News: April 2011 Archives

NASA To Work Issue Over the Weekend and Targets Monday for Launch of Endeavour

NASA To Work Issue Over the Weekend and Targets Monday for Launch of Endeavour, SpaceRef

"It will be 24 hours from the scrub time before technicians can access Endeavour's aft cabin Load Control Assembly (LCA). The LCA, a switchbox, is now where engineers think the problem is. By dinner time Saturday managers feel they will be able to start troubleshooting the problem after they've gained access to the LCA. Managers will meet Saturday night and Sunday morning to discuss progress on the issue. If they are to launch on Monday NASA will have to make that call no later than early Sunday afternoon so that by around 3 pm EDT they can begin preparations for launch."

Space Shuttle Endeavour Poised to Launch TodaySpace Shuttle Endeavour on Track for a 3:47 Launch

This morning at 6:22 p.m. EDT the loading of the space shuttle's external tank with 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen began and the topping off of the tank's propellants will continue until launch time. All systems onboard Endeavour are functioning normally. There is a 70 percent chance of favorable weather for launch. The primary weather concern is for low cloud ceilings and crosswinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility.

8:53 am EDT Update: There is an issue which the KSC team is working with the pressure in the fuel tank in the right OMS pod, but they believe it can be corrected. They are trying a crossfeed between the OMS tanks.

9:40 am EDT Update: KSC is reporting that the OMS pressure issue has been resolved. Both left & right tanks are balanced & below pressure limits.

10:25 am EDT Update: The President is scheduled to arrive at KSC at 2:00 pm today.

12:30 pm EDT Update: We have a 48 hour scrub due to the failure of both heaters for Auxiliary Power Unit 1. A press briefing will be held later this afternoon to discuss the issue.

1:00 pm EDT Update: We NOW have a 72 hour scrub. NASA believes it has a problem in one of the load control assembly boxes, most like a short in that box or in the electrical lines to that box but won't know for sure until they can access the area and do detailed troubleshooting. They have to get into the aft of the orbiter and they'll first put in a platform set but the location is such that it will take some time to get to the load control assembly.

White House Threatens Science Blog Over Use of Logo, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"When Keith Cowing made an innocuous post about a meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on his long-running science policy blog, Space Ref, he didn't imagine that it would trigger a phone call from the White House. But that is exactly what happened, and the White House was not calling to congratulate him on his excellent science policy coverage. Cowing's offense? Including an image of the seal of the Executive Office of the President of the United States in his blog post. According to Cowing, White House staffer Rick Weiss objected to the seal's placement in proximity to an ad, which White House lawyers worried might be construed as an endorsement of the product."

White House bullies science blog over use of logo, TG Daily

"Cowing's use of a government logo isn't deceptive either. The seal is clearly used in relation with the news article and the ad is no closer on his blog than ads are on news websites and in most newspapers and magazines. In actuality, the seal of the Executive Office of the President of the United States is widely used all over the internet. Sometimes it's even used in close proximity to advertising. The threatening calls from the White House seem more like attempts to curb free speech than anything else. It's quite pathetic actually. It raises the question; doesn't the White House have better things to do than bully bloggers who are involved in free speech? Sadly we live in a world where the White House needs more training on how the First Amendment works."

White House Threatens Blog For Accurately Using White House Logo, Techdirt

"The latest involves the White House, who apparently got upset that blogger Keith Cowing (of -- a blog about science/space policy) included the White House logo in his post about a meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In response, the White House actually called Cowing and demanded he take down the logo."

ksc_fire_th.jpgBrush Fire at KSC Near Media Center, SpaceRef

A small brush fire started shortly before 1:00 pm near the Kennedy Space Center media center. At present KSC fire personnel have responded to the fire and a NASA PAO representative has said they expect to have it under control soon. As you can see by these pictures fire personnel have been stationed near the media center. Inside the media center a Lego demo was ongoing and activity is normal.

Keith's note: According to Marc Boucher this brush fire is clearly spreading and flames are visible from locations near the press site. Here's a new photo taken moments ago from the press site.
SpaceflightNow is streaming live video of the fire.

