"9:45 a.m. EDT - Hurricane Matthew has now passed offshore from Cape Canaveral and is north of Kennedy Space Center. The wind is starting to decline but remains near tropical storm strength. However, until the wind is consistently below 50 knots a crew cannot be sent outside to begin a more thorough look at KSC. That is expected sometime this afternoon. At this time there is observed to be limited roof damage to KSC facilities, water and electrical utilities services have been disrupted and there is scattered debris. Storm surge has been observed to be relatively minimal, limited to localized portions of the space center. The Damage Assessment and Recovery Team will be brought in for its formal assessment Saturday morning."
Recently in News Category
"With the increased popularity and accessibility of expanded media platforms, the federal government's ability to publicize information has changed rapidly, but the total scope of federal public relations activities is largely unknown. A number of factors makes it difficult to quantify the resources the federal government devotes to public relations. These factors include the expanded use of web-based platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, and the wide variety of activities that could be considered public relations, from publicizing health and safety bulletins to providing information on federal entitlements and benefits."
Keith's note: If you look at Table 3 (page 16), in FY 2014 NASA had 110 public relations employees whose aggregate salaries were $11,446,000 whereas DoD had 2,213 PR employees and an aggregate salaries of $176,644,000. If you look at Table 2 (page 11) between FY 2006 and FY 2015 NASA spent (on average) $3,415,000 on Advertising and public relations while DoD spent an average of $626,221,000. Of course, per Congressional legislation, NASA does not "advertise", right?
"Ars reached out to Kennedy Space Center's Amber Philman on Tuesday afternoon, and she said the center is currently at HURCON III status, which means officials there expect sustained 50 knot winds within 72 hours. Hurricane preparations and facility securing will begin Wednesday morning, she said. Other tenants are also closely watching the storm."
We are closing at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 5, due to Hurricane Matthew. The center will be closed on Thursday, Oct. 6 & Friday, Oct. 7.— NASA Kennedy / KSC (@NASAKennedy) October 5, 2016
NASA's HQ, one of D.C.'s largest federal leases, offered for sale, Washington Business Journal
"Piedmont Office Realty Trust wants to shed one of the largest federally leased office properties in Greater Washington, NASA's Southwest Washington headquarters - another sign that investment sales activity is gaining momentum heading into the fall buying season."
"John "Jack" Garman, a NASA engineer whose knowledge of the computer aboard Apollo 11 saved the historic first lunar landing from a last-minute abort, died on Tuesday (Sept. 20). He was 72."
"Garman's death came after a several year battle with bone marrow cancer, according to an email by his wife that was forwarded to the Johnson Space Center retiree community and then shared with collectSPACE."
Steve Bales and Jack Garman: Wonder Boys of the Apollo 11 Flight Control Team By Craig Collins, NASA (In the NASA's Innovators and Unsung Heroes Series)
Americans who know a bit about the Apollo Space Program may recall that the first manned lunar landing - during the Apollo 11 mission - was a split-second away from being aborted. Twenty-six-year-old guidance officer Steve Bales was a key flight control team member who kept his cool while the onboard computer in the lunar module sent out a series of alarms.
Keith's note: I am heading off to the UK on Tuesday for the rest of the week - so Marc will be doing the bulk of the posting until next Monday.
"During a news briefing from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California the science team involved with the Juno mission to Jupiter talked about the scientific goals of the mission.
This Fourth of July, the solar-powered Juno spacecraft will arrive at our solar system's most massive planet after an almost five-year journey. Once in Jupiter's orbit, the spacecraft will circle the Jovian world 37 times during 20 months, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops. This is the first time a spacecraft will orbit the poles of Jupiter, providing new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet's core, composition and magnetic fields."
Marc's note: NASA and Apple Music collaborated on short film, Visions of Harmony. The film and original music is available from the link in the tweet below on iTunes. It's worth watching.
"David Gilkey, an NPR photojournalist who chronicled pain and beauty in war and conflict, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday along with NPR's Afghan interpreter Zabihullah Tamanna. David and Zabihullah were on assignment for the network traveling with an Afghan army unit, which came under attack killing David and Zabihullah. David was 50 and Zabihullah, who for years also worked as a photographer, was 38-years-old."
Keith's note: I used to be a professional interpreter and I sometimes act like a journalist. And I have reported from somewhat dangerous places. But not like this team - not even remotely close. These guys pushed the envelope so that we could understand the hell that others are going through - in a way such that we can comfortably listen/read about all of it during our morning commute. Your enlightened world view has a human cost folks.
Keith's note: These are the pictures with the blurred display (lower right of astronaut) 1 and 2. Yet this NASA image is not blurred. But wait Boeing blurs part of another screen that NASA does not blur. What are they hiding - and why are some things
"blurable" by NASA and others by Boeing? Newsflash: Space.com has unblurred photos of the control panels. The Washington Post photo is not blurred. Neither is the photo in the Christian Science Monitor. Quick: throw these scoundrels in jail.
But wait: If you go to this NASA KSC Flickr image you can see it is not blurred on the simulator or the instructor's screen. There many other photos on the Flickr page that have not been blurred. So why blur it in a Youtube video, NASA/Boeing?
If there are reasons to blur something (proprietary/security) then fine. But shouldn't the things that are blurred/not blurred be handled the same way in all images not one way or another - or yet another - depending on which image you are looking at? If there is something that should not be made public then clearly not everyone is on the same page as to what it is. What is really funny is that you cannot read the words on the unblurred screens - the ones with diagrams which are much more revealing. The screen that is blurred is simply lines of text. Go figure.
(sigh) This is what the inside of the CST-100 really looks like. Not sure why NASA and Boeing are afraid to show people. Lots of blinking lights, etc.
Keith's update: NASA HQ PAO has informed me that my FOIA request for CASIS documents is now being processed. PAO tells me that the "media" status of NASAWatch is not an issue. The NASA FOIA office has initiated the search for what I have requested and will work with me on the details once FOIA at HQ and JSC get a handle on the size of what is found. I'll let you know what I hear back from NASA. I was very specific about the documents I requested - just the NASA/CASIS Cooperative agreement and regular CASIS status reports and NASA responses. Nothing else. Since Sam Scimemi is the CASIS POC at NASA, he'd have all this within easy reach, yes? After all, CASIS is responsible for 50% of the allocation in the U.S. segment of the ISS - so one would reasonably expect that Scimemi and his staff would take these reports very seriously. When I worked at NASA - even back in the day - I had everything organized in folders for projects I managed - either electronically or on paper so that others could find things if I was not in the office. One would think that this is a simple matter of going to Scimemi's desktop computer, electronically copying the files, dragging them into to an email, and then emailing them to me. Yes, I am applying logic here folks - will all the associated assumptions in so doing.
"Today, NASA Watch, the website that unabashedly critiques the U.S. space agency, turns 20 years old, and its founder Keith Cowing says they'll keep making "fun of NASA given an opportunity to do so." The site is respected (and resented, as Cowing will be the first to admit he is a thorn in many people's sides) by space fanatics, scientists, journalists, and NASA officials."
Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 20 on 1 Apr 2016. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 and was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on an ISDN line (see 20 Years Ago Today: The Seeds of NASAWatch). Here a few things from those early days that are still online:
- Rogue Webmasters, Government Executive, 1 Oct 1996
- NASA's Most Important Asset, Gerry Griffin, 31 December 1996
- Dan Goldin Comments to the Space Science Advisory Committee (SSAC) Meeting, 6/17/96
- Changes in Thinking At NASA November 29, 1996, PBS News Hour
Just to show you how things have changed, this photo should shock a few of you ... (well worth a click) - and no, it is not an April Fool's joke. Today, some up and coming bloggers and digeratti love to throw snark at me just like I threw it at Dan Goldin back in the day. Life is funny like that.
Those of you who have followed my 'other' exploits will know that I have had a certain interest in doing online updates from distant and extreme locations (Devon Island, Everest Base Camp, etc.). This website (still online), "The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-Term Research Project - Life in Extreme Environments; An Antarctic Field Journal", done with my friend Dale Andersen, was one of the very earliest websites actually updated from Antarctica.
People have been asking me to look back on things and pick the events that are most memorable. After all I have spent 1/3 of my life running this thing. I have been given many chances to do things because of my peculiar notoriety. This shaky video, done live with my friend Miles O'Brien - about our mutual friend Scott Parazynski - while this picture was being taken - is the one singular moment where it all came together.
