July 2016 Archives

A new, independent review of the Orion spacecraft is pretty damning, Ars Technica

"Despite these concerns, NASA is pressing ahead with an effort to try and accelerate development of Orion to enable an August 2021 launch of Exploration Mission-2. Yet the GAO found this scenario improbable. "To stay on the aggressive internal schedule, the agency is counting on receiving higher appropriated funds than what it plans to request, which may not be realistic in a constrained budget environment," the report states. There is low confidence - 40 percent - in NASA making the 2021 launch date, and the GAO believes this may not be a "beneficial strategy" for Orion in the long term."

- Double GAO Reports: SLS and Orion Cost and Risk Estimates Are Still Unreliable, earlier post
- Earlier posts on SLS and Orion

Inclusive Astronomy

American Astronomical Society Endorses Vision Statement for Inclusive Astronomy, AAS

"We believe that people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities are capable of doing excellent science and shaping the future of our discipline. We know that identity is intersectional, and we see connections among barriers facing communities of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTIQA* people in science. We believe in equal opportunity. We share a vision of a more inclusive, more productive profession. We know that true inclusion and diversity require hard work from individual astronomers, organizations, and our profession as a whole to re-examine our professional culture, modify our existing practices, and remove barriers to inclusion. We assert that progress can and should be measured, and should be pursued with the same zeal as other strategic scientific goals. We have faith that we all -- as colleagues and as a profession -- can learn and improve."

Keith's note: A few moments ago at the NASA Advisory Council meeting Dava Newman was just gushing about a "Mission STEM" conference they are holding in Washington DC on 8-9 August with "hundreds of attendees" and partnerships with other agencies. Yet there is no mention of this event at NASA's calendar, NASA's Education webpage or even at missionstem.nasa.gov. If you look at the weekly NASA Education Express Message -- July 28, 2016 from NASA's Education Office you will see no mention of this event either. How are people outside of NASA's little bubble supposed to know about these things?

Just watch. Now the secret about this stealthy event is out - little more than a week from today. Details will be grudgingly made public. You will see that this is an invitation-only event, closed to news media, and not streamed online. In other words NASA's avowed intention of seeking external input about how to improve its education programs is not something that they intend to share with the rest of us. Think of the vast national audience they could have when coupled with NASA's immense social media, website, and television reach. But no. Instead, its just more closed openness.

Donald Trump addresses NASA and new media in his first Reddit AMA, Tech Crunch

"Asked by the same Redditor the role NASA should "play in helping to Make America Great Again," he responded with, "Honestly I think NASA is wonderful! America has always led the world in space exploration," echoing similar comments by Peter Thiel, whose recent Republican Convention address took issue with expenditures on war rather than space exploration, stating, "Instead of going to Mars, we invaded the Middle East." While unequivocally pro-NASA and America, Trump's response was decidedly less detailed than Obama's answer to a similar question on his own AMA."

That time Trump said "NASA' on reddit

Thora Halstead

Keith's note: The funeral of Dr. Thora Halstead will be held Friday, 29 July at 3:00 pm at Fort Myer's Old Post Chapel in Arlington, VA. followed by internment at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thora retired from NASA Life Sciences in 1994, where she was the Manager of the Space Biology Program; Life and Biomedical Sciences and Applications Division.

- Thora Halstead, earlier post

Astronaut Mark Kelly "Thank you, everyone. I speak to you tonight as the proud son of two New Jersey cops; as a veteran of 39 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm and of 25 years in the United States Navy. And as a former NASA astronaut who flew four missions to space. My decades as a pilot, military officer, and astronaut gave me a unique perspective. From above, I saw our country at its best. I also saw humanity at its worst. I saw us lead an international coalition against the illegal invasion of Kuwait. I also saw the devastating human effects of war itself. From orbit, I saw our planet as a perfect blue marble. But I also saw shrinking glaciers and rainforests. At war and in space, I saw American leadership on display. But I was always frustrated to return to a country that struggles to address some of our biggest problems here at home."

Governor Jerry Brown: "As we just saw, climate change is unlike any other threat we humans face. It is overarching and affects the entire earth and all living things. It is slow. It is relentless. And it is subject to irreversible tipping points and vast unknowns. Combating climate change, the existential threat of our time, will take heroic effort on the part of many people and many nations. Make no mistake, climate change is REAL. The vast majority of world leaders and climate scientists, like those at NASA and the Department of Defense - indeed, almost anyone who chooses to think - believes in the science of climate change and sees the moral imperative to take action."

Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle: Action Needed to Improve Visibility into Cost, Schedule, and Capacity to Resolve Technical Challenges, GAO

"GAO found that the Orion program's cost and schedule estimates are not reliable based on best practices for producing high-quality estimates. Cost and schedule estimates play an important role in addressing technical risks. ... For example, the cost estimate lacked necessary support and the schedule estimate did not include the level of detail required for high-quality estimates. Without sound cost and schedule estimates, decision makers do not have a clear understanding of the cost and schedule risk inherent in the program or important information needed to make programmatic decisions. ... NASA and the Orion program have made some programmatic decisions that could further exacerbate cost and schedule risks. The Orion program is executing to an internal schedule with a launch readiness date of August 2021, which has a lower confidence level than its commitment baseline. This means that NASA is accepting higher cost and schedule risk associated with executing this schedule .... The lack of cost reserves has caused the program to defer work to address technical issues and stay within budget. As a result, the Orion program's reserves in future years could be overwhelmed by work being deferred. Program officials told GAO that they have not performed a formal analysis to understand the impact that delaying work might have on the available reserves since the program was confirmed. Without this type of analysis, program management may not have a complete understanding of how decisions made now will affect the longer-term execution of the program."

NASA Human Space Exploration: Opportunity Nears to Reassess Launch Vehicle and Ground Systems Cost and Schedule, GAO

"... the SLS program has not positioned itself well to provide accurate assessments of core stage progress - including forecasting impending schedule delays, cost overruns, and anticipated costs at completion - because at the time of our review it did not anticipate having the baseline to support full reporting on the core stage contract until summer 2016 - some 4.5 years after NASA awarded the contract. Further, unforeseen technical challenges are likely to arise once the program reaches its next phase, final integration for SLS and integration of SLS with its related Orion and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) human spaceflight programs. Any such unexpected challenges are likely to place further pressure on SLS cost and schedule reserves. ... NASA officials stated that this review will have limited discussion of cost and schedule. Proceeding ahead without reassessing resources, however, could result in the EGS or SLS program exhausting limited resources to maintain pace toward an optimistic November 2018 launch readiness date. ... In July 2015, GAO found that SLS's limited cost and schedule reserves were placing the program at increased risk of being unable to deliver the launch vehicle on time and within budget."

