteroid Inititiave Request for Information

- Video: NASA Asteroid Redirect Initiative

Presentations:

- Deputy Administrator Lori Garver (6 MB PDF)
- Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot (800 KB PDF)
- Associate Administrator for Space Technology Michael Gazarik (2.5 MB PDF)
- Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier (2.5 MB PDF)
- Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld (2.5 MB PDF)
- Jason Kessler, Office of the Chief Technologist (1.9 MB PDF)

John Kelly: In space, Chinese are still far behind, Florida Today

"But, don't let yourself get caught up in the idea that the Chinese are somehow gaining ground and soon to pass the United States, Russia or their partners in the International Space Station project. Also, don't get too concerned that the Chinese have their own system to launch an astronaut crew to space and the U.S. does not.

The Chinese achievements are interesting to watch, but they're decades behind veteran space-faring nations like the U.S. and Russia. Their flight is not to some sprawling orbiting laboratory like the ISS. Rather, they docked their 60s-era Shenzou spacecraft to a tiny, one-module space station that is a little over one-tenth of the size of the U.S. Skylab and Russian Salyut stations of decades past."

Mars'c note: The Chinese are definitely behind but those supposed "60's era Shenzhou" aren't using 60's era computers. I think Mr. Kelly went a little too far to make his point. One of those layered questions that still remains to be answered is, though some would argue that it has already been answered, will China be an international exploration partner for the moon and Mars going forward? Or go it alone?

Marc's update: Paul Spudis offers a counterpoint. While I don't agree with all of Paul's points he does offer some thoughts worth considering.

"It appears Kelly wants us to reach out and cooperate with the Chinese in space, even though they have not shown any particular desire for such a path. Kelly, the geopolitical sophisticate, seems to think that we should woo China with promises of space cooperation, like we won the hearts of the Russians. Yes, the Soviets were our one-time rivals, but I seem to recall that aside from one public relations "d├ętente" mission in the 1970s (Apollo-Soyuz), real cooperation with Russia in space began after the fall of communism there in the early 1990s."

Women in Space Part One, Female Firsts in Flight for Space Exploration and Research, NASA Blog - A Lab Aloft (International Space Station Research)

"In today's A Lab Aloft, guest blogger Liz Warren, Ph.D., recalls the inspirational contributions and strides made by women in space exploration and International Space Station research.

This month we celebrate the anniversaries of three "firsts" for female space explorers. On June 16, 1963, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union became the first woman in space. Then on June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became America's first woman in space, followed by Liu Yang as China's first woman in space on June 16, 2012. Though their flight anniversaries are not in June, I would be remiss if I did not mention the first European woman in space: Helen Sharman in 1991; the first Canadian woman: Roberta Bondar in 1992; and the first Japanese woman: Chiaki Mukai in 1994."

Marc's note:Well worth reading.

Twitter Post, Elon Musk

"No near term plans to IPO @SpaceX. Only possible in very long term when Mars Colonial Transporter is flying regularly."

Marc's note: This is an interesting Tweet from Elon and a bit of an about face. Going public has been mentioned on and off for several years. Going public could bring in some serious cash to allow the company to expand, but why do it when you're already profitable and you would have to deal with all the downsides of being public.

On the other hand, one reason why SpaceX was considering going public was the 500 rule. When a company has 500 or more investors you're required to start releasing quarterly financial information to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Most companies go public before that happens. Elon has stated that all employees get stock options. In may they reported they had over 1800 employees. So how many have exercised their stock options? And will SpaceX start reporting, but not go public?

Mars'c update: A reader pointed out that the 500 rule was changed in the JOBS act of last year to 2000 persons.

NASA Invites Media to View Space Launch System Progress, NASA

"NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier and other agency officials will debut a new machine for manufacturing NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) and check on development progress with the heavy-lift rocket at the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Friday, June 21.

NASA is inviting media representatives to attend a 9:15 a.m. CDT ribbon-cutting ceremony for the vertical weld center, where friction-stir weld tooling will be used to assemble the SLS core stage, then join officials on a tour of the SLS assembly area and work in support of NASA's Orion spacecraft."

Satellite Industry Report Shows Satellite industry Growth of 7% in 2012 [Download report], SpaceRef Business

"The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today released its 2013 State of the Satellite Industry Report, showing a 7% growth in world satellite industry revenues in 2012, up from 5% growth in 2011. Globally, 2012 revenues for the satellite industry totaled $189.5 billion, up from $177.3 billion the previous year.

All four industry sectors grew, led by satellite services, the traditional driver for the industry. Both satellite manufacturing and launch services saw significant revenue increases, and satellite ground equipment revenues also continued to expand."

NASA Selects Next Generation of Space Explorers [Watch], NASA

"After an extensive year-and-a-half search, NASA has a new group of potential astronauts who will help the agency push the boundaries of exploration and travel to new destinations in the solar system, including an asteroid and Mars.

Eight candidates have been selected to be NASA's newest astronaut trainees, hoping to be among those who are the first to launch from U.S. soil on commercial American spacecraft since the retirement of the space shuttle."

- NASA will discuss the selections at 3 p.m. CDT Monday via a Google+ Hangout.

Marc's note: Call me skeptical, but perhaps some of these astronauts will make a fly-by of Mars or to its moons, but to land, I don't see that in the next 20 years with the current political situation. If a private-public attempt was made, say SpaceX teaming up with NASA, then maybe. And while there's ongoing "big picture" work for an international effort, until a decision is made by a President that it will happen and Congress buys into, it's just a dream.

