News: December 2006 Archives

President George W. Bush To Close Federal Offices in Tribute to Former President Gerald R. Ford, OPM

"By Executive Order of President George W. Bush, all executive departments, independent organizations and other agencies of the Federal government shall be closed on Tuesday, January 2, 2007, as a mark of respect for Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States."

NASA and Google to Bring Space Exploration Down to Earth, NASA

"NASA Ames Research Center and Google have signed a Space Act Agreement that formally establishes a relationship to work together on a variety of challenging technical problems ranging from large-scale data management and massively distributed computing, to human-computer interfaces."

NASA Ames Schedules Briefing to Discuss Google Agreement

"NASA Ames Research Center hosts a media briefing Monday to discuss a major announcement involving Google, Inc. 11:00 a.m. PST, Monday, Dec. 18, 2006."

Major NASA - Google Announcement Planned, SpaceRef

"This announcement will unveil a NASA/Google collaboration that is rather unique - indeed exciting. This agreement represents a significant advance for how the agency might collaborate with the private sector in the future - specifically as to how the agency takes its vast collection of data and imagery and makes it more easily available to the world. Among the details of this new cooperative project, Google will be contributing funding to support NASA employees - and not just at ARC - but at other NASA centers as well."

Preparing for Space War

Talk of Satellite Defense Raises Fears of Space War, Washington Post

"Theresa Hitchens, director of the nonpartisan Center for Defense Information, said she found the tone and substance of Joseph's comments last week puzzling. "It is somewhat ironic that while he kept saying 'There is no arms race in space' -- which says to me no real threat in space -- his whole pitch was how we have to protect our satellites, including using weapons," she said, citing Joseph's mention of "active means" of defending assets."

Confusing Space Threat Verbiage, earlier post

Editor's note: I received an interesting response to my earlier posting "You Just Can't Trust Those Former Astronauts" from former astronaut Rick Searfoss:

Hi Keith. There's lots of stories of NASA Security SNAFUS that would be very amusing, if they weren't such a sad commentary on how clueless and worthless the bureaucratic side of the agency is. Here's one about current astronauts as "security risks."

GeneSat-1 update: "3:15 p.m. 12/14/06: The Minotaur 1 launch set for Monday, Dec. 11 from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, has been delayed with Saturday, Dec. 16, remaining as the earliest possible launch date. Analysis and testing continue on the TacSat-2 satellite systems by researchers with the Air Force Research Lab at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The launch window now extends to Dec. 22. The daily launch window is 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. As information becomes available, updates will be provided on this web site and on the Wallops launch status line at 757-824-2050."

Editor's note: Question for ARC PAO: ARC's GeneSat-1 is due to be launched on this flight. This smallsat mission is a big deal for ARC, right? Why haven't you been issuing updates and posting them on the ARC news page - or any other prominent pages? Indeed, does GeneSat even have a homepage on your website? Let me save you some effort: Wallops is doing it for you. Here is the link - here's another link at NASA HQ. All you have to do is cut and paste.

Editor's 15 Dec 3:00 pm EST update: After having nothing online, a series of links has suddenly appeared on ARC's home page and a press release has been issued.

Message from the ARC Center Director: Kick-off Event for Google-NASA Collaboration on Friday

"All members of the Ames community interested in the collaboration between Google and NASA are cordially invited to a kick-off event on Friday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Exploration Center outside the main gate. A number of representatives from Google will be attending the event, which will feature a brief overview of the collaboration. Light food and beverages will be provided."

Editor's note: From what I have learned, this announcement will unveil a NASA/Google collaboration that is rather unique - indeed exciting. This agreement represents a significant advance for how the agency might collaborate with the private sector in the future - specificially as to how the agency takes its vast collection of data and imagery and makes it more easily available to the world. Among the details of this new cooperative project, Google will be contributing funding to support NASA employees - and not just at ARC - but at other NASA centers as well.

Alas, while ARC staff have been very creative in crafting this agreement, ARC PAO has dropped the ball once again. No one in the media seems to know that this is happening - tomorrow.

Editor's update: While this announcement will still happen, NASA ARC PAO now says it has been delayed until a date that has been "mutually agreed upon by NASA and Google.". ARC PAO"s Laura Lewis also chided me for posting an internal memo. I guess it did not occur to her that sending an email to several thousand people about a "kick off event" is tantamount to announcing it publicly since the memos get forwarded almost instantly. Indeed, that's the point of such widely distributed emails in the first place - messages that carry no admonition about further dissemination.

And oh yes - I almost forgot - that big banner near the ARC HQ building - the one announcing the "Google party" on Friday. Not exactly subtle, eh?

