Recently in ISS News Category

Keith's note: You know that there is indeed a "there" there vis-a-vis the viability of space commerce when companies start trash talking their competitor's products.

Despite sanctions, Russia is getting a $457.9M check from NASA, Washington Post

"Despite ongoing sanctions, Russia is about to get a big infusion of cash from the U.S. government. NASA recently renewed a contract that allows Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. The U.S. is, essentially, cutting Russia a $457.9 million check for its services -- six seats on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, training and launch prep, landing and crew rescue and limited cargo delivery to and from the International Space Station. This contract also adds additional support at the Russian launch site. NASA has announced it is cutting some contacts with Russia after the country annexed Crimea, including meetings and teleconferences."

Another Dragon Visits ISS

Dragon Berthed at the International Space Station

"ISS Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, with the assistance of NASA's Rick Mastracchio, successfully berthed the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the space station at 9:06 a.m. EDT."

Dragon Cargo Craft Launch Scrubbed; Station Crew Preps for Spacewalk

"Monday's launch attempt of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft, loaded with nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station's Expedition 39 crew, was scrubbed due to a helium leak on the Falcon 9 first stage. The next launch opportunity would be Friday, April 18 at 3:25 p.m. EDT if the issue can be resolved."

NASA TV to Air SpaceX-3 Status Update at Noon EDT April 13

"NASA Television will air a news conference at noon EDT on Sunday, April 13 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The briefing will provide an update on the status of the SpaceX-3 cargo mission launch to the International Space Station, currently scheduled for 4:58 p.m. Monday, April 14, and on the failure on Friday of a backup computer component that provides redundancy for commanding the Mobile Transporter rail car on the truss of the station."

Keith's note: NASA has resolved issues on ISS such that it can safely accommodate Dragon and has cleared SpaceX for their launch tomorrow.

Curiously, the banner shown behind the briefers today does not show a SpaceX Dragon (the vehicle actually being launched) but shows a NASA Orion instead. I am told that this was done in "error". OK, that happens. But why is there a NASA graphic of ISS and Orion together in the first place? Orion is not going to visit ISS. Or is it?

Reader note:"This screen capture from today's Space Station Live shows the ISS crew during this morning's call by Vladimir Putin to the ISS. Only Mastracchio & Swanson don't wear audio headsets. Is it some kind of sanction against Russia?"

Marc's note: The answer is no. There are only four places to plug in comm sets in the service module. Thanks to an astute reader for reminding us and everyone about this.

Keith's note: But NASA PAO has still not responded to our inquiry on this.

Keith's note: An internal NASA memo is circulating that bans all employee contact with Russia except for ISS operations. Stay tuned.

Keith's 2:22 pm EDT update: NASA Internal Memo: Suspension of NASA contact with Russian entities

"Given Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted. This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted. In addition, multilateral meetings held outside of Russia that may include Russian participation are not precluded under the present guidance."

Keith's 7:44 pm EDT update:

Statement regarding suspension of some NASA activities with Russian Government representatives

"Given Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, NASA is suspending the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation. NASA and Roscosmos will, however, continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station. NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space. This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration's for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches - and the jobs they support - back to the United States next year. With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we're now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It's that simple. The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America - and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same."

US-Russia chill won't spread to cooperation in space, Bolden says, Physics Today

"On Thursday NASA administrator Charles Bolden reassured lawmakers that Russia won't stop providing access for US astronauts to the International Space Station, despite the current tensions between the two countries over Russia's recent invasion of Crimea."

GOP lawmaker, NASA chief spar on funding and Russia, MSNBC

"Several legislators expressed concern that the diplomatic breakdown between Washington and Moscow over Russia's incursion into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula could derail cooperation between NASA and Roscosmos."

U.S. Air Force Radar Problem Delays NROL-67 and SpaceX CRS-3 Launches, SpaceRef Business

"A problem with the U.S. Air Force AN/MPS-39 Multiple Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) at the Eastern Range, reportedly a fire, has delayed the launch of the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-67 launch and now unofficially SpaceX's launch of the CRS-3 resupply mission to the International Space Station."

