"Boldly go where no one has gone before! The Ames Exchange has bought out an entire theater for the NASA Ames workforce to view the new Star Trek Into Darkness film at AMC Mercado 20 at 4:30 PM on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Hard-badged employees may pick up their complimentary ticket at the Beyond Galileo gift shop starting this Thursday, May 16, 2013, but hurry, tickets are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis."
Recently in Culture Category
Keith's note: As previously noted the producers of this movie did not want any NASA help and they made that very clear to NASA.
"The cast members of the Tony Award-nominated "Matilda" are arguably all stars. This week, they chatted with a man closer to the actual cosmic ones. About three dozen cast members - including many children - packed a small room near Times Square on Tuesday to speak to an astronaut aboard the International Space Station via a 30-minute live satellite hookup provided by NASA."
"If you follow the Twitter feed of NASA's Johnson Space Center, you'll know that Skrillex has been spending the afternoon at the space agency's facilities in Houston, Texas. What has he been doing there?"
HiRISE is set to capture MRO's laser weapon test on Phobos. Should be a great image.— HiRISE (@HiRISE) April 1, 2013
Keith's note: During a press conference Monday morning, NASA Administrator Bolden and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) will announce what they characterize as a "a bold, ambitious effort" to take two seemingly improbable launch systems and combine them into one even more improbable system. The Strato-SLS (SSLS) will enable even bigger payloads into orbit, as the 5 SSMEs and twin advanced boosters won't ignite until the Stratolaunch plane brings the rocket to an altitude of nearly 70,000 feet. This architecture will not just boost the SLS's initial capability from 70 mT to 200 mT, but will ensure a rapidly reusable system that can launch every month for under $100 million. Sen. Shelby, along with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Administrator Bolden have volunteered to ride the first crewed launch of the SSLS in 2017. "We can save the taxpayers money on training since 2 out of the 3 crew have already been trained and have flown together" Bolden is prepared to state. OMB sources who declined to be identified eagerly assured NASAWatch that countless taxpayer dollars will be fully wasted on this national strategic need. Indeed, OMB has already taken to calling the SSLS the "Space Goose". Larger image
"The LOIRP team managed to obtain original tape drives from the 1960s (covered in dust in a farmer's barn) and a full set of original Lunar Orbiter analog data tapes (threatened with erasure) containing all images sent back to Earth by the five spacecraft between 1966-67. None of this had been functional or usable since the late 1960s. From the onset the project has been run on a shoestring budget. The LOIRP effort is housed in an abandoned McDonalds burger joint at Moffett Field, California (also known as "McMoons"). The LOIRP folks used spare parts bought on eBay, discarded government equipment, new hardware reverse-engineered from math equations in 50 year old documentation, modern laptops, the expertise of retired engineers and scientists, and the dedication of young students."
Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, RocketHub
Keith's earlier note: Only a few hours left. The
$50,000 $52,000 $53,000 $56,000 level was just passsed - more than 2/3 70% 76% of the total fundraising goal of $75,000. Over 410 446 468 502 funders have made donations ranging from $10 to $5,000. Proof positive that people are willing to pay for space exploration out of their pockets - even if it is for data recovery from missions that flew almost half a century ago.
Keith's update: The final funding level achieved is $62,560 - 84% of the goal - from 548 donors. A special thanks to Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing for being the project's biggest fan.
House Renames Flight Center After Neil Armstrong
"The House of Representatives today approved a resolution to rename the Dryden Flight Research Center, located in southern California, the "Neil Armstrong Research Center." H.R. 667 also re-designates the surrounding test range to honor Hugh Dryden, a prominent aeronautical engineer."
House Republicans are over the moon about sequestration, Washington Post
"The lone Democrat to speak, Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.), noted the irony in the vote. "We will do our renaming today," she said, and then "we will take an ax hammer to NASA's budget on March 1, at the end of this week, taking out $894 million from an already strapped budget. I dare say future generations will not be inspired by what this Congress will do."
Keith's update: What are the acronym implications of this? There is already an "ARC" at NASA. I do not think "NARC" will be used too often ...
"10) Re: section 1.4.2 "Directed Topic Workshops" Is it required for the step 1 proposals to provide a list of likely team participants, or is it sufficient to have then main workshop organizers assigned? The title and investigators must be fixed in the Step 1 proposal. If, say, Dewey, Cheatham and Howe are involved in the organization of the workshop, then they should be listed as team members in the Step 1 proposal. If you wish only to invite Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, then you may or may not choose to include this information in the abstract/ brief proposal summary of your Step 1 proposal, but they should not be included as team members."
"Nearly four years after launching its Kepler space telescope to search for worlds outside our solar system, NASA officials confirmed Tuesday they had yet to find a planet with sufficient resources to support the space-exploration agency and its 18,000 employees."
Thursday, December 13, 2012
JSC TODAY HEADLINES
1. Joint Leadership Team Web Poll
2. Gangnam Style Parody 'NASA Johnson Style' to be Screened in Teague ...
Annual Embarrassing NASA Holiday Videos Appear, earlier post
"Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds is the fifth installment in the National Intelligence Council's series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future. As with previous editions, we hope that this report will stimulate strategic thinking by identifying critical trends and potential discontinuities. We distinguish between megatrends, those factors that will likely occur under any scenario, and game-changers, critical variables whose trajectories are far less certain. In this volume, we expanded our coverage of disruptive technologies, devoting a separate section to it in the work. To accomplish that, we engaged with research scientists at DoE laboratories at Sandia, Oak Ridge, and NASA in addition to entrepreneurs and consultants in Silicon Valley and Santa Fe. We have also devoted strong attention to economic factors and the nexus of technology and economic growth."
Keith's note: Funny how NASA constantly gets tapped by other agencies when it comes to blueskying futuristic out of the box ideas - but when it comes to implementing these ideas inside of NASA ... well, that's another story.
Caption text from The Wilson Parrot Foundation - as written: "This is Major General, USMC Ret., Astronaot and now Directer of NASA, Charlie Bolton being a True ParrotHead!!"
Keith's note: Captions, anyone? I'll start: "Although they both poop on me, I like birds more than I like reporters".
"Ray Bradbury - author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and many more literary classics - died this morning in Los Angeles, at the age of 91."
"Ray Bradbury is mad at President Obama, but it's not about the economy, the war or the plan to a construct a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. "He should be announcing that we should go back to the moon," says the iconic author .... "We should never have left there. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever."
"The expectations are sky-high for Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, the director's first film since 2006s Children of Men. In fact, between the A-list cast (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney), its intriguing sci-fi premise, its ambitious long shots, and gushing praise from colleagues like Guillermo del Toro, we have plenty of reason to believe the film could be his most brilliant yet. On the other hand, this wouldn't be the first time we've been dead wrong about a movie this early on."
Keith's note: (sigh) another film that NASA decided not to cooperate with.
Keith's update: NASA PAO paints a contradictory story to what other sources (quite reliable ones) have provided. PAO says that NASA actually reached out to the producers of "Gravity" on their own inititiative early on but that the studio desired no assistance or input from NASA.
"Anybody can make something go boom. Controlling it is hard," said former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, director of space policy at George Washington University. ... "In many ways, the worst enemy of NASA is `Star Trek'," Pace said. "Captain Picard says `engage' and the ship moves. And people think `How hard can this be?'"
Keith's note: This is an odd thing for Scott Pace to say given that he's a very smart guy. If anything, Star Trek is often NASA's best friend. For several generations it has been Star Trek and other popular TV shows and movies that have so totally embedded the value and need to explore space within the minds of the citizens whose taxes keep NASA going. When cuts are proposed for NASA, what memes do supporters and energized taxpayers cite? Of course they use lines and themes about exploration and inspiration that you hear Star Trek characters saying.
When everything goes right, NASA loves to bask in the glowing PR and does not deter people from lofty comparisons to Star Trek. But when something goes wrong (or might go wrong) they like to lower expectations and say "Rocket science is hard". And yet, NASA seems to do it right nearly all the time, leading one to logically ask 'so how hard can this be'? This is the problem with NASA. They want to have it both ways.
"I've been at NASA Langley for more than 30 years," said Cheryl Cleghorn, the center's outreach and protocol coordinator. "I've seen lots of changes in the last five or six years." Many of them involved money. "Before, NASA was given its budget and did what it was going to do with it," Cleghorn said. "Now we're collaborating and competing for additional funds for the center." The key word here is "partnership," and Cleghorn brought together 17 women and three men from Langley who might be called upon to dine with potential partners who could bring business to the center. They were there to learn to "Outclass the Competition: Dine Like a Diplomat."
Keith's note: I'll be the first to agree that most NASA employees have little or no experince in the business environment out in the real world - and it shows. But I am a little baffled as to why the agency is spending money and time to teach people how to eat.
"For nearly three years, millions of gamers have used physics in the battle between birds and pigs in the video game Angry Birds. In cooperation with NASA, Finland-based Rovio Entertainment, creator of the Angry Birds franchise, announced its newest game, "Angry Birds Space," on Thursday, March 8. NASA and Rovio are working together to teach people about physics and space exploration through the internationally successful puzzle game."
Keith's note: I, for one, welcome our new angry avian overlords.
OIG: Review of NASA's Lessons Learned Information System
"This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review found that NASA's project managers do not routinely use LLIS to search for lessons identified by other projects, nor do they routinely contribute new information to LLIS. Consequently, we found that the LLIS has been marginalized in favor of other NASA knowledge sharing system components and is of diminishing and questionable value. Specifically, other than the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, no NASA Center consistently contributed information to LLIS from 2005 through 2010."
Huntsville to have co-pilot in NASA (editorial), Huntsville Times
"Marshall Space Flight Center Director Robert Lightfoot's promotion to NASA headquarters should bode well for Marshall as NASA focuses on development of America's next generation rockets. ... Huntsville lawyer Mark McDaniel, who served on the national NASA advisory council from 2000 to 2005, said Lightfoot will be a key player in decisions by the NASA administrator, president and Congress. "In Washington, access is everything. The associate administrator will be right down the hall from the administrator and deputy administrator."
Keith's note: So in other words, it would seem that McDaniel et al expect Lightfoot to put MSFC concerns (e.g. SLS) ahead of the rest of the agency due to his "access'. Yet these same people complain when other centers get their way. Hmm. Lightfoot's position is at NASA "Headquarters" and it concerns the management of the entire agency - not sending things down to Huntsville because he owns a house there. I'm not sure that the Huntsville folks undersand that.