Earlier posts on SLS and Orion

Market doesn't justify reusable launchers, expendable rocket makers argue, Ars Technica

"Monday evening in Salt Lake City, some aerospace industry officials sat down to discuss this new development. The panel at an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics forum on propulsion had a provocative title, "Launch Vehicle Reusability: Holy Grail, Chasing Our Tail, or Somewhere in Between?" Moderator Dan Dumbacher said of the panel, "We purposefully tried to get a good cross-section of those who have been working on it." However, the panel included no one actually building reusable rockets and relied heavily on the old-guard perspective. Dumbacher himself, now a professor at Purdue University, previously managed development of the Space Launch System rocket for NASA, and he expressed doubt about the viability of reusable launch vehicles in 2014 by essentially saying that because NASA couldn't do it, it was difficult to see how others could."

Keith's note: Well of course SLS-hugger and former NASA SLS manager Dan Dumbacher can't see a world where the launch market is diverse in terms of customers, payloads, launch vehicles, and financing. He only has wetware that lets him see giant government-built rockets - so that is all that he can see.

My Star Trek Episode at Everest, SpaceRef

"As we approach the 50th anniversary of Star Trek (and in anticipation of participating in this week's Star Trek-themed NASA Social), I thought I'd write about how many experiences in my life have intersected with- and have been affected by its legacy. In late April 2009 I found myself at Everest Base Camp for a month. I was living at 17,600 feet in Nepal 2 miles from China and 2 miles from the highest point on our planet. I was surrounded by the epic majesty of the Himalayas, a thousand people supporting several hundred Type A individuals with a shared intent to summit the mountain and stand in the jet stream. And all of this was enabled by the austere and noble Sherpa people. I was on a mission not unlike a space mission. My team mate was my long-time friend Scott Parazynski, an astronaut. I could just stop there and what is in these sentences would be cool enough. This had all the makings of a Star Trek episode - and I knew it."

NASA: On the Edge of Forever

"When Star Trek originally aired in 1966, NASA's space program was still in its infancy. But Star Trek allowed us to imagine what could be, if we dared to boldly go where no one had gone before."

Keith's note: It is somewhat strange that Gerstenmaier thinks that future budgets in the next administration and Congress are going to be any more predictable - or clear - than they have been for the past several decades. Had he been more specific about the whole #JourneyToMars thing years ago he might have found more support for what NASA is doing. Oddly when Congress is clear on things i.e. prohibiting ARM, Gerstenmaier still thinks he has options.

As for the influencing the transition teams, past experience should show NASA that transition teams easily see through the smoke and mirrors that NASA tries to distract them with - assuming that they even have any interest in NASA or influence upon what will actually become policy. One way to make a positive impression on these transition teams is for NASA explain why it does things, do things on time/on budget, and stop announcing delays and pushing the blame off on others.

Results speak for themselves.

Mouser Electronics and Grant Imahara Launch Groundbreaking Contest to 3D-Print Design Aboard International Space Station

"Imagine how exciting it would be to see your design made in space," said Glenn Smith, President and CEO of Mouser Electronics, a leading global distributor of the newest semiconductors and electronic components. "We are really excited to present this unique contest. We hope our wide range of electronic components will enable people to create whatever their imagination sparks." For the I.S.S. Design Challenge, Mouser has partnered with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Made In Space, along with Hackster and MacroFab. The winner of the I.S.S. Challenge will receive a 3D printer, a consultation with Made In Space - pioneers in additive manufacturing technology for use in the space environment - and the prestige of seeing their design 3D-printed aboard the I.S.S."

Keith's note: How cool. A bunch of companies are offering a competition where the winner gets to print something on a commercial device on board the ISS. Isn't this the sort of thing that NASA and CASIS should be promoting? Sam Scimemi from NASA and Greg Johnson from CASIS constantly proclaim their intent to bring education and commerce to Low Earth Orbit on board the ISS. But when it starts to happen in LEO on ISS - on its own - NASA and CASIS could not be bothered to even mention it. One would think that any news like this is good news for everyone involved with the promotion of ISS commercial capabilities. CASIS has signed agreements and has flown Made in Space hardware. But in this case, CASIS prefers to play around with comic book illustrators instead of highlight how its efforts and those of NASA are actually resulting in novel private sector interest in the ISS.

Yet just last week NASA put a notice out seeking new ideas for commercial activities in LEO - activities that involve both NASA and CASIS. If they ignore current efforts already underway, what confidence do we have that they will be able to identify new ones?

Advancing Economic Development in LEO via Commercial Use of Limited Availability Unique ISS Capabilities, NASA

"This is a Request for Information (RFI) only and does not constitute a commitment, implied or otherwise, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will take action in this matter. NASA is investigating options and approaches to expedite commercial activity in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Specifically, NASA is looking to increase private sector demand for space research and expand on the work of Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the manager of the ISS National Laboratory. NASA is not only interested in technical solutions to advance these goals, but also in contract or agreement structures that potential offerors would see as beneficial to advance private sector demand for low Earth orbit research."

NASA Will Put Rocket Raccoon And Groot On Its New Mission Patch, Gizmodo

"A major mission for us here at CASIS is to find unique and innovative ways to bring notoriety to the ISS National Laboratory and the research that is being conducted on our orbiting laboratory," said CASIS Director of Operations and Educational Opportunities Ken Shields. It's also part of a secret mission that might help us get a Rocket and Groot of our very own. "The reward for us [is that] we'll actually have two characters go into space," said Mitch Dane, director of custom publishing. Then he joked, "With a little luck, there'll be a little cosmic radiation going on, they'll come back alive."

'Guardians of the Galaxy' team up with NASA: Groot, Rocket Raccoon on mission patch, Washington Times

"Director James Gunn, whose "Guardians of the Galaxy" grossed $773 million worldwide in 2014, was awed by the decision. "So cool. NASA Oasis has paired with Marvel and is using Rocket & Groot as an official emblem for the mission to Mars," Mr. Gunn wrote."

A Closer Look At The CASIS "Space Is In It" Endorsement, earlier post

"On 31 March 2016 NASA International Space Station Director Sam Scimemi sent a letter to Greg Johnson on a number of topics. Scimemi said: "We would advise caution in the lending of the ISS National Lab brand (via your "Space is in it" certification) too freely; care must be taken to that research performed on the ISS has actually influenced product development in advance of awarding the certification. Failure to do so weakens the brand and may lend an air of being nonserious in our mutual quest to fully utilize the ISS as a national lab."

Keith's note: CASIS issues a press release that mentions that Marvel comic book/movie characters at ComicCon are now ISS mascots or something. Alas NASA is there too - as @NASASocial - at the Marvel booth - and neither @NASASocial or @ISS_CASIS mention one another's presence. Apparently CASIS thinks that Groot, a giant rock tree man thing, and a foul-mouthed raccoon are better poised to explain ISS science than ISS scientists. So - the movie director whose characters are being featured refers to "CASIS" as "OASIS" and doesn't seem to know that this is all about the International Space Station - referring instead to "the mission to Mars".

