ISS News: January 2011 Archives

A Bigelow Module on the ISS?

International Space Station Could Get Private Inflatable Room, Space.com

"The International Space Station could get a new inflatable module supplied by the private American company Bigelow Aerospace, sources say. NASA is apparently in discussions with Bigelow to acquire a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, called BEAM for short, to enhance use of the International Space Station (ISS). Since 1999, the North Las Vegas, Nev., company has been working to create affordable inflatable space habitats for national space agencies and corporate clients."

Photos: Fixing Antennas in Space - Today and in a Past Future

Top: Astronaut David Bowman replacing the AE-35 unit on the main antenna of the spacecraft Discovery en route to Jupiter. "2001: A Space Odyssey", 1968.

Bottom: Astronaut Garrett Reisman installs a Ku Band antenna on the ISS in May 2010.

- Photo: In The Cupola, Gazing Down at Earth From Orbit, earlier Post
- Astronauts At The Controls: 2010 Vs 2001, earlier Post

Challenger Center Board Member Richard Garriott, private space explorer, salutes Challenger Center from the International Space Station.

NASA gives go-ahead for additional shuttle flight, AP

"NASA doesn't know yet where it will get the money, but on Thursday the space agency officially added another space shuttle launch to its schedule -- the final one for the fleet. The space agency set a target launch date of June 28 for the shuttle Atlantis and started preparations for the 135th and last shuttle flight. The four-member crew will take up supplies to the International Space Station, make one spacewalk, and return a faulty pump that has bedeviled engineers."

Keith's note: Amazing. NASA has now learned how to prepare for a shuttle flight - something that used to cost money - with money it does not have. I hope the MSL and Webb folks stop by for a copy of the secret recipe SOMD is using.

NASA Presses Ahead With STS-135 Preparations Despite Budget Uncertainty, earlier post

Keith's note: I registered to attend the ISS National Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) Public Day event on 10 December 2010. As I did, I was asked for a "point of contact" without any explanation as who that would be. Since I had already posted all of my information (address, email, phone etc.) I was not certain what else to add. At NASA "point of contact" usually refers to someone at NASA. The only "contact" I have per se is PAO, so I listed Bob Jacobs and registered as "NASA Watch".

Astronaut Steve Bowen Named to STS-133 Shuttle Crew

"NASA selected astronaut Steve Bowen as a mission specialist on STS-133, the next space shuttle mission planned for launch on Feb. 24. Bowen replaces astronaut Tim Kopra, who was injured in a bicycle accident over the weekend. The agency will hold a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. CST on Wednesday, Jan. 19, to discuss the change in crew personnel."

Photo: Region Around Mt. Everest As Seen From Orbit

Keith's note: This image was aquired by the ISS crew on 6 January 2011. Although the summit if Everest itself is just out of frame, you can see Everest Base Camp where Scott Parazynski lived and most of the lower portion of Scott's climb to the summit. Basecamp is about half a kilometer from the bottom of the Khumbu icefall and is located in the lower right hand portion of this image, to the right of the "e" in "Khumbutse" (where the red dot is).

SpaceX: Commercial Crew Transport To The International Space Station

"With the government acting as a catalyst, the commercial spaceflight industry is already developing into an exciting new driver of technological innovation, job creation and economic growth. A recent industry survey by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation projects that more than 5,000 direct jobs, including jobs in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia, would be created over the next five years if the NASA proposal is approved. Thousands of additional jobs would be created indirectly."

SpaceX Status Report on Falcon 9/Dragon

"While the maximum reliability is designed into our vehicles, there is no substitute for recent, relevant flight experience when it comes to demonstrating flight safety. The Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to fly at least 11 more times and the Falcon 9 launch vehicle is scheduled to fly 17 times before the first Dragon crew flight. Given the extensive manifest of Falcon 9 and Dragon, the SpaceX system will mature before most other systems will be developed."