Keith's note: @seanherron posted this somewhere and it has been making the rounds. It is so true it hurts. Sorry if this is getting around, Sean. Its your fault for being accurate. Click on image for larger version.
Keith's update: Well, someone@nasa has a slightly different take on things. To be honest this resonates better with my experience as an actual NASA employee. The artist said "Thanks for the "Working at NASA" link. I very much enjoyed it, so much so that I made my own - which was surprisingly therapeutic." Click on image to enlarge.
Space Droids Using Sign Language?, earlier post on 15 November 2011
"Background: I worked for more than a decade as a professional certified (educational) sign language interpreter. This idea occurred to me when I was looking at this picture and instantly wondered what Robonaut-2 "wanted" or why it was seemingly in the process of saying "here" or maybe "give". Imagine how fast a video of Robonaut-2 saying something in American Sign Language from space would go viral. NASA could have a competition wherein people submit questions for it to answer. NASA already has a signing astronaut and SMD and NLSI already put out books in Braille. Just a thought."
Keith's note: @AstroRobonaut just tweeted: "Did you catch that? I don't have a voice, but I sent you a message -- Hello world ... in sign language!"
Keith's note: A note for all of the "citizen journalists" who will be participating in the budget briefing on Monday at NASA HQ. This is a great idea - but this is by no means a "first". There is a long road - one traveled by others before you to where you will be - and it started more than 10 years ago, before "blogging" was even a word, when there were no Tweetups, and the first citizen journalists dared to claim that they were legitimate media and demanded access to their government. As such, for those of us who helped pave the way (inside and outside of NASA), do us proud. Don't waste the opportunity. Ask something useful.
Brian Welch would find this all to be rather fascinating. He had his hands full just dealing with only me ...
Questions at this afternoon's budget press conference can be tweeted with the hashtag #askNASA NASA will try and answer some of them.
Letter from the NASA Inspector General to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, 4 February 2000. Topic: NASA Watch's application for press accreditation. Note: by this point NASA "RIF" Watch had been online for more than 3 years.
"The editor of NASA Watch has twice applied for press accreditation from NASA and was rejected both times. The first application was a verbal request to NASA Headquarters PAO for credentials to attend the launch of the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft in June 1997. That request was verbally rejected on the grounds that NASA Watch was not legitimate press but rather was closer to a "vanity press." The editor of NASA Watch again applied (via email) for press credentials to NASA Headquarters PAO in July 1999 (see Appendix B) and was again rejected (see Appendix C) on the grounds that NASA Watch did not meet the PAO's new policy for press accreditation (see Appendix D). NASA has no formal process for appealing rejection of press credentials."
Rogue Webmasters, Government Executive, October 1996
"Donald Teague, president of the NASA Headquarters Professional Association, says the RIF Watch site provides invaluable information. "You have to turn it on each morning to see what's going on," he says. A committee of headquarters employees nominated Cowing for an agency award for running the RIF Watch site. But NASA Associate Administrator for Headquarters Operations Michael Christensen, rejected the idea. "The tone of the page is unacceptable," says Christensen. "None of us dispute his right to run the Web site. My own personal decision was that it would be inappropriate to honor him for it."
"Officially, the White House says Obama never went to Mars. "Only if you count watching Marvin the Martian," Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security Council, tells Danger Room. But that's exactly what a secret chrononaut wants you to believe."
"According to two guys named Andrew D. Basiago and William Stillings, Obama, then known as one "Barry Soetoro," joined them and seven other young Americans, including the current director of DARPA, in a project that involved teleporting to the Red Planet through a so-called "jump room."
"I just had a chance to see the new film "Apollo 18". As I am certain is the case with all of my fellow space cadets, I felt some intellectual trepidation in advance of seeing this film. How anyone could launch a Saturn V without the folks in Cocoa Beach noticing on Christmas day 1974 being one of the more improbable things. But you get past those nagging little facts at the very onset of the film. Through a deft use of real Apollo era footage and re-created footage (they keep telling you it is real), the film really manages to suspend lingering disbelief rather quickly. Often times its like watching the old grainy 70s era NASA features that NASA TV runs after midnight."
NASA reaches its outer limit, LA Times
"But after initially touting "Apollo 18" as one of its upcoming fiction film collaborations, NASA -- which, for the record, says the last manned mission to the moon was Apollo 17 in 1972 -- has begun to back away from the movie. "Apollo 18 is not a documentary," said Bert Ulrich, NASA's liaison for multimedia, film and television collaborations. "The film is a work of fiction, and we always knew that. We were minimally involved with this picture. We never even saw a rough cut. The idea of portraying the Apollo 18 mission as authentic is simply a marketing ploy. Perhaps a bit of a 'Blair Witch Project' strategy to generate hype."
"For the viral campaign, the film's official website has a subpage that updates periodically with several documents from before, after, and during the mission. The latest documents are internal memos at NASA that show how they knew something was up."
"Four members of the joint STS-135/Expedition 28 crews are able to spend part of their last shared time onboard the International Space Station performing floating exercises that can't be done in Earth's gravity. Inside the Harmony Node 2 module, are NASA astronauts Mike Fossum (top), Expedition 28 flight engineer, and Doug Hurley, STS-135 pilot; and Ron Garan, Expedition 28 flight engineer. The crew member at bottom is partially obscured and is unidentified."
Keith's note: What's that - you don't know what "planking" is?
According to firstname.lastname@example.org: "The LCS SE&I group celebrated the launch of STS-135 with homemade Italian bread and cold cuts!! Checkout this work of art!!"
"Most NASA 'insiders' rely on NASAWatch.com for timely NASA news. Run by a former NASA engineer with an attitude, Keith Cowing gives readers an unofficial [interesting] perspective on space news. Sometimes shocking, always interesting. Take a look NASA Watch."
Please visit NASAology.com for more cartoons.
"The subject guidelines endorses doing away with the term "shall" to mandate requirements and using the term "must" instead. These guidelines were reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel who determined that these guidelines are arguably not mandatory for most of what we do, but prudent to implement across- the- board and use "must" instead of "shall." Therefore, NPR 1400.1, NASA Directives and Charters Procedural Requirements, will be adjusted to include the term "must," to denote mandatory action prior to approval. This requirement will be effective when NPR 1400.1 is approved. Please inform your directives reviewers and writers."
Keith's 8 June update: Nannette Jennings at NASA just posted this in the NASAwatch comments section:
NASA will continue to use the term "shall." The following updated e-mail was distributed to the Agency's Directives Managers on June 1: The following provides an update to the subject e-mail sent May 24, 2011: As stated in the initial e-mail, the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) reviewed the subject guidelines and determined that the guidelines are arguably not mandatory for most of what we do, but prudent to implement across- the- board and use "must" instead of "shall." OGC was asked to review these guidelines again and their view is that using term "must" instead of "shall" does not apply to internal directives, but can be implemented if the Agency decides to. Further, the Office of Management and Budget was consulted and they confirmed that using the term "must" IS NOT a requirement. It's up to the agencies to use the term. Therefore, the Agency WILL continue to use the term "shall" to denote mandatory requirements.
Speaking for myself, I'd be more confused about official "shall" and "must" usage guidelines at NASA than I was at the onset - now that OGC has clarified the matter, that is. Apparently at NASA, there is no "must" or "shall" involved with the use of the words "must" or "shall"...
Bill Gerstenmaier on the DC Variable, NASA PM Challenge
"Dramatic changes in information and news circulate through blogs, and social media has impacted NASA greatly. While the initial reaction may be to control these outlets, Gerstenmaier has taken a different approach. It has not been uncommon for him to finish a Flight Readiness Review for the shuttle and have a report out about it before leaving the building. Instead of suppressing communication within the reviews, he has invited his public affairs officer to attend and tweet updates. Doing this has enabled him to tell a better NASA story and actually stay in front of the blogs. "Instead of trying to slow down communication, recognize that communication is diverse and fast. How can you now participate in it and use it to your advantage?"
Sony Pictures Adapting Sex on the Moon, Coming Soon
"Sony Pictures has picked up the film rights to Ben Mezrich's "Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History". The Social Network was based on Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires." Scott Rudin, Michael DeLuca and Dana Brunetti, who produced The Social Network, will again produce and Kevin Spacey will again executive produce."
Sex on the Moon, Amazon.com (in bookstores July 2011)
"Thad convinced his girlfriend and another female accomplice, both NASA interns, to break into an impregnable laboratory at NASA's headquarters--past security checkpoints, an electronically locked door with cipher security codes, and camera-lined hallways--and help him steal the most precious objects in the world: the moon rocks."
Keith's note: Yes, I know that NASA Headquarters is in Washington, DC - not Houston, TX. but do the movie producers know this? (Does JSC?)
"What damage did they do? The young thieves did more than just try to sell off a collection of lunar samples worth as much as $21 million. In the process, they also contaminated them, making them virtually useless to the scientific community. They also destroyed three decades worth of handwritten research notes by a NASA scientist that had been locked in the safe."
"Well, this doesn't happen every day. In yesterday's post, I talked about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's walk across the lunar surface back in 1969 and wondered, how come they walked such a modest distance? Less than a hundred yards from their lander?"
Keith's note: Hmm, do you believe this traditional, boring version (as told by Armstrong) or the version below with much better special effects?
"Holy conspiracy! The first trailer for Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon is here, and while it isn't full of the director's trademark explodey touch, that title is starting to make a bit more sense. Get ready for everything you thought you knew about the moon landing to be thrown out the window!"
Hi res trailers here
"Among those who tasted the cosmically inspired dishes during the show were former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, and current astronauts Leland Melvin and Sandra Magnus. The 'Top Chef' cooks received the challenge at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland during a video message from astronauts Timothy "T.J. Creamer and Tracy Caldwell Dyson on the International Space Station."
Keith's note: Yea, yea, yea. NASA Edge found out how they actually make this stuff at NASA:
How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad... 23 years ago, Ars Technica
"To understand the thinking that led to the design of the Star Trek PADD, we spoke to some of the people involved in production of ST:TNG (as well as other Star Trek TV series and films), including Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda, and Doug Drexler. All three were involved in various aspects of production art for Star Trek properties, including graphic design, set design, prop design, visual effects, art direction, and more. We also discussed their impressions of the iPad and how eerily similar it is to their vision of 24th century technology, how science fiction often influences technology, and what they believe is the future of human-machine interaction."
"Once upon a time, a bunch of guys got together with a crazy idea - build rockets that go farther and faster than mankind had ever gone before. It's nice to know that America still builds rockets ..."