Thanks to all of you for stopping by for the past 20 years.
Keith's note: NASA Watch officially turns 20 on Friday, 1 April. It started in 1996 as "NASA RIF Watch". The "RIF" was dropped when the threat of a RIF (Reduction in Force) under NASA Administrator Dan Goldin subsided. This is the news item I posted on the sci.space.policy USENET group on 28 March 1996 that pushed me to create a website (NASA RIF Watch) a few days later:
NASA is planning a RIF in Summer 1997
From: Keith L. Cowing
Date: Thurs, Mar 28 1996 12:00am
From a well-placed source at NASA HQ who participated in this meeting:
Mal Peterson (NASA HQ Comptroller's Office) personally briefed NASA program managers (Centers and HQ) yesterday (27 March) and gave instructions for planning and implementing a RIF by Summer 1997, the reduction to be completed by October 1998, to a total complement level of 17,500, as called for by the President for the year 2000, to be completed by 1998.
Vugraphs were shown concerning "the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing." (That is a direct quote) They have statistics on the number of personnel supposed to be within retirement range and everyone will be encouraged to retire asap, though these numbers will not prevent a RIF. He strongly indicated that congressional backing would be soon forthcoming.
Contrast this with what NASA says about its people in the Current Strategic Plan:
"Our greatest strength is our workforce. We aggressively build a team of highly qualified individuals that is representative, at all levels, of America's diversity. We foster a culture that is built on trust, respect, teamwork, communication, empowerment, and committment in an environment that is free of discrimination......"
"Speaking to a packed room of 200 stakeholders at the first Canadian SmallSat Symposium organized by the Canadian Space Commerce Association, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) President Sylvain Laporte signalled a new dialogue with stakeholders which is very much in tune with the openness of the new Liberal government." ...
"Laporte also indicated he has had ongoing discussions with the new ISED minister, Navdeep Bains and that he will meet senior leadership at NASA next month to discuss future collaboration."
"OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - U.S. Strategic Command systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch into space at 6:29 p.m. CST. The missile was tracked on a southerly launch over the Yellow Sea."
Highlights and Initial Thoughts From The DPRK Launch, Arms Control Wonk
"You can also expect the US and South Korea to attempt to recover the wreckage of the first and second stages of the rocket. In 2014, the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea documented many components of foreign origin."
"The U.S. Strategic Command said it had detected a missile entering space, and South Korea's military said the rocket had put an object into orbit. North Korea said the launch of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-4, named after late leader Kim Jong Il, was a "complete success" and it was making a polar orbit of Earth every 94 minutes."
"North Korea launched a satellite into space Sunday, its state media reported, triggering a wave of international condemnation and prompting the United States, South Korea and Japan to call for an emergency meeting of the U.N."
Keith's note: The issue of harassment - of all kinds - in all aspects of science - and elsewhere - is a pervasive, malignant issue that needs to be aggressively addressed - and eliminated - period. That said, how the space/astronomy community uses social media to address this issue needs a little more in the way of logic checks and community monitoring. I came across this tweet from an American Astronomical Society meeting attendee. The usually vocal Twitter crowd at AAS has been amazingly silent with regard to this tweet. This is the very first time in the 19.95 years of NASAWatch that profanity has ever appeared on this site. I hope it is the last time. Its use is the sign of a lazy mind, if nothing else. But in this case, it is news. Hence, I post it.
@HeavyFe_H if you've got the NASA Watch guy annoyed at you, you're definitely doing something right. :-)— Marshall Perrin (@marshallperrin) January 8, 2016
And yes, there is a certain pot-kettle-black issue here on NASA Watch. I certainly push the envelope. But there is a clear line between commenting on someone's opinion - and commenting on the person - as a person. Using threatening, profane comments clearly crosses the line. What has been really astonishing is seeing the way that AAS members use Twitter to harass people - who raise issues about harassment. Eye opening. AAS needs to take a close look - at how they take a close look - at harassment.
"As Britain's first European Space Agency astronaut prepares for his historic launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on 15 December, the Government is publishing the UK's first ever National Space Policy - firmly placing the UK on the global stage for future space programmes.
With the UK aiming to become the European hub for commercial spaceflight and related space sector technologies, this new policy sets out the Government's vision to capture a greater share of the world's thriving space market. Working across the UK in partnership with the rapidly growing sector, this One Nation policy will see ensure the UK seizes opportunities to deliver new business opportunities, create jobs and push the boundaries of our understanding of space."
Keith's note: NASA pays lots of money to send the endlessly-talented photographer/videographer Bill Ingalls to Russia - he breaks technology barriers whenever he can - with clear style - yet NASA PAO/NASA Social cannot find a way to link to his live event when he goes to the trouble of offering it? I am truly baffled. I did this sort of thing live from Everest Base Camp back in 2009. Its not easy but its not hard. Now NASA does it - but stumbles upon itself to find out how to tweet a simple web link?
- NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden will speak at the Center of American Progress at 10 am ET. The event will be live-streamed on NASA TV and on the CAP website
- NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot will deliver keynote remarks at the Von Braun Symposium at 1:30 pm ET remarks will be live streamed here.
- The NASA FISO Telecon on "The James Webb Space Telescope" telecon starts at 3 pm ET. Details here.
- The NASA Landing Site/Exploration Zone Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars will be streamed all day. Details here
- The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Fall Symposium will be live streamed all day. Details here.
Keith's note: JSC used to be so proud of its X-38 program. Not any more. The X-38 V-201 orbital test vehicle is currently sitting atop its ground mobility carrier outside at JSC behind Building 49. It is totally exposed to the elements and sitting next to a trash dumpster. You can even see it in Google Maps. Click on images to enlarge.
C'mon JSC. How much would it cost someone to go to Home Depot at lunch time to buy one of those blue tarps everyone in Houston uses on their roofs after a hurricane? Why not donate this X-38 to Space Center Houston if you can't think of anything better to do with it than to park it outside next to a dumpster?
JSC got all upset about not getting a Space Shuttle and yet this is how they treat a spacecraft they built all by themselves?
- JSC Is Abandoning NASA History, earlier post
- More History To Be Destroyed in Huntsville, earlier post
- The Continued Rotting of Skylab, earlier post
- X-38 Put in Storage at Johnson Space Center, earlier post
"NASA and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) of the Ministry of Science signed a new civil space cooperation agreement on October 13, 2015. The agreement was signed by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Menachem Kidron - Director General of the Israel Space Agency during the International Astronautical Congress hosted in Jerusalem by the ISA. The last agreement between NASA and the ISA was signed in 1996 and remained in effect until 2005. The two sides agreed that now is the right time to renew their commitment to their mutual cooperation. The new agreement, which is more far-reaching and in-depth than its predecessor, will enable NASA and ISA to cooperate in the exploration and research of space for the betterment of mankind and for peaceful use."
"The opening ceremony featured several speeches from dignitaries including the Minister of Science of Israel, Ofir Akunis and the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat. Of note, both the mayor and Minister spoke on the recent wave of violence which later in the evening hit a little too close for comfort for the delegates as an Arab man stabbed and tried to grab the gun of an Israel Defense Force soldier just 200 meters from the International Convention Center on a bus while the welcome reception was underway. The attacker was killed in the skirmish, which also lightly injured one other person."
"China for its part stressed the desire to have full international cooperation with other countries. This idea, which was later brought up during the Q&A, elicited a response from NASA's administrator Charles Bolden that NASA was "temporarily" unable to cooperate with China and that he felt they were "on the outside, looking in" as other nations, including all on the panel, were discussing cooperative projects with China."
"Israel's space program was born out of military need, but in recent years the civil space program has received an infusion of funding and next week it will host the annual International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem."
Marc's note: Charlie Bolden will take part in the annual Heads of Agencies plenary next Monday.
I will be at Congress covering it with stories to be posted here.
Related: Q&A with Isaac Ben-Israel, Chairman of the Israel Space Agency, SpaceNews
Marc's note: It's election season north of the border with Canada heading to the polls to elect a new federal government on Monday, October 19th. Rarely does space enter the election picture. This year is different. In the last week one news story with national reach and an editorial have put space on the election map.
The Canadian Space Commerce Association, of which I'm the Executive Director, issued a press release two days after the election was called calling on all federal parties to commit to a long-term space plan to be completed by the end of 2016 with input from all stakeholders. The three main parties who have a chance to form the next government were contacted along with the media. The Canadian Press (Canada's equivalent to the AP) picked up on the story.
