News: January 2012 Archives

Why doesn't NASA want us to see the first science fiction movie shot in space?, io9

"... while he was aboard the ISS, Garriott shot an eight-minute movie called Apogee of Fear, which he says is the first science fiction movie ever shot in space. And NASA won't let us see that film. Why not? .. the light-hearted film may be too playful for NASA, Garriott surmises. Until NASA gives permission, Garriott can't release his film -- which is easily the best science fiction film ever made in space! -- to the public. Or put it in the Smithsonian, which has requested a copy due to its historical importance."

Keith's update: I have seen a portion of this film. It is funny - and harmless. I am baffled as to why NASA flies SciFi toys like Buzz LightYear in space and openly cooperates with films such as "Transformers" and "Armageddon" - but they won't allow Garriott to release "Apogee of Fear". Once again we have evidence of a lack of any cohesive communications policy or process at NASA. They just make it up as they go - and in cases such as this, it shows.

Keith's update: Apparently the problem stems from NASA JSC where the default answer from the Astronaut Office and JSC lawyers is always "no". My understanding is that there will be some discussions in the coming days to discuss how this fun little SciFi flick can be shown to people - even if NASA JSC's lawyers continue to try and stop it.

Curiously, the Astronaut Office and JSC Lawyers also look the other way when astronauts do product placement for books written by JSC employees - at no charge to the author - but totally at taxpayer's expense (see "Product Placement on the ISS").

NASA Relents: Apogee of Fear, First Sci-Fi Film Shot in Space, Will Be Released, Wired

"Now I am pleased to report that things have changed for the better. In response to a query to NASA on the subject, I received the following reply from Bob Jacobs, deputy for communications at NASA: NASA is working with Richard Garriott to facilitate the video's release. While the project was not part of his original Space Act agreement with NASA, everyone involved had the best of intentions. We hope to resolve the remaining issues expeditiously, and we appreciate Richard's cooperation and his ongoing efforts to get people excited about the future of space exploration."

Keith's 23 January update: According to a Twitter posting by Richard Garriott: Friday I received the signed authorization to release Apogee of Fear! Consulting with my crew mates now..."

U.S. Removes Phobos-Grunt Data from Web, Aviation Week

"The U.S. military has removed links to Phobos-Grunt tracking data posted on a public website detailing orbital parameters of the ill-fated Russian Mars mission that Russia says reentered Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean Jan. 15. .. But the military deviated from normal practice when it removed links to the spacecraft's reentry predictions while neglecting to publish final reentry data for the defunct probe Jan. 15. Instead, the site posted a vague statement asserting Phobos-Grunt "decayed within the forecast period of 16:59-17:47" GMT."

Jim Arnold

Jim Arnold, founding chemist at UCSD, dies at age 88

"James R. Arnold, founding chairman of UC San Diego's chemistry department and first director of the California Space Institute whose contributions to science spanned the study of cosmic rays to the future of manned space flight, died Friday, Jan. 6. He was 88. A longtime consultant to NASA, Arnold helped to set science priorities for missions, including the Apollo flights to the moon. He first served on a NASA committee in 1959, just three months after the space agency was established."

Statement by Secretary Clinton: International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities

"The long-term sustainability of our space environment is at serious risk from space debris and irresponsible actors. Ensuring the stability, safety, and security of our space systems is of vital interest to the United States and the global community. These systems allow the free flow of information across platforms that open up our global markets, enhance weather forecasting and environmental monitoring, and enable global navigation and transportation."

Fact Sheet: An International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities

"The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that an International Code enhances national security and maintains the United States' inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, a fundamental part of international law. The United States would only subscribe to such a Code of Conduct if it protects and enhances the national and economic security of the United States, our allies, and our friends. The Administration is committed to keeping the U.S. Congress informed as our consultations with the spacefaring community progress."

Keith's note: This statement and the Fact Sheet was sent to me by the State Department Press Office in separate emails - both with this same note: "This email is UNCLASSIFIED."


Wallops Island may become premier tourist attraction, DelmarvaNow

"As we start to look at more orbital launches at Wallops, we start to see more potential for tourism," said Lisa Challenger, director of Worcester County Tourism. "I've never been to a rocket launch in Florida, but apparently, it's huge. We have the potential to attract a lot of people, so we want to be prepared for that." Tourism officials also need to prep for the inevitability that a launch could get scratched, and setting up ways to redirect visitors if that happens, Challenger added. She said rocket launches, whenever they arrive to Wallops, would be so spectacular that they would be visible along the coast from Delaware to Virginia Beach -- the thrill that's at the root of making this a tri-state effort."

