ISS News: September 2011 Archives

NASA's Development of Radiation Monitoring Instruments for the International Space Station

"This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review found that NASA has poorly managed the development of these replacement radiation monitoring instruments. Specifically, total estimated ARI Project costs increased approximately 62 percent, from $16 million to $26 million; the Project has been de-scoped and will not include all planned elements; and delivery of the new instruments has been delayed by almost 3 years. In addition, until April 2010 NASA was developing an instrument that did not meet stated radiation monitoring requirements. We also found that the ISS Program has never monitored astronaut exposure to neutrons in accordance with Program requirements and had not adequately analyzed, planned, tracked, or controlled the resulting risk."

Photo: Ron Garan's Last Day in Space

@ASTRO_RON: "How I spent my last day in space.

That's me in the cupola of the International Space Station off the coast of Australia taking my last of over 25,000 pics that I still want to share w/ everyone."

Keith's note: I am confused. Astronaut Ron Garan flies to the International Space Station and sends a non-stop stream of personal - and cool - photos back to Earth via Twitter and Twitpic. Well, these photos usually do not always end up on NASA's Human Spaceflight website but some of them appear on his personal (?) website at (the domain is registered to some anonymous individual in Bellveue, Washington) - a website that never seems to use the word "NASA" - unless you scroll to the small text at the bottom of the page with a micro NASA logo. Guess what - that link is to . Try it. It does not work. It should say which does work. Looks like no one bothered (or cared) to check.

Are NASA funds used to run this website? If so, then why the lack of coordination with If not, then why isn't NASA running such a high profile site that highlights such a prominent activity that its own official website seems to not want to highlight? Some (but not all) of these photos and commentary by Ron Garan also appear at NASA's blog site.

Ron Garan is a NASA civil servant who was on official duty at taxpayer expense on the ISS. We paid his airfare. We should all be seeing everything he sends back to Earth, without having to hop around various websites, right? NASA should endeavour to collect all that he sends back to Earth - in one place - so as to maximize this dissemination of information to the public. But that is not the case.

These "NASA" sites do not even link to each other. Who is in charge here? NASA PAO?, HEOMD? Ron Garan? Until NASA figures out how to coordinate its "messages" it will be hobbled by stove piping and hobby shop approaches to education and public outreach. The scattered nature of this otherwise inspiring series of photos and operations exposes just how uncoordinated NASA is these days when it comes to telling the taxpaying public what it is doing and why. And then they have the nerve to complain when the public does not seem to understand what they are doing.

Cool stuff Ron. You done good. Some of your stuff is jaw dropping. As a result, perhaps the rest of the agency can learn how to work together as one cohesive and cooperating entity in the future?

This is an awesome image worth spreading across our planet. Is it featured at


Keith's note: From what I have been able to piece together HEOMD's Beth Beck (the creator of the failed NASA BuzzRoom) is behind this site. Elyse David is the "Executive Producer and Founding Crewmemeber" of Fragile Oasis according to her Twitter page. Beth Beck does more or less whatever she wants to do on this website with near zero coordination with NASA PAO. Despite multiple requests in the past for metrics and a plan for education and public outreach Beth has been unwilling/unable to provide me with anything. Yes, Ron Garan's photos and commentary have been amazing - but when they are not coordinated with's much larger distribution system, they suffer from less than full visibility they might otherwise attain. The net result is that NASA's limited funding for such things is not being spent in the best way possible. Once again one part of NASA simply does not care to coordinate with the other.

NASA Finalizes Cooperative Agreement With Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) To Manage the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, Space Florida

"NASA finalized a Cooperative Agreement with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), authorizing the organization to serve as the independent non-profit entity for management of the U.S. International Space Station National Laboratory (ISS NL) ... For more information, please visit the CASIS website, which will go live on September 15, 2011 at"

Keith's 21 Sep note: This press release was issued on 9 September. A website for CASIS was promised for 15 September - but there is still no active website for CASIS. NASA picked this organization to help manage the ISS National Laboratory and help disseminate information regarding the uses of the ISS - and they can't even get a simple website online? Not a promising sign.

Keith's 22 Sep update: The CASIS website is now online.

Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz make visible the structure of the smallest crystals, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

"A radical new way of making structures visible at the nano level has been developed at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). This new method makes it possible to determine with precision the arrangement of atoms and molecules in a diverse range of materials from cement to pharmaceuticals. The procedure, which is still in its infancy, comes from the field of electron microscopy and can resolve the structure of the tiniest crystals. ... "There is a large number of natural and synthetic solid materials for which our method may be used - materials which are not available or cannot be manufactured in a suitable crystal size." ... In comparison with conventional electron microscopy characterizations, electron diffraction tomography is considerably faster, more accurate, and more complete. Whereas before, structures were researched for two years, using ADT a result can be obtained within just one day."

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

"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. ... If only NASA could find a way to get things from idea - to hardware - to orbit - and back faster and cheaper, the ISS might have played more of a role in this field of protein crystallography.