The good news is that the Liberals and New Democratic Party (NDP) have both committed to a long-term space plan. The ruling Conservatives had no comment. Here's the first story.
Liberals and NDP promise long-term space plan if elected, Canadian Press
The other news item is an editorial which appeared in yesterday's Ottawa Citizen from David Emerson who led a government mandated independent national review of the aerospace sector in 2012. Emerson is highly respected and a former government Cabinet Minister.
"The next, most critical stage will be a concrete plan for long-term investments in space infrastructure. Such a plan would include commitments to space investment priorities reflecting the needs of Canada, the operational objectives of government departments and agencies, and Canada's industrial capabilities."
The election result will determine which direction Canada heads. If the current Conservative government is re-elected the current course will be maintained which may not be a positive sign. If either of the opposition parties win, then positive change should happen.
"Breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m. with remarks followed by a question-and-answer session at 9 a.m. The event ends at 10:00 a.m. Tickets cost $23 for Press Club members (NPC Members may purchase 2 tickets at this rate) and $37 for all other non-member tickets."
Keith's note: Funny thing about this National Press Club event - news media have to actually pay to cover the events with NASA employees participating - even if they do not eat the rubbery, over-salted food. In addition, the National Press Club refuses to credential online space media for events that they do not charge for. I have been waiting for years for them to get back to me to explain exactly how I certify who I am and what I do. Here in Washington DC, people who show up at events with self-created media credentials end up talking to security/police in this post 9-11 world. But guess what: I'd have to self-credential myself since I am my own editor. NASA gave up on issuing media badges years ago. The release says "To submit a question in advance, put SPACETALK in the subject line and email to email@example.com before 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 11.". Yea like it will get asked. Truth be known these events are more like exclusive old boy network entertainment than "news". The questions that actually get asked by the NPC gatekeeper are so vapid and soft-ball as to not be worth the bother of answering - or covering.
"For $79 plus shipping, you can buy a reprint of a long-obsolete federal government publication. The captivating title? "National Aeronautics and Space Administration Graphics Standards Manual." It may not be a page turner, but among certain design and space aficionados, it is a cherished piece of history. A Kickstarter campaign begun on Tuesday aims to raise $158,000 to finance a high-quality hardcover printing of this bureaucratic relic."
LOST IN SPACE; Meatballs Devour Worms!!, NY Times (1999)
"Keith Cowing, an ex-NASA payload manager who documents worm sightings on the NASA Watch Web site, raps Goldin's subordinates for obsessively hiding the worm from the boss. A NASA spokesman protests, saying the agency is worming itself -- harmlessly -- over time (old letterhead will be used up, etc.): ''If someone decides they better go and eradicate this, that or the other thing, it's not because of Goldin.''
Reissue of the 1975 NASA Graphics Standards Manual, Kickstarter
Keith's note: Alas, my old NASAWatch "Worm Watch" feature fell offline a long time ago when we did a website update. I always thought that my "wormball" would have been the perfect compromise. Oh well. Truth be known, the whole impetus behind the meatball Vs worm logo change speaks much more to Goldin's interest in getting NASA to change than an actual obsession with the logo - even if it seemed that way at the time. Indeed, it was emblematic of the issue of resistance to change with NASA. If someone could not follow a simple concept and managerial direction of replacing a logo then how could they be expected to do more the complex things needed to transform the agency?
Keith's note: Released 20 Aug 2015. Lots of NASA logos, hardware, facilities seen by
7,756,789 15,747,636 18,164,860 21,272,171 29,390,085 young viewers so far. Priceless.
NASA just hit a home run in terms of being in front of millions of eyeballs. A tweet was sent to 24,700,000 @OneDirection followers and was subsequently retweeted/favorited 77,000 times. @NASA also sent a tweet to its 11,900,000 followers which was then retweeted/favorited 50,000 times. Since there is likely minor overlap between @OneDirection and @NASA you can safely assume that the reach was additive i.e. more than 36.6 million Twitter followers reached - that's more than the equivalent of 10% of the united States population. Then there's their official One Direction Facebook page (with 38,000,000 likes) which also features the video - more than the combined Twitter reach combined. And so on.
What an opportunity to reach a population demographic that is simply vast in numbers - right? You'd think that space advocacy organizations (who, after all, want the public to share in their fascination with space) would be overjoyed about this and want to make sure that their members know about it - and to use this as an example of the broad appeal of space exploration. Guess again. Is there any mention at the Planetary Society's website or their Twitter @exploreplanets? No. Just pictures of nerds. As for National Space Society, they're sound asleep. And so on. Space advocates are just sleep walking though this whole space advocacy thing. As such they are increasingly irrelevant.
Keith's note: NASA used some rather expensive astronaut time to set up this photo, take it, send it back to Earth, and post it online. This project "NASA, UN Photo Competition Highlights Why Space Matters on Earth" announced by NASA on 16 June 2015. The intent was good. Seriously. But looking at the follow-up and popularity of the #whyspacematters hashtag on Twitter ... well, its not so good. Too bad. This is a most noble and desirable effort and is emblematic of the uses of space utilization with an intentional global impact.
Perhaps NASA PAO, UNOOSA, et al can promote this a little better? (Hint).
Too bad that the Planetary Society, National Space Society, Space Frontier Foundation etc. are not doing more to promote this. But then again ... space advocates really do not do well outside of their self-limiting comfort zones. Nor do they care to do so.
What a perfect opportunity to get outside the usual space advocacy comfort zone. Space advocacy needs to be inclusive, intrinsically expansive, but grounded in sociopolitical reality. Alas, space advocacy is currently exclusive, insular, tone deaf, elitist, and inherently inbred. Yea, like that is how we get nations to expend billions to expand outward into our solar system - using someone else's tax dollars.
Caption: "NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is photographed in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) holding a sign with the hashtag #whyspacematters. NASA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have launched a global photography competition to highlight how the vantage point of space helps us better understand our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future by aiding sustainable development on Earth. ISS043E294202 (06/10/2015) - Larger image."
"Joined by an all-star cast of scientists that included Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees, Frank Drake, Geoff Marcy and Ann Druyan, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced that he was personally funding a series of new initiatives to kickstart the search for life in the universe called Breakthrough Initiatives."
"The first of two initiatives announced today, Breakthrough Listen, will be the most powerful, comprehensive and intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth. The second, Breakthrough Message, will fund an international competition to generate messages representing humanity and planet Earth, which might one day be sent to other civilizations."
Marc's note: $100 million over 10 years is a significant investment in SETI and includes an all-star team. One member of the all-star team mentioned above is former NASA Ames Director Pete Worden as the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.
"By special request from the film producers of the upcoming major motion picture "The Martian," NASA and Kennedy Space Center employees have been invited to participate in a group photo session on Thursday, June 11, at 7:30 a.m. This opportunity will take place at the KSC Visitor Complex Rocket Garden and should last no longer than one hour. The first 200 people to show up will be included in the photo. Be advised that the photo will be altered so that 10-15 faces will be superimposed by actual cast members from the movie."
Keith's note: It is rather odd for NASA KSC to invite people to a photo shoot with movie stars who will not be there and then be told that 10-15 of the people who show up will be replaced by the movie stars - who are not there. And then the photo will presumably be used to show how people who never actually met the movie star worked with those movie stars.
"On 24 April 2015 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal - a nation woefully unprepared to respond to such an event. Dozens of aftershocks have rattled the country daily for the past month. One especially large aftershock of magnitude 7.4 on 12 May caused the already-shattered infrastructure to collapse further. Nepal needed help - help that did not rely upon a non-functional infrastructure. Much of the help was traditional. But some of that help arrived in the form of assets in space and space-derived assets on the ground."
"Over the past year, the Office of Inspector General has raised concerns about the sustainability of NASA's varied missions given that the Agency's "top-line" funding level is likely to remain relatively flat for at least the next several years. Accordingly, we believe the principal challenge facing NASA leaders is to effectively manage the Agency's varied programs in an uncertain budget environment."
ISS Orbit Correction Failed, Sputnik News
"Engines of the Progress M-26M cargo spacecraft, which is currently docked to the International Space Station (ISS), did not start on time, and a planned correction of the ISS orbit could not be carried out, a source in the Russian Federal Space Agency said Saturday."
