Commercialization: December 2010 Archives

NASA Supplemental Information: Competitive Acquisition of Cooperative Agreement for ISS National Laboratory Management Entity

"The information provided below supplements prior postings at the official procurement web site in specific areas of high interest to potential bidders. Any additional questions related to this supplemental information should be directed to the procurement website for formal written response."

Keith's 27 Dec note: Full document with editor's notes below:

ISRO: GSLV F06 Failure: Preliminary Findings and Further Steps

"The finding of the Preliminary Failure Analysis Team is that the primary cause of the failure is the untimely and inadvertent snapping of a group of 10 connectors located at the bottom portion of the Russian Cryogenic Stage. Some of these connectors carry command signals from the onboard computer residing in the Equipment Bay (located near the top of the vehicle) to the control electronics of the four L40 Strap-ons of the First Stage."

Russian space officials fired over satellite crash, Reuters

"The GLONASS satellites, intended for Russia's rival to the American GPS system, a project dear to the Kremlin, were lost because the Proton M rocket carrying them into orbit was loaded with too much fuel, a investigating commission found."

Russia's first GLONASS phone an 'iPhone 4 competitor,' except not really (video), Engadget

"As the story goes, Russia-based AFK Sistema's subsidiary Sitronics (along with US' Qualcomm and China's ZTE) have developed the first smartphone to use GLONASS -- specifically one with a 90nm GPS-GLONASS chip. It's been called, in so many words, the "Russian answer to the iPhone 4" by the Powers That Be ..."

Keith's note: Watch the video. Looks like Putin et al really want one of these iPhoneskis. Look how he fondles it. Small wonder the guys in the Kremlin were so mad when that Proton sent 3 GLONASS satellites into the ocean ...

What Would Elon Do?

Can NASA change in order to survive?, Orlando Sentinel via LA Times.

"In the world of government spaceflight, that's almost a rounding error. And the ability of SpaceX to do so much with so little money is raising serious questions about NASA. The agency that once stood for American technical wizardry is starting to lose its luster. Inside NASA, some employees have taken to wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the letters "WWED," which stands for "What Would Elon Do?" -- a reference to SpaceX founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk, the Internet tycoon who invested his own fortune in pursuit of his dream of sending humans into space."

Galaxy 15 Under Control Again

Galaxy 15 Status Update: Power, Communications, and Control Restored

"On 23 December, the power from the Galaxy 15 battery completely drained during its loss of earth lock and the Baseband Equipment (BBE) command unit reset, as it was designed to do. Shortly thereafter Galaxy 15 began accepting commands and Intelsat engineers began receiving telemetry in our Satellite Operations center. We have placed Galaxy 15 in safe mode, and at this time, we are pleased to report it no longer poses any threat of satellite interference to either neighboring satellites or customer services."

NASA looking into Loveland,

"Representatives from NASA were in Loveland on Wednesday, touring the old Hewlett-Packard/Agilent campus, where they are considering developing a technology park that could house 60 to 80 businesses and create 10,000 jobs, said Don Marostica, Loveland resident and the state's development director. ... Members of the association and representatives from Marostica's office came up with a plan to create a technology park that would house Colorado businesses and a branch of NASA and approached the space agency with the idea in the fall."

Keith's note: The following request for a correction was sent on behalf of the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology to the newspaper that was the source of this 24 December posting on NASA Watch. I am publishing it at the request of the CAMT.

"Request for correction: Articles published by the Coloradoan / Loveland Connection on Dec. 23 and 27 ("NASA looking into Loveland" and "Region could reach new heights with NASA project") contained several inaccuracies.

NASA Spinoff 2010 Released

NASA Spinoff Reveals Benefits of Space Technology in Our Daily Lives

"Curious how a device designed to produce fuel and oxygen on Mars transformed into a source of clean energy right here on Earth? The 2010 edition of NASA's annual Spinoff publication is now available online, highlighting new innovations and notable examples of NASA technology improving everyday life on our home planet."

Suborbital Proposals Sought

NASA Seeks Proposals For Technology Flight Demonstrations And Information About Suborbital Flight Services

"NASA is seeking proposals from researchers interested in testing new technologies during suborbital flights. The agency also is requesting information from commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicle providers and commercial payload integrators about carrying the technology payloads. The selected payloads will fly on aircraft that provide parabolic flight trajectories and on suborbital reusable launch vehicles capable of flying to altitudes above 62 miles. The flights will expose the payloads to reduced gravity and near-zero gravity environments."

