"Close to 01:00 CET on Monday 11 November, ESA's GOCE satellite reentered Earth's atmosphere on a descending orbit pass that extended across Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica. As expected, the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported."
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"Close to 01:00 CET on Monday 11 November, ESA's GOCE satellite reentered Earth's atmosphere on a descending orbit pass that extended across Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica. As expected, the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported."
"Sierra Nevada is perhaps the underdog in the competition to win the NASA contract to haul astronauts to the international space station."
Keith's note: You just toss this out there, Joel Achenbach, and never provide a source or data to substantiate your statement. Why is SNC the "underdog"? Boeing has yet to fly their CST-100 in space. Why aren't they "underdogs" too? There's a pattern to your reporting.
Keith's note: Bernard Edwards, A NASA employee, is making a presentation "Overview of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Project" during the work day on a telecon co-sponsored by NASA - yet the agency won't publish the invitation online such that taxpayers can participate. But if you go to this webpage it states "Note: This is NOT a public telecon. You may share this link only with qualified participants." This is the link that can only be shared with "qualified" participants. Taxpayers are paying for this presentation, as such all taxpayers are quailfied, right? Are you "qualified"? Of course you are.
Here is how to dial into this stealth NASA telecon (but only if you are "qualified" !): Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Telecon Presentations Co Chairs: Harley Thronson Harley.A.Thronson@nasa.gov & Dan Lester email@example.com Wednesdays, 3pm EDT Dial in: 877 921 5751 Passcode: 623679
Oh yes, they still tell people to go to this website http://futureinspaceoperations.com/ which still features the article "Skin Lightening Options For Those On A Budget".
- NASA FISO Telecon Organizers Are Confused, earlier post
- Stealth Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Telecons, earlier post
"During the Government shutdown, the proposal due dates for three ROSES programs were set to TBD in order for Government proposers to have time to prepare their submissions. Now that the Government has resumed work, new due dates have been set for these programs. In addition, new proposal due dates have been set for two programs with original due dates in the near future. Updated due dates are as follows:"
"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has set a new due date for proposals submitted to the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNH13ZTT002N, entitled "Research Opportunities in Fundamental Physics."
"The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) Cycle 7 Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) provides an opportunity for the submission of team-based proposals for membership in the NAI. The goal of CAN Cycle 7 is to maintain a multidisciplinary institute by selecting focused, interdisciplinary teams that complement without replicating the strengths of the continuing teams. The teams selected in Cycle 7 will replace the teams selected in Cycle 5, whose five-year Cooperative Agreements are expiring."
Lost in space -- and on Earth, David Ignatius, Washington post
"The world of 2013 is different: We don't even attempt manned space programs anymore. They are too expensive, and what's the point? Thank goodness for the plucky little Voyager I probe, which has just left the solar system, 36 years after it was launched, carrying sounds of Earth, including a baby crying, a whale's song and Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."
Keith's note: Nothing is more annoying than uninformed and pontificating op eds by know-it-alls prominently displayed on the editorial pages of a large national newspaper such as the Washington Post. This quote by David Ignatius really makes that point: "The world of 2013 is different: We don't even attempt manned space programs anymore. They are too expensive, and what's the point?"
It would seem that Ignatius is unaware of the fact that the International Space Station, built and maintained mostly with American funds, is in orbit - with 2 Americans on board - and that there are plans to extend its lifetime well into next decade. Nor is Ignatius apparently aware of the multiple commercial firms, spurred on by heavy NASA Investments, who are looking to provide new and less expensive ways to put more Americans into orbit.
Ignatius is also clearly oblivious to America's Orion program that is building a human-rated spacecraft that will be test launched next year or the plans already being formulated for Americans to travel to - and capture an asteroid and bring it back to near-Earth space. Of course there's also Dennis Tito's plan to send a human crew to Mars and back and Virgin Galactic, XCOR, and Blue Origin who seek to send an exponentially larger number of people into space for a similarly cheaper cost. Ignatius is oddly silent about these efforts as well.
If anything, people - from both government and the private sector - are more interested in going into space than at any time in the past. Not only is their space agency putting its money where citizens want it to be, but citizens are putting additional money down in terms of spaceflight deposits and propelling "Gravity" to the top of the box office for yet another week.
Doesn't the Washington Post have a research staff to fact check these op eds before they are published? Obviously not.
Keith's note: I just got a press release from the Alaska Aerospace Corportation (as did 53 others) with this legal disclaimer on it:
"The U.S. Export Control Laws regulate the export and re-export of technology originating in the United States. This includes the electronic transmission of information and software to foreign countries and to certain foreign nationals. Recipient agrees to abide by these laws and their regulations -- including the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations and the U.S. Department of State International Traffic in Arms Regulations -- and not to transfer, by electronic transmission or otherwise, any content derived from this email to either a foreign national or a foreign destination in violation of such laws."
Since no one has told me what might be ITAR sensitive in this email - or the citizenship/nationality of everyone who might read anything I might write/post, I guess that I cannot "transfer, by electronic transmission or otherwise, any content derived from this email to either a foreign national or a foreign destination in violation of such laws." Why do people put wording like this on press releases contained in emails which are, by their very nature, supposed to spur the republishing of their content as widely as possible by the news media? Goofy.
"However, while the Agency's procedures meet Federal requirements, its implementing directive does not require Agency personnel with classification authority to receive all necessary training. Additionally, we found instances in which Agency personnel were not consistently following these NASA policies. Specifically, we found classified documents that were improperly marked,training requirements that were not met, and self-inspections that were not fully implemented. Although these deficiencies were relatively minor in nature, failure to comply with these requirements increases the risk that personnel may inadvertently misclassify material."
"NASA is the ninth largest Federal Government property holder, controlling approximately 4,900 buildings and structures with an estimated replacement value of more than $30 billion. More than 80 percent of the Agency's facilities are 40 or more years old and beyond their design life. However, NASA has not been able to fully fund required maintenance for its facilities and in 2012 estimated its deferred maintenance costs at $2.3 billion. Moreover, a 2012 Agency study estimated that NASA may have as many as 865 unneeded facilities with associated annual maintenance costs of more than $24 million."
NASA Desperately Needs Road Map to Manage Aging Assets, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
"According to NASA's own study, the agency has a backlog of nearly $2.2 billion in deferred maintenance. NASA is the ninth largest real property holder in the federal government. However, nearly 80 percent of the agency's facilities are 40 or more years old."
Keith's note: Summary: NASA does not admit that there are any problems and wants you to think all is well. NASA does not really do anything to address the issues raised by everyone else, but they sure do a lot of studies.
"Individuals with a security clearance have agreed to certain restrictions regarding classified information. Accessing classified information on Wikileaks, even from home, constitutes a security violation. Viewing classified information from a computer that isn't authorized to access classified information, and/or viewing classified information that he or she is not authorized access to, is a security violation. And, use of official Government computers for other than authorized purposes is prohibited by federal ethics laws."
"The news from Earth that morning wasn't good. Frank Culbertson would soon find that some of the day's pre-planned routine would be altered. As soon as he was told of the attacks, Culbertson checked to see when they would be passing over the east coast of the U.S. Discovering that this was only some minutes away, Culbertson grabbed a camera. The window in Mikhail Tyurin's cabin turned out to be the one with the best view."
Keith's note: A farewell reception was held at NASA Headquarters on Thursday for NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. In addition to the long list of thank yous to staff and friends, Garver had some parting observations and recollections to share.
Garver said that she had three personal objectives while at NASA: "to try and align NASA with national objectives; to provide value to taxpayers; and to try and be a consistent leader."
Responding to criticism she said that people had characterized her as just pushing change for the sake of change, being the "commercial crew girl" or "asteroid girl". She chalked this off as being the outcome of having worked to advance her overall goals.
As for her relationship with Charlie Bolden she said they they had "the best relationship team of any NASA Administrator and Deputy in my history and I've seen a lot of them", that she "learned so much from Bolden".
Garver reflected back to her efforts before being nominated to be Deputy Administrator - specifically leading the Obama transition team in 2008 following the election. She noted that she and her team had a "rocky start" and that she was "the only member of the entire transition team that had to deal with an agency head (Mike Griffin) who was openly hostile to the team and who had instructed his folks not to share information with us." Garver noted that Griffin "had a campaign headed by his wife that sought to try to keep him in his position." She joked that this whole drama ended up giving her more visibility within the senior leadership of the transition team than might otherwise have been the case.
Garver closed with a top ten list of things she had learned as NASA's Deputy Administrator:
Much at Stake for Proton, Antares as September 15 Nears, Space Policy Online
"Purely by coincidence, if all goes according to plan September 15 will be a big day for a venerable Russian rocket recovering from a recent spectacular failure as well as a new U.S. rocket that is powered by Russian engines. A lot is at stake for both.
... A successful Proton launch could help restore confidence in the Russian space launch industry. A failure would add to the gloom and potentially drive commercial customers to competitors like Ariane, Sea Launch, and SpaceX.
Quite separately, the U.S. company Orbital Sciences Corporation is targeting September 15 for the first launch of its new Antares rocket to the International Space Station (ISS). Antares will launch Orbital's Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS as part of NASA's commercial cargo program."
ISRO Scrubs GSLV-D5 Launch Due to Leak, SpaceRef Business
"India's attempt at launching the GSLV-D5 rocket today with the GSAT-14 satellite was postponed due to a leak found in the second stage. The mission is a critical one for India as it is their second attempt at launching a rocket with an indigenous cryogenic engine. The first attempt failed."
"This comic spoofs the way that astronomical events are often reported in the mass media -- events are often tagged with undeserved superlatives or described as being more dramatic than they actually are. In some cases, outright misinformation is spread. This phenomenon occurs in part the result of over-eager scientists, and in part because of journalists misunderstanding the subject."
Air Force X-37B support might be included in KSC renovation, Florida Today
"Space Florida on Wednesday advanced plans to renovate two former shuttle hangars that might eventually house a secretive military space plane program.
The agency's board approved spending up to $4 million more to overhaul Orbiter Processing Facilities 1 and 2 at Kennedy Space Center, on top of $5 million committed last year from funds provided by the state Department of Transportation.
As before, the future tenant was not identified, but is believed to be the Air Force's X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a reusable unmanned system that resembles a small space shuttle. Previously, the Air Force has confirmed it is studying consolidation of X-37B operations at Kennedy or the Cape to save money."