Keith's update: Great idea. Imagine this: people might actually get in their car and drive a fair distance just to watch something launched into space. Alas, NASA Wallops PAO and center management are incapable of conducting even basic public engagement activities surrounding launches. Most people only learn of launches after the fact - if at all. By far, residents in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware are blissfully unaware of the fact that things have been launched into space from Wallops for half a century and that more activity lies ahead. NASA clearly does not seem to want to step up to this task, so it is up to the surrounding communities to do so. But unless NASA Wallops provides data on launches with sufficient lead time, these external efforts are doomed from the onset.

Earlier posts about Wallops

NASA Langley gate access change hurts Poquoson businesses, Daily Press

"A change to employee access at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton is having a negative impact on Poquoson businesses, and doesn't appear to be resolved. NASA Langley's back gate on Wythe Creek Road used to be open to both incoming and outgoing traffic from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. In October incoming access was changed to 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. only because budget cuts eliminated the gate guard, said NASA Langley spokesman Rob Wyman. The new traffic pattern added an additional two-mile drive for employees to get back into work via the front gate. Since then Poquoson businesses, and particularly restaurants, have seen a drop in lunchtime business."

Cold Fusion: NASA Says Nothing Useful, Forbes

"I find it interesting and rather puzzling that the summary states that LENR is the new name for cold fusion (thereby implying that the two terms describe the same process) when many other people and organizations argue that these are quite different phenomena. I'd love to read a simple explanation of the difference between LENR and cold fusion that doesn't use explanations that themselves require further, and equally complex, explanations. Anyway, it appears that the NASA recently published something much more interesting about Low Energy Nuclear Reaction or LENR. Last Wednesday, with a minimum of fuss, NASA's Glenn Research Center released a video on their Web site that discussed the organization's LENR research."

Why is NASA Langley Wasting Time on Cold Fusion Research?, earlier post

Keith's note: It should be quite obvious that NASA Headquarters exerts little - if any - control over what its field centers do - especially when quack science is concerned. At a time when NASA is trying to justify its relevance, the continued semi-clandestine support for this goofy fringe science calls into question the process whereby NASA decides what should be funded - and why. Here's the official NASA video. And just who is advising Ray Lugo or Lesa Roe on this wacky stuff? Let's see how (or if) NASA PAO responds. If this is the big deal that some folks at NASA claim it is (see patent application below) then why is NASA Headquarters silent on this topic - especially given that Charlie Bolden is mentioned (by position) on the patent application?

Method for Producing Heavy Electrons, United States Patent Application

Zawodny; Joseph M.; (Poquoson, VA) Assignee: USA as represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC

"[0032] The advantages of the present invention are numerous. Devices/systems made in accordance with the present invention control the frequency of the SPP resonance and its uniformity over large surface or volume regions. This will allow an entire device to participate in heavy electron production and ensuing energy generation. The present invention is adaptable to a variety of physical states/geometries and is scalable in size thereby making it available for energy production in a wide variety of applications (e.g., hand-held and large scale electronics, automobiles, aircraft, surface ships, electric power generation, rockets, etc.)"

US won't sign EU space treaty, The Hill

A senior State Department official said Thursday that the United States will not sign onto a European code of conduct treaty laying out rules in outer space. Ellen Tauscher, the State Department's undersecretary for arms control and international security, said the rules the EU has currently proposed were "too restrictive" for the United States to agree to.

U.S. Rejects Current Draft of EU Code of Conduct; considers another agreement, Examiner

In a surprising turn of events, it was announced that the U.S. will not be signing onto the current draft of the proposed EU Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. Citing that the current draft as worded is too restrictive, Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said during a January 12th breakfast that it was clear from the beginning that the Administration was not going along with the Code. While the current draft has not been rejected outright, according to another government official the Code could be used as a basis for another international agreement.

New space-arms control initiative draws concern, Washington Times

"The Obama administration is launching a new space arms-control initiative that critics say will lead to restrictions on U.S. military activities in space, a key U.S. strategic war-fighting advantage. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to announce the initiative as early as Tuesday. The plan will be built on work contained in a European Union draft code of conduct for space that the Pentagon and State Department have criticized as too restrictive."

Keith's note: Gee, I sure hope Tyson doesn't say things like this to the young people who visit the Rose Center to learn about the wonders of space. Talk about a quick way to deflate someone's career goals. Why study for a career that focuses on helping to send humans to Mars if its going to happen in China - not the U.S.?

