News: February 2011 Archives

twtpoll_vision.jpgWe asked and you answered. The question was do you like NASA's new vision statement? "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."

Of the 649 respondents, overwhelmingly 74% of our readers answered no, you don't like NASA's new vision statement. The question is why? Let us and NASA know, your comments are welcome.

Vision statements for non-Visionaries, Paul Spudis, AIr & Space

"A seemingly trivial event has revealed some schadenfreude about NASA, along with a lot of irritation. Apparently (as is their wont) the fertile minds running our national space agency decided that the time has come (once again) for a new and improved vision statement - out with the old and in with something new. These would be harmless exercises except to the extent that taxpayer money is being spent to no real purpose (but if I got into that, there'd be no end to this post)."

NASA Launching Colorado Solar Experiment February 23

"NASA will launch a University of Colorado experiment to image the sun on a NASA suborbital sounding rocket February 23, from the White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) will support measurements by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite. ... NASA's Sounding Rocket Program is managed at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia."

Keith's note: If you go to the NASA White Sands website, no mention of this launch is made. And there is nothing at the Missile Range website either. Wallops issued this press release, is listed as managing this launch as part of the NASA Sounding Rocket Program, and the NASA PAO contact listed is at Wallops. However, no mention is made of this launch on the Wallops home page, but there is an item listed under "upcoming launches" -- but it is for a flight on 22 January - a month ago. No mention is made at the Code 810 website listed in the press release. The link to the "schedule" page at Wallops gets you this message: "The Wallops Daily Range Schedule is no longer available for public use. Thank you for your patience as the Wallops Flight Facility Public Affairs Office works to create a public schedule, available on the Wallops home page."

$14M to move shuttle to Air Force museum tucked in Obama budget plan, Dayton Daily News

"The Obama administration asked Congress for $14 million to transfer the space shuttle Atlantis to the Air Force Museum here, a strong sign the Dayton region may land one of three orbiters when they are retired this summer. Although NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will make the final decision on where to locate Atlantis, the request -- tucked deep inside the administration's 2012 budget -- suggests that the White House and the Air Force favor the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force as a final destination for Atlantis."

Boeing Announces $5M Donation to Air Force Museum Foundation

"The Boeing Company announced today that it will donate $5 million to the Air Force Museum Foundation in three installments over the next three years. The foundation will deliver the funds to the U.S. Air Force for the benefit of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio."

50 Years Ago Today: The First Spacecraft Launched Into Orbit From Virginia

"Explorer 9 was the first spacecraft placed in orbit by an all-solid rocket and the first spacecraft successfully launched from Wallops Island. It was launched on 16 February 1961. Explorer 9 was the first in a series of 3.66 m inflatable spheres to be successfully placed into orbit solely for the determination of atmospheric densities. It was identical in its objectives and configuration to the earlier unsuccessful launch of Explorer S-56."

Keith's 15 Feb note: Thanks to a tip by @NASAHistory. Too bad Wallops PAO is not aware of this anniversary.

NASA Releases Images Of A Human-Made Crater On A Comet

"The data indicate Stardust went through something similar to a B-17 bomber flying through flak in World War II," said Don Brownlee, Stardust-NExT co-investigator from the University of Washington in Seattle. "Instead of having a little stream of uniform particles coming out, they apparently came out in chunks and crumbled."

Keith's note: The title of this press release, as issued by NASA, was "NASA Releases Images Of Man-Made Crater On Comet". I changed the title on my websites. "Man-made"? So much for the women who participated in this flyby - on Valentine's Day (in case you missed NASA's relentless romantic-themed hype of this flyby).

NASA OIG Testimony: Major Challenges Facing NASA in 2011

"At the present time, NASA finds itself in a state of significant uncertainty, particularly with respect to its human space program. The final Space Shuttle flights are scheduled for later this fiscal year and construction of the International Space Station is essentially complete; however, the Agency has not achieved significant momentum on space exploration directives contained in 2010 authorizing legislation because of funding and technical questions.

The most immediate challenge facing NASA's leadership is to manage the Agency's portfolio of space and science missions amid the continuing lack of clarity caused by conflicting legislative directives in the Authorization Act and a holdover provision in NASA's fiscal year (FY) 2010 appropriations law. The latter provision prevents NASA from terminating any aspect of the Constellation Program or from initiating any new program."

From the U to NASA, prison and back again, Daily Utah Chornicle

Convicted moon rock thief Thad Roberts: "(We) came out with a 600-pound safe, (estimated by the government to be worth $7 million to $21 million) sawed it open in a hotel room and sorted all the moon rocks, which included a meteorite from Mars," Roberts said. "I definitely knew at this point that I had the best rock collection in the world." Within a week, rumors spread, inevitably revealing Roberts' and the women's guilt. This resulted in an eight-year sentence for him, and only house arrest for the two women because he took the "leadership position" in the crime."

Keith's note: So Thad - you aren't at all sorry that you stole and damaged these invaluable research specimens? The author of this article doesn't seem to be interested in this obvious aspect of the story - indeed she writes: "In such a short time, Roberts has lived an unimaginable life, but he is continuing to complete his goals and hopes to see success in his future."

NASA honors martyred Sally Zahran by putting name on spacecraft, Al-Masry Al-Youm

"This is the least we could provide to Egyptian youth and revolutionaries. This step represents transferring the dreams of Egyptian youth from a small stretch of earth to the enormous expanse of space," said Haji to Al-Mary Al-Youm."

NASA to name space ship after Egyptian martyr, Bikyamasr

"The United States' space agency, NASA, has okayed naming one of its spaceships after Sally Zahran, a young Egyptian woman killed during the first few days of anti-government demonstrations in Egypt. Essam Mohamed Haji, a researcher at NASA, told the Egyptian independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm he had received approval to put the young woman's name on a spaceship heading for Mars."

