October 2013 Archives

NASA Procurement Information Circular PIC 13-05 October 25, 2013

"GUIDANCE: Under the terms of their contracts, contractors are responsible for submitting complete, proper requests for payment due to impacts of the Government shutdown, including identifying the contract clause under which payment is sought and including sufficient supporting documentation. [contracting officers] COs may not solicit requests; COs may respond to contractor questions but should not influence a contractor's choice of whether or how to pursue requests for payment. Contracting officers must evaluate contractor requests related to the Government shutdown on a contract-by-contract basis. CO evaluations must include an examination of the cost or delivery extensions requested, and a determination that adjustment is appropriate under the contract clause or term specified by the contractor. While it is not appropriate for the CO to advise the contractor on its options, during the evaluation process, the CO may determine that a request for payment should have been made under a different authority, and should notify the contractor accordingly."

Keith's 30 Oct 4:52 pm note: What is innovate.nasa.gov? It claims to be "a collaboration platform to foster open discussion about technology across NASA and its external innovation community. This is the place for you to rethink and reinvent existing research, learn about NASA technology, and shape the conversation about future NASA innovation. We post information about NASA's inventions and technology focus areas. You join other technology experts, researchers, and innovators in conversation about this NASA technology. We challenge you to think about new ways to use NASA inventions, share a new perspective to encourage innovation, and inspire new ideas."

But in order to see what they do you have to login by giving them access to your Twitter account. If you create a new user account you are asked to add a picture of yourself and provide other social media account information. If you are under 13 you are told to get your parent's permission. Once you get in - well, no one is there. If you go to "The Buzz" touted as a "real time news feed" other than "njaiuto" and "colin_graham" who visited last year (apparently) no one is home. Yet someone regularly operates their Twitter account @InnovateDotNASA. They have an up to date Facebook page too.

None of the usual (and required) responsible official or contact names are included on this website. No mention is made of this site from any NASA technology websites at NASA HQ. The site says "Innovate.NASA is the web-based component of NASA's Innovation Ecosystem--an agency-wide initiative to foster technology innovation." The NASA Innovation Ecosystem page explains little about itself and seems to be a year out of date. It refers to "(In)novation Partners" except there are none. When you go to the contact us link you get "access denied". And so on.

The Innovation Ecosystem page is run by NASA CIO so maybe they are responsible for innovate.nasa.gov. But what is this website supposed to do if no one visits it? Why is this information hidden behind a firewall that requires usernames and logins? How much did it cost to create - and now - how much does it cost to maintain this NASA website - that no one uses?

Keith's 30 Oct 9:42 pm update: Several readers have noticed that the site's firewall/login has been lowered. Gee, what a coincidence. Isn't it pathetic that NASA spent all this money on this site and then let it sit dormant -- and only when they got caught with their pants down did they start to get active. Makes you wonder if this site is even needed given that no one noticed it until I posted some snarky observations.

Keith's 2 Nov update: The website now has this message: "Our site is currently under construction, but we will be re-launching soon. Stay tuned..." Despite repeated requests, the NASA CIO has refused to respond to all inquiries about this website. I guess its FOIA time.

Dark Matter Experiment Has Detected Nothing, Researchers Say Proudly, NY Times

"LUX is the latest in a long series of ever-larger experiments that have occupied and taunted the world's physicists over the last few years. They are all in abandoned mines or other underground places to shield them from cosmic rays, which could cause false alarms. ... Larger instruments are already on the drawing boards of LUX and other collaborations, but physicists say the experiments are already sensitive enough to test some versions of dark matter that have been proposed, including the idea that dark particles interact with ordinary matter by exchanging the recently discovered Higgs boson. Dr. Weiner said he held his breath every time new results from a dark matter experiment were released."

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - 02 (AMS-02) Fact Sheet

"The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - 02 (AMS-02) is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector constructed, tested and operated by an international team. The AMS-02 uses the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe's origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays."

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, WIkipedia

"In 1999, after the successful flight of AMS-01, the total cost of the AMS program was estimated to be $33 million, with AMS-02 planned for flight to the ISS in 2003. After the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, and after a number of technical difficulties with the construction of AMS-02, the cost of the program ballooned to an estimated $1.5 billion."

Keith's note: $1.5 billion for a Dark Energy detector and ... no one seems to talk about it when future dark matter detection instruments are discussed? AMS is not "underground" as the New York Times' reporter claims all dark matter instruments are. AMS has been in the news with results - but mainstream media seems to not see it as being on a par with Earth-based dark matter gizmos. NASA PAO is not doing a very good job, so it would seem. Or maybe the New York Times is being lazy (it has happened before).

Dream Chaser has rough landing in test flight, but firm hails 'successful day' for space plane

"Sierra Nevada is perhaps the underdog in the competition to win the NASA contract to haul astronauts to the international space station."

Keith's note: You just toss this out there, Joel Achenbach, and never provide a source or data to substantiate your statement. Why is SNC the "underdog"? Boeing has yet to fly their CST-100 in space. Why aren't they "underdogs" too? There's a pattern to your reporting.

Another year of sequestration would delay NASA missions, USA Today

"NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said Thursday that the agency was still assessing the impact of another year of sequestration and its "stifling constraints." Even holding at fiscal 2013 levels would be problematic because it's about $850 million less than the president's request. That would mean deep cuts in space technology, "the seed corn that allows the nation to conduct ever more capable and affordable space missions," Beutel said. It also would impede NASA's Commercial Crew Program to use private companies to carry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017."

NASA Technology That Can't Link To Itself, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA Office of the Chief Technologist has no link to NASA Tech Briefs. NASA Tech Briefs does not link to NASA OCT. In fact, I did a search of the source HTML code on the NASA Techbriefs home page. There are no links to anything at NASA.gov whatsoever. Yet this page features the NASA logo. Baffling.

NASA Engages the Public to Discover New Uses for Out-of-this-World Technologies

"NASA has joined forces with the product development startup Marblar for a pilot program allowing the public to crowdsource product ideas for forty of NASA's patents. This initiative will allow Marblar's online community to use a portion of NASA's diverse portfolio of patented technologies as the basis of new product ideas."

Keith's note: There is no mention of this overt technology news item from the other day on NASA's main Technology page. Given that Congress is already looking for vulnerable accounts with easy money to solve their budget problems next year (paying for SLS, Commercial Crew, Space Science) and the long knives are already out to carve up NASA's technology budget windfall and use it to solve other problems. If NASA cannot do a better job coordinating its technology portfolio and explain what it does with the technology money it has already gotten, then perhaps that money could be better spent on projects that the agency can explain - and justify.

Keith's update: @NASA-Technology noted that they have a list that collects all of NASA's technology Twitter account tweets. Its a start - but NASA still needs to coordinate its various technology efforts much better than it currently does. This list does not include coverage of @innovateDotNASA which is operated by innovate.nasa.gov. And I still find it unfathomable that NASA allows NASA Tech Briefs to continue to utterly ignore NASA - all while using "NASA" in its name and its logo as well.

- Another NASA Technology Data Dump No One Will Know About, earlier post
- NASA Praises a Spinoff That It Has Already Dumped, earlier post
- Bursting The NASA Spinoff Myth, earlier post
- More Stealth NASA Spinoffs, earlier post

Keith's note: SNC is having a media telecon tday at 11:30 am EDT. Follow @NASAWatch for tweets. Note that the video ends just before landing. Odd. You can see that the left gear was not deploying properly.

Keith's update: According to SNC's Mark Sirangelo the Dream Chaser flight on Saturday achieved 99% of what was planned. The prime purpose was to see if the vehicle would fly. It did - perfectly. This was the first test of a lifting body since the 1970s. As the landing gear deployed, the left side gear did not deploy properly. The vehicle could not compensate and skidded off of the runway ending up on its side. There was no damage to the interior of the cabin. Sirangelo said that this incident showed SNC just how strong their vehicle is. This specific vehicle was only supposed to have two drop tests before being reworked to perform orbital flight. SNC is looking into what the new plan will be for this specific vehicle. Sirangelo said that they got most of the data that they needed and that this incident will not really affect their testing plans.

Keith's 28 Oct note: Sources report that Ed Mango has resigned as head of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Kathy Leuders, the current Deputy Program Manager, will be taking over for Mango. She has the support and respect of all the companies, NASA, and the Administration. This management change will renew the tug of war between JSC and KSC over where this program should actually be managed.

