December 2014 Archives

Keith's note Like these photos? I sure do. But you won't see most - if any - of them online at NASA.gov. Why? The crew tweets lots of pictures via @NASA_Astronauts but they are low resolution and yet virtually none of them appear online at NASA. Nothing has been posted on the NASA Flickr account since 16 December 2014. The NASA ISS page is similarly out of date. If you go to spaceflight.nasa.gov the last thing that was posted are training photos from November 2013. Isn't it odd that the ISS crew - busy as they are in space - are conscientious enough to plan, take, comment, and in some cases edit, and then download these pictures - from orbit - but yet back on Earth no one at NASA JSC seems to care? And yet NASA puts out articles like this on 29 December: "Astronaut Photographs Inspire Next Generation of Scientists" which reference images NASA does not put online. Baffling.

James Hsiu-Kai Chi

James Hsiu-Kai Chi

"Suddenly on Friday, December 26, 2014, James Hsiu-Kai Chi died at his home in Gaithersburg, MD."

According to a NASA employee who knew him "James, a highly respected and talented senior information technology specialist, served as a key graphic designer for the NASA family for many years."

Virgin Galactic at ISPCS

Looking Back at Virgin Galactic at ISPCS 2014, SpaceRef Business

"Two weeks before the tragedy that saw Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crash on a test flight, the company was out in full force at the annual International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS)."

Bigelow in 2015

2015 Could be a Milestone Year for Bigelow Aerospace [Video], SpaceRef Business

"Taking another step forward, Bigelow Aerospace will see its Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) launched and attached to the International Space Station in July of 2015."

Russia Launches Angara 5

Russia Launches Angara 5 on Maiden Test Flight [With Video], SpaceRef Business

"Russia today successfully launched the Angara 5 rocket on its first test flight. The rocket carried a dummy payload. The Angara 5 flew with five first stage cores strapped together and a Breeze M upper stage.

The Angara 5 is meant to replace Russia's heavy-lift Proton rocket and would become the workhorse of the Russian fleet tasked with primarily launching military payloads. A future super heavy-lift Angara 7 is also planned, if needed."

Angara best response to Western sanctions - deputy PM, ITAR TASS

"The Angara launch is a proper response to the Western sanctions and confirmation of Russia's ability to make new achievements, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said."

Russia launches new heavy-class Angara space rocket, Xinhua

"Russia successfully carried out the first test launch of a newest heavy-class Angara A5 rocket on Tuesday. The rocket was launched at Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia's northern Arkhangelsk region at 08:57 a.m. Moscow Time (0557 GMT), according to the Defense Ministry press service."

NASA Commercial LEO Workshop (with presentations)

"On December 10-11, 2014, NASA held a workshop on the commercialization of low Earth orbit. The goal of the workshop was to start a dialog about creating a thriving commercial marketplace in LEO over the next decade, enabled by human spaceflight."

Another Stealth NASA ISS Event, Earlier post

"This NASA-sponsored ISS research event will not be webcast or recorded. No media advisory was sent out in advance. The event starts tomorrow. I find it especially odd that NASA has gone out of its way to not make this event more visible - and accessible - via simple webcasting (the event is being held directly across the street from NASA HQ) such that the potentially vast audience of possible users, media, decision makers, and students can better understand ISS potential capabilities."

Sam Keller

keller.jpgSamuel W. Keller

"On December 14, 2014.... Memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 3, 2015"

Associate Administrator for Russian Programs Appointed (1992)

"NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin today announced the appointment of Samuel W. Keller as Associate Administrator for Russian Programs. The new function is being established within the Office of the Administrator and will give focus to the many programs involving NASA and the former Soviet Union."

Larry Vogel

vogel.jpgLawrence W. Vogel

"Lawrence W. Vogel (age 94) passed away after a brief illness on December 18, 2014. For 12 years, Col. Vogel served as Director of NASA Headquarters Administration and was proud to be a part of NASA's very successful manned space programs highlighted in the Apollo lunar missions. After retirement from public service in 1986, Col. Vogel remained very active in West Point and NASA retiree activities."

