News: October 2008 Archives

NASA And Korea Sign Statement Of Intent For Future Cooperation

"During a meeting Thursday at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) in Seoul, Korea, NASA's Assistant Administrator for External Relations, Michael F. O'Brien, and MEST's Director-General for Big Science, Munki Lee, signed a joint statement of intent identifying potential interest in cooperation in civil space and aeronautics activities."

Korea Taps NASA on Space Program, Korea Times

"Government officials have secured a commitment from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to help the country's ambitions for a presence in space technology and to become more involved in international space research projects. The agreement signed between Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and NASA, Friday, calls for expanding exchange in technological advancements and further cooperation on a wide range of projects such as lunar exploration and manned space flights, the ministry said."

Space Boomers Speak Out

NASA JSC Advanced Planning Office Blog: A Perspective from a Baby Boomer

"For many in my generation it was the Apollo program or Star Trek that sealed our future with NASA. For me it was the original voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Yes, I am one of those that would love to see the mission of the agency to be, "To Boldly Go where No one has gone before." My expectation was that upon entering the gates of NASA, I would find someone working on the Warp drive or a transporter. I thought that there would be people working on projects that pushed the boundaries of space and time. I expected Mission Control to look like the deck of the Enterprise. Instead, I found the Apollo Mission Control configuration that worked exceedingly well into the late 1980's."

ColabSpace

The ColabSpace Twitter is now online.

OnOrbit ColabSpace provides a collaborative wiki mashup environment for individuals, groups, organizations, or companies to work on a variety of wikis or projects related to space, be it commercial space, space exploration, Moon, Mars, Astrobiology, space elevators and a myriad of other topics.

Is Science Fiction Responsible for the Lack of Public Interest in Space Exploration?, SFSignal

"It's not often that our real life science heroes utter disparaging remarks against science fiction. In fact, the opposite is usually true; science fiction is often cited as a source of inspiration and interest.

Enter Buzz Aldrin, who caused a stir recently with some comments he made. To get a few more opinions, we asked the following of this week's panel: ..."

Cars in Space

Cars in Space, Oobject

"Obviously the design criteria for four wheeled vehicles are somewhat different on other planets. This has yielded some of the most bizarre and fascinating vehicles ever proposed, from the giant Mobility Test Article test driven by Wernher von Braun to todays rovers which have ditched the most expensive component of all, the driver. Here are a variety of some of both classic and unusual space rovers from prototype to flown."

NASA may set up R&D centre in Pune, Business Standard

"While India has just entered the list of moon-mission countries, the pioneer and global leader is aerospace projects US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) seems to have taken India very seriously. NASA is on the verge of taking a decision to set up its largest non-US centre near Pune, which would necessarily be a huge theme park. ... The proposed theme park would come up along the backwaters of Varasgaon dam on a 300-acre huge piece of land, which is part of the controversial Lavasa Lake City promoted by Hindustan Construction Company (HCC). NASA plans to invest more than Rs 150 crore over this project. Located around 45 kilometers west of Pune, the theme park would be aimed at attracting youngsters and tourists towards NASA's activities. NASA is also giving a thought to set up a research and development centre at this venue, which would primarily be aimed at new technologies and space browsing, sources claimed."

Editor's note: I cannot imagine that this story - posted by an otherwise respectable publication - is remotely close to being true. That said, many of you seem to think there is a possibility that it could be true. Get a grip, folks.

Supersonic car targets 1,000mph, BBC

"The Ministry of Defence is lending the team engines that were used in the flight development programme for the Typhoon. These test engines are beyond combat use but have more than sufficient working time left in them to power Bloodhound. The EJ200 will produce about 20,000 lbs of thrust (90 kilonewtons) and will sit underneath a hybrid rocket engine that produces about 25,000 lbs of thrust (110kN). The rocket will provide most of the power to get Bloodhound close to the speed of sound (Mach 1); the Typhoon engine will enable Andy Green to throttle up to the target speed of 1,000mph (Mach 1.4)."