Keith's 29 Oct update : According to NASA PAO: "Ed Mango, the Program Manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, has announced he's stepping down from his position to tend to personal matters, effective as of Oct. 21. Kathryn Lueders, Deputy Manager, Commercial Crew Program, is serving as the Acting Program Manager, working to ensure NASA's commercial crew partners remain on-track developing safe, innovative, cost-effective transportation systems to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil again as soon as possible."

A Last Chance to Tell the NRC *YOUR* Ideas for Human Spaceflight -- Via Twitter, Space Policy Online

"The National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Human Spaceflight is offering everyone a last chance to provide their ideas on the future of the human spaceflight program via a Twitter chat tomorrow, October 29, 2013. This is the first time the NRC is using social media to obtain input from the public. Anyone who wants to participate should tweet their ideas using the hashtag #humansinspace. Input will be accepted during a 27 hour period on October 29 -- from midnight Eastern Daylight Time through the next midnight Pacific Daylight Time."

Keith's note: "Everyone"? I don't think so. The SSB only told a handful of people about this last minute Twitter thing. What is really odd is that they did not even bother to inform the media or larger websites that could help spread the word. Indeed, they only told their panel members at the last minute. Oddly, just last week, NAS SSB staff specifically asked me to come in to talk to them on this topic and promised to keep me in the loop on things like this. So much for that.

I am not certain how the NAS SSB expects to get much input if they hide notices on their website and only drop a hint on one or two inside the beltway websites and tweet once to accounts with a hundred or so followers. Yes, I know things go viral easily - but a little strategic thinking and some serious visibility could have been achieved. Indeed, what about the rest of the 300 million people (i.e. "everyone") who pay to operate NASA - and also pay the NAS SSB for their $3.6 million studies?

Annual Call for Nominations for NASA science advisory subcommittees, NASA SMD

"NASA invites nominations for service on NASA science advisory subcommittees of the NASA Advisory Council. U.S. citizens may nominate individuals and also submit self-nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA's science advisory subcommittees. NASA's science advisory subcommittees have member vacancies from time to time throughout the year, and NASA will consider nominations and self-nominations to fill such intermittent vacancies. NASA is committed to selecting members to serve on its science advisory subcommittees based on their individual expertise, knowledge, experience, and current/past contributions to the relevant subject area."

Annual Invitation for Public Nominations by U.S. Citizens for Service on NASA Federal Advisory Committees (2013), earlier post

"NASA announces its annual invitation for public nominations for service on NASA Federal advisory committees. U.S. citizens may nominate individuals and also submit self- nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA's Federal advisory committees."

Sun Emits Third Solar Flare in 2 Days

"Oct. 25, 2013 Another solar flare erupted from the same area of the sun on Oct. 25, 2013,which peaked at 11:03 a.m. EDT. This flare is classified as an X2.1 class. The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 4:01 a.m. EDT on Oct. 25, 2013. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, anywhere from minutes to hours."

- Space weather alerts on Twitter at @SpaceWeather

Antarctic Ozone Hole Slightly Smaller than Average This Year

"The ozone hole that forms each year in the stratosphere over Antarctica was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data. The ozone hole is a seasonal phenomenon that starts to form during the Antarctic spring (August and September). The September-October 2013 average size of the hole was 8.1 million square miles (21 million square kilometers)."

ASE Calls for Global Cooperation to Confront Asteroid Threats

"At a public event today at New York's American Museum of Natural History, the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), a professional society of astronauts and cosmonauts, issued a challenge to the global community to take the next vital steps to confront the threat from dangerous asteroids. The ASE Committee on Near-Earth Objects statement follows the United Nations General Assembly adoption if a suite of proposals to create an international decision-making mechanism for planetary asteroid defense."

Keith's 25 October update: Erika Vick and NASA PAO have declined to respond to a series of questions regarding this Twitter account. Perhaps that explains why @ExperienceNASA has been taken offline.

Keith's note: Apparently the operation of the @ExperienceNASA Twitter account is part of Erika Vick's official duties at NASA. It is not clear what NASA program(s) this activity supports or what the guidelines are for what is proper content for this Twitter feed. Despite repeated requests no one at NASA HQ including NASA PAO and Erika Vick at the NASA Advisory Council can give me a straight answer. @ExperienceNASA was silent during the shutdown - as were all other official NASA Twitter accounts. Its description says "Welcome to your one-stop shop for opportunities to participate in/contribute to NASA goals/missions! Need help? Ask me! Washington, DC · nasa.gov"

Another Official NASA Twitter Account That Isn't, earlier post

George Hopson

George Hopson, Huntsville Times

"George David Hopson, 86, passed away peacefully at his home in Madison, Alabama on Wednesday.He held numerous positions at NASA including Fluid Dynamics Branch Chief, Structures and Thermal Branch Chief, Skylab Analysis Lab Director, Space Systems Chief Engineer, Space Transportation Systems Chief Engineer, Space Station Projects Office Manager, Deputy Director for Space Systems, Space Shuttle Main Engine Manager, and NASA Technical Fellow for Propulsion. He received significant recognition throughout his career including the Exceptional Service Award, two Outstanding Leadership Awards, two Presidential Rank Awards, the Distinguished Service Award and induction into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame."

President Barack Obama Recognizes NASA Employees' Public Service

"David Lavery, program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington, and scientist William Borucki of NASA's Ames Research Centers in Moffett, Field, Calif., were the agency's honorees. Lavery and his Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team received the Science and Environment medal for their work on the successful development, launch, landing, operations, and science activities of the Curiosity rover. Borucki was honored as a finalist for the Career Achievement medal for his visionary work on the Kepler mission launched in 2009. The mission was designed to search for potentially habitable extra-solar planets or exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system."

Keith's note: Here is the original color version by Michael Ramirez. You can share your opinions with him on his Facebook page or the IBD editorials Facebook page
or post a comment here. What is truly disgusting is that the comment originates from the part of the cloud where the crew cabin was. This man Ramirez is sick and pathetic.


'Anti-Troll' Marblar Unites NASA Patents, Samsung to Crowdsource New Products, ABC

"What do water filters, memory foam and invisible braces have in common? All those everyday products' origins can be found in NASA technology, and the new crowdsourcing website Marblar is taking advantage of that to find the next big thing. The site Wednesday announced that several hundred patents from NASA and other organizations would be available for its users to play with. Marblar CEO Daniel Perez said that although many companies' research and development departments spend millions of dollars on such patents, more than 95 percent of them sit unused."

NASA Engages the Public to Discover New Uses for Out-of-this-World Technologies

"NASA has joined forces with the product development startup Marblar for a pilot program allowing the public to crowdsource product ideas for forty of NASA's patents. This initiative will allow Marblar's online community to use a portion of NASA's diverse portfolio of patented technologies as the basis of new product ideas."

NASA MSFC/Moon Express Space Act Agreement

NASA MSFC/Moon Express Space Act Agreement Annex

"This Annex shall be for the purpose of MSFC providing support to Moon Express, Inc. (MEl) in their efforts to design, develop, integrate, and test their Guidance Algorithms for a terrestrial lander. The MEl provided algorithms will be integrated into the existing Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C) Software on-board MSFC's Warm Gas Test Article (WGTA) and used to perform a hazard avoidance test series."

"Partner agrees to reimburse NASA an estimated cost of $31,500.00 for NASA to carry out its responsibilities under this Annex."

Robots and Parades

Keith's note: Neil Tyson will be talking about "Delusions of Space Enthusiasts" on Wednesday from 9:00 - 10:00 am EDT at the National Academy of Sciences' Human Spaceflight panel. WebEx Access Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721 Conference Code: 448 560 9647. If none of these things work check here.

NAS will only allow 150 people to watch on WebEx. What is baffling is why the NAS can't simply do a Google Hangout. All you need is a laptop and the potential reach of their "public" events would be vastly enhanced. And it is free too. Of course, the NAS goes out of its way not to tell anyone about this "public" presentation. Only wonks and media can usually figure out what's going on in these meetings.

Keith's update: If you did not tune in to Tyson's presentation you did not miss much. He referred to slides a lot - but the NAS did not show his slides. Nor did the NAS capture the presentation for posting on YouTube. Based on his somewhat rambling presentation this morning, it is clear Tyson is not a big fan of commercial space. He thinks that only governments can lead the way in space and that commerce can only follow. He said that due to risk and expense one cannot valuate space from a commercial perspective. He also more or less dismissed the notion out of hand that America has ever really done anything in space for scientific, exploratory, or inspirational purposes and thinks that everything done in space can be traced back to war funding. He also dismissed the notion that investing in NASA has significant economic payback.