NASA Takes Giant Leaps on the Journey to Mars, Eyes Our Home Planet and the Distant Universe, Tests Technologies and Improves the Skies Above in 2014, NASA

"In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency's journey to Mars -- testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel."

"We continued to make great progress on our journey to Mars this year, awarding contracts to American companies who will return human space flight launches to U.S. soil, advancing space technology development; and successfully completing the first flight of Orion, the next deep space spacecraft in which our astronauts will travel," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "We moved forward on our work to create quieter, greener airplanes and develop technologies to make air travel more efficient; and we advanced our study of our changing home planet, Earth, while increasing our understanding of others in our solar system and beyond."

Marc's Note: The press release includes a video whereby astronaut Reid Wiseman explains why he uses social media and its importance.

NASA Selects Commercial Space Partners for Collaborative Partnerships, NASA

"NASA announced Tuesday the selection of four U.S. companies to collaborate with NASA through unfunded partnerships to develop new space capabilities available to the government and other customers. The partnerships build on the success of NASA's commercial spaceflight initiatives to leverage NASA experience and expertise into new capabilities."


- ATK Space Systems, in Beltsville, Maryland, is developing space logistics, hosted payload and other space transportation capabilities.

- Final Frontier Design, in Brooklyn, New York, is developing intra-vehicular activity space suits.

- Space Exploration Technologies, in Hawthorne, California, is developing space transportation capabilities that could be used to support missions into deep space.

- United Launch Alliance, in Centennial, Colorado, is developing new launch vehicle capabilities to reduce cost and enhance performance.

- ATK and NASA Announce Commercial Space Capabilities Partnership

Video: NASA Provides an Astronaut's-Eye View of Orion's Re-entry

"New video recorded during NASA's Orion return through Earth's atmosphere provides viewers a taste of what the vehicle endured as it returned through Earth's atmosphere during its Dec. 5 flight test."

X Marks the Spot: Falcon 9 Attempts Ocean Platform Landing

"During our next flight, SpaceX will attempt the precision landing of a Falcon 9 first stage for the first time, on a custom-built ocean platform known as the autonomous spaceport drone ship. While SpaceX has already demonstrated two successful soft water landings, executing a precision landing on an unanchored ocean platform is significantly more challenging."

NASA, SpaceX Delay Launch of Fifth SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

"NASA and SpaceX announced today the launch of SpaceX's fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station now will occur no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 6. The new launch date will provide SpaceX engineers time to investigate further issues that arose from a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16 and will avoid beta angle constraints for berthing the Dragon cargo ship to the station that exist through the end of the year."

Marc's Update: SpaceX Completes Static Fire Test Ahead of ISS CRS-5 Launch

"On Friday SpaceX completed a successful static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket in advance of the CRS-5 mission for NASA. The test was conducted at SpaceX's Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and ran for the full planned duration."

NASA to Discuss Today Asteroid Redirect Mission Capture Concept, Next Step in Journey to Mars

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EST today during which agency officials will discuss and answer questions on the selection of an Asteroid Redirect Mission concept. The mission is to retrieve an asteroid mass and redirect it into lunar orbit, where astronauts will explore it in the 2020s. The mission will test a number of new capabilities needed for future human deep space expeditions, including to Mars."

Asteroid Redirect Mission Critique, earlier post

"... It will require an ancillary spacecraft deploying either a huge capture bag or a Rube Goldberg contraption resembling a giant arcade-game claw. Neither technology is useful for getting humans to Mars."

NASA OIG: Costs Incurred on NASA's Cost-Type Contracts

"We found NASA is at increased risk of paying unallowable, unreasonable, and unallocable incurred costs and of losing the opportunity to recoup improper costs because Agency contracting officers rely too heavily on DCAA's incurred cost audit process. Under its new, risk-based methodology, DCAA has significantly decreased the number of contractor proposals it audits in an effort to reduce its 6-year backlog of incurred cost proposals awaiting review. However, NASA contracting officers generally wait for a DCAA audit and do not perform additional oversight to ensure the appropriateness of contractor costs."

