News: August 2012 Archives

NASA JSC Solicitation: Development of Aneutronic Fusion Power for Spacecraft Applications

"NASA/JSC intends to purchase research and development services from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for a continuation of an aneutronic fusion research project currently being conducted at the Johnson Space Center."

Aneutronic Fusion Spacecraft Architecture, OCT

"The proposed design is based on neutron-free nuclear fusion as the primary energy source. An innovative beam conditioning/nozzle concept enables useful propulsive thrust directly from the fusion products, while some fraction of the energy is extracted via direct conversion into electricity for use in the reactor and spacecraft systems."

A Fusion Thruster for Space Travel, IEEE

"Instead of using deuterium and tritium as the fuel stocks, the new motor extracts energy from boron fuel. Using boron, an "aneutronic" fuel, yields several advantages over conventional nuclear fusion."

Future Neil Armstrongs

Neil Armstrong's lasting legacy, Dan Goldin, Washington Post

"This summer I witnessed the landing of Curiosity on Mars from mission control at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After the "seven minutes of terror" and Curiosity's successful arrival, I knew that NASA still has the right stuff. NASA is filled with future Neil Armstrongs -- outstanding rocket engineers, scientists and dreamers. I can think of no greater testimony to the entire Apollo team than to undertake another audacious activity that, although risky, will raise the American spirit and create opportunities for future generations. This next challenge will be the catalyst for the scientific and engineering breakthroughs central to the future vitality of our nation. We must reach for the stars."

AIAA Foundation to Establish the Neil A. Armstrong Scholarship Endowment Fund

"The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation (AIAA Foundation), at the request of the family of Neil A. Armstrong, who was the first person to set foot on the Moon, and an AIAA Honorary Fellow, has established the Neil A. Armstrong Scholarship Endowment Fund."

Keith's update: There will be a Huffington Post Google Hangout [revised link] discussion about space at 2:30 pm EDT today. Guests:

- Andrew Chaikin, Author of "A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts"
- Andrew Kessler, Space Enthusiast and author of "Martian Summer"
- Dave Brody, Science & Technology Writer at SPACE.com
- Edward Hudgins, Author of "Space: The Free Market Frontier"
- Keith Cowing, Founder of NASA Watch, Former NASA Scientist

This discussion was spawned by an article by Wayne Hale. Alas, Wayne was unable to join in at the last minute:

Space Exploration - A Presidential Priority, Huffington Post

"The real destination goal for America's space program should encompass all of the potential destinations, with the priority and order set by the needs and capabilities of the developing infrastructure. This will not be a short-term, one administration, or one party goal, but neither was America's westward expansion over a century ago."

Media Advisory: Neil Armstrong Private Memorial Service Information

THIS SERVICE IS CLOSED TO THE MEDIA--WITH NO EXCEPTIONS

"To everyone who has so graciously remembered Neil Armstrong: The outpouring of condolences and kind wishes from around the world overwhelms us and we appreciate it more than words can express."

Plans are underway to conduct a national service in Washington in the next two weeks.

NASA's 'Mighty Eagle' Robotic Prototype Lander Takes 100-Foot Free Flight (with video)

"During the 35-second run, the vehicle was "open loop" -- navigating autonomously without the command of the onboard camera and flying on a preprogrammed flight profile. Once it reached the 100-foot mark, the "Mighty Eagle" identified a new, larger target on the ground about 100 feet away, took pictures, processed the images and safely landed."

Photo: Oreo Honors Neil Armstrong

Keith's note: Interestingly, Oreo (Nabisco) paid for promotional placement of this tweet on Twitter for the popular, Armstrong-themed hashtag #WinkAtTheMoon: "Celebrate the man that made dreams a reality #dailytwist pic.twitter.com/6LO4vqSt" - thus ensuring even greater visibility.

True American Hero Neil Armstrong Honored by Clear Channel Outdoor on Digital Billboards

"Starting today, Clear Channel Outdoor will honor one of our nation's greatest heroes and a man who lived a humble, yet heroic life, with a memorial on every one of the company's 963 digital billboards in 37 different metropolitan areas - including Columbus and Cleveland in Mr. Armstrong's home state of Ohio. Neil Armstrong passed away on Saturday at his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. The memorial honors him using his most famous quote when he first stepped onto the moon; "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The memorial makes one small edit to honor Mr. Armstrong, "That's one small step for a hero, one giant leap for mankind."

Keith's note: This is how the exit sign for JPL looked yesterday. Larger image.

Video: Administrator Bolden's Message on the Passing of Neil Armstrong

"Neil will always be remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own, but it was his courage, grace, and humility before, during, and after his historic Apollo 11 mission that has continued to lift him and all of us far beyond that breakthrough achievement."

Passing of an Era, Paul Spudis, AIr & Space

"It's become cliche to say that Neil Armstrong holds a unique place in history. On this occasion, we should pause to consider just how singular his place is. No one - not the first human to Mars nor the first crew to venture beyond the Solar System - will ever achieve the same level of significance as the first human to step onto the surface of another world. The flight of Apollo 11 was truly a once in a lifetime event - and by that, I mean in the lifetime of humanity. That first step was indeed one to "divide history," as the NASA Public Affairs Office put it at the time."

