News: September 2011 Archives

<Video and Images: Reusable Falcon 9 Plans from SpaceX

"Reusability is key to the dramatic cost savings that will enable advancements in human exploration of space. The Dragon spacecraft is fully reusable and SpaceX is working toward the goal of delivering the world's first fully reusable launch vehicle."

Another Crashing Satellite

Second big satellite set to resist re-entry burn-up, New Scentist

'On its ROSAT website, DLR estimates that "up to 30 individual debris items with a total mass of up to 1.6 tonnes might reach the surface of the Earth. The X-ray optical system, with its mirrors and a mechanical support structure made of carbon-fibre reinforced composite - or at least a part of it - could be the heaviest single component to reach the ground.""

Ed Weiler to Retire

Ed WeilerNASA's Associate Administrator for Science Ed Weiler to Retire, NASA

"Ed Weiler, who has worked almost 33 years as a leader in NASA's science exploration programs, will retire from the agency effective Sept. 30.

Weiler most recently served as the associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, directing a variety of research and science programs in Earth science, heliophysics, planetary science and astrophysics. Chuck Gay, the directorate's deputy associate administrator, will become the acting associate administrator until a permanent replacement is announced."

NASA Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite Reentry Update #16 Sat, 24 Sep 2011 11:37:25 AM EDT

"NASA's decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24. The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California said the satellite entered the atmosphere over the North Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of the United States. The precise re-entry time and location of any debris impacts are still being determined. NASA is not aware of any reports of injury or property damage. This is your source for official information on the re-entry of UARS. All information posted here has been verified with a government agency or law enforcement. NASA will conduct a media telecon at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the re-entry. The telecon will be streamed live at"

More information

Keith's note: NASA PAO's civl servant Beth Dickey, who has a history of playing favorites with the media and denying access to those she does not like (i.e. borderline inept), refused to allow Nick Johnson to answer my second question. Let me summarize it:

While Johnson made constant references to the "success" of his international effort to track UARS, in all honesty, they still do not know where or when it landed. Various media outlets have shown the animations of orbital debris - produced by NASA - a problem that is only going to get worse in the future. Alas, attempts have been made to cut Johnson's budget in the past. Based on his own comments, it seems that NASA had to rely on amateurs and volunteers to look for the satellite and indeed, the only ground-based video taken of UARS in orbit was taken by a gifted amateur in Europe.

I was wondering why Johnson (i.e. NASA) does not seek to enlist more participation from the public in future activities since its resources seem to be stretched. They might want to do this for no other reason than this would help further a better understanding among the public of what these re-entries (which occur at a rate of one per day) entail and maybe cut back on the crazy "it landed in my back yard and hit my cat" reports that have been swirling around.

But Beth Dickey refused to allow Johnson to answer stating that the telecon was about UARS. Well, DUH Beth, did you even listen to my question? The audio from this teleconference will be posted around 3:45 pm EDT. Lets see if they edit out the second question I asked.

UARS Reentry Update

Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite Reentry Update #6 Wed, 21 Sep 2011 08:03:34 AM EDT

"As of Sept. 21, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 120 mi by 130 mi (195 km by 210 km). Re-entry is expected Sept. 23, United States time. The time reference does not mean that the satellite is expected to re-enter over the United States. It is simply a time reference. Although it is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry, predictions of the time period are becoming more refined."

Space Colonies - Retro Idea - Suddenly Hip Again

Think about this: "NASA's original space colony studies were (creatively) funded in the 1970s. Forty years later, what can advances in technology in the intervening four decades - and changes in collective strategic and cultural thinking - bring to this idea that just won't go away - one that could lead to humans becoming a species capable of existence independent of living on a planetary surface. You now, spacefaring, and all that. Thoughts?"

Wiring An Ocean Planet

Think about this: "Imagine a similar network on the Moon or Mars - or a world with subsurface oceans such as Enceladus, Europa, or maybe Ceres - a network that uses in situ resources (Silicon, etc.) to manufacture the fiber optic cable. Imagine if NASA took data coming in from all of its missions, skipped the bad habit of compartmentalization, and put it all online - in one place - for all to see - and use."

