November 2013 Archives

There Is A Plastic Caged Bird on the Space Station

Keith's note: This plastic caged bird can be found in the Harmony Node of the International Space Station. There has got to be an interesting back story as to why it is there ...

China aims for the Moon, Nature

"Space analysts expect that the lunar and crewed objectives of China's space-flight programme will merge, with Chinese astronauts (known as taikonauts) aiming to walk on the Moon some time in the 2020s."

- China will achieve first soft landing on the moon, CNTV (Video)
- Meet China's Jade Rabbit, the peace-loving moon rover, Quartz (Photos)
- NASA Exploration Ideas - With Added China Bashing (Update), earlier post

Congressman questions whether NASA has let go of enough unused property, Washington Post

"NASA is in the midst of a huge yard sale at Kennedy Space Center, peddling unused hangars, assembly buildings, launch complexes and even a landing strip to commercial space companies.
But at the request of Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), Congress soon may be asking whether the space agency is cleaning out the closets thoroughly enough. Mica said he will call for a congressional hearing early next year to explore NASA's options for land or buildings that might no longer be needed among the 140,000 acres and scores of facilities at the space center."

- NASA OIG: NASA's Efforts to Reduce Unneeded Infrastructure and Facilities, earlier post
- NASA OIG: NASA's Real Property Master Planning Efforts, earlier post
- NASA's Infrastructure and Facilities: Assessment of Agency's Real Property Leasing Practices, earlier post

Comet ISON May or May Not Still Exist

"Comet ISON went around the sun on Nov. 28, 2013. Several solar observatories watched the comet throughout this closest approach to the sun, known as perihelion. While the fate of the comet is not yet established, it is likely that it did not survive the trip."

- Comet ISON Streams Toward the Sun (video)
- Hyper Suprime-Cam Captures Comet ISON's Long Tails, NAOJ
- NASA Hosts Nov. 28 Hangout to Discuss Comet Nearing Sun

Keith's note: The launch of SES 8 by SpaceX was called off after two attempts to launch tonight. Both countdowns got down to within seconds of a launch. The Falcon 9 is likely to be taken down, brought to the hangar, and inspected before the next attempt. There is a window available at the same time tomorrow evening but it sounds like this inspection process will take several days.

China's 1st Moon Lander May Cause Trouble for NASA Lunar Dust Mission, Space.com

"Conversely, with some sort of communication between the missions, including NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)," talk between countries could enhance both LADEE and Chang'e 3 investigations, [Clive] Neal said. "What we have here is a situation where politics is certainly inhibiting good scientific cooperation and discovery because the NASA mission people are not allowed to communicate bilaterally with their Chinese counterparts," Neal said."

Keith's note: The possibility that the U.S. and China might collaborate on Chang'e 3 and LADEE is certainly moot now that the U.S. just flew B-52's through China's new self-declared air defense zone. Add this to existing China prohibitions from the Frank Wolf contingent and ...

Old Space / New Space: Its Just Name Calling, earlier post

Randy Stone

Keith's note: Randy Stone, former Director of MOD, and Deputy Center Director at JSC, died today after a long battle with cancer.

Brock R. Stone

"Mr. Stone's NASA experience spans Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station. He is a 1967 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Aerospace Engineering."

China Copied NASA's NTRS

Keith's note: Have a look at "The Lunar Orbiter Meteoroid Experiments -Description and Results from Five Spacecraft" online at Infoeach - in China. China has their own version of NTRS - just in case NASA shuts it down again to check and see if China is getting access that it should not have. This paper was not available on NTRS to Americans for months even though it deals with spacecraft that flew in the 1960s. Feel safer now?

- NASA Blocks Everyone From Access To Everything on NTRS, Earlier post
- Charlie Bolden's Gutted Version of NTRS is Back Online, Earlier post

Progress 53 Launched To The ISS (video)

"The Russian Progress 53 cargo craft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 25, hauling almost three tons of food, fuel, supplies and holiday gifts to the International Space Station's Expedition 38 crew. The unpiloted spacecraft will test upgraded automated rendezvous equipment at a distance of a mile from the complex on Nov. 27 before docking to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module on Nov. 29."

Which way to space?, Washington Post

"Old Space (and this is still the dreamers talking) is slow, bureaucratic, government-directed, completely top-down. Old Space is NASA, cautious and halting, supervising every project down to the last thousand-dollar widget. Old Space is Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman. Old Space coasts on the glory of the Apollo era and isn't entirely sure what to do next.

New Space is the opposite of all that. It's wild. It's commercial, bootstrapping, imaginative, right up to the point of being (and this is no longer the dreamers talking) delusional."

Keith's note: Funny thing: this article's top illustration shows "Old Space Delta IV Heavy" and "New Space Dream Chaser". Guess what rocket the "New Space" Dream Chaser is shown on? Looks like an Atlas V to me. According to the article's simplistic definition, that's an "Old Space" rocket. Joel Achenbach has fallen for the same gimmick that is annoyingly common in the space business today wherein a company is one or the other but not both. And "Old" = bad and "New" = good (if you talk to a New Spacer, that is).

This "New Space" Vs "Old Space" designation is just a semantic ploy used by people who want NASA money for their company or pet idea that is currently being given to another company/project. You have to convince NASA that you are worthy of funding so you make the status quo look like dinosaurs. Market analysis, engineering excellence, and sound investment never seem to be important to the New Spacers. Being "new" and not "old" is, so it would seem. People who try and pigeon hole companies as being either "Old Space" or "New Space" into one category or another are missing what is really going on.

NASA Solicitation: Crew Exploration Vehicle Cockpit Prototyping Phase Four

"NASA/JSC has a requirement for Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) Cockpit Prototyping Phase 4 research and development (R&D). The objective of the Phase 4 work is to provide human machine interface R&D for defining CEV cockpit layout requirements, displays, and controls rapid prototyping using iterative interaction."

Keith's update: "CEV" (Crew Exploration Vehicle) is not a term that has been used for nearly a decade. "CEV" became "Orion" under Constellation. Then Orion went away when NASA cancelled it. Then it quickly came back as "MPCV" which quickly reverted to "MPCV/Orion" and then simply "Orion". Now we're back to "CEV".

Keith's update: This court document (actually it is two documents) contains the details of what Ed Mango's case is all about including his plea agreement.