Keith's update: Proclamation by the President: Flags To Be Flown at Half Staff: Death of Neil Armstrong

Statement from the Family of Neil Armstrong Regarding Memorials and Donations

"The outpouring of condolences and kind wishes from around the world overwhelms us and we appreciate it more than words can express. Many have asked if a memorial has been designated. If anyone wishes to make a memorial in his name, we suggest, in lieu of flowers, memorials be sent to one of these worthy organizations:"

Keith's note: A private family memorial is planned in Cincinnati on Friday. A public event is in the planning stages.

Neil Armstrong Has Died

Keith's 3:14 pm note: Multiple sources in and around NASA and the space community confirm to NASA Watch that Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on another world, has died at the age of 82. More to follow. This is a hinge in history. More information at http://neilarmstronginfo.com

Statement from the Family of Neil A. Armstrong

Defense and Industry on Space Cooperation Podcast on Space Talk @SpaceRef, SpaceRef

"The Secure World Foundation and Space Foundation co-hosted a Congressional briefing to discuss current international initiatives aimed at outer space security and sustainability. The luncheon panel discussion featured leading defense and industry perspectives."

FOIA Front: Space agency on different planet with FOIA response?, Washington Examiner

"Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, also demanded detailed records of conference spending by agencies in April. So knowing of those requests to NASA, The Washington Examiner submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request earlier this month seeking all documents the agency prepared in response to the OMB memos and the Issa letter. The newspaper also requested databases or other documents showing agency spending on conferences over the past five years, information similar to what the agencies must begin posting on their web sites in January. NASA officials responded that they are unable to process the request because they are not sure what documents the Examiner seeks."

X-51 Status Update

X-51A Flight Ends Prematurely, USAF

"The X-51 safely separated from the B-52 and the rocket booster fired as planned. However, after 16 seconds, a fault was identified with one of the cruiser control fins. Once the X-51 separated from the rocket booster, approximately 15 seconds later, the cruiser was not able to maintain control due to the faulty control fin and was lost."

NASA Announces Next Opportunity for CubeSat Space Missions

"CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh about 3 pounds."

Keith's note: Inches? Quarts? Pounds? What happened to the NASA policy directing the use metric units? Curiously, if you read the official CubeSat Design Specification Rev. 12, from California Polytechnic State University (an American educational institution) the specs are in metric units. So has someone@NASA.gov gotten yet another waiver to not use of metric units in their program? Or is this another PAO author being lazy? Then again, it was this confusion over units of measure that allowed Mars Climate Orbiter to make a surprise landing on Mars.

Assessment of NASA's Use of the Metric System, G-00-021 (2001)

"Following the loss of the Mars Climate Observer, the NASA Office of Inspector General initiated a review of the Agency's use of the metric system. By law and policy, the metric system is the preferred system of measurement within NASA. However, our review found that use of the metric system is inconsistent across the Agency. A waiver system, which was required by law and put into effect to track metric usage and encourage conversion, is no longer in use."

NASA Still Can't Get That Metric Stuff Right, earlier post

NASA's Morpheus Lander Crashes During First Free Flight Attempt (with video)

"During its first attempt at free flight today at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA's Morpheus lander crashed and caught on fire. According to NASA PAO: "During today's free-flight test of the Project Morpheus vehicle lifted off the ground and then experienced a hardware component failure, which prevented it from maintaining stable flight. No one was injured and the resulting fire was extinguished by KSC fire personnel. Engineers are looking into the incident and the agency will release information as it comes available."

Keith's 6:25 pm EDT 12 Aug update: An update has now been posted on the Morpheus Lander website. Looks like they're going to push ahead.

Keith's 7 Aug note: In its 30 July press release listing all MSL media activities and opportunities, no mention is made by NASA that offsite media would be allowed ask questions during press briefings - other than the vague "Two-way question-and-answer capability will be available for some of the news briefings from participating NASA locations". Yesterday (Tuesday) a number of media asked questions by telephone. Yet no formal media advisory was sent out by NASA noting that this was an option and how/where to participate. So early yesterday afternoon I sent a request for dial-in/off-site procedures to multiple people at JPL PAO, SMD PAO, and HQ PAO. No one from PAO ever replied.

Keith's 8 Aug update: JPL PAO sent me dial-in information 14 minutes before the press briefing began. A minute after I got this email I also got a general email from JPL PAO to news media alerting us of a dial-in capability. This was the first such note they sent out. Several other space media colleagues had told me that they were unaware of the dial-in option - until they saw my note or got this email. Annoying - its not as if JPL PAO has never done this before.

NASA is Buzzworthy

NASA Is the Government's One True Viral Hit Factory, Atlantic Wire

"NASA may only consume0.5 percent of the federal budget, but it generates practically all of Uncle Sam's viral marketing buzz.Never was that more apparent than on Monday morning following the successful Mars landing of Curiosity, the biggest and most advancedspacecraft ever dispatched to another planet. In an explosion of tweets, Tumbls, status updates, and blog posts, the Internet showed its love of NASA in a way other parts of the government could only dream of. So what's NASA's secret?"


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