Expedition 39/40 Trio's Arrival at Space Station Delayed

"The next trio of crew members destined for the International Space Station is now looking forward to a Thursday arrival at the orbiting laboratory after their Soyuz spacecraft was unable to complete its third thruster burn to fine-tune its approach."

New Crew Launches to Space Station

"Three crew members representing the United States and Russia are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday (3:17 a.m. on March 26 in Baikonur)."

Marc's Update: The first additional burns have been completed successfully for the 34 orbit rendezvous. According to Space Station Mission Operations Integration Manager Kenny Todd "everything looks real good".

Keith's note: Adapted from several messages circulating on Google+: "JSC is pulling the plug on Space Station Live due to budget cuts. You are encouraged to contact the space agency and ask to reconsider the decision. As suggested on the site, you can submit your concerns by emailing NASA official Jennifer B. Price at jsc-isslive@mail.nasa.gov with ISS Live Web Site in the Subject.

ISS Live is a unique resource. It displays real-time telemetry data on the space station's electrical, environmental, attitude control, communications, and other systems. Mobile apps for Android and iOS are also available for checking the telemetry on your smartphone or tablet. Live telemetry, from a real spaceship. A lot of the same data flight controllers have on their console displays at NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston. This is possibly one of the geekiest resources ever."

Agencywide Message to All NASA Employees: "LIVE FROM SPACE" Program on Space Station Originating from JSC

"LIVE FROM SPACE" Program on Space Station Originating from JSC -- Friday, March 14, 8 p.m. EDT, National Geographic Channel. "LIVE FROM SPACE," a live, two-hour special program originating from Johnson Space Center (JSC) and including appearances by the International Space Station (ISS) crew, is scheduled to air world-wide on the National Geographic Channel on Friday, March 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time."

Keith's note: Unless you pay extra for National Geogrpahic Channel, you were unable to watch this NASA-assisted special tonight. NASA TV was not allowed to air it. Also, if you went to the official "Live From Space" website, it crashed a few minutes after the show began - and with it the live video feeds (without any audio). To be certain, crashing a webserver like this speaks to having a lot of interested people trying to get in. That said, its baffling that National Geographic did not plan ahead for this surge in traffic - especially when they did so much international marketing. Meanwhile, it was rather humorous to listen to the open mic in the control room at JSC in the hour leading up to the webcast as the shows's producers struggled to figure a number of things out - and talk about the post-show party.

CASIS Releases Request for Information to Identify Equipment for Materials Science Research on the ISS, CASIS

Cutting-Edge Techniques Used for the Structural Investigation of Single Crystals, Science

"X-ray crystallography has become the leading technique for studying the structure of matter at the atomic and molecular level. Today it underpins all sciences and is widely applied in industry. It is essential in the development of new materials. The technique is very powerful, and the range of materials that can be studied expands as new technologies evolve and are applied in innovative ways to structure solution. It is now possible to record vast amounts of diffraction data in seconds electronically, whereas it took days and months by photographic methods 30 to 40 years ago. Single crystals can be created in various ways; they can be produced from compounds that are liquids or gases at room temperature, and complete molecular structures can be presented within minutes. This short review presents recent developments that are appropriate to the single-crystal x-ray studies of chemical and materials sciences."

Developments in X-ray Crystallographic Structure Determination of Biological Macromolecules, Science

Keith's note: Neither of these articles in this special issue of Science mention microgravity. Yet CASIS perpetuates utilization myths and acts as if advances in crystallography can only be made if you use uber-perfect crystals that have been grown in space. Space is no longer necessesary since vanishingly small amounts of material are now all that is required for Earth-based crystallography procedures (see links below) and answers appear swiftly - not months/years later. Shouldn't CASIS be focusing on things that can really utilize the unqiue capabilities of the ISS - not space-based technology that has already been eclipsed by advances back on Earth?