Former head of NASA's Commercial Crew program faces federal charge, Florida Today

"After stepping down last month as the head of NASAs Commercial Crew Program, Ed Mango has pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge that he improperly intervened to help a colleague to whom he had loaned money. Mango loaned undisclosed amounts starting in October 2012 to the colleague identified in court records as C.T. including funds to hire a lawyer after her arrest last December, according to a plea agreement signed Nov. 13 and filed this week in the U.S. District Court in Orlando."

KSC leader of manned spaceflight pleads guilty to federal felony, Florida Today

"Court records identify the employee as a single mother with the initials "C.T.," and in one instance as "Thomas." FLORIDA TODAY reported last December that Candrea Thomas, a NASA public affairs officer who served as a spokeswoman for the Commercial Crew Program and worked closely with Mango, was arrested at her office at the KSC Press Site on felony charges of forging public records. NASA confirmed that Thomas was the only employee who performed work with the Commercial Crew Program who was arrested at KSC that month."

NASA employee at KSC arrested on forgery charges, ClickOrlando (2012)

"A NASA employee, who works at Kennedy Space Center, was arrested on forgery charges on Thursday 38-year-old Candrea Thomas, an employee in the Public Affairs department at the Kennedy Space Center, has been booked into the Brevard County jail, according to Brevard County Sheriff's Office."

Management Changes at Commercial Crew Program (Update), earlier post

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

"Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

- David Radzanowski - Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration"

2013 National Space Transportation Policy

"The United States has long been a leader in space, and President Obama remains committed to maintaining America's competitiveness in the aerospace sector. The National Space Transportation Policy the President signed today will ensure that the United States stays on the cutting edge by maintaining space transportation capabilities that are innovative, reliable, efficient, competitive, and affordable, and that support U.S. interests."

- President Obama's National Space Transportation Policy: A Bold Vision for Space, NASA
- Boeing Statement on President's National Space Transportation Policy, Boeing
- New National Space Transportation Policy Reaffirms that Investment in Space is a Good Investment for the Future of Our Nation, Coalition for Space Exploration
- Committee Democrats Comment on the National Space Transportation Policy, House Science Committee

Bipartisan Bill Extends Liability Protection for Commercial Space Launches, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"A bipartisan group of Science, Space, and Technology Committee leaders today introduced a bill to extend for one year a commercial space transportation risk-sharing and liability regime that was established by Congress in 1988 with passage of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments."

Keith's 20 Nov. note: According to a Capitol Hill source, this morning, during a House Science subcommittee on Space, Republicans agreed to the Democrats' restriction to only pass a clean one year extension of indemnification for commercial launch service providers. Over in the Senate, Bill Nelson would like to see Congress enact the three year extension that was included in the Senate NASA Authorization bill through the end of 2016. Nelson is introducing this bill this afternoon (Wed.) and hopes to move it through the Senate tomorrow (Thurs.) so they can send it to the House before the Senate goes on recess.

Text

- The Commercial Spaceflight Federation Supports S. 1753 to Extend Government-Industry Risk-Sharing Regime
- Bipartisan Bill Extends Liability Protection for Commercial Space Launches
- House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Space Discusses Commercial Space

Statement of NASA Spokesman David Weaver Regarding Commercial Space and Inspiration Mars

"NASA has had conversations with Inspiration Mars to learn about their efforts and will continue discussions with them to see how the agency might collaborate on mutually-beneficial activities that could complement NASA's human spaceflight, space technology and Mars exploration plans. Inspiration Mars' proposed schedule is a significant challenge due to life support systems, space radiation response, habitats, and the human psychology of being in a small spacecraft for over 500 days. The agency is willing to share technical and programmatic expertise with Inspiration Mars, but is unable to commit to sharing expenses with them. However, we remain open to further collaboration as their proposal and plans for a later mission develop."

Millionaire revises plan for Mars flyby in 2018: Now it's up to NASA, NBC

"Tito initially envisioned the flyby as an effort primarily backed by private contributions, but the 90-day study determined that the mission had to be done with NASA hardware. "This is really a NASA mission," Taber MacCallum, Inspiration Mars' chief technology officer, told NBC News. "This is a mission we believe NASA should do."

Inspiration Mars pivots, seeks government support and backing, Space Politics

"Are you suggesting that the mission couldn't be undertaken without additional NASA funding?" asked Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), ranking member of the space subcommittee. "Right now, I don't see a lot of evidence that money is available," Tito responded."

Keith's note: In a media interview today Dennis Tito and Taber MacCallum said that they viewed the Inspiration Mars mission as a "NASA mission" and that Congress and the White House would need to direct NASA to do this mission as part of their SLS program. Tito also said that there would be legislation submitted on their behalf soon but declined to say who the sponsor was. Tito and MacCallum also said that they had briefed the White House on the Inspiration Mars concept and that the White House was supportive. Administration sources contacted tonight note that it has been many months since Inspiration Mars briefed them and that the mission that they were briefed on was a wholly private venture that did not require NASA funds - certainly not a "NASA Mission". Administration sources add that it would be incorrect to state that Administration supports the Inspiration Mars mission as a "NASA mission" requiring NASA funds or hardware.

- Inspiration Mars Foundation Chairman Dennis Tito testifies before House Subcommittee on Space
- Tito prepared statement
- Inspiration Mars Architecture Study Report Summary
- Inspiration Mars: Some Thoughts About Their Plan, earlier post
- Inspiration Mars: Some Thoughts About Our Plan, earlier post

Statement by Rep. Kevin McCarthy on H.R. 3038, Suborbital and Orbital Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining (SOARS) Act

"The use of innovative public-private partnerships offers the government new ways of solving problems. A study shows these partnerships benefit the taxpayer, by providing space services at nearly one-tenth the cost of traditional contracting methods; getting results for less money; and catalyzing innovation, growth, and risk-sharing in the private sector. As NASA leads continued exploration missions and related technology development, entrepreneurs will follow, spending their own money and creating new industries. However, it is up to us as legislators to ensure our current regulatory environment is appropriate for the needs of the 21st Century and to make sure safety is paramount in the commercial spaceflight industry's endeavors. This is why I introduced H.R. 3038 to ensure that the U.S. commercial spaceflight industry has a clear path ahead as it continues to innovate and generate high-quality American manufacturing jobs."

