News: October 2010 Archives

Shuttle Countdown Begins Today for a Targeted Wednesday Afternoon Launch, SpaceRef

Steve Payne said "we completed early this morning our flight pressurization of our on-orbit control systems tanks and main propulsion tanks, and all went well. That is behind us now. We resolved our remaining issues with our nitrogen quick disconnect poppet valve, turns out it was a ground support equipment valve upstream that was providing too much pressure and not allowing the poppet to close, we isolated that with another valve upstream of that and we were able to close the poppet and the leak is now behind us, so those issues are now resolved."

Space Shuttle Discovery now set for Wednesday Launch, SpaceRef

"After meeting this morning to discuss the status of repairs to replace both shuttle and ground side couplings, NASA Managers decided to delay the launch another 24 hours to allow engineers to complete testing and to allow for repressurization of helium tanks. "

Obama welcomes Chilean mine rescue heroes

"[President Obama will] meet with some of the Americans involved in the rescue of 33 miners earlier this month. The rescuers were recruited from NASA and several U.S. businesses."

Keith's 9:00 am EDT note: Hmm ... NASA people at the White House. Curiously there is no mention whatsoever at NASA.gov. Nothing on NASA TV. No media advisory, no Q&A opportunity - nothing.


President Obama and NASA Administrator Bolden Recognize Employees for Roles in Chilean Miner Rescue

"President Barack Obama welcomed NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and a NASA team that assisted trapped Chilean miners to the Oval Office on Thursday for a ceremony that recognized Americans involved in the rescue."

Keith's update: This release only went out at 5:30 pm EDT - after the event. Luckily for Mr. Bolden, the event was held inside the White House security perimeter - and there were no reporters there to ask him questions.

Is NASA Covering Up the 100-Year Starship?, Fox News

"NASA official may have made a 35-million-mile slip of the tongue. The director of NASA's Ames Research Center in California casually let slip mention of the 100-Year Starship recently, a new program funded by the super-secret government agency, DARPA."

Keith's Note: Once again Fox attempts to understand space exploration but gets on the train to crazy town instead. "Super secret"? Then why are people opely talking about this? DUH.

Nye takes Armstrong to the moon, Politico

"In April, Armstrong and Apollo commanders Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan called Obama's effort to scrap plans to return manned rockets to the moon "devastating."Nye told POLITICO the astronauts were ignoring longer-term goals of exploring other parts of space. "They're solar systemic heroes, but they have not had their eye on the ball the last couple of decades," Nye said in a stop by POLITICO's newsroom. He said the "deep misconception" that Obama wants to cut back manned flights "started with astronauts of a certain age who had not been paying attention to what's going on."

Keith's note: While I disagree with Armstrong and Lovell's specific stance vis a vis the Obama space policy as mentioned in recent Congressional hearings, I am not sure where Bill Nye The Science Guy comes off suggesting that Armstrong and Lovell have "not had their eye on the ball the last couple of decades". Just how would Nye know this? From listening to one Congressional hearing? You'd think that Nye would do a little more research before making such ignorant comments. Armstrong has been a member of the NASA Advisory Council for years and Lovell manages to keep his hand in things - more so, I imagine, than 99% of the populace does. Indeed, I'd venture that they have more of working background on such things than a jittery TV host of a children's program (or a know-it-all blogger like me) would have.

As for the comments regarding "astronauts of a certain age", such slams against senior citizens are simply uncalled for. I cannot fathom how the Planetary Society would endorse such comments by its Executive Director.

This has nothing to do with being out of touch or age, Bill. Rather, Armstrong and Lovell (and Cernan and others) have a different point of view - and they are not alone in holding those views. So stop being a jerk and making comments about their age and listen to these guys - like I imagine you listen to Rusty Schweickart and Buzz Aldrin who are also "astronauts of a certain age". You might learn something from all of them. When they are gone you are going to wish that they were still around to offer advice.

Bill Nye Is A Little Confused, earlier post

Keith's note: According to an anonymous source familiar with operations at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) "Apparently, an Adult team was allowed to browse through the storage warehouse and get their hands on anything they could find. I have attached some pictures, censoring the faces of the campers and counselor. Note that in pic "003" [Soyuz suit], the uncensored face is the son of Curator."

Previous stories about USSRC and its lack of care for artifacts.