New Horizons Team Sticking to Original Flight Plan at Pluto, JHUAPL

"Unless significant new hazards are found, expect NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to stay on its original course past Pluto and its moons, after mission managers concluded that the danger posed by dust and debris in the Pluto system is less than they once feared."


Commercial Partners Working to Launch U.S. Astronauts from Space Coast, NASA

"The three commercial space companies working with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) may have very different spacecraft and rocket designs, but they all agreed on the need for the United States to have its own domestic capability to launch astronauts.

'Today, there are nine humans on orbit,' said Ed Mango, CCP's program manager, at a National Space Club meeting June 11 in Cape Canaveral, Florida 'All of those folks got there on a vehicle that did not have a U.S. flag on it. We, and the people in this room, and the people at this table, need to fix that.'"

Subcommittee on Space Hearing - NASA Authorization Act of 2013, House Science Committee

The House Science Committee's space subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for 10:00 a.m. ET next Wednesday, June 19 on the "NASA Authorization Act of 2013." The House version of the bill has not been released yet but should be soon and possibly before the hearing.

The scheduled witnesses are:
- Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University
- Mr. A. Thomas Young, Former Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Corporation

UPDATE: Draft NASA Authorization Bill Nixes Asteroid Retrieval Mission, Space News

"The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has begun drafting a NASA authorization bill that would hold the agency to a top line of about $16.87 billion, bar funding for a planned asteroid rendezvous mission, and divert money for Earth observation into robotic missions to other parts of the solar system, according to an official summary of the bill obtained by SpaceNews.

The bill also would authorize NASA to spend $700 million annually on the Commercial Crew Program -- up from the $500 million Congress authorized in 2010 -- and require the agency to report every 90 days on the effort."

FUTHER UPDATE: NASA Invites Media to Asteroid Initiative Industry and Partner Day (June 18) , NASA

Retired General Walter Natynczyk Tasked to Lead the Canadian Space Agency [Watch], SpaceRef Canada

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today that General (Retired) Walter John Natynczyk, former Chief of the Defence Staff, is to become the President of the Canadian Space Agency, effective August 6, 2013"

Marc's note: I've included a 30 minute interview from Canada's version of C-SPAN, CPAC, from a show called Beyond Politics. It gives you an idea who Walter Natynczyk is.

Northrop Grumman, ATK Complete Backbone of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman

"Northrop Grumman Corporation and teammate ATK have completed manufacturing of the backplane support frame (BSF) for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the design and development of the Webb Telescope's optics, sunshield and spacecraft."

NASA Announces Memorial Service For Astronaut Neil Armstrong, NASA

"NASA will honor the life and historic achievements of astronaut Neil Armstrong during a memorial service at 10 a.m. CDT Thursday, June 20, at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, when he became the first person to walk on the moon as commander of Apollo 11.

JSC Director Ellen Ochoa, fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, family members and longtime associates will pay tribute to Armstrong. He was 82 when he died on Aug. 25, 2012, in Cincinnati."

The Call of Mars, Buzz Aldrin Op-Ed, New York Times

"I am calling for a unified international effort to explore and utilize the Moon, a partnership that involves commercial enterprise and other nations building upon Apollo. Let me emphasize: A second "race to the Moon" is a dead end. America should chart a course of being the leader of this international activity to develop the Moon. The United States can help other nations do things that they want to do, a fruitful avenue for U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy."

"A step in the right direction is creating an International Lunar Development Corporation, customized to draw upon the legacy of lessons learned from such endeavors as the International Geophysical Year (whose purpose was to get scientists all over the world to focus on the physics and atmosphere of the Earth), the International Space Station program, as well as model organizations such as Intelsat and the European Space Agency. Space collaboration should be the new norm, including the tapping of talented Chinese, Indian and other space experts from around the globe."

"In my view, U.S. resources are better spent on moving toward establishing a human presence on Mars. I envision a comprehensive plan that would lead to permanent human settlement on Mars in the next 25 years. "

Marc's note: Buzz, I like it in a big picture kind of way. However, I see a few practical problems with your plan. 1) The economics of it. How are you going to sell this grand vision? And who's going to pay for it? We've got ventures trying to get to the moon now, but no ones got there yet and funding is very hard to come by. 2) Some in Congress won't like the idea of working with China, so how are you going to sell that. 3) What's the cost of implementing your Mars settlement plan? And who'se going to pay for it?

The public needs more than to be inspired by grand visions. They need to be sold on the economics of it and how it will benefit them. The Collins and Lampson op-ed below, "Space Exploration Is Imperative to Innovation and Inspiration", has part of the answer, but people need to be convinced that the investment for innovation will lead somewhere. They certainly don't want to pay for someone else to settle on Mars.

Shenzhou-10 completes automated docking with space module, Xinhua

"China's Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft successfully completed an automated docking procedure with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module at 1:18 p.m. Thursday, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

The docking procedure was the fifth to take place between Shenzhou-type spacecraft and the space module. Previous dockings include two automated operations by the unmanned Shenzhou-8 in 2011 and both an automated and manual docking by the manned Shenzhou-9 in 2012."

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 13 June 2013, SpaceRef

"New Status: Capillary Flow Experiment (CFE) Vane Gap-1: Flight Engineer (FE)-6 Nyberg completed the 8th of 11 planned test sessions. With ground direction, Nyberg used the CFE-2 vessel to observe fluid interface and critical wetting behavior in a cylindrical chamber with elliptic cross-section and an adjustable central perforated vane. CFE uses the low-gravity environment provided by the International Space Station to understand the special dynamics of capillary flow and will aid in the design of fluid transport systems on future spacecraft."

