"Earlier Wednesday, the pump module on one of the space station's two external cooling loops automatically shut down when it reached pre-set temperature limits. These loops circulate ammonia outside the station to keep both internal and external equipment cool. The flight control teams worked to get the cooling loop back up and running, and they suspect a flow control valve actually inside the pump module itself might not be functioning correctly."
Recently in ISS News Category
Keith's note: This plastic caged bird can be found in the Harmony Node of the International Space Station. There has got to be an interesting back story as to why it is there ...
Progress 53 Launched To The ISS (video)
"The Russian Progress 53 cargo craft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 25, hauling almost three tons of food, fuel, supplies and holiday gifts to the International Space Station's Expedition 38 crew. The unpiloted spacecraft will test upgraded automated rendezvous equipment at a distance of a mile from the complex on Nov. 27 before docking to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module on Nov. 29."
"Commercial Crew Request for Proposals Finalizes Development and Certification Process NASA took another step Tuesday to restore an American capability to launch astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station by the end of 2017, subject to the availability of adequate funding. The agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) requested proposals from U.S. companies to complete development of crew transportation systems that meet NASA certification requirements and begin conducting crewed flights to the space station."
"Several space agencies are staging a global media event on Twitter this week to mark the 15th anniversary of the International Space Station. The Canadian Space Agency, NASA, the European Space Agency and JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, will launch a worldwide wave on Twitter, beginning at 7 p.m. eastern Tuesday evening. That will be midnight GMT -- the official time zone of the orbiting space laboratory."
Keith's note: I guess I missed the NASA announcement on this Twitter event that starts in 3 hours. Indeed, looking at NASA.gov, spaceflight.nasa.gov, nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/, and nasa.gov/connect/social/ I see zero mention of this Twitter event. Baffling.
"Three Expedition 37 crew members are back on Earth after 166 days aboard the International Space Station. Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano undocked their Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from aft end the Zvezda service module at 6:26 p.m. EST Sunday to begin the journey home. At the time of the undocking, the complex was orbiting 262 miles over northeast Mongolia."
Soyuz TMA-11M Launches (With video)
"NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos launched aboard their Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 11:14 p.m. EST (10:14 a.m. Thursday, Kazakh time)."
Keith's update: Soyuz TMA-11M docked with the space station about six hours after launch at 5:31 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7.
"LUX is the latest in a long series of ever-larger experiments that have occupied and taunted the world's physicists over the last few years. They are all in abandoned mines or other underground places to shield them from cosmic rays, which could cause false alarms. ... Larger instruments are already on the drawing boards of LUX and other collaborations, but physicists say the experiments are already sensitive enough to test some versions of dark matter that have been proposed, including the idea that dark particles interact with ordinary matter by exchanging the recently discovered Higgs boson. Dr. Weiner said he held his breath every time new results from a dark matter experiment were released."
"The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - 02 (AMS-02) is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector constructed, tested and operated by an international team. The AMS-02 uses the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe's origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays."
Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, WIkipedia
"In 1999, after the successful flight of AMS-01, the total cost of the AMS program was estimated to be $33 million, with AMS-02 planned for flight to the ISS in 2003. After the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, and after a number of technical difficulties with the construction of AMS-02, the cost of the program ballooned to an estimated $1.5 billion."
Keith's note: $1.5 billion for a Dark Energy detector and ... no one seems to talk about it when future dark matter detection instruments are discussed? AMS is not "underground" as the New York Times' reporter claims all dark matter instruments are. AMS has been in the news with results - but mainstream media seems to not see it as being on a par with Earth-based dark matter gizmos. NASA PAO is not doing a very good job, so it would seem. Or maybe the New York Times is being lazy (it has happened before).
Today AMS reached 40,000,000,000 events recorded. All ops continue to be nominal.— AMS-02 (@AMSISS) October 24, 2013
Keith's note: Yes, Twitter has its limitations when it comes to saying things in 140 characters. But if CASIS is tweeting pseudoscience like this (or misquoting someone) on behalf of NASA then they need to be shut down. On Earth, a "genome" is made out of DNA (or RNA) - period. How can you "change a genome" unless you do something to the nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) that comprises the genome? And if you are going to "change a genome", well that kind of falls right in the realm of what a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is.
Keith's update: CASIS just tweeted this reply. Alas, there is still some basic Biology ignorance in evidence on the Tweeter's part. When you start to deliberately modify gene expression in an organism you 1. are tinkering with DNA since form (structure) = function and 2. you have one foot clearly in the GMO concept - and the other about to step in.
Keith's 22 Oct update: Zero Gravity Solutions sent NASA Watch an email today regarding the @NASAWatch response to what @ISS_CASIS tweeted yesterday: "We would request the clarification to state: We are changing the genome expression without adding foreign genes."
NASA Will Face Solomon's Choice in 2014, Dennis Wingo
"If a budget in the range of $16.6 billion is what happens NASA will have a major problem maintaining both the International Space Station (ISS) and the SLS/Orion Exploration program. Given that the funds are simply not going to be available to keep the ISS alive and functioning and to fully construct and operate the SLS/Orion system, something has to give. Are we going to have to kill one to insure the other's survival? That is the choice that that is presenting itself - a clear recipe for disaster as far as NASA's human space flight plans are concerned."
"Of all the government agencies, NASA is among the hardest hit by the government shutdown. As of Oct. 1, nearly all of its employees have been told to pack up and head home. But there are two NASA workers who can't leave the office, at least not without great expense to the taxpayer. Astronauts Karen Nyberg and Mike Hopkins are orbiting some 250 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station. They're in touch with mission control, but it's not clear they have all that much to do."
'Balancing' the 1-year mission risks, NASA Johnson Space Center
"If you've ever stumbled out of bed in the middle of the night, fallen out of a yoga pose or had trouble "finding your legs" after hopping off a rollercoaster or a boat, then you know getting your balance can be challenging. This is even truer for astronauts who have just returned from extended spaceflight in microgravity.
Spaceflight causes changes in physiological systems that can affect things like balance, strength, vision and endurance. Although NASA scientists have studied how these changes impact astronaut performance a few days after returning to Earth, a new test promises to provide scientists with data about these changes just moments after crew members exit the spacecraft. This information is increasingly important as NASA moves closer to sending an astronaut to the International Space Station for one year and, eventually, to asteroids and Mars."
"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization managing research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, congratulates Orbital Sciences on a successful launch of the Antares rocket and on the berthing of the Cygnus cargo vehicle to the International Space Station. Orbital's successful mission also represents a milestone for CASIS: The first-ever CASIS-funded payloads have now arrived at the ISS. Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule berthed with the station Sunday morning."
"NASA and its International Space Station partners have approved a Sunday, Sept. 29, target arrival of Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft on its demonstration cargo resupply mission to the space station. NASA Television coverage of the rendezvous will begin at 4:30 a.m. EDT and will continue through the capture and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft."
Update: Cynus completed its rendezvous this morning and was berthed by the stations Canadarm2 at 8:44 am EDT.
- The Commercial Spaceflight Federation Congratulates NASA and Commercial Industry Partners on Successful Berth with the International Space Station, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
"This morning, Orbital and NASA together decided to postpone the approach, rendezvous, grapple and berthing operations of the Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft with the International Space Station until after the upcoming Soyuz crew operations are complete. The Soyuz crew is due to arrive at the ISS very late on Wednesday, September 25. The earliest possible date for the next Cygnus approach and rendezvous with the ISS would be Saturday, September 28. An exact schedule will be determined following the successful completion of Soyuz operations."
China's space station to open for foreign peers, China Daily
"China is willing to provide training and open the Chinese space station to foreign astronauts, senior space flight officials said. "We would like to train astronauts from other countries and organizations that have such a demand, and we would be glad to provide trips to foreign astronauts," said Yang Liwei, deputy director of China Manned Space Agency. "We will also welcome foreign astronauts who have received our training to work in our future space station." Yang, China's first astronaut, who went into space in 2003, said many countries submitted proposals to the Chinese government during the development of the space station, hoping China would help train their astronauts and then send them to the station to conduct scientific experiments. "The effect of including foreign participants in our space programs is not only that these nations can send their people to outer space, but also that we will enable them to develop their own space projects." Yang made the remarks during the five-day United Nations/China Workshop on Human Space Technology, which opened in Beijing on Monday."
NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 10:58 a.m. EDT Wednesday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
"NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., successfully launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 10:58 a.m. EDT Wednesday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
This is the first time a spacecraft launched from Virginia is blazing a trail toward the International Space Station, heralding a new U.S. capability to resupply the orbiting laboratory."
"So even if the station's life is extended beyond 2020, it is coming down, eventually. NASA could try to salvage a piece here and there, but there are no plans to deconstruct it, so the controlled de-orbit will be a spectacular, fiery event. Too big to burn up completely, the station will crash somewhere in the open water of the South Pacific. It will be perhaps the most expensive man-made object that human beings have ever intentionally destroyed. This vision of the future will sink to the bottom of the sea, ending another chapter in the history of what people used to call the Space Age."
Keith's: Joel Achenbach at the Washington Post does not seem to think that the ISS does much, is dangerous, and will just be dumped in the ocean. He clearly went looking for ISS problems - not the promise and potential of the ISS when he wrote this article. This is how the detractors of the ISS (and perhaps human spaceflight) will start their slow motion campaign - whether they mean to or not. Bit by bit they will portray the ISS as having no value or purpose and that it is not worth keeping aloft - despite the marvels and capabilities it has yet to fully tap. Soon, no one will want to expend the energy to keep it operational. And when it is gone we will moan and wave our arms about its demise - just like the capability we threw away with Apollo, Mir, and Skylab. "What were we thinking?" we'll once again ask ourselves.
A critical time for commercial launch providers, The Space Review
"For a time last week, it looked like we would be in the midst of an unusually concentrated period of critical launches. In the span of less than a week, four launches of new, nearly new, or returning to flight vehicles were on global launch manifests: the inaugural launch of Japan's Epsilon small launch vehicle, the first launch of SpaceX's upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1, the second launch of Orbital Sciences Corporations Antares rocket carrying the first Cygnus cargo spacecraft, and the first Proton launch since a dramatic launch failure in early July.
Launch manifests are subject to change, of course, and that's what happened. While the Epsilon launch went off on schedule, and successfully, on Saturday, Orbital slipped its Antares launch a day, from this Tuesday to Wednesday, while the Falcon and Proton launches have been delayed until at least late this month. Nonetheless, all three upcoming launches remain critical in separate, but often interrelated, ways."
NASA expert explains what the Gravity trailer gets wrong, Michael Interbartolo, DVICE
"I usually try not to nitpick space movies, because they are entertainment, not documentaries, but when folks start heaping praise on a movie as the best space movie or most realistic, I feel the need to chime in."
Russian Cosmonaut Bails Out of Upcoming Spaceflight, RIA Novosti
"An experienced Russian spaceman set to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015 suddenly tendered his resignation for unclear reasons, a Russian space industry representative said Thursday. Yury Lonchakov will be formally discharged from his job on September 14, Irina Rogova of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center told RIA Novosti. Rogova's boss, Sergei Krikalev, was cited by Russian media as saying that Lonchakov "found a more interesting job," but did not elaborate. Rogova could not name Lonchakov's new job."
Keith's note: Lonchakov flew on STS-100, Soyuz TMA-1, and Soyuz TMA-13/Expedition 18. So he certainly has had some spaceflight experience. Time to do new things, I suppose. This is sadly interesting, however: "Once a dream job for Soviet kids, being a cosmonaut does not hold much allure in modern Russia: Only 5 percent of adult Russians actually wanted to grow up to be cosmonauts, with doctors, teachers, truck drivers and aviators all being more popular, according to a 2011 study by the Public Opinion Foundation. Russia's first-ever open cosmonaut recruitment drive attracted a mere 300 applications last year, compared with 6,000 for NASA in 2011."