Editor's note: Wouldn't it be interesting if NASA were to combine its recent interest in NASCAR with what the Rocket Racing League is up to and provide surplus engines, etc.

NASA and Engineering Integrity, text of speech given by Mike Griffin at the Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium

"NASA cannot be effective as an organization if the decisions of its managers are judged by the space community to be generally lacking in either competence or fairness, and that is why such criticisms in Space News, The Orlando Sentinel, and elsewhere, especially the blogosphere, are deeply disconcerting. If it is not obvious that objective expertise underlies NASA decisions and actions, then the civil space program will grind to a halt in response to one searching examination after another by various other governmental entities which claim the right of agency oversight, and can make it stick. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to be able to explain how a decision was reached, why a particular technical approach was chosen, or why a contract was awarded to one bidder instead of another."

NASA chief: Criticism hurting space agency morale

"Unfounded criticism of America's next-generation moon rocket is hurting NASA morale but hasn't stopped progress on the craft, the space agency's administrator Michael Griffin said Tuesday. Griffin said critics in the media and on anonymous Internet blogs can "chip away" at the agency by questioning the motives and ethics of engineers designing the new rockets. Briefing charts used by NASA managers sometimes show up on Web sites without the proper context, he said, and opponents of the agency's plans to replace the space shuttle with two new rockets have wrongly accused NASA managers of incompetence and worse."

Editor's note: Point taken. There is no excuse for sloppy blogging/journalism, incorrect facts, not placing things into context. etc. That said, all I can say is poor NASA - stuck in the 20th Century. A decade ago there was only NASA Watch. Now there are hundreds of space blogs. Soon there will be thousands. Get used to it. NASA needs to adapt to the world that it exists in, Mike. The world is not going to wait for NASA to catch up. And with the collective, time-compressed, multitasking ADD exhibited by the younger, digital generation, this situation is only going to be compounded.

The private sector is adapting. Why can't NASA?

P.S. When the participants in a PDR make comments such as these about serious flaws in the process of designing the Ares rocket, the public has a right to know - as does the rest of the agency's workforce.

Official Portraits Draw Skeptical Gaze, Washington Post

"By comparison, the $25,000 that NASA paid for a portrait of former administrator Daniel S. Goldin and the $29,500 that the Environmental Protection Agency spent for one of the outgoing administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, look like bargains."

NASA Goddard CIO Blog: But I Blog

"I am often asked why on earth do I blog; why would a federal CIO want to blog; and where do you get the courage to do this. All fascinating questions that I thought about when I started and revisited as I got an email from a CIO colleague last week...

... The note from Jim came on the heels of a hurtful criticism of my blog. I was reminded of an incident that happened when I was a teenager. I had to play a Mozart French Horn concerto. I made a mistake, freaked out and ran off the stage crying. The band director made me play again. I practiced more and made it through, but barely. I don't think I ever recovered from that stage fright; and there are many times when this blogger wants to run off the stage crying, but I blog."

Editor's note: You Just Keep On Blogging, Linda. NASA gets better every time you do.

NASA Internal Memo: New Controls on NASA Conference Participation in FY 09

"The NASA Authorization Act, H.R. 6063, which has passed both the House and the Senate, is awaiting signature by the President. It contains a new provision restricting National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) total authorized spending on conferences to $5 million in FY 09."

NASA GSFC Internal Memo: Guidance on Restricted Use of FY 2009 Funds for Conference Attendance
NASA GSFC Internal Memo: [600_gov] Conference Travel
NASA ARC Internal Memo: Message from the Center Director - Conference Limitation
IFPTE Memo to NASA ARC Employees Regarding Conference Limitation

Schmitt Completes NASA Advisory Council Service; Ford Named Chairman

"NASA Advisory Council Chairman Harrison "Jack" H. Schmitt announced Thursday he was leaving the council. Fellow council member Kenneth Ford will succeed him as chairman effective immediately. The NASA Advisory Council provides advice to the NASA administrator on important program and policy matters related to the U.S. space program."

