News: February 2009 Archives

Scamming NASA

Professor, Wife Accused of Defrauding NASA of Hundreds of Thousands of Taxpayer Dollars, Fox News

"Iranian-born Samim Anghaie, 59, is the Director of the Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute at the University of Florida. His wife, 55-year-old Sousan Anghaie, is president of New Era Technology Inc. (NETECH) in Gainesville, Fla. Authorities say Sousan Anghaie persuaded NASA to award her company "several fully funded contracts," including nearly $600,000 to develop and study a uranium-related technology. But, according to an affidavit unsealed today in federal court, the couple allegedly used most of that money to buy personal luxuries -- including their $480,000 home in Gainesville, a 2007 BMW and a 2005 Toyota Sienna sports van. They also used that money to buy a property for their son in Tampa, Fla., a property for their other son in Manchester, Conn., a 2008 Toyota Corolla for Sousan Anghaie's sister, and a 2007 Toyota Corolla for another family member."

FBI raids University of Florida nuclear power institute, Orlando Sentinel

"Robert "Moose" Cobb, NASA's inspector general, would not provide further detail. "We don't comment on ongoing activities," he said. He also would not elaborate on the frequency of theft at NASA. Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fl., acknowledged that Nelson met with Anghaie in 2007. The two men discussed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - a $1.5 billion international physics experiment that researchers hope to one day mount aboard the International Space Station. NASA has balked, however, because it does not have enough money to fly another shuttle mission to carry the experiment."

Editor's note: JPL is having an interesting live video stream from the white room where Mars Science Laboratory is being prepared for launch. JPL PAO's Veronica McGregor just posted a heads up on Twitter - you can view the event live here on USTREAM TV

But unless you use Twitter or knew to look at JPL's home page today and saw "Readying for Mars: Live 'Clean Room Cam' and Chat" you would not even know that this was going on. No media advisories or press releases were issued. There is no mention on the MSL website at JPL or here on NASA.gov's media site - or anywhere else on NASA.gov so far as I can tell.

It is great that JPL is trying new stuff out, but they should not leave the rest of the world behind when it comes to informing people as to what it is doing.

Experts Warn of 'Terminator'-Style Military-Robot Rebellion, The Times via Fox News

"Autonomous military robots that will fight future wars must be programmed to live by a strict warrior code, or the world risks untold atrocities at their steely hands. The stark warning -- which includes discussion of a "Terminator"-style scenario in which robots turn on their human masters -- is part of a hefty report funded by and prepared for the U.S. Navy's high-tech and secretive Office of Naval Research."

Autonomous Military Robotics: Risk, Ethics, and Design (report)

"The worries include: where responsibility would fall in cases of unintended or unlawful harm, which could range from the manufacturer to the field commander to even the machine itself; the possibility of serious malfunction and robots gone wild; capturing and hacking of military robots that are then unleashed against us ..."

Lets work to keep NASA on course back to moon, opinion, Rep. Pete Olson, Houston Chronicle

"During the debate on the economic stimulus proposals in the House, many different standards were used by my colleagues to justify policies and proposals eligible for funding. But there are some standards that are universally accepted as ones worthy of government investment: Does it advance our national interests, does it create jobs and does it serve as a worthwhile investment both in time, energy and resources? Our nations space program meets these criteria. It has throughout its rich history and, based on current and scheduled missions, it will in the future. The debate across our government generally, and frankly within NASA specifically, about funding priorities is a good one. A blank check, especially written by the government, is not a good management incentive for innovation in my opinion."

CALL TO ACTION: Ask your Representative to oppose the H.R. 801 - The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, Science Blogs

"(from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access) February 11, 2009 Last week, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI) re-introduced a bill that would reverse the NIH Public Access Policy and make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place. The legislation is H.R. 801: the "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act" (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.801:)."

Editor's note: Just as NASA creeps towards enhanced "transparency, openness, and participation" as promoted by President Obama, legislation like that introduced by Rep. Conyers would give all federal agencies the ability (and incentive) to reduce (as opposed to expand) what the taxpaying public has as access to.

Obama Policies on Transparency, Openness, and Participation - and NASA, earlier post

Insider Twitter to Follow

Editor's note: bnjacobs, Bob Jacobs, Acting Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, NASA HQ. You'll never know what sort of pithy, tasty tidbits he may post ...

Transparency at the NAC

Editor's note: Presentations from the 5 February session of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) meeting in Cocoa Beach are now online. This is amazing. The previous NAC management would drag their feet, often taking months to post anything - and that's if they ever actually posted anything on their own volition. Usually it required FOIA requests and lots of complaints before they'd respond. Looks like "transparency" to me!

"ISS Update

Lifetime to 2015 still OK; lifetime through 2020 still under investigation
- positive margins expected
- if necessary, focused structural repairs possible

Shuttle extension study still underway

Looking at cost, facilities, vendors, and workforce impacts

Three options
- Retire in 2010 (current plan)
- Extend to 2012
- Extend to 2015"

Iran Orbits Satellite

Iran launches first satellite (with video), Telegraph

"The launch of the Omid satellite, meaning Hope, was timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution and United Nations talks aimed at stopping Iran's nuclear programme. "Dear Iranians, your children have put the first indigenous satellite into orbit," said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a broadcast on state television. "With this launch the Islamic Republic of Iran has officially achieved a presence in space." The launch has highlighted international concerns that Iran will use domestically developed space technology to develop intercontinental nuclear missiles."


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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from February 2009.

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