ISS News: August 2006 Archives

From Anousheh Ansari's new website: "Goals ... To promote peace and understanding as a representative for millions of Iranians that, given the right opportunities, can achieve their dreams."

Editor's 30 Aug 12:15 pm EDT note: Word has it that some State Department folks are increasingly nervous about the possibility that Anousheh Ansari will use the ISS to make some sort of political statement or live TV broadcast that could undermine or hamper U.S. policy with regard to Iran - and that given her activities will be performed on the Russian segment of the ISS, using Russian downlinks, there is nothing that they can do about it. There is also an Iranian flag in her personal mission patch. Stay tuned.

Editor's 30 Aug 4:00 pm EDT update: A few hours after this posting on NASA Watch, Ansari's website changed the goals page, dropping comments about representing iranians, such that the last goal now reads "As the first space Ambassador, promote peace and understanding amongst nations" Gee, I wonder who gives out the nifty title "The first space Ambassador"? What nation is she the ambassador from - or to ?

What's the cost of the space station?, MSNBC

"How much does the international space station cost? Because we're talking about government work here, it's a tricky question to answer. But the estimates start at roughly $35 billion which is what the Government Accountability Office says Congress has appropriated for the station project since 1985 and rise to $100 billion, which is roughly what the GAO said would be the total cost "to develop, assemble and operate" the station."

Forgetting the Future

Space station science gets squeezed, MSNBC

"But as NASA resumes space station construction with the scheduled Sunday launch of the space shuttle Atlantis, the station often comes off sounding more like an obligation rather than an opportunity - a $100 billion white elephant to be finished, then quickly forgotten as NASA turns its attention to the moon, Mars and beyond. "It's almost as if the space station is an albatross," said Keith Cowing, who worked on the initial designs for the space station in the 1990s while at NASA and now monitors the agency through his Web site, NASA Watch. "It's almost like NASA has corporate attention-deficit disorder."

What's being studied on the station?, MSNBC

"Despite the criticism, even Cowing agrees with Uhran's statement that the station will be an "extraordinarily capable spacecraft" once it's finished. He worries that the station could fall victim to "a bad habit NASA has often times, of pooh-poohing the previous space program." But if the push to the moon, Mars and beyond is held up for some reason over the next decade, the international space station just might become the jewel in NASA's crown, he predicted. "Suddenly the station will become the hip place to be," Cowing said."

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 24 August 2006

"Update on CDRA: With Vozdukh in the SM still off, CDRA (CO2 Removal Assembly) performance testing continues in the Lab. Vozdukh will be turned back on tonight at ~6:00pm EDT. [Preliminary data this morning indicated a ppCO2 of 4.3 mmHg, with sporadic overnight spikes in excess of ~6 mmHg, i.e., CDRA is not performing as well as expected. Troubleshooting/repair steps are being considered but no final decision has been made yet. Adequate CDRA performance is critical for the CSCS (Contingency Shuttle Crew Support, "Safe Haven") scenario.]"

ISS Prepares to Grow

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 24 August 2006

"Good-bye XPOP: On Saturday (8/26), ISS attitude, currently still in sun-oriented XPOP (x-axis perpendicular to orbit plane), will be changed to earth-fixed LVLH XVV (local vertical local horizontal/x-axis in velocity vector). With solar Beta angle decreasing below 40 degrees and P3/P4 with new solar arrays arriving on 12A, XPOP attitude will no longer be required for the ISS in the future."

Golf Stunt Back On Track

Space station lined up for golf promotion, AP

"Russian flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin will show off his swing to promote a Toronto golf club manufacturer during a spacewalk Nov. 23. NASA safety officers have cleared the stunt, saying it poses no threat to the space station or the crew since the golf ball weighs only three grams and will return to Earth's atmosphere in three days."

Reader note: I guess it's not a real golf ball. Regulation golf balls have a mass of 45.9 grams, not 3. (For a while I thought it was just another English to metric error but this is 1.62 ounces not 3 oz..) If it weighs 3 grams and will reenter in 3 days, it must be a hollow plastic ball. On second thought, even a hollow ball wouldn't deorbit from 350 km in three days. Could it be that they are just trying to ignore it?

  • Golf or Science: What is NASA's Plan for the Space Station?, SpaceRef
  • Space Station Golf Stunt Update, earlier post
  • ISS Golf Stunt Update, earlier post
  • Daisuke Enomoto Grounded

    Japan space tourist cedes rocket seat to US woman, Reuters

    "Ansari will be the world's third space tourist. U.S. entrepreneur Dennis Tito pioneered space tourism, flying to the ISS in April 2001. He was followed by South African Mark Shuttleworth in April 2002."