Keith's noteThe NASA Advisory Committee is meeting 14-15 January 2015 at NASA Stennis. NASA staff have managed to find a unique way to format Federal Register notices so as to be all but useless. No one proof reads these things any more.

RD-180 Bad; RD-181 Good

Antares Upgrade Will Use RD-181s In Direct Buy From Energomash, Aviation Week

"Congressional concern about Russian aggression in the Crimean peninsula led to a ban in the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on using RD-180s purchased after Russia occupied the Ukrainian territory on Feb. 1. Grabe said that legislation will not affect the deal to buy RD-181s from Energomash. "We've coordinated with all relevant congressional committee staffs to keep them informed of our decision," Grabe said."

Senate may confirm up to 88 federal judges in '14, AP

"No longer impeded by Republican blocking tactics, Democrats are on track to win confirmation of up to 88 of President Barack Obama's top judicial nominations this year, a total that would be the highest for any president in two decades."

Keith's note: Sometimes other presidential nominations are dealt with in a similar, last minute, batch fashion. Alas, Dava Newman has yet to testify before the Senate (and get their approval) so it is unclear when she will be confirmed. With the impending food fights in the Republican-led Congress next term, such routine things as nominations may be stalled - or (worse) may become opportunities to score partisan points agains the Administration - with the nominee used as window dressing. Stay Tuned.

White House Announces Dava Newman Nomination, earlier post

Curiosity Finds Active, Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

"NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory's drill. "This temporary increase in methane -- sharply up and then back down -- tells us there must be some relatively localized source," said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Curiosity rover science team. "There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock."

NASA Still Won't Look For Existing Life on Mars (Update)

Keith's 31 July 2014 update: I obviously expected Jim Green to answer in the same cautious way that NASA has always answered this question - one I have asked again and again for the nearly 20 years. Instead, Green launched into a detailed description of all the things that the Mars 2020 rover could detect that have a connection with life. Much of what he said clearly referred to extant / existing life. Now THAT is cool. To clarify things I sent the following request to NASA PAO "Can the Mars 2020 rover detect extant/existing life on Mars? Will NASA be looking for extant/existing life on Mars?" Let's see how they respond.

Keith's 16 Dec 2014 update: NASA SMD's Jim Green and NASA SMD PAO Dwayne Brown still refuse to respond to my original inquiry from July 2014.

Astrobotic Wins Google Lunar X Prize Milestones and Competition Deadline Extended to End of 2016, SpaceRef Business

"Today the Google Lunar X Prize announced that the deadline for the competition deadline had been extended again, this time to the end of 2016. Also announced today were two milestone prizes being won by Astrobotic."

This is How Broken NASA Is

NASA's $349 million monument to its drift, Washington Post

"In June, NASA finished work on a huge construction project here in Mississippi: a $349 million laboratory tower, designed to test a new rocket engine in a chamber that mimicked the vacuum of space. Then, NASA did something odd. As soon as the work was done, it shut the tower down. The project was officially "mothballed" -- closed up and left empty -- without ever being used."

GAO: James Webb Space Telescope: Project Facing Increased Schedule Risk with Significant Work Remaining

"With just under 4 years until its planned launch in October 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project reports it remains on schedule and budget. Technical challenges with JWST elements and major subsystems, however, have diminished the project's overall schedule reserve and increased risk. During the past year, delays have occurred on every element and major subsystem scheduleespecially with the cryocoolerleaving all at risk of negatively impacting the overall project schedule reserve if further delays occur."