Keith's note: I just got a press release from Orbital Sciences. It was sent to a news media distribution list (that is not shown) so I do not know if I am supposed to get this email or not i.e. if I am ain "intended recipient". As is the case with all Orbital press releases it ends with legal mumbo jumbo (below) that could easily apply to me. Or maybe not. It talks about "reader" or "recipient" but no mention is made of all of the people who read a news website. Since NASAWatch can be read anywhere on Earth, the ITAR caveat applies (right?). How am I supposed to know what is or is not ITAR relevant? No other aerospace company does this (but CASIS does). The notion that people are supposed to "destroy the email message" if they get it in error shows an utter lack of understanding as to what email is and that it can never truly be destroyed - not even close. Just goes to show you what happens when you insert IT-deficient lawyers into the PR process.
"Depending on when you fly a space mission, a female will fly only 45 to 50 percent of the missions that a male can fly," Peggy Whitson, the former chief of NASA's Astronaut Corps, said. "That's a pretty confining limit in terms of opportunity. I know that they are scaling the risk to be the same, but the opportunities end up causing gender discrimination based on just the total number of options available for females to fly. [That's] my perspective."
NASA and 3D printing Sky-rocketing, Economist
"Aerospace was one of the first industries to take up three-dimensional (3D) printing. This is because 3D printers are good at making things which are complex and lightweight. ... So far, 3D-printed aerospace parts tend to be used in non-critical areas, such as brackets or ducts. Now NASA has shown that the technology is capable of a far more demanding role: making rocket engines."
- NASA Tests Limits of 3-D Printing with Powerful Rocket Engine Check, earlier post
- 3D Printer Headed to the International Space Station Passes Crucial Milestone, earlier post
- 3D Printing, NASA Hackspace
Keith's note: CASIS sent out a news release today by email to the news media. At the bottom of the email was a confidentiality clause i.e. "The information contained in this e-mail message is intended only for the personal and confidential use of the recipient(s) named above. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail, and delete the original message."
I was never asked in advance by CASIS or anyone else if I wished to receive confidential information from CASIS nor do I desire to receive confidential information from CASIS. So I asked CASIS about this.
"Today, Gregory H. Johnson, Colonel (Ret), was named executive director for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) - the nonprofit entity selected by NASA to manage the utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Col. Johnson will assume his role effective September 1, 2013."
EVA 23: exploring the frontier, Luca Parmitano Blog
"At this exact moment, just as I'm thinking about how to uncoil the cable neatly (it is moving around like a thing possessed in the weightlessness), I 'feel' that something is wrong. The unexpected sensation of water at the back of my neck surprises me - and I'm in a place where I'd rather not be surprised. I move my head from side to side, confirming my first impression, and with superhuman effort I force myself to inform Houston of what I can feel, knowing that it could signal the end of this EVA. On the ground, Shane confirms they have received my message and he asks me to await instructions. Chris, who has just finished, is still nearby and he moves towards me to see if he can see anything and identify the source of the water in my helmet.
... As I move back along my route towards the airlock, I become more and more certain that the water is increasing. I feel it covering the sponge on my earphones and I wonder whether I'll lose audio contact. The water has also almost completely covered the front of my visor, sticking to it and obscuring my vision. I realise that to get over one of the antennae on my route I will have to move my body into a vertical position, also in order for my safety cable to rewind normally. At that moment, as I turn 'upside-down', two things happen: the Sun sets, and my ability to see - already compromised by the water - completely vanishes, making my eyes useless; but worse than that, the water covers my nose - a really awful sensation that I make worse by my vain attempts to move the water by shaking my head. By now, the upper part of the helmet is full of water and I can't even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid. To make matters worse, I realise that I can't even understand which direction I should head in to get back to the airlock. I can't see more than a few centimetres in front of me, not even enough to make out the handles we use to move around the Station."
"Orbital Sciences' Cygnus cargo craft is bound for the International Space Station on a test flight. This flight will prove Cygnus' ability to rendezvous with the station and be captured by the crew on board."
Marc's note: With just under a month to the Orbital Antares launch to the Space Station, NASA has released this slick video on the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program itself including SpaceX, but focusing on Orbital's Cygnus.
"NASA announced Thursday it is adding some additional milestones to agreements with three U.S. commercial companies that are developing spaceflight capabilities that could eventually provide launch services to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.
The milestones are:
-- Boeing Spacecraft Safety Review. NASA's investment is $20 million and the milestone is planned to be accomplished in July 2014.
-- SpaceX Dragon Parachute Tests. NASA's investment is $20 million and the milestone is planned to be accomplished over several months culminating in November 2013.
-- SNC Incremental Critical Design Review #1. NASA's investment is $5 million and the milestone is planned to be accomplished in October 2013.
-- SNC Incremental Reaction Control System Testing #1. NASA's investment is $10 million and the milestone is planned to be accomplished in July 2014."
Dream Chaser Completes Ground Tow Tests [Watch], Sierra Nevada Corporation
"Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the completion of the Dream Chaser Space System tow testing at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. The ground tow tests were conducted in preparation for the upcoming approach and landing test scheduled for the third quarter 2013."
"We are very excited to complete this series of tests and achieve another critical milestone for our Dream Chaser flight test program," said Steve Lindsey, SNC's Space Systems senior director of programs and former NASA astronaut. "Watching Dream Chaser undergo tow testing on the same runway where we landed several space shuttle orbiters brings a great amount of pride to our Dream Chaser team. We are another step closer to restoring America's capability to return U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station."
"Six days after launching from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan, the unpiloted Japanese Kounotori4 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-4), met up with The International Space Station.
It was captured by the Expedition 36 crew aboard the ISS, using the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm. The HTV-4 was launched with more than 3 1/2 tons of cargo and experiments for delivery to the ISS."
Keith's note: Below is a Twitter exchange this evening - obviously CASIS really has no idea what the ISS has done since it started to operate. They are clearly unaware of the biweekly NASA Spaceline Current Awareness which has been produced by the agency for well over a decade. Alas, no one at NASA knows how to post it online since they took the website offline years ago. Yet the report is still produced faithfully every 2 weeks - and it does a stellar job at chronicling what NASA research is done on the ISS and where it is published. Here's our archive back to 1999.
@AstroAllie5: @ISS_Research Hi! Do you have a link to list/directory/catalog of all science ever done in space?
@ISS_Research: @AstroAllie5 That might not exist! Here's a start, all @ISS_Research: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments_category/index.html
@NASAWatch: .@ISS_Research why is @ISS_CASIS incapable of posting this #NASA generated report on current ISS research? http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=44418 #inept
@AstroAllie5: @ISS_CASIS @NASAWatch I'm trying to understand your meaning. What happened? Where did u get that list? Y can't they do it?
@NASAwatch: @AstroAllie5 @ISS_CASIS can't do this because they have no idea what part of #NASA generated this report every 2 wks for more than 10 yrs
@AstroAllie5: @NASAWatch @ISS_CASIS Wow. I did ask CASIS before today and was told it's not their job. That I should ask ISS Office. Just seems wrong.
"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) HTV-4 Transfer Vehicle launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan for a rendezvous with the International Space Station.
Once there, the HTV-4 will deliver 3.6 tons of dry cargo, water, experiments and spare parts to the International Space Station. Unlike a Russian Progress vehicle which docks automatically, the HTV-4 will be captured by the Canadarm2 and berthed to the Harmony module. The cargo spacecraft will be commanded to fly within about 40 feet and then hold where Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg will operate the Canadarm2 during the approach and rendezvous of the space stations latest visitor."
"The KOUNOTORI is an unmanned cargo transporter to be launched by the H-IIB launch vehicle. It is designed to deliver up to six tons of supplies including food, clothes, and experiment devices to the ISS in orbit at an altitude of about 400 kilometers and return with spent equipment, used clothing, and other waste material. The KOUNOTORI with waste material is incinerated when it makes a re-entry into the atmosphere.
Launch Date: August 3, 2013
Launch Time: 3:48 p.m. ET - 19:48 GMT - 4:48 a.m. JST
Broadcast: LIVE on SpaceRef starting at approximately 3:00 p.m. ET. Check back for link."
"NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) has released solicited research response area NRA NNJ13ZSA002N-TWINS "Differential Effects on Homozygous Twin Astronauts Associated with Differences in Exposure to Spaceflight Factors" that solicits applied research in support of HRP goals and objectives. This response area is Appendix D of the Human Exploration Research Opportunities (HERO) NRA (NNJ13ZSA002N)."
"There is a singular opportunity to propose limited, short-term investigations examining the differences in genetic, proteomic, metabolomics, and related functions in twin male monozygous astronauts associated with differential exposure to spaceflight conditions. This opportunity has emerged from NASA's decision to fly veteran NASA astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for a period of one year commencing in March 2015, while his identical twin brother, retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, remains on Earth. Scott Kelly, a veteran of two Space Shuttle flights as well as a six-month ISS mission, will have a cumulative duration of 540 days in low Earth orbit at the conclusion of the one-year flight, while Mark Kelly, a veteran of four Space Shuttle flights, has a cumulative duration of 54 days in low Earth orbit. This opportunity originated at the initiative of the twin astronauts themselves."
Keith's note: I have to say this is a cool idea. Hats off to the Kelly brothers for making this offer.
NASA suspects life-support pack in spacewalk emergency, Florida Today
"NASA engineers are narrowing in on the cause of the dangerous spacesuit water leak that could have drowned Italy's first spacewalker, officials said Monday.
Meanwhile, Luca Parmitano and crewmates aboard the International Space Station started unpacking a Russian space freighter that hauled up three tons of supplies and a spacesuit repair kit over the weekend.
Engineers "are looking at what steps to take next, this week," NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said. "They actually have isolated the failure to the spacesuit's Primary Life Support System, which is essentially the backpack of the suit."
Marc's update: NASA released a video this morning with Chris Cassidy talking about the faulty suit.
"The meeting will be open to the public up to the capacity of the room. This meeting is also available telephonically and by WebEx."
--2013 Science Plan
"At 4:45:08 p.m. ET a Russian Soyuz Progress resupply spacecraft (#52) launched on a quick trip to the International Space Station with a docking scheduled for 10:26 p.m. ET.
The Progress 52 is carrying 2.8 tonnes of supplies, hardware, fuel and water to the Space Station. Included is a hastily put together repair kit for Luca Parmitano's spacesuit which began filling up with water during his July 16 spacewalk. The spacewalk was aborted after 1 hour 32 minutes into a 6 1/2 hour scheduled spacewalk. Subsequently to the problem NASA has convened a Spacewalk Mishap Investigation Board."
NASA Wants Spacesuit Repair Kit on Russian Launch, AP via Florida Today
"NASA is rushing to get spacesuit repair tools on a launch to the International Space Station this weekend.
... The Russian supply ship is set to lift off Saturday from Kazakhstan."
"NASA has appointed a board to investigate the July 16 early termination of a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, develop a set of lessons learned from the incident and suggest ways to prevent a similar problem in the future.
The board will begin its work Friday, Aug. 2, in close coordination with a NASA engineering team already examining the spacesuit and life support equipment astronaut Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency (ESA) used during the excursion. The engineering team is working to determine why water built up inside Parmitano's helmet."
"NASA astronauts Serena Aunon and Randy Bresnik conducted flight suit evaluations inside a fully outfitted test version of The Boeing Company's CST-100 spacecraft July 22, the first time the world got a glimpse of the crew capsule's interior."
"NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins will discuss health, fitness and astronaut training with several elite American athletes in a Google+ Hangout at 3 p.m. CDT (4 p.m. EDT) Wednesday, July 17.
The Hangout can be seen live on NASA's Google+ page or on NASA Television. Participants will be:
- Rachel Flatt, 2010 U.S. Olympic team figure skater
- Curt Tomasevicz. 2010 U.S. Olympic bobsledder
- Rich Froning Jr., CrossFit Games champion
- Jared Crick, Houston Texans professional football player
- Peter Moore, Men's Health magazine
- Sam Kass, an Obama Administration senior policy advisor on nutrition and executive director of the White House's Lets Move! campaign
- Mark Guilliams, Hopkins' lead strength and conditioning coach
- A colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Hopkins is in the final phase of his mission training as he and his crewmates prepare for their Sept. 25 launch to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan."