Meanwhile NASA makes no mention of this news and NASA is never mentioned in the CASIS press release. Yet news stories say that NASA is behind all of this. NASA only gets the credit from third parties - and when they get mention it is factually mangled. Nice job CASIS.

Not My Job: NASA's Charles Bolden Gets Quizzed On 'Charles In Charge', NPR

"SAGAL: Really? And what did you say from Mars?
BOLDEN: I have no idea.
SAGAL: You don't know?
BOLDEN: No. I don't remember.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: Really?
SAGAL: You're...
BOLDEN: It was like we...
SAGAL: You recorded the...
BOLDEN: ...Come in peace or something like that."

and

"BOLDEN: We're going to Mars in the 2030s. So we've got the vehicle called - we're going to name it but right now we call it the Space Launch System. It's a heavy lift launch vehicle."

Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle: DOD Is Assessing Data on Worldwide Launch Market to Inform New Acquisition Strategy, GAO

"In February 2016, Congress asked GAO to examine what is known about other countries with launch capabilities and whether or not countries had fostered competition among launch providers, similar to what the United States is attempting to do in the EELV program. GAO responded to this request with a written briefing on the worldwide space launch capabilities and the status of the United States and global launch market."

Commercial Launch: All Government Subsidies Are Not Created Equal, earlier post

"This is all rather odd and self-serving. Both Space Foundation and Commercial Spaceflight Federation depend on commercial space company membership dues. On one hand it is wrong to allow U.S. commercial payloads to be launched by India because their rockets have large government subsidies. Yet Space Foundation and CSF think that it is just fine to launch these same U.S. commercial payloads on Chinese, Russian, and European launch vehicles - all of which get substantial government subsidies. Meanwhile ULA has been getting billions a year for decades in U.S. government subsidies to keep both EELV fleets afloat (with no competition until recently) - and they will now get more money to wean themselves from RD-180 engines whose use was mandated by the U.S. government. Again, where you stand depends on where you sit."

- America's Hypocritical Fear of Indian Rockets, earlier post
- Will U.S. Companies Be Allowed To Launch on Indian Rockets?

2016 Democratic Party Platform DRAFT July 1, 2016

Keith's 7 July note: There is no mention of NASA or anything remotely close to space. No surprise. Platforms are just documents that are more focused on letting party people exercise their narrow interests than being close to anything that will ever really become a presidential administration's future policies. Besides, space is a niche issue - at best - one that usually becomes a punch line when it does creep into presidential campaigns (Newt Gingrich's moon base, John Kerry in the bunny suit, etc.) But I worked on the staff of two of Jerry Brown's campaigns (Gov. Moonbeam), so what do I know? Beam me up.

Keith's 22 July update: The revised version of the platform (as of 21 July) says: "Pushing beyond the boundaries of what we know is core to who we are as Americans. Democrats are immensely proud of all that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has done-through its achievements in science, technology and exploration-to better understand our place in the universe and inspire and educate generations of young people in this country to pursue careers in science. Space exploration is a reminder that our capacity for curiosity is limitless, and may be matched only by our ability to achieve great things if we work together. Democrats believe in continuing the spirit of discovery that has animated NASA's exploration of space over the last half century. We will strengthen support for NASA and work in partnership with the international scientific community to launch new missions to space."

Election 2016 postings

Keith's note: More than two months ago I posted news that NASA Advisory Council chair Steve Squyres had sent an email to the NAC and to NASA resigning as chair of the NAC. NASA never publicly announced Squyres' departure, never publicly thanked him for his service, etc. How creepy is that?. Now we quietly find out that Ken Bowersox is the "interim chair" of the NAC. Again, no public announcement from NASA. Who cares, I guess.

There is a meeting planned for next week 28-29 July in Cleveland. Charlie Bolden is on constant travel - often international - doing a victory lap/farewell tour - with Dava Newman doing much the same (other than photo ops that's all she has ever really done at NASA). As such, one has to ask what value-added the NAC has these days since there is no one home on the 9th floor at NASA HQ to pay attention to the NAC.

NASA Advisory Council Chair Steve Squyres Resigns, earlier post

Sorry, Eileen Collins: Here's why America is already great in space, Ars Technica

"But the public needs to recognize this as well, which is why I was disappointed by Collins and her pining for the Apollo era on such a big stage. The reality is that the best way to "lead on the frontier" in the 21st century is not through flags and footprints, but rather by sending people into space to stay, in a sustainable way, with the eventual aim of making space profitable. One would hope that Donald J. Trump, if he is elected president, would recognize such capitalism when he sees it."

Retired astronaut Eileen Collins endorses Donald Trump in all but name, Mashable

"In a speech before the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, retired astronaut Eileen Collins delivered a sharp rebuke of NASA's recent leadership, endorsing controversial Republican nominee Donald Trump in all but name. Collins, who was the first woman to command a NASA space shuttle mission, had been expected to deliver a nonpartisan speech, and stopped just shy of issuing a more explicit endorsement. However, the speech will be viewed as a clear critique of NASA's leadership under the Obama administration."

NASA Viking at 40 Symposium Lectures

"This week NASA hosted the Viking Mars Landers 40th anniversary symposium. In 1976 Viking 1 and 2 were the first landers to successfully land on Mars."

"NASA's Viking 1 and 2 missions to Mars, each consisting of an orbiter and a lander, became the first space probes to obtain high resolution images of the Martian surface; characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface; and conduct on-the-spot biological tests for life on another planet."

"Viking provided the first measurements of the atmosphere and surface of Mars. These measurements are still being analyzed and interpreted. The data suggested early Mars was very different from the present day planet. Viking performed the first successful entry, descent and landing on Mars. Derivations of a Viking-style thermal protection system and parachute have been used on many U.S. Mars lander missions since."

Federal investigators: Cabinet secretary and potential Clinton running mate Julian Castro violated Hatch Act, Washington Post

"Housing Secretary Julian Castro violated the federal Hatch Act restricting partisan political activity by federal employees when he praised Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during an interview conducted from his government office, government investigators found Monday."

Keith's note: Stephanie Schierholz works for the NASA Public Affairs Office (PAO). Her job is to convey official NASA opinions - opinions that are guided by White House policies. She states that her Twitter account opinions are her own - yet she overtly uses that same Twitter account almost every day - during the day while she is at work - for official business - including the topics that she mentions in her tweet. Her tweet is also embedded in a popular Mashable article. Smells like a Hatch Act violation to me.

Prepared Comments by Astronaut Eileen Collins Republican National Convention, RNC

"We need leadership that will challenge every American to ask, "What's next?" We need leadership that will make America's space program first again. We need leadership that will make America first again. That leader is Donald Trump."