Photos below

NASA Releases Report About Australia Balloon Mishap

"A NASA panel that investigated the unsuccessful April 28 launch of a scientific balloon from Alice Springs, Australia, has released its report. The board was led by Michael L. Weiss of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The board's report listed 25 proximate, intermediate and root causes related to insufficient risk analysis, contingency planning, personnel training, technical knowledge, government oversight and public safety accommodations."

Foursquare On-Orbit

Astronaut Doug Wheelock Checks In With Foursquare From International Space Station


"NASA astronaut and International Space Station Commander Doug Wheelock became the first person to "check in" from space Friday using the mobile social networking application Foursquare. Wheelock's check in to the space station launches a partnership between NASA and Foursquare to connect its users to the space agency, enabling them to explore the universe and discover Earth. The partnership also features a customized section of the Foursquare website for NASA, where the agency will provide official tips and information about the nation's space program in locations throughout the United States."

Sean O'Keefe Recounts Surviving Alaskan Crash, AOL

"The degree of separation between survival and not was a fraction of what you'd imagine," said O'Keefe, who still wears a brace for his fractured neck and a leg guard for his severely broken ankle. He also suffered a dislocated hip and broken ribs. "It could have been anybody. The randomness of this whole experience was such that any doubt you have about divine intervention goes away," said O'Keefe, 54, who returned to work this week at the Washington office of a European aerospace firm."

Stevens Plane Crash Survivor Recounts Experience, AP

"He said he was greatly relieved that his 19-year-old son, Kevin O'Keefe, survived. "I can't even imagine surviving from this experience if he were not OK," he said."

He survived plane crash that killed Ted Stevens

"Former NASA Administrator and Secretary of the Navy Sean O'Keefe was dazed and confused when he regained consciousness, unaware for a moment that the single-engine DeHavilland DHC-3T he and eight others had been flying en route to a remote Alaskan fishing camp had just crashed into the side of a mountain."

Keith's note: I have sent multiple requests to NASA LaRC PAO, posted requests on their Facebook page, and made Twitter commentary. Yet they still refuse to release the names of the people who will be speaking at this NASA-sponsored and supported event. Why are they refusing to release this information? Laziness? Bad planning? Arrogance?

Keith's update: Once again NASA LaRC's Stephen Craft has formally refused my request for a list of speakers. Craft et al clearly know who these speakers are by virtue of their Twitter teases yet they seem to be in utterly uninterested in the transparency and openness that you see coming from the White House, NASA HQ, etc. It is quite obvious that Lesa Roe (who has been cc:ed on these requests) thinks that rules that apply to the rest of the agency do not apply to her employees at LaRC.

Oh yes, NASA civil servants are allowed to charge their time (up to 8 hours) to a special account while NASA LaRC contractor employees need to charge the time to annual leave.

- TEDxNASA Organizers Did Not Learn Much From Last Year's Event, earlier post
- TEDxNASA 2010 Focus: Science and/or Pseudoscience?, earlier post
- TEDxNASA 2010, earlier post

Sean O'Keefe Update

Keith's note: Sean O'Keefe returned to work today for the first time since his plane accident this past summer. He is still taking it slow but should be back to full capacity soon. If you have a chance to see it, there will be a segment on Dateline NBC this week hosted by Ann Curry that deals with the accident.

Paul Pastorek's note: "Sean decided that he wanted to tell his story fully and soon in order to express his heartfelt gratitude for the first responders, Coast Guard and National Guard personnel who helped him, his son Kevin, and the two others who survive the crash. He also wanted to use the opportunity to praise the public life of service and mourn the loss of his mentor, Senator Stevens and the four others who died in the crash. Sean, Kevin and Laura were all interviewed late last week by Ann Curry of NBC News. NBC's Dateline will have an hour-long program on the accident airing at 9PM this Friday, October 22. Prior to Dateline airing, Sean is scheduled to appear live on NBC's Today Show at approximately 7:32 AM on Friday morning and shortly after 9AM on CNBC. Having told the story, Sean is looking forward to getting back in the saddle at EADS and turning his focus to the business challenges and opportunities ahead."

Sean and Kevin O'Keefe Recovery, Facebook

Keith's note: I have found a girlfriend for Robotnaut2. Her name is HRP-4C. Perhaps JAXA can find a way for her to fly up to the ISS on an HTV. Watch this astonishing video (preferably in 1080i). Imagine what this girl cylon could do as part of JSC's Project M. Oh yes: she has legs and software that lets her dance (unlike Robonaut2).