"In some ways, NASA's tentacular publicity efforts are unique to the NASA -- and to the world -- of 2013. All the truisms that the Internet has brought to the worlds of advertising and publicity -- direct user engagement! authenticity! -- have found their way, inevitably, to the space agency. NASA's contract with Life ended in 1970, 11 years after it had begun. It lives on, though, in some sense, in every story we tell ourselves about space and humans' place in it. It lives on in every tweet and Tumblr post and Facebook update and email blast, in every attempt to capture and then maintain our attention and our love. It lives on in the fact that, when we talk, still, with wonder about humans' success in putting a man on the moon, we're less inspired by the moon itself, and much more inspired by the man."
"It turns out that Doom co-creator John Carmack is more than just a virtual reality fanatic -- he's joining the company that's leading the most recent VR revolution, today announcing that he's taking the reins as Chief Technology Officer at Oculus Rift. In an email from the folks at Oculus, Carmack was confirmed to be out at the company he helped found -- id Software -- and joining Oculus full-time as CTO. He will apparently still serve some role at id, as id's parent company told Engadget, "The technical leadership he provides for games in development at id Software is unaffected." We've asked both Oculus and id's parent company for clarification."
Marc's note: Carmack tweeted this: "My time division is now Oculus over Id over Armadillo. Busy busy busy!" indicating exactly where his priorities are. Unfortunately with his new gig as CTO of Oculus Rift it would appear Armadillo Aerospace is truly out of business until such a time as some funding comes it way.
Shelton Orders Shutdown of Space Fence, Space News
"The U.S. Air Force is shutting down a key part of its space surveillance network for tracking orbital debris, possibly as soon as Oct. 1, according to an Aug. 1 memo obtained by SpaceNews.
Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, "has directed that the Air Force Space Surveillance System be closed and all sites vacated" effective Oct. 1, the memo said. "This is your notice to begin preparing the site for closure."
Marc's note: Just as this project was about to go full-scale it's getting shutdown in a cost cutting move.
"President Obama's plan to have NASA lasso an asteroid, tow it toward Earth, place it into the moon's orbit, and claim the space rock for the United States of America has hit a congressional snag. The New York Times reports:...
...In a way, the Times got scooped on this story. By the Onion. More than two years ago:..."
Marc's note: What to say ...
"NASA is defending its Space Launch System against a new analysis arguing that SLS is too expensive to fly and is "draining away the lifeblood - funding - of the space program."
"I understand the premise of the article," NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Dan Dumbacher told al.com and The Huntsville Times in a July 23 interview, "but I think we need to realize there's a broader set of trades that really form up the decision process."
Dumbacher referred to "Revisting SLS/Orion launch costs" by John Strickland published July 15 on the website The Space Review. Strickland is a member of the board of directors of the National Space Society, but wrote the article independently."
Update: The Congressional debate over NASA's asteroid capture mission ignores the ageny's real spaceflight problem, Houston Chronicle
"Being the subject of congressional infighting, of course, does NASA no good. But this battle is a distraction from NASA's real problem, which neither Democrats nor Republicans are willing to acknowledge. Namely, the space agency is being tasked with building a huge and powerful rocket it will not be able to afford to fly."
"The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite acquired this image of Tropical Storm Flossie at 1:10 p.m. local time (23:10 Universal Time) on July 28, 2013. The storm was moving westward across the Pacific Ocean, headed for the Hawaiian Islands. It is expected to be the first tropical storm to make landfall on the islands in nearly 20 years."
"What can survive blazing temperatures of almost 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit without melting? What did not break apart at extreme pressures? What is made by a new process that forms a complex part in just one piece? What takes less than three weeks to go from manufacturing to testing? What can reduce the costs of expensive rocket parts by 60 percent or more?
Answer: 3-D printed parts
Engineers know that 3-D printed rocket parts have the potential to save NASA and industry money and to open up new affordable design possibilities for rockets and spacecraft. But until recently, no one had tested rocket parts critical to engine combustion in a hot-fire environment."
Marc's note: I believe SpaceX has already tested 3D printed parts in a hot-fire. Nonetheless, the premise of saving money by using 3D printed parts is the focus of the story and is a cost-saving measure that will reduce the cost of flight.
Dramatic Changes to Google Lunar X Prize Cash Prizes Under Consideration, SpaceRef Business
"The plans laid out in this draft document embody a radical departure from the current approach to awarding prizes i.e. one winner, one big prize with several smaller runner-up prizes. Now, multiple teams will be able to get even smaller cash prizes for efforts already completed or near completion - but far short of actually sending a mission to land on the Moon.
If approved, this approach would help inject some much needed cash into the coffers of several competitors. No word yet on whether this plan will be formally adopted or when it will be adopted but a quick turn around time for comments suggests that there is an interest in getting these new rules in place soon."
Keith's note: This document has been widely circulated among several hundred people inside and outside of the Google Lunar X Prize community for several weeks. No markings were placed on this document to note that it is either confidential or proprietary. Indeed, the cover memo encouraged its wider distribution for review and comment.
Marc's note: Changes to the Google Lunar X Prize have been rumored for some time. It should be noted that the competition deadline of end of 2015 has not changed. The changes should they go forward will energize a competition which seemingly had stalled. While some teams have had some success in raising funds, none to my knowledge, had raised enough to actually launch and successfully land on the money.
"NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact.
The selected proposals include a wide range of imaginative concepts, including 3-D printing of biomaterials, such as arrays of cells; using galactic rays to map the insides of asteroids; and an "eternal flight" platform that could hover in Earth's atmosphere, potentially providing better imaging, Wi-Fi, power generation, and other applications."
"NASA May Have Augmented its Appropriations at the 2011 IT Summit. Donations of goods and services by outside entities can lead to an augmentation of an agency's appropriations and a violation of the Antideficiency Act unless they are authorized under a gift acceptance statute or other statutory authority. ... The 2011 IT Summit steering committee members did not consult with the OGC or OCFO about NIA's contributions to the Summit and therefore did not follow NASA policy regarding the acceptance of gifts from outside entities. We believe this occurred because the steering committee members viewed the awards luncheon and other meals and receptions NIA paid for as NIA events rather than NASA events and therefore did not interpret NASA policy to require consultation under such circumstances. In January 2013, NASA clarified its policy to make clear that the consultation requirement applies to "complimentary activities" like the NIA-sponsored events.
... Reported Conference Costs Were Underreported. NASA estimated the 2011 IT Summit would cost $1,176,307, and reported actual costs of $1,291,889, a difference of approximately $116,000. We found that NASA did not include in the estimated cost figure $548,209 incurred by contractors who attended the event and billed NASA for their attendance and travel costs or an additional $128,439 in miscellaneous expenses."
In this video "NASA CIO Linda Cureton's NASA IT Summit Reception speech is attacked by a flash mob". Here is Another view. Then there was the Smashcast at 2011 NASA IT Summit. Too bad they could not get the actors who did the Star Trek thing for that IRS conference.
"I welcome this review as part of NASA's culture of continuous improvement and our commitment to transparency and good stewardship of taxpayer money. In fact, as noted in the report, we began taking steps to improve our conference policies and procedures several years ago and have significantly enhanced our conference oversight review processes. It is also important to note that we further strengthened those processes in the two years since the conferences described in the IG's report."
Keith's Note: Truth be known Bolden et al have been very familiar with this ongoing OIG activity and these cost excesses and procedural abuses for years and have been dreading the inevitable release of this report. NASA HQ knew damn well that this CIO event was out of control even as it was being planned and they chose to just look the other way. Earlier NASA efforts with regard to travel and meetings are, of course, mere window dressing under the guise of sequestration issues, and were applied often without much thought given to logic or actually controlling costs. Mr. Bolden is not interested in fixing anything. Rather, he just wants to stay out of the news - and when NASA gets in the news for doing bad things, he wants NASA to exit the news as fast as possible.
"Through the UK Space Agency, the Government is set to invest £60 million ($90.5) in the development of the SABRE - a British-designed rocket engine which could revolutionize the fields of propulsion and launcher technology, and significantly reduce the costs of accessing space.
SABRE has the potential to create 21,000 high value engineering and manufacturing jobs; maximise the UK's access to a conservatively estimated £13.8 billion ($20.8) launcher market over the next thirty years; and provide economic benefits from spill-over technology markets.
Built by UK company Reaction Engines (REL), the unique engine is designed to extract the oxygen it needs for low atmosphere flight from the air itself, paving the way for a new generation of spaceplanes which would be lighter, reusable and able to take off and launch from conventional airport runways."
"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) appears to be the only company that put in a proposal to NASA to take over one of the space shuttle's mothballed launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
NASA declined to comment on how many bids it received in response to a solicitation that closed on July 5, but a survey of U.S. launch companies by SpaceNews shows only SpaceX saying it put in a proposal to take over Launch Complex 39A."
UPDATE: Blue Origin Bids for Shuttle Launch Pad, Space News
"At least one other company is competing against Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to take over a decommissioned space shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) here.
Privately owned Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, also responded to a NASA solicitation for proposals for Launch Pad 39A, company president Rob Meyerson told SpaceNews July 16."
Asteroid retrieval is costly and uninspiring, Lamar Smith Op-ed, The Hill
"The proposed asteroid retrieval mission would contribute very little to planetary defense efforts. The size of the target asteroid for this mission is only 7-10 meters in diameter, too small to cause any damage to Earth. Any insight gained by such a mission would have little relevance to protecting against larger "city-killer" asteroids. Congress directed NASA in 2005 to identify and track 90 percent of asteroids larger than 140 meters by 2020. Asteroids of this size are ones that could cause significant damage, and NASA still has work to do to accomplish this goal. Asteroids that are 7-10 meters simply disintegrate in our atmosphere."
Russian Meteor's Origin and Size Pinned Down, Space.com
"The asteroid was about 17 meters in diameter and weighed approximately 10,000 metric tons," Peter Brown, a physics professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, said in a statement. "It struck Earth's atmosphere at 40,000 mph and broke apart about 12 to 15 miles above Earth's surface. The energy of the resulting explosion exceeded 470 kilotons of TNT." That's 30 to 40 times more powerful than the atomic bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II. The Russian fireball likely produced the most powerful such space rock blast since a 130-foot (40 m) object exploded over Siberia in 1908, flattening 825 square miles (2,137 square km) of forest.
But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?" -- John F. Kennedy
"Fifty-one years ago, a young president asked a question that cut to the heart of the American explorer spirit. For me, NASA's vision statement says it all. Why do we choose to go? To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.