Video

Keith's note: Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip testified today at the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Space Hearing on "Commercial Space". Interestingly the committee did not let McCarthy sit on the dais (protocol?) nor did they allow any of the subcommittee members to ask him any questions. Odd. This is one of House Speaker Boehner's inner leadership circle. Multiple sources report that this appearance was a message from House leadership that many of the positions being pushed by the leadership of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology are out of synch with Majority's positions. Stay tuned.

Sally Ride's life partner Tam O'Shaughnessy accepting the Medal of Freedom on her behalf from President Obama

Subcommittee on Space Hearing - Commercial Space

Nov 20, 2013 10:00am

Panel I
Rep Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip

Panel II
Patricia Cooper - President, Satellite Industry Association
Stu Witt - CEO and General Manager, Mojave Air and Space Port
Dennis Tito - Chairman, Inspiration Mars Foundation Prepared statement

- Hearing Charter
- Watch live
- Inspiration Mars: Some Thoughts About Their Plan, earlier post
- Inspiration Mars: Some Thoughts About Our Plan, earlier post

NASA JSC Storytelling - Early SSP Programmatic Decisions

"Come join us today for the November Session of our Storytelling program. A panel of 5 will chronicle the Early Space Shuttle Programmatic Decisions. The program will focus on the Phase A and B concepts that were studied and how NASA arrived at the conceptual baseline that was developed during the subsequent design and development phases, and the management/organizational approach used during the development phase, and the effectiveness of that management approach. This program is being distributed throughout the agency and JSC using cable TV channel 2 plus IPTV channel 202, and additionally using the NASA-JSC USTREAM channel. The NASA-JSC USTREAM is here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-jsc"

Minotaur 1 Rocket Launched (with video)

"Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world's leading space technology companies, announced that it successfully launched a Minotaur I rocket in support of the Department of Defense Operationally Responsive Space Office's ORS-3 mission earlier this evening. Originating from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia, this mission marks the 25th launch for the Minotaur rocket, all of which have been successful, and the sixth Minotaur vehicle to be launched from the Wallops facility."

NASA Issues Commercial Crew Transportation Capability RFP

"Commercial Crew Request for Proposals Finalizes Development and Certification Process NASA took another step Tuesday to restore an American capability to launch astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station by the end of 2017, subject to the availability of adequate funding. The agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) requested proposals from U.S. companies to complete development of crew transportation systems that meet NASA certification requirements and begin conducting crewed flights to the space station."

Space station anniversary to be marked by Twitter event, CP

"Several space agencies are staging a global media event on Twitter this week to mark the 15th anniversary of the International Space Station.  The Canadian Space Agency, NASA, the European Space Agency and JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, will launch a worldwide wave on Twitter, beginning at 7 p.m. eastern Tuesday evening. That will be midnight GMT -- the official time zone of the orbiting space laboratory."

Keith's note: I guess I missed the NASA announcement on this Twitter event that starts in 3 hours. Indeed, looking at NASA.gov, spaceflight.nasa.govnasa.gov/mission_pages/station/, and nasa.gov/connect/social/ I see zero mention of this Twitter event. Baffling.

NASA OIG: NASA's Use of Award Fee Contracts

"The Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that shortcomings with NASA's award fee practices, including use of overly complex formulas to calculate the fees and a clause designed to hold contractors accountable for the quality of the final product that disregards interim performance evaluations, have diminished the effectiveness of NASA's use of award-fee contracts. In 26 of the 45 contracts we reviewed, we found erroneous award-fee payments totaling $66.4 million. We found that these errors resulted from NASA policy requiring the use of complex mathematical formulas to calculate interim and provisional payments. Although NASA has the opportunity to fix these errors as part of the final award-fee calculation, these funds are not available for NASA's use until corrected."

Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023 Office: Eliminate Human Space Exploration Programs, CBO

"This option would terminate NASA's human space exploration and space operations programs, except for those necessary to meet space communications needs (such as communication with the Hubble Space Telescope). The agency's science and aeronautics programs and robotic space missions would continue. Eliminating those human space programs would save $73 billion between 2015 and 2023, the Congressional Budget Office estimates."

China Unveils Space Station Research Plans, Space News

"China is positioning itself to provide orbital laboratory space, experiment racks and facilities to scientists worldwide following the completion of the U.S.-led international space station program. "China Space Station (CSS) will operate in orbit from 2022 to 2032. This period will provide much more opportunities to scientists in China and all of the world after the international space station," Gu Yidong, president of the China Society of Space Research, said at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research conference here Nov. 3 - 8."

Keith's note: NASA cannot fully develop and operate SLS - and extend ISS beyond 2020. There is simply not enough money to do both. But viable commercial alternatives and architectures abound. Watch as JSC squares off against MSFC and KSC and their respective congressional delegations. Meanwhile Russia is talking about a post-ISS world and China wants to create their own ISS - including the whole "international" bit. NASA took a generation and $80-100 billion to create ISS only to throw it away before it achieves its fullest potential? Crazy you say? We walked away from Apollo. NASA, Congress, and the White House are creatures of habit.

NASA Will Face Solomon's Choice in 2014, earlier post

"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."

Cassini vs. Curiosity: Who Will Suffer the Space Budget Axe?, Wired

"NASA could soon be facing an awful choice. The agency, feeling a budgetary squeeze from Congress, might not be able to fund all its robotic planetary exploration missions after next year. This year NASA received $16.9 billion, which may sound like a lot but, once adjusted for inflation, is roughly what the agency got back in 1986. Just $1.27 billion of that budget goes into funding all robotic exploration in the solar system. And most space policy experts don't see that number going up anytime in the near future. In 2014, NASA will put many of its robotic missions through what's known as a senior review. Administrators will have to decide which of its missions will yield the highest scientific return and may recommend canceling some of them."

Action alert!, Division for Planetary Sciences

"This week we are asking each of you to write letters and make phone calls to advocate for planetary science. This DPS members call to action is being coordinated with a simultaneous call to action for the planetary section members of AGU and GSA, so we have many planetary scientists to draw upon. Please participate regardless of whether you think your Members of Congress care about science or are on the "right" committees. What's most important is getting as many people to contact as many Members as possible. And we encourage you to use social media to promote this call to action to help amplify the message and encourage others to act."

Earlier budget posts

Maven Leaves Earth

MAVEN Leaves Earth for Mars

"Flight of NASA's MAVEN spacecraft continues to go well following an on-time launch at 1:28 p.m. EST aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket."