NAS Space Studies Board Quietly Announces Online Public Access After Event Starts, earlier post

Keith's note: This incomprehensible anime video from JAXA seems to be about some bratty nerd girls who wear NASA and JAXA jackets, get into cat fights, get married, and work on the Joint NASA/JAXA GPM mission or something like that. Yes, I know there are subtitles, and (minimal) narration in Japanese, but the pictures tell an odd narrative. But it looks cool.

NASA OIG Report: Bo Jiang's Access to NASA's Langley Research Center

"On March 16, 2013, agents from the Department of Homeland Security conducted a border search of former NASA contractor Bo Jiang at Dulles International Airport as part of an investigation of potential export control violations. Jiang, a citizen of the Peoples Republic of China, was preparing to fly home to China. After questioning him about what electronic media he had in his possession and searching his belongings, agents took Jiang into custody and charged him with making a false statement to Federal authorities."

- Attn Frank Wolf: Bo Jiang Had Porn - Not Secrets - on His Laptop, earlier post
- Congress Vs NASA on China (Home Alone with Wolf and Bolden), earlier post

Earlier China posts

Vitter to Block Energy Dept. Nominee, Wants Answers about Work at NASA

"Under the Obama administration, NASA has been stalling on a job creating project at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for no apparent reason," Vitter said. "Ms. Robinson needs to answer questions about why they've delayed the project, and other questions about NASA's operations before she leaves her job overseeing their finances."

Keith's note: Reminder to NASA employees: Sen. Vitter voted against sending all of you back to work during the shutdown. Is he really concerned about jobs? It depends what day of the week it is, so it would seem. Clearly this is all naked politics on Sen. Vitter's part. C'mon - if he was really concerned about the horrible things he accuses Beth Robinson of doing at NASA, why would he seek to delay her departure from NASA - wouldn't he want her gone already?

Keith's note: Yes, Twitter has its limitations when it comes to saying things in 140 characters. But if CASIS is tweeting pseudoscience like this (or misquoting someone) on behalf of NASA then they need to be shut down. On Earth, a "genome" is made out of DNA (or RNA) - period. How can you "change a genome" unless you do something to the nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) that comprises the genome? And if you are going to "change a genome", well that kind of falls right in the realm of what a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is.

Keith's update: CASIS just tweeted this reply. Alas, there is still some basic Biology ignorance in evidence on the Tweeter's part. When you start to deliberately modify gene expression in an organism you 1. are tinkering with DNA since form (structure) = function and 2. you have one foot clearly in the GMO concept - and the other about to step in.

Keith's 22 Oct update: Zero Gravity Solutions sent NASA Watch an email today regarding the @NASAWatch response to what @ISS_CASIS tweeted yesterday: "We would request the clarification to state:  We are changing the genome expression without adding foreign genes."

NAS SSB: Committee on Human Spaceflight Meeting

Keith's note: Only after today's event began did the NAS Space Studies Board bother to tweet that there was a Webex feed for this meeting - something they only added to the event's page after the fact. Bill Gerstenmaier is speaking on "Status on HSF Plans and Challenges" . Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721 Conference Code: 448 560 9647

Attendees in the audience at the event were unaware that this event was being webcast or available on telephone dial-in. Indeed, I asked the SSB ahead of time and they said it would not be webcast or audiocast so I came into town only to learn that I could have listened from my office. Thanks guys. The National Academy of Sciences' Space Studies Board has been chronically uninterested in making these "public" meetings truly "public" - as are other NAS events, Congressional hearings, and NASA Advisory Council meetings. Is this Webex visibility a trend - or a fluke? We'll see.

Neil Tyson will be talking about "Delusions of Space Enthusiasts" on Wednesday from 9:00 - 10:00 am EDT. WebEx Access Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 668-0721 Conference Code: 448 560 9647. Otherwise, this committee's efforts tomorrow and part of Wednesday will be devoted to closed door sessions that SSB doesn't seem to feel that anyone needs to know about (who is speaking etc.) - even though 100% of the cost of these meetings is paid for by NASA.

Yet Another Slow Motion Advisory Committee on Human Space Flight

"Net result: the committee's advice will be out of synch with reality and somewhat overtaken by events having taken a total of 3 years, 7 months to complete. Oh yes: the cost of this study? $3.6 million.. The soonest that a NASA budget could be crafted that took this committee's advice into account would be the FY 2016 budget request. NASA and OMB will interact on the FY 2016 budget during Fall 2014 and it won't be announced until early 2015 - 4 1/2 years after this committee and its advice was requested in the NASA Authorization Act 2010."

Why Does Space Policy Always Suck?

"This self-perpetuating space policy echo chamber existed before sequesters, shutdowns, and CRs and it will continue to exist once this current budget nonsense is resolved - and it will survive as future congressional calamities ensue. Yet people still wonder why, after all these years, the process whereby space policy is developed sucks so very much - and why NASA finds it harder and harder to do what it is chartered to do."

The Government Shutdown Was Temporary, Its Damage to Science Permanent, Scientific American

"In many ways the federal government shutdown was a huge, unplanned experiment in what happens when we give up on science for two weeks. The experiment is now over and the results are still incomplete. But so far, they are ugly."

Shutdown's science fallout could last for years, Politico

"Even if the government opens tomorrow, a significant amount of damage has been done," said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, a nonprofit advocating for science-minded agencies. "This isn't about a few people who can't go to the labs like they're on vacation or something. The whole research enterprise depends on operating 24/7."

Science Gets a Cameo in U.S. Shutdown Vote, Science

"The day before the decisive vote, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), threw a rhetorical double-punch, linking concerns about home-state and international impacts in a plea to end the shutdown. Some "97 percent of NASA employees in Cleveland and Sandusky in northern Ohio have been furloughed," he noted, while Ohio's academic scientists were worried about their grants. "If you are a research scientist ... [and] see these interruptions, if you are furloughed for 3 weeks in October 2013 and then again some time next year ... the most talented researchers are going to walk away, and we are going to lose so much of the edge we have in this country."

Keith's note: Bernard Edwards, A NASA employee, is making a presentation "Overview of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Project" during the work day on a telecon co-sponsored by NASA - yet the agency won't publish the invitation online such that taxpayers can participate. But if you go to this webpage it states "Note: This is NOT a public telecon. You may share this link only with qualified participants." This is the link that can only be shared with "qualified" participants. Taxpayers are paying for this presentation, as such all taxpayers are quailfied, right? Are you "qualified"? Of course you are.

Here is how to dial into this stealth NASA telecon (but only if you are "qualified" !): Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Telecon Presentations Co Chairs: Harley Thronson Harley.A.Thronson@nasa.gov & Dan Lester dfl@astro.as.utexas.edu Wednesdays, 3pm EDT Dial in: 877 921 5751 Passcode: 623679

Oh yes, they still tell people to go to this website http://futureinspaceoperations.com/ which still features the article "Skin Lightening Options For Those On A Budget".

- NASA FISO Telecon Organizers Are Confused, earlier post
- Stealth Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Telecons, earlier post

NASA ROSES 2013 Amendments 23-27: new proposal due dates for MDAP, PMDAP, HGCR, OVWST, and OPR

"During the Government shutdown, the proposal due dates for three ROSES programs were set to TBD in order for Government proposers to have time to prepare their submissions. Now that the Government has resumed work, new due dates have been set for these programs. In addition, new proposal due dates have been set for two programs with original due dates in the near future. Updated due dates are as follows:"

NASA Research Opportunities in Fundamental Physics: Due Date Extended

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has set a new due date for proposals submitted to the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNH13ZTT002N, entitled "Research Opportunities in Fundamental Physics."

NAI Cycle 7 CAN Amendment 1: Step-1 and Step-2 proposal due dates changed

"The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) Cycle 7 Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) provides an opportunity for the submission of team-based proposals for membership in the NAI. The goal of CAN Cycle 7 is to maintain a multidisciplinary institute by selecting focused, interdisciplinary teams that complement without replicating the strengths of the continuing teams. The teams selected in Cycle 7 will replace the teams selected in Cycle 5, whose five-year Cooperative Agreements are expiring."

NASA Reboots

NASA workers wary about future, MySA

"I'm a contractor," said Liz Lawler, 58, of Clear Lake. "I have no idea if I will get paid for this time off." Lawler was furloughed from her job as a personnel troubleshooter for REDE Critique NSS, a contractor for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, after Congress was unable to reach an agreement to fund the government two weeks ago."