Russia Crisis Raises Space Station, NBC

"The United States and Russia are not just "joined at the hip" on the space station. Numerous other rocket projects rely on either Russian or Ukrainian space hardware and services. Even U.S. national security satellites are powered into orbit on an American rocket with a Russian-built rocket engine. What if the Soyuz spacecraft suddenly became unavailable for use by American astronauts, contract or no contract? Would it be the end of U.S. human spaceflight? Would it kick off a new round of extortionary price-gouging, both fiscal and diplomatic?"

US says it is suspending trade talks and all military-to-military engagements with Russia over Ukraine, Fox

"The U.S. announced late Monday it was suspending trade and investment talks with Russia as well as all "military-to-military engagements" as penalties for its actions in Ukraine."

Oleg Kotov (ISS Expedition 28 Commander) WIkipedia

Oleg Valeriyevich Kotov was born on October 27, 1965, in Simferopol, Crimean oblast in the Ukrainian SSR.

Cooke: America needs a plan for space exploration, Opinion, Houston Chronicle

"Through logical progression and meaningful missions, I believe Americans will be motivated to support appropriate but reasonable budgets, that are commensurate with the value of the plan and the work needed to accomplish it. We cannot afford to delay or prolong the debate, because timing is critical to catch the unique planetary alignment that makes the first step possible in 2021."

Keith's note: Once again Doug Cooke is incapable and/or unwilling to give budget estimates. But he knows enough, so it would seem, to state that everyone will accept these "reasonable" costs. He never says that NASA's budget will need to be increased substantially in order to do this Mars flyby with SLS/Orion. Does that mean he will take the funds from elsewhere? Flying a mission to Mars in 2021 means that NASA needs to start on this yesterday - and its current and projected budgets will simply not allow SLS/Orion/Mars flyby and ISS to be fully supported simultaneously. Clearly ISS will bear the brunt of the obvious budget reconfiguration. He is saving the sticker shock for later.

Cooke also neglects to mention that he is a Boeing consultant (they are heavily involved in SLS) and that he advises Dennis Tito's Inspiration Mars project - where this whole flyby thing began.

NASA Spacewalk Mishap Investigation Board Report

"While I am concerned about ensuring this particular incident does not happen again, I am especially concerned about cultural factors that may have contributed to the event. In our exuberance to get the job done, we may have allowed ourselves to accept the commonly accepted causes for small anomalies. We have a responsibility not to move on from any abnormal situation until we understand it fully or have suitable mitigations to prevent it happening again. Our work both in-house and with our industry and commercial partners should entail diligence in assessing risk and commitment to ensuring mission safety."

- News Conference Presentation - 2/26/14 (120 Kb PDF)

- Full report (11.2 Mb PDF)

"In summary, the causes for this mishap evolved from (1) inorganic materials causing blockage of the drum holes in the EMU water separator resulting in water spilling into the vent loop; (2) the NASA team's lack of knowledge regarding this particular failure mode; and (3) misdiagnosis of this suit failure when it initially occurred on EVA 22."

NASA Updates Media on Spacewalk Safety Investigation

"NASA will host a teleconference at 2 p.m. EST today to discuss the findings of an investigation into the July 2013 spacewalk at the International Space Station when water built up in an astronaut's spacesuit helmet. Soon after the incident, NASA created a Mishap Investigation Board to identify factors that may have contributed to the incident and recommend changes that could be implemented to prevent a similar situation from occurring again. This safety investigation ran concurrently with an engineering investigation into the equipment failure."

Putting ISS Into Perspective

How Big is the International Space Station?

"As you watch football today, you might be interested the know tha the International Space Station's length and width is about the size of a football field. At the time of the anniversary, the station's odometer read more than 1.5 billion statute miles (the equivalent of eight round trips to the Sun), over the course of 57,361 orbits around the Earth."

Critics doubt value of International Space Station science, Orlando Sentinel

"The old adage is that if you build it, they will come," said Keith Cowing, a former NASA space station payload manager who runs the popular website NASA Watch. "Well, it's there, but NASA has a lot of catching up to do in terms of fully utilizing the capability of the space station."

