News: September 2007 Archives

Editor's note: Matt Bowes, the editor of the blog Space Liberates Us!, was killed in an accident several days ago. Matt was only 19. According to his bio: "Space Liberates Us! was created by Matt Bowes, a younglibertarianwho has been fascinated by the idea of space colonization forever." I had several brief interactions with Matt - and saw his name a lot out in the blogosphere. He often posted the clear, simple things we post when we are young - the things we look back and eventually wish we still believed as we aged. I had a chance to be on a panel with him at the 2007 ISDC. I passed because I was busy. I deeply regret that decision. His obituary and funeral information is online here.

Ad astra, Matt.

Reader note: "First off, I loveNASA Watch and am an avid reader of it. Second, when I saw your post about Matt Bowes it hit home. Matt was afriend of mine and I went to school with him (at the tiny Olin College in Needham, MA). He was one who was never afraid to speak his mind and let his ideas be known. We all wish Matt had his time to shine and wonder what he could have done to change the world since we know it would have been something big.

Thank you for putting something about Matt on there, he's left a large hole that I (and manyothers)only hope someone can fill with the same passion he left.I really think he'd be happy that he left enough of a mark that people are talking about him still, and hopefully thinking about things a little more. If you have any interest, more information about the accident can be found: and has Olin's updates as we get them. Its not always the happiest site in the world though since one other person was killed in the accident that killed Matt.

Thank you again for a great site -"

NASA chief stays away from Ram Sethu controversy,

"The chief of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), Michael Griffin, on Tuesday refused to be drawn into the controversy over whether the Adam's Bridge or 'Ram Sethu' was man-made or a natural formation. ... When further probed about the "religious controversy" in India, the NASA chief said "frankly, I am not a religious person and I am not interested in a religious controversy. I have more things to do than engaging in a religious controversy." Logo Design Contest

Editor's note: ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT. On Orbit is holding a logo design contest. We are looking for all designers, from professionals to amateurs, to take their best shot at creating a logo that will be used by On Orbit to brand our website, t-shirts, and anywhere else the On Orbit name might appear.

  • 1st Prize: An Apple TV (160GB model)
  • 2nd Prize: An Apple iPod nano (8GB model)
  • 3rd Prize: An Apple iPod shuffle
  • 4th Prize: An Apple iPod shuffle
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What Rutan Can Teach Griffin

NASA pundits launch debate over space flight, CNET

"Taxpayer-funded NASA should only fund research and not development," Rutan said. "When you spend hundreds of billions of dollars to build a manned spacecraft, you're...dumbing down a generation of new, young engineers (by telling them) "No, you can't take new approaches, you have to use this old technology."

"I think it's absurd they're doing Orion development at all. It should be done commercially," he said, referring to the name of the lunar spacecraft. Rutan and other panelists also question the importance of space flight at a time when environmental concerns are paramount.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin responded to Rutan's vision in a speech following his panel. "Unlike Rutan, I will continue to think space programs are important," Griffin said.

Of course, Rutan has a big stake in commercial development of spacecraft. As founder and president of Scaled Composites, he develops rockets for future commercial space tourism."

Editor's note: Hey Burt - you are a genius when it comes to design - and an inspiration when it comes to bursting through the envelope - but you cashed in and sold your company to Northrop Grumman. Smart move? Yes. They appreciate your talents and potential. But you are part of the very thing you just dumped on since your owner sees business potential in Orion and Ares. Deal with it. Give Mike Griffin a solution to work with - not a complaint.

As for your comments about the next generation - yes, under Mike Griffin, NASA has indeed let them down. A solution in that regard would be most welcome as well.

Peru meteorite crash 'causes mystery illness', The Guardian

"A meteorite has struck a remote part of Peru and carved a large crater that is emitting noxious odours and making villagers ill, according to local press reports. A fireball streaked across the Andean sky late on Saturday night and crashed into a field near Carancas, a sparsely populated highland wilderness near Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia, witnesses said."

Q&A: Do meteors make you ill?, BBC

"So could mass hysteria play a role? Symptoms could well be caused in part by what is known as a Mass Sociogenic Illness (MSI). There are countless examples of this through history and up to the present day."