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will reopen at noon Thursday, Huntsville Times

"Still unclear is how many of Marshall's estimated 2,500 civilian contract employees will be back on the job Thursday. But those workers support their NASA counterparts, so they will all be back soon."

NASA reopening doors, getting back online after shutdown ends, NBC

Although most NASA employees were not able to work during the 16-day shutdown, some missions were still collecting data and performing key maneuvers. Thursday, some NASA-run Twitter accounts were trying to catch their followers up about what the missions have accomplished since the shutdown began. "Allow me to reintroduce myself," officials with NASA's Mars rover Curiosity (@MarsCuriosity) wrote on Twitter. "I'm back on Twitter & even closer to Mars' Mount Sharp."

Is the US Yielding Spaceflight Leadership to China?, Op-Ed, Leroy Chiao, Space.com

"China is inviting international partners to work with them on their space station. They want international research, and they want to fly international astronauts. Many of the United States' ISS partners (at least eight space agencies have talked to the Chinese about partnering and cooperation) are finding a more attractive alternative with China, or at least hedging their bets. Who can blame them? Working with China would be much less expensive than continuing with ISS. This sets up the perfect baton pass. America, already on the decline after the retirement of the space shuttle (now only Russia and China can launch astronauts into space), will on the way down hand over the leadership position of human spaceflight to the Chinese."

Earlier posts on China

Who knew? German insomniacs watch NASA space feed all night

"A quirky habit of German insomniacs and "chill-out" music fans has come to world attention thanks to the U.S. government shutdown. "Space Night," a nearly 20-year-old late-night broadcast by Bavarian Television, provides a music-sharing platform against a backdrop of NASA's video feed from the International Space Station. But the 15-day-old U.S. government shutdown has idled the NASA archivists responsible for relaying the imagery beyond Mission Control, cutting off fresh backdrops to mix with the music for "Space Night" broadcasts that were to have launched a new season Nov. 1."

Keith's note: FYI Space Station Soma and Mission Control at Soma FM stream NASA-flavored music 24/7.

Stunning View From High Above Saturn

"This portrait looking down on Saturn and its rings was created from images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Oct. 10, 2013. It was made by amateur image processor and Cassini fan Gordan Ugarkovic. This image has not been geometrically corrected for shifts in the spacecraft perspective and still has some camera artifacts."

NASA Administrator Message: Agreement to Open The Government

"Congress and the President have reached an agreement on a funding measure that reopens the federal government and allows all of us to get back to work. More detailed information will be forthcoming on how best to return to your duties, but I want to take this opportunity to welcome you back. I understand there will be uncertainty and questions as we return to our offices, and I want to assure you that NASA's leadership is committed to providing you with as much information and support as possible to address your concerns and put our vital scientific research and technology programs back on track."

Keith's note: This audio clip of the late Mike Wargo is aboard LADEE. It was sent back to Earth from the Moon yesterday. Now, if anyone happens to visit the Moon and asks LADEE what it is doing there, Mike will let them know - from lunar orbit.

A Memorial Tribute for Mike Wargo will be held on October 17, 2013 from 11:00-noon with an informal reception to follow. The tribute will be held at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC. Please note that the Cosmos Club requests that gentlemen wear a jacket and tie. Those who wish to give a gift in Mike's memory are encouraged to make a donation to MIT Michael J. Wargo for the Department of Materials Science Endowed Fellowship Fund. Contact Bonny Kellerman, bonnyk -at- mit.edu or at 617-253-9722

- Crater Wargo, earlier post
- NASA Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Statement on the Passing of Dr. Michael Wargo, earlier post
- Mike Wargo, earlier post

Congressman Brooks Introduces Legislation to Restore NASA Funding and Workforce

"Today Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) introduced legislation to fund the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Fiscal Year 2014. This legislation is consistent with Congressman Brooks' efforts to return furloughed personnel to work following the government shutdown."

Stockman introduces Keep NASA Open Act to shield Agency from shutdown

"Congressman Steve Stockman Wednesday joined Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) to introduce the Keep NASA Open Act. The bill would guarantee NASA functions would continue to be funded should an agreement to fund the government not be reached soon."

Keith's note: Both Brooks and Stockman voted to shut the government down - so they were both for shutting NASA down - before they were against it. But wait - according to this press release from Rep. Stockman last week "Stockman's office meets with JSC employees to support restoring NASA funding" he said "Our calls from JSC employees this week are about nine to one in favor of standing strong against Obama's budget." So, if he was accurate - last week - then he should still be for shutting NASA down - this week - right?

Video of SpaceX Next Gen Falcon 9 Launch

"This video of the Next Gen Falcon 9 Demonstration Flight includes video footage of the first stage re-ignition done as part of a recovery attempt. This Falcon 9 rocket was launched on 29 September and delivered the CASSIOPE, CUSat, DANDE and POPACS satellites to orbit."

Former NASA Managers Call for More Spending Despite Crunch, Space News

"Among those who spoke at the von Braun symposium was one of Constellation's chief architects, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. Griffin, who ran NASA from 2005 to 2009, scoffed at the idea that NASA is operating in a budget-constrained environment. "We are in a willpower-constrained environment," said Griffin, who is now the Huntsville-based chairman and chief executive of science and engineering services contractor Schafer Corp. Griffin noted that 50 years of NASA spending, adjusted for inflation, was approximately equivalent to the roughly $800 billion stimulus bill signed into law in February 2009. Meanwhile, Cooke and another former NASA manager took shots at the "flat-is-the-new-up" mantra that has become prevalent among government-relations executives in Washington in the age of across-the-board sequestration budget cuts."

Lost in space -- and on Earth, David Ignatius, Washington post

"The world of 2013 is different: We don't even attempt manned space programs anymore. They are too expensive, and what's the point? Thank goodness for the plucky little Voyager I probe, which has just left the solar system, 36 years after it was launched, carrying sounds of Earth, including a baby crying, a whale's song and Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."

Keith's note: Nothing is more annoying than uninformed and pontificating op eds by know-it-alls prominently displayed on the editorial pages of a large national newspaper such as the Washington Post. This quote by David Ignatius really makes that point: "The world of 2013 is different: We don't even attempt manned space programs anymore. They are too expensive, and what's the point?"

It would seem that Ignatius is unaware of the fact that the International Space Station, built and maintained mostly with American funds, is in orbit - with 2 Americans on board - and that there are plans to extend its lifetime well into next decade. Nor is Ignatius apparently aware of the multiple commercial firms, spurred on by heavy NASA Investments, who are looking to provide new and less expensive ways to put more Americans into orbit.

Ignatius is also clearly oblivious to America's Orion program that is building a human-rated spacecraft that will be test launched next year or the plans already being formulated for Americans to travel to - and capture an asteroid and bring it back to near-Earth space. Of course there's also Dennis Tito's plan to send a human crew to Mars and back and Virgin Galactic, XCOR, and Blue Origin who seek to send an exponentially larger number of people into space for a similarly cheaper cost. Ignatius is oddly silent about these efforts as well.

If anything, people - from both government and the private sector - are more interested in going into space than at any time in the past. Not only is their space agency putting its money where citizens want it to be, but citizens are putting additional money down in terms of spaceflight deposits and propelling "Gravity" to the top of the box office for yet another week.

Doesn't the Washington Post have a research staff to fact check these op eds before they are published? Obviously not.

Testimony of Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion Blakey

"For support contractors working at NASA locations, this means they are unable to do their jobs. To compensate, larger companies are forced to encourage workers to take unplanned vacation time off or try to find other work that they can do elsewhere. Smaller firms often do not have this flexibility; in many cases September 30th marked the end of a contract period of performance. With no funding and no contract in place, small firms are keeping their workforce together at their own risk with no assurance the workers will be paid for the work done during the shutdown. For companies of all sizes, if the shutdown persists, these workers will face furloughs and, unlike furloughed Federal employees, there is no guarantee that will be reimbursed for lost wages. There is a real potential for a negative ripple effect throughout local economies in these regions. Other work that contractors are doing at NASA facilities - including preparations for the first Orion space capsule test launch in 2014 are shut down since contactors are not allowed access to the NASA facility where the work must be performed."

