News: July 2009 Archives

Does The President Need to Micromanage NASA?, National Space Society Blog

"It is time for NASA to grow up and take responsibility for its self and its accomplishments, and do so within a flat budget. Don't expect to see Apollo level funding again. Don't expect a President with 2 wars going on, a third one possibly on the horizon, the worst economic crisis in the last 80 years, and a health care crisis to worry about NASA. Barrak Obama put NASA in the able hands of Charlie Bolden and Lori Garver so he wouldn't have to care about NASA and could simply make speeches about the wonderful things NASA is accomplishing during his administration."

Keith's note: Ouch, this is rather gloomy, depressing, and cynical talk from the National Space Society's official blog given that two of its former Executive Directors are at NASA - one being Deputy Administrator and the other being Chief of Staff - both of whom hold opposite, clearly hopeful views of what lies ahead for NASA. It is also odd that the webmaster of this blog, Karen Shea, does not even bother to spell the President's name correctly.

Keith's update: The President's name is now spelled correctly (here is the original posting). That aside, I am not certain why I would join an organization claiming to be pro space that posts things like this on their official blog.

P.S. Off-topic Obama (or Bush)-bashing posts will simply not be published. So don't waste your time composing them.

Transformers in Space

Space probe to sport 'transforming' hardware, New Scientist

"The trouble with space probes is that once they have been launched their mission cannot be changed. But a test satellite planned for 2012 could change that: its flight computer will contain electronic hardware that can be completely reconfigured in space, allowing it to switch from, say, an atmospheric pollution sensor to a near-Earth asteroid detector. Dubbed the "flying laptop", the spacecraft is the brainchild of Toshinori Kuwahara of the Institute of Space Systems at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, whose idea will appear in a forthcoming edition of the spaceflight journal Acta Astronautica. The craft will carry a host of instruments and sensors, such as cameras, multispectral imagers, thermal infrared imagers, star trackers, GPS receivers and sea-surface-height sensing radar."

NASA Update with the Administrator and Deputy Administrator, July 21, 2009

"NASA employees are invited to join Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver for their first NASA Update with employees on Tuesday, July 21, at 9 a.m. PDT [12 pm, EDT]. The program will be broadcast live from the James E. Webb auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington."

Google's New Moon

NASA and Google Launch Virtual Exploration of the Moon

"Forty years ago on July 20, 1969, the world watched as the crew of Apollo 11 took the first steps on the surface of the moon. To celebrate this historic occasion, NASA and Google announced the launch of the Moon in Google Earth, an interactive, 3D atlas of the moon, viewable with Google Earth 5.0. The announcement was made during a press conference at the Newseum in Washington, featuring remarks by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin; Alan Eustace, a Google senior vice president; Andrew Chaikin, author and space historian; and Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist."

Testimony of Miles O'Brien: Hearing on Enhancing the Relevance of Space to Address National Needs

"Which brings me to my final point - the agency, dispersed geographically as well bycenters of expertise and excellence - does not speak with one voice as it should. Public Affairs herein Washington needs more authority to direct the far flung PR operations - and frankly they need a budget - which currently is 0. You do get what you pay for. There is no doubt the mission is the message - and NASA needs to be taking us places where we have not been before to capture the fancy of a jaded public. But the message is also part of the mission - it should never be an afterthought. "

Opening Statement By Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

"Yet as the National Academies review, the Space Foundation's annual report, and the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 all make clear, we can and should do more to enhance the relevance of the civil space program so that it can continue to be an important contributor to the nation's strength and well-being in the years and decades to come. By that I don't mean that NASA and our space program should just be about "spinoffs", as important as past ones have been to our economy and our society. Instead what I'm saying is that our space program is important to American scientifically, technologically, economically, and geopolitically, and we should recognize and nurture that reality so that we can maximize the benefits we accrue from America's space program in the future."

Testimony of Deborah Adler Myers
Testimony of Patti Grace Smith
Testimony of General Lester L. Lyles

POTUS Events: Celebrating NASA, Washington Post

"At 2:00 p.m., Obama meets with the crew of Apollo 11 and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the crew's moon landing."

Keith's note: The other night I started to Twitter that I thought it would be a good idea that the crater LCROSS will form should be named in honor of veteran space journalist Walter Cronkite who died the other day. Others joined in and repeated that idea.

So what is the LCROSS_NASA team's response? They dodge the issue: "Our team heard your requests. When it comes to naming craters, it is up to the IAU. NASA can explore possibility of petition to IAU to name."

As you will recall during Apollo missions, crew members named craters and other features. And the Mars rover people name craters, rocks, pebbles, and all manner of things all the time. Do they ask the IAU for permission to do that? NO. Indeed, the names given to rocks at the Viking lander sites in 1976 by mission personel are still in use.

