ISS News: July 2012 Archives

The International Space Station: A Platform for Research, Collaboration, and Discovery

"The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on "The International Space Station: A Platform for Research, Collaboration, and Discovery." With assembly of the International Space Station complete as of May 2011, the focus has now shifted from construction to full scientific utilization through 2020 and beyond. This hearing will examine research progress, the potential for scientific breakthroughs, and any impediments to maximizing the utilization of this orbiting national laboratory."

Prepared Statements

William Gerstenmaier (and Don Pettit)
James Royston
Thomas Reiter
Sen. Rockefeller
Sen. Hutchison

Keith's note: Sources note that prior to this public hearing a private meeting will be held wherein the teams that bid on the contract that CASIS won - and explain how they would have approached this task. That said, nothing spectacular should be expected from the public hearing. Sen. Nelson has staged all of this behind the scenes - from contract award to providing political protection - so as to send jobs to Florida. Actual performance on the task is of secondary importance. As such, Sen. Nelson is unlikely to allow the status quo to be upset during this hearing - and the ongoing incompetence demonstrated by CASIS will be allowed to continue.

Three weeks after an ISS conference co-sponsored by CASIS, they have only managed to figure out how to post a small fraction of what was presented - 2 NASA presentations and 3 CASIS presentations. The rest of what was presented i.e. the vast majority - is being ignored.

"Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS. I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop. Compiled and arranged in Sony Vegas. Music by John Murphy - Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)." More.

Keith's note: If you want to download a copy of this utterly stunning piece of video artistry try this link. Why does not feature things like this is simply baffling. They launched artists to the space station. Who knew?

Latest Crew Blasts Off For International Space Station (With video)

"Three new crew members are on their way to the International Space Station. NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams, Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:40 p.m. EDT Saturday, July 14 (8:40 a.m. Baikonur time July 15)."

NASA Internal Memo: Mark Uhran is Retiring From NASA

"Dear Friends and Colleagues, It's been an incredible honor to work with and for you over the past 28 years on space station utilization planning, engineering development and operations. Despite what some thought to be insurmountable obstacles, the global team prevailed to deliver one of the greatest engineering achievements and most capable laboratory complexes in history. It's an icon for the power of relentless pursuit and exemplary of what great nations can do through peaceful cooperation."

Keith's note: I have known Mark for more than 20 years. Indeed, I used to work for him. While I have been critical of Mark and various aspects of space station utilization recently (because I think NASA can and should do better), I have to say that there were dark times when most of NASA really did not care if the space station was ever used - or was useful. During those long periods when budgets, assembly, and ops drove everything, Mark was one of the few who managed to keep the utilization spark alive within NASA. It will be interesting to see what he does with a fusion reactor at his disposal in his new position. Mark attached an interesting paper on space research-related patents with this departure message. I'm certain that it would not occur to CASIS that it would be useful to post it on their site.

"I believe in 'just trying your best' no matter if you win or lose, succeed or fail the truth will always prevail and so Satyameva Jayte is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning just that. If we do good things then good things will happen to us and vice versa. So if we look after our world then it will be a better place for all of us, if we neglect or damage it then the outcome and truth will not be very good especially for our future generations, our actions dictate our future ... The time lapse sequences of photographs were taken by the crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS), I downloaded over 20k+ images and ..." More.

Keith's note: While the demonstrably inept staff at CASIS struggle to figure how to post a few Powerpoint files online - or write/post a simple travel report about the recent International Space Station utilization meeting - this videographer - with zero NASA funding - has managed to produce this astonishing video which, in and of itself, effusively exudes vastly more raw inspiration as to the intrinsic value of the ISS than anything CASIS has done to date - or is likely to do anytime soon.

I think NASA has the implementation process for ISS absolutely backward. There is wisdom in the masses - especially given that the space insiders - with all their expertise - have so obviously dropped the ball.

Keith's note: Here's today's excuse from CASIS as to why nothing is online at the CASIS website regarding the recent ISS Utilization conference in Denver. This was posted by CASIS employee Justin Kugler (@Phalanx): "@NASAWatch AAS was taken out for 2 weeks by the outage in the Northeast and we had to coordinate with them. It's coming. Be patient." Hmm. The storm in the northeast was less than "2 weeks" ago. Of course this begs the question as to why none of the CASIS staff in attendance in Colorado (many of whom live in Texas and Florida) were able to write a summary of what happened at the event, post their own presentations, or put something online that documented what all of these hundreds of people heard and said at this meeting. Amazingly, NASA JSC's Liz Warren managed to get something online - yet CASIS is unable to even link to this lone summary. Utterly baffling. Is this inept performance by CASIS what U.S. taxpayers can expect from their ISS investment? CASIS continues to underwhelm and disappoint on a daily basis.