My Twitter response to Tyson's original tweet: ".@neiltyson WRT You think that the first human on Mars will be Chinese? No faith in the U.S.? Defeatist. EPIC FAIL"

"NASA ROCKET SUCCESFULLY LAUNCHED JANUARY 11 - WALLOPS ISLAND, VA - A flight test of a NASA Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket was successfully conducted today from NASA's launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Launch time was 8:25 a.m. The launch vehicle is being developed to support NASA science missions. The next rocket launch from Wallops Island is currently scheduled for no earlier than March 15. For information on NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, visit the web at:"

Keith's 9:16 am note: That is the entire press release. It would seem that Keith Koehler took a press release Haiku class. He tries to get away with the fewest words possible in these press releases. Nothing about the launch itself, its purpose, etc. This is an attempt to provide the least amount of information possible to the media. There is virtually nothing on the Wallops website - no launch photos - nothing. And Tweeting doesn't count - indeed, Kohler can't even be bothered to retweet the screen grab photos that Bob Jacobs tweeted. I guess no one at Wallops knows how to use a cellphone camera.

I hope someone with actual interest in promoting what Wallops does applies for the PAO job opening. at Wallops. If this is how NASA PAO does things at Wallops then no one is going to be paying attention when Orbital launches its Antares/Cygnus flight.

Job Opening: Apply to Fix Wallops' Broken PAO, earlier post

Keith's 1:32 pm update: Four hours and the Wallops website still refers to this launch as an upcoming event. No photo of the launch. No posting of the "press release". This is inexcusable - but Wallops management doesn't seem to care.

Keith's 2:00 pm update: The updates finally got posted. WFF claims it happened hours ago. It sure did not show up for me - and I have been checking.

Restored Photos: Project Gemini Comes to Life

"On 23 March 1965, the first of ten crewed Gemini spacecraft was launched carrying it's crew of two astronauts, Gus Grissom and John Young. The NASA Johnson Space Center and the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University today proudly unveil the Project Gemini Online Digital Archive. The archive contains the first high-resolution digital scans of the original Gemini flight films, now available in several formats with a click of your mouse."

NIAC Seeks Ideas

NASA Issues Call for Visionary Advanced Technology Concepts

"NASA's Space Technology Program is looking for far-out ideas. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or NIAC, program is seeking proposals for revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions. Proposed concepts should enable new capabilities or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating space systems. NIAC projects are chosen for their innovative and visionary characteristics, technical substance, and early development stage -- ten years or more from use on a mission. NIAC's current portfolio of diverse and innovative ideas represents multiple technology areas, including power, propulsion, structures and avionics."

LtCol Paul Damphousse USMC (Ret) Named Executive Director As NSS Enters Its 25th Year

"LtCol Damphousse brings a wealth of space, operations, and legislative leadership experience to the position of Executive Director. Until his recent retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps following a 22-year career, he served as Chief of Advanced Concepts for the National Security Space Office (NSSO) and the DoD Executive Agent for Space in Washington, DC. In this capacity he led the NSSO's space-based solar power effort and championed the Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion (SUSTAIN) concept as a near-instantaneous crisis response capability. His work on the latter resulted in the publication of a concept of operations and technology roadmap for suborbital/SUSTAIN missions. He has also served as Florida Senator Bill Nelson's NASA Fellow, the Senator's principal advisor for all civil and national security space matters, where he played an instrumental role in advancing new commercial spaceflight activities."

Book Review: Fifty Years on the Space Frontier: Halo Orbits, Comets, Asteroids, and More

"Most people have never heard of Robert Farquhar outside of NASA - and that is a shame. The cover of this book says it all. Look at this exquisite orbit Farquhar created to take an old spacecraft so as to repurpose it and throw it at not one but two comets.

Sheer artistry."

Why Space? Indeed

Why Space?, Rick Tumlinson, Huffington Post

"To some of us who have the frontier calling, there is no question "Why space?" It makes no sense. We look out and know that out there are more galaxies than there are all the grains of sand on all the beaches and in all the deserts of the world and in each of those a million times a million suns, around which swirl millions of worlds, each different, each a question mark itself and each a possibility for new life, new knowledge and new places to be -- and we wonder, how could anyone, anyone, ask such a question?"

Buzz is Back

Buzz Aldrin Visits Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project

"On 6 January 2012, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin visited the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) located at Building 596 aka "McMoons" at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, CA. Behind Buzz is the FR-900 tape drive restored and enhanced by LOIRP to play back the original analog data tapes generated by the five Lunar Orbiter missions in the 1960s."

American Space Exploration Leadership -- Why and How, Buzz Aldrin, Huffington post

"But NASA is critical to success and always will be. Chris Kraft has pointed out that we already have a fairly robust set of launch vehicles being provided by the commercial sector. So, in this area, we do not need the government competing to develop another launch vehicle. One could -- on another day -- even discuss whether we need a 130 metric ton launch vehicle, but assuming we do, the U.S. launch industry is capable of building a vehicle capable of such lift reasonably soon. After all, only four years were needed for the U.S. space launch industry to develop EELV. Likewise, Falcon 9 was developed in a little more than seven years."



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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from January 2012.

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