Dream Chaser Model Drops in at NASA Dryden "NASA Dryden supported helicopter air-drop flight tests of a 5-foot-long, 15-percent scale model of the Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft design under a Space Act Agreement between the two organizations. The company's planned full-size Dream Chaser vehicle, based on the NASA HL-20 lifting body, is designed to carry up to seven people to the International Space Station and back. The vehicle is slated to launch vertically on an Atlas V rocket and land horizontally on conventional runways."

Aerospace Industries Association: Solid 2010 Results for Aerospace, Aerospace Industries Association

"With another solid financial performance in 2010, the aerospace industry has again demonstrated its vital importance to the U.S. economy. "Aerospace has produced solid results, including a new sales record for the seventh straight year, leading all manufacturers in trade surplus and providing a sense of stability amidst the chaos of economic upheaval," said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. In her remarks to more than 300 members of the news media, government and industry at the association's 46th annual Year-end Review and Forecast Luncheon, Blakey cited a preliminary total aerospace sales figure of $216.5 billion."

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Elects Eric C. Anderson as Next Chairman

"The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, representing 37 companies employing thousands of Americans nationwide, has selected its next Chairman of the Board, Eric C. Anderson, who holds the position of chairman of Space Adventures, Ltd. Anderson was elected by a diverse cross-section of industry leaders at a recent board meeting. Anderson succeeds Mark Sirangelo of Sierra Nevada Space Systems, who has completed his appointed term as Federation Chairman. Mr. Sirangelo will continue on as an officer and board member of the Federation as Chairman Emeritus."

Keith's note: NASA held a ISS National Lab Public Day CAN meeting on 10 December 2010. The purpose was to explain the pending Cooperative Agreement Notice and how interested parties should structure their proposals. The main speaker was NASA's Mark Uhran.

It is quite clear that while NASA is going through the motions of trying to expand the user base for its portion of the International Space Station, that it is still falling back on bad habits i.e. limiting how much of these resources anyone other than NASA will ever be able to tap.

More than once, Uhran stated rather emphatically that any group looking to run the ISS National Laboratory organization who proposed to conduct human life science would find their proposal deemed "non-responsive". Alas, Uhran has yet to provide the formal justification for this stance - one based on law and advisory committee recommendations.

Indeed, at one point Uhran bragged that he had written 5 papers on discoveries that had been made on the ISS, but he was not going to tell anyone where to find them - challenging the attendees to go dig these papers up themselves. That is certainly an odd stance for a NASA official to take - especially one who is charged with promoting the value of the ISS as a platform for scientific research.

As for the unsubstantiated declaration by Uhran regarding research that is verboten, this is also repeated in the quietly released Reference Model for the International Space Station US. National Laboratory:

Boeing Submits Proposal for 2nd Round of NASA Commercial Crew Development Program

"Boeing is proposing an approach that will significantly mature the CST-100 design through demonstrations of critical subsystems. The CST-100 spacecraft is designed to support NASA's primary objective of affordable access to Low Earth Orbit. It will carry up to seven crew and passengers, is reusable up to 10 times, and is compatible with a variety of expendable launch vehicles. The spacecraft -- which is comprised of a Crew Module and a Service Module -- draws on Apollo-proven aerodynamic characteristics in a design that uses commercial, off-the-shelf, cost-effective technologies."

Ralph Steckler Space Grant Space Colonization Research and Technology Development Opportunity Phase II

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of Education invites proposals for the NASA Ralph Steckler/Space Grant Space Colonization Research and Technology Development Opportunity (hereafter "Steckler/Space Grant Opportunity"). Proposals may only be submitted by the 18 Phase 1 awardees. Each funded proposal is expected to address innovative, meaningful, and enduring research and technology development activities that could enable space colonization."