This week at Cape Canaveral saw the red, white and blue honored by one of the most historic of American traditions. It also saw local leaders both working to improve the economic future of the Space Coast region and acknowledging the benefits of the shuttle era extending into another year.
Successful science communication: A case study, Ars Technica
"It is no secret that, in general, i.e. outside of dedicated science reporting venues and the occasional medical report on the evening news, the scientific community does a craptastic job of communicating with the general public. While I think we at Nobel Intent do it admirably, we are but an infinitesimal sliver in the pie of science. A report that appeared in a recent edition of theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights a case study of effective science communication and deconstructs it to show what parts may be generally applicable to other areas of science."
"Hacking for Humanity", OSTP
"Hacking for Humanity"--never thought you'd hear that phrase, right? Well, Google, Microsoft, NASA, The World Bank, and Yahoo! have joined forces to turn that into a reality and bring us Random Hacks of Kindness, an initiative that brings together the sustainable development, disaster risk management, and software developer communities to solve real-world problems with technology."
Keith's note: Nice idea. Sounds like a worthy cause. I have always wanted to see how one of these events works. Too bad no one outside of a small group of digerati at NASA knew about it until the last minute. This notice was posted at OSTP's blog at 5:05 pm on 3 June 2010 regarding an event that runs from 5-6 June. That's little more than 36 hours notice. On the event link referenced by the OSTP posting they make mention of a reception at the State Department on 4 June that required registration on 31 May i.e. 4 days prior to the first official posting at OSTP. In other words, only a select few even knew about this event. And even if you saw this posting at OSTP and followed the subsequent link to the event registration page you'd need a time machine in order to attend the reception.
In addition, there is no mention of this event at NASA's main home page, news page, NASA CIO page, NASA IPP, Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, International and Interagency Relations, Office of the Chief Technologist, etc. even though CIO and CTO staff at NASA HQ and several field centers are participants in the event -- and all of these offices would certainly seem to have some interest in an event with the State Department, OSTP, and the World Bank - one with a global outreach context. Yet if you go to the RHOK website you see NASA's logo.
Clearly, based on OSTP's posting and the NASA branding on the RHOK website, this is an activity officially sanctioned by NASA. Yet no one at the agency seems to have been at all interested in getting people outside a small circle of usual suspects to participate. Yet another example of closed openness and minimal transparency at NASA. When this sort of stealth planning is standard fare at NASA, how the agency ever expects to practice what they preach with regard to being "open" and "responsive" to the public simply escapes me.
Keith's update: Based on the registration list there were between 5-10 NASA employees at this NASA-endorsed/supported event. The focus of RHOK was the development of products for use in a wide variety of applications domestically and internationally. Given that NASA was officially involved, I wonder if the participants will be producing a summary report of their activities and links to the products that they developed. One would think that the NASA CIO would be responsible for this.
Keith's note: On 7 May 2007 Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited NASA GSFC. Apparently NASA Administrator Michael Griffin did not understand the protocol that goes with attending a reigning monarch in a public event. Note his awkward posture and the way that the security guys made him stand back when he got too close to the Queen.
And to all of you who wonder why I posted this video: Mike Griffin purposefully and deliberately continues to insert himself into undermining the Obama Administrations' space policy. The same awkward approach apparent in this video is evident in his current efforts to torpedo what NASA is trying to do. In so doing he makes himself totally relevant to the things that NASA Watch covers.
Sean O'Keefe, Dan Goldin, Dick Truly etc. do not do this. Hence you do not see them featured on NASA Watch. Alas, Mike Griffin just can't fight the urge to fiddle with things and continues to be a factor. As such, he's on NASA Watch's radar. That's how it works folks.
Space, the designer's frontier, Boston Globe
"Ideas asked four graphic designers to come up with a new emblem for the 21st-century space agency, to conjure a vision of NASA that fits the present."
Keith's note: I still like my "wormball" logo concept.
Keith's note: With the popularity of retro TV shows such as "Mad Men" comes a second look at how we used to advertise things in the 1960s - products, ideas, etc. The early space age was an exciting time when we were doing things no one had done before - and we were pretty proud of doing it. Some of the artwork is rather classy and, with a few tweaks, might even work today. If you go to this page at io9 you will some examples of ads from the dawn of space exploration.
"... Or the American Bosch Arma Corporation showing off, in Fortune, its "Cosmic Butterfly," a solar-powered electrically propelled vehicle to ferry passengers and cargo across the solar system. Most Americans never saw these concoctions, but now they have been collected and dissected by Megan Prelinger, an independent historian and space buff, in a new book, "Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957-1962." It is being published on May 25 by Blast Books."
Dancing with the Stars Season 10 Cast Lineup Annoucements, Buzzy Bloggers
"The Dancing with the Stars' Season 10 Cast includes Pamela Anderson, Chad Ochocinco, Aiden Turner, Erin Andrews, Shannen Doherty, Buzz Aldrin, Niecy Nash, Nicole Scherzinger,Evan Lysacek, Kate Gosselin."
Famed space artist Robert McCall, 90, dies, Collectspace
"An artist whose visions of the past, present, and future of space exploration have graced U.S. postage stamps, NASA mission patches, and the walls of the Smithsonian, Robert McCall died on Friday of a heart attack in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 90."
The late, great Robert McCall, Miles O'Brien
"When the congregation decided to add a small, chapel-in-the-round for smaller ceremonies a few years ago, they called upon this artistic pair in their midst to design the stained-glass windows. ... Not long after it was finished, and not long after the Challenger disaster, the widow of the commander of the doomed flight, June Scobee visited here. After gazing into the glass and reflecting, she told the McCall's she knew where her husband was. The McCalls' eyes glisten as they recount the story."
Challenger Center Mourns the Death of Space Artist Robert T. McCall, Challenger Center
"Bob's artistic talent and imagination helped us to create the concept and design for Challenger Center, and he remained a close friend and supporter. My heart goes out to his wife Louise and his entire family," said June Scobee Rodgers, Challenger Center's Founding Chairman. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in McCall's honor to the Challenger Space Center of Arizona, 21170 North 83rd Ave, Peoria, AZ 85382, www.AZChallenger.org."
NSS's Annual ISDC: A good barometer of Society's health, Guest post by Ian Malone
One of the premier space exploration advocacy groups is the National Space Society, (NSS). Formed in 1987, the NSS has established chapters across the country and around the globe. For much of its history the NSS has been a powerful force promoting manned spaceflight. However, much like NASA's Public Affairs Office, the NSS has lost touch with the people it is supposed to represent. The NSS's upper echelons until recently were massively instrumental in guiding the future of manned spaceflight.
"Those who read Arthur C. Clarke's novelization of the movie will remember that he described this device as the "Newspad," something that was used by people of the future (as envisioned in 1968) to watch TV and read newspapers. You can read the full description of the device after the break -- it's described as a newsreader, with two-digit codes for each article online, and a constant stream of information from the hourly updates on "electronic papers."
"Together, Gene Ross, my mother, Sharon, and myself, have kept the Outpost Tavern going for the last thirty years, it has stayed open. My Mom and Gene being the bulk of it, I was meant to be the "Closer" of this deal! J Good or bad, whatever anyone thinks of how we did it, we kept it open for you!
However, like many good things in life, sometimes "we" are not in charge. In this case, the property that the OP sits on has been going through many changes ownership-wise, since Pete Wright died, and there has always been a certain air of uncertainty about what may happen in the future. Well, the future is here. I have been informed that the property has been sold to another party."
Keith's 17 Nov update: I just got the press release via NASA LaRC's official email distribution list - it was sent out at 9:26 am EST. I am a little baffled as to why a press release first issued only via PR Newswire 4 days ago on 13 November only gets delivered to NASA LaRC's official distribution list 4 days later - and only 3 days before the event itself - announcing that tickets are available "starting Saturday, Nov. 14" i.e. 3 days ago. Oh yes, tickets will not be available after 5 pm today - no mention of that either. And no mention whatsoever is made in the release of the fact that the event will be webcast live. One could easily get the impression that LaRC PAO is not especially interested in this event.
Keith's 17 Nov update: Someone just sent me the final TEDxNASA program and I have posted it here.
NASA's Adviser Talks Security During Annual Salute To Veterans, Tyler Morning Telegraph
"Phillip Bounds, NASA's National Security advisor in Washington, D.C., spoke Monday, calling cyber threats against this country alarming. "There are hidden cyber warriors out there that intend to put our forces in harm's way and (the cyber threat) is more real than what you realize," Bounds told a crowd estimated by officials at "500-plus" at an early Veterans Day observance at the International ALERT Academy."
Keith's note: I just checked NED and no one named Phillip Bounds is listed as being employed by NASA. Yet Bounds clearly works at NASA. In this org chart he is listed as Director, Security Management Division. Isn't it just a little weird to not have such a person listed? How do you find him if you have a security issue? Isn't that what NED is supposed to do - help find NASA people? Or is this part of the whole security thing (i.e. stay hidden)?
Facebook for scientists: Map your expertise, Indiana University
"Indiana University has received more than $1.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to collaborate on a $12.2 million, seven-university project designed to network researchers around the country. While the proposed new networking system will contain authentication mechanisms to protect sensitive data and intellectual property, it is being described as a Facebook for scientists."
"The new system will federate information about faculty and staff from institutional repositories, listings of published articles from academic publishers, and information provided by researchers. Using Vivo, users can search the information and assemble it on a unique page."
Keith's note: Too bad NASA can't do this. Spacebook (internal NASA access only) doesn't really count since only NASA employees inside the firewall can see it - and other field centers have their own competing systems. Taxpayers are denied access. If this sort of information were out in the open, in an easy to use format, not only would NASA and NASA-funded personnel have easier access to what eaveryoen was doing, but so would the taxpaying public. Indeed, this might even lead to unexpected avenues of collaboration between NASA and the outside world.
I think every employee at NASA - from Charlie Bolden to maintenance workers - civil servants and contractors alike - should be required to have and maintain a Facebook Page. Nothing fancy - just who they are and what they do. Performance plan, job description, and recent publications etc. You can set these things up in an hour or less and tweak them when need be. If they want to make it fancier beyond that - great. No need to make it their personal page - they can do that elsewhere. I am talking about a professional page.
