Commercialization: February 2013 Archives

Review of NASA's Internal Controls for Awards with Small Business

"However, of the 67 sampled awards, we identified 20 that were made to firms that self- certified as being owned and controlled by women. Of those 20, we found indications that 7 (35 percent) may have been to companies that falsely self-certified their eligibility as a woman-owned small business."

The Planets are Aligning for a Once-in-a-Generation Space Journey

"The Inspiration Mars Foundation, a newly formed nonprofit organization led by American space traveler and entrepreneur Dennis Tito, invites you to attend a press conference detailing its plans to take advantage of a unique window of opportunity to launch an historic journey to Mars and back in 501 days, starting in January 2018. This "Mission for America" will generate new knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration. It is intended to encourage all Americans to believe again, in doing the hard things that make our nation great, while inspiring youth through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and motivation."

- How a millionaire spaceflier intends to send astronauts past Mars in 2018, MSNBC

- New insights on that private (crewed?) Mars mission, NewSpace Journal

Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free-Return Mission in 2018, Dennis Tito et al, 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference

"In 1998 Patel et al searched for Earth-Mars free-return trajectories that leave Earth, fly by Mars, and return to Earth without any deterministic maneuvers after Trans-Mars Injection. They found fast trajectory opportunities occurring two times every 15 years with a 1.4-year duration, significantly less than most Mars free return trajectories, which take up to 3.5 years. This paper investigates these fast trajectories. It also determines the launch and life support feasibility of flying such a mission using hardware expected to be available in time for an optimized fast trajectory opportunity in January, 2018. ... We used a mission duration of 500 days (d) in a SpaceX Dragon class of vehicle. Crew size is a primary driver so we compared crew sizes from one to four people, and determined that two crew is optimal given mass and volume constraints."

Keith's update: The mission outlined in this paper uses SpaceX hardware for analysis purposes. As outlined, this conceptual mission would depart Earth on 5 Jan 2018, reach Mars on 20 August 2018, and return to Earth on 21 May 2019. This paper will be presented at the 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference on 3 March 2013 at 9:50 pm. This paper has been widely circulated for several weeks by the authors and their associates within government, legislative, industry, and advocacy communities, and has been referenced online - in great detail - for more than a week. I cannot post this paper due to IEEE copyright policies. The press event will be webcast live tomorrow at 1:00pm EST. You can sign up at the Inspiration Mars website. There is a Twitter account at @InspirationMars that will become active soon.

Keith's update: Update: this paper is now online at Inspiration Mars Foundation..

Investing in Technology to Enable the Future: NASA Creates Space Technology Mission Directorate

"As part of the Obama Administration's recognition of the critical role that space technology and innovation will play in enabling both future space missions and bettering life here on Earth, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has announced the creation of the Space Technology Mission Directorate. The directorate will be a catalyst for the creation of technologies and innovation needed to maintain NASA leadership in space while also benefiting America's economy."

Can Commercial Space Rescue NASA From Deadly Public Indifference?, Forbes

"Sustainable public advocacy will depend upon around bold goals and clear plans that warrant substantial investments. Writing in Reason magazine, Gregory Benford correlated public interest in space exploration with a natural desire for vicarious adventure. Benford observed that: "Much of the passion in science fiction springs from a deep-rooted human need: to reach out, to prefer movement to stasis, to understand." Accordingly, he concludes that NASA has a choice: "swing for the bleachers or die."

For D.C. shelter's 600 homeless children, a crucial source of fun and escape

"On Thursday, the children arrived in the big recreation room and found a spacesuit waiting for them. "There's no one inside. That's fake!" one girl insisted. "I"m right here," said Leland Melvin, standing behind her, delighted at her defiant challenge. Melvin is an astronaut. "What do you think I do in this blue suit?" he asked, pointing to his flight suit. "Nothing," a bunch of kids wisecracked. It's a tough crowd. Every year, Melvin brings a NASA spacesuit and a slide show of his adventures in space. It doesn't hurt that he also tells the kids about his time in the NFL, getting drafted to play with the Detroit Lions. And then getting injured."

Keith's note: If you ask NASA for their plan - i.e. their strategy - guidance - goals - for engaging the public in education and public outreach activities they cannot provide you with one. Yet they always tell you (they think) that some one is working on one - but it doesn't cover everything that NASA does because NASA is incapable of adopting an agency-wide strategy or plan. And even if something resembling a plan starts to emerge, it never goes beyond draft stage due to infighting and turf disputes. After 4 years the NASA Advisory Council Committee on Education and Public Outreach has done absolutely nothing to address this situation. They are meeting in Washington in a week or so. Not sure why they even bother.

