Recently in News Category

NASA to Discuss New Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Study Today, NASA

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT today - Thursday, June 9 - to discuss a new study team the agency is commissioning to examine unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). The purpose of the study is to examine UAPs - observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena - from a scientific perspective."

NASA to Set Up Independent Study on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, NASA

"NASA is commissioning a study team to start early in the fall to examine unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) - that is, observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena - from a scientific perspective. The study will focus on identifying available data, how best to collect future data, and how NASA can use that data to move the scientific understanding of UAPs forward."

The Power Of Ten: Meet The 10 Winners Of NASA's 10th Annual Space Apps Challenge

"The level of global participation and team dynamics underscored NASA's efforts to ensure that the Space Apps Challenge community reflected the level of diversity that exists globally. The challenges spanned a wide range of topics, talents, and interests creating an environment where anyone and everyone could participate and add value. Of the participating 4,534 teams, 37 teams were selected as finalists, 20 teams received honorable mention status, and 10 teams were announced as the global winners."

Keith's note: Cool stuff. NASA's global reach is unparalleled. Space Apps reaches people that might not ever have a chance to interact with space technology - thus leaving a positive impression of NASA - and of America. This is soft power projection at its finest. You'd think that NASA would be working to do this everywhere that it can. Guess again.

Some of these tweets about the Artemis Accords from the State Department - @SciDiplomacyUSA and @usunvie - have been up for over 7 hours. Others have been up for several days. You'd think that NASA OIIR or someone at NASA PAO - someone paying attention to broader White House policy objectives - would pay attention to these free chances to advance NASA's soft power projection. A simple retweet by @NASA would reach over 52 million followers. Globally. Guess again.

NASA is scattered when it comes to using its best assets for global reach. One moment they excel. The next moment they flop - miserably.

Sometimes it seems that everyone on Earth is wearing a NASA T-shirt, Washington Post

"Go to any college campus, Ulrich said, and there are "kids there with NASA shirts on. You see it on the subway. You see it on the street. It's just proliferating." It sure is. Last year, Ulrich said, the agency received 11,000 merchandising requests from companies that wanted to use the logo on some sort of object. NASA doesn't license the logo, it gives approval and requires that merchandisers follows its guidelines. For example, it can't be used on alcohol, food, cosmetics, tobacco, underwear or technology, and when it is used, it has to be the proper font, color, etc."

- Yet Another Example Of The Global Reach Of The NASA Brand, earlier post

"NASA has done a good job - an increasingly good one - at allowing the logo's use - and not discouraging its use when the its is used in a positive and inspiring context. This is a consumate, textbook example of soft power. One would hope that NASA can continue along this path and that legislation that currently hinders NASA's ability to project its message via advertising and other venues - can be lifted by Congress."

- NASA's Global Branding Reach Is Often Under Appreciated, earlier post

"This is a perfect example of so-called "soft power". This costs NASA virtually - literally - nothing. Having worked with folks in Nepal on things related to this, the mere visibility of the NASA logo and recognition by NASA is enticement enough to generate in-country resources and support. Done properly you can have a global awareness of what NASA is and does and spark interest in other nation's space efforts. And the cases where a country has no space activities, spur their development. One would hope that this becomes part of what NASA includes in its Artemis outreach activities - since the ultimate goal is to go there with other nations."

- OSTP Director Speaks About America's Potential Soft Power, earlier post
- NASA Builds A Global Soft Power Capability And Then Ignores It, earlier post
- Space Apps: NASA Soft Power With An Under Appreciated - Untapped Global Potential, earlier post
- Why Am I Doing This NASA Website Critique Stuff?, earlier post
- Understanding NASA's Global Reach, earlier post
- NASA is Still A Potent (If Underutilized) Brand, earlier post
- Using NASA's Logo: Expensive T-Shirts Or Global Soft Power?, earlier post
- NASA's Pervasive Brand Recognition, earlier post
- One Major Road Block To Bridenstine's Advertising Ideas, earlier post

2021: The Year In Space

Holiday Schedule

Keith's note: We're going to mostly take the next week or so off. But I'll be updating on the Webb mission on a daily basis and I will be on TV here and there as well talking about that. Or not. Hope y'all take some time to truly relax.

NASA to Dedicate, Rename Rocket Park for Former Director George Abbey

"Media are invited to attend the dedication of Rocket Park at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston for former director George W.S. Abbey in a ceremony at 10 a.m. CST Friday, Dec. 10. Home to one of only three Saturn V rockets on display in the world, the facility will now be known as George W.S. Abbey Rocket Park. The Apollo rocket housed inside a protective building there is the only one comprised of all flight-certified hardware capable entering orbit around the Moon. The 36-story Saturn V was restored over the course of two years, from 2005 to 2007, and has been on loan to Johnson from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum collection since 1977. Outside, additional artifacts from the early human spaceflight program are on display."

Yet Another NASA Town Hall

NASA Invites Media to Discuss Future of NASA

"NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other senior agency leaders will host an employee town hall for all civil servant and contractor employees at noon EDT, Tuesday, Sept. 21, to provide updates about the agency's human spaceflight programs, projects, and activities to the workforce. The town hall will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, the agency's website, and multiple agency social media platforms. Media are invited to a follow-on teleconference at 2:30 p.m. with audio streaming live online."

Keith's note: You can expect non-answers to the whole imaginary SLS launch schedule and also what the latest faith-based plan Senator Administrator Bill Nelson has to snag billions of infrastructure money for NASA to keep Artemis afloat - a plan which has so far failed.

Keith's note: NASA PAO just sent me this statement on the NASA Kennedy and NASA HQ security events which were connected after all. FWIW sources inside NASA say that the false alarm happened when a mistake was made in a training exercise in advance of a formal training event next week at NASA HQ as we reported earlier.

"A false alarm indicating an active shooter was set off at 11:05 a.m. EDT today (Sept. 10) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. As a result of that false alarm, a concerned citizen, thinking they were notifying the appropriate office, reported an active shooter to the security forces at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Kennedy security forces responded locally, issuing an alert for its headquarters building at about 11:50 a.m. After confirming no credible threat at either location, NASA issued an all clear to its workforce. The security forces at both locations acted quickly to assess and address the situation in an effective manner. An investigation is ongoing to determine how the alarm was triggered."

NASA Michoud Hurricane Ida Status Report Aug. 31, 2021 4:30 p.m. (with images)

"Assessments continue at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility following Hurricane Ida. Damage to the roofs of several buildings have been confirmed and includes loose panels, panels removed during the storm, debris and water damage. Michoud remains on limited generator power for essential areas. Due to no power in the factory, assessments inside have been limited and by flashlight only. No damage has been observed to date to flight hardware with inspections inside the factory to continue for the next several days. Crews will also continue assessments and inspections across the facility grounds and buildings. Debris remains across campus and on roadways and is being cleared by on-site teams. The facility remains closed and access limited to essential personnel."

NASA Posts Agencywide Media Accreditation Policy, NASA

"NASA has issued a formal policy that standardizes the criteria and process for media accreditation to cover events and activities at all agency locations. As written into the agency's mission with the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, NASA is charged to "...provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof." As a publicly funded U.S. government agency, NASA is committed to making access to its facilities and personnel as open as possible. Therefore, it is the policy of NASA's Office of Communications and the communications organizations at all NASA centers and locations to provide accreditation to media representatives, along with necessary virtual and on-site access to agency facilities and officials as resources allow."

Keith's note: This tweet was posted around 1:00 pm EDT on 23 June. The launch is scheduled for the next day barely 19 hours away. NASA Wallops PAO never sent out a media advisory or a press release. I know this to be a fact since Keith Koehler at Wallops PAO recently confirmed that I am on the Wallops media list - so of course he'd have sent me one if there was one to send, right? Note that the tweet has a link to a youtube webcast - but no mention of anything at the Wallops website describing what the mission is about.