Keith's note: Growing perfect crystals in space (on the Space Shuttle and Space Station) has been one of NASA's favorite promotional items in its mantra of promoting the use of the ISS as a "world class laboratory". The need for large crystals grown at great expense in space is quickly vanishing due to advances made on Earth. As mentioned in the original post from February 2011, NASA dragged its feet on this and missed the bus. Yet if you go to any of the agency's ISS websites - or read the promotional materials about research opportunities - not a word is offered about new and cheaper ground-based alternatives to growing large crystals in space. That's because the agency is incapable of staying current on the very science it is trying to promote - or being intellectually honest with people as they continue to use outdated reasons to hype the ISS.

NASA Releases Commercial Crew Draft RFP, Announces CCDEV2 Optional Milestones

"NASA unveiled Monday an outline of its acquisition strategy to procure transportation services from private industry to carry U.S. astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. The agency also announced the addition of optional milestones for the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiative."

NASA Solicitation: Commercial Crew Integrated Design Contract Draft RFP

"A Requirements Workshop, a Pre-Solicitation Conference and One-on-Ones are scheduled for October 4, 5 and 6 at Kennedy Space Center, FL. The Requirements Workshop will discuss key features and changes since the May 2011 Requirements Workshop for each of the 1100 series documents. Additional information regarding times, location and registration information will be posted in the near future."

Russian Federation unwilling to allow Space X demonstration,

"Vladimir Solovyov, head of the Russian segment of the ISS mission control center made a statement on Friday that Space X will not be granted docking permission to dock its Dragon spacecraft at the International Space Station (ISS) during a planned test flight on or around November 30, 2011."

@NASA: "Sorry, despite @ria_novosti reports, a decision has yet to be made regarding the upcoming @SpaceXer test flight to ISS. Incorrect story."

Keith's note: I suspect that this is yet another case of bad translation from Russian to English and/orRussian bluffing and/or a negotiating tactic for more money. They have done this before.

Space Station Trio Lands Safely In Kazakhstan

"NASA's Ron Garan, Expedition 28 commander Andrey Borisenko and flight engineer Alexander Samokutyaev, both of the Russian Federal Space Agency, landed their Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan at midnight EDT (10 a.m. in Kazakhstan). The trio, which arrived at the station on April 6, had been scheduled to land on Sept. 8, but that was postponed because of the Aug. 24 loss of the Progress 44 cargo ship."

Soyuz Launch Dates Announced

Russia Announces Next Manned Space Flights

"Russia has announced the dates of its next manned space flights, after delaying previously scheduled missions following the crash of an unmanned Soyuz rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station. In a statement Tuesday, Russia's space agency Roskosmos said the next manned space flights are now set for November 12 and December 20. The Soyuz crash last month prompted Russia to cancel all manned flights pending an investigation into the accident."

Update: NASA Provides Media Interviews For Space Station National Lab Award

"NASA has canceled the previously scheduled news conference on Friday, Sept. 9, about the award of the organization that will manage the portion of the International Space Station operated as a U.S. national laboratory. The briefing was canceled because the launch of the agency's GRAIL mission has been postponed until Friday morning. NASA will offer in-person media interview opportunities at 10 a.m. EDT on Friday at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Press Site in Florida"

Keith's Note: This is odd. The only reason why an ISS project is to be discussed with the media is at a SMD launch. When the launch is scrubbed, they decide not to allow remote participation (as had been the original plan) - just chit chat with media present to cover a moon mission launch. If the ISS National Laboratory folks really wanted to interact with the media then they'd set up their own event independent of someone else's launch. Then again Mark Uhran (departing NASA in a few weeks anyway) et al simply do not care about interacting with the public or the media about the ISS National Laboratory.

NASA Needs to Preserve Skilled Astronaut Corps In Post-Shuttle Era, Says New Report

"NASA should take steps to ensure that it maintains a highly trained astronaut corps to meet International Space Station (ISS) crew requirements while accounting for unexpected attrition or demands of other missions, says a new report by the National Research Council. NASA's current plans for staffing the U.S. astronaut corps do not provide sufficient flexibility to reliably meet projected ISS mission needs."

Bolden's ISS Update

NASA Administrator's Update on Space Station

"There has been a lot in the news recently about the International Space Station (ISS) and our astronauts aboard this orbiting outpost, and I wanted to take a moment to give you an update. Last week, our Russian partners lost a Progress cargo vehicle during launch. The cargo lost, although important, can be replaced. All of us are focused on determining the cause of the Soyuz booster anomaly so we can resolve it and get back to flying crew safely to the ISS. Our first priority is to keep everyone safe and the station crewed. Keeping the crew on-board allows us to continue the scientific research mission planned for the ISS and to help make the breakthroughs that will make our missions to farther destinations possible."

NASA Needs Strategic Plan to Manage Orbital Debris Efforts; Risks Increasing for Satellites, Space Station, National Research Council

"Although NASA's meteoroid and orbital debris programs have responsibly used their resources, the agency's management structure has not kept pace with increasing hazards posed by abandoned equipment, spent rocket bodies, and other debris orbiting the Earth, says a new report by the National Research Council. NASA should develop a formal strategic plan to better allocate resources devoted to the management of orbital debris. In addition, removal of debris from the space environment or other actions to mitigate risks may be necessary."



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About this Archive

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

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