- KSC Wants To Buy A Cornish Robot To Greet U.S. Visitors, earlier post
- Dryden Seeks Ethnically Diverse Cylons, earlier post
- Robonaut Packed for Space, earlier post
- Video: JSC's Project M, earlier post

Adios, Outpost

Reader note: Nothing left.(

JSC's biggest metaphor is engulfed in flames, Implementation, Detail

"The Outpost tavern apparently burned down tonight. Let me rephrase that. The remains of the Outpost tavern, which had been balanced precariously on cinder blocks and scrap lumber for the last several months, apparently burned down tonight. Let me rephrase further. Another aging NASA institution died tonight. Rest In Peace, The Outpost. Does this mean we can we get on with exploring?"

- Outpost Tavern fire, Webster TX, 10/15/10, Flickr
- Puting the fire out, YouTube

More photos below.

"Full docket text: Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Halil S. Ozerden: Sentencing held on 9/27/2010, for Liam Sarsfield. Court sustained in part and overruled in part Defendant's objections to PSR. Remaining objections to PSR rendered moot based upon agreement of the parties. Court granted Government's 5K1.1 Motion for Downward Departure. Count 1: Defendant sentenced to 3 years probation; $5,000.00 fine; restitution of $87,752.55 to NASA; and $100 special assessment. Presentence Report filed under seal. Government's Exhibits G-1 and G-2 admitted into evidence. Appearances: AUSA's Alyssa D. Farrell, Jerry L. Rushing, for the Government; Peter H. Barrett, Amanda B. Barbour, James B. Tucker, and William C. Barrett, Retained, for Defendant; USPO's Patrick Williams and Robyn Gulledge; DUSM Charles Kaes; CSO Stanley Vance."

Keith's note: So, this creep Sarsfield betrays the significant trust placed in him at the agency, sells out that trust for money, gets caught, sells out his friends by cooperating, and all he has to do is pay back the money he diverted to himself with a $5,100 fine? That's less than 6% interest. This is about as painful as paying off a home equity loan.

Previous postings

NASA Opens Registration for TEDxNASA

"One of "Woman's Day" magazine's 50 women changing the world, an author who could be the next JK Rowling, and a software developer who has an "app" for that - these are just some of the speakers at TEDxNASA, Nov. 4, at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, Va. All are people with big ideas about "What Matters Next," the theme of TEDxNASA. This year's event, which is sponsored by NASA's Langley Research Center and the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Va., will feature more than 20 top speakers who will share inspiring and thought-provoking stories. Presenters already announced include NASA's Chief Technologist Bobby Braun and Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Green will speak at the same time NASA's EPOXI spacecraft is flying by and snapping close-up images of comet Hartley 2, more than 11 million miles away from Earth."

Keith's note: This is getting silly. I have sent multiple requests to NASA LaRC PAO requesting the names of the speakers at this event. They simply refuse to release that information. Yet they put out a press release that describes some of the speakers - yet they still refuse to identify them by name. Clearly they know who these people are. So much for being open and transparent. NASA LaRC PAO touts this event as being one whereby the public and NASA can meet to exchange ideas. Curiously, when you go to register for this event, you are asked to pick one of these choices:

"- NASA Langley Civil Servant
- NASA Langley On-Site Contractor
- Other NASA Center - Civil Servant
- Other NASA Center - On-Site Contractor
- Other Government Employee
- Other"

LaRC PAO seems to be concerned (with great specificity) with regard what flavor of NASA/contractor/government employees attend. However, with regard to understanding the backgrounds (interests) of everyone else (teachers, students, doctors, accountants, truck drivers, nurses - i.e. the taxpaying public) LaRC PAO simply lumps everyone into one giant, impenetrable category called "other". This is typical NASA behavior: the agency simply does not understand how to collect metrics about their events so as to show their value in terms of outreach tools. Instead they ask for information in a way that confuses and ultimately obscures the collection of those metrics.

Previous TedXNASA postings

Keith's note: These are excerpts from internal NASA email "NASA Administrator Addresses Workforce Later Today -- Thursday, Oct. 14" "You are invited to watch a special message from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden later this afternoon. The administrator has been meeting with the entire senior leadership team over the past two days discussing the path forward for the agency, and he wants to share with you the key points from this important dialogue." "Please join Administrator Bolden for this broadcast today. However, if you cannot watch this afternoon's remarks, the administrator will send an updated message to all employees later today."