NASA Selects 18 University Proposals for Ralph Steckler Space Grant Colonization Space Grants, 28 October 2009, earlier post

Keith's note: The opening text of the CAN agreement says that the release date for this solicitation was 11 November 2010 - and that the Notice of Intent letters were due on 30 November 2010. Yet the first time anything is formally posted on NASA's procurement site is 13 December 2010. Proposals are due in a month (12 January 2011) and there are two major holidays in between. What a nice way for JSC to make certain that no one - especially students and faculty preparing for exams and away on vacation - have much time to prepare anything for submittal.

The notice says "for informational uses only". What is the point of posting information that is already out of date? Why not post it when it has some value i.e. 11 November 2010 - not 13 December 2010? Did it ever ocur to anyone that there might be interested parties or indiviuals out there who might approach one or more of the initial 18 selectees to offer assistance?

Partners wanted to run research lab in space, Nature

"Once a non-profit organization is established, NASA expects to begin research and development, but it will take a few years before the enterprise is running at full throttle, says Uhran."


"(1) ALLOCATION OF ISS RESEARCH CAPACITY. As soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act, but not later than October 1, 2011, ISS national laboratory managed experiments shall be guaranteed access to, and utilization of, not less than 50 percent of the United States research capacity allocation, including power, cold stowage, and requisite crew time onboard the ISS through September 30, 2020. Access to the ISS research capacity includes provision for the adequate upmass and downmass capabilities to utilize the ISS research capacity, as available. The Administrator may allocate additional capacity to the ISS national laboratory should such capacity be in excess of NASA research requirements."

Keith's note: At the ISS National Lab Public Day CAN meeting yesterday, Mark Uhran said that NASA hopes to award the contract to this non-profit organization in May 2011. That means that the new ISS National Lab organization has to hit the ground running and be meeting these requirements 5 months (or less) later. However, Uhran states in Nature that it is going to take "a few years" for everything to be "running at full throttle". Clearly NASA is nowhere near being able to carry out the provisions stated in Public Law 111-26 in terms of the required date - nor does it intend to, if Uhran's statements are to be accepted as being indicative of NASA's intent. With the halting of shuttle operations in mid-2011, it is also unclear how NASA will be able to meet all the downmass and upmass requirements by October 1, 2011.

NASA's ISS National Lab Concept: Flawed Plans - Closed Thinking, earlier post

Release of NASA Draft Cooperative Agreement Notice - ISS National Laboratory Management Entity

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Operations Mission Directorate is releasing a draft version of the future Cooperative Agreement Notice for the ISS National Laboratory Management Entity."

Public Day for a ISS Cooperative Agreement Notice

"The Public Day will be held on Friday, December 10, 2010, from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the NASA Headquarters James Webb Auditorium. ... Only parties that have registered will be permitted to attend. No walk-in participants will be accepted."

Keith's 10 Dec update: Contrary to the official Federal Register note regarding this meeting, "walk-in participants" are most certainly being allowed into this meeting. Indeed, no one is being asked to provide proof of registration at all. You can just walk into the Webb Auditorium with no questions asked. This nonsense is typical of NASA - they say one thing and then ignore it. Net result: people who might otherwise have attended did not. There are cameras in the room but no indication that this will be webcast or broadcast.

Keith's 9 Dec note: According to NASA TV's posted schedule this "public" meeting will not be aired on NASA TV - live or otherwise. Given the short notice people were given to register and the preregistered-only admission policy, the number of people who will have a chance to actually understand what NASA wants to do with the ISS is going to be very small. I can certainly understand limits on physical attendence due seating limitations, but if NASA really wants to use the ISS - as a "national labratory" - one would think that they'd at least go out of their way to make this "public" meeting available on NASA TV i.e. "public".

Keith's 10 Dec update: I am going to try and post Twitter updates from the meeting here - assuming I can get a WiFi signal.

ISS National Lab Operator Sought, earlier post

Another Stealth NASA Report (Reference Model for the International Space Station, U.S. National Laboratory), earlier post

Duct Tape and Rockets

SpaceX flight a flashback to our future in space, commentary, Orlando Sentinel

"Congressional burnouts such as Bill Nelson keep telling us that we are losing our space program to budget cuts. SpaceX is demonstrating that we can afford a space program, but only if we get NASA and its army of Washington pork groupies out of the way. The most amazing thing happened before Wednesday's launch. Engineers found cracks in the nozzle of the upper-stage engine. Living with the shuttle, we are accustomed to such anomalies resulting in launch delays that can go on for weeks and cost millions. Instead, SpaceX engineers whipped out their metal snips and trimmed off the edge of the nozzle where the cracks were situated. It was the proverbial duct-tape fix of the Mercury era."

