News: December 2010 Archives

Photo source: AS11-40-5903 (20 July 1969), NASA

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin sues Topps for using his likeness in trading cards, LA Times

"Buzz Aldrin was the second person to set foot on the moon; now he's the first to sue Topps Inc. for putting a photograph of the historic moment on its "American Heroes" series of trading cards. The 80-year-old retired astronaut sued Topps on Monday in federal court in Los Angeles, contending that the trading card company had unjustly profited from his historic achievement by including a photograph of the Apollo 11 mission in a series of trading cards."

Buzz Aldrin sues trading-card company Topps, AP

"Topps attorney Michael Kahn told the Los Angeles Times that the firm has a First Amendment right to include a factual description of the Apollo 11 mission and it included an image of Aldrin in his lunar suit because he is "an American hero."

Buzz Aldrin Sues Over Image on Moonwalk Trading Card, space.com

"I don't know what direction Aldrin's case against Topps will ultimately take," [Robert Pearlman, editor of collectSPACE.com]. "While I appreciate Aldrin's rights -- as afforded by the law -- to protect his image, I cannot help but also think that this could dissuade Topps and other trading card companies from producing astronaut and space-themed products, which would be unfortunate. Dating back to the 1960s, space trading cards have been a great way to engage kids in learning about space history."

Keith's note: Gee, shouldn't the American taxpayers - the ones who spent hundreds of millions of dollars on "his historic achievement" i.e. the Apollo 11 mission, get a cut too? After all they paid for the trip to and from the photo op. Neil Armstrong is in the photo too (reflected in Aldrin's visor) and took the photo. Shouldn't he get a cut too?

This photo has been reproduced innumerable times since 1969 and has transcended its original photo status and become universally iconic. Indeed, I'd be willing to bet that most people think that this is a photo of Neil Armstrong - not Buzz Aldrin. Indeed, only when viewing the high resolution image (rarely used) can you see even see the hard-to-read name tag. Most people born a generation or more after the event, simply see this photo as being "the first man on the Moon".

2009 Topps Heritage box (American Heroes Edition), Amazon.com (note the cover image).

Pointless Lawsuit Over Public Domain NASA Photo, earlier post

India's Launch of GSAT-5P Telecommunications Satellite Fails, SpaceRef

"ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization, saw its GSLV Mark 1 rocket begin to disintegrate about a minute after launch today. It was carrying the GSAT-5P telecommunications satellite. The launch was at 5:34 a.m. EST (10:34 GMT).

The launch started off well but just a minute after launch the rocket appeared to begin veer off course before it disintegrated. The problem appears to have been with the first stage. Of the three launches India has attempted this year, two have failed."

Merging SOMD and ESMD

NASA Might Merge Human Spaceflight, Operations Directorates, Space News

"In a Dec. 20 memo to agency employees, the heads of NASA's Exploration Systems and Space Operations mission directorates said they had been tasked by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to formulate a plan for combining the two organizations and report back to the agency chief in early 2011. "With the upcoming retirement of the Space Shuttle and the likely transition away from the Constellation Program, planning is underway that could lead to NASA's Space Operations and Exploration Systems Mission Directorates merging to create a new directorate to manage the integrated human spaceflight portfolio for the Agency," wrote Bill Gerstenmaier and Doug Cooke, associate administrators for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and Space Operations Mission Directorate, respectively."

NASA's Year End Summary

NASA Completes Space Station, Fosters Commercial Spaceflight And Makes Amazing Discoveries During Ambitious Year Of Exploration

"NASA in 2010 set a new course for human spaceflight, helped rewrite science textbooks, redefined our understanding of Earth's nearest celestial neighbor, put the finishing touches on one of the world's greatest engineering marvels, made major contributions to life on Earth, and turned its sights toward the next era of exploration. "This year, NASA's work made headlines around the world," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "More importantly, it enlarged our understanding of the universe and our home planet, inspired people, and opened new frontiers for our dreams and aspirations."

SpaceX Dragon Mission Summary

Mission Summary: SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Successfully Returns from Orbit, SpaceX

"On December 8, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to re-enter a spacecraft from Earth orbit. SpaceX launched its Dragon spacecraft into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 10:43 AM EST from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft orbited the Earth at speeds greater than 7,600 meters per second (17,000 miles per hour), reentered the Earth's atmosphere, and landed just after 2:00 PM EST less than one mile from the center of the targeted landing zone in the Pacific Ocean."

