October 2016 Archives

The weak pull of artificial gravity, The Space Review

"Gerstenmaier, while skeptical of the need for and ability to accommodate artificial gravity, didn't rule it out entirely. He noted that there's very little information on the effectiveness of partial gravity, including the minimum levels needed to offset the deleterious effects of microgravity. Some of that research is being done with a small rodent centrifuge on the station's Kibo module. "We'll take a look and see if there's some magic partial gravity that actually mitigates most of the concerns of the zero-gravity levels," he said. Until then, astronauts on the ISS and future exploration missions will have to learn to take the good with the bad when it comes to weightlessness--and hope they love to exercise for a couple hours every day."

Keith's note: Well, DUH, Bill. You guys cancelled the 2.5 meter centrifuge facility that was supposed to fly on ISS to answer those exact same questions. Gee, I wonder why they have not been addressed? Don't try and duck the issue: I can remember sitting in meetings where it was discussed that you attended back in the day ;-)

Keith's note: I went out for my daily walk today. Half a block away from Buzz Aldrin Elementary School in Reston, Virginia I saw a couple with their young boy. He was holding something very familiar. Those three engines and the delta wing shape - instantly recognizable. I asked his parents if I could take a picture. They had gone to the National Air and Space Museum at Udvar Hazy today. Their son was very impressed with Space Shuttle Discovery - his first spaceship - but was "too shy" to say so according to his mom. I said "my friends flew on it - isn't that cool?" The boy smiled. I walked away, turned and told their parents about my website. Within a minute I tweeted his picture. How cool that I could say such a thing. Just another day.

Keith's note: NASA PAO offered news media a chance to ask questions of Thomas Zurbuchen, the new Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator. The audio of that event should be online shortly.

NASA Watch Question: "I have heard you mention massive things such as the Webb Space Telescope and tiny things like cubesats in the same sentence. You mentioned National Academy and White House initiatives for cubesats and Decadal designations for larger things. There is a vast gap there. The vast majority of taxpayers really do not understand what huge things like Webb do other than take pictures. But small cheap things like cubesats - something that they can hold in their hands do make that connection. Is there a use for cubesats other than strictly the doing science - perhaps EPO (education and public outreach)? Given that at least one presidential candidate has speculated about filling potholes as being more important than NASA how do you bring the potential of space research within the reach of the rest of America? Maybe start with cubesats? Any school in America can build and launch a cubesat from ISS for just over $100,000 - that's $10 from every person in a small community of 10,000 people. That's bake sale and car wash sort of funding levels. Aren't we already at the point where massive disruption that you have mentioned is now possible and that you are able to be that agent of change?"

Thomas Zurbuchen's Answer (transcribed live): "NASA activities are a range of investments and sizes. Not one size fits all. Take Hubble - with all its challenges and initial drawbacks - budgetary, performance - it is one of the most impactful tools we have ever launched especially when measured by Noble Prizes and brand recognition. How many of us have a Hubble image as a screen saver? I do. For that to happen it takes size. The Earth science program is not going to be done for the size of a cubesat. But we are looking at making data buys. We do make technology and innovation grants - even smaller amounts than cubesats - small investments that can allow many flowers to bloom. Cubesats are interesting because there is a commercial sector that is growing because of attitude of players in the market space. I have talked about the value of inspiration that comes from building something and putting it into space. Id like to enable careers for students. I see value at both ends of the spectrum and its hard to play them against each other."

Keith's 31 October update: NASA MSFC Internal Memo: Key Personnel Announcement -Teresa Washington is retiring, NASA MSFC

"Upon the upcoming retirement of Teresa Washington, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Marcus Lea to the Senior Executive Service (SES) position of Director, Office of Human Capital (OHC). As OHC Director, Mr. Lea will be responsible for the entire scope of the Center's workforce strategy and planning, organization and leadership development, academic affairs, training and incentives, federal labor relations, and employee services and operations."

SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update), earlier post

Trump takes aim at NASA's climate budget, The Hill

"In a Wednesday speech in Florida, Trump slammed the Obama administration for "undermining our space program." "I will refocus its mission on space exploration," he vowed. "Under a Trump administration, Florida and America, will lead the way into the stars." Trump's remarks are in line with many congressional Republicans who have vowed to prioritize space exploration. The promise to boost exploration funding was likely welcome news for those who see America leading the world in space missions, including a high-profile effort to send astronauts to Mars within decades. But the remarks are also raising alarm among many who fear the GOP plans are a cover for slashing NASA's significant budget for climate research."

NASA Ames workers worry over Superfund site's toxins, Mountain View Voice

"More recently, a 2013 U.S. Department of Defense report found toxic vapor levels exceeding EPA limits inside several occupied buildings at Moffett Federal Airfield, including the NASA Ames convention center and the flight systems research lab. ... Based on the mounting concerns, NASA administrators on Oct. 19 held a first-ever town hall meeting to address issues surrounding the Superfund site. The room was packed with a standing-room only crowd of about 120 people. A panel of officials from NASA, EPA and OSHA gave assurances that employees' health and safety was a paramount priority."

Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund: Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman (MEW) Study Area, EPA

Contamination plume map

Expedition 49 Is Back On Earth (with video)

"NASA astronaut and Expedition 49 crew member Kate Rubins, who became the first person to sequence DNA in space, returned to Earth Saturday after a successful mission aboard the International Space Station. Rubins and her crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, touched down in their Soyuz MS-01 at 11:58 p.m. EDT (9:58 a.m. Oct. 30, Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan."

Space Biologists Thora Halstead and Ken Souza Honored Aboard International Space Station

"A small plant growth chamber orbiting in space was remotely dedicated in Cleveland Saturday evening. At the annual meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSRC) it was announced that the Veggie unit aboard the International Space Station has been dedicated to Thora Halstead and Ken Souza. A special plaque has been affixed to the Veggie hardware by astronaut Kate Rubin. Copies of that plaque were flown in space and then returned to Earth were presented to Ken and Thora's families this evening."

SpaceX AMOS-6 Anomaly Update 28 October 2016

"The investigation team has made significant progress on the fault tree. Previously, we announced the investigation was focusing on a breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank. The root cause of the breach has not yet been confirmed, but attention has continued to narrow to one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the LOX tank."

"Pending the results of the investigation, we continue to work towards returning to flight before the end of the year."

Previous statements:

- SpaceX AMOS-6 Anomaly Update 23 September 2016
- SpaceX Anomaly Statement September 2, 6:45pm EDT

NASA Advisory Council Meeting March 31 - April 1 2016, NASA

"Dr. Wanda Austin asked Mr. Bolden to discuss how NASA plans to work with the Presidential transition teams to maintain progress on NASA's current programs and activities. Mr. Bolden explained that the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 allows each political party, after their nominating convention, to assemble transition teams . Beginning in August 2016, NASA will have access to those transition teams. NASA 's intent is to be proactive with the transition teams and tell them as much as possible about NASA, its programs, and the President's vision and remind them, similar to the Hippocratic Oath, first of all to "do no harm. "The Nation is embarked as the leader of the world on an ambitious space exploration program. NASA has put together a great set of science programs. It has a more robust aeronautics program than at any time in the recent history of the Agency, and a technology development program that is helping to develop the cutting edge technologies that would be needed not just for the Journey to Mars but across the NASA portfolio. NASA will not wait for the transition teams to come to NASA, but will go to them."

"The Council discussed the upcoming transition in Presidential Administrations. Dr. Peterson advised that it would be important to be prepared to be proactive and present the transition teams with a plan for Mars. Mr. Hale reported that he had worked with the last transition team and learned that space policy is made at the White House. He asserted, "It is setting the expectation too high to suggest that NASA can affect the formulation of space policy." Ms. Blakey advised that it is important to know who is listened to on the transition teams."

Election only the start of a long-term NASA transition, SpaceNews

"While both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump established transition teams after accepting their parties' nominations this summer, months ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, that planning has yet to involve "landing teams" for NASA. "We're at the point now where, any day now, we could hear about individual names for the landing team for NASA," said Michael French, NASA chief of staff, speaking at a meeting of the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) here. "NASA has not received this information yet."

Keith's note: Interesting. With regard to presidential transition teams Charlie Bolden said "NASA will not wait for the transition teams to come to NASA, but will go to them". Now, with regard to who is on these transition teams, his chief of staff says "NASA has not received this information yet". So ... I guess no one followed Bolden's direction to seek out the transition teams. In my experience, transition teams never reveal their membership until after an election, so I am not sure he'd know who to talk to anyway . If you compare Bolden's and French's approaches they seem to be the opposite of each other. I wonder who is giving NASA HQ advice on all of this?

- Now NASA Wants Special Treatment From Congress, earlier post

Keith's note: When "Interstellar" came out there was an Oculus Rift "experience" that toured a few locations around the country. The Oculus Rift tour inside the "Endurance" was pretty cool. If only NASA could find a way to take this ISS footage and convert it for use with Play Station VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard. etc. I am sure it would be a hit. Nice for training astronauts too.

Soyuz Landing Missions, NASA

"More injuries have been occurring on Soyuz landings than anticipated. Most injuries are minor in nature, but are unexpected due to the low energetics of the landing. This may be an indication that Soyuz landings are harder than previously thought, or that spaceflight deconditioning reduces human tolerance to impacts, or a combination of both. ... 37.5% of US crew members experienced an injury"

Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars Viewed From Orbit

"This Oct. 25, 2016, image shows the area where the European Space Agency's Schiaparelli test lander reached the surface of Mars, with magnified insets of three sites where components of the spacecraft hit the ground. It is the first view of the site from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter taken after the Oct. 19, 2016, landing event. The Schiaparelli test lander was one component of ESA's ExoMars 2016 project, which placed the Trace Gas Orbiter into orbit around Mars on the same arrival date."

NASA FISO Presentation: An ISS Space Ambulance Based on X-37B Technology

Now available is the October 19, 2016 NASA Future In-Space Operations (FISO) telecon material. The speakers was Steve Robinson (UC Santa Cruz) who discussed "An ISS Space Ambulance Based on X-37B Technology."

Note: The audio file and presentation are online and available to download.

Marc's note: An interesting concept. Is there a future commercial application for this concept should other space stations come online (Bigelow etc.)?

Orbital View of Tiangong 2 and Shenzhou 11

"CNSA has released imagery taken by a smallsat deployed the other day that shows Tiangong 2 and Shenzhou 11."

