News: May 2011 Archives

Lunar Magma Has 800 Times More Water Than Previously Suggested

"A team of NASA-funded researchers has measured for the first time water from the moon in the form of tiny globules of molten rock, which have turned to glass-like material trapped within crystals. Data from these newly-discovered lunar melt inclusions indicate the water content of lunar magma is 100 times higher than previous studies suggested."

Lunar Water Brings Portions of Moon's Origin Story Into Question, Carnegie Institution

"Compared with meteorites, Earth and the other inner planets of our solar system contain relatively low amounts of water and volatile elements, which were not abundant in the inner solar system during planet formation. The even lower quantities of these volatile elements found on the Moon has long been claimed as evidence that it must have formed following a high-temperature, catastrophic giant impact. But this new research shows that aspects of this theory must be reevaluated."

NASA OIG Semiannual Report October 1, 2010 - March 31, 2011

"In January 2011, the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) took the unusual step of sending a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of NASA's congressional oversight and appropriations committees highlighting a situation created by "holdover" language in NASA's fiscal year (FY) 2010 appropriation. The language prohibited NASA from terminating contracts related to the Agency's canceled Constellation Program or starting programs to implement the follow-on human space exploration program called for in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. The OIG urged Congress to take immediate action to enable NASA to more efficiently redirect its funds to the priorities outlined in the Authorization Act. While not a traditional audit or investigative report, the letter seeks to fulfill the Inspector General Act's directive that OIGs should make recommendations to Congress concerning the impact of legislation on the "economy and efficiency" of their agencies."

NASA To Launch New Science Mission To Asteroid In 2016

"NASA will launch a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016 and use a robotic arm to pluck samples that could better explain our solar system's formation and how life began. The mission, called Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth."

Press Conference

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 25, to discuss the selection of a future science mission that will usher in a new era in planetary exploration. Jim Green, director for NASA's Planetary Science Division Mission in Washington, and other officials will take reporters' questions during the teleconference. For live streaming audio of the teleconference, visit: A news release about the new mission will be available at 4 p.m. at:"

NASA Multi-Purpose Crew VehicleNASA Announces Key Decision For Next Deep Space Transportation System, NASA

"NASA has reached an important milestone for the next U.S. transportation system that will carry humans into deep space. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced today that the system will be based on designs originally planned for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. Those plans now will be used to develop a new spacecraft known as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV)."

"This selection does not indicate a business as usual mentality for NASA programs," said Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for the agency's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington. "The Orion government and industry team has shown exceptional creativity in finding ways to keep costs down through management techniques, technical solutions and innovation."

Marc's note: Considering the hype if you will of the pre-release title "NASA Announces Milestone For Future Human Spaceflight" you might think the announcement would have more substance to it. We already new Orion was morphing into the MPCV. But here's something interesting about the press release, the new MPCV will be able to do 21 day missions. I'm not sure how that equates to "Deep Space" though.

NASA will hold a telecon at 3:30 to brief the media. Sorry, the news didn't seem to warrant broadcasting on NASA TV.

Marc's update: For those longer missions NASA's Doug Cooke said on the telecon they would assume another attached spacecraft. I'm glad he assumed that because in reading the press release there's no mention of this. The release was poorly crafted.

Keith's note: So .. this spacecraft does everything Orion was going to do - why not call it "Orion"? MPCV = "Its not "Orion" I just love it when these acronyms serve obscure things. "MPLM" currently means "MultiPurpose Logistics Module". it used to mean "Mini-Pressurized Logistics Module" when we cut the original PLM in half during Space Station Freedom. But NASA would rather you not know that and think that this was the plan all along - hence the obscuring acronym. Indeed, the change from "Space Station Freedom" - to "International Space Station" is an object lesson. Space Station Freedom was, by definition an "international" Space Station from its very inception. Yet changing the name was done by NASA 9th floor types to somehow cite the addition of the Russians as making the space station more "international".

Hmm .. no easily discernible vowels in "MPCV". Maybe its pronounced "MipSiv" or "MeepSeev" or "Em Pee Cee Vee". Remember how NASA removed the "E" from "LEM (Lunar Excursion Module)" and called it the "LM" instead because they did not like the way people were saying "LEM"?. Everyone still said "LEM" - including Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11 ...

Oh well, "NASA" = Never A Straight Answer" and all that ...

