ISS News: September 2008 Archives

NASA Gets Its Waiver

Statement by the President on H.R. 2638, the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009"

"Today I have signed into law H.R. 2638, the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009." The Act, consisting of five divisions, consolidates into a single Act several appropriations bills. It provides through emergency supplemental appropriations additional Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 resources needed for relief and recovery from hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, and other supplemental appropriations."

Jules Verne Returns to Earth

Successful re-entry marks bright future for ATV

"Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Jules Verne successfully completed its six-month ISS logistics mission today with its controlled destructive re-entry over a completely uninhabited area of the South Pacific. Following a final deorbit burn at 14:58 CEST which slowed its velocity by 70 m/s, the ATV entered the upper atmosphere at an altitude of 120 km at 15:31 CEST."

Live Space Talk Now Available 24/7 on NASA Web Site

"Conversations between astronauts aboard the International Space Station and flight controllers on the ground now are available for the public to hear live, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on NASA's Web site. The streaming audio of space-to-ground communications includes NASA commentary during specific station mission events and regularly scheduled space station commentary on NASA Television Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. Central time."

Challenger Center Links Students via Radio to the Space Station

"Richard Garriott, the next civilian to fly into space and son of NASA's Skylab Astronaut Owen Garriott, plans to talk to students through live amateur radio downlinks during his October flight to the International Space Station."

Spending Bill Would Resolve a Pressing NASA Concern, NY Times

"A little-noticed provision of a stopgap spending bill passed by the House on Wednesday could resolve one of the most pressing issues for the United States space program. The $630 billion measure, which is known as a continuing resolution, will put off major spending and energy decisions into next year if it is passed by the Senate. It keeps government agencies functioning at current funding levels, and includes additional appropriations for the Pentagon, hurricane relief, veterans health care and other projects."

Editor's note: Much of the lobbying process to get the CR passed was actually done so as to get votes lined up for the $700 billion bailout package. Members were allowed ot insert things with the understanding that they'd be favorable inclined toward the bailout package. So, if the NASA waiver was included in the CR then it was apparently important enough (politically) for at least one member to get it included so as to get their vote on the bail out in exchange. This demonstrates some level of real political importance for space. The question is: who got it inserted into the CR language?

Soyuz Waiver Update

NASA clears hurdle on Soyuz, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin on Tuesday won the approval of a key Senate committee in his battle to buy Russian spacecraft as a four-year replacement for the space shuttle. But the fight is far from over. And Griffin has less than two weeks to persuade the rest of Congress to allow the use of Soyuz spacecraft to take U.S. astronauts to the international space station after the space shuttle's planned retirement in 2010."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008, Business Meeting

S.3103: A bill to amend the Iran, North Korea, and Syria nonproliferation Act to allow certain extraordinary payments in connection with the International Space Station.

Obama On NASA Options

Obama Calls on Senate and House Leadership to Renew America's Commitment to NASA

"As Dr. Michael Griffin, the NASA administrator, said recently, "In a rational world, (NASA) would have been allowed to pick a Shuttle retirement date to be consistent with Ares/Orion availability, (NASA) would have been asked to deploy Ares/Orion as early as possible (rather than "not later than 2014") and we would have been provided the necessary budget to make it so" [NASA e-mail, 8/18/08]. Regrettably, the current administration has not behaved rationally and, with the Russian invasion of Georgia, NASA is now left with more limited options, all of them much worse than if the administration and their Republican allies in Congress had thought through the strategic consequences of these decisions five years ago."

Once More Unto the Breach

Senate to consider NASA request to buy Soyuz, Orlando Sentinel

"On Tuesday, Griffin faces a moment of truth. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is due to weigh his request against sentiment in Congress that Moscow, because of its recent invasion of the neighboring country of Georgia, cannot be trusted. It is very difficult for Congress to understand why we should continue a practice of depending upon agreements with the Russians when they are busy invading another country, Griffin conceded last week after a luncheon on Capitol Hill."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"Chairman: Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr."

Obama: Buy Soyuz if necessary but look at flying shuttle longer, Orlando Sentinel

"Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is now considering stopping NASA from retiring the shuttle in 2010 as well as looking to see if commercial companies can build new rockets to keep America in space independent of foreign countries. ... Obamas Republican rival, Sen. John McCain last month called on the White House to stop NASA from closing any more shuttle contracts just in case the next administration decided it wanted to fly more shuttle missions. Neither candidate appears to like the idea of buying more Soyuz from Moscow and depending on Russia for American access to the international space station."

My Word: America can do better than relying on Russia for our space program (Dave Weldon), Orlando Sentinel

"Sen. Bill Nelson, the Bush Administration, the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board and most in Congress are ready to do business as usual with the Russians, claiming we have no choice. I don't buy that argument, and I take strong issue when the Sentinel Editorial Board suggests I am not a supporter of the space program because I don't go along. The real difference is I believe America can do better and that the workers at KSC deserve better during this transition."

NASA chief says Congress must act to get Russian craft, USA Today

"The development of the shuttle's successor could be delayed if Congress, as expected, passes stopgap funding legislation for part of 2009 rather than a formal budget, Griffin said. The members of Congress he has spoken to understand the need, he said, but "I cannot predict an outcome." Congress will be in session for less than two weeks before adjourning in advance of the fall elections."