Hundreds ill after Peru 'toxic meteor crash', Telegraph

"Hundreds of people have suffered headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems after an object from space - believed to be a meteorite - crashed in southern Peru."

ARC and Speaking to the Media

NASA ARC Internal Memo: All Hands Meeting on NASA's Communications Policy

"Blaine Baggett, executive manager of communications and education at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, will present and discuss the agency's policy on the release of information to news media Tuesday, September 25, at 10 a.m., in the Main Auditorium (N-201). The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer period."

Editor's note: Curiously, it seems that it is ARC PAO that has the exact opposite problem i.e. announcing important events at their own center and dealing with media inquiries about the Google airplane before the media started to spin things out of control due to lack of ARC responses.

Mars Moon Attacks Peru

Meteorite crash leaves 66ft-wide crater - and dozens with mystery illness, Daily Mail

"A meteorite that crashed in Peru has made dozens of villagers ill. Witnesses told of a fiery ball falling from the sky and smashing into the desolate Andean plain near the Bolivian border at the weekend. Officials have said it was a meteorite. Jorge Lopez, director of the health department in the state of Puno, said 200 people have suffered headaches, nausea and respiratory problems caused by "toxic" fumes from the resulting crater, which is about 66 feet wide and 16 feet deep."

Editor's note: Gee, I wonder if this newspaper actually sent their own reporter to the scene ... I especially love the graphic which shows Mars' moon Phobos entering Earth's atmosphere. Invading Martians, I suppose.

Revisting An Incredible Place

Returning to Weightlessness, SpaceRef

"Last week I had a chance to re-enter a world few have visited - a realm only space travelers- astronauts, cosmonauts and the like - normally get a chance to enter. Weightlessness. Zero Gravity. Floating. Astronauts get to live there. My visit was incredibly brief by comparison - no more than knocking on the door - but more than enough to leave an indelible impression on me. This is my second visit to weightlessness - my first having been exactly one year ago. My traveling companions: the same as last year - several dozen science teachers. My sponsor: The Northrop Grumman Foundation. My mode of transport: Zero Gravity Corporation's G Force One."

Weightless Over Cleveland - Part 1: Floating Teachers (2006), SpaceRef

"At a time when NASA's interest in developing the next generation of space explorers seems to have stalled and begun to fade, others have moved in to fill the gap. Northrop Grumman serves as the prime sponsor for the "Weightless Flights of Discovery program". This project utilizes Zero Gravity Corporation's Boeing 727 airplane ("G-Force One") and staff to conduct a flight program for teachers."

Weightless Over Cleveland - Part 2: Learning to Fly (2006), SpaceRef

"After Matt had asked me to visualize a leap up into the rafters, I chuckled and told him that this all reminded me of yet another Star Trek moment. Specifically, a scene from the first episode of "Enterprise". In this episode, everyone was learning to get accustomed to a new ship. The ship's engineer was prowling around and happened upon one chamber where an ensign was sitting upside down - on the ceiling. This was odd given that the ship had artificial gravity (whatever that is)."

NASA's 50th Anniversary Logo

Remarks by NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale - Introduction of 50th Anniversary Logo

"We've prepared a logo for that celebration, which is being unveiled for the first time today. I hope you'll see beyond the "50" in the foreground to the image beyond. The galaxy you see is a composite of several images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It's referred to as the "Grand Plan" galaxy, because its spiral shape is so well and so smoothly defined."

View Full Resolution Image (1.9 MB)

View Animation

Reader Comments

The "50 Years" logo makes no reference to the manned space flight program, which forms the biggest part of NASA's budget. Strange. Did someone use a summer intern from high school with PhotoShop skills to make it? The NASA meatball looks like it was pasted on by accident. Maybe NASA's next inspirational slogan of the month should be: "Unimaginative, pathetic crap from clueless bureaucrats and lame duck political appointees. Get over it."

Simple, Elegant, Beautiful,....and no hint of the first "A" in "NASA". - Anonymous NASA employee.

This must be a contest to see if you can figure out what you're looking at. My guess: a 5 in front of an occulted sun with a coronal mass ejection in the upper right. Playing the animation doesn't do a lot to help .. remnants of a supernova blast?