Crowdsourced Search for Apollo 10's LEM "Snoopy" In Solar Orbit

Think about this: "Astronomers are teaming up with schools to use robotic telescopes over the internet to scan the night sky and find the spacecraft. The telescopes, part of the Faulkes Telescope Project run by Glamorgan University, are in Hawaii and Australia meaning schools can look with them during normal lesson times in the UK."

KH-9 Hexagon Spy Satellite Makes a Rare Public Outing (Photos and Video)

"With virtually no advance notice, the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar Hazy Center put a KH-9 "Hexagon" spy satellite on public display today. The display is up for one day only. Word of this display only leaked out late on Friday. No media advisories were issued (or they did not send me one). I could not get NASM officials at the exhibit to comment on the short notice or why the satellite was there. But all you had to do was go inside and see that a large party was being set up for the 50th anniversary of the National Reconnaissance Office. Reception tables and chairs were being set up under the SR-71 and Space Shuttle Enterprise. This is a little odd for a long-time Washingtonian such as myself given that the name of this organization was secret until 1992. Once secret, they now throw lavish parties."

Keith's note: When I first moved to Washington to work for NASA I lived in River House III in Pentagon City. The view outside my window was pretty much the Pentagon and its parking lot. I was quite the runner back then and used to run around the Pentagon a lot. Everyone did. Security was nothing at all like it is now. Indeed, there really wasn't any. One of my standard routes was to run on the west side of the Pentagon between the old heliport and the Pentagon itself. The sidewalk I ran on was probably 5 feet from the building. No fences. (map) Again, this was the late 1980s.

11 September 2001: Bad news from Earth, New Moon Rising

"The news from Earth that morning wasn't good. Frank Culbertson would soon find that some of the day's pre-planned routine would be altered. As soon as he was told of the attacks, Culbertson checked to see when they would be passing over the east coast of the U.S. Discovering that this was only some minutes away, Culbertson grabbed a camera. The window in Mikhail Tyurin's cabin turned out to be the one with the best view."

Astronaut in space during attacks shares unique footage of 9/11, Yahoo

"As [Frank Culbertson] listened to mission control, struggling to make sense of the tragedy unfolding hundreds of miles below, he looked up at the map of the world flashing on the computer screen in front of him. In a few minutes, he would be directly over New York. He quickly left the radio, grabbed a video camera and raced to the cabin window that would have the best view of the city."

Message from the NASA Administrator: 10th Anniversary of 9/11

"A NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station was able to photograph the devastation of that terrible day, which could be seen even as far away as the vantage point of low Earth orbit. The photos of Frank Culbertson, the only American off-planet at the time, are an historic reminder that this small dot in the universe still has big challenges to overcome."

NASA 9/11 10th Anniversary Commemorative Program

"All NASA employees are invited to view a special program with Administrator Charlie Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on America. The program will be held on Tuesday, September 13, at NASA Headquarters at 6 AM PDT and rebroadcast on NASA Television Channels 9 and 10 and at at 9 AM PDT."

Tributes to Terrorism Victims Are on Mars

"An aluminum cuff serving as a cable shield on each of the rock abrasion tools on Mars was made from aluminum recovered from the destroyed World Trade Center towers. The metal bears the image of an American flag and fills a renewed purpose as part of solar system exploration."

Scientist pleads guilty to attempted espionage, AP

"A former government space scientist pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of attempted espionage for trying to sell classified information to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli spy. Appearing in court in a prison jumpsuit, Nozette said he understood the charge to which he was pleading. He could have been sentenced to death had he been convicted of all four counts of attempted espionage that he faced. Just before his arrest, Nozette told an undercover FBI agent in the sting operation that the secrets he was passing to Israel had cost the U.S. government anywhere from $200 million to almost a billion dollars to develop."

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

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