News: November 2010 Archives

Bolden Treads Softly On China, Other Issues, Aviation Week

"In a rare one-on-one interview with a U.S. reporter Nov. 23, Bolden tiptoed around a range of sensitive issues as he looks for bipartisan support in the 112th Congress for the new U.S. space program that is still evolving at NASA."

Yet Another Stealth Bolden Appearance, earlier post

"In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters Nov. 12 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Orbital's new "Mission Control Center-Dulles ..."

Other posts

Keith's note: Once again, Charlie Bolden will not make himself available to the media except in hand-selected, tightly-controlled situations where only a few select individuals are given access. None of this is ever announced in advance to the media - or the public.

Charles Bolden Jr. To Speak At Kappa Iota's Achievement Week Program, The Chattanoogan

"The Kappa Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in association with the Pearl Group, Inc. announced that Charles F. Bolden, Jr., administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), will be the featured speaker at Kappa Iota's annual Achievement Week Program. The program will be held on Dec. 2 at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center."

Keith's note: Of course no media will be allowed in to ask Bolden questions, no transcript of his comments will be posted, etc.

Earth and space science missions have fewer risks if conducted by a single government agency

"Earth and space science missions developed and implemented by federal agencies in collaboration typically result in additional complexity and cost and increased risks from divided responsibilities and accountability, says a new report from the National Research Council. Federal agencies should not partner in conducting space and earth science missions unless there is a compelling reason to do so and clear criteria are met in advance.

"A common misperception among policymakers and individual agencies is that collaboration on these missions will save money or somehow boost capabilities," said D. James Baker, director of the global carbon measurement program at the William J. Clinton Foundation and co-chair of the committee that wrote the report. "However, multiagency partnerships generally have just the opposite effect and drive up overall mission costs because of schedule delays, added levels of management, and redundant administrative processes."

Keith's note: Just look at the membership rooster - its NASA/industry/advisory revolving door and inbred self-interest at work once again. Where's the incentive to change anything when you contune to ask the same people the same questions - only to get the same answers again and again? Oh yes: the report was paid for by NASA - so the answer was more or less pre-ordained. Various agencies do not get along becuase they do not want to get along - it is not in their self interest to be more efficient because that would undermine their individual budget request rationales every year. Oh well. I can't wait to hear Charlie Bolden's inane ghost written commentary on this.

Despite Boise's loss, non-AQs belong, ESPN

"Maybe you saw the fireball over the Sierra Mountains. If you were on the East Coast, it happened at about 1:52 a.m. on Saturday and in full view of the locals and whomever else stayed up to watch Nevada At Night on ESPN.

We can now confirm that the flames came from Boise State's heat tiles as the Broncos re-entered the earth's atmosphere. Parachutes did not deploy on the BSU capsule."

Marc's note: I love football as anyone who knows me can attest to but imagine my shock when reading the first two paragraphs of this story. What was the writer thinking, seriously? It was more than distasteful, it is extremely disrespectful. Seven astronauts lost their lives on Columbia on February 1, 2003. To my knowledge no one died playing the football game last night. Sorry folks, I'm not one to rant, but the ESPN writer of this story, Gene Wojciechowsk (GenoEspn on Twitter), needs to apologize in my opinion.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee Urges Restart of Pu-238 Production, American Institute of Physics

"On November 18, the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee sent a letter regarding Pu-238 production to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV), House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Energy Undersecretary for Science Steven Koonin, Office of Science Director William Brinkman, and NASA Associate Administrator Edward Weiler. Expressing concern that a further delay in Pu-238 production will hinder outer solar system planetary missions and future astrophysics missions, the letter urges "prompt action be taken and appropriate budgetary resources be identified through cooperative coordination between DOE, NASA, and, if applicable, other federal agencies (i.e., NNSA, Dept. Homeland Security), to enable the Pu-238 project production restart for deep space mission applications."

Previous related story: AAS email: Plutonium 238 Production: An Ongoing Issue for Washington, American Astronomical Society

"It is not often that a $30M issue in an appropriations bill gets a lot of attention. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear Senate staff state that they have $100M round off errors, but recent language in Congressional legislation appropriating funds of this magnitude can have a direct, negative impact on the long-term success of US planetary science and, potentially, creative approaches to power generation for future astrophysics missions, earth observation missions and other research activities in space."