Marc's update: Here's what Cook had to say when asked about costs: "The cost on it is going to depend on how long it takes to phase out these things to some degree, we have invested a little over $5 billion in it and so we would continue to work on it from here, the cost will be coming down from what it might have been because we are looking for efficiencies, we've actually begin to implement a number of efficiencies on this, we still have to do the integrated cost and schedule to understand the phasing of it and that will effect how much it ultimately costs."

Ultimately it's going to cost a lot of money and right now NASA can't answer this fundamental question. But the contract for Lockheed Martin goes forward.

Keith's note: Wallops had a bunch of student rocket launches this weekend. Yet can you find any photos of this on their website? No. They just have a press release from 12 May online. They still have not figured out how to create a simple launch schedule for their website. Yet they decided to play with posting a QR code on their Facebook page (which leads to their home page). But I am baffled as to why they are spending time on this. This is a technology designed mostly for use on printed materials to allow easy smartphone access without typing on a small screen. Why use it on a webpage? In order to make use of whatever this QR code says I have to get out my iPhone, take a pic, convert it, see where the iPhone's browser goes so that I can then retype it on my desktop computer and go there. Why not focus on the important things like putting a launch schedule online such that taxpayers can see what they are doing. This way there would be something of value regardless of how you found the website. And when something happens at Wallops, post some photos. Is there any adult supervision for PAO at Wallops?

NASA Wallops PAO Has Its Head In The Beach Sand (Again)

More Wallops PAO goofups

President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Meeting

Live webcast

Share your ideas with PCAST here

19 May 2011 Agenda

"9:15 am National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Research Activities Speaker: Charles Bolden, Administrator, NASA"

Keith's note: Bolden opened by talking about STS-134 and said "despite what the press chose to focus on ..." yet NASA openly hosted and broadcasted a press conference on NASA TV with Rep. Giffords' staff wherein the media were encouraged to dive into every conceivable manner of personal health conditions. I guess he does not watch NASA TV. Bolden also refered to NPOESS as "one of my nightmares" and that it is "also one of John Holdren's nightmares" and "we won't talk about that unless you really want to".

NASA's Wallops Island is nothing but a tourist trap, Letters to the editor, The Daily Times

"Let's see. Discovery's last flight was delayed between six and seven months -- and spawned a half-dozen failed attempts. Endeavor's final flight was launched on the third attempt, culminating a three-week delay. Wallops seems to think it can exploit the same predisposition from the general public to spend money to not watch a launch. Wallops has done this before. After about the third schedule slip, the locals and the aspiring vacationers figure out that getting up at 3 a.m. to feed the mosquitoes just isn't worth it. - Charles Lewis Atlantic"

Reader note: "I also noticed your post on the WFF Facebook page reference the lack of a schedule for WFF launches or range activity. There still is no posted schedule. The locals and even WFF employees have no idea when a launch is scheduled. The WFF "official" info line was last updated on May 2 by Keith Koehler with "the next scheduled launch from Wallops visible to the public is a Terrier-Orion". The launch windown opens on June 9. There is absolutely no mention of the upcoming OARS launch on a Minatour. Complaints to Keith K and Mark Hess about the posting of a schedule have to date gone unanswered."

Endeavour Launched

Endeavour on pad before launchSpace Shuttle Endeavour Launches on Her Last Mission, SpaceRef

"For the nearly 500,000 people watching the launch live in and around the Kennedy Space Centre the Space Shuttle Endeavour blasted off with on a plume of bright orange flame and quickly disappeared into the low clouds. With everyone holding their breath as low clouds surrounded the launch pad the countdown progressed with nary a glitch. When the countdown reached t-minus 31 seconds, at the point when the shuttle computer went internal, the gathered crowd at the countdown clock cheered."

Updates will be posted here and more frequently on the following Twitter accounts: NASA Watch, SpaceRef and Marc Boucher.

NASA GSFC Internal Memo: Destruction of Building 2 and National Historic Preservation Act

"As part of our deconstruction process for Building 2, GSFC must consult with stakeholders, as noted under the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's regulations, 36 CFR Part 800, implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. A recent evaluation of Building 2 recognizes that the building may be eligible to be listed in the National Register. Regulations require identifying and assessing the effects of any proposed actions on historic properties."

discovery_missions_2012_200x140.jpgJim Adams, Deputy Director for NASA's Planetary Science Division Presentation (PDF), NASA

Marc's note: The following presentation made by Jim Adams to the Planetary Protection Committee on May 10th includes the latest information on the three Discovery Mission candidates along with Decadal budget planning information .