NASA astronauts, from the original Mercury 7 to our newest class of eight -- 4 men and 4 women -- have embodied that vision. They have been on the front lines of service to humanity in myriad ways and have lived lives of exploration and adventure.
It is hard to imagine anything more beneficial to humankind than protecting our planet from a dangerous asteroid that could strike Earth with devastating force, something we don't currently have the ability to do. In addition to developing technologies that will aid in our planning for the first human journey to Mars, an asteroid mission will help us learn more about how to prevent an impact from one of these mysterious objects."
"Personnel: Our number one priority at ILS is safety, and we are pleased to report that all personnel associated with the Astra 2E campaign were a safe distance away at the ILS safety area, and are all safe. Additionally, we have been told that there were no injuries or casualties to Russian or Kazakh personnel.
Launch Pad facilities: The impact area was a far enough distance from LP24 and LP39 and we understand that neither launch pads were damaged.
Russian Launch Investigation: ...There are many rumors and much speculation on the internet and through other sources, and you may have your own thoughts and questions as well. The Russian State Commission will complete their work and release their findings in due time."
Previous: Russian Proton-M Launch Failure
"On behalf of our nation's universities, small and large businesses in the aerospace industry, and those of us in the space-science research community, we write in support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Technology account for FY 2014. Space Technology creates critical capabilities required for NASA's future science and exploration missions, enables a vibrant and competitive U.S. space industry, and forges technology-based partnerships across government agencies. To remain the leader in space exploration, space science and space commerce, we are convinced that NASA must invest in new technologies and capabilities. As such, we urge the Congress to provide $740 million for the Space Technology account."
Russia's Proton Crashes with a Trio of Navigation Satellites, Russian Space Web
"A Proton-M with a Block DM-03 upper stage lifted off as scheduled from Pad No. 24 at Site 81 in Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 2, 2013, at 06:38:22 Moscow Time (on July 1, 10:38 p.m. EDT).
The rocket started veering off course right after leaving the pad, deviating from the vertical path in various directions and then plunged to the ground seconds later nose first. The payload section and the upper stage were sheered off the vehicle moments before it impacted the ground and exploded. The flight lasted no more than 30 seconds."
New spectacular video:
John Kelly: Private launchers fear new US rules, Florida Today
"Case in point: The U.S. State Department is proposing new rules that would add private manned spacecraft to a Department of Defense list of "munitions" technology that some in the industry fear would all but prevent any use of those vehicles on foreign soil.
... The rule is getting a cold reception from private space startups such as XCOR, a space tourism company that just this week said it plans to start suborbital test flights from Kennedy Space Center by 2015. "
Marc's note: July 8th is the last day for public comment on the proposed new rules. If the proposed rule change is enacted there's no doubt in my mind it will have a negative effect on the industry. As Kelly states; "While there are likely valid concerns about protecting technology from falling into the wrong hands, overdoing it could also hurt the space industry's long-term future."
"Of the three space-flown orbiters distributed by NASA to science centers and museums throughout the country, only Atlantis is the focal point of a $100 million, 90,000-square-foot attraction containing four multimedia and cinematic productions and more than 60 interactive experiences that invite guests to "be the astronaut" and to celebrate the people, passion and patriotism behind the shuttle program."
"The Chinese Shenzhou-10 landed safely in Inner Mongolia at 8:08 p.m. ET (8:08 a.m. Beijing time) returning the three astronauts to Earth after a 15 day mission. The astronauts were reported to be in good shape and feeling well. Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping performed experiments and did two docking tests with the orbiting Chinese space lab module Tiangong-1, one automatic and the other manual."
"This image shows the Heliophysics System Observatory (HSO). The HSO utilizes the entire fleet of solar, heliospheric, geospace, and planetary spacecraft as a distributed observatory to discover the larger scale and/or coupled processes at work throughout the complex system that makes up our space environment."
Marc's note: This image was released as part of the IRIS science briefing today. All the briefing material can be accessed here.
Launch Update: Due to a power outage at the 30th Space Wing the IRIS mission is delayed 24 hours to 7:27 p.m. PDT Thursday, June 27. (Corrected)
UPDATE: IRIS Mission and Science Briefings [Watch]
Matt Reed: One is a boondoggle, the other ..., Florida Today
"A mars mission remains unfunded and biologically impossible for people. And as Dean pointed out, the Space Launch System rocket will carry an Orion capsule that can't land anywhere."
Marc's note: Context. Read the above statement and what do you think? Now put it in context with the rest of the editorial. Matt Reed is "Florida Today's editorial page editor and politically independent columnist."
The article starts with a rant on Senator Rubio's immigration reform which he says funding could be better used on the Space Coast. He then picks on an article he wrote last week supporting NASA's asteroid mission and it he seems to just casually throw out the statement above as if it was just a fact and hey that's one reason we need to do the asteroid mission. For the casual Florida Today reader with little or no knowledge they might take this "fact" at face value. It's one thing to make a point, it's another to throw out an inaccurate statement and try to pass it as fact. Florida Today should know better.
"More than 10,000 asteroids and comets that can pass near Earth have now been discovered. The 10,000th near-Earth object, asteroid 2013 MZ5, was first detected on the night of June 18, 2013, by the Pan-STARRS-1 telescope, located on the 10,000-foot (convert) summit of the Haleakala crater on Maui. Managed by the University of Hawaii, the PanSTARRS survey receives NASA funding."
"Outside the International Space Station, Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin conducted a 6 hour, 34 minute spacewalk in Russian Orlan suits outside the Pirs Docking Compartment June 24."
"Orbital Sciences Corp., which wants to buy Russian-made RD-180 engines for its medium-lift Antares rocket, is suing rocket maker United Launch Alliance (ULA) for blocking any such sale, according to court papers dated June 20.
Orbital of Dulles, Va., claims Denver-based ULA has not only illegally prevented open-market sale of the RD-180, but also has monopolized the launch-services market for certain satellites in violation of U.S. antitrust laws, according to a complaint filed June 20 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria."
"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, violated federal antitrust laws by "monopolizing" or restraining competition through an exclusivity agreement with the maker of the engines used in its rockets, according to a FTC document obtained by Reuters."
"A supermoon rises behind the Washington Monument, Sunday, June 23, 2013, in Washington.
This year the supermoon is up to 13.5 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon is. This is a result of the Moon reaching its perigee - the closest that it gets to the Earth during the course of its orbit. During perigee on June 23, the moon was about 221,824 miles away, as compared to the 252,581 miles away that it is at its furthest distance from the Earth (apogee). "
"Now, I really perceive that JAXA has graduated from the technological verification phase that has been a goal of JAXA's assignment in the last 10 years, and entered into the next phase as JAXA has successfully performed 19 consecutive launches of H-IIA and H-IIB launch vehicles combined.
That is also backed politically by the government's new "Basic Plan for Space Policy" and also by JAXA's new mid-term plan; therefore, I acknowledge that the technological backbone was confirmed and we can move to the next step."
"ESA's experimental reentry vehicle passed its milestone descent and landing test on Wednesday at the Poligono Interforze Salto di Quirra off the east coast of Sardinia in Italy.
The full-scale Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) prototype was released from an altitude of 3000 m by a helicopter, falling to gain speed to mimic a space mission before parachute deployment. The parachute slowed IXV for a safe splashdown in the sea at a speed below 7 m/s."
"Following the successful launch today, June 20, of a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket, launch teams are now preparing for a two-rocket salvo June 24 from the Wallops Flight Facility, Va.
Live coverage of the launch is available via UStream beginning at 8:30 a.m. on launch day."
Stratolaunch Systems New Design Concept [Watch], SpaceRef Business
"Stratolaunch Systems unveils a new design concept for its space transportation system. With a wingspan of 385 feet, greater than the length of a football field and powered by six 747 engines, a mission range of 1,000 nautical miles and with a gross weight of 1.3 million pounds, the Stratolaunch can deliver 13,500 pounds to low earth orbit and into any orbit, any time."
"NASA Johnson Space Center and Deloitte will enter into a strategic alliance offering advanced risk-management services to oil and gas companies. The Space Act Agreement commencement ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Central, Thursday, June 27.
These capabilities include several operational risk-management approaches aimed at companies seeking to minimize the risk of catastrophic failures - the kinds of dramatic mishaps that, while highly unlikely, can occur in remote and harsh environments."
Marc's note: You would think companies in the Oil and Gas industry would already be well versed in this area but perhaps JSC can provide risk-modeling and simulation tools they don't already have.
"At a meeting in Rome Thursday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Italian Space Agency (ASI) President Enrico Saggese signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on the European Space Agency- (ESA) led BepiColombo mission to Mercury, strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation between NASA and ASI in planetary exploration."
"Engineers developing NASA's next-generation rocket closed one chapter of testing with the completion of a J-2X engine test series on the A-2 test stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and will begin a new chapter of full motion testing on test stand A-1.
... The March 7 test, which set the short-lived duration record, was remarkable for another reason in that it marked the first time a 3-D printed part was hot-fire tested on a NASA engine system.
The prime contractor for the liquid engine, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., built a maintenance port cover for the 10002 engine using an advanced manufacturing process called Selective Laser Melting. This construction method uses lasers to fuse metal dust into a specific pattern to build the needed part."
"A billion-pixel view from the surface of Mars, from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, offers armchair explorers a way to examine one part of the Red Planet in great detail.
The first NASA-produced view from the surface of Mars larger than one billion pixels stitches together nearly 900 exposures taken by cameras onboard Curiosity and shows details of the landscape along the rover's route."
Marc's update: It seems folks at JSC can't access NASA's own the Billion-Pixel View of Mars web page due to an automated program which has deemed the page "non-job related" viewing and is blocking access to. Now there's an algorithm that needs updating.
"NASA is beginning a preliminary design review for its Space Launch System (SLS). This major program assessment will allow development of the agency's new heavy-lift rocket to move from concept to initial design.
The preliminary design review process includes meticulous, detailed analyses of the entire launch vehicle. Representatives from NASA, its contractor partners and experts from across the aerospace industry validate elements of the rocket to ensure they can be safely and successfully integrated.
... We are on track and meeting all the milestones necessary to fly in 2017."
"News media representatives are invited to witness the first research flight on a suborbital rocket funded by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program when UP Aerospace Inc.'s SpaceLoft 7 vehicle lifts off June 21, 2013, at Spaceport America near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Liftoff is scheduled to occur between 6 and 9 a.m. PDT.