SU grad Eileen Collins skips Donald Trump mention in RNC speech, Syracuse.com

"According to the prepared transcript of the speech, she was supposed to end with "That leader is Donald Trump." Those words even appeared on the teleprompter at the back of the arena floor. But she didn't. Instead, she thanked the crowd and left the stage. At no point in the speech did she mention Trump by name."

Keith's update:
The take home message: Eileen Collins is mad because the Space Shuttle program was cancelled (by a republican President - shh!) and that the U.S. has no way to launch people into space (no mention of two private sector systems that will fly next year). She feels that great nations explore and that leadership in space contributes to leadership on Earth. She feels that the U.S. used to have leadership in space, that it currently does not have leadership in space, and that it needs to regain that leadership in space. There was no endorsement of anyone. Between mention in the party platform and prominence given at the RNC convention it will be interesting to see if the Democrats give space equal exposure.

Before Eileen Collins spoke the RNC aired a slick 3:44 long video about space exploration. Initially I thought it was rather odd that Collins had a professionally done, inspirational into - with a narrator and soundtrack tailor-made to introduce her when none of the other speakers had one. Indeed, all of the other speakers (except Cruz) endorsed Trump. Add in the prepared comments with an endorsement released to the media - and loaded into the teleprompter - and I get the impression that an endorsement from Collins was fully expected and that something changed at the very last minute.

Comments are open again. Be nice or I'll turn them off again.

Keith's update: Note the highlighted sentences below. Between the unused endorsement in the official prepared comments and what was said, the Trump campaign clearly had a hand in what she said.

RNC releases early excerpts of Wednesday convention speeches, Politico

"Eileen Collins, retired astronaut - "Nations that lead on the frontier, lead in the world. We need that visionary leadership again: leadership that will inspire the next generation to have that same passion. We need leadership that will challenge every American to ask, 'What's next?' We need leadership that will make America's space program first again. We need leadership that will make America first again."

According to Donald Trump's official Facebook page: "47 years ago our nation did something that NOBODY thought we could do - we were the first to put a man on the moon. It is time to be number one, again! Believe me, as President, we will once again, Make America First Again! #AmericaFirst #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #RNCinCLE"

NASA's Management of the Mars Science Laboratory Project, NASA OIG, 8 June 2011

"... in February 2009, because of the late delivery of several critical components and instruments, NASA delayed the launch to a date between October and December 2011. This delay and the additional resources required to resolve the underlying technical issues increased the Project's development costs by 86 percent, from $969 million to the current $1.8 billion, and its life-cycle costs by 56 percent, from $1.6 billion to the current $2.5 billion. ... Finally, since the 2009 decision to delay launch, the Project has received three budget increases, most recently an infusion of $71 million in December 2010. However, in our judgment because Project managers did not adequately consider historical cost trends when estimating the amount required to complete development, we believe the Project may require additional funds to meet the 2011 scheduled launch date."

NASA announces plans for new $1.5 billion Mars rover, CNet, 4 December 2012

"The new rover announced Tuesday, along with the rocket needed to boost it to Mars, will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion, plus or minus $200 million, according to a rough estimate by the Aerospace Corp."

Mars 2020 rover mission to cost more than $2 billion, Space News

"[George] Tahu said that the mission also decided to add new technologies to the rover, including a system that increases the accuracy of the rover's landing and another to improve the rover's ability to drive autonomously. "Our confirmed cost today, in real year dollars, of $2.1 billion for development and launch and $300 million for prime mission operations remains consistent with the scope and cost approved at the start of the project," he said."

Keith's note: So that's $2.4 billion for a rover that was supposed to cost around $1.5 billion - a rover that was sold as being inherently cheaper because it was made with MSL spare part, lessons learned from MSL mistakes, etc. Once again JPL has ignored NASA's price claims - and NASA SMD just can't fight the urge and lets it happen. Can you imagine what will happen when NASA starts to price the whole #JourneyToMars thing?

NASA hires cyber mainstay as CISO, FedScoop

"NASA CIO Renee Wynn selected [Jeanette] Hanna-Ruiz to officially begin on Aug. 8 after spending 20 years in public sector information security positions, according to an official release Tuesday. Hanna-Ruiz helped write the Cyberspace Policy Review that outlined the country's cyber strategy when President Barack Obama took office in 2009. She also worked at the Department of Homeland Security-National Security Agency Joint Cyber Coordination Group, and helped develop the DHS' cyber missions and capabilities. ... NASA received an F in May on a Government Accountability Office-issued FITARA scorecard, which compiled scores based on agencies' achievements in four categories: data center consolidation, IT portfolio review savings, incremental development and risk assessment transparency."

NASA Totally Flunks FITARA Scorecard 2 Years In A Row, earlier post

- @jhannaruiz 0 TWEETS - 0 FOLLOWING - 30 FOLLOWERS
- Jeanette Hanna-Ruiz, LinkedIn

"More recently, Hanna-Ruiz has traveled from January to May on a "mindfulness and meditation journey" that had her walking more than 800 miles in 100 days, and living with monks and nuns throughout France, Nepal, Thailand and other places."

Keith's note: This is interesting. Unlike the way in which most people who job hop here in DC, this is an example of someone who actually did a personal operating system reinstall and reboot. Having spent a month living at Everest Base Camp in Nepal, I totally recommend the Himalayas for wetware system upgrades.

Republican Platform

"The public-private partnerships between NASA, the Department of Defense, and commercial companies have given us technological progress that has reduced the cost of accessing space and extended America's space leadership in the commercial, civil, and national security spheres. The entrepreneurship and innovation culture of the free market is revitalizing the nation's space capabilities, saving taxpayer money, and advancing technology critical to maintain America's edge in space and in other fields. To protect our national security interests and foster innovation and competitiveness, we must sustain our preeminence in space by launching more scientific missions, guaranteeing unfettered access, and ensuring that our space-related industries remain a source of scientific leadership and education."

- Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker Endorse Obama's New NASA Plan, Urge Bipartisan Support, CSF (2010)
- Is Gingrich's Pro-Obama Space Policy Stance About to Flip Flop ... (2012)

Keith's note: Looks like the RNC just endorsed the Obama Administration's commercial space policy - just like New Gingrich and Bob Walker did. Then again Newt was against it before he was for it (or was it the other way around?). Of course, Mike Griffin was moving in this direction before Obama - and Sean O'Keefe before Griffin. Either way, its deja vu all over again with supporters of commercial space on both sides. Oddly, right now, Republicans in Congress are among the most vocal opponents of the current incarnation of the same commercial space policy that began in a Republican administration.

COSPAR Assembly in Istanbul Cancelled

"The most recent events in Istanbul, involving a coup from a faction of the national army against the Turkish government on 15 July, require us to cancel the 41st COSPAR Assembly. This is a difficult and sad decision, taken in consultation with the Executive Director of the COSPAR Secretariat and in consideration of the advice spontaneously expressed by several Bureau and Council members as well as COSPAR officers and Main Scientific event Organizers. It also reflects the sense of responsibilities of the President, Bureau and Secretariat of COSPAR."

