News: August 2011 Archives

Space Quarterly MagazineSpace Quarterly Magazine Volume 1, Number 1 Content, SpaceRef

The first issue of Space Quarterly is scheduled to be released on September 1. Here is what will be in the first ever issue:

U.S. Edition

  • - Editorial
  • - An Interview with Jeff Greason CEO of XCOR Aerospace
  • - The Philosophy of Lunar Commercialization and Economic Development
  • - SpaceX - Vision vs the Market
  • - CCDev2 Update - Program Status
  • - CCDev2 Update - Boeing CST-100 Crew Capsule Progressing Swiftly
  • - CCDev2 Update - CCDev2 Provides Rare Insight into Blue Origin Development
  • - CCDev2 Update - SpaceX Dragon Rider
  • - CCDev2 Update - Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser - What's Old is New Again

NASA Might Be Open to Boosting Whistleblower Protections, Wired

"Under attack for leaving whistleblowers out to dry, NASA has tentatively signaled that it's open to changing its policies. "We believe that strongly enforcing existing protections is not something to be embarrassed about," said NASA spokesperson Bob Jacobs. "That said, if NASA's science community wants to consider the pros and cons of advancing additional protections, we would not discourage such a process." Though Jacobs' words are restrained, they represent a change in NASA's position towards criticisms raised after their new science integrity plan was publicized by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a government watchdog group."

NASA Refuses To Adopt Scientific Intergity Policy -- Defiance May Signal White House Signature Initiative Is Foundering, Pubic Employees for Environmental Responsibility

"NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has decided that it does not need new scientific integrity rules despite a White House directive to all agencies. How the White House handles this NASA stance may foretell whether its vaunted scientific integrity effort will collapse as other agencies declare their current policies to be sufficient, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)."

Ensuring Scientific Integrity at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

"The present document responds to the May 5, 2011, request. As NASA demonstrated in its April 2011 report to OSTP, NASA already has a variety of policies in place to ensure scientific and engineering integrity. The intent of the present document is thus to highlight how NASA's existing policies support scientific and engineering integrity as well as to note the actions NASA plans to take to strengthen its policies in this area. References and website links to existing policy documents are furnished where applicable; NASA directs the reader to these references for a full description of the Agency's commitment to scientific and engineering integrity. The present document is organized to respond to the four major areas and 17 sub-areas addressing scientific and engineering integrity that are explicitly addressed in Dr. Holdren's December 17, 2010, memorandum."

NASA Federal Advisory Committees- Nominations and Self- Nominations

"In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, as amended, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and in accordance with the Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies signed on December 17, 2010, signed by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Executive Office of the President, NASA announces an invitation for the public to nominate individuals and also submit self-nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA's Federal advisory committees. NASA's Federal advisory committees have member vacancies from time to time throughout the year, and NASA will consider nominations and self-nominations to fill such intermittent vacancies. NASA is committed to selecting members to serve on its Federal advisory committees based on their expertise, knowledge, and contribution to the relevant subject area."

"Test Out the Latest Gizmos at the NASA JPL Petting Zoo: Exhibition Hall Highlights: Bureau of Land Management and NASA Innovation Nation: August 23 - D.C. Convention Center Register now: Complimentary to government, industry rates apply. Take a break at the Innovation Nation Forum to stop by the exhibit hall and check out the Bureau of Land Management and NASA JPL booths. NASA will have its technology petting zoo on display for attendees to test out emerging information technologies. For a complete list of our sponsors and exhibitors, please visit"

Keith's note: But taxpayers have to pay $150 to pet NASA's stuff - stuff they already paid for. Yet government employeees get in for free. Taxpayers pay for them too (salaries). I think NASA and the organizers of this event have this whole thing arranged backward.