Nelson Tells Blakey: "Put a Fire Under Your Executives", Space Policy Online

"[Sen. Bill] Nelson was not assuaged. "You do not have to convince the White House," he admonished [AIA President Marion Blakely], adding that he had met "with two of your CEOs last week" and "they were not ready to step up and go talk to the [House] leadership" about the shutdown, but would if a debt default appeared likely. "Well, default is in another half a week," Nelson declared. "It's been a week and a half that we've been in shutdown. So I would implore you all to activate your people. Now where -- where are the people that are so affected at the Johnson Space Center in Houston? Where are they going to the congressional delegation and talking to them? And I could go through the NASA centers. ... But you need to put a fire under your executives."

Impact of the Federal Shutdown on Private Industry and the Nation: The NASA-Johnson Space Center Experience, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

"Before the shutdown, JSC had approximately 3,200 federal employees and 11,000 private sector employees supporting its human spaceflight and exploration mission. As a result of the shutdown, JSC is closed, except for 100 federal and a very limited number of contractor employees who support the International Space Station's operations, which have been deemed critical, or in fed-speak 'excepted services.' For a company, the shutdown means that contract work stops. Employees who work in a federal facility are already home. Employees who work on a contract off JSC property will be furloughed as the respective contracts run out of money. That means about 20% of the 11,000 private sector company employees are furloughed now. About 60% will be furloughed by mid October. Over 90% will be furloughed by November 1. If the shutdown continues, an additional 10,000 people will not have a paycheck. Dozens of companies will have been severely weakened, and an entire support community of small service businesses will be damaged as their customer base erodes. These businesses include, but are not limited to, small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned and service disabled businesses. The short-term harm to workers and their families is incalculable. The longer-term harm to the companies is just beginning to be understood."

Keith's note: The following is being sent out by the Kepler SciCon organizers:

"We have just learned that the efforts of NASA's Ames Research Center to ensure that our Chinese astronomer colleagues will be able to attend the Second Kepler Science Conference have been halted by the fact these approvals must be entered into a computer system at NASA HQ in Washington DC. Because of the ongoing federal government shutdown, there is no one at NASA HQ who can complete the approval process. Of course, if the federal shutdown continues much longer, the conference will not be able to begin as scheduled on November 3, 2013. We fear that the meeting may have to be cancelled as a result, or delayed. The ability of scientists to attend an open scientific meeting about the spectacular results produced by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope is another likely fatality of the failure of the U.S. Congress to enact a federal budget for FY2014. Alan Boss, SOC Co-Chair, KSC II"

Keith's note: As I understand the situation all of the final arrangements for this meeting - including the processing of all foreign visitors (not just Chinese) - can only happen if the government is open. If the government does not open in time then there's a chance that the meeting simply will not happen. And of course, Frank Wolf voted for the shutdown ...

- Confusion Over NASA's Policies That Ban Certain People, earlier post
- Frank Wolf Dumps on NASA For Doing What He Told Them To Do, earlier post
- Astronomers Dump on NASA About China When Congress Is To Blame, earlier post

Scott Carpenter

NASA Administrator Remembers Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter
 
"The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of original Mercury astronaut Malcom Scott Carpenter from complications following a stroke. Carpenter, who was the second American to orbit the Earth in 1962, was 88. "Today, the world mourns the passing of Scott Carpenter. As one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was in the first vanguard of our space program -- the pioneers who set the tone for our nation's pioneering efforts beyond Earth and accomplished so much for our nation."

John Glenn to Scott Carpenter: Godspeed, AP

"When John Glenn soared into space as the first American in orbit, Scott Carpenter wished him bon voyage with three simple words: "Godspeed, John Glenn." Glenn bid farewell to his lifelong pal who died Thursday in the same way. "Godspeed, Scott Carpenter --Great Friend," Glenn, the last remaining Mercury 7 astronaut, said in a statement issued by his spokesman on Friday. He added: "You are missed."

Scott Carpenter, Wikipedia

Email From NASA Administrator Bolden Regarding Chinese Attendance at NASA Meeting

"It is unfortunate that potential Chinese participants were refused attendance at the upcoming Kepler Conference at the Ames Research Park. Mid-level managers at Ames, in performing the due diligence they believed appropriate following a period of significant concern and scrutiny from Congress about our foreign access to NASA facilities, meetings and websites, acted without consulting NASA HQ. Upon learning of this exclusion, I directed that we review the requests for attendance from scientists of Chinese origin and determine if we can recontact them immediately upon the reopening of the government to allow them to reapply. Any of them applying and meeting the clearance requirements in place for foreign citizens will be accepted for participation in the Conference."

Why Has NASA Banned Access to its Partner Saudi Arabia?, (2013), earlier post

"Bolden: "I have ordered a moratorium on granting any new access to NASA facilities to individuals from specific designated countries. Specifically: China, Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. While this review is on going I have also ordered that any remote computer access to NASA resources be terminated for those from the same specific designated countries."

Wolf Letter to NASA's Bolden Correcting Record on Restrictions Involving Chinese Nationals

"I believe what Mr. Messersmith may have been referring to was a temporary restriction on Chinese nationals that you put in place earlier this year after serious security protocol flaws were brought to your attention by some in Congress, including me, specifically regarding violations at Ames and Langley Research Center. You indicated at the time that security policies for foreign nationals for particular countries of concern would be reevaluated and new accreditations would not be approved until the security process was vetted. However, any restriction against Chinese nationals on NASA centers is entirely an agency policy and not covered under the statutory restriction. Furthermore, it was my understanding that NASA's temporary restrictions had been lifted after a review of security protocols for foreign nationals at all NASA centers."

Keith's note: It certainly looks like Wolf and Bolden don't keep each other updated about trivial little things such as banning "individuals from specific designated countries". No mention of "government" affiliation as being a factor. So what do NASA people do? They follow what their management told them to do. Looks like the people in a position to make the routine decisions on this issue are the last ones to know what the rules actually are.

- Frank Wolf Dumps on NASA For Doing What He Told Them To Do, earlier post

An Astronaut Fact-checks Gravity, Vulture

"Former U.S. astronaut Scott Parazynski has done seven space walks, including the time he spent seven hours dangling from a robotic arm at the International Space Station, repairing a solar panel array that could have electrocuted him at any time. He had to watch that very solar panel get slashed to bits during Gravity, but aside from that moment, Parazynski loved the film. Vulture had a long, spoiler-filled conversation with the astronaut about space debris, jet packs, tears in space, and Sandra Bullock's underwear."

NASA researchers protest government shutdown, Palo Alto Online

"I'm supposed to be looking for planets, but I'm not," said Kepler mission scientist Natalie Batalha, whose words inspired the crowd to began chanting, "We love Kepler! We want Kepler!" She added that she would even volunteer her time to continue her work, but she can't. The crowd also cheered for Brian Day, EPO lead for LADDEE, the lunar atmosphere and dust environment explorer, when he said LADDEE had "just entered orbit around the moon." "It's a very interesting story and unfortunately we aren't telling it," he said. "Normally I'd be trying to prevent foreign countries from trying to hack into our data but I'm not doing that right now," said cyber-security expert Matt Linton. He said a "skeleton crew" was still doing that work, but that it would be "insufficient" in the longer term."

In limbo: Shutdown creates long-lasting impacts for NASA's JSC, Houston Business Journal

"At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, only about 100 of the 3,150 civil servants regularly employed at the center are not furloughed. Hundreds more local contractors working with NASA have been furloughed and more contractor furloughs could come any day, said Tim Budzik, managing director of the Houston Technology Center's JSC campus."

Keynote speaker at von Braun Symposium says NASA needs to 'try new strategies', Huntsville Times

"[Wayne] Hale outlined a mixed bag of NASA successes in wake of the Apollo moon missions, noting that the agency has languished for almost 40 years as different visions for NASA have died amid a lack of funding. The current Space Launch System - a heavy lift rocket under development at Huntsville's Marshall Flight Center intended for deep space exploration - could soon fade away like other programs, such as Constellation in 2009. "The current plan is fragile in the political and financial maelstrom that is Washington," Hale said. "Planning to fly large rockets once every three or four years does not make a viable program. It is not sustainable. "Continuing to develop programs in the same old ways, from my observations, will certainly lead to cancellation as government budgets are stretched thin. It is time to try new strategies."

Keith's note: Wayne Hale just posted this comment: "It was not my intention to imply that SLS/Orion should be cancelled. Far from it. The entire purpose of my speech was a call to action for the community - government and industry - to initiate the kind of revolutionary change in management systems and financial resources that will be necessary for any new space efforts to succeed. No program will succeed these days - large rockets or small rockets, moon or mars or asteroids - without radical improvements in management techniques. We will have to be as innovative in management and finance as we are in engineering."