NASA's NanoSail-D Satellite Continues to Slowly De-Orbit Earth's Upper Atmosphere

"NASA's nanosatellite NanoSail-D is slowly descending after successfully orbiting the Earth's upper atmosphere for 95 days since deploying its 100-square-foot sail on Jan. 20. The small satellite demonstration experiment continues its descent towards Earth, lending key sail data to the design of de-orbit mechanisms for future satellites."

Keith's note: I love the title of this MSFC press release: just how does a satellite "de-orbit Earth's upper atmosphere"? There certainly is a lot of it to "de-orbit". And where does the upper atmosphere go when once NanoSail-D has de-orbited it - the lower atmosphere?. Also, this sentence is a little odd: "NASA's nanosatellite NanoSail-D is slowly descending after successfully orbiting the Earth's upper atmosphere for 95 days since deploying its 100-square-foot sail on Jan. 20." Yea sure - but don't all satellites "orbit the Earth's upper atmosphere"? Actually, they orbit within the Earth's rarefied upper atmosphere - which is why NanoSail-D is deorbiting (drag). So ... maybe the word "within" would have been useful. Oh yes, what does "the large tent size sail" mean in terms of size - i.e. what is "large"? Is this the size of a 4 person tent? A circus tent?

Florida Braces for Huge Crowds for Next Week's Space Shuttle Launch,

"The Florida space coast is expecting near-record crowds to flock to Cape Canaveral to watch the space shuttle Endeavour launch on its last voyage April 29. Crowds have been getting thicker and thicker for shuttle launches as NASA winds down its 30-year-old space shuttle program. After Endeavour's mission, there is only one more shuttle flight planned before the three orbiters are retired. The area around NASA's seaside Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, where the shuttles are launched, saw between 400,000 and 500,000 visitors for the last liftoff of the shuttle Discovery in February, according to Robert Varley, executive director of Florida's Space Coast Office of Tourism."

Obama to attend April 29 space shuttle launch

"President Barack Obama plans to attend the April 29 launch of the space shuttle Endeavour at Cape Canaveral, Florida, a White House official said on Wednesday."

Royal wedding to upstage NASA shuttle's final launch

"The NASA space agency was unaware that the shuttle Endeavour's final mission to the International Space Station was in conflict with the royal wedding, a NASA chief said Tuesday. "The frank answer is no," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for space operations, when asked by a reporter if the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton were a factor in the shuttle scheduling. "I didn't realize when the wedding was when we moved the launch date," said Gerstenmaier. The shuttle was initially set to launch on April 19 and was later postponed to April 29. "We kind of set that date independently."

I-Team: NASA losing large amounts of high-tech equipment, WFTS

"Former NASA employee Keith Cowing says NASA is losing more of its technology because the space shuttle program is ending and the agency is facing cutbacks. Cowing defends the agency, saying they shouldn't worry too much about lost equipment, which he believes likely consists of mostly outdated items."

Keith's note: I did not say that at all. Rather I said that as the program shuts down and lays off people, offices are moved and closed, equipment is piled up and things get lost. The sudden increase in misplaced things most certainly coincides with people being laid off at KSC. I did not say that NASA is "losing its technology". None of my frequent criticism of NASA's inventory processes was included either.

They are mashing my words together utterly out of context. I won't be doing an more video for Michael George or the I-Team. What a shoddy piece of gotcha editing. They only provided me with a very small list to review. They did NOT give me the 2 inch thick pile of lost items that - including the $100,000 editor gizmo - that the other person was allowed to review. They only gave me a little Excel file - here it is. Most of the items listed for me (again I did not have the other much longer list) had been traced to specific individuals or their loss/surplusing explained. At one point I asked whether it is in the best interest of taxpayers to pay someone's time to go out and find a TV from 1992 that is probably broken by now. But they don't tell you that, do they? You are left with the assumption that I had the benefit of the same data to review. I did not. Moreover, they did not include 99.999% of what I said on tape - only the last portion of a comment taken totally out of context.