Marc's note: This new update from SpaceX includes a few new pictures.

Aerojet to Expand in Huntsville, Aerojet

"Aerojet, a GenCorp company, announced today that over the next few months it will expand its presence in the Huntsville community by hiring 25 local engineers. This growth will allow Aerojet to provide collaborative engineering expertise, program management support and business development outreach to our government and prime customers located in the Huntsville area and across the Southeastern United States."

NASA's New Strategic Plan

Message from the Administrator: NASA Strategic Plan

"Every year in February, the President submits his budget request for the federal government to Congress. This year, along with the President's budget request for NASA, we will be submitting our new NASA Strategic Plan, which guides the work we will perform.

The NASA Strategic Plan outlines our long-term goals as an agency and describes how we will accomplish those goals through the outcomes that support each goal over the next decade or more.

Our Strategic Plan team has been hard at work and we now have a solid new mission statement, vision, and strategic goals and outcomes, all of which will form the basis for the new Strategic Plan. I shared these with you back in October, but wanted to take this opportunity to talk about them in more detail."

Orbital Submits Proposal for NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program

"Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that it has submitted a proposal to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in response to the Commercial Crew Development-2 contract solicitation. The company also provided several top-level details of its proposal for providing safe and affordable transportation services to and from the International Space Station (ISS) and for commercial activities in Earth orbit."

Orbital Unveils Supplier Team for CCDev 2 Bid, Space News

"According to industry sources, Orbital Sciences plans to team with Virgin Galactic of New Mexico to market commercial rides on the planned spacecraft and conduct drop tests of the orbital space vehicle using Virgin's WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. Virgin Galactic, however, is not mentioned in Orbital's Dec. 14 press release, which lists only the "major suppliers" that will "contribute major elements of the system."

Neil Armstrong Talks About The First Moon Walk, NPR

"Well, this doesn't happen every day. In yesterday's post, I talked about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's walk across the lunar surface back in 1969 and wondered, how come they walked such a modest distance? Less than a hundred yards from their lander?"

Keith's note: Hmm, do you believe this traditional, boring version (as told by Armstrong) or the version below with much better special effects?

Transformers 3 Trailer: It's All NASA's Fault!, E! Online

"Holy conspiracy! The first trailer for Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon is here, and while it isn't full of the director's trademark explodey touch, that title is starting to make a bit more sense. Get ready for everything you thought you knew about the moon landing to be thrown out the window!"

Hi res trailers here

"From: info@JSC.NASA.GOV
Subject: [HSFMEDIA] DEMONSTRATION FLIGHT OF FALCON 9 ROCKET SET FOR WEDNESDAY
Date: December 8, 2010 1:53:07 PM EST
To: HSFMEDIA@JSC-LISTSERV-01.JSC.NASA.GOV
Reply-To: HSFMEDIA@JSC-LISTSERV-01.JSC.NASA.GOV

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The first demonstration flight of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window extends from 9 a.m. to 12:22 p.m. EST. ...."

Keith's note: Ellen Connors: I just got this press release from JSC PAO. Why do you guys send media notices out after the event mentioned in the release has been completed? Dragon just splashed down a few minutes ago. You DO know that ...

NASA And High Tech Partners Host Random Hacks Of Kindness

"NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver joined U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to deliver introductory remarks at the RHoK event in New York. Google Vice President of Research Alfred Spector and RHoK co-founder Patrick Svenburg, director of government platform strategy at Microsoft, also attended. "The RHoK hackathons provide a forum for innovators to come up with real-world solutions that can make a huge difference in people's lives," Garver said. "NASA's commitment to building on its data and opening it up to other users allows us to expand the tools available for disaster response."

Open Recruitment for Members of NASA SMD's Advisory Subcommittees

"NASA's Science Mission Directorate solicits nominations of individuals who would serve on one of the following advisory subcommittees of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) .. Either self nominations or nominations of others are acceptable. The membership term will be for two to three years. Members will be required to attend meetings two to four times a year, either in person or via telecon/WebEx. .. Nominators should submit a vita and a one-page statement on their reasons for supporting a specific nominee (or themselves in the case of self-nominated individuals) to serve on the subcommittee."