(groan) Is it supposed to be the big black hole taxpayers are throwing their money into?

Look at the 40th anniversary logo for comparison: One look told you the achievements and accomplishments of the agency. Plus, the "Pionnering the Future." Contrast that now with "NASA explores for answers that power our future." It means we've gone from frontiersmen to batteries. And if that's a blackhole, well, the lights are out.

Was someone paid to come up with a black hole? Because seriously, even a black hole would have been better...

Weightless Over Washington

This Joy Ride Brings Out Teachers' Lighter Side, Washington Post

"Instead of teaching science at their Sterling middle school yesterday, Lynn Austin was doing somersaults, suspended in the air. Rhonda Labuhn was flying like Superman. Christopher Souther was playing a game of teacher toss, and he was the one being tossed."

Editor's note: Sorry for the light news coverage yesterday. I got a last minute chance to fly aboard a NorthropGrumman/Zero G weightless flight with a plane full of teachers.

Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE to Create a Space Race for a New Generation, X Prize Foundation/Google

"The X PRIZE Foundation and Google Inc. today announced the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the Moon to win a remarkable $30 million prize purse. Private companies from around the world will compete to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth."

Today's X Prize Announcement

NASA Anniversary, Shuttle Crew and Science Highlighted at NextFest

"Deputy Administrator Dale will participate in an announcement regarding the X PRIZE Foundation at the X PRIZE stage at 10:30 a.m. [PDT], Sept. 13."

Editor's note: This announcement will knock your socks off. Indeed, paradigms will shift before your eyes. Check in here after 2:00 pm EDT for updates.

Reader note: "I read your site almost everyday. I am a former NASA employee and enjoy reading the real news about NASA. Well, yesterday here in Cleveland I heard that Glenn Research Center was announcing a massive rebuilding program. The short announcement that I read didn't say which buildings were going to be replaced. Double checked your site and you didn't have any links so I went to the Glenn home page. You would think that getting approval for $150 million would make their news page and they would give as much details as one could possibly want. No, all that is there, even today, is an announcement of the press meeting.

Another example of NASA's inability to use all their resources to communicate with the public.

URL with the brief news that lead me to search for more:

URL of the meeting announcement:

URL of the local paper with far more information:"

Reader note: "I share the reader's compliments on your site, but disagree with his/her complaint about newsworthy items. When building construction becomes newsworthy at NASA, we have a real problem. It's a national space program, not a local jobs and construction program. Drawing the public's attention to the latter takes it away from the former. Two cents from another former NASA employee."

Snakes on a plane in MCC

Editor's note: From someone "This coral snake [image below] was captured in the MCC very early this morning. It was inside the stainless steel doors under the ceiling mounted camera housing. Although a baby coral snake it is still extremely venomous. I believe this is a good reminder that living in Texas can be dangerous, and everyone should keep their eyes open."

Amid NASA turbelence, Congress stays on board, Houston Chronicle

"With NASA pushing ahead with plans for exploring the moon and Mars, administrator Michael Griffin acknowledged last week that scandals and reports of astronaut misconduct have "shaken public confidence" in his agency. Congress, however, is standing by NASA, ignoring a veto threat in an attempt to fund space endeavors with more money than President Bush's $17.3 billion request for the 2008 fiscal year."

Editor's note: What does the word "turbelence" mean? I know I make lots of typos - but the Chronicle has a slightly larger staff than I do - one that ought to be able to catch these things.

Reader note: From: "M R K" Manitowoc Wisconsin, 45 years ago: "...The hunk had been embedded three inches deep into the asphalt of 8th Street, just off the center line, for an hour before patrolmen Marvin Bauch and Ronald Rusboldt noticed it from their squad car.... They thought that it was a piece of cardboard and ignored it. An hour later they noticed it again, stopped to move it, and found that it was too hot to touch. They then thought that it was a piece of slag from a local foundry that had fallen out of a dump truck. They kicked it to the curb. It wasn't until noon that Bauch and Rusboldt associated what they had seen with the reported breakup of Sputnik. They returned to the spot and found it, still in the gutter, more than seven hours after it had fallen. A check at the fire department with a Geiger counter showed no radioactivity, so the lump was shipped to the Smithsonian...."

