March 2014 Archives

Mars mission cost citizen less than BEST bus fare, Times of India

"How much did the Rs 450-crore India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) cost an individual? Believe it or not it is less than the minimum BEST bus fare. While the minimum fare is Rs 6, each Indian on the other hand has spent just Rs four for the Mars mission. This unbelievable fact that the mission cost each citizen of this country a pittance was revealed to TOI by Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan recently. He said, "The fact it cost each person Rs 4 was moreover just a one-time payment. It was neither weekly, monthy or yearly."

Keith's note: Rs 4 = $0.07, India has 1.237 billion people. If they can go to Mars for 7 cents each, I wonder what they could do for 10 cents each ...

NASA Solicits New Collaborative Partnerships with Commercial Space Industry

"Building on the success of NASA's commercial spaceflight initiatives, agency officials announced Monday plans to solicit proposals from U.S. private enterprises for unfunded partnerships to collaboratively develop new commercial space capabilities. An Announcement for Proposals will be released on March 31 for the competitive selection of one or more SAAs. NASA plans a pre-proposal teleconference on April 3 to discuss the initiative and answer questions."

Surrendering in Space, Paul Spudis

"The program was divided into four segments, one for each area of national concern. A five-minute news overview preceded each segment, followed by a four-member panel discussion of each report's content. Space advocates should take sober notice that the panelists - all well-read, highly regarded Beltway pundits (from both ends of the political spectrum) - appear to be fairly uninformed about many of the space policy issues. But consider: they are representative of the intelligent general public, to whom we wish to convince of the value and importance of space."

Keith's note: And of course, this aired on Fox so everyone blamed President Obama for implementing the decision made by President Bush to retire the Space Shuttle and none of them has ever heard of SpaceX. And none of them could smell the pork aspect of the SLS. Again, this program aired on Fox. That said, Paul Spudis manages to distill what these talking heads said, or might have said, or should have said, and thus explains why U.S. space policy is adrift and is a pale reflection of what it once was or could be - minus the Fox snark. Not that MSNBC or CNN can do much better with their own flavor of clueless snarkiness, of course.

Joseph Barksdale

Joseph D. Barksdale, 79, went from cotton fields to NASA, Baltimore Sun

"Joseph D. Barksdale, 79, died March 15 at his home in Laurel. Joseph Decatur Barksdale, who went from the cotton fields of Mississippi where his family was sharecropping to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where he oversaw the information technology department, died March 15 at his home in Laurel from complications from a fall. He was 79."

SpaceX Conducts Falcon 9R Static Fire Test [Watch], SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX successfully test fired the first stage of F9R--an advanced prototype for the world's first reusable rocket--in preparation for its first test flight in the coming weeks. Unlike airplanes, a rocket's thrust increases with altitude; F9R generates just over a million pounds of thrust at sea level but gets up to 1.5 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space."

Bowden Ward

Mr. Bowden Wilson Ward, Jr., 79, of Seabrook, MD, died Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Retired in 1996 as an Aerospace Engineer from NASA. Mr. Ward's career with Goddard Space Flight Center spanned 33 years and included many projects including OSO, GRO and GOES.

American Astronomical Society Statement on Proposed FY 2015 Budget

"At a time when space science is one of nation's brightest lights, delivering outstanding scientific discoveries and substantial public support, the President's proposed 3.5-percent cut for NASA's SMD is extremely worrying. We are particularly concerned by the 9 percent cut to the Astrophysics Division and the unanticipated decision to mothball a major mission outside the well-established senior review process. The AAS is also concerned about the imbalance within SMD given the inadequate funding for ongoing mission operations (including damaging cuts to major missions), flat or declining research and analysis grant funding, and the outlook for the Planetary New Frontiers and Heliophysics Explorer competed mission lines."

Planetary Society Decries NASA Science Cuts - Calls on Congress to Support Planetary Exploration

"NASA's planetary exploration is one-of-a-kind," said Casey Dreier, The Planetary Society's Director of Advocacy. "Our members know this, the public knows this, and we want to make sure that The White House knows this, too. We've had very strong support from key members of Congress, and we will depend on them once again to help preserve NASA's leadership in solar system exploration." Within two days of the Society's call, more than 20,000 messages of support have been sent to Congress, once again demonstrating the intense public support for this key NASA capability."

Hearing Charter

" ... A year after the introduction of this [Asteroid Retrieval] mission, the Administration still has not provided a detailed mission profile or budget proposal. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 required NASA to provide additional details about the mission concept before Congress would commit long-term resources to the effort."

Smith and Palazzo: NASA's Priority Should Be Space Exploration

"The President's budget again seeks to fund an Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM), a mission that experts and Congress have sharply criticized. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) highlighted testimony before the Committee by NASA Advisory Council Chairman, Dr. Steve Squyres, who said "I see no obvious connection between [ARM] and any of the technologies or capabilities that are required for Martian exploration."

Prepared Statement by Charles Bolden

"The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will enable NASA to test powerful Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) and integrated human/robotic vehicle operations in deep-space trajectories. Like the invaluable ISS, this mission will provide NASA with critical knowledge, experience and technologies for future human exploration missions deeper into space."

Subcommittee Reviews the NASA Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2015

"During her questions to General Bolden later in the hearing, Ms. Edwards emphasized the need for the Subcommittee to obtain a roadmap for a human mission to the surface of Mars accompanied by the analysis of the options for potential interim destinations."

