ISS News: February 2011 Archives

First Photo: Shuttle Discovery's Trail Into Space As Seen from Over 70,000 Feet in a Balloon

"This photo was taken from an an altitude of over 70,000 feet (still being determined exactly) at 5:20 pm EST on 24 February 2011. The camera used was the lowest resolution camera on board the Robonaut-1 balloon - a Motorola Droid X smartphone. You can see the plume left by Space Shuttle Discovery as it headed into space. We will be releasing more images of greater resolution and HD video very soon - all of which show Discovery heading into space. Photo credit (mandatory) Quest for Space/Challenger Center."

Keith's update: We've added a video still taken by a GoPro Hero Motorsport that clearly shows Discovery arcing into orbit. The video (we'll post it soon) clearly shows the Discovery climbing into space.

STS-133 Operating On Orbit

NASA STS-133 Report #02 Friday, February 25, 2011 - 6:30 a.m. CST

"The main focus of the day will be the six-hour inspection of Discoverys wing leading edges and nose cap. Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialist Alvin Drew will use the shuttles robotic arm and specialized cameras to downlink the detailed views of the thermal protection system for analysis by specialists on the ground."

NASA STS-133 Report #01 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011

"Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott are scheduled to rendezvous and dock with the station on Saturday. During Discovery's seven days at the station, Bowen and Drew will do two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components."

NASA Notice of intent to grant a partially exclusive license: Bigelow Aerospace

"This notice is issued in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 209(c)(1) and 37 CFR 404.7(a)(1)(i). NASA hereby gives notice of its intent to grant a partially exclusive license in the United States to practice the invention described and claimed in United States Patent 7,509,774 (issued March 31, 2009) and NASA Case No. MSC 24201-1, entitled ``Apparatus For Integrating A Rigid Structure Into A Flexible Wall Of An Inflatable Structure'' to Bigelow Aerospace, having its principal place of business in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The fields of use may be limited to expandable spacecraft, vehicles, modules, and the like for operation in exoatmospheric space, including applications, sales, lease, and other commercial uses or applications thereof for research and development, space tourism, and other commercial endeavors. The patent rights in this invention have been assigned to the United States of America as represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

Keith's 15 Feb note: One of the documents that the ISS National LAB CAN release includes is the ISS Payload Mission Integration Team Execution Plan. SSP 50471 Revision A October 2002. This document claims that it:

"..identifies the activities associated with Payload Mission Integration Team (PMIT) in managing and integrating International Space Station (ISS) payload flight, stage, and increment activities. The contents of this document are consistent with the tasks and products as defined in SSP 50200-01, Station Program Implementation Plan, Volume 1: Station Program Management Plan. This document is under the control of the Payloads Control Board (PCB)."

Yet this 9 year old document is not even complete -- charts that are supposed to be included are simply not there - and they haven't been for 9 years. And yet someone in 2011, developing a proposal to run the ISS National LAB, is supposed to glean usfeul information from pages like this? [Click on image to enlarge]

"13.0 METRICS Figure 13.0-1, Stage-Unique Payload Integration Deliverables, and Figure 13.0-2, Payload Mission Integration Team Deliverable Integration Products, show typical metric charts that the PMIT will use to evaluate and measure the operational activities of the PMIT. These charts will be updated on a monthly basis and posted to the PMIT website."

What charts?

Keith's 16 Feb update: A reader notes: "I'm an engineer @ JSC and I checked the official document electronic depository and, lo and behold, the document is correct - graphic and all. This may be another one of those moments that can truly be blamed on a difference in versions of Adobe, or someone otherwise messed up the document somehow when it was posted."

I guess my question is whether anyone at NASA reads these documents and conducts a sanity check before saying that they are fit for public release and formal use in the procurement process. It would seem that they do not. Will they add this complete version that this reader refers to - and inform everyone that the earlier document was incomplete?

In the coming days I'll discuss this data dump habit NASA has - one wherein documents that are often out of date, incomplete, and/or and hard to understand are simply thrown out at prospective bidders - with no context or explanation whatsoever. Take this stand alone chart by Mark Uhran "Queuing Model: Payloads" as an example. It is simply posted with no associated text explaining what it is, or how bidders need to follow or incorporate it.

Keith's 17 Feb note: The ISS National Lab CAN team seems to not care that a more accurate (complete) version of this document is available in NASA's document library - - the old version with blank figures is still being provided to prospective bidders on the CAN web page.

Amazing Photo: ATV Kepler Launch As Seen From Orbit Aboard the ISS

"This remarkable photo was taken by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli from the ISS on 16 February 2011, just minutes after ATV Johannes Kepler lifted off on board an Ariane 5 from Kourou at 22:50 UTC. It shows the rising exhaust trail of Ariane, still in its initial vertical trajectory. The trail can be seen as a thin streak framed just beneath the Station's remote manipulator arm. Credits: ESA/ NASA"

NASA chief Bolden makes call on where shuttles will stay, Florida Today

"[Bolden] said he planned to formally announce "within the next few weeks, if not days" that KSC will be the home of the NASA office that oversees the development and operation of commercial space taxis. NASA's primary launch operations site never has hosted a human spaceflight project office. That work historically has been done at Johnson Space Center in Houston or NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and during Project Mercury, at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va."