Report: Transportation Safety Board Less Aggressive in Last Decade, Fox

"... Carmody and Goglia are two NTSB members who faulted the leadership style of Ellen Engleman Conners, who was chairwoman of the board from 2003 to 2005, for the decline in investigations during the Bush administration. Engleman Conners required all board votes be unanimous, something that had never been common practice, they said. She also was very frugal, which former Democratic board members say was problematic to the conduct of investigations. "You couldn't buy anything without her signature," said John Goglia, Engleman Conners, who resigned in May 2006 after withdrawing her re-nomination as chairwoman in December 2005, now works for NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She declined repeated requests for an interview."

Previous posts on Ellen Engleman Conners

NASA Sets Shuttle Discovery's Launch For No Earlier Than Dec. 17, NASA

"The Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) reviewed on Wednesday repairs and engineering evaluations associated with cracks on two 21-foot-long, U-shaped aluminum brackets, called stringers, on the shuttle's external tank. Managers decided the analysis and tests required to launch Discovery safely are not complete. The work will continue through next week."

Transcript from Bolden all hands at MSFC (via Space News)

Bolden: Page 19. "I don't read the blogs. You all can read them. You know all they do is just upset my day so I don't read them, and you read them if you want. I know what you're doing. You know what you're doing, and you don't need anybody else to tell you, you know, what you're doing and the quality of your work. So if you want to go read somebody who's going to be critical of you everyday, have at it. I don't recommend it. If you need that, that's okay."

Bolden: Page 30: "I was in Prague. Let me tell you why I tell you don't read the blogs okay? You can. I can't stop you."

Keith's note: NASA MSFC PAO has decided not to post this for the rest of NASA and taxpayers to read.

It is fascinating how Charlie Bolden can claim not to read "the blogs" yet his staff certainly do - as do White House and Congressional staff. Yet he always seems to know what they say. Meanwhile he continues to be afraid to speak on the record with the media and/or to have details of his official trips to Saudi Arabia, Nepal, and China made public.

If you refuse to talk to anyone outside of closed doors, how else are people going to know what you are doing if they don't read "the blogs" Charlie?

Bolden Says Extra Shuttle Flights Needed As Hedge Against Additional COTS Delays, Space News

"Bolden's comments were detailed in a transcript of the all-hands meeting obtained by Space News. His remarks covered myriad programmatic and policy issues, touching on plans to reduce facilities within the agency, build a new heavy-lift launch vehicle and implement management changes designed to curb cost growth on the James Webb Space Telescope, and the potential for future cooperation in human spaceflight with China."

Bolden Details China Trip During Marshall Visit, Space News

"Bolden's address was closed to reporters, but a transcript of the event was obtained by Space News."

Keith's note: Alas, NASA has yet to see fit to publish this transcript. Meanwhile, Bolden has continued to refuse to tell taxpayers what he was up to in China - at their expense. As has been mentioned before, the White House has ordered Bolden not to talk to anyone on the record - especially the media - for fear of another gaff. This begs the question as to how long a public official can go hiding from the media - and the public - and still be considered NASA's "leader".

Courtney Stadd Sentenced

Ex-NASA chief sentenced in contracts conspiracy, AP

"Courtney Stadd, NASA's chief of staff and White House liaison from 2001 to 2003, pleaded guilty in August to one conspiracy charge in a nine-count indictment. He was sentenced Thursday to serve 41 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release."

NASA Administrator Bolden's Statement On Today's International Space Summit

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued the following statement after participating in today's Head of Space Agencies Summit in Washington: "This year, the International Academy of Astronautics is marking the 50th anniversary of its founding in Stockholm, Sweden. I congratulate the academy for its dedication during the past five decades in bringing the world's experts together to discuss and promote space research and exploration. I also want to congratulate the academy on supporting today's Heads of Space Agencies Summit."