The Second Meeting of the U.S.-China Space Dialogue, State Department

"Pursuant to their shared goal of advancing civil space cooperation, as agreed upon in the Strategic Track of the U.S. - China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in June 2015 and reaffirmed in June 2016, the United States and China convened their second Civil Space Dialogue on October 20, 2016, in Washington, DC. This ongoing Civil Space Dialogue enhances cooperation between the two countries, promotes responsible behavior in space, and encourages greater transparency and openness on a variety of space-related issues."

United States, China hold Space Dialogue, working around Congressional barriers, GBTimes

"Notably NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was in attendance, despite Congressional barriers to engaging Chinese state entities, with the Dialogue offering a way of working around such road blocks. ... From there, Mr Bolden went on to stress that NASA's apparent human Journey to Mars requires collaboration with many nations, without specifically noting China. Earlier public statements indicate that he is a proponent of cooperation with China."

Earlier posts on China

Clinton Campaign Op Ed

Hillary will expand our space potential, op ed, Space News

"We are fortunate to be entering a dynamic new era in space - one that will enable us to explore new worlds, expand our scientific knowledge, push the frontiers of technological innovation, and achieve our boldest aspirations in space. This forward trajectory has been fueled by pragmatic policies that have brought together our brightest minds, and newest technologies, to forge new frontiers. As president, Secretary Clinton will not only build on our progress in space, but will advance inspirational, achievable, and affordable space initiatives."

Making 3D Images With Hubble and Webb Space Telescopes

"The two most powerful optical/IR telescopes in history -- NASA's Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes -- will be in space at the same time. We have a unique opportunity to leverage the 1.5 million kilometer separation between the two telescopic nodal points to obtain simultaneously captured stereoscopic images of asteroids, comets, moons and planets in our Solar System. Given the recent resurgence in stereo-3D movies and the recent emergence of VR-enabled mobile devices, these stereoscopic images provide a unique opportunity to engage the public with unprecedented views of various Solar System objects."

Spaceport America Relay Race Features an Amazing 200 Mile Course Along the Historic Rio Grande River from Texas to New Mexico, Spaceport America

"Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA, today announced that, in collaboration with relay racing specialists MH Enterprises LLC, the Spaceport America Crew will host and support a two-day, 200 mile, relay race event."

Spaceport America, Wikipedia

"As of August 2012, Spaceport America is substantially complete and the cost of the entire project was $209 million. ... In May 2015, budgetary details made public revealed that the substantially unused spaceport has an annual deficit that has been running approximately US$500,000, with the deficit being made up by state taxpayers. The primary planned revenue in the times of delayed operations by Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, with limited operations by other minor tenants, is local tax revenue, paid by the taxpayers of Sierra and Dona Ana counties."

Donald Trump's "peace through strength" space doctrine, op ed, Space News

"A key Trump goal will be to create lower costs through greater efficiencies. We must ensure that space products developed for one sector, but applicable to another, will be fully shared, not duplicated. It makes little sense to develop numerous launch vehicles at taxpayer cost, all with essentially the same technology and payload capacity. Coordinated policy could end such duplication of effort and could likely determine where there are private sector solutions that do not necessarily require government investment."

Keith's note: A second Trump space policy op ed in 2 weeks - and still no overt mention of support for SLS/Orion, ARM, or #JourneyToMars - just the same statement that government should not be developing launch capabilities when the private sector can do so.

- Trump Space Advisors Omit Support of SLS, Orion, ARM, #JourneytoMars, earlier post

Space Foundation CEO Steps Down, Space Foundation

"Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Space Foundation, Admiral James O. Ellis Jr., announced that Space Foundation CEO, Elliot Pulham, has resigned his position, and the board has commenced a search for new leadership of the organization. ... We are committed to an open and competitive process to select the Foundation's next leader, and are grateful for the continued support of the space community."

Trump Scrubs KSC Visit

Keith's update: According to CNN, Trump has cancelled plans to visit KSC. So much for the photo op of his jet landing at KSC shuttle landing facility. Apparently they could not find a rally location offsite in a nearby location that would meet the expected audience numbers. I've also heard that there was a NASA concern that the campaign would try and do a tour where giant NASA logos would appear in campaign photos.

Donald Trump adds Sanford, St. Augustine to Florida swing, FloridaPolitics.com

"In addition, he's expected to tour Kennedy Space Center and meet with the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. That activity originally was scheduled for Monday but the Space Coast EDC reported it has been postponed to Tuesday. No details are yet available."

Donald Trump to meet with Florida space officials Monday, Orlando Sentinel

"Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has accepted an invitation to tour Kennedy Space Center and other locations on the Space Coast before sitting in on a roundtable of space industry leaders on Monday, Oct. 24. ... So far, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has not accepted invitations to tour the region. Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the economic development commission of Florida's Space Coast, said she hopes Trump's visit encourages Clinton to follow suit."

Smith, Babin Examine Policy Governing Indian Launch Vehicles

"Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) yesterday sent letters to four senior officials following up on requests for information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles. On July 6 Chairmen Smith and Babin wrote Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, seeking this information. Yesterday's letters reiterate requests for a briefing and documentation on the current U.S. policy."

Eric Stallmer, Commercial Spaceflight Federation Testimony , April 2016

"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."