NASA TV coverage.

Lots of Meetings But No Unified Message on Future Space Exploration, SpacePolicyOnline (Marcia Smith)

"Four meetings in Washington, D.C. over this past week addressed the future of space exploration, but no unified message emerged. There was a focus on the role of the entrepreneurial NewSpace private sector and public-private partnerships, but also on the traditional model of government contracting with major aerospace companies. Integrating what all of the prominent individuals involved in these events wanted the public and policymakers to hear is challenging. That is not to imply that the organizers - a potpourri of government and non-government institutions -- intended there to be an integrated message from four separate events, but in an era when a cohesive rationale for and approach to space exploration is needed, such an outcome would have been helpful. Instead, it was more of a scattershot experience. Four events featuring a variety of new and established players arguing in favor of space exploration from various viewpoints. Here's a quick rundown."

Keith's note: Toward the end of this morning's Maven press briefing, a reporter from the Travel Channel asked if NASA has any plan for marketing itself to the public so as to enhance visibility, increase funding, and that reaching out to the public is NASA's biggest challenge and greatest opportunity. NASA SMD AA John Grunsfeld (@SciAstro) replied that NASA does not have such a plan but instead that the agency puts spectacular missions into operate and educates the public about them.

Well, "education" is not the same as "marketing". NASA is holding a "NASASocial" in connection with the Maven launch. Alas, except for one NASA Social participant who asked a rather good question, virtually none of the NASASocial participants on-site at KSC (or their alumni elsewhere) bothered to tweet about the press event. Yet when NASA pays attention to the NASASocial people they brag about getting better access to things than the media, the swag NASA gives them, and chatter about what is said in their sessions. NASA keeps doing these socials - so they deserve credit for that - but I am not certain what they accomplish when all is said and done. Being a "Trending Topic" on Twitter only lasts while people are actually Tweeting and it only has an effect while people are awake or able to read Tweets.

I have to agree with the Travel Channel guy's query. Does NASA have a marketing plan? I see no evidence that they do. Yes, there is some scary language in some congressional legislation that prohibits NASA from lobbying but there is also equally compelling and binding congressional language that prompts NASA to better communicate with the public. I have the clear impression that NASA finds it vastly easier to say "no" than to try and push the envelope. There are a lot of people at NASA who try but there seem to be even more who thwart them or simply sit on their hands.

NASA's Confused Policy on Advertising, earlier post

Tweeting JFK and NASA

A Russian GPS Using U.S. Soil Stirs Spy Fears, NY Times

"In recent months, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have been quietly waging a campaign to stop the State Department from allowing Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, to build about half a dozen of these structures, known as monitor stations, on United States soil, several American officials said. They fear that these structures could help Russia spy on the United States and improve the precision of Russian weaponry, the officials said. These monitor stations, the Russians contend, would significantly improve the accuracy and reliability of Moscow's version of the Global Positioning System, the American satellite network that steers guided missiles to their targets and thirsty smartphone users to the nearest Starbucks."

Important Changes in the NASA Planetary Science Division's (PSD) Radioisotope Program

"With an adequate supply of Pu-238, and considering the current budget-constrained environment, NASA has decided to discontinue procurement of ASRG flight hardware. We have given direction to the Department of Energy, which manages the flight procurement, to end work on the flight units. The hardware procured under this activity will be transferred to the Glenn Research Center to continue development and testing of the Stirling technology."

NASA has broad political support, and therein lies one of its biggest problems, Houston Chronicle

"By spreading its funds across the country, and having 10 field centers, NASA can count on a broad political base. But by having so many fiefdoms (the NASA centers), and feeling compelled to spread contracts across the country, the space agency ends up being horribly inefficient and accomplishing significantly less than it could. I'm not sure there's the political will to fix a problem that's been evident for four decades any time soon."

NASA Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle (sRLV) Flight and Payload Integration Services

"NASA/DFRC plans to issue a Competitive Request for Proposal (RFP)/Solicitation for the following Commercial item/services: ... The anticipated release date of the Draft RFP/Solicitation NND14480735R is on or about Dec 11, 2013. The final RFP/Solicitation is expected to be released on or about Feb 12, 2014 with an anticipated Proposal due date of on or about 28 March 2014. All responsible sources may submit a proposal which shall be considered by the agency."

Keith's note: At bottom of this release "Mars Rover Teams Dub Sites in Memory of Bruce Murray", JPL has included "For more information about Opportunity, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl , http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov . For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl" .

Two missions - five websites.

First for the Opportunity links. if you go to http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ you do not get anything on Opportunity but rather its a Curiosity page. If you go to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov it redirects you to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html at JPL. If you go to http://www.nasa.gov/rovers it redirects you to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/index.html at NASA HQ. If you go to the NASA HQ rover site it has a link to a JPL rover website at http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html it does not link to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov. And http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov is identical to http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html. So, one of the three links listed has nothing to do with Opportunity. The NASA HQ MER site links to a JPL MER site but it is at a different address than the JPL MER website listed in the release even though the content is identical.

Now for the Curiosity links. If you go to http://www.nasa.gov/msl it redirects you to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html at NASA HQ. If you go to http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl you end up at a MSL website at JPL. The NASA HQ MSL site points to the JPL MSL site but the JPL MSL site does not point to the NASA HQ MSL site.

So, NASA is paying to maintain two MSL websites and the web addresses they give out are different than the actual web addresses - but they won't bother to put the actual addresses in press releases. Meanwhile, NASA is paying for 2 (or 3) MER websites - and again the links put in the press release are not the actual website address. And a website link that has "MSL" in it is listed as a place to get MER information. In total 5 links are included for 2 missions - and JPL PAO seems to think this is just fine. Meanwhile NASA PAO and SMD have the nerve to moan and complain about lack of education and public outreach funds? They are squandering their money on overlapping websites that don't even coordinate their content or links. I have raised this issue at several SMD media telecons. All they say is "we'll look into it". They don't. They just don't care about being efficient or coordinating. No - they just want more money and refuse to change the way that they operate. Clueless.

Oh yes --- did you know that NASA's Constellation Program is building the Altair Lunar Lander that will land on the moon by 2020? Moreover, the Altair will be launched on the Ares V rocket. HEOMD has an incredibly tangled web presence too.