White House Statement: "H.R. 6063, the "National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008," which authorizes appropriations to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Fiscal Year 2009; requires NASA to add to its baseline flight manifest two Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station and take all necessary steps to fly a third additional Shuttle mission; requires NASA to take steps to ensure that the International Space Station remains viable through at least 2020; and affirms congressional support for U.S. space exploration policy;"

OMB Statement of Adminstration Policy H.R. 6063 - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008

"The Space Shuttle must be retired by the end of 2010, and the NASA Administrator's authority to make the final determination on Shuttle flights based on safety considerations must be preserved. In addition, any increased cost of an additional Shuttle flight must be satisfactorily accommodated within the President's proposed discretionary spending total."

Administrator's Statement on Signing of the NASA Authorization Act

AIP FYI FYI #101: NASA Authorization Bill Enacted

Additional items related to H.R. 6063

Space on 8th Avenue Tonight

Editor's note: I was walking down 8th Avenue in New York this evening with astronaut Scott Parazynski after dinner with Leroy and Karen Chiao, my wife, Scott, and noted sailor Alex Whitworth when I spotted a familiar face: Peter Smith. He was about to walk into an event sponsored by Popular Mechanics: Breakthrough Awards which honors a number of technological innovators including those behind the Mars Phoenix Lander. Leroy, Scott, and I are in town for the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Annual Dinner tomorrow night. Scott and Leroy are among the award winners. Small world.

Editor's note: Another gem from the Washington Examiner: "Turns out that pop star Janet Jackson may have more in common with astronauts than her nutsy moon-walkin' brother Michael Jackson ever dreamed of. Jackson, Janet, has had to cancel appearances because of a condition called "vestibular migraine"--which sounds a lot like the vestibular disturbances of space adaptation syndrome (SAS)--or space sickness."

"Sounds a lot like" Hmm. Lets Google up some quotes with similar words. But talk to an expert on the topic and see if there is any relationship between these two topics? Nah.

NASA: Hidden in Plain Sight

The Download: The NASA Field Trip, Washington Post

"Last week, a group of visiting business executives caught a glimpse of life in space as they climbed into the tiny room. The door slammed shut and the dome-like structure filled with pressurized air, causing the suit-clad guests' ears to pop. They were impressed, almost as much as they were with the flight simulators and the world's largest wind tunnel they had seen earlier. They had no idea, they kept saying, that so much "cool stuff" was just 150 miles south of Washington."

Editor's note: Um, and there is cool stuff at GSFC just outside the Beltway, at APL a bit further as well as STScI, out at Wallops where they can actually put things into space, and in West Virginia at IVV. Oh and they build all kinds of fascinating things at Orbital next to Dulles Airport.

The fact that local legislators - and the media - are surprised about all of this points to a chronic failing at NASA. The agency is hidden in plain sight. Yawn.

Then again, NASA DID try hard - the FolkLife Festival this summer on the National Mall here in Washington, DC was really quite an accomplishment. I guess the answer is simple: in order to demonstrate how NASA is indeed relevant, the agency needs to be in the face of the public - and the media - and all levels of government - 24/7/365 through whatever means necessary.

Oh wait, Congress and OMB constantly cut the funds for such things....

NASA Spinoffs 2008, earlier post

Editor's note: I think this guy has a valid point. Video below.

Editor's note: Word has it that Buzz Aldrin is organizing an event on 5 November - the day after the election - in Washington DC, to discuss the future of American space policy. Stay tuned.

John McCain: Statement on World Space Week

The following information was released by campaign office of Senator John McCain: "This week marks World Space Week. Celebrated across the US and in over 50 nations, World Space Week is another great example of international cooperation for a common cause. Its goal is to inspire the workforce of tomorrow and educate the public about space. Participants include NASA, aerospace companies, planetariums, museums, schools, and others around the world. "I'm glad to see this annual public and student focus on space. Indeed, for Americans to excel in the world marketplace, our young people must excel in math, science and engineering. The U.S. government and commercial space sector provides many opportunities for students with an exciting and long-term vision for the future by developing the technologies that will take us beyond low-Earth orbit."