In addition to making NASA more open to various search engines, this might also serve to enlighten policy makers and the public as to what vast range of things NASA actually does, how real (and normal) the NASA family actually is, and that they are a part of the economy - and society - just like everyone else. Right now most of what NASA actually does is hidden behind a firewall in a black box with PAO as the only one with a key.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Launches Spacebook, NASA CIO Blog
"NASA has been recognized for 40 years of shared project management success by the Project Management Institute, or PMI, of Newton Square, Pa. "NASA has advanced the discipline of project, program and portfolio management by example," said Ricardo Viana Vargas, chairman of the PMI Board of Directors during their Global Congress-North America annual conference that took place in Orlando, Fla., in October. Vargas also noted that 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of PMI and the Apollo 11 moon landing."
Keith's note: The Coalition for Space Exploration put an advisory out this morning about some public service announcement videos they produced for www.KeepAmericaInSpace.com. The first one is above, the second is below.
These are certainly nicely made videos. My prime criticism, however, is that after all the nostalgic imagery and emotions are brought forth, viewers are not told what specific threats are being made to American space exploration and what specific things they need to do to stop these threats from affecting America's space program. All you get are hints and vague suggestions that things might not continue - with no explanation as to why.
If these videos are meant to be a call to action, then they are missing some critical components. Why do we need to Keep America In Space? What (or who) is threatening to prevent this? Is it President Obama who is doing this? Members of Congress?
These videos impart a sense that things are going OK as they are. If so, then why make the video in the first place? What are you asking viewers to do - and to think? Who do they contact in order to stop these threats? Congress? The White House? NASA? What do they say? What needs to be fixed?
If something needs to be done then you need to give people the tools to fix things and a "to do" list to implement if you want things to be fixed. You can't just drop hints and expect things to happen.
These ads (again, nicely done from a production standpoint) seem to be aimed at people who already support space exploration. In other words, more choir practice. When will the Coalition - and all "space advocates" - finally break this habit? You really do not need to convince the faithful. They are already in the tank.
These videos are described as "public service announcements". You need to reach out into the real world i.e. the "public" and make the discussion resonate with life outside of the space community. You know, bad economy, global warming, etc. Until that happens, these ads just sound like they are saying "you should support space because we are inspired by it - and because we work here".
So what do you think?
Keith's note: NASA civil servant Nick Skytland has been twittering about his official activities at work today at @skytland but this taxpayer (me - @KeithCowing) is specifically blocked from following him on Twitter.
Ironically, Nick champions himself as an advocate ("NASA Catalyst") for an "Open NASA", pushes the use of social networking tools, etc. and was involved in a "Bar Camp" activity (see #SLSDbarcamp ) at JSC Life Sciences that seeks to improve how NASA does business and communicates.
Keith's note: Lori Garver and Charlie Bolden made their first Field Center visit on Wednesday - to Langley. Does anyone from LaRC have feedback they'd like to share? Don't be shy.
"Mike Griffin: Well, with regard to feelings: I don't do feelings. Just think of me as Spock." [audio]
NASA's Charlie Bolden Gets Verklempt, Washington Post
"Over the course of 35 minutes of remarks -- which he admitted should have lasted for about five -- Bolden's voice broke and tears welled up at least five times. "I cry because my dad cried," he explained. "He taught me how to cry. He was my high school football coach. He expressed to me, and everyone else he coached, to have something you're passionate about." NASA became his passion, he said, even though he admitted, "I never dreamed of being an astronaut. I definitely didn't dream of being administrator."
Comment by Lori Garver during yesterday's employee briefing: "Feelings are back at NASA".
Let's Not Bother With Space, Gawker
"On this, the 40th Anniversary of the day Mankind conquered the moon, it is time to issue another clarion call for this generation: fuck Mars, let's focus our attention here, for now. What the hell do we have to show for manned space exploration besides neat pictures and a brief feeling of patriotic goodwill in the middle of Vietnam? Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong are demanding that Obama send men to Mars, ASAP, because... why? Because they had a blast on the moon and wouldn't want future generations to miss out on space-golf?"
Keith's note: Despair.com has a new take on motivational posters - with an Apollo theme.
Whoopi Goldberg Entertains Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories, Real Clear Politics
"Whoopi Goldberg questioned the original moon landing on today's edition of "The View." Goldberg, a co-host, wondered who shot the footage and why the flag was "rippling" if there was no wind."
Keith's note: Watch the video. Is she kidding or just clueless?
"The story, as summarized by Britain's Sunday Express newspaper in late June, was that the tapes had been found in a storage facility in the basement of a building on a university campus in Perth, Australia. Monday's statement appeared to confirm that report, stating that the footage comes from what is "believed to be the best available broadcast-format copies of the lunar excursion, some of which had been locked away for nearly 40 years."
"Mr. Sibrel, who sells his films online, has hounded Apollo astronauts with a Bible, insisting that they swear on camera they had walked on the Moon. He so annoyed Buzz Aldrin in 2002 -- ambushing him with his Bible and calling him "a coward, and a liar, and a thief" -- that Mr. Aldrin punched Mr. Sibrel in the face. Law enforcement officials refused to file charges against Mr. Aldrin, the second man on the Moon. In an interview, Mr. Sibrel said that his efforts to prove that men never walked on the Moon has cost him dearly. "I have suffered only persecution and financial loss," he said. "I've lost visitation with my son. I've been expelled from churches. All because I believe the Moon landings are fraudulent."
Apollo 11 Moon landing: conspiracy theories debunked, The Telegraph
"2) No stars are visible in the pictures taken by the Apollo astronauts from the surface of the Moon. The Apollo landing takes place during lunar mornings, with the Sun shining brightly. Exposure time on the cameras is set very rapid so as not to let in too much light and obscure detail. The stars, whilst being visible to the naked eye on the Moon, are not bright enough to be captured in the photographs."
Keith's note: Tired of opening up the door to your dorm room? Use hydraulics! And control it with your iPhone! This guy clearly wants to work for NASA (note the prominent NASA logo placement). Maybe he can invent those whooshing sliding doors they will use on Star Trek.
"An administrative change is being made to the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for New Frontiers 2009 (NNH09ZDA007O). 90 copies of the proposal are required to be submitted. The proposal due date and all other requirements remain unchanged. Requirement 86 on page 46 now reads: "Requirement 86. The original signed proposal and 90 paper copies, each of which contains an attached, clearly labeled CD-ROM that contains electronic proposal files (see Appendix B), shall be delivered to the following address by the proposal submittal deadline specified in Section 3."
Keith's note: This would be hilarious if it was not so stupid. NASA asks for an electronic copy of a proposal and then tells the submitters to leave a large carbon footprint and ship 90 paper copies of the proposal as well. Why not just use the CD and print them out at HQ? Oh wait, printing uses up trees. Why not just send copies of the CD to reviewers? If no one is going to use the electronic version then why ask for the CD in the first place? Hmm - is this the same process that SMD Earth Science proposals will follow? Al Gore certainly won't be happy ...
Wayne Hale's NASA Blog: Real Life is Not Like Star Trek (with a larger image of Wayne on the bridge)
"For my birthday, my son and fellow Star Trek aficionado gave me some DVDs with the old TV series. Needless to say, I have made a lengthy review of the subject lasting far into the evenings over the last week or so. As a fictional future, Star Trek set a high standard: there was always in interesting planet to explore, every week there was a challenging interpersonal (interspecies?!) relationship to develop, the good guys always won, camaraderie reigned supreme. Even logic and reason, while important, were shown to be inferior to human intuition and compassion. Every episode left you with the feeling that things just would just get better and better. What an exciting, upbeat, pleasantly challenging universe we would encounter in the future! Pop culture was profoundly affected: "Beam me up Scotty!"
From "Iowa Mom": I wanted to update your "One Convert At A Time" June 2nd story:
As the mom of one of the "3 Iowa Boys" staying in the Marriott hotel last week, I have to tell you how wonderful everyone from NASA was to these boys. When we put up the "We love NASA" sign we thought that maybe, if we were lucky, someone would put up a sign back to the boys and end of story. To arrive in our hotel room and find a package left by NASA amazed and thrilled my sister, all 3 boys and myself.
Later that day we went to visit NASA's gift shop, only to discover it had closed for the day. An employee, Mike Chambers, saw us standing there and told us to wait there. He came back several minutes later with a few more things for the boys. He also suggested we come back the next day and visit the library. He gave us his name and office phone number in case we had trouble visiting the library.
Keith's note: Visitors across the street from NASA Headquarters thought enough to say hello to their temporary neighbors today. According to email@example.com "The view of the Marriott across the street from HQ. We took the family some NASA patches, pins, books, etc. They put up a "thanks" note later. Novel approach. It worked! :-)"
As Sean O'Keefe often used to muse in such situations, paraphrasing his Jesuit schooling: "one convert at a time".
Hey "Iowa". That's where James T. Kirk is (will be) from ....
Click for larger image.
New Vuitton Ad Campaign: The Right Stuff?, WS Journal
"The French luxury brand Louis Vuitton plans to announce today a high-profile new ad campaign featuring 79-year-old astronaut Buzz Aldrin and fellow space travellers Sally Ride and Jim Lovell. Aldrin walked on the moon in 1969. Now he and the others will appear in photos shot by Annie Leibovitz, sitting on the hood of a battered pickup truck, gazing wistfully at the stars as the wind blows through their hair. In a video, they are sitting in the California desert, talking about how space changed their lives."
"For this week's Photoshop Contest, we asked you to depict more people and things being tossed into space in honor of Spacebat. You didn't disappoint."
Editor's note: I find it interesting how NASA employee Nick Skytland @skytland sits at his desk at work, Twittering about NASA, and as a taxpayer, I am not allowed to follow his Twitter feed. Yet curiously, Nick is one of the more vocal NASA Gen Y employees calling for increased openness and use of these social networking tools. Seems somewhat hypocritical.
Editor's update: If I did not find clear value in what Nick Twitters as part of his job at NASA, I would not be complaining about the impediment he has put in place regarding my access to it.
Wayne Hale's Blog: Encouraging Innovation at NASA
"I have another video for you to watch, but before you do let me give you a little context. On this date, March 16, 1926, Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard, professor of Physics at Worchester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts tried out his newest invention in his Aunt Effie's cabbage patch near Auburn, Massachusetts. Pretty old cabbages in that garden in March in Massachusetts. Dr. Goddard's invention? The world's very first liquid fueled rocket. It flew; not very high nor very far, but it flew. And attracted the attention of the town's volunteer fire department - they asked Dr. Goddard not to do any more experiments there."