NASA has funded the flight for seven space-technology experiments to be flown in a space-relevant environment aboard the UP Aerospace sounding rocket. The sub-orbital flight is expected to provide up to four minutes of weightlessness for testing of the experiments. The flight is expected to last about 15 minutes and reach an altitude of 74 miles, with landing targeted about 320 miles downrange on the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range."
Mars base added to moon plan Politico
"Republicans in Congress are pushing for major cuts across the federal budget, but so far, they're not willing to sacrifice a plan to build a moon colony."
In fact, Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are eyeing an even more ambitious goal: building a base on Mars, too.
"... The [NASA] Administrator shall establish a program to develop a sustained human presence on the Moon and the surface of Mars," states a recent discussion draft obtained by POLITICO."
Marc's note: Wow, what can I say, go for it! Oh hold on, there's no budget for this "go-as-we-can-afford-to-pay" plan. The rhetoric out of Congress is at an all time high and who can take anything they say seriously anymore. I suppose the only way to make them accountable, is to vote them out.
LEO Progress: J-2X to Test Stand A1, NASA Blog (Liquid Rocket Engines)
"Recently, J-2X development engine 10002 was on the road. If you remember, E10002 went through a six-test series on test stand A2 that began in February and finished up in April. The next planned phase of E10002 testing is on test stand A1. In between these series, the engine was back in the assembly area of NASA Stennis Space Center Building 9101.
This respite between test series allowed for a complete series of inspections of the engine hardware. This is vital piece of the learning process for engine development. The basic truth is that a rocket engine is just darn tough on itself when it fires. The reason that we test and test and test is to make sure that our design can stand up to the recurring brutal conditions. The chance to look for the effects of that testing through detailed inspections away from the test stand is an opportunity to collect a great deal of useful information. "
"NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them. The challenge is a large-scale effort that will use multi-disciplinary collaborations and a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia, and citizen scientists. It complements NASA's recently announced mission to redirect an asteroid and send humans to study it."
"NASA also released a request for information (RFI) that invites industry and potential partners to offer ideas on accomplishing NASA's goal to locate, redirect, and explore an asteroid, as well as find and plan for asteroid threats. The RFI is open for 30 days, and responses will be used to help develop public engagement opportunities and a September industry workshop."
Women in Space Part One, Female Firsts in Flight for Space Exploration and Research, NASA Blog - A Lab Aloft (International Space Station Research)
"In today's A Lab Aloft, guest blogger Liz Warren, Ph.D., recalls the inspirational contributions and strides made by women in space exploration and International Space Station research.
This month we celebrate the anniversaries of three "firsts" for female space explorers. On June 16, 1963, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union became the first woman in space. Then on June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became America's first woman in space, followed by Liu Yang as China's first woman in space on June 16, 2012. Though their flight anniversaries are not in June, I would be remiss if I did not mention the first European woman in space: Helen Sharman in 1991; the first Canadian woman: Roberta Bondar in 1992; and the first Japanese woman: Chiaki Mukai in 1994."
Marc's note:Well worth reading.
"The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today released its 2013 State of the Satellite Industry Report, showing a 7% growth in world satellite industry revenues in 2012, up from 5% growth in 2011. Globally, 2012 revenues for the satellite industry totaled $189.5 billion, up from $177.3 billion the previous year.
All four industry sectors grew, led by satellite services, the traditional driver for the industry. Both satellite manufacturing and launch services saw significant revenue increases, and satellite ground equipment revenues also continued to expand."
"After an extensive year-and-a-half search, NASA has a new group of potential astronauts who will help the agency push the boundaries of exploration and travel to new destinations in the solar system, including an asteroid and Mars.
Eight candidates have been selected to be NASA's newest astronaut trainees, hoping to be among those who are the first to launch from U.S. soil on commercial American spacecraft since the retirement of the space shuttle."
- NASA will discuss the selections at 3 p.m. CDT Monday via a Google+ Hangout.
Marc's note: Call me skeptical, but perhaps some of these astronauts will make a fly-by of Mars or to its moons, but to land, I don't see that in the next 20 years with the current political situation. If a private-public attempt was made, say SpaceX teaming up with NASA, then maybe. And while there's ongoing "big picture" work for an international effort, until a decision is made by a President that it will happen and Congress buys into, it's just a dream.
"Unless significant new hazards are found, expect NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to stay on its original course past Pluto and its moons, after mission managers concluded that the danger posed by dust and debris in the Pluto system is less than they once feared."
Subcommittee on Space Hearing - NASA Authorization Act of 2013, House Science Committee
The House Science Committee's space subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for 10:00 a.m. ET next Wednesday, June 19 on the "NASA Authorization Act of 2013." The House version of the bill has not been released yet but should be soon and possibly before the hearing.
The scheduled witnesses are:
- Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University
- Mr. A. Thomas Young, Former Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Corporation
UPDATE: Draft NASA Authorization Bill Nixes Asteroid Retrieval Mission, Space News
"The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has begun drafting a NASA authorization bill that would hold the agency to a top line of about $16.87 billion, bar funding for a planned asteroid rendezvous mission, and divert money for Earth observation into robotic missions to other parts of the solar system, according to an official summary of the bill obtained by SpaceNews.
The bill also would authorize NASA to spend $700 million annually on the Commercial Crew Program -- up from the $500 million Congress authorized in 2010 -- and require the agency to report every 90 days on the effort."
FUTHER UPDATE: NASA Invites Media to Asteroid Initiative Industry and Partner Day (June 18) , NASA
"Northrop Grumman Corporation and teammate ATK have completed manufacturing of the backplane support frame (BSF) for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Northrop Grumman is under contract to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the design and development of the Webb Telescope's optics, sunshield and spacecraft."
"China's Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft successfully completed an automated docking procedure with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module at 1:18 p.m. Thursday, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
The docking procedure was the fifth to take place between Shenzhou-type spacecraft and the space module. Previous dockings include two automated operations by the unmanned Shenzhou-8 in 2011 and both an automated and manual docking by the manned Shenzhou-9 in 2012."
Beyond the Politics: Space Exploration Is Imperative to Innovation and Inspiration, Eileen M. Collins and Nick Lampson for the Huffington Post
"As a nation, we must put politics aside to ensure that expanding the space frontier occupies a prominent place on our national agenda. We need strategic, adequately funded and aggressively paced programs to keep America at the summits of technical innovation and exploration."
"... Unfortunately, we've begun to pull back, as though the nation can prosper without the kinds of strategic commitments that have historically assured us economic as well as intellectual return."
Marc's note: There's nothing new in what Collins and Lampson write. Will Congress pay attention? Will this appeal to the public and cause some action? Call me cynical, but I don't think Congress or the public are paying attention.
"A powerful storm swept across the Midwestern U.S. late on June 12, 2012 and is continuing to move across the Mid-Atlantic. Around 0700z (3am EDT), the Suomi NPP satellite passed over the storm as the most intense areas were along the Ohio-West Virginia-Pennsylvania border."
Cash-Strapped Space Tourists May Find Friend in PayPal, Wall Street Journal
"The payments company is set to announce a payment program for space tourists later this month, known as PayPal Galactic. PayPal has been working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Space Tourism Society and the SETI Institute, whose mission is to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, on the program, said a person familiar with the details."
"... Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are also building space craft in their spare time."
Marc's note: Hmm I wonder what, if any, advantage there will be for the "space tourist" in this rumoured program? And I didn't realize Musk was building SpaceX in his spare time.
"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, violated federal antitrust laws by "monopolizing" or restraining competition through an exclusivity agreement with the maker of the engines used in its rockets, according to a FTC document obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
RD Amross, a joint venture of Russia's NPO Energomash and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a unit of United Technologies Corp, provides RD-180 engines for ULA rockets.
Industry sources say ULA is preventing RD Amross from selling the engines to other rocket makers, including Orbital Sciences Corp, which is trying to break into the lucrative market for government rocket launches."
"United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and initial round of development testing for the Dual Engine Centaur in support of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
Under Independent Research and Development (IRAD) funding, ULA is re-establishing the Dual Engine Centaur (DEC) configuration for performance and human space flight safety. Atlas V is capable of flying both a single and dual engine on the Centaur second stage, but most satellite missions require only a single engine due to the powerful capability of the Atlas V booster to loft the payload into orbit."
"Orbital Sciences team members move the second half of the payload fairing before it is placed over NASA's IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) spacecraft. The fairing connects to the nose of the Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket that will lift the solar observatory into orbit. The work is taking place in a hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where IRIS is being prepared for launch on a Pegasus XL rocket."
"Although the FTC concluded that the deal will give GenCorp a monopoly in the market for a type of advanced missile defense interceptor propulsion system, the Commission decided not to challenge the transaction, primarily because the Department of Defense wishes to see the transaction go forward for national security reasons."
"On Wednesday, June 26, NASA's newest mission, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph or IRIS, will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. IRIS will take flight using a Pegasus XL rocket, carried aloft by an Orbital Sciences L-1011 aircraft from Vandenberg. This exciting launch will broadcast live at the NASA Ames Visitor Center at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Registrations for attendance are available now!
Tickets are free and are first-come, first-serve. Space is limited and only ticketed guests will be admitted."
Commercial space companies expect Brevard push, Space Florida
"Three companies competing to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station expect to increase their local activity in the second half of this year, executives said Tuesday.
The Boeing Co. soon will start moving into a former shuttle hangar at Kennedy Space Center, where it will assemble a test article of its CST-100 capsule.
SpaceX hopes to launch a pad abort test of its Dragon capsule in December from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, after potentially several more Cape rocket launches.
And Sierra Nevada Corp., developer of the Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, plans to staff a local office this year to prepare for future flight operations."
SMC Enters into Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with SpaceX, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center
"The Space and Missile Systems Center has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, as part of the company's effort to certify its Falcon 9 v1.1 Launch System for National Security Space (NSS) missions. This cooperative agreement facilitates data exchanges and protects proprietary and export-controlled data. The CRADA will be in effect until all certification activities are complete."
How Twitter Changed NASA Communications, Mediabistro
"At Mediabistro's AllTwitter Marketing Conference, NASA's social media manager said that Twitter has created a once-in-a-lifetime change in the way the space agency communicates with the world."
Marc's note: I remember attending the Participatory Exploration Summit at NASA Ames in 2007 where Biz Stone introduced Twitter to the audience. Ironically the conference was using now-defunct Jaiku for social participation. But afterwards Twitter began to catch on, including at NASA. NASA now has million of followers. SpaceRef and NASA Watch have grown to over 125,000+ followers for our Twitter accounts.
