"As I'm sure you are aware, there are a number of acceleration actions being implemented at the request of the NASA Administrator. Many of these involve acquisition approaches and planning (including schedules) for major systems developments by ESMD. As a result, it is premature to continue with the previously planned Intramural Call for Proposals (ICP) and the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Exploration Systems Research and Technology (ESR&T) and Human Systems Research & Technology (HSRT) programs until we can be assured that our technology investments are properly aligned."
Exploration: April 2005 Archives
Editor's note: According to NASA sources, Mike Griffin killed the roadmapping activity today (Wednesday). Excellent move. These activities, as interesting as they were to listen to, simply went in circles and would have only provided output well after many procurement and architecture decisions (CEV for example) had already been made.
Alas, this effort is being terminated before it had been completed - and a product produced. The output of this process was supposed to be reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. No word yet as to what NASA will forward to the NAS for review - or what they (and the Aldridge Commission) thinks about this truncated Roadmapping process.
"NASA has concluded that Government personnel at Headquarters and NASA Centers will implement systems engineering and integration in Constellation Systems and other areas of the Exploration program. Consequently, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate will not be releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an Industry systems engineering and integration contractor."
Editor's note:This solicitation notice, released just three weeks ago, was the product of many months of preparation - preparation built upon a year's worth of planning by ESMD. The justification for canceling this procurement activity cited is that "NASA has concluded that Government personnel at Headquarters and NASA Centers will implement systems engineering and integration in Constellation Systems and other areas of the Exploration program."
Didn't NASA consider this in-house option before releasing the Procurement Notice on 3 April? If so, then why did they ask contractors to jump through hoops and submit ideas? Or, did Griffin and his team make this evaluation and course reversal in the scant 13 days he has been Administrator? It is curious how a two-week evaluation of NASA's workforce (present and future) could trump a process that involved months of study and preparation. Although a source of potential good news for field centers looking to find work for its employees, this decision does seem to go against the outsourcing focus that NASA has been pursuing, as directed by the White House. I suspect there will be more dramatic alterations in how NASA will implement the VSE under Mike Griffin. Stay tuned.
"... We're going to be reviewing those [CEV] plans. If that requires that we delay the responses to the RFP that is out on the street, then so be it. Better to take a little time up front and get what we really want."
Editor's note: NASA and industry sources say that after an internal review, the 2 May CEV proposal due date will be maintained.
"Other committee members include: ... Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Missile Defense Analyst, Beverly Hills, Calif."
Editor's note: I can certainly understand the relevance of Mr. Baxter's tours of duty as guitarist in "Steely Dan" and "The Doobie Brothers" as rock music relates to space exploration ;-) but why does NASA need a "Missile Defense Analyst" on an Exploration Systems Advisory Committee?
"When asked how the Bush administration plans to address the looming four-year gap from the retirement of the space shuttle in 2010 to the first manned flight of the Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2014; a time when the U.S. will have no human access to space, its chief scientist had a two-word answer. Mike Griffin."
"After a successful rendezvous, acquisition of the target spacecraft, and approach to within approximately 300 feet, DART placed itself in the retirement phase before completing all planned proximity operations, ending the mission prematurely. NASA is convening a mishap investigation board to determine the reason for the DART spacecraft anomaly."
Editor's update: The reason why no images were released - is because there were none. Getting the images was a balance between ground station coverage, DART's position, and its mission phase. Had an image been received, it would have not shown anything due to the events that had transpired. As for releasing data and updates, the problems with DART happened around 11 hours into the mission - late at night and they happened fast. NASA says that it got the information out - around 7:00 am local time the next day - as soon as people knew what had happened. Prior to the sudden shift by DART into retirement mode, everything had been going more or less smooth and and NASA's project manager said that there would have been little to report other than "things are going smooth".
Editor's earlier note: Why has there been no issuance of status reports on DART by NASA? I have looked at MSFC, HQ, Orbital websites - nothing - no reports after initial launch. No photos, videos, nothing. Go figure: a very cool, enabling mission and no one can tune in as it happens. Indeed, you'd think ESMD would be embracing this as the first mission on the way to implementing VSE.
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"American researchers have hardly bothered to study the topic since the United States ended the Apollo program in 1972. And foreign studies on samples from the Soviet Luna program have been widely rejected on the grounds that the studies were flawed. Getting studies rolling again will not be easy. Laurent Sibille, a research scientist with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, estimates that researchers will need 100 tons of space dust for testing in the run-up to a new moon mission."
"As has been the case for the past three years, NASA's Space Shuttle family got together for a big meeting - NASA Integrated Space Operations Summit 2005 (ISOS). This year, in Nashville, they had a lot of new guests. The task before the attendees was to look at current human space flight capabilities and how they would need to be changed or "transformed" in the coming years to implement the President's new space policy."
"The NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) is hereby soliciting information from potential sources for Systems Engineering & Integration (SE&I) services in support of the NASA Exploration Initiative (EI), a multi-mission, multi-decade, human and robotic effort to explore the Moon, Mars and beyond using a spiral development process to introduce important new technologies as they mature."
"NASA/HQ Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) is hereby soliciting capability statements from interested small business (all types) sources for the Technology Transfer Transformation (TTT) project in support of the Vision for Space Exploration. This does not preclude a large business from responding."