Curiously these comments will not be on NASA TV or made available to the public or the media - unless someone inside NASA leaks details. This is, of course, not PAO's doing - but rather the agency adhering to White House direction to avoid all possible interaction (direct and indirect) between Bolden and the media. He'll beam in, talk to his staff, and then beam out.

Keith's update: NASA circulated this internally but did not see the need to send this to the public. If you are inside NASA's firewall you can watch a video of this presentation here.

Internal Message from Charlie Bolden to NASA Employees: Moving NASA Forward

"Over the past two days, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and I were joined by NASA's senior leadership -- the center directors, the heads of our mission directorates, and other members of our management team -- at a retreat to plan the agency's future. With passage of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, we now have a clear direction and can begin making plans for moving the agency forward. All of us engaged in a thoughtful and productive dialogue about the challenges and opportunities we face, and you'll be hearing more about the outcomes in the near future. We are united in our goals."

Space Station Living, Radiation, and Monkeys, Discovery

Former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao "You may have heard about planned monkey radiation experiments, and the recent protests against them. I understand the necessity of animal experiments in developing drugs and treatments, but I must admit that this one has me scratching my head a bit. I have no doubt that some advances in scientific knowledge would be realized through these planned experiments, but I'm an operational guy (despite my Ph.D.). How would these experiments help us to survive in deep space? I don't see it. The bottom line is that exposure to high levels of radiation is bad. We need to figure out how to detect, and protect against exposure as well as to treat if exposure occurs."

Keith's note: The following was forwarded to me by PeTA today: "We recently received several documents from the Department of Energy which indicate that in Aug 2010 the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) made a decision about whether to move forward or not with the controversial NASA-funded monkey radiation experiments. Attached is a heavily redacted statement that BNL drafted and sent to the DoE announcing their decision (although it has yet to be released to the public). You may have seen that NASA has recently stated publicly that the experiment 'might not happen'. These new documents are the first we've heard of any final decision being made at all."

Flight added to shuttle mission, Houston Chronicle via St Louis Today (they initially stated that this was an AP article - it is not)

"Even as President Barack Obama signed off Monday on plans to steer the nation's space program toward Mars, Senate staffers on Capitol Hill reported growing speculation that the White House was preparing to replace NASA administrator Charles Bolden. Bolden, a former astronaut, has the reputation of being a can-do leader known for sometimes ignoring bureaucratic constraints. However, top administration officials have eased him into the background as the midterm congressional elections approach."

Keith's note: The White House is very dissatisfied with Mr. Bolden's performance of late. Departure and replacement choices are topics of frequent discussion in the White House and on Capitol Hill. This will all pick up once the mid-term elections, STS-133, and Thanksgiving holiday approach.

NASA Administrator's Statement on Chilean Miners Rescue

"On behalf of the entire NASA family, I want to ask that our heartfelt thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the courageous miners, their families and friends, and the dedicated people who have been working to safely reach those who are still trapped underground."

Congressional Concerns Remain as NASA Chief Prepares for China Trip

"U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf of Virginia and John Culberson of Texas -- both Republicans serving on the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee that approves NASA's annual budgets -- are opposed to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden leading any collaborative talks with Chinese officials about manned spaceflight programs when he visits China Oct. 16-21. Both lawmakers have requested a briefing on the trip before Bolden and his NASA colleagues leave town. A NASA official said Oct. 12 that Bolden would be tied up in a senior management retreat before he departs Oct. 15 for China. "No formal briefs are scheduled but we will be prepared to answer any questions," the official said."

Keith's update: The 2 day senior NASA management retreat is being held in the Hampton/Norfolk area. Center directors, AAs, etc. will be there.

"JSC Director Mike Coats will speak to employees from 9 to 10 a.m. today, Oct. 12, in the Building 2 South Teague Auditorium. All JSC team members are invited to attend. Those unable to attend in person can view the program live on RF Channel 2, Omni Channel 3 or on the Web (IPTV Channels 102, 202) at: http://mcs.jsc.nasa.gov/Multicasts4.aspx The event will be recorded for playback on Thursday and next Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m."

Written Statement Delivered to Employee All-Hands Event by NASA JSC Center Director Michael Coats

"While we won't be doing quite what we have been doing, there is opportunity in the Authorization Bill, signed yesterday by the President, to do some really exciting things, so we intend to do everything we can to drive our own future. The 'core' of who we are and what we do will not change, and we remain pre-eminent in the world at what we do. Some realities shape our future, such as contracting budgets and modified scope... but our core competency here at JSC is human space flight. The nation expects us to maintain that core competency, and we will."