OIG Report: NASA's Use of Blanket Purchase Agreements

"NASA Contracting Officials Using GSA Schedule Agreements Did Not Maximize Competition or Seek Vendor Price Discounts. Our sample included 23 orders obtained using 14 different GSA schedule agreements. We found deficiencies in 12 of these 14 agreements. Specifically, for 9 of the agreements NASA contracting officials established single- rather than multiple-award agreements without preparing written justifications or failed to request price discounts from vendors when establishing the agreements. For all 12 agreements, contracting officials failed to conduct required annual reviews. These deficiencies occurred because contracting officials were unaware of requirements or wanted to avoid the additional effort required to compete orders."

Virgin Galactic Appoints Richard DalBello as Vice President of Business Development and Government Affairs

"In this role, Richard will be responsible for managing business development focusing on LauncherOne, the company's dedicated orbital launch vehicle for small satellites. Richard will be also responsible for managing the company's interactions with the US government."

SpaceX Spreads Out

SpaceX expansion could add 300 jobs locally, Waco Tribune

"In a report prepared by the city of Waco's economic development staff, SpaceX is proposing to invest $46.3 million in the site during the next five years. That will consist of about $32.4 million in real property improvements and $13.9 million in personal property improvements. SpaceX will add 300 new jobs by Dec. 31, 2018, with employees receiving benefits and an average hourly wage of $28.85, or about $60,000 a year. To receive incentive money, the company must fill 240 positions with people living in McLennan County, and 120 must reside in Waco."

Spaceport launches online shop to help pay bills, KRQE

"The launch of commercial flights to space from Spaceport America was supposed to help the economy here take off. However, after years and years of delays, the Spaceport is trying other things to make money, like starting a new online store."

New Mexico lawmakers concerned about Spaceport America's future, Mashable

"New Mexico, which has invested $218.5 million into the future of space tourism, is concerned about the viability of Spaceport America. Lawmakers grilled New Mexico Spaceport Authority executive director Christine Anderson [in November] about how it plans to deliver on the promise of the Spaceport, especially now since commercial flights by Virgin Galactic are postponed indefinitely following a deadly crash last month that killed one pilot."

Spaceport officials working to come up with revenue, KRQE

"Paul Gessing, president of the conservative research group the Rio Grande Foundation, has been highly-critical of the nearly quarter billion dollar Spaceport. He told News 13 that no one knows when space tourism will become viable, but that he thinks the Spaceport likely won't be viable for a while. "It was like building an airport before the Wright brothers had their first flight," Gessing said. "I don't think there's any way to make the Spaceport successful unless we see regular, frequent space trips."

GAO Testimony by Cristina Chaplain - Hearing on SLS and Orion

"In August 2014, NASA completed the review of the SLS program that sets formal cost and schedule baselines and, in doing so, delayed the first test flight to relieve schedule pressure and allow additional time to address design challenges. However, some of the concerns we raised about the cost estimates, mission requirements, and long-term affordability remain. In addition, our ongoing work has found that the three human exploration programs are pursuing inconsistent and unrealistic schedule goals and that the Orion program is facing significant technical and funding issues that may affect NASA's overall schedule for its human exploration programs."

After historic Orion flight, NASA still faces challenges, GAO says, Washington Post

"It took us less than a decade not only to go around the moon but to land on the moon under Apollo," said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said it could cost at least $10 billion to develop "this monstrous rocket project." Even then, he said, it "won't have a real mission until we go to Mars, which could be two decades or three decades from now, depending on if we can ever get over the technological hurdles we haven't gotten over yet."

NASA Says SLS and Orion Will Slip to 2018 Despite Extra Funding, SpaceNews

At the hearing, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) asked how much funding would be required to bring the first SLS/Orion mission, called Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), back to December 2017. "In terms of the technical work, I think we've really probably moved off of December 2017," Gerstenmaier responded, "so I don't think funding will pull us back to that date."

More below

House SLS/Orion Hearing

Summary (NASA Sections) FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

"The bill's $18 billion investment in NASA balances the portfolio of science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight investments. Moreover, it will keep NASA in the forefront of innovation, inspiring private companies to build new crew transportation and fueling a new satellite servicing industry that can revive, refuel and rejuvenate defunct communications satellites. The amount provided for NASA is $364 million more than the fiscal year 2014 enacted level."