"... Another way NASA has tried to better use the station was hiring a nonprofit group in 2011 to manage the part of the station designated as a U.S. national laboratory and to entice non-NASA researchers to do their work there. But the Florida-based group -- the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS -- had early management problems and was able to get its first sponsored payload onboard the station just this month."

- CASIS Defines Bedtime Stories on ISS as "Major Payload", earlier post
- CASIS Is Clueless, earlier post

NASA Conducts Orion Parachute Test

"Engineers testing the parachute system for NASA's Orion spacecraft increased the complexity of their tests Thursday, Jan. 16, adding the jettison of hardware designed to keep the capsule safe during flight. The test was the first to give engineers in-air data on the performance of the system that jettisons Orion's forward bay cover. The cover is a shell that fits over Orion's crew module to protect the spacecraft during launch, orbital flight and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. When Orion returns from space, the cover must come off before the spacecraft's parachutes can deploy. It must be jettisoned high above the ground in order for the parachutes to unfurl."

SpaceX Tests Dragon Parachute System

"Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) gathered in Morro Bay, Calif., in late December to demonstrate how the company's Dragon spacecraft's parachute system would function in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during ascent. The test was part of an optional milestone under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative and approved by the agency in August."

First CASIS-Sponsored Payloads Berthed to the International Space Station

"Below is an overview of the major payloads now on board the ISS sponsored by CASIS: ... Story Time From Space - Patricia Tribe, T2 Sciences & Math Education Consultants and Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, Author - This project aims to bring space station science to communities through the simple beauty of reading a book to a child. Crewmembers on the International Space Station host Story Time From Space by producing videotaped readings from a children's book, which are later broadcast on Earth. The astronauts also complete simple demonstrations that accompany the science, technology, engineering and math concepts in the books. The videos are edited and posted to an online library, with related educational materials, for use by educators and parents". 

Keith's note: I am the first one to say that using the ISS for educational purposes is important. While some of the other things listed are interesting, lumping this this bedtime story thing into the "major payload" category makes me wonder whether CASIS is truly up to the fullest utilization of the ISS for the maximum benefit of the U.S. taxpayer.

Cygnus Berthed at ISS

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus Spacecraft Docks With Space Station

"The spacecraft was then grappled and berthed with the station by the Expedition 38 astronaut crew earlier this morning. After Cygnus was launched into orbit by Orbital's Antares(TM) rocket on Thursday, January 9 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, it completed a series of thruster firings and other maneuvers bringing the spacecraft in close proximity to the ISS."

Remarks for NASA Administrator Bolden at International Space Exploration Forum

"Although we understand that our ISS Partners' governments may not yet be ready to make a decision with respect to ISS extension to at least 2024, we hope that each of the ISS Partners will come to a similar decision through its own government process."

NASA, Obama Administration Highlight International Space Station Extension at Global Forum

"The ISS is a unique facility that offers enormous scientific and societal benefits," said Holdren. "The Obama Administration's decision to extend its life until at least 2024 will allow us to maximize its potential, deliver critical benefits to our Nation and the world, and maintain American leadership in space."

NASA wants to keep the International Space Station going until 2024. Is that a good idea?

"The space station has plenty of supporters -- not least because of the economic angle. In 2011, NASA bought goods and services in 396 of the 435 congressional districts. One example: Florida's space industry took a big hit after the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. So it's no surprise that Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is in favor of keeping the space station aloft: "This means more jobs at the Kennedy Space Center as we rebuild our entire space program." But there are other arguments, too. Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.), a member of the House appropriations committee in charge of NASA funding, applauded the move on national-interest grounds. ""It's inevitable and I'm delighted that NASA understands the value of ensuring that America continues to hold the high ground."

Remarks by OSTP Director John Holdren at the International Space Exploration Forum

"We may have different flags patched to our space suits, and different cultures, traditions, and political systems. But as the success of the ISS has shown, we can transcend these differences in space."

Cygnus Is in Orbit

Cargo Launched to Space Station Aboard Orbital-1 Mission

"The launch aboard Orbital's Antares rocket took place from NASA's Wallop's Flight Facility in Virginia Thursday, at 1:07 p.m. EST."

