ISS News: March 2012 Archives

ATV-3 Power Connection Successful, Reboost Set

"Multi-national flight controllers successfully connected a backup power channel Saturday to the European Space Agency's "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo ship, enabling electricity to flow from the International Space Station to the ATV to set the stage for a reboost of the station Saturday afternoon while avoiding an early undocking of the resupply craft."

References to CASIS in House Hearing on Space Station Utilization

GAO: "Since the establishment of CASIS as the management body of ISS research is relatively recent, we have not examined its effectiveness; therefore, it is too early for us to say whether it will be successful in ensuring full scientific utilization of the station as a national laboratory."

Democrats Emphasize the Need for a Clear Plan for Utilization of the International Space Station

"In short, we need clear, prioritized and integrated utilization plans from NASA, and we need to be assured that those plans are being carried out, both by NASA and by the independent ISS research management organization, CASIS, that was set up for that purpose."

Hearing Notes: Charles Bolden Testifies on NASA's FY 2013 Budget, earlier post

"Rep. Wolf suggested that NASA needs to look at CASIS carefully saying "if they are not with it in 30-45 days we should pull it and give it to NSF". Bolden replied that a letter was being sent to CASIS to remind them of their milestones and "if they they do not meet milestones we will find another way."

Space Station's Future Rides on Commercial Cargo Haulers, SpaceNews

"Lawmakers also raised concerns about the Florida-based nonprofit organization CASIS that NASA hired six months ago to run the U.S. National Laboratory portion of the space station. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space is in the midst of a reorganization following the resignation of its director this month. Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) called for review of CASIS by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Hall did not comment publicly on the request."

Earlier CASIS postings

ESA, China Discuss Shenzhou Docking At ISS, Aviation Week

"European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain met with his Chinese counterpart March 22-23 to discuss future cooperation in manned spaceflight, including the potential for a Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). The two sides met at Dordain's request on the sidelines of the European Space Agency's third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) launch to the ISS March 23 to further establish a dialogue and lay the groundwork for potential Sino-European cooperation in manned spaceflight."

NASA considering space station as dry run for 500-day Mars trip, would test human endurance, Washington Post

"The International Space Station may provide the setting for a 500-day pretend trip to Mars in another few years. NASA said Tuesday that consideration is under way to use the space station as a dry run for a simulated trip to and from Mars. It would be patterned after Russia's mock flight to Mars that lasted 520 days at a Moscow research center."

Let's Stop Going in Circles - And Go Somewhere (2002), SpaceRef

"Re-dedicating the International Space Station to the specific task of flight certifying humans for travel to Mars - on a fixed schedule - and then holding to that schedule would bring a long absent focus and general direction to this meritorious but meandering program."

Keith's note Its about time NASA decided to do this. I think they should have been doing this from the moment that the first crew arrived.

Reader note: "NASA JSC Public Affairs interviews ISS Flight Director Royce Renfrew and the interview was posted on NASA's ReelNASA YouTube channel. Starting at 16:38 the discussion turns to SLICE experiments being performed by the current ISS crew. At 17:26 Renfrew says "We don't actually have a NASA center in Cleveland ..." What??"

Keith's Update: Someone representing the ReelNASA YouTube channel replied in the comments of the video: "Mr. Renfrew was referencing the fact there is not an ISS Mission Control Center in Cleveland that is capable of speaking with the crew. He was highlighting the fact we can arrange for researchers to have direct communication with the crew regarding their research, a benefit of doing Station science. NASA Glenn Research Center is located in Cleveland, but it does not have a mission control center that interacts with the station crew. We appreciate your comment. ..." Typical JSC PAO - never admit any mistakes - ever.

The facts according to NASA GRC: "Since 2001, the TSC has provided over 26,000 hr of continuous support for diverse microgravity research experiments onboard the ISS, 24 hr a day, 7 days a week, while requiring less than 100 hr of crew intervention. Secure, dedicated audio, video, and data interfaces are provided to payload teams, including a digital stream of two channels of video from the ISS and the ability to communicate directly with the ISS crew."