Elliot Pulham, Space Foundation Testimony, April 2016

"The concern about using Indian boosters is not so much the transfer of sensitive technology to a nation that is a fellow democracy, but rather whether Indian launches are subsidized by the Indian government to the degree that other market actors, for example American launch companies or those of allies, would be priced out the market."

Keith's note: Why is India being singled out for special treatment? Who own's most, if not all, of China's launch infrastructure? Russia's? Europe's? Japan's? Who sets their launch prices? Why is it that every time the U.S. buys Soyuz seats the price goes up far more than it should?

- Will U.S. Companies Be Allowed To Launch on Indian Rockets?, earlier post
- America's Hypocritical Fear of Indian Rockets, earlier post
- Congress Asks Questions About U.S. Policy Regarding Indian Launch Vehicles, earlier post
- Hearing Discusses Using Old ICBMs As Satellite Launchers, earlier post

Schiaparelli Crash Site Located From Orbit

"NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified new markings on the surface of the Red Planet that are believed to be related to ESA's ExoMars Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing technology demonstrator module. Estimates are that Schiaparelli dropped from a height of between 2 and 4 kilometres, therefore impacting at a considerable speed, greater than 300 km/h. The relatively large size of the feature would then arise from disturbed surface material. It is also possible that the lander exploded on impact, as its thruster propellant tanks were likely still full. These preliminary interpretations will be refined following further analysis."

Trump's space policy reaches for Mars and the stars, Op Ed, Space News

"A 21st century space policy requires a bold combination of public missions, commercial solutions and the agility to address real threats and real opportunities. To craft such a policy, government must recognize that space is no longer the province of governments alone. Ronald Reagan anticipated this revolution long ago when he signed the 1984 Commercial Space Launch Act. ... Creating the technologies necessary to meet these goals would push us into the forefront of technological development and benefit our economy for decades to come. However, NASA cannot be expected to do this kind of 21st century Apollo-like mission if it is forced to accept outdated operational structures, contracting procedures, and bureaucracies created in the last century."

Keith's note: Former congresman, veteran space consultant, and Trump advisor Robert Walker is one of the two authors of this op ed. No mention is made of SLS, Orion, or ARM - yet a list of specific commercial companies and their capabilities - Orbital ATK, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon, Sierra Nevada, United Launch Alliance, Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace is included. Moreover a warning against Apollo-like missions (#JourneyToMars) is made.

Juno Enters Safe Mode And Then Regains Normal Operations

"NASA's Juno spacecraft entered safe mode Tuesday, Oct. 18 at about 10:47 p.m. PDT (Oct. 19 at 1:47 a.m. EDT). Early indications are a software performance monitor induced a reboot of the spacecraft's onboard computer. The spacecraft acted as expected during the transition into safe mode, restarted successfully and is healthy. High-rate data has been restored and the spacecraft is conducting flight software diagnostics. All instruments are off and the planned science data collection for today's close flyby of Jupiter (perijove 2), did not occur."

Engine Problems Delay Juno Engine Burn at Jupiter, SpaceRef

"Telemetry indicates that two helium check valves that play an important role in the firing of the spacecraft's main engine did not operate as expected during a command sequence that was initiated yesterday," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "The valves should have opened in a few seconds, but it took several minutes. We need to better understand this issue before moving forward with a burn of the main engine."

NASA's Juno Team to Discuss Jupiter Mission Status, Latest Science Results, NASA

"Team members of NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter will discuss the latest science results, an amateur imaging processing campaign, and the recent decision to postpone a scheduled burn of its main engine, during a media briefing at 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 19."

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Initiate Section 106 Consultation for Proposed Changes to Green Bank Observatory Operations, Green Bank, West Virginia and Notice of Public Scoping Meetings and Comment Period, NSF

"The NSF Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Division of Astronomical Sciences, through a series of academic community-based reviews, has identified the need to divest several facilities from its portfolio. This would allow NSF to retain the balance of capabilities needed to deliver the best performance on emerging and key science technology of the present decade and beyond. In 2012, NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences' (AST's) portfolio review committee recommended divestment of the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) from the AST portfolio."

Green Bank Observatory Inaugurated

"Formerly a cornerstone of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the Green Bank Observatory [https://greenbankobservatory.org] is now a fully-fledged, independent astronomical and educational facility of the National Science Foundation (NSF), operated under a cooperative agreement with Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI)."

After Month Long Delay Soyuz Rocket Launches Astronauts to the International Space Station [With video]

"Three crew members representing the United States and Russia are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:05 a.m. EDT Wednesday (2:05 p.m. Baikonur time). The Soyuz spacecraft carrying astronaut Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, is scheduled to dock to the Poisk module of the space station at 5:59 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21. NASA Television coverage of docking will begin at 5:15 a.m. Hatches are scheduled to open about 8:35 a.m., with NASA TV coverage starting at 8 a.m."

- ISS Crew Could be Short Staffed for Another Month and a Half, earlier post

Looking for Schiaparelli At Wharton Ridge

"On Wednesday 19 October the ExoMars Schiaparelli module will land on Mars at 10:48 am EDT. There is a chance that Opportunity may see it on the horizon as it descends. The name of this location on the rim of Endeavour crater was initially announced a week or so ago. "Wharton Ridge" is named after Robert A. Wharton."