Shoddy, crappy "reporting" (yea, I know the NASA Watch guy is complaining). That said, I urge people not to allow themselves to be interviewed by these folks - they will just edit your words into something you did not mean to say. They wanted a story that made NASA employees look inept and/or a bunch of petty crooks and that is what they aired. It is my fault for getting sucked into this.

These are the questions they asked me:

Greening NASA

NASA Releases Scorecard on Energy and Sustainability Goals

"NASA has released its fiscal year 2010 scorecard on sustainability and energy performance. The agency exceeded the 5 percent target on renewable energy use for federal agencies last year. The scorecard measures federal agency progress in a number of areas related to energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and waste reduction. This is the first year federal agencies have published their scorecards."

Government using score cards to track federal agencies' greening efforts, Washington Post

"Using a scoring system modeled on a traffic light, the Obama administration on Tuesday unveiled a new way to track how the government's largest agencies and departments are scaling back their use of electricity, water and fuel."

Keith's 19 April update: According to a NASA Watch reader at JSC"They are broadcasting the Morpheus hot fire events live internally at JSC in HD - so I would assume they could broadcast them externally if they wanted to." So in other words all JSC PAO has to do is throw a switch and the rest of us can see this. But they won't. What are they afraid of? ABove is a screen grab taken by someone at JSC moments ago (click to enlarge). Yet anyone living in one of those houses across the field could webcast this, I suppose.

Keith's 20 April update: YouTube videos are now online for the 14 April firing and the 19 April firing. NASA JSC PAO had nothing to do with this. Project Morpheus staff did this. Indeed, JSC PAO has yet to make any statement or issue any material showing the results of these tests. Curiously, the same camera that recorded these videos could have easily been used to webcast the test live. The people who live across the field from the test site could see everything from their living room windows. Why can't the rest of us? All JSC PAO has to do is to want to make this happen. I am not sure if this inaction on JSC PAO's part is due to laziness or incompetence.

Yuri's Night On Orbit

Photo: Space Station Crew Celebrates Yuri's Night On Orbit

"On Orbit Expedition 27 crew members pose for a photo near the galley in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station in honor of the 50th anniversary of the spaceflight of Yuri Gagarin, the first human launched in space on April 12, 1961. A portrait of Gagarin is at center. Pictured are Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev (bottom center), commander; NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev (center) and Andrey Borisenko (top left), NASA astronaut Ron Garan and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli (right), all flight engineers."

Keith's 14 Apr note: Successful firing (Image). More at their Facebook page. Nothing whatsoever has been issued by JSC PAO about this event. This is sheer incompetence on the part of JSC PAO.

Keith's 16 Apr note: The project's official website is now online.

NASA JSC Project Morpheus Update

Internal NASA memo: "Out in the open field at the new Morpheus launch pad. West of JSC Building 14. If all goes well and there is no Govt. shutdown, the series of test firings may begin sometime Monday. The rocket engine burns methane and oxygen and is pressurized with helium. Note the ground restraint straps to keep it from "wandering." This constraint is necessary since there is no active flight control system installed yet. There is ES Div. engineering support to this program, but very little publicity."

Keith's 11 Apr note: I asked JSC PAO why they are ignoring Morpheus. I got this response: "Morpheus is at an early phase of testing, there will be more info as the project continues to develop. The release was the initial step in making people in the local area aware of the upcoming tests that the project will be conducting this week and next. NASA social media sites are in the process of being linked to NASA web pages which will continue to provide updates." In other words, they are not interested.

According to posts made today to the Project's Facebook page "Hot fire delayed until tomorrow due to weather." This image has the caption "Running through final checks and tweaks with the extra time. Hot fire, here I come!". This image is captioned "My team is covering the straps with insulation in preparation for Monday's hot fire." Follow their Twitter for updates on the hot fire test since JSC PAO won't be paying attention.

Keith's 12 Apr note: This image shows a view looking down at Morpheus. This image shows prepaprations for today's test. Meanwhile JSC PAO continues to officialy ignore this activity. FAIL.

