Astronauts: October 2011 Archives

iPads in Space?

Keith's Note: If you watch the live video from the Aquarius undersea habitat you can see that the NEEMO-15 crew are currently using tablet computers. According to an interview I did a few minutes ago, NEEMO-15 crew member Astronaut Shannon Walker says that they use these tablet computers to track their mission tasks. Walker also said that there will be several tablet computers aboard the next Progress cargo flight to the International Space Station. When asked, she was not able to say what brands of tablets would be going up.

Keith's update: According to NASA Public Affairs, the Russians plan to fly two iPads on the December Progress mission as a replacement for the iPod they currently have on the ISS The only use for these two iPads will be for entertainment. The Russians have no plans to use them operationally. NASA is still reviewing other tablet systems and plans to fly at least one more next year although the brand that they will fly is still TBD.

The Astronaut's Secret, Kickstarter

"What is "The Astronaut's Secret"? "The Astronaut's Secret" will be a 30 minute documentary about the life of Astronaut Rich Clifford. It will uncover how he and NASA kept his Parkinson's Disease a secret for 17 years, explore the impact of the end of the Shuttle Program on Rich's life, and follow him as he speaks nationwide about the importance of Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease."

The Astronaut's Secret, official website

Keith's note: NASA Watch readers need to fund this project. I just donated $100. Rich has a compelling story to tell.

Keith's 14 Oct note: It would seem that NASA Astronaut Andy Thomas is rather comfortable with his China-bashing Powerpoint slide and that NASA JSC openly condones his use of it in official presentations he makes representing the agency. Check out this link - it points to the same presentation (Thomas_10-12-11.pptx) he gave a month ago - this time revised for use on 12 October 2011 on a NASA Future In Space Operations (FISO) telecon with that very same slide with Taikonauts trampling a U.S. flag on the Moon. Additional links (and audio) here.

Keith's 16 Oct note: He uses the same flag stomping picture with a slightly different caption i.e. "We must make sure this is not the metaphor of our future" vs "We must make this event inconsequential". In the audio file Thomas refers to this as the same picture he used in the earlier presentation - one that got "leaked to NASA Watch".

Bolden's rational comments are in stark contrast to the picture that astronaut Andy Thomas included in an official NASA presentation - one that showed Chinese astronauts trampling on a U.S. flag on the lunar surface. Bolden speaks of Chinese successes in space as motivations for us whereas Thomas uses overt, provocative images wherein China desecrates our flag as his motivation.

Top NASA official 'rooting for' China's success in space exploration, Daily Caller (with audio)

"We haven't talked about the Chinese," Bolden said. "We can't work with the Chinese right now. But I'm rooting for them. They're probably going to put a spacecraft called Shenzhou into orbit here, hopefully by the end of the year. It's going to be the first capsule of their space station. And the reason they are doing that is that we are not allowing them to be partners right now. So they're going alone. They need to be successful to drive us."

NASA Exploration Ideas - With Added China Bashing (Update), earlier post

Keith's 16 Sep note: This presentation "Towards Deep Space Exploration: Small Steps versus One Giant Leap" (download) was presented by astronaut Andrew Thomas on 6 September 2011. There is one problem I have with this document - and it has to do with one specific graphic (page 28 - larger view). Had the author noted that China's plans for the Moon should not spur us to do things out of fear or paranoia or something like that, I'd agree. But using an image that shows a Taikonaut on the lunar surface, planting the flag of the PRC while trampling an American flag is troubling. Are there really people inside NASA who think like this - enough that they go out of their way to create and use a provocative image like this? Alas, China-hater Rep. Frank Wolf will just love this chart.

Keith's note: Why is a former NASA astronaut (i.e. employee) allowed to pose on his campaign website wearing the NASA logo? The last time I checked NASA was rather strict about the use of its logo - especially in situations where affiliations or endorsements might be implied by its use.And why is Hernandez using the same Twitter account - @Astro_Jose - with which he attracted over 200,000 followers when he was a NASA employee? (NASA's official @Astronauts account still follows @Astro_Jose). Did these followers agree to follow him because he was an astronaut or because he was going to run for Congress? the caveat "Astronaut(Ret) The opinions on this page do not reflect those of NASA" was only added after he had this huge NASA-generated following. Seems a little deceptive to me. Also ... why does his Twitter page say he lives in "Houston, TX" when he is running for a congressional seat in California?

And just in case some of you folks get on the bus to crazy town and try and read something into my comments, if I could, I'd vote for him. I just do not think NASA makes its policies clear on social media and use of NASA logos nor do I think that they apply these policies equally with regard to all of their employees - past and present.