Marc's note: Today's spacewalk had to be cut short after only an hour and 32 minutes as a water leak in Luca Parmitano's suit was causing a build-up of water in his helmet. Both astronauts returned safely to the confines of the Space Station. The location of the leak within Parmitano's suit is to be determined.
UPDATE: The post spacewalk news briefing revealed that NASA does not know what caused the problem with Luca's suit at this time. They will be reviewing all the data and examining the suit to figure out the issue. Watch the press conference.
"The OIG found that although NASA has made progress towards maximizing the research capabilities of the ISS, opportunities exist for increased utilization. NASA uses three main data points to assess utilization of ISS research capabilities: average weekly crew time dedicated to research activities, number of investigations, and use of allocated space for research. While no one measure provides a complete picture of the utilization rate, NASA has generally increased the level of activity for each metric since completion of ISS assembly in 2011.
Further progress in maximizing Station research capabilities largely hinges on two factors: the ability of CASIS to attract sufficient interest and funding from private users and the availability of reliable transportation to and from the Station for crew and cargo."
NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Two Human-Critical Reviews, SpaceRef Business
"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., recently completed two milestones for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers.
These were the fifth and sixth milestones for SpaceX, a partner in NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The company is on track to complete all 14 of its CCiCap milestones by mid-2014.
... The beauty of having the pad abort test review was it allowed both NASA and SpaceX to start coalescing toward an understanding of what will be tested and how we'll measure success," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "We're really looking forward to seeing SpaceX's pad abort system take off from along Florida's Space Coast.""
"The sun lightens our world and enlightens our scientists as they look to our closest star for a better understanding of solar activity and what it means for our planet. Unique data from solar studies help researchers build on their knowledge of the Earth's atmosphere and climate change. June 30 marked the second time the International Space Station literally went out of its way to accommodate this research by providing a better viewing opportunity to meet Solar facility science objectives."
"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization managing research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, today announced the funding of an unsolicited proposal with the Department of Veterans Affairs for approximately $300,000 to utilize the ISS discovery platform to evaluate known and novel anti-cancer drug therapies."
"Outside the International Space Station, Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin conducted a 6 hour, 34 minute spacewalk in Russian Orlan suits outside the Pirs Docking Compartment June 24."
Marc's note: Although scheduled for launch this December, the Russian Nauka (FGB-2) module, also known as the Multi-Purpose Module (MLM), will most likely fly in early 2014. It will replace the PIRS module which will be de-orbited.
With the addition of the Nauka (meaning science) module, yet another piece of the global orbiting laboratory will be in place. But what happens beyond 2020. While some ISS member nations have expressed an interest in using the station beyond 2020, other's are reluctant to consider it, yet.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to expand the membership of the ISS community to include other nations and commercial customers. By that time SpaceX, Boeing or Sierra Nevada will have commercial crew vehicles already flying to the ISS on government contracts. How about letting them send private astronauts working for commercial interests to use this one of a kind laboratory? In this way the ISS can be transitioned from a government sponsored entity to a public private endeavour potentially defraying some costs otherwise paid by the public. After all, the space station is there, it cost a lot, why not keep using it?
"The three commercial space companies working with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) may have very different spacecraft and rocket designs, but they all agreed on the need for the United States to have its own domestic capability to launch astronauts.
'Today, there are nine humans on orbit,' said Ed Mango, CCP's program manager, at a National Space Club meeting June 11 in Cape Canaveral, Florida 'All of those folks got there on a vehicle that did not have a U.S. flag on it. We, and the people in this room, and the people at this table, need to fix that.'"
NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 13 June 2013, SpaceRef
"New Status: Capillary Flow Experiment (CFE) Vane Gap-1: Flight Engineer (FE)-6 Nyberg completed the 8th of 11 planned test sessions. With ground direction, Nyberg used the CFE-2 vessel to observe fluid interface and critical wetting behavior in a cylindrical chamber with elliptic cross-section and an adjustable central perforated vane. CFE uses the low-gravity environment provided by the International Space Station to understand the special dynamics of capillary flow and will aid in the design of fluid transport systems on future spacecraft."
Marc's note: For those who don't know, SpaceRef has archived over 5,000 International Space Station reports over the last 11 years. You can access them from the links above. We post the report every day one is, generally late in the afternoon. You get the text report and usually at least one video.
Launch of ESA's ATV-4 Einstein, ArianeSpace
Marc's note: Today's launch went off without a hitch at 5:52 p.m. EDT (21:52 GMT).
The Automated Transfer Vehicle 4 or 'Einstein' is loaded with more than 7 tons of supplies for the International Space Station crew. ATV-4 was named by ESA in honor of the 20th century theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein. The Ariane 5 launched from Kourou, French Guiana.
"Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano docked their Soyuz to the station's Rassvet module at 10:16 p.m. this evening."
"Three new Expedition 36 crew members lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:31 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, May 28, (2:31 a.m. Kazakh time, Wednesday, May 29) on a six-hour flight to the International Space Station.""
Internal NASA GSFC memo: "Congress just passed a law that bars NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, and Department of Justice from buying IT systems that have been "produced, manufactured or assembled" by companies "owned, operated or subsidized" in any way by the Chinese. The only exceptions to this rule are for hardware that is deemed to be in the interests of national security, or if the FBI decides that a component's acquisition does not carry any risk of "cyber-espionage or sabotage." While Goddard is working out processes to handle this legislation, the direction from Goddard's Chief Information Officer is that no IT products shall be purchased at this time, via P-card of any other mechanism. This applies to hardware, software and maintenance, and to both civil servant and contractor purchases."
"Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee's Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, inserted a version of the measure in an appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 drafted last year. It was subsequently added to the Senate's version of the continuing resolution that covered full appropriations for several agencies, including Commerce, Justice, NASA and NSF."
Keith's note: This applies across the agency. There are Lenovo ThinkPad laptops on the ISS. Lenovo is owned by Chinese business interests. And these ThinkPads can't be replaced by Mac laptops or iPads because most (nearly all) of them are assembled in China. Larger image
"The director, a writer and some actors in the film "Star Trek Into Darkness" will join NASA as it hosts a Google+ Hangout from noon to 12:45 p.m. EDT, May 16, about how work aboard the International Space Station is turning science fiction into reality. Google+ Hangouts allow as many as 10 people or groups to chat face-to-face, while thousands more can tune in to watch the conversation live on Google+ or YouTube. The hangout also will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website."
Keith's note: Canada's Chris Hadfield's use of social media and other aspects of education and public outreach while on orbit has been masterful - even transcendent - and sets a new bar for others to strive for on future missions. Oh wait: NASA is eliminating Education and Public Outreach. Nevermind. NASA no longer cares about these things.
And Charlie Bolden agrees with this change in focus and wants to abandon half a century of public engagement. Utterly pathetic. Not what a true leader should do.
There will be no other NASA Watch updates today. Just this.
"Three members of the International Space Station Expedition 35 crew undocked from the orbiting laboratory and returned safely to Earth Monday, May 13, wrapping up a mission lasting almost five months. The departure marks the beginning of Expedition 36."
"Following Thursday's identification of an ammonia coolant leak outside the International Space Station, the Expedition 35 crew Friday began preparing for a possible spacewalk Saturday. Mission managers are discussing the information that was gathered overnight about the leak on the far left-side of the station's truss structure, called the P6 with P standing for port. A final decision on whether to go forward with a spacewalk is not expected until late tonight."
"NASA managers will discuss the status of the International Space Station, including the latest on an external cooling loop leak that developed Thursday, during a televised briefing today at 3 p.m. CDT (4 p.m. EDT)."
"Three years ago, the Administration put forward a public-private partnership plan, the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), to ensure that American companies would be launching our astronauts from U.S. soil by 2015. It's a plan that supports the U.S. human spaceflight program, boosts our economy, and helps create good-paying American jobs. If NASA had received the President's requested funding for this plan, we would not have been forced to recently sign a new contract with Roscosmos for Soyuz transportation flights. Because the funding for the President's plan has been significantly reduced, we now won't be able to support American launches until 2017."
"The ISS Progress 51 cargo craft completed a two-day journey to the International Space Station when it was captured at the Zvezda service module on Friday at 8:25 a.m. EDT, the cargo craft completed a hard mate when the docking hooks were deployed at 8:34 a.m."
"An unmanned Progress spaceship racing to the International Space Station with 2.5 tonnes of cargo on board failed Wednesday to deploy a key antenna that helps it dock with the orbiting lab in the latest hitch in Russia's space programme."
"Corporation Sunday launched its Antares rocket at 05:00 p.m. EDT from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The test flight was the first launch from the pad at Wallops and was the first flight of Antares, which delivered the equivalent mass of a spacecraft, a so-called mass simulated payload, into Earth's orbit."
"Today's successful test flight of Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket from the spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia, demonstrates an additional private space-launch capability for the United States and lays the groundwork for the first Antares cargo mission to the International Space Station later this year."
"Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that the next launch attempt for the new Antares rocket will be no earlier than Saturday, April 20, at 5 p.m. The mission management team met this afternoon to evaluate weather forecasts and optimum crew work schedules to provide two back-to-back opportunities for a launch attempt."
Volunteers Line Up For Tito's Mars Flyaround, Aviation Week
"Doug Cooke, a recently retired top NASA manager who spearheaded exploration-systems development for the agency, has joined the private group's board advisors, MacCallum said. ... MacCallum said work has already started on ground facilities to test the life support hardware, which will be largely crew tended for simplicity, but will be designed effectively to give two-fault-tolerant redundancy comparable to NASA safety standards. Eventually some components and subsystems probably will be tested on the International Space Station."
Keith's note: Not that this is a bad idea (its actually a smart one since ISS is a great testbed), but who is going to pay to fly these systems to the ISS? Flying racks of hardware to the ISS is not exactly cheap.
Keith's update: Out of curiosity, I have checked online sites for the State of California and IRS for non-profits - or regular companies named "Inspiration Mars Foundation" or variations thereof. Nothing results from these searchs. One might conclude that the organization does not yet exist despite what is on their website.
Keith's update: Update: Inspiration Mars was incorporated in Delaware on 25 Jan 2013 as a Non-profit corporation - File #5279943 - but still no evidence of its 501(c)(3) status (probably in application phase).
"A live webcast of the Space, Cancer and Personalized Medicine Conference (8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. EDT) will also be available for interested media and can be viewed via link at www.iss-casis.org.
"**Please note that in order to participate in the live stream, you may be directed to download various applications. Computers with MAC operating systems will not have the ability to view the live stream."
Keith's note: If CASIS had any actual IT smarts they'd use USTREAM, Livestream, or do a Google Hangout for things like this - like everyone else does. All you need is a laptop with a webcam, a microphone, and an Internet connection. Chris Hadfield can tell them how to set this up.
Keith's update: This just goofy. Now CASIS tells Mac users "**Please note that in order to participate in the live stream, you may be directed to download a "Scopia" codec. Computers with MAC operating systems: restart your browser after installing the codec and use this link to join the conference: http://us.tryscopia.com/scopia/entry/index.jsp?ID=7658112" Install a codec? Yea right - what a great way to install malware on your computer.
Google Hangout anyone? Is this a taste of things to come with regard to ISS utilization - convoluted instuctions for something as simple and routine as a webcast? More inept public engagement from CASIS - all while Chris Hadfield has managed to use just about every social media platform he can think of - IN ORBIT.
Breakthrough in chemical crystallography, Academy of Finland
"As the SCD analysis is carried out with only one crystal, smaller than 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 mm in size, the required amount of the target molecule can be as low as 80 ng. Fujita's and Rissanen's work reports the structure determination of a scarce marine natural product from only 5 ug of it. Many natural and synthetic compounds for which chemists have almost given up the hope of analysing crystallographically can now be easily and precisely characterised by this method."