Art of the Seal, NY Times
"Some things seem doomed to divide us: Lennon versus McCartney, Yankees versus Mets, boxers versus briefs and so on. If you love one, you'll probably loathe the other, and each camp makes an equally convincing case as to why its choice is right. For design nuts, one of those alpha-versus-beta divisions is choosing between the two logos of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also known as NASA. One is the symbol that NASA adopted in 1959 and still uses today. It's the NASA Insignia, commonly known as ''the meatball'' for the obvious reason that it looks like one. The other is the logo that replaced it from 1975 to 1992. It, too, has an official name, the NASA Logotype, and a similarly self-explanatory nickname, ''the worm.''
Meatballs Devour Worms!!, NY Times (1999)
Worm Watch, NASA Watch
"NASA's chief climate scientist is in hot water with colleagues and at least one lawmaker after calling on citizens to engage in civil disobedience at what is being billed as the largest public protest of global warming ever in the United States. In a video on capitolclimateaction.org, Dr. James Hansen is seen urging Americans to "take a stand on global warming" during the March 2 protest at the Capitol Power Plant in Southeast Washington, D.C. ... ... "Jim Hansen is performing a tremendous job at communicating our science to the public and, more importantly, to policymakers and decision-makers," Franco Einaudi, director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a press release."
"But NASA is defending Hansen's right as a private citizen to engage in the campaign. "He's doing this as a private citizen on his own time and there's nothing wrong with that," said NASA spokesman Mark Hess. "There's nothing partisan here. You don't give up your rights to free speech by becoming a government employee."
Editor's note: I guess this is about as clear a signal as any NASA employee can expect to get that they can now speak out publicly - with attribution - about any topic they wish - including overtly work-related topics - without any fear of reprimand, sanction, or criticism from their management, right? Very important - if it is true, that is.
Why not push the envelope and see what happens? If your boss comes after you, just cite the Hansen precedent.
"Next week I am on the agenda of the NASA Project Management Challenge training event to give a talk on "The Power of Accepting Criticism". This was a talk that I planned to give last year, but a conflict caused me to back out at the last minute. So up until last evening, I was feeling pretty good about having the speech ready, it was written a year ago, with only minor updates to polish it up. Now I think I'm going to tear that speech up and write a new one. Same topic, new info. All because of an email exchange I had last evening. Here is what I got - not as a comment to my blog, but as a direct email -- as I was waiting for my plane to take me home:"
"Moments after having their shuttle launch delayed, Discovery astronauts complained once again Monday about John Shannon--that annoying little program manager who insists on every detail of every space mission being exactly right. Shannon, who is reportedly always double-checking launch parameters for no good reason, and sticking his nose into parts of the spacecraft that have always worked just fine, delayed the NASA flight for the third time this past month. ... The insufferable perfectionist's fixation goes beyond ship maintenance and safety, however. In the past six months, Shannon has totally smothered Discovery astronauts, forcing them to complete endless navigation simulations, practice sea survival techniques despite the lack of water in space, and train for all kinds of hypothetical emergency evacuations, the vast majority of which will never even happen."
Editor's note: Actor Ashton Kutcher, well known for film classics such as "Dude, Where's my Car?", appeared on Bill Maher's Real Time Program recently. At one point, he got into a rant about the pointless value of sending things to Mars. Another guest, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) chimed in, and in so doing, showed her own ignorance of facts regarding the current STS-126 mission and the ISS. To be certain, this is a comedy show - of sorts. But it did not seem like the millionaire actor or the badly informed member of Congress were kidding.
Not that everyone in America thinks this way - but when two people from dramatically different backgrounds seem to agree on a point such as this, you have to ask yourself how supporters of space exploration are going to overcome this resistance? Is space exploration of value to the electorate? Is it more important than other things? How do you make that clear? Clearly what has been done to date is not having much effect, polls not withstanding.
Go to this page and click on the 14 November video clip. Transcript of commentary starting at 3:58 into the segment:
"Boasting one of the more eclectic guest lists in recent memory, Brazilian-influenced duo N.A.S.A. will unveil its debut album, "The Spirit of Apollo," Feb. 17 via Anti-. ... N.A.S.A., which stands for "North America / South America," is staffed by Squeak E. Clean (composer/producer Sam Spiegel) and DJ Zegon (skateboarder Ze Gonzales). The duo has been working on the album for five years ever since conceiving it at a party in Brazil."
Review: Fly Me To The Moon, OnOrbit.com
"I had a chance to see the new animated feature "Fly me to the Moon" the other day - in IMAX. If you manage to suspend concern for strict adherence to Apollo mission profiles and the laws of physics, its a fun little movie. While the humans rendered in this film are less than is possible with state of the art CGI, the main characters are very well done. And some of the scenes are rather dramatically imagined. There are also some humorous references to both "2001 A Space Odyssey" and the classic Simpson's episode "Deep Space Homer"."
"A successful Constellation Program at NASA will require the application of superb system engineering competencies. Currently, we face unique system engineering challenges that must be addressed to effectively design a complex manned space vehicle, develop new sub-systems and integrate existing elements that were designed for other missions."
Editor's note: In yesterday's ESMD media telecon, Jeff Hanley kept repeating how NASA folks need to have a certain engineering culture instilled in them - implying (not too subtly) that such a culture is not already in place. NASA once had ths collective expertise, right? Why is NASA teaching all of this engineering stuff for Ares and Constellation employees now - at a time when these people are all in the middle of actual design reviews? Its great to give folks a refresher, but it often seems as if NASA feels that it needs to teach its own people how to do their jobs - skills they should already have.
Shouldn't this have been done before design process even started? Moreover, if the people who have been given these design tasks need this sort of remedial training, isn't this an indication that NASA should have been looking elsewhere - perhaps the private sector - where such skills still exist?
Question for Mike Griffin: Isn't there a certain folly inherent in marching into a task that rivals Apollo when you have a workforce that you know is not totally equipped to handle that challenge?
"On Tuesday morning, weather permitting, the painter will lead a team of five artists as they fly 23,000 feet into the air to create art inspired by the feeling of total weightlessness. Heavily influenced by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch Azam's work is primarily concerned with how bodies can be represented in different states of motion and tension."
Editor's note: I certainly hope this guy paints fast - with ony 20 seconds or so of weightlessness per parabola, he'll need to be very efficient with his time. He'll also have to stow his paint and brushes in that time before they start to pull 2 Gs. Could get messy.
"We don't study sexuality in space, and we don't have any studies ongoing with that," said NASA spokesman Bill Jeffs of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "If that's your specific topic, there's nothing to discuss," he added, referring to "sex in space."
Cry havoc, The Space Review
"Did you know that NASA is a fascist organization? How about the Constellation program--did you realize that it was fascist too? Or the Apollo program? What about the philosophical/spiritual observation that Arthur C. Clarke defined as "the Overview Effect" whereby from space, Earth's political borders and squabbles disappear? Did you realize that this philosophy--perhaps even Arthur C. Clarke himself--is fascist?"
Editor's note: I can't find a thing in this article that I disagree with. The inmates are indeed trying to seize control of the asylum via the blogosphere and Dwayne Day has caught them red handed.
Editor's note: A few months ago I got an inquiry from the producers of Penn & Tell's Showtime series "Bullsh*t" asking if I would be interested in being interviewed or offer assistance on a show about NASA. I declined.
At the time, they said "We're going to basically say that NASA has been in decline since the Apollo missions, some of the current plans (moon base!) are bogus, and worst of all the culture of NASA created a safety situation that ended in the horrible deaths of the Challenger and Columbia astronauts."
The underlying intent of this show is obvious in its title. Their producer's email made it crystal clear. They are just looking for filler to edit and parse so as to illustrate their forgone conclusion. On some topics, I find myself in complete agreement with their lampooning. But given that their going-in premise with regard to NASA is negative, they are certain to find what they are looking for. Here is an innocuous preview clip.
Generation Y Characterizations Presentation (June 2008, 196k), opennasa.com
Editor's note: This presentation was made at ISDC. There is nothing really new in here when you consider the previous presentations this group of younger, so-called "Gen Y" NASA employees has been making.
The tone of this briefing is often annoying. Its almost as if this generation (assuming that this presentation is the definitive description thereof) thinks they are the first ones to be different than their parents, and that they see the world in a different way than their parents, and that they need to be treated differently.
"More than 20 renowned experts in the fields of space, science, media, and humanitarian services have joined forces to raise public awareness of the Overview Effect, a term used to describe the experience astronauts have when seeing Earth firsthand from outer space, and the resulting sense of unification that is brought on by this unique perspective."
At NASA and Nightclubs, Stars Align for DJ Scientific, Washington Post
"By day, NASA aerospace engineer Mark Branch supervises electromagnetic compatibility and susceptibility tests on instruments for the Hubble Space Telescope. At night and on weekends, he becomes DJ Scientific, trading in his spectrum analyzers and oscilloscopes for a microphone, turntables and a mixer as he cranks hip-hop tunes at some of the Washington area's hottest clubs as well as at NFL and NBA events."
More from Mark's website, ScientificBeats (below):
Reader note: I came across this write-up at KSC and thought a lot of your readers would get a chuckle out of it. Just another way to state the obvious ...
"Issue Title: Tile inadvertently damaged by inelastic collision with terra firma following uncontrolled descent"
Editor's note: When employees take dramatic actions such as this - i.e. to circumvent traditional management chains to raise both personal - and important workforce issues - it is symptomatic of managerial insensitivity and incompetence at the top. Dave King should be taking this very seriously - as a personal failure in his own management of MSFC - not something an employee did that requires a reprimand.
Reader note: This is an email that was sent by a Marshall employee yesterday.It was sent as a mass email (Marshall-wide global).Management response: "A MSFC employee sent a mass e-mail to the Marshall workforce today. We are taking appropriate action to provide assistance and to maintain a safe work environment for all of our employees. Due to Privacy Act considerations, we cannot comment further. Dave King, Director".
Email message below:
The Future of NASA Centers, Opennasa.com
"Yesterday, I had a very interesting and thought-provoking discussion about the future of JSC and how we're going to get there. (I'm trying to be careful about name-dropping, so as to keep the focus here on the ideas more so than personalities.) One of the subjects we broached was how JSC is famous for its mission operations work, but that a lot of the good engineering work we're doing here is going unnoticed by the public-at-large. I'll actually be meeting with someone tomorrow who is heading up the Engineering Directorate's efforts to share their innovations both internally and externally."
