News: October 2012 Archives

Keith's note: Charlie Bolden held his SES summit the other day. This time it was done virtually so as to save travel funds. 400-500 people were on the telecon from across the agency. According to participants, at one point Bolden was asked a question about the election and what he thought as a political appointee. Bolden replied "I do not see myself as a Democratic political appointee." He then went on to talk about how he often did not agree with what the White House wanted him to do at NASA and how he had brokered some political deals with republicans. He added "if I had done what the President had wanted then NASA would just be a technology program".

Keith's update: According to NASA PAO this is a transcript of what Charlie Bolden said (in contrast to what multiple sources who listened in on the telecon have told NASA Watch):

"Let me make a subtle correction to something you said. I'm appointed by the president. I work for the president. I have the utmost respect for the president. My job, however, is to add advise the president on what force the agency should be. I like our priorities because I think we help develop those and they may not be -- they may not be exactly where somebody else sitting in this seat would have been. We helped to develop those priorities and so that's where I'm trying to keep the agency aligned. I don't view them as democratic or Republican priorities. I emphasize that these -- they represent significant compromises. If the president had gotten his way, the number 1 priority for the agency probably would have been something like technology development. That is something about which he is passionate and if you notice, it is not one of the three major priorities. But it is -- it is the underpinning of everything we do."

I asked NASA PAO for a full transcript of Bolden's remarks but NASA PAO has declined to provide one. Note that the question that Bolden is responding to was not transcribed by NASA - only his response. i.e. "Let me make a subtle correction to something you said." OK, what was it that the questioner said? My sources say that Bolden was asked about the political implications of the election as a political appointee aligned with a Democrat affiliation.

NOAA's GOES-13 Image of Sandy on Tuesday Morning

Keith's note: This image was taken this morning by GOES-13. More recent images and animations can be found here.

MetOp-A captures Image of Hurricane Sandy

"Europe's polar orbiting weather satellite, MetOp-A, captured this image of Hurricane Sandy just as the huge storm hit the east coast of the US yesterday."

GOES-13 Satellite Shows Sandy's Extent on Monday

"NOAA's GOES-13 satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Sandy battering the U.S. East coast on Monday, Oct. 29 at 9:10 a.m. EDT that showed the immense extent of the storm."

Marc's note: NASA Goddard is still under a code red for today. We'll update you with any changes as we hear them. Please send in your news, tips, pictures to nasawatch@spaceref.com.

- The headline on the New York Times says it all: A REGION CRIPPLED

- Potential Weather Satellite Gap Finally Getting Media Attention Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Space Policy Online

"Perhaps one silver lining from Hurricane Sandy is that the storm is raising awareness of the long-known likelihood that there will be a gap in weather satellite coverage a few years from now because new satellites are not ready to launch before older satellites cease functioning."

NASA Hurricane Hunter

NASA Preps Drone Hurricane Hunters, But Misses Sandy, Wired

"Hurricane Sandy has slammed onto the eastern seaboard. There's been widespread damage and flooding across more than six states. There's been loss of life. But at NASA, researchers are developing a pair of experimental unmanned drones to track future storms in the hope of being better prepared for when they strike."

NASA Watch Updating

Keith's note: Power will eventually go out here in the metro DC area as hurricane Sandy strikes. When I go offline Marc Boucher will keep NASA Watch up to date from Toronto, Canada until such time as I get power back. Of course Toronto is going to get hammered too at some point so we may not update for a while. Who knows. Stay safe.

Keith's note: Amazingly we did not lose power and had no damage but others were not so lucky.

Russian Industry Problems

What's Happening to the Russian Space Industry?, Commercial Space Watch

"On the morning of August 6, the Russian space industry woke up to yet another failure in a long list of failures over the last 2 years. 2 months later, on October 16th that failure became a catastrophe with the explosion of the Briz-M upperstage. Are we witness to the end of the dominance of the Russian space industry?"

Marc's note:Further down in the article when discussing the Briz-M "break-up" and the ISS.

"The differing rates at which the two orbits precess around the Earth's polar axis mean that the ISS orbital path will periodically move in and out of the debris cloud, and will sometimes spend several days at a time with a large part of its orbit within the cloud.

Depending on the actual number of fragments, this event may eventually be considered to be the most dangerous fragmentation event ever to have occurred in space."

Dragon Spacecraft Returns to Earth in First Official Cargo Resupply Mission to Space Station, SpaceX

""This historic mission signifies the restoration of America's ability to deliver and return critical space station cargo," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Technical Officer Elon Musk. "The reliability of SpaceX's technology and the strength of our partnership with NASA provide a strong foundation for future missions and achievements to come.""

SpaceX Dragon Returns from Space Station with NASA Cargo, NASA JSC

"A Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:22 p.m. CDT Sunday a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. The splashdown successfully ended the first contracted cargo delivery flight contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station."

Keith's note: Charlie Bolden will be speaking at "Charles Bolden Speaks at The Future of Strategic Partnerships in Space" hosted by the Atlantic Council on 23 October. According to the Atlantic Council this event will be "closed to press and off-the-record". But apparently anyone can ask to attend but they waive their right to free speech in so doing, it would seem. Why is the NASA Administrator having a discussion with a private organization about matters that the media cannot report on - and that no one in attendance can reveal? How did NASA public affairs sanction Bolden's participation in such an exclusive, elitist, and clearly non-transparent activity? With China's space program being one of the stated issues of concern for this event it is rather baffling that Bolden's comments would be declared unrepeatable by/to the public. I wonder what a FOIA request for Bolden's prepared comments would get as a response from NASA.

Keith's update: NASA PAO has declined to respond to a request made yesterday morning seeking clarification on this issue.

Red Bull Stratos: Mission Accomplished (with photos)

"Austria's Felix Baumgartner earned his place in the history books on Sunday after overcoming concerns with the power for his visor heater that impaired his vision and nearly jeopardized the mission. Baumgartner reached an estimated speed of 1,342.8 km/h (Mach 1.24) jumping from the stratosphere, which when certified will make him the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall and set several other records while delivering valuable data for future space exploration."

Status Reports

Keith's note: The non-proft organization Quest for Stars has simultaneously launched a high altitude balloon that sent back live images of Felix Baumgartner's ascent. More information here.


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