- SpaceRef Space Station Home - Previous ISS Status Reports

Marc's note: For those who don't know, SpaceRef has archived over 5,000 International Space Station reports over the last 11 years. You can access them from the links above. We post the report every day one is, generally late in the afternoon. You get the text report and usually at least one video.

Beyond the Politics: Space Exploration Is Imperative to Innovation and Inspiration, Eileen M. Collins and Nick Lampson for the Huffington Post

"As a nation, we must put politics aside to ensure that expanding the space frontier occupies a prominent place on our national agenda. We need strategic, adequately funded and aggressively paced programs to keep America at the summits of technical innovation and exploration."

"... Unfortunately, we've begun to pull back, as though the nation can prosper without the kinds of strategic commitments that have historically assured us economic as well as intellectual return."

Marc's note: There's nothing new in what Collins and Lampson write. Will Congress pay attention? Will this appeal to the public and cause some action? Call me cynical, but I don't think Congress or the public are paying attention.

Detailed Satellite Imagery of Severe Storm (Large image and video), NASA

"A powerful storm swept across the Midwestern U.S. late on June 12, 2012 and is continuing to move across the Mid-Atlantic. Around 0700z (3am EDT), the Suomi NPP satellite passed over the storm as the most intense areas were along the Ohio-West Virginia-Pennsylvania border."

Final Report - IG-13-016 - NASA's Management of Commercial Orbital Transportation Services and ISS Commercial Resupply Contracts, NASA OIG

"The OIG review found that despite an almost 3-year delay in development, SpaceX completed its demonstration flights and two resupply missions to the ISS. Although each experienced some anomalies, none was serious enough to substantially impact the missions."

"Similar to SpaceX, Orbital has experienced delays in its development program and these delays in turn caused substantial delays to the planned flight schedule for the company's resupply missions to the Station. However, until recently NASA did not adjust its payment schedule to Orbital in light of these delays."

Cash-Strapped Space Tourists May Find Friend in PayPal, Wall Street Journal

"The payments company is set to announce a payment program for space tourists later this month, known as PayPal Galactic. PayPal has been working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Space Tourism Society and the SETI Institute, whose mission is to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, on the program, said a person familiar with the details."

"... Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are also building space craft in their spare time."

Marc's note: Hmm I wonder what, if any, advantage there will be for the "space tourist" in this rumoured program? And I didn't realize Musk was building SpaceX in his spare time.

Exclusive: Antitrust probe of Lockheed-Boeing rocket venture

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, violated federal antitrust laws by "monopolizing" or restraining competition through an exclusivity agreement with the maker of the engines used in its rockets, according to a FTC document obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

RD Amross, a joint venture of Russia's NPO Energomash and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a unit of United Technologies Corp, provides RD-180 engines for ULA rockets.

Industry sources say ULA is preventing RD Amross from selling the engines to other rocket makers, including Orbital Sciences Corp, which is trying to break into the lucrative market for government rocket launches."

Mars Water-Ice Clouds Are Key to Odd Thermal Rhythm, NASA JPL

"Researchers using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found that temperatures in the Martian atmosphere regularly rise and fall not just once each day, but twice.

"We were surprised to find this strong twice-a-day structure in the temperatures of the non-dusty Mars atmosphere," Kleinboehl said. "While the diurnal tide as a dominant temperature response to the day-night cycle of solar heating on Mars has been known for decades, the discovery of a persistent semi-diurnal response even outside of major dust storms was quite unexpected, and caused us to wonder what drove this response.""

United Launch Alliance Completes Dual Engine Centaur Preliminary Design Review and Development Testing in Support of Commercial Crew Program, ULA

"United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and initial round of development testing for the Dual Engine Centaur in support of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Under Independent Research and Development (IRAD) funding, ULA is re-establishing the Dual Engine Centaur (DEC) configuration for performance and human space flight safety. Atlas V is capable of flying both a single and dual engine on the Centaur second stage, but most satellite missions require only a single engine due to the powerful capability of the Atlas V booster to loft the payload into orbit."

NASA's Orion Program First Fairing Separation Test Provides Data To Validate Design, NASA

"NASA is carrying out a series of tests to ensure the agency's Orion spacecraft can successfully jettison its protective fairings, or covers, during its ride to space. During the first of these tests, two of the three fairing panels separated as planned, but a third didn't."

AIP FYI #102: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News - Update on OMB Travel Restrictions, American Institute of Physics

"The OMB recently issued a 3 1/2 page "Controller Alert: Travel and Conferences" document recognizing the important role that meetings play in the conduct of scientific research. The unsigned and undated memorandum advises that the previously announced spending reductions will continue and details implementation procedures for acceptable travel expenses. This alert, which appears on the website of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), states:"

NASA, Partner Collaborate on Key Piece of Orion Hardware, OnOrbit

"Technicians from Janicki Industries in Hamilton, Wash., work in collaboration with NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to build part of the Space Launch System, NASA's next-generation launch vehicle."

"They are specifically working on a diaphragm for the Multipurpose Crew Vehicle Stage Adapter (MSA). Joint efforts between NASA and Janicki Industries enable engineers to verify proper functioning of this part of the SLS vehicle with the Orion spacecraft during its first mission -- Exploration Flight Test -1 (EFT-1) -- scheduled to launch in 2014."