AIP FYI: FY 2015 Appropriations: NASA

"Congress is nearing completion of the FY 2015 appropriations cycle. The House and Senate are scheduled to complete action on a $1.1trillion bill providing funding through September 30, 2015 for all departments and agencies with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security that will be funded through early 2015. The bill has not been printed in final form. The section on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is found on PDF pages 42-48, with a funding table on PDF page 68. Note that language in the previous House and Senate appropriations reports stands unless modified by language in the conference report."

Low Earth Orbit Commercialization Workshop

"The goal of this workshop is to start a dialog about creating a thriving commercial marketplace in LEO over the next decade, enabled by human spaceflight. Historically, NASA has been both the primary supplier and consumer of human spaceflight capabilities and services in LEO. However, NASA has begun to change this historical model by purchasing cargo transportation services commercially and is facilitating the development of commercial crew transportation and rescue capabilities."

Workshop agenda (PDF)

Keith's note: This NASA-sponsored ISS research event will not be webcast or recorded. No media advisory was sent out in advance. The event starts tomorrow. I find it especially odd that NASA has gone out of its way to not make this event more visible - and accessible - via simple webcasting (the event is being held directly across the street from NASA HQ) such that the potentially vast audience of possible users, media, decision makers, and students can better understand ISS potential capabilities.

Then again, NASA's ISS National Laboratory Office and CASIS are still unable and/or unwilling to make the NASA-funded Spaceline Current Awareness List, a weekly digest of real research being done on ISS available online (latest edition) SpaceRef has the only known online archive - back to the 1990s - one that is updated weekly.

There is no mention of this event on the events page on the CASIS website - or anywhere else on their site. Nor is there any mention on the NASA International Space Station National Laboratory webpage. This borders on inept disregard with regard to NASA's responsibility to make the widest possible dissemination of ISS and its research capabilities.

This becomes truly bizzarre when you consider that the non-public invitation sent to a select few to attend says "NASA intends to formulate a new strategy - including new initiatives and projects - designed to encourage the emergence of this commercial marketplace to the maximum extent possible." NASA's tactic: go out of their way to tell no one about the events associated with this "new strategy". Baffling.

Orbital Announces Additional Details Concerning CRS Program and Antares Launcher Go-Forward Plans

"Orbital has contracted with United Launch Alliance for an Atlas V launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the fourth quarter of 2015, with an option for a second Atlas V launch in 2016 if needed. The Atlas rocket's greater lift capacity will allow Cygnus to carry nearly 35% more cargo to the ISS than previously planned for CRS missions in 2015."

ACME Advanced Materials, Inc Announces First Commercial Production of 4" SiC Wafers in Microgravity

"ACME Advanced Materials, Inc. today announced the successful commercialization of its process to produce large quantities of low loss, electrically defect free (EDF) Silicon Carbide (SiC) wafers in a microgravity environment."

Made in space, Albuquerque Journal

"We take crappy wafers, the lowest grade we can buy, and use a microgravity environment to turn them into what the industry would call prime 'A'-grade wafers," said ACME President and CEO Rich Glover. "We call them 'S'-grade, or 'space-grade' wafers. They're better wafers than you can get on the market today, and at a better price." Since last spring, the company has been sending batches of low-grade wafers for conversion to high-grade on contract flights in Texas, although details of the suborbital launches remain confidential. "We signed a three-year agreement with a flight partner," Glover said. "We've flown monthly since April."

Keith's note: This company (without a website - at least one that I can find) declines to say how they obtain microgravity conditions by "flying monthly". It is either parabolic flight, suborbital rockets, or orbital spaceflight. Or have they discovered a new way to "fly" and get "microgravity"? I asked. They won't say. Its is certainly their IP and its up to them whether they want to share it. But they have suddenly tweeted a lot about why they are not talking.