So c'mon guys. Use a little imagination - use crowd sourcing and involve the public - the same public who paid for your mission and who were well served by Mr. Cronkite for decades. LCROSS can certainly recommend a name and use their own name in the mean time. There is no legally binding reason to prohibit NASA from doing this - nothing IAU does has the force of law. Indeed, the IAU does not have any interest whatsoever in the view of the public anyway.

To virtually all who watched him, Walter Cronkite was always a face on a screen - one painted upon our eyes by photons. Imagine how many thousands - maybe millions - would now stop for a moment to watch as this crater was created in his name? How often can you stand in your backyard and see that? In so doing, Walter Cronkite can have one last stupendous effect on the world - from the Moon - through a blast of photons travelling one last time to our eyes.

NASA Releases Restored Apollo 11 Moonwalk Video, NASA

"NASA released Thursday newly restored video from the July 20, 1969, live television broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. The release commemorates the 40th anniversary of the first mission to land astronauts on the moon."

Marc's update: I've included the 2 minute HD moonwalk montage in the press release for your viewing pleasure.

Keith's note: MSNBC's Alan Boyle has posted some images and videos with "NASA/GSFC" credit here claiming that they have been 'released" by NASA. Indeed, he writes: "Samples of the restored video - including Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong's climb down the lunar module's ladder, his "one small step" onto the lunar surface and the raising of the American flag - were released today at the Newseum in Washington to commemorate the 1969 moon mission."

"Were released today"? How? The press conference is scheduled for 11 am EDT - that's 2 1/2 hours from now. This event has not even happened yet. Did MSNBC get these images and video under embargo from GSFC PAO? I cannot find any mention at If GSFC has played favorites, why haven't the rest of the media been given access to these images and video?

Keith's update: According to @NASAGoddard RE: @NASAWatch "Is GSFC PAO Playing Favorites?" No, the embargo lifted on the videos at 7am, several reporters were given access to videos.

Huh? When/where were the media told that the embargo was lifted and that the images and video would be on NASA TV? Where's your media advisory? How did you decide which media to release this information to? You are most certainly playing favorites. Either that or GSFC is just incompetent. Take your pick. According to NASA HQ PAO nothing NASA does is supposed to be released under embargo - so do you just set your own procedures?

OK, so where are the video and images on

Keith's update: Amateur hour continues at GSFC PAO. GSFC PAO has yet to bother issuing a media advisory or press release. Nor do they respond to media inquires by email or phone. But their Twitter did (finally) post the link where you can view the video. What a botched way of releasing something to the public - and the media. The GSFC PAO folks really need some remedial training in Press Ops 101.

RT @NASA See NASA's restored Apollo 11 video in HD It will air on NASA TV at noon ET/4 pm GMT at

Keith's note: Sources report that the Senate just confirmed Charles Bolden and Lori Garver by unanimous consent. The request was made on the Senate floor by Sen. Nelson.

@SenBillNelson "Charlie Bolden just confirmed by Senate as nations new space czar. Hes perfect to keep America leading in space, science and technology ... Ive known Charlie Bolden the better part of a quarter century, since he was my pilot on the space shuttle in 1986 ... Naval academy grad, Marine test pilot, astronaut, general Charlie will bring back the magic from a time when we rode rockets to the moon"

Senate confirms Bolden as NASA chief, Orlando Sentinel

"The U.S. Senate unanimously agreed Wednesday that ex-astronaut Charlie Bolden should become the next chief of NASA, clearing the way for Bolden to take control during what could be one of the toughest tenures in the agencys half-century history."

Sen. Hutchison Statement on Senate Confirmation of NASA Nominees

"Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today said she was pleased the Senate approved Charles Bolden to be the next NASA Administrator."

Challenger Center congratulates Charles Bolden as NASA Administrator, Lori Garver as Deputy Administrator - an Ideally Qualified Team

"Bolden and Garver are exceptional role models, and extremely talented and accomplished space professionals. They are ideally qualified, both individually and as a team, to lead NASA at this critical time in the agency's history," said William Readdy, Chair of the Board, Challenger Center."

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Congratulates Incoming NASA Leaders Charles Bolden and Lori Garver

Bolden and Garver Confirmed by U.S. Senate, NASA

National Space Society Applauds the U.S. Senate Confirmation of Charles Bolden and Lori Garver to lead NASA

Coalition for Space Exploration Supports Confirmation of Bolden, Garver to Lead NASA

Bolden vote could come Wednesday, Orlando Sentinel

"The vote is scheduled in a room off the Senate floor, sometime around the afternoon's first vote. No senator has raised objections to Bolden, a former astronaut, or his would-be deputy, former NASA official Lori Garver, and their nominations should head to the full Senate for a vote after Wednesday's brief meeting."

Griffin says fear of risk hurting space program, Huntsville Times

"When Dr. Michael Griffin decided to move here after leaving the job of NASA administrator early this year, many believed Huntsville had landed, in the current phrase, a game changer. That's what state and local leaders and national observers said about Griffin's decision to spurn nine other job offers to become an eminent scholar at the University of Alabama in Huntsville beginning this fall."