Japan may send chatty humanoid tweet-bot to space, AP

"Japan's space agency JAXA announced this week that it is looking at a plan to send a humanoid robot to the space station in 2013 that could communicate with the ground through Twitter -- primarily feeding photos, rather than original ideas -- and provide astronauts with "comfort and companionship." Following up on NASA's "Robonaut" R-2 program, which is set for launch on the Discovery shuttle next week, the Japanese android would be part of a larger effort to create and refine robots that can be used by the elderly, JAXA said in a statement."

- A Cylon Girlfriend for Robonaut2, earlier post
- KSC Wants To Buy A Cornish Robot To Greet U.S. Visitors, earlier post
- Dryden Seeks Ethnically Diverse Cylons, earlier post

Keith's 14 Feb note: At the ISS National Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) Public Day on 10 December 2010, Mark Uhran said that the CAN would be released on 14 January 2011. According to Uhran letters of intent would be due on 14 February 2011, proposals due 4 March 2011, with an award in May 2011.

The CAN was released on Monday, 14 Feb - one month late. The release date slipped one month but the award date has slipped 2 months. No email notice has been sent out nor notice made on the ISS National Lab website. Notices of Intent are due on 4 March, proposals are due on 1 April, the anticipated selection announcement is 31 May, and the anticipated award date is 1 July. You can find the CAN and associated files here.

In his remarks at the ISS National Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) Public Day, Mark Uhran said that NASA had roped off some of the most interesting stuff (human space physiology and spacecraft testing and engineering) as being off limits to proposers. Anyone proposing to do this will be considered "non-responsive" (his words). Oddly, these are two of the most promising uses of the ISS - the sorts of things that a lot of people would like to use the ISS for. No mention is made in this CAN as to whether Uhran's statement is indeed true or binding on proposers. If it is, one would think that it would be listed in the CAN itself. If it is not, then one would think that NASA would issue a clarification to those people in attendance at the event on 10 December.

Keith's 15 Feb 9:00 am EST update: An email just arrived announcing that the CAN has been released. But there is still no mention made on the ISS National Lab website or at NASA's procurement website. One would think that a press release would be in order as well for those who are not on the mailing list - and for those who know nothing about this due to all of NASA's earlier stealth attempts not to publicize this activity.

Keith's 15 Feb 6:00 pm EST note: The CAN notice showed up on NASA's procurement website this afternoon and on the ISS National Lab site as well - but it took them 24 hours to do this.

Keith's 16 Feb 5:00 pm EST note: On 22 Feb there will be a NASA Teleconference About Nonprofit Management Of Space Station

- Release of ISS National Lab CAN Delayed, earlier post
- The ISS Sales Pitch Is Starting to Get Stale, earlier post
- Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post
- NASA's Slow Motion Reluctance To Truly Open Up The ISS, earlier post (with additional links)

NASA Participates in United Nations Outreach Seminar on the International Space Station

"This was an opportunity for NASA and our international partners to share the capabilities of the space station with the international community," said International Space Station Program Scientist Julie Robinson, who presented at the seminar. "Now that the station has shifted from construction to research and technology development, we are working as a partnership to optimize its use as a laboratory."

Keith's note: Despite the happy press release, no mention is made of this event on the NASA ISS link provided in this press release or the NASA ISS National Lab page. On this U.N. page regarding the event all that is provided is are links to short, two sentence summaries of Robinson's talks. No presentations are posted at the U.N. or at NASA - not that the presentations ever vary much from one venue to another. That said, the ability of the ISS team to do the outreach that they love to brag about is clearly lacking. If the sales pitch never changes, the product gets stale in people's minds after a while.

Stale does not sell.

Using the ISS: Once Again NASA Has Been Left in the Dust, earlier post

Keith's update: These presentations have now been placed online:

- International Space StationNASA Research (PDF, 1.1 MB)
- International Space Station Research Accomplishments Overview (PDF, 8.7 MB)
- International Space Station-enabled Educational Opportunities (PDF, 3 MB)

Keith's 25 Jan note: At the ISS National Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) Public Day on 10 December 2010, Mark Uhran said that the CAN would be released on 14 January 2011. According to Uhran letters of Intent would be due on 14 February 2011, proposals due 4 March 2011, with an award in May 2011.

If you go to the NSPIRES page you see that this CAN will now be released on 14 Feruary 2011. No notices have been sent out to interested parties or Public Day attendees informing them of this delay. In addition, no mention is made on the ISS National Lab webpage.

Related posts

Keith's 26 Jan update: By coincidence, NASA's ISS National Lab team Sent this email out today "NASA currently expects the final release of the Cooperative Agreement Notice for the ISS National Lab Management Entity in early February. Answers to remaining questions that have been asked will be posted when the CAN is released." However NSPIRES still says that it will be released on 14 Feb 2011.

Keith's note: With the research results presented in these two papers, it would seem that structural information for biological molecules can now be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples - so called "nanocrystals" using a hard X-ray laser - on Earth - no space station required.

So much for the official story NASA has told for 20 years that the ISS is crucial for such work.

Full story below

Super Bowl Robonaut

Robonaut 2 to Appear on Fox's Super Bowl XLV Pregame

"Robonaut 2, the muscular humanoid robot created by General Motors and NASA, will make a guest appearance with Fox Sports analyst Howie Long during the Fox Network pre-game show before Super Bowl XLV on Sunday. R2 and Howie taped a meeting Jan. 31."



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

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