Marc's Update: You can watch the hearing again if you missed it as we now have an archived copy on SpaceRef.

U.S. Air Force Radar Problem Delays NROL-67 and SpaceX CRS-3 Launches, SpaceRef Business

"A problem with the U.S. Air Force AN/MPS-39 Multiple Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) at the Eastern Range, reportedly a fire, has delayed the launch of the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-67 launch and now unofficially SpaceX's launch of the CRS-3 resupply mission to the International Space Station."

Hearing Charter

Statement by OSTP Director John Holdren: Hearing on FY2015 Science Budget

"Within the context of the Budget Control Act's spending caps, NASA's 2015 budget is $17.5 billion, a slight decrease from the 2014 enacted level."

Chairman Smith Statement on President's Science Budget

"And The White House's proposed asteroid retrieval mission is a mission without a budget, without a destination, and without a launch date. Rather than diminish NASA's space exploration mission, President Obama should set forth a certain, near-term, realizable goal for NASA's space exploration. "Many experts believe that a Mars Flyby mission launched in 2021 is a potentially worthy near-term goal. A human Mars mission would electrify the American public, excite American scientists, and inspire American students."

Expedition 39/40 Trio's Arrival at Space Station Delayed

"The next trio of crew members destined for the International Space Station is now looking forward to a Thursday arrival at the orbiting laboratory after their Soyuz spacecraft was unable to complete its third thruster burn to fine-tune its approach."

New Crew Launches to Space Station

"Three crew members representing the United States and Russia are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday (3:17 a.m. on March 26 in Baikonur)."

Marc's Update: The first additional burns have been completed successfully for the 34 orbit rendezvous. According to Space Station Mission Operations Integration Manager Kenny Todd "everything looks real good".

Keith's note: Adapted from several messages circulating on Google+: "JSC is pulling the plug on Space Station Live due to budget cuts. You are encouraged to contact the space agency and ask to reconsider the decision. As suggested on the site, you can submit your concerns by emailing NASA official Jennifer B. Price at jsc-isslive@mail.nasa.gov with ISS Live Web Site in the Subject.

ISS Live is a unique resource. It displays real-time telemetry data on the space station's electrical, environmental, attitude control, communications, and other systems. Mobile apps for Android and iOS are also available for checking the telemetry on your smartphone or tablet. Live telemetry, from a real spaceship. A lot of the same data flight controllers have on their console displays at NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston. This is possibly one of the geekiest resources ever."

JAXA Selects Mitsubishi to Build New Flagship Launch Vehicle, SpaceRef Business

"JAXA has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to build a new flagship launch vehicle to replace the current H-IIA and H-IIB launch vehicles and intends to compete for international commercial contracts.

The new rocket is expected to come into service in 2020 and JAXA stated that they plan on cutting launch costs by half to try and compete directly with Arianespace, SpaceX and other commercial launch providers."

Palazzo, Edwards Say Human Space Exploration Should Be Priority

"We are writing to express our strong support for a safe, focused and expeditious return of American astronauts to deep space exploration on an American rocket launched from American soil. Congress has done its part in helping to codify a future deep space exploration architecture in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (PL 111-267), and has followed with a robust funding commitment, as most recently expressed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. We are concerned, however, about the impact of shifting priorities for NASA and the resulting mixed signals this sends relative to the United States' dedication and commitment to its leadership role in human deep spaceflight exploration. We urge you to chart and clearly state a vision and timeline for the nation in deep space exploration."

The 'Other' Lunar Orbiter 1 Earthrise Image, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project

"A newly enhanced image of Earth taken from lunar orbit 47 years ago has been released. The image, taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966, is the latest in a series of images released by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP). This image is actually one of a pair of images taken of Earth by Lunar Orbiter 1. Its twin image, taken first, was much more famous and captured the world's imagination when first released by NASA nearly half a century ago. That "Earthrise" image, as it came to be known, was also the first image re-released by the LOIRP in November 2008. These two pictures were not included in the original mission plan. Taking these images required that the spacecraft's attitude in relation to the lunar surface be changed so that the camera's lenses were pointing away from the Moon. Such maneuvering meant a calculated risk and, coming early in the flight, the unplanned photograph of Earth raised some doubts among Boeing management about the safety of the spacecraft - especially on the very first Lunar Orbiter mission."

Kelly Carter

Kelly M. Carter, age 57 of Laurel, MD, departed this life at her home in Laurel, MD, surrounded by her family on Friday, March 7, 2014. Kelly was born April 26, 1956 and was the daughter of the late Andrew and Myrna Dargan. She retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) after 35 years of extraordinary federal government service.

NASA to Host Media Teleconference on an Asteroid Initiative Broad Agency Announcement

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EDT Friday, March 21, to discuss the same-day release of its Asteroid Initiative Announcement of Opportunities."

NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement

"NASA intends to issue has issued an Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) on March 21, 2014. NASA is developing concepts for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which would use a robotic spacecraft to capture a small near-Earth asteroid, or remove a boulder from the surface of a larger asteroid, and redirect the asteroid mass into a stable orbit around the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System would rendezvous with the asteroid mass in lunar orbit, and collect samples for return to Earth."

A Win-Win Sanction - It's past time for the nation that won the space race to get back in the business, National Review Online

"Russia may retaliate by cutting off our supply of RD-180 engines. Imported Russian RD-180s power the first stage of the American Atlas V rocket; the Atlas V launches our military satellites. If Putin does threaten our rocket shipments, we can dip into the two-year store that has been stockpiled for just such an occasion -- and two weeks ago, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk testified to Congress that his American-made Falcon rockets are ready to take over (for about $300 million less per flight than an Atlas launch costs taxpayers now)."