- Why Does NASA Maintain Three (Four) Different MSL Websites?
- Why does NASA need multiple websites for the same mission?, earlier post
- NASA's Tangled Human Spaceflight Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Sprawling Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online, earlier post

NASA Hails Success of Commercial Space Program Private Space Station Resupply Underway, Plans Readied for Astronauts

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Wednesday hailed the success of the agency's public-private partnership with American companies to resupply the International Space Station and announced the next phase of contracting with U.S. companies to transport astronauts is set to begin next week."

Keith's note: The only "news" from this morning's webcast is that NASA will be issuing an RFP next week for commercial crew services. Despite a media advisory highlighting Bolden's participation in this morning's event, Bolden read some prepared remarks, posed for photos with company reps who got NASA awards, and then disappeared. There was no opportunity for media to ask him questions - all in keeping with PAO's "hide Charlie" strategy.

NASA IG Final Report: NASA's Management of the Commercial Crew Program

"... the Commercial Crew Program has received only 38 percent of requested funding for fiscal years 2011 through 2013, bringing the current aggregate budget gap to $1.1 billion when comparing funding requested to funding received. In addition, although NASA's Commercial Crew partners have completed their preliminary spacecraft designs, NASA managers have yet to develop a life cycle cost estimate showing the anticipated costs of the program year-by-year throughout its life from preliminary design through the end of operations. Without this type of detailed cost estimate, it is difficult for NASA to calculate how much funding is required each year given that costs over time can fluctuate significantly. "

Judge Orders NASA to Release Climate Change-Related Documents, Allgov

"Among the materials NASA withheld were two electronic directories referred to as the "Steve" and "alternate cleaning" directories, media inquiries about the data corrections, and two email accounts of Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a NASA scientist who teaches at Columbia University and contributes to a blog called RealClimate.org. Although CEI wanted all that and more, Judge Rothstein ordered NASA to release only the "Steve" directory and one of Dr. Schmidt's email accounts, finding that the other materials either held no responsive documents or fell within a valid FOIA exemption. Declining to go further, Rothstein rejected CEI's contention that that NASA had acted in bad faith. "CEI"s request for discovery is not justified here because CEI has not provided any evidence that the agency acted in bad faith and the outstanding issues of fact do not suggest bad faith on the part of NASA," Judge Rothstein ruled."

Recognizing Giant Leaps: Google Lunar XPRIZE Establishes Milestone Prizes, Alex Hall, Space.com

"Two years ago, XPRIZE began a dialogue with teams to better understand the challenges that they were facing and to determine what steps we might take to better nurture and support this prize ecosystem. As a result, we determined that we needed to find a way to recognize and support the teams that were making substantial technical progress toward the requirements of the competition."

Keith's note: All of the Google Lunar X Prize competitors really need money. By creating these smaller prizes that are easier to achieve, the competitors have a chance to get some much-needed funding to keep their doors open. Of course, if Chang'e 3 lands on the Moon and deploys its rover, the Google Lunar X Prize automatically reduces by a significant amount. Add in the fact that none of the GLXP competitors have exhibited actual flight hardware or raised the funds to build and launch their vehicles and the chances for pulling this off by the December 2015 deadline are really starting to fade. This effort tosses some cash their way but also allows GLXP to proclaim "winners". Whether this will actually improve the odds that the teams launch anything remains to be seen.

Keith's update: The rules used to say "The competition's grand prize is worth $20 million. To provide an extra incentive for teams to work quickly, the grand prize value will change to $15 million whenever a government-funded mission successfully explores the lunar surface, currently projected to occur in 2013." Well, the prize decrease that would have resulted from a government-funded mission (e.g. Chang'e 3) has been removed. You can read the new rules here. Clearly the Google Lunar X Prize is quietly trying to get money to some of their teams much more easily - and sooner - and they are moving (or removing) the older goal posts so as to make it easier for teams to win these smaller prizes.

- Google Lunar X Prize: Changing Rules - and Fewer Entrants?, earlier post
- Dramatic Changes to Google Lunar X Prize Cash Prizes Under Consideration, earlier post

Editorial: NASA Planetary R&A Reorganization

"The planetary research and analysis programs, along with mission data analysis programs, support most of the US planetary community. Their streamlining could provide benefits. A misstep could permanently damage US solar system exploration capability. The plan laid out is very vague. Its implementation is premature. So, it is very good that NASA is reaching out to the community for input. This should be the first step in a more extended process that will transparently and iteratively add important details and well-defined improvements to any reorganization plan. It is far more important to get it right, than to rush and cause harm."

Request for Questions Regarding Planetary Science R&A Restructuring

Deep Space Music Network

Listening to the Deep Space Music Network, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP)

"Dennis Wingo: A funny story from today. I was running a Lunar Orbiter tape today and all of a sudden I started hearing music coming from the audio speaker. It was really nice, staring out with a piano solo and then a couple of other pieces then a full on concert by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It was really cool to hear this old sixties music coming across the deep space network."

Keith's note: All of the data tapes from the Lunar Orbiter program had an audio track that contained technical information by the tape drive operators at ground stations in Woomera, Goldstone, and Madrid. Usually it is technobable. Quite often there is also chatter about things in the news, and in this case, inadverdently, what was playing on the radio. Right now the LOIRP is going though a series of tapes recorded in Madrid.

- Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project website
- 1967 Audio Recording on First Anniversary of Lunar Orbiter 1 Launch
- Lunar Orbiter Photo Techs talk About Looking for Surveyor 1 & Luna 9 Landing Sites
- Video: Lunar Orbiter Techs Talk About Crater Kepler in 1967

Expedition 37 Crew and Olympic Torch Return to Earth

"Three Expedition 37 crew members are back on Earth after 166 days aboard the International Space Station. Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano undocked their Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from aft end the Zvezda service module at 6:26 p.m. EST Sunday to begin the journey home. At the time of the undocking, the complex was orbiting 262 miles over northeast Mongolia."

GOCE Reenters Earth's Atmosphere

"Close to 01:00 CET on Monday 11 November, ESA's GOCE satellite reentered Earth's atmosphere on a descending orbit pass that extended across Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica. As expected, the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported."

Cosmonauts Take Olympic Torch on a Space Walk

"Two Russian cosmonauts clad in Orlan spacesuits conducted an out-of-this-world hand-off of the Olympic torch at the start of Saturday's 5-hour, 50-minute spacewalk to perform maintenance on the International Space Station."

