News: January 2011 Archives

Q&A: NASA Tech Chief on 'Sputnik' Moments and Innovation,

" What is NASA doing today to move technology along in this country?

Braun: We are currently holding meetings with the National Research Council that are open to the public to discuss innovative technological ideas and insights that could influence the future of space exploration. We need help with prioritizing which technology NASA should pursue on a limited budget. We know we can make a difference through tech to reinvigorate the aerospace industry and get NASA back to its roots as a true innovator. But we can only do that if we have a plan. This community-driven activity was called for by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, and so far we are off to a great start."

Keith's note: This article was published online today. I guess Bobby Braun must have a time machine on his agenda of new technologies that NASA will develop so that the public can go back in time and attend the meetings that he and his organization did nothing to publicize in advance (i.e. tell "the public"). No one from his organization has ever explained this odd, after-the-fact approach.

NASA's Stealth Technology Roadmap Meetings, earlier post

NASA Research Announcement "Ground-Based Studies in Space Radiobiology"

"This NRA solicits ground-based proposals for the Space Radiation Program Element (SRPE) component of the Human Research Program (HRP). Proposals are solicited by the SRPE in the area of Space Radiation Biology utilizing beams of high energy heavy ions simulating space radiation at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL), at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, New York."

Ground-Based Studies in Space Radiobiology NASA Space Radiation Program Element NNJ11ZSA001N

"Studies may include animals, tissues (animal or human), or cells (animal or human), including adult human stem cells. For proposals utilizing animal models, proposals are encouraged to use animals at an age reflective of the ages of astronauts (35-55 y) during space missions."

Earlier posts

NASA Day of Remembrance

Keith's note: The other day, at the encouragement of several folks at LaRC PAO, I sent an email to LaRC PAO asking "Can you tell me the total cost of last week's free Constellation breakfast at LaRC, how many attended (how many civil servants and contractors), and who (program, directorate etc.) paid the cost of this breakfast?. Also, some people used a NASA plane to fly to/from JSC. Can you tell me who (names) was on the plane, how much that round trip cost, and who the cost of this trip (program, directorate etc.) was charged to?"

Marny Skora at LaRC PAO declined to answer becuase "The recognition event was held here, but organized by JSC. Kylie Clem will shortly be contacting you." Kylie Cleam promptly replied "The JSC Office of Chief Counsel requested that your inquiry be submitted to the JSC FOIA officer, Stella Luna. She can be reached via email at ..."

In other words both LaRC and NASA JSC PAO are formally refusing to say "yes" or "no" as to whether NASA personnel flew to/from NASA LaRC to participate in the ESMD breakfast or provide any information. Rather, they are forcing me to go though a FOIA process that will take time and cost taxpayers money. So much for openness and transparency at NASA. Clearly someone is afraid to talk about this.

Keith's update: Kylie Clem subsequently replied: "To answer your new question, yes, JSC personnel did fly to LaRC on the plane. That was stated as a fact in your original email, so I did not realize you were requesting confirmation. The additional details you requested, however, should be submitted through FOIA."

Free Breakfast, Courtesy of Constellation, earlier post

Obama to Declare 'The Rules Have Changed' (text of President's Speech), National Journal

"Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology - an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people."

Keith's note: Alas, the President is talking about what NASA did half a century ago - not what it is doing today or what it is going to do in the years ahead - or whether NASA is even relevant.

Technoarchaeology: Tiros-1

Technoarchaeology: Where is the True "First" Picture taken by Tiros 1?

"The NASA Goddard Library has a rare and unique collection of 26 bound volumes of TIROS 1 photography prepared by the Navy in 1961 specifically for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This talk will highlight the collection, attempts contemplated to preserve it, and revelations that the "first" image from TIROS, widely distributed around the internet (and even by NOAA and NASA), was not the first photo, nor even taken on the first day of operations!"

Keith's note: This Tweet by @NASA_Technology (NASA office of Chief Technologist) just appeared: "The NRC kicks off review of NASA's space tech roadmaps. Media Advisory: Future Tech for NASA Missions - Mtg Jan. 26 & 28"

Wow. Who knew.

No mention was made by NASA until today that this event is happening - and the event is starting tomorrow. You have to wonder why these folks in Bobby Braun's office even go through the effort of releasing this stuff since they seem to do so at the last possible second when people already have their week scheduled. The National Research Council did not bother to alert people until today.

A Tweet by @NASA_Technology over the weekend was the only announcement that these documents are out for review - and no mention was made of these meetings. I Googled and found this page "Space Technology Roadmaps (DRAFT)" and posted its content on my websites at that point - since there is no link to this page from OCT's homepage i.e. it is more or less hidden unless you know to go look for it.