Taking In The View From Wharton Ridge, earlier post

Shenzhou-11 Docks With Tiangong-2, SpaceRef

"China's Shenzhou-11 has docked with the Tiangong-2 Space Station. After completing a series of systems checks astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will enter Tiangong-2 to begin their one month mission. Next spring an automated cargo vehicle will resupply Tiangong-2 in advance of future astronaut visits."

Blue Planet/Red Planet Politics: Obama's Giant Leap for Legacy, Scientific American

"Yet whether Mars will truly be part of the president's space legacy remains to be seen, says Marcia Smith, founder and editor of SpacePolicyOnline.com. "I think Obama's civil space legacy will be his embrace of commercial partnerships, not humans to Mars," she says. Ultimately Obama's legacy depends in large part on what the next administration does, Smith says. If it continues the Mars exploration program he set up, Obama will likely receive kudos, whether or not it is deserved, she says."

- Obama Takes A Space Policy Victory Lap, earlier post
- That Time Obama Killed A Return To The Moon, earlier post
- President Obama Has Some Ideas About Mars, earlier post

Orbital ATK Successfully Launches the Antares Rocket on its Return to Flight (with video), SpaceRef

"In a successful return to flight, Orbital ATK launched the upgraded Antares rocket with the Cygnus spacecraft on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch scheduled for 7:40 pm EDT (2340 GMT) was delayed briefly due to a minor engine anomaly. Mission launch control cleared the rocket to launch which it did at 7:45 pm EDT, right as launch window was closing."

Keith's note: It has been 2 years since I tried to watch a launch from the street in front of my house in Reston, VA. Not an easy thing to do in a town that is certified as a 'tree city'. Luckily the notch in the trees in the direction of Wallops is still there. About 2 minutes after launch a steady red light appeared and I could see it for another minute or so.

Shenzhou-11 Is In Orbit, SpaceRef

"China placed the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft with two astronauts aboard into orbit today. The launch happened exactly on time at 7:30 am local time at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Shenzhou-11 is in its planned orbit and will dock with China's second space station Tiangong-2 on Tuesday. The two astronauts will remain onboard Tiangong-2 for a month."

Upcoming Space News

China to launch manned space mission Shenzhou 11 on Monday

"China will launch a two-man space mission, Shenzhou 11, on Monday, officials with the space program said, taking the country closer to its ambition of setting up a permanent manned space station by 2022. After Monday's launch at 7:30 a.m. (2330 GMT) in the remote northwestern province of Gansu, the astronauts will dock with the Tiangong 2 space laboratory, where they will spend about a month."

Schiaparelli Released From Trace Gas Orbiter and Begins Its Descent to Mars

"Today, three days before gravity will ensure the arrival of ExoMars 2016 at Mars, the Schiaparelli Entry, Descent & landing demonstrator Module separated from the TGO orbiter and is now en route on a ballistic trajectory to reach the Red Planet, enter its atmosphere and land softly in an area close to the equator known as Meridiani Planum."

Antares OA-5 Launch Delayed to October 17, 2016

"Today's launch of Orbital ATK's Antares rocket is postponed 24 hours due to a ground support equipment (GSE) cable that did not perform as expected during the pre-launch check out. We have spares on hand and rework procedures are in process."

Keith's note: I will be on BBC World News live tonight at 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm 11:15 pm EDT to discuss these three mission events.

Interplanetary Frontiers, OSTP: Harnessing the Possibilities of Science, Technology, and Innovation

"At the beginning of his Administration, President Obama set out anew vision for space exploration, harking back to the spirit of possibility and exploration that defined the space race of the 1960s, while building upon and advancing 21st century technologies and capabilities. In 2010, the Administration restructured the U.S. civil space program to look forward to bold new goals, not backwards to old ones; to collaborate with, rather than compete with, American entrepreneurs; and to broaden participation and take advantage of new technologies being created at NASA and in America's laboratories."

More Problems For Arecibo

Arecibo Observatory hit with discrimination lawsuit, Nature

"Two former researchers at the troubled Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico have filed a lawsuit claiming that illegal discrimination and retaliation led to their dismissal. James Richardson and Elizabeth Sternke are suing the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), which oversees radio astronomy and planetary science at Arecibo, and the observatory's deputy director, Joan Schmelz -- a prominent advocate for women in astronomy. ... The EEOC ultimately found evidence of discrimination and that Sternke and Richardson were terminated in retaliation for their complaints, according to documents provided by the researchers' lawyer. In their lawsuit, filed on 4 October in the US District Court in Puerto Rico, Richardson and Sternke are seeking more than US$20 million in back pay and damages."

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on U.S. space policy, Space News

"TRUMP: After taking office, we will have a comprehensive review of our plans for space, and will work with Congress to set both priorities and mission."

"CLINTON Today, thanks to decades of successful American robotic explorers, we know more about the universe than ever before. We have learned that asteroids have shaped life on our home planet and will likely affect our future. Their scientific value and their potential as a resource make them valuable targets for further exploration. Many of the technologies we need to send astronauts to an asteroid can also serve as foundational technologies that will be necessary to make human exploration of Mars possible. While President Kennedy set NASA on a course to win the race against Russia to get to the moon, today, human spaceflight is a global endeavor, with astronauts and cosmonauts living and working together on the International Space Station -- a remarkable facility developed with 15 international partners. America should continue to push the boundaries of space and lead a global effort of exploration. I have always been an enthusiastic supporter of human space flight. My administration will continue to invest in this worthwhile endeavor. Mars is a consensus horizon goal, though to send humans safely, we still need to advance the technologies required to mitigate the effects of long-duration, deep-space flight."