Sending Olympic Torch to Space, Russia Flaunts Inspiration Superiority (Op-Ed), Leroy Chiao, Space.com

"Over the last month, the blockbuster films "Gravity" and "Ender's Game" have generated more popular interest in spaceflight than actual missions currently flying. There are many reasons for this, and Americans should not lament those reasons, but understand and embrace them, and create strategies to exploit them. Strictly speaking, as part of the federal government, NASA is not allowed to advertise, but one wonders if the envelope could be stretched a bit. "

NASA's Confused Policy on Advertising, earlier post

"I have lost count how many times people at NASA have told me that they cannot self-promote, advertise, lobby, or otherwise try to use standard marketing tools to inform the public of the things that they do. They always cite dire Congressional prohibitions against such activities. Then they go off and totally violate these prohibitions with advertising procurements such as this one. I am not certain that they actually know what it is they are allowed or not allowed to do and just throw this answer out when they do not want to do something."

Notice of renewal and amendment of the charter of the NASA Advisory Council

"Pursuant to sections 14(b)(1) and 9(c) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463), and after consultation with the Committee Management Secretariat, General Services Administration, the NASA Administrator has determined that renewal and amendment of the charter of the NASA Advisory Council is in the public interest in connection with the performance of duties imposed on NASA by law. The renewed charter is for a two-year period ending October 24, 2015. It is identical to the previous charter in all respects except with regard to information pertaining to annual operating costs and number of meetings per year."

Keith's note: This item appeared in yesterday's Federal Register. I asked the NAC and NASA PAO:

- Has the cost of the NAC gone up or down? How much does the NAC cost NASA per year?  

ANSWER:  The annual operating cost for NAC has gone down.  In the 2011 NAC Charter, the cost was estimated at $1.8M and in the 2013 NAC Charter, the cost is estimated at $1.1M.

- How many NAC meetings will there be under the new charter? What is the rationale for changing the number of meetings?

ANSWER:  Under the 2013 NAC Charter, the number of NAC meetings per year is approximately three.  Under the 2011 NAC Charter, it was approximately four.  The decision to reduce the number of NAC meetings per year was driven by budget considerations.

- Can you send me the full text of the new charter - as amended?  

ANSWER:  A PDF of the 2013 NAC Charter is attached.

NASA Wants You To Nominate New Advisors For It To Ignore, earlier post

Keith's note: The NAS Space Studies Board is meeting today. Here is the webex Link that the NAS doesn't want you to know about. Their PR office told me several weeks ago that they would be letting media know about webcasting in advance of their meetings. They never sent me anything despite their pledge to do so. You have to know which internal NASA webpage to go to in order to download an agenda that has the links on them. Alas when you dial in the audio is so faint that you can't really hear what people are saying. Here are the presentations (not that there is anything interesting)

- Space Studies Board is (Not Really) Interested In What You Think, earlier post

Is China In Space To Win It?

As China's space program rises, will NASA rise again? , Houston Chronicle

"China has the opportunity in coming years to surpass the United States in space programs, forcing the government to step up NASA funding to retain a leadership position, partner with the Chinese or risk falling behind, according to space policy experts. Russia is the other country that presently has the capacity to launch humans into space. Its space program, however, reliant upon technology designed nearly five decades ago, is getting by on past momentum. China's space program, by contrast, is in ascendance."

China, America and the Moon: Boldness and Abdication, Paul Spudis

"Our retreat from the challenge of the Moon puzzles even Chinese observers. Wu Ji, director general of the China National Space Science Center, reportedly is "dismayed by recent changes." "I don't know if your listeners or people living in the U.S. understand these changes," he recently told NPR foreign correspondent Anthony Kuhn, "But as I observe them from the outside, I feel that America is gradually contracting and closing itself off. It's a very strange thing."

India lags China in space: ex-ISRO chief

"The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) may have sparked a debate on 'space race' between India and China, but former ISRO boss G Madhavan Nair says Beijing has already surged forward and is on course to have an upper hand in the field globally. "I think if somebody says that we can race with China and catch up with them. At the moment. We have lost the game very badly," he said here. According to him, India and China were "almost equal" five years ago and, except in the area of manned mission, "we had everything in place"."

- American Moonwalkers Suggest Cooperation With China's Moon Plans, earlier post
- Partnering With China in Space?, earlier post
- NASA Exploration Ideas - With Added China Bashing (Update), earlier post
- More posts on China

Soyuz TMA-11M Launches (With video)

"NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos launched aboard their Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 11:14 p.m. EST (10:14 a.m. Thursday, Kazakh time)."

Keith's update: Soyuz TMA-11M docked with the space station about six hours after launch at 5:31 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7.

Chelyabinsk Meteoroid Airburst Event Yields Crucial Data

"A team of NASA and international scientists for the first time have gathered a detailed understanding of the effects on Earth from a small asteroid impact. The unprecedented data obtained as the result of the airburst of a meteoroid over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, has revolutionized scientists' understanding of this natural phenomenon."

New research shows events like Russian asteroid may happen more frequently

"Existing models predict events like the Chelyabinsk asteroid might hit every 120 or 150 years, but our data shows the frequency may be closer to every 30 or 40 years," explains Brown, the Canada Research Chair in Meteor Science, who also serves as CPSX Director. "That's a big surprise. When Chelyabinsk happened, I would have never expected to see an event big enough to cause damage on the ground. It's totally outside the realm of what we thought likely in our lifetimes based on earlier statistics. Our statistics now suggest this type of event likely happens with more frequency."

Out of this world: Why Gingrich wants to go to space and says GOP turmoil is healthy, Yahoo

"Newt Gingrich was famously ridiculed during his 2012 presidential campaign for declaring that he would work toward establishing a colony on the moon if he were elected president. But the former Republican presidential candidate and Speaker of House is still dreaming about space exploration and told "Top Line" he would like to travel to space, "if I get the chance." "This is a good example of what's wrong with the current political system," Gingrich said. "I gave a serious speech in Florida at the Space Coast outlining a very bold strategy. ... I got savaged by two of my competitors, Romney and Santorum, who deliberately distorted the speech. I got ridiculed by 'Saturday Night Live.'" Gingrich, who now hosts a show on CNN, writes in his newest book "Breakout" that Washington is a city full of "prison guards of the past," who are slowing the pace of innovation in fields like space exploration."