NASA-sponsored Travel to 41st Committee on Space Research Scientific Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, NASA

"The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) is holding its 41st Scientific Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, from July 30 to August 7, 2016. As with previous meetings of this biennial international conference, a significant number of NASA employees and contractors have made tentative plans to attend including representatives from your organization. However, based on current US. Department of State guidance regarding offical travel to Turkey, the Administrator has determined that the Agency will not sponsor or process travel for the 2016 COSPAR conference in Istanbul by NASA civil servants or contractors, including those at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory."

Molly Macauley (Update)

Celebration of Life for Molly Macauley Scheduled for July 23 in Baltimore, SpacePolicyOnline

"A celebration of life service for Molly Macauley is planned for July 23, 2016 in Baltimore, MD. Macauley, a highly respected member of the space policy community, was murdered on July 8 while walking her dogs near her home in Baltimore."

Woman dies after being stabbed in Roland Park, Baltimore Sun

"A 59-year-old woman was fatally stabbed in Baltimore's Roland Park neighborhood as she was walking her dogs Friday night, police said. Officers were called to the 600 block of W. University Parkway around 11 p.m. and found the victim, Molly K. Macauley. She was taken to an area hospital, where she died."

Keith's note: NASA NEEMO 21 is underway at Aquarius Base. Check @NASA_NEMO and @ReefBase on Twitter for updates. On Wednesday NASA JSC microbiologists talked about sending new genome sequencing technology that is being deployed on ISS to NEEMO. Clearly NEEMO is part of NASA's overall #JourneyToMars thing. Yet for some strange reason NASA JSC PAO is not issuing anything about the current NASA NEEMO mission. No media advisories, NASA NEEMO website has not been updated since 2015, etc. If NASA does not take its own exploration activities seriously then why should anyone else?

Hearing: NASA at a Crossroads: Reasserting American Leadership in Space Exploration

"The hearing will focus on the importance of ensuring consistency in policy to best leverage investments made in human space exploration. The hearing will also explore questions facing the agency related to the upcoming presidential transition."

Statements by Mary Lynne Dittmar, William Gerstenmaier, Daniel Dumbacher, Mike Gold, Mark Sirangelo, Sen. Nelson:

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/csf.notsexy.jpg

Private spaceflight trade group rebrands itself to look more like NASA, Mashable

"We want to make that that sexy, badass persona that NASA has established in the government space exploration realm is carried forward into the private commercial space industry," says David Moritz, founder and CEO of Viceroy Creative, the ad agency behind the rebrand."

Viceroy Creative Thrusts into New Frontier with Complete Rebranding Launch of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

"Viceroy Creative, the full-service design firm specializing in brand strategy, brand innovation and package design is announcing the official rebranding launch of the newCommercial Spaceflight Federation. Previously viewed as a selective and discerning option for those looking to travel to space, the new rebrand and creative redesign democratizes the idea of space to the public while providing a sexy, cool, and innovative new look for their interactive website. "We wanted to create an identity that would set a standard for the commercial space exploration industry," says David Moritz, CEO and Founder of Viceroy Creative. "Through the new Commercial Spaceflight Federation rebranding, we're able to create a unique, sexy, and ownable identity that also has roots in a thrilling part of the space industry. We envisioned this rebranding and redesign to be sophisticated and alluring, but also thoughtful enough to be on par with a regulatory agency."

Keith's note: When an organization can't develop and implement a simple strategy and has problems explaining what it does for its members, the knee jerk reaction always seems to be the assumption that the problem will be solved re-branding and re-launching websites. So CSF hired Viceroy Creative whose specialty seems to be marketing alcohol. Based on this PR firm's press release it would seem that CSF is not even sure who/what its audience is. They (simultaneously) want to be "sexy", "sophisticated", "alluring" yet be "thoughtful enough to be on par with a regulatory agency". They need to pick one or the other and focus on that. Oh yes - they also want to do something that "democratizes the idea of space to the public".

And they say "sexy" twice in their press release. So CSF clearly wants you to think that they are sexy. Got that? There's a reason why: Viceroy Creative uses soft p*rn imagery in their PR (scroll down) - and they brag about it. They also worked with the Karadashians. Seriously. And note that the press release title says "Thrusts Into New Frontier". Taken together this explains the whole "sexy" thing, I guess. Just what the commercial spaceflight industry needs right now: gratuitous marketing hype used to hide a lack of substance.

CSF now has an audience/customer base comprised of the commercial space industry, Congress, the Federal government, and the public. Instead of developing a strategic focus CSF now wants to be everything to everyone. As for the rebranding launch thing I just went to their new website. Their old website was a bit stale but you could find what you needed quickly. Now it takes longer and has lots of flashy things. And yet all that they have online is the same stuff they had online before - with added flash. As for the website being "sexy, sophisticated, alluring" - no.

With regard to the democratizing thing CSF is aiming for, given that rides on commercial spacecraft are going cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for many years to come, the only "democratizing" that is going to happen is going to be among the super rich people who can afford the ride. The "public" (i.e. the rest of us) will just go about our normal terrestrial routine. I have never quite figured out exactly what CSF does. Now I am even more confused.

China's Bizarre Stereotypes of the United States, Foreign Policy

"Carp consumption and Anne Hathaway are not topics one would expect to feature prominently in the world's most important bilateral relationship. Yet both are among the most common things that Chinese netizens ask about the United States, at least according to the autocomplete feature of Baidu, China's most popular search engine. ... "Why doesn't America go back to the moon?" This query leads to a few links rooting the decision in the United States' evolving national priorities following the end of the space race with the USSR. More common, though, it seems an excuse to indulge in speculation about the presence of alien artifacts on the lunar surface, something common in U.S. conspiracy theory circles as well."

- NASA Astronaut Andy Thomas is Still Bashing China On The Job, earlier post
- Earlier China posts

New NASA Publication: Economic Development of Low Earth Orbit

"In order for a viable, sustainable economy based on human spaceflight to emerge in low Earth orbit (LEO), a number of elements must be present. ... Recent developments in spaceflight suggest there is ample cause to be optimistic about the future. ... In addition to greatly advancing the state of rocketry, the new capability may have a significant democratization and commercialization effect, potentially enabling low-cost access to space for entrepreneurs, scientists, educators, and the general public."

Meet NASA Datanauts: 2016 Class, OpenNASA

"In 2014, the Open Innovation team noticed a disparity in the ratio of International Space Apps Challenge participants -- roughly 80% men to 20% women. We embarked on a quest to better understand how to attract more women and girls to data by conducting a year-long study, which included a literature review followed by dozens of interviews with leading women's organizations in the data, tech, and startup communities. ... Based on what we learned, we created two new initiatives to signal a welcome environment for women: Space Apps Data Bootcamp, as a one-day pre-event to get introduced to data and code before the annual hackathon; and NASA Datanauts, as a year-old engagement to learn and practice data science skills. The all-female 2015 Founding Class of Datanauts, served two important functions -- to signal NASA is a welcome environment, and to help us understand their communities and how to design data engagements that attract more women and newcomers to NASA data and the new field of data science."