Keith's note: In other words Trump has no idea. Clinton, on the other hand ...

National Astronomical Observatories of China, Breakthrough Initiatives Launch Global Collaboration in Search for Intelligent life in the Universe

"The National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) is joining forces with the Breakthrough Initiatives to launch a coordinated search for evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth Using some of the world's most powerful telescopes. NAOC's brand-new FAST telescope - the world's largest filled-aperture radio receiver - will join the Breakthrough Listen program at Green Bank Telescope in the US and the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and together the organization's will exchange observing plans, search methods and data - including the rapid sharing of promising new signals for additional observation and analysis. The two parties are also planning a series of meetings and conferences to refine search strategies, data analyses and results. At a signing ceremony at NAOC headquarters in Beijing, the collaboration was announced via a joint statement by Prof. Jun Yan, Director General of NAOC, and Pete Worden, Chairman of Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of Breakthrough Initiatives. They looked forward to "a long and productive scientific collaboration," and invited scientists around the world to join in "one of humanity's greatest quests."

White House says U.S. will retaliate against Russia for hacking, Politico

"White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest promised on Tuesday that the U.S. would deliver a "proportional" response to Russia's alleged hacking of American computer systems. In addition to pledging that the U.S. "will ensure that our response is proportional," Earnest told reporters flying on Air Force One that "it is unlikely that our response would be announced in advance."

China, Russia consider joint defense response to U.S. missile shield

"Amid escalating U.S.-Russia tensions, the Russian military said Tuesday it will cooperate with China on efforts to fend off a threat posed by the U.S. missile defense program. Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir of the Russian military's General Staff accused the Pentagon of developing the shield as part of planning for a possible first nuclear strike. "The missile defense system considerably shifts the balance of offensive weapons, allowing the planning of a more efficient pre-emptive strike," he said at a security conference in China."

Keith's note: Interestingly, every time the bad relationship between the U.S. and Russia gets worse there is no mention of altering U.S./Russian cooperation in space. Indeed, when U.S./China tensions are mentioned, you hear increased talk of cooperation between the U.S. and China in space. Oh wait: the Chinese are going to visit their new space station in a few weeks. Why is space seen as a venture that seemingly transcends terrestrial politics - indeed, one where peaceful collaboration regularly prevails over less desirable behavior? There is a precedent: Antarctica.

Larger image

Boeing delays Starliner again, casting doubt on commercial flights in 2018, Ars Technica

"After an initial delay from late 2017 into early 2018, Boeing has acknowledged a second slippage of its schedule for the first commercial crew flights of its Starliner spacecraft. According to a report in Aviation Week, the company now says it will not be ready to begin operational flights until December 2018, a full year after NASA had originally hoped its commercial crew providers would be ready. The admission by Boeing confirms a report by NASA's Inspector General, which found significant delays with both the Boeing and SpaceX efforts to develop private spacecraft to ferry US astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The delay also explains why, as Ars has previously reported, senior managers with the International Space Station program are likely to press ahead with the politically painful decision to purchase Soyuz seats for the calendar year 2019."

- Industry Groups Avoid Mention of OIG Reports on Cost/Schedule, earlier post
- NASA OIG Report Predicts Commercial Crew Delay To Late 2018, earlier post

WikiLeaks Reveals UFO ​Messages in Clinton Campaign Emails, Wall Street Journal (subscription)

"The former lead singer of the band Blink 182 was in recent contact with Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta about UFOs, newly disclosed emails show. Tom DeLonge, who was the guitarist for the power punk trio best known for songs like "Dammit" and "What's My Age Again," emailed Mr. Podesta at least twice. He wrote in cryptic terms about their well-documented mutual interest in more government disclosure about the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects of potential extraterrestrial origin. The emails, released by the website Wikileaks this month, also reveal that Mr. Podesta participated in a documentary that Mr. DeLonge is producing. Mr. Podesta, who has worked in the highest levels of government in the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, has expressed interested in the topic. And he has long championed further government disclosure around classified files concerning UFOs."

- Is This A Preview of Hillary Clinton's Space Policy?, earlier post
- Hillary Clinton Wants Area 51 Transparency (Slow News Day), earlier post
- Aliens and Space Policy, earlier post

Keith's note: WikiLeaks, Blink 182, John Podesta, and UFOs? This sounds like the premise of a South Park episode.

Barack Obama: America will take the giant leap to Mars, Barack Obama

"This week, we'll convene some of America's leading scientists, engineers, innovators and students in Pittsburgh to dream up ways to build on our progress and find the next frontiers. Just five years ago, US companies were shut out of the global commercial launch market. Today, thanks to groundwork laid by the men and women of NASA, they own more than a third of it. More than 1,000 companies across nearly all 50 states are working on private space initiatives. We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time. Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we're already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station."

Obama, Gov. Wolf to highlight Pittsburgh science and technology conference, Times Online

"President Barack Obama will be in Pittsburgh on Thursday for a daylong conference that will highlight scientific and technological advances locally and nationally. The Frontiers Conference will take place simultaneously at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. The conference will feature some of the biggest names in business, research and governmental agencies. ... The event is not open to the public but can live-streamed at www.frontiersconference.org".