ISS makes Oobject, OnOrbit.com

Have a look at lego like modular gadgets on the the uber trendy Oobject: A Curative Creation. The #2 item featured is "The ultimate modular gadget, the ISS". The ISS is positioned between #1 the up and coming BUGbase series of modular electronic and computing components and #3 "M-TRAN (Modular Transformer) self configuring robot".

So I guess the Gen Y-ish editors of this website think that the ISS is relevant and hip, yes?

The ISS: Who needs it?, Moscow News

"The United States, which has been skeptical about it, has suddenly developed an interest, especially in how its crews are to be taken to the station after its Space Shuttle program winds up in 2010. Unfortunately, the renewed American interest in the ISS is neither because of concern for the station's future, nor because of the coming anniversary. The cause was provided by the Caucasian crisis. And had it not happened, American participation in the program would have ended quietly, despite all assurances to the contrary."

Why NASA Needs Soyuz

NASA Talking Points: The Urgency of NASA's Need for Legislation to Continue to Purchase Soyuz Crew Vehicles From Russia (Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel)

"NASA needs Congress to provide legislative extension allowing purchase of Russian Soyuz crew vehicles to support astronauts on the International Space Station by October 2008 or else NASA will have no choice but to de-crew all U.S. astronauts from the International Space Station in 2012. ...

... If Congress does not extend NASA's legislative exemption to allow the purchase of Russian Soyuz crew services, the result will be to damage the United States' collaboration with our international partners on the International Space Station, effectively ceding control of this $50 Billion investment (cost through 2010) to Russia..."

NASA: Shuttle won't solve space station problem, Russia will, Orlando Sentinel

"Even before NASA finishes its study into the possibility of flying the space shuttle beyond its scheduled retirement in 2010, top agency officials have concluded that extending the life of the orbiter fleet wont solve the problem of keeping the international space station operable for U.S. astronauts."

Ike Affects ISS Ops

International Space Station Imagery: Hurricane Ike

"This picture of Hurricane Ike from earlier today was downlinked by the crew of the International Space Station, flying 220 statute miles above Earth."

Hurricane Ike Impact Felt In Space

"Hurricane Ike has delayed the scheduled Friday arrival of a Russian Progress cargo ship at the International Space Station 220 miles above Earth."

Editor's note: Alas, the gathering consensus amongst the cyberpundits (with absolutely no data whatsoever to base this on, mind you) is that Mike Griffin either leaked this memo - or (much more likely) looked the other way as it "found" its way to a much broader, more receptive distribution. The thought being that he knows that his days at NASA may well be numbered and that he has nothing to lose except his own credibility and that he needs to look out for the agency's future.

There is a bit of logic to this gossip. Look at the initial distribution list of this memo. Everyone on that list is a solid professional and they are pretty tight with Mike Griffin. As such, I really doubt that something so easily traceable back to such a very small group would get out - unless Griffin wanted it to.

If this is indeed what is going on (again, I have zero proof) then it is a bit of a departure for Griffin since he tends to try and keep things like this inside the family. Given that Griffin self-described himself as "Spock" early in his tenure, I started wondering about his motives now. What will Spock do? Hmmm ... what would Jim Kirk do? Have a look at this iconic video [below] from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

Is Mike Griffin trying to change the rules?

New WiFi System on ISS

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 6 September 2008

"After transitioning the JSL (Joint Station LAN) network to the new Netgear wireless APs (Access Points, WAPs) which provide the ISS with WiFi (wireless+Ethernet) connectivity, Gregory today repeated functionality tests, abandoned earlier this week, in three Kibo JPM (JEM Pressurized Module) locations from the wireless SSC -11 laptop, and later also in the COL (Columbus Orbital Laboratory). Afterwards switching to "Proxim" APs, the new WiFi "Dolphin" BCRs (Barcode Readers) were also tested."

Griffin not optimistic about new deal to buy Soyuz rides, Spaceflightnow

"My own guess is at this point we're going to have some period in 2012 where there's no American or international partner crew on station, that there's only the Russians there," he said. "That period always ends three years from when we have a contract with the Russians. So if we can get through all this by June of next year and have a contract with the Russians, then in the latter part of 2012 we can fly a Soyuz flight and restore things to normal."

NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture Study -- Final Report, Nov. 2005, Executive Summary, section 1.1.1

"Dr. Michael Griffin was named the new NASA Administrator in April 2005. With concurrence from Congress, he immediately set out to restructure NASA's Exploration Program by making its priority to accelerate the development of the CEV to reduce or eliminate the planned gap in U.S. human access to space. He established a goal for the CEV to begin operation in 2011 and to be capable of ferrying crew and cargo to and from the ISS."

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 3 September 2008

"The FE-1 loaded the Russian laptops RSK1, RSK2, RSE-med, RSS1 and RSE1 with new antivirus software from DVD, scanned the hard disks, taking documentary Nikon photos of the resulting message displays, and consulted with ground specialists via S-band tagup."

NASA Discovers Computer Virus Aboard the International Space Station, earlier post

"- W32.Gammima.AG worm. This is a level 0 gaming virus intended to gather personal information.
- Virus was never a threat to any of the computers used for cmd and cntl and no adverse effect on ISS Ops."


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