Launched on May 15, 1960, and called by the West as "Sputnik 4" it was supposed to be a 4 day flight. Well, the Vostok test capsule had a problem with the IR sensor and thus it's retros fired rearward, pushing the capsule into a higher orbit, where it stayed until 1962. Evidently, it was the metric threads and unusual iron oxides that were caused by the heat of reentry that confirmed its origin, and it was then shipped back to the Russians, but not before 2 replicas were made, both of which are in Manitowoc.

A local shop owner is planning to celebrate this event next year (September 5 & 6 2008). Something tells me that this could be both fun and educational. Hey, does anyone from NASA, DOD or Korolev RSC Energia have any interesting items they may want to display?

Editor's note: Wouldn't it be something if people knew that by sending things like this to NASA that they might get a response ... and that maybe their space agency might spend a moment with them.

People will celebrate NASA's accomplishments without any input from NASA. For that matter they will celebrate space events from all nations in their own way if the urge strikes them to do so.

But NASA ignores little things like this. They focus instead on large media markets and places where they can affect Congressional behavior. To be honest and pragmatic, that may be a wiser and more strategic use of limited funds. But it does serve to further isolate the agency from many of the people who pay for its operations at the same time.

The challenge right now for NASA is how to become part of these events - little as well as big - even if only from a distance - so as to show that the agency is still relevant. Not to do so serves to prove the contrary.

Write and Vote on a Better Slogan for NASA, Wired (Update)

"We were so happily overwhelmed by your initial response to our blogger Loretta Hidalgo Whiteside's call for a new NASA slogan, that we decided to create a proper voting tool."

Can You Write a Better Slogan for NASA?, Wired

"In early August, NASA internally released its latest marketing campaign, designed to show its relevance and value to the American people. Its new slogan? "NASA explores for answers that power our future." The campaign now seems to be aborted, but it did get me thinking, could we do any better? I am no marketing genius, but I think that we could. I mean North Face's has much more zing, "Never Stop Exploring." Even Dow Chemicals did better, "The Human Element." ... For reference, the previous NASA slogan, under the previous Administrator (new Administrator, new slogan) was "Explore, Discover, Understand." Although it seemed a little dry at the time, it now seems light years ahead. It at least it honored the 'under four words' rule (ok there is not really an under four words rule).

Editor's note: I guess I am not the only one who thinks that NASA's Strategic Communications activities need a little more creativity. Please visit this link and read the rest of Loretta's ideas - and enter the Wired slogan contest!

NASA's Strategic Communications Office Just Doesn't Get It, Earlier post
More Confusion From NASA's Office of Strategic Communications, Earlier post

NASA Partners With Discovery Communications for 50th Anniversary

"The partnership will encompass on-air and online components as well as grassroots activities throughout 2008, including educational workshops and local screenings. Special programming on Discovery in the spring and summer of 2008 will celebrate NASA with never-before-seen archival footage. Podcasts and interactive features at Discovery's Web site will enable viewers and users to take a closer look at NASA's history and its plans for the future."

South Korean to Visit ISS

S. Korea picks its first astronaut, Yonhap

"South Korea on Wednesday chose a 30-year-old computer vision engineer to become its first astronaut who will make a trip to the International Space Station on a Russian spacecraft early next year. Ko san, a researcher at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), was selected over Yi So-yeon because he received higher marks in the extensive training program undertaken in South Korea and Russia since early this year, the Ministry of Science and Technology said. It said there was very little difference in the scores of the two candidates, which were tallied by a seven-person astronaut selection committee headed by KARI president Paik Hong-yul."

Are We There Yet?

Kirby: Road trip proves NASA has it wrong, The Salt Lake Tribune

"Last week, I took a road trip to the Oregon coast with six friends. We traveled more than 1,000 miles together in a van and proved that NASA is lying.NASA claims that it can stuff human beings into an expensive International Space Station and spin them around the Earth for months with no ill effects other than those normally associated with a prolonged ride in a clothes dryer. Thanks to our road trip, we now know this is not true. Human beings are not meant to be treated like pressed ham. Not without a lot of drugs and deodorant we're not."



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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from September 2007.

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