I am a little confused. If Hale's comments are reported accurately in the original article, then he said "Planning to fly large rockets once every three or four years does not make a viable program. It is not sustainable." This is exactly what SLS program plans to do. If this approach is not "viable" or "sustainable" wouldn't the prudent course of action be to cancel the program? The only alternative would be to fly the SLS more often (I guess) but there is not going to be the money to do that. Not even close. So ... (again if Hale was quoted accurately) cancellation would be the only course of action to take - if one agreed with what Hale said. Or is a program that is not "viable" or "sustainable" worthy of continued funding?

As for Hale's NASAWatch posting, how is a change in management systems going to make SLS any better if it only launches "every three or four years"? Good management is not going to make a badly planned program any better -- other than to make it more efficient in being badly planned, I suppose.

Stockman's office meets with JSC employees to support restoring NASA funding

"Our calls from JSC employees this week are about nine to one in favor of standing strong against Obama's budget."

Keith's note: Rep. Stockman voted to shut the government down in the first place - and now he claims that 90% of JSC employees supported that vote?

Planning and Implementation of Caretaker Status for U.S. Antarctic Program

"The National Science Foundation (NSF) is responsible for managing and coordinating the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) on behalf of the nation. This includes providing support personnel and facilities and coordinating transportation and other logistics for scientific research. Due to the lapse in appropriation, funds for this support will be depleted on or about October 14, 2013. Without additional funding, NSF has directed its Antarctic support contractor to begin planning and implementing caretaker status for research stations, ships and other assets. The agency is required to take this step as a result of the absence of appropriation and the Antideficiency Act."

Keith's note: There is a Change.org petition titled "Congress: Shutdown Exemption for the United States Antarctic Program".

Juno Earth Flyby Today

Juno Prepares For Earth Flyby on Wednesday

"The flyby will function as a gravity assist for Juno, with Earth's gravity accelerating the solar-powered spacecraft's velocity by 16,330 miles per hour. NASA launched Juno to an area just past Mars, then two main engine burns executed a year ago maneuvered it back around toward Earth. The purpose of using a gravity assist to get Juno on its way to Jupiter is one of cost."

- Flyby info, SwRI
- Earth Image from JunoCam

LADEE Makes LOI-2 Burn

Keith's note: According to someone at NASA: "LADEE just completed a successful firing of its main engine in the second lunar orbit insertion (LOI-2) burn! We are now in a 4 hour elliptic orbit, with the perilune at our commissioning altitude. This follows the LOI-1 burn on Oct 6 that first got us into lunar orbit. The accuracy of the LOI-1 burn was such that we did not need to do the LAM-1 (apolune) maneuver. The final of the three LOI burns is scheduled for October 12. This will settle us into the commissioning orbit."

NASA ban on Chinese scientists 'inaccurate': lawmaker (Update), PhysOrg

"However, Wolf's office issued a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday seeking to correct an article on the matter that first appeared Friday in The Guardian newspaper, as well as NASA's stance. "Unfortunately, the article is riddled with inaccuracies, as is, it appears, the guidance provided by NASA Ames staff to the attendees," said the letter. The law "primarily restricts bilateral, not multilateral, meetings and activities with the Communist Chinese government or Chinese-owned companies," it said. "It places no restrictions on activities involving individual Chinese nationals unless those nationals are acting as official representatives of the Chinese government." Wolf said NASA officials may have believed that the move was needed because of extra temporary restrictions on foreign nationals after a potential security breach by a Chinese citizen at a NASA facility in Virginia earlier this year."

Second Kepler Science Conference Statement from the Science Organizing Committee

"In late March, 2013, NASA, in response to Federal legislation, imposed a moratorium on visits to NASA facilities by citizens of several nations, including China. The legislation in question was initially crafted by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) to reflect national security concerns, with further modifications and restrictions added to the 2013 bill. The Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) of the Second Kepler Science Conference (KSC2) learned about this moratorium in late September, as the final agenda was being constructed, when 6 of our Chinese colleagues who preregistered for the KSC2 had their registrations denied."

Keith's note: Given the relentless investigations, letters, and outright nasty badgering that Rep. Wolf has given NASA over this issue, it is small wonder that the agency made this decision. After all, Rep. Wolf had already ordered investigations into previous Chinese participation in NASA meetings and ordered NASA to do overhauls of various online servers and facility access procedures after a Chinese national was found with porn on his laptop. Now Wolf sends NASA a letter criticizing the agency for taking his rants and demands seriously. Its hard to figure out just what this guy does or does not want NASA to do.

In his letter to Bolden - supposedly sent about this meeting and Chinese nationals - Wolf veers from one topic to another - and does a copy/paste of text from earlier rants - clearly demonstrating that he has a vendetta against NASA - and Ames staff in particular. He will use whatever happens to be on his desk or in his waste basket to throw at them with the hope that something will stick.

Wolf Letter to NASA's Bolden Correcting Record on Restrictions Involving Chinese Nationals

"In one troubling example, last month, The Wall Street Journal reported on a Space Act Agreement between Ames and Google's executives to use taxpayer-subsidized airplane fuel intended for military aircraft for personal travel by Google's leadership. A dubious scientific data collection scheme appears to have been developed as an excuse for this preferential treatment for these executives."

- Astronomers Dump on NASA About China When Congress Is To Blame, earlier post
- Attn Frank Wolf: Bo Jiang Had Porn - Not Secrets - on His Laptop, earlier post
- Wolf Addresses Arrest at Dulles Airport of Chinese National Potentially Involved in NASA Langely Security Violations, earlier post
- Congress Vs NASA on China (Home Alone with Wolf and Bolden), earlier post
- Bad Research By Rep. Wolf's Staff
- Wolf to Bolden: Disinvite Those Chinese Visitors, earlier post
- Rep. Wolf's China Witch Hunt Resumes (Update), earlier post

Keith's note: I just got a press release from the Alaska Aerospace Corportation (as did 53 others) with this legal disclaimer on it:

"The U.S. Export Control Laws regulate the export and re-export of technology originating in the United States. This includes the electronic transmission of information and software to foreign countries and to certain foreign nationals. Recipient agrees to abide by these laws and their regulations -- including the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations and the U.S. Department of State International Traffic in Arms Regulations -- and not to transfer, by electronic transmission or otherwise, any content derived from this email to either a foreign national or a foreign destination in violation of such laws."

Since no one has told me what might be ITAR sensitive in this email - or the citizenship/nationality of everyone who might read anything I might write/post, I guess that I cannot "transfer, by electronic transmission or otherwise, any content derived from this email to either a foreign national or a foreign destination in violation of such laws." Why do people put wording like this on press releases contained in emails which are, by their very nature, supposed to spur the republishing of their content as widely as possible by the news media? Goofy.

Misplaced High Resolution Lunar Orbiter Imagery Found After 46 Years

"High resolution imagery from the Lunar Orbiter program, forgotten for nearly 50 years, has been retrieved from original data tapes. The five Lunar Orbiter missions, flown between 1966 and 1967, were rather heavily documented. This extensive documentation has helped us at the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) to locate images on the original analog data tapes and retrieve them at a resolution that was impossible in the 1960s. While the Lunar Orbiter program was methodical in documenting everything, every now and then imagery slipped through the crack. Often times the misplaced images are unremarkable and incomplete. However, in this case, we have found complete high resolution imagery of a location close to the Apollo 15 landing site at Hadley Rille. The imagery we have uncovered is number 5105 taken by Lunar Orbiter V in 1967."

American Human Spaceflight Floundering, Opinion, Mark Sykes, SpaceNews

"A workshop of experts met recently in Washington to review and discuss the Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM). It is apparent that the mission is poorly conceived and lacking in basic planning, and carries huge cost and schedule risk that is more dumb than heroic. NASA may not know it yet, but ARM is dead, and the future of American human spaceflight is again in question. Perhaps it is time to move away from stunt as policy -- a tragic legacy of the Apollo program. If we are going to confront a true frontier like space, we need to ask some basic questions to find out what is possible or at least practical. Then we can define long-term goals with a real plan to achieve them."

Bolden's Confusing Asteroid Mission Rationale (Revised), earlier post

"To be blunt, there is no compelling rationale for the Asteroid Redirect & Return Mission (ARRM). There never has been. Based on the way that Charlie Bolden continually stumbles through his conflicting explanation of what the mission is and is not, there never will be a clear reason why it needs to be done."