Houston, we have a NASA center, Cleveland.com

"I feel for the guy. ... That's an answer he probably wishes he could suck back into his head," said NASA Glenn Director Ray Lugo. "The statement was taken a little bit out of context. The more you pick on it, the worse it gets. ... The last thing I want to do is add to it."

Keith's 27 March Update: The ReelNASA Youtube channel posted this video yesterday: "ISS Update Commentator Pat Ryan interviews Dr. Paul Ferkul, Principal Investigator for the Burning and Suppression of Solids (BASS) experiment" with Dr. Paul Ferkul participating in the interview from NASA Glenn Research Centers Telescience Center."

Hearing Notes: Charles Bolden Testifies on NASA's FY 2013 Budget

"When asked about CASIS, the non-profit organization chartered to manage the U.S International Laboratory on the ISS, Bolden did not know what the history behind CASIS was (how or why it was formed), did not know how many people worked there, and would not give a grade for its performance thus far. When Rep. Wolf noted that the Director of CASIS had quit recently and that this was like "the captain leaving the ship" Bolden said "they're just getting started". Rep. Wolf suggested that NASA needs to look at CASIS carefully saying "if they are not with it in 30-45 days we should pull it and give it to NSF". Bolden replied that a letter was being sent to CASIS to remind them of their milestones and "if they they do not meet milestones we will find another way"."

CASIS Reviews NASA Experiments for Commercialization Potential, CASIS

"The panel, led by Timothy Yeatman, a veteran surgeon, scientist and pioneer in the fields of genomics and personalized medicine, is the first of its kind. The effort marks the first high-level international scientific review of NASA experiments with the aim of maximizing use of the station and unlocking the value of America's investment in the $100 billion orbiting platform."

Keith's note: This statement by CASIS is simply untrue or, at best, grossly over-hyped. NASA has been convening review and oversight panels for this purpose for decades. I know because I used to help organize some of these panels and have attended innumerable others set up by NASA, NIH, NAS/NRC, and others. That said, the previous panels have not done very much of lasting signifigance since no one outside of a small subset of NASA really understands what the ISS can do - or has done. So maybe this new CASIS panel will be different. Given the weak and incomplete infrastructure in place at CASIS I would not hold high expectations for the output this first panel. Also, given that Rep. Wolf and House Appropriators have put CASIS on notice to get "with it" in the next 30-45 days the folks at CASIS who are "just getting starting" (according to Charlie Bolden) need to get this done properly - right out of the gate. The clock is now ticking.

Previous CASIS postings

SpaceX announces a date for first private space dock with space station, Ars technica

"SpaceX's Company President Gwynne Shotwell used the Satellite 2012 Conference to announce that it has a thin launch window on April 30 that would get it to a scheduled May 3 berthing slot at the International Space Station. The mission, known as COTS 2/3, carries a political payload far larger than the food and clean underwear inside the spacecraft."

Space travel moves to private sector, CBS 60 Minutes

"60 Minutes talks to the man who believes he will be the first entrepreneur to put a man in orbit. Watch Scott Pelley's report on Sunday, March 18 at 7 p.m. ET/PT."

Robonaut-2 Says "Hello world" in American Sign Language From the ISS (video)

Keith's note: This afternoon NASA's Robonaut-2 said "hello world" in American Sign Language (ASL) from the International Space Station. I have been told that the idea for this was sparked by an earlier posting of mine on NASAWatch. Being a former professional Sign Language interpreter, this is pretty cool. This is not the first time Robonaut has signed from space (can't seem to find NASA videos of this online). In February @AstroRobonaut tweeted: "Did you catch that? I don't have a voice, but I sent you a message -- Hello world ... in sign language!" What is odd about this tweet (by a human) is the fact that Robonaut does indeed have a "voice" and he speaks (understandably) in a language used by millions of people every day. PAO might want to keep that in mind in the future.

Space Droids Using Sign Language?, earlier post

GM, NASA Jointly Developing Robotic Gloves for Human Use

"General Motors and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that auto workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries. The Human Grasp Assist device, known internally in both organizations as the K-glove or Robo-Glove, resulted from GM and NASA's Robonaut 2 (R2) project, which launched the first human-like robot into space in 2011. R2 is a permanent resident of the International Space Station."