Preliminary Report Regarding NASA's Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Pursuant to Section 309 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267)

"To date, trade studies performed by the Agency have yet to identify heavy-lift and capsule architectures that would both meet all SLS requirements and these goals. For example, a 2016 first flight of the SLS does not appear to be possible within projected FY 2011 and out year funding levels. ... However, to be clear, neither Reference Vehicle Design currently fits the projected budget profiles nor the schedule goals outlined in the Authorization Act. .... none of the design options studied thus far appeared to be affordable in our present fiscal conditions, based upon existing cost models, historical data, and traditional acquisition approaches. ..."

Senate Commerce Committee Members Respond to NASA Report

"We appreciate NASA's report and look forward to the additional material that was required but not submitted. In the meantime, the production of a heavy-lift rocket and capsule is not optional. It's the law. NASA must use its decades of space know-how and billions of dollars in previous investments to come up with a concept that works. We believe it can be done affordably and efficiently - and, it must be a priority."

Human Space Exploration Framework Summary Presentation to the NASA Advisory Council

Strategy: 1-Fixed Initial Conditions: Mission to a NEA when Affordable

Description: A fixed cost and initial milestone-constrained assessment, consistent with the NASA 2010 Authorization for the DRM 4B (NEA mission) only. Manifest changed to incorporate HLLV test flight. Utilized updated design & cost estimates, that include some lean development options

Simple Result Description: Over-constrained. Does not meet all schedule, budget, and performance requirements. Results heavily dependent upon budget availability and phasing.

Space Adventures Concludes Agreement to Offer Commercial Spaceflight Opportunities to the International Space Station

"Space Adventures, the only company that has provided human space mission opportunities to the world marketplace, announced today the conclusion of an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) to commercially offer three seats on the Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS), beginning in 2013. These seats will be made available through the increase of Soyuz production, from four to five spacecraft per year. Each flight will be short duration, approximately 10 days, and will contribute to the increase of launch capacity to the ISS."

Keith's note: NASA held a ISS National Lab Public Day CAN meeting on 10 December 2010. The purpose was to explain the pending Cooperative Agreement Notice and how interested parties should structure their proposals. The main speaker was NASA's Mark Uhran, Assistant Associate Administrator for ISS at NASA SOMD.
At one point Uhran bragged that he had "written 5 papers" on discoveries that had been made on the ISS, but he said that he was not going to tell anyone where to find them - thus challenging the attendees to go dig these papers up themselves. That is certainly an odd stance for a NASA official to take - especially one who is charged with promoting the value of the ISS as a platform for scientific research.

NASA Supplemental Information: Competitive Acquisition of Cooperative Agreement for ISS National Laboratory Management Entity

"One such search led to identification of five specific phenomenological findings of noteworthy significance, along with bibliographic references in peer-reviewed journals. This search has been documented in a review paper scheduled for presentation on January 4, 2011 at the 49th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 25th Symposium on Gravity-Related Phenomena in Space Exploration (GPSE). The paper is titled, "Positioning the International Space Station for the Era of Utilization", and the author is Mark Uhran, Assistant Associate Administrator for the ISS Program. Consistent with established policy, AIAA requests that the author not distribute the paper prior to presentation. Nonetheless, since this is a work of the U.S. government it can be distributed for governmental purposes. Therefore, the paper will be made available in the procurement library following public presentation. Entities interested in competing for this cooperative agreement are encouraged to conduct their own reviews of the open literature and summarize conclusions in their respective proposals."

Keith's note: Uhran's paper is now online: Positioning the International Space Station for the Utilization Era at the NSPIRES website. Yet there is no mention of this paper on the official ISS National Lab homepage. Is Mark Uhran going to post the other "five papers" he mentioned? Or is there only one paper with five discoveries? Once again, wouldn't you think that NASA would bend over backwards and provide every possible resource available to prospective ISS National Lab bidders - and the public as well - instead of dangling references in front of them and then people to go dig them up?

The ISS is an amazing facility - "The Undiscovered Country" - with heretofore untapped potential - potential that could exceed NASA's standard and boring PR. Why withhold this information? NASA should be showering people with results and seeking creative, out-of-the-box ideas in response - not playing hard-to-get. Then again, there are those worn-out Powerpoint slides and papers that barely change from year to year. Maybe the proposers are better off without them.

