Commercialization: January 2013 Archives

Code Red: NASA Safety Panel's Warning on Funding Uncertainty, AIP

"Earlier this month the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel issued its 2012 Annual Report. Looking for hazards across the space agency's wide-ranging portfolio of on-going and proposed operations and facilities, the panel assessed six issues and concerns. Only one of the six in the three-color-coded graphic was red: the continuing issue of funding uncertainty. "NASA's budget is the 'elephant in the room' both for commercial space and for longer term exploration" the panel warned."

Relaunching Space Commerce

Commercial Space Exploration Needs an Obama Relaunch, Robert Walker and Charles Miller, Wall Street Journal (subscription) (Paste the article title into the Google search box and it will give you a link that works)

"NASA, in fact, has not successfully developed a new rocket in over three decades. U.S. private industry successfully developed three brand-new rockets in just the past decade--Boeing with the Delta IV, Lockheed with the Atlas V, and SpaceX with the Falcon 9. Industry succeeded because of a partnership with the government, much like the building of the transcontinental railroad in the 19th century. Industry was responsible for development and was taking large risks, but with government incentives. ,,,, A renewed and refocused NASA is critical to America's future. So as the country struggles with trillions in debt and deficits, it makes no sense for NASA to build rockets that are already available or can be developed at much lower cost by U.S. private industry. Why spend approximately $20 billion to build an unneeded SLS super-heavy-lift rocket, for instance, when existing commercial rockets can carry payloads more often, efficiently and cheaply?"

State requests spaceport land near Oak Hill, Daytona Beach News Journal

"In a response released last week, NASA said the property in question isn't "excess," that it's still needed as a buffer zone between NASA missions and the community and as "a potential site for future mission requirements. However the agency indicated it would like to "further discuss" how it might make lands available for a commercial launch complex "independent of the federal range." Space Florida President Frank DiBello called the response "disappointing," saying it did not reflect the "sense of urgency or commitment for commercial market thinking." On Saturday, Dale Ketcham, Space Florida's chief of strategic alliances, said the corporation "won't give up on this effort to develop new commercial launch capabilities."

- Letter from Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll to NASA Administrator Bolden, 20 September 2012

- Letter from NASA AA for Legislative and Governmental Affairs Seth Statler to Lt. Governor Hennifer Caroll, 30 Nov 2012

Keith's note: I was just out walking, listening to NPR's "Science Friday" when noted data visualist (and CAIB Powerpoint analyst) Edward Tufte was on. During a short break the announcer mentioned that Science Friday was "sponsored in part by CASIS" followed by a short description and their web address. A week or two ago I noticed that CASIS took out a full page adverstisement in Science magazine. CASIS may still be dragging its feet in many areas, but at least someone at CASIS is putting some thought into catching the attention of scientists - and people interested in science - in the places that those people are likely to be found.

NASA To Test Bigelow Expandable Module On Space Station

"NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Wednesday a newly planned addition to the International Space Station that will use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat technology. NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a two-year technology demonstration."

Keith's note: I will be live blogging the press conference at @NASAWatch

Keith's update: Apparently some news media were given advance copies of a press release and images while others were not. Some of us were given dial-in information for the press event, others were not. If NASA and its commercial partners want the media to pay attention to what it is they are doing, then they need to make it easy - not hard for us to do so. FAIL.

Keith's update: NASA photos and video can now be found here and here. Still nothing from the folks at Bigelow - they handed out thumb drives with materials at the Las Vegas event.

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases Annual Report

"This report is based on the panel's 2012 fact-finding and quarterly public meetings; center visits and meetings; direct observations of NASA operations and decision-making; discussions with NASA management, employees, and contractors; and the panel members' past experiences. The report highlights issues that could have an impact on safety."

2012 ASAP Report

"In FY13, we predict this planning-funding disconnect will again drive a change to acquisition strategy, schedule, and/or safety risk. The ASAP is concerned that some will champion an approach that is a current option contained in the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement. There is risk this optional, orbital flight-test demonstration with a non-NASA crew could yield two standards of safety--one reflecting NASA requirements, and one with a higher risk set of commercial requirements. It also raises questions of who acts as certification authority and what differentiates public from private accountability. Separating the level of safety demanded in the system from the unique and hard-earned knowledge that NASA possesses introduces new risks and unique challenges to the normal precepts of public safety and mission responsibility. We are concerned that NASA's CCiCap 2014 "Option" prematurely signals tacit acceptance of this commercial requirements approach absent serious consideration by all the stakeholders on whether this higher level of risk is in fact in concert with national objectives."

Keith's note: It is exceptionally odd that the ASAP gets all hot and bothered about certifying American-produced commercial crew spacecraft when the ASAP all too willingly said it was OK to fly Americans on Russian Soyuz spacecraft - spacecraft which have never been given the same level of formal safety certification by NASA - i.e. the certification that the ASAP apparently wants for domestically produced commercial spacecraft. A number of years ago, at a time when Americans living on Mir were exposed to repeated accidents, I asked (then) NASA Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory in a public setting if Russian spacecraft meet or exceed NASA safety requirements. Gregry said "clearly they do not". This question and response was subsequently referenced in a congressional hearing.

It is also a bit odd that the ASAP was perfectly happy with NASA's plan to fly crews on Orion/Ares 1 flight after only one unmanned test. The same (apparently) goes for the current plan for Orion/SLS. The ASAP's credibility suffers when they pursue contradictory and inconsistent paths such as this.

Space Tourism Companies Make Giant Leaps In 2013, HuffPost Live

"Space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic are planning to send spaceships into the skies this year. Will private space travel finally lift off?"

Keith's note: I'll be one of the participants on this Google Hangout. Starts at 5pm EST.

Commercial Crew Update

NASA Commercial Crew Program Status Update

"NASA will hold a status update news conference to discuss the progress of the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The briefing from Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website."

Protest slows NASA open source project, FCW

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's plans to transition to a content management system with open source architecture are on hold for a little while. The agency awarded a $40 million blanket purchase agreement in mid-December to Rockville, Md.-based InfoZen to replace the agency's existing CMS - operated for several years by eTouch Federal Systems LLC - with open source architecture to run its 140 websites and 1,600 web assets and applications. But that contract has come under protest from eTouch Federal Systems LLC, which filed a formal bid protest on Dec. 28 against NASA's new deal with InfoZen."

NASA Selects Internet Services Agreement

"NASA has selected InfoZen Inc. of Rockville, Md., for the Web Enterprise Service Technologies prime blanket purchase agreement to support agency websites."

NASA seeking to lease or sell space-shuttle facilities, Orlando Sentinel

"The process is mostly secret, because NASA has agreed to let bidders declare their proposals proprietary, keeping them out of the view of competitors and the public. NASA has at various times published official notices seeking proposals and spelled out that the proposals should be space-related, though the agency will consider alternative uses under certain circumstances. But information about who wants to do what may not come until agency officials actually select finalists for negotiations."

Keith's note: Odd how NASA hasn't bothered to issue any overt procurement notices on this. Why can't they list what is for sale on their website so everyone can see?



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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from January 2013.

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