Keith's note: Once again, Charlie Bolden used NASA's new Transporter to beam in and out of a meeting without any contact with the media. No media advisory in advance of Bolden's participation. No opportunity for media to ask him questions. Just a prepared statement written by someone at NASA PAO. Yet Bolden is just fine with talking to college newspapers at commencement ceremonies or giving comments to hand-picked media at Orbital's event last week. The strategy does seem to be working thought: we haven't heard any verbal gaffs lately.

"From: This Just In - MSFC
Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 3:30 PM
To: MSFC-DL-The Marshall Team
Subject: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to hold all-hands at Marshall Center Tuesday, Nov. 16

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will hold an all-hands with Marshall employees at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Activities Building 4316. All Marshall team members are invited to attend. The all-hands will be available on Marshall TV and Desktop TV. Transportation will be provided. A bus schedule will be posted on Inside Marshall as soon as it becomes available."

NASA Administrator Bolden in Huntsville today for 'all-hands' meeting at Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville Times

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. was scheduled to meet with Huntsville's NASA employees this morning in a closed "all-hands" meeting. "The meeting is for employees only," Marshall Space Flight Center spokesman Dom Amatore said late Monday when asked if reporters could attend."

Reality Check For Outer Space

Reality Bites: The 2010 National Space Policy, editorial, Space News

"While the Augustine commission report upon which the Obama Administration heavily relied in making the decision to cancel Constellation described strong public support for human exploration, as have past, similar surveys, the answer to a different question not asked is the important one: Compared with other areas of government funding, including health care, roads, education, defense and social welfare programs, where would you prioritize human space exploration? Unfortunately enthusiasm wanes in such a prioritization. Americans like and want a human space exploration program, they just see it as more expendable than other government programs."

Bolden Sees Future At Dulles Mission Control Center, Aviation Week

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, vowing to fight for an early flight of Orbital Science Corp.'s Taurus II launch vehicle, says he can foresee the day when human spaceflight is controlled from the company's office-building campus near Washington Dulles International Airport. In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters Nov. 12 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Orbital's new "Mission Control Center-Dulles," Bolden said he will do everything he can to produce some $300 million in augmented funding for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) this year."

Keith's note: Yet another stealth Bolden appearance. Obviously there was some hand picking of the media present who were then allowed to ask Bolden questions since no media advisory was issued for this event.

Air University presents honorary doctorate to NASA chief

"Air University conferred an honorary doctorate on the chief of NASA during a ceremony here Nov. 15."NASA administrator to receive honorary Air University degree

"NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden will receive the third honorary degree conferred by Air University, in recognition of his contributions in education, government, public service and community affairs, here 9 a.m., Monday. ... The ceremony is open for media coverage."

Keith's note: Of course this media release went out from Maxwell AFB, not NASA PAO (they almost never mention these Bolden speaking events in advance) and it was issued the evening before a Federal holiday and a long weekend for many regarding an even first thing next Monday morning. That said, I wonder if the White House knows that Bolden will be made available to the mainstream media?

Two More Media-Free Speaking Appearances for Bolden, earlier post

Robonauts at KSC

Robots Invade Kennedy Space Center, Ken Kremer for SpaceRef

"Robots have invaded the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as NASA prepares to launch Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-133 assembly mission to the International Space Station (ISS). But fear not, these robots are human made and friendly to earthlings - at least for now."

Charles Bolden Jr. To Speak At Kappa Iota's Achievement Week Program

"The Kappa Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in association with the Pearl Group, Inc. announced that Charles F. Bolden, Jr., administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), will be the featured speaker at Kappa Iota's annual Achievement Week Program. The program will be held on Dec. 2 at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center."

NASA official to speak at N.C. A&T's December commencement

"Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., 12th administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will be the keynote speaker for N.C. A&T's December commencement. Commencement will be held Dec. 11, at the Greensboro Coliseum."

Keith's note: These are both rather "safe" events (a pattern Bolden has adopted) where media access can be controlled such that no one asks him a space-policy related question on the record - at least no snarky space reporters will get in to pepper Bolden with questions. This is, of course, being done per White House direction. Just to be on the safe side, Bolden will use his new personal transporter to beam into and out of the speaking venues.