Earlier posts

Space Program Runs in Congresswoman's Family, NY Times

"Mr. Cabbage said it was too early to say how Mark Kelly's scheduled Endeavour mission would be affected. The Kelly brothers were to have been the first twins to be in space together when Endeavour visited the space station, but the launching of Endeavour has slipped to April, a month after Scott Kelly's scheduled return to Earth."

Tragedy's impact extends to space, MSNBC

"Normal practice in military flying is to ground a pilot who is undergoing severe family crisis, for a reasonable time," NBC News space analyst James Oberg observed in an e-mail. "Add to that -- his wife now faces a long recovery, and his chances of being with her more than a few hours a week are slim to none, if he continues training. He could well request being replaced, perhaps by the commander of the STS-135 [Atlantis] mission that is to follow his flight. They could swap seats. Or he could figure he's had his fair share of flights and just stand down."

Keith's WARNING: Any comments about this tragedy that even hint at politics, motives, perpetrator(s) - in any way - will not be posted. Don't even try.

Excalibur Almaz Space Stations Arrive on Isle of Man

"Excalibur Almaz Limited (EA), the international commercial space exploration company, is exporting two partially completed Almaz space stations from Russia to the IOM today. The stations and Excalibur Almaz' reusable return vehicles were developed by EA's Russian associate, JSC MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia. The stations will be initially stored, followed by research, testing and possibly completion and launch to orbit. EA's initial flights to orbit will be in the flight tested Excalibur Almaz Reusable Return Vehicles joined to and supported by service module living and working habitats. The space stations themselves are part of EA's long-term business plan."

STS-133 Delayed Again

Discovery's Early February Launch Opportunity Delayed as Work Continues on External Tank

"The Space Shuttle Program held its weekly Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) meeting today to review progress on the continuing engineering investigation, testing and analysis regarding shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank stringer crack issue. With the work remaining, the potential for additional modifications yet to be defined, and further reviews pending, the decision was made today to allow the teams additional time and delay the next launch opportunity out of the early February launch window, which opened Feb. 3. New potential launch dates for Discovery's STS-133 mission and shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission will be discussed at next Thursday's PRCB meeting."

More Delays for STS-133?

Shuttle engineers consider beefing up all tank 'stringers', Spaceflight Now

"If that decision is made, it is unlikely NASA could complete the work, repair the tank's foam insulation and get Discovery back out to the launch pad in time to support a launch attempt during the next available window, which opens Feb. 3 and closes Feb. 10. Work to beef up all 108 stringers at the top of the intertank almost certainly would delay Discovery's launch on a space station resupply mission to the next available window, which opens Feb. 27 and closes in early March."

Commercial Crew Transportation System Certification Requirements for NASA Low Earth Orbit Missions

"This document defines the requirements, standards and certification package contents that will be used to certify a CCTS for LEO Missions. It will be the responsibility of the NASA Program Manager and Technical Authorities to determine the applicability of individual requirements and standards based on the DRM being certified and apply the Agency risk posture (for the DRM) to arrive at the final set of requirements and standards for certification. The Program Manager will then request Certification from NASA HQ per Agency policy."

Keith's note: I did a search of this document for the word "Soyuz". The only time the word is used is in connection with accidents or problems with Soyuz. I wonder if Soyuz meets the requirements in this document - I certainly cannot find any evidence that it does. It certainly should meet these requirements since the U.S. has been buying seats on Soyuz for more than a decade - the very same seats you can buy commercially - the same seats NASA will be buying for years to come. Will NASA certify Soyuz according to the requirements in this document?

If Soyuz does not meet these certification requirements, then one has to ask why NASA is willing to waive requirements for a foreign crew transport system - with Americans on board - but levy more stringent requirements on American commercial systems - carrying Americans. It would also be interesting to see if the Ares-1/Orion configuration would have met these requirements as well.

Inconsistencies abound in this document - both in its intent - and its application (thus far).


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This page is an archive of entries in the ISS News category from January 2011.

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