All this being said, you still see poignant attempts to go beyond the normal audiences such as Leland Melvin did at this homeless shelter. Alas, these activities go unnoticed since NASA is clueless as to how to inform others that they even take place. Oh yes - OMB is going to significantly cut NASA's Education budget for FY 2014 - again. And yet they will tell you with a straight face that the White House supports education blah blah blah. I guess its hard to totally blame NASA when the White House won't even stand behind its own rhetoric.

Keith's note: Official AXE slogan: "Leave a man. Come back a hero." (Sigh) So much for the other half of humanity. I guess girls need not apply to this promotional stunt for a chance to fly into space.

Keith's note: What are the odds that a tweet by both @ISS_CASIS and @GoldenSpikeCo - tweets that are exactly identical to each other - could be posted simultaneously using the same Twitter App? I called @ISS_CASIS on this and their tweet suddenly disappeared. Here is a screen grab I took from TweetDeck just before @ISS_CASIS deleted their tweet. Is CASIS (paid by NASA to do ISS utilization) now supporting commercial Moon exploration efforts?

Keith's update: Apparently this was a Tweetdeck glitch (yes they happen).

NASA Spinoff 2012 Features New Space Tech Bettering Your Life Today

NASA Spinoff 2012 (PDF)

"Curry agrees: "In the future, you can envision almost all computing being done in the cloud, much of which could be powered by OpenStack. I think that NASA will need to receive significant credit for that in the history books. What we've been able to do is unbelievable-- especially when you remember that it all started in a NASA lab."

NASA Drops OpenStack For Amazon Cloud, Information Week (2012)

"Ray O'Brien, acting CIO at NASA Ames, when asked May 30 by InformationWeek about NASA's participation, used diplomatic language to say that NASA still endorsed the project, was proud of its founding role, and might be a user of OpenStack components in the future. "It is very possible that NASA could leverage OpenStack as a customer in the future," he wrote in his email response. Then, in a June 8 blog, NASA CIO Linda Cureton dispensed with the diplomacy: "NASA [has] shifted to a new Web services model that uses Amazon Web Services for cloud-based enterprise infrastructure," she wrote."

Keith's note: I find it rather odd that NASA brags about developing OpenStack in its Spinoff 2012 document but does not bother to inform the reader (taxpayer) that the agency actually dumped OpenStack.

NASA CIO Dumps NASA-Developed Open Stack, earlier post

Former NASA administrator Mike Griffin throws cold water on commercial space market, then offers solution, Huntsville Times

"Griffin, a persistent critic of President Obama's space program, said the current system consists of companies such as SpaceX operating with "government as their venture capitalist."

For NASA Administrator, This Mission Is a Tad Personal, Washington Post (2009)

"Griffin's press secretary, David Mould, told the Associated Press that Griffin isn't campaigning and expects the incoming president to name a new administrator. But Griffin would be "honored" to be asked to stay on, Mould said. "A lot of people seem to like and support Mike and think he's doing a good job," he said."

Keith's note: Why would Mike Griffin be "honored" to have been Obama's choice if he is so against what President Obama is doing i.e. continuing - and expanding upon - the pro-commercial (pro-business) space policies started under the Bush II Administration? Indeed, Mike Griffin personally signed a number of these agreements. Baffling.

Israeli space cadets say moon shot is no fantasy, Times of Israel

"SpaceIL is a nonprofit foundation, and is relying on donations to get into space, explained Margalit. So far, about $20 million of the $30 million needed to run the project has been raised. On SpaceIL's Facebook page, visitors are encouraged to make a donation in multiples of "chai" -- 18 shekels or dollars. The organization does not plan on keeping the GoogleX prize if it does win, stated Winetraub; instead, it will channel that money back into science education, and conduct more programs to expose more kids to the importance of space travel and research."

Team SpaceIL

NASA open source project back on track, FCW

"NASA's shift to open-source content management is back on after the incumbent contractor withdrew a bid protest on Feb. 4. The withdrawal of the protest, filed by e-Touch Federal Systems on Dec. 28 after NASA awarded Rockville-Md.-based InfoZen a $40 million blanket purchase agreement, allows InfoZen to begin replacing NASA's existing content management system with open source architecture to run its 140 websites and 1,600 web assets and applications."

NASA Website Upgrades Are On Hold, earlier post


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