ISS News: December 2007 Archives

Editor's note: After several months of making the daily ISS On Orbit Status Reports available to the public on its HQ website, NASA has now decided (so it would seem) that these reports are not going to be available. When you visit this link which once provided these reports you now get this message "Attention! You have requested information which can be accessed only from a NASA facility..."

Editor's Update: I just got a call from NASA PAO. Apparently there was a server issue that blocked access inside NASA as well. NASA IT folks have restored access.

Russia sees end of road for space tourism, AFP

"Space tourists may have to seek alternative transport after 2009 due to a lack of room on the Russian capsule serving the International Space Station, Russia's space agency chief said Thursday. "It has to do with international agreements that stipulate that from 2009 the (ISS) crew must be made up of six people if Japanese and European scientific modules are launched," said Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov."

Reader note: "You seem to get answers... So... With all of the recent interest in COTS and NASA's attempt at commercialization, why is it that at JSC, they don't even have a website linked to the main JSC organization chart??

QA - Commercial Crew & Cargo Program Office [No website]

Furthermore, here's the list of personnel in QA at JSC.[below] In my opinion, that's not a whole lot of folks dedicated to the pursuit of commercialization."

More COTS News

Space Florida to assist PlanetSpace with NASA bid, Orlando Business Journal

"Space Florida has agreed to assist PlanetSpace in its efforts to develop an orbital launch facility at Cape Canaveral. The facility, which could provide up to 346 new jobs, is part of PlanetSpace's attempt to develop commercial orbital transportation services as part of a request for proposals issued by NASA. The project would include manufacturing, training and research and development facilities expected to generate an economic impact of $313 million annually to the state."

SpaceX Moves Ahead With COTS

SpaceX Successfully Completes NASA Systems Requirements Review for Dragon Spacecraft Demonstration to Berth at International Space Station (with video animation)

"Under COTS, SpaceX will conduct three Falcon 9 / Dragon flights, demonstrating the ability to approach, berth, and ultimately deliver cargo to the $100 billion International Space Station (ISS), and return cargo to Earth. On this third demonstration, the Dragon spacecraft will approach the ISS and hold its position nearby. Then, according to the SpaceX plan, a robotic arm on the station will capture Dragon and guide it to a berthing port on the Harmony module."

Joint Explanatory Statement to Accompany Consolidated Appropriations Amendment Division B--Commerce, Justice, Science

"The amended bill provides $160,000,000 for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which is intended to demonstrate private sector technologies that could potentially resupply the International Space Station in the future. However, the Appropriations Committees note that one of the two COTS contracts is currently in dispute, and are concerned by NASA's recent decision to re-compete the disputed contract before all challenges have been resolved. In doing so, NASA could potentially create a liability to fund three proposals instead of two as originally envisioned, increasing the costs of this program to the taxpayers. Therefore, NASA is directed not to select a new contractor until all challenges are decided. Further, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is directed to perform a full review of COTS program expenditures and management."

Editor's note: There is a press conference underway right now from NASA JSC regarding Expedition 16. A few minutes ago I heard several instances of NASAese - i.e. NASA people taking simple sentences and reformatting them so as to make them quasi-cryptic to people outside the agency. As is usually the case, several nouns and verbs were injured in the process.

Kirk Shireman (speaking NASAese): "... we will deconflict these two ..."
English translation: "... we will resolve conflicts between these two ..."

Holly Ridings: (speaking NASAese)" "... we ingressed into Node 2 ..."
English translation: " ... we entered Node 2 ..."

Life Science Cutback Update

Microbes May Threaten Lengthy Spaceflights, Washington Post

"With NASA now actively planning for the day when astronauts will live for months on the moon or make the years-long flight to Mars and back, a potentially troublesome question is being raised with increasing urgency: Is the human body -- even a well-protected human body -- capable of living in space for long periods without suffering serious damage?"

Editor's note: So what does Mike Griffin do? He slashes space life science research.

Value of ISS

Countdown to launch of space shuttle carrying European science lab, The Guardian

"Though drastically scaled down by a string of budget cuts, the space station is a crucial nursery slope for future space missions, such as the Bush administration's much-publicised hopes for a moonbase and a crewed voyage to Mars, said Cowing. "You've got to practise things first. To say the purpose of the space station is to be fixed is to some extent true. There's a difference between sitting down here and thinking 'will this work in space' versus being there and testing it out in real conditions."

Fixing ISS

A Closer Look, Aviation Week

"NASA still doesn't know what's causing the big rotary joint on the starboard side of the International Space Station to chew itself up, but they're closing in on a plan to overcome the problem. The first step comes as early as Thursday, when the space shuttle Atlantis is set to lift off for the ISS."

The Device NASA Is Leaving Behind, Washington Post

"Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, a theoretical physicist at the University of Texas, is one of many researchers frustrated by the priorities NASA has set, and he has publicly discussed the AMS issue as a prime example of what he thinks has gone wrong. If the instrument were ferried to the station, he said, its study of cosmic rays "would be the only significant science ever done on the space station."

Editor's note: This just goes to show you that really smart people can also be ignorant - and wrong.

It is these predictions of things yet to come which are really annoying. Unless, of course, Weinberg has also invented a time machine which allows him to see what will be done on the yet-to-be-completed ISS. If so, I am certain NSF would love to have him sit on their peer review panels and rate the future results of all proposed projects.

That said, it is sad that Mike Griffin's priorities do not include the science the ISS is supposed to have been built for in the first place. Rather, he just wants to be done with it.

Reader note: "I would find the quandary (and Congressional, and Nobel-laureate, whining) over the AMS's potentially being grounded amusingif it wasn't so tragic. Where are all those folks who criticizedno, vilifiedSean O'Keefe for his decision to NOT fly a Hubble repair mission? If that well-considered assessment of safety versus science had been held to (recall, the decision was made in light of comparably capable ground-based assets that will be available until the Webb ST gets delivered) instead of being dumped (under extreme Congressional pressure, mind you), a slot would exist on the 2010-constrained shuttle manifest to launch the AMS to the ISS. Too bad that the powers that be have so cleverly painted international science into a corner."

NASA refuses $1.5B space experiment, riles Sen. Nelson, others, Orlando Sentinel

"The whole purpose of having an international space station . . . is to be able to do these kinds of extraordinary science experiments, such as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer," Nelson said. "It is almost like cutting off our nose to spite our face."



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the ISS News category from December 2007.

ISS News: November 2007 is the previous archive.

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