Hickam's book adapted into an award winner, Huntsville Times
"The "Rocket Boys" story is really going to be rocking thanks to a group of directors and producers from New York and New Jersey, who decided to adapt local author Homer Hickam's best seller, "Rocket Boys" (made into the hit movie "October Sky") to the stage. The play is called "Rocket Boys, the Musical" and producers hope to eventually get it on Broadway. It's already received numerous awards, including being one of three to receive the Academy for New Musical Theatre's Search for New Musicals Award in Los Angeles and the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop in New York."
"The center has a very significant PROBLEM: our projected institutional support budget (determined by HQ) is inadequate to meet the current way do business. As we look forward, we now have an OPPORTUNITY: redefine the way we accomplish our business, for significantly less cost, and still meet our program and project needs, provide for the health and safety of our work force and comply with our regulatory and legal requirements."
Universal Puts First Man on the Moon, Coming Soon
"Universal has acquired nonfiction novel "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong" and will turn it into a film about the first person to set foot on the moon, says Variety. NASA historian James R. Hansen got rare direct access to Armstrong, a test pilot-turned-astronaut who was so driven to reach the moon and play the role of American hero that he became known as "the Ice Commander."
Reader note: "Holy smokes. Alan Shepard was the Ice Commander, not Neil Armstrong"
Reader note: "Re: the Armstong movie. At least a couple posters on that site caught the factual errors in the PR release for the movie, i.e., about the LM hatch and the "ice commander" tag. More Hollywood crapola."
Reader note: "While its true that Shepard was known as the "Icy commander", some of Armstrong's fellow astronauts came to calling him the "ice commander" after Gemini 8, per "First Man" (page 436 in the softcover edition). That aside, there were some inaccuracies in the Variety article (on which the Coming Soon story was based), and those I understand were the result of Nicole Perlman (no relation) being misunderstood/misquoted. - Robert Pearlman"
2001: A Space Odyssey, Wikipedia
"2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. The film deals with thematic elements of human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life, and is notable for its scientific realism, pioneering special effects, provocatively ambiguous and often surreal imagery, sound in place of traditional narrative techniques, and a very minimal use of dialogue. ... The film's world premiere was on April 2, 1968, at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C."
Editor's note: Have another look at the film's opening (below). Please play this as loud as you possibly can.
"Actress Jolene Blalock, known for her role as Commander T'Pol on Star Trek: Enterprise, has also committed to serve as special guest award presenter for the Space Technology Hall of Fame Private Induction Ceremony and special guest master of ceremonies for the Space Technology Hall of Fame Dinner, on Thursday, April 10."
"The analysis of the 2007 NASA Culture Survey (NCS) results was part of a broader study that included focus groups, center assessments, literature searches and the additional comments provided by survey respondents. The overall findings were presented at a Senior Management Council in January 2008, and a determination was made that more can be expected across our organization regarding open communications and organizational support in getting the job done."
Sir Arthur C. Clarke Has Died, Marc Boucher, Space Elevator Reference
"It is with a heavy heart I write that Sir Arthur C. Clarke has died. He died early Wednesday at a hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I had the privilege to meet Sir Arthur in 1997 in Sri Lanka, his home of 52 years. His creative mind inspired many people including myself. He will be missed but his creativity will live on through the people he inspired."
Sir Arthur C. Clarke Has Died, Keith Cowing, SpaceRef
"Noted author and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke has died at age of 90 in Sri Lanka. I am not even certain where to begin to describe just how profoundly this man's writing affected me as a child - and as an adult."
Arthur C. Clarke, Wikipedia
The Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse, SpaceRef
Video (below): Sir Arthur Clarke Speaks on his 90th Birthday, December 2007
"An image of a mysterious shape on the surface of Mars, taken by Nasa spacecraft Spirit, has reignited the debate about life on the Red Planet. While some bloggers have dismissed the image as a trick of light, others say it is evidence of an alien presence. The image is a recent Nasa posting of the Spirit's landing in 2004."
Editor's note: The HiRes version of the new Star Trek trailer is online. Turn up the volume and watch it on a big monitor. If you go to this official website there are "webcams" that will show you the Enterprise under construction (so to speak). There are little sliders (the green bar) under each webcam feed that allow you to fine tune the webcam image so as to make it nice and crisp. The trailer is also on YouTube (below):
Inspirational Professor Given Part In Star Trek, Trekmovie.com
"Dr. Randy Pausch is a highly respected and honored professor of Computer Science and co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also a Trek fan. In November Dr. Pausch was offered a role to be in the new Star Trek movie, and it all started with a very special lecture he gave two months earlier."
"Tyson is a 6-foot-4 African American who today is wearing a dark suit and a vest knitted with white suns, each with a human face. It's the vest of a guy who (a) believes he is the universe's ambassador to Earth and (b) does not care what you think of his vest. Part of being a geek, Tyson says, is not worrying about whether you fit in, and for as long as he can remember, he's been a geek. Last month he took an online test to determine exactly how geeky he is. He scored high."
Editor's note: During demolition of the Ames 14' Wind Tunnel, a Stargate was discovered. The dialing device for the Stargate has not been found and may have been destroyed during the first phase of demolition. However, one rumor circulating at Ames refers to a large object being shipped to Google Headquarters late last night that matches the description of the dialer. Perhaps this is why Google was so interested in Ames (Google Stargate?) The discovery of this device also confirms long held suspicions as to why former Reagan era Star Wars participant, Brig. General Pete Worden was so interested in coming to Ames (see Worden's official portrait from a secret DoD website)
Of course, now that Ames has a Stargate, MSFC will try and take it away.
Click on image to enlarge.
Editor's update: Looks like someone activated the Stargate - during working hours - before it could be moved to its new location inside Hangar One. Now there will be no way that NASA and Google can deny this. After all, they couldn't figure out how to hide a simple thing like a 767 jet ...
Editor's additional update: A NASAWatch reader has helped unravel this mystery. There is another operational Stargate. It would seem that ARC is tapping personnel expertise across the world - via Stargate - from CERN. They commute daily via Stargate from Switzerland!
Editor's note: There is a press conference underway right now from NASA JSC regarding Expedition 16. A few minutes ago I heard several instances of NASAese - i.e. NASA people taking simple sentences and reformatting them so as to make them quasi-cryptic to people outside the agency. As is usually the case, several nouns and verbs were injured in the process.
Kirk Shireman (speaking NASAese): "... we will deconflict these two ..."
English translation: "... we will resolve conflicts between these two ..."
Holly Ridings: (speaking NASAese)" "... we ingressed into Node 2 ..."
English translation: " ... we entered Node 2 ..."
"... So I've decided: I'm in it for the long run. I don't intend to leave before the last wheel stop. There is plenty enough excitement and fulfillment to outweigh the biggest bonus or the fanciest office. There will be time for the future when it comes. Because we're not finished yet. I hope you are in it with me."
Editor's note: This letter (500 KB PDF) was written by a NASA subcontractor to JSC management in February 2007 regarding experiences on Constellation outreach and public relations.
Multiple NASA sources have authenticated this document - yet I have deleted information that would easily identify the author. This letter has been making the rounds, via faxed photocopies of photocopies, so I am certain it won't be that heard for someone to identify the author if they have a mind to do so. I just do not want to make it easier for that to happen than I need to. The reason: people who speak out at NASA often find future work prospects suddenly evaporating. Besides, it is the content of this letter that is important, not the identity of its author.
I find myself in near total agreement with the opinions expressed by the author with regard to the dysfunctional way NASA conducts public affairs and outreach. As to the problems the agency has in carrying such activities out, the author describes them perfectly. The author also offers some intelligent analysis and solutions that NASA would do well to consider.
Several years ago, something called "One NASA" appeared on everyone's to do list at NASA. It sounded great - for about 10 seconds - until you realized what it actually called for: the agency acting as one cohesive, integrated entity with all people and organizations helping one another so as to speak with a unified voice. In other words, everyone was supposed to put aside parochial issues and work for the common good.
We all know that NASA is utterly incapable of doing this - especially when it comes to PAO and outreach. Headquarters directorates, programs, and agency field centers all have their own outreach efforts (and budgets) over which PAO or Headquarters (the 9th floor) itself has little or no oversight. And none of these things are ever integrated properly with other projects and programs resulting in needless conflicts and duplications.
And of course, everyone has their little petty political games to play so as to posture themselves, their project, and their field center in a position so as to benefit the most and/or thwart others from doing so. This letter outlines a classic example of how NASA simply cannot get out of its own way. Marsha Ivin's behavior is utterly unprofessional and inexcusable.
I went back and forth as to whether I should post this. I eventually decided that the document already had a wide distribution. But much more importantly, I feel that the author has written some important things that need to be heard. Will posting this make the agency and some people who work there look bad? I guess so. But so long as these problems are allowed to fester unattended - things will only get worse.
The VSE will call upon every resource - and every person - at NASA to contribute together as a team. The activities described in this letter are anything but teamwork.
To be certain, there are people at PAO and Strategic Communications at NASA HQ who are trying to do the right thing and are addressing some of these lingering issues. But if, in the end, NASA is incapable of moving beyond the petty antics and confused messages that are outlined in this letter, the VSE will never result in one single piece of functional hardware.
Comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your Comments thus far:
"ABC reported that some of the phone records could be tracked to prominent business executives, NASA officials and at least five military officers. But there were no members of Congress or White House officials traced through Palfrey's records."
NASA engineer remembered for his passion, Houston Chronicle
"Though underpinned by tragedy, Wednesday's tribute was upbeat and could have been scripted by the man who was honored. It began with the throaty roar of more than 50 motorcycles driven by members of the JSC Space Riders, a club Beverly helped to organize. They rolled through two main streets of the space center, the lead bike bearing the U.S. flag as well as the banner of the U.S. Air Force, in which Beverly served."
"On Saturday, JSC Director Mike Coats and I met with Houston Police officials, who informed us of the results of their investigation. They made a point of telling us that both David and Fran had acted "heroically", that they had done all they could, each trying to protect the other, and that they had simply never seen a calmer and more self-possessed individual than Fran in any similar situation, concerning which they had all too much experience, including another case elsewhere that same afternoon. Houston Police Chief Hurtt stated that "not all of NASA's heroes fly in space."
"NASA's Johnson Space Center will hold a memorial at 10 a.m. CDT Wednesday, April 25, to honor senior avionics systems engineer David Beverly, who was killed in a shooting incident at the center on Friday, April 20."
"There is a Tulsa connection to the latest shocking case of violence in the workplace. Memorial services are set for an engineer shot and killed while working at NASA in Houston. Sixty-two- year-old David Beverly is a Broken Arrow graduate, who has family and friends in the Tulsa area. He's being remembered for his strength and for being an encouragement to others."