Keith's 12 July note: I totally get the issues that the NASA CIO's Open Innovation Team recognized and heartily applaud their decision to address them. But what I simply do not understand how they can discriminate on the basis of gender so as to only allow females to participate in the 2015 Founding Class of Datanauts. Males apparently were not offered an equal opportunity to participate in this government program. I am sure we all know that a lot of the issues facing women being studied by NASA CIO are faced by males too. I am certain that there are hundreds of rules and laws that are supposed to prevent such blatant discrimination. To be clear the new class (2016) has males in it but a quick unscientific survey of first names and pronouns makes it look like only 6 out of 49 are males. I am sure I counted/guessed wrong. I have sent an email to Beth Beck and NASA CIO Renee Wynn asking "Can you please explain to me how NASA, a government agency, could legally discriminiate against males in the selection of its "all-female 2015 Founding Class of Datanauts"?". The NASA CIO office never responds to media inquiries - so I do not expect them to start responding now.

Keith's 13 July update: I just got the following from Karen Northon at NASA PAO. She recycled/rewrote stuff from the Open NASA website, but never answered my question. Specifically, she took the title of my post and said "NASA does not endorse or oppose gender bias, but rather works to open doors to all newcomers to data science." Huh? They are saying that the agency has no position for- or against gender bias? Really? What set of government regulations is NASA following? So I asked again "Your first group of datanauts in 2015 was 100% female - your webpage makes pointed, overt mention of that fact. How is it legal for NASA, a federal government agency, to deliberately limit participation in a government-funded educational activity to members of only one gender?"

NASA PAO's full response:

CASIS and NCATS Collaborate to Promote Human Physiology Research on the International Space Station, CASIS

Keith's note: Senior managers and PR people at CASIS have been heard to complain that they wish NASA would do more to promote them. So what does CASIS do to encourage more interaction with NASA? Why, they ignore NASA, of course. This press release is about research aboard the ISS that NASA paid billions to build and operate. NASA pays 99.97% or more of CASIS' budget every year. So everything that CASIS does is paid for with NASA money. Yet, if you read this press release, you will see that the word "NASA" is not even mentioned. This may sound trivial but CASIS is constantly taking credit for things without acknowledging NASA's role. And then they whine when NASA doesn't show them enough love. If the management of CASIS had half a brain they'd be trying to be NASA's best friend. Instead, all they do is throw them shade.

Moon Express Announces New Home at Historic Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complexes 17 & 18

"Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx) announced today that it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Air Force 45th Wing to license the historic Space Launch Complexes 17 and 18 at Cape Canaveral for its lunar lander development and flight test operations. The new arrangement for Launch Complexes 17 and 18 under the USAF 45th Wing will allow for Moon Express growth and expansion of its business and technical operations. Moon Express previously occupied Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 36A under an agreement established with Space Florida in January 2015."

Keith's note: Based on a recent NASA Freedom of Information Act response CASIS has been operating for two years without the Annual Program Plan it is required to have. Or maybe it is. Either way NASA doesn't seem to care.

On 5 April 2016 I submitted a FOIA request to NASA for information related to CASIS. CASIS (Center for the Advancement of Science in Space) is the non-profit organization that NASA relies upon to operate its research facilities aboard the International Space Station. CASIS gets $15 million a year from NASA to do this and relies on this funding for 99.97% of its annual budget.

At first the NASA HQ FOIA refused to even consider my FOIA request as a "media" request despite the fact that I have been accredited as media by NASA for more than 15 years. After a lot of emails, complaints, and foot dragging, NASA HQ's FOIA office finally complied with my FOIA request. To their credit they provided a lot of information which is going to take some time to analyze. My request was focused and straightforward:

"I am requesting the full text of NASA cooperative agreement NNH11CD70A between NASA and CASIS including any revisions, annexes, modifications, or associated contractual amendments made by NASA from the inception of this agreement with CASIS until the date of this FOIA request. I am also requesting all progress and status reports and memos provided by CASIS to NASA from the onset of NASA Cooperative Agreement NNH11CD70A until the date of this FOIA request as well as all correspondence/memos from NASA to CASIS in response to CASIS progress and status reports from the onset of NASA Cooperative Agreement NNH11CD70A until the date of this FOIA request."

Let's start with the means whereby NASA and CASIS agree on what CASIS should be doing i.e. the CASIS Annual Program Plan. In response to the FOIA request NASA provided CASIS Annual Program Plans for FY 2012 (submitted 31 October 2011); 2013 (submitted 21 March 2013); and 2014 (submitted 20 October 2013). However NASA did not provide a copy of the CASIS Annual Program Plan for FY 2015 (FY 2015 began on 1 October 2014) or the plan for FY 2016 (FY 2016 began on 1 October 2015). Both Annual Program Plans clearly fall within the period of time and scope specified in my FOIA request.

These reports are required to be prepared and submitted annually. According to the Cooperative Agreement between NASA and CASIS:

Keith's note: Three weeks ago I sent NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan (and NASA HQ PAO) a simple question about her statement regarding NASA's value to America's economy i.e."there was a report that showed that for ever $1.00 you spend on NASA you get $4.00 returned to the economy". As I have been ranting for the past month Stofan - and the rest of NASA - refuses to answer a simple media inquiry about a public claim by NASA about returns on investments in NASA technology. Yet that has not stopped NASA from putting out a report today titled "Economic Development of Low Earth Orbit" that includes complicated fancy math to calculate what an investment in ISS R&D can expect to see emerging from that investment (page 46):

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/ecomath.jpg

As you can see the math in my original question was much simpler than what is in this report (image of full reference). The report goes on to gush about the economic potential of space commerce with regard to Low Earth Orbit. That economic potential is most likely quite real. Alas NASA is not necessarily the best equipped to actually understand that commercial potential - much less act strategically to facilitate its development. NASA is also under some collective delusion that it actually understands "commerce" since they seem to think that "commerce" is equivalent to government spending. Just ask Bart.

In the mean time it is clear that one part of NASA is not talking to other. While one office on the 9th floor is incapable of responding to a simple question on this topic just a few feet down the hall NASA's Deputy Administrator's office is co-launching this report with the White House - including the fancy math that is over the head of NASA's Chief Scientist.

NASA Cannot Answer A Simple, Basic Question on Its Value, earlier post

Report: Federal agents raid NASA construction contractor, Orlando Sentinel

"Investigators with NASA's Office of Inspector General, the agency in charge of probing crimes against NASA, removed boxes of documents and computer towers from SDB Engineering and Constructors Inc., according to Fox35. The company located on East Parrish Road has worked on several big projects at NASA's Kennedy Space Center including upgrades to the Vehicle Assembly Building and corrosion control work at Launch Complex 41 and Launch Complex 37, used for United Launch Alliance launches."

