Commercialization: July 2009 Archives

Buzzluck.com, the World's First Online Supercasino, Adds a Live DJ and a Trip to Mars

"Having conquered Europe with their innovative new online supercasino, the boys at Buzzluck.com set their eyes on a new heavenly body to make their mark on: Mars. Kindly, the boffins at NASA offered to take Buzzluck's registered trademark and "Never Bored" tagline on the Mars Science Laboratory rover heading to Mars in 2011. Back on Earth, Buzzluck.com is launching their "Mission to Entertain" with the debut of a live DJ spinning in the Live Lounge starting Friday. ... So join us: add your name to the NASA Mars Science Laboratory rover by visiting Buzzluck.com/Mars or http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/participate/index.html. And join "Mission to Entertain," the first online casino Live DJ, when it launches on Buzzluck.com this Friday night, 31 July, at 9pm till midnight BST. "

Keith's note: According to NASA PAO this is simply untrue. Oh well - so much for years of "NASA Gambles on Mars" comments ;-)

NASA JSC Solicitation: Open Innovation Support Services

"NASA/JSC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for an Open Innovation Service Provider (OISP) with an extensive external network that can be used to introduce collaboration opportunities to the public. Specifically, NASA is looking for an entity that supports a network of experts that can facilitate solutions to a vast array of issues and challenges facing the future of human health and performance in spaceflight. Challenges are of varied type and difficulty and could include technological, biological, or human modeling needs. The OISP will provide NASA with the methodology and infrastructure to facilitate Open Innovation within the NASA JSC Space Life Sciences Directorate organization and for solutions to outsourced challenges or problems."

Keith's note: I am a little confused as to what the folks behind this solicitation at JSC are asking for. As best as I can determine, they want people to submit a bunch of ideas - about everything - and that these people submitting the ideas need to have a well-stocked Rolodex.

Back to the moon: What's the point?, LA Times

[Michael Potter] "The lesson of the last 40 years is that the government has proved it can run neither efficient nor sustainable space activities"

Keith's note: I'm sorry but this is simply not true. While NASA has certainly had its flops, white elephants, and failures - some of them colossal, it has also had some stunning, long-lived achievements. Apollo, while truncated at the end, did the improbable with a vast sustained government led team that operated for over a decade. NASA's two MER rovers are still functioning years after they were supposed to die, and there are Voyagers and Pioneers leaving our solar system for interstellar space that still send back data three decades (or more) after launch. The ISS, while delayed, has managed to stay alive as a program (a complex international one at that) for more than two decades and is now operational with decades more life ahead of it. ISS represents the largest, most complex structure ever built by humans in space. Oh yes, then there's Hubble.

Alas, Mr. Potter wants to wave his arms in absolutist fashion and simply ignore all that NASA has done so as to make a point - one that has yet to be substantiated in reality: he suggests that the private sector can do better. OK. That may well be possible to do. By all means go to the Moon or wherever you wish to go - but you need to do it with non-government money. Go for it. No one is stopping you - or anyone else - from doing so.

Aggressive, Coordinated Effort Led to F-22's Demise, Washington Post

"The most remarkable thing happened in Washington this past Tuesday. Congress scrapped the F-22 stealth fighter jet, killing off a 30-year-old Pentagon hardware program that employs 25,000 people in 46 states. ... [Gates] bluntly warned Lockheed Martin that he would slice funding for the more modern F-35 jet if the contracting giant lobbied to build more F-22s."

Keith's note: MSL, Ares, JWST, NPOESS ...

FINA bans record-setting bodysuits, SF Chronicle

"On Thursday, FINA classified swimsuits as a device that can aid performance; on Friday, the group set suit guidelines on coverage and material. The new rule also says suits shall only be made from "textiles," but that term has yet to be defined. "The most important thing is that it's textile only," Mark Schubert, head coach and general manager of the U.S. national team, told The Associated Press. "I think we sent a strong message as to our feeling of what the suit should be."

This could be the asterisk world championships, AP

"Speedo developed the LZR Racer with help from NASA and blew everyone else away. But shortly after the Olympics, other companies -- led by the obscure Italian firm Jaked -- came up with a polyurethane model that made the LZR look like a slowpoke."

Olympic Swimmers Shattering Records in NASA-Tested Suit, NASA

"Swimmers from around the world are setting world and Olympic records in Beijing this month and most are doing it wearing a swimsuit made of fabric tested at NASA. Among the Olympic gold medalists wearing Speedo's LZR Racer are Americans Michael Phelps -- who has now won more Olympic gold medals than any athlete in the modern era -- and Natalie Coughlin."