But if you go to the Wallops website - surprise surprise - there is a posting from 17 June 2021 - more than a week ago. Student Experiments to Blast Off from NASA Wallops. Ah, a student experiment. Does the NASA STEM Engagement office website or its Twitter account @NASASTEM mention this launch? No. has a Launches and Landings webpage devoted to upcoming agency launches. Does it mention this launch? No. NASA Wallops is managed by NASA Goddard. Doe you see any mention of these launches - managed by Goddard - mentioned by Goddard? No. NASA Langley is NASA's sister center in Virginia. No mention there either. But this is not surprising since all NASA field centers act as if they are the only NASA field center and rarely mention any other center (or NASA HQ for that matter).

Lockheed Martin, General Motors Team-up to Develop Next-Generation Lunar Rover for NASA Artemis Astronauts to Explore the Moon

Lockheed Martin, General Motors Team-up to Develop Next-Generation Lunar Rover for NASA Artemis Astronauts to Explore the Moon, Lockheed Martin Corporation

"Lockheed Martin and General Motors Co. are teaming up to develop the next generation of lunar vehicles to transport astronauts on the surface of the Moon, fundamentally evolving and expanding humanity's deep-space exploration footprint."

"NASA's Artemis program is sending humans back to the Moon where they will explore and conduct scientific experiments using a variety of rovers. NASA sought industry approaches to develop a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) that will enable astronauts to explore the lunar surface farther than ever before. The LTV is the first of many types of surface mobility vehicles needed for NASA's Artemis program."

Marc's note: Who's missing in this announcement? Oh, right, NASA.

On Hiatus

Keith's note: I am taking a few days off. Marc will be checking in on things. See you next week.

EmDrive, a Supposed Fuel-less Engine, Is Knocked Down Again, Gizmodo

"Five years ago, NASA researchers experimented with an object called the EmDrive (or electromagnetic drive), a Y-shaped metal chamber in which, they reported, thrust could be produced without propellant. Such a contraption would refute core principles of physics as we know them and eliminate a huge barrier to deep space travel by nullifying the need to carry fuel. ... If that sounds too good to be true, well, other scientists had the same thought. Since that paper, published in the Journal of Propulsion and Power, plenty of research has come along explaining where EmDrive's original math went wrong."

Keith's note: This is what happens when a NASA field center (JSC) has a center director who funds a pet project that has not undergone adequate review - especially when the proposed work violates the laws of physics. You end up with quack science - just like the NASA Langley and NASA Glenn folks encountered with their equally bogus cold fusion research pet project (see "Quack Science: Why Are NASA Glenn and Langley Funding Cold Fusion Research?"). Don't get me wrong, NASA should be pushing the boundaries of the possible. But if you look at these warp drive and cold fusion things, NASA did not do due diligence in funding them. they were less than responsive when asked about them, and if you submit a media inquiry now they act as if they never heard of the projects that used scarce tax dollars.

- NASA JSC's Warp Drive Flops During Independent Tests, earlier post
- Ellen Ochoa's Warp Drive Gizmo, earlier post
- 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

NASAWatch Is 25

How It Started | How It's Going

Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 25 on 1 Apr 2021. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 with this post "RIF at NASA In Summer 1997?". The website was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on a 128 kbps ISDN line in my old little condo in Reston, Virginia (see 20 Years Ago Today: The Seeds of NASAWatch). Here are 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

Moffett Field will not be used to house unaccompanied migrant children, SJ Mercury News

"The Biden administration will not use vacant facilities at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field as overflow temporary housing for unaccompanied migrant children, an elected official said."

Environmental Liabilities: NASA's Reported Financial Liabilities Have Grown, and Several Factors Contribute to Future Uncertainties, GAO

"NASA's reported fiscal year 2019 environmental liabilities estimate for restoration projects does not include certain costs, and some factors may affect NASA's future environmental liabilities, potentially increasing or decreasing the federal government's fiscal exposure. Certain costs are not included in the fiscal year 2019 estimate because some projects are in a developing stage where NASA needs to gather more information to fully estimate cleanup costs. Further, NASA limits its restoration project estimates to 30 years, as the agency views anything beyond 30 years as not reasonably estimable. Sixty of NASA's 115 open restoration projects in fiscal year 2019 are expected to last longer than 30 years."

NASA Town Hall (Update)

Keith's 11 January note: There is a agency wide Town Hall coming up soon. Nothing is online yet and NASA PAO has not responded to my inquiry. Usually when Administrators depart and the White House changes hands there is an agency-wide event with farewell messages, awards given out etc. Stay tuned.

Keith's 12 January update: PAO says that no "public" event is scheduled at this time.

Keith's 14 January update: When I asked HQ PAO if there was a Town Hall they said there would not be a "public event". When I asked if there was a non-public event planned they did not respond. Well as many of you know, there is an internal NASA agency wide Town Hall - albeit a recorded one - regarding COVID-19 Issues on Friday, 15 January. As for a farewell event for Jim Bridenstine et al - there apparently is nothing planned. Then again, watching the SLS core stage fire ought to be a nice send off ;-)

Agency Town Hall: COVID-19 Vaccine

"On Friday, Jan. 15, NASA leaders will record a town hall to answer employee questions about coronavirus vaccinations. Participating in the event are: Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk, Deputy Associate Administrator Melanie Saunders, Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. J.D. Polk, Deputy Chief Health and Medical Officer Dr. Vince Michaud, and Chief Human Capital Officer Jane Datta. Submit your question below and/or vote up questions already posted."

Keith's 14 January update: NASA has taken down these employee comments.

Below are the questions as of 14 January (the numbers on the left are up-votes):

The Worm is Back: A Discussion with Designer Richard Danne, NASA

"NASA Worm creator Richard Danne answers your questions in a conversation about the relevance of the Worm in the 1970s and today, and why the Worm continues to be so popular, now available online at Bettina Inclán, Associate Administrator for Communications, hosts this conversation, which includes a presentation from NASA's Worm Working Group on the philosophy of the comeback of the logo, led by David Rager and Bert Ulrich."

LOST IN SPACE; Meatballs Devour Worms!!, NY Times, 10 January 1999.

"For the past six years NASA has been trying to wipe out the tubular red logo (''the worm'') that has symbolized space exploration since 1975. The chief exterminator is Dan Goldin, NASA's administrator, who says that the original 1958 emblem (''the meatball'') better commemorates the program's mission. But wasting the worm, which has adorned everything from welcome mats to wind tunnels, is taking longer than Goldin would like. 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."

Keith's note: I sent a note to NASA PAO the other day: "Decades before the current leadership's time at NASA, as you know, I ran "worm watch" on NASAWatch which traced Dan Goldin's attempt to eradicate the worm. I believed in the worm when no one else did. I even ended up in the New York Times as a result. I had many interactions over the years with worm designer Richard Danne. Bettina asked me to submit a question for him to answer in the video but she did not include it. This is the question I submitted to Bettina:"

"The worm logo is on the records carried by the twin Voyagers which are now traversing interstellar space. It adorns the Hubble which has opened the universe to us. Simple question: what is it like to have something so simple in form spring from your mind - something that goes on to become the symbol that adorns humanity's tools for exploring the universe?"

I got this response from Richard Danne today:

Hello Keith! Well it finally happened... and the Worm is Back. Thanks for this great question which I wish had been asked in the Town Hall video. My response: I'm fully aware of your ongoing support of the Logotype over these many years, and I greatly appreciate it. One of the things I'm most proud of is that those extraordinary missions, Voyager and Hubble, still proudly carry our mark through interstellar space. Even when the program was scuttled, I could still point to that profound fact. It's a glorious feeling to have helped create one of the most famous logos of the last half century. "Simplicity" is one of our guiding principles and it played a major role in the development of the NASA worm. We knew back then as we know today, that if a mark is to be useful and successful for decades it must be born of simplicity. I think we got it right... and all has been proven out over some 46 years now. It's thrilling, especially seeing how the younger people have gravitated to it. Very rewarding with great validation! Thanks again Keith for your good work and long-term support. And, as always, Onward! Dick"

Stay Safe Stennis and Michoud

NASA Advisory Council Meeting

"Virtual meeting via dial-in teleconference and WebEx only. ... Note: Please be advised that the NASA large event WebEx account is being used to support this meeting; this WebEx account is incompatible with the newest Mac operating system introduced in October 2019--MacOS Catalina."

