News: June 2010 Archives

Keith's note: The following was sent to all LaRC employees last night: "Most of NASA Langley lost power at approximately 3 p.m. today when a high voltage cable terminator failed in the Center's Stratton substation. Employees may have heard a loud noise associated with the failure. There were no injuries. The cable terminator is on a electrical feeder cable connected to the 22-kV (22 thousand volt) main power bus. A protective relay tripped the bus off line, and most of the damage was limited to the cable terminator. Power was restored by 3:33 p.m. The Center is open for normal operations."

Garver Online - Today

Space News Online Industry Forum NASA's New Direction - An Update from the Top
with NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver. June 22, 2010
2:30 p.m. EST More info.

Nasa administrator sees Qatar-US programmes, Gulf Times

"Nasa administrator Charles Bolden has said that Qatar and the US will work together to develop science, technology and educational programmes in the future Bolden spoke yesterday at the residence of US Ambassador to Qatar Joseph LeBaron, where he discussed the approach of President Barack Obama's administration to science and technology, and reaffirmed the commitment the US president made in his Cairo speech one year ago to improving relations with the Muslim world. The former astronaut visited Doha having been to Egypt, and during his brief stay here he met the ministers of education and environment as well as other government officials."

Chaparral launches graduates, The Temecula Valley News

"High school graduates of the southwest Riverside County will go out into the world and come face to face with many truths that are veiled by mist. The Chaparral High School class of 2010 is no exception. The school held its graduation for about 650 seniors last Friday under overcast weather. Charles F. Bolden, Jr. of NASA gave the students their commencement speech beginning with a word of caution - that this is not the end."

Keith's note: According to NASA and Congressional sources, the problems associated with the completion and delivery of NASA's budgetary and policy information to Congress last week were not due entirely to White House's preoccupation with the oil spill. During part of the time the budget numbers were being crunched Charlie Bolden was 7 times zones away in Qatar. NASA and Administration staff have begun to raise questions about the amount of time that Charlie Bolden spends away from NASA Headquarters (and the communication issues that go with that) often dealing with issues that are, at best, peripheral to what the agency needs to be focusing on right now.

- Oil Trumps Space (Update), earlier post
- White House Responds To Congress on FY 2011 Budget, earlier post

NASA boss investigated for possible conflict of interest on biofuel project

"While millions of barrels of spilled oil choke the Gulf of Mexico, NASA is working on an ocean-based biofuels venture that could revolutionize clean-energy production at sea and treat wastewater at the same time. The scientist running the $10 million experiment, called Project OMEGA, uses words such as groundbreaking and exciting to describe his baby. But there's a hitch. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden doesn't believe in OMEGA -- and has sought to slow it down. The reason: He was advised against it by Marathon Oil -- the Texas-based company on whose board Bolden sat until he was named NASA administrator last year. The former astronaut and Marine Corps general also still holds as much as $1 million worth of Marathon stock. ...

... Bolden sat on the Marathon board from 2003 until last year, when President Barack Obama named him NASA administrator. When he left the board, according to his 2009 financial disclosure statement, Bolden received Marathon stock equivalents valued at the time between $500,000 and $1 million. In a brief interview, Bolden confirmed that he still holds the Marathon stock but said that he does not think there was any conflict of interest in his reaching out to the company. He directed further questions to NASA's general counsel. "I am not supposed to talk to you [about this]," he said."

NASA Develops Algae Bioreactor as a Sustainable Energy Source, NASA

"As a clean energy alternative, NASA invented an algae photo-bioreactor that grows algae in municipal wastewater to produce biofuel and a variety of other products. The NASA bioreactor is an Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae (OMEGA), which won't compete with agriculture for land, fertilizer, or freshwater. NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., licensed the patent-pending algae photo-bioreactor to Algae Systems, LLC, Carson City, Nev., which plans to develop and pilot the technology in Tampa Bay, Fla. The company plans to refine and integrate the NASA technology into biorefineries to produce renewable energy products, including diesel and jet fuel."

NASA bags algae, wastewater in bid for aviation fuel, NY Times

"NASA is applying space technology to a decidedly down-to-earth effort that links the production of algae-based fuel with an inexpensive method of sewage treatment. The space agency is growing algae for biofuel in plastic bags of sewage floating in the ocean."

Algae OMEGA, California Energy Commission

"The objective of this research is to improve and advance direct biosynthetic technologies that demonstrate the potential to supply transportation fuels for California in order to: ... Create new in-state fuel production options along with their associated economic development and employment opportunities."

Bolden at Center of NASA Biofuels Controversy [Orlando Sentinel], Space News

NASA Administrator Target Of Ethics Investigation,

Animal Rights Hijackers Take Over NASA's TWTRCON Feed

"As NASA public affairs specialist Stephanie Schierholz took to the stage at Monday's TWTRCON to weigh in on "customer service," animal defenders elsewhere took to their Twitter accounts and took over the #TWTRCON hashtag--specifically weighing in on NASA's plan to fund a misguided, cruel, and wasteful experiment in which dozens of squirrel monkeys would be blasted with harmful space radiation."

