ISS News: March 2006 Archives

Space station too weighty for NASA?, Chicago Tribune

"The space station was sold to Congress for decades as a lab to do this kind of broad-based research," said Keith Cowing, a former NASA engineer and editor of nasawatch.com, a Web site often critical of the space agency. "Now they've started gutting the station just when it is at the point of being able to do all the things it was supposed to do. That leaves the purpose of the space station as something for astronauts to fix."

Time to reconsider intl space station, Daily Yomiuri

"The government should take the U.S. postponement of the next space shuttle launch and its potential impact on the building of the International Space Station more seriously. ... Prospects for a successful completion of the program are dimming. The issue is not only about space shuttle launch costs. Tokyo will be responsible for annual ISS running costs of about 40 billion yen [~$340 million USD], although it has not been determined how many years the station will remain operational after it is completed."

NASA: No canisters -- no spacewalks, Reuters

"Lost chemical canisters and some suspect handrails will prevent astronauts on the international space station from doing any spacewalking in the near future, a NASA manager said on Wednesday."

ISS spacewalks on hold, Orlando Sentinel

"The issues are nothing new. Both have been known to NASA officials for some time and were mentioned in an internal ISS status report posted last week on SpaceRef.com."

Editor's note: Gee, it sure took a while for NASA to admit this - given that this situation was reported on NASA Watch/SpaceRef a week ago:

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 15 March 2006

"Both the Russian segment (RS) and the US segment (USOS) are currently "No Go" for EVA (extravehicular activity): the RS side is still missing four Orlan LiOH (lithium hydroxide) CO2 absorption canisters; on the US side, of surface blisters observed on "dogbone"-type EVA handrails on ground units which may also be present on orbit.[For the LiOH cans, additional crew time will be allocated for the search. On the handrails, an ongoing metallurgy analysis/testing (tensile, fracture, sheer) will be completed prior to a spacewalk if a contingency arose).]"

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 15 March 2006

"Both the Russian segment (RS) and the US segment (USOS) are currently "No Go" for EVA (extravehicular activity): the RS side is still missing four Orlan LiOH (lithium hydroxide) CO2 absorption canisters; on the US side, of surface blisters observed on "dogbone"-type EVA handrails on ground units which may also be present on orbit.[For the LiOH cans, additional crew time will be allocated for the search. On the handrails, an ongoing metallurgy analysis/testing (tensile, fracture, sheer) will be completed prior to a spacewalk if a contingency arose).]"

NASA's Space Station Science Web Pages Are Evaporating, SpaceRef

"Up until early 2005 NASA's web pages were once on a path toward providing an ever-increasing level of detail regarding research activities on the International Space Station (ISS). Links to peer reviewed research and recent results were prominently featured. Not any more. In the past year that noteworthy effort has been reversed such that the amount of information presented (or the public to see at least) is disappearing at an alarming rate."

Restoration and Sustainability of our National Space Life Science Research Capability, 31 March 2006

9:10am Keynote Speaker Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, invited

Researchers say NASA cuts endanger U.S. science, AP

"Simon Ostrach, a retired director of the National Center for Space Exploration Research, said he and others are "up in arms." New scientists cannot be trained if their mentors have no funding, he and others say. "If he (Griffin) thinks 15 years from now he is going to turn the spigot on again, he's crazy," said Ostrach, whose former center has to shut its doors and will release about 40 workers by September because of the NASA cuts."

House Science Committee Hearing "The Future of NASA" (Complete transcript)

"GRIFFIN: Most of the kind of fundamental research that we talk about is done in universities or in programs where universities are part. And it will -- if we are not able to fund all of the work in fundamental life science, the researchers who were doing it will go elsewhere to other occupations, other research endeavors that are being funded, and we will have to put the program back together later.That is just a fact. But I cannot responsibly prioritize microbiology and fundamental life science research higher than the need for the United States to have its own strategic access to space."

What Mike Griffin *Really* Thinks About NRC's Space Station Report

"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."

Editor's note: For the past few weeks NASA Watch has been featuring the strange, duplicative way that NASA PAO does things. Specifically - how the same - rather almost the same - ISS status report is issued by JSC and NASA HQ - often minutes apart wherein someone has made some subtle typographical changes. I got a call from Allard Beutel at NASA PAO telling me that these changes were due to listserv formatting and that the content is otherwise the same. Curiously these automatic changes always seem to happen at the end of a sentence.

Allard told me that whatever is released by HQ and JSC is always identical in terms of actual content. Nonetheless I found several previous examples where the content had notable differences between JSC and HQ - yet both versions had been publicly released. I forwarded these examples to Allard and have heard nothing back.

By coincidence, If you look at the two versions issued this week - the HQ version is noticibly different and longer than the JSC version - yet both were formally released by NASA. Which one is the official weekly NASA Space Station Status Report? Are both correct? Why can't NASA issue just one - and save the effort involved in all of this duplicative editing?

A Summary of Remarks made by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison at a Space Transportation Association Breakfast 8 March 2006

"I am concerned that NASA is not counting ALL ISS Research in making their computation to meet the required 15% set-aside for non-Vision-related research. The figures they have provided--$14 million in FY 2006, $12.9 million in FY 07 and $12.8 million in FY 08-would mean the TOTAL ISS research budget is in the neighborhood of $85-100 million per year. That is simply not credible, in a space station annual budget of $1.7 billion in FY 06, $1.8 billion in FY 07 and $2.2 billion in FY 08."

ISS Golf Stunt Update

A Golf Shot to Be Hit Around the World, LA Times

"Is this the right message to be sending to taxpayers in America, Russia, Europe and Japan - that it's OK to do a stunt like this?" said Keith Cowing of nasawatch.com, a feisty website that frequently challenges NASA policies. Speaking at a media briefing in Florida last week, NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin denied that commercial stunts were more important than science. "We are doing all the science that our budget allows us to do," he said."

Editor's note: Last week I noted: "Once again NASA PAO staff at HQ just can't stand the thought of just one weekly space station status report going out - without having an HQ spin on it - so they take one developed at JSC - change a few paragraph breaks, and then issue a second one from HQ. They do this every week. It would be one thing if they just re-issued the JSC report verbatim, but no, HQ has to fiddle with things - even if the fiddling is utterly pointless and a waste of taxpayer dollars." Well, guess what, the two reports are now virtually identical with the exception of only one sentence. We're making progress folks! Perhaps next week, the two reports can be identical, and then (gasp) the week after that, the most difficult task of all: releasing only one version - to everyone.

Transcript of Heads of Agency ISS News Conference, NASA KSC

Joint Statement by International Space Station Heads of Agency

"The heads of space agencies from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States met at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on March 2, 2006, to review International Space Station cooperation and endorse a revision to the station configuration and assembly sequence."

Editor's note: Contains ISS configuration graphic - compare this with NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study: 28 Flight (Rev. G) ISS Assembly Sequence vs. 16 Flight Assembly Sequence


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This page is an archive of entries in the ISS News category from March 2006.

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