Editor's note: Hmmm ... Broken Arrow High School, Oklahoma, David Beverly's high school. Broken Bow, Oklahoma, small town featured in the opening scene of the first episode of Star Trek Enterprise - wherein misunderstandings lead to a shooting. Reality vs fiction. I know there is no connection, but I cannot shake the irony. Hopefully, David Beverly's name will find its way to a place of honor somewhere in our solar system - a place humans will one day visit and recall who he was and what he did. Those Mars Rovers certainly seem to be regularly discovering things which have been given names ...
NASA Feedback: David Beverly and Fran Crenshaw, Earlier post
NASA throttles up for change as end of shuttle era nears, Orlando Sentinel
"The initial target was to shrink Constellation's budget for operations and sustaining engineering to 60 percent of what it cost the shuttle program in 2007. NASA and its shuttle contractors already have crunched the resulting work-force numbers, but the final totals haven't been decided on. Some estimates have projected that a third of KSC's current workers could be affected."
Editor's note: Space journalist Jim Oberg appeared on MSNBC today and made some very cogent points about the factors that may have led up to the shooting at JSC - things that don't seem to get mentioned at NASA press conferences. Right now many at NASA are being asked "to do more with less". At some point this means people at NASA contractors loose their jobs. At present, layoffs (when they happen at NASA) are small and focused. Imagine what will happen as the Shuttle program is turned off. Thousands of contractor employees at JSC, KSC, MSFC and elsewhere will be laid off. NASA will dispute this, but they can never provide the data needed to back up their claim.
As Oberg notes NASA has an exceptionally motivated work force. People just love their jobs. Many, as David Beverly's wife put it, feel that their job is "their calling". When these layoffs start to happen there are going to be a lot of people who are not happy about leaving. Given that NASA is terrified of even discussing the topic and won't dare put a number on eventual layoffs, a lot of people are going to feel like they got the shaft when the inevitable happens.
I sincerly hope someone at NASA is looking at this sad event at JSC and taking instruction from it to prepare for future layoffs at the agency. People under stress can do unthinkable things. The prospect of losing a job you dearly love can cause a lot of a lot of stress - stress that needs - and will eventually find - an outlet.
Oberg will also be appearing on "Weekend Today" at 8 am EDT Sunday on NBC.
Interview with Jim Oberg 21 April 2007, MSNBC (rough transcript)
"Please don't let your co-workers suffer alone. Metal detectors and car searches will not prevent this type of tragedy. Workplace violence, murder/suicide happen almost daily in this country. The only was to prevent a tragedy is to build a support network for those in need. Today, tell your friends how much you appreciate them. Give your family an extra hug. Tomorrow make sure that the words you use are caring, not laced with sarcasm or bitterness. Take care of yourself, it can be a hard life. Know what the person at the desk next to you is going through. Don't let them be alone. We'll only make it if we take care of each other."
"[Houston Police Chief Harold] Hurtt praised Beverly for his bravery while trying to protect a co-worker, and Crenshaw for her composure while trying to keep Phillips calm. "Heroes just don't fly in space," Hurtt said. "Sometimes heroes work in the next cubicle next to you." Beverly's wife, Linda, said her husband of 41 years was an electrical parts specialist who felt working at NASA was his calling."
Editor's note: Friday was certainly a horrible day for NASA. Y'all must be thinking/feeling something with regard to David Beverly's murder and Fran Crenshaw's awful ordeal. Care to express yourself? Send your comments to email@example.com
Your comments thus far with regard to the victims:
NASA Strategic Management Council Meeting Minutes and Actions 21 February 2007: "Griffin made the following opening comment: - On speaking for the Agency: Griffin urged members (and through members all of NASA) to be clear when expressing a personal opinion versus an Agency position. He offered a recent example where an astronaut publicly advocated for technology development that directly conflicts with Agency plans."
"On Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time, technical problems cut off more than five million BlackBerry users in the United States from their cherished wireless e-mail. Service was restored 10 long, data-starved hours later."
Editor's note: I am amazed that NASA HQ continued to operate while most of its employees were totally isolated from the known universe during this crackberry blackout.
"What's more, Yuri's Night gave a glimpse of an emerging culture of space enthusiasts, of people who are as interested in science and technology as they are in partying and having fun. When the music was interrupted by PowerPoint presentations, the crowd, far from dispersing, gathered closer in to the stage and listened attentively. ... Mission accomplished. If Yuri's Night is any indication, people are wildly enthusiastic about space travel. Not to mention LCD projectors and wearable LED art."
"I had a somewhat profound experience several days ago in California - at NASA Ames Research Center to be exact. The true impact of this event is still growing on me. You see, I saw things I never thought I would see on a NASA base - things that give me hope that what NASA does can be truly relevant to people outside NASA's traditional constituency. Moreover, I saw indications that NASA can adapt to rapidly changing trends. The experience? Yuri's Night."
Photos of Yuri's Night Bay Area 2007, A Giant Party at NASA, (photos) Laughing Squid
"Last night's Yuri's Night Bay Area 2007 party was amazing. The night was in honor of Yuri Gagarin, who in 1961 was the first person to travel to space and orbit the earth. ... Yuri's Night Bay Area 2007 felt like a really nice mix of space travel expo, Burning Man and Maker Faire. I really hope there do it there again next year."
Yuri's Night, (photos) Redundantly Redundant
Yuri's Night 2007 (Photos), qdot
Yuri's Night '07 Bay Area, NASA ARC
"I give it five fingers up" - Robert
"It's a mashup of cultures"
"Amazing to see this happen here"
"Do you think this will happen again next year?"
"As I wandered, I couldn't go more than eight feet without bumping into someone I knew: friends from my social circles, people who work with NASA, people from the virtual-worlds companies I write about, and others. This particular Yuri's Night event was the perfect confluence of the communities I run in and write about."
Editor's note: I will have much more posted later. Suffice it to say, Yuri's Night at Ames was a resounding successs - I saw things at NASA I never thought I'd see - all carried out with professionalism, precision - and sheer joy. Oh yes, that 18-24 demographic NASA wants to get to? ARC had thousands of them as guests last night - and they were cheering the people (including Pete Worden) who spoke about space.
Photos of Yuris Night Bay Area 2007, A Giant Party at NASA, (photos) Laughing Squid
"Last night's Yuris Night Bay Area 2007 party was amazing. The night was in honor of Yuri Gagarin, who in 1961 was the first person to travel to space and orbit the earth. ... Yuris Night Bay Area 2007 felt like a really nice mix of space travel expo, Burning Man and Maker Faire. I really hope there do it there again next year."
Yuri's Night, (photos) Redundantly Redundant
Yuri's Night 2007 (Photos), qdot
NASA Watch Photos below:
Editor's update: I have gotten some email from people - much of which makes wild, and vindictive personal accusations against Mr. Cobb - the sort of things that spurred this investigation in the first place. However, this one note, which takes NASA Watch and its editor to task (rightly so) while not painting a pleasant picture of the IG''s office, does touch on some important points. These problems transcend Mr. Cobb's tenure and have have plagued NASA since Dan Goldin's reign - and even earlier. This is all made worse when Congress seeks to go after someone for alleged bad behavior they do not like - and exhibit similar unprofessional behavior on their own part in so doing.
Reader note: "I have some comments about your coverage of the NASA IG investigation shown on your web page 4/2/07. The significant issues about the IG are lost if we try to make it appear that the problems being pursued by Congress are based in the use of profanity or if various involvedindividuals played golf together or not. These are not the issues related to this casethat significantly impact our nation's space program. The issues are that when NASA scientists and engineers disagree or challenge bad decisions made by NASA managers, these managers employ prohibited practices to counter and suppress the concerns expressed by NASA's technical workforce."
"NASA is serious about using Second Life as a frontier for collaboration and technology, said Jessy Cowan-Sharp (a.k.a. DragonFire Kelly) of Ames Research Center. "If you look at the functionality of Second Life, it's really just a set of tools that you can do whatever you want with," she told MSNBC.com. "There's so much more going on with Second Life than games.""
"The X PRIZE Foundation is always looking for new ideas around what people consider to be the largest, most challenging issues facing humankind today, and this is our "soap box" for you to be heard. Tell us what grand challenges you think the world ought to be thinking about. And while we're interested in the opinions of individuals, we're also interested in the opinions of the group. An X PRIZE committee will review the videos that receive the most votes to determine a winner."
"Actress Jolene Blalock will join forces with renowned astrophysicist and New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson in honoring the 19th set of inductees into the Space Technology Hall of Fame. ... From 2001 - 2005 Blalock played Commander T'Pol on Star Trek: Enterprise and had a recurring role on Stargate SG-1 as Ishta in 2003 & 2004."
Editor's note: Just invite a smart, funny scientist and a sexy vulcan to speak. Mike Griffin will be in heaven. Yes, that's STS-116's "Beamer" with T'Pol - enlarge
Reader note: "Coincidentally, representatives of MTV's popular dating series, "Next," are interviewing candidates in the rooms next to three of the science subcommittees of the NASA Advisory Committee (NAC). Blonde ASU co-eds, spike-haired rock groups, and MTV production designers have been eyeing each other over coffee with Headquarters's bureaucrats, aging astronauts, and academics fashionably outfitted in their Dockers. So far, the "outreach" activities by the scientists consist of enquiring what MTV is and what does TV dating consist of these days."
"Griffin stressed the extreme importance of understanding and using the Agency's governance structure. He reminded center directors that they do not tell a mission director how to run his/her program or what program to run. He told mission directors that they do not tell center directors how to manage their institutions."
"Over the next several months the Center will undertake a systematic future planning process. The foundation of this effort will be a cultural and current state assessment of the Center. Upon completion of this assessment, the Center leadership team will conduct a series of planning processes and establish the strategies for implementation. The cultural and current state assessment and subsequent planning processes will be designed, implemented and managed with consultation, support, and a proven track record in facilitation of the process from Frontier Associates."
Editor's note: This is curious. Shortly after Mike Griffin arrived, all of the 'culture' contracts NASA had put into place after Columbia were quickly ended. Now, the need for such activities has (apparently) resurfaced. I wonder what would have happened if NASA had simply stuck with what it was already doing (culture-wise) back in 2005.