PETA Comes To Houston To Take On NASA, Houston Press

"Commuters on the Gulf Freeway will get a new billboard to ponder sometime soon: "NASA: Take a Giant Leap for Mankind. Stop Torturing Monkeys," it will say."

JSC's future relies on moon program compromise, Houston Chronicle

"The political potshots have subsided and the serious horse-trading lies ahead as the White House and Congress grind toward a compromise to salvage parts of the NASA moon program crucial to Houston's Johnson Space Center. ... Obama critics have gained momentum by seizing on NASA's sacking of outspoken Constellation program manager Jeff Hanley, rumors of NASA attempting to cancel existing contracts in violation of congressional language, and the administration's targeted workforce transition assistance for the electoral battleground of Florida rather than all states potentially affected by NASA layoffs."

Keith's note: Dale Thomas has simply picked up where Jeff Hanley left off and has told his staff that this is what he is doing. Nothing has changed and JSC still operates in open defiance of NASA Headquarters - starting with its center director.

Keith's update: If you go to the comments section and scroll to the bottom you will see comments by Jim Muncy. Jim explains things far better than I can with regard to following the "Law" vs following Congressional direction.

"Hacking for Humanity", OSTP

"Hacking for Humanity"--never thought you'd hear that phrase, right? Well, Google, Microsoft, NASA, The World Bank, and Yahoo! have joined forces to turn that into a reality and bring us Random Hacks of Kindness, an initiative that brings together the sustainable development, disaster risk management, and software developer communities to solve real-world problems with technology."

Keith's note: Nice idea. Sounds like a worthy cause. I have always wanted to see how one of these events works. Too bad no one outside of a small group of digerati at NASA knew about it until the last minute. This notice was posted at OSTP's blog at 5:05 pm on 3 June 2010 regarding an event that runs from 5-6 June. That's little more than 36 hours notice. On the event link referenced by the OSTP posting they make mention of a reception at the State Department on 4 June that required registration on 31 May i.e. 4 days prior to the first official posting at OSTP. In other words, only a select few even knew about this event. And even if you saw this posting at OSTP and followed the subsequent link to the event registration page you'd need a time machine in order to attend the reception.

In addition, there is no mention of this event at NASA's main home page, news page, NASA CIO page, NASA IPP, Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, International and Interagency Relations, Office of the Chief Technologist, etc. even though CIO and CTO staff at NASA HQ and several field centers are participants in the event -- and all of these offices would certainly seem to have some interest in an event with the State Department, OSTP, and the World Bank - one with a global outreach context. Yet if you go to the RHOK website you see NASA's logo.

Clearly, based on OSTP's posting and the NASA branding on the RHOK website, this is an activity officially sanctioned by NASA. Yet no one at the agency seems to have been at all interested in getting people outside a small circle of usual suspects to participate. Yet another example of closed openness and minimal transparency at NASA. When this sort of stealth planning is standard fare at NASA, how the agency ever expects to practice what they preach with regard to being "open" and "responsive" to the public simply escapes me.

Keith's update: Based on the registration list there were between 5-10 NASA employees at this NASA-endorsed/supported event. The focus of RHOK was the development of products for use in a wide variety of applications domestically and internationally. Given that NASA was officially involved, I wonder if the participants will be producing a summary report of their activities and links to the products that they developed. One would think that the NASA CIO would be responsible for this.

The Star of the International Space Conference, PeTA

"Some people just can't take a little bit of constructive criticism. Over the weekend, a PETA supporter took to the stage at the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference to interrupt a speech by NASA administrator Charles Bolden. Today, we received a phone call from Gary Barnhard, executive director of the National Space Society, threatening to sue us if we released details of the microphone takeover to the media. Ground control to Major Tom? Wondering what happened that the National Space Society doesn't want you to see"

Keith's 3 June 12:26 am update: After a phone call from Gary at midnight, I no longer know who to believe. As far as I am concerned both NSS and PeTA are simultaneously telling the truth - and lying - unless someone can produce an audio recording of this phone call. You can read the he said/she said back and forth I had had with NSS and PeTA below.

TV Station Finds Missing Moon Rock, 7 News

"The station decided to call former Gov. John Vanderhoof to find out if he remembered what happened to the plaque presented to him by NASA astronaut Jack Lousma on Jan. 9, 1974. "Well, governor, what do you know about these moon rocks? Where are they?" a reporter asked. "They're in my house, in my display of things," he said. Vanderhoof, 88, said he didn't know what to do with the display once he left office so he simply decided to take it with him. He said he did not know it was worth $5 million on the black market."

Protester Takes Over Microphone, Disrupts Conference as NASA Official Takes The Stage, PeTA

"A PETA supporter took the stage and microphone this weekend just before a speech by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference. As Bolden looked on, the protester asked that NASA halt plans to fund a cruel and wasteful radiation experiment on monkeys. She spoke uninterrupted by the crowd for several minutes and received a few cheers from the audience before being escorted off the stage."

Keith's note: Advice to PeTA: if you want to get the media's attention, then going to lovefests among true believers such as ISDC - which never gets mainstream media coverage - is a waste of your time. Indeed, people at the event tell me that the next day attendees staged a mock demonstration making fun of PeTA.



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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from June 2010.

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