Participate in a Zero-Gravity Robotics Competition--in Space!, OSTP

"What could possibly make an already super cool robotics competition even better? The zero-gravity environment of space! NASA and DARPA, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, TopCoder, and Aurora Flight Sciences, recently announced the Zero Robotics competition, an event open to all high schools in the United States that form a team and complete the application process. The Zero Robotics competition is a student software competition that takes the idea of a robotics competition to new heights--literally. The robots are basketball-sized satellites called SPHERES, and they look like something straight out of Star Wars. The competition is kicked off by a challenging problem conjured up by DARPA and NASA. After multiple rounds of simulation and ground competition, a final tournament will be held onboard the International Space Station! The 27 finalists will have their robotic programs run by an astronaut in the microgravity environment of space."

TEDxNASA to be Webcast

TEDxNASA@Siliconvalley On Aug. 17 Will Be Streamed Online, NASA

"NASA's four research centers -- Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif; Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; Langley Research Center and the National Institute of Aerospace, both in Hampton Va. -- are co-hosting the event. It is modeled after the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences that bring together visionaries in technology, entertainment and design to create a dialogue about important global challenges."

NASA Creates Human Exploration And Operations Directorate, NASA

"NASA has announced the creation of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. The new organization, which combines the Space Operations and Exploration Systems mission directorates, will focus on International Space Station operations and human exploration beyond low Earth orbit."

Marc's Note: Hey, just when I was starting to like these acronyms, they're gone. Now with HEO we can get on with the next human mission beyond LEO to? An asteroid, the moon, maybe Phobos, how about Mars?

'The Avengers' Filmed in Highly-Secured NASA Facility, AceShowbiz

"At a press conference on Thursday, August 11, Marvel officials explained that Plum Brook Station played an important role in bringing the film to Ohio. The officials said that NASA welcomed the business and wished that more Hollywood movies will be filmed at the site."

Hatch & Reid (and others) Forcing NASA's Hand, Tea in Space

"We reported that Orrin Hatch was circulating a letter in the senate during our nation's darkest fiscal hour... now we know who he got to sign it. The signatures are:

Harry Reid (NV)
Orrin Hatch(UT)
Mike Crapo (ID)
James E. Risch (ID)
Dean Heller (NV)

Marc's Note: Tea in Space has obtained a letter signed by five senators (PDF) which basically says you have what you need with the SRB's, Ares
derived components, SSME etc., so use it.

Marc's update: For those who've had problems downloading the letter from the Tea in Space site I've updated the link so you can download it from NASA Watch.

Marc's update: My mistake, Keith had already posted the letter on August 2nd.

Dawn Spacecraft Starts Taking Detailed Observations of VestaNASA's Asteroid Photographer Beams Back Science Data, NASA

"The Dawn spacecraft has completed a graceful spiral into the first of four planned science orbits during the spacecraft's yearlong visit to Vesta. The spacecraft started taking detailed observations on Aug. 11 at 9:13 a.m. PDT (12:13 a.m. EDT), which marks the official start of the first science-collecting orbit phase at Vesta, also known as the survey orbit."

NASA OPF-3Deal that may bring 600 jobs to KSC could get OK soon, Florida Today

"Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana said he is optimistic a deal will close soon to transfer control of a former shuttle hangar to Space Florida.

He said that will clear up red tape, and enable what he described as "a commercial company" to move into the building known as Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 3, where it hopes to employ 500 to 600 people."

Marc's Note: The commercial company is Boeing.

DARPA HTV-2 Air ForceU.S. hypersonic glider launched, contact lost, USA Today (AP)

"An unmanned hypersonic glider developed for U.S. defense research into super-fast global strike capability was launched atop a rocket early Thursday but contact was lost after the experimental craft began flying on its own, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said."

NASA Future Forum, NASA TV

"NASA's first Future Forum of 2011 will bring together agency officials and local business, science and education leaders to discuss the agency's role in advancing innovation, technology, science, engineering, and education and NASA's benefit to the nation's economy. Rep. Donna F. Edwards will deliver opening remarks at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Aug. 11, at the University of Maryland's Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center in College Park."

Marc's Note: Bolden will speak no earlier than 8:10 a.m. EDT.

Marc's Update: Bolden took a break from his prepared remarks at the beginning of his speech to talk about the American capability for cargo resupply and that is what months, not years from bridging that gap.