"Wings In Orbit" Details Shuttle History By Those Who Made It Happen

"As NASA's space shuttle fleet nears retirement, the agency is preparing to release a comprehensive account of the program that managed the spacecraft and the dedicated people who made its accomplishments possible. The 500-plus-page book, "Wings in Orbit" is available for pre-publication sale. The book describes the scientific, engineering and cultural contributions of the space shuttle through text, photographs and graphics, written or selected by those who worked in the shuttle program. The book is slated for release in March. To order the book during the pre-publication sale through Dec. 31, visit:"

Keith's 9 Dec note: FYI is the JSC Gift shop. No mention is made of that in this press release/advertisement. The cost of the book is $50 for soft cover and $90 for hardcover - and this is a government publication prepared by government employees, promoted by the government. I can't say for certain from the cover image I found but it sure looks like this has an official NASA "SP" number on it.

I have asked NASA: Does the JSC Exchange have an exclusive on the sale of this government book? Will copies be provided to taxpayers? If hard copies are being printed at government expense who are they being distributed to? Can you send me a PDF of the book? Can I get the original publication art such that I can republish this book?

NASA issued this solicitation in July 2010 but they are not complying with what they are supposed to be doing i.e. providing PDF versions etc. on a website or allowing others to have access to this copyright free, government-produced material. There is no mention of sole sourcing but that is exactly what they are doing - and they are providing free government advertising for that one publisher.

One would think that if NASA really wanted people to read this book that they'd find a way to offer it on, iBooks, etc. and not sole source it to a field center gift shop. Imagine zillions of copies on Kindle and iPads for the holidays ... yet another example that NASA simply does not understand marketing its brand.

Keith's 10 Dec update: I just got this very prompt response to my questions from Mike Curie at NASA PAO. It answers many - but not all of my concerns - but NASA was fast in responding. (see below)

SpaceX Reveal's Dragon's "Secret" Payload (Photos)

"Before the successful launch, voyage, and recovery of SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft, the first time in history a commercial company has recovered a spacecraft from orbit, reporters were buzzing with news of a "secret" payload, stowed on board."

Hutchison Calls Successful SpaceX Launch Important Milestone

"I congratulate SpaceX on its successful launch of the Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon capsule," said Senator Hutchison. "This launch represents an important milestone that reflects the wisdom of the balanced approach outlined in the recently enacted NASA authorization law. The new law preserves and advances the activities of commercial space companies working to develop reliable cargo and crew services to the International Space Station."

NASA Administrator Bolden's Statement on Falcon 9 Launch

"This is the first in a new generation of commercial launch systems that will help provide vital support to the International Space Station and may one day carry astronauts into orbit. This successful demonstration flight is an important milestone in meeting the objectives outlined by President Obama and Congress, and shows how government and industry can leverage expertise and resources to foster a new and vibrant space economy."

Space Industry Leaders and Astronauts Congratulate SpaceX on Historic Flight of Dragon Spacecraft

"Space industry leaders, astronauts, and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation are issuing the following statements following the successful launch, orbital operation, and splashdown of the Dragon capsule, a milestone in commercial spaceflight ..."

TODAY: SpaceX to Make First Launch Attempt for COTS Demo 1

"Today SpaceX released the following information on today's launch day activities for the first SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon demonstration launch for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. SpaceX will make its first launch attempt on TODAY, December 8th from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window extends from 9:03 AM to 12:20 PM. EST/ 6:03 AM to 9:20 AM PST. We are now counting down for a 9:06 AM EST attempt."

SpaceX launch webcast is up live at

Keith's note: Terminal count aborted at T-2:50. Next launch window is 10:38 - 10:43 am EST. There are two more launch opportunities today - 10:38 - 10:43 am EST and 12:16 -12:20 pm EST.

Keith's note: Launch and ascent nominal this far 264 km alt 4,300 m/sec. Second stage burning nominally. Perfect power systems, telemetry lock confirmed.

Keith's note: Dragon is in orbit. Dragon deploy verified.