NASA Invites Reporters To Second Annual Lunabotics Competition, NASA

"The student teams have designed and built remote controlled or autonomous robots that can excavate simulated lunar dirt. During the competition, the teams' designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine which one can collect and deposit the most simulated lunar dirt within 15 minutes."

Marc's Note: Although the root cause has not been found, NASA managers have given the green light to proceed with a launch attempt next Monday at 8:56 a.m. EDT.

NASA Sets May 16 For Final Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch, NASA

"A short in the heater circuit associated with Endeavour's hydraulic system resulted in the launch postponement. Technicians determined the most likely failure was inside a switchbox in the shuttle's aft compartment and associated electrical wiring connecting the switchbox to the heaters. The heater circuits prevent freezing of the fuel lines providing hydraulic power to steer the vehicle during ascent and entry.

The faulty box was replaced May 4. Since Friday, Kennedy technicians installed and tested new wiring that bypasses the suspect electrical wiring and confirmed the heater system is working properly. They also are completing retests of other systems powered by the switchbox and are closing out Endeavour's aft compartment."

How Lunar Orbiter Images Were Recorded 45 Years Ago

April 1967: "Fifty Years of Data in One Week: Recently, Oran W. Nicks, NASA's Director of Lunar and Planetary Programs, remarked: "one astronomer has said that more information has been obtained in the first seven days of the Lunar Orbiter I project than in the last 50 years of study of the Moon." Truly, the matchless cooperation and inspired creativity exhibited in the design and construction of Lunar Orbiter spacecraft and, supporting equipment by NASA, the scientific community, and American industry has helped us to take those longer-strides that President Kennedy called for in 1961 when he first spoke of the Apollo landing of a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth."

Yuri's Night Announces Winners Of 2011 Space Contest Series

"Over the last two months, Yuri's Night has received hundreds of outstanding and inspiring space-themed videos, photos, and advertisements from around the world, and even more entries for our Global Sweepstakes. Without further ado, here are the winners and runners-up for each of our contests: ..."

Keith's note: Of course, NASA JSC PAO continues to totally ignore this activity - even though local residents driving by the center can hear loud noises and see lots of smoke. Why won't Mike Coats let people see these rocket tests through official channels - just like he promotes astronaut visits to City Hall and e-waste recycling events? Or are such mundane things more worthy of JSC PAO attention than actual hardware development and testing?

Project Morpheus (not linked from the JSC home page)

Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134Endeavour's Launch Will Occur No Earlier Than May 10, NASA

"NASA space shuttle and International Space Station managers met Monday and determined that Tuesday, May 10 is the earliest Endeavour could be launched on the STS-134 mission. That date is success oriented based on preliminary schedules to replace a faulty Load Control Assembly (LCA) box in the orbiter's aft compartment."

STS-134NASA to Remove and Replace Faulty Switchbox, SpaceRef

"NASA managers have narrowed down the problem to the Aft Load Control Assembly #2 (LCA 2) and in particular they believe the problem is with failed Hybrid Load Drivers within the LCA. The LCA is located in Endeavour's aft avionics bay 5. They will pull out the LCA tomorrow and install a spare on Tuesday. It will take 2 days of testing before they can consider proceeding with a new countdown for a no earlier launch day of Sunday, May 8th, Mother's Day."


Marc's Update: NASA will not launch Monday and will in fact need to remove the Load Control Assembly (LCA) box to continue to troubleshoot the problem.

NASA will also not announce until tomorrow when the next earliest launch attempt will be. However by removing the LCA, engineers will need time to test everything after it's put back. This most likely means at least a weeks delay in the launch. With an Atlas 5 scheduled for launch on May 6th the next earliest launch window would be May 8th. However NASA officials have said that they prefer the May 9th or 10th window. If a launch was to happen on May 9th it would be at 11:46:43 am EDT.

Update 9:55 am EDT: NASA will brief the media at 3:00 or 4:00 pm EDT this afternoon.

Update 10:15 am EDT: Endeavour's crew has already left the Kennedy Space Center for Houston where they will wait out the delay and continue preparations for the next launch attempt.

Update 10:45 am EDT: Media briefing now set for 2:00 pm EDT.

Update 11:25 am EDT: NASA is expected to announce at the media briefing that it will remove and replace the affected Load Control Assembly box with a spare. After replacing the box engineers will need two days to perform necessary tests.

Location of affected APU 1 in Endeavour




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

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