Keith's note: Anyone who has attempted to connect to NASA FACA meetings such as the NASA Advisory Council by Webex over the past several weeks has discovered that NASA's Webex thing is usually screwed up - especially on Mac OS computers. So what does NASA do about that? They just go ahead and continue to use Webex even though there are many alternatives with a simple 'that's too bad - sorry' note in the Federal Register. If everyone was sitting inside a secure NASA facility using Webex that would be one thing. But virtually all participants are going to be sitting at home.

Why is it that millions of regular people who have never teleconferenced at home are attending virtual weddings and graduations - and in my case doing TV interviews - but NASA can't figure out how to do a simple telecon? One solution would be to broadcast the event on NASA TV. NASA has done split screen stuff before. But even that is apparently too hard for them to pull off. The National Space Council event hosted at NASA HQ earlier this week was an embarassment - even though Jim Bridenstine was onsite at JSC and the DEMO-2 crew were onsite at KSC you could not understand what they said. Even VP Pence noticed saying that he "missed every fifth word".

This virtual reality is not going away any time soon NASA. it is past time for you to bite the bullet and adapt to it.

NASAWatch Is 24

Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 24 on 1 Apr 2020. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 and was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on an ISDN line in my little condo in Reston, Virginia (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

Plus this piece from 2016

- NASA Watch Celebrates 20 Years of Critiquing the Space Agency's Every. Single. Move., Inverse (2016)

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 - possibly the first - website 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 nearly 1/3 of my life running this damn 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 in 2009 - about our mutual friend Scott Parazynski - while this picture was being taken - is the one singular moment where it all came together. I wrote about it here: "My Star Trek Episode at Everest".

Thanks to all of you for stopping by for the past 24 years. Let's all hope we're here for the 25th anniversary.

Man charged in Springfield killing is NASA executive, former police officer who fatally shot two others, Washington Post

"A Springfield man charged with shooting and killing a neighbor Tuesday is a NASA executive and a former police officer who fatally shot two people in separate line-of-duty incidents, according to family members and government officials. Michael J. Hetle, 52, worked in NASA's headquarters on risk mitigation for the space agency's programs and activities as part of the Enterprise Protection Program, NASA said Wednesday. He joined the agency in 2010 and served in various positions."

Judge delays reckless murder trial of former NASA astronaut, ABC

"A judge in Alabama has delayed the reckless murder trial of a former NASA astronaut charged in a crash that killed two girls four years ago, court records show. Former space shuttle commander James Halsell of Huntsville was set to go on trial Monday. But the defense requested a postponement citing the death of the father of lead attorney Jim Sturdivant, and a judge agreed in an order filed Sunday."

Jim Lehrer

Remembering Jim Lehrer, PBS

"PBS NewsHour co-founder Jim Lehrer, a giant in journalism known for his tenacity and dedication to simply delivering the news, died peacefully in his sleep at home on Thursday, at the age of 85. For Jim, being a journalist was never a self-centered endeavor. He always told those who worked with him: "It's not about us." Night after night, Jim led by example that being yourself -- journalist, writer, family man, citizen -- can be a high calling. For 36 years, Jim began the nightly newscast with a simple phrase: "Good Evening, I'm Jim Lehrer."

Keith's note: I have been on PBS NewsHour 4 or 5 times. The way the stage is set in the DC studio is that Jim Lehrer has his side and all of the interviews were done on the opposite side. One time, after I finished doing my interview with Ray Suarez, a voice asked me to walk around to Lehrer's side. The voice making the request was very familiar. Lehrer looked over at me, smiled, and said "Well done Mr. Cowing". I was told later that this was quite the compliment - sort of like Johnny Carson inviting new comedians to come over and sit in the guest chair. I was totally stunned.

NASA to Provide Coverage of Key Events at 70th International Astronautical Congress

"NASA will provide live coverage on NASA Television of key events at the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which takes place Oct. 21-25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. In addition, the agency will provide coverage of other events during the week online and via its social media channels."

IAC 2019 website

NASA engineer's 'helical engine' may violate the laws of physics, New Scientist

"Burns has worked on his design in private, without any sponsorship from NASA, and he admits his concept is massively inefficient. ... I know that it risks being right up there with the EM drive and cold fusion," he says. "But you have to be prepared to be embarrassed. It is very difficult to invent something that is new under the sun and actually works."

Helical Engine, David Burns Manager, Science and Technology Office, Marshall Space Flight Center, NTRS (NASA Techncial Reports Server)

"This in-space engine could be used for long-term satellite station-keeping without refueling. It could also propel spacecraft across interstellar distances, reaching close to the speed of light. The engine has no moving parts other than ions traveling in a vacuum line, trapped inside electric and magnetic fields."

"• Many technical challenges ahead"

Keith's note: So ... the person in charge of the NASA MSFC Science and Technology Office is publishing and presenting research with his NASA affiliation - research that most likely violates the laws of physics and has had no apparent peer review to check this stuff before it is posted on an official NASA server.

- JPL Falls For LaRC Cold Fusion / LENR Story, earlier post
- Quack Science: Why Are NASA Glenn and Langley Funding Cold Fusion Research?, earlier post
- Cold Fusion Update From LaRC (Update), earlier post
- NASA: We're Not Working on Warp Drive, earlier post
- Clarifying NASA's Warp Drive Program, earlier post
- Ellen Ochoa's Warp Drive Nonsense Is Now Officially Published U.S. Government Research, earlier post
- other postings on NASA's warp drive and cold fusion research.

Keith's update: Three days ago I asked NASA PAO these questions.

"1. Why was this paper posted on NTRS, a publicly accessible NASA website and then taken offline? Will it be reposted?
2. Who is funding this research? NASA? A private company (if so who)? Both? How much has NASA spent on this project? How much have commercial parters spent on this project? Is the project ongoing or has it been completed?
3. Can you send me a copy of the original paper as it was posted on NTRS? I have posted a cache version I found that has typos in it and I'd rather have people read the un-garbled version."

This is the response I just got from NASA ARC PAO. They can't/won't even admit that this research exists but sometimes people make mistakes and publish things too soon.

"Hi Keith, we don't have information we can share at this time. However, I wanted to follow up about why a paper might be removed from the NASA Technical Reports Server. Draft research papers go through internal review processes prior to being submitted to journals and peer-review. This can involve uploading drafts to NASA websites. In the case of an administrative human error causing a paper to be released prematurely, NASA would remove the paper from the website in order to wait for a final draft, respect publishing considerations, and hold until an appropriate date for release. Thanks again for reaching out. We look forward to more news to come."

Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor, NASA

"Here, we report using a processor with programmable superconducting qubits to create quantum states on 53 qubits, occupying a state space 253 ˘1016. Measurements from repeated experiments sample the corresponding probability distribution, which we verify using classical simulations. While our processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of the quantum circuit 1 million times, a state-of-the-art supercomputer would require approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task."

Keith's note: Last week a paper authored by NASA Ames Research Center employee Eleanor G. Rieffel, titled "Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting" Processor, was posted on the publicly accessible NASA NTRS but was then removed. Apparently the Finanical Times was the first to catch this - their article is here behind paywall. NASA has not provided a reason for its removal. I located a Google cached version of the paper here which I have posted on SpaceRef.