Keith's 1:23 pm EST update: Dragon's deorbit burn is complete.

Keith's 1:55 pm EST update: Three main chutes deployed.

Keith's 2:03 pm EST update: #spacex is number 5 on Twitter trending topics

Keith's 2:13 pm EST update: Dragon splashed down on target in the Pacific Ocean. There will be a press conference around 3:30 p.m. EST on NASA TV and

Keith's note: NASA Watch Twitter updates can be found here.

Not Because It Is Easy, But Because It Is Hard, opinion, Alan Stern, Space News

"It has been said that a ship is safe in harbor, but a harbor is not where ships belong. If SpaceX doesn't fully succeed in its first try with Dragon, there will be disappointment, and some may even question NASA's wisdom in undertaking the COTS program. Others may question the ability of the American aerospace industry to undertake such a complex task as ISS cargo resupply. Still others may once again beat the anti-space commercialization drum."

ESA Embraces Suborbital

The new - suborbital - frontier, ESA

"ESA is looking for new ways to conduct interesting research in space, on Earth - and in between. A number of commercial suborbital vehicles are being considered in Europe, and ESA is looking at the possibilities they might offer for microgravity research. If you think you could help, then we would be pleased to hear from you."

Coalition for Space Exploration Appoints New Leadership for 2011

"The Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) today announced veteran aerospace communicators Glenn Mahone of Aerojet and Lon Rains of Northrop Grumman will lead the Coalition's Public Affairs Team in 2011. Mahone and Rains will serve as the new chair and deputy chair, respectively. Each will serve a one-year term, effective January through December 2011."

Keith's note: Due to some issues with the nozzle on the second stage engine SpaceX has delayed the Falcon 9/Dragon launch until Thursday at the earliest. If they have to replace anything the launch will be Saturday at the earliest.

NASA Draft Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) for the ISS National Lab Management Entity

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is soliciting proposals for competitive evaluation and award of a Cooperative Agreement to a non-profit entity to develop the capability to implement research and development projects utilizing the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory and to otherwise manage the activities of the ISS National Lab."

ISS National Lab Operator Sought, earlier post

Test: FAA Waiver of Acceptable Mission Risk Restriction for Reentry and a Reentry Vehicle (SpaceX Dragon)

"This notice of waiver concerns two petitions for waiver submitted to the FAA by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX): A petition to waive the requirement that a waiver petition be submitted at least sixty days before the proposed effective date; and a petition to waive the restriction that the combined risk to the public from the launch and reentry of a reentry vehicle not exceed an expected average number of 0.00003 casualties ( Ec ≤ 30 x 10-6) from debris. The first petition is unnecessary because, as explained below, SpaceX demonstrated good cause for its late filing. The FAA grants the second petition and waives the restriction that the combined risk to the public from the launch and reentry of a reentry vehicle not exceed an expected average number of 0.00003 casualties ( Ec ≤ 30 x 10-6) from debris."

Successful Falcon 9 Static Firing Today

"Today SpaceX released the following information on launch day activities for the first SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon demonstration launch for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Liftoff could occur as early as December 7th, with December 8th and 9th as backup days, from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window for all three days extends from 9:00 a.m. to 12:22 p.m. EST."

SwRI researchers continue Starfighters suborbital space flight training aboard F-104 aircraft

"As part of their suborbital spaceflight training, Southwest Research Institute researchers and suborbital payload specialists Dr. Alan Stern and Dr. Dan Durda have continued their spaceflight training with a new series of jet fighter flights in F-104 aircraft operated by Starfighters Inc. at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. This new round of SwRI Starfighter flights and ground training took place Nov. 16."

NASA Seeks Nonprofit To Manage Space Station National Lab Research

"Organizations and members of the media interested in registering for the forum should send an e-mail to by 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3. Only registered parties may attend; no walk-ins will be permitted."

Keith's note: Wow. This press release certainly strikes me as a way to limit attendance rather than encourage it - 28 hours notice from JSC PAO - unless you are a fan of NASA's procurement website which issued a notice about this meeting a month ago. Did NASA issue a press release at the time this was originally announced? I cannot find any evidence that they did. No mention is made on the official NASA ISS page or on SOMD's home page or JSC's home page.



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