Keith's note: Another meeting that neither regular citizens or news media can attend. The speakers have the benefit of getting to talk to each other while everyone else looks over their shoulders. More closed openness.

Building an Inclusive AAS - The Critical Role of Diversity and Inclusion Training for AAS Council and Astronomy Leadership

"Diversity, equity and inclusion are the science leadership issues of our time. As our nation and the field of astronomy grow more diverse, we find ourselves in a position of enormous potential and opportunity: a multitude of studies show how groups of diverse individuals with differing viewpoints outperform homogenous groups to find solutions that are more innovative, creative, and responsive to complex problems, and promote higher-order thinking amongst the group. Research specifically into publications also shows that diverse author groups publish in higher quality journals and receive higher citation rates."

Accelerating Innovation with Leadership, Bill Gates

"One of the most indelible examples of a world leader unleashing innovation from both public and private sectors came in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy spoke to the U.S. Congress and challenged the country to put a man on the moon within the decade. That speech came at a time of cultural and political turmoil, when national and economic security dominated the headlines. President Kennedy believed looking to the skies would inspire the country to dream big and accomplish huge things. That speech didn't just launch humankind on a successful journey to the moon. It also inspired America to build a satellite network that changed the way we communicate across the globe and produced new forms of weather mapping which made farmers far more productive. In the face of fear, President Kennedy successfully summoned our country to harness American ingenuity and advance human progress. It's important to remember what made the moonshot the moonshot - that is, what transforms political rhetoric into game-changing breakthroughs. A moonshot challenge requires a clear, measurable objective that captures the imagination of the nation and fundamentally changes how we view what's possible. And it requires marshaling the resources and intellect of both the public and private sectors. When we do that, we chart a course for a future that is safer, healthier, and stronger."

Taking In The View From Wharton Ridge, SpaceRef

"Today I learned that a feature on the surface of Mars has been named after a friend of mine. This was not unexpected since I knew that his name was in the queue waiting for just the right feature to be discovered by the Opportunity rover. "Wharton Ridge" is named after Robert A. Wharton (Bob). Bob was born a few years before me in 1951 and died unexpectedly in 2012. I worked with Bob at the old Life Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters in the late 1980s."

Copernicus Sentinel-3A Temperature Imagery of Hurricane Matthew

NASA KSC Update: Hurricane Matthew Has Passed Offshore From Cape Canaveral

"9:45 a.m. EDT - Hurricane Matthew has now passed offshore from Cape Canaveral and is north of Kennedy Space Center. The wind is starting to decline but remains near tropical storm strength. However, until the wind is consistently below 50 knots a crew cannot be sent outside to begin a more thorough look at KSC. That is expected sometime this afternoon. At this time there is observed to be limited roof damage to KSC facilities, water and electrical utilities services have been disrupted and there is scattered debris. Storm surge has been observed to be relatively minimal, limited to localized portions of the space center. The Damage Assessment and Recovery Team will be brought in for its formal assessment Saturday morning."

Roscosmos Sets October 19th as Launch Date for Next Space Station Crew, Roscosmos

"Based on quality assurance tests of MTV Soyuz MS-02, the specialists of Rocket and Space Corporation Energiya determined that the control equipment was activated by the landing system cable, which was jammed during the test operations. After the cable malfunction was fixed, engineers ran a full trial of the space ship.

Based on trial results, the Commission resolved to launch MTV Soyuz MS-02 (decree #732) on October 19, 2016, at 11:05 AM MT."

NASA rethinks approach to Mars exploration, Nature

"This broadening context prompted Watzin to propose the new way of operating Mars missions. "I'm not trying to fix something that's broken," he said. "I'm trying to open the door to a larger level of collaboration and participation than we have today, looking to the fact that we're going to have a larger pool of stakeholders involved in our missions." Under the new, facility-based approach, scientists would propose investigations using one or more instruments on a future spacecraft. NASA would award observing time to specific proposals, much as telescope allocation committees parcel out time on their mountaintops. This would be different than the current approach where instruments are proposed, built and operated by individual teams of scientists."

Boeing says it will beat SpaceX to Mars, Business Insider

"Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing (one of SpaceX's biggest competitors) casually loosed the remark during a session of The Atlantic's "What's Next?" conference. "I'm convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket," Muilenburg said during the recorded event."

Here's How Boeing Plans to Send Astronauts to Mars, Inverse

"Boeing doesn't offer a timeline for its missions. "Mars is at least 100 times further away than the moon," Duggan says. "The opportunity to travel from Earth to Mars comes around about every two years. The Earth has to be catching up with Mars in its orbit to give you that shortest distance, and that's the ideal launch window." That window, and the time it takes to develop the tech needed to send astronauts between the two planets, will determine when Boeing reaches the red planet."

Boeing Mars website

Keith's note: First Boeing says they don't have a timeline and then they say that a "Boeing rocket" will beat SpaceX Mars. And of course Boeing is not going to pay for any of this - that's NASA job.