The Myopia Problem, Space News
"It is the year 3013, one thousand years into the future. Looking up into the night sky, you see a crescent Moon that is crisscrossed by a sparkling web of city lights. Millions of people are routinely working, living, and playing on the Moon. Billions live on Mars.
Many would agree that such a bright, promising future is probable. Some would contend that it is inevitable. What cannot be argued is that it is impossible, for we have already slipped the surly bonds of Earth.
The question is "when," rather than "if."
We don't need to wait a millennium in order to get started. Fundamental new breakthroughs in physics are not required. Just as the hang glider and sailplane could have been developed and refined hundreds or thousands of years ago, we already have the needed technology to begin pioneering exploration of the Moon and Mars."
"NOAA today officially returned the GOES-13 spacecraft to normal operations, after tests showed a micrometeoroid, likely hit the arm for the solar array panel on May 22, knocking the spacecraft off its delicate, geostationary balance."
"A Chinese manned spacecraft blasted off with three astronauts on board on Tuesday on a 15-day mission to an experimental space lab in the latest step towards the development of a space station.
The Shenzhou 10 spacecraft was launched from a remote site in the Gobi desert in China's far west at 5:38 p.m. (0938 GMT) under warm, clear blue skies, in images carried live on state television."
Watch the launch:
"The NASA It Gets Better video is a video project created by the "Out & Allied @ JSC Employee Resource Group" of NASA's Johnson Space Center. It was created as an outreach tool primarily directed at high school and college-aged lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals who are victims of bullying and/or have been affected by bullying. This video sends the message to current and future NASA employees that it is OK to be LGBTQ, and that NASA supports and encourages an inclusive, diverse workforce in our workplace."
"NASA has selected 65 graduate students as the 2013 class of Space Technology Research Fellows. This third class of space technology graduate students will conduct research relevant to agency technology challenges aligned with NASA's space technology roadmaps, while pursuing degrees in related disciplines at their respective institutions."
"Approaching its 10th anniversary of leaving Earth, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is on the move again, trekking to a new study area still many weeks away.
The destination, called "Solander Point," offers Opportunity access to a much taller stack of geological layering than the area where the rover has worked for the past 20 months, called "Cape York." Both areas are raised segments of the western rim of Endeavour Crater, which is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.
"Getting to Solander Point will be like walking up to a road cut where you see a cross section of the rock layers," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University, St. Louis, deputy principal investigator for the mission."
"NASA plans to begin testing RS-25 engines for its new Space Launch System (SLS) in the fall of 2014, and the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi has a very big -- literally -- item to complete on the preparation checklist.
Fabrication recently began at Stennis on a new 7,755-pound thrust frame adapter for the A-1 Test Stand to enable testing of the engines that will provide core-stage power for NASA's SLS. The stand component is scheduled to be completed and installed by November 2013."
NASA will hold a media teleconference at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) on Friday, June 7, to provide an update about the long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The 10th anniversary of this rover's launch is next month.
The briefing participants will be:
-- John Callas, project manager for Opportunity, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
-- Steve Squyres, principal investigator for Opportunity, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
-- Ray Arvidson, deputy principal investigator, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
"NASA's Aqua satellite passed over low pressure System 91L in the Gulf of Mexico and captured infrared imagery that revealed a lot of uplift and strong thunderstorms in the eastern part of the storm despite a poorly organized circulation. NOAA's GOES-East satellite showed the large extent of the low pressure area stretching from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula to Florida.
System 91L is a tropical low pressure area that has been lingering in the northwestern Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico for several days. The low pressure area is located in the central Gulf of Mexico and covers a large area. It has a large area of disorganized thunderstorms and strong gusty winds over the southeastern Gulf."
Update: NASA Sees Heavy Rainfall in Tropical Storm Andrea, NASA Goddard
"NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission is approaching its biggest turning point since landing its rover, Curiosity, inside Mars' Gale Crater last summer.
Curiosity is finishing investigations in an area smaller than a football field where it has been working for six months, and it will soon shift to a distance-driving mode headed for an area about 5 miles (8 kilometers) away, at the base Mount Sharp."
"NASA has released new images the Spitzer Space Telescope which it characterizes as showing "blooming stars in our Milky Way galaxy's more barren territories, far from its crowded core" and the public, in part, helped NASA with these images.
The images are part of the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (Glimpse 360) project, which NASA says is mapping the topography of our galaxy."
"A Black Brant XII suborbital rocket carrying the Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment (CIBER)is scheduled for launch between 11 and 11:59 p.m. EDT, June 4, from NASA's launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 9:30 p.m. on launch day for public viewing of the launch.
The mission will be available live on Ustream beginning at 10 p.m. on launch day at: http://www.ustream.com/channel/nasa-wallops"
Update: "The launch tonight of a Black Brant XII suborbital rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, has been postponed.
The mission was postponed due to difficulty in cooling the instruments on the payload down to the required temperatures before launch.
The launch is now scheduled between 11 and 11:59 p.m., June 5. The launch window runs through June 10. The rocket may be visible to residents in the mid-Atlantic region."
"On June 2, 2013, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft captured this image showing the scar left on the landscape by the tornado's deadly track. In this false-color image, vegetation is red, water is dark blue, roads and buildings are gray and white, and bare fields are tan. The tornado track crosses the image from left to right as indicated by the arrows. The image covers an area of 6 by 8.6 miles (9.6 by 13.8 kilometers), and is located at 35.3 degrees north latitude, 97.5 degrees west longitude."
Marc's note: I just happened to turn on CNN as they began broadcasting live coverage of the tornado. It was surreal to be watching the destruction live. My heart goes out to those affected.
"Severe space 'weather' can knock out satellite communications and GPS systems, expose space tourists and astronauts to dangerous levels of radiation, and even cause massive blackouts on Earth that could last up to two years, scientists and NASA officials warned at a conference here on Tuesday.
The United States population that is at risk of an extended power outage from a Carrington-level storm is between 20-40 million, with an outage duration of possibly 16 days to one to two years, said Kathryn Sullivan."
Water on the Moon (video), NASA Goddard
"Since the 1960's, scientists have suspected that frozen water could survive in cold, dark craters at the Moon's poles. While previous lunar missions have detected hints of water on the Moon, new data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) pinpoints areas near the south pole where water is likely to exist."
"The journey of the European Space Agency's Mars Express, from drawing board through launch, to its key science highlights during ten years of operations.
With its suite of seven instruments, Mars Express has studied the subsurface of the Red Planet to the upper atmosphere and beyond to the two tiny moons Phobos and Deimos, providing an in depth analysis of the planet's history and returning stunning 3D images."
- Also released today: Mars Mineral Globe (video), ESA
Marc's note: Congratulations to ESA and its partners for 10 years of great science by Mars Express.
The Front Burner: Plan shows agency still turns obstacles into opportunities, Orlando Sentinel op-ed by Frank DiBello, Space Florida
"This asteroid strategy will require much of this nation's technical brain trust and industrial base. It will demand new technology with serious and long-term applications, it will result in more launches, and sooner, of American astronauts beyond low Earth orbit, and it shrewdly taps into a growing public and scientific interest in near-Earth objects and planetary defense."
Kepler Delivers More Data for Exoplanet Hunters, NASA Ames Research Center
"On May 28 NASA's Kepler mission delivered new data to the NASA Exoplanet Archive for Exoplanet hunters to dig into. At the same, NASA Ames Research Center's Michele Johnson sat down with Michael Haas, Kepler science office director, for an interview to find out more."
Marc's note: The data includes 1,924 Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs) that have not been fully analyzed yet.
"MJ: If you haven't finished the analysis, why are you releasing this information now? It seems rather preliminary.
MH: You are right, it is preliminary, but it also represents a significant body of work and contains valuable information for the scientific community."
"The ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System or ISERV - a camera aboard the International Space Station - captures an image of her hometown. ISERV was designed and built at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala."
"The way out just might be to hit dangerous asteroids with other asteroids, Russian scientists say.
Several near-Earth asteroids can be towed into the vicinity of the planet to serve as a cache of celestial projectiles against incoming space threats, said Natan Eismont of the Space Research Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.
'I was skeptical about it myself, until we actually tried to do computer modeling of the situation,' Eismont, one of the project's authors, told RIA Novosti in a recent interview."
Marc's note: Wasn't there a 1950's era movie with this plot? ;-)
Keith's note: My postings on NASA Watch are going to be far less frequent for a while. But I will post from time to time. I am taking the Summer off to work on other things and spend as much time possible in the woods or on my deck.
I will be trying to focus on things that do not involve watching the White House and Congress go back and forth on what they do/do not want NASA to do and how much they will/will not fund NASA to do/not do these things. I'll also be spending less time watching Charlie Bolden stumble through his daily tasks while a disinterested White House turns a blind eye to his haphazard management of the agency.
Of course its not all Charlie's fault since management and employees at headquarters and the field centers continue to undermine him while simultaneously erecting stove pipes and barriers to collaboration at every possible opportunity. In all the years I have either been employed by - or "watching" - NASA I have never seen things more screwed up than they are now.
And before you start typing, let's not get into commercial or so-called "new space" solutions to NASA's woes. New space is not really "new". Rather it is often just a bunch of disenfranchised people looking for a handout (many of them are outright charlatans). Despite some recent and undeniably astounding commercial successes America's existing approach to exploring and utilizing space is rotting at its core - and that core is NASA. That core needs fixing - otherwise private sector solutions will not work - indeed they will just make things worse by distracting people from what really needs to be done.
That said, some of the smartest people on Earth are at NASA and they still manage to explore our planet and the cosmos with incredible ingenuity, determination, and passion in spite of bungled and often inept "leadership" from above. What worries me now is how our nation's space agency is undermining what it will leave behind for the next generation.
To be blunt: I am tired of listening to all of you whine while you won't lift a finger to fix the things that you clearly know are in need of fixing. No one wants to compromise or take risks. I am tired of having to chronicle this incessant food fight in and around NASA - a food fight that none of you seem at all interested in ending.
Carry on. Enjoy your cubicles. You won't miss me.
Marc's note: While Keith is away NASA Watch will carry on. Besides getting my input I'll feature some thoughts from some of our loyal readers from time to time on all issues NASA.
"Energetic protons constitute about 85 percent of the primary galactic cosmic ray flux and easily traverse even the most shielded paths (reds) inside the MSL spacecraft. Heavy ions tend to break up into lighter ions in thick shielding, but can survive traversal of thin shielding (blues) intact."
