ISS News: January 2013 Archives

NASA Solicits Ideas for International Space Station Research

"NASA wants to know how you can improve the International Space Station as a technology test bed. NASA's International Space Station National Laboratory and Technology Demonstration offices are asking for proposals on how the space station may be used to develop advanced or improved exploration technologies. NASA also is seeking proposals about how new approaches, technologies and capabilities could improve the unique laboratory environment of the orbiting outpost."

Keith's note: Nowhere in any of the supporting documents is CASIS mentioned. CASIS makes no mention of this on their website. No mention at NASA's ISS website here, or at the ISS National Lab website. No one involved with the ISS National Lab, CASIS, SOMD, JSC, or elswhere seems to be at all interested in a cohesive, coordinated approach to the utiliztion of the ISS - one whereby all NASA operated and funded entities work together.

Keith's update: This announcement is now linked on the ISS National Laboratory page and the ISS Technology Demonstrtions page. However, CASIS still ignores it.

Denney Keys

Denney J. Keys, NASA engineer, Washington Post

"Denney J. Keys, 54, who had been a senior technical fellow for power systems engineering at NASA, died of cancer Dec. 30 at his home in Mitchellville."

Denney J. Keys (guestbook)

Denney J. Keys, NASA Technical Fellow, NASA

"Mr. Keys joined NASA in 1990 as lead Power System Manager for the Space Station Freedom Program Office and was responsible for overseeing the Agency space station electrical power system development effort."

Keith's note: I was just out walking, listening to NPR's "Science Friday" when noted data visualist (and CAIB Powerpoint analyst) Edward Tufte was on. During a short break the announcer mentioned that Science Friday was "sponsored in part by CASIS" followed by a short description and their web address. A week or two ago I noticed that CASIS took out a full page adverstisement in Science magazine. CASIS may still be dragging its feet in many areas, but at least someone at CASIS is putting some thought into catching the attention of scientists - and people interested in science - in the places that those people are likely to be found.

How to Solve Protein Structures with an X-ray Laser, Science (subscription required)

"For over a decade, biologists have asked whether x-ray lasers can be used to determine the structures of biomolecules such as proteins. Such methods have the potential to allow structure determination from micro- or even nanoscale crystals, but radiation damage can be extensive and data interpretation is fraught with difficulty. On page 227 of this issue, Redecke et al. (1) overcome these problems to determine the room-temperature structure of a protein of importance to drug discovery."

Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF), NASA

"The three-dimensional structure of protein crystals is studied to determine how structure affects the function of individual proteins. Scientists want to understand how proteins work, how to build them from scratch, or how to improve them. To conduct this type of study, scientists must first generate crystals that are large enough and uniform enough to provide useful structural information upon analysis. Protein crystals grown in microgravity -- the near weightlessness experienced on a spacecraft in orbit -- are often significantly larger and of better quality than those grown on Earth."

Keith's note: Once again, yet another research team has demonstrated that structural information for biomolecules can be obtained from vanishingly small biological samples using a 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. If NASA hadn't dragged its feet for the past several decades perhaps the agency could have made more progress before Earth-based research caught up and passed them by. You can be certain that CASIS won't be linking to this research.

This doesn't mean that the ISS has no value as a research platform - quite the opposite. What NASA needs to do, however, is get off its collective butt and adopt a research cycle for ISS research - from start to finish - that is commensurate with what happens back on Earth. Otherwise more of the "discoveries" made up there will arrive back on Earth after they have been done 'faster, better, and cheaper' back on Earth.

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

Houston, We Have Another Problem: Study Shows that Space Travel is Harmful to the Brain

"The possibility that radiation exposure in space may give rise to health problems such as cancer has long been recognized. However, this study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease."

Galactic Cosmic Radiation Leads to Cognitive Impairment and Increased AB Plaque Accumulation in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease, PLoS (original research paper)

Keith's note: I can't seem to find any mention of this NASA-funded research at Given the animal rights controversy that surrounded these experiments, and the results of this specific research project (with clear relevance to missions to asteroids, Mars, etc.), you'd think that NASA would want taxpayers, stakeholders, and the media, to know about these findings. Guess not.

NASA produces a regular listing of publications (NASA Spaceline Current Awareness) on the space life science research it funds. However, NASA is unable to find a way to publish it online. As a result no one really gets to see what the agency does - unless they visit SpaceRef, that is. We have a complete archive online stretching back to 1999.

Keith's update: This PLoS research paper made the rounds of various news outlets - all of them asking the question: Does space travel cause/aggravate Alzheimer's? Given than many of us have had our families directly affected by this disease, stories that mention it tend to get our attention. NASA's public response? Nothing. Yet, its not as if they are not concerned about radiation health (they funded this research after all). This was a perfect opportunity for the agency to show how its research not only serves space exploration needs but also has a relevance to issues facing the public.

By coincidence, this solicitation "Development of the Expandable Coil Concept" was issued today by NASA JSC and shows one way that this issue is being addressed in terms of spacecraft design. Yet another golden opportunity for NASA to link up its research and inform the public. Again, nothing but silence. If NASA does care enough to tell people what they are doing, then how can the agency expect people to care enough to be interested?

NASA JSC Solicitation: Development of the Expandable Coil Concept, NASA JSC

"NASA/JSC has a requirement to continue the study of active radiation shielding for crew protection, a key challenge with human exploration of space."

Radiation Protection and Architecture Utilizing High Temperature Superconducting Magnets, NASA

NASA seeking to lease or sell space-shuttle facilities, Orlando Sentinel

"The process is mostly secret, because NASA has agreed to let bidders declare their proposals proprietary, keeping them out of the view of competitors and the public. NASA has at various times published official notices seeking proposals and spelled out that the proposals should be space-related, though the agency will consider alternative uses under certain circumstances. But information about who wants to do what may not come until agency officials actually select finalists for negotiations."

Keith's note: Odd how NASA hasn't bothered to issue any overt procurement notices on this. Why can't they list what is for sale on their website so everyone can see?

Senate Passes H.R.6586 -- Space Exploration Sustainability Act

"Section 203 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (42 U.S.C. 18313) is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(c) Sense of Congress Regarding Human Space Flight Capability Assurance- It is the sense of Congress that the Administrator shall proceed with the utilization of the ISS, technology development, and follow-on transportation systems (including the Space Launch System, multi-purpose crew vehicle, and commercial crew and cargo transportation capabilities) under titles III and IV of this Act in a manner that ensures-- ..."

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation Applauds the Passage of a Government Risk-Sharing Regime Extension for the Space Launch Industry

"The Senate action on Monday and House action today extends a liability risk-sharing regime created by Congress that requires commercial launch companies to purchase insurance for any reasonable risk of damage to third parties, and provides an expedited appropriations backstop above that amount and below a statutory limit."

Congress Approves Bill Supporting Human Space Exploration, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"NASA now relies on commercial providers to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station," said Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX). "The future of the U.S. space program and commercial spaceflight industry relies on a predictable environment. Provisions in this bill provide a solid framework for the U.S. space enterprise to succeed in the future and continue to be the world's leader in space."



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the ISS News category from January 2013.

ISS News: December 2012 is the previous archive.

ISS News: February 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.