"A reboost of the International Space Station using the Russian Progress 58 cargo craft was completed successfully on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CDT. A previous attempt on Friday evening was aborted one second into the burn automatically by the Progress vehicle. Russian flight controllers identified an issue with one of the eight thrusters on the spacecraft that was disabled for Sunday's backup attempt."
Russian Proton Rocket Experiences Anomaly Shortly After Launch [With Video], SpaceRef Business
"Almost exactly to the day a year after Russia lost a Proton-M rocket, yet another Proton-M has failed. In this latest setback to the Russian commercial space program, today's Proton-M rocket appeared to launch normally, but failed soon into the launch and did not deliver its payload, a Mexican satellite, to orbit."
Marc's note: The Russians must be besides themselves with all these anomalies ongoing. It begs the question, if the Progress and Protons are having issues, could the venerable Soyuz have issues going forward?
"We concluded that although NASA complied with IPIA, it can improve its risk assessment process, payment recapture audits, and annual reporting. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which issues implementing guidance for IPIA, an agency must meet six criteria to comply with the Act, including conducting a program-specific risk assessment for each program or activity and publishing and posting on its website an AFR each year. NASA met all applicable OMB criteria for FY 2014.
However, as discussed in our previous IPIA reports, we continue to believe NASA can improve its risk assessment process to increase the likelihood of identifying improper payments."
"The reason the Eagleworks lab presents results in unrefereed conference proceedings and Internet posts, according to Eric Davis, a physicist at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, is that no peer-reviewed journals will publish their papers. Even arXiv, the open-access pre-print server physicists default to, has reportedly turned away Eagleworks results. Why the cold shoulder? Either flawed results or flawed theory. Eagleworks' results so far are very close to the threshold of detectionwhich is to say, barely perceptible by their machinery. That makes it more likely that their findings are a result of instrument error, and their thrust measurements don't scale up with microwave input as you might expect. Plus, the physics and math behind each of their claims is either flawed or just...nonexistent."
Keith's note: Wired.com did some leg work. Yet despite all of this speculative PR NASA JSC PAO has still not said a single thing about any of this during the recent online flurry of stories about advanced propulsion research that NASA is openly funding.
- Ellen Ochoa's Warp Drive Gizmo, earlier post
"NASA, according to NASASpaceFlight.com, is quietly claiming to have successfully tested a revolutionary new means of space travel that could one day allow for such insane speed, and to have done it in a hard vacuum like that of outer space for the first time."
Has NASA Accidentally Invented The Warp Drive?, Huffington Post
"NASA has been experimenting with a revolutionary new propulsion system called the EmDrive and after some preliminary analysis there's some evidence that it is actually creating a warp field."
Keith's note: More claims about Ellen Ochoa's warp drive gizmo at JSC that NASA refuses to talk about because they're embarrassed and/or clueless.
- JSC's Warp Drive: Fact or Fluff?, earlier post
- Clarifying NASA's Warp Drive Program, earlier post
- JSC's Strange Thruster Violates The Laws of Physics, earlier post
Keith's note: Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye (The Science Guy®) is certainly having fun these days. I guess its perfectly normal to brag about getting a flight on Air Force One (I'm absolutely certain that I would too) but when you are flying on a 747 that only carries a small number of people (carbon footprint anyone?) for an Earth Day event, and then you take others to task on environmental and scientific issues, well ... this wins the NASAWatch clueless Tweet of the day award.
And yes, yes, yes, the plane would have flown anyway and if Nye did not sit in one of the seats then someone else would have and the carbon footprint would have remained the same. For all we know Nye reimbursed the government for the actual full cost of his seat and has personally sequestered enough carbon in the ground or bought carbon credits to make this trip carbon neutral. But since he's all about being in the spotlight, wouldn't a more useful public thing for The Science Guy® Nye focus on something that anyone, anywhere could do to protect our environment - one that did not include selfie opportunities on Air Force One? Just wondering. That's what Earth Day used to be about.
NASA Chooses Plucky Option B for Asteroid Redirect Mission, Space Policy Online
"Lightfoot was poised to reveal the Option A versus B choice in December, but when it came time for the press conference, said only that more time was needed. NASA has not publicly stated what came up at the last minute. Rumors are that Option B was the choice then, too. The December press conference was announced with 6 hours notice; today's notice was only 2 hours and the briefing was exactly at the same time as Dava Newman's nomination to be NASA Deputy Administrator was being considered by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee (it was approved by the committee)."
NASA Public Affairs Is Not Interested in Dawn or Ceres, earlier post
"Dwayne Brown from NASA SMD PAO only gave trivial advance notice for media to register for a telecon regarding Dawn entering orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres. Dwayne sent a media advisory out at 12:56 pm ET for a 2:00 pm ET telecon - and only gave media 45 minutes to contact him for dial-in information. Smart move to send this out while half of the U.S. was eating lunch. Only 2 media actually dialed in to ask questions."
Keith's note: NASA has become increasingly gun shy about announcing its big decisions. It is also increasingly inept when it comes to assembling media briefings on these decisions - as well as major mission events. Recently they continually kicked the can down the road on commercial crew and totally bungled a Dawn event. And yet NASA gets all bent out of shape when the media does not pay attention to their news or the spin that they try to put on it. Duh, I wonder why.
Keith's note: If the QM-1 SRB engine is going to burn for 126 seconds (per NASA) that means that 693 million pounds of propellant will be used - or 693 million tons - depending on which Tweet you believe. But wait: the whole SRB only weighs 1.6 million pounds. Hmm ... NASA's infographic says that it is only burning 5.5 tons per second. No "million" pounds or tons is mentioned. Clearly @NASASocial needs to spend a little more time reading before tweeting.
"The Senate U.S. - China Economic and Security Review Commission held a hearing on February 18, 2015 on China's Space and Counterspace Programs. All of the testimony is now available along with the webcast."
Johnson-Freese: Why Wolf is Wrong About U.S.-China Space Cooperation, Space Policy Online
"Joan Johnson-Freese explained to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission today why former Rep. Frank Wolf was wrong to effectively ban all U.S.-China bilateral space cooperation. Wolf retired at the end of the last Congress, but his successor as chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA holds similar views."
Keith's note: There are a surprising number of people associated with the so-called "NewSpace" crowd who do not seem to find this sort of reprehensible public behavior on Twitter (see screen grab below) by a semi-prominent blogger/pundit/supporter of their ilk (one regularly accredited as news media) as evidenced at the FAA CST conference this week in Washington, DC - to be in any way objectionable.
Newsflash: Don't be surprised when no one cares what you think.
I have had to block several profane comments. There are a number of comments that condone these comments because they are funny (in their minds). These responses are almost as troubling as the original Twitter post and speak to some strange opinions as to what is considered to be appropriate public behavior. Yet another troubling aspect of some of the adherents of the NewSpace meme. Grow up guys.
Image with Twitter comments after the link.
NASA: Night Time View of the Blizzard of 2015, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
"A combination of the day-night band and high resolution infrared imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite shows the historic blizzard near peak intensity as it moves over the New York through Boston Metropolitan areas at 06:45Z (1:45 am EST) on January 27, 2015. The night time lights of the region are blurred by the high cloud tops associated with the most intense parts of the storm."
"NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) has released its latest Inside KSC video feature. This weeks video takes a look at some of KSC's upcoming missions including the Cargo Resupply mission by SpaceX, the SMAP and DSCOVR launches and the MMS mission."
"On January 5, 2015, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest filed by Sierra Nevada Corp., of Louisville, Colorado, challenging the award of contracts to The Boeing Co., Space Exploration, of Houston, Texas, and to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), of Hawthorne, California, by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract (CCtCap)."
Keith's note NASA PAO has released this statement: "The GAO has notified NASA that it has denied Sierra Nevada Corporation's protest of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract awards. NASA is pleased the GAO's decision allows the agency to move forward and continue working with Boeing and SpaceX on the Launch America initiative that will enable safe and reliable crew transportation to and from the International Space Station on American spacecraft launched from the United States, ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia for such transportation. The case remains under the protective order and blackout until the GAO releases its decision."
This Week in Space - January 5-11, 2015, SpaceRef Business
"Here are some of the highlights for the coming week. As always, you can add an event to our events calendar by using this form. You can also take advantage of low advertising pricing, starting at $75/mth, to further promote your event or product on the SpaceRef network of websites."
Russia Launches Angara 5 on Maiden Test Flight [With Video], SpaceRef Business
"Russia today successfully launched the Angara 5 rocket on its first test flight. The rocket carried a dummy payload. The Angara 5 flew with five first stage cores strapped together and a Breeze M upper stage.