    Editor's note: Gee, what about Greg Olsen?

    COTS Winners Announced

    NASA Selects Crew and Cargo Transportation to Orbit Partners

    "NASA selected SpaceX, El Segundo, Calif. and Rocketplane-Kistler, Oklahoma City, to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services that could open new markets and pave the way for contracts to launch and deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station.

    NASA and the two companies signed Space Act Agreements that establish milestones and objective criteria to assess their progress throughout Phase 1 of the competition. Once a capability is demonstrated, NASA plans to purchase crew and cargo delivery services competitively in Phase 2."

    COTS Announcement

    NASA Announces Crew and Cargo Transportation Partners

    "NASA Exploration Systems' managers will host a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 18, to announce the organizations selected to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services. The services could pave the way for contracts to launch and deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station."

    Editor's note: At a press conference today ISS Manager Mike Suffredini was asked about the status of science cuts on ISS. Instead of trying to explain his program's current actions, he declined to go into any detail - other than to say that NASA was always studying "a lot of things thta never get implemented" and that these studies are part of an annual process that is driven, in part, by "which way the winds blow from Congress". Based on this letter from the leaders of the primary Senate authorizing and appropriations subcommittees which deal with NASA, it should be rather clear which way that wind is blowing.

    Senator Hutchison Expresses Concern at Possible International Space Station Research Suspension

    "This week, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space, in a letter to NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin expressed concern that NASA may be considering suspension of International Space Station (ISS) research for up to a year. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) co-signed the letter. The text of the letter follows:"

    "... we want to make it clear that any option to further reduce, or curtail altogether, research aboard the ISS would be an unacceptable option and entirely inconsistent with the policy guidance enacted by the Congress, as well as, we believe, the intent of the Vision for Exploration."

    NASA threatens to axe science on space station, Nature (subscription)

    "I can't believe that they would discuss this with a straight face," says former NASA employee Keith Cowing, who broke the story on his website, NASA Watch."

  • Shutting Down Space Station Science To Save Money, Initial NASA Watch post on this topic
  • Editor's note: If you look at the bottom of this recent ISS image with Thomas Reiter you will see a can of Wasabi peas. I don't know if Emeril Lagasse has anything to do with these wonderful snack items being on-orbit, but let me tell you, if I were going to spend a few months up there, they'd be on my shopping list too. I'd also have a collection of hot sauces not unlike that can be seen on the Service Module wall between Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko - especially the big squeeze bottle of Sriracha.

  • Space Station Crew to 'Kick It Up a Notch' With Chef Emeril Lagasse, NASA
  • Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal 19 July 2003: Illness, Good Food, and Morale (more photos of on-orbit spicy goodness)
  • Space Station Crew Chats with FC Barcelona Soccer Team

    "During a visit to NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, the team will stop in Mission Control to make the call. NASA TV will broadcast the event live. The FC Barcelona team will be in Houston to play an Aug. 9 exhibition game against Club America, one of Mexico's top club teams."

    Editor's note: Let's see: a Spanish soccer team is in town to play a Mexican soccer team and JSC decides to let them talk with the ISS crew about ...? Meanwhile, do we see any interviews which get to the substance of what the ISS is all about as eagerly promoted by PAO?

    No more protection, editorial, Nature (subscription)

    "It is bad enough that Earth science at NASA has already fallen victim to cuts and cancellations as has, for what its worth, astrobiology. Now an important rhetorical basis for resisting more attrition has been removed, feeding fears that a real understanding of how the climate works is not high on the administration's agenda. Earth sciences are still well represented in NASA's plans, but they have been symbolically set aside to further a vision that looks only outwards, never back."

    NASA threatens to axe science on space station, Nature (subscription)

    "I can't believe that they would discuss this with a straight face," says former NASA employee Keith Cowing, who broke the story on his website, NASA Watch."

    Space Station Crew to 'Kick It Up a Notch' With Chef Emeril Lagasse, NASA

    "After tasting several of Lagasse's creations, the three-person crew will talk to the chef at 1:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 10 in a special hookup carried live on NASA TV."

    Editor's note: Oh well, since there's no science left to do, why not float around and eat gourmet food. I just hope Emeril doesn't yell "BAM" - they might think some orbital debris hit the ISS.

    Reader note: Hi, Keith. I was amused by this obvious typo on the main Space Shuttle news site at

    "With the tracks of the crawler transporter visible in the foreground, Space Shuttle Atlantis is in position at Launch Pad 39B for lift off of mission STS-115 to the International Space Photo Station."

    I suppose by dropping microgravity research, and the whittling away at life science research, all that will be left is an "International Space Photo Station".

    Editor's note: NASA fixed it.



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

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