Orbital Drops Antitrust Lawsuit Against ULA, Space News

"Orbital is considering the RD-180 as a replacement for the AJ-26 engines that power the main stage of the company's Antares medium-lift rocket. Each Antares rocket uses two AJ-26 engines, which are actually Soviet-vintage NK-33 engines refurbished by Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, Calif. Orbital has secured only enough AJ-26 engines for the eight cargo-delivery missions to the international space station the company owes NASA through 2016 under a $1.89 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract signed in 2008."

Keith's note: Wouldn't it be prudent to start building Americanized versions of these engines - or develop home grown designs?

A Minimal Model for Human and Nature Interaction, 2012, (PDF) as submitted.

Keith's 20 March update: (The University of Maryland has pulled this 2012 paper offline - summary/excerpts below). This is apparently the newer 2014 paper - submitted on 18 March - on the same topic - with a nearly identical summary: "Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies".

Excerpts from both versions of the paper are included below - after the link.

NASA Statement on Sustainability Study

"A soon-to-be published research paper 'Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies' by University of Maryland researchers Safa Motesharrei and Eugenia Kalnay, and University of Minnesota's Jorge Rivas was not solicited, directed or reviewed by NASA. It is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity. "As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions."

Keith's 20 March update: The paper claims that it was partially funded by NASA - and mentions a specific NASA grant i.e. "NASA/GSFC grant NNX12AD03A". NASA seems to be saying that it was not funded by NASA.

Keith's 21 March update: NASA responded to my questions on this topic:

NASAWATCH: Did NASA money support this work and if so how much and who (program, project, directorate) paid for it?

NASA: In 2010, NASA funded a small pilot project at the University of Maryland to adapt a physical climate simulation model for use at the University. A small secondary task, valued at less than $30,000, was used to couple the climate model with a population model. The resulting model, the "Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model is a simplified model of human-climate interactions.

NASAWATCH: If NASA funds were used why has it been pulled offline? Is not such work a matter of public record?

NASA: NASA has not pulled the paper offline or directed it to be done. Questions regarding the paper itself should be directed to the University of Maryland.

NASAWATCH: Did NASA solicit this research - and if so what specific program solicited and funded it?

NASA: NASA did not solicit the research in this paper. The HANDY model was part of a pilot study funded as part of Goddard's Modeling, Analysis and Prediction program.

NASAWATCH: Is there a statement of work/proposal to accompany this paper?

NASA: Yes. There was a Statement of Work that covered the development of the model.

NASAWATCH: Does NASA endorse the findings?

NASA: No.

NASAWATCH: Will NASA be publishing/promoting this paper and its findings?

NASA: No.

It's Time To Retire The Shuttle, John Logsdon, 16 October 2008, Washington Post

"The shuttle is also very expensive to operate; this year's shuttle budget is close to $3 billion. If the United States continues to spend that money on flying the shuttle beyond 2010, it will take even longer to develop a replacement vehicle, further delaying U.S. plans to venture beyond low Earth orbit. ... The space shuttle is a remarkable technological achievement, but replacing it soon is the best path to the future. We should not let false pride or international tensions get in the way of an intelligent approach to exploring the final frontier."

Keith's note: John Logsdon was for shutting down the Space Shuttle program - before he thought it was "stupid".

Formulating Space Policy While Looking Through A Straw

"The Space Frontier Foundation believes that space settlement is the real reason to have a space program, and therefore we insist on measuring every policy or project against that purpose ...

... A lot of people are perfectly content on using ever more powerful telescopes and robotics to explore the universe - and maybe sending people - later. And these perfectly rational people can make a logical, cogent argument for that as the purpose for funding NASA - and for deciding what to fund or not to fund. That's the problem with idealistic space goals that proceed from a single personalized and narrow premise (bias): they mean nothing if the person you are talking to does not agree with you within the first few sentences. Its like looking at the world (or the universe) through a straw and then trying to proclaim policies that apply to everything outside the narrow field of view of the straw. You don't see what other people see or incorporate it into your world view. In a slightly larger sense this is the problem that all space advocacy groups have. They just assume a priori that everyone thinks space is cool in and of itself and that money should therefore be spent on things that space advocates think are cool. The real world takes a back seat. Small wonder space advocates have not made much headway in the past few decades."

Marketing the Moon: How NASA Sold Space to Earth, Brain Pickings

"One year after the surprise launch of Sputnik, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded. The U.S. space program was determined to be markedly different from the Soviets -- it would be an "open program" in which facts and data would flow freely between the agency and the public using an extensive public relations program, explain authors David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek in Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program (public library). It was a radical proposition: NASA, not the military, would release information and information would be released before, not after, a mission -- an antithesis to the typical military strategy of confidentially. Tragedy would be reported alongside success."

Redesign of Planned Space Telescope Would Add Scientific Capabilities, Costs to Original Mission

"However, the inherited hardware was designed for another purpose, and the degree to which changes to the hardware must be made to accommodate a different launch vehicle and scientific requirements is uncertain at this time. This uncertainty contributes to higher technical risk and a greater likelihood that costs will increase beyond current estimates, the report says. The WFIRST/AFTA without the coronagraph was estimated to cost $2.1 billion, up from an estimate of $1.8 billion for an earlier design which was more similar to the mission recommended in the 2010 survey report."