"New radar data obtained by NASA shows Asteroid 1998 QE2 has a moon. The asteroid will get no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
The new radar data was obtained on May 29th when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth. 1998 QE2 measures approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter."
Heaven and Earth, NASA
"There are patterns of beauty across our Earth and throughout the Universe."
Planetary Resources Embarks on First Crowdfunded Space Telescope, Planetary Resources
"Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, has launched a campaign for the world's first crowdfunded space telescope to provide unprecedented public access to space and place the most advanced exploration technology into the hands of students, scientists and a new generation of citizen explorers."
Planetary Resources Falls Back on Kickstarter For Funding, earlier post (2012)
"At the ISDC conference just a few weeks ago Eric Anderson from Planetary Resources was positively bragging about how much money they had."
Keith's note: It seems a little odd for a company like Planetary Resources to brag in public about its financial resources, list its billionaire investors at every given opportunity - and then hype a big announcement which was, in essence, "send us your money". Well, people have responded - in an impressive fashion. Thus far the current tally for a few hours' work is
just under $150,000 - over $190,000 $235,000 $321,000 - that's more than 10% nearly 20% 25% 33% of their goal of $1,000,000.
Not bad at all - indeed its rather impressive - especially when you consider that the Golden Spike Company took 70 days to raise only $19,450 out of a planned $240,000. Planetary Resources has raised the entire sum Golden Spike originally sought - and they did so in less than 12 hours. They have 32 days left to reach their goal.
Having helped with the successful Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project and the AIA "We Are the Explorers" crowdfunding campaigns, I can suggest that the answer is simple: fire up people's imagination. Then tell them what you want to do, why it is important, explain how their contribution can help - and offer them something of value in addition to just thanking them for their money. When you get that balanced right, people will respond. However when you don't explain yourself, people won't give you much of anything. Not much of mystery there.
Oh yes - the Planetary Resources people really need to work on their media relations skills. At their first event last year they charged all invitees for their meal - all while promoting the billionaire backing they had. At today's event their webcast had no offsite media interaction (i.e. few questions) and the webcast backfired such that when there actually was a webcast the participants looked like they were doing Max Headroom impressions and sounded like they were stuttering underwater. Its not hard to do this stuff. I did it every day for several weeks from Everest Base Camp.
Space Florida Welcomes New Chair, Members of the Board, Space Florida
"Space Florida, the state's aerospace development organization and spaceport authority, has recently welcomed a new interim Board Chair and three new members to its Board of Directors.
Bill Dymond was appointed interim Chairman of the Board at the May 8, 2013 Space Florida Board of Directors meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Dymond is the president, CEO and managing partner of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., a multi-practice law firm with more than 100 attorneys, located in Orlando."
"Quantum computing may be the key to solving some of the most challenging computer science problems. This is why Google in collaboration with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association today announced that they will launch the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab."
"NASA will commemorate the 40th anniversary of America's first space station Monday, May 13, with a televised roundtable discussion featuring Skylab astronauts, a current astronaut and agency managers planning future space missions."
Participants will include:
- Owen Garriott, science pilot, Skylab 3
- Gerald Carr, commander, Skylab 4
- Kevin Ford, commander, International Space Station Expedition 34
- D. Marshall Porterfield, director, Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division, NASA Headquarters
- Jason Crusan, director, Advanced Exploration Systems, NASA Headquarters
"The device looks like a large red velvet doughnut with wires tightly wound around a core, and it's one of two initiatives Eagleworks is pursuing, along with warp drive. It's also secret. When I ask about it, White tells me he can't disclose anything other than that the technology is further along than warp drive ... Yet when I ask how it would create the negative energy necessary to warp space-time he becomes evasive. "That gets into . . . I can tell you what I can tell you. I can't tell you what I can't tell you," he says. He explains that he has signed nondisclosure agreements that prevent him from revealing the particulars. I ask with whom he has the agreements. He says, "People come in and want to talk about some things. I just can't go into any more detail than that."
"The vacuum chamber at Plum Brook, called the Space Power Facility, measures 863,000 cubic feet. To get an idea of its vastness, check out the opening minutes of "The Avengers" movie, filmed inside the chamber. The one at Johnson, called Chamber A, is 400,000 cubic feet."
"The world's largest thermal-vacuum chamber will be open to news media at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston on Thursday, April 4."
Keith's 9 April update: The JSC Vs GRC competition claiming that they both host "the world's largest thermal vacuum chamber" continues despite the fact that GRC's has a volume twice the size of JSC's. According to This week at NASA, 8 April 2013 at 5:20 into the video JSC has "...the world's largets thermal vacuum chamber ..." I guess facts are irrelevant to JSC PAO. Odd that this video still makes this claim when NASA PAO quietly modified its original release to say something else (see below).
Keith's note: As you have probably noticed by now I have been helping the AIA folks get the word out about their crowd funding campaign. Now the Challenger Center for Space Science Education has joined the effort. This is a chance for all NASA Watch readers to put their money where their mouths are so as to put a simple message about space in front of a movie audience inclined to be interested - and then offer them a suggestion as to what to do with that interest. No donation is too small. Every tweet or Facebook post helps. Indeed, more than half of the ~1,400 donors to date have given $10 - and the tally already stands at $44,000. What you see below is just the beginning of the media's interest in this project.
What NASA is unable to do due to silly government restrictions taxpayers are trying to circumvent - with their wallets. Its gone "viral" folks. It deserves your support.
"Now for the next "giant leap." With still weeks to go, we can expand our reach to the whole country. If we raise $94,000, our space program trailer will appear in at least one theater in every state in America. This new goal will expand our reach from 59 movie theater screens to 750 screens! If we raise more than the $94,000 goal, those additional proceeds will be used to enhance and grow Challenger Center's programs (see below) for space science education."
NASA Marketing Video to Run Before New 'Star Trek' Film, Bloomberg Business Week
"Crowdfunding campaigns are becoming increasingly popular in the space community," says AIA Director of Space Systems Dan Hendrickson, pointing to a recent fundraising effort to recover Lunar Orbiter mission data. "The original idea behind this campaign wasn't a response to budget cuts," he insists. "This is a campaign to highlight to our students and young people that human spaceflight is alive and well in the United States in the post-Space Shuttle era." Citing "immediate and overwhelming financial support," Hendrickson considers the experiment a success.
HiRISE is set to capture MRO's laser weapon test on Phobos. Should be a great image.— HiRISE (@HiRISE) April 1, 2013
"Restarting science operations after 3 weeks of computer problems, the Mars rover Curiosity will be using its robotic arm and the Goddard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory to process a triple-dose of drilled subsurface rock in a more intense search for organic carbon before April 4, when Mars will move behind the Sun blocking communications until May 1."
"Scientists with the $2.5 billion Mars rover Curiosity will reveal potentially historic discoveries about Mars next week in Washington D. C."
"There are indications that the planned March 12 NASA Headquarters briefing could reveal the finding of organic carbon on Mars - "key ingredients" for life on Mars, as the space agency reinforced this week."
Chris Hadfield Quote Turned Into Cartoon By Zen Pencils, Huffington Post
"More than a few of us Earthlings have found ourselves thoroughly inspired by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield as he zooms around our planet aboard the International Space Station, tweeting all the way.
Aside from providing us with breath-taking photos of the Earth and a gravity-free cooking lesson, Hadfield has been doling out advice to his young fans with off-planet ambitions.
During a recent Reddit AMA, Hadfield was asked to give advice for young people considering a career in space science, and his heartfelt answer hit Australian artist Gaving Aung Than hard."
Marc's note: Chris Hadfield is not the first astronaut to inspire a younger generation. However with the social media tools available now along with almost weekly live interactions with youth, has fostered a following like no astronaut before him. The repeated messages, of which the central one has been turned into this cartoon, is hitting home. Keep up the good work @cmdr_hadfield.
"The Mars rover Curiosity is this week in the midst of potentially historic discoveries as the full range of its capabilities are brought to bear for the first time on a gray powdered Martian subsurface rock sample."
"The sample, drilled from within a mudstone type rock, was totally unexpected this early in the mission and could reveal whether this once water soaked region of Mars preserved organic carbon pertinent to past life on Mars."
House Renames Flight Center After Neil Armstrong
"The House of Representatives today approved a resolution to rename the Dryden Flight Research Center, located in southern California, the "Neil Armstrong Research Center." H.R. 667 also re-designates the surrounding test range to honor Hugh Dryden, a prominent aeronautical engineer."
House Republicans are over the moon about sequestration, Washington Post
"The lone Democrat to speak, Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.), noted the irony in the vote. "We will do our renaming today," she said, and then "we will take an ax hammer to NASA's budget on March 1, at the end of this week, taking out $894 million from an already strapped budget. I dare say future generations will not be inspired by what this Congress will do."
Keith's update: What are the acronym implications of this? There is already an "ARC" at NASA. I do not think "NARC" will be used too often ...
Vulcan Tops Online Voting to Name Pluto's Moons', PC Magazine
"Vulcan was the only candidate in the contest run by the SETI Institute to top 100,000 votes, garnering 174,062 votes out of about half a million cast in online voting that ended Monday at 6 a.m. Eastern. "Cerberus" was the other winning name with 99,432 votes, according to the Los Angeles Times."
"And with Starfleet's favorite son leading the charge, Vulcan quickly won the vote. "174,062 votes [out of nearly 450,000 cast] and Vulcan came out on top of the voting for the naming of Pluto's moons. Thank you to all who voted!" Shatner tweeted. Leonard Nimoy, who as Spock is probably Vulcan's best known ambassador, told the Associated Press, "If my people were emotional they would say they are pleased."
Name Pluto's Moons P4 and P5, earlier post
"Instead, a low-energy nuclear reactor (LENR) uses common, stable elements like nickel, carbon, and hydrogen to produce stable products like copper or nitrogen, along with heat and electricity.
"It has the demonstrated ability to produce excess amounts of energy, cleanly, without hazardous ionizing radiation, without producing nasty waste," said Joseph Zawodny, a senior research scientist with NASA's Langley Research Center."
Keith's note: When you ask the technology people at NASA HQ about this they throw up their arms and say that they have nothing to do with this - and that its all run by NASA LaRC. As such, it seems that Lesa Roe apparently makes these technology decisions for the agency by default. Funny thing: if the potential for this LENR research is so great, why is there never any mention in NASA Spinoff documents or speeches and publications by NASA's Chief Technologist?