To Design Miners' Escape Pod, NASA Thought Small, AOL

"Clinton Cragg is a NASA engineer on a troubleshooting safety team set up in the wake of the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. He had spent much of his professional life in the Navy, where he served as a submarine captain, accustomed to living in confined space. So when the Chilean rescue authorities settled on a plan for reaching the 33 miners trapped 2,400 feet below a desolate desert, but needed a contraption to bring them to the surface, Cragg would become the perfect man to pitch in. It had to be the smallest possible vehicle for the job, a capsule that would fit into a hole the size of a bicycle tire, with no wasted space for luxury, no elbow room for comfort."

Trapped Chile Miners Eat NASA Diet, Aspirin to Prepare for Coming Rescue, Bloomberg

"The 33 miners in Chile will spend the next few days in tunnels almost half a mile underground eating a special diet recommended by NASA and doing exercises designed to aid their rescue by midweek."

Keith's 6 Oct. note: NASA Watch sources report that this upcoming trip to China and then Indonesia is Charlie Bolden's idea first and foremost. The White House did not ask him to go to either country - nor do they want him to go. But he is going anyway. The trip to Saudi Arabia was similarly unrequested and unsanctioned as far as the White House was concerned. This begs the question in the White House and elsewhere as to why Bolden is focusing his energy on foreign trips at a time when NASA's domestic support is sagging. Moreover, there is growing concern within the White House as to why Bolden is not getting the message that the White House has been sending to him. Bolden's recent gaffs in the Middle East and ethics issues with Marathon Oil haven't exactly helped his relationship with the White House. Stay tuned.

Human Spaceflight on Agenda for Bolden's China Trip, Space News

"But it remains unclear whether Bolden is making his trip at the behest of the White House or on his own initiative. White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro declined to comment on Bolden's China visit and referred media queries to NASA. When asked about Bolden's trip NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage referred to last November's joint U.S.-China communique that calls for expanded discussions on human spaceflight cooperation. Cabbage said the trip "is being coordinated with all appropriate government agencies," even as a senior Republican lawmaker requested a security briefing on the visit before it happens."

U.S. Lawmaker Balks at NASA Chief's China Visit, space.com

"In an Oct. 5 letter to the NASA chief, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said he strongly opposes any partnership with Beijing that involves human spaceflight, including efforts to involve China in the international space station. "I need not remind you that no such planning or coordination has been approved by the Congress," wrote Wolf, the ranking member on the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee that oversees NASA spending. "In fact, several recent NASA authorization bills have explicitly sought to place strict limitations on coordination with China."

Keith's 9 Oct. update: That's rather odd. The White House is normaly much more forthcoming on commenting on matters such as this given that a senior government official such as Bolden is going to China (and Indonesia and Viet Nam). Unless, of course, as is the case with this trip, this is not their idea and they'd rather that he not go on the trip in the first place. Relations between the U.S. and China are rather frosty right now. As such, you don't really want someone prone to public gaffs making a highly visible trip with media dogging him the entire time. Stay tuned.

Conspiracy Theorists Confident: Altered Image a NASA Cover-Up, Fox News

"The person responsible for the manipulation, Emily Lakdawalla, told a forum of excitable theorists that she made the changes because of the way Cassini takes photos. "Cassini takes color pictures by snapping three sequential photos through red, green and blue filters," she said. "In the time that separated the three frames, Dione moved, so if I did a simple color composite I would be able to make Titan look right, but not Dione; or Dione look right, but not Titan." "So I aligned Dione, cut it out, and then aligned Titan," Lakdwalla explained, "and then had to account for the missing bits of shadow where the bits of Dione had been in two of the three channels."

Keith's note: Truth be known, Emily's covert job is to cover up any and all evidence of life in the universe. In this case it is the existence 2 billion aliens that live on Dione that she's hiding. You'll note that the original photo on the left shows the lights from their many cities. But thanks to Photoshop, they have all disappeared. This cover-up has been going on for years. Back in 1998 I uncovered evidence of sophisticated construction work on Mars - that is, until Emily got hold of the image and scrubbed all of the evidence away using Photoshop. I managed to save a copy of the original image. The truth is out there.