- NRO Gives NASA Two Hubble-Class Telescopes (Shh!), earlier post
- How Much Will the Free NRO Space Telescopes Cost?, earlier post
- Are NASA's New Telescopes NRO Future Imagery Architecture Leftovers?, earlier post

Dr. Andy Aldrin Joins Moon Express as its President, SpaceRef Business

"Moon Express, the ambitious Silicon Valley commercial venture aiming to be one of the first Moon resource companies, announced last night at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference that Dr. Andy Aldrin was joining the company as its new President.

Dr. Aldrin, the son of Buzz Aldrin, is leaving United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of mega-companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin for the relative uncertainty of a small yet growing "NewSpace" company with promise but no guarantees of success."

The Spaceship to Everywhere, Dennis Tito, Huffington Post

"SLS and Orion give us so much more than technical capabilities. They will allow us to open deep space to all humankind, to expand human knowledge beyond our imagination, extend human experience out into the solar system, forge global partnerships for a better world and inspire humanity to dream of and achieve a better future. To not pursue SLS/Orion is to retreat from U. S. leadership in human space flight and watch China or Russia leave us behind as they and their partners benefit from unlocking the secrets of the solar system."

Keith's note: I find it to be utterly amazing that a guy who has made so much money can be so utterly clueless when it comes to the absurd cost realities of SLS. Show me the money, Dennis - for without it this truly is "the rocket to nowhere". By the way, what ever happened to all of those millions you were going to put into the wholly private "Inspiration Mars"? Nothing but crickets so far. Is this another instance of 'do as I say, not as I do'?

First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation, HSCFSA

"Researchers from the BICEP2 collaboration today announced the first direct evidence for this cosmic inflation. Their data also represent the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the "first tremors of the Big Bang." Finally, the data confirm a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity."

OPM STATUS: FEDERAL OFFICES ARE CLOSED EMERGENCY AND TELEWORK-READY EMPLOYEES MUST FOLLOW THEIR AGENCY'S POLICIES

FEDERAL OFFICES in the Washington, DC, area are CLOSED. Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency's policies, including written telework agreements.

Keith's note: GSFC is at Code Red - closed.

Keith's 10 March note: Last night @NASA and other main NASA Twitter accounts devoted a lot of real time tweeting and linking of images and references in support of the premiere of "Cosmos". Most notably, President Obama thought it worth his time to make a rather unprecedented on-air introduction to the series. Oddly, NASA's Astrobiology program did not say one damn thing. There is no mention on NASA's main astrobiology website. No mention was made on their 880,000 follower AstrobiologyNAI Twitter account either.

Keith's 16 March update: Tonight's episode was devoted to Astrobiology. At one point Neil Tyson notes "All of the astrobiologists since Carl Sagan have wondered whether life swims in Titan's oceans". Astrobiology is getting a free PR boost at zero expense to NASA. All NASA has to do is pay attention, tell others about how it relates to what their tax dollars are doing, and benefit from the exposure. Yet NASA's Astrobiology Institute has maintained a total black out on "Cosmos".

If NASA can seize the opportunity to use social media to embrace and enhance Oscar buzz about "Gravity", ISS visibility in "Live From Space" - and the Cosmos premiere last week, then why can't NASA SMD and NAI do so with Cosmos over the coming weeks? Last week I was convinced that NAI staff was clueless in this regard. Now I am convinced that they are just incompetent - and negligent. And why doesn't NASA HQ care - or have the ability/interest to direct NAI to show the same enthusiasm that the rest of the agency has aptly demonstrated?

Studying Gender in Conference Talks: Data From 223rd American Astronomical Society Meeting

"The most significant result from this study is that while the gender ratio of speakers very closely mirrors that of conference attendees, women are under-represented in the question-asker category. We interpret this to be an age-effect, as senior scientists may be more likely to ask questions, and are more commonly men. A strong dependence on the gender of session chairs is found, whereby women ask disproportionately fewer questions in sessions chaired by men. While our results point to laudable progress in gender-balanced speaker selection, we believe future surveys of this kind would help ensure that collaboration at such meetings is as inclusive as possible."

Agencywide Message to All NASA Employees: "LIVE FROM SPACE" Program on Space Station Originating from JSC

"LIVE FROM SPACE" Program on Space Station Originating from JSC -- Friday, March 14, 8 p.m. EDT, National Geographic Channel. "LIVE FROM SPACE," a live, two-hour special program originating from Johnson Space Center (JSC) and including appearances by the International Space Station (ISS) crew, is scheduled to air world-wide on the National Geographic Channel on Friday, March 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time."

Keith's note: Unless you pay extra for National Geogrpahic Channel, you were unable to watch this NASA-assisted special tonight. NASA TV was not allowed to air it. Also, if you went to the official "Live From Space" website, it crashed a few minutes after the show began - and with it the live video feeds (without any audio). To be certain, crashing a webserver like this speaks to having a lot of interested people trying to get in. That said, its baffling that National Geographic did not plan ahead for this surge in traffic - especially when they did so much international marketing. Meanwhile, it was rather humorous to listen to the open mic in the control room at JSC in the hour leading up to the webcast as the shows's producers struggled to figure a number of things out - and talk about the post-show party.