Keith's 12 Apr 6:00 pm EDT note: Twitter update: "Hot fire portion of test scrubbed for today. Continue with an igniter test and then wrap up for the day. Watch here for info on future tests"

Keith's 13 Apr 11:00 pm EDT note: According to a Twitter update: "Unless something comes up in the post test overviews, my next hot fire test will be on Thursday." ... "Problem appears to have been faulty regulator on the helium trailer used to bring tanks up to pressure. This is why we test, and test a lot"

Why Does JSC Hide Their Cool Stuff?, earlier post

President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Meeting 19 May 2011

"This notice sets forth the schedule and summary agenda for a partially closed meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and describes the functions of the Council. "

Keith's 12 Apr note: I just got a call from from someone rather senior Rick Weiss at OSTP at the White House. He Weiss called to officially complain about the use of the OSTP logo with this meeting notice and told me that their lawyers told him that they wanted it removed (or something scary would happen to me I guess). I have been doing this for more than a decade as do many news outlets. Use of the logo to illustrate a story on an agency does not imply any sort of affiliation or endorsement and is covered by fair use provisions.

(Sigh) I have to hope that these White House guys have more important things to do than to have their senior staff call little websites to complain about logos used in connection with OSTP stories and information. The caller Weiss did not sound too thrilled to have to make the call (I guess their lawyers are afraid to do so).

Here are more websites that are not authorized to use this logo for the White House Logo Police to call. Rest assured, I'll be tracking the White House logo cop enforcement progress: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

F.B.I., Challenging Use of Seal, Gets Back a Primer on the Law, NY Times

"Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the dust-up both "silly" and "troubling"; Wikipedia has a First Amendment right to display the seal, she said. "Really," she added, "I have to believe the F.B.I. has better things to do than this."

Keith's 13 Apr note: Wikipedia openly uses the OSTP logo here, here, here and here. Why hasn't Weiss called them with a take-down notice?

None of the websites I have listed has removed the OSTP logo. I informed Weiss of this list. Selective enforcement = no enforcement, Rick.

Resolution Taken up on Initiative of Russian Federation, 'Cold War Space Race Is Over; We All Won,' Says United States Representative

"An annual International Day of Human Space Flight was declared by the General Assembly this afternoon, to be celebrated on 12 April, the date of the first manned space flight in 1961. By to a new resolution adopted unanimously by the world body (document A/65/L.67), the first International Day in 2011 would mark the fiftieth anniversary of the flight of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and reaffirm "the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples".

12 April: International Day of Human Space Flight, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

"Yuri Gagarin's flight is an inspiration that engenders a quest for excellence; an inspiration that fans the flames of passion to pursue a dream, especially among the young. There is no higher value you can place on his achievement," stressed Mazlan Othman, Director of UNOOSA on the occasion."

Keith's note: My friends got a little carried away with this whole April Fool's day thing. Then again, NASA Watch first went on line on April 1, 1996, so I guess I should have expected this to all go full circle some day. From what I understand there are people willing to pay big bucks to have the honor of pushing me out of an airplane somewhere over Texas -- whenever I manage to take off from that landing strip in Friendswood and jump, that is. Now I guess I have no choice but to jump since my cheap cardboard Avatar has already taken the plunge - otherwise Gwen Griffin gets to collect that cash prize by pushing my avatar out of the plane.

From what I can tell from this video, my Avatar landed in Leroy Chiao's back yard (sorry). I suppose I will have to actually re-enact this flight for real - while wearing a Keith mask - and that they will get Miles O'Brien to fly the plane (and dip it sideways so that I fall out).

Oh well, this is not the first time my Avatar has done strange things: my old NASA badge went to the summit of Mt. Everest with a picture of Gorbie the space dog (photo - that's "Doogie" Parazynski holding our pictures). Gorbie's parents live next to the hangar my Avatar drove into in the video. Maybe Gorbie will jump with me. At least dogs like me.

I am supposed to take NASTAR suborbital training in a few weeks and I am now scared of what I will find waiting for me inside the centrifuge. Durda, Stern, Conrad, and Throop are relentless. No doubt Parazynski will find some yak by-products to adorn my flight suit. I have certainly asked for it.

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