Obama's top scientist talks shrinking budgets, Donald Trump, and his biggest regret, Nature

"[John Holdren]: We knew when we came in that we had to rebalance NASA, and we had a committee chaired by Norm Augustine that looked at the space programme and declared that Constellation [NASA's human space-flight effort] was "unexecutable". And that report informed what we did to scale Constellation way back. We still have an Orion multi-purpose space capsule. We still have the Space Launch System, a heavy-lift rocket, under development. But we scaled them back to the point that there was enough money to revitalize Earth observation, to revitalize planetary science, to revitalize robotic exploration, to think about new missions."

Juno was a success- but there is precious little coming after it, Ars Technica

"There are some fairly big whoppers in there, so let's unpack the response. It is absolutely true that the president convened the Augustine panel, and in the wake of the panel's report, tried to scale Constellation back. However, when Congress objected, the Obama administration folded. In the last full year before Obama took office, fiscal year 2008, the agency spent $3.3 billion on exploration, which included Constellation. In fiscal year 2016, the agency will spend $4.0 billion on similar programs. It is not clear how a 21 percent budget increase can be considered scaling back NASA's human exploration program. Moreover, when Obama assumed office, Constellation's initial exploration aim was the Moon - an aim the Augustine report found to be "unsustainable." Now NASA's stated goal is to send humans to Mars- the so-called "Journey to Mars"- which is an order of magnitude more difficult both from an engineering and fiscal standpoint. In this sense, NASA's goals have become more unexecutable, not less."

- Preserving The Status Quo For The Journey To Nowhere, earlier post
- #JourneyToMars Via #ReturnToTheMoon, earlier post
- Previous exploration posts

Hearing- Examining the Nation's Current and Next Generation Weather Satellite Programs

Defense Weather Satellites: DOD Faces Acquisition Challenges for Addressing Capability Needs, GAO

"GAO found in March 2016 that the Department of Defense (DOD), in conducting a requirements review and Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) from 2012 to 2014, generally performed a thorough review for identifying capability gaps in meteorological and oceanographic data also referred to as weather data that needed to be met and determining the operational benefit of satisfying these gaps."

Polar Satellites: NOAA Faces Challenges and Uncertainties that Could Affect the Availability of Critical Weather Data, GAO

"As highlighted in a May 2016 report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) program has continued to make progress in developing the JPSS-1 satellite for a March 2017 launch. However, the program has experienced technical challenges which have resulted in delays in interim milestones. In addition, NOAA faces the potential for a near-term gap in satellite coverage of 8 months before the JPSS-1 satellite is launched and completes post-launch testing."

- Statement by Stephen Volz, NOAA, Hearing on Weather Satellite Programs
- Statement by Ralph Stoffler USAF Hearing on Weather Satellite Programs
- Statement by Rep. Lamar Smith Hearing on Weather Satellite Programs
-Statement by Rep. Jim Bridenstine Hearing on Weather Satellite Programs

Keith's 7 July update: A week Two weeks Three weeks ago I sent NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan (and NASA HQ PAO) a simple question about her statement regarding NASA's value to America's economy i.e."there was a report that showed that for ever $1.00 you spend on NASA you get $4.00 returned to the economy". NASA has still not gotten back to me with an answer. Either NASA refuses to answer or (more likely) they cannot answer - because their answer would reveal that they have no idea where their claims come from.

After 20 years I can totally understand that some people at NASA are loathe to respond to NASAWatch questions like this - especially ones with a high gotcha quotient. I get that. But you'd think that such a basic talking point - one repeatedly used by senior agency personnel to explain the purported value of NASA to our economy - would be one that is strongly grounded in research data - data that should be at everyone's finger tips. Guess again. If NASA is unable to answer such a simple, basic question about a commonly-used talking point, why should anyone take agency staff seriously when they start to talk about commerce, economics, and return on investment?

NASA has no idea what it is talking about when it comes to its economic value to our nation. So they just make stuff up and hope that no one asks any questions.

NASA has been getting ready for visits from presidential campaign transition teams in the coming weeks. Based on my sources agency leadership is under some collective pervasive delusion that space is actually an issue that campaigns intend to pay attention to prior to the election. Moreover, their aim is to tell the campaigns that NASA is doing what it should be doing, to please just let NASA do whatever it is doing, and not ask too many questions as to why NASA is doing what it is doing. Among the things NASA would normally do is drop the whole dollar-invested/dollar-returned thing into the briefing charts. If NASA cannot answer a simple media question about NASA's numerical claim of value added benefits to the economy, I am not certain that they should be perpetuating these urban factoids by telling them to representatives of the next administration.

Congress Asks Questions About U.S. Policy Regarding Indian Launch Vehicles, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee

"Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today sent letters to four senior officials requesting information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles. ... The letters request a written copy of the administration's policy governing access to Indian launch services, an explanation of when and how this policy was promulgated, and a copy of licenses authorizing the launch of U.S. origin space technology on Indian launch vehicles and records associated with them."

Testimony of Eric Stallmer President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation, April 2016

"Prohibiting access to foreign launch services, like India's, who do not allow their payloads to fly on U.S. vehicles, has opened another set of opportunities for U.S. commercial companies to develop their own systems to serve the global satellite launch market. Here, CSF opposes any change to the current U.S. policy with respect to launch on Indian launch vehicle systems. For commercial as well as government launches, Indian launch vehicles are operated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), a government entity that also funds the development and manufacture of these launch vehicles. Here, CSF has seen that pricing for commercial launch services on Indian rockets historically has not reflected the true costs associated with their initial development and on-going launch operations, putting U.S. commercial launchers at a disadvantage in competitions for these class of payloads. In effect, India is dumping these vehicles on the commercial market to the detriment of U.S. firms. We would encourage the U.S. Congress to support American firms offering legitimate pricing for launch services in this market."

Commercial Launch: All Government Subsidies Are Not Created Equal, earlier post

"This is all rather odd and self-serving. Both Space Foundation and Commercial Spaceflight Federation depend on commercial space company membership dues. On one hand it is wrong to allow U.S. commercial payloads to be launched by India because their rockets have large government subsidies. Yet Space Foundation and CSF think that it is just fine to launch these same U.S. commercial payloads on Chinese, Russian, and European launch vehicles - all of which get substantial government subsidies. Meanwhile ULA has been getting billions a year for decades in U.S. government subsidies to keep both EELV fleets afloat (with no competition until recently) - and they will now get more money to wean themselves from RD-180 engines whose use was mandated by the U.S. government. Again, where you stand depends on where you sit."