Buy This Satellite

Terrestar-1 : Buy This Satellite - Provide Internet Access To The Third World

"The Terrestar-1 satellite, launched in 2008, is as big as a school bus, connects to a tiny handset called the Genus, and proves that communication satellites can provide data services effectively. The company that owns that satellite filed for chapter-11 bankruptcy protection on October 19th 2010. We believe that Internet access is a tool that allows people to help themselves - a tool so vital that it should be considered a universal human right. Imagine your digital life disconnected."

Keith's note: Here's the premise: Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) - a series of long workshops (often known as "Hackathons") are held in multiple locations around the world wherein people come together to share their skills and create things (software etc.) that can be of use to others locally and globally. Wonderful idea. NASA becomes involved - thus offering the potential to bring its resources to bear - and ingest ideas from external and novel resources. Doubly wonderful - I can smell the synergy. Add in NASA's Deputy Administrator, the Secretary General of the United Nations at the opening session and there's an emergent property - one of heightened visibility for the concept and the participants. I'm sold. Marvelous concept. Gimme more.

NASA sends representatives from the Chief Technologist's and Chief Information Officer's organizations. What are they doing? Well, that's uncertain. NASA civil servant participants Robbie Schingler (NASA HQ CTO Chief of Staff) and Nick Skytland (NASA HQ CIO office) and perhaps others are big fans of social media tools yet they did little to use these tools other than to retweet several generic items about the event as a whole. They made no mention of what they - or NASA - were actually doing at this event. Were they coding? Organizing? What? So much for being "open and transparent". This is especially ironic given that Schingler and Skytland work on NASA's Open Gov efforts, often serving as agency evangelists in this regard.

Photos of X-37B After Landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base

"Air Force Space Command Photos: The X-37B sits on the Vandenberg Air Force base runway during post-landing operations Dec. 3. Personnel in SCAPE (Self-contained atmospheric protective ensemble) suits conduct initial checks on the vehicle and ensuring the area is safe."

Video of X-37B Landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base

X-37B Returns to Earth

Home again: U.S. military space plane returns to Earth, Spaceflight Now

"Flying back to Earth after nearly 225 days in space, the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane blazed through the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean Friday and swooped into a California air base under the cloak of darkness. Capping a secret mission in space, the unmanned spaceship touched down at 0916 GMT (4:16 a.m. EST; 1:16 a.m. PST) on the landing strip at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif."

NASA-Funded Astrobiology Research Discovers Earth Life Built With Arsenic, NASA

"NASA-funded astrobiology research has changed the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth. Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components."

Second Genesis on Earth?, Washington Post

"News of the discovery caused a scientific commotion, including calls to NASA from the White House and Congress asking whether a second line of earthly life has been found."

NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership: International Collaboration

"The Academy has developed Masters with Masters as part of its ongoing efforts to create a cohesive community of project management and engineering practitioners across NASA. This series will engage master practitioners in a conversation that yields fresh insights and promotes reflection and open sharing. Special Guest Speakers: General Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator; Johann-Dietrich Woerner, Chairman of the Executive Board, German Aerospace Center (DLR)"

Keith's note: Make certain to RSVP for this rare public appearance by Charlie Bolden. Maybe the media can catch him on his way in/out of the Webb Auditorium - unless, that is, the public is not allowed to attend.

NASA's human spaceflight program is 'adrift' as budget cuts may doom deal, Orlando Sentinel

"With this fiscal environment in mind, [general manager of Lockheed Martin's human space flight division] John Karas argues that Orion is the only NASA project far enough along to fly -- and may be the only way to keep the agency's space-faring ambitions alive. "The reason we decided not to wait for a rocket any more is because we'd be sitting on the ground until 2020 which means we would atrophy ...," he said."

"I hate to see different entities try to cannibalize the process," said U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R- Utah, a staunch supporter of his state's solid-rocket industry. "There is money to move forward on [a heavy-lift rocket using solid-rocket motors], as well as the capsule, as long as NASA budgets its money wisely and doesn't waste it on wild goose chases."


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

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