The Angara 5 is meant to replace Russia's heavy-lift Proton rocket and would become the workhorse of the Russian fleet tasked with primarily launching military payloads. A future super heavy-lift Angara 7 is also planned, if needed."
"The Angara launch is a proper response to the Western sanctions and confirmation of Russia's ability to make new achievements, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said."
"Russia successfully carried out the first test launch of a newest heavy-class Angara A5 rocket on Tuesday. The rocket was launched at Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia's northern Arkhangelsk region at 08:57 a.m. Moscow Time (0557 GMT), according to the Defense Ministry press service."
"In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency's journey to Mars -- testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel."
"We continued to make great progress on our journey to Mars this year, awarding contracts to American companies who will return human space flight launches to U.S. soil, advancing space technology development; and successfully completing the first flight of Orion, the next deep space spacecraft in which our astronauts will travel," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "We moved forward on our work to create quieter, greener airplanes and develop technologies to make air travel more efficient; and we advanced our study of our changing home planet, Earth, while increasing our understanding of others in our solar system and beyond."
Marc's Note: The press release includes a video whereby astronaut Reid Wiseman explains why he uses social media and its importance.
Keith's noteThe NASA Advisory Committee is meeting 14-15 January 2015 at NASA Stennis. NASA staff have managed to find a unique way to format Federal Register notices so as to be all but useless. No one proof reads these things any more.
The nuclear reactor in your basement, NASA Global Climate Change
"Several labs have blown up studying LENR and windows have melted," according to Dennis Bushnell, Langley's chief scientist, in an article he wrote for NASA's Future Innovation website. This, he wrote, indicates that "when the conditions are 'right' prodigious amounts of energy can be produced and released." But it's also an argument for the approach that the Langley researchers favor: master the theory first."
Keith's note: Looks like Bob Silberg at JPL fell for the Cold Fusion story - using only LaRC web postings as a source. LaRC even took down the links that Silberg cited. This post has been sitting online at NASA for more than a year and no one noticed.
"Delegates from around the world were treated to Canadiana during the opening ceremonies of the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto. Highlights included a love story on ice, a cross country taste of Canadian music including fiddlers from Nova Scotia and First Nations from British Columbia and of course an appearance by former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who galvanized the world with his social media presence during his stay aboard the International Space Station."
"Space Exploration Technologies Corp. employees on Monday launched a putative class action suit in California court accusing it of fostering a racist working environment in which certain workers were subjected to slurs and passed over for promotions, making this the third employee suit to befall the rocket manufacturer in less than a month."
Marc's note: I reached out to SpaceX for a comment on this new lawsuit. Here's the response from John Taylor their Communications Director.
"SpaceX rejects these allegations and will vigorously defend itself in court. At SpaceX, we don't care about your gender, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, age or anything else of that nature--to succeed here, the only requirement is to work hard and produce outstanding results.
"Earlier this year SpaceX completed its annual review cycle and as a result of those reviews, approximately 4% of our workforce were let go. Given the ambitious goals of the company, the standards for work performance at SpaceX are very high. It is critical that all employees meet this standard."
"Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) with Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic is developing a preliminary design and flight demonstration plan for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Experimental Spaceplane XS-1 program.
XS-1 has a reusable booster that when coupled with an expendable upper stage provides affordable, available and responsive space lift for 3,000-pound class spacecraft into low Earth orbit. Reusable boosters with aircraft-like operations provide a breakthrough in space lift costs for this payload class, enabling new generations of lower cost, innovative and more resilient spacecraft."
"In the next session, with USNORTHCOM chief Adm. Charles Jacoby, Stewart approached the three of us media and said she'd heard we were taking pictures of the presentations and slides. This is not allowed, she said, and she would have officers compel us to remove these files from our phones. The three of us noted her concerns but declined; she eventually walked away. Anticipating a phone show down, I tweeted the slides."
"During his presentation to the full room of SMD attendees, [Vice Admiral James Syring, Director of the Missile Defense Agency] showed a series of slides detailing work done by MDA. Using slides is a common procedure at such conferences and it's typical for reporters and others to take pictures and post the slides to social media or use them for future reference when writing about the presentation. At the bottom of Syring's slides were the words "Approved for Public Release." [Amy Butler senior Pentagon editor for Aviation Week] started tweeting images of 12 slides in succession. At the bottom of Syring's slides were the words "Approved for Public Release." Butler started tweeting images of 12 slides in succession. That's when things took a turn for the worse."
"Reporters and even patrons were sternly warned by on-site security not to take photos anywhere in the Von Braun Center, even though there was no mention of such a policy in writing, on signs or on the conference website. During Syring's speech, a number of reporters tweeted pictures of his briefing slides that contained historical information about US missile defense tests conducted over the past 20 years. The slides were marked "Approved for Public Release."
"Earlier this week, Wired reported on an unusual engine designed and tested by researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Dubbed the "Cannae drive," the propulsion system is similar to the so-called EmDrive, a "reactionless" engine proposed years ago by british engineer Roger Shawyer and popularized in a 2006 writeup in New Scientist. Both space drives are designed to convert electric power into thrust by bouncing microwaves around in a closed container, thereby eliminating the need for onboard propellant. The concept has beenroundly criticized for appearing to violate the law of conservation of momentum."
"Now, American scientist Guido Fetta and a team at NASA Eagleworks--the advanced propulsion skunkworks led by Dr Harold "Sonny" White at the Johnson Space Center--have published a new paper that demonstrates that a similar engine working on the same principles does indeed produce thrust. Their model, however, produces much less thrust--just 30 to 50 micronewtons. But it works, which is amazing on its own. They haven't explained why their engine works, but it does work."
Anomalous Thrust Production from an RF Test Device Measured on a Low-Thrust Torsion Pendulum, NASA Technical Reports Server
"This paper describes the eight-day August 2013 test campaign designed to investigate and demonstrate viability of using classical magnetoplasmadynamics to obtain a propulsive momentum transfer via the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. This paper will not address the physics of the quantum vacuum plasma thruster, but instead will describe the test integration, test operations, and the results obtained from the test campaign."
Nasa validates 'impossible' space drive, Wired UK
"Nasa is a major player in space science, so when a team from the agency this week presents evidence that "impossible" microwave thrusters seem to work, something strange is definitely going on. Either the results are completely wrong, or Nasa has confirmed a major breakthrough in space propulsion."
"In the paper, NASA seemed reluctant to dive into the drive's mysterious physics. They wrote nothing to suggest how, exactly, the force was produced. In fact, the mysterious drive actually worked even when they modified it in such a way it shouldn't have produced any thrust, suggesting the mechanics of the system are hazily understood. The one exception was a reference, in the paper's abstract, to a possible interaction with the "quantum vacuum virtual plasma."
Keith's note: JSC sure has some far out stuff under development. You'd think that they'd want to talk about it. But they don't. You'd think that they'd feel some compulsion to tell taxpayers what their money is being spent on - especially if it is cool. Guess again.
Could it be that this thing does not actually work - and NASA is afraid to admit that it doesn't work? This is a much more plausible explanation.
I asked some questions about all of this exotic propulsion stuff going on behind closed doors at JSC last year and got this semi-responsive reply back. The researcher behind all of this secret stuff is Harold G. White. According to people.nasa.gov here is how you contact him: email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 281.482.0178. Every time this guy's research pops up in the news JSC PAO hides under their desks.
-"Interstellar": A (Missed) Opportunity for NASA to be Relevant?, earlier post
- Clarifying NASA's Warp Drive Program, earlier post
- NASA's Super Secret Warp Drive Program, earlier post
- Warp Drive Research at NASA JSC, earlier post
- JSC's Warp Drive: Fact or Fluff?, earlier post
"We used to look up in the sky and wonder - at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt."
Keith's note: What will NASA do in terms of public outreach when "Interstellar" is released? They dropped the ball when it came to "Avatar" and the producers of "Gravity" never bothered to seek out NASA's help. This film is expected to touch deeply upon themes that point to the core of what NASA does - and will do so in a manner that leaps beyond the usual preaching to the choir that NASA does inside its own self-reinforcing echo chamber.
What (if anything) do you think NASA should do?
Oh yes, NASA is funding a warp drive project. But they do not want to talk about it.
Why? What are they afraid of?