Preparing NASA's Next Solar Satellite for Launch, OnOrbit

"Orbital Sciences team members move the second half of the payload fairing before it is placed over NASA's IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) spacecraft. The fairing connects to the nose of the Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket that will lift the solar observatory into orbit. The work is taking place in a hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where IRIS is being prepared for launch on a Pegasus XL rocket."

FTC Approves Concludes Investigation of GenCorp's Purchase of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, FTC

"Although the FTC concluded that the deal will give GenCorp a monopoly in the market for a type of advanced missile defense interceptor propulsion system, the Commission decided not to challenge the transaction, primarily because the Department of Defense wishes to see the transaction go forward for national security reasons."

IRIS Televised Launch Viewing at NASA's Ames Research Center, NASA Ames

"On Wednesday, June 26, NASA's newest mission, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph or IRIS, will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. IRIS will take flight using a Pegasus XL rocket, carried aloft by an Orbital Sciences L-1011 aircraft from Vandenberg. This exciting launch will broadcast live at the NASA Ames Visitor Center at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Registrations for attendance are available now!

Tickets are free and are first-come, first-serve. Space is limited and only ticketed guests will be admitted."

Commercial space companies expect Brevard push, Space Florida

"Three companies competing to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station expect to increase their local activity in the second half of this year, executives said Tuesday.

The Boeing Co. soon will start moving into a former shuttle hangar at Kennedy Space Center, where it will assemble a test article of its CST-100 capsule.

SpaceX hopes to launch a pad abort test of its Dragon capsule in December from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, after potentially several more Cape rocket launches.

And Sierra Nevada Corp., developer of the Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, plans to staff a local office this year to prepare for future flight operations."

SMC Enters into Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with SpaceX, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center

"The Space and Missile Systems Center has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, as part of the company's effort to certify its Falcon 9 v1.1 Launch System for National Security Space (NSS) missions. This cooperative agreement facilitates data exchanges and protects proprietary and export-controlled data. The CRADA will be in effect until all certification activities are complete."

How Twitter Changed NASA Communications, Mediabistro

"At Mediabistro's AllTwitter Marketing Conference, NASA's social media manager said that Twitter has created a once-in-a-lifetime change in the way the space agency communicates with the world."

Marc's note: I remember attending the Participatory Exploration Summit at NASA Ames in 2007 where Biz Stone introduced Twitter to the audience. Ironically the conference was using now-defunct Jaiku for social participation. But afterwards Twitter began to catch on, including at NASA. NASA now has million of followers. SpaceRef and NASA Watch have grown to over 125,000+ followers for our Twitter accounts.

Planetary Resources Needs YOUR Help to Hunt for Alien Planets, Planetary Resources

"Alien planets are out there and Planetary Resources needs your help to find them! That's right, the same high-powered telescope technology being used by Planetary Resources to identify near-Earth asteroids can also be used to hunt for what scientists call extrasolar planets or "exoplanets" - which are very much alien worlds. For the first-time ever, this capability will be placed directly into the hands of students, researchers and citizen scientists."

Marc's note: For the last few days the Planetary Resources Kickstarter campaign appears to have stalled.With 19 days to go they're $145K short of their goal. And with Kickstarter, it's all or nothing. You reach your goal, you get the funds, you don't, you get nothing. Now to encourage that next wave of donors Planetary Resources has sent out an email blast saying if we make it to $2 million we'll "enhance" ARKYD to hunt for Exoplanets.

With Kepler costing approximately around $600 million for its lifecyle, the ARKYD is quite a deal though they are clear to say they won't rival Kepler. They plan on adding "exoplanet transit detection capability by enhancing the telescope's stability systems and dedicating time to monitor candidate star systems." Among the many questions is how good a detector could ARKYD be. Also, how does hunting for Exoplanets fit into the companies mission statement? Sure it's E/PO, but is it just a gimmick to get over the initial E/PO funding goal?

NASA Flooding Google Plus Hangout, NASA

"A soggy 2013 spring, with near record rainfall in some areas, has led to flood warnings in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. With the floodwaters come questions as millions brace for the next wave of thunderstorms: Will this be another multi-billion dollar flood like the ones that hammered the Midwest in 1993 and 2008? How much rainwater will fall into rivers, and where will those rivers flood into towns? Just how good are those flood predictions, and could they be better?"

Marc's note: Watch an archived version of the Hangout.

Opinion: The Future Now

The Myopia Problem, Space News

"It is the year 3013, one thousand years into the future. Looking up into the night sky, you see a crescent Moon that is crisscrossed by a sparkling web of city lights. Millions of people are routinely working, living, and playing on the Moon. Billions live on Mars.

Many would agree that such a bright, promising future is probable. Some would contend that it is inevitable. What cannot be argued is that it is impossible, for we have already slipped the surly bonds of Earth.

The question is "when," rather than "if."

We don't need to wait a millennium in order to get started. Fundamental new breakthroughs in physics are not required. Just as the hang glider and sailplane could have been developed and refined hundreds or thousands of years ago, we already have the needed technology to begin pioneering exploration of the Moon and Mars."

Suborbital Research Enters a Time of Transition, The Space Review

"Several years ago, the idea of using the new generation of suborbital reusable launch vehicles under development, like Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo and XCOR Aerospace's Lynx, for research applications was not widely accepted. These and other vehicles were seen primarily as serving the space tourism market."

"Scientists, vehicle developers, and others did come to that NSRC, and the three that followed, including the one last week in the Denver suburb of Broomfield, Colorado. With a community of researchers now sold on the potential benefits of using suborbital reusable launch vehicles--low cost, high flight rates, and in some cases human-tended payloads--versus sounding rockets or orbital platforms, the challenge apparent at last week's meeting was keeping the timelines for developing experiments and the vehicles that will fly them in sync."

Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?, NASA JPL

The Arctic permafrost contains vast amount off organic carbon stored over millennia. A NASA program, CARVE, is testing a hypotheses that Arctic carbon reservoirs are vulnerable to climate warming. Will these reservoirs be released? And what happens if these vast amount of stored carbon are released?

Early results: "The CARVE science team is busy analyzing data from its first full year of science flights. What they're finding, Miller said, is both amazing and potentially troubling."

NASA operating plan adjusts commercial crew, planetary science funding, Space Politics

"Space News reported Friday that a long-awaited fiscal year 2013 operating plan for NASA will make some funding adjustments for several key programs, including commercial crew development and planetary science. The plan, not publicly released yet by NASA, would fund commercial crew at $525 million, effectively undoing the effects of sequestration and rescission on the program. Planetary science, which received additional funding even after sequestration and rescission compared to the administration's request, would lose that funding: it would go back to $1.2 billion, the amount originally requested by the administration for FY13. The funds cut from planetary would be redistributed to the James Webb Space Telescope and to earth sciences."

Marc's note: Good news for Commercial Crew, not so much for Planetary Science.

Update: Confirmed: NASA Defies the Will of Congress by Raiding Planetary Science Funding, Planetary Society

"Despite our best efforts and the best efforts of Congress, the implacable thirst to undercut the most visible and successful program within NASA continues unabated."

Marc's note: While I can sympathize with those who support a strong Planetary Science budget I also see the need for Commercial Crew to get the funding it needs. In world of finite resources you can't everything. The only way to please everyone would be a budget increase. But that's not going to happen in the current political climate.

NOAA Returns a Healthy GOES-13 to Normal Operations as GOES-East, NOAA

"NOAA today officially returned the GOES-13 spacecraft to normal operations, after tests showed a micrometeoroid, likely hit the arm for the solar array panel on May 22, knocking the spacecraft off its delicate, geostationary balance."

China's latest 'sacred' manned space mission blasts off, Reuters

"A Chinese manned spacecraft blasted off with three astronauts on board on Tuesday on a 15-day mission to an experimental space lab in the latest step towards the development of a space station.

The Shenzhou 10 spacecraft was launched from a remote site in the Gobi desert in China's far west at 5:38 p.m. (0938 GMT) under warm, clear blue skies, in images carried live on state television."

Watch the launch:

A Lunar Orbiter Image Last Seen 47 Years Ago

"After being forgotten for nearly 47 years, three high resolution images taken by the Lunar Orbiter II spacecraft have been rediscovered by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP). It is unlikely that anyone has seen these images since they were sent back to Earth. Indeed, it is unlikely that very many people saw them at that time either. The three high resolution images were taken along with a medium resolution image on 23 November 1966 at 17:05:39 GMT. The center point of the images was 26.94 West Longitude, 3.196 degrees North Latitude. The images were taken at an altitude of 43.6 km and the image resolution is 0.93 meters."

"The NASA It Gets Better video is a video project created by the "Out & Allied @ JSC Employee Resource Group" of NASA's Johnson Space Center. It was created as an outreach tool primarily directed at high school and college-aged lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals who are victims of bullying and/or have been affected by bullying. This video sends the message to current and future NASA employees that it is OK to be LGBTQ, and that NASA supports and encourages an inclusive, diverse workforce in our workplace."

Planetary Resources Hires Former White House Director of Space Policy, Planetary Resources

"Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, announced today the hiring of Peter Marquez to lead the company's global engagement. Marquez will engage with key U.S. government entities on matters of strategic domestic and global interest to assist Planetary Resources in achieving its long-term mission. The company's objective is to mine near-Earth asteroids using innovative and cost-effective robotic exploration technologies to access raw materials ranging from elements used in rocket fuel to precious metals."

China Reveals First Space-Based Quantum Communications Experiment, MIT Technology Review

"Today, the Chinese claim another small victory in this quantum space race. Jian-Wei Pan at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai and a few pals say they've bounced single photons off an orbiting satellite and detected them back on Earth. That's significant because it simulates a satellite sending single photons from orbit to the Surface, crossing off another proof-of-principle milestone in their quantum checklist.

"... Why publish it now? The answer may be a small but significant detail revealed in the final paragraph of the paper. Here Jian-Wei and co announce that they plan to launch the first quantum science experiment into space. The spacecraft is called the Chinese Quantum Science Satellite and it is scheduled for launch in 2016."

NASA Announces 2013 Space Technology Research Grants, NASA

"NASA has selected 65 graduate students as the 2013 class of Space Technology Research Fellows. This third class of space technology graduate students will conduct research relevant to agency technology challenges aligned with NASA's space technology roadmaps, while pursuing degrees in related disciplines at their respective institutions."

China to launch Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft on June 11, Xinhua

"The Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft will be launched at 5:38 p.m. Tuesday, said China's manned space program spokeswoman on Monday."

"The spacecraft will take three astronauts, two male and one female, into the space, said Wu Ping, the program's spokeswoman, at a press conference at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

"The Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft will be launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 5:38 p.m. Beijing Time (0938 GMT - 5:38 a.m. ET) June 11"

Related: Images: China's Shenzhou-10 Poised For Launch Tuesday, SpaceRef

SpaceX Falcon 9-Reusable 1st Stage Firing, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX has released a video of the 1st long duration firing of their new Falcon 9-Reusable (F9-R) rocket, an advanced prototype for the world's first reusable rocket. The test took place at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, TX, lasting 112 seconds."