More tweets below.

Federal Job Satisfaction Sinks in Latest Survey, Government Executive

"Employee satisfaction and commitment declined to their lowest levels since the 2003 debut of the "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" report in the edition released Tuesday by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte Consulting LLP."

Feds unhappy with leaders, new government survey finds, Washington Post

"Employees at NASA, which ranks as the best large place to work in the government, said they value their mission to continue cutting-edge research, technology and space exploration despite the retirement of the high-profile shuttle program. "Everyone here has a lot of pride and knowledge, and they're high-caliber individuals," NASA flight director Mike Sarafin said. "Just being surrounded by people like that drives you to be your best."

2014 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government, Partnership for Public Service

"For the third year in a row, the number one Best Places to Work large agency is NASA with a score of 71.6."

"Has a Massive BOONDOGGLE Hobbled NASA? - Chris Hayes: NASA space agency celebrated a major successful launch on Friday. However, a former NASA official says it's being undermined by short-sighted politicians pushing old technology to keep pork barrel spending in their districts With Lori Garver, former Deputy NASA Administrator.
From ALL IN, MSNBC"

Frustration

Orion Is Back on Earth

Keith's note: Orion has landed perfectly in the Pacific. Alas, only CNBC showed it live. NASA TV broke again.

Conclusions:
1. NASA needs to buy more bandwidth.
2. NASA missions are popular with people even if TV networks are clueless.





Before NASA Pioneers Mars, Orion Spacecraft Faces Tests, PBS NewsHour

Presidential Science Adviser John Holdren: (8:28): "I don't think that the current budgets amount to kicking the can down the road. They amount to - within reasonable limits - getting done the steps that we need to achieve in order, ultimately, to get to Mars. Eventually, yes, between now and the 2030s, we would need to ramp up the budget. At the current budgets we would not get to Mars, that's correct."

Statement by John P. Holdren on the Successful Test Launch and Recovery of the Orion Spacecraft

"We congratulate the men and women of NASA and their commercial partners for this successful test launch, and we look forward to future milestones on the journey to Mars."

"Miles O'Brien: It doesn't feel like its a well thought out campaign at this point. Its like a horse designed by a committee at times.

Chris McKay: The plan for going to Mars is not well thought through. I think that part of the reason why it is not well thought through is because the pieces are so expensive that they do not fit in the box. If we can knock the prices down on all of the pieces then we can fit them into the box reasonable and we may have a plan that works more clearly. Right now they won't fit because the pieces are so expensive that you can't put more than one in. So ... some people want this, other people want that. They've gotta fight because they can't both fit in the budget.If you can drive the cost down then everything fits in and everything can happen."

Orion Is In Orbit

Keith's note: Orion was launched on-time this morning at 7:05 am ET. It is now in orbit. You can try and watch NASA TV here however the online (USTREAM) service has been bad all morning. Only CNBC and Fox carried the launch live. CNN and MSNBC did not. No one is showing live updates.

Smoke and Mirrors in Space

ATK and Orbital Receive U.S. DOJ Clearance for Proposed Merger

"Alliant Techsystems Inc. ("ATK") (NYSE: ATK) and Orbital Sciences Corporation ("Orbital") (NYSE: ORB) announced that the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") has unconditionally cleared the proposed merger of ATK's Aerospace and Defense Groups with Orbital. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") informed ATK and Orbital today, December 4, 2014, that the FTC and DOJ terminated the Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period effective December 4, 2014. As previously announced, ATK and Orbital have entered into a transaction agreement, whereby ATK's Aerospace and Defense Groups will merge with Orbital immediately following the spin-off of ATK's Sporting Group business to ATK stockholders as a newly formed company called Vista Outdoor Inc."

Keith's note: Today's attempt to launch Orion EFT-1 has been scrubbed today after continuing issues with ground winds - and then with fill and drain valves on the Delta IV Heavy Launch vehicle. There were also issues with battery levels on the rocket's video system. The plan seems to be to try again tomorrow with a 7:05 am ET launch time.