- Different Takes on Newt Gingrich's Space Ideas, earlier post
- Gingrich Talks About Space Policy in Florida (Update), earlier post
- Other posts on Newt Gingrich

Keith's note: It would seem that Lady Gaga was on the YouTube music awards last night and was behaving oddly (even for her). If you watch the video of her performance you can clearly see that she is wearing a baseball cap with a NASA "meatball" logo on it - except instead of "N-A-S-A" it spells out "D-O-P-E". I have no idea if this means anything. But she does sell millions of records.

You can buy this merchandise at Dope.com

Lady Gaga to Sing in Space in 2015, US

"No one ever said she was down-to-earth! In early 2015, Lady Gaga will become the first artist to sing in outer space, Us Weekly can exclusively reveal. The "Dope" performer, 27, is set to blast off in a Virgin Galactic ship and belt out a single track during the Zero G Colony high-tech musical festival in New Mexico."

Keith's update: I guess Gaga missed Chris Hadfield's performance in space earlier this year.

AeroCube-4 Captures Images of the Moon's Shadow

"One of Aerospace's CubeSats captured a photo of the moon's shadow on Earth's surface during the solar eclipse that occurred on Nov. 3. This solar eclipse began at 11 a.m. UTC and lasted for about two hours, with the shadow of the moon tracing a thin path that began in the Atlantic near Bermuda, crossed the ocean in a southeasterly direction, and ended over central Africa."

NASA Selects Research Teams for New Virtual Institute

"NASA has selected nine research teams from seven states for a new institute that will bring researchers together in a collaborative virtual setting to focus on questions concerning space science and human space exploration. The teams participating in the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) will address scientific questions about the moon, near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and their near space environments, in cooperation with international partners."

Gloomy Budget News for SMD

Hertz Paints Bleak Near-Term Outlook for NASA Astrophysics Division if Sequester Continues, Space PolicyOnline

"NASA Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz painted a bleak picture of NASA's FY2014 astrophysics budget today and forecast a future filled with uncertainty. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may be secure, but the rest of NASA's astrophysics program could have tough sailing ahead. Hertz stressed that the country spends quite a bit of money on NASA's astrophysics portfolio - a total of $1.3 billion "and you can't plead poverty when there's $1.3 billion on the table." Roughly half of that is for JWST, however, which is managed separately from the rest of NASA's astrophysics programs."

Prevalence of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (full article behind paywall)

"We find that 22% of Sun-like stars harbor Earth-size planets orbiting in their habitable zones. The nearest such planet may be within 12 light-years."

1 in 5 Sun-like Stars Has Earth-size Planet in Habitable Zone, UC Berkeley

"The research was funded by UC Berkeley and the National Science Foundation, with the assistance of the Keck Observatories and NASA."

NASA paywalls first papers arising from Curiosity rover, I am setting them free, Michael Eisen, UC Berkeley

"This whole situation is even more absurd, because US copyright law explicitly says that all works of the federal government - of which these surely must be included - are not subject to copyright. So, in the interests of helping NASA and Science Magazine comply with US law, I am making copies of these papers freely available here"

Keith's 5 Nov update: PNAS has finally made this paper available to the public free of charge. Its just baffling how NASA is unable to coordinate this sort of thing in advance rather than after the fact. Now, will NASA make a point of letting people know that this paper is online?

The Numbers Are Astronomical, Seth Shostak, Huffington Post

"So check out the Milky Way next time you're outside the glare of city lights, and ruminate on the thought that at least 33 billion habitable planets are somewhere up there. But that's just the local population. We can't see the entire universe, but the fraction we can see is studded with roughly 150 billion other galaxies; each with its own complement of habitable worlds. So the number of life-friendly planets that are currently in the part of the cosmos we can possibly observe is five thousand billion billion. That's a big number. It's bigger than the number of cells in all the people of Earth."

Keith's note: Think about it: these maps from the Star Wars and Star Trek Universes are now usable as illustrations of Kepler data. This is stunning news. What is baffling is how Ames PAO totally botched the release of this news - and the underwelming press release that NASA put out. This one discovery makes everything that Star Trek, Star Wars, and every other imagined universe envsioned now seem totally plausible. In some ways (read Seth's entire piece) it almost makes many of these fictional universes far more probable today than they were this morning before the news burst out on Twitter. There are now just so many damn planets out there that almost anything is possible. Yet NASA itself seems to be sound asleep when it comes to the profound ramifications of this news. Indeed, it looks like NASA really doesn't care.

- 1 in 5 Sun-like Stars Has Earth-size Planet in Habitable Zone
- One in Five Stars Has an Earth-sized Planet in its Habitable Zone

Keith's 2:30 pm EST note: NASA Ames PAO just hosted a media briefing on new Kepler news being released today i.e. "22±8 % of the Sun-like stars have an Earth-like planet"' (per Tweet below). One small problem, they did not set the number of guests who could connect via on Adobe Connect so a lot of media were unable to connect untill well after the media briefing was underway. But the news was already being tweeted by participants (an hour ago) in that news briefing. When I asked NASA ARC PAO for a copy of the press release they refused to send me anything saying that NASA HQ PAO will be releasing the news at 3:00 pm EST. Meanwhile NASA has been sending copies of the paper around to hand-picked members of the news media. So ... NASA holds a badly-planned news conference and whoever attends (or logs in early) can release the news to the public but NASA won't let anyone else see the news that they have already released. Baffling strategy.

Spending debate puts NASA's mission up in air, Hearst

"What is sad to me is that NASA has always been above politics," says Nelson, who flew aboard Shuttle Columbia for six days as a payload specialist in 1986. "Now it's gotten to be a partisan issue and that is a sad day for the country."

Keith's note: Politics? Senator Nelson laments the appearance of politics in space policy?! Stunning news. But wait:

A. How did Nelson get to ride on the Space Shuttle?
B. Who forced the White House to pick Charlie Bolden?
C. Who forced the Administration's hand on SLS aka "the big rocket"?

- and so on. What a hypocrite.

NASA, Harvard & TopCoder Partner to Develop a Secure Solar System Internet Protocol

"TopCoder, the world's largest professional development and design community, with NASA and the Harvard-NASA Tournament Lab (at Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science), today announced the launch of a series of innovation challenges that will develop foundational technological concepts for disruption tolerant deep space networking. NASA has made significant progress in developing Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocols that aide in deep space communication. DTN protocols are an approach to network architecture that seeks to address the potential for lack of continuous connectivity in deep space. It is meant to aid NASA in the exploration of the solar system by overcoming communication time delays caused by interplanetary distances, and the disruptions caused by planetary rotation, orbits and limited transmission power."