AIP FYI #101: Senate and House Subcommittees Examine NASA Spaceflight Opportunities and Challenges, American Institute of Physics

"The May 21 House hearing focused on whether the proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM), lunar landing, or another type of mission would be appropriate preparation for a human mission to Mars. Members were also interested in what capabilities could be developed from a Moon landing that could not be learned from the proposed ARM. Another question discussed was how different destinations affect a strategic approach to designing technical equipment and working with international partners."

"The President's National Space Policy, announced in June of 2010, outlines objectives for the extension of human spaceflight to destinations beyond the moon. Members of Congress have since had many discussions about whether lunar missions still provide relevant information to NASA programs. This hearing demonstrated that there remains some concerns associated with cancelling lunar missions."


The Flight Opportunities Program Presentation (PDF), NASA

For those who did not attend and are interested NASA has provided in one PDF file their presentations from this years 2013 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference.

Updated: NASA Selects New Suborbital Payloads, Total Tops 100 Experiments, NASA

"NASA has selected 21 space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons, and a commercial parabolic aircraft.

This latest selection represents the sixth cycle of NASA's continuing call for payloads through an announcement of opportunity. More than 100 technologies with test flights now have been facilitated through NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate's Flight Opportunities Program."

Mars Rover Opportunity Trekking Toward More Layers, NASA

"Approaching its 10th anniversary of leaving Earth, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is on the move again, trekking to a new study area still many weeks away.

The destination, called "Solander Point," offers Opportunity access to a much taller stack of geological layering than the area where the rover has worked for the past 20 months, called "Cape York." Both areas are raised segments of the western rim of Endeavour Crater, which is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.

"Getting to Solander Point will be like walking up to a road cut where you see a cross section of the rock layers," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University, St. Louis, deputy principal investigator for the mission."

Production of Key Equipment Paves Way for NASA SLS RS-25 Testing, NASA Marshall

"NASA plans to begin testing RS-25 engines for its new Space Launch System (SLS) in the fall of 2014, and the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi has a very big -- literally -- item to complete on the preparation checklist.

Fabrication recently began at Stennis on a new 7,755-pound thrust frame adapter for the A-1 Test Stand to enable testing of the engines that will provide core-stage power for NASA's SLS. The stand component is scheduled to be completed and installed by November 2013."

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Arianespace Conclude MOU on Cooperation in Commercial Space Rocket Launches, Arianespace

"With the new MOU, MHI and Arianespace agreed to collectively probe the creation of innovative new launch services and standardization of satellite preparation tasks at launch sites as a follow-up to their cooperative achievements to date. The aims behind the latest initiative are further development of the commercial launch market and sustained enhancement of the two companies' related services."

SpaceX Octaweb, OnOrbit

"In the background - the harness that holds a ring of eight Merlin 1D engines in a ring of fire, with a 9th in the middle."

Brand and Product Marketing via Crowdfunding, SpaceRef Business

"Crowdfunding is becoming a familiar word for those who need to fund a project or product. In the case of a startup, it can replace the role of the angel investor to get the initial funding. However the scope of what is being funded, and why, is evolving as startups use this collective effort for brand recognition and marketing a specific project or product."

Former NASA Manager John Olson, currently on assignment at the Office of Science and Technology Policy as Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics, will be joining SNC starting 1 July. Olson's last day at OSTP will be tomorrow, 7 June. Olson's last day at NASA will be on 1 July. After that Olson will be taking on an executive leadership role in the Space Systems Group at Sierra Nevada Corporation in Louisville, Colorado and Arlington, Virginia.

NASA to Host June 7 Mars Rover Opportunity Teleconference, NASA

NASA will hold a media teleconference at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) on Friday, June 7, to provide an update about the long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The 10th anniversary of this rover's launch is next month.

The briefing participants will be:
-- John Callas, project manager for Opportunity, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
-- Steve Squyres, principal investigator for Opportunity, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
-- Ray Arvidson, deputy principal investigator, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.

NASA Satellite Sees Strong Thunderstorms in Developing Gulf Low, NASA

"NASA's Aqua satellite passed over low pressure System 91L in the Gulf of Mexico and captured infrared imagery that revealed a lot of uplift and strong thunderstorms in the eastern part of the storm despite a poorly organized circulation. NOAA's GOES-East satellite showed the large extent of the low pressure area stretching from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula to Florida.

System 91L is a tropical low pressure area that has been lingering in the northwestern Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico for several days. The low pressure area is located in the central Gulf of Mexico and covers a large area. It has a large area of disorganized thunderstorms and strong gusty winds over the southeastern Gulf."

Update: NASA Sees Heavy Rainfall in Tropical Storm Andrea, NASA Goddard

Live Chat: Mission to Mars--With Special Guest Buzz Aldrin, Science

"Join us on Thursday, 6 June, at 3 p.m. EDT on this page for a live Google Hangout when we address these issues and take your questions. We'll be joined by three experts, including renowned astronaut Buzz Aldrin."

The other guests are Leonard David and James Garvin.

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Proves Sound Under Pressure, NASA

"After a month of being poked, prodded and pressurized in ways that mimicked the stresses of spaceflight, NASA's Orion crew module successfully passed its static loads tests on Wednesday.

When Orion launches on Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), which is targeted for September 2014, it will travel farther from Earth than any spacecraft built for humans in more than 40 years. The spacecraft will fly about 3,600 miles above Earth's surface and return at speeds of approximately 25,000 mph. During the test, Orion will experience an array of stresses, or loads, including launch and reentry, the vacuum of space, and several dynamic events that will jettison hardware away from the spacecraft and deploy parachutes."