Orbital Launches Antares Rocket Carrying Cygnus On ISS Cargo Resupply Mission

"Under a $1.9 billion CRS contract with NASA, Orbital will use Antares and Cygnus to deliver up to 44,000 pounds (20,000 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS over eight missions through late 2016. For these missions, NASA will manifest a variety of essential items based on ISS program needs, including food, clothing, crew supplies, spare parts and equipment, and scientific experiments."

Orb-1 Launch Rescheduled

Orbital to Proceed With Antares Launch Tomorrow

"Following a comprehensive review of data related to the radiation environment in space, further reviews and modeling of the rocket's avionics systems, and the forecast for favorable terrestrial weather conditions at the Wallops Island launch facility, the Antares launch team has decided to proceed forward with a launch attempt of the Orbital-1 CRS mission to the International Space Station tomorrow, January 9."

Orb-1 Launch for Jan 8 Has Been Scrubbed

"Early this morning, Orbital Sciences Corp. decided to scrub today's launch attempt of the Antares rocket and the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on the company's first resupply mission to the International Space Station due to an unusually high level of space radiation that exceeded constraints imposed on Antares."

NASA May Order More Soyuz Rides to Station Despite Commercial Crew Advancements, Space News

"Companies working on commercial crew transportation services to and from the international space station reported milestones in their efforts even as a NASA official warned that the agency likely will have to order more Russian Soyuz crew capsules to keep the orbital outpost fully occupied. Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight at NASA headquarters, told an advisory panel Dec. 9 that the agency may have to order another batch of Soyuz crew capsules from Russia unless Congress funds NASA's Commercial Crew Program at the $800 million-plus level sought by the White House."

Review of NASA's Evidence Reports on Human Health Risks: 2013 Letter Report (2014), IOM

"Review of NASA's Evidence Reports on Human Health Risks: 2013 Letter Report is the first in a series of five reports from the Institute of Medicine that will independently review more than 30 evidence reports that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has compiled on human health risks for long-duration and exploration space flights. This report builds on the 2008 IOM report Review of NASA's Human Research Program Evidence Books: A Letter Report, which provided an initial and brief review of the evidence reports."

Antares launch update: No Earlier Than January 8

"Orbital, in consultation with NASA, has decided to reschedule the Antares CRS Orb-1 Space Station Resupply Mission launch for no earlier than Wednesday, January 8, 2014.  The new target date was set due to the extreme cold temperatures that are forecasted for early next week, coupled with likely precipitation events predicted for Sunday night and Monday morning.  While we are preserving the option to launch on January 8, it is more likely that the launch will take place on Thursday, January 9 because of a much improved forecast for later in the week."

"Review of NASA's Evidence Reports on Human Health Risks -- Letter Report [Institute of Medicine]: NASA has asked the Institute of Medicine to provide independent reviews of more than 30 publicly available evidence reports on human health risks for long-duration and exploration space flight. This letter report examines evidence reports on the risk of injury from dynamic loads, the risk of therapeutic failure due to ineffective medication, and the risk of spaceflight-induced hypertension and visual alterations."

ISS EVA Update

Space Station Crew Removes Ammonia Pump, Next Spacewalk Set for Tuesday

"NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins completed a 5 hour and 28 minute spacewalk Saturday to remove a faulty ammonia pump on the International Space Station. A second spacewalk to install a new unit now is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 24."

NASA Postpones Orbital Launch and Sets Spacewalks to Repair ISS

"NASA managers are postponing the upcoming Orbital Sciences commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station to proceed with a series of spacewalks to replace a faulty pump module on the space station. NASA Television will air a news briefing at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 18 to preview the spacewalks. Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft, atop its Antares rocket, now will launch no earlier than January. The postponement of the Antares launch will allow ample time for the station crew to focus on repairing a faulty pump module that stopped working properly on Dec. 11."