Keith's note: For more than 20 years one of the prime scientific uses that NASA has wanted to put the ISS to was the production of large, ultra-pure protein crystals - a staple of every chart or paper NASA has produced to justify the scientific uses and potential of the ISS. The idea being that such large, perfect crystals help improve the efficiency of traditional means of determining biochemical structure via protein crystallography. However it would seem that structural information for biological molecules can now be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples - on Earth. No need for all that expensive outer space stuff. If only NASA could find a way to get things from idea - to hardware - to orbit - and back faster and cheaper, the ISS might have played more of a role in this field of protein crystallography. Instead, while it dragged its feet in orbit progress continued on Earth. That is not to say that there is nothing you can do on the ISS. Quite the contrary. But good intentions aside, unless NASA and its semi-unwanted step child CASIS can speed things up, ISS will simply become less relevant.
- Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post
- Realizing the Research Potential of the ISS Once and for All, earlier post
- While NASA Flies In Circles Technology Advances Back on Earth, earlier post
- One More Reason Not To Use the ISS?, earlier post
"The findings hint at a new phenomenon but it is unknown whether the positron ratio comes from dark energy particles colliding with each other or from pulsating stars in our galaxy that produce antimatter."
"These observations show the existence of new physical phenomena, whether from a particle physics or an astrophysical origin."
"The CTS certification contract (s) - Phase 2 is part of the Commercial Crew Program's phased acquisition intended to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost effective access to and from low earth orbit including the International Space Station (ISS). This acquisition strategy utilizes competitive down-selection procedures that will enable the eventual purchase by NASA of commercial services to meet its ISS crew transportation needs, once the capability is certified by NASA."
"The Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft was berthed to the International Space Station at 8:56 a.m. EST Sunday. The delivery flight was the second contracted resupply mission by the company under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract."
UPDATED at 3:50 p.m. EST and includes launch video and audio file of post-launch media briefing: "This morning at 10:10 a.m. EST, a SpaceX Falcon 9 with Dragon spacecraft launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on its second of 12 NASA contracted resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS)."
Less than 24 hours after launching, the SpaceX Dragon was supposed to arrive at the ISS where the station crew would grapple and berth the spacecraft to the ISS for an expected three week visit.
However, after the Dragon spacecraft had separated from the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, and just before the Dragon solar arrays were to deploy, an anomaly occurred with the thrusters where only one of four was enabled. The spacecraft appeared to be in the correct orbit."
NASA Spinoff 2012 (PDF)
"Curry agrees: "In the future, you can envision almost all computing being done in the cloud, much of which could be powered by OpenStack. I think that NASA will need to receive significant credit for that in the history books. What we've been able to do is unbelievable-- especially when you remember that it all started in a NASA lab."
NASA Drops OpenStack For Amazon Cloud, Information Week (2012)
"Ray O'Brien, acting CIO at NASA Ames, when asked May 30 by InformationWeek about NASA's participation, used diplomatic language to say that NASA still endorsed the project, was proud of its founding role, and might be a user of OpenStack components in the future. "It is very possible that NASA could leverage OpenStack as a customer in the future," he wrote in his email response. Then, in a June 8 blog, NASA CIO Linda Cureton dispensed with the diplomacy: "NASA [has] shifted to a new Web services model that uses Amazon Web Services for cloud-based enterprise infrastructure," she wrote."
Keith's note: I find it rather odd that NASA brags about developing OpenStack in its Spinoff 2012 document but does not bother to inform the reader (taxpayer) that the agency actually dumped OpenStack.
NASA CIO Dumps NASA-Developed Open Stack, earlier post
Inspiring: Space Jam of Is Somebody Singing (Music Video), SpaceRef Canada
"What happens when you get Chris Hadfield, the Wexford Gleeks Choir, Ed Robertson and the Barenaked Ladies together? An inspirational song titled I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing), pun intended."
Marc's update: CBC Music released this music video today and I personally think it's great. A great collaboration from space and on Earth. You can follow Hadfield's mission on SpaceRef Canada's feature on his mission.
2nd Annual ISS Reseach and Development Conference Call for Papers Deadline is February 18th, American Astronautical Society
"This conference will focus on ISS Research and Development--research results and future opportunities in physical sciences, life sciences, Earth and space sciences, and spacecraft technology development. Plenary sessions will highlight major results and pathways to future opportunities."
"NASA will host its first Google+ Hangout live with the International Space Station from 11 a.m. to noon EST, Friday, Feb. 22. This event will connect NASA's social media followers with astronauts on the ground and living and working aboard the laboratory orbiting 240 miles above Earth."
Marc's note:While Google+ Hangout's are not new, this first from the space station is a milestone worth noting as it wasn't long ago that this type of interactivity via the Internet from space was not possible.
"NASA wants to know how you can improve the International Space Station as a technology test bed. NASA's International Space Station National Laboratory and Technology Demonstration offices are asking for proposals on how the space station may be used to develop advanced or improved exploration technologies. NASA also is seeking proposals about how new approaches, technologies and capabilities could improve the unique laboratory environment of the orbiting outpost."
Keith's note: Nowhere in any of the supporting documents is CASIS mentioned. CASIS makes no mention of this on their website. No mention at NASA's ISS website here, or at the ISS National Lab website. No one involved with the ISS National Lab, CASIS, SOMD, JSC, or elswhere seems to be at all interested in a cohesive, coordinated approach to the utiliztion of the ISS - one whereby all NASA operated and funded entities work together.
Denney J. Keys, NASA engineer, Washington Post
"Denney J. Keys, 54, who had been a senior technical fellow for power systems engineering at NASA, died of cancer Dec. 30 at his home in Mitchellville."
Denney J. Keys (guestbook)
"Mr. Keys joined NASA in 1990 as lead Power System Manager for the Space Station Freedom Program Office and was responsible for overseeing the Agency space station electrical power system development effort."
Keith's note: I was just out walking, listening to NPR's "Science Friday" when noted data visualist (and CAIB Powerpoint analyst) Edward Tufte was on. During a short break the announcer mentioned that Science Friday was "sponsored in part by CASIS" followed by a short description and their web address. A week or two ago I noticed that CASIS took out a full page adverstisement in Science magazine. CASIS may still be dragging its feet in many areas, but at least someone at CASIS is putting some thought into catching the attention of scientists - and people interested in science - in the places that those people are likely to be found.
How to Solve Protein Structures with an X-ray Laser, Science (subscription required)
"For over a decade, biologists have asked whether x-ray lasers can be used to determine the structures of biomolecules such as proteins. Such methods have the potential to allow structure determination from micro- or even nanoscale crystals, but radiation damage can be extensive and data interpretation is fraught with difficulty. On page 227 of this issue, Redecke et al. (1) overcome these problems to determine the room-temperature structure of a protein of importance to drug discovery."
"The three-dimensional structure of protein crystals is studied to determine how structure affects the function of individual proteins. Scientists want to understand how proteins work, how to build them from scratch, or how to improve them. To conduct this type of study, scientists must first generate crystals that are large enough and uniform enough to provide useful structural information upon analysis. Protein crystals grown in microgravity -- the near weightlessness experienced on a spacecraft in orbit -- are often significantly larger and of better quality than those grown on Earth."
Keith's note: Once again, yet another research team has demonstrated that structural information for biomolecules can be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples using a X-ray laser - on Earth - no space station required. So much for the official story NASA has told for 20 years that the ISS is crucial for such work. If NASA hadn't dragged its feet for the past several decades perhaps the agency could have made more progress before Earth-based research caught up and passed them by. You can be certain that CASIS won't be linking to this research.
This doesn't mean that the ISS has no value as a research platform - quite the opposite. What NASA needs to do, however, is get off its collective butt and adopt a research cycle for ISS research - from start to finish - that is commensurate with what happens back on Earth. Otherwise more of the "discoveries" made up there will arrive back on Earth after they have been done 'faster, better, and cheaper' back on Earth.
Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post
"The possibility that radiation exposure in space may give rise to health problems such as cancer has long been recognized. However, this study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease."
Keith's note: I can't seem to find any mention of this NASA-funded research at NASA.gov. Given the animal rights controversy that surrounded these experiments, and the results of this specific research project (with clear relevance to missions to asteroids, Mars, etc.), you'd think that NASA would want taxpayers, stakeholders, and the media, to know about these findings. Guess not.
NASA produces a regular listing of publications (NASA Spaceline Current Awareness) on the space life science research it funds. However, NASA is unable to find a way to publish it online. As a result no one really gets to see what the agency does - unless they visit SpaceRef, that is. We have a complete archive online stretching back to 1999.
Keith's update: This PLoS research paper made the rounds of various news outlets - all of them asking the question: Does space travel cause/aggravate Alzheimer's? Given than many of us have had our families directly affected by this disease, stories that mention it tend to get our attention. NASA's public response? Nothing. Yet, its not as if they are not concerned about radiation health (they funded this research after all). This was a perfect opportunity for the agency to show how its research not only serves space exploration needs but also has a relevance to issues facing the public.
By coincidence, this solicitation "Development of the Expandable Coil Concept" was issued today by NASA JSC and shows one way that this issue is being addressed in terms of spacecraft design. Yet another golden opportunity for NASA to link up its research and inform the public. Again, nothing but silence. If NASA does care enough to tell people what they are doing, then how can the agency expect people to care enough to be interested?
"NASA/JSC has a requirement to continue the study of active radiation shielding for crew protection, a key challenge with human exploration of space."
NASA seeking to lease or sell space-shuttle facilities, Orlando Sentinel
"The process is mostly secret, because NASA has agreed to let bidders declare their proposals proprietary, keeping them out of the view of competitors and the public. NASA has at various times published official notices seeking proposals and spelled out that the proposals should be space-related, though the agency will consider alternative uses under certain circumstances. But information about who wants to do what may not come until agency officials actually select finalists for negotiations."
Keith's note: Odd how NASA hasn't bothered to issue any overt procurement notices on this. Why can't they list what is for sale on their website so everyone can see?
"Section 203 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (42 U.S.C. 18313) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(c) Sense of Congress Regarding Human Space Flight Capability Assurance- It is the sense of Congress that the Administrator shall proceed with the utilization of the ISS, technology development, and follow-on transportation systems (including the Space Launch System, multi-purpose crew vehicle, and commercial crew and cargo transportation capabilities) under titles III and IV of this Act in a manner that ensures-- ..."
"The Senate action on Monday and House action today extends a liability risk-sharing regime created by Congress that requires commercial launch companies to purchase insurance for any reasonable risk of damage to third parties, and provides an expedited appropriations backstop above that amount and below a statutory limit."
Congress Approves Bill Supporting Human Space Exploration, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
"NASA now relies on commercial providers to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station," said Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX). "The future of the U.S. space program and commercial spaceflight industry relies on a predictable environment. Provisions in this bill provide a solid framework for the U.S. space enterprise to succeed in the future and continue to be the world's leader in space."
"At 7:12 a.m. ET this morning the Soyuz TMA-07M rocket with the Expedition 34 crew of Chris Hadfield (Canada), Tom Marshburn (USA) and Roman Romanenko (Russia) launched to the International Space Station on Expedition 34 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan."
"In November, seven individuals were inducted into The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) Board of Directors. Following the group's first in-person meeting at The Florida House in Washington, D.C., Board members will make themselves available to the press corps for a limited period of time to introduce themselves and answer media inquiries."
Keith's note: You can catch tweets as to what was said on @NASAWatch. The audio was intermittent (could not hear media questions) and the webcast abrubtly died. In summary this was the very first meeting of the CASIS "core board". The CASIS board seems to know very little about the ISS or how it is utilized (by NASA or other partners) and they are using this meeting to learn about the NASA Authorization Act and the NASA MOA with CASIS. They said that they also need to find an executive director for CASIS and add members to their board.
Protecting and Safeguarding NASA Information and Information Systems (page 6), IT Talk, July-September 2012, NASA CIO
"What if this article was the national headline across the United States? Is NASA protecting and safeguarding its information and information systems? Is it possible to protect and safeguard information and information systems 24/7?"