Mercury 100% Coverage, NASA

"At the very end of 2012, MESSENGER obtained the final image needed to view 100% of Mercury's surface under daylight conditions. The mosaics shown here cover all of Mercury's surface and were produced by using the monochrome mosaic released by NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS) on March 8, 2013, as the base. The full resolution mosaics are available for download on MESSENGER's Global Mosaics webpage."

Related: SpaceRef Mercury news.

Download This One-Page Summary on the Threat to Planetary Science, Planetary Society

"When we visit legislators or staff members in Congress we always provide them with a "leave-behind" to reinforce our position. This tends to be a one page summary of our reason for visiting, which right now is about stopping the proposed cuts to NASA's Planetary Science Division in next year's budget."

And here's the Planetary Society's solution to the issue: "Implement the science priorities of the NRC decadal survey. Provide $1.5 billion annually (same as FY12) to NASA's Planetary Science Division, a re-balance of less than 2% of NASA's total budget."

Launch of ESA's ATV-4 Einstein, ArianeSpace

Marc's note: Today's launch went off without a hitch at 5:52 p.m. EDT (21:52 GMT).

The Automated Transfer Vehicle 4 or 'Einstein' is loaded with more than 7 tons of supplies for the International Space Station crew. ATV-4 was named by ESA in honor of the 20th century theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein. The Ariane 5 launched from Kourou, French Guiana.

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Nears Turning Point, NASA

"NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission is approaching its biggest turning point since landing its rover, Curiosity, inside Mars' Gale Crater last summer.

Curiosity is finishing investigations in an area smaller than a football field where it has been working for six months, and it will soon shift to a distance-driving mode headed for an area about 5 miles (8 kilometers) away, at the base Mount Sharp."

With the Public's Help NASA's Spitzer Telescope Sees Milky Way's Blooming Countryside, SpaceRef

"NASA has released new images the Spitzer Space Telescope which it characterizes as showing "blooming stars in our Milky Way galaxy's more barren territories, far from its crowded core" and the public, in part, helped NASA with these images.

The images are part of the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (Glimpse 360) project, which NASA says is mapping the topography of our galaxy."

NASA's Information Technology Governance, NASA OIG

"The decentralized nature of NASA's operations and its longstanding culture of autonomy hinder the Agency's ability to implement effective IT governance. The Agency CIO has limited visibility and control over a majority of the Agency's IT investments, operates in an organizational structure that marginalizes the authority of the position, and cannot enforce security measures across NASA's computer networks. Moreover, the current IT governance structure is overly complex and does not function effectively. As a result, Agency managers tend to rely on informal relationships rather than formalized business processes when making IT-related decisions. While other Federal agencies are moving toward a centralized IT structure under which a senior manager has ultimate decision authority over IT budgets and resources, NASA continues to operate under a decentralized model that relegates decision making about critical IT issues to numerous individuals across the Agency, leaving such decisions outside the purview of the NASA CIO. As a result, NASA's current IT governance model weakens accountability and does not ensure that IT assets across the Agency are cost effective and secure."

Marc's note: There is no simple solution to this as long as the centers continue to butt heads with HQ and as long as NASA's CIO only controls a fraction of the IT budget with the centers controlling the majority.

HASC Subcommittee Chairman Demands Answers on Alleged Chinese ASAT Test, Space Policy Online

"Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday demanding information on a Chinese rocket launch last month that some press reports alleged was a test of an antisatellite (ASAT) system."

Smooth Sailing: Dawn Spacecraft Passes Endurance Test, NASA

"The stalwart adventurer has recently completed its longest uninterrupted ion thrust period yet. As part of the campaign to conserve precious hydrazine propellant, Dawn now suspends thrusting once every four weeks to point its main antenna to Earth. (In contrast, spacecraft with conventional chemical propulsion spend the vast majority of time coasting.)"

Rocket Launch Scheduled June 4 From Wallops, NASA

"A Black Brant XII suborbital rocket carrying the Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment (CIBER)is scheduled for launch between 11 and 11:59 p.m. EDT, June 4, from NASA's launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 9:30 p.m. on launch day for public viewing of the launch.

The mission will be available live on Ustream beginning at 10 p.m. on launch day at: http://www.ustream.com/channel/nasa-wallops"

Update: "The launch tonight of a Black Brant XII suborbital rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, has been postponed.

The mission was postponed due to difficulty in cooling the instruments on the payload down to the required temperatures before launch.

The launch is now scheduled between 11 and 11:59 p.m., June 5. The launch window runs through June 10. The rocket may be visible to residents in the mid-Atlantic region."

NASA Spacecraft Captures Swath of Destruction from Deadly Oklahoma Tornado, NASA

"On June 2, 2013, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft captured this image showing the scar left on the landscape by the tornado's deadly track. In this false-color image, vegetation is red, water is dark blue, roads and buildings are gray and white, and bare fields are tan. The tornado track crosses the image from left to right as indicated by the arrows. The image covers an area of 6 by 8.6 miles (9.6 by 13.8 kilometers), and is located at 35.3 degrees north latitude, 97.5 degrees west longitude."

Marc's note: I just happened to turn on CNN as they began broadcasting live coverage of the tornado. It was surreal to be watching the destruction live. My heart goes out to those affected.