Editor's update: I received this note this morning from someone very close to Ed Weiler at NASA. I stand by my reporting and the multiple, overlapping sources that I used to write it. Also, just so that everyone is clear, NASA employee private lives (as are mentioned in this note) are utterly off limits - they always have been, aways will be. I understand, however, that Dr. Weiler would like this to be known. That said, perhaps Ed Weiler will take this episode to heart as he continues to expound on who should or should not be the next Administrator of NASA - and the continuing and persistent way in which he goes about dumping on those people he does not like - in the presence of others.

"Your whole premise is wrong and must be based on sources who really don't understand or don't want to understand reality. Anyone who knows Weiler personally, knows that not only doesn't he have ANY interest in the administrator's job, he couldn't accept the job due to very problematic issues in his family life that do not allow him to travel extensively as the administrator must."

Editor's update: With the election less than a month away people are beginning to jockey for position in case Mike Griffin does not stay on as NASA Administrator. Given the prevailing view among both campaign staffs and likely transition team members, the chances that Mike Griffin will be asked to stay on permanently are rather slim. Of course, things change.

Image of Impact of asteroid 2008 TC3 over Northern Sudan, observed by EUMETSAT's rapid-scanning service. Meteosat-8 IR3.9 - 07/10/08 02:45 UTC.

Reader note: "For over a day now http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news160.html promises "forthcoming" details about apparently very detailled observations of the airburst by asteroid 2008 TC3 yet nothing has been released. This sounds like data from an early warning satellite as these have yielded precise measurements of such (non-predicted) airbursts before. Your vast network of sources should be able to confirm that in no time ..."

http://cosmos4u.blogspot.com/2008/10/quick-update-more-detections-of-bolide.html

http://cosmos4u.blogspot.com/2008/10/predicted-airburst-detected-via.html

NASA Dude Takes On Wall Street Mess, FreeSpace

"Does it take a rocket scientist to fix the country's world's financial mess? Well, maybe ... (hopefully!) Neel Kashkari, 35, has a new title on his resume: Interim Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability. He was appointed to the job yesterday by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who is either Dr. Evil or Santa Claus. I can't decide which. One of Kashkari's first jobs was with NASA contractor TRW in Redondo Beach, Calif., where he develop technology for a science missions including the James Webb Space Telescope. I hope it's not a bad sign that a diminutive version of the observatory Kashkari worked on is still on the ground, with launch scheduled for three years later than its original 2010 date."

Incoming Asteroid

Boulder-sized Asteroid Will Burn Up In Eath's Atmosphere Tonight

"A tiny asteroid discovered just hours ago at an Arizona observatory will enter Earth's atmosphere harmlessly at approximately 10:46 p.m. Eastern time tonight (2:46 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time). There is no danger to people or property since the asteroid will not reach the ground. It is between 3 and 15 feet (1-5 m) in diameter and will burn up in the upper atmosphere, well above aircraft heights. A brilliant fireball will be visible as a result. "We want to stress that this object is not a threat," said Dr. Timothy Spahr, director of the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center."

Editor's note: SLOOH's telescopes have caught asteroid 2008 TC3 approaching Earth

Editor's update: This week: Ed Weiler's campaign to promote himself and discredit others - all while using smoke and mirrors - and moving goal posts.

Editor's 23 Sep note: As the Bush Administration comes to an end, post-election speculation with regard to NASA has begun to take on some momentum. Will Obama or McCain keep Mike Griffin on?

For what it is worth, my sources close to both campaigns (and potential transition teams) are rather blunt: "No" and No".

Final Memorandum on NASA's Development of the Integrated Asset Management - Property, Plant, and Equipment Module to Provide Identified Benefits, NASA OIG

"The Office of Inspector General conducted an audit of NASA's Integrated Asset Management - Property, Plant, and Equipment (IAM/PP&E) module. A component of NASA's Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP), the IAM/PP&E module is an automated asset-management system that performs two main functions: equipment management (logistics) and asset accounting (finance) and was designed to integrate logistics and financial processes to account for and facilitate management of NASA personal property."


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