Keith's note: Well, it happened. No fancy cyber break-ins occurred. No massive network failure was at fault. Nothing complicated or deliberate happened - the sort of stuff where overt high-tech protection and safeguards would be called into play. Instead, a NASA employee was dumb enough to leave an agency laptop with sensitive information in her car such that it could be stolen. And that laptop had a substantial amount of personal information on 10,000 or more NASA employees that the CIO's office was inept enough to allow to be on a laptop taken out of NASA in the first place.
The CIO's own official publication openly talked about what might happen if the theft of a NASA laptop with "10,000 employees private information" became "an actual NASA Headline". But instead of focusing on the real world where people can and will do dumb things, the CIO focused only on all the complicated technological threats to NASA's IT. The CIO utterly ignored simple human behaviors that could be just as damaging as a cyber attack if not dealt with. Other than than a memo (2 weeks after the theft) to employees announcing an emergency disk encryption program and a half-hearted attempt to assist employees in case of identify theft, the NASA CIO has done absolutely nothing to address the core issues at hand. And now the NASA CIO cannot even bear to mention this situation on her own website - with the exception, of course, of this hypothetical article written months before the event.
"The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide landed in the steppe of Kazakhstan northeast of the remote town of Arkalyk at 8:56 p.m. EST (7:56 a.m. Monday, Kazakhstan time). A Russian recovery team and NASA personnel reached the landing site by helicopter shortly afterward to assist the crew and conduct health assessments."
"Obviously, this is a disappointing outcome. But while iLIDS may not have been the right solution for the ISS Program, the technology that has been developed for this program remains very impressive and the work that everyone has done to bring it this far has been outstanding. While there are many docking system concepts out there, this is the only US system which has actually put hardware together and shown that it functions."
"The NASA Docking System (NDS) is NASA's implementation of the newly adopted International Docking System Standard (IDSS). The NDS blends state-of-the-art low-impact docking technology which has been under development for many years by the Engineering Directorate at the NASA Johnson Space Center with the heritage Russian Androgynous Peripheral Assembly System (APAS) hard mating interface. The NDS design will be made available as a common design for use by future NASA and United States Commercial Crew vehicles."
Soyuz spacecraft launches 32 fish, hippo to space station, space.com via Fox
"I think it's going to be something special, and I will get unforgettable memories," Novitskiy said in a NASA briefing before the mission. Novitskiy picked a small toy hippo, a gift from his teenage daughter Yana, to use an indicator of when the Soyuz reached the weightless environment of space."
Keith's note: Contrary to what some space bloggers and writers have suggested, this is not a "hippo". Rather, it is a plushie version of Suni Williams' dog "Gorbie" Indeed, she pulled the plushie version of Gorbie out for me during the on-orbit interview I did with her in September - more than a month before this recent Soyuz was even launched.
THIS is what a hippo looks like in a Soyuz.
First Outing for SpaceX, Editorial, New York Times
"SpaceX currently has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to carry out at least 11 more cargo resupply missions through 2016. Another company, the Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., has built a new cargo spacecraft under NASA contract and is preparing for a test flight next year. The best news from this first commercial flight is that the Falcon 9 rocket was able to complete its cargo delivery mission despite the loss of an engine. Although it was not perfect, the outing shows that private companies can carry out relatively mundane tasks like space cargo transport."
"Through a series of evaluations, interviews, and down-selects, the Interim Board has identified the first group of permanent Board of Directors candidates, all of whom represent the best American minds in the fields of scientific research and management from academia, government, and industry. An announcement of the first set of Board members will be made shortly, with the remaining 15-member Board finalized soon thereafter."
"NASA is working with CASIS' interim Board of Directors to identify and evaluate a diverse group of outstanding individuals for that board, and the Agency is also in the process of transitioning existing National Laboratory agreement holders to CASIS."
"Moreover, the functions identified in the Cooperative Agreement and the milestones in the Annual Program Plan (APP) are critical given the limited amount of time remaining to do research on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA would like assurances from the Board that CASIS will be able to meet the milestones in the APP."
"A Selection process for the full Initial Board has been approved and is underway."
Keith's 23 Oct update: Three months since the hearing. Seven months since the memos. Still no news from CASIS as to who is on their board of directors or when this board will be announced. Sources report that no one (White House, NASA, Congress, research community) likes the names that CASIS has floated.
This Video was achived by "stacking" image sequences provided by NASA from the Crew at International Space Station. These "stacks" create the Star Trails, but furthermore make interesting patterns visible. For example lightning corridors within clouds, but they also show occasional satellite tracks (or Iridium Flashes) as well as meteors - patterns that interrupt the main Star Trails, and thus are immediately visible. The many oversaturated hot pixels in some of the scenes are the inevitable result of ultrahigh ISO settings the Nikon D3s in ISS-use are pushed to for keeping exposure times short by all means (owed to the dramatic speed the ISS travels). As there are no dark frames or RAW data currently available, hot pixels are not easy to remove.
"NASA partner United Launch Alliance (ULA) has completed the fifth and final milestone for its Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with the agency's Commercial Crew Program. The Hazard, System Safety and Probabilistic Risk Assessment detailed how ULA's Atlas V rocket launch system hardware would ensure crew safety during launch and ascent. "The ULA team did an outstanding job outlining how it plans to integrate its launch vehicle with completely different spacecraft designs," said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager."
NASA Signs Agreement to Develop Nasal Spray for Motion Sickness, NASA (with full text of Space Act Agreement)
"Under the Space Act Agreement, Epiomed will formulate the drug, called intranasal scopolamine, or INSCOP. Astronauts often experience motion sickness in space. As a result, NASA has conducted extensive research into the causes and treatments for the condition. Scopolamine is effective and can be administered as a tablet or injected. With a precise dosage, the NASA spray formulation has been shown to work faster and more reliably than the oral form."
"Epiomed will take responsibility for further development and commercialization of INSCOP, assisted by NASA-HH&P (Human Health & Performance Directorate) technology, and assume sponsorship of the IND (Investigational New Drug) from NASA under the SAA."
"It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's a Satellite! Rocketing Into Space with LEGO Education and NASA! Crew on board the International Space Station (ISS) will share with students what satellites can be used for. Crew will also explain how these communication devices are launched and carried into space. Students will then be asked to think of other ways to use information gathered from satellites and design their own custom satellite. Topics covered include developing an awareness of outer space, exploring communication devices and understanding data collection. Check out the video with lesson plans here."
Mike Suffredini Objects to Legos in Space, earlier post
"Suff asked if the folks at HQ had considered the negative aspects of showcasing Legos in that it may seem we are not utilizing 1SS resources to their fullest capacity."
"The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has been successfully captured at the International Space Station. At approximately 6:56AM ET / 3:56AM PT, Expedition 33 crew member Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency used the station's robotic arm to grapple Dragon. Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA remarked, "Looks like we've tamed the Dragon. We're happy she's on board with us."
"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) today successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The SpaceX CRS-1 mission marks the first of at least 12 SpaceX missions to the space station under the company's cargo resupply contract with NASA. On board the Dragon spacecraft are materials to support investigations planned for the station's Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies and space station hardware."
"Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night's launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket's nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued immediately. We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release, and that none of Falcon 9's other eight engines were impacted by this event."
"The OG2 prototype satellite, flying as a secondary payload on this mission, was separated from the Falcon 9 launch vehicle at approximately 9:00 pm EST. However, due to an anomaly on one of the Falcon 9's first stage engines, the rocket did not comply with a pre-planned International Space Station (ISS) safety gate to allow it to execute the second burn. For this reason, the OG2 prototype satellite was deployed into an orbit that was lower than intended. ORBCOMM and Sierra Nevada Corporation engineers have been in contact with the satellite and are working to determine if and the extent to which the orbit can be raised to an operational orbit using the satellite's on-board propulsion system."
"NASA and its international partners have announced an agreement to send two crew members to the International Space Station on a one-year mission designed to collect valuable scientific data needed to send humans to new destinations in the solar system. The crew members, one American astronaut and one Russian cosmonaut, will launch and land in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and are scheduled to begin their voyage in spring 2015."
SpaceX Dragon to Carry 23 Student Experiments to Space Station
"SSEP offers a unique flight opportunity that allows students to experience both the excitement and the challenges inherent in conducting research in a microgravity environment," said Roosevelt Johnson, deputy associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It really is STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] in action, using the International Space Station -- which has America's only orbiting National Laboratory -- to host these students' science experiments."
Keith's note: No mention is made of this news at the CASIS website. Nor is any mention made at the Space Station or ISS National Laboratory websites. NASA's education website does mention this news. CASIS seems to be going out of its way to ignore the very things it is supposed to be promoting. This project involves Nanoracks which signed an agreement with CASIS to utilize the ISS. Yet CASIS continues to ignore what Nanoracks is doing on the ISS. Baffling.
"NASA engineers, student interns and amateur radio enthusiasts around the world are listening for signals from a small, cube-shaped satellite launched into orbit from the International Space Station Thursday."
"ABC News has learned that singer Sarah Brightman, of "Phantom of the Opera" fame, will be the next tourist in space, sometime in 2014 or 2015. To get her seat she had to pay the Russian space agency more than the $51 million NASA budgets on average to send its astronauts to the station. To maintain its presence in orbit when Soyuz seats are limited, NASA had to agree to commit at least one of its astronauts to spend a year in space, instead of the six months they currently stay. Brightman's trip will be announced in Moscow on Oct. 10."
Keith's note: In case you were wondering, for $51 million, according to a per-person cost of $2.58 from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, you could vaccinate 19,767,442 people (yea 19+ MILLION) in developing nations with "5-in-1 vaccine" or "pentavalent" vaccine which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and hepatitis B. You could also buy 275,675 OLPC XO-1.75 laptops for students in a developing country at $185 each.
Of course, its her money so she can spend it as she wishes. But I wonder what Sarah Brightman is going to do in conjunction with her flight that compares with the impact that this $51 million could have elsewhere. I certainly hope that she talks with Anousheh Ansari, Richard Garriott, Guy Laliberte, and Mark Shuttleworth.
Here's a thought. She's a stunning vocalist. Take a cue from "First Orbit" and "Fragile Oasis" - and the record sent on the Voyager probes. As she flies over the hundreds of ethnic and national borders on our planet, sing a song - in every language she flies over - in real time. Make a recording - donate all proceeds to a non-profit organization. That would be cool.
I'd ask her this question, except, based on past experience, Space Adventures would simply never allow me access to her in a media opportunity.
"An ABC News report by producer Gina Sunseri claimed opera singer Sarah Brightman outbid NASA for a seat aboard a Soyuz rocket -- and an astronaut was consequently bumped from the rocket ride. Nonsense, the space agency said. "Crews for International Space Station expeditions have been assigned through 2013," NASA spokesman Joshua Buck told FoxNews.com. "None of those astronauts has been 'booted' from his or her respective mission."
"Orbital Sciences Corporation Monday rolled the first stage of its Antares rocket to the launch pad of the nation's newest spaceport - the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va. - while in Florida, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) moves ahead with preparations for an Oct. 7 launch to the International Space Station for NASA's first Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission. These developments mark progress in returning space station resupply missions to American soil."
"Do you know of a small company developing a medical product that could be adapted to solve a health or human performance challenge in space? Have you developed a biomedical product for the space program that could also improve health on Earth? The National Space Biomedical Research Institute's Industry Forum is soliciting applications for the Space Medicine and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP) award that provides support in moving a selected product toward commercialization. The 2013 SMARTCAP award will be for a maximum of $250,000 for a one-year period."