Keith's update: I just got an email from Amber Moon, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's western regional press secretary. She noted "In 2009, Hernandez flew on the space shuttle Discovery's mission to the International Space Station and became the first person to tweet in Spanish from outer space." Once again it is clear that a lot of his followers on Twitter were attracted as a result of a NASA-funded activity. Amber Moon also asked NASAWatch to share this Univision story "Ex-astronaut Hernandez seeks congressional seat".

Keith's 4 Oct note: Astronaut Ron Garan recently returned to Earth. While he was on the ISS he was a rather active, creative, and effective communicator. However, the vast majority of what he sent back to Earth did not appear on a NASA.gov website. Instead, it appeared on his own effort - the officially semi-official "Fragile Oasis". Beth Beck from HEOMD runs this site. The site is operated independent of NASA PAO and of any oversight by NASA's office of communications. Contrary to established agency policy Beck decided to run it outside of the NASA portal and makes little if any effort to coordinate with the way that the rest of the agency coordinates with NASA PAO. Indeed, if you even try to find who owns the domain fragileoasis.org you are unable to do so since that information is hidden.

Now this effort has created a project wherein a Fragile Oasis Prize which is apparently going to be given out to people. Prize medals were even flown in space. According to the website: "By becoming a Fragile Oasis Crewmember, you will be able to nominate and vote on projects that you believe are making the world a better place. You can encourage those that you feel are making a difference and receive encouragement from others. You can discover people and organizations with similar goals and interests and get involved with beneficial projects."

Ron Garan did a wonderful job while he was in space as he reached out to people back on Earth - one that is worthy of emulation by future crews. It is unfortunate that Beth Beck chose to implement this project in a way that diminished its reach via the vastly more popular NASA.gov web audience.

Questions for Beth Beck:

- How much has the FragileOasis.org effort cost NASA HEOMD to date? What is the budget for this entire project?
- How long will this project continue?
- Who owns the content on this website? Who actually owns the domain FragileOasis.org?
- Which contractors have been paid to run FragileOasis.org and how much has each of them been paid?
- How were the contractors that operate FragileOasis.org selected and how is their performance on this activity tracked?
- What are the metrics you use to track FragileOasis.org effectiveness?
- What are your web traffic numbers? What is the age and geographical break down of your web traffic?
- How much web traffic did fragileoasis.org send (refer) to NASA.gov? How much web traffic did nasa.gov send to fragileoasis.org?
- What information do you retain for people who visit and join your website and is this being done in accordance with NASA/government requirements?
- How many people have signed up to "join" your website?
- What target audience(s) is this project designed to reach?
- How many times have FragileOasis.org Tweets been retweeted or mentioned?
- How many of the images and videos that Ron Garan sent back to Earth were published on a NASA.gov website?
- Why is this official (is it official?) NASA website not hosted within the NASA.gov portal?
- What are the criteria for evaluating and selecting Fragile Oasis prize winners? Who are the judges?
- How long does this FragileOasis.org competition last? How many prizes will be awarded?
- Why have there been no NASA press releases about this prize?

One last thing. Beth Beck does not like public scrutiny when it comes to questions like the ones I have asked. Not at all. Sources inside the agency report that she has formally complained to the NASA Office of General Counsel about my repeated public comments and formal inquiries about how she does her job and how her projects accomplish their intended purpose. You will recall that her disastrous NASA Buzzroom efforts were featured on NASA Watch.

Any communications or outreach person with skin this thin is most certainly in the wrong job.

Ron Garan's Earth Gazing - Who Is Actually In Charge of NASA Public Affairs?, earlier post

Keith's 5 Oct update: I haven't heard anything from Beth Beck or anyone at HEOMD or FragileOasis.org. I did not really expect to hear anything. They also deleted the link I put to this posting on the FragileOasis Facebook page. So ... I guess I'll just submit a FOIA request - and then wait for months as they drag their feet developing a non-answer to my request.

New Astronauts Sought

NASA To Seek Applicants For Next Astronaut Candidate Class

"In early November, NASA will seek applicants for its next class of astronaut candidates who will support long-duration missions to the International Space Station and future deep space exploration activities. After applicant interviews and evaluations, NASA expects to announce the final selections in 2013, and training to begin that August."

NRC Report on NASA's Astronaut Corps Released, earlier post


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This page is an archive of entries in the Astronauts category from October 2011.

Astronauts: September 2011 is the previous archive.

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