SOFIA ... eine Erfolgsgeschichte ist in Gefahr (in German), January W├Ârners Blog, DLR

[translation] "As part of the current budget statement of NASA it has now let announced from Washington that the continued operation as of 2015 could no longer be financed. That would not only be a major blow for the science that has planned many interesting astronomical research for the coming years, but also for the relationship between NASA and DLR."

Space Florida Signs MOU With Swiss Space Systems

"Today, aerospace company Swiss Space Systems (S3) inaugurates its new U.S. subsidiary, S3 USA Operations (Florida) Inc., at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). S3 has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Space Florida for future utilization the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) and associated infrastructure for its flight operations, which are slated to begin in 2015 with zero gravity flights. S3 will also evaluate the SLF as a main site for satellite launches beginning in 2018."

Swiss Space Systems Opens U.S. Subsidiary and Plans to use KSC Shuttle Landing Facility, SpaceRef Business

Mars Rover Opportunity Faces New Threat: Budget Ax, Discovery

"NASA's baseline budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 pulls the plug on the 10-year-old Mars rover Opportunity, newly released details of the agency's fiscal 2015 spending plan show. The plan, which requires Congressional approval, also anticipates ending the orbiting Mars Odyssey mission on Sept. 30, 2016. "There are pressures all over the place," NASA's planetary science division director Jim Green said during an advisory council committee teleconference call on Wednesday. NASA currently spends about $13 million a year to support Opportunity."

Keith's note: Just as JWST cost growth is killing off valuable existing missions that cost a pittance to continue - and stiffling others from even being started - SLS will soon start to eat Human Spaceflight's budgetary lunch - and the 2024 ISS extension will become less and less of a certainty

NASA spends millions to fly first and business class with little oversight, Scripps

"NASA neglected to disclose an entire year's worth of upgrades in 2012, and faced no repercussions. The agency is in the process of completing that report now. ... Each agency's inspector general is responsible for enforcing travel regulations, according to the GSA. NASA's office of inspector general acknowledged it has never audited premium travel. Asked why the errors weren't caught earlier, NASA CFO Robinson, who has been on the job since 2009, said she only recently became responsible for the report. "It was done elsewhere at NASA and it came to us because all of the people doing it retired. So I can't speak to what they did." Regarding its failure to file an entire year of disclosures in 2012, NASA officials put the onus partly on GSA, saying the agency never contacted them about it.''

- Message From The NASA Administrator: New Policies in Response to Sequestration, earlier post
- Unequal Application of Travel Restrictions, earlier post
- Bolden Cuts Travel; Buys Toy Telescope Models, earlier post
- (Ambassador) Charlie Bolden's Travel Plans?, earlier post

Human Exploration Drives Space Launch System, Aviation Week

"It doesn't seem likely that NASA and it's congressional backers will trust human lives anytime soon to a 27-engine vehicle that bears an unfortunate resemblance to the ill-fated Soviet N-1 Moon rocket, which had 30".

Keith's note: Odd comment from Aviation Week given that NASA has been putting American astronauts on Soyuz launchers for a long time and they use 20 engines just to leave the pad. Oh yes, his rocket actually is a Soviet design.

NASA Names David W. Miller as Agency's New Chief Technologist

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Thursday that David W. Miller, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., has been named the agency's new Chief Technologist. As chief technologist, he will be Bolden's principal advisor and advocate on matters concerning agency-wide technology policy and programs."

NASA FY 2015 President's Budget Request Summary

"In the FY 2015 President's Budget Request, NASA addresses the challenge of advancing U.S. leadership in space exploration, space and Earth science, and aeronautics in the current fiscal climate. In formulating this budget, projects and programs have been reviewed and their costs and benefits assessed to ensure the highest scientific return on the dollar."

NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement

"NASA intends to issue an Asteroid Redirect Mission Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) on March 21, 2014. NASA is developing concepts for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which would use a robotic spacecraft to capture a small near-Earth asteroid, or remove a boulder from the surface of a larger asteroid, and redirect the asteroid mass into a stable orbit around the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System would rendezvous with the asteroid mass in lunar orbit, and collect samples for return to Earth."

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

COSMOS Re-imagined

COSMOS Then and Now, Keith Cowing

"The new incarnation of "COSMOS" hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson debuted the other night. Highly anticipated, this new effort seeks to reboot, rekindle, and revitalize the indelible impression that its predecessor, hosted by Carl Sagan, made on many of us back in 1980. The first episode of the new COSMOS did not disappoint. Will it be the equal of its predecessor? Hard to say after just one episode - but nothing I saw leads me to think that it will be anything but spectacular and on a par with Sagan's pioneering work."

The Path Forward In American Space - 2014 Edition, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"I AM UNEASY. I resent the passive attitudes many scientists have toward the challenge of science, especially their passivity concerning the greatest scientific, technological, and industrial opportunity of all time--- the development of space--- a challenge so limitless and exciting as ultimately to surpass all previous human accomplishments.... I am angry that so many scientists do not voice the scientific benefits of the expedition to the moon, concerned that industrial directors in charge of tomorrow are tranquil to the future, disturbed that our non-scientific Congress is unrealistic in its reasons for space appropriations, and disgusted with scientific journals that have abdicated their responsibilities of leadership and fail, even, to present a point of view. Hundreds of important scientific and cold-cash reasons abound for going to the moon..."

These words could have been written by myself or a number of other space advocates over the last few years (it could also be written about Mars). However, these were written as the preface to a book "The Case for Going to the Moon", written in 1965 by Neil Ruzic, the editor and publisher of the 1960's era journal Industrial Research. The forward to the "Case for Going to the Moon" was written by Arthur C. Clarke. ...