The researcher behind all of this is Harold G. White. According to people.nasa.gov here is how you contact him:email: email@example.com Phone: 281.482.0178
- Clarifying NASA's Warp Drive Program, earlier post
- NASA's Super Secret Warp Drive Program, earlier post
- Warp Drive Research at NASA JSC, earlier post
- JSC's Warp Drive: Fact or Fluff?, earlier post
"However, it is important to know that such an "open data" policy is not the norm for most ESA and NASA missions. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray observatory, the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, or for that matter, the NASA Mars orbiters, are all subject to a so-called "proprietary period", as are the data from ESA's Mars Express, XMM-Newton, and Rosetta, for example. This period, typically 6-12 months, gives exclusive access to the data to the scientists who built the instruments or to scientists who made a winning proposal to make certain observations. In ESA's case, the length of the period is decided by our Member States when a mission is selected, although in some cases, the period is made shorter when a mission has been in operation for some time."
"Before reviving a zombie spacecraft, Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowing traveled to the past to rescue a trove of early moon photographs that otherwise would have been destined for oblivion. They did not actually time travel, but that might have been easier. Mr. Wingo, an entrepreneur and an engineer, and Mr. Cowing, the editor in chief of the NASA Watch website, had confidence that they could decipher decades-obsolete NASA equipment, because, as Mr. Cowing said, "we've done this before." ... The earlier project involved 1,500 magnetic tapes and a couple of old, broken tape drives. In 1966 and 1967, NASA sent five robotic spacecraft, the Lunar Orbiters, to photograph the moon's surface to help find safe landing sites for the Apollo astronauts. The tapes, which recorded the original high-resolution images, and the tape drives ended up in the garage of a former NASA employee, and Mr. Wingo and Mr. Cowing embarked on a quixotic mission to retrieve the images."
U.K. Government Paves Way for Spaceport [With Video], SpaceRef Business
"The UK's bid to become Europe's leading space nation took a giant leap forward today as government revealed the 8 locations now under consideration to base Britain's first spaceport.
Speaking at Farnborough Air Show's 'Space Day', Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill and Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency Dr David Parker unveiled the findings of a recent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report highlighting 8 possible airfields that could host a spaceport and the economic opportunities it could open up for the UK."
@OrbitalSciences When is the Antares launch? Please issue an update on the launch date.— NASA Wallops (@NASA_Wallops) July 2, 2014
Keith's note: I have seen some lazy PAO staff but this one takes the cake. Are there any pros at Wallops PAO? How about picking up a telephone and calling Orbital?
Keith's update: Earlier today I sent the original response out via @ISEE3 Reboot - obviously by mistake since I thought I was using @NASAWatch. My apologies. I was live tweeting while sitting in a hospital room with a familiy member in critical condition and did not click the correct button on a small computer screen. I made a mistake just like the NASA Wallops PAO team did.
Keith's update: Someone deleted the tweet. This is what it looked like.
"The This Week At NASA crew is on a short mid-year hiatus -- but we thought we'd leave you with a quick look back at some of the big and exciting news featured so far in 2014 on This Week at NASA."
Marc's note: Ok, we'll forgive them for issuing a mid-year report five months into the year. Just take it for what it is, a condensed look back at the first five months highlights in five minutes. Enjoy!
"Using their Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), the 10-mile wide object was found approximately 51 million miles from Earth. Scientists believe that during a close encounter with Mars, the asteroid was nudged slightly off its usual orbit and may currently be on a high speed collision course with our fragile planet. The asteroid is calculated to have a potentially lethal encounter with the Earth on March 35, 2041. Astronomers have placed the odds of an impact at 1 in 2.04, which is by far the most unprecedented risk ever faced to humanity, let alone from asteroids. Such an impact could potentially end civilization as we know it."
Keith's note: March 35? No comment from NASA. Love the tags: "beiber, war, gaming, stocks, science, cyrus, space, obama, earth, states" Screen grab
Keith's update: This news story was removed after being online for nearly 24 hours.
Oops. CNN runs bogus story saying asteroid has 1 in 2.04 odds of destroying Earth, Knight Science Journalism at MIT
"I emailed Keith Cowing to find if there was any NASA announcement that might have been misinterpreted or distorted. It looks more like a prank that was way too easy to pull off. "As for what happened: (my guess) long weekend combined with lax review standards," he said. The post is pretty cleverly written. Marcus575 put some thought into making it read like a real news story. And like most hoaxes, there's a lesson in it. CNN has not responded to a request for comment. The Tracker would also welcome comments from Marcus575."
Oops now the link says this: "CNN PRODUCER NOTE NASA has confirmed via email that this story is false. A spokewoman for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that the largest object detected by NEOWISE measures 3 km in diameter and poses no risk to Earth. The iReport has been removed. - davidw, CNN iReport producer"
- CNN destroyed by huge asteroid, Salon
- CNN Asteroid Hoax: No, An Asteroid Will Not Extinguish All Life In 2041, Huffington post UK
- Wait, So There's Not a Giant Asteroid Hurling Toward Us After All?
"While acknowledging these and other achievements, we believe that NASA will continue to be challenged to effectively manage its varied programs in the current budget and political environment. We agree with the observation made by the National Research Council in its 2012 report examining NASA's strategic direction and management that, in effect, too many programs are chasing too few dollars at NASA. Accordingly, we continue to view declining budgets and fiscal uncertainties as the most significant external challenges to NASA's ability to successfully move forward on its many projects and programs."
Keith's note: NASA OIG dumps on NASA for IT issues but they can't even post documents such that their text can be copied and pasted.
"After NASA this week announced it would delay its decision to clean up a long-contaminated Santa Susana lab site, neighbors began calling foul, claiming the tainted area is making them sick. Years of rocket engine testing has made roughly 450 acres of land -- located between Simi Valley and Canoga Park -- toxic. NASA also tested nuclear reactors in the area more than 50 years ago, and nearby residents say radiation has seeped from the site for years without them knowing."
Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 18 on 1 Apr 2014. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 and was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on an ISDN line. Here a few things from those early days that are still online:
- Rogue Webmasters, Government Executive, 1 Oct 1996
"A committee of headquarters employees nominated Cowing for an agency award for running the RIF Watch site. But NASA Associate Administrator for Headquarters Operations Michael Christensen, rejected the idea. "The tone of the page is unacceptable," says Christensen. "None of us dispute his right to run the Web site. My own personal decision was that it would be inappropriate to honor him for it."
- NASA's Most Important Asset, Gerry Griffin, 31 December 1996
- Dan Goldin Comments to the Space Science Advisory Committee (SSAC) Meeting, 6/17/96
- Changes in Thinking At NASA November 29, 1996, PBS News Hour
Just to show you how things have changed, this photo should shock a few of you ... (well worth a click) - and no, it is not an April Fool's joke. Today, some up and coming bloggers and Twitterati throw snark at me just like I threw it at Dan Goldin back in the day. Life is funny like that.
And those of you who have followed my 'other' exploits will know that I have had a certain interest in doing websites from distant and extreme locations (Devon Island, Everest Base Camp, etc.). This website (still online), "The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-Term Research Project - Life in Extreme Environments; An Antarctic Field Journal", done with my friend Dale Andersen, was one of the very earliest websites actually updated from Antarctica.
Marketing the Moon: How NASA Sold Space to Earth, Brain Pickings
"One year after the surprise launch of Sputnik, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded. The U.S. space program was determined to be markedly different from the Soviets -- it would be an "open program" in which facts and data would flow freely between the agency and the public using an extensive public relations program, explain authors David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek in Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program (public library). It was a radical proposition: NASA, not the military, would release information and information would be released before, not after, a mission -- an antithesis to the typical military strategy of confidentially. Tragedy would be reported alongside success."
Inspiration Mars Sets Sights on Venus/Mars Flyby in 2021, Dennis Tito, opinion, SpaceNews
"Today, the IMF remains fully committed to its vision to help provide America with a viable, challenging and inspirational mission to Mars as a way to help accelerate our nation's plans for space exploration. However, given the extensive use of NASA assets that are already funded and under development, the strategy to pursue the mission opportunity in 2021 would clearly be the purview of the Congress, the Obama administration and NASA."
Keith's note: Tito's op ed is, at a minimum, disingenuous. Actually it is outright deceptive. This is bait and switch, plain and simple. As if no one would notice. Tito seems to want everyone to think that his original wholly-private funded Falcon-9 based plan for 2017 is somehow just a different flavor of his new 2021 SLS/Orion-based, NASA-funded plan. Ho hum. All that needs to be done is change the computer graphics, write some op eds, update the calendar app on your smartphones, and off we go to Mars. He says that it's all "Inspirational" so who cares, right?