Cold Fusion Update From LaRC (Update), earlier post
"7. Did anyone at NASA headquarters have a role in deciding whether this research was to be funded?
"The Mars rover Curiosity's team is beginning to amass enough diverse science data to actively consider whether the area around its first drilling site was potentially habitable.
At the same time the science team is readying the rover's most powerful instruments to search for organic carbon and minerals supportive to life in its first sample of gray powdered subsurface rock."
Keith's note: Apparently the NASA webcast of the asteroid flyby last week may have set some all time records. Funny thing: NASA is supposed to be planning a mission to visit an asteroid (or so the White House says). Did anyone see ANY mention by NASA on the asteroid flyby video webpage of that asteroid mission while all that attention was focused on the flyby? Its so hard to slip a pre-prepared comment in front of the narrator and post those pesky URLs, isn't it? Oh yes - another object slammed into Russia the same day. Did NASA use that PR opportunity to focus collateral public interest on their human mission to an asteroid? Of course not. That's because NASA does not want to do that asteroid mission. So why would they want any undue attention focused on that mission?
Bolden: NASA Does Not Have To Actually Go To An Asteroid, Earlier post
"Bolden said that when the President announced that an asteroid would be the next destination for NASA's human spaceflight program, he did not say NASA had to fly all the way to an asteroid. What matters is the "ability to put humans with an asteroid," Bolden said."
NASA Really Doesn't Want to Do That Whole Asteroid Thing, Earlier post
"A current stated interim goal of NASA's human spaceflight program is to visit an asteroid by 2025," said Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who chaired the committee that wrote the report. "However, we've seen limited evidence that this has been widely accepted as a compelling destination by NASA's own work force, by the nation as a whole, or by the international community. The lack of national consensus on NASA's most publicly visible human spaceflight goal along with budget uncertainty has undermined the agency's ability to guide program planning and allocate funding."
"The $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover is beginning detailed analysis of the first subsurface rock sample acquired on another planet, keeping researchers on "pins and needles" about whether Curiosity has struck Martian paydirt 216 million miles (348 million km) from Earth."
"Preliminary examination of the greenish, mudstone-like sample is peaking interest and debate about whether the flat rocks under Curiosity's wheels could be a type that perhaps preserved organic carbon relevant to potential past life on Mars, JPL geologist Robert C. Anderson told CuriousMars."
Orbital Schedules Antares Engine Test for February 12th, SpaceRef Business
"Orbital announced today that on Tuesday, February 12th they will perform a hot-fire test at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad-0A for their new Antares rocket. The window for the engine test is 6-9 p.m. EST. NASA's Wallops Flight Facility will provide launch range support."
Marc's update: The hot-fire has moved to Wednesday though weather is moving in and could delay the test further. The test window will remain the same. Orbital informed me this morning that no live video of the test will be available. However, results of the test will be posted to their web site as soon as possible including "hopefully" good images and video. We'll get it as soon as we can.
"NASA's progress toward a return to deep space missions continues with a new round of upcoming tests on the next-generation J-2X rocket engine, which will help power the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) to new destinations in the solar system.
Beginning this month, engineers will conduct a series of tests on the second J-2X development engine, designated number 10002, on the A-2 Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Once the series is completed, the engine will be transferred to the A-1 Test Stand to undergo a series of gimbal, or pivot, tests for the first time."
"In the wake of the wildly successful landing of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover on Aug. 6, 2012, it may come as no surprise that the American public are currently feeling rather enthusiastic about exploring Mars. This sentiment has now been bolstered by a recent poll carried out for the non-profit corporation Explore Mars by the global communications company Phillips & Company. After surveying 1,101 people, 71 percent of the participants said they feel confident the U.S. will land a human on Mars within the next two decades."
"On average, the same sample said they believed the U.S. government spends 2.4 percent (with a standard deviation of 1.68 percent) of the federal budget on NASA after they were told the agency currently has two operational rovers on the Martian surface. This, sadly, is woefully overoptimistic."
Related: Americans Confident Humans Will Walk on Mars Within Two Decades, Explore Mars
NASA Releases Strategic Space Technology Investment Plan, SpaceRef Business
"NASA today released its strategic space technology investment plan. The plan, outlined in a 92 page document, is meant to be a comprehensive strategic plan prioritizing technologies for NASA to achieve its mission."
"Technology enables discovery and advancement," NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck said. "We look forward to working with our stakeholders to grow our technological base and take the journey to expand scientific understanding, explore the universe, and make a positive impact on the lives of all."
"NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) roared into space at 1:02 p.m. EST (10:02 a.m. PST) Monday aboard an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The LDCM spacecraft separated from the rocket 79 minutes after launch and the first signal was received 3 minutes later at a ground station in Svalbard, Norway. The solar arrays deployed 86 minutes after launch, and the spacecraft is generating power from them. LDCM is on course to reach its operational, sun-synchronous, polar orbit 438 miles (705 kilometers) above Earth within two months."
- VIDEO: An Atlas V Launches NASA's Newest Landsat Satellite
- VIDEO: Landsat Data Continuity Mission Spacecraft Separation
- VIDEO: Press Briefing: New Landsat Satellite Set for Launch
- VIDEO: Press Briefing: Landsat Data Continuity Mission Science Goals
- VIDEO: Landsat Launch a NASA Social Occasion
- SpaceRef Earth
"Landsat 5 successfully set the new Guinness World Records title for 'Longest-operating Earth observation satellite' as stated in an e-mail from Guinness World Records sent to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Outliving its three-year design life, Landsat 5 delivered high-quality, global data of Earth's land surface for 28 years and 10 months."
"It was seven months ago that Mark Showalter and a team of researchers at the SETI Institute discovered two new moon around Pluto. Named P4 and P5 the astronomers decided that the formal names should be open to public selection through a contest."
"NASA's Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a flat, veiny rock on Mars and collect a sample from its interior. This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars.
The fresh hole, about 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) wide and 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock, can be seen in images and other data Curiosity beamed to Earth Saturday. The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments. In pursuit of that evidence, the rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyze rock powder collected by the drill."
"This fueled speculation in the press on Virgin Galactic's future plans regarding their lease agreement with Spaceport America. I turned to Steve Isakowitz, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Galactic for an updated statement on the lease matter."
GAO Releases Report on Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide, SpaceRef Business
The GAO found that "while potential new entrants stated that they are generally satisfied with the Air Force's efforts to implement the Guide, they identified several challenges to certification, as well as perceived advantages afforded to the incumbent launch provider."
Marc's note: The guide was designed for new entrants in the EELV marketplace including: SpaceX Falcon 9 and Heavy, Orbital Antares and ATK Liberty II.
"Two powerful laboratories inside the Mars rover Curiosity are being readied to process the first powdered samples of subsurface Martian rock obtained by the rover's drill during the most complex series of Curiosity operations since its Sky Crane landing last August."
Marc's note: This is the latest in-depth story about Mars exploration from Craig Covault. This weekly update is part of the CuriousMars series of stories Craig is writing for SpaceRef.
Earth-like Planets Are Right Next Door, SpaceRef
"Using publicly available data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found that six percent of red dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets. Since red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy, the closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light-years away."
"Using publicly available data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) estimate that six percent of red dwarf stars in the galaxy have Earth-size planets in the "habitable zone," the range of distances from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water."
"NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center released the following list of highlights for the James Webb Telescope for 2012 marking the progress of the project. However while the project is making progress, it has created budgetary problems for NASA and will launch several years later than planned."
"The White House response to a petition on building a Death Star (and the resulting media attention) led to some pretty interesting data here at NASA.gov. While the petitioners wanted to focus on a big project done a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the response led to thousands of Americans finding out about projects NASA is currently working on right here on Earth and in our Solar System."
White House Deletes Death Star Funds from NASA's FY2014 Budget, Earlier post
Hey - Let's Make NASA Build a Deathstar! (Update), Earlier post
Marc's note: Jim Wilson points out the upside of the failed petition, increased awareness.
"In November 2012 the people asked for a death star. The government said NO! In light of continuing threats we should build it ourselves."
"Ten years ago, seven brave astronauts gave their lives in the name of exploration when America's first flight-ready space shuttle, Columbia, failed to return safely to Earth. Each year, on NASA's Day of Remembrance, we honor the crew of that Columbia flight, as well as those of Challenger and Apollo 1, and all the members of the NASA family who gave their lives in the pursuit of expanding our Nation's horizons in space-a cause worthy of their sacrifice and one we must never forget."
Challenger Center and NASA Day of Remembrance, Challenger Center for Space Science Education
"As we honor the memories of those lost in the Challenger, Columbia and Apollo 1 tragedies, we cannot help but to feel immensely grateful for the sacrifice each one of these individuals made when they chose to commit their lives to exploration and discovery. This sacrifice inspires us to strengthen the impact we make in the lives of students so they, in turn, will have the knowledge and interest to pursue meaningful and exciting STEM careers and become the next generation of inspirational leaders."
Coalition for Space Exploration Remembers Fallen NASA Astronauts, Coalition for Space Exploration
"Today, the Coalition for Space Exploration joins NASA in observing a Day of Remembrance as the world pays tribute to the men and women who lost their lives while pursuing the development and exploration of space. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbia space shuttle disaster, which resulted in the untimely deaths of seven brave astronauts. We remember their sacrifice and mourn the devastating loss of these crew members, along with the fallen heroes who were aboard Apollo 1, Challenger, and other NASA endeavors. While we grieve because their lives were taken too soon, we are also inspired by their passion and dedication to this commendable program. Their legacy will continue to touch the lives of generations to come, encouraging the exploration of uncharted territory."
CuriousMars: California Dreamin' on a Martian Day, Craig Covault, SpaceRef
"There are already plenty of stars around Malibu, California, but could the place be actually like the planet Mars? The NASA rover Curiosity is about to find out.
Two California locations, including an area near the Santa Monica Mountains stretching north from Malibu, were searched in late January for rocks strikingly similar to the Martian rocks that Curiosity is about to drill into on Mars. The samples found are completing final tests for use in assessing the success of the first rock drilling and sampling on another planet.
The drilling and analysis of samples from the inside of a Martian rock should be underway next week with the first shallow drilling tests as early as Feb. 2-4, according to Robert C. Anderson, a member of the Surface Sampling System (SSS) Team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif."
"We are sad to let you know that Adrian Hooke died on January 7. He was at home in Malibu with his wife. In his classic fashion, he continued his work on CCSDS and DTN right up through early December."