Space Florida Space February 3 FY 2014 Tourism Report DEO Deliverables, Space Florida

"Space Florida's objective for the space tourism marketing appropriation is to define and develop the scope of space tourism throughout the state of Florida. Breaking the plan into three phases will allow us to address the different needs and goals of the aerospace industry. Each stage of this plan includes specific tactics with messaging relevant to the targeted demographic, as well as built in opportunities to measure reach, effectiveness and the return on investment of each individual tactic."

Keith's note: Looks like they want to do "train wraps" in Chicago, kiosks in New York City's financial district, Denver Airport ... They are ambitious - and they do have a viable precedent for attracting business to Florida: Ron Jon Surf Shop billboards up and down the east coast.

Head of China's space science reaches out, Nature

"Some think that the Chang'e-3 mission provides an opportunity for China and NASA to collaborate. How has that been going? It is indeed a wonderful opportunity. The landing of the Change'e-3 spacecraft on the Moon kicked up a lot of dust over a landscape that had already been carefully surveyed by NASA's two Moon orbiters, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. This is a perfect controlled experiment -- by coincidence rather than by design -- to study the composition of lunar dust and atmosphere, but it will require data exchange between the two countries. China is eager to collaborate, but nothing has come through from the US side because of the 2011 spending bill."

Keith's note: Our Congress goes out of its way to not cooperate with China in space because they do not like China's internal and foreign policies. Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. howls in protest, and yet we still operate the ISS together with Russia. Consistency? Of course not.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Private Companies Won't Take The Lead In Space Exploration, TechCrunch

"Tyson described space travel as "a long-term investment": "It's an investment that private enterprise cannot lead." He recalled the excitement around SpaceX's delivery of cargo the International Space Station, which sparked discussion about whether private companies would replace government as the main engine behind space travel. Tyson's response? "They brought cargo to the space station! NASA's been doing that for 30 years!" The problem, he said, is that it's hard to predict the risk and return on investment on "doing anything big and expensive first." He noted that the first Europeans to come to America were not the Dutch East India Company, but Christopher Columbus and his crew, whose expedition was paid for by Spain. After the initial exploration, there will be opportunities for private companies. "The first trillionaire in the world is going to be the person who first mines the asteroid belt," Tyson said."

Keith's note: Its rather odd that Tyson dumps on what SpaceX has accomplished i.e. that NASA did it 30 years ago (he doesn't explain that i.e the hugely expensive shuttle) but then he says that the person who first mines the asteroid will become a trillionaire. Assuming that the person gains these monetary riches by mining, you'd have to assume that they are a capitalist and that they did this commercially. So, Tyson dumps on commercial operations on space station as being ho hum and then says that the same mindset/world view i.e. commerce will be behind asteroid mining which he seems to equate with exploration.

NASA Wants to Explore Europa On the Cheap, Planetary Society

"Over the past few years, JPL and APL has been working on a reduced-cost Europa concept called the Europa Clipper, which would fly by Europa on the order of 50 times over a few years to map the surface and determine the properties of the assumed ocean and ice sheet. The Clipper had an estimated cost of $2.1 billion, less than half of the originally-conceived Europa Orbiter, which was around $4.7 billion. This would place the Clipper as a "flagship" mission, though on the low side for a flagship."

CASIS Releases Request for Information to Identify Equipment for Materials Science Research on the ISS, CASIS

Cutting-Edge Techniques Used for the Structural Investigation of Single Crystals, Science

"X-ray crystallography has become the leading technique for studying the structure of matter at the atomic and molecular level. Today it underpins all sciences and is widely applied in industry. It is essential in the development of new materials. The technique is very powerful, and the range of materials that can be studied expands as new technologies evolve and are applied in innovative ways to structure solution. It is now possible to record vast amounts of diffraction data in seconds electronically, whereas it took days and months by photographic methods 30 to 40 years ago. Single crystals can be created in various ways; they can be produced from compounds that are liquids or gases at room temperature, and complete molecular structures can be presented within minutes. This short review presents recent developments that are appropriate to the single-crystal x-ray studies of chemical and materials sciences."

Developments in X-ray Crystallographic Structure Determination of Biological Macromolecules, Science

Keith's note: Neither of these articles in this special issue of Science mention microgravity. Yet CASIS perpetuates utilization myths and acts as if advances in crystallography can only be made if you use uber-perfect crystals that have been grown in space. Space is no longer necessesary since vanishingly small amounts of material are now all that is required for Earth-based crystallography procedures (see links below) and answers appear swiftly - not months/years later. Shouldn't CASIS be focusing on things that can really utilize the unqiue capabilities of the ISS - not space-based technology that has already been eclipsed by advances back on Earth?

Ukraine crisis could end U.S. space reliance on Russia, Politico

"In previous budgets, Congress hasn't fully funded commercial crew requests as a way of finding savings, to the chagrin of its advocates. "The president has been requesting approximately $800 million every year since his FY12 budget submission to fund the development of American vehicles to provide access to the ISS, only to have Congress, led primarily by the GOP but not exclusively, dramatically undercut that funding," said Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, the state's spaceport authority and aerospace development organization. But Russia's incursion into Crimean region of Ukraine has put the spotlight on the U.S. and Russia's codependence in space, and could provide the political capital necessary for the program to get full funding this time around."