Space Studies Board 2010 Workshop: Sharing the Adventure with the Public

"The Space Studies Board's 2010 Workshop will explore both how these grand questions focus on the nation's space research program and how best to convey its value and excitement to the public. The workshop will bring together leading scientists and experts from the communications and social marketing sectors to share lessons learned and best practices. A summary of the workshop discussions will be released by the NRC."

Keith's note: I just love it when these meetings are set up to address the "public" and their perceptions of space exploration yet 99.999% of the "public" cannot attend. Its also unclear how the public can participate in the "audience". No one stops to think to webcast events like live such that the "public" can see what the experts think they are interested in. Why not let the "public" who cannot attend the event participate via the Internet? All it takes is a laptop with a webcam, an Internet connection, and a USTREAM or LIVESTREAM account. Oh well, the proceedings will quietly slip out in 6 months. As for the speakers - they are all certainly knowledgeable, but with one possible exception, not a single one of them is under 50 years old. What about the next generation?

Keith's update: Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Outreach Alan Ladwig has been doing a nice job of Twittering from the event - so there is some insight into what is going on - so make certain to follow Alan on Twitter.

VIDEO: Mysterious Missile Launch, KFMB

Mystery missile caught on video near L.A., MSNBC

"A senior official told NBC News it was "possible" that the incident was an accidental launch by the military. However, the Navy, Air Force and Missile Defense Agency said they had no information to indicate they were involved, NBC News reported."

Pentagon can't explain 'missile' off California, AP

"The Pentagon says it's trying to figure out whether a missile was launched off the coast of southern California and who might have launched it. Spokesmen for the Navy, Air Force, Defense Department and North American Aerospace Defense Command say they are looking into a video posted on the website of Southern California television station KFMB."

A To-Do List for Obama in India, WS Journal

"There is a clear opportunity to expand our military relationship, especially with the Indian Air Force and Navy, and to boost defense trade by convincing India to acquire sophisticated U.S. defense technology. The U.S. should also support Indian membership in key export control organizations, which would constitute a step toward integrating India further into global nonproliferation efforts. Finally, the administration and Congress should liberalize U.S. export controls that have an impact on India, including by removing the Indian Space Research Organization (the Indian equivalent to NASA) from the U.S. "Entity List."

Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Postponed to no Earlier than November 30, SpaceRef

"NASA has decided to postpone the launch of Discovery to no earlier than November 30. This is a result of the hydrogen leak that occurred early in tanking of the shuttle external tank. It turns out there also was a crack in the foam of the external tank."

Keith's note: There are lots of NASA planes headed back to JSC and Stennis/MAF right now (see FlightAware)

<Test at other NASA agency outside Ohio leads to false alarm at Research Center, WEWS

"The head of a NASA Lewis Research Center said that a test was going on at another space agency center, not in Ohio, when they got false reports of a shooter in a building. An employee at NASA Glenn with the same last name as a person at the other center mistakenly received a call at about 9:30 a.m. from an automated system with the message that there "is a shooter in the building." The employee did not realize it was a test. That employee told his supervisor, who then called security and then police, said Director Ramon Lugo III The building was put on lockdown and employees were told to stay in their offices."

Officials: False alarm led to Ohio NASA lockdown, AP

"Dennis Pehotsky, a retired safety officer at the center, said false alarms are common at NASA Glenn. "Crews are working out there all the time and it never ends, false alarms," he said. "They cut into wires and everything else and they set off alarms. This kind of thing happens frequently."

False Alarm Led to Brief Lockdown at Ohio NASA Facility, Police Say, Fox News

"Lt. Don Michalosky with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office says a message was misunderstood Friday morning while NASA was conducting a test of its automated emergency notification system. He says someone who received the message didn't realize it was a test."

GRC Reader note: "People in building 77 were hiding with lights off, and doors locked hoping no one with a gun decided to bust in. And the SWAT team was with guns in the hallway. They even patted down and searched the entire second floor. So all in all it was a pretty interesting day."