NASA rocket to bear name of Egyptian woman killed in protests, NDTV

"The paper quoted Essam Mohamed Haji, a young researcher at NASA, as saying Thursday that he had received approval to put the young woman Sally Zahran's name on a spaceship heading for Mars."

Keith's note: I am assuming that this is not true - but it does speak to what people think of NASA around the world - i.e. that being associated with it - and its missions - is something special.

Keith's note: I will be sitting through the NASA Advisory Council Meeting [agenda] at NASA HQ today and posting updates here and on Twitter at @NASAWatch

Town Hall Dinner Meeting with Dr. Charles Elachi

Keith's note: Text sent by someone@jpl: "NASA leaders will discuss the resurgence of techonology at NASA, collaborating with an international community, and the role of industry.

Speakers include:

Dr. Charles Elachi, Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Dr. Simon Worden, Director, Ames Research Center
Dr. Bobby Braun, Chief Technologist, NASA
Mr. Bob Dickman, Executive Director, AIAA

Respectfully, attendance is limited to senior management level positions."

Interesting. JPL hosts a "Town Hall Meeting" but apparently the town residents can't attend - only a few hand-picked civic leaders. Gee, how inclusive.

Keith's note: According to this NASA JSC Mission Management Flight Request, this flight was charted for passengers to "attend and participate in the Constellation SFA Recognition Event activities". It took off with 11 people who went from JSC to GRC, dropped off 4, and the remaining 7 people flew from GRC to LaRC, had breakfast and then flew back to JSC. Those making the ESMD breakfast run: Dale Thomas, Charlie Stegemoeller, Mark Kirasich, Brenda Ward, Barbara Zelon, Stephanie Castillo, and Sonia Vasquez.

National Security Space Strategy Unclassified Summary

"In executing the National Space Policy, our National Security Space Strategy seeks to maintain and enhance the national security benefits we derive from our activities and capabilities in space while addressing and shaping the strategic environment and strengthening the foundations of our enterprise. The U.S. defense and intelligence communities will continue to rely on space systems for military operations, intelligence collection, and related activities; access to these capabilities must be assured. We must address the growing challenges of the congested, contested, and competitive space environment while continuing our leadership in the space domain."

White House Blog: Charles Bolden's Story: "From the Segregated South to Low Earth Orbit"

"It's a long way from the segregated south to low Earth orbit. But I am fortunate to have made the journey and to have had many opportunities to serve my nation in a 34-year career with the U.S. Marine Corps and in many roles at NASA, currently as head of the nation's space program. When I was a young man, my service as NASA's first African American Administrator under the Nation's first Black president would have been nearly unthinkable. But through the efforts of many people of all races, our nation has changed. And, thanks to the Space Shuttle Program, and NASA's cross-disciplinary exploration missions, African Americans and many others have had access to space and also to science and technological careers. The shuttle was really instrumental in breaking the color barrier for African Americans in space, and it all happened without a single law being passed."

Keith's 6 Feb 11:00 am EST update: Have a look at the "complete" STEREO image of the sun. See that black stripe with no data - an the large blurry region? How can this image mesh with NASA's media advisory touting a "complete" image to be released today? NASA even admits it is not "complete" even though they say it is the "entire" sun:

"Latest image of the far side of the Sun based on high resolution STEREO data, taken on February 6, 2011 at 23:56 UT when there was still a small gap between the STEREO Ahead and Behind data. This gap will start to close on February 6, 2011, when the spacecraft achieve 180 degree separation, and will completely close over the next several days. Credit: NASA"

Why not wait until the image is complete in a week or so and then release it? Again, only Ed Weiler knows. Everyone else in his organization is scratching their head. According to the STEREO Facebook page "NASA will be holding a press conference concerning this event on February 9 at 2:00 PM US Eastern Standard Time." Ed won't be there though.

Earlier posts below

Former NASA Official Bound for W. Va. Prison, Space News

"Stadd, 55, of Bethesda, Md., was convicted in federal court last August and sentenced in November for conspiring with Liam Sarsfield, then NASA's deputy engineer of programs, to steer money to his consulting firm and submitting false invoices. Sarsfield was separately convicted on a conflict of interest charge and sentenced last September to three years probation."

Keith's note: Ellen Engelman Conners has been replaced as Director of External Relations at JSC. Connors got the civil service job back in 2008 through her political connections with the Bush Administration. Conners came to NASA willl no formal PAO experience and was previously employed at the FCC after declining to be reappointed to the NTSB. According to various news reports, her tenure at NTSB was somewhat contentious and uncomfortable - which is how people at NASA have described her tenure at JSC.

Earlier stories

Keith's note: Michael Kinkaid has been named Acting Director of JSC External Relations effective today.

@NASA_Spinoff's Terse Tweet

@NASA_Spinoff tweet: NASA water recycling system makes pee potable: http://bit.ly/fmJl1E

Keith's note: There were 73 characters left out of 140 available - so the author of this tweet could have chosen slightly more appropriate terms such as "waste", "urine", etc. Oh well. It certainly gets the mesaage across. Yes, its a slow news day thus far - until the Kepler announcement in a few hours. Of course, one of my favorite NASA PAO release titles - from 2003 is ''Fun With Urine' Pkg. TRT 1:49: "(Narration :09) UNOFFICIALLY CALLED 'MORE FUN WITH URINE,' THIS SHUTTLE EXPERIMENT COULD HELP FUTURE ASTRONAUTS FIGHT OFF DEPRESSION BY CREATING ART IN SPACE."


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