Cygnus Launch To ISS Delayed

NASA Delays Cygnus Launch Due to ISS Cooling Issue

"The launch has been delayed to no earlier than Thursday, Dec. 19 to enable engineers to continue their analysis of data involving a suspect Flow Control Valve in a pump module on the starboard truss of the station that malfunctioned on Wednesday. Orbital's Antares rocket and the Cygnus commercial cargo vehicle are now scheduled to launch from Pad 0A at the Wallops Flight Facility, Va. no earlier than Dec. 19 at 9:19 p.m. EST. NASA TV coverage of launch will begin at 8:45 p.m. EST."

NASA Statement on Space Station Cooling Loop Shut Down

"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."

Teams Working Cooling System Issue; Station Crew Carries on With Research

"Mission managers have deferred the decision on whether to proceed with or postpone the launch of the Orbital Sciences' Cygnus commercial cargo craft until more is known about the flow control valve issue. Cygnus is currently scheduled to launch Dec. 18 from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and rendezvous with the station on Dec. 21."

There Is A Plastic Caged Bird on the Space Station

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."

NASA Issues Commercial Crew Transportation Capability RFP

"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."

Space station anniversary to be marked by Twitter event, CP

"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.govnasa.gov/mission_pages/station/, and nasa.gov/connect/social/ I see zero mention of this Twitter event. Baffling.

Expedition 37 Crew and Olympic Torch Return to Earth

"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.

Dark Matter Experiment Has Detected Nothing, Researchers Say Proudly, NY Times

"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."

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - 02 (AMS-02) Fact Sheet

"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).

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."

Houston: We're Bored

Shutdown Quiets NASA, So Space Station Astronauts Enjoy View, NPR

"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."

First CASIS-Funded Payloads Berthed to the International Space Station, CASIS

"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."

Cygnus Rendezvous Complete

Updated Cygnus Rendezvous Date, NASA TV Coverage for Orbital Sciences' Demonstration Mission to International Space Station, NASA

"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.

- Statements on Berthing of Orbital Cygnus Spacecraft to the International Space Station, NASA

- NASA Partner Orbital Sciences Completes First Flight to Space Station as Astronauts Capture Cygnus Spacecraft, NASA

- Orbital's Cygnus Spacecraft Successfully Berths With The International Space Station, Orbital

- The Commercial Spaceflight Federation Congratulates NASA and Commercial Industry Partners on Successful Berth with the International Space Station, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Cygnus Rendezvous Delayed Until 28 September

"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."

Cygnus Launched

The #Antares rocket has launched http://wapo.st/1eQ78ZA  on Twitpic

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 Partner Orbital Sciences Launches Demonstration Mission to Space Station [Watch]

"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."

The skies. The limits: The international space station is one of humanity's great engineering triumphs. But what is it for?, Washington Post

"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.

Female Astronauts Said To Face Discrimination Over NASA's Space Radiation Concerns, Huffington Post

"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."

3-D Printing in and for Space

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.

Col. Gregory H. Johnson Named CASIS Executive Director, CASIS

"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."

Astronaut Gregory H. Johnson Leaves NASA, NASA


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's Cygnus Readying for First Space Station Flight, OnOrbit

"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 Announces Additional Commercial Crew Development Milestones, NASA

"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."

Japan's HTV-4 Cargo Ship Arrives at the International Space Station [Watch], NASA

"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."

CASIS Is Clueless

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.

Japan's H-II Rocket Launches the HTV4 Spacecraft to the Space Station, NASA

"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."

LIVE Launch: JAXA Launch H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI"4 (HTV4), SpaceRef

"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.
"

Differential Effects on Homozygous Twin Astronauts Associated with Differences in Exposure to Spaceflight Factors

"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)."

Funding Opportunity Description

"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.

NASA Advisory Council Science Committee Meeting 29-31 Jul 2013, NASA

"The meeting will be open to the public up to the capacity of the room. This meeting is also available telephonically and by WebEx."

--Subcommittee Reports
--Program Status
--2013 Science Plan

Russian Soyuz Progress Resupply Mission Launches to the ISS [Watch], SpaceRef

"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 Creates Spacewalk Mishap Investigation Board, NASA

"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."