Keith's note: Some enterprising reporter might ask Dr. Griffin about the ~ $800K/year offer Georgia Tech made him last Fall and why he turned it (and perhaps others) down. According to sources it would seem that he was clinging to the hope that he'd keep his job. Curiously, Mike Griffin now seems to think that his tenure at NASA should somehow be exempt from the same scrutiny as has been applied (often by him) to that of his predecessors.

Oh well. Mike and Becky now need to accept the fact that they are now just average-sized fish in a very, very little pond. And when they do set up these self-serving "interviews" with the media they need to be ready for the public responses that will follow.

@NASA The shuttle's weather brief scheduled for 9:30a has been delayed to 10a. No issues are expected. Fueling commentary now ~10:30a.

@bnjacobs The storm that produced lightning at the shuttle launch pad. Photo courtesy of Bill Ingalls!

@brianshiro Brian is enjoying the expedition but missing Henry and Holli

@milesobrien Beautiful morning in Cocoa Beach. Wish they could launch now. But 7:39pmET/2339UTC is when ISS will be overhead. Only a 5 min window.
about 1 hour ago from TwitterBerry

@HMP Beautiful sunny warm day today. Time to bring our analogue mission-class exploration support systems to full power!

@jeff_foust "Earth to U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby: The conquest of space wont be won by odious pork-barrel politics."

@ESAHerschel As the images and spectra released yesterday were "trials" with uncalibrated instruments we will expect far better and deeper images later.

@NASA_Ames[News] Author Andrew Chaikin speaks at NASA Ames: Award-winning science journalist and space historian And..

@PeterDiamandis: The Students of ISU & SU (@singularityu) have secured a Zero-G flight for Saturday. 4 seats remaining! Anyone else want to go?

@bnjacobs: You know you've always wanted to download your very own X-15 poster

@PavilionLake New blog post: Not your average field cuisine - high nutrition in the field

@LCROSS_NASA Where am I now? Day 22. Speedometer reads 0.74km/s (1665mph) (starting to speed up as I have passed apogee). Odometer reads 1,657,200 km.

@worden At my third #scifoo09 meeting at Google - 200 really cool people. Great fun!

@brianshiro Space Music Videos: Living in the isolated environment of FMARS with a small group of people

Getting NASA's Groove Back, Business Week

"Among other things, the reports suggests the creation of an independent organization within NASA to develop cutting-edge technologies--much like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) does for the Defense Dept. "Many people no longer believe that NASA is pushing the frontier in space," says Ray Colladay, vice-chairman of the panel, in an interview."

Give NASA the chance to be next Google, Houston Chronicle

"NASA is in an absolutely unique position to prototype a 21st-century organization. Given current political and budget constraints, many may consider the mission near impossible, but NASA has a mandate for change. It is expected to be creative, innovative and future-oriented. The public expects most of government and the private sector to be safe and conservative, but people understand that NASA must take risks to achieve great things with limited resources."

Keith's note: Confirmation hearings for Charlie Bolden and Lori Garver start at 2:10 pm EDT today. Watch the hearings on NASA TV

Keith's 2:55 pm EDT note: The Committee has recessed. No word when they will be back. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy some ancient Apollo-era NASA movie footage on NASA TV.

Keith's 3:10 pm EDT note: The hearings are now underway.

NASA tests Alternate Launch Abort System for Astronaut Escape

"NASA has successfully demonstrated an alternate system for future astronauts to escape their launch vehicle. A simulated launch of the Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS, took place Wednesday morning at 6:26 a.m. at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. The unpiloted launch tested an alternate concept for safely propelling a future spacecraft and its crew away from a problem on the launch pad or during ascent. The MLAS consists of four solid rocket abort motors inside a bullet-shaped composite fairing attached to a full-scale mockup of the crew module."

Keith's earlier 8:25 am note: MLAS (Max Launch Abort System) was launched this morning from Wallops. But who knew? Other than several Twitter posts by Wallops PAO (if you don't see them as they flash by you miss them) there was no media advisory, press release, or any other outreach to media. ESMD did nothing as well. I have requested (multiple times) to get these things from them. Now there is nothing to be found online at Wallops.

Curiously this page at Wallops says updated yesterday says "Posted by RCC on 2009-07-07 at 13:30:39 EDT The next rocket launch web cast from Wallops Island is scheduled for early August." August? No mention of any webcast for the next day's event. Why webcast the launch eh? The launch was 2 hours ago and there are no photos or video - or any mention whatsoever about the launch. Yet the Virginia Pilot (apparently Wallops PAO plays local favorites) has managed to get a story and a photo online.

People at Wallops often complain that they are overlooked, or seen by many as some remote NASA outpost where they launch small rockets and host those useless training sessions that civil servants have to go to. When their own PAO falls down on the job like this it is small wonder why Wallops has such a lackluster and inaccurate public image outside its local zip code.



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

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