There is no mention of this activty or meetings anywhere on OCT's home page including their "news" page. No mention is made at - no press release or mention of this event is on their calendar.

- NASA Space Technology Roadmaps Available for Public Review and Comment, Earlier post

Keith's update: The NRC tells me that they sent a media advisory out on 20 Jan. I am supposed to be on their mailing list. I doubled checked - I never got this announcement. That said, given the importance to NASA, I still find it baffling with all of the promotion of "new technology" by Bobby Braun, that he has done so little to let people know that this is going on other than a Twitter link put out by his staff on a weekend evening. Hmm ... I wonder how much this roadmapping activity cost NASA ...

Solar Sailing

NASA's NanoSail-D Deploys Solar Sail in Low-Earth Orbit

"Friday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. EST, engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed that the NanoSail-D nanosatellite deployed its 100-square-foot polymer sail in low-Earth orbit and is operating as planned. Actual deployment occurred on Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. EST and was confirmed today with beacon packets data received from NanoSail-D and additional ground-based satellite tracking assets. In addition, the NanoSail-D orbital parameter data set shows an appropriate change which is consistent with sail deployment."

NASA Space Technology Roadmaps Available for Public Review and Comment

"Through an open process of community engagement, the NRC will gather input, integrate, and prioritize each Space Technology Area Roadmap, providing NASA with strategic guidance and recommendations that inform the technology investment decisions of NASA's space technology activities. Because it is difficult to predict the wide range of future advances possible in these areas, NASA plans to update the integrated technology roadmap on a regular basis."

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, co-founder of Challenger Center for Space Science Education, talking to Students on 25th Anniversary of Challenger.

Sony Pictures Adapting Sex on the Moon, Coming Soon

"Sony Pictures has picked up the film rights to Ben Mezrich's "Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History". The Social Network was based on Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires." Scott Rudin, Michael DeLuca and Dana Brunetti, who produced The Social Network, will again produce and Kevin Spacey will again executive produce."

Sex on the Moon, (in bookstores July 2011)

"Thad convinced his girlfriend and another female accomplice, both NASA interns, to break into an impregnable laboratory at NASA's headquarters--past security checkpoints, an electronically locked door with cipher security codes, and camera-lined hallways--and help him steal the most precious objects in the world: the moon rocks."

Keith's note: Yes, I know that NASA Headquarters is in Washington, DC - not Houston, TX. but do the movie producers know this? (Does JSC?)

The Case of the Stolen Moon Rocks, FBI

"What damage did they do? The young thieves did more than just try to sell off a collection of lunar samples worth as much as $21 million. In the process, they also contaminated them, making them virtually useless to the scientific community. They also destroyed three decades worth of handwritten research notes by a NASA scientist that had been locked in the safe."

Q&A with Charles F. Bolden NASA Administrator, The Post and Courier

"Q: The recent elections showed voters' concern about the level of government spending and debt. How will that affect NASA's work?

A: "That's hard to say. I'll be able to answer that question for you better in the middle of February, when we get our budget. It would be premature for me to try to guess. It may be that the Congress decides that they really think exploration is really important ... and we'll find the level of funding is OK."

Keith's note: That's it folks. That's the only actual interview with an actual reporter you'll see in January. Charlie Bolden will now go back into hiding for another month - until the next commencement ceremony or Rotary club breakfast where he'll toss a few lines at a local reporter. And when the budget is released he will not be available to the media nor will he do any of the heavy lifting in public (as did previous Administrators) in explaining what the budget means.

Keith's update: I have been informed that Space News has an interview with Bolden in its 17 Jan issue (I don't get Space News, my bad). I'd like to link to it but it is on the for-fee part of their website. [But its now out in the wild and available for free.] Apparently Bolden "likes his day job". That's nice to hear - I was getting concerned. That said, I can say with utmost certainty that major news organizations i.e. large wire services and networks - have long standing requests for interviews with Bolden that have not been granted. Its not PAO's fault, folks. It's Bolden's - and the way the White House has him on a short leash so as to prevent further gaffs.

Bolden Speaks in Charleston

NASA chief to be keynote speaker, Post and Courier

"NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., a Columbia native, will be the featured speaker at this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Business and Professional Breakfast, making him the annual event's second consecutive keynote speaker from the aerospace sector. The breakfast is a major fundraising event for the YWCA of Greater Charleston, and is co-sponsored by the city."

Remarks for NASA Adminstrator Bolden Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Business and Professional Breakfast

"It's a new world all around. What I preside over at NASA would have been science fiction when I was growing up. The International Space Station, an orbiting outpost the size of a football field, circling overhead 250 miles above Earth, with human occupants 24/7 for more than ten years now would have been unthinkable in my college days. In fact, the international partnership that built and operates the ISS would itself have been unthinkable even very recently. That we have a regular presence at Saturn and Mars and will soon have a satellite orbiting Mercury was something we could only conceptualize when I studied at the U.S. Naval Academy."