Editor's note: Last May I spent some time in a windowless warehouse in an undisclosed location north of Los Angeles. While there I was interviewed for a TV special being produced in connection with the Star Trek prop auction held in New York last year. Two Star Trek related TV shows will air on the History Channel on 19 February. Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier and Star Trek Tech (airs on both 18 and 19 February). I am not sure if I will be in these shows since my footage was in and then out at one point while the shows were being edited.
Even if I don't get included, it was sure fun to see this collection of cultural icons. Imagine a warehouse the size of a supermarket with aisle after aisle of Star Trek props. Captain Kirk's rock climbing shoes, T'Pau's gown, phasers, gold-pressed latinum, transporter pads, and lots of Borg parts. It was all there. Part of my interview took place while I sat in a Klingon commander's chair (right image). They even beamed me in and out of it! (you actually do feel a little tingly for a moment).
While I sat there and talked about connections between NASA and Star Trek, I was fiddling with some of those colored floppy disks from Kirk's Enterprise and some isolinear chips from Picard's ship. Lots of fun.
NASA has to fight the forgetting, commetary, Jim Oberg, MSNBC
"If we accept the "inevitability" of the disaster, and of the Challenger and Columbia tragedies that followed (and are also memorialized now in a three-for-one NASA observance), and if we congratulate ourselves for "how much the sacrifices taught us," we are ducking a fearsome responsibility. It is this: We should have known already, and people should not have had to die to remind us. The later disasters were not "accidents," random and unavoidable they were consequences of complacency and carelessness."
Editor's note: This memo is being sent out by each center to its employees. In this case, I hope LaRC PAO's Mike Finneran, producer of the smash hit video on YouTube, suggests that employees also be able to submit their own videos to InsideNASA as well!
To: (All Employees at Langley Research Center) From: "Michael Finneran, Head, PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE" Subject: Ask the Administrator Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 - Ask the Administrator on the InsideNASA Web site
A new "Ask a Question" feature is now available to NASA employees in the "Administrator's Corner" on the InsideNASA Web site at: http://insidenasa.nasa.gov
"UFO sightings and alien visitors tend to be solely the reserve of sci-fi movies. So when a former MoD chief warns that the country could be attacked by extraterrestrials at any time, you may be forgiven for feeling a little alarmed. During his time as head of the Ministry of Defence UFO project, Nick Pope was persuaded into believing that other lifeforms may visit Earth and, more specifically, Britain."
Sex in Space: bizarre reactions, Laura S. Woodmansee, SpaceRef
"I am amazed how many people in the United States are so intimidated by the word "sex" and are unwilling to discuss its consequences. My latest book, Sex in Space, tackles both the fun and serious sides of this currently neglected topic. ... Yet I have encountered all sorts of bizarre problems when bringing up the topic of sex in space. Apparently, some people just don't understand that the book is intended to spark the public's interest in space exploration, settlement, and tourism. To illustrate my case, here are some examples."
NASA Strategic Management Council Meeting Minutes and Actions
Date: 16 May 2006 Time: 8:00 a.m. 4:55 p.m. (PDT) Location: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Building 167 conference room
Second Item of Business: Agency Strategy Discussion. Griffin opened the floor for discussion:
- Communications: Horowitz raised the issue of too much reliance by Agency leaders on email communication and not enough face-to-face interaction. Members voiced several strategies for dealing with the huge volume of email. General discussion raised the following points:
Reader note: "Last Tuesday Sep 19, the following email was sent to the all.personnel list at JPL:"
Editor's update: Language use at NASA is more of an imprecise art than a science. Verbs can be nouns and vice versa - just like that. No one really seems to care. And capitalization? Read a letter written by more than one person at NASA and the rules can change several times in the course of one page. As for spelling. NASA has problems in that department as well. Check out this new solicitation. "NUETRAL"?
Editor's note: The following excerpts are taken from GSFC's mandatory career management online training required for all GSFC civil servants. Note that NASA's own formal training materials speak of NASA rules that govern employee behavior - rules which are defined/described as being "unwritten". In light of the fuss regarding unwritten (but enforced) NASA policy governing interactions between employees, the Public Affairs Office, and the media, it is little wonder that people are confused about what they should or should not do in this and other situations.
Given that NASA formally accepts the fact that its own rules may actually be unwritten - but must still be adhered to - certainly serves as a recipe for mass confusion to me. The most cynical aspect of this is the following: "When an employee understands and adheres to GSFC's Unwritten Rules we call them politically savvy. Nothing can derail a career more quickly than a lack of political savvy.". Then there is the sub-bullet point: "unwritten rules are not universal". If ever there was a concrete example of what people mean when they suggest that "NASA" really stands for "Never A Straight Answer", then this is it.
PowerPoint: Killer App?, Washington Post
"But NASA -- like the rest of corporate and bureaucratic America -- seems powerless to resist PowerPoint. Just this month a minority report by the latest shuttle safety task force echoed the earlier concerns: Often, the group said, when it asked for data it ended up with PowerPoints -- without supporting documentation."
Editor's note: Wouldn't it be something if NASA engineers were forced to use complete sentences - and perhaps even paragraphs when they were called upon to explain things - instead of word streams with bullets for punctuation (in Powerpoint) where nouns and verbs often get confused.
"Although the Agency has decided to phase out the involvement of the consultant Behavior Sciences Technology (BST) in NASA leadership development activities, the culture change effort and focus on improving our leadership practices at Langley will continue."
'Space nut' DeLay advises group how to lobby NASA, Houston Chronicle
"NASA has done a whole lot more than invent Tang," said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, who also addressed the gathering. "Many people forget if aren't directly involved in" the space industry."
NASA JSC Reader note: "It's great that NASA has space nuts like Rep. DeLay and Rep. Poe supporting us, but it would be nice if they got their facts straight before advocating for us.NASA didn't invent Tang. We didn't invent Teflon or Velcro either."
Editor's note: Of course it would never occur to Legislative Affairs or PAO to correct these glaring misconceptions that members of Congress seem to suffer from.
NASA cancels $10 million culture change contract, Government Executive
"The culture change initiative was prompted by the Columbia accident investigation. An official report on the accident, released in August 2003, decried NASA management's unwillingness to hear bad news and said a lack of upward communication contributed to the orbiter crash."
Editor's note: One quick way to avoid hearing bads news about internal NASA processes is to cancel the contract of a company which may be relaying the bad news in the first place. When NASA starts to rely on its own internal, self-managed mechanisms to gauge how things are going in terms of employee attitudes, management culture, etc. - well ... we all know what inevitably happens. Its like breathing your own exhaust.
Then again, NASA went to the moon in the 1960's without any of this external socio/psychoanalysis. Stay tuned.
Editor's note: The contract that NASA has with Behavioral Sciences Technology (BST) to monitor NASA culture - and recommend changes - is being terminated effective the end of June 2005.
Nostalgic for NASA of old, Daily Press
"Reminiscing sometimes paints a dream that things were not only better than today but better than they actually were. Listening to reflections and concerns from NASA Langley retirees can convince you that their reality was both. Things they remember: Teamwork, instead of animosity among departments. Bosses who mentored and gave subordinates plenty of space to do their jobs. Looking forward to going to the office every day."
At Los Alamos, Blogging Their Discontent, NY Times
"A blog rebellion among scientists and engineers at Los Alamos, the federal government's premier nuclear weapons laboratory, is threatening to end the tenure of its director, G. Peter Nanos. Four months of jeers, denunciations and defenses of Dr. Nanos's management recently culminated in dozens of signed and anonymous messages concluding that his days were numbered. The postings to a public Web log conveyed a mood of self-congratulation tempered with sober discussion of what comes next."
Visit the LANL Blog
NASA still wrestling with issues of safety, dissent, Knight Ridder
"Space shuttle program managers on Tuesday and Wednesday will try to answer a basic question: What's the precise risk of launch debris poking yet another fatal hole in a shuttle, as it did to Columbia in 2003?"
"[John] Clark, who was married to Columbia astronaut Laurel Clark, bristles when he hears culture gurus and NASA leaders constantly pointing out that change takes time. "Well, guess what? It never changed after Challenger, so the idea that you can't see these changes quickly - therefore, don't worry if you don't see them - that's the wrong answer," Clark says."
Question "...will you know or be satisfied that the cultural changes that some say are needed for safety are being implemented or will have been implemented to your satisfaction for flight?"
Griffin: "I don't know because I don't know how to measure cultural change. I--you know, culture is something that you feel, and I'm now reimmersing myself in the NASA culture after a departure of 11 years in which I was in industry and other government laboratories and other government operations. So I don't know how to answer your question."
Interim Assessment of NASA Culture Change, BST (PDF)
Editor's note: BST just put out another one of its reports about culture change at NASA. You would think that if this document is so full of rich lessons and observations that should be shared, that the document would be designed to allow people to copy important sections and share them with others - and that reporters would be able to easily extract and quote relevant sections. But no. The PDF document is set up such that you cannot cut and copy any text. The only way to extract text from this document is to retype it by hand. Otherwise, you have to forward the entire document to people and tell them what page(s) to read. I am not certain if BST was really thinking clearly when it published this document. Instead of facilitating the dissemination of its results, they have, instead, hampered their dissemination.
Update: A new version of the BST report is online here which allows you to copy text out of the document - the way BST should have presented this document in the first place.
6 December 2004: What if 'Lost' Went Lunar?, NY Post
"Plans are under way at Fox - which wants to make a "Lost" of its own - for a new series about a group of of astronauts who go missing after tracing a distress signal to the dark side of the moon. When they arrive on the other side of moon which is cloaked in perpetual darkness and beyond radio contact with earth they discover a mysterious compound."
Editor's note: Fascinating science, Fox style. I guess this means that show's characters will be constantly on the move - so as to remain in "perpetual darkness". But wait: eventually that will bring them back into radio contact with Earth as they walk onto the 'near' side of the moon. Sounds more like a two episode mini-series to me.
From minutes of the November 22, 2004 meeting of the Goddard Management Council:
"Proposed Rule: Anytime that a GSFC scientist/manager meets with the media, a PAO representative must be present and the meeting must be sound-recorded. This includes phone conversations. There is a question as to what constitutes an interview."
"On January 14, 2004, President Bush announced that the United States would pursue a new Vision for Space Exploration. NASA Immediately recognized that changes would need to be made in order to effectively and efficiently pursue that vision. Shortly after the President's announcement, the Deputy Administrator formed the Roles, Responsibilities and Structure Team (also known as the "Clarity Team") charged to assess roles and responsibilities of the top-level agency management positions, as well as the strutural 2relationships between and among them."