News: September 2009 Archives

More Opinions on NASA's Value

Program brings us new technologies, Editorial by John Muratore, The Tennessean

"Imagine facing security threats without stealthy aircraft made possible by fly-by-wire computer technology developed by NASA for the space shuttle using Apollo moon mission hardware. Imagine sending our troops into battle without hyper-accurate maps produced by shuttle radar mapping missions. Imagine surviving personal health-care crises without advanced medical imaging that evolved from NASA imaging of the moon and other planets and without advanced implantable medical devices using NASA technology. Imagine trying to meet today's challenges without these things."

NASA OIG: NASA Should Reconsider the Award Evaluation Process and Contract Type for the Operation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Redacted)

"NASA can improve its management of the JPL contract:

- NASA's overall assessment of contractor performance may have been overstated because the Agency's performance evaluations for fiscal year (FY) 2007 were incomplete or did not otherwise comply with its guidance.
- The contractor's poor performance on a large, significant project was offset in NASA's assessment by higher performance on smaller projects because the Agency did not use proportional weighting in its evaluations.
- NASA's award of $16 million in fees and 27 months of contract term extensions, value at $3.375 billion, were unsupported because the Agency's performance evaluation factors did not include an assessment of required cost control measures.
- NASA does not have assurance that the existing contract still meets its needs or provides the best value for the taxpayer because the Agency did not fully comply with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements for a 5-year comprehensive review of the use and need for the FFRDC.
- NASA's use of a single CPAF contract for all aspects of the FFRDC creates a significant administrative and management burden for the Agency that is unnecessary given that there is a basis for the contracting officer to establish fair and reasonable prices for routine operations and maintenance of the facility."

NASA audit criticizes contract awarded to Caltech for the operation of JPL, Pasadena Star News

"Officials from JPL and Caltech declined to comment on the report."

Another Save NASA Website

Help Save America's Human Space Exploration Program

Save Space is a movement started by people on the Space Coast to raise the awareness of the nation, the President, and other elected officials: Space needs to be a priority for America. As the clock ticks toward the end of the Space Shuttle program, as the President and his advisors review the Augustine Commission recommendations, as Florida's economic engine falters. it is imperative that we make our voices heard by writing letters to the President: Save Our Space Program!

Our Goal: 500,000 letters by October 31

Partners: Brevard County, Florida Today, Space Coast Association of Realtors, Space Florida

Domain Owner: John Sellers Brevard County

Keith's note: And of course the obligatory, yet mostly mythical, totally unsubstantiated, vaguely described, and often plain wrong NASA spinoff paragraph is included as well: "Satellite communications, microwaves, cellular phones, miniaturized computers, pacemakers, kidney dialysis, scratch-resistant lenses, medical and sports technology, adjustable smoke detectors, cordless tools, and water filters are just a few examples of the advances that have occurred through NASA space research. Not to mention the entrepreneurs, jobs, and commercial aspects of many space research spin-offs."

Microwave ovens were invented in the 1940s - before NASA. Modern kidney dialysis was also invented in the 1940s. Doesn't anyone ever research these claims?

NASA OIG: NASA Should Reconsider the Award Evaluation Process and Contract Type for the Operation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Redacted)

"NASA can improve its management of the JPL contract:

- NASA's overall assessment of contractor performance may have been overstated because the Agency's performance evaluations for fiscal year (FY) 2007 were incomplete or did not otherwise comply with its guidance.
- The contractor's poor performance on a large, significant project was offset in NASA's assessment by higher performance on smaller projects because the Agency did not use proportional weighting in its evaluations.
- NASA's award of $16 million in fees and 27 months of contract term extensions, value at $3.375 billion, were unsupported because the Agency's performance evaluation factors did not include an assessment of required cost control measures.
- NASA does not have assurance that the existing contract still meets its needs or provides the best value for the taxpayer because the Agency did not fully comply with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements for a 5-year comprehensive review of the use and need for the FFRDC.
- NASA's use of a single CPAF contract for all aspects of the FFRDC creates a significant administrative and management burden for the Agency that is unnecessary given that there is a basis for the contracting officer to establish fair and reasonable prices for routine operations and maintenance of the facility."

57 college presidents declare support for public access to publicly funded research in the US, Alliance for Taxpayer Access

"The Presidents of 57 liberal arts colleges in the U.S., representing 22 states, have declared their support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (S. 1373) in an Open Letter released today. The letter is the first from higher education administrators to be issued in support of the 2009 bill, and further reinforcement that support for the Act exists at the highest levels of the higher education community. The presidents' letter notes, "Adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act will democratize access to research information funded by tax dollars. It will benefit of education, research, and the general public."


Canadarm2 Successfully Captures Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, SpaceRef Canada

"American flight engineer Nicole Stott using Canada's Canadarm2 on the International Space Station today captured the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV). The Japanese HTV is an unmanned spacecraft used to resupply the Kib Japanese Experiment Module and the rest of the International Space Station (ISS)."

Marc's note: Earlier this week SpaceRef relaunched its Canadian site, SpaceRef Canada, with a new look and interactive features. The new look is what you'll soon see on SpaceRef itself along with the same features. Using our new content management system you can create an account on the SpaceRef Network or login using Google, Yahoo or your OpenID accounts. This means you will be able to login to NASA Watch, SpaceRef, SpaceRef Canada, the Astrobiology Web and all the other sites on our network with one simple login. We hope you enjoy the changes available now and to come.