Public Relations Spending: Reported Data on Related Federal Activities, GAO

"With the increased popularity and accessibility of expanded media platforms, the federal government's ability to publicize information has changed rapidly, but the total scope of federal public relations activities is largely unknown. A number of factors makes it difficult to quantify the resources the federal government devotes to public relations. These factors include the expanded use of web-based platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, and the wide variety of activities that could be considered public relations, from publicizing health and safety bulletins to providing information on federal entitlements and benefits."

Keith's note: If you look at Table 3 (page 16), in FY 2014 NASA had 110 public relations employees whose aggregate salaries were $11,446,000 whereas DoD had 2,213 PR employees and an aggregate salaries of $176,644,000. If you look at Table 2 (page 11) between FY 2006 and FY 2015 NASA spent (on average) $3,415,000 on Advertising and public relations while DoD spent an average of $626,221,000. Of course, per Congressional legislation, NASA does not "advertise", right?

Blue Origin Completes New Shepard Abort Test (with video and screen shots)

"Blue Origin just completed an apparently flawless in-flight aboard of its New Shepard launch vehicle. The capsule separated and made a perfect landing. The booster continued, undaunted, to space and then made a textbook landing."

Hurricane Worries at KSC

Hurricane Matthew poses a significant threat to Kennedy Space Center, Ars Technica

"Ars reached out to Kennedy Space Center's Amber Philman on Tuesday afternoon, and she said the center is currently at HURCON III status, which means officials there expect sustained 50 knot winds within 72 hours. Hurricane preparations and facility securing will begin Wednesday morning, she said. Other tenants are also closely watching the storm."

Orbital View As Hurricane Matthew Threatens U.S. East Coast, EUMETSAT

Here's why a Clinton administration might pivot NASA back to the Moon, Ars Technica

"Obama killed Constellation after convening a committee in 2009 that was led by Norm Augustine, which reviewed Constellation and other options for US human spaceflight programs. One of that committee's members, former astronaut Leroy Chiao, said Monday night, "The Constellation program, frankly, had a lot of funding problems and some pretty serious technical problems. You know it probably was the right thing to do to cancel it. But it didn't mean we should not go to the Moon." Moreover, Chiao suggested the decision to remove the Moon as a possible destination was driven by politics, rather than what might be best for the US space enterprise. "Frankly, it came down to us on the committee to not talk too much about the Moon, because there was no way this administration was going to go there, because it was W's program," he said. "Ok, that's a pretty stupid reason not to go to the Moon. I'm hopeful with this election cycle that maybe the moon will be a possibility again."

Senate Committee Advances Bill to Ensure Stability at NASA During Change of Administration, AIP

"The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has advanced a NASA authorization bill that focuses on space exploration and seeks to ensure stability at the space agency through the upcoming presidential transition. Unlike the House-passed NASA authorization bill, the Senate bill has only a few provisions specific to NASA's science divisions. Whereas the House backed a sweeping authorization bill that addresses all of NASA's major programs, including providing extensive guidance to NASA's Science Mission Directorate, the Senate bill focuses on big picture strategy and ensuring stability at the agency through the upcoming presidential transition. The Senate legislation emphasizes NASA's role in space exploration, and it would formalize in statute the horizon goal of sending humans to Mars as well as support steps for getting there."

Flores Backs Robust, Domestic Commercial Space Launch

"U.S. Representative Bill Flores (R-Texas) led a bipartisan letter, signed by 23 additional members of Congress, to the administrators at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Secretary of the United States Air Force supporting a robust, domestic commercial space launch industry. The bipartisan group of lawmakers expressed their support of the ongoing investigation into the recent mishap involving a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The letter states: "Accidents are unfortunate events, and accident investigations should not be politicized. We encourage you to reject calls for your organizations to abandon established, well considered, and long standing procedures."

- Possibility of Sabotage Considered During SpaceX Investigation, earlier post
- ULA Congressional Delegation Criticizes SpaceX For A Totally Legal Mishap Investigation, earlier post

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/compare.ellliot.jpg

Keith's 4 October update: Elliot Pulham posted a vulgar, sexist rant about Hillary Clinton [Note: NSFW] on Facebook a few months ago. Apparently Elliot read NASAWatch since he just posted this to all of his friends. He clearly does not care what people think. I am trying to imagine how well the Space Foundation is going to get along here in DC if their CEO thinks that saying things like this is acceptable.

David Webb

Keith's note: I learned last night that David Webb has died. I first met David 30 years ago when I was just entering the space business. He was always willing to offer advice, a spare bedroom when I visited DC, and offer introductions to people in the business. I was not alone in receiving his mentorship. Indeed, over the years, I suspect that everyone in the space community benefited from his interests and activities. A look at his Wikipedia entry may seem voluminous but it is woefully incomplete. He was a gentle soul. Ad Astra.

David C. Webb, Wikipedia

Implication of sabotage adds intrigue to SpaceX investigation, Washington Post

"The long-running feud between Elon Musk's space company and its fierce competitor United Launch Alliance took a bizarre twist this month when a SpaceX employee visited its facilities at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and asked for access to the roof of one of ULA's buildings. ... The building, which had been used to refurbish rocket motors known as the SMARF, is just more than a mile away from the launchpad and has a clear line of sight to it. A representative from ULA ultimately denied the SpaceX employee access to the roof and instead called Air Force investigators, who inspected the roof and didn't find anything connecting it to the rocket explosion, the officials said."


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