ISS News: February 2016 Archives

Keith's Update: Nearly 3 days after I originally submitted my Gorilla suit request to NASA PAO (long after foreign publications had already gotten answers from NASA PAO on this topic) I finally got my response back from NASA. What is hilarious is that NASA says officially that it has no idea what the suit is made out of (or how much it weighs or what volume it uses) but states that it meets all safety requirements. How does one say that a safety certification has been made unless you know what the suit is made out of? In addition, no one at JSC approved it for shipping. It just got stuck in there.

I am all for the health and well being of the crew, but when NASA drags its feet on such a simple set of questions and then issues replies that are inherently contradictory, you have to wonder if there actually is a "process" in place or if they just make this all up as they go. As for the cost: well, it costs money to send things up, and even if there is an allocation for these things, it still costs the same amount to ship a pound of science as it does to ship a pound of gorilla suit. Just sayin'

Here is the official NASA response (below) from Brandi Dean at NASA JSC, verbatim:

Keith's 4:38 pm Update: Well, if nothing else, PeTA finally got a protester inside the International Space Station. As readers of NASA Watch know, I am all for making the ISS relevant to the public in new ways and for making childish jokes at NASA's expense whenever possible. But given the immense cost of the ISS, its untapped potential for research, and complaints from potential users that there is not enough upmass or crew time, I have to wonder why NASA goes out of its way to highlight such stuff - especially when people like Sen. Grassley already criticize some of the real science done on ISS.

I did not hear back from NASA PAO on my initial request so I sent the following questions to NASA PAO. Someone will tell me to go file a FOIA request and then NASA will try to weasel out of answering that request. But if they can spend money flying a gorilla suit into outer space then they can waste some more time explaining why they did it. The answer may well be simple and routine but NASA will make the process as complicated as they possibly can.

- Can you tell me what the Gorilla suit is made out of i.e. what kind of material(s)?
- Is this Gorilla suit COTS (where was it purchased?) or was it specially made? How much did it cost?
- Was the Gorilla suit subjected to standard outgassing, flammability, microbial, and particulate standards? Did it meet those requirements or was a waiver granted?
- How much does the Gorilla suit weigh and how much volume did it use inside the cargo vehicle that carried it up?
- Is the suit considered "crew preference", "crew clothing", or "education and outreach"?
- Will the Gorilla suit remain on the ISS after Kelly leaves? If so where will it be stored?
- Did the shipping of the Gorilla suit to orbit bump anything off the manifest - if so, what was bumped?
- Was this manifested by JSC or CASIS?
- Who approved of the shipping of the gorilla suit to the ISS? Was NASA HQ involved in the decision making process?

Keith's 6:23 pm update: ULA says that it charges something around $100 million for an Atlas V launch. ULA also says that it charges $164 million for a Atlas V launch. Lets go with the lower number. The most recent Cygnus OA-4 carried 7,745 pounds of cargo. Lets not even bother to include what it cost to build the Cygnus. Assuming a $100 million launch cost simple math shows a per pound cost of $12,911. If you use the higher number its $21,174 per pound. This gorilla suit weighs 4.3 pounds. Lets assume that the gorilla suit in space is a generic gorilla suit. That means that NASA probably spent between $55,517 and $91,052 to ship a gorilla suit to the ISS that will probably only be worn once - and only for an hour or two. In other words it will probably end up as trash at some point and be thrown away. Then, of course, there was the personnel cost to certify that it could fly safely, pack it, etc. etc. So the real cost goes up a lot - certainly close to $100,000. Scott Kelly has already completed more than 99% of his mission. He could have waited another week to wear the gorilla suit and saved NASA a lot of money. Just sayin'

Keith's 24 Feb 2016 8:07 pm update: Still nothing from NASA.

Keith's 25 Feb 2016 4:04 pm update: Still nothing from NASA.

Silent Running on the International Space Station (with pictures and video)

Keith's note: I was looking at Scott Kelly's Flickr page today and was immediately struck by several photos that were hauntingly familiar. More flower pictures. I am a biologist and spent a lot of time studying (and teaching about) plants in college and grad school so I like to look at things like this. In particular the close-up, high resolution pictures of his zinnias really caught my attention. Then I realized why this looked so familiar. "Silent Running" - a cult classic film released in 1972. I first saw the when I was at the impressionable age of 16 and it has been stuck in my head ever since. Decades later it inspired me to build a spacecraft-inspired green house on a remote arctic island. Look at these two pictures - and then watch the opening of the film. Scott Kelly was most channeling his inner Freeman Lowell.

Trends in ISS Anomalies

International Space Station (ISS) Anomalies Trending Study, NTRS

"The NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) set out to utilize data mining and trending techniques to review the anomaly history of the International Space Station (ISS) and provide tools for discipline experts not involved with the ISS Program to search anomaly data to aid in identification of areas that may warrant further investigation. Additionally, the assessment team aimed to develop an approach and skillset for integrating data sets, with the intent of providing an enriched data set for discipline experts to investigate that is easier to navigate, particularly in light of ISS aging and the plan to extend its life into the late 2020s. This report contains the outcome of the NESC Assessment."

Source Selection Statement for the ISS Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) Contract, NASA (PDF)

SpaceX: 992/1000
Orbital ATK: 880/1000
Sierra Nevada: 879/1000

Buzz Aldrin: The next giant leap for space exploration, Washington Post

"Thus, taking our trajectory deeper into space is about more than just the United States. We must explore our solar system with the entire community of current and future space-faring nations. To this point, China should be a part of a global space outreach, as should the 16 nations that currently participate in the International Space Station. We should also look to include the emerging space-faring countries, such as India, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. Nothing will do more to promote international understanding, particularly when it comes to developing norms of behavior in space."



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This page is an archive of entries in the ISS News category from February 2016.

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