Keith's update: According to speakers at today's NASA press briefing, the ship that caused the launch delay was never in a position to present a safety hazard. While winds caused the first two scrubs, the ultimate scrub for the day had to do with sluggish response times for liquid Hydrogen valves on the Delta IV Heavy. This is an issue that has been seen before on a prior launch. There are also some minor issues having to do with battery life for instrumentation inside of Orion and inside the Delta IV Heavy rocket that are being addressed. If a launch attempt is made tomorrow but is not successful, then ULA will need to skip over Saturday in order to replenish ground tanke supplies. Overall the tone of the briefing was that this all went by the books, the issues are understood and can be handled.

Mystery Surrounds NASA's Secret Mission in Africa, ABC

A NASA official recently confirmed that one of the agency's aircraft had been spotted on an American military airstrip in eastern Africa a few weeks ago, but like a series of U.S. military officials, declined to say what the space agency's high-tech bird was doing there. "I really can't give you any of the details," Jim Alexander, a NASA official with the WB-57 High Altitude Research Program, told ABC News. "You know, the airplane was there, you see it in the picture. But I really can't tell you what it was for."

MATROSHKA Experiment: Space Travel is a Bit Safer Than Expected, Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences

"Analysis of data from the MATROSHKA experiment, the first comprehensive measurements of long-term exposure of astronauts to cosmic radiation, has now been completed. This experiment, carried out on board and outside of the International Space Station, showed that the cosmos may be less hostile to space travellers than expected."

Space Technology Unlocks Ancient Rituals through Innovation, Space Foundation

"Technology originally used in space can now help you meditate with ease. TIMEZ5 Global Inc. is the newest partner in the Space Foundation Space Certification program. After five years of intensive research and development, TIMEZ5 labs made startling discoveries in the connection between rituals, spirituality and physiology. They unlocked physiological practices that improve the physical and spiritual wellbeing through meditation. Through the development of ergonomics, biomechanics and physiology, coupled with space technology, the company's flagship product was born. The world's first physiological prayer mat uses sophisticated space and layering technology. All it takes is the counter-force of your body and it activates. The magic happens in the middle layers where it responds to body weight, posture and position. It keeps the user stable through its micro grip, and clean with its antimicrobial surface."

Keith's note: People have been praying to God for millennia without a space-certified prayer rug. How much did Space Foundation charge to "certify" this rug? I'll bet the cost for certification was the equivalent of a college education for someone.

Keith's note: This space education oriented event is underway at the National Academy of Science: Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education - A Workshop. No obvious mention of this event is made at the NASA Education Office website (unless you happen to look at their calendar and read the microscopic and hard to discern text). No one from the NASA Education Office is speaking at the event. @NASAedu hasn't bothered to note the event either on Twitter.

Orion Cockpit Promo Video

Video: NASA's Orion Cockpit, SpaceRef

"Orion's December flight test will be uncrewed, but the spacecraft is meant to carry people. Astronaut Lee Morin shows off the cockpit future Orion crews will use in this video. The first test flight of Orion is scheduled for December 4th."

NASA Request for Information: Commercial Microgravity Flight Services

"This notice issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC), Edwards, CA is a Request for Information (RFI) for Microgravity Flight Services or MFS. The intent of this notice is to obtain information on commercial capabilities to provide brief periods of near zero, partial gravity, and hyper-gravity conditions, collectively referred to here as microgravity, and associated capabilities for payload integration, safety, and airworthiness for various Government research, technology development, and training missions."

ESA Ministerial Conference to Focus on Ariane 6, ISS, Exploration and the Evolution of ESA , SpaceRef Business

"The next ESA Ministerial Conference will take place this Tuesday in Luxembourg. At the top of the agenda is Europe's future access to space with a modular Ariane 6 intended to be meet the changing demands of the satellite industry as well as being more price competitive."


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