Videos: Upcoming Indie Space Drama "Love"

Synopsis: "After losing contact with Earth, Astronaut Lee Miller becomes stranded in orbit alone aboard the International Space Station. As time passes and life support systems dwindle, Lee battles to maintain his sanity - and simply stay alive. His world is a claustrophobic and lonely existence, until he makes a strange discovery aboard the ship."

Keith's note: Based on the two trailer videos, someome seems to have spent a lot of time recreating the ISS interior for this film - or they shot inside an actual trainer.

NASA JSC Solicitation: Open Innovation Support Services for Internal Collaboration Support Platform and Intermediary

"NASA/JSC has a requirement for Open Innovation Support Services for internal collaboration support platform and intermediary to provide the capability for NASA employees to collaborate within and across the NASA organizations promoting internal collaboration and the identification of solutions to internal challenges by internal personnel and expertise. NASA/JSC intends to purchase the items from InnoCentive, Inc. InnoCentive, Inc. has the required infrastructure and personnel required to support the internal based platform and has an experience base that included an internet based ".com" and an internal based platform. Use of any other system would require duplication of work and loss of existing infrastructure that has already been designed for NASA, tested, validated and approved. The loss of infrastructure cannot be recovered through competition without substantial duplication of time, costs and risk to timely and successful implementation."

What Is Open Innovation at JSC?, Previous Post

NASA Innovation Pavilion, Innocentive

Keith's note: Hmm ... a sole cource contract for "open innovation support". Shouldn't there be multiple paths to "open innovation"? Is this a JSC-only product? The solicitation says "NASA/JSC has a requirement ..." yet the "NASA Innovation Pavilion" mentions JSC, GRC, and LaRC (not not other field centers). Additional solicitations also point to NASA/JSC requirements - not the agency as a whole. Confusing.

- NASA JSC Solicitation: Open Innovation Support Services for a Consortium Network Builder Platform Provider
- NASA JSC Solicitation: Open Innovation Support Services for an External Crowd Sourcing Platform

NASA Administrator Charles' Bolden's Statement on the Shooting of Congresswoman Giffords

"We at NASA are deeply shocked and saddened by the senseless shooting of Representative Giffords and others at Saturday's public event in Tucson. As a long-time supporter of NASA, Representative Giffords not only has made lasting contributions to our country, but is a strong advocate for the nation's space program and a member of the NASA family. She also is a personal friend with whom I have had the great honor of working. We at NASA mourn this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to Congresswoman Giffords, her husband Mark Kelly, their family, and the families and friends of all who perished or were injured in this terrible tragedy."

The Coalition for Space Exploration extends its heartfelt wishes to U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords for a full and speedy recovery

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Rep. Giffords and her family as they begin the road to recovery," said Glenn Mahone, chairman of the Coalition. "We also extend our deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones in this tragic occurrence and to the other victims and their families as they deal with the aftermath of this senseless tragedy."

Keith's WARNING: Any comments about this tragedy that even hint at politics, motives, perpetrator(s) - in any way - will not be posted. Don't even try.

NASA chief to be keynote speaker, Post and Courier

"NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., a Columbia native, will be the featured speaker at this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Business and Professional Breakfast, making him the annual event's second consecutive keynote speaker from the aerospace sector. The breakfast is a major fundraising event for the YWCA of Greater Charleston, and is co-sponsored by the city. The 11th annual breakfast will be held on Jan. 18 and is typically one of the largest events surrounding the King holiday weekend."

NASA Administrator Bolden's Comments at the AIAA New Horizons Forum

"As we move toward a true commercial capability for reaching low Earth orbit, it seems people are yearning even more for routine access to space - one of the unfilled promises of the original space transportation system. With greater commercial access to LEO, we're going to open up an entirely new segment of the economy and with this will come new high tech jobs. I hope we can all agree - as a nation, we're ready for that. We know we can do it; in part because of all that we have learned from shuttle, and the fact that we have flown more than 130 missions to space - more than any other NASA human spaceflight program."

Guest Blog: Views on Space from an (Rare) Informed Public, opinion, Joan Johnson-Freese, Space News

"I think the views of this class are important as they would probably reflect the views of the general public -- if they had any knowledge base for assessing the issues and options. With lots of discussion within NASA and other groups about strategically communicating with the public about space issues, these views might be worth considering. Educating the public on the technical aspects of how space assets work is neither possible nor likely profitable -- few people care about uplinks, the magnetosphere or millinewtons -- but awe and inspiration will likely not garner space the sustained political support needed to achieve future goals either. However, educating the public about what's at stake -- that seems achievable and worthwhile."