NASA, GM Jointly Developing Robotic Gloves for Human Use

Keith's note: Talk about a cool spinoff - being developed in real time on Earth and in space - one that leverages a public/private partnership between NASA robotics and private sector manufacturing know-how. You'd think that the people at NASA who have the job of promoting spinoffs, advanced technology, etc. i.e. The Chief Technologst's Office (OCT) would be drooling over this - and helping to promote it every way that they can. Guess again. No mention of this at the CTO main website (although the CTO's travel plans seem to be important) and no mention on the Spinoff page.

Sen. Hutchison challenges NASA spending on commercial spacecraft, Houston Chronicle

"I'm frankly floored as you know from our conversation that it would be so blatant to take it right out of Orion and (the space launch system) and put it into commercial crew rather than trying to accomplish the joint goals that we have of putting forward both and making sure that we didn't take away from the timetables for the future to shore up commercial crew," Hutchison told Bolden.

NASA chief defends 2013 budget in Congress, space.com via MSNBC

"I don't doubt your sincerity in shared goals, but what I'm very concerned about is the implementation that is reflected in the numbers of the budget that the president released," Hutchison said."

NASA may need to use Russian flights longer, Wall Street Journal via Fox

"NASA is drafting backup plans to prolong the use of Russian spacecraft for ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station, even as agency officials play down those options and express hope that private rockets and capsules will be available for such trips within five years."'

Russia Space Agency chief Popovkin hospitalised

"Head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) Vladimir Popovkin has been taken to the Burdenko Hospital in connection with his health deterioration, the agency's press service told Itar-Tass."

iPads Would Be Great in Space, Astronaut Says, TechNews Daily

"NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, who commands the space station, said that while he doesn't own a new iPad -- or any other tablet -- he definitely could use one in space. "I don't have an iPad yet, and I most certainly don't have one up here on the space station," Burbank said today while answering a question from a student in San Jose, Calif., via a video link. "At some point I think that would be a really good tool to have up here because it would be a lot easier to have a single tablet, a single screen, to take with you to do procedures and science experiments instead of having a big laptop with you."

The iPad and an Angry Bird Head to Space, iPad News (28 Oct 2011)

"The next unmanned resupply vehicle headed for the International Space Station next month will be loaded with much needed propellant, oxygen, water, thousands of pounds of crew equipment and 2 iPads all ready to entertain the Russians who will receive them."

Keith's note: So I guess the Russians won't let their American crew mates use their iPads.

Velcro and NASA

Images: Moving Around in Weightlessness in "2001" and 2012

"With little experience in weightlessness inside a large spacecraft, the experts consulted by Stanley Kubrick in the 1960s felt that space travelers would need to be anchored to something in order to move around. While this is often true for some chores (including the use of Velcro), astronauts will often just fly or float from one point to another."

Keith's note: Speaking of Velcro, yesterday, in a hearing with NASA Administrator Bolden, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) said about NASA research in space "who knew that we would get Velcro". Not true: it was invented by a Swiss guy in 1948. Someone at NASA Legislative Affairs needs to do a remedial NASA spinoff briefing to Sen. Hutchison and her staff. This is the same staff (some are ex-NASA) who have been pushing for the ISS National Lab. It is unfortunate that the staff so badly inform this senator (and others) as to what has actually been discovered by NASA - and that NASA (or CASIS) never seems to want to correct these mistakes when they occur.

Some space station partners appear ready to welcome China into the group, CP

"Jean-Jacques Dordain, head of the European body, said he hopes the International Space Station partnership would be open, adding it would benefit from co-operation with China. "I am in favour of seeing how we can work together with China," he told reporters after the meeting in Quebec City. "It will take some steps, but it will come, I am sure. "This is not a closed partnership, it is an open partnership and anyone who can help support this partnership is more than welcome." ... Bolden has told The Canadian Press that NASA is an organization that looks at international co-operation, but it's prohibited by Congressional action from any bilateral activities with China."

Letter From Rep. Wolf to NASA Administrator Bolden Regarding China and the ISS

"As chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA - and the author of the statute banning bilateral cooperation with the Chinese - I believe that any effort to involve the Chinese in the space program would be misguided, and not in our national interest. The U.S. has no business cooperating with the PLA to help develop its space program."