Why Ukraine crisis won't affect Russia, U.S. space collaboration, CNN

"We do not expect the current Russia-Ukraine situation to have any impact on our civil space cooperation with Russia, including our partnership on the International Space Station program," said Allard Beutel, a NASA spokesman."

Russia Preparing Response to U.S. and EU Sanctions, Moscow Times

"The Federation Council is drawing up a bill that would allow the government to confiscate the property of U.S. and European companies in the event of Western sanctions, though political analysts dismiss both actions as intimidating rhetoric unlikely turn into action. Further decreasing the possibility of asset confiscation is its violation of Russian and international laws, a legal expert said."

U.S. prepared to place unilateral sanctions on Russian officials, businesses, Washington Post

"The Obama administration is prepared to take unilateral steps to sanction Russian individuals and business entities it holds responsible for corrupt and illegal behavior in Ukraine while it moves to persuade its European partners, some more reluctant than others, to consider more substantive sanctions to directly affect the Russian economy, according to senior administration officials."

GAO: National Defense: Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Competitive Procurement

"If DOD requires all offers to contain both fixed-price and cost-reimbursement features for launch services and capability, respectively, similar to the way it currently contracts with ULA, there could be benefits to DOD and ULA, but potential burdens to new entrants. Alternatively, if DOD implements a fixed-price commercial approach to launch proposals, DOD could lose insight into contractor cost or pricing. DOD could also require a combination of elements from each of these approaches, or develop new contract requirements for this competition."

GAO: Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle: Introducing Competition into National Security Space Launch Acquisitions

"In December 2013, DOD signed a contract modification with ULA, committing the government to buy 35 launch vehicle booster cores over a 5-year period, and the associated capability to launch them. The new contract represents significant effort on the part of DOD to negotiate better launch prices through its improved knowledge of contractor costs, and DOD officials expect the new contract to realize significant savings, primarily through stable unit pricing for all launch vehicles. DOD is also leading a broader competition for up to 14 additional launches, expected to begin in fiscal year 2015."

Testimony of Elon Musk, Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs

"Recently, some have claimed that the Air Force's block buy of 36 booster cores from the incumbent will save the taxpayer "$4.4 billion over the next several years." Any "savings" resulting from a block buy of 36 rocket cores from the incumbent provider are derived directly from a 50 percent year-over-year budget projection increase in FY2012, which was purposefully based on worst-case assumptions for a single- Launch buy, and acknowledged at the time by the incumbent as being inflated.5 If SpaceX had contracted for these missions, using the same baseline, we would have saved the taxpayer a total of $11.6 billion."

Testimony of Michael C. Gass, Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs

"ULA was formed to enable assured access to space with two separate launch systems, with recognition the that market demand was insufficient to sustain two competitors. We went from two competing teams with redundant and underutilized infrastructure to one team that has delivered the expected savings of this consolidation."

Testimony of Scott Pace, Hearing on National Security Space Launch Programs

Webcast

NASA FY 2015 Budget - Commercial Crew is Investing in America, SpaceRef Business

"Early in his opening statement during the NASA teleconference on NASA's FY 2015 budget request, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden made it clear that reliance on the Russians for access to the International Space Station is choice Congress must choose to end.

Bolden said "budgets are about making choices, and let me clear about one thing, the choice here is between fully funding the request to bring space launches back to the U.S. or continuing millions in subsidies to the Russians, it's that simple. The Obama administration chooses investing in America. We believe Congress will choose this course as well."

On a day where tensions in Ukraine's Crimea only slighted abated, hammering on Congress about the choices they've made with respect to funding Commercial Crew budgeting in past years seemed appropriate. But was anybody listening?"

Bill Pogue

William R. "Bill" Pogue, former Skylab astronaut who grew up in Sand Springs, dies at 84, Tulsa World

"Pogue, together with astronauts Gerald Carr and Edward Gibson, spent 84 consecutive days in space from 1973 to 1974 aboard Skylab, the first American space station. Their 12 weeks in orbit was a record at the time, topping the previous Skylab mission's eight weeks. They orbited the earth 1,214 times while aboard the station, traveling 35.5 million miles."

Did NASA Ground SOFIA?

Computing a Winner, Fusion a Loser in U.S. Science Budget, Science Insider

"A White House summary of NASA's budget notes that the savings achieved by reducing funding for SOFIA will enable "continued support for higher priority programs, including lower cost, competitive science missions, and extended operations for the Cassini Saturn mission." A more detailed presentation of the space agency's budget proposal, unveiled this afternoon by NASA, says the agency is in talks with its German partner to determine the best path forward for SOFIA."

Keith's note: In a NASA FY 2015 press event today I noted the Inspiration Mars/Mars 2021 Flyby congressional hearing last week and how Dennis Tito is asking NASA to pay for a SLS/Orion mission to Mars. Based on the Inspiration Mars 2021 mission date, and all existing SLS/Orion plans, Tito's plan would require the very first SLS/Orion flight with humans to go on this mission to Mars. I asked Bolden if, as Administrator, he'd approve such a mission - one that would require such a mission on the very first flight. Bolden simply refused to answer and babbled on instead about other things that had nothing to do with the question. It is hard to tell if Bolden did not understand the question, did not want to answer the question, or did not know how to answer the question.