"That is a message that I have failed to get out, that is a message that we at NASA, that is the message that the American admin, that our, that the administration has failed to get out." ... "We're months away, not years, from an American capability to deliver cargo to the International Space Station."

He was referring to the SpaceX demo flight scheduled for November 30 this year. He also brought up Orbital saying both companies would be bringing cargo to the ISS in 2012 and that after the SpaceX final demo in November SpaceX could be bringing their first cargo to station in February of 2012.

NASA Mars Rover Arrives At New Site On Martian Surface, NASA

"After a journey of almost three years, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached the Red Planet's Endeavour crater to study rocks never seen before. On Aug. 9, the golf cart-sized rover relayed its arrival at a location named Spirit Point on the crater's rim. Opportunity drove approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) after climbing out of the Victoria crater."

Marc's Note: Opportunity just keeps going and going and ... I wonder what discoveries she'll find at Endeavour crater.

NASA Selects Seven Firms To Provide Near-Space Flight Services, NASA

"NASA has selected seven companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space.

As part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, each successful vendor will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. These two-year contracts, worth a combined total of $10 million, will allow NASA to draw from a pool of commercial space companies to deliver payload integration and flight services. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency's research and technology needs."

A Station with a View: The Importance of Earth View to Crew Mental Health, NASA Blog

"One aspect of long-duration spaceflight you may not have considered is the experience of isolation that can impact the psychological well being of crewmembers. Those lucky enough to experience interplanetary travel will be cut off from their families, homes, and even their planet. As the explorers travel, even the comfortingly familiar green and blue globe of Earth will resemble a feint blue dot."

NASA Research Shows DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space, NASA (With video)

"Scientists have detected the building blocks of DNA in meteorites since the 1960s, but were unsure whether they were created in space or resulted from contamination by terrestrial life. The latest research indicates certain nucleobases -- the building blocks of our genetic material -- reach the Earth on meteorites in greater diversity and quantity than previously thought."

Cassini appCassini iPhone App Available, JPL/Caltech

"The Cassini app was designed to give an overview of the spacecraft's current activities, starting with the latest dramatic images. These images range from sublime insights into another 'set of worlds,' considering the moon Titan itself has been called the most earth-like body in our solar system. Also included in the app is the 'Present Position' of the spacecraft, as well as a countdown to the next major event - usually a spectacular targeted flyby of one of Saturn's moons. At each stage, more in-depth information is only a click away."

Marc's Note: By my reckoning this is the 13th app that NASA has released which is pretty darn good although you won't find it in the official NASA apps page (yet). Maybe that's because JPL/Caltech released it (in late July). It's a pretty slick app but only available on the iPhone. That's a pity as I use an Android smartphone.

ULA Rocks Juno Launch

Marc's Note: Great video by United Launch Alliance (YouTube) of the Atlas V launch with Juno aboard.

NASA Holds Future Forum At University Of Maryland, NASA

"NASA's first Future Forum of 2011 will bring together agency officials and local business, science and education leaders to discuss the agency's role in advancing innovation, technology, science, engineering, and education and NASA's benefit to the nation's economy. Rep. Donna F. Edwards will deliver opening remarks at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Aug. 11, at the University of Maryland's Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center in College Park."

Marc's Note: Not much advanced notice again for an interesting event. The forum will broadcast on NASA TV and you can send in your questions using Twitter by including @NASA_Technology in your tweet. The hash tag for the forum is: #NASAFuture

NASA Selects Visionary Advanced Technology Concepts For Study, NASA

"NASA has selected 30 proposals for funding under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or NIAC, program. The advanced concepts selected for study under NIAC were chosen based on their potential to transform our future space missions, enable new capabilities or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating space systems."

Some of the funded studies include:

NASA Image of the Day - Birds of a Feather, NASA

"NASA's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft briefly flew in formation over the Edwards Air Force Base Test Range on Aug. 2, 2011. The aircraft were scheduled to be in the air on the same day, NASA 911 (plane in the foreground) on a flight crew proficiency flight, and NASA 905 (rear) on a functional check flight following maintenance operations."