ChasingAugustine, Wayne Hale

"A couple of months later I was notified that I would receive a Group Achievement Award for helping with the [Augustine] committee. I told them I did not want the award and would not accept it. They didn't know how to handle that request. I boycotted the awards presentation but they still sent me the certificate in the mail. My first impulse was to burn it. I still may. A fair question to ask is what about the committee's work so thoroughly upset me? There were a number of factors, far more than I can explore in one short post. So I will deal with the #1 reason: the committee was snookered by OMB."

Obama Space Adviser Leaves White House, Space News

"Peter Marquez, director of space policy for the White House National Security Council, stepped down Sept. 27 to pursue new opportunities. Marquez, who was appointed to the post in 2007 by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, played a central role in shaping U.S. President Barack Obama's new national space policy issued by the White House in June."

Keith's 7 Oct note: Today's dumb press release title comes from UC Berkeley: "NASA mission asks why Mars has no atmosphere". DUH, last time I checked Mars most certainly has an atmosphere. If it did not have one, then the parachutes that have been used to slow down spacecraft would not work, there would be no dust devils, clouds, sand storms, etc. Indeed, if Mars "has no atmosphere", how can MAVEN study it? Indeed, why send an atmosphere-studying spacecraft to a planet that "has no atmosphere"? Oddly, the press release itself says "MAVEN will carry three instrument suites, totaling eight instruments, to probe the Martian atmosphere and its interactions with the sun."

Time to get a new editor guys.

Keith's 8 Oct update: UC Berkeley added the word "almost" to the ress release title on this page. Here's what it originally looked like before the fix.

I never dreamt I'd be a spaceman: NASA chief, The Himalayan

"Head of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Charles Frank Bolden Jr. had never dreamt of becoming a spaceman when he was a school kid. "I was not so brilliant; nor had I ever dreamt of becoming a spaceman. When I started my career in the Marine Corps, I came to know what space meant," Bolden told a gathering of youth in Kathmandu today. Advising the youth on how to pave the way for success, Bolden said, "A risk taker wins the game but risk should not be taken in haste." Probably, Bolden is the first NASA chief to visit Nepal."

NASA administrator speaks to youth, Republica

"Interacting with the participants, Bolden shared his experiences of space. For him, his out of orbit exploration "strengthened his faith" religiously because he was able to see Earth from a different and unique perspective. "As far as we know, it's the only planet inhabited by life," Bolden, who was appointed by US President Barack Obama in May 2009, said. "We should take care of the planet."

NASA chief launches programme to address environmental issues, MSN News

"In line with these GEO societal benefit areas, NASA has reinvigorated its applied science programme to bring the results of our ground-breaking research back to the people in areas that address their immediate needs such as public health, air quality, disaster management, water management, weather and climate, NASA chief said."

No Market For Commercial Space Flight?, WAAY.TV

"I don't believe there's a market for it on a large scale for commercialization," said [Dave] King. King says commercial companies could be used for tourism and to possibly take some cargo to low earth orbit but he doesn't believe there will be enough people willing to pay companies for low earth orbit exploration, like education at the space station. "My personal opinion is that commercial companies should be taking cargo to low earth orbit but if it's a human NASA should probably be involved," said King."

Keith's note: Well Dave, you had your shot at building big government rockets with no concern for what things cost in the real world, so I can understand why you'd think this way.

NASA Speaker Questions Relevancy of NASA In Today's World

"VHS tapes, record players and other gadgetry have been declared "outdated" due to the advent of more robust and efficient technology. Now that NASA has reached middle age, is it also considered "outdated?" On Tuesday, Oct. 5, at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, U.S. space program advisor A. Thomas Young will present "Does NASA Matter?" at 2 p.m. in the Reid Conference Center. Young hopes to give insight on NASA's role and importance in the mature space world of today."

Keith's note: Sounds like an interesting evening: a topic with relevance to all of NASA - the public - nationwide by a speaker with an impressive resume. Alas, only a hundred or so people will ever hear it. But, if someone at LaRC were to bring a laptop with a webcam, microphone, and a WiFi connection they could stream it via USTREAM.TV or some other service such that the audience could be amplified. You don't need a production team. If I could do this from a cold windy tent at 17,500 feet at Everest Base Camp then someone at NASA ought to be able do it from downtown Hampton. If LaRC PAO can't figure this out, then perhaps there is some local high school student who can do it.

