Commercialization: September 2017 Archives


A Real Life-Saving NASA Spinoff

NASA FINDER Technology Aids Search Following Mexico Earthquake, NASA JPL

"Disaster relief workers on the ground in Mexico City were responding to this week's 7.1-magnitude earthquake by using a suitcase-sized radar instrument capable of detecting human heartbeats under rubble. This technology was developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate in Washington. FINDER, which stands for Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response, was developed as a collaboration between the two agencies. Since 2015, two private companies have acquired licenses for the technology. They have since taken it to disaster zones, training relief workers to use it and manufacturing new units."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2015/finder11.jpgUsing Space Radar To Hear Human Heartbeats in Nepal, SpaceRef (with detailed hardware and operations information)

"On 24 April 2015 a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal - a nation woefully unprepared to respond to such an event. Nearly 300 aftershocks of magnitude 4.0 or greater have rattled the country for the past month. One especially large aftershock of magnitude 7.4 on 12 May caused the already-shattered infrastructure to collapse further. Nepal needed help - help that did not rely upon a non-functional infrastructure. Much of the help was traditional. But some of that help arrived in the form of assets in space and space-derived assets on the ground. One piece of NASA-developed hardware utilized in Nepal was able to detect human heartbeat amidst huge piles of rubble. And it saved lives. Other machines orbited overhead in space analyzing the earthquake itself and how Nepal changed as a result. Both technologies shared similar technology."

NASA and DHS sponsored a demonstration of FINDER technology at the Virginia Task Force One Training Facility in Lorton, Virginia, on 7 May [2015]. Personnel were able to find someone hiding in an unknown location in the rubble at the facility. Several dozen media were in attendance. As best as I can tell, I was the only one covering space technology who was there. Unfortunate.

Keith's note: I do not recall the NASA SLS mafia heading out to a specific state to talk to see how local companies are helping out on SLS - at least not recently. Is this just a one-off thing to curry favor in the Vice President's home state - or are they going to start doing this for every state in the union? And are the going to do this for other NASA programs? If this is a national effort then that would be an interesting way to demonstrate just how wide an industrial base is required to build large space hardware. But if this is just a dog and pony stunt to kiss up to the VP then its value will be minimal. This also smells like the beginning of a slow motion effort to assure the SLS faction that NASA has got their back.

Checking this page at NASA.gov you get this list of companies that support SLS/Orion and GSDO *(Ground Systems Development and Operations) in Indiana. So there is certainly a there - there - as there is across the country.

So NASA, what is the next state that the SLS road show will be visiting?

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/indiana.jpg

Northrop Grumman to Acquire Orbital ATK for $9.2 Billion, Northrop Grumman

"Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), a leading global security company, and Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Northrop Grumman will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt. Orbital ATK shareholders will receive all-cash consideration of $134.50 per share. ... Upon completion of the acquisition, Northrop Grumman plans to establish Orbital ATK as a new, fourth business sector to ensure a strong focus on operating performance and a smooth transition into Northrop Grumman."

Press conference presentation

Keith's note: Lockheed ate Martin Marietta. Boeing ate Rockwell and McDonnell Douglas. Aerojet ate Rockedyne. Lockheed Martin and Boeing created a sanctioned monoply (ULA). Northrop ate Grumman. ATK ate Orbital. Now Northrop Grumman is going to eat Orbital ATK. That's one less company to pay Coalition for Deep Space Exploration membership dues. How is this good for competition? Oh yea - that is what SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin offer.

The Coalition for Deep Space Dancing Dinosaurs, earlier post

For some reason, Ron Paul has taken to Fox News to skewer SpaceX, Ars Technica

"Three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul has written an opinion piece for Fox News that comes out swinging against SpaceX, accusing the company of benefiting from potentially having a monopoly on national security launches. The article also attacks US Sen. John McCain as a "lead sponsor" of provisions to give SpaceX a monopoly on launch services."