Editor's 15 Dec 4:30 pm EST update: NASA Ames Schedules Briefing to Discuss Google Agreement

"NASA Ames Research Center hosts a media briefing Monday [18 December 2006] to discuss a major announcement involving Google, Inc."

Remarks on The President's National Space Policy by Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security

Editor's note: First he says: "But not all countries can be relied upon to pursue exclusively peaceful goals in space. A number of countries are exploring and acquiring capabilities to counter, attack, and defeat U.S. space systems. In view of these growing threats, our space policy requires us to increase our ability to protect our critical space capabilities and to continue to protect our interests from being harmed through the hostile use of space. To achieve this end, the United States needs to remain at the forefront in space, technologically and operationally, as we have in the air, on land, and at sea. Specifically, the United States must have the means to employ space assets as an integral part of its ability to manage crises, deter conflicts and, if deterrence fails, prevail in conflict."

And then he says this: "There is no arms race in space and we see no signs of one emerging.Instead, we believe our efforts should focus on ensuring free access to space for peaceful purposes and deterring the misuse of space."

I'm confused. Which is it? Threat or no threat?

NASA JPL Internal Memo: Hold Order: NASA Inspector General Investigation of Censorship

"Caltech recently was notified by NASA that the NASA Office of Inspector General, at congressional request, is conducting an investigation into allegations of censorship of scientific information at NASA. As a result, Caltech/JPL must retain any government documents related to the matters identified below. This email constitutes a "Hold Order" regarding these documents and is being sent to those individuals who we believe may have had dealings with NASA with respect to NASA practices or policies, past or current, affecting dissemination of scientific information to the public."

U.S. Warns of Threat to Satellites, AP

"The Bush administration warned Wednesday against threats by terrorist groups and other nations against U.S. commercial and military satellites, and discounted the need for a treaty aimed at preventing an arms race in space. Undersecretary of State Robert G. Joseph also reasserted U.S. policy that it has a right to use force against hostile nations or terror groups that might try to attack American satellites or ground installations that support space programs. President Bush adopted a new U.S. space policy earlier this year."

Combating Satellite Terrorism, DIY Style, Popular Mechanics

"We demonstrated that a few unsophisticated guys with a few thousand dollars' worth of equipment could interfere with a seriously sophisticated satellite system," says John Holbrook, Space CHOP's program manager. "If we had turned on full power, we would've knocked [the system] out."

If You Quit The NASA Astronaut Corps You Lose Your JSC Badge, SpaceRef

"After October 1, I emailed the administrative assistant in the astronaut office to find out what I needed to do in order to get a new badge. I was told that I could not get one. I was told that the only way that I can get on site would be to check in at the JSC security office to get a temporary badge, one that was good for up to five consecutive days of access. This is one of those badges that you get when you forget yours at home."

Comments? Send them to nasawatch@reston.com Your responses thus far:

Wallops Launch Delayed

Rocket launch that would have been first from mid-Atlantic spaceport is postponed, AP

"The mission, which would have included the first takeoff from the mid-Atlantic region's commercial spaceport, will be postponed until at least Wednesday and possibly for as long as two to three weeks while the problem is being resolved, said Neal Peck, program manager for the Air Force's TacSat-2 satellite."

Dean Acosta Leaving NASA

NASA Internal Memo: Acosta Departure Announcement

"Today, I am announcing my departure from NASA as the press secretary and deputy assistant administrator for Public Affairs, effective Jan. 2nd. I have accepted a position as a managing director at Qorvis Communications, a Washington, DC public affairs firm. David Mould will assume the press secretary duties upon my departure."

NASA Chief Spokesperson's Next Mission is to Join Qorvis

"Acosta served as chief spokesperson, press secretary and senior adviser to the NASA administrator and deputy administrator. His experience includes coordinating NASA's response to the shuttle Columbia accident in 2003."

Official Bio

"Dean Acosta is an Emmy Award winning journalist who became NASA's deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Public Affairs in April 2003."

Editor's note: How is it that Dean was responsible for "coordinating NASA's response to the shuttle Columbia accident in 2003" when he did not even join the agency until 3 months after the accident?

As a matter of fact, like many others, I spent a lot of time in close proximity to NASA PAO during those months. As I recall the "work" at HQ was done by Glenn Mahone, Paula Cleggett, Doc Mirelson, Allard Beutel, Bob Jacobs, and many others across the agency. Whatever Columbia-related activity Dean may have eventually "coordinated" was done well after he arrived at NASA - with 99% of the actual "work" done by others.


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

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