Quantum computer bests all conventional computers in first claim of 'supremacy', Science

"The age of quantum computing may have begun not with a flashy press conference, but with an internet leak. According to a paper posted briefly--and presumably mistakenly--to a lab site, physicists at Google have used a quantum computer to perform a calculation that would overwhelm the world's best conventional supercomputer. Although the specific computation has no known use, the result means scientists have passed a milestone known as "quantum supremacy."

Cruz's test: how to keep Houston central to space flight [Editorial]

"But the flesh-and-blood part of the techno-wizardry of the Space program has always run first through Houston. Not Huntsville, Cape Canaveral nor any of many NASA facilities around the country. Isn't the Texas congressional delegation disproportionately influential on this issue? It sure ought to be. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas chairs the Senate subcommittee on space. Rep. Brian Babin of Woodville is the ranking Republican on the House space subcommittee. Yet, a key part of one of the most ambitious plans in NASA history quietly walks out of Houston and ends up nearly 800 miles away. That dog don't hunt. Even before the announcement was made officially, Cruz, Babin and Texas' senior Sen. John Cornyn fired off a letter Aug. 15 demanding the pending decision be reconsidered."

NASA Invites Media to Economic Impact News Conference with Texas Comptroller's Office

"NASA will host officials of the Texas Comptroller's Office and news media on Thursday, Sept. 12 as the Lone Star state announces a special economic impact report for the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The report, "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): A Texas Institution with a Large Economic Impact," highlights employment numbers, average wages, gross domestic product, and grants that NASA introduces to the state. The report also details the center and its workforce's influences on education, tourism and future growth, particularly in the Gulf Coast region. NASA's impact on Texas, and Johnson's position as the world leader in human spaceflight, remain strong as the agency moves toward human exploration of deep space with the Artemis program and a landing on the Moon by 2024, initiatives that include many key roles at Johnson. The news conference will begin at 11:15 a.m. CDT Sept. 12. Media wishing to participate in person must request credentials from the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. Dial-in participation will not be available."

Keith's note: This is silly. After the decision to put the Human Lander responsibility in Huntsville, NASA wants everyone to know how much of an impact NASA spending has in Texas. But unless you can make it to a room at JSC next Thursday you won't be able to hear what is said. Johnson PAO apparently does not know how - or does not care to provide a simple dial-in for media - or an audio or video feed for people elsewhere to listen/watch. One would think that NASA would understand that this sort of news, while pertaining to Texas, has applicability to the region and can also raise awareness in other states with regard to NASA's economic footprint. Given the sheer number of vendors for Artemis and other NASA programs, the entire country benefits.

Oh yes the press release says "View the upcoming economic impact report and get more information on the Texas Comptroller's office at:". There is no obvious mention of the report on that website. But if you search for "NASA" you get a link to this page where you see lots of pretty NASA pictures - but no link to the report. There is no mention of this event at the JSC home page. NASA HQ makes no mention of this press release on their press release page or the Artemis page. Nor is there any mention on the home page or its calendar of events.

Look at this Texas portion (larger image) of the list of companies that are suppliers to SLS/Orion/Artemis: "2019 Deep Space Exploration Systems Supplier Locations". These 182 companies are located all over Texas. I'll be willing to bet that nearly all of these companies have no idea that there is a NASA website that lists all of the small business that work on this project. The Texas Comptroller seems not to know about it. JSC does not mention it either. Why go through the time and expense of collecting this information if no one is told that it exists?

If you make it hard for people to find - or hear - your good news they may not find it. NASA has yet to figure out how to tell people about its good news. Meanwhile Jim Bridenstine has managed to learn how to livestream events from his cellphone. Baffling.

"Bill Ingalls has served as NASA's Earth-based photographer for three decades, expertly capturing the space agency's rocket launches and critical moments -- even shooting a vehicle test inside an active volcano."

Astronomers Capture First Image of a Black Hole, National Science Foundation

"The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) -- a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration -- was designed to capture images of a black hole."

NASAWatch Is 23

Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 23 on 1 Apr 2019. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 and was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on an ISDN line in my little condo in Reston, Virginia (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

Plus this piece from 2016

- NASA Watch Celebrates 20 Years of Critiquing the Space Agency's Every. Single. Move., Inverse (2016)

Just to show you how things have changed, this photo should shock a few of you ... (well worth a click - link fixed) - 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 - possibly the first - website 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 in 2009 - 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 23 years.

NASA's Shutdown Plan

NASA Shutdown Plan, 16 December 2018 (pdf)

"Pursuant to OMB Circular A-11, Section 124.2, NASA is hereby submitting a revised shutdown plan in the event of a lapse in appropriations, updating the plan submitted to OMB on September 25, 2015, In this plan, NASA continues to require each NASA Center to provide for protection of life and property. The Decision on what personnel should be excepted from furlough is very fact-specific , and DIrectors in charge of NASA Centers are in the best position to make detailed decisions regarding the suspension of ongoing, regular functions which could imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property."

"NASA's plan recognizes that the excepted activities include the following:

- Space launch hardware processing activities, which are necessary to prevent harm to life or property.
- Tracking, operation, and support of the ISS and operating satellites necessary for safety and protection of property.
- Completion or phase-down of research activities in cases where serious damage to property would result from temporary suspension of the activity."

NASA's Greatest Hits For 2018

Message from the Administrator 2018: A New Approach to the Moon and New Heights at NASA

"Our work at NASA is difficult, but it is important. Below is a list of many of NASA's biggest accomplishments of 2018. They are the result of your hard work, talent, dedication and passion. I look forward to working with all of you in 2019 as we continue moving forward to the Moon and on to Mars."

That NASAWatch Guy

Keith's note: I still can't stop laughing at this one. I am really rocking the gray hair, reader glasses, nonchalant slouching journalist slob thing! As for the other guy ...

First Mate: Virgin Takes Step Forward with First Mating of LauncherOne Rocket and Cosmic Girl 747, Virgin Orbit

"Today at Long Beach Airport stands a 747 aircraft with a rocket under its wing. For the first time ever, Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket has been integrated with its carrier aircraft, marking a major milestone on the path to the innovative small satellite launch service's first space shot. The successful operation capped off a banner day of firsts on Wednesday for the company at its Long Beach, Calif. base."

Marc's note: As NASA has a contract with Virgin Orbit this is good news. There soon should be another option to launch small satellites.

First Moonwalker Neil Armstrong's Private Collection to be Sold at Heritage Auctions, Heritage Auctions

"The vast personal collection of Neil Armstrong, who as the first man to walk on the moon changed the course of human history, will be presented in a series of auctions beginning November 1-2, 2018 by Heritage Auctions. The Armstrong Family CollectionTM will offer never-before-seen artifacts from his momentous lunar landing to private mementos -- including pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers flight that Armstrong took with him to the moon, a gold pin from Gemini VIII, Armstrong's first mission, and historic correspondence about the planning that went into the moon mission. The auctions will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission."

Successful Launch of the Soyuz-2 Launch Vehicle From the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, ROSCOSMOS

"On Thursday, October 25, at 0315 hours Moscow time, the State Space Test Center Plesetsk in the Arkhangelsk Region was successfully launched by the Soyuz-2.1b medium-class launch vehicle with a spacecraft in the interests of the Russian Defense Ministry."

Readout of NASA Administrator Bridenstine's Visit to the 69th International Astronautical Congress, NASA

"Administrator Bridenstine arrived in Bremen, Germany on Sunday, September 30 to attend the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) and meet with a number of space agency leaders. On Sunday evening, he made brief remarks on the U.S. Exploration Campaign to visiting members of parliament from around the world hosted by the Bremen Regional Parliament. Later, he hosted a reception for his space agency counterparts. Invitees, among others, included representatives of twenty-two space agencies. On Monday, October 1, Bridenstine met with Administrator Zhang Kejian, of the China National Space Administration (CNSA). This was the first meeting of the two leaders and it provided an opportunity to share their respective program priorities including plans for lunar exploration."

Keith's note: Some background information posted on Twitter with regard to @TheRealBuzz and people associated with various activities using Buzz Aldrin's name. Click below to read.

NASA Office of Inspector General's Semiannual Report to Congress October 1, 2017 - March 31, 2018

"NASA's extensive portfolio of science-, space-, and aeronautics-related activities presents the Office of Inspector General (OIG) with a wide variety of issues to examine. Two topics we paid special attention to this reporting period: information technology (IT) governance and NASA's efforts to resupply and fully utilize the International Space Station (ISS or Station)."

Click below for the camera's last picture

NASA's 'Impossible' Space Engine Tested--Here Are the Results, National Geographic

"The 'thrust' is not coming from the EmDrive, but from some electromagnetic interaction," the team reports in a proceeding for a recent conference on space propulsion.

NASA's EM-drive is a magnetic WTF-thruster, Ars Technica

"The best part is that the results are the same when the attenuator is put into the circuit. In this case, there is basically no radiation in the microwave cavity, yet the WTF-thruster thrusts on."

- Ellen Ochoa's Warp Drive Gizmo, earlier post
- 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

Previous posts

The Reinvention of NASA, Harvard Business Review

"NASA today is a very different beast from the NASA of the 1960s. Though many would call that decade NASA's golden age, we'd argue that NASA's innovation and influence is even greater today."

"Since the Apollo program, NASA has faced funding cuts, competition from other nations for space leadership, and a radical restructuring of its operating environment due to the emergence of commercial space - all of which have forced the organization to change its ways of thinking and operating."

NASA Contractor Whistleblowers: Steps Taken to Implement Program but Improvements to Timeliness and Guidance Needed , GAO

"From 2008 through June 2017, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contractor and grantee employees submitted 48 reprisal complaints such as alleged firing or demotion for reporting fraud, waste, or abuse within the government. NASA's Inspector General addressed all 48 complaints, completed inv estigations for 6 of those complaints, and forwarded investigation reports to the NASA Administrator, who is responsible for making a final determination of whether reprisal occurred. The Administrator determined that none of the complaints qualified for protection under the law. Further, in 5 of the 6 cases forwarded by the OIG, the Administrator was required by statute to make a final determination of reprisal within 30 days. GAO found that the Administrator did not meet this required time frame for all 5 cases and had no documented response for one of them (see figure for all 5 cases). According to officials from NASA's Office of General Counsel, each case must be handled on a case by case basis to ensure due process and 30 days is insufficient time to is sue an order of final determination of reprisal. However, in order to ensure that whistleblower reprisal complaints are handled within required timeframes, NASA would have to monitor and evaluate its processes for making final determinations of reprisal, but it has not yet taken this step. Consequently, NASA does not know what changes may be needed to ensure that it is meeting the statutory 30- day requirement."

"With such a flurry of activity--from Elon Musk and Space X to the Administration's vow to send Americans to the moon and Mars--we see an opportunity to take advantage of a gap and make POLITICO the foremost leader in covering the 21st Century space race." The new POLITICO Space newsletter is launching in partnership with Boeing and will be released each Friday beginning April 6. It will be accompanied by an official launch event on April 12, featuring Scott Pace, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council and Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration. The event will also feature a conversation between Dennis Muilenburg, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Boeing Company and Patrick Steel, Chief Executive Officer of POLITICO to discuss strategic priorities of the aerospace industry. More information about the event can be found here. Sign up for POLITICO Space here"

Keith's note: So, a newsletter aiming to be the "foremost leader" in space news overtly sponsored by a "partnership" with a big aerospace company. How much more fair and balanced can you get? LockheedMartin has that Lexington Institute thing to carry its water and bash its competitors so its only fair that Boeing try something too. Not sure what the "gap" the Politico folks are talking about is since Aviation Week and Space News (and us space website guys) have been covering the beat for decades. All of the speakers at the launch event are status quo or big aerospace types. Lets see if they actually cover the other companies who are not footing the bills - and what happens outside the Beltway ... that said, welcome to the space party Politico!

NASAWatch Is 22

Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 22 on 1 Apr 2018. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 and was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on an ISDN line in my little condo in Reston, Virginia (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

Plus this piece from 2016

- NASA Watch Celebrates 20 Years of Critiquing the Space Agency's Every. Single. Move., Inverse (2016)

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 - possibly the first - website 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 in 2009 - 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 22 years.

Message from the Acting NASA Administrator: Planning for Potential Lapse in Funding

"As you know, the current continuing resolution funding the government expires on March 23. While we hope it won't be necessary, we need to once again make preparations in the event an orderly shutdown is required and are updating our contingency plans. I share your frustration that we find ourselves here once again, but I also want to thank you for your continued hard work. You haven't missed a beat in executing all the functions of our agency."

Keith's note: Meanwhile all government offices in the Washington, DC area (NASA HQ, GSFC) are closed due to several inches of snow.

House votes to end government shutdown, sending legislation to Trump, Washington Post

"Congress voted late Monday to reopen the government after a three-day shutdown, sending President Trump a short-term spending bill that passed after Senate Republican leaders pledged to act on immigration policy next month. The House joined the Senate in passing the bill to fund the government through Feb. 8, reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program and roll back several health-care taxes. It passed 81-18 in the Senate and 266-150 in the House."

On Hiatus

Keith's note: Posting on NASAWatch will be minimal until after New Year's. Happy holidays!

Glowing Auras and 'Black Money': The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program, New York Times

"Contracts obtained by The Times show a congressional appropriation of just under $22 million beginning in late 2008 through 2011. The money was used for management of the program, research and assessments of the threat posed by the objects. The funding went to Mr. Bigelow's company, Bigelow Aerospace, which hired subcontractors and solicited research for the program. Under Mr. Bigelow's direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes. In addition, researchers spoke to military service members who had reported sightings of strange aircraft."

Keith's note: As is usually the case when a story like this appears one part or another of the BBC calls to ask me what is going on. I thought I'd invite an expert to appear on the Skype interview with me so my little green alien pal I bought at Ron Jons in Cocoa Beach made his first international Tee Vee appearance tonight to help me through the interview. Beam me up.

The government admits it studies UFOs. So about those Area 51 conspiracy theories ..., Washington Post

"For decades, Americans were told that Area 51 didn't really exist and that the U.S. government had no official interest in aliens or UFOs. Statements to the contrary, official-sounding people cautioned, were probably the musings of crackpots in tinfoil hats. Well, score one for the crackpots. The Pentagon has officially confirmed that there was, in fact, a $22 million government program to collect and analyze "anomalous aerospace threats" -- government-speak for UFOs."

On the Trail of a Secret Pentagon U.F.O. Program, NY Times

"Leslie interviewed the aerospace magnate Robert Bigelow, who also confirmed his participation, saying Americans were being held back from serious research into U.F.O.'s by "a juvenile taboo."

Alien Hunter Reveals the Most Disturbing Part of the Pentagon's UFO Program, Inverse

"For [Seth] Shostak, what's "a little disturbing" about the ordeal is that Bigelow, who has collaborated with NASA despite having no scientific background, has received so much money from the project. "[Bigelow] doesn't need more money," he explains. "He's a very likeable guy, but he's been convinced all along that we're being 'visited.' And it doesn't mean [aliens are visiting us] just because a person of note thinks it's true. The thing that's a little disturbing about this is that it seems a lot of the money for this study went to Bob Bigelow. I think that if you really wanted to investigate this stuff, the thing to do is to give this to scientists or experts in the field that don't have a dog in the fight."

UFO IPO-182 - Take me to your dealer: the Pentagon UFO story, crowdfunding, and Blink-182, Boing Boing

"The New York Times has an article about "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money': The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program." $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, there are 2 declassified released videos that the reader is left to assume is proof of alien visitors (one of the authors of the articles is promoting a UFO book at this time). It has a lot of facts the NYTimes left out like the CEO of the newly formed crowdfunded company via the CROWDFUND ACT, Tom DeLonge. If you're wondering if it's that Tom DeLonge, yes! DeLonge was the guitarist and co-lead vocalist of the band Blink-182. It was reported that DeLonge allegedly left Blink-182 in 2015 because of aliens and national security."

Lisa Mazzuca (NASA GSFC), Finalist, 2017 Promising Innovations Medal, Service to America Medals

"In August 2010, a single-engine airplane crashed in the Alaskan wilderness killing five passengers, including former Sen. Ted Stevens. His friend, former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, survived the crash and was stranded on the side of a mountain with three others for more than 18 hours while awaiting rescue and medical assistance. One reason the search and rescue team took so long to reach the crash site was the failure of a small distress beacon in the aircraft, called an emergency transmitter, which is supposed to signal authorities and provide the approximate location of those in need of help. This accident, coupled with the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner in 2014 and other instances where emergency beacon systems failed, prompted NASA's Lisa Mazzuca to examine the growing problem. Through two years of research and testing, Mazzuca's team developed a sturdier, more reliable, second-generation transmitter and an upgraded global satellite system to help responders locate crash sites more precisely. "This is a huge development. It's going to help people out in the most distressing circumstances and will have an enormous impact on scores of people who may not otherwise have had a chance to see another day," O'Keefe said."

Irma Cancellations

This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and I'll never be the same, Eric Berger, Ars Technica

"As a forecaster, what do you tell people when their whole worlds are washing away around them, and things are only going to get worse? I cannot really explain what it was like to walk outside on Sunday morning, in the aftermath of historic rainfall and devastating floods, and contemplate that at least three or four more days and nights of the same rains must come before the Sun will shine again. From a mental health standpoint, the uncertainty this brings adds considerable stress to an already unbearable situation. For many people in Houston, Harvey will be a defining event in our lives. A time when Mother Nature forced a hard reset on us. There are our lives before Harvey and after Harvey. The next time rain clouds form we will ask ourselves, is this really happening again?"

Keith's note: This is a remarkable piece by Eric Berger. I highly recommend that you read it. I've been through a flood as a child where my family's home was hit and with water up to my waist. Lots of important possessions lost and we were not certain if our home was damaged beyond repair. The flood was limited to a small area but it was a flood none the less. There is something relentless about the rising water - it comes out of nowhere and you are utterly powerless to stop it - until it and it alone decides to leave. One of the things we lost were nearly all of the slides and photos of me and my brothers when we were younger. The flood water eroded them before my eyes - all I could do was look at them and remember a few of them (I still do) as they dissolved. You do not soon forget a flood.

I organized a conference at LSU in 2007 "Risk and Exploration: Earth as Classroom" with Sean O'Keefe and spent a lot of time in Louisiana in the prior year. I toured New Orleans a few months after Katrina with local resident Paul Pastorek. Mile after mile we drove past houses that had been stripped of everything inside. Appliances and bathtubs and lumber sat in huge piles in public parks. And that brown water line was everywhere - on everything. I later told my Dad that I had an idea what it was like to be in Europe after the end of World War II. I also spent some time with the folks who manned the pumps at NASA Michoud while their own homes flooded. I asked one guy why he stayed on the job while his home was in danger. He said in a most humble way "It was my job, sir." Paul and I were quite taken with this man and his coworkers and later featured their efforts in our conference at LSU.

Despite the debris and gas lines filed with water and abandoned cars on the streets of New Orleans people were lining up to buy their Mardi Gras bling in a store where the sheet rock had not even been replaced. In and among the devastation you'd see new trailers up on blocks with gas generators or solar panels working for people who decided to fix their homes - like homesteaders in an urban wasteland or brightly colored weeds growing up through the forest floor after a fire. People just do things that go beyond what you expect in such situations. I am certain that this will be the case this time in Texas.

People are just amazing. But as Eric notes this is a life-altering event for millions of people. And this event will exact a toll - even as it inspires people to be the best people that they can be.

NASA's Johnson Space Center Closes Through Labor Day for Tropical Storm Harvey

"NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will remain closed to all but mission essential personnel through Labor Day due to the effects of now-Tropical Storm Harvey. The center originally closed Aug. 25 and will reopen Tuesday, Sept. 5. The center's leadership team continues to closely monitor weather conditions and the overall situation in Houston, and is preparing a full assessment of the center's status once the storm abates."

JSC Today Special: Aug. 29 Tropical Storm Harvey Update

"The Center will be closed until Tuesday, Sept. 5 to all but Mission Essential personnel. The group of Mission Essential personnel will be larger in the coming days due to mission operations and you will be contacted by your organization if you're needed. Please do not come to the center until you hear from your supervisor. Civil servants should look for an email from HR with instructions for excused leave for this time period. Contractors should talk to their contract company management for directions and further information. Harvey is forecast to make a second landfall near the TX/LA state line around sunrise Wednesday. No strengthening is forecast prior to landfall. Impacts to JSC: JSC will continue to see moderate to occasionally heavy rain today into this evening."

- JSC Emergency Management website
- Live webcam at Space Center Houston

Harvey forecast to slam Texas coast as major hurricane with 'devastating' flood potential

"An incredible amount of rain, 15 to 25 inches with isolated amounts of up to 35 inches, is predicted along the middle and upper Texas coast, because the storm is expected to stall and unload torrents for four to six straight days. The National Hurricane Center said it expects "devastating and life-threatening" flash flooding."

Houston, we have a problem. Or do we?, NASA Sea Level Change

"Since JSC sits just 13 feet above sea level at its lowest part and 22 feet up at its highest ..."

- Heavy Rainfall In Intensifying Hurricane Harvey, NASA
- Watching Hurricane Harvey ApproachTexas From Orbit, NASA

Light Posting This Week

Keith's note: Posting on NASAWatch will be rather light this week. I am taking a few days off. Among other things I will be getting a close-up look at the recently restored portrait of my great9 grandmother at the Yale Center for British Art.

Keith's update: Here are some pictures of me and my great^9 grandmother at Yale today.

Lockheed Martin, which already settled one whistleblower suit at Stennis Space Center for $2 million, hit with another, Louisiana Voice

"With three large cost-plus contracts for testing and maintenance support services, Lockheed Martin has a commanding presence at NASA's primary rocket propulsion facility at the Stennis Space Center just over the Louisiana state line in Mississippi. But as history has shown, the potential for abuse with such large contracts that seem to carry little apparent oversight, is overwhelming. Now two Louisiana residents, one former Lockheed employee and the other a former contract employee for Lockheed, are bringing suit in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans under the federal false claims act The two, Mark Javery of St. Tammany Parish and Brian DeJan of New Orleans, claim that they were first given no duties and then fired from their jobs after reporting cost overruns and safety and performance issues."

TDRS-M Needs Repairs

NASA TDRS-M Status Update July 20, 2017

"NASA and Boeing are reviewing plans to safely replace an antenna on the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M). The satellite's Omni S-band antenna was damaged during spacecraft closeout activities July 14 at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The TDRS team is also evaluating a possible electrostatic discharge event involving spacecraft mechanical ground support equipment at the launch site."

TDRS-M Status Update - July 15, 2017

"NASA and Boeing are reviewing an incident that occurred during final spacecraft closeout activities on the Tracking Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M) mission at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on July 14, involving the Omni S-band antenna. The mission team is developing a plan to assess flight acceptance and the schedule forward. These additional activities are under evaluation for a planned TDRS-M launch Aug. 3, 2017, on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida."

NASA Provides Coverage of Vice President Pence's Visit to Kennedy Space Center

"NASA will provide television, still image and social media coverage of Vice President Mike Pence's visit to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, July 6."

"NASA TV and the agency's website will air live coverage for parts of the visit starting at noon EDT with Air Force Two's arrival at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility runway, followed by a special address to the center's workforce in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at 1 p.m."

"The Vice President will tour Kennedy and learn more about the center's work as a multi-user spaceport for commercial and government clients, as well as see the agency's progress toward launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies, and traveling past the moon, and eventually on to Mars and beyond with the help of NASA's new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket."

- Watch it live on SpaceRef starting at noon.

Marc's note: Vice President Mike Pence will make his first visit to KSC Thursday after formally being tasked with leading the reconstituted National Space Council. Oddly enough the press release states "traveling past the moon" but not traveling to the moon.

Frank Morring: A Space Reporter's Swan Song After 44 Years On The Beat, Aviation Week

"Please forgive the self-indulgence, but this is my last column for Aviation Week & Space Technology. I'm retiring at the end of the month, after 44 years as what once was called a print journalist - most of it specializing in space exploration. "Print journalist" seems anachronistic today, when you probably are reading these words on an electronic screen. Spaceflight, my favorite topic, has changed a lot since Sputnik, too. Here are some lessons I've learned about it."

NASA detained a 75-year-old woman selling a tiny moon rock. An appeals court says she can sue, LA Times

"A 75-year-old woman who tried to sell a paperweight containing a speck of moon rock may try to hold a federal agent liable for detaining her for two hours in a public parking lot in urine-soaked pants, a federal appeals court decided unanimously Thursday. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Joann Davis, the widow of an engineer who worked with NASA, was entitled to show that her detention was "unreasonably prolonged and unnecessarily degrading." The federal agent "organized a sting operation involving six armed officers to forcibly seize a Lucite paperweight containing a moon rock the size of a rice grain from an elderly grandmother," Chief 9th Circuit Judge Sidney R. Thomas wrote for a three-judge panel."

Davis v United States

"9th Cir. No. 15-55671 Consuelo B. Marshall, District Judge, Presiding Before: Sidney R. Thomas, Chief Judge, and Andrew J. Kleinfeld and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Circuit Judges.: Government agent not entitled to qualified immunity for "prolonged and degrading" detention of elderly woman in parking lot (Thomas, J.)"

- NASA OIG Admits The Obvious About Moon Rocks
- NASA IG Sends Cops in Flack Vests After 74 Year Old, 4'11" Grandmother, earlier post
- NASA IG Refuses To Comment on Official Abuse of Elderly Woman, earlier post
- NASA's Inconsistent Policy Regarding The Sale Of Apollo Era Items, earlier post

NASAWatch Is 21

How scientists are scrambling to safeguard vital environmental data, PBS Newshour

"MILES O'BRIEN: While scientists wait to see what shoes might drop, a rumor mill echoes across the Twitterverse ... Are scientists in a panic? Is that what it is? What's going on?

KEITH COWING, NASA Watch: They know where the panic button is, and they look at it once or twice a day.

MILES O'BRIEN: Keith Cowing is a former NASA biologist who founded the watchdog Web site NASA Watch 20 years ago. He's the proto-rogue, and now he says everybody seems to be joining in."

Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 21 on 1 Apr 2017. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 and was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on an ISDN line in my little condo in Reston, Virginia (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

Plus this piece from last year

- NASA Watch Celebrates 20 Years of Critiquing the Space Agency's Every. Single. Move., Inverse (2016)

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 21 years.

Is the Data Breach by Orbital ATK of SSL Data on a NASA Server Corporate Espionage?, SpaceQ [With audio]

"On December 6, 2016 Space Systems Loral (SSL), a subsidiary of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), was notified by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center that there had been a data breach of their proprietary data on a NASA server. Orbital ATK was responsible. SSL is now suing them, and publicly, it looks bad for Orbital ATK."

SSL sues rival Orbital ATK over theft of trade secrets: lawsuit Reuters

"At least four confidential SSL documents were viewed and distributed by an Orbital ATK employee working at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where the data is stored as part of an ongoing SSL partnership with the U.S. space agency, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia."

"The documents contain information about SSL's technology for robotic satellite assembly, repair and servicing; research and development efforts; financing and business plans; procurement and performance strategies; customer development; and subcontractor and vendor relationships, the suit said."

Marc's note: Things are heating up in the Orbital ATK / SSL (MDA) commercial battle for satellite servicing. Orbital fired the employee in question but the damage is done. NASA is conducting an investigation. More to follow.


- Satellite Servicing Heats up with Orbital ATK Suing DARPA

Tornado Recovery Underway at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility

"At this time, emergency personnel have identified damage to building numbers 103, 350 and additional structures. Building 103, Michoud's main manufacturing building, has roof damage in several areas. Approximately 200 parked cars were damaged, and there was damage to roads and other areas near Michoud."

Keith's note: NASA has a Space Act Agreement with the company that runs the Super Bowl. The agreement specifies what each of the signatories will and will not do and how approvals will be provided. JSC has been doing whatever they want and simply ignores the agreement - as well as the NASA Office of General Counsel and PAO at NASA HQ. JSC flew a jersey from every NFL team to the ISS with "NASA" overtly on each shirt. When someone wins the game they will tweet pictures of crew members wearing the jersey of the team that wins. So much for what the Space Act Agreement says.

Doing education and public outreach with large events such as this is fine and should be encouraged. Other events would love to have a chance to get this exposure. But when they approach NASA any interaction such as this is always predicated upon having an agreement with NASA. Why even bother to have these agreements if NASA just ignores them?

Going Rogue At NASA

"Let the Leaking Begin" - Longtime NASA Watchdog Welcomes New Rogue-Agency Tweeters, The Intercept

"Keith Cowing has a message to the "rogue" government employees publishing "alternative" news about their departments on Twitter and elsewhere: "Welcome! Welcome to the revolution. Let the leaking begin!" Cowing has been at it for a long time. His is a precursor to Twitter accounts like @RogueNASA, @Alt_CDC, and @AltHHS. They are all trying to do the same thing for their organizations: Protect them. "My website started when there was a threat to downsize NASA by 10 percent," Cowing said. At a National Academy of Sciences meeting, a NASA senior manager referred to "fear as a tool in corporate downsizing," Cowing recalled, "and I said, 'That's it. I'm going to say something.' And that's how it started."

Rogue Webmasters, Government Executive, 1996

"What does RIF really stand for? According to Keith Cowing's NASA RIF Watch Web site, the answer is "Resistance Is Futile." On the site, Cowing cut and pasted NASA Administrator Dan Goldin's face onto the body of a "Borg," the race of villains from television's "Star Trek: The Next Generation" who attempt to destroy Earth and enslave its people. Cowing, a former NASA employee who quit in 1993 because he didn't like the way the agency was being managed, launched the RIF Watch site in April to provide information for NASA employees whose jobs are at risk as the agency's budget shrinks and it is asked to carry out its mission with fewer employees. He's not alone in his effort to supplement--and circumvent--official agency information sources. Rogue webmasters have set up sites for IRS employees and Postal workers. And an online magazine has devoted a section to let federal employees of any agency sound off about what ticks them off."

NASA Notice of Information Collection, NASA HQ

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections. ...

Comments are invited on--(1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of NASA, including whether the information collected has practical utility; (2) the accuracy of NASA's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including automated collection techniques or the use of other forms of information technology.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection. They will also become a matter of public record."

Keith's note: In case you have been thinking that NASA might be wasting everyone's time with all of their paperwork, consider this NASA "Notice of Information Collection" which seeks to collect comments - as to whether it should seek comments - on whether comments need to be sought - about what NASA does. I sense yet another bureaucratic Möbius or DO-loop in the making.

Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum. AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power

"This material is declared a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. ... The team would like to thank NASA for organizational and institutional support in the exploration and analysis of the physics in this paper."

Keith's note: Congratulations, Ellen! You have funded the development of a revolutionary (or so the authors would have you think) propulsion system. But will NASA issue a press release or provide a link to this paper? Of course not. You and the rest of NASA are too embarrassed to admit that you ever funded this nonsense. Too bad. Everyone at NASA is soooo nervous about what comes next - so some good old hype and dazzle to get the new Administration excited is called for, right? Just think of the new hashtag and buzz line for all of NASA's media releases #JourneyToTheStars - very Trump.

This rocket engine breaks a law of physics. But a NASA test says it works anyway, Washington Post

"This doesn't mean that the Eagleworks EM drive definitely functions. Peer review is designed to make sure that studies are well designed and executed, and that the conclusions are reasonable - it's not an endorsement. And plenty of findings published in solid scientific papers have later been found to be incomplete or incorrect. That's how science is supposed to work: You draw conclusions based on the best evidence available, present them to your peers, and revise and refine as you conduct more tests and gather more data. The authors of the paper list nine possible sources of error in their experiment, and indicate that they need to do more tests to try to rule those out."

NASA's EM-drive still a WTF-thruster, Ars Technica

- Hooray - JSC Warp Drive Confirmed !!!!, earlier post
- Ellen Ochoa's Warp Drive: Smoke and Mirrors, earlier post
- Clarifying NASA's Warp Drive Program, earlier post
- NASA: We're Not Working on Warp Drive, earlier post
- Earlier posts

Copernicus Sentinel-3A Temperature Imagery of Hurricane Matthew

NASA KSC Update: Hurricane Matthew Has Passed Offshore From Cape Canaveral

"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."

Public Relations Spending: Reported Data on Related Federal Activities, GAO

"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?

Hurricane Worries at KSC

Hurricane Matthew poses a significant threat to Kennedy Space Center, Ars Technica

"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."

Orbital View As Hurricane Matthew Threatens U.S. East Coast, EUMETSAT

NASA Headquarters Is For Sale

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."

Jack Garman, NASA engineer who 'saved' Apollo 11 from alarms, dies at 72, CollectSpace

"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.

Posting Update

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.

Watch: Media Briefing - The Science of Juno's Mission to Jupiter

"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.

NPR Photographer, Interpreter Killed In Afghanistan, NPR

"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: 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.

NASAWatch is 20

NASA Watch Celebrates 20 Years of Critiquing the Space Agency's Every. Single. Move., Inverse

"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 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......"

Canadian Space Agency President Signals New Dialogue with Stakeholders, SpaceRef Canada

"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."

USSTRATCOM Detects, Tracks North Korean Missile Launch into Space, USSTRATCOM

"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."

North Korean rocket puts object into space, angers neighbours, US

"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."

U.N. Security Council calls emergency meeting over North Korean rocket launch, CNN

"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: (Now freelance) Space journalist Dan Leone managed to corner me last week to do a podcast interview in the "NASAWatch bat cave" [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3 NEW]

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.
And now Marshall Perrin from the Space Telescope Science Institute agrees with Danny Barringer's comments from #aas227. Harassment is a problem that has many sympathizers - both passive and agressive. This is insidious, folks.

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.

U.K. Releases National Space Policy

"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 Israel Space Agency Sign Cooperation Agreement

"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."

Jerusalem Welcomes the International Space Community Amidst Wave of Violence, SpaceRef

"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."

The Journey to Mars Starts with the Journey to the Moon, SpaceRef

"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."

As an Emerging Space Nation Israel Makes a Statement in Hosting the International Astronautical Congress, SpaceRef

"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.

Emerson: Let's reclaim our status as a leading spacefaring nation

"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.

NASA astronauts Mark Kelly and Terry Virts to address a National Press Club newsmaker breakfast

"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 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.

$79 for an Out-of-Date Book About a Modern NASA Logo, NY Times

"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.''

From Worms to Meatballs -- NASA Talk Traces Emblematic History, 2013

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."

Russian Billionaire Yuri Milner Funds SETI Initiative With $100 Million

"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."

Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking Announce $100 Million Breakthrough Initiative to Dramatically Accelerate Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe, 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.

KSC Employee Update: Photo Opportunity Thursday for The Martian Movie

"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.

Using Space Radar To Hear Human Heartbeats in Nepal, SpaceRef

"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."

NASA Office of Inspector General Semiannual Report October 2014 - March 2015

"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."

A Bad Day for Russia

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."

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 18 May 2015

"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?

NASA OIG: NASA's Compliance with the Improper Payments Act for Fiscal Year 2014

"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."

That NASA Warp Drive? Yeah, It's Still Poppycock, Wired

"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: 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

Is NASA one step closer to warp drive?, CNET

"NASA, according to, 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.

Testimony from the Hearing on China's Space and Counterspace Programs, SpaceRef

"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.

A View of the 2015 Blizzard

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."

Inside KSC for 9 January 2015 and KSC Spaceport Magazine Released, SpaceRef

"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."

Statement on Sierra Nevada Bid Protest Decision, GAO

"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

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."

Angara best response to Western sanctions - deputy PM, ITAR TASS

"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 launches new heavy-class Angara space rocket, Xinhua

"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."

NASA Takes Giant Leaps on the Journey to Mars, Eyes Our Home Planet and the Distant Universe, Tests Technologies and Improves the Skies Above in 2014, NASA

"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.

- NASA Cold Fusion Update, 2013
- Cold Fusion Update From LaRC (Update), 2012
- Why is NASA Langley Wasting Time on Cold Fusion Research?, 2011

International Astronautical Congress Opens with Fanfare But Russia and China Have Visa Issues, SpaceRef

"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."

SpaceX Workers Launch 3rd Suit, Allege Racist Policies, Law 360

"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 Developing XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane Design for DARPA

"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."

Failed Intercept Attempt in Huntsville: Conference Bungles Press at SMD 2014, Aviation Week

"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."

'Ham-handed' treatment of national media at Huntsville Space and Missile Defense conference sends a bad message: opinion, Huntsville Times

"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."

Essay: Censorship, Police Intimidation at Missile Defense Conference, Defense News

"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."

Don't Get Too Excited About NASA's New Miracle Engine, io9

"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."

NASA: New "impossible" engine works, could change space travel forever, Gizmodo

"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."

Improbable Thruster Seems to Work by Violating Known Laws of Physics, PBS

"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 here is how you contact him: email: 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


COOPER: (sighs) We've forgotten who we are, Donald. Explorers, pioneers. Not caretakers.

Donald nods, thoughtful. Weighs up his words.

DONALD: When I was a kid it felt like they made something new every day. Some gadget or idea. Like every day was Christmas. But six billion people ... just try to imagine that. And every last one of them trying to have it all.

He turns to Cooper.

This world isn't so bad. And Tom'll do just fine - you're the one who doesn't belong. Born forty years too late, or forty years too early. My daughter knew it, God bless her. And your kids know it. 'Specially Murph.

COOPER: We used to look up and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.

DONALD: Cooper, you were good at something and you never got a chance to do anything with it. I'm sorry. But that's not your kids' fault.

Cooper looks up at the stars above.

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.

Access to Rosetta Data, ESA

"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."

Would-Be Rescuers of Wayward Spacecraft Previously Solved a NASA Mystery, New York Times

"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."

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.

This Week at NASA: Mid-Year Report, NASA

"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!

Giant asteroid possibly on collision course with Earth, CNN

"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?

NASA Inspector General Testimony on NASA FY 2014 Budget Request

"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."

- NASA's Top Management and Performance Challenges 2013

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.

Santa Susana Residents Clamor to Have NASA Clean Toxic Site, NBC 4

"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?

The 5 best real-time marketing moments of the Oscars, Digiday

"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..."

Forget the Oscar-winning film - Nasa's real-life Gravity images of Earth, shuttles and astronauts will take your breath away, Computer Magazine

"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's Real 'Gravity' Photos Will Blow You Away, Mashable

"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."

Honoring Neil Armstrong

NASA Honors Astronaut Neil Armstrong with Center Renaming

"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 launches R/V Neil Armstrong

"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."

One. Amazing. Person.

"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.

Blood-Moons Fallout NASA Goes Hiding, WND

"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.

Today's Gratuitous Dump on NASA By A Journalism Professor



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