NASA and CASIS Hold Stealth ISS Conference, earlier post

Keith's 9 Jul note: It has been two weeks since the CASIS-co-sponsored First Annual International Space Station R&D Conference. The event itself received little media attention. None of the sessions were webcast. With the exception of one CASIS employee who tweeted a few times, virtually nothing was sent out via Twitter or other social media platforms. This is baffling given the hundreds of people who reportedly attended the event and the supposed mission of CASIS to popularize the ISS and its capabilities. Now, two weeks later a visit to the CASIS website shows that nothing from this conference has been posted online. No presentations. No videos. No summaries. Nothing.

And its not just CASIS that has dropped the ball - there is absolutely nothing posted at the NASA ISS National Laboratory website either. As such, it would seem that only the several hundred people in Denver at the event will ever know what happened. The remaining 300 million of us will have to accept silence.

I am not certain whether to ascribe this lack of follow-up by NASA and CASIS to laziness or incompetence. Or maybe NASA and CASIS simply do not care any more. And if they cannot be bothered to explain what the people who actually use the International Space Station are doing, why should they have any expectation that taxpayers are going to care what happens to the agency's budget?

Keith's 10 Jul update: The NASA ISS National Lab website put a link up to a summary written about the workshop. Yet CASIS can't even be bothered to link to this summary.

Fledgling NASA Nonprofit Starts To Liftoff, NPR (Morning Edition)

"At a hearing later in March, Congressman Frank Wolf, R-Va., asked the head of NASA, Charles Bolden, what grade he would give CASIS on its progress so far. Bolden said it was too soon to tell. "I'd give them a D-plus overall," says Keith Cowing, who runs the website He worked for the agency in the early days of the space station program, and has been a persistent critic of CASIS. "They're making incremental progress, but I just don't think they're going fast enough," he says. "I don't think that they've engaged the people who have decades of experience in doing research in space. And I'm a little frustrated that they haven't gotten that message."

- More Whining From CASIS: Its Not Our Fault, earlier post
- CASIS: It Takes More Than Golf to Utilize the ISS, earlier post
- CASIS & ISS National Lab: Still Ignoring Their Own Stuff, earlier post
- Wake The Kids: CASIS Has A New Logo, earlier post

Other CASIS posts

Keith's note: It has been a week since the CASIS-cosponsored ISS utilization conference in Denver. Nothing has been put online by CASIS in terms of presentations, videos, written summaries. Nothing. Alas, in this interview, CASIS representatives once again proclaim that "CASIS has to succeed" yet they seem to be going out of their way to help it fail by continuing to avoid explaining what it does outside of a very small constituency.

Astronauts support expansion of space station crew size, Houston Chronicle

"Astronauts aboard the International Space Station said this week they would welcome NASA's proposals to expand the lab's crew size from six to seven. "It would certainly help," said Don Pettit, a flight engineer and one of three crew members working in the U.S. half of the station. NASA senior leaders have begun talking about expanding the lab's crew size to seven when vehicles built by private contractors, such as SpaceX, come online as expected later this decade."

Stunning Photos of Soyuz TMA-03M Returning to Earth

"Soyuz TMA-03M is seen as it lands with Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko, Flight Don Pettit, and Andre Kuipers in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, July 1, 2012. Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers returned from more than six months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 30 and 31 crews. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)"

Expedition 31 Lands

ISS Expedition 31 Crew Lands Safely, NASA (With landing video.)

"Three members of the Expedition 31 crew undocked from the International Space Station and returned safely to Earth Sunday, July 1, wrapping up a mission that lasted six-and-a-half months."

"Russian Commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers landed their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 3:14 a.m. CDT (2:14 p.m. local time) after undocking from the space station's Rassvet module at 11:47 p.m. June 30. The trio, which arrived at the station Dec. 23, 2011, spent a total of 193 days in space, 191 of which were aboard the station."



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

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