Keith's note: This sounds pretty cool builds upon the Interplanetary Internet work that NASA has engaged in over the past decade or so. You'd think that extending the Internet (so to speak) to allow interaction between other worlds and spacecraft traversing our solar system would be something that all of NASA's IT and Technology, and Innovation people would want to crow about - especially since this effort is geared to engage the public via crowd sourcing. In this wired world, this is something that almost everyone in the public can relate to. Indeed, utilized crowd sourced efforts and making the results widely known is something that the Open Government Initiative is supposed to be promoting.

This effort is being coordinated by the NASA Tournament Lab at TopCoder. No specific sponsoring office or organization at NASA is mentioned. TopCoder put out a press release last week. Alas, despite the obvious nexus of interest you'd expect, NASA has been totally silent:

- NASA Public Affairs (no press release issued)
- NASA Chief Information Officer (no mention)
- NASA Space Technology Directorate (no mention)
- NASA - Office of the Chief Technologist (no mention)
- NASA Space Communications and Navigation (no mention - they also make no mention of LADEE's recent laser comms test)
NASA Open Government Initiative (no mention)

Curiously, NASA PAO did promote NASA's Interplanetary Internet efforts last year when someone commanded Robonaut to do something on the ISS. A week prior to this recently announced Interplanetary Internet challenge NASA posted this:

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

"Now NASA has joined forces with the product development startup Marblar (www.marblar.com) for a pilot program allowing the public to crowd source 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."

Again, for the most part, NASA's Technology and Information organizations have been mostly mute:

- NASA Public Affairs (no press release issued - just an online feature)
- NASA Chief Information Officer (no mention)
- NASA Space Technology Directorate (no mention)
- NASA - Office of the Chief Technologist (posted a link)
- NASA Open Government Initiative (no mention)

Add in the curious case of innovate.nasa.gov which is apparently now "under construction, but we will be re-launching soon" after being online for a year and doing absolutely nothing to warrant its existence (or expense), and you really have to wonder what NASA is planning to do with all this Technology money that is heading their way. If the agency cannot internally coordinate a simple mechanism to organize this technology stuff - and then share it with the public - then maybe that technology money belongs elsewhere.

Alan Hochstein

Reader note: "Alan Hochstein, longtime Shuttle Approach & Landing expert passed away today. He may not have been a major figure like Kraft, et. Al. But ask the astronauts about Hochstein. They had a very healthy respect for his critiques. Wayne Hale refers to him in his blog." Alan Worked for Rockwell International and received a Silver Snoopy in 1992.

Wayne Hale's Blog: Hochstein's Law

"Alan was the senior landing analyst. That means he studied more and worked harder than anyone to understand how the shuttle flies - especially in the final approach and landing phase. One part of Alan's job was to analyze the telemetry from each shuttle landing and see how that compared to the "ideal" landing. So in a quiet office environment over a couple of weeks, Alan and his team would look at each telemetry point, every sample (up to 125 per second for some parameters) and compute how each one affected the landing."

China's bold lunar plan, Craig Covault, Aerospace America

"Astronauts Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 and Eugene Cernan of Apollo 17 tell Aerospace America that engineering details emerging from China's first robotic Moon lander suggest it is a formal precursor to a manned lunar module that would carry Chinese astronauts to the surface of the Moon around 2030. In their view, the time may be right for NASA to begin direct cooperation with China on the return of humans--both Chinese and American--to the Moon as a prelude to international manned missions to Mars."

- More Chang'e 3 Images on Flickr
- earlier China posts

NASA Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract CCTCAP

"NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to compete requirements for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) Phase 2 of the Commercial Crew Program. The CCtCap contract is the second phase of a two-phased procurement strategy to develop a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability to achieve safe, reliable and cost effective access to and from the International Space Station (ISS) with a goal of no later than 2017."

Message from the Associate Administrator -- Aligning Our Agency for the Future

"Since TCAT was established, the budget environment has remained challenging, and the team's work has gained increased priority. As a result, you may see elements of the assessment or implementation underway at your center. The goal of this effort is to strengthen our centers in their primary areas of expertise. Each center will see increased investment in some areas and decreased investment in others. ... Since this work is so important right now, we have brought one of the agency's most seasoned professionals on board to oversee it. Lesa Roe, currently Center Director at the Langley Research Center in Virginia, will be detailed to Headquarters as the Deputy Associate Administrator to oversee TCAT."

Keith's note: Sounds like Son of ZBR (Zero Base Review) i.e. ZBR 2.0 to me.

NASA, Harvard & TopCoder Partner to Develop a Secure Solar System Internet Protocol

"TopCoder, the world's largest professional development and design community, with NASA and the Harvard-NASA Tournament Lab (at Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science), today announced the launch of a series of innovation challenges that will develop foundational technological concepts for disruption tolerant deep space networking. NASA has made significant progress in developing Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocols that aide in deep space communication. DTN protocols are an approach to network architecture that seeks to address the potential for lack of continuous connectivity in deep space. It is meant to aid NASA in the exploration of the solar system by overcoming communication time delays caused by interplanetary distances, and the disruptions caused by planetary rotation, orbits and limited transmission power."

Can Gravity's Thrills Inspire Viewers To Reinvest In NASA?, Forbes

"Despite the popularity of films like "Gravity," public interest in NASA and space travel appears to be in hibernation. Although movie crews are inventing new technology to explore space on the big screen, Americans' real-life space program continues to languish. With an estimated budget of $100 million, a multi-year production schedule (it took four and a half years to complete), and minimal interference from Warner Bros., the making of "Gravity" serves as something of a microcosm for what it takes to explore space in the real world: vision, commitment, and a lot of financial backing."

Keith's note: It certainly would be nice if there was a boost from the public after seeing "Gravity" for NASA funding. But is giving NASA more money the only option? Private sector initiatives are becoming more bold and commercial options are increasingly capable.

- Gravity Review: In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Dream, earlier post
- We Get It Neil Tyson: You Hated "Gravity" (Update), earlier post
- Two Takes on the Orbital Mechanics in "Gravity", earlier post


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