CASIS Names Bobby Block Director of Communications

"Today, Robert "Bobby" Block was named director of communications for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) - the non-profit entity selected in 2011 by NASA to maximize utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. In this position, Block will be responsible for promoting the CASIS and ISS National Laboratory brands internationally through targeted communications, marketing and public relations campaigns. He will also lead an aggressive effort to build lasting partnerships with industry and stakeholder media."

Keith's note: CASIS has finally done something right. Bobby Block ought to be able to explain to these folks that their public image is lacking in credibility and that their public image reflects the inner way of doing business, dealing withstakeholders, partners, NASA, etc. The easiest way for CASIS to get beyond this self-induced PR mess is to start to do what it is they are supposed to be doing, stop spinning their wheels on pointless pursuits, and effectively communicate withthe external world. The full utilization of the ISS is too precious a resource to be squandered because of food fights back on Earth.

CASIS Director Resigns - Accusations Start To Fly - Leadership Turmoil, earlier post

Resignation Letter from CASIS Executive Director Jeanne L. Becker

"As a result of undue and onerous political pressures exerted over the almost six months of existence of CASIS, business operations have been difficult in standing up this brand new organization. Unrealistic expectations have been levied collectively by Congressional staffers, by NASA (Mr. Uhran) and by ProOrbis. These pressures have placed unnecessary stress and hardship on CASIS, not only organizationally but also on management, forcing a defensive posture with constant focus on mitigation strategies to fend off political threats of the elimination of CASIS.

The fact is that ProOrbis was recruited and paid by NASA to write the ISS National Lab Reference Model, which became the basis for the NASA Cooperative Agreement Notice soliciting for a nonprofit organization to manage ISS National Lab. Space Florida contracted ProOrbis to write the CASIS proposal submitted in response to this Cooperative Agreement Notice. What remains difficult to rationalize is the fact that the interim board admittedly identified inurement and excess benefit issues even as the CASIS proposal was developed."

ProOrbis Statement re: CASIS Director Resignation

"As is a matter of public record, Dr. Becker was included in the CASIS proposal as its Executive Director. In her commitment letter submitted with the original proposal, she stated "I am supportive of the management concepts as presented in the CASIS proposal being submitted." However, since taking on this role, she has not engaged ProOrbis in the stand-up activities of CASIS as was contemplated. Issues of conflict of interest for all the principal parties were satisfactorily addressed in the Cooperative Agreement and provisions were put in place to mitigate any potential conflicts. Dr. Becker's concerns about a non-profit organization working with a private company were addressed by legal counsel, which determined that they would not in any way prevent CASIS from engaging ProOrbis or executing the proposal."

Jim Royston Named Interim Director of CASIS Dr. Jeanne Becker Steps Down From Leadership Role

"The Board received Dr. Becker's resignation last week and accepted it as a result of ongoing disputes in relation to the pace and direction of the implementation of CASIS' mission. The Board has now established an Executive Office of the Chairman within CASIS to drive the organization toward rapid development during this period."

Astrotech Corporation President Terminated, 16 July 2010

"Astrotech Corporation, a leading provider of commercial aerospace services and in the commercialization of space technologies, today announced a realignment of its corporate structure in order to optimize operational efficiencies. The Company's action follows an evaluation of each business and a review of strategic alternatives. Astrotech's corporate realignment includes the termination of James Royston, President of Astrotech Corporation."

Keith's note: I just received the CASIS statement around noon. It interesting how ProOrbis responded - directly to NASA Watch - on Sunday night - before CASIS itself even issued a statement. Also, despite issuing a statement to NASAWatch, ProOrbis has not posted anything on its website or issued statement via press release. This is a CASIS matter - why is ProOrbis taking the lead? Who is running the show here - CASIS or ProOrbis? That is what seems to be the core issue in this food fight.

Also note that interim CASIS Director Jim Royson was "terminated" as president of Astrotech in 2010. No reason is given for that termination - nor is mention made of the termination in his CASIS bio.


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This page is an archive of entries in the ISS News category from March 2012.

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