Inspiration Mars Sets Sights on Venus/Mars Flyby in 2021, Dennis Tito, opinion, SpaceNews

"Today, the IMF remains fully committed to its vision to help provide America with a viable, challenging and inspirational mission to Mars as a way to help accelerate our nation's plans for space exploration. However, given the extensive use of NASA assets that are already funded and under development, the strategy to pursue the mission opportunity in 2021 would clearly be the purview of the Congress, the Obama administration and NASA."

Keith's note: Tito's op ed is, at a minimum, disingenuous. Actually it is outright deceptive. This is bait and switch, plain and simple. As if no one would notice. Tito seems to want everyone to think that his original wholly-private funded Falcon-9 based plan for 2017 is somehow just a different flavor of his new 2021 SLS/Orion-based, NASA-funded plan. Ho hum. All that needs to be done is change the computer graphics, write some op eds, update the calendar app on your smartphones, and off we go to Mars. He says that it's all "Inspirational" so who cares, right?

Mr. Tito is asking NASA, Congress, and the White House to find billions of dollars on top of a budget that is going to be flat for the next few years, and launch the very first SLS/Orion mission on a trip to Mars with zero chance of return should anything go wrong. ANYTHING. Even the gutsy Apollo 8 had precursor shakeout flights of its launch vehicle and main spacecraft systems. No advisory committee has called for this mission.

And unless these extra billions are found the ISS will need to be abandoned by the U.S. There is simply no money to do both under the budget that everyone in Washington seems to want NASA to have. By going from the laudable notion of a privately-funded mission to one paid for by tax dollars Inspiration Mars is now simply an advertisement for more SLS funding. No "inspiration" there.

Tito just wants us all to do it as part of his legacy and he wants the rest of us to foot the bill. Has he disclosed how much of his own millions he will commit?

NASA Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Briefing Now a Teleconference

"Because of inclement weather in the Washington area, NASA's Fiscal Year 2015 budget media briefing on Tuesday, March 4 now will be a teleconference. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson will brief reporters starting at 2 p.m. EST."

OMB Summary of NASA FY 2015 Budget Request

"Provides $17.5 billion in discretionary funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by prioritizing the research and development that lays the foundation for future long-term growth and exploration, as well as the key commercial partnerships that will enable the efficient long-term operations of the International Space Station."

Detailed NASA Budget, OMB

Russia Crisis Raises Space Station, NBC

"The United States and Russia are not just "joined at the hip" on the space station. Numerous other rocket projects rely on either Russian or Ukrainian space hardware and services. Even U.S. national security satellites are powered into orbit on an American rocket with a Russian-built rocket engine. What if the Soyuz spacecraft suddenly became unavailable for use by American astronauts, contract or no contract? Would it be the end of U.S. human spaceflight? Would it kick off a new round of extortionary price-gouging, both fiscal and diplomatic?"

US says it is suspending trade talks and all military-to-military engagements with Russia over Ukraine, Fox

"The U.S. announced late Monday it was suspending trade and investment talks with Russia as well as all "military-to-military engagements" as penalties for its actions in Ukraine."

Oleg Kotov (ISS Expedition 28 Commander) WIkipedia

Oleg Valeriyevich Kotov was born on October 27, 1965, in Simferopol, Crimean oblast in the Ukrainian SSR.

The 5 best real-time marketing moments of the Oscars, Digiday

"3. NASA's real-life gravity tweets "Gravity" was awarded a handful of Oscars, and no brand was a bigger cheerleader than NASA. The space agency spent the night cleverly tweeting out real facts and cool images relating to gravity using the hashtag #RealGravity -- totally on-brand for NASA. The tweets generated a good amount of engagement, like this tweet which got more than 8,100 retweets and more than 3,900 favorites."

NASA Uses Gravity Oscar Wins for Promo Opp, Media Bistro

"While the film didn't win Best Picture, it did score seven statues--andNASA took the opportunity to show us once again why it rules social. The team clearly predicted at least one win for Cuaron's space odyssey, using the hashtag #RealGravity to remind the public once again that it does some pretty cool stuff out there in space with another set of impressive images."

NASA releases 'Gravity'-inspired photo set ahead of the Oscars , Marketing Gum

"Just in time for the Academy Awards, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has released a new photo set inspired by Gravity. The movie makes heavy use of computer-generated imagery, but NASA's photos show space as it really looks to the astronauts lucky enough to leave the earth's orbit. Using photos taken over the last several years, "NASA's Real-Life Images from Space" showcases astronauts, space shuttles, and some jaw-dropping views of earth. It should..."

Forget the Oscar-winning film - Nasa's real-life Gravity images of Earth, shuttles and astronauts will take your breath away, Computer Magazine

"Nasa has just outdone Hollywood by releasing these mind-blowing real life 'Gravity' images revealing incredible scenes of Earth, astronauts and space shuttles."

The 2014 Oscars Social Media Highlights, Business2community

"- Social media favors Gravity. With the film picking up a good tally of awards especially for its cinematography which is literally out of this world.
- To help out, Nasa joined in with #Gravity to share a selection of #RealGravity images taken from Space that are simply breathtaking, such as this one below."

NASA's Real 'Gravity' Photos Will Blow You Away, Mashable

"NASA sure knows how to capture the endless beauty of real space. And on Sunday, the space agency decided to connect some of that epic reality with one of the films nominated for this year's Academy Awards. Hours before the ceremony, NASA tweeted out a couple of its #RealGravity images from life in space, as a way of helping the public connect its real work with the fictional images portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film, Gravity."

NASA Weather Closures

Keith's note: NASA HQ offices in Washington DC area are closed on Monday per OPM.


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