Boeing Unveils Interior of CST-100 Manned Spacecraft [Watch], Boeing

"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 and Elite Athletes Host Google+ Hangout

"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.

You can watch the post-EVA activities on NASA TV.

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.

NASA OIG: NASA's Efforts to Maximize Research on the International Space Station,

"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.""

Space Station Changes its Position for Solar Science, NASA

"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."

CASIS to Fund Unsolicited Proposal From the Department of Veterans Affairs in Anti-Cancer Research, CASIS

"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."

Station Crew Members Take a Walk in Space [Watch], NASA

"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."

Preview of June 24 Spacewalk [Watch], NASA

"EVA Specialist Devan Bolch narrates this computer animation of the activities planned for today's International Space Station spacewalk."

- Watch the spacewalk.


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?

Commercial Partners Working to Launch U.S. Astronauts from Space Coast, NASA

"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."

- SpaceRef Space Station Home - Previous ISS Status Reports

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 TMA-09M Docks WIth ISS

"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."

New Space Station Residents on Fast Track to Orbital Laboratory (With video), NASA

"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."

4 agencies get new rules on China IT sourcing, FCW

"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

NASA's Google+ Hangout Connects Space Station, "Star Trek Into Darkness" Crews

"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.

Watch it.

Space Station Expedition 35 Astronauts Land

"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."

ISS Crew Preparing for Possible Spacewalk Saturday to Fix Ammonia Leak

"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 Sets TV Briefing Today to Discuss Space Station Status

"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)."

International Space Station Ammonia Leak Briefing (video)

Charles Bolden: Launching American Astronauts from U.S. Soil

"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."

NASA Extends Crew Flight Contract With Russian Space Agency

Progress 51 Cargo Craft Docks to Space Station

"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."

Umanned Russian spaceship suffers mishap on way to ISS, AFP

"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."

Antares Launch Success

NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Test Launches Antares Rocket

"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."

White House Statement on the Launch of Antares

"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."

Antares Launch Update

Orbital Schedules New Antares Rocket Launch Window

"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."

Orbital's Antares Rocket Launch Postponed

Graphics: How To See The Antares Launch From The Washington DC and Virginia Area

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).

Earlier posts

CASIS Media Advisory: Space, Cancer and Personalized Medicine Conference

"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.

Oh yes: it is really nice of CASIS to give everyone less than 24 hours notice. There is no mention of this event on the ISS National Lab page, NASA's Calendar, or even CASIS' events page Fixed.

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

AMS-02: Shining light on elusive dark matter, ESA

"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."

First Result from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station: Precision Measurement of the Positron Fraction in Primary Cosmic Rays of 0.5-350 GeV, Physical Review Letters

"These observations show the existence of new physical phenomena, whether from a particle physics or an astrophysical origin."

NASA Sources Sought: Commercial Crew Transporation System Certification Contract Phase 2

"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."

Dragon Update

SpaceX's Dragon Carrying NASA Cargo Resupplies Space Station

"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."

SpaceX Dragon Docks with the International Space Station (Video)

Dragon Launch Update

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches But Anomaly Detected Which Delayed Solar Array Deployment, SpaceRef Business

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 Features New Space Tech Bettering Your Life Today

NASA Spinoff 2012 (PDF)

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

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

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

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

NASA CIO Dumps NASA-Developed Open Stack, earlier post

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 Conference2nd 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."

International Space StationNASA Hosts Its First Google+ Hangout Connecting with Space Station, NASA

"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 Solicits Ideas for International Space Station Research

"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.

Keith's update: This announcement is now linked on the ISS National Laboratory page and the ISS Technology Demonstrtions page. However, CASIS still ignores it.

Denney Keys

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)

Denney J. Keys, NASA Technical Fellow, NASA

"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."

Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF), NASA

"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

Houston, We Have Another Problem: Study Shows that Space Travel is Harmful to the Brain

"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."

Galactic Cosmic Radiation Leads to Cognitive Impairment and Increased AB Plaque Accumulation in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease, PLoS (original research paper)

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 Solicitation: Development of the Expandable Coil Concept, NASA JSC

"NASA/JSC has a requirement to continue the study of active radiation shielding for crew protection, a key challenge with human exploration of space."

Radiation Protection and Architecture Utilizing High Temperature Superconducting Magnets, NASA

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?

Senate Passes H.R.6586 -- Space Exploration Sustainability Act

"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 Commercial Spaceflight Federation Applauds the Passage of a Government Risk-Sharing Regime Extension for the Space Launch Industry

"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."

Expedition 34 Launches

Soyuz Rocket Launches Expedition 34 to the International Space Station (With video), SpaceRef

"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."

CASIS Board of Directors Press Availability

"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.

Soyuz TMA-05M Lands in Kazakhstan

"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."

Astronaut Suni Williams on the Space Station Talks With SpaceRef's Keith Cowing (Video and transcript)

NASA Decides to Adopt Boeing SIMAC Design for Docking and Retiring the iLIDS Design

"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)

"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."

James Royston Statement at Hearing Highlighting Research, Discovery aboard the International Space Station, 25 July 2012

"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."

William Gerstenmaier Statement at Hearing Highlighting Research, Discovery aboard the International Space Station, 25 July 2012

"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."

Letter from NASA to CASIS regarding Notification of Actions Following Dr. Becker's Resignation, 21 March 2012

"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."

Letter from CASIS to NASA: Response regarding Notification of Actions Following Dr. Becker's Resignation, 28 March 2012

"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 and United Launch Alliance Complete Space Act Agreement (with full text of SAA)

"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 and NASA Sign Space Act Agreement for INSCOP, an Intra-nasal Scopolamine Product

"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."

LEGO Education and NASA

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's a Satellite! Rocketing Into Space with LEGO Education and NASA!

"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."

Other Lego postings

SpaceX CRS-1 Mission Update: October 10, 2012

"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."

SpaceX Successfully Launches First Official Cargo Resupply Mission to Space Station

"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."

SpaceX CRS-1 Mission Update: October 8, 2012

"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."

ORBCOMM Launches Prototype Satellite - OG2 satellite's insertion orbit lower than planned

"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 International Partners Approve Year-Long Space Station Stay

"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.

Photos of Cubesat Deployment From The International Space Station

NASA'S Techedsat Launches From International Space Station

"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."

Keith's update: No mention is made of this news at the CASIS, Space Station, ISS National Laboratory, or NASA education, or Chief Technologist websites.

Singer Sarah Brightman Outbids NASA for Space Tourist's Seat, ABC

"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.

No astronauts were 'bumped' in the making of this space tourist, Fox

"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."

American Resupply Missions to the Space Station Progressing

"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."

SMARTCAP: Funding medical products for use on Earth and in space

"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."

Dragons' Den's Holy Crap Cereal rockets to the International Space Station

"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 ..."

NASA Research Opportunities in Space Biology

"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."

NASA's Space Station Manager Did Not Like The Idea of Legos in Space

"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.

HD TV From ISS Soon

NASA Selects Visionary Solutions' AVN443 Encoders to Deliver HD Video from International Space Station

"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."

NASA JSC Solicitation: Visionary Solutions Encoder

Atlas of ISS Science

NASA Contract Award to Resources for the Future: Measuring Research Performance in Space Station Research (redacted copy)

"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 Announces New Commercial Crew And Cargo Milestones

"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.

CASIS Announces Upcoming Requests for Proposals in Materials Science and Earth Observational Science

"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 Announcement of Opportunity-1: Building a NanoLab Community for Space Station Users

"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.

Enabling Support Equipment and Services for International Space Station as a National Lab

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 International Space Station: A Platform for Research, Collaboration, and Discovery

"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."

Prepared Statements

William Gerstenmaier (and Don Pettit)
James Royston
Thomas Reiter
Sen. Rockefeller
Sen. Hutchison

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?

Latest Crew Blasts Off For International Space Station (With video)

"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)."

NASA Internal Memo: Mark Uhran is Retiring From NASA

"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


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