Ron Paul: Crony defense budget hands SpaceX a monopoly - why?, Ron Paul, Fox News

"Allowing SpaceX to obtain a monopoly over launch services harms taxpayers much more than forbidding the Pentagon from purchasing Russian products harms Vladimir Putin. If this provision becomes law, SpaceX will be able to charge the government more than they could in even a quasi-competitive market. This monopoly will also stifle innovation in rocket launching technology."

Keith's note: This is just too funny. Only a few years back SpaceX was shut out of national security launches for dubious reasons. So they kept launching rockets and doing the dance moves DoD asked them to do. When they had a chance to compete against a government created - and sanctioned duopoly (ULA) they won on cost and performance. And now former members of Congress who got big donations from ULA's parent companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing (also Coalition for Deep Space Exploration charter members) are complaining about an imaginary SpaceX monopoly?. Coincidence?

Keith's note: Who'd have thought that the day would come when promoting videos of your product blowing up would be a way to promote your business? There's a subliminal paradigm shift at work here ...

Support builds for Bridenstine to lead NASA despite past skepticism on climate change, Washington Post

"The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, representing many of the big legacy contractors, said it also welcomed the nomination, saying Bridenstine "has been an active and vocal advocate for space on Capitol Hill." But in a subsequent statement to The Washignton Post, the coalition's president, Mary Lynne Dittmar, backed away from a full endorsement, saying, "We look forward to learning more from Rep. Bridenstine during the Senate confirmation hearings."

Keith's note: This is the dilenma that Mary Lynne Dittmar and her organization face. They want to have it both ways. On one hand they envision a world where there is no SpaceX or Blue Origin - just the usual aerospace suspects building the giant Senate-designed SLS mega-rocket where everyone gets a piece of the contracting pie. On the other hand they resent the success of upstarts like SpaceX and Blue Origin and want to be seen as being just as sexy and cutting edge and able to "compete" in a commercial marketplace. Alas that is just impossible. Its like expecting a big dinosaur to eat an entire forest every day and yet still be able to tap dance when they are done eating.

Bridenstine has signaled an interest in seeing SLS and other big NASA projects through. Yet he also talks about lots of paradigm shifting ideas that are antithetical to the status quo. This drives Dittmar et al nuts. Stay tuned.

Hearing on Private Sector Lunar Exploration

"September 7, at 10:00 a.m. EDT, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will hold a Subcommittee on Space hearing titled, Private Sector Lunar Exploration. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss private sector exploration of the moon. In addition to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) support for the private sector, companies are also investing their own capital in exploration in the hopes of serving a future market for transportation, cargo delivery, and surface operations (including in situ resource utilization). The hearing will review these efforts, and NASA's role, in order to better understand the challenges and opportunities that they present."

- Live webcast
- Statement of Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) Private Sector Lunar Exploration
- Ranking Member Johnson's Opening Statement for Private Sector Lunar Exploration Hearing
- Ranking Member Bera's Opening Statement for Private Sector Lunar Exploration Hearing

Prepared Statements: Jason Crusan, NASA; Bob Richards, Moon Express; John Thornton, Astrobotic Technology; Bretton Alexander, Blue Origin; and George Sowers, Colorado School of Mines

Lucasfilm Creates Mission Patch Representing International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory Research, CASIS

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced the unveiling of its latest mission patch, designed by Lucasfilm, featuring characters and space ships from the Star Wars franchise. The mission patch represents all payloads intended for the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory in calendar year 2017. CASIS is the organization that oversees research on the ISS U.S. National Laboratory benefitting life on Earth."

Keith's note: Nowhere in this press release does CASIS mention "NASA". Yet NASA pays 99.97% of CASIS' budget - year after year. Its almost as if CASIS wants you to think that they built and now operate the space station - not NASA. As to their latest logo, I totally understand the interest in wanting to reach a broader audience. But CASIS seems to be obsessed with things like this - almost as much as they avoid mentioning NASA.