- Asteroid Experts Are Not Very Fond of NASA's Asteroid Mission, earlier post

NASA's J-2X Engine To Be Mothballed After Testing, Aviation Week

"NASA's J-2X engine, once considered the pacing item for the next U.S. human-rated rocket, will go on the shelf after development testing wraps up next year because it will be years before the engine is needed to push humans toward Mars. While the agency is actively seeking other missions for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) in the planetary science and military arenas, most of the human flights it has in sight for the big new rocket probably can be accomplished with an upper stage powered by the RL-10 engine instead of the J-2X. "The J-2X for certain [design reference missions] is somewhat overpowered," said Todd May, NASA's SLS program manager."

NASA MSFC Solicitation: J-2X Design, Development, Test and Evaluation (2006)

"NASA/MSFC has a requirement for the design, development, test, and evaluation (DDT&E) of an engine to support the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) Upper Stage and the Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV) Earth Departure Stage (EDS). The engine, a J-2 (Saturn Heritage engine) derivative, will be a 250,000 pound thrust class human-rated engine and is planned to support a human launch of the CLV in 2012."

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Awarded $1.2 Billion NASA Contract for J-2X Ares Rocket Engine (2007)

"Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR), a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company, was awarded a NASA contract valued at $1.2 billion to design, development and test a J-2X engine that will power the upper stages of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles."

Keith's note: Clearly Dr. Tyson is unaware of the cross training and multiple skills possessed by NASA astronauts. Astronaut Scott Parazynski did a solar array repair on STS-120. He's an MD. John Grunsfeld did a number of arduous Hubble EVAs involving hardware repairs - no astronomy. He's an astronomer. Sally Ride (a physicist) was a robotic arm expert as was elementary school teacher Barbara Morgan. Rick Linnehan is a veterinarian and did a Hubble repair EVA (with Grunsfled the astronomer). With one exception, every human who has walked on the Moon doing geology was not a geologist. And so on. There are endless examples of people in the astronaut office trained in one area becoming experts in others. That's why they were selected in the first place. But Tyson did not bother to do even superficial research before Tweeting. So much for accuracy.

If you read Tyson's tweets you'll see that he clearly did not like "Gravity" - a movie that is breaking box office records (a movie that actual astronauts seem to really like). This is rather odd for someone (Tyson) who complains about the way that space exploration is portrayed to the public. The public is speaking with their wallets. He's not listening.

Alas, it will be interesting to see what nitpicking is done when the reboot of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" comes out - with Tyson as the host. I am certain he'll have music and sound effects during scenes depicting events that occur in space - i.e. sound in a vacuum - even though its totally inaccurate from a technical perspective.

Keith's note: Around 1:00 am EDT Tyson tweeted: "My Tweets hardly ever convey opinion. Mostly perspectives on the world. But if you must know, I enjoyed #Gravity very much." Contrary to his claim, his tweets regularly contain opinion. Usually, that is why his tweets are interesting - unless he's wrong, that is.


'Gravity': Panel of astro-experts on the science behind the film, Entertainment Weekly

"Would she, a medical doctor, have been needed for a spacewalk in the first place?

Leroy Chiao: It's certainly plausible. It's not at all uncommon for medical doctors of different backgrounds to be trained for a spacewalk, because if you show an aptitude for that, then it doesn't matter what your background is, whether you're an engineer like me or a medical doctor like some of my colleagues. You would be trained to do spacewalks."

LADEE Is Orbiting The Moon

Keith's note: According to someone at NASA: "Early this morning (October 6), we fired LADEE's main engine in a braking maneuver known as the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) burn. This slowed the spacecraft's velocity enough for it to be captured by the Moon's gravity. This critical burn went flawlessly and LADEE is now in lunar orbit! Two more main engine burns, on October 9 and 12 will adjust LADEE's trajectory, settling it into its commissioning orbit."

LADEE Wikipedia Page

Gravity Review: In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Dream

"I saw "Gravity" yesterday - in all its glory - in 3-D on a monster screen. I did so in the middle of the day so as to get the perfect seat. As it happens, any seat in the theater would have been perfect - with or without 3-D - this movie is that good. In watching the film I immediately felt myself pulled into the world that this film created. Only two other films have ever managed to do that to me: "Avatar" and "2001: A Space Odyssey". When I first saw "2001" during its initial run, I was lucky enough to see it in Cinerama - the IMAX of the day. I was already interested in space, but that experience left me changed forever. I can imagine how "Gravity" could have a similar effect on young people today."

US scientists boycott Nasa conference over China ban, Guardian

"Nasa officials rejected applications from Chinese nationals who hoped to attend the meeting at the agency's Ames research centre in California next month citing a law, passed in March, which prohibits anyone from China setting foot in a Nasa building. The law is part of a broad and aggressive move initiated by congressman Frank Wolf, chair of the House appropriations committee, which has jurisdiction over Nasa. It aims to restrict the foreign nationals' access to Nasa facilities, ostensibly to counter espionage."

Keith's note: Some of the scientists who are quoted in this article with complaints about NASA have apparently been living under a rock for the past several years. Newsflash: It is utterly illegal for NASA to allow Chinese participation - in any way. Complaining about NASA's decision is simply ill-informed. Where were all these people when this law was being formulated - or when hearings were held on it? Dumping on NASA or boycotting this meeting is pointless - only Kepler will suffer. If a change in the law is what is needed then these people need to talk to Congress about that - starting with Rep Wolf.

Check H.R. 1473 (112th): Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, Sec. 1340. (a) to see the sort of prohibitive language has been in place for several years. NASA's hands are tied.

- Second Kepler Science Conference - Nov. 4-8, 2013, NASA Ames
- Previous China postings

Keith's note: As NRAO lays everyone off and starts to go dark, it posted this really nice promotional video for the VLA narrated by Ellie Arroway aka Jodie Foster.

If you go to NRAO you get a shutdown notice: "Effective 7 p.m. EDT, Friday, 4 October 2013, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) temporarily suspended all operations because of the US Federal government shutdown."

US Antarctic research season is in jeopardy, Nature

"The National Science Foundation (NSF) is likely to cancel the US Antarctic programme's upcoming field season if the US government shutdown persists through mid-October -- jeopardizing hundreds of scientists' work in glaciology, ecology and astrophysics. The agency has kept its three Antarctic research stations open during the initial days of the shutdown, which began on 1 October, under rules designed to protect human lives and US government property. But Lockheed Martin, the contractor that runs the NSF's Antarctic operations, has told researchers that it will run out of money by mid-October."

Government Shutdown Mars Arecibo Anniversary, Space News

"Operations of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico are continuing for the moment despite the shutdown, observatory director Robert Kerr said at an Oct. 2 press conference here. He said the National Science Foundation, Arecibo's principal funder, authorized the observatory to spend what remaining funds it has on hand, although because the shutdown occurred at the beginning of the new fiscal year, there are few such funds available."

NASA Will Face Solomon's Choice in 2014, Dennis Wingo

"If a budget in the range of $16.6 billion is what happens NASA will have a major problem maintaining both the International Space Station (ISS) and the SLS/Orion Exploration program. Given that the funds are simply not going to be available to keep the ISS alive and functioning and to fully construct and operate the SLS/Orion system, something has to give. Are we going to have to kill one to insure the other's survival? That is the choice that that is presenting itself - a clear recipe for disaster as far as NASA's human space flight plans are concerned."

Houston: We're Bored

Shutdown Quiets NASA, So Space Station Astronauts Enjoy View, NPR

"Of all the government agencies, NASA is among the hardest hit by the government shutdown. As of Oct. 1, nearly all of its employees have been told to pack up and head home. But there are two NASA workers who can't leave the office, at least not without great expense to the taxpayer. Astronauts Karen Nyberg and Mike Hopkins are orbiting some 250 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station. They're in touch with mission control, but it's not clear they have all that much to do."

NASA Notice of information collection Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12)

"Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of NASA, including whether the information collected has practical utility; (2) the accuracy of NASA's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including automated collection techniques or the use of other forms of information technology."

- NLRB Rules Against JPL on HSPD-12 Actions, earlier post
- Previous HSPD-12 Posts

NASA's MAVEN's Mission Spared from Shutdown, Planetary Society

"In an increasingly rare display of sanity from Washington, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) was declared "excepted" from the current government shutdown so preparations for its November launch could continue. Bruce Jakosky, the Principle Investigator for the MAVEN mission, shared the news."

NAS SSB: Committee on Human Spaceflight Public and Stakeholder Opinions Panel

"This meeting is closed in its entirety."