"Adrian was an admitted Space geek for 46 years. He worked on the Lunar Modules for Apollo 9, 10, 11, and 12, from 1966 to 1969. He was on the flight control teams for the Mariner 9 and 10 missions that visited Mars, Venus, and Mercury. He worked on Voyager and SEASAT, and in 1976-77 he spent a year at the European Space Agency helping with the Shuttle-SpaceLab program."
Marc's note: I just learned about Adrian's death today. I can't say I knew him well, but I briefly worked with him about 10 years ago as part of the InterPlanetary Networking Special Interest Group. He welcomed me to JPL and was willing to listen to a newbie such as myself. If you read the note on his passing you'll see how much he contributed to the community. He will be missed.
"According to Iran state media, Iran launched a suborbital rocket last week with a monkey onboard and recovered the capsule a short time later with the monkey still alive. The space capsule was code-named Pishgam (Pioneer)."
"The NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is beginning its 10th year roving Mars, completing nine years of "shocking" performance and historic discoveries that began with a bouncing airbag roll into tiny Eagle crater on Jan. 24, 2004."
"It's amazing, we never expected these kind of results!", says Pete Theisinger, the original MER project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Calif. He also led JPL's Curiosity rover development in the same role."
"Virgin Galactic and the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association have agreed on liability issues that will form the basis of legislation that Senator Mary Kay Papen will introduce tomorrow and which is expected to have broad bipartisan support."
Deep Space Industries Unveils Mining and Manufacturing Plans, SpaceRef Business
"Deep Space Industries (DSI) is another new entry in the asteroid mining field who want to go beyond just mining asteroids and into manufacturing products in space. As with another recent new commercial space venture, Golden Spike, DSI showcased some savvy space veterans but lack the resources to execute their plans to completion."
"In fact both companies made a point of going public so that potential investors might take notice. Unfortunately they and other like minded companies are all after the same investors who don't seem to be interested at this stage."
"Keith Cowing, editor of NasaWatch.com, said he was not yet convinced by Deep Space Industries' plans. "Is the prospect of using asteroid resources crazy? No it's not. Is if difficult? Yes it is. Can you make a business case for it? People are trying, and making progress." But he said any company must have a product, experienced people and a business case. "This is like a three-legged stool. You need all three legs, otherwise it's not a business, it's a hobby," he said."
"Senior leaders at NASA have been briefed on DSI's technologies, which would make eventual crewed Mars expeditions less expensive through the use of asteroid-derived propellant."
Keith's note: I asked NASA PAO for a statement regarding DSI's claim. This is NASA's official response this morning - no mention of any briefings by Deep Space Industries, just the same sort of generic but positive comentary about space commerce that they have issued on other occassions.
"President Obama's space policy is aimed at creating an environment where commercial space companies can build upon past successes, allowing NASA to focus on the Administration's ambitious path for deep space human exploration, which includes sending humans to an asteroid for the first time and ultimate to Mars. The increasing number of private U.S. companies attempting to push the boundaries of space shows the wisdom of that policy."
During their press conference yesterday, DSI stated that they had briefed the White House (OSTP). I haven't seen any commentary on this from OSTP.
"Astronauts on board the International Space Station captured this view of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area on Sunday, Jan. 20, one day before the public Inauguration of President Barack Obama."
"On Saturday morning, Jan. 19, 2013, at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling (JBAB) in Washington, Steve LaDrew, with Capitol Exhibit Services, adjusts the Mastcam on a replica of the Mars Curiosity Rover."
@SpaceArtAl: @tweetsoutloud's special hair tattoo for #inaug2013 parade. I always loved the @NASA worm logo. bit.ly/WAO4Ry
"@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - Washington D.C. on Saturday night of the Inaugural Weekend. You can even follow the parade route."
"@SpaceArtAl [Alan Ladwig] NASA is the only Federal Agency [Other than DoD] in the Inaugural Parade. Still think this Administration doesn't support space? #inaug2013"
S.Korea: North's missile parts from China, NHK World (With video)
"The South Korean military says part of the North Korean missile launched last month were made in China. South Korea's military has analyzed pieces of the debris from the three-stage rocket, including a fuel tank that were salvaged in the Yellow Sea. A military official says some of the parts appear to have been imported from five countries including China."
"As the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) science team completes final assessments of the mission's first drilling target in the bedrock at Yellowknife Bay, Curiosity is roving through "a whole different world," uncovering evidence for rocks saturated with water and other diverse and unexpected aqueous clues that hint of an ancient and very wet environment at Gale Crater.
It's a world of conglomerate rocks, sandstones, siltstones, spherules - known as "blueberries" to MER followers - lustrous pebbles, cross-bedding, tiny grains and filled veins, cracks, and fractured rocks - and, it appears, no end of evidence for past water. "We wouldn't have predicted any of this stuff from orbit," said John Grotzinger, MSL project scientist, of Caltech during a telebriefing on January 15th. "This is a great example of the occurrence of serendipity in scientific discovery."
"NASA will participate in the inauguration of President Obama with several events, including an open house, a star party and a NASA Social; exhibits on the National Mall and at NASA Headquarters; and with two floats and marchers in the inaugural parade. During the events Jan. 18 - 21, members of the public will have an opportunity to meet and mingle with several astronauts and members of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory team responsible for the Curiosity rover, which is five months into a two-year mission on the Red Planet."
"After weeks of searching, the Mars rover Curiosity's science and engineering teams have selected a fine-grained slab of Martian rock as the candidate target for the first rock drilling on Mars, a significant first in planetary exploration."
"The rock was selected Jan. 7 based on data about its composition, hardness, likelihood of generating powder needed to coat internal surfaces, and the safety of the drilling mechanism and rover when drilling this particular slab."
"Mars will be thrust into international politics during 2013 as India builds toward the planned November launch of its first Mars mission, an orbiter to study the Martian atmosphere and challenge China in a surging Asian space race."
"NASA Television shares this inspiring production by Italian videomaker, Giacomo Sardelli, about the International Space Station, its inhabitants, and its role in space exploration. Sardelli writes of the video, "I'm not the first one to use NASA's pictures taken from the International Space Station to craft a Timelapse video. You can find many of them on the Internet, that's where my inspiration came from. What I wanted to do, though, was to look beyond the intrinsic beauty of those pictures, and use them to tell a story and share the messages sent by the astronauts who worked on the station in the last 11 years."
Keith's note: NASA Watch is (more or less) on hiatus until 2 Jan 2013. Happy holidays.
If you are reading this over the holidays, then shame on you - unless you are a NASA contractor employee. If so, you have reason to be checking on the news. With the collapse of the budget deal with Congress, your government has failed you - and it looks like the fiscal cliff is something to really worry about. As we all know, when budget issues like this arise, NASA contractor employees are the first to feel it. This is completely above Charlie Bolden's pay grade and he has little (if any) flexibility as to how he deals with this.
From Craig Covault and A.J.S. Rayl "The first use the rover Curiosity's drill to obtain subsurface samples from inside a rock on Mars will be delayed until mid to late January to reduce risk to the rover during its first drilling operations."
"The delay is needed to complete extensive target rock "triage" to ensure that the heat from drilling friction will not cause the pounded rock sample to turn into a kind of gooey "Martian honey" that would foul rover components, perhaps fatally."
"A look back at the year that was at NASA in 2012. Highlights include the successful landing of the Mars Curiosity rover, the flight of the SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station and much more."
"The Obama administration's Asia team was caught so off guard by North Korea's Dec. 11 rocket launch, several of them actually had to put down their drinks and suddenly leave a holiday party being held in honor of the Japanese emperor's birthday."
Vietnam, US boost space technology cooperation, Vietnamnet.com
"At an exchange with senior high school students in Hanoi on December 11, Charles Bolden, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US, attributed his success to hard work, study and not being afraid of failure."
Keith's note: Bolden is also slated to visit Japan. Nothing has been posted by NASA about this trip. Now that North Korea's satellite has been launched, Bolden's activities in Japan have fallen completely off the radar.
CuriousMars: Opportunity Hunts for Clay Minerals on Matijevic Hill, A.J.S. Rayl and Craig Covault, SpaceRef
"The Mars rover Curiosity has been commanding headlines with its every move from its historic, breathtaking landing last August to its first major discovery of an ancient stream bed formed by fast flowing water. In recent week's rumors, speculation, and wild conspiracy theories about what Curiosity has found have demonstrated, if nothing else, just how much the public is interested in Mars.
Curiosity is this week zeroing in on its first drilling target, but driving downhill toward it slower than planned because of difficult terrain, said Rick Welch mission manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
But on the other side of the planet, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity has been quietly soldiering on in her younger sibling's shadows."
India Races China in Space For Asian Prestige, Military Security, Space Quarterly Magazine
"A surging space race between India and China is underway amidst nearly a dozen other Asian nations, like India, trying to avoid a loss of prestige or military security to China's aggressive space program."
Marc's note: A timely piece in light of North Korea's launch. You'll find more timely and thought provoking articles in the December issue of Space Quarterly Magazine which we just released. The following article is a free sample. It is our hope that if you enjoy this article you will consider subscribing to the magazine.
"Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds is the fifth installment in the National Intelligence Council's series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future. As with previous editions, we hope that this report will stimulate strategic thinking by identifying critical trends and potential discontinuities. We distinguish between megatrends, those factors that will likely occur under any scenario, and game-changers, critical variables whose trajectories are far less certain. In this volume, we expanded our coverage of disruptive technologies, devoting a separate section to it in the work. To accomplish that, we engaged with research scientists at DoE laboratories at Sandia, Oak Ridge, and NASA in addition to entrepreneurs and consultants in Silicon Valley and Santa Fe. We have also devoted strong attention to economic factors and the nexus of technology and economic growth."
Keith's note: Funny how NASA constantly gets tapped by other agencies when it comes to blueskying futuristic out of the box ideas - but when it comes to implementing these ideas inside of NASA ... well, that's another story.
"North American Aerospace Defense Command officials acknowledged today that U.S. missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch of a North Korean missile at 7:49 p.m. EST. The missile was tracked on a southerly azimuth. Initial indications are that the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea. The second stage was assessed to fall into the Philippine Sea. Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit."
"The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province by carrier rocket Unha-3 on December 12. The satellite entered its present orbit."
"The object that North Korea sent into space early Thursday appears to be "tumbling out of control" as it orbits the earth, U.S. officials told NBC News. The officials said that it is indeed some kind of space vehicle but they still haven't been able to determine exactly what the satellite is supposed to do."