First there was their strange fascination with co-branding golf research on the ISS - research that never actually happened with the exception of some golf clubs that claimed to be " inspired" by space research. Then there was getting actor Seth Green to design a logo. Then they made "Groot" from "Guardians of the Galaxy" a mascot in another logo. Now there's a "Star Wars" logo. CASIS never answers my questions on things like this. So I file FOIA requests. I have a lot of stuff received via FOIA that I have been analyzing and hope to publish soon.

In a nutshell CASIS just makes this stuff up as they go. They have no strategic plan and have virtually no means of collecting and analyzing metrics from things such as these Sci Fi mission patches. If CASIS cannot determine if these things have a real value (one that can be expressed in numbers) then why does CASIS continue to do these things? How many Twitter impressions and social media mentions have these logos created? How many people first learned of the ISS as a result of these logos? How many business partners came to CASIS as a result of these logos? How much employee time has CASIS put into the development and use of these logos?

Again, its great when CASIS, who only has money because NASA pays 99.97% of their budget, tries to reach out to new audiences. But when they have no way to determine if an approach even works, you have to wonder if they truly understand how any of their NASA-funded efforts have actually, tangible,concrete results that represent a worthy return on investment for taxpayer dollars.

Below is just a small sample of all of the missteps that CASIS has made. More soon.

A Closer Look At The CASIS "Space Is In It" Endorsement, earlier post

"Oddly, if you look at SPACE IS IN IT, CASIS APPROVED - Trademark Details you'll see that the trademark is classified as being "International Class 028 - Games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes; decorations for Christmas trees. - Games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles not included in other classes; decorations for Christmas trees." Sounds like a perfect category for golf-related stuff."

CASIS Announces Significant ISS News But Forgets To Mention NASA, earlier post

"Very cool news which demonstrates the true potential for the ISS to host cutting edge research with the potential for real benefits back on Earth. Oddly, "NASA" is mentioned nowhere in this press release - you know, the agency that built and operates the ISS - and provides 99.99% of CASIS' income. You have to wonder if the PR people at CASIS even bother to think about how to best inform the public of what they are doing."

CASIS and NASA Ignore Each Other at #ComicCon2016 Over A Raccoon and Groot, earlier post

"CASIS issues a press release that mentions that Marvel comic book/movie characters at ComicCon are now ISS mascots or something. Alas NASA is there too - as @NASASocial - at the Marvel booth - and neither @NASASocial or @ISS_CASIS mention one another's presence. Apparently CASIS thinks that Groot, a giant tree man thing, and a foul-mouthed raccoon are better poised to explain ISS science than ISS scientists. So - the movie director whose characters are being featured refers to "CASIS" as "OASIS" and doesn't seem to know that this is all about the International Space Station - referring instead to "the mission to Mars". Meanwhile NASA makes no mention of this news and NASA is never mentioned in the CASIS press release. Yet news stories say that NASA is behind all of this. NASA only gets the credit from third parties - and when they get mention it is factually mangled. Nice job CASIS."

CASIS Recycles NASA Hype In Its Quarterly Reports To NASA, earlier post

"Oh yes: the CASIS website visitor target for FY 2017 is 129,000. That's pathetically small. NASA.gov blasts that out every second. Indeed, the website you are reading does that traffic in a matter of days. CASIS also seeks to have 114,000 Twitter followers by the end of FY 2017 [Update as of 6 Sep 2017 @iss_casis account has 114,000 followers].
. By comparison @NASAWatch and @spaceRef have more than 110,000 followers. Other space websites have many more followers. Indeed @NASA has nearly 25,000,000 followers. At yesterday's ISS R&D Conference (sponsored by CASIS) everyone was moaning about how the public does not know what the ISS is doing. With such a tiny web presence CASIS is certainly not doing much to alleviate this situation."

More CASIS postings


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from September 2017.

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