Keith's update: Well, as expected, NASA LaRC PAO was unable to figure out how to webcast this event to the rather large number of taxpayers who do not live in Hampton, VA. Apparently there were no teenagers with laptops and webcams in the immediate vicinity. So far as I can tell they did not even try to make this available to a wider audience. Proof positive that this NASA PAO office is simply and demonstrably incompetent in this regard. Alas, there is no accountability in evidence with regard to substandard performance, so I am certain that no one's job is at risk.

Lets see if they have the technological know how to stream TEDxNASA live next month. They are still unable to provide a simple agenda for that event. T-30 days and you have no idea who is talking? FAIL.

NASA: Collaboration with Saudis a 'cornerstone' of U.S. policy, World Tribune

"Officials said Riyad and Washington have been discussing ways to expand space cooperation, including joint satellite production. They said other options for cooperation could include joint missions, technology development as well as a training exchanges between the U.S. National Aeronautics Space Agency and the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology. "It is a cornerstone of NASA policy," NASA administrator Charles Bolden said."

Keith's note: A number of you have sent me notes about this specific story. I have sent an inquiry to NASA PAO to see if this is what Bolden actually said - as he is quoted as having said it in this article i.e. "It is a cornerstone of NASA policy". No one else is reporting this quote with attribution specifically to Bolden. I have seen references of technology exchange - with many countries - in other publications as being an interest of the Obama Administration - but no specific singling out of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, no author/reporter is listed for this article, and no one representing this publication was in attendance at events in Saudi Arabia. More to follow.

Keith's update: According to NASA PAO, Charlie Bolden showed a slide that he and others at NASA have shown countless times over the years dealing with the agency's charter.

"International cooperation at NASA:

- Is directed by the National Aeronautics and Space Act that created NASA in 1958, continues to be part of national space policy
- Has been a cornerstone of NASA's activities throughout its history
- Includes over 4,000 agreements with over 100 nations
- Brings multiple benefits to NASA and its partners"

In other words NASA's cooperation with all foreign countries (not any specific one) is a "cornerstone" of its overall policy. This article takes this chart utterly out of context and frames the story with the title "NASA: Collaboration with Saudis a 'cornerstone' of U.S. policy" as if Bolden was speaking only about Saudi Arabia. He was not.

NASA's Kepler Mission Wins 2010 Software of Year Award by NASA Software Advisory Panel

"NASA's Kepler mission Science Operations Center software system was named winner of the 2010 NASA Software of the Year Award by the NASA Software Advisory Panel."

Keith's note: So ... a NASA advisory panel gives a NASA project an award, and NASA ARC PAO thinks that this is "news"? This is self-manufactured news.

Bolden World Tour Update

Saudi Arabia signs two agreements with Nasa, Guf News

"Riyadh: The King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has signed two agreements with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). The deals signed on the sidelines of the Saudi International Space and Aeronautics Technology Conference that began in Riyadh on Saturday are for extended scientific cooperation and exchange of research between them. They also signed a letter of intent in the space and aeronautics area."

NASA Chief Who Called Muslim Outreach 'Foremost' Job Heads to Saudi Arabia, Fox

"Though Bolden's comments about Muslim outreach earlier raised concerns that the White House was squeezing him into an out-of-place diplomatic role, NASA spokesman John Yembrick said the trip "was not initiated" by either the White House or the State Department. "This trip, including the visit to Saudi Arabia, is driven by specific, appropriate agency-level objectives," he said in an e-mail."

Space: More neighborhood than frontier, TMC.net

"Gen. Charles F. Bolden, administrator of NASA, told delegates that NASA seemed to have a secure future after the recent passing of the budget authorization bill by the House of Representatives in late September. Bolden opined recently that he felt that NASA's projected move away from the moon-focused space programs to a wider program of research and possibly near earth object study and interdiction was the way forward."

Keith's note: I will be on today's Space Talk, hosted by Jim Banke live from Florida's Space Coast, beginning at 2 pm ET. Listen in at http://wmmbam.com.

NASA And Univision Team Up

NASA And Univision Collaborate To Engage Hispanic Students

"NASA and Univision Communications Inc. are teaming up to launch an on-air and online initiative to help engage Hispanic students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. NASA is committed to preparing the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists. Univision, a leading Spanish-language media company with television, radio, online and interactive assets focused on improving graduation rates and preparing Hispanic students for college."


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