White House mulls making NASA a center for federal cloud computing, Nextgov

"One of those sites could be NASA. Officials at the space agency and the Office of Management and Budget have "broached the idea of NASA becoming an IT service provider," said Mike Hecker, NASA's associate chief information officer for architecture and infrastructure. But, "NASA as an IT service provider takes us into a new realm. We're still debating if that's a good idea or not." ... Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, Obama's top technology executive, is examining many alternatives for innovation in the cloud, including using Nebula as a centralized platform to service multiple agencies, OMB officials said. Chris Kemp, CIO at NASA's Ames Research Center, who is spearheading the program, is working with the federal government's cloud working group, officials added. NASA has not committed to developing Nebula into a government wide cloud platform, Hecker emphasized. The agency's mission is to explore space and science for the benefit of the public, with IT serving as a tool to fulfill that mission, officials stressed."

Keith's note: It is all well and good that NASA is "debating if that's a good idea or not" and questions whether IT is just a "tool" but it is the White House (OMB, OSTP, etc.) who will ultimately call the shots on this. If White House decides that NASA offers some unique capabilities that other agencies can use, is NASA going to say "no"? If it tried to say "no" that would be rather odd given all of the time that NASA spends promoting spinoffs and their value to the economy. Most of the spinoffs NASA likes to wave around are things that are not even remotely connected to "exploring space and science" (smoke alarms, truck design, pacemakers, olympic swimming suits, etc.).

If NASA is going to promote itself as being relevant to the taxpaying public then it needs to be willing to entertain any and all ways that it is relevant, not try to hand pick the ones it does and does not want.

XCOR Aerospace Tests Lynx Aerodynamic Design in USAF Wind Tunnel

"XCOR Aerospace, Inc., announced today that it has finished a series of wind tunnel tests of the aerodynamic design of its Lynx suborbital launch vehicle. The tests took place at the U.S. Air Force test facility located at Wright-Patterson Air Base near Dayton, OH, using an all-metal 1/16th scale model of the Lynx. "Ever since the Wright Brothers pioneered wind tunnel testing here in Dayton, aerospace engineers have used it as a tool to improve aerodynamic design," said XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. "

Flometrics Flys Biofuel Rocket (Video)

"Flometrics, Inc. has successfully flown a liquid fueled rocket with a renewable version of JP-8. and liquid oxygen. The fuel was developed by the EERC under a DARPA contact. The fuel was supplied by Bob Allen of the Fuels and Energy branch of the Air Force Research Lab at Wright Patterson Air Force base. The 180 lb rocket was a 20 ft tall, 1 ft diameter and it was powered by a RocketDyne LR-101 rocket engine that was originally used as a steering engine on the early Atlas and Delta rockets. The biofuel ran cleaner than the standard rocket fuel that has been used before. Since the biofuel was originally designed for jets, it may be possible to tune it for better performance in rocket engines."

Space Florida Hosts the Commercial Spaceflight Federation's Spaceport Executive Summit Leaders from Nine Spaceports Discuss Common Issues and Resolve Further Cooperation

"Space Florida hosted a group of spaceport leaders from around the globe to attend the Commercial Spaceflight Federation's Spaceport Executive Summit, the first such event of its kind. The Spaceports Executive Summit, held in conjunction with the 2009 International Space Development Conference, provided a venue for global spaceport leaders to come together in one setting to discuss best practices and challenges they face in further developing their spaceports. As part of the summit, Space Florida, a member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, sponsored a tour of major launch sites at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS)."

NASA doesn't have monopoly on ingenuity, spunk in 21st century space race, Opinion, Waco Tribune

"Capitol Hill would do well to listen to retired aerospace engineer Homer Hickam, 66, author of the bestselling memoir Rocket Boys, who wants to see our nation return to the moon. And he's also of Alabama. "I'm not certain how NASA is going to evolve, but I can tell you how I wish it would evolve," the celebrated engineer said after visiting the lean SpaceX rocket-testing site near McGregor. "I would prefer to see NASA get out of the space operations business -- that is, operating spacecraft to go from Point A to Point B, as it did with Apollo and now the shuttle. "I want commercial companies like SpaceX to take care of that, either independently or under contract with the federal government," Hickam told me. "I want NASA to instead develop new propulsion capabilities such as nuclear rockets to truly open up space to all." Hickam noted the drive and dedication of the mostly young engineers he and I met while touring the small SpaceX site last spring, during his One Book One Waco visit to town. He was given several choices of places to tour during his visit to Waco. He immediately selected SpaceX. I wasn't surprised. And from what I could tell, he quickly bonded with the "rocket boys" among the 80 or so SpaceX personnel there. "I think the best engineers are naturally going to be attracted to eager, young, startup companies like SpaceX, L-3 Communications and others," he told me. "It's where the action is and where an engineer can have some fun. It's what I'd do if I was just starting out."

NASA LaRC Solicitation: The Economic Impact of NASA LaRC and Wallops Flight Facility During FY 2009

"NASA/LaRC has a requirement for development of an economical impact section for the 2009 Annual Report. The statement of work and 2008 Annual Report are linked above or may be accessed at Economic Impact FY 2008 Report"

Keith's note: Hmm ... isn't Wallops (located in Virginia) managed by GSFC? This report on "The Economic Impact of NASA LaRC and Wallops Flight Facility" must be aimed at lobbying Virginia lawmakers and local business interests.