Security Scare at NASA HQ

Authorities investigate white powder at NASA HQ, AP

"Authorities are investigating a suspicious white powder found in an envelope at NASA headquarters in Washington. D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer says hazardous materials teams have been sent to NASA headquarters in northwest Washington. Piringer says a call came in from someone who reported finding an envelope with white powder."

White powder at NASA HQ not toxic, DC fire says, AP

"Piringer says the caller was on the building's ninth floor and the immediate area was evacuated, but not the entire building. Threats were not received and crews determined the substance was not toxic."


Marc's note: Discovery landed safely at 8:53 PM ET at Edwards Air Force Base. This ends the 14-day mission that delivered supplies and research facilities to the International Space Station.

Missed the landing, watch our video.





Ex-NASA chief Griffin calls Augustine panel "irresponsible", Orlando Sentinel

"Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin apparently has sent a scathing memo to friends and supporters in Washington, lashing out at the work of the presidential committee reviewing NASA's human space flight plans and calling some of its recommendations "irresponsible." ...

Interestingly, Griffin -- who as administrator started NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services to coordinate the commercial delivery of crew and cargo to the International Space Station -- saved his most barbed remarks for the committee's support for the commercial space sector.

"What commercial sector?" Griffin asked. "At present, the only clearly available 'commercial' option is [France's] Ariane 5. Launching a redesigned Orion crew vehicle is a valid choice in the context of an international program if - and only if - the U.S. is willing to give up independent access to low Earth orbit, a decision imbued with enormous future consequences."

Keith's note: Mike you had your chance in the big chair and you blew it. Stop complaining while others try and clean up the mess that you made - and the gap that has grown as a result.

Mike Griffin Lashes Out at The Augustine Committee via Email (full text)

"8) "Technical problems" with Ares-1 are cited several times, without any acknowledgement that (a) knowledgeable observers in NASA would disagree strongly as to the severity of such problems, and (b) Constellation's "technical problems" are on display because actual work is being accomplished, whereas other options have no problems because no work is being done."

Keith's note: Duh, Mike, of course "knowledgeable observers in NASA would disagree strongly as to the severity of such problems". Up until recently their jobs depended upon saying so - regardless of what was actually going on. Why did Steve Cook quit if everything is going so smoothly?

U.S. and Canada Sign Agreement on Civil Space Cooperation

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Canadian Space Agency President Steve MacLean signed a framework agreement Wednesday for cooperative activities in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. Canadian Ambassador to the United States Michael Wilson hosted the signing at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. "NASA is very proud of its long and outstanding relationship with Canada, one that has been nurtured during the past four decades with increasing collaboration in a wide range of space science and exploration activities," NASA's Bolden said. "As NASA continues to enhance the scientific observation of our planet and the solar system, we are looking to Canada and our other international partners to play key roles in our future exploration plans."

Strengthening Canada - U.S. Space Collaboration

"Reaffirming nearly 50 years of collaboration in the peaceful use and exploitation of space for the benefits of their citizens and humanity, Steve MacLean, President of the Canadian Space Agency and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, in the presence of Michael Wilson, Canadian Ambassador to the United States, today signed an overarching Framework Agreement on Space Cooperation."

"Registration is Now Open (Advance Registration Required) NASA will host a Tweetup with space shuttle Endeavour's STS-127 crew from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT Sept. 24 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The astronauts will discuss their recent mission to the International Space Station. A Tweetup is an informal meeting of people who use the social messaging medium Twitter. This Tweetup is an opportunity to meet and speak with the STS-127 crew and the staff behind the tweets on @NASA. Plus, you'll get to mingle with other space-exploration-minded Tweeps."

Keith's note: I have been told repeatedly by NASA HQ PAO that NASA PAO policy is to not issue materials such as press releases under embargo to media prior to their public release. Yet I have caught JPL doing this multiple times. When I ask JPL PAO chief Veronica McGregor about this she simply refuses to respond. This time my inquiry concerned a press release regarding NASA research, issued under embargo by the ESO for the recent IAU meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When I asked JPL PAO about this I got zero response (again). So, I filed a FOIA request with both NASA HQ and JPL. NASA HQ's FOIA officer replied "The NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs conducted a search and from that search no records were found responsive to your request, Public Affairs also stated that there is no policy for this topic." Curious.

I have been abducted by aliens, says Japan's first lady, The Independent

"Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of Japan's Prime Minister-elect, Yukio Hatoyama, is a lifestyle guru, a macrobiotics enthusiast, an author of cookery books, a retired actress, a divorcee, and a fearless clothes horse for garments of her own creation, including a skirt made from Hawaiian coffee sacks. But there is more, much more. She has travelled to the planet Venus. And she was once abducted by aliens. "While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus," she explains in the tome she published last year. "It was a very beautiful place, and it was very green."

Japan's new first lady says rode in a spaceship, Reuters

"Miyuki, 66, described the extraterrestrial experience, which she said took place some 20 years ago, in a book entitled "Very Strange Things I've Encountered."

Japan's New First Lady Says She Flew In UFO, Time

"I also eat the sun," Hatoyama said on the program, looking up with her eyes closed, raising her arms high as if she was tearing pieces off an imaginary sun. "Like this, hum, hum, hum. It gives me enormous energy." "My husband has recently started doing that too," said the 66-year-old Hatoyama."

Keith's note: Well, I guess we can expect support for increasing JAXA's space budget ...


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