NASA's IceBridge Mission Contributes to New Map of Antarctica (Video), NASA

"A new dataset called Bedmap2 gives a clearer picture of Antarctica from the ice surface down to the bedrock below. Bedmap2 is a significant improvement on the previous collection of Antarctic data--known as Bedmap--that was produced more than 10 years ago."

Space Storm Could Black Out US East Coast for Two Years - Expert, RIA Novosti

"Severe space 'weather' can knock out satellite communications and GPS systems, expose space tourists and astronauts to dangerous levels of radiation, and even cause massive blackouts on Earth that could last up to two years, scientists and NASA officials warned at a conference here on Tuesday.

The United States population that is at risk of an extended power outage from a Carrington-level storm is between 20-40 million, with an outage duration of possibly 16 days to one to two years, said Kathryn Sullivan."

CORE is Closing, NASA

Marc's note: A NASA Watch reader sent this in:

"The NASA-sponsored Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE) is closing. CORE has been operated through a cooperative agreement with Lorain County Joint Vocational School in Oberlin, Ohio. The cooperative agreement, which provides funding for CORE, ends on June 30, 2013. Final orders through CORE should be submitted no later than June 9, 2013."

"June 10, 2013 - The CORE website will be taken off-line and replaced with an explanatory redirection page sending visitors to the "Find Teaching Materials" Web page (http://www.nasa.gov/education/materials) from which educators can search for electronic versions of NASA educational materials, including video clips and links to other content-rich NASA websites. We also plan to direct educators to the NASA Field Center Educator Resource Centers (ERCs) to inquire on the availability of educational materials. This explanatory redirection link will only remain active through Sept. 30, 2013. Beginning October 1, visitors will be immediately redirected to the "Find Teaching Materials" Web page.

We recommend that you remove any links to CORE (http://core.nasa.gov) from websites for which you have responsibility."

NRC Committee on Human Spaceflight Needs Input, NRC

"The National Research Council Committee on Human Spaceflight Needs is looking for input from communities interested in human exploration. The deadline for submissions is July 9."

"What are the important benefits provided to the United States and other countries by human spaceflight endeavors?

What are the greatest challenges to sustaining a U.S. government program in human spaceflight?

What are the ramifications and what would the nation and world lose if the United States terminated NASA's human spaceflight program?"

International space law and commercial space activities: the rules do apply, by Michael J. Listner for The Space Review

"Commercial space activities are beginning to proliferate and hold great promise for the expansion of both human and robotic activities in outer space. Companies like SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are providing commercial cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract to NASA, and others, such as Sierra Nevada Corporation, are planning commercial crewed flights to the ISS as well. Beyond services to the ISS, companies have formed to offer human lunar landings, missions to extract minerals and resources from asteroids, and even a planned human flyby of Mars set to launch in 2018."

Stratolaunch firms up its relationship with Orbital for air-launch system, NBC News

"Stratolaunch has solidified its partnership with Orbital Sciences Corp. to develop a new rocket capable of launching into orbit from what will be the world's widest airplane.

'We've been together now for nine months and working well as a team ... so we're really excited to see Orbital get started,' Gary Wentz, Stratolaunch's CEO and president, told NBC News."

ASP Statement Regarding the Obama Administration's GFY14 Budget Proposal Relating to NASA SMD EPO Funding, The Astronomical Society of the Pacific

"The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), speaking from the perspective of 124 years of advancing science and science education, expresses its profound concern over the Obama Administration's fiscal year 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education restructuring proposal. This proposal will drastically reduce NASA's education and public outreach (EPO) effort, including the abrupt termination of all mission-based EPO efforts in NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). We believe that this action, in NASA and similarly in other science agencies, will significantly damage STEM education efforts--just the opposite of what the Administration intends."

Water on the Moon (video), NASA Goddard

"Since the 1960's, scientists have suspected that frozen water could survive in cold, dark craters at the Moon's poles. While previous lunar missions have detected hints of water on the Moon, new data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) pinpoints areas near the south pole where water is likely to exist."

Mars Express 10 Years of Highlights (Video), ESA

"The journey of the European Space Agency's Mars Express, from drawing board through launch, to its key science highlights during ten years of operations.

With its suite of seven instruments, Mars Express has studied the subsurface of the Red Planet to the upper atmosphere and beyond to the two tiny moons Phobos and Deimos, providing an in depth analysis of the planet's history and returning stunning 3D images."

- Also released today: Mars Mineral Globe (video), ESA

Marc's note: Congratulations to ESA and its partners for 10 years of great science by Mars Express.

The Front Burner: Plan shows agency still turns obstacles into opportunities, Orlando Sentinel op-ed by Frank DiBello, Space Florida

"This asteroid strategy will require much of this nation's technical brain trust and industrial base. It will demand new technology with serious and long-term applications, it will result in more launches, and sooner, of American astronauts beyond low Earth orbit, and it shrewdly taps into a growing public and scientific interest in near-Earth objects and planetary defense."

Kepler Delivers More Data for Exoplanet HuntersKepler Delivers More Data for Exoplanet Hunters, NASA Ames Research Center

"On May 28 NASA's Kepler mission delivered new data to the NASA Exoplanet Archive for Exoplanet hunters to dig into. At the same, NASA Ames Research Center's Michele Johnson sat down with Michael Haas, Kepler science office director, for an interview to find out more."

Marc's note: The data includes 1,924 Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs) that have not been fully analyzed yet.

"MJ: If you haven't finished the analysis, why are you releasing this information now? It seems rather preliminary.

MH: You are right, it is preliminary, but it also represents a significant body of work and contains valuable information for the scientific community."


Loading

 



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2013 is the previous archive.

July 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.