NASA wants to send astronauts beyond the moon, Orlando Sentinel
"Top NASA officials have picked a leading candidate for the agency's next major mission: construction of a new outpost that would send astronauts farther from Earth than at any time in history. The so-called "gateway spacecraft" would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon, support a small astronaut crew and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars. At 277,000 miles from Earth ... "
Keith's note: NASA PAO has provided this verbose, stock-phrase rich, non-denial-denial response to the Orlando Sentinel article: "NASA is executing President Obama's ambitious space exploration plan that includes missions around the moon, to asteroids, and ultimately putting humans on Mars. There are many options - and many routes - being discussed on our way to the Red Planet. In addition to the moon and an asteroid, other options may be considered as we look for ways to buy down risk - and make it easier - to get to Mars. We have regular meetings with OMB, OSTP, Congress, and other stakeholders to keep them apprised of our progress on our deep space exploration destinations. This concept is a part of the Voyages document that we mentioned in an earlier Update posted on NASA.gov in June: http://go.nasa.gov/NASAvoyages." Refer to page 26 of the chapter titled, "Habitation and Destination Capabilities."
"We're thrilled that Riley, the Canadian Space Agency contest winner from Abbotsford, suggested our Holy Crap cereal be sent to the International Space Station" says Corin Mullins, CEO of HapiFoods Group. "We originally developed the cereal for emergency kits because of its healthy nutritional content and long shelf-life so it seems more than fitting for it to go up to the Space Station. .. Holy Crap, the Dragons' Den organic hemp and chia seed cereal phenomenon, rocked the Canadian natural food product industry ..."
"This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits hypothesis-driven Space Biology research proposals for 1) Ground-Based Research Designed to Lead to Space Flight, 2) Rapid Turn-Around Space Flight Experiments 3) ISS Flight Experiments and 4) New Space Biology Investigations. NASA Space Biology experiments have one or more of the following primary goals: 1) to effectively use microgravity and the other characteristics of the space environment to enhance our understanding of basic biological processes; 2) to develop the scientific and technological foundations for a safe, productive human presence in space for extended periods and in preparation for exploration; and 3) to apply this knowledge and technology to improve our nation's competitiveness, education, and the quality of life on Earth. NASA Space Biology (SB) experiments will be designed to discover how space flight affects a diverse group of microorganisms, plants, and animals; study the effects of gravity (g) across the g-spectrum, i.e., from micro- to hyper-gravity; and characterize the biological effects of radiation, magnetic fields, and the interaction amongst species in the unusual environments of space and spacecraft."
Keith's note: This NASA space biology solicitation makes no mention of CASIS. CASIS makes no mention of it on their website. This is somewhat baffling given that this is exactly the sort of research CASIS is supposed to be doing on the ISS. Indeed, their website says:
"Biosciences will be the first research area that CASIS will promote for National Lab utilization. Access to space will give researchers a unique discovery platform for biological and physical processes that can significantly affect cell biology, human health, macromolecular crystal growth and microencapsulation."
NASA Requests Proposals for Initial Contracts to Certifying Commercial Crew Transportation Systems
"NASA on Wednesday released a request for proposals for the first of two contract phases to certify commercially developed space systems in support of crewed missions to the International Space Station. Through these certification products contracts, NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) will ensure commercial missions are held to the agency's safety requirements and standards for human space transportation system missions to the space station."
"Suff inquired about the relevance of performing the Lego experiment onboard from an ISS research priorities perspective. Ms. Robinson explained that Lego is Leland Melvin's top priority - for education given that Legos are something that children are very familiar with and that can reach tens of thousands of students. Suff asked if the folks at HQ had considered the negative aspects of showcasing Legos in that it may seem we are not utilizing 1SS resources to their fullest capacity. Ms. Robinson explained that she was not aware that people had considered that perspective and would pass this on."
Keith's note: The United States has spent somewhere between $60 to 100 billion on the International Space Station - and the agency's program manager doesn't think that a simple education project - one that uses something simple (Legos) that millions of "future explorers" use every day - is relevant? I do not hear Mike Suffredini objecting to all of the other stuff (baseball caps, college t-shirts, cartoon characters) that make their way onto the ISS. So why pick on something simple that (potentially) allows children to have a personal connection with this incredible on-orbit research facility? This is simply baffling.
"NASA is upgrading its internal cameras onboard the International Space Station to commercial standard 720p/1080i formats, thus requiring new encoders capable of transmitting a high-definition signal. Through a combination of Visionary Solutions' sophisticated H.264 hardware compression and optimized transmission technology, the AVN443 encoders provide an HD, full-frame rate, IP video stream from within the ISS, as well as an external view of the ISS and a view of Earth."
"Our objective is to design an Atlas of ISS Science, a systematic, rigorous and peer-reviewed framework and analysis that is then visually displayed to compellingly characterize and demonstrate the new knowledge created from the nation's "lab aloft". In essence, the Atlas, and the data and analysis on which it is built, will be the visual representation of the metaphor of maximization of "delta K over K - an expression used by the Chief Scientist of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to appeal to the science community to define, as a task of scientific leadership, how the agency's research changes our knowledge relative to what we know."
Keith's note: NASA JSC PAO worked to provide NASAWatch with this document in response to an inquiry submitted in assocation with an earlier post: Cryptic Space Station Procurement From JSC
"2 Applications research is a critical component of the ISS as a national laboratory; however, the goal of this proposal is to design a science of science framework for the basic science research on ISS. The protocol we develop has applicability to applications research, however. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is developing a database to attempt to evaluate economic benefits/performance through its portfolio, and we may be able to leverage this to some extent if CASIS has advanced its model of their early research portfolio around year 3 of our proposed effort. We have included the opportunity for CASIS to send a representative to our proposed external steering group to allow regular exchange of information."
Keith's note: I am surprised (actually no I am not) that CASIS has made zero mention of this Atlas of ISS Science effort thus far. Also, it seems a bit odd that the Resources for the Future team doesn't plan to talk to CASIS until year 3 of their task i.e. 2015. It certainly sounds like NASA is engaged in yet another well-intentioned, but parallel and somewhat stovepiped activity when it should be combining efforts for maxiumum synergistic efficiency - and making this information available much sooner than seems to be their plan.
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Thursday new milestones in the nation's commercial space initiatives from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The latest advances made by NASA's commercial space partners pave the way for the first contracted flight of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) this fall and mark progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next 5 years."
Keith's note: There has been no mention of this overtly commercial event by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. No mention of XCOR's big announcement either. CSF certainly isn't paying much attention to commercial space these days.
"The ISS National Lab supports a variety of platforms to exploit the space environment in the development and testing of new materials for both commercial and academic investigators. Through these solicitations, CASIS continues in its mission to promote the full utilization of the ISS. ... This RFP will utilize the NanoRacks External Platform."
"NanoRacks, the leading company in low-earth orbit research and educational utilization, seeks to further stimulate the market for International Space Station usage by offering to designate and promote up to five (5) companies that can offer for retail sale NanoLabs for use in NanoRacks hardware now on the space station and on suborbital platforms."
Keith's note: CASIS makes a big deal out of its agreement with Nanoracks - but they don't seem to be interested in making any mention of this Nanoracks Announcement of Opportunity utilizing the ISS. Baffling - especially given the bundle of money CASIS gave Nanoracks.
Keith's note: Yesterday @ISS_NatLab (an official NASA Twitter account) announced that "This official NASA ISS National Laboratory Office Twitter account will be shut down by October 1, 2012." and "Visitors are urged to follow National Lab activities at https://twitter.com/isscasis, maintained by Center for the Advancement of Science in Space".
That's fine but a little weird. Why not put "@ISSCASIS" in the tweet thus making it a lot easier for people to follow them using their Twitter account? @ISS_NatLab has 16,000+ followers. @ISSCASIS only has 1,211. Better yet - why not just give the @ISS_NatLab account to CASIS? That's their job, right? That way you keep the followers. Take the NASA logo off and add the CASIS logo. Meanwhile, a parallel NASA account, @ISS_Research, with 21,000+ followers remains online and never makes any mention of CASIS or @ISSCASIS. So you can bet that this dysfunctionality between JSC ISS and CASIS will continue regardless of how many Twitter accounts they have and what they call them.
Keith's 16 Aug 4:30 pm update: NASA JSC re-released the Award notice. It now says "Classification Code: 16 -- Aircraft components and accessories; NAICS Code: 541712 - Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)" but it still lists the award recipient as being "Research for the Future Inc., 1616 P ST NW, Washington, DC 20036-1400" even though the awardee is actually "Resources for the Future" located at that street address. I guess the name of the company isn't important in NASA awards.
Earlier posts below.
"The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on "The International Space Station: A Platform for Research, Collaboration, and Discovery." With assembly of the International Space Station complete as of May 2011, the focus has now shifted from construction to full scientific utilization through 2020 and beyond. This hearing will examine research progress, the potential for scientific breakthroughs, and any impediments to maximizing the utilization of this orbiting national laboratory."
Keith's note: Sources note that prior to this public hearing a private meeting will be held wherein the teams that bid on the contract that CASIS won - and explain how they would have approached this task. That said, nothing spectacular should be expected from the public hearing. Sen. Nelson has staged all of this behind the scenes - from contract award to providing political protection - so as to send jobs to Florida. Actual performance on the task is of secondary importance. As such, Sen. Nelson is unlikely to allow the status quo to be upset during this hearing - and the ongoing incompetence demonstrated by CASIS will be allowed to continue.
Three weeks after an ISS conference co-sponsored by CASIS, they have only managed to figure out how to post a small fraction of what was presented - 2 NASA presentations and 3 CASIS presentations. The rest of what was presented i.e. the vast majority - is being ignored.
"Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS. I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop. Compiled and arranged in Sony Vegas. Music by John Murphy - Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)." More.
Keith's note: If you want to download a copy of this utterly stunning piece of video artistry try this link. Why NASA.gov does not feature things like this is simply baffling. They launched artists to the space station. Who knew?
"Three new crew members are on their way to the International Space Station. NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams, Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:40 p.m. EDT Saturday, July 14 (8:40 a.m. Baikonur time July 15)."
"Dear Friends and Colleagues, It's been an incredible honor to work with and for you over the past 28 years on space station utilization planning, engineering development and operations. Despite what some thought to be insurmountable obstacles, the global team prevailed to deliver one of the greatest engineering achievements and most capable laboratory complexes in history. It's an icon for the power of relentless pursuit and exemplary of what great nations can do through peaceful cooperation."
Keith's note: I have known Mark for more than 20 years. Indeed, I used to work for him. While I have been critical of Mark and various aspects of space station utilization recently (because I think NASA can and should do better), I have to say that there were dark times when most of NASA really did not care if the space station was ever used - or was useful. During those long periods when budgets, assembly, and ops drove everything, Mark was one of the few who managed to keep the utilization spark alive within NASA. It will be interesting to see what he does with a fusion reactor at his disposal in his new position. Mark attached an interesting paper on space research-related patents with this departure message. I'm certain that it would not occur to CASIS that it would be useful to post it on their site.
"I believe in 'just trying your best' no matter if you win or lose, succeed or fail the truth will always prevail and so Satyameva Jayte is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning just that. If we do good things then good things will happen to us and vice versa. So if we look after our world then it will be a better place for all of us, if we neglect or damage it then the outcome and truth will not be very good especially for our future generations, our actions dictate our future ... The time lapse sequences of photographs were taken by the crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS), I downloaded over 20k+ images and ..." More.
Keith's note: While the demonstrably inept staff at CASIS struggle to figure how to post a few Powerpoint files online - or write/post a simple travel report about the recent International Space Station utilization meeting - this videographer - with zero NASA funding - has managed to produce this astonishing video which, in and of itself, effusively exudes vastly more raw inspiration as to the intrinsic value of the ISS than anything CASIS has done to date - or is likely to do anytime soon.
I think NASA has the implementation process for ISS absolutely backward. There is wisdom in the masses - especially given that the space insiders - with all their expertise - have so obviously dropped the ball.
