News: March 2005 Archives

Space Shuttle Tribute Bike: "The Space Shuttle is one of the most impressive technological achievements in human history. Join a grassroots project to pay tribute to the men and women who make it happen and the American spirit that makes it possible. The non-profit Space Shuttle Tribute Bike committee, a group of your fellow NASA team members, is partnering with the Discovery Channel's American Chopper show and Orange County Choppers to build a bike that honors the spirit of the space program."

Nasa to weed command: you have permission to boldly grow, The Guardian

"It put a man on the moon and gave the world the non-stick saucepan, but faced with an impending budget crisis, Nasa has been forced to cancel a more down to earth project: gardening."

Marshall won't mow as much; McDaniel says move looks bad, Huntsville Times

"[NASA Advisory Council member Mark] McDaniel said he's concerned how the lawn-care cutbacks would make Marshall and Redstone Arsenal appear if the Base Realignment and Closure Commission visits Redstone in the next few months. The commission is due to make its recommendations to President Bush by the end of summer."

Reader comment: "What next? Will we be shredding our own documents in the parking lot because the "mulch" truck is no longer funded? Sigh..."

A JSC Reader suggests: "Maybe JSC could loan them some cattle and donkeys and they could acquire goats. Or institute a mandatory physical fitness program whereby all CS go out and maintain the grounds.They would then have a charge number and coverage."

Editor's note: "... the grass in other than high visibility areas will be allowed to reach a height of 8 to 12 inches and there will be no more special work requests accepted." Yikes! I hope they don't have any mountain lions (cougars) at MSFC like ARC has! They could hide in the tall grass and pose a danger to employees.

NASA Internal Briefing: "Why This Important" - NASA Communication Material Review Process

"summary of key findings

- People want to believe in NASA. And the window of opportunity is now.
- NASA's 'brand' is extremely strong. The problem is lack of effective communications.
- There is strong desire to know what NASA does. But today that knowledge is very thin.
- The public looks to NASA for a vision of exploration. Between Columbia and the CAIB report, 2,250 articles were written about NASA and vision, most calling for NASA to develop a vision.
- There is no blame associated with Columbia: The public understands the risks and is supportive."

Students Invited to Learn How to Engineer Spaceships at NASA JSC

"Visit the Web for more information and directions to Space Center Houston at:"

Editor's note: Wow. This reminds me of the serial number you have to enter more than once slowly when you install a Microsoft product. Why not use a more human-friendly URL such as ? I wonder if goofy and needlessly complicated web addresses are covered in the new NASA Communication Material Review Process? Nah. They are more concerned with specifying fonts and convoluted approval processes, it would seem.

NASA work rules trip scientists, Huntsville Times

"For working late at Marshall Space Flight Center, Dr. Alexander A. Chernov has been punished. Chernov, a microgravity researcher, was banned from working at the center earlier this month because of what he terms as an obscure, forgotten agreement to restrict foreign scientist work to traditional Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. working hours."

NASA to nurture biz launch-pad, Crain's Cleveland Business

"NASA Glenn Research Center in Brook Park hasn't been a breeding ground for entrepreneurs. That situation could change, however, with a new program to help NASA Glenn employees launch businesses about to come into place at a time when hundreds of jobs at the research center are on the chopping block."

Delegation's new clout on space budget could help Marshall, WHNT

"And Cramer says they've made some enemies, and now more than ever they need to put Humpty Dumpty back together. He says it must be made clear this is a partnership and not something they can just dictate and get their way. Cramer says he is prepared to take drastic actions if NASA's leaders aren't more forthcoming to the delegation."

Editor's note: According to a source familiar with the NBC program "The Apprentice": "Please check out this Thursday night's episode of "The Apprentice." They'll have an"out-of-this-world" reward for the winning team. Make sure not to miss it whether you're a space buff or not!".

Editor's note: The prize was a ride on Zero-G Corp's jet.

ARC PAO Foot Dragging

NASA Scientists to Discuss Risks of Moon Dust, NASA ARC

"During a workshop entitled "Biological Effects of Lunar Dust," scheduled March 29-31, 2005, at the Radisson Inn, Sunnyvale, Calif., leading scientists and physicians will review current knowledge about lunar dust and its medical risks, and recommend strategies to obtain new information needed for medical and engineering experts to manage the particulate risk for lunar exploration."

Editor's note: Sounds like fun. Too bad ARC PAO goes out of their way not to let people know about this event. They are shooting themselves in the foot by waiting until the last minute (6 days - 2 of which are over a weekend) to alert reporters and possible attendees - thus diminishing possible attendance. Indeed, If you go to the website listed in this 23 March press release you'll see that the hotel/meeting registration deadline is (was) 21 March. As such, anyone reading this announcement it can't go. So why send it out?

"Celebrate in the tradition of the Flight Directors as NASA returns the Space Shuttle to flight. Mark this historic event with a Corona Gorda RTF CIGAR!"

Editor's note: You guessed, it - for sale on eBay. Of course I don't endorse these things in any way since smoking is stupid, causes cancer, and leads to early death. But, that cheerful caveat aside, smoke 'em if you got 'em! [Thanks to Jim Banke for spotting this]

Lockheed US satellite program could reach $12 bln

"A Lockheed Martin Corp. satellite system to provide early warning of enemy missile attacks could eventually cost around $12 billion, up from recent estimates of around $10 billion, Acting Air Force Secretary Peter Teets said on Tuesday. Teets, who retires on Friday, called the Space-Based Infrared System (SBRIS) High program "a huge national priority" and said he saw little alternative to restructuring and adding funds to a program initially expected to cost $4 billion."

Editor's note: Ouch. I guess its a little easier to break this kind of news when you're headed out the door....

Editor's note: Dan Goldin has been consulting for Randy Brinkley at Kistler for the past several months. [Audio 1]

Hutchison wants to put NASA back on course, Houston Chronicle

"She has a real understanding of what NASA ought to be," said George W.S. Abbey, a senior fellow in space policy at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and former director of the Johnson Space Center. "She has a picture of what's right for the country as well."

Editor's note: He's ba-ack .... [Audio 1] [Audio 2]

NASA still working to reshape attitudes, USA Today

"Wetherbee says he left out of disappointment at NASA's lack of change and out of hope that he could do some good if he no longer worked there. "It became clear to me ... that upper-level managers did not want to change," he says. "I realized I was ineffective on the inside, so maybe I'll be able to speak out and be more effective on the outside."

NASA's culture still poses danger, ex-astronauts say, USA Today

"Wetherbee, 52, says he left his job on the safety staff at the Johnson Space Center in Houston out of frustration at the slow pace of progress. He still consults for NASA and is writing a book about his time there."

Editor's note: Hmmm.... pangs of guilt from Jim Weatherbee, one of George Abbey's chief henchmen?

Teets is Leaving USAF/NRO

Peter B. Teets Announces Departure

"The Hon. Peter B. Teets announced his resignation today as Acting Secretary of the Air Force and director, National Reconnaissance Office effective March 25. Teets came to the Air Force in December 2001 from private industry."

Editor's note: NASA Watch has learned that Mike Griffin has now made the transition from NASA Administrator designee to nominee with the transmittal of the formal nomination paper work and notification of the U.S. Senate. It is uncertain whether there will be a formal White House event to announce Griffin's nomination since the White House has already issued a statement and the process is now well underway to have him confirmed. No date has been set yet for his confirmation hearings.

Editor's note: What do you think of President Bush's selection of Mike Griffin to be the next NASA Administrator? Send your comments to - and let us know if you are a NASA civil servant/contractor, general public, etc. If we can use your name/affiliation, please let us know.

Your comments so far:

A Talented Leader for NASA, editorial, NY Times

"Dr. Griffin was no doubt chosen in part because he is a strong advocate of human spaceflight and of the president's plans to return to the Moon and proceed to Mars. But he is no mindless cheerleader for NASA. In testimony last year, he questioned why so little was expected to result from the tens of billions of dollars that would be spent on the Moon-Mars program in coming years. He also suggested that the $60 billion needed to finish the space station would produce nothing of commensurate value."

Challenges for Griffin

Sky-high objectives, Editorial, Orlando Sentinel

"Analysts see Mr. Griffin's biggest challenge as winning support from a skeptical Congress and public for the president's plan to send astronauts back to the moon and eventually to Mars. Indeed, persuading Congress to dedicate the dollars to sustain that worthy mission will be difficult in an era of deep deficits."

Vandenberg launch schedule pulled from Web site, KESQM

"Because of security concerns, the Air Force is no longer providing an online schedule for unclassified launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base."

No plan B for outer space, The Economist

"Here's a wizard idea. Spend $40 billion building a big tin can in orbit round the Earth, in orderat least in partto keep the rocket scientists of your former enemy from going to work for your current enemies. Then find that a law intended to stop the current enemies getting their hands on such rocket scientists' knowledge means you can no longer use this expensive tin can. Confused? You are not the only one."

Editor's note: Klyde Morris has some thoughts on Mike Griffin's selection. Of course, if Griffin ever decides to bail out of NASA on short notice, he apparently has another, not widely appreciated, career to fall back on.


Hopkins Physicist, Engineer Tapped to Head NASA, Washington Post

"The White House issued no statement in announcing the nomination..."

White House Statement on the Nomination of Michael Griffin to be NASA Administrator

"The President intends to nominate Michael D. Griffin, of Virginia, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

Cramer has ear of NASA top man, Huntsville Times

"Cramer said he took the quick call from Griffin as a sign that the new administrator knows he needs to be consulted. "He seemed to be aware by the nature of his call that I was becoming a problem for NASA headquarters," Cramer said."

NASA ARC Internal Memo: Message from the Director - Cost Reductions and Efficiencies

"We need to take immediate actions to maintain competitive overhead rates and control the cost of doing business. In implementing full cost management, we must also be mindful that individual Programs may have specific needs for hiring or purchases. However, project implementation is the responsibility of the Center and as such we must ask the Program Managers to accommodate any near term disruption. In the long run, lower costs help all programs."

NASA ARC Memo: Message from the Director - Alternative Models of Organization

"... the NASA Organization Model and Evaluation Team (NOMET) that was created as a result of the President's Commission also recommended several models for the Centers to evaluate for organizing to meet the Vision for Space Exploration. Specifically related to Ames, the NOMET team concluded that the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) was potentially a good first step toward an operating model, and that other models may also be applicable for a NASA R&D Center and should continue to be explored."

Bush picks exploration advocate as new NASA head, Orlando Sentinel

"Griffin was the co-leader of a 2004 study by a space advocacy group that recommended accelerating the shuttle's planned 2010 retirement to speed up work on a new manned ship. He questioned the wisdom of spending tens of billions of additional dollars on the international space station during congressional testimony last year."

Extending Human Presence into the Solar System, PDF, Planetary Society

"Given the unique capabilities of the Shuttle (delivery and berthing of large payloads, robotic and EVA capabilities, large down-mass capacity), its return to flight is imperative for rapid completion of the ISS. The tailoring of most completed ISS hardware for Shuttle launch argues for keeping the Shuttle operational until delivery of international partner modules. However, most ISS logistical needs might well be met using partner assets like the Russian Progress and the ESAs Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)."

Editor's personal note: Of course, this report is the product of a number people - not just Griffin.

Statement By Michael D. Griffin - House Science Committee Hearing: "Perspectives on the President's Vision for Space Exploration"

"NASA should initiate development of a heavy lift launch vehicle having a payload capacity of at least 100 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO). Such a vehicle is the single most important physical asset enabling human exploration of the solar system. The use of shuttle-derived systems offers what is quite likely to be the most costeffective near-term approach."

"But the more important question is whether the return to be obtained from the use of ISS to support exploration objectives is worth the money yet to be invested in its completion. The nation, through the NASA budget, plans to allocate $32 B to ISS (including ISS transport) through 2016, and another $28 B to shuttle operations through 2011. This total of $60 B is significantly higher than NASA's current allocation for human lunar return. It is beyond reason to believe that ISS can help to fulfill any objective, or set of objectives, for space exploration that would be worth the $60 B remaining to be invested in the program."

Production Report: Final Enterprise Episode Wraps

"There were other special guests in the cast of this episode. Playing an NX-01 Engineer in one scene was NASA astronaut Mike Fincke. Fincke made news on STARTREK.COM in December when he and Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka received a "Starfleet Award" after their return from a six-month mission on the International Space Station (related story). During his stay in orbit, Fincke had an opportunity to speak with Scott Bakula using a very-long-distance phone connection; now he was able to chat with him in person!"

Update: From "Just back from PeTe's. Les said that they will likely re-open (I assume under different ownership) soon. There weren't any signs saying they were closing, but he did confirm today is their last day at least for a while. There was a nice smattering of regulars, but in general a smaller crowd than a typical Friday."

Editor's note:From via "Their last day is tomorrow, Friday 11th March. PeTe's has been around forever and aside from having great BBQ it's also an historic 'space' landmark here in Houston. A bunch of us are meeting there for an extended lunch tomorrow. All and any are welcome. No real time set, just turn up and weep with the rest of us. Houston just won't be the same without PeTe's!"

Ukranian Rockets to Orbit US Satellites, RIA Novosti

"Ukraine's National Space Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are preparing to sign an agreement in April that would allow Ukrainian rockets to be used for launching US satellites into lunar orbits."

Fred Gregory Profile

Backed by History, Looking Ahead - NASA Leader Took Chances, Seeks Opportunities for Others, Washington Post

"In mid-February, Gregory moved up from his job as NASA's deputy administrator to interim administrator -- a job he will hold until President Bush names a permanent replacement for administrator Sean O'Keefe, who left the agency to become chancellor of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge."

Audit of the Implementation of Integrated Financial Management (IFMP) Audit Recommendations, NASA OIG

"As of January 3, 2005 NASA had 26 out of 44 (59 percent) audit recommendations related to IFMP that were still open and for which corrective action had not been completed. Some of those recommendations were more than 1 year old."

Bush to Nominate Bolton as U.N. Ambassador, AP

Bush Selects Steve Johnson to Head EPA, AP

Editor's note: One of the procedural roadblocks to naming a new NASA Administrator was the fact that other senior positions, some whose filling was viewed as being more pressing than the number one slot at NASA, needed to be filled. One such post was EPA. Another was UN Ambassador. Now that these slots have been filled, it is expected that the White House can focus on other empty positions - including that of NASA Administrator. Several weeks ago, just as Sean O'Keefe was saying farewell, there was a flurry of interest among senior Administration circles that the announcing of a name was imminent - hence my posting here that there would be an announcement "very, very soon". Well, that bubble of informed speculation burst shortly thereafter. None the less, name(s) continue to be vetted at the White House. Given the prospect of no anticipated problems at NASA in the next few months, there is no pressing urgency to accelerate the selection process. Yet if they can get it of their to do list, they will.

As such, whether an announcement is imminent - perhaps Wednesday or (more likely) Thursday of this week - or weeks away - remains to be seen. Rest assured, contrary to those who suggest that the Administration is not paying attention to this issue, someone, somewhere in the White House is working on it. Stay tuned.

Longtime NASA Reporter William M. Hines, 88, Dies, Washington Post

"William M. Hines, 88, a former Washington Star and Chicago Sun-Times reporter who was considered the godfather of NASA space reporting, died Feb. 28 of complications from treatment for pneumonia at Frederick Memorial Hospital. He lived in Washington before moving to Lovettsville in 1987."


Shelby at helm of key NASA panel, Huntsville Times

"Alabama's senior senator in Washington has taken the reins of a key NASA spending committee. U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, has been named the chairman of the newly formed Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee."

Senate appropriations reorganization could come this week, Government Executive

"The C-J-S panel would absorb science agencies from the old VA-HUD bill, including NASA. Shelby, an ardent NASA supporter, would be a natural ally of likely Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., in preserving increases for the space program. Both have major NASA facilities in their states, as does House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who was a driving force behind the appropriations reorganization process in the House."

Approps Reshuffle Is Good for U.S. in Space and Science, OpEd, Robert Walker, Roll Call (subscription required)

"In a recent Roll Call Guest Observer Scott Lilly made a wonderful case for institutional geriatrics in the House appropriations process (Jan. 27, "Does Rearranging Appropriations Panels Make Sense?"). His argument, essentially, was that old is better than new. The essence of the piece was an attack on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) for supporting both space exploration and modernization of the House. In particular, Lilly's argument suggested that the nation is on the wrong track with the "Vision for Space Exploration," which lays out a "go as you pay" stepping-stone approach to future human and robotic space exploration. Lilly related how this contention fared when laid at the feet of 35 local graduate students. One has to question a group of graduate students who reject human destiny in our universe. But, more importantly, they are dead wrong when it comes to public support for the Vision for Space Exploration. Indeed, a recent Gallup poll found that 68 percent of those surveyed supported the Vision's plan, including a majority of both Republicans (79 percent) and Democrats (60 percent)."

Investors in space flight industry contribute $3,000,000 to TrekUnited - Money pledged to fund a fifth season of Star Trek: Enterprise

"We think Star Trek and especially its latest incarnation, "Enterprise" is the kind of TV that should be aired more often. The people responsible at Paramount think this is just a show and we want to tell them, it is not. We are in the commercial space flight industry and would like to testify that at least one out of two of all the actual entrepreneurs involved in this industry has been inspired by Star Trek; and we are not only good at watching TV sci-fi , we are also good at writing checks, big checks."

China Will Propose That NASA Use Shenzhou for International Space Station Duty, SpaceRef

"Mengxin Sun, First Secretary for Science and Technology at the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC has said that he intends to brief the new NASA Administrator (as soon as that announcement is made) about a proposal for U.S. use of China's Shenzhou spacecraft series as a crew/cargo carrier for the ISS program."

The China Card: U.S. now agreeable to space cooperation with China, Aviation Week

"In a major shift of U. S. policy, the Bush Administration is ready to open more formal discussions with China on space cooperation, according to outgoing NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe."

Editor's note: A clarification on this story as reported yesterday. Sun was unable to answer any space-related questions asked of him at presentation he gave at the National Academy of Sciences yesterday and designated his assistant/interpreter to respond for him. Noting his lack of space expertise, Sun responded several times to the audience "I am not a space man."



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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from March 2005.

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