Mr. Tito is asking NASA, Congress, and the White House to find billions of dollars on top of a budget that is going to be flat for the next few years, and launch the very first SLS/Orion mission on a trip to Mars with zero chance of return should anything go wrong. ANYTHING. Even the gutsy Apollo 8 had precursor shakeout flights of its launch vehicle and main spacecraft systems. No advisory committee has called for this mission.
And unless these extra billions are found the ISS will need to be abandoned by the U.S. There is simply no money to do both under the budget that everyone in Washington seems to want NASA to have. By going from the laudable notion of a privately-funded mission to one paid for by tax dollars Inspiration Mars is now simply an advertisement for more SLS funding. No "inspiration" there.
Tito just wants us all to do it as part of his legacy and he wants the rest of us to foot the bill. Has he disclosed how much of his own millions he will commit?
"3. NASA's real-life gravity tweets "Gravity" was awarded a handful of Oscars, and no brand was a bigger cheerleader than NASA. The space agency spent the night cleverly tweeting out real facts and cool images relating to gravity using the hashtag #RealGravity -- totally on-brand for NASA. The tweets generated a good amount of engagement, like this tweet which got more than 8,100 retweets and more than 3,900 favorites."
NASA Uses Gravity Oscar Wins for Promo Opp, Media Bistro
"While the film didn't win Best Picture, it did score seven statues--andNASA took the opportunity to show us once again why it rules social. The team clearly predicted at least one win for Cuaron's space odyssey, using the hashtag #RealGravity to remind the public once again that it does some pretty cool stuff out there in space with another set of impressive images."
NASA releases 'Gravity'-inspired photo set ahead of the Oscars , Marketing Gum
"Just in time for the Academy Awards, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has released a new photo set inspired by Gravity. The movie makes heavy use of computer-generated imagery, but NASA's photos show space as it really looks to the astronauts lucky enough to leave the earth's orbit. Using photos taken over the last several years, "NASA's Real-Life Images from Space" showcases astronauts, space shuttles, and some jaw-dropping views of earth. It should..."
"Nasa has just outdone Hollywood by releasing these mind-blowing real life 'Gravity' images revealing incredible scenes of Earth, astronauts and space shuttles."
The 2014 Oscars Social Media Highlights, Business2community
"- Social media favors Gravity. With the film picking up a good tally of awards especially for its cinematography which is literally out of this world.
- To help out, Nasa joined in with #Gravity to share a selection of #RealGravity images taken from Space that are simply breathtaking, such as this one below."
"NASA sure knows how to capture the endless beauty of real space. And on Sunday, the space agency decided to connect some of that epic reality with one of the films nominated for this year's Academy Awards. Hours before the ceremony, NASA tweeted out a couple of its #RealGravity images from life in space, as a way of helping the public connect its real work with the fictional images portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film, Gravity."
"Two generations of aerospace engineering excellence will come together March 1 when NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., is redesignated NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. The agency's center of excellence for atmospheric flight research is being renamed in honor of the late Neil A. Armstrong, a former research test pilot at the center and the first man to step on the moon during the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969."
"Dakota Creek Industries (DCI) launched the oceanographic research ship R/V Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) at its Anacortes, WA, shipyard on February 22nd, 2014. Construction of the R/V Neil Armstrong and her sister vessel R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28), also well under way at DCI, have progressed according to plan, meeting original schedule and cost baselines."
"Just a Flesh Wound", Miles O'Brien
"I wish I had a better story to tell you about why I am typing this with one hand (and some help from Dragon Dictate). A shark attack would be interesting. An assassination attempt would be intriguing. Skydiving mishaps always make for good copy. An out-of-control quad copter that turns on its master would be entertaining (and would come complete with a grim, potentially viral, video). No, the reason I am now one-handed is a little more prosaic than those scenarios."
Keith's note: I was stunned, then horrified, then ... well, not at all surprised about my friend Miles O'Brien's recent mishap and how he has been dealing with it. I am in complete awe of him right now.
"On Wednesday, Feb. 12, WND published a story titled "Rare phenomenon to shake Planet Earth." The story focused on a cycle of four upcoming lunar eclipses, also called blood moons because of the color the moon often appears when it becomes darkened. Mark Biltz, an American pastor with El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Wash., used NASA's Eclipse Website to correlate the celestial events with God's holy days mentioned in the Bible, discovering the four blood-moon eclipses in 2014 and 2015 actually coincide with the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. On the same day as WND's report, Feb. 12, NASA took down its site which for years provided detailed information and schedules about upcoming eclipses."
Keith's note: I have a sneaking suspicion that God is not dumb enough to allow a website at NASA to be online in the first place - for years - if it really revealed his secret plans since this sort of astronomy stuff is not exactly a secret (ask Google). If NASA was really trying to make things disappear to avoid heavenly wrath then they'd ask the Internet archive to purge their record of the site. The real reason that it is offline is that the guy who used to update it retired from NASA several years ago and it was out of date. But who wants a simple explanation, eh?
Keith's note: According to this high level analysis of the impact of Twitter using the hashtag #WhatIsNASAFor between 7-10 February, a total of 17,597,370 impacts were made. On this chart Twitter impacts are calculated by multiplying the number of tweets someone makes times the number of followers they have. Personally I think "reach" and "impact" are more complex than this - but this gives you a general idea of the relative scale of impacts.
@NASA tweeting resulted in 17,597,370 impacts. @NASASocial produced 7,627,023. @NASAWatch produced 5,296,071 and @SpaceRef produced 1,632,662. However members of the NASA Social community and others were also responsible for a substantial number of impacts on Twitter as well. Of note is @AgilistaAG (Angela Gibson) who was the main power behind the mobilization of the NASASocial community. This is a new and growing trend.
This response is similar to what happened during the government shutdown when NASA was unable to talk about itself but Twitter users with the #WhatNASAMightTweet hashtag mounted a similarly large response. Its one thing to respond to matters of an urgent nature with surges of interest and support.
Also, FYI NASA did very little tweeting in response to #WhatIsNASAFor (@NASA only made 3 Tweets, @NASASocial made 7). Indeed, PAO and mission staff around the agency more or less totally ignored this activity on social media even though they were made aware of it internal to NASA. Had NASA gotten off its collective butt and engaged in a more aggressive presence on Twitter, the the "impact" would be measured in hundreds of millions. Now that Charles Seife has released a more detailed rant - one that openly mocks NASA's initial response, it will be interesting to see if NASA and its supporters step up or sit this out.
If NASA cannot be bothered to defend and explain itself, then why should anyone be inclined to do so? Maybe Siefe is right after all and NASA is an endangered species.
Straight from the panda's mouth: What NASA thinks it's for, Charles Seife
"What's left is science -- and science is where NASA's greatest achievements lie. NASA spacecraft are helping us answer some of the biggest questions in the universe. (Heck, I wrote an entire book describing a revolution in cosmology sparked, in part, by NASA programs like Hubble, WMAP, and COBE.) But that drive is fundamentally incompatible with the agency's perceived need to hype bad science and trying to convince the world that its astronautic boondoggles are producing world-class scientific achievements. That's NASA's dilemma in a nutshell: despite all the agency has done, despite all it has to offer, so long as human spaceflight is at the core of NASA's existence, it will never evolve beyond a faint echo of its prior self."
Keith's note: Some NASASocial alumni have adopted an "angy panda" in response to Seife's characterization of NASA as a panda. We'll see if this catches in on a substantive way.
- Today's NASA Propaganda Accusation by a Journalism Professor, earlier post
- Today's Gratuitous Dump on NASA By A Journalism Professor, earlier post
NASA Tries to Rewrite the Book on Science Fiction, Wall Street Journal
"Getting a message across embedded in a narrative rather than as an overt ad or press release is a subtle way of trying to influence people's minds," says Charles Seife, author of "Decoding the Universe," who has written about NASA's efforts to rebrand itself. "It makes me worry about propaganda." Enidia Santiago-Arce, a NASA official who is coordinating the author-scientist exchanges, says the agency isn't pushing pro-NASA story lines. The collaboration doesn't include any NASA funding. "They write whatever they want," she said. "We provide them with people who have the expertise to help make it as accurate as it can be within the realms of science fiction."