Keith's note: I do not disagree with the conclusions drawn by this author (indeed I agree with most of what she says). Nor do I seek to gratuitously dump on her - she's got one heck of a resume. But this opinion piece, however well-intentioned, is yet another example of someone (like me) who has spent decades immersed inside insular space community jumping to conclusions as to what they think the ever-elusive "real people" outside the space community (out in the real world) think about space. The source of these observations, logical as they may seem, is a bunch of students in a space policy class inside the DC beltway.

Keith's correction: My HUGE, sloppy error. The Naval War College is in Newport, Rhode Island - not inside the DC beltway. That said, a space policy class at the Naval War College, whose mission is to "provide professional military education programs that are current, rigorous, relevant, and accessible to the maximum number of qualified U.S. officers and Navy enlisted personnel, civilian employees of the U.S. Government and non-governmental organizations, and international officers." is not the place where you are going to find mainstream public views in abundance. The mainstream public isn't going to go off and spend time studying and researching the topic - rather they are simply going to know/and think what they know based on their every day lives.

NASA is Adrift Once Again

Keith's note: Not everyone is happy with the proposed merger of ESMD (Exploration Systems Mission Directorate) and SOMD (Space Operations Mission Directorate). Sources report that the White House is not sold on the idea and Congress is not exactly keen on it either. One concern is that the merger would make it harder to see how Constellation cancellation is being handled (paid for), how Shuttle is being phased out, how ISS is being operated, and how commercial access to ISS is being brought online.

Keith's note: Someone in charge of the automatic email distribution list for NASA NSPIRES needs to fix the settings such that everyone cannot send email to everyone else complaining about the email that everyone is sending to everyone else.

Update from NSPIRES: "This morning, we encountered an issue where an individual replied back to an email notice about a 2011 EPSCoR Research Announcement. Unfortunately, all individuals on the mail list were able to see this person's reply. Please be advised that the technical issue that allowed this email response to occur has been addressed and no further 'mass replies' should occur. This situation has caused confusion and concern among many of the recipients of this email, and for that, the NSPIRES group extends its apologies to all."

Apollo 18

"Apollo 18 Viral: New Classified Document Breaks Down Missions, MovieViral

"When we last left off on the viral for Dimension Films' Apollo 18, the Cosmonauts page of the film's official website had a single image of classified (and heavily redacted) document. Now we have a new document on the site that you can see ..."

Apollo 18 official site

Keith's note: I am certain NASA PAO dreads the release of "Apollo 18" and the inquiries they'll get when seemingly authentic (but obviously fake) "historial" documents like this start to go viral. Oops, I guess I just helped that happen. Then again, NASA has openly supported the upcoming film "Transformers 3" (see Trailer) wherein Neil and Buzz find a monster spaceship on the Moon with giant robots inside. Oops. I did it again ...

NASA Names "2012" The Most Absurd Sci-Fi Film, Worst Previews

"NASA held a private meet at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to discuss the movies Hollywood has been releasing and to plead for filmmakers to stick to more rational plots."

Apocalyptic blockbuster absurd, say NASA scientists, The Australian

"Experts at NASA have named 2012, an apocalyptic blockbuster starring John Cusack, as the most absurd science-fiction film. The US space agency singled out the movie as the most scientifically flawed of its genre at a conference in which it pleaded with Hollywood bigwigs for more rational plots. At the day-long private meeting at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, some of the film industry's most popular sci-fi movies were mocked -- and in some cases praised."

2012 named most absurd science fiction film by Nasa,

"Roland Emmerich's disaster movie proved to be a smash hit, taking more than #490 million at the box office - but it was less popular at the US space agency. A panel of Nasa experts concluded 2012 was the most scientifically flawed blockbuster ever made."

NASA Nasa names most absurd sci-fi film, The Sun

"NASA praised Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Gattaca starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman as the most realistic."

Keith's note: I am certain that this "news" will cause a surge in DVD rentals and downloads for this movie (the "banned in Boston" effect). Meanwhile, despite this private film review at JPL, NASA continues to support other less-than-accurate movies ("Transformers 3", "Armageddon", etc.). Indeed, JPL starred in - and allowed shooting onsite - for the goofy 1996 alien invasion flick "The Arrival". Sigh, so much for consistency amongst the high brow movie critics at JPL.

Why don't you NASA folks just back and enjoy the flick? Maybe you can distill just what it is that non-NASA geeky people see in these movies and apply it to how you communicate what the agency does and does not do to the public at large. Oh yes, James Cameron made enough money from Avatar to send a mission to Mars. George Lucas could send several missions. What's their secret?



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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from January 2011.

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