Request for Space Quarterly Magazine Corporate or Institutional Price Quote, SpaceRef

Marc's Note: SpaceRef offers institutional pricing to organizations who would like the digital edition of Space Quarterly magazine for their internal digital libraries. Complete our request form for a quote that suits your organizations needs.

NASA Infrastructure and Facilities: Assessment of Data Used to Manage Real Property Assets, NASA OIG

"NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released a report examining the accuracy of the primary database NASA uses to evaluate its extensive real property assets. NASA owns approximately 5,000 buildings and structures such as wind tunnels, laboratories, launch pads, and test stands valued at more than $26.4 billion. However, 80 percent of NASA's facilities are 40 or more years old and many are in degraded condition. Given the extent and age of NASA's facilities, it is imperative that NASA managers have reliable data with which to manage these assets."

NASA's Invisible Advisory Council

"This week the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and its various committees are meeting. This body is federally chartered to formally advise NASA - yet the public knows little - if anything about what this committee does. By law the public is supposed to be informed of these meetings, allowed to attend, and offered means whereby they can present their views to the committee. By law, these meetings are announced in the Federal Register. But unless you are a policy wonk, you are not likely to read these notices. That is why I post them on NASA Watch (look to the calendar) and on SpaceRef. Alas, beyond the formal notification process, NASA does not lift a finger to make certain that the public is aware of these activities and the means whereby the public is supposed to be encouraged to participate. NASA's NAC staff and PAO have done a pitiful job informing the public of these meetings."

Keith's 3 Aug note: The NASA Advisory Council is meeting on Thursday and Friday. Charlie Bolden will be there. The meeting will be available to the public on WebEx and via telecon (info). Given NASA's previous shyness/ambivalence with regard to encouraging public appreciation of - and participation with - the NAC, you can expect continued silence from the NAC and PAO.

Imagine the visibility that the NAC - and the topics it wil be discussing - would get if NASA used its Twitter account to reach its 1.3 million followers. Imagine also if NASA used one of its 4 TV channels to webcast the meeting. Alas, NASA PAO is focusing today on sending LEGO dolls to Jupiter.

Keith's 4 Aug update: Interestingly, unlike, the folks are paying attention to the interests of the public and are letting their readers know that there is a NAC meeting - and how to participate. Well done!

SpaceRef Launches New Magazine Space Quarterly and the SpaceRef Forum, SpaceRef

"SpaceRef, a provider of new media services since 1999, announced today that it was launching its first magazine, Space Quarterly, in both digital and print format. Space Quarterly will be published in two editions: a U.S. edition with an international section and a Canadian edition. To complement Space Quarterly, SpaceRef will also launch a new online service, the SpaceRef Forum, where readers can participate in ongoing discussions on topics covered by the magazine including commercial space, space policy, military space and other timely topics. Both new products will be available September 1, 2011."

Marc's Note: I'm excited to announce these two new products today. We've been working hard on the magazine for many months and hope you'll like it as much as we do. As well many of you have expressed an interest in having SpaceRef/NASA Watch create an online Forum. We'll we've listened and come September 1 we'll be launching it. You can now subscribe to Space Quarterly here.

Marc's Note: Today SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and President Gwynne Shotwell are speaking at the AIAA 47th Joint Propulsion Conference.

At 4:00 PM EST/1:00 PM PST, Elon Musk will discuss "Getting to Mars"

At 5:00 PM EST/2:00 PM PST Gwynne Shotwell will participate in the Commercial Space Panel

Both should be webcast live at:
If you miss them live, AIAA says videos may be available for a limited time in the on-demand section at Livestream, then later at and/or the AIAA YouTube channel

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Begins Science Orbits of VestaNASA's Dawn Spacecraft Begins Science Orbits of Vesta, NASA

"NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the first ever to orbit an object in the main asteroid belt, is spiraling towards its first of four intensive science orbits. That initial orbit of the rocky world Vesta begins Aug. 11, at an altitude of nearly 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers) and will provide in-depth analysis of the asteroid. Vesta is the brightest object in the asteroid belt as seen from Earth and is thought to be the source of a large number of meteorites that fall to Earth."



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