Keith's update: This was sent all over GRC after the whole things started. It would seem that there was no advanced notice of this security test:

More below:

Discovery GO for Launch Weather Looking GoodNASA Gives GO for Launch of Discovery Today, SpaceRef

"After a stormy day Thursday, Friday is looking like a great day to launch. There is a 70% chance of launch with the only concern potential wind gusts at launch time. At this time NASA is currently filling the external tank with its flight load of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants."

Marc's Update 8:22 am EDT: NASA Managers have made the decision to SCRUB the launch today due to a hydrogen leak at the ground umbilical carrier. This issue has happened before as recently as STS-127.

Marc's Update 8:47 am EDT: We're looking at a minimum 72 hour turnaround now. This means if they can fix the issue and if the Orbiter team can extend the launch window then Monday might see a launch.

Marc's Update 12:50 pm EDT: NASA managers have decided to postpone the next launch attempt for space shuttle Discovery to no earlier than Nov. 30 at 4:05 a.m. EST.

Discovery Will Attempt to Launch Thursday Though Weather Might Force Another Delay, SpaceRef

"Wednesday afternoon NASA's Mission Management Team met at 2:45 pm EDT to review the main engine #3 backup controller issue which caused a day's delay in the launch of space shuttle Discovery. After the meeting a GO was given to attempt a launch Thursday."

Marc's UPDATE 6:15 am EDT: SCRUB - NASA will not launch Discovery due to the weather conditions. Low cloud cover, expected ongoing rain have forced a 24 hour delay. Mission managers will reconvene tomorrow at 5:00 am EDT to discuss the weather for Friday's launch. Friday is looking better but expected high winds could be a problem. You can follow updates on the NASAWatch or SpaceRef Twitter accounts as events happen. launch on Friday would be at 3:04 pm EDT.

Discovery Still on Track for Wednesday Afternoon Launch, SpaceRef

"Although NASA had to work a couple of issues last night, at this point there are no technical constraints that would preclude a launch tomorrow afternoon. The weather outlook is still favorable with only a 30% chance of weather violation.

The first issue came up last night was a faulty regulator on the launch pad nitrogen purge system which was repaired. Early this morning though during engine check-outs, the engine 3 backup engine controller did not come up as expected. The problem was narrowed down to a circuit breaker or switch. Transient contamination was narrowed down as the issue which sometimes happens according to Steve Payne, NASA test director. Recycling the breaker and switch solved the issue."

Marc 's Update: It seems that backup controller problem which NASA thought was fixed is still a problem. From the latest status update, "Engineers continue to analyze data that showed voltage irregularities and will meet this afternoon to review their data.". Managers are currently meeting to discuss the situation.

Marc 's 5:43 PM EDT Update: Launch has been scrubbed for a Wednesday launch. Electrical issues need to be addressed so launch is now set for Thursday at 3:29 PM EDT. However with a 70% chance of violating the constraints for launch due to weather, it would appear Friday is the more likely day for launch.

Mars Rovers Mission Using Cloud Computing, NASA

"The project team that built and operates the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity has become the first NASA space mission to use cloud computing for daily mission operations.

Cloud computing is a way to gain fast flexibility in computing ability by ordering capacity on demand -- as if from the clouds -- and paying only for what is used. NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project moved to this strategy last week for the software and data that the rovers' flight team uses to develop daily plans for rover activities. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., which manages the project, gained confidence in cloud computing from experience with other uses of the technology, including public participation sites about Mars exploration."

Marc 's Note: Why isn't JPL using NASA's own Nebula Cloud Computing Platform?

Think Outside the Circle

"The frontier of space is rapidly opening to a new generation of travelers - for research and discovery, for adventure and for business.

But, with all the social, economic and ecological concerns we face right here on Earth, you might wonder why we need a space program.

It is precisely because of these issues that we do need a space program.

As we tackle the challenges of exploration, we generate new solutions for problems here, on Earth.

Imagine what the future holds."

Click here to view the latest Coalition for Space Exploration PSA and Think Outside the Circle.

No Technical Issues as NASA Prepares for Wednesday's Launch of Discovery, SpaceRef

"At today's briefing NASA managers indicated that there were no technical issues precluding Discovery from launching Wednesday afternoon at this time. After a weekend of repairs everything is proceeding smoothly with the countdown. Weather on the other hand could be an issue."


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