Keith's note: Here's today's excuse from CASIS as to why nothing is online at the CASIS website regarding the recent ISS Utilization conference in Denver. This was posted by CASIS employee Justin Kugler (@Phalanx): "@NASAWatch AAS was taken out for 2 weeks by the outage in the Northeast and we had to coordinate with them. It's coming. Be patient." Hmm. The storm in the northeast was less than "2 weeks" ago. Of course this begs the question as to why none of the CASIS staff in attendance in Colorado (many of whom live in Texas and Florida) were able to write a summary of what happened at the event, post their own presentations, or put something online that documented what all of these hundreds of people heard and said at this meeting. Amazingly, NASA JSC's Liz Warren managed to get something online - yet CASIS is unable to even link to this lone summary. Utterly baffling. Is this inept performance by CASIS what U.S. taxpayers can expect from their ISS investment? CASIS continues to underwhelm and disappoint on a daily basis.
NASA and CASIS Hold Stealth ISS Conference, earlier post
Keith's 9 Jul note: It has been two weeks since the CASIS-co-sponsored First Annual International Space Station R&D Conference. The event itself received little media attention. None of the sessions were webcast. With the exception of one CASIS employee who tweeted a few times, virtually nothing was sent out via Twitter or other social media platforms. This is baffling given the hundreds of people who reportedly attended the event and the supposed mission of CASIS to popularize the ISS and its capabilities. Now, two weeks later a visit to the CASIS website shows that nothing from this conference has been posted online. No presentations. No videos. No summaries. Nothing.
And its not just CASIS that has dropped the ball - there is absolutely nothing posted at the NASA ISS National Laboratory website either. As such, it would seem that only the several hundred people in Denver at the event will ever know what happened. The remaining 300 million of us will have to accept silence.
I am not certain whether to ascribe this lack of follow-up by NASA and CASIS to laziness or incompetence. Or maybe NASA and CASIS simply do not care any more. And if they cannot be bothered to explain what the people who actually use the International Space Station are doing, why should they have any expectation that taxpayers are going to care what happens to the agency's budget?
Keith's 10 Jul update: The NASA ISS National Lab website put a link up to a summary written about the workshop. Yet CASIS can't even be bothered to link to this summary.
Fledgling NASA Nonprofit Starts To Liftoff, NPR (Morning Edition)
"At a hearing later in March, Congressman Frank Wolf, R-Va., asked the head of NASA, Charles Bolden, what grade he would give CASIS on its progress so far. Bolden said it was too soon to tell. "I'd give them a D-plus overall," says Keith Cowing, who runs the website NASAwatch.com. He worked for the agency in the early days of the space station program, and has been a persistent critic of CASIS. "They're making incremental progress, but I just don't think they're going fast enough," he says. "I don't think that they've engaged the people who have decades of experience in doing research in space. And I'm a little frustrated that they haven't gotten that message."
- More Whining From CASIS: Its Not Our Fault, earlier post
- CASIS: It Takes More Than Golf to Utilize the ISS, earlier post
- CASIS & ISS National Lab: Still Ignoring Their Own Stuff, earlier post
- Wake The Kids: CASIS Has A New Logo, earlier post
Keith's note: It has been a week since the CASIS-cosponsored ISS utilization conference in Denver. Nothing has been put online by CASIS in terms of presentations, videos, written summaries. Nothing. Alas, in this interview, CASIS representatives once again proclaim that "CASIS has to succeed" yet they seem to be going out of their way to help it fail by continuing to avoid explaining what it does outside of a very small constituency.
Astronauts support expansion of space station crew size, Houston Chronicle
"Astronauts aboard the International Space Station said this week they would welcome NASA's proposals to expand the lab's crew size from six to seven. "It would certainly help," said Don Pettit, a flight engineer and one of three crew members working in the U.S. half of the station. NASA senior leaders have begun talking about expanding the lab's crew size to seven when vehicles built by private contractors, such as SpaceX, come online as expected later this decade."
"Soyuz TMA-03M is seen as it lands with Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko, Flight Don Pettit, and Andre Kuipers in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, July 1, 2012. Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers returned from more than six months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 30 and 31 crews. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)"
ISS Expedition 31 Crew Lands Safely, NASA (With landing video.)
"Three members of the Expedition 31 crew undocked from the International Space Station and returned safely to Earth Sunday, July 1, wrapping up a mission that lasted six-and-a-half months."
"Russian Commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers landed their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 3:14 a.m. CDT (2:14 p.m. local time) after undocking from the space station's Rassvet module at 11:47 p.m. June 30. The trio, which arrived at the station Dec. 23, 2011, spent a total of 193 days in space, 191 of which were aboard the station."
"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with COBRA PUMA GOLFTM to carry out materials research projects on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory for use in its sporting goods products line."
"Combining instruction in the principles of both science and golf, 20 Title I students from St. Lucie County Schools will take part in the first-ever PGA STEM Enrichment Camp at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance this week, June 18-22."
Keith's note: CASIS certainly seems to have an interest in golfing. To be certain, golf balls are composed of rather sophisticated composites that are constantly tweaked to enhance performance. And the market is huge for balls that have even the slightest edge over the competitors. Maybe microgravity can provide an edge in the development of new polymers. As for the golf STEM camp - when I was in grad school I hacked a program on a PDP-8 computer that had been designed to calculate cannon ball trajectories so as to become a satellite launcher. Trajectories are trajectories. There are many ways to teach the concept. Some people may think golf deals are beyond CASIS' scope. I disagree. I see business and learning. And I see an effort to engage a new sector of commerce and consumers normally not part of the space utilization community. Well done. Do more, please.
That said, while CASIS is promoting its golf-in-space efforts, it has totally ignored its partner Nanoracks as it makes an announcement - and does so at a conference that CASIS itself co-sponsored. Oh yes, with the exception of two tweets @ISSCASIS was totally mute at the ISS conference in Denver. Indeed, only half a dozen or so people were using Twitter (#ISSRDC) to talk about what was happening at the conference. I have only found 2 articles - from the Huntsville Times - that refer to news from the conference. And nothing was webcast. How CASIS is going to expand visibility of ISS capabilities when it drops the ball like this escapes me. It takes more than a few golf agreements, CASIS.
Space: The New Frontier For Medical Breakthroughs, US News & World Report
"Deadly bacteria that have spent time in space are already on Earth--but instead of killing humans, they might just save lives. Scientists are using bacteria cultivated on the International Space Station to help develop vaccines that experts say could revolutionize the medical field."
Keith's note: Wow. Actual benefits to people back on Earth from research done in space on the ISS. Deputy Administrator Garver tweeted a link as did the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Neither @ISSCASIS or @ISS_NatLab could be bothered to do so. Alas, neither CASIS or the ISS National Laboratory are mentioned in this article. CASIS and the ISS National Laboratory ignore lots of things like this - including this regular NASA summary (not posted online) of space biology and medicine research done on the ISS. The CASIS and ISS National Lab folks are having their big meeting in Denver right now. I wonder if they are talking about how to make the ISS more relevant to the people who pay for it?
Keith's update: Oh yes: CASIS just released "CASIS Announces First Solicitation for Proposals: Advancing Protein Crystallization in Microgravity". No mention by @ISS_NatLab or at the ISS National Laboratory website. No one bothers to work with anyone, it would seem. [Update: a link was added later in the day - well after the release went out.]
"A high-altitude test of the Orion deep-space capsule's launch abort system could be delayed two years [FY 2018] to accommodate the tighter program budgets anticipated by NASA and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin."
"I just hope that there will no longer be budget proposals from the President, whoever that will be next year, that will appear to cut back on the future and fund the present because we have an authorization bill that assures both, we support both," Sen. Hutchison said at the hearing."
"Based on the availability of funding and industry performance, this strategy allows for adjustments in program scope, and enables a domestic capability to transport crewmembers to the ISS likely by 2017, based on the readiness of U.S. commercial providers to achieve NASA certification."
Keith's note: If the Orion abort test doesn't happen until FY 2018, then what does this mean for using Orion to take crews to the ISS? NASA plans for using the ISS now end in CY 2020. If Orion delays continue, commercial crew service providers could reach the ISS well before Orion can. How can Orion provide the "capability to be a backup system for International Space Station cargo and crew delivery" if commercial crew carriers fly well before Orion flies? As such, why is Orion/SLS being designed with the capability of going to the ISS in the first place?
"CASIS is determined to facilitate the development of ground-breaking products and technologies on the ISS for the benefit of people on Earth," said CASIS Interim Executive Director Jim Royston. "Our new logo captures our spirit and mission, and serves as a message to the marketplace that CASIS is a strong partner helping business and researchers harness the power of microgravity and the ISS U.S. National Lab."
Keith's note: This is bordering on the absurd. CASIS continues to drop the ball on all of the tasks it is supposed to be doing so as to further the utilization of the International Space Station and now they think that a new logo will "serve as a message to the marketplace"? Newsflash: actions speak louder than logos, CASIS.
Personally, I think the logo looks like something you'd see on an Adobe software package (same font). If this logo is supposed to show the industry that CASIS is serious about space, they certainly picked the wrong logo to do so. What this logo has to do with evoking an image of utilizing the ISS escapes me.
Maybe they were thinking of this movie space ship and its domes when they came up with this logo. The movie title certainly describes how CASIS has conducted itself since last year.
Keith's note: During today's NASA/FAA teleconference, Charlie Bolden said that the new commercial crew Space Act Agreements are targeted for July. However, Phil McAlister said that these downselects will not be "downselects" at all but will be open to any bidder. However Rep. Frank Wolf recently issued a press release that said "Additionally, NASA has stated that it will reduce the number of awards anticipated to be made this summer from the 4 awards made under commercial crew development round 2 to not more than 2.5 (two full and one partial) CCiCAP awards. This downselect will reduce taxpayer exposure by concentrating funds on those participants who are most likely to be chosen to eventually provide service to ISS."
Hmm. "reduce the number of awards" and "this downselect will reduce ..." It certainly sounds like Rep. Wolf thinks that he has agreed to a NASA "downselect". Phil might want to check with Rep. Wolf on this.
Teledyne to Develop Space-Based Digital Imaging Capability
"Teledyne Technologies Incorporated announced today that its subsidiary, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc., in Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a Cooperative Agreement by NASA to foster the commercial utilization of the International Space Station. Under the agreement, Teledyne Brown will develop the Multi-User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES), an Earth imaging platform, as part of the company's new commercial space-based digital imaging business. Teledyne expects to provide the first commercial imaging system on board the facility."
Keith's 14 Jun note: There is no mention of CASIS or the ISS National Lab in this press release. No mention is made on the CASIS website. No mention is made at the NASA ISS National Lab website either. I thought this was the sort of thing NASA wanted CASIS to be doing? Guess not. It would seem that one does not have to deal with CASIS in order to use the ISS.
Keith's 15 Jun update: According to Twitter posts provided last night by CASIS employee Justin Kugler (@phalanx) the TBE agreement was done independent of CASIS: "MUSES was created as a National Lab Enabling project. It is not new. TBE registered with CASIS as an implementation partner" and "TBE is an implementation partner and MUSES preceded the transition. And we have been helping them with potential users.". Kugler added that "NASA is retaining the projects they are funding because of legal requirements."
"CASIS is now the manager of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. Owing to a slow and unfocused start, tumultuous changes in management after barely six months, and pressure from those who lost the ISS National Lab management contract competition, some have called for CASIS to be removed from the job barely nine months after it was selected. Any move to retire CASIS -- still in its infancy -- and replace it with a still greener successor would be ill advised, I believe. ... I rather doubt that the detractors and would-be successors to CASIS have thought these implications through. But they should. And if they are ISS supporters, they should not only cease their calls to end CASIS and instead support it as it reboots with new leadership and a newfound effectiveness."
Keith's note: (sigh) It's never the fault of CASIS when things go wrong. Oh no. CASIS is the only answer - period. We're stuck with them - no matter what. So get used to it. And if you don't fall in step with whatever CASIS says and does (no matter how much they screw things up) you are a detractor and not a true believer. Yawn.
It is quite clear that CASIS thinks that the choice is to stick with them and their substandard ISS utilization - and not to even think of trying another approach so as to achieve far better utilization of the International Space Station. I vote for "better".
Keith's update: There are some interesting and lengthy comments (below) from someone inside the ISS utilization world that shed some light on issues confronting CASIS.