America's Hypocritical Fear of Indian Rockets, earlier post

NASA Kepler Twitter Account Hacked, Tweets Sexy Butt, io9

"The official Twitter account for NASA's Kepler, which surveys parts of the Milky Way Galaxy in search for hospitable planets, just got hacked. It's unclear how or why the account was hacked, but it definitely tweeted a butt and a sketchy link."

Keith's note: There is a somewhat NSFW image after the link, so ... if you are sitting at a government computer ...

Keith's 4 July note: At a press briefing today Juno PI Scott Bolton said that they will turn on JunoCam once Juno is in orbit and may release a few "interesting" images. No word when this will happen. What is really odd about this is that JPL missions such as Cassini have been posting raw imagery online almost as soon as they get it for more than a decade. MSL has also been posting raw images since it landed. Mars landing missions have been sending back images in real time for everyone to see in real time since the days of Spirit and Opportunity. Yea its scary to risk failing in real time but NASA has done this many times before. It is understandable that the camera won't be activated for a while as the spacecraft is checked out. But once the images start heading back to Earth why not let everyone see them? This decision to sit on them is especially odd since JunoCam was added to the mission as an education and public outreach effort. Baffling.

Keith's 5 July update: There was a post-JOI press briefing at 1:00 am EDT. When directly asked about his earlier comment wherein he said that the Juno team might release some "interesting" JunoCam images Scott Bolton passed on a chance to clarify what he will or will not release by saying that "all images are interesting". Sigh. Yet another NASA mission PI who can't answer a simple direct question about releasing information to the public.

How to Get to Mars: Q&A With NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, PC Magazine

"[Dava Newman] We have something called the Juno-cam, which will send take high-def images and the public will help decide what images to capture. As long as we're in orbit, we're going to say, "Okay," to the public, "where do you want it? Help us explore." We really want to take people with us to Jupiter, and I think that's the best way to do it. It's a huge experiment in citizen science, so you can tell us where you want to look on Jupiter and we'll point the camera."

Last Image Of Jovian System Before Juno Arrives

Juno Is Orbiting Jupiter, NASA

"Juno has arrived at Jupiter after an almost five-year journey. NASA TV will broadcast a briefing at 1 a.m. EDT/10 p.m. PDT. Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times during 20 months, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000 km) above the cloud tops. This is the first time a spacecraft will orbit the poles of Jupiter, providing new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet's core, composition and magnetic fields."

Marc's note: Missed the late night, early morning, press conference and orbital insertion? Watch them again with the links below. Oh, and if you didn't already know it we have a Twitter account for Jupiter, @JupiterToday.

- NASA provides an update on Juno's arrival at Jupiter after it enters orbit, SpaceRef
- Replay: Juno orbital insertion at Jupiter, SpaceRef

Fireworks Juno Style

Keith's note: I did a live interview on CTV tonight at 7:30 pm EDT on Juno. Then I did another live with BBC World News at 9:10 pm EDT. The Fairfax Country, VA fireworks are launched 2 miles from my house over at Lake Fairfax. They started 10 minutes early while I was doing a live interview via Skype on BBC World News. The BBC control room guys said they could hear them. So the sound of Fairfax County fireworks reached an audience of 300+ million people. Thanks Juno ;-)

NASA Final Rule: 14 CFR Part 1214: Space Flight, Federal Register

Keith's note: These rules apparently only apply to Orion (and SLS). No mention is made as to who is in charge aboard Dragon or Starliner (or other commercial vehicles) when NASA people are on board. That said, the take home message: no fist fights on the bridge.

"Sec. 1214.702 Authority and responsibility of the NASA Commander.

(a) During all flight phases, the NASA Commander shall have the absolute authority to take whatever action is in his/her discretion necessary to:
(1) Enhance order and discipline.
(2) Provide for the safety and well-being of all personnel on board.
(3) Provide for the protection of the spacecraft and payloads. The NASA Commander shall have authority, throughout the mission, to use any reasonable and necessary means, including the use of physical force, to achieve this end.
(b) The authority of the NASA Commander extends to any and all personnel on board the spacecraft including Federal officers and employees and all other persons whether or not they are U.S. nationals.
(c) The authority of the NASA Commander extends to all spaceflight elements, payloads, and activities originating with or defined to be a part of the NASA mission.
(d) The NASA Commander may, when he/she deems such action to be necessary for the safety of the spacecraft and personnel on board, subject any of the personnel on board to such restraint as the circumstances require until such time as delivery of such individual or individuals to the proper authorities is possible.

Sec. 1214.703 Chain of command.

(a) The NASA Commander is a trained NASA astronaut who has been designated to serve as commander on a NASA mission and who shall have the authority described in Sec. 1214.702 of this part. Under normal flight conditions (other than emergencies or when otherwise designated) the NASA Commander is responsible to the Mission Flight Director.
(b) Before each flight, the other flight crewmembers will be designated in the order in which they will assume the authority of the NASA Commander under this subpart in the event that the NASA Commander is not able to carry out his/her duties.
(c) The determinations, if any, that a crewmember in the chain of command is not able to carry out his or her command duties and is, therefore, to be relieved of command, and that another crewmember in the chain of command is to succeed to the authority of the NASA Commander, will be made by the NASA Administrator or his/her designee.

Sec. 1214.704 Violations.

(a) All personnel on board the NASA mission are subject to the authority of the NASA Commander and shall conform to his/her orders and direction as authorized by this subpart.
(b) This subpart is a regulation within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 799, and whoever willfully violates, attempts to violate, or conspires to violate any provision of this subpart or any order or direction issued under this subpart shall be subject to fines and imprisonment, as specified by law."

Keith's note: According to 18 U.S. Code ยง 799 if you break the NASA rules you "shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both". In other words the fine is (apparently) TBD and the longest you can sit in the brig for punching your captain is a year.

New Horizons Receives Mission Extension to Kuiper Belt, Dawn to Remain at Ceres

"In addition to the extension of the New Horizons mission, NASA determined that the Dawn spacecraft should remain at the dwarf planet Ceres, rather than changing course to the main belt asteroid Adeona. Green noted that NASA relies on the scientific assessment by the Senior Review Panel in making its decision on which extended mission option to approve. "The long-term monitoring of Ceres, particularly as it gets closer to perihelion - the part of its orbit with the shortest distance to the sun -- has the potential to provide more significant science discoveries than a flyby of Adeona," he said. Also receiving NASA approval for mission extensions, contingent on available resources, are: the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers, the Mars Odyssey orbiter, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and NASA's support for the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission."

Russian ISS docking system test doesn't go as planned, SpaceRef (With video)

"According to veteran Russian space program reporter Anatoly Zak an ISS test of the cosmonaut-operated docking system on the Progress 62 cargo spacecraft didn't quite go as expected earlier this morning."

Marc's note: Despite a statement from Roscosmos saying the test was successful you can watch the video yourself and see docking with considerable pitch at the end. And yes, there's a reason these tests are performed and I'm sure there will be another scheduled not in the too distant future.


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