Keith's note: (Sigh) now NASA hater and journalism professor Charles Seife thinks NASA is mounting a "propaganda" effort via SciFi writers. WIth regard to bias and propaganda, I wonder how he'd describe his inaccurate rant from last week. Was he trying to sway people's opinions about NASA? Tsk tsk. Had he bothered to read the language of recent NASA authorization legislation - which is now signed into law - Seife would know that NASA is overtly and specifically prohibited from things such as propaganda, advertising, etc.
If Seife had any powers of observation, or had done just a little research before commenting, he'd know that SciFi has been inspiring NASA - and NASA has been inspiring SciFi - and both have been inspiring the rest of us for more than half a century - perhaps even longer. That relationship is not going to go away any time soon.
Indeed, the painting on the right, by Norman Rockwell, is one of many artistic compositions commissioned and enabled by NASA with the intent of conveying the Apollo program to a wider audience. At the time, as a young boy, I saw this image as future reality. That's what SciFi often does, right? Then NASA makes it real.
"The Canadian government unveiled a new space policy framework today that reinforces what many within the space sector already new, space is an integral part of Canadian's everyday lives and its importance will only grow."
"The fact that the government recognizes this and is releasing a new policy framework is a step in the right direction. The new framework also implements some of the recommendations as outlined in the Aerospace Review conducted in 2012."
What Is NASA for?, Slate
"This isn't to say that all of NASA's research is worthless. Far from it. But NASA's need to find a justification for its existence has damaged its integrity. The agency reeks of desperation as it gropes for some rationale for human spaceflight beyond the weirdly circular we-need-to-put-humans-in-space-to-study-what-happens-to-humans-when-we-put-them-in-space logic it's used for the past four decades. As NASA attempts to peg its future to will-o-the-wisp projects to the moon, to Mars, to a local asteroid, each of which has a less-than-even odds chance of coming to fruition, NASA's science slowly deteriorates."
"The ISS cost upward of $100 billion and probably more than $200 billion--so huge that I'm not sure anyone has a valid accounting."
Keith's note: This article by Charles Seife is full of claims of a far smaller magnitude wherein specific papers or sources are semi-quoted. But none is mentioned for the largest claim of all - the $100 billion ISS cost claim. Saying that it might cost $200 billion is sheer unsubstantiated fantasy on the part of the author. But hey, this was a slam piece from its very first sentence, so why bother checking facts, eh?
This article by Slate is a classic example of how a whole imaginary history of HSF and the ISS can be allowed to circulate - as if it was fact. The more it circulates the more successive authors cite the previous faux history. NASA never challenges this stuff - it just lets millions of people read or hear things like this hoping that it will go away. If this article and others like it are inaccurate then it behooves NASA (as the public's funded space agency) to set the record straight. If they do not then they forfeit the right to whine and complain when subsequent inaccuracies are published. If NASA can't/won't refute these points, then maybe these authors are right - why do we need a space station if we cannot explain what it does?
.@cgseife writing an arm waving article that cites "facts" with no actual references serves no useful purpose and just confuses the issue.— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) February 6, 2014
.@cgseife you refer to a research article resulting from STS-107, disparage its citation, but can't be bothered to list the actual article.— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) February 6, 2014
Slate's Misleading Hit Piece on the Future of NASA, Planetary Society
"Seife's logic is fuzzy and his solutions non-existent. He wraps his screed in a veneer of respectability by saying that he wants to have a conversation about why we have humans exploring space, but the tone of his writing and the quality of his arguments would barely pass muster in the comment threads on space policy forums. After reading this article, I have no idea what Seife wants NASA to do, what he wants us to think, or what his solution would be, beyond that "NASA must adapt or die."
"NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency's Day of Remembrance on Friday, Jan. 31. NASA's Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other agency senior officials will hold an observance and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery Friday morning."
"Similar to the OIG's conclusions 5 years ago, the OIG found that NASA failed to follow its internal policies or its agreement with the DOD when it decided to spend approximately $352 million to refurbish and test the SLS core stage on the B-2 test stand at Stennis. Moreover, the OIG found that NASA did not adequately support its decision given that refurbishing the B-2 stand will be more costly and take longer than two other possible options: an Air Force test stand at Edwards Air Force Base in California and a test stand at the Marshall Space Flight Center. In addition, although SLS Program managers spent considerable time and money studying the B-2 option, they gave the joint NASA-DOD testing board minimal time to assess the cost, schedule, and risks of the other test stand options."
NASA OIG: Final Memorandum on the Review of NASA's Plan to Build the A-3 Facility for Rocket Propulsion Testing (2008)
"We found that NASA's Upper Stage Engine (USE) Element Manager, located at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, reviewed the J-2X rocket propulsion testing options and selected the A-3 test stand to be built at Stennis without the required formal reviews or recommendations of the NRPTA, or NASA's RPTMB."
"NASA will complete a $350 million tower to test rocket engines for a program that was canceled in 2010. The A-3 test stand will be finished early this year at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Its funding survived thanks to Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican from that state who supported the test stand's completion even though NASA doesn't need it."
"Congress ordered NASA to complete a $350 million rocket-testing structure that may never be used, Bloomberg News reports. The 300-foot tower at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was designed to test how the Ares I and Ares V engines would work at high altitudes, for rockets under development that would send people into space and up to the moon. But the project was scrapped after the Constellation program spearheaded by former President George W. Bush was cancelled in 2010."
"Federal watchdogs today criticized NASA for spending $352 million to refurbish a Mississippi test stand for critical upcoming tests on the Space Launch System when cheaper test stands were available faster in Huntsville and California. NASA responded by admitting it didn't follow its own rules and agreements, but "is confident it made the right decision."
Keith's note: In response to one of my queries about JSC's Valkyrie robot, David Steitz from NASA HQ PAO replied "Keith, as the recipient of numerous NASA "exclusives" over the years, including private budget briefings and policy discussions with previous NASA Administrators, I'm amused by your feigned outrage over our unintentional exclusive to IEEE Spectrum on R5."
My response: "In watching the video that you allowed IEEE to shoot - including NASA personnel - and the obvious time spent with them - I have to say that nothing I might ever have gotten under any exclusives (I am not going to confirm that) comes remotely close to this. I still have seen no NASA media advisory as to how media can cover this event that NASA is participating in. You are doing a disservice to the media - and the taxpayers who pay for all the toys - in not doing your utmost to make this activity known as widely as your resources could allow you to do. But then again, you just don't care, do you?"
NASA JSC does whatever it wants to do - even when NASA HQ tells them not to - and then NASA HQ PAO is forced to tow the party line and not admit the obvious - and hope that you do not notice what is actually going on. Charlie Bolden's control over NASA is much more tenuous than many people imagine - and it is steadily evaporating at a growing pace. HQ direction to field centers is seen as a "suggestion" these days. As the budget battles heat up next Spring - ISS & Commerical Vs SLS; HSF Vs Planetary - that will become abundantly clear.
No one is in the driver's seat at NASA. Maybe the girl robot can drive.
Iran hails voyage of Fargam the space monkey, Telegraph
"Iran said on Saturday that it had safely returned a monkey to Earth after blasting it into space in the second such launch this year in its controversial ballistic programme.
President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the scientists involved in the mission, in a message carried by the official IRNA news agency. The report added that the rocket reached a height of 120 kilometres (75 miles)."
Keith's note: I am not at all certain what the point of flying this monkey was. When the U.S. and U.S.S.R. first did it in the 50s and 60s it was because no one knew exactly what would happen. Well, they found out and all of that research has been in the public sphere for half a century. The Iranians could have easily availed themselves of that research and avoided scaring they daylights out of this poor monkey.
"Looking forward to 2014, we identified the following as the top management and performance challenges facing NASA:
- Considering Whether to Further Extend the Life of the International Space Station
- Developing the Space Launch System and Its Component Programs
- Securing Commercial Crew Transportation Services
- Maintaining Cost and Schedule for the James Webb Space Telescope
- Ensuring Continued Efficacy of the Space Communications Networks
- Overhauling NASA's Information Technology Governance Structure
- Ensuring the Security of NASA's Information Technology Systems
- Managing NASA's Infrastructure and Facilities
- Ensuring the Integrity of the Contracting and Grants Processes"
Virgin Galactic Could Bring Jobs to Rural NM, Public News Service
"PHOTO: New Mexico's rural economy could get a boost after Virgin Galactic starts its flights into outer space. Photo courtesy of NASA."
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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."