Commercial Space Flight: NASA May Get Onboard, Business Week

"One option under serious consideration is whether NASA should tap the private sector more actively. Since its founding, the agency has done the heavy lifting in space exploration largely by itselfconceiving of missions, designing rockets, and executing flights. Companies such as Boeing (BA), Alliant Techsystems (ATK), and Lockheed Martin simply built spacecraft to NASA's specs. Some experts argue that NASA should lean on private companies more heavily, perhaps to design rockets or execute such mundane missions as shuttling supplies up to the International Space Station. "The commercial sector could have a much bigger role," says Keith Cowing, editor of a Web site called NASA Watch, which monitors agency projects. "But NASA has to be willing to give up its monopoly on manned space flight. And that's the big question."

Keith's note: There is a Google press event at The Newseum in Washington, DC today. I have not seen a media advisory so I do not know what it is about other than the rumors of "Google Moon 3D."

NASA ARC Solicitation: Rapid Response Space Works - Formerly Known as Chile Works

"NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) is partnering with the Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS) located at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico to establish the Rapid Response Space Works (formerly known as "Chile Works"). NASA ARC will serve as lead executing agent with overall contracting, programmatic and systems engineering responsibilities. ... The Rapid Response Space Works (RRSW) and Space Vehicle procurement has two primary objectives. The first objective is to standup initial operations of the RRSW. This objective creates the ability for the ORS Office to meet its "Deploy" mission capability of rapidly deploying capabilities to the warfighter within days to weeks. The second objective is to procure, outside of the RRSW, modular multi-mission space vehicles and/or buses and payloads for the RRSW."

Real Spinoffs

40 years after moon landing, public unaware of NASA's tech contributions, nextgov.com

"Keith Cowing, a former NASA scientist who now compiles the space policy blog NASA Watch, noted that the National Institutes of Health "has a lot of breast cancer imaging that comes from systems that were developed at NASA."

Technology Transfer Hubble Fights Breast Cancer, Volume 4, Number 1, March/April 1996

"A unique marriage between Hubble Space Telescope astronomers and cancer researchers has produced an image-processing technique that shows promise in detecting early breast cancer. Employing techniques used to correct the blurry images sent by Hubble prior to the 1993 servicing mission, this method is designed to detect microcalcifications, an early sign of breast cancer. A group of astronomical and medical researchers from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University, and the Lombardi Cancer Research Center at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is testing this technique to detect microcalcifications in digitized mammograms."

Keith's 13 Jul note: SpaceX achieved its second successful Falcon 1 launch in a row tonight when it placed the Razasat spacecraft into orbit. More to follow.

Launch video below

Wallops Vs The Cape

Wallops Island facility to be 'Cape Canaveral of North', Baltimore Sun

"A flourishing space complex on the Maryland-Virginia coast remains a shaky prospect in a time of economic recession, tight budgets and uncertainty about the next stage of America's human space flight program. But events over the past year, which have drawn little attention outside the space industry and the local community, have nudged the future closer. Already, the Wallops facility, about 10 miles south of the Maryland-Virginia line and less than a three-hour drive from Baltimore, is stealing business and jobs from Cape Canaveral. Supply missions to the space station are in the works. A first-ever moon shot, yet to be publicly announced, is planned for less than three years from now. ... Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat whose patronage has been crucial to the spaceport's development, said the project will generate hundreds of jobs in an area that has suffered from the collapse of housing markets in Ocean City and other nearby towns."

Keith's note: I can't imagine that Bill Nelson is going to like this developing competition for KSC's launch business - government or commercial. I wonder who'd win in an all out food fight over this topic: Barbara Mikulski or Bill Nelson? My money is on Babs.

Keith's note: Norman Augustine, current chair of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, and former president and chief operating officer of Lockheed Martin, wrote a book a few years ago titled "Augustine's Laws" in which he attempts to codify the rules that govern or guide doing business - especially with the Federal government. How many of these laws apply to NASA's current predicament with Ares 1 - if so, how?

U.S. Joins Whistleblower Suit Alleging SAIC Rigged Contract, Washington Post

"The charges of bid-rigging relate to a 2004 contract for a computing center at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, which has provided state-of-the-art supercomputing resources to the military for the past 15 years. The whistleblower suit alleges that the request for proposals was crafted to make it virtually impossible for any company besides SAIC to win."

Ariane 5 soars to another heavy-lift success in lofting the TerreStar-1 mobile communications satellite

"The Ariane 5's 31st consecutive mission success was another record-setting flight for this workhorse Arianespace launcher - lofting the world's largest commercial satellite, TerreStar-1, from the Spaceport in French Guiana today."

Va. Firm to Offer Pocket-Size Satellite Phone, Washington Post

"To look at it, you wouldn't know it's a satellite phone -- and that's the idea. Reston-based satellite firm TerreStar Networks is gearing up to launch a smartphone and phone service this year that will combine terrestrial wireless service with its upcoming satellite service."


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