Keith's note: Sigh, yet another NAS SSB meeting on "public and stakeholder Opinions" that is closed to the "public" and "stakeholders" i.e. the taxpayers who paid for it. As previously noted on NASA Watch, these expensive ($3.6 million) panels, composed of the usual suspects plus a few newbies, take years to churn out an end product. The product is watered down and is biased toward the pre-ordained opinions of Congress, the committee, and the select consultants that the SSB consults. No description is ever presented to the public as to how input is solicited, processed, or collated - nor does the public have any recourse whereby they can find out how the committee conducted itself.

The end result is presented to Congress. Congress reads the cover page, holds a hearing, and asks NASA to respond within 90 days to questions that miss the original point that the NAS committee was chartered to discuss. The White House then ignores the report - as does NASA - and Congress. Everyone then pats themselves on the back - and the process starts all over again - ignoring everything that the NAS SSB just did.

Because that is how it is done.

This self-perpetuating space policy echo chamber existed before sequesters, shutdowns, and CRs and it will continue to exist once this current budget nonsense is resolved - and it will survive as future congressional calamities ensue.

Yet people still wonder why, after all these years, the process whereby space policy is developed sucks so very much - and why NASA finds it harder and harder to do what it is chartered to do.

Yet Another Slow Motion Advisory Committee on Human Space Flight, earlier post

"Net result: the committee's advice will be out of synch with reality and somewhat overtaken by events having taken a total of 3 years, 7 months to complete. Oh yes: the cost of this study? $3.6 million.. The soonest that a NASA budget could be crafted that took this committee's advice into account would be the FY 2016 budget request. NASA and OMB will interact on the FY 2016 budget during Fall 2014 and it won't be announced until early 2015 - 4 1/2 years after this committee and its advice was requested in the NASA Authorization Act 2010."

NASA Wants You To Nominate The Advisors It Ignores

"Charlie Bolden listens (I guess) to what the committee members have to say and then ignores 99% of what is said. Its mostly a slow-motion Kabuki theater: NASA people moving in the shadows - but little real substance up front."

Gravity Fact Check: What the Season's Big Movie Gets Wrong, Jeff Kluger, Time

"... the physics of moving about in space--thrusts requiring counterthrusts, spins requiring counterspins, the hideous reality that if you do go spiraling off into the void your rotation never, never stops--are all simulated beautifully, scarily and accurately."

NASA expert explains what the Gravity trailer gets wrong, Michael A. Interbartolo III, Blastr

"I am all for an entertaining movie, but when I go into a Michael Bay Armageddon movie I know to turn the brain off. This one tries to pass itself off as something more than that, but to me, it is the same flash and sizzle with a pretty lax understanding of orbital mechanics and spaceflight operations."

Keith's note: Michael Interbartolo actually does this space stuff for a living.

NASA on Pause

Science and the shutdown and a lonely birthday for NASA, PBS News Hour

"If a satellite mission has not yet been launched, work will generally cease on that project," NASA's shutdown plan reads. "The extent of support necessary and the time needed to safely cease project activities will depend on whether any of the activities are of a hazardous nature (e.g., parts of the satellite may need to be cooled)." Work preparing for the Mars MAVEN mission, which was slated for a Nov. 18 launch, for example, has stopped, and could delay the craft's planned mission to Mars."

NASA Hit by Government Shutdown, National Geographic

"Elsewhere at the space agency, the effects of the shutdown will become worse over time, says Keith Cowing of NASA Watch: "If they only lose a few days, then we lose a week of work, but over time there will be a satellite that has a problem or a design change that doesn't get fixed in time and we will see real impacts."

Government shutdown: NASA turns 55 - and turns out the lights, Christian Science Monitor

"Due to government shutdown, we will not be posting or responding from this account. Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves," tweeted the operators of NASA's Voyager 2's Twitter account, last night. Meanwhile, the agency's planning for future missions - where to land the next mission on Mars; which asteroid to lasso; and what to do with a future lander on Europe - has gone quiet. The shutdown will put some 97 percent of NASA's staffers on un-paid leave: just 549 of the agency's employees are expected to work, out of its some 18,250 staffers."

US and China partner on small-scale space projects, South China Morning Post

"Bai expressed gratitude for US help on China's space programmes. Nasa, for instance, provided "enormous help" with the construction of satellite ground stations for remote sensing, he was quoted by the statement as saying. Bai said the two sides were co-operating on space geodesy, which dealt with the three-dimensional measurement of the earth. The co-operation had been going on for years and has produced encouraging results. China hoped the collaboration could continue. .. Bolden said Nasa was "highly serious" about working with the Chinese. He wished for more co-operation in fields such as space-to-earth observation. Representatives with several academy institutes, such as National Space Centre and Shanghai Astronomical Observation Centre, had attended the event. Neither Nasa nor the agency responded to the Post's inquiries about the meeting."

Earlier China posts

NASA Shutdown Is Underway

Statement by the President

"NASA will shut down almost entirely, but Mission Control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the Space Station."

NASA Planning for a Lapse in Appropriations Update, NASA Memo

"If a FY 2014 continuing resolution is not passed before 12:01 AM on October 1, NASA can only engage in activities related to the orderly shutdown of operations and performance of excepted activities. As a required part of a shutdown, employees who will not be performing activities excepted by law will be furloughed and unable to work for the duration of the shutdown, unless recalled for an excepted activity."

From B612 Foundation: "Since the government got shut down and NASA canceled the remainder of the asteroid workshop in Houston today and tomorrow, B612 decided to just go ahead and sponsor the meeting ourselves so the participants can still meet. Here is what we sent to the participants this morning:

Dear Asteroid Initiative Ideas Synthesis Workshop Attendees: To keep the asteroid initiative conversation moving forward, B612 is hosting an Asteroid Un Conference today Hilton Hotel @ NASA on 3000 Parkway from 2:30 pm to 6pm. Coffee and healthy snacks will be provided and other items can be purchased on your own dime. You can learn more about the unconference format here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconference. Essentially discussions in small groups will be created by whatever the participants would like to propose, i.e. one big networking session."

Keith's note: All websites hosted at NASA.gov addresses websites present this placeholder when you try and visit them since all websites hosted at ***.NASA.gov are supposed to be offline. But JPL.NASA.gov is online. It would seem that JPL folks are making an illegal/unauthorized expenditure of tax funds to keep their overtly official NASA.gov website online. JPL is just another NASA contractor and bills NASA for everything eventually w/overhead - just like all of the other contractors. Why does JPL run things when other contractors are shut down? Guess they did not get the memo - or they just ignored it. I'd ask JPL PAO but they 1. always ignore me and 2. are not at work today.

Oddly, while NASA.gov goes dark, JPL keeps all of its websites online and fully functional but then tweets this - the same thing NASA itself sent out:

Yet while JPL keeps its official website functional it uses its social media accounts to say that they will not be keeping these official accounts active. So which is it? Is JPL "NASA" or is it not? Is JPL staying online or going dark? Are webmasters "essential" personnel while tweeters are not? Why is it that JPL can easily leave its websites online albeit not updated with all content available -- but NASA.gov cannot? Does JPL know something about websites that NASA HQ does not?

These websites: lvis.gsfc.nasa.gov, weather.msfc.nasa.gov, thunder.nsstc.nasa.gov/, kepler.nasa.gov, and www.nas.nasa.gov are still online. Let's see if darkness falls over them as well. Please let us know if you find any survivors that are still online. So much for a consistent NASA IT policy.

JPL-related Twitter feeds, website to cease with shutdown, Pasadena Star News

"In line with NASA headquarters shutting down on Monday, JPL has put a hiatus to news releases, website and social media updates. "Information going out through the Twitter feeds and website, we coordinate with the program manager at NASA," said JPL spokeswoman Veronica McGregor. "Without that coordination, we're not releasing mission information during the shutdown." However, since JPL is privately run by Caltech and under contract to NASA, it is spared from being shut down with the rest of the space exploration organization. But the JPL Twitter feeds that are manned by NASA headquarters are already silent."

Keith's note: Ms. McGregor (who refuses to interact with NASA Watch - on any topic) fails to explain why the NASA JPL website (with NASA's logo on it and other official NASA Information) continues to stay online while all other official NASA websites are taken offline. If she wished to actually comply with what the agency is doing then her websites would go dark. They have not. Also, unless I am mistaken, a number of JPL Twitter accounts that have been shut off are actually maintained by JPL employees.


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