"With a few decades of space launch experience already under its belt, the Orbital Sciences Corporation is next up to demonstrate cargo delivery capabilities to the International Space Station. With so much attention focused on SpaceX's successful demonstration flight last month, it might be easy to forget Elon Musk's company is just one of two receiving investments from NASA as part of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to deliver cargo to the ISS. And unlike upstart SpaceX, the other company in the COTS program is a veteran of the commercial space industry."
"This morning, at approximately 8:42 AM Pacific/11:42 AM Eastern, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) completed its historic mission when the Dragon spacecraft splashed down safely in the Pacific. The vehicle will now be recovered by boats and start the trip back to land."
"Are your bones getting stronger or weaker? Right now, it's hard to know. Scientists at Arizona State University and NASA are taking on this medical challenge by developing and applying a technique that originated in the Earth sciences. In a new study, this technique was more sensitive in detecting bone loss than the X-ray method used today, with less risk to patients. Eventually, it may find use in clinical settings, and could pave the way for additional innovative biosignatures to detect disease."
Keith's note: Wow. A real spinoff - one with an immense potential benefit to people living on Earth. But is there any mention of this PNAS paper at NASA or CASIS? Of course not. Indeed, neither NASA or CASIS seem to be at all interested in promoting ongoing results of space-based and NASA-funded research - unless its budget time, that is. Indeed, no one in the ISS utilization world can find the vanishingly small amount money needed to put this simple, regularly-generated listing of actual research publications online. Any PR-savvy organization looking to make its accomplishments known would be making sure that the AARP knew about this. Not NASA. Baffling.
Keith's update: NASA OCT's @NASASpinoff did take time out today to tweet about "Space bread".
SpaceX's Dragon capsule docks with international space station, Washington post
"On Friday, Musk said that SpaceX could be ready to fly people into space by 2015. But Scott Pace, a space policy expert at George Washington University and an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said the company first needs a track record. "They need to fly [cargo] six or seven times consecutively," he said."
Keith's note: More Griffin era, out-of-date, sour grapes thinking from a Romney campaign advisor. Please tell me, Scott, where are the legal or agency requirements or 6 or 7 cargo flights prior to crew flights on Falcon 9/Dragon? Answer: there are no such requirements. You are just throwing imaginary hurdles in front of SpaceX so as to make their successes look less impressive than they are. And where is a precedent for such hurdles? Certainly not in the historical record of American human spaceflight. Why was the Space Shuttle allowed to fly with a crew on its very first flight? Human crews flew on the third Gemini/Titan II flight, Apollo crews flew on the third Saturn V flight, etc. How many cargo-only Ares 1/Orion flights were you and Mike going to have before you flew crews? Certainly not "six or seven times consecutively". So why are you suddenly calling for SpaceX to meet criteria never levied upon NASA by you or anyone else?
Keith's update: Curiously, you see a markedly different (and reasoned) tone than the dour stance taken by Mike Griffin and Scott Pace from another individual identified as a space supporter of the Romney campaign:
"Mark Albrecht, a former Republican space-policy maker who also previously ran Lockheed Martin Corp.'s international rocket business, called the launch "a watershed event" and a "Sputnik moment for the U.S. space program and the entire aerospace industry." Large aerospace rivals need to "take heed, adapt or go the way of the electric typewriter," he said."
So ... who speaks for Gov. Romney - and who does not? With Griffin and Pace there always seems to be a lingering "what if" bitterness - of the sort often associated with talking about having lost some big game way back in high school.
- Obama to Romney: Will You Fire Mike Griffin?, earlier post
- Partisan Romney Space Advisor To Call For Non-Partisan Space Policy, earlier post
- Obama Campaign Issues Space Policy Fact Sheet, earlier post
Keith's note: The International Space Station crewsuccessfully captured the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at 9:56 am EDT. It was berthed to the ISS exactly
3 two hours later.
"For the first time, a private American company has successfully launched a spacecraft into orbit and berthed it with the International Space Station--an achievement of historic scientific and technological significance and a key milepost in President Obama's vision for America's continued leadership in space."
"Around 2:00 AM Pacific/5:00 AM Eastern NASA will decide if Dragon is GO to move into the approach ellipsoid 1.4 kilometers around the space station. If Dragon is GO, after approximately one hour Dragon will move to a location 250 meters directly below the station. Dragon will then perform a series of maneuvers to show systems are operating as expected. If NASA is satisfied with the results of these many tests, Dragon will be allowed to perform the final approach to the space station. Sometime around 6:00 AM Pacific/9:00 AM Eastern, astronauts on the space station will grapple Dragon with the space station's robotic arm and the spacecraft will attach to the station."
Follow progress via @NASAWatch : Dragon is now within 100 m of ISS . Projected Capture time is 9:10 am ED . ISS crew now has abort authority if anything does wrong
"Today, Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft completed key on-orbit tests as part of a historic attempt to be the first commercial company in history to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. In the days since SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the vehicle has steadily completed one task after another as it prepares to berth with the International Space Station. Only minutes after the spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage, its solar arrays successfully deployed, providing power to the spacecraft. The door that had been covering sensors needed for proximity operations opened successfully. "
Keith's note: Last Friday I joined CASIS as a member. Ever since then, when I attempt to login all I get is "Authorization Failed! You are not authorized to view this page. You must either login or you do not have sufficient privileges to access this information ..." But the page that tells me this has a link that says "logout" so I guess I am both logged in and logged out simultaneously. I am not certain how CASIS is going to build the online community it seems to desire when they cannot get something as simple as this figured out.
Keith's update: OK, now when I log in I get sent back to the membership page. Do they still want money from me?
"NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, plays a guitar, while Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, flight engineer, plays a musical keyboard during off-time in the Unity node of the International Space Station." ISS030-E-267658 (21 April 2012) --- high res (1.4 M) low res (109 K)
Keith's note: There are several labels in this photo of the ISS that need updating. With Dragon and other crewed spacecraft soon to be visiting ISS, the evacuation spacecraft pointers need to be updated - including the deletion of the shuttle icon too - as well as the "HAB" pointer.
Budget Pressures Prompt ISS Partners To Justify Costs, Aviation Week
"NASA needs to get out of the business of running the competition and selecting experimenters and researchers to fly on ISS," Bolden says. "We realize if we truly want to enhance the utilization, we've got to cast our net as wide as we can in bringing people aboard to do experiments." But Florida-based CASIS has yet to identify any proposals worth funding and has been dogged by public relations issues, notably the resignation of its CEO after less than six months on the job. If CASIS can sort itself out, "then our proposal would be that we expand it even more broadly so you don't just have academia and the partner organizations doing the research on station," Bolden says."
"MSNBC: Do you think that private companies going into space will work? Do you see this as truly the future of space flight ?
Mark Kelly: You know, initially i didn't. I was not a big fan of this plan that the Obama administration had early on. But just seeing how it's developed over the last few years, to see companies, as an example, Spacex, how close they are, they're going to deliver cargo to the space station next week. That's amazing. They're going to ultimately be able to deliver people to the space station. So I see the decisions that were made were very innovative. So they can be a little bit disruptive but ultimately I think this is good for our country and I think it's good for the state of florida as well."
This morning's attempt to launch a Falcon 9 with a Dragon spacecraft was scrubbed when a high pressure reading was discovered in first stage engine 5. The launch vehicle is now being put into safe mode. The next launch window will be on Tuesday at 3:44 am EDT.
Marc's update: Here's my story and the post-launch attempt briefing video.
"Right up to t-minus 0.5 seconds it looked like there was going to be a launch. Unfortunately the Falcon 9 computer shutdown the rocket just as it was set to launch due to a high pressure reading on engine number 5, one of nine engines on the Falcon 9 first stage."
Keith's note: NASA is giving CASIS $15 million a year and the keys to a large portion of a $100 billion space station - one funded by taxpayers. But in order for a taxpayer or company to get everything that CASIS is offering they have to pay. Check out the CASIS membership site. This is fundamentally absurd - and I cannot fathom how NASA would agree to this. Everything that this taxpayer-funded organization does with NASA funding on the ISS should be available to all of those people who are already paying for it - and have been paying for it for decades. Whatever happened to the "transparency" and "openness" that NASA was supposed to be demonstrating? And what about the DIY ethos that the White House has been promoting? Putting a government-funded asset like the iSS behind a paywall is the antithesis of this.
"Today, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization managing research on the International Space Station (ISS), announced the unveiling of a new website (www.iss-casis.org) that will serve as a portal for researchers, businesses, educators and students to discover the unique opportunities available to them on board the ISS U.S. National Laboratory."
NASA Ponders Transporting Tourists to International Space Station, WS Journal (link probably won't work)
"But for the first time, a senior National Aeronautics and Space Administration official on Thursday publicly talked about ways the U.S. eventually could offer the same service and reap similar benefits. The trips could begin later this decade, when a new generation of private, U.S.-built space taxis is expected to begin transporting American crews into orbit. "We are very, very open" to the possibility and intend to "work on details with the company or companies" that end up winning contracts to take American astronauts back and forth from the station, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver told reporters during a teleconference."
Keith's note: To expand further on my question (described above), I noted that people have been able to fly to the ISS via commerial means for over a decade but their trips are explicitly considered as being via Russia's participation. Use of any U.S. facilities is usually at extra expense to the customer. I asked if NASA was considering A. Allowing individuals to buy seats to visit the U.S. segment B. allowing commercial concerns to be able to send up their own astronauts for periods longer than just a brief visit and C. how would NASA seek to determine the charge(s) for these visits. Lori Garver answered as noted above. I then asked how such trips might be arranged - i.e. if they'd be done via CASIS (which is supposed to me managing commerical research in the ISS National Lab) or some new TBD arrangement. Garver replied "No - I haven't heard any discussion about this and CASIS." She also noted that NASA has "come a long way since Dennis Tito when NASA wasn't even certain if they'd open the hatch."
"Clearly the clock is ticking. Given CASIS' chronic tardiness and lack of performance thus far, by the end of June NASA and Congress will either know a lot more about what CASIS has been doing and plans to do with the ISS - or they'll be asking if it is time to pull the plug on this half-hearted management experiment and try again. Meanwhile, this amazing facility orbits overhead while its return on investment diminishes with every single day that it continues to be underutilized."
"Below is a frame from the "Stargate Sequence" from the iconic film "2001: A Space Odyssey". These three images below are a composite of a series of images photographed from a mounted camera on the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit is the photographer. It would seem that he has managed to recreate the stargate sequence - in space."
"What we're looking for are some of those very specific examples of things that can be done better in space than on Earth," Timothy Yeatman, CASIS's interim chief scientist, said. Protein crystallization best fits the bill, Yeatman said, citing the decision of a blue-ribbon panel of science experts CASIS convened to evaluate which scientific fields were likeliest to be advanced through in-space experiments."
Keith's note: Growing perfect crystals in space (on the Space Shuttle and Space Station) has been one of NASA's favorite promotional items in its mantra of promoting the use of the ISS as a "world class laboratory". The need for large crystals grown at great expense in space is quickly vanishing due to advances made on Earth. As mentioned in the earlier posts below, NASA dragged its feet on this and missed the bus.
"Uhran notes that the timescale of a typical [Space station] research project is three to five years, which doesn't easily mesh with corporate priorities like reaching sales or profit targets for the next quarter, or even the next year."
Keith's note: So ... what do Mark Uhran and his colleagues do about this issue (by no means a new one)? They simply repeat it again and again as if it were an absolute, immutable fact of life at NASA and that there is nothing that NASA can (or will) do to change it. And then they wonder why there is not more interest in the commercial use of the ISS. Baffling. If the time lag is too long for commercial interests then obviously NASA needs to shorten it. Is CASIS the black box within which that miracle is supposed to happen? This commercially naive mindset at NASA is an ongoing example of the strange approach that Uhran et al took back in the 1990s with regard to finding users for the space station i.e. "build it and they will come". Yes they actually used that phrase. So did I when I worked there.
OK, Mark: you've built it - so where is everyone?