ISS News: December 2005 Archives

Editor's note: The following letter is being sent out in December 2005 by Carl Walz at ESMD to hundreds of NASA life science researchers informing them that NASA no longer wants to fund their previously solicited, peer-reviewed, approved, and funded research. The reason given for this action is as follows:

"In the area of Human Systems Research and Technology (HSRT), whose budget funds your project, only that research and technology development absolutely required. The research and technology capabilities required for longer duration stays on the moon and Mars must be deferred, and NASA has assessed the HSRT protfolio identifying those capabilities that can be deferred to accommodate a reduced HSRT budget."

Curiously, just as NASA HQ sends out these cancellation letters - with this rationale that "The research and technology capabilities required for longer duration stays on the moon and Mars must be deferred" - NASA JSC issued this press release today "NASA Seeks Volunteers for Spaceflight Simulation Studies" which explictly describes NEW studies of the very sort of research NASA Headquarters says it will no longer be funding: "NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston is recruiting volunteers to participate in spaceflight simulation studies to help prepare the agency to send astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars and beyond. These studies will use long-term bed rest to simulate the effects of weightlessness on the human body."

An image of one of these cancellation letters - edited to remove identifiers - appears below.

Either NASA HQ and JSC are not communicating effectively (it happens) or NASA has decided to apply two totally different sets of criteria for the selection of internal and external space life science research.

Congress Gives NASA It's Marching Orders on Space Station Science, SpaceRef

"NASA Administrator Griffin has been dramatically cutting basic life and microgravity science research across the agency. International Space Station (ISS) science has been devastated. These cuts have become quite a cause of concern in Congress. When asked what the criteria are for such cuts, only vague answers come back from NASA. With the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, Congress has put its foot down."


NASA Space Station Crew Timeline 14 December 2005 (times shown are GMT)

15:05-15:15 PAO crew prep
15:15-15:35 Downlink of Merry Christmas greetings and for NASA Explorer Schools (Ku + S-band)
15:35-15:55 CDR EPO: procedure review

Editor's note: 50 minutes just to say "Merry Christmas"? Or are they going to do the whole Happy Hanukkah, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, etc. roll call - in English and Russian?

Editor's note: I stand corrected - by JSC - but still, 20 minutes to say "Merry Christmas"? I once did a lengthy interview with an ISS crew on-orbit in the same (actually 25 minute) window -- "Your posting on the Christmas greeting downlink is incorrect. The PAO prep is time to setup the camera(s), voice comm checks etc. The downlink itself, which is not just the Christmas greeting, is only 20 minutes (1515-1535).The EPO procedure review (1535-1555) is totally unrelated, EPO standing for Education Payload Operations, a series of activities performed by many crewmembers over the years to explain various aspects of space flight and living on ISS."

Editor's note: The following was provided by and shows the complexity of this event:

Editor's note: The email exchanges below occurred between Mike Griffin and his senior staff between 22/23 November 2005 in reaction to the release of the NRC Report: Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station.

About the report itself, Griffin says: "I've read the report, and there is not much good in it for us. Not surprising, however, coming from Len Fisk. I'm copying a bunch of folks on this note because it concerns the nucleus of a strategic problem for us in going forward with the VSE. Bottom line, we're going to have to answer the specific issues in this report."

Europe to help finance new Russian spaceship, Reuters

"The head of the European Space Agency said on Friday he was confident he could win enough support from member states to help develop Russia's next-generation spaceship."

European Space Agency Allocates 650M Euros for ISS, Mosnews

"The European Space Agency has allocated 650 million euros for the coming three years for a development program for the International Space Station."

China as an ISS Partner?

Hutchison: U.S. should attempt to finish building space station, Houston Chronicle

"The United States should strive to finish the half-built international space station and overcome financial obstacles by reaching out to China and other prospective partners, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said here Wednesday."

Hula Girl Sighted on ISS

Editor's note: The other day I posted this image wondering if it was showing one of those little troll dolls (you know with the wild spiky hair on top of their heads). Well, it seems I forgot that there is no 'up' or 'down' in outer space. Had I rotated the image I would have seen that it was a little hula girl. Now that this mystery has been solved, the question remains: what is she doing on board the ISS?

Mouse Sighted Aboard ISS

Editor's note: Look at the extreme upper left hand corner of this image: "ISS012-E-08727 (16 November 2005) ISS crew work at the Simvol-Ts / TORU workstation in the Zvezda Service Module of the international space station during onboard training for relocation of the Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft.". Mickey has been on orbit for a while. You can see him velcroed to the wall in this image - between the fire extinguisher and laptop - during expedition 11.

NASA: Back to Eating Seed Corn, editorial, Science (subscription)

"We can hope that VSE will come to represent the triumph of hope over experience. But will the basic and applied science be done beforehand that is necessary to keep the explorers safe and healthy, or will these professionals seem more like participants in another extreme sport? There are promises that some of these programs will be restarted after the Moon piece of VSE is done, but then the scientists will be someplace else, and NASA will need years to grow some more seed corn. Griffin should consider some fixes: First, restore NASA's Advisory Council to its full membership; second, ask it to conduct a thorough study of which life sciences efforts are essential to the new vision; and finally, rescue the life scientists and bring them back to the science office."

Editor's note: A hard copy of this editorial was handed out to all of the members of the NASA Advisory Council at the beginning of Wednesday's meeting.



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the ISS News category from December 2005.

ISS News: November 2005 is the previous archive.

ISS News: January 2006 is the next archive.

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