News: November 2006 Archives

Rachael Visits the NASA Prep Kitchen, Rachel Ray Show

"Watch how science creeps in to prepare Rachael's Spicy Thai Chicken for a trip into space."

Special delivery for space station crew: Lattes on the way, USA Today

"Lopez-Alegria, who's lived on the station since September, will get 22 packets of instant latte to add to his dwindling stash. Food tends to be an afterthought on space shuttle missions. But NASA officials have slowly come to realize that food is central to the well-being of the astronauts living on the space station."

Editor's note: OK. That was cute. Perhaps NASA PAO can now get back to work explaining something just a little more important i.e. why we have a space station - and what it is doing for us - and perhaps put such popular interest stories in a somewhat better context - one more in the context of an expedition - perhaps like this:

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal 19 July 2003: Illness, Good Food, and Morale

"... By now I had been sick on and off for more than a week. Every time I ate cooked food I got sick. ... I was missing the interaction that was so key to how such an operation runs. Even a casual reading of material describing human an operation factors associated with submarine, infantry, or Antarctic living conditions speaks to the importance of having good chow - and lots of it."

2 ex-NASA officials take issue with investigation, Orlando Sentinel

"Investigators wrote that O'Keefe was "not happy" with the audit, and after discussing the matter with then-Inspector General Roberta Gross, she "subsequently [was] asked to resign." The report notes "Cobb [was] selected" to replace Gross and "Cobb subsequently terminate[d] the contract with PWC [PricewaterhouseCoopers]." In an interview, O'Keefe said that the chronology in the report omitted several important details and ignored the timing of events that would have shown they had no connection."

AIP FYI #135: New Benchmark Report Raises Caution Flag on Future of U.S. S&T Enterprise

"Twenty-one months ago, the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation issued "The Knowledge Economy: Is America Losing its Competitive Edge: Benchmarks of our Innovation Future." This 18-page report has been credited with helping to raise the awareness of policymakers about U.S. R&D leadership. ... The new report, "Measuring the Moment: Innovation, National Security, and Economic Competitiveness. Benchmarks of our Innovation Future II" was released on November 16 at a Capitol Hill press conference."

Editor's note: I did a text search of the 2005 report document. "NASA" shows up once, "aerospace" ("space") shows up twice. "Aeronautics" is not mentioned.

I did a text search of the 2006 report. "NASA" shows up once, "aerospace" ("space") shows up 34 times (mostly as references). "Aeronautics" is mentioned 5 times.

In neither report is any mention made of the Vision for Space Exploration or anything related to NASA's manned and unmanned missions. It would seem that the bulk of what NASA does is not covered under the introductory quote in the 2006 report ie. "To keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity." - President George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 31, 2006

Sadly, space exploration was often touted as an example of America's technological prowess - and a harbinger of things to come in our nation's future. Now it doesn't even rank worth a mention when the topic of "our Innovation Future" is discussed. Yet nations such as China and India see such things as a source of national pride - and something to aspire toward - accomplishments we now seem to have forgotten.

Honoring A True Genius

Stephen Hawking to Receive Medal Flown on Space Shuttle

"The British Royal Society is awarding Professor Hawking its prestigious Copley Medal on Nov. 30 for his contributions to theoretical physics and theoretical cosmology. The silver gilt medal flew on space shuttle Discovery's July 2006 mission to the International Space Station, at the initiative of crew member Piers Sellers, a native of Britain. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin will travel to London to help make the medal presentation."

Save Skylab

Skylab Restoration Project Status Report November 2006

"We received news Friday that Skylab will not go indoors for the next 2 years. This leaves use out in the cold (literally). We are still on schedule to be completed with our restoration efforts by June 2007. In work now are efforts to understand how we can preserve Skylab while it remains outside for the additional year. We need to develop methods to keep the humidity down, water out, mold under control and the animals away. We have also been asked by the Space and Rocket Center to raise $20,000 to buy them a building to hold Skylab."

He's Ba-ack

American space boffin in town,

"The Star Centre at Keighley College has been visited by a leading figure in the history of American space flight. Apollo 13 rescue team member George Abbey explored the trailblazing centre, which teaches youngsters about science and technology."

Abbey raps space plan, Bay Area Citizen

"Not everybody in the space community is excited about NASA's new crew exploration vehicle, Orion. In fact, one credible man believes retiring the space shuttle fleet is a costly mistake. Former Johnson Space Center Director George Abbey was full of blunt opinions at a Space Advocates for (Congressional candidate) Nick Lampson luncheon last Thursday, saying it was a mistake to retire the shuttle in 2010 and that NASA must shatter several barriers to move forward."

Inspecting the Inspector

Complaints fuel probe of NASA inspector, Orlando Sentinel

"A federal probe of NASA Inspector General Robert Cobb outlines allegations that he stifled investigations, mistreated department employees and maintained a close personal relationship with top officials of the agency he was supposed to independently monitor. Preliminary findings from a 10-month investigation into Cobb's conduct have been forwarded to an oversight group, the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. That group is expected to make a final decision before the end of the year on what, if any, action to take."

Space Manners

Astronauts offer etiquette lessons to space tourists, New Scientist

Space Etiquette: Top Ten Tips From Astronauts, Space Docs and the Giz, Gizmodo

"So you're going into space? Don't laugh, many of you reading this will probably be space tourists, and some of you may even end up living there. These space veterans have some tips for that first space mission you're planning, making life easier for everyone on board:"

Editor's note: What mystifies me is why a book on "sex" would cause JPL to "establish new procedures" and yet other book signings and "use of JPL facilities for non-JPL-related events" did not trigger such an internal review. In the mean time this memo still doesn't explain why the "Ethics Officer" at JPL felt that it was in her power to take this book out of the JPL store.

I just spoke to someone at the JPL Store and asked if the book "Sex in Space" was for sale. The guy who answered the phone said that they had ordered it but that they were told to take it off the shelves. When I asked if it was the JPL Ethics Office that ordered this he said "yea, something like that" I sent an inquiry to the JPL Ethics Office. Let's see if they respond.

This book ban is rather odd for JPL (part of Caltech) - especially when you go to the Caltech online bookstore (there's a link on the JPL Store page) and see all of the sexually oriented material they openly sell. Just click "search" and do a global search for "sex". Scroll down and things get racier. Search for "sex in space" and the DVD for "Lust in Space" pops up. I think it is clear that the prudes are at JPL - not Caltech.

From: Stephen Kulczycki
Sent: Thursday, November 02, 2006 10:30 PM
To: All Personnel
Subject: Book Signing Cancellation

On September 21, a message was sent to JPL's all-personnel email list about the cancellation of a book signing at the JPL Store. The message stated that the event was being cancelled due to ethical issues.

"This year's Florida Space event, scheduled for Dec. 5-7, 2006, at the Buena Vista Palace in Orlando, Fla., has been cancelled due to launch processing requirements by NASA, the Air Force and the contractor community for the early December launches of both the Atlas vehicle and the Space Shuttle Discovery. We are currently in the process of contacting all of those affected by this decision, including speakers, registrants, sponsors, and exhibitors. If you have